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Posts Tagged ‘being married to me is so fun’

I am dreaming of date night right now. When we have houseguests, I feel like I never see my husband. I am always in the kitchen cooking or tidying up. And when I am ready to head to bed (not early, etiher! ten or eleven!) he is still chatting with his family and spending time with them, often into the wee hours of the morning. It truly feels like we don’t get more than five minutes alone together when we have visitors. Alas, once our houseguests are gone, my husband is on call for a week. Which means I may not see him aside from a few grumpy minutes here and there for a week! Womp womp. 

On top of these things, my volunteer project is ramping up – to the point that I now lie awake looonnnng into the night fretting about décor and staffing and what happens if everyone else gets violently ill the night before the event. You know. Healthy stuff. I’m busy and my mind is on other things, so my mind is not really focused on Quality Spouse Time lately. 

All this means that my husband and I are getting kind of desperate for some alone time. So I am going to text the babysitter and see if she is free AS SOON as my event and call week and houseguests are in the rearview! 

Shay and Erika are doing a little link up today about date night ideas. My husband and I don’t have particularly exciting dates, but we have had exactly TWO date nights since 2020 – both with other couples – so I am kind of feeling like any time we get alone together counts as a date. 

Dinner – We both love food, and so our typical date night usually involves going out to eat. One of our favorite local restaurants just reopened (after closing during the early days of the pandemic), so I’m hoping we might go there. Dining in restaurants still feels… fraught. I am looking forward to warmer weather and the opening of restaurant patios!

Dessert – My husband LOVES sweets, which means that dessert is a non-negotiable part of our date nights. (Like I would negotiate against dessert!) Most often, we grab ice cream after dinner. Near us is a small town with a cute main street we like to visit. There’s a delicious ice cream shop right in the middle, and the weather is getting to the point where we might be able to stroll with our cones even in the evening. 

Bookstore – My husband and I both love to read, so our date nights often wind up in a bookstore, where we browse for books together (when we go with our daughter, one of us browses and the other goes with her to the kids’ section) and hand each other books to consider. I usually don’t enjoy going to bookstores. For one thing, I am not a huge fan of standing around while my daughter asks for every toy in the toy section. For another, there are too many books I want to buy, and I get cranky about not being able to take all of them home at once. (Do I have a million unread books in my home already? Yes. Does this alleviate the grouchiness or desire to buy more? Absolutely not.) But when we go to a bookstore on a date, it feels different. It feels like quality time, where he hands me books he might like or books he thinks I might like, and I do the same for him. Plus, there’s the novelty of being in a bookstore in heels and date night clothes that really changes the experience.

TV – My husband and I love to watch TV together. We just started watching Inventing Anna and we’re both hooked. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the series, but the whole story fascinates me so I’m predisposed to liking it. Plus, I think the acting is really top notch. We pause frequently and marvel at Anna’s accent, or ask each other who so-and-so actor is and where we remember him from, or discuss how WILD a certain plot point is. This is not solely a Date Night activity, but it’s still fun. 

Games – We also love to play computer games together. There’s a very specific type of game we like, and it’s hard to find games that fit our specifications. We loved the Cube Escape and Rusty Lake games, for instance. I’d describe our preference as “combination of horror/mystery story and escape-room style puzzle solving.” We just started a new one called Reach. (If you have any recommendations, I’m interested!) 

Here’s hoping our sitter is available, because I’m getting antsy to spend some time with my husband! 

What does your ideal date night look like? 

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My mom was visiting over Christmas and I was getting the table ready for dinner, filling water glasses, swooping bread into the bread basket, moving salt and pepper shakers from the counter to the table. You know. 

As I was filling up my mother’s glass with water from the fridge, she said, “I’m not a nice person.”

I was SHOCKED. Shocked. That she would say such a thing, of course. But that she would announce it like this, while we were all milling about in the kitchen before sitting down to eat. 

“What?!” I said. “That’s not true!”

She looked at me with confusion. Then realization dawned.

“I just meant I don’t want ice in my water,” she clarified. “I’m not an ICE person.”

Oh. 

This has since become family code for little misunderstandings. My husband out of nowhere says Carla is not allowed in the basement… but really he said she’s being loud in the basement. Once we clear up that confusion, one of us will say, “I’m not a nice person.” 

Or maybe my husband offers to bring me a snack, but I tell him I’m not in the mood for popcorn… when he brings me popcorn anyway, I will say, “I’m not a nice person.”

That kind of thing.

We have several little code words and phrases,  none of which would make sense to anyone beyond the two of us. Even Carla, I think, is a little perplexed by some of the little inside jokes. 

We were reading a book to her the other night, for instance, and my husband mispronounced the word “candelabra.” 

This is something he and I do automatically, any time it comes up, after watching an episode of The Amazing Race many many years ago in which a contestant mispronounced the word. (Can-DELL-uh-brah.) I don’t know why it struck us as so notable then (it’s not an intuitive word!), or why it’s something that’s had such staying power. 

The other thing we say all the time is, “Just switching things up.” This is something we say in response to someone – including one of us – doing something baffling. Like, why did you Venmo the old babysitter instead of the swim instructor? Just switching things up. Why did that person choose to turn left at a red light? They’re obviously just switching things up. That kind of thing. 

This derives from a road trip we went on with friends a million years ago. Our friend was driving the other car in our group, and he kept passing us on the freeway… and then slowing down so drastically that we had to pass him. When we reached our destination, my husband asked him why he didn’t maintain a constant speed and he shrugged and said, “I just like to switch things up.” It has stuck with us ever since. 

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I am recovering from Justacold. Or maybe it is just January, I don’t know. 

Covid Exhaustion

I woke up last Wednesday with a sore throat and sniffles, and immediately assumed it was Covid. Especially when I learned that Carla and I had been in a group setting with a person who had since been diagnosed with Covid. I was sure of it. And yet, two rapid tests said no, not Covid. My husband and I looked at each other. Do we TRUST the rapid tests? What if they were wrong and I DID have Covid, and I was now unnecessarily exposing my husband and kid to Covid? Ugh.

The thing is, there seems (STILL) to be no reliable consensus on anything. Do I need to isolate or quarantine? What, pray tell, is the ever-loving difference between isolation and quarantine? Is it okay if I drive my kid to school, while masked? Does being in a room with someone who later tested positive for Covid an “exposure” if we are all vaccinated and masked? Is being masked in my house enough to protect my family, or do I need to hole up in the guest room? I read various articles to try to address these questions. I consulted the CDC website. I still cannot tell you what the right thing to do is.

Fortunately! We have a small supply of rapid tests! I will just take a rapid test and then I will know and can move on with my life! 

Oh wait. There’s no consensus there, either.

I read articles that said Covid rapid tests are very sensitive and great in terms of giving you peace of mind. I read articles that said rapid tests aren’t as good at detecting the omicron variant. I read articles saying that rapid tests aren’t great at detecting the virus early on. I read articles that said you can trust a positive result but you need to confirm a negative rapid test with a PCR. I read articles that said if you get a negative while you have symptoms, you’re probably negative. I read articles that said the more rapid-test negatives you get, the less likely it is you have Covid. This all mainly pointed to me not having Covid… But none of it was DEFINITIVE enough for me. 

So I scheduled a PCR test (I was very lucky to find one at a nearby CVS the next day) and stopped wasting our small supply of rapid tests. 

To make a very long and boring story shorter but still boring: my Covid test came back negative two days later. Even though I felt, the whole time, fairly certain I did not have Covid, I wore a mask at home and isolated for the four days between when I first experienced symptoms and when I got the results. Here is how I defined isolating: I stayed in my office or the guest room, with the doors closed, as often as possible. (It was surprisingly difficult to remember to CLOSE THE DOORS when I left one of those spaces, which seems like kind of a critical step in keeping the germs where they needed to be. I got better at it, though.) I ate meals in my office, I slept in the guest room. When I was walking to and from the bathroom/kitchen, I wore a mask. (I did drive my kid to and from school, and we both wore a mask in the car.) It was lonely but I got a lot of reading and writing done. 

Obviously, I am very glad I don’t have Covid. But I also feel really stupid. That’s the rub, right? You do the prudent, cautious thing justincase and then you feel silly when it turns out you didn’t have be prudent or cautious. I wasted an entire box of rapid tests! I missed two nights of putting my kid to sleep for no reason! I mussed up the guest room sheets for no reason! Of course, if my result had been positive, I would be feeling entirely differently. I would be feeling wise and prescient. My husband would be congratulating me on my carefulness and foresight. It’s a lose lose situation. You either feel stupid or you have Covid. 

Justacold

Also, I still feel very yucky. My throat is still scratchy. My head aches. I am not super hungry (MAJOR RED FLAG FOR ME). Maybe I should have gotten the flu test add-on CVS asked if I wanted when I got my PCR. (It’s not flu either, hypochondriac.)

Office Mishaps

Prior to getting justacold, I went for my annual gynecological exam. This year, I saw a new doctor. The office was certainly nicer than the previous office, and the staff was MUCH friendlier. Plus, the waiting room was very roomy and the seats were set well apart from one another.

(The main reason I sought out a new doctor was that last year, I waited for an hour in my gynecologist’s waiting room, during which time NO staff member updated us with the doctor’s status, and the waiting room filled up with people, many of whom were coughing. I think you will understand that my blood pressure shot up over the course of my wait – indeed, it was higher than normal when the nurse measured it – but she gave me a LECTURE about my blood pressure rather than listening to my explanation that I was stressed about being crammed into a tiny space with a dozen strangers during a pandemic. At every appointment since, my blood pressure has been JUST FINE thank you very much. I am not over it, it seems.) 

The nurse called my name and led me over to the scale (UGH) and I mentioned to her that I’d never met the doctor before. And she said, “Uh oh, I don’t have you on my schedule as a new patient.” Right away, that made me nervous. Do you know this? Doctors allot different amounts of time based on the patient’s needs, and one of the scheduling considerations is new patient vs. established patient. Just like a hairdresser needs more time if they are going to color your hair rather than give you a trim, a doctor needs more time with a new patient than with someone they know. So now I was meeting a new doctor, but already putting her behind schedule because my appointment had been mis-scheduled for X minutes instead of Xx2 minutes.

Then we went into the exam room and the nurse took my blood pressure (it was PERFECT) and asked me a few questions, and then gave me instructions about changing into the gown. (Instructions which I always, always forget. Is it supposed to be open in the front, or the back???) But then she said, “Wait, it’s so cold in here… and the doctor is in with another patient… don’t change yet. I’ll poke my head in and let you know when to change.” 

I then sat in the exam room for thirty minutes, and with every minute that ticked by, I thought, “Oh no, the nurse has forgotten about me. And the doctor is going to come in, and I will be in my street clothes, and she will be frustrated because she will have to leave while I change, and she already doesn’t have enough time allotted for my visit as it is.” But I didn’t want to change into the gown because I was afraid the instant I removed my shirt, the nurse or the doctor would open the door. And the nurse would think, “Why is she changing when I told her to wait?” and the doctor would think, “Why isn’t she changed already?” And then five minutes would pass, and I would think, “WHY didn’t I change? I had enough time!” Finally, I told myself, “Just DO it.” And I grabbed the gown (fabric rather than paper, which I love!) and started pulling my arm out of my shirt sleeve, and at that exact moment the doctor knocked on the door and came in. 

I immediately threw the nurse under the bus. I’m so sorry to her, she was lovely. But the doctor waved it off as I tried to stuff my arm back into my sleeve. “I like to chat with my patients first,” she said. 

Outside of that humiliation, the appointment was fine. This doctor gives the impression of having a lot more time than she probably does. My old doctor, while still being kind and unhurried, was more of an in, out, goodbye kind of a person. 

How Do I Get Medical Schools to Make This a Mandatory Part of Training?

One thing this doctor did that I really, really liked was after the exam, she said, “What questions do you have for me?”

And then she listened to my question, answered, and then asked the same thing again. She did this three times, and I thought it was such an excellent approach. It made me feel like I should have questions, and gave me space to ask them. Often in the past, I have written a list of the topics I wanted to bring up, and then felt too time-pressured to raise them. Even on the occasions when I was able to gather the courage to ask, I would never get to my whole list because I felt like the doctor was edging toward the door while addressing the first issue. She wasn’t, but she never asked if I had more questions, so it felt more like she was humoring me than actually interested in/available to address what I wanted to know. Anyway, this new physician not only expected me to have questions, she expected me to have multiple questions, and she remained seated while listening to me ask them. It was great. All doctors should do that. 

Suggestion Box

All doctors should also have cloth gowns (in reality, I know cloth gowns and their care are not practical or economical for many practices). They are SO MUCH better than the stupid paper ones. My previous doctor would give you a paper vest and a paper sheet, and I always felt so awful and exposed. The cloth gown actually covers my body.

This reminds me of a Twitter thread? Reddit thread? Buzzfeed article? that I read when surely I should have been doing anything else. Some doctor was opening up a new practice and asked for people’s ideas about what a new pelvic health practice should have/do. (Oh, it was this thread.) I think using cloth gowns was on the list, as were a lot of awesome things like not assuming all patients are female, and ensuring that patient diversity is represented in photos/artwork/literature, and offering a nonverbal way to signal that the patient is not safe with whomever accompanied them to the appointment.

Some suggested cool quality-improvement ideas, like installing a light switch the patient could flip when they are changed. Or putting warmers over the stirrups (my previous gynecologist had socks on her exam table stirrups). Or providing a restroom connected to the exam room for easy changing/washing up. I mean, if a practice is truly building from the ground up and can cover the costs of these things, sign me up!

Someone suggested making the atmosphere spa-like. Which made me laugh and laugh. No matter how spa-like my gyno’s office is, even if they switch to spa-style robes (like another commenter said were available at her gyno), I am never going to enjoy going there. 

Peering Through the Doors as They Close

While I was waiting, in between panicking about whether I should undress or not, I kept reading and rereading the one framed piece of “art” on the wall. I am calling it “art” because it had a photo, I think, of a mother and a baby, and the text was in a fancy script, arranged in short lines like a poem. But really it was information about how skin-to-skin contact is important, and how new mothers should make it clear to their OBs and everyone at the hospital that they want to have at least an hour of skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth!

This information is familiar to me. I planned to do skin-to-skin and immediate breastfeeding when my baby was born. But when Carla arrived, I only got to hold her very briefly before she was whisked off to the NICU. So this piece of art briefly made me feel very sad about that, that I didn’t get the birth experience that I wanted. I feel a lot less sad about it now, which is nice; pain does fade over time. And then I wondered very briefly what it would be like, if I had another baby. If we would get the birth I wanted.  Oh well. It’s not going to happen. 

The new doctor asked me if I had any children, and if I was planning on any more. And I said, “No, I don’t think so.” And she said, “You don’t think so? Well, if you think you might, you need to get cracking!”

Sure, sometimes – usually when I have fallen into a rabbit hole of Baby Carla videos, or when I find out someone is pregnant, or when I see someone pushing a stroller around the neighborhood – I’ll get a little twinge. Once the endless nausea finally abated, I enjoyed being pregnant. From this distance, the baby months seem precious and easy. And I would like to have a toddler again — they are so cute. (Do you see how my brain neatly skips past all the difficult, sleepless, maddening parts?) Did we make a mistake, just having one? But most of the time – I’d say 99% of the time – I feel like our little family is complete. And I guess with every day that passes, the more irreversible that fact becomes. It feels right, the three of us. But as with almost any situation where walking through one door means that you aren’t able to go through others, I am a little wistful about it. 

Like a Peach or an Apricot or a Kiwi (?)

As long as we are talking about health topics, I will mention that I have two ENORMOUS bruises on my leg. One of them is the same circumference as a Noxzema face cream jar. I measured it in the bathroom and my measuring devices were limited. It’s a GIANT BRUISE, is what I’m saying. Of course, I have no idea how or when or why I obtained this bruise. Based solely on YA/middle grade fiction from childhood, I am convinced it is leukemia. (The websites I consulted were much less apt to jump to this conclusion, and more likely to blame it on my advanced age and thinning skin.) 

I feel pretty confident in suspecting that you and most people reading this post would also jump to a conclusion that would fall into the Imminent Death category. But what I want to know is, are there people who DON’T do that? They must exist, right? Are they all Capricorns? 

I think maybe my husband might be this type of person? He strikes me as a pretty practical fellow. Despite knowing WAY MORE about the many and varying paths to Imminent Death. But then again, maybe he is just good at putting on a Brave Face when confronted with the alarming proximity of his demise. I don’t know. 

(“You just bruise easily,” he says to me, matter-of-fact and exasperated in equal measures. “You always have bruises.”) 

If I have mistakenly assigned YOU my own death-focused personality trait, and you are, in fact, a person who sees a bruise and thinks, “Oh a bruise” or gets a headache and thinks “Oh, let me have some Tylenol” instead of CANCER ANEURYSM SURELY MY DAYS ARE NOW ENDING, please tell me all about yourself and what it’s like to be you. 

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Now that my in-laws are gone, and I am released from all the effort of meal planning for people who aren’t my husband and cleaning up after two additional people in my home and trying to be friendly and social when I am neither, I can fully experience the weight that is the End of Year Crush. 

It seems that the instant Halloween ends, the year starts pell-melling faster than I can keep up, and I am feeling winded already.

We are blissfully free of Thanksgiving obligations this year. It’s just the three of us this year again, which is a relief. No entertaining or massive meal to be stressed over and undertaken. I mean, I am definitely making myself some goat cheese mashed potatoes, and I expect my husband will want dressing, and, in my opinion, you can’t make the really good, rich gravy without roasting at least some part of a turkey. But it will be easier and less anxiety-filled, it what I’m saying. HOWEVER, Hanukkah follows quickly on the heels of Thanksgiving, and then it will be Christmas, and then the calendar will flip over into 2022 before we can blink an eye. 

There are a couple of critical tasks that I need to complete in the next few weeks.

Holiday Cards

I forced my husband to take family photos for our holiday cards. He very reluctantly complied, and drove the thiree of us out to a beautiful autumnal setting and wore a nice outfit and took several photos with his fancy camera. And they are… fine. They’re just fine. I hate the way I look in them, but that’s fine. No one else will notice. No. One. They’re fine. 

Mpix had a good discount going over the Halloween weekend, and I made samples of multiple cards with the photos my husband took, and showed them to him. And he had a few tweaks and requests, which I made… and then we both promptly forgot about them until after midnight and the deal had ended. Sigh.

Well. We got a coupon for Minted, so I have already created some samples there. I just need my husband to go through them and choose his favorite and I will order those puppies SO FAST. 

Holiday Gifts

Presents are… not done, not by a mile. But I have the rest of November to stress about them. Except November is already HALF OVER OMG. I already ordered my husband’s big gift from me, and Santa Claus delivered two of Carla’s gifts early, so I feel okay about things. Despite all of your lovely advice when last I brought this up, I still have no earthly idea what to get any of our parents or our siblings. 

Our parents are particularly tricky because a) they have everything they want/need already and b) they don’t have a lot of room/desire for Things. Usually, I get my parents consumables, but they are going to be driving here for Christmas and then going on a road trip around the country, and I don’t know if a big gift crate of cheese will survive the trip back. Everyone reads books, but they all read CONSTANTLY so it is difficult to know what any one person has/hasn’t read yet. My husband and I received some of those mystery games you can play in a group last year; those are fun. Maybe everyone will get one of those. 

My sister-in-law mentioned that my niece might want a big craft mat like Carla has, so I think that will be one gift from us… but it’s not very fun. And my sister-in-law also showed me a picture of a beautiful opal necklace she liked on Etsy, so I might look for something similar to get her. 

My mother-in-law claims that she really likes the food I cook, which is so kind and such a compliment. For Christmas, she requested a collection of the recipes I use. Of course I would prefer to photograph some of the meals I make and create a real book for her, but I just don’t know if I have the time or the photography skills to get it done before Christmas. Well, we’ll see what I can do. Right now, I’m thinking this might be a better gift idea for Mother’s Day or her birthday.

That’s all the ideas I have. Beyond those meager half-formed thoughts, I am stumped. STUMPED. 

Oh! I had an idea for my husband and I wanted to run it by you. 

He taught himself how to create and produce music during the pandemic. You know. While also still being a physician, husband, and father. (During the pandemic I… dyed my hair a couple of times and refrained from killing anyone during remote learning. Does that count?) Anyway, his music is amazing and I am so proud of him and blown away by his talent. He created a title card for the first song he produced which features an artsy photo he took, the title of the song, and his artist name. So I was thinking of putting that title card on a sweatshirt from zazzle and ordering it for him. 

But I can’t commit to that idea! I keep going back and forth between “he will be so pumped and touched to have his music commemorated this way!” to “omg he will feel super awkward to wear a sweatshirt featuring his OWN music.” 

What do you think? Is it weird? No one will KNOW, of course. But I suppose there is a very small chance that someone might ask him about it, and then he might be embarrassed? I don’t know!!! Would Mark Ronson wear a sweatshirt featuring his own album art? Would Ryan Tedder? I don’t know!!!!!!!!! 

Without knowing my husband AT ALL, what would you suggest? Is it an ill-advised idea? Should I order myself a sweatshirt featuring his album art? That way it would be flattering but less self-aggrandizing? 

And if I don’t get him THAT, what do I get him??????

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We have been on vacation, which was lovely, and I want to tell you all about it (especially about traveling during a pandemic * shudder *) but I am going to ease back into blogging by sharing with you a marital misunderstanding. 

PLEASE tell me that you and your spouse / roommate / co-habitant have similar misunderstandings from time to time, because this is the kind of thing that makes me feel like perhaps my husband and I have been living COMPLETELY SEPARATE LIVES.

I mean, HOW, after living together since 2003 – which means our co-habitation is ready to go off to college! – can we still so drastically misunderstand one another??? Shouldn’t we KNOW each other by now? Shouldn’t we LISTEN when the other person says things or expresses preferences or suggests rules? Are we simply two strangers, living side-by-side???????

Despite the all-capsy nature of the previous paragraphs, this is a very low stakes misunderstanding. At least, from my perspective; my husband may have a COMPLETELY SEPARATE OPINION. 

A few years back, our washer died, so we got a new washer. (And a new dryer, because our old dryer was ancient and SURE to collapse the instant we didn’t buy a new one, and plus my husband and I like Things That Match.) The new washer was – unlike the old top loader – a front loader.

I was Deeply Reluctant to get a top loader, because I have heard horror stories about mold and smelliness. But it seemed like they were really the only option. And, more importantly, we needed a washer and dryer that opened a specific way, and were a specific size, based on the layout of our minuscule laundry room. So we got this pair and they have been Fine. 

I remember discussing, at great length, the mold/smell problem with my husband. I remember this CLEARLY. And the solution we came up with was to always, always leave the washer door open. As the person who does laundry 90 percent of the time in our household, this is the method I have always, always used for all the years we have had this washer. 

The other day, Carla spilled something. As she usually does, she stood over the spill exclaiming, “Oh no!” and I said in exasperation, “Go get a towel and clean it up!” We have a towel in the laundry room for JUST THIS PURPOSE. It is on a small hook attached to the washing machine, and I use it to dry my hands when I use the laundry room sink, and Carla knows (supposedly) to go grab it if she spills something. 

My husband was AGHAST.

“That towel isn’t for SPILLS,” he said with quiet and horrorstruck urgency. “That towel is for wiping the inside of the washing machine.”

But… it ISN’T for wiping out the inside of the washing machine, because I have literally been using it to dry my hands and Carla has been using it to mop up spills. (She is eight; spills are frequent.) (I hope you understand that we replace the towel once it has been used. It hasn’t been the exact same towel hanging there, collecting hand water and floor spillage, for years on end.)

“No….” my husband was clear. And clearly appalled. “It is for wiping out the machine. That’s WHY it is there.”

He was under the impression that I had been wiping out the inside of the washing machine – including under the rubber seal that attaches to the door – Every Single Time I did the laundry. 

Well. That has not happened once. Not one time. Because the towel was for wiping up spills. THAT’S why it was there. 

My husband pointed out that we had purposely purchased a Command hook and attached it to the washer and hung a towel on it… for wiping out the machine.

Please imagine, if you will, a man who loves you deeply and yet who is so completely gobsmacked by your inexplicable behavior that all he can do is stare, his expression a mix of bewilderment and horror, his mouth open in a half-formed “why???????” while he tries to swallow the urge to howl in whatever word appropriately conveys the strongest form of exasperation known to humankind.

I have done laundry twice since and have used the towel for its intended purpose. Time will tell if I continue to do so. After all, not once has the washing machine molded or smelled in all the time I have been misusing the towel. 

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Last night my husband read me an email about a potential job opportunity (this is A Perk [no] of marriage to a physician: getting dozens of recruitment postcards/emails daily touting all the wonderful! opportunities! in unnamed cities all over the country) in a city out west, and I remarked casually that I thought that’s where my high school ex-boyfriend lived. Then when I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that I was wearing a sweatshirt that once belonged to that same ex-boyfriend, and I figured this is where the Lifetime Movie of my alternate reality would start playing sleazy music and it would turn out that I had been having a steamy affair with my high school ex-boyfriend for years unbeknownst to my poor unsuspecting husband. Listen, Lifetime is as hard-up for content as we all are.

Do you have clothes that once belonged to an ex? Or… other things? I don’t know what those other things might be; all I have is this sweatshirt.

And I have it – and persist in wearing it twenty-odd years later – not because it has anything to do with the ex, but because it is the softest most comfortable sweatshirt ever made. (I used to think its unusual softness had something to do with his mom’s fabric softener; she used one of the liquid versions, like Downy or Snuggle, while my mother used fabric sheets. But considering the woman hasn’t run it through her ultra-specialized laundering process in more than two decades, I’m no longer certain.) 

There’s really nothing sordid about the sweatshirt. The ex and I didn’t come to some tragic end or anything.  We simply broke up when I went to another state for college, which meant that we ended the relationship on a no-fault note rather than going through the excruciating process of learning that we are absolutely not compatible in the long-term. I am glad that we broke up on friendly terms, but I am also glad that we broke up, full stop. (I feel duty bound to tell you – get the Lifetime people on standby – that I still exchange Christmas cards with the ex’s mother. She writes * Christmas letters * – nice long ones! – and so I get a mini-update on her and my ex AND his brother, with whom I was friends in high school. That’s the closest and only contact I have had with the ex since my husband and I saw him at his brother’s wedding back in the early 2000s.) 

I no longer remember if the ex gave me the sweatshirt, or loaned it to me, or whether I purloined it from his house or locker. But I do love it. It does have some sentimental value, because it has the name of my high school on it. (Not that my memories of high school are good, heavens no; if I think too hard about high school I sink into a quicksand of shame and despair.) But mainly it is just very comfortable. It’s thin enough to wear on a balmy evening when you wish you had more than a T-shirt on but aren’t ready for the heavy artillery (wool; turtlenecks). And somehow, no matter how old I get, it’s always the exact perfect size: just a little baggy. It’s a great sweatshirt. I own many, many sweatshirts and none has ever come close. A rat is going to build a nest in it now that I’ve extolled my love for it publicly.

The only other “borrowed” item I have is a sweatshirt from my best friend. We met in middle school. We haven’t lived in the same state since 1999, but I still consider her my best friend (spouses excluded). I was never a big fan of borrowing/lending clothing, but I loved to borrow her stuff. She has always been super fashionable, and she always had the chicest clothes, like stuff from the Gap and Banana Republic, when we had neither store even in our state. I don’t know how or why I came to be in possession of this particular sweatshirt of hers. I don’t wear it often – it’s kind of like the sweatpants of sweatshirts, which both does and does not make any sense at all, so I’m hoping you understand what I mean. Every time I wear it, unlike with the sweatshirt that once belonged to my ex, I think of my friend and smile. In that case, it’s the original owner that makes the sweatshirt precious, rather than the sweatshirt itself being great. 

My husband does not care in the least that I sill wear the ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt. It is an interesting mind game to imagine how I might feel if my husband still wore a sweatshirt that once belonged to his high school ex. Even considering I went to lunch with my husband and TWO of his high-school ex girlfriends back in the years before we were engaged, I think I might be in favor of accidentally shrinking it in the wash. And yet I would be outraged – OUTRAGED – if my husband seemed the least touchy about my beloved sweatshirt (which once belonged to my ex). (That is a very different sentence indeed than saying “my beloved ex’s old sweatshirt.” Make sure you know what your adjectives are or could be modifying, people!) Fortunately, my husband is not going around wearing ex-girlfriends’ old clothes so I haven’t had to reveal what a dirty double standard bearer I am.

I don’t think anyone has any old clothing of mine, so no one is out there pining away for me or thinking of me fondly. At least not in a sartorial way.

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Yesterday, I parted my hair on the opposite side. It felt and looked very weird and I do not think I will repeat that particular experiment.

 

One of the remarkable things about These Unprecedented Times is that going to the grocery store has now become such a major source of stress. I realize this is not a new topic nor a concern specific to me. But I am Right In It now and it’s so odd. I literally had stress dreams about the grocery store last night – where I discovered at the last minute that the store was open a whole hour before I thought it would be and I was able to dash in and grab some half-and-half. I mean, this is causing Major Anxiety these days which is absolutely ridiculous.

It’s been about twenty days since I last set foot in the grocery store, and a little less than two weeks since I picked up a curbside order (which did NOT contain half-and-half). I was supposed to go to the grocery store yesterday, a plan I’d been working toward for many days. Our store opens at eight and has seniors/immunocompromised shoppers hours until nine. My plan was to arrive right at nine and get in and get out quickly. But my husband actually had patients that morning (which is A Good Thing) and had to go into the office, so I couldn’t go. He has patients this morning, too (also A Good Thing). So yesterday we decided I would go later in the afternoon, once my husband got home.

I ordered a mask, which is supposed to arrive sometime later this week. So I fashioned a mask out of an old baby blanket and hair ties. And I got all dressed — in actual Real Clothes — put my hair in a bun, even put my contacts in, and drove to the grocery store. And then I chickened out. The parking lot was SO FULL. And there was a line of people outside stretching along the entire side of the building. Which I know is a good, smart innovation. And yet it made me feel all panicky and trembly so I turned around and came home.

But we obviously still need groceries. So I filled a virtual cart at the grocery store that offers curbside pickup. Curbside pickup is not ideal – for one thing, I worry that I am taking a spot from someone who has limited mobility or is immunocompromised or for whom going into an actual store is otherwise difficult/impossible. Plus, on a selfish level, it’s so much easier to be able to decide on the fly that the store doesn’t have fresh strawberries so I am going to get frozen berries or blueberries instead, rather than counting on the grocery store shopper to find an appropriate substitution. Curbside pickup is not something I am relying on, is what I’m saying. But it worked fairly well the first time I did it. And I figured it would be good to have a backup if I can’t get to the store myself, or if I do  get to the store but they are out of half-and-half.

The app for curbside pickup allows you to choose a date and time from a selection of five upcoming days. At least, that’s the idea. These days, all the spots are full. This means that the earliest possible date I could hope to pick up my order would be this coming Sunday. And that’s only if I happen to open the app at the exact right time and catch the new pickup times before they fill.

This happened last time, too. I stalked the app for three days at all hours of the day. The timeslots opened up one morning and I was able to grab one. So I tried it at midnight last night… and then woke up at five to try it… and then seven… and then kept checking all through the eight o’clock hour… At nine o’clock, the app added Sunday as an option… But all the timeslots were full.

This is not anything to be Truly Panicked about. We still have plenty of food. But we are down to our last package of ground beef. We have only one remaining can of chickpeas. We have no eggs. And we are going to run out of half-and-half ANY MINUTE NOW which makes me feel very anxious.

This is all SO RIDICULOUS. I know that I am in a very, very privileged situation. I think of the news footage of miles and miles of cars lined up at food banks across the country and I feel ashamed. We can OF COURSE survive just fine without ground beef and without half-and-half. We have PLENTY of food. Obviously, we are FINE. But it turns out that running out of half-and-half is my personal grocery store breaking point.

Can I also say that my husband and I are having… disagreements about grocery shopping? We have always been on opposite ends of the preparedness spectrum. Even in The Time Before, I have always been the type of person who prefers to have a backup ready to go before I even start to run out of something. For instance, Carla eats a lot of frozen pancakes, so I always have two boxes in the freezer. When we get down to the last two or three of the first box, I put pancakes on the list. That kind of thing. (I also grew up in a remote, cold place where it was prudent to never allow your gas tank to be under half full; even today when I have a gas station within walking distance of my house, I still get very nervous if the gas dips below the half-full point. Maybe the food thing is related.)

Yesterday when I went to mix the ingredients for chili powder, I discovered that we are nearly out of paprika (which I use A Lot), and that we are – for me – uncomfortably low on garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. My husband sees that the (admittedly giant) canisters are still about a third full and says we don’t need the spices urgently. But to ME, I don’t WANT to need them urgently. I want to have backups ready to go.

The same goes for tortillas and chickpeas and sour cream and cheddar cheese and pancakes and iceberg lettuce and carrots and ranch dressing and chicken breasts and black beans and taco shells and hot sauce and onions and all the other things that make me feel like I can put together a normal and/or comforting meal. Do we need  cheddar cheese to survive? Of course not. But does it make me feel better to have a backup in the fridge? Yes.

This is how I would feel in Normal Times, too. But I feel it even more acutely now, when a) who knows when I will be a store where I can purchase these things and b) who knows if the store will even HAVE these items when I do manage to get there.

So my husband and I are experiencing a little friction on the groceries/necessities front, I have to say.

Part of it is that he is frugal and doesn’t see the point of spending money on something that you don’t actually NEED. (To which I say, but we WILL need this thing. Or, if not need, WANT.) Part of it is that he is not the designated shopper, neither now nor in Normal Times, and so doesn’t really fully understand the current shopping situation. I would guess he hasn’t set foot in a grocery store since late February, so he just doesn’t get how different it is. And/or he is in denial about how quickly the situation is going to improve. (Possibly never, says my doomsday brain.) He was surprised when I said that our online options for ordering spices (Costco and Penzeys are the ones I checked) were experiencing delays. (Not to mention that Costco’s website reacted as though oregano is a concept I made up out of thin air.) And yet, even when I point these things out – shortages and delays – he still seems to believe that we can just get whatever we want whenever want it. When I told him I was going to order curbside pickup, he said, “Oh great. Are you going to have it ready to pick up tomorrow?” and I had to temper my incredulous tone when I responded, “Of COURSE NOT, it will be Sunday AT THE EARLIEST before I can hope to pick up the things we ordered, and even then it is HIGHLY LIKELY that we will not get all of what we wanted.”

I would think that he would defer to me in this case, WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?

Pant,  pant,  panic, panic!

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This post is about that most controversial of marital subjects: division of chore labor.  Well, a sub-category, at least. So prepare for some boredom and talk of folding.

As the person who, for most of our relationship, works from home, I am typically the Main Laundry Person in our household. Over the years, we have developed a pretty solid laundry routine, wherein I have no trouble washing the clothing but then when it’s dry I leave it stuffed in the laundry basket or on the guest bed for months on end I fold Carla’s clothes and my own clothes, but only some of my husband’s clothing (underpants, socks) and then leave the rest of his stuff in neat piles so he can deal with it the way he wants to.

He’s not being weird. It’s just that there are specifications that I can’t meet.

For instance, he keeps all his undershirts in a specific drawer and he folds them in identical rectangles so that they all fit in the drawer.

Back when we were first married, I tried desperately to fold the shirts for him. I would go so far as to grab an already-folded shirt out of the drawer and try to use it as a folding template. Seriously. Is there anything more pathetic (or anti-feminist???) than a grown woman fretting over the perfect way to fold her spouse’s T-shirts? Picture me, setting a neatly-folded white Hanes T-shirt on the bed and then placing a recently (yes, we’ll go with recently) cleaned shirt on the same bed underneath it, and then trying to bend each sleeve into the center of the collar until the width matches the sample shirt, and then turning both shirts ninety degrees so I can then fold the bottom of the shirt up in such a way as to meet the desired depth and then triumphantly turning the newly folded shirt over to admire my obviously perfect work only to discover that I’ve somehow folded one sleeve in so far that the collar is not so much centered as all the way to the right, and the act of turning the shirt over has untucked the bottom and the finished product looks nothing like the template AT ALL, they are not in the same universe, this is a Picasso rendering of a folded shirt, maybe a raccoon wandered into the bedroom and tried to make a nest in it, it’s unclear. Certainly the raccoon could have done a better job. So I shake out the “folded” shirt in frustration and begin again. Ad infinitum.

Listen, it is no secret around here that I am terrible at things like folding. Anything that requires precision and straight lines is beyond my capabilities. Whatever. I am good at other things. I type pretty fast. I can load a dishwasher. I’m good with knots.

What I’m saying is, even though I used a template, back in those heady days of trying-to-please-my-husband-in-impossible-ways-early-marriage, the shirts would be too square or too thin or not look in any way like a shirt or whatever and my husband would end up refolding them.

I don’t really blame him. They were ridiculous. Sometimes I’d bury my worst attempts at the bottom of the pile and top them with the one shirt that looked somewhat like a folded shirt should look and less like a deflated smear of whipped cream with a “tagless” tag.  So I knew they weren’t up to his standards.

But I have to tell you something, and that is that I have my own drawer of T-shirts. T-shirts that I folded, all by myself. And they all fit in the drawer. Maybe not perfectly, maybe there’s some squashing. But my T-shirts are for exercise and sleeping, and his T-shirts are for wearing under other shirts, so an errant wrinkle here and there shouldn’t be a big deal. What I’m saying, I guess, is that while I understand his T-shirt folding preferences, I don’t think that they are necessarily any better than my own. Or… maybe they are better, but not so much better that they should require their own individualized folding process. And that maybe he should have just let me fold the shirts and be done with it.

I’m not saying that he’d chastise me or anything. He wouldn’t. Probably, in his infinite patience slash kindness he would thank me. But when he’d inevitably refold the T-shirts, I would feel such a mixture of emotions. Shame, for the horrid failure of my fingers to assemble his shirts into something resembling folded. Frustration, for spending time and energy trying to do something that he felt compelled to redo. Irritation at my husband for being so particular (as though I don’t have a specific way I fold, sort, and hang my own clothes). Wounded exasperation, because I was doing something NICE for him, and he didn’t APPRECIATE it. And despair, because certainly this was an indication that my marriage was bound for failure and also did I possibly have some sort of neurological disorder that was impairing my ability to fold.

I mean, seriously. If you go out of your way to do something nice for someone else, shouldn’t they APPRECIATE IT? So what if it isn’t perfect? It’s the THOUGHT, right? Whatever happened to not looking a Chore Horse in the mouth????? This Chore Horse is SAD!!!!!!

You may wonder why my husband continues to live in my home with me when I tell you the T-shirt thing is just one example of many. The only other example I can come up with is also laundry related: I wash the towels at regular intervals and, because I enjoy being at Towel Zero, that usually means that they are all in the wash at once. And sometimes I forget to, you know, dry the towels. Or maybe if I do dry them, I forget them in the dryer. And then my husband gets mad because he inevitably gets in the shower and then turns off the shower and realizes not only are there no towels hanging helpfully off of the towel rack but there are NO TOWELS AT ALL in the linen closet.

And when he gets annoyed at me, I get petulant. I WASHED THE TOWELS, MAN. Is that not enough for you? (I mean, I also apologize and go get him a towel. Obviously. Am not a sadist.)

Well.

When I get beyond the stage of exasperation, I completely understand where he is coming from. I am not so morally superior that I don’t have preferences for how I do or like certain things. I can’t think of any examples now, of course, because that would cede too much ground, but I am sure they exist. And I do, really truly, understand the rage that comes from exiting a shower, cold and wet and shivery and possibly late for work, and finding that all your towels are placidly soaking in OxiClean for the twenty-third consecutive hour. Let’s be honest. It’s a wonder he hasn’t divorced me and taken all the towels.

What I’m trying to say is that I get where he’s coming from.

And he is, or at least has been on multiple occasions, right that sometimes there just is a BEST way to do things.  The towels, right. I mean, obviously the Best Way is to dry them and put them back in the closet and maybe even hang one on the towel rack for easy post-shower access.

And, why not, let’s talk MORE about towels. For years, my husband would refold the towels that I’d just folded. Shame, frustration, irritation, wounded exasperation, despair. He claimed there was a Best Way. I maintained that my way got them done and folded and in the closet, therefore it was Good Enough. But then he taught me how to fold them (somehow what I cannot achieve with undershirts, I excel at with towels) and he is right: when a stack of towels is folded exactly the same way, it fits better in the closet and it’s easier to fetch down a new towel when you need one! And the rest of the towels don’t slump all over the shelves in desperation! So I acknowledge that there is a Best Way to do some things. Maybe many things. But not all. NOT ALL. Sometimes DONE is good enough.

Have I established that I understand a) there can actually be a best way to do some things and b) when I don’t/am incapable of the best way, my husband is justified in being irritated?

Okay. So let’s go back to my frustration. The frustration of doing something – perhaps not best but done – and having it rejected.

At what point do you say, I love this person and will exhaust my body and soul trying to execute a task to his exact specifications and when do you say, Spouse, love of my life, accept it the admittedly inferior way I do it as Good Enough, or do it your frogspam self?

The towel thing is something I have to work through; it’s mean, to leave a person dripping and towelless with no recourse. Doing towel laundry half way is most definitely NOT the Best Way OR Good Enough.

As I mentioned above, we have evolved a workaround for the shirts issue. I just don’t fold them. I don’t like it, because it makes the task seem unfinished. And it reminds me of my Folding Weakness, and no one wants that shoved in their face week after week. But it works. I don’t have to not-fold his shirts for endless hours. He doesn’t have to refold the Dadaist art I’ve presented to him as a pile of folded laundry. And his shirts are all meticulously rectangled and fitted into their drawer. Everyone wins.

But there are probably oodles of OTHER things where the specificity of the end result is less critical. Like the loading of the dishwasher. Does it really matter that my husband insists on putting the bowls on the top rack of the dishwasher when I would put them on the bottom rack? No, not really, as long as they get clean and don’t prevent other dishes from being included in the wash cycle.

Does it really matter that I leave a puddle of water on the counter next to the sink, when that space is reserved SOLELY for dirty dishes, and when it is washed each night before bed anyway? No, not really.

Does it really matter that I believe the washer can, as it claims to, hold laundry up to the “top row of holes” while my husband believes I am overfilling it and preventing it from agitating properly? (I ask you, when have I ever prevented something, including my own self, from agitating properly???) Since neither of us has ever unloaded the dryer and found a still-dirty item of clothing, not really, no.

My personal opinion is that there is very rarely a Best Way to complete a chore. The person doing the chore should, within reason, have freedom to complete it in his or her individual way. Complete it being the key term; I would be the first to agree that washing a towel and then NOT DRYING IT is not “completing” that particular chore. And if someone is kind enough to do a chore – by it’s very nature a thing that few people actually want to spend their time doing – the other person should be grateful and not nit-picky. And if doing it in some perceived Best Way is such a big deal to the other person, well then, he or she can take it on him- or herself for the future.

This is where I want to hear what egregious errors your own partners have made under the auspices of Doing A Chore. And I want to hear your examples of which things have a clear Best Way and those that can be completed successfully in many ways. And your squabbles about Best vs. Good Enough. Tell me all of them!

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