Tag Archives: relationships

The ties that bind


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


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


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


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


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.



I was remembering the little boxes of valentines that my mother picked out for me to write for every child in my class in elementary school.  The practice was that you wrote one so you would get one and no child was left out. So, even if I didn’t like someone, or they didn’t like me, we still exchanged valentines.  I found it to be a lot of work.  It seemed rather insincere but one of those politically correct things to do, long before there was political correctness.  Of course, as an aside, I think political correctness is currently understated, or maybe overstated. I haven’t quite decided.  Sigh….

I always had male friends, even as a little girl. They were cousins or children of my parents’ friends and I never liked them “like that” since they were more like annoying brothers.  The first time I remember really being interested in a boy was in fourth grade.  His name was “Dagwood” (a lie but you never know who’s reading this).  Dagwood didn’t know I even existed.  I just thought he was wonderful based on nothing that comes to mind now.  I didn’t know how to get his attention and I was not the female equivalent of suave, so what I came up with, on a Friday, when we had assembly and the girls had to dress in white shirts, blue skirts and some kind of weirdo red scarf was ,during art,  that I would paint the back of Dagwood’s shirt with a maroon colored paint that I had created.  Suffice it to say, it did not go well. Not only did I not get the boy, I got in trouble with the teacher, the principal, and my parents were not exactly thinking I was the next Vincent Van Gogh.  It was a “seemed like a good idea at the time” moment.  I’m thinking that if restraining orders were around then, Dagwood would have taken one out on me or I would have been charged with assault and battery with a paint brush.  I actually thought the shirt looked cool.  Having come up behind him brush in hand, just reinforced that I was a bit different, albeit creative (my thoughts, not those of others).  Dagwood and I never had a history from that day forward or backwards as it turned out.

I did have my first real boyfriend when I was thirteen.  He was three years older than me and we met at camp.  He was a counselor, I was a camper.  There were probably rules about that but it was a summer romance and I was totally in love.  He lived in my neighborhood and we spent the summer hanging out and it was good.  I went to my first concert with him  and saw “Every Mother’s Son” who were pretty much one hit wonders  of”Come On Down to My Boat” fame.  He met my parents, and my grandmother and I still have his high school picture which he inscribed “Not for a moment but for a lifetime”.  Then he dumped me for some southern belle he met in college.  Oh the pain.  It was the reverse of “See You in September” and more like “I’m heading south in September and you’re not in my address book anymore”.  One of his friends tried to “console” me, but I was not having any of that. I was a mess.  I’d just pine over his picture and try to figure out what went wrong.

Fast forward a couple of years to high school and college and dating and doing my own share of dumping some creeps.  I liked the going out part to concerts and movies.  I remember going to see “The Band” at the Fillmore East with my best friend’s cousin.  He was handsome and smart and he knew it. He was a jerk who called me by his ex-girlfriend’s name.  I’m over it.  It wasn’t love.  It wasn’t even like.  It was a great concert, but a not so great a date.

I always wonder, looking back in that rear view mirror we call perspective a.k.a. life, if love is the answer, what exactly is the question.  I find that easier to know now, decades later, that love is complicated and layered.  It has good days and not good days.  I sometimes look at my FHB and think “who are you?” and then I remember, you’re the man I choose to be with, even when it is a lousy day when I am both irritating and irritable.  More than that, I am apparently the person he chooses to be with when he is grumpish (made that word up, available for all to use) or obnoxious (or maybe that’s me). I met my FHB on a Monday and from that point forward after having a cup of coffee followed by dinner (which he counted as date #2), we just proceeded along like two friends who continue to share a good conversation.  Not all the conversations are easy but we don’t avoid them.  If I believed in Valentine’s Day as more than a commercial ploy to sell chocolate and roses, I would say he is my Valentine. I don’t need one day to celebrate, I need them all, 365 of them.

For those who celebrate…enjoy the day.




Apparently last week, Facebook celebrated Friend  Day which is actually not the same as Friendship Day which is celebrated in August (which does not have a lot of holidays unless you include VJ (Victory over Japan )Day which is only celebrated in the US in Rhode Island and is observed on the second Monday in August. There is also National Watermelon Day which is celebrated on August 3rd, just because.  I thought I should share a few thoughts about the cycle and circle that encompasses the world of friends.  I also must give a disclaimer that since I am not a television aficionado, my knowledge of the series “Friends”  would not get me on a game show like Jeopardy, because I rarely watched, and always got Monica and the other woman confused.  You know who I mean, the woman who married Brad Pitt and then was not married to him. So I know some things but few that matter.

My first friendships were people who were the children of family members, and  the children of friends of my parents.  I don’t think exposure to other babies that you meet in infancy really establish friendships but in my case, my parents’ best friends had a son born about three months after I was born and as infants we shared a crib when they got together.  A bit scandalous, don’t you think?  It was 1954.  As time moved along, we spent a lot of time together, but romance, nah, just a pal who I gave a Valentine heart filled with candy every year, and he returned it empty for the next years delivery. I don’t remember getting the heart back other than empty.  The yin and yang of friendship, back in the day. I give and you take.

I was pretty selective about my friends, which essentially means, I didn’t have too many.  I met other kids in elementary school and in fact have maintained connections with the same few friends over fifty plus years.  There were also people I knew and who knew me but there were groups of people who were closer in social proximity and I was on the outer rim, now known as acquaintances.  Along the way there were the connections with people who had similar interests or who just clicked with me and vice versa.  I met them through work or school or through boyfriends or spouses , who were just passing through, but the friendships endured and despite time and distance, still exist.

There are some friends who you never  physically have the opportunity to see because of circumstances but you know they are out there and if you called them in the middle of the night (which if you are in different time zones could be dicey) would still answer the phone and let you know they are there to listen, as though the last time you spoke was moments ago.  When you catch up with someone you haven’t spoken to in  a while, the best feeling is when you can laugh and remember and tell stories that you both recall, which to an innocent bystander might seem like the two of you are lunatics.  To laugh with an old friend is joyous. To cry with them is to truly know the grace of friendship.

As someone who self identifies as an introvert, I am more comfortable in my own space, than I am among a group of people. I can speak to large groups about matters that matter to me and educate them, but my desire is to go back to my safe space and keep my distance and quiet.  I take a while to observe a group’s dynamics before I make myself known or heard. I would have been a good ninja but I don’t like swords and I have a feeling the headband would fall in my face which would lead to other perils.  I am still particular about who I share my time with.  My FHB is at the front of the line and always will be.

I see the people in my circle as bits and pieces of an every expanding puzzle that has no borders and sometimes a piece falls away and another fits in better for the moment.  Our needs change and our need for companionship or kinship shifts.  It’s normal.  Sometimes having someone to have breakfast with, or go to a movie with (as long as they don’t talk or hog the popcorn) fills that need.  Friendship is a living organism that requires some attention at times and sometimes functions with benign neglect.  I am grateful for people who take the time to care and show interest.  I don’t think I need to know that there is a Friends Day or Friendship Day as those folks I consider my peeps know that they are loved, even when not loveable and even when we are far apart.  Friendship transcends time, space and the international date line.  Be a friend. Keep a friend.

Belamy…. an old  Middle French word that means a close or dear friend……