Tag Archives: relationships

Home is a Who

I met him on a Monday, and my heart stood still…. and so the song goes (for those of you who are purists… the song is actually “I met him on a Sunday” by the Shirelles).  We had our first cup of coffee and then he asked if he could take me to dinner.  I told him that I had to walk the dog.  He asked if he could meet the dog.  I acquiesed, because Charley, who was my roommate at that time and my beloved border collie mix pooch, was  a very good judge of character.  And so it began…we went to dinner and I found out that he was not a fan of Frank Sinatra, he wore very nice clothing and he was very creative and had a lot to say and I was in the mood to listen to every word.  He also took his mother out which I thought was a nice trait, especially when he would bring her back.  Thoughtful, I thought.  We spoke every day back then even though he said he was not a phone person. We progressed to spending time together every day which turned into weeks and months and marriage and life.  And there we were and here we are.

Sharing a home is often an experiment in compromise, collaboration and sorting out the conflict.  It is also a marriage of creativity, a cultural exchange and contentment.  A home is more than a space but is a metaphor for feeling safe when the world is fraught with inexplicable and insurmountable madness.  We found each other, my FHB and me, later in life.  There didn’t need to be a lot of time to figure out that we were walking in the same direction, didn’t want drama, and wanted harmony.  We started out as adults and then began to remember what it was to like someone and then know that it was bigger and deeper and very personal.   Having been alone for a while without a partner re-established my understanding of my own strengths, subborn determination to do it on my own and to know that I was capable and smart.  It took a while to allow myself to lean on and into someone who was gentle and generous and very helpful.  I don’t ask for help…that’s the stubborn. I’m working on it.

We do projects…my Lucy moments to his Ricky minutes.  I can feel the eyes roll even if I am not in the same room.  He is metered in his thinking and creating.  I am impulsive and pushy to get things done.  We’re not getting any younger so let’s take only a minute not an hour and let’s do it!  It’s not easy, for either of us.  We are in the coordinating doctor’s appointment years and the “Talk louder” moments.  But we still inately can read each other’s minds at times which saves a lot of wear and tear and brings a lot of laughter and smiles.  My FHB has made our space our home, not only in the furniture and design elements he has created, but every time he walks in the door, I feel the “homing signal”.

Happy Anniversary, my FHB….thanks for all the days ahead of us and for all the ones we filled already.

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Marriage Word Salad

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So, yesterday I was puckering up for what I thought was going to be a chaste kiss between my FHB and me, while I was doing some paperwork at the dining room table.  I lifted my chin up so he would not have to reach down too far and the words out of his mouth somewhat killed that moment.  If I remember them correctly, or in paraphrase perhaps, he said “When you put your neck up like that you look just like  a whale who has a neck full of krill”.  My retort “…so you are calling me a whale?” and there went the romance, out to sea like Ahab looking for the Great White One, elusive and ridiculous. He walked away, muttering.  Maybe he was saying something meaningful but I am pretty sure that it was closer to a mumble than a romantic comeback.  Ain’t love grand.

Actually, love is pretty great 99.99999 percent of the time.  The other .00001 percent is just annoying.  I actual revel in the bantering since later that day, I looked at myself with my neck stretched up and made a funny face in the mirror, while we stood side by side at our respective sinks.  I commented, innocently of course that “I look more like a lizard, right?”.  My FHB, ever the non comeback kid stated, for the record, ” I have long since given up responding to your comments”.  He told me that I didn’t look like a whale, just the lines on my neck.  I turned to him and suggested he was merely changing feet in his mouth and left it at that.  And so it goes.

It’s difficult to measure the timeline when we went from loving romantic comments to non-filtered observations.  It seemed like the wind shifted and here we were or are, comfortable in the knowledge that we love one another but words sometimes just get in the way.  The nuances of language paired with the honesty of the passage of time in a relationship sometimes is fraught with sharp edges.  Perhaps couples should have stop, slow down and yield signs to put up when the terrain is getting dangerous.

In the morning I have a routine, much like other folks and I go through the preparation of breakfast and lunch for us both since I leave about an hour before my FHB does.  I wake, put the cat bowls in the sink to soak, rinse and refill while the cat gives me the stink eye as she is clearly hungry.  I start the water for coffee to go(for me) and perhaps oatmeal for us both or something pretty portable to bring to work.  While this is happening, my FHB fills our big water bottles with ice and water to have for our day.  He also is in charge of getting our vitamins, supplements and assorted meds together, mine to go and his to take.  Somehow, in the space that we share in the loft, he is always in my way.  I am never in his way, believe me.  It reminds me of raising children and having a hungry dog underfoot.  No matter where I am, they are, slowing down the process.  I am relatively silent in the morning.  However, when there is an invasion of my personal prep space, I kind of growl.  It is one of those moments when I could say “excuse me” but I choose to mutter to myself about the lack of space for two of us to coexist.  I am not so delightful, I guess. I am grateful for the pill sorting and the water filling.  He is conscientious and precise.  I am moving like a short order cook with a diner full of boy scouts back from a hike.  I then decide to shower, and hope  that afterwards,  that the coast is clear to finish my tasks, gather my stuff and leave the loft to start the day.  Now dressed, made up and refreshed, I  re-enter the kitchen area, take a step back and look at the man.  He is usually sitting on the couch, watching the news.  I can’t help but smile.  The mornings would be nothing without him and neither would I.  I always call out I love you” , and he doesn’t miss a beat and says he loves me too.  Day by day….

 

The ties that bind

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Sometimes in marriage, the function of the collaboration might seem like an LLP. If we borrow, in a broad sense, from the legal definition, one partner is less liable in a situation than the other partner, in misdeeds and debts.  The counter to that might mean that when things go well, we both take the credit.  Tonight’s episode of “Installing a New Modem” was brought to you by our local cable company (who I will not credit, as they will charge me for naming them).  We don’t have a choice because we live in the loft and everyone is forced into a relationship with this corporation.  Sometimes my FHB and I make decisions, not in haste, but rather out of necessity because our options are few.  Of the two of us, he is the person who really uses 97.48% of the television time, and that figure is probably a rather conservative number.  I use the internet more, and the home phone, which is the trifecta in this formula, is hardly ever used.

Recently, we were trying to do something called streaming, which apparently has nothing to do with fly fishing, although I thought that was a good guess.  We wanted to watch a particular show on Amazon, who will be named, because I get “free” two-day shipping for $99 a year.  A corporate “friend”, right? Weeks ago, because we could not watch the show without it doing something called “buffering”, which has nothing to do with nail care, although I thought that too, was a good guess, we had to call for tech support.  We would be able to watch five minutes of the show, and then it would “buffer”.  It was beyond annoying.  So my FHB had a conversation with someone in consumer relations (hah, a misnomer if I ever heard  one).  Somehow, the end result was that we signed on for another two years, paid several dollars less, with the promise of better, bigger, and  more bandwidth (which has nothing to do with the size of a marching band…).The story did not end there, because it did not improve either our ability to watch the show, or our mood, which quickly soured.  I spent close to two hours of my life, that I will not get back, talking with some people, who, when the conversation came to an end, informed me that we had done something wrong by not replacing the old modem with the new, faster than lightning speed, modem.  The customer is clearly never right.

My FHB went to replace the said modem, and brought it home and then the fun began.  I would like to say that the television is important to me, but it is not. It takes up valuable wall space and it is a box filled with noise, rarely sound.  However, as in a three-legged race, you have to work as a team, or everyone is unhappy and you trip over one another.   We had to re-set the program, come up with a password, copy all sorts of weird code words and this was the last thing I was interested in doing.  Yet, do it I did.  We both have strengths when it comes to the household technology.  Somehow, which is really odd for me to say, but I am better at figuring out the computer.  He is far better with the television.  I still never know which stations are which number.  I understand the microwave, he takes care of the electric toothbrushes.  In actuality, we did everything we needed to do and the problem still exists.  Oh, yes, did I mention, that the bill for our trifecta, arrived today by email.  Gotta love it.

Sometimes, we talk about a snowstorm we had five years ago when we lost all technology and heat and light for five days in our little house in the woods.   Even our stove needed an electric start.  We talked of being “off the grid”.  It was romantic and unrealistic and for the first 72 hours, was almost fun.  Then it got cold, and dark and not so much fun. Perspective and context.  We are a good team, both in problem solving moments, and in the rest of life.  When two people, one who is over six feet and the other is under five feet, run a race tied together, it is a recipe filled with laughter and compromise.  Still laughing.

 

Finding the funny

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I like it when a day works out better than expected.  Of course, the bar for a decent day might have been set low but that actually makes it seem as though there are more good days that bad ones.  I think in business or economics that is called adjusting for margin.  In social work-ese, we look for strengths of positivity.  Every discipline has its lingo.

I strive, often unsuccessfully, to be an optimist, but often settle for being a pragmatist.  I find that in marriage, it is good if one person is at one end of the spectrum attitudinally, and the other is closer to the other.  I am not referring to one Pollyanna and one Eeyore but somewhere in balance.  If my FHB and I  were exactly the same in temperment, one of us would be redundant. It makes for the mystique of relationships.  This week was filled with some very sad moments on an interpersonal level and some on a sociopolitical level.  The unexpected death of a young person make you take pause and reflect.  My FHB lost a colleague and that was very difficult.  The death of a group of people just riding their bikes on a beautiful day, that was jarring.

Maneuvering through emotional terrain is never easy.  Sometimes you have to find the funny because those moment become the links that help you survive the rest of the madness and sadness.  A few days ago a neighbor commented on my hairstyle looking different and good. We don’t see one another too often, so I didn’t want to burst her complimentary bubble, and let her know that essentially I have had the same hairstyle since I was about seven, just different iterations of the “pageboy”,which is now called the “bob”, for those of you not in the hairstyle know.  Accepting compliments is not my strong suit, as I struggle to say thank you, as opposed to clarifying that they don’t really know what they are talking about. I am working on it.  I work hard at not saying that the outfit is not new, the hairstyle is not new, and the glasses are new, but a couple of months old.  Some days, I am just fighting with the nice words coming my way.

Being together with my FHB for many years now, I don’t expect  compliments.  I know that if I am having a moment, and ask how something looks, it will be “fine”.  I don’t like too many compliments and he doesn’t dish them out gratuitously, so it is a good system.  However, I made mention that the woman on the elevator, who he probably doesn’t remember, liked my hair.  We were standing in front of our respective sinks getting ready for bed, at the time.  He turned to me and said “Did you get it cut or something?”.  I said no, and he said “Then why did she say that?”.  I felt the need to bait and fish.  I said “Because she was paying me a compliment!” He looked at me, quizzically and said “Why?’  I looked at him looking at me with a real look of concern, couched in blankness, and I said “People just do that, to be nice….”  He said he didn’t get it.  I didn’t disagree.  I proceeded to let him know that on Friday (today) I would be getting my nails done, and on Saturday, I would be getting my hair cut and that next Thursday I would be getting a facial (last one seven years ago).  He looked panicked.  It was like check, I was going in for the checkmate. He didn’t have a move.  I said, “so your line on Friday is …”What color are your nails?”  Redundant, but a conversation filler.  I then said, on Saturday, your line is ” Hair looks nice…or something to that effect”.  To wrap it up, I mentioned that next Thursday he might want to ask if my face felt good post facial.  I like it when he looks stymied.  He walked out of the room mumbling.  All this self care stuff is a lot of work.  The best part, after looking at my nails, hair and soft smooth face, is looking at his face looking back at me, shaking his head.  We both laugh because we know, we found the funny. Often that is the connection that safely helps us navigate through a tough week.

 

Questions I ask myself

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I attempt to keep most of my thoughts in my head, locked down, to myself.  I often wonder, however, if my thoughts are similar in content to those of other people.  They are the questions that occur during moments when I am alone, in the car, the elevator or walking around.  Since connecting with others is part of this weblog thing, it crossed my mind (vast and dusty like the solitary highways of New Mexico) that I should see what others think and whether there is someone else out there who has had the same question at some point….

  1.  Should I worry about misplacing both a pair of shoes (Ked boatshoes, size 8) and my sunglasses (Rayban with kind of a Jackie O look but not black) this week and whether they are together somewhere, hiding from me, as a joke?
  2. When I walk in the morning and I pass the same people twice, and have already greeted them the first time, do I give eye contact, and just a smile or greet them once again? Is there a point where that is considered “too friendly”?
  3. Is there a parallel universe which is something I consider when I see a car exactly like mine, and wonder if I am in it driving that car….and whether the shoes and sunglasses are in that car possibly? Would I freak myself out if I saw myself?
  4. Does everyone, who drives, ever go on a road, or a curve in a road and remember a song that you heard a long time ago at that same point in the road?
  5. Many times I will make a really nice dinner, but serve it at a somewhat later time (after 7:30 pm) and put it on the table and just stare at it and realize that I am actually more tired than hungry and why did I waste that time, when my FHB would have  happily eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
  6. Is it better to put an excessive amount of money in the meter than cut it close and not put in enough, and the next person will have time on the meter when they get there and that’s a nice thing to do?
  7. Corollary to above….it is a really awful thing to run in to wherever I’m going without putting any money in the meter because I am not going to use more than five minutes of the twenty for my quarter?
  8. If I am in a rush and I get on the elevator and hear footsteps coming around the corner, am I obligated to wait a minute or can I just close the door and send it back up?
  9. If you are sitting with your FHB (everyone should have one) and you glance over, as you are recounting a story that you felt was important to share, and you notice that they are watching the television and clearly are not listening, and clearly not disguising this, do you stop talking or just prattle on till you decide you are done?
  10. How much time should I give between declaring a personal item (or pair of shoes) misplaced and then lost?
  11. Sometimes I eat something while I am busy, and put it down and do something else, but in the back of my mind I remember that I didn’t finish it, and then have to search for the last piece,  I am curious if this is a common phenomenon or is it just me?
  12. Does it count if I start a book but don’t finish it to the very end, to say I read it?

So, these are not profound questions and none of them are life altering.  I think we all have some quiet thoughts and some very loud ones which require knowing that we are on the right path to working them out or letting them go and that’s where we check in with someone else, for comfort or just reassurance.  If you have any thoughts of where the shoes are or sunglasses might be, I’d love some help.  Thanks.

An Open and Shut Case

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Many years ago, a supervisor I had, made the comment that tall people are reliant on short people, rather than the other way around.  From where I stand, I have moments when I agree.  My father used to say that the only difference between someone who is short and someone who is tall is merely the  shin bone, and that the butcher throws that bone away. I am fairly sure that this is complete nonsense but when I was shorter than other kids, I held onto that belief.  He was a giant among men, in my eyes, but was only about five foot six to other people.  Point of fact, I was rarely taller than other kids, but that just got me first or second position in line and the attribute of being “cute”.

One’s stature (height not social) is something that we have no more control over than our eye color.  It evolves as we do based on our genes.  It is not a character flaw but merely something that we attempt to measure up to because somehow that matters.  I live with my FHB (and Paka the cat) who is over a foot taller than me.  The cat is much shorter than I am but has access to much higher places because she is a cat.  The height disparity is more of a humorous detail in my FHB’s and my relationship.  The only bone of contention that I have, which he appears oblivous to, is that he leaves doors open, both room and kitchen cabinet and the kitchen doors are just at approximately my eye level.  I have to duck and cover at times so as not to make contact with the sharp corners. When we cook together, his approach to culinary organization, is to open every cabinet and look for things for a recipe.  He appears to make an attempt to find various ingredients, but it seems rather mysterious to him, almost as though I rearrange things at night, just to irk him.  He is hardly a guest in the house, but often, he will ask, in earnest “where do we keep the..” whatever it might be.  I will move him out of my way, and point up to what he is looking for, and like Sherlock Holmes, he has solved the case. I, am, of course, Watson.  I do rely on him to reach to the top shelf or cabinet which he does effortlessly and of course, he does not see that he leaves the door open.  He’s a good man and so I wordlessly ( but in my head, out loud) just close it after him.  It is almost comedic…almost.  He will open a closet door and walk away and sit down and do what he needs to and NEVER shut the door, ever.  It is as though, mid task, something else comes to mind, never to return to the matter, or door, at hand.  I sense, that I may be thought of as picky. Perhaps.

I think I need to balance my “issue”, which I own completely, with a positive event that my FHB and I shared a week or so ago.  We do collaborate and working on household projects, I am a loyal and helpful assistant. I can identify many tools by name and never call things “thing-ys”.  I watch This Old House and all the woodworking shows and seem to have synthsized many skills, none of which I actually use, because I am the assistant.

Last week, I put on a pair of earrings that I had ordered in the mail.  I had come home from work and the package was there. I have no ability to put off doing certain things that should probably wait, so I put on the earrings and admired my good taste.  One of my household commitments, is to the care and feeding of Paka.  This involves food preparation and cat litter box maintenance.  I am a responsible adult and while I am doing the latter, I go to my happy place in my mind, and just get the job over with.  Paka was quite pleased and left me with a little personally manufactured gift in her box, to thank me for recognizing that it had been time to clean.  Can’t say I was grateful.  As I washed my hands at the bathroom sink, I looked in the mirror only to discover, I was wearing one earring.  I was quite annoyed with myself.  I did a bit of  chastising and then scouted around the house, retracing my steps, which all led back to the cat litter box.   It seemed evident to me that the old litter, now in a trash bag,  might be hiding my new earring.  A quandry….what to do. Do I admit my flaw?  Do I venture to go on this dig unaided?  Yes, to the first, and no to the second.  I called in my assistant.  I explained what I had done and what needed to be done.  This is where my FHB rocks my world.  I put on surgical gloves (non sterile, good for when you make meatloaf).  I lifted the bag up and as my FHB patiently held the bag I sifted through it and move the contents to another bag after I used the litter scoop (my FHB’s brilliant suggestion) to transfer “items” and look for the earring.  He stood patiently, and did not say a word.  I can’t of course know what he was thinking, but I saw that he was committed to helping me.  The end of the story is that the earring never appeared despite our joint efforts at search and recovery.  Luckily, I didn’t invest much, but they were pretty, and they did look good for about five minutes (give or take).  He never said much about it and let me just stew in my own reckless misery.  That’s the synergy we create.  He’s open to helping and I just shut my mouth.

 

Control Freaks

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It rained today.  I washed my car yesterday. People around me were grousing (one of my favorite words) about the rain. I was sure that they knew about the car wash and would hold me responsible for the rain.  This morning the fire alarms went off in the loft building and I put on my dirty clothes that were sitting next to the hamper…okay sue me…and got my shoes on sans socks, grabbed my coat, phone, eye glasses and headed out the door. I did assure the cat that this was probably not a real fire so she didn’t need to worry.  Of course Paka gave me a glare that indicated “But  how are you  so SURE it’s not real and  yet you are so willing to abandon me?”.  I hurried down the staircase and heard lots of footsteps ahead and behind me as one of the neighbors was heading back up and told me that the sprinklers were being worked on and there was no fire.  I turned back to return up several flights. A couple of neighbors who  were appropriately anxious were just about to head down and I reassured them that there was no fire, just work being done, and they started yelling at me about not being notified.  I just smiled and squeezed by them.  I am not in charge as much as I like to think I am.

I would readily admit sometimes I act as though I am in charge of stuff or that I know how things are supposed to be.  A long time ago, before cell phones, my sister and I were meeting at a store that she had never been to, and I had been to once. It was not near either of us and there were no GPS directions, apps and no one looked at maps while driving alone.  I gave her directions, very explicit directions.  It was a matter of being absolutely adamant that I knew the way.  Did I mention that I will often say left when I mean right? I didn’t send her directions via snail mail since we didn’t have email or texts and skywriting was out of my budget.  I just told her in that tone, which she will icily recall, seems less reassuring and more defiantly demanding, as to how to get there.  Needless to say (another favorite expression which is clearly out of vogue), we both got lost but eventually found the store and there was still time to shop.  The store is long gone. I attribute it to being difficult to find.  In retrospect I probably should have used logic and contacted the store and written down the directions, rather than relying on instinct or memory.  I actually have a good memory for directions, but there may be something lost in translation since I often use landmarks that no longer exist but reference them in the “remember where the Gulf gas station used to be….” and so on.  Sometimes people are impatient about these things. I don’t get it.

Technology is still mysterious to me although I have a lot of devices that I use with some skill. The skill has been developed as a result of dumb luck and some intuition.  I can’t be bothered to be taught how to do things by my Gen X and  millennial age children. They are impatient with me since there was an obvious adaptation in DNA in the generations after I was created, that makes people in those age groups believe that I should just “listen and watch” and when I listen and watch, it still does not gel easily.  I’m no luddite and I am willing to be part of this great new world, but I will figure it out.  Yesterday, while in the middle of doing a project for work from home, the printer stopped actually printing but went through the lemon juice process wherein, it typed, but nothing actually appeared on the paper.  This was after I had “printed” eight documents only to find that I had eight blank sheets.  Screaming while living in a loft does not get you good results.  Trust me, the neighbors, whether they care about your safety or wellbeing will know, and they will give you knowing glances while waiting for the elevator.  I was hellbent on figuring out the problem with the printer. I did not have time to waste.  Ink supply, plenty on tap.  Paper, plenty in the tray.  Connection, no problem.  I went through the list and consulted with my FHB who after a cursory review from across the room, indicated things looked fine to him.  Gotta love the man.  I deigned to go to the computer’s website for an additional opinion and troubleshooting despite knowing that I already did everything anyone who knows everything would have done.  Kind of like the “is it plugged in moment” which it was.  The website encouraged me to consider, rather than tell me to, that I might want to clean the printer heads.  I hadn’t thought of that although I might have if I had more time.  I proceeded to follow their directions, begrudgingly.  Victory was mine.  Small dance of joy!  I am just brilliant under pressure.  People who know everything will understand what I mean.  This was an inherited trait that I learned from my father, who actually did know everything. All you had to do was ask him.  One of his favorite expressions was “I knew that!”.  He was the person in the family that others went to for advice.

I like to think I work well with others, as long as they know that I probably know what I am talking about. If not, they will come around.  I’m patient. It has taken me a lifetime to know that control is just another way to hold on to what makes you comfortable.  Learning to compromise in all my relationships has forced the issue, over and over again.  People are so stubborn.  We could save a lot of time and energy if I would just let other people lead.  Maybe that’s why I am not a good dancer, except with my very wonderful FHB.  At six feet tall, hovering over my four foot eleven inch stature,  he leads and I happily let it happy.  The choice is still mine, but if I want to dance, and I do, I let the music handle any differences.