Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grand Theft Now. Escape. Good.

Today is the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. My Mr. Husband was giddy like a little kid all day. Of course, he ran out to get an Xbox and the new game as soon as we got home from work. I swear he wore lightning wings to go out, shop, and come home so quickly. I didn’t even have the pizza ready and was still reading the mail when he returned.

And now he is gone. He’s gone to the Xbox. We still live in the one bedroom apartment, so we are right on top of each other. For the first couple of hours, I tried to play, smashing into walls with giggling grandeur. Then, I needed to see him play. He is an expert at the wheel. He knows video games. I remember when we’d first started dating, we were still in the make-out stage it was so early, he showed me with his hands how different game controllers work. He mimicked the movements as we cuddled up in the corner of my L-shaped couch. (My apartment was decorated as my parents’ basement circa 1985.) There was this strange gleam in his eye. He came alive. More alive than when kissing me. Well, not really. No. But it was a different kind of alive.

And so he’ll be gone for a few weeks. I’ll sit and watch him sometimes, sitting right next to him as we explore Liberty City together. We laugh so much because we’re escaping and, like, high. We’re not here. We are somewhere else. We are transformed. And we are relaxed.

Maybe I’ll sit and read sometimes, but mostly I’ll sit with him and watch. It’s a game that is easily as engrossing for passengers. I’m a passenger in his car. His stolen video car. I’m a passenger in his heart, and I just hope he keeps taking me along for the ride.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Generosity is a box of chocolates.

My Mr. Husband is extremely generous. So much so that I often am left jaw-dropped, open-mouthed at his financial acts of kindness. He has a view on money that is free and relaxed. We can always make more. We should enjoy ourselves within limits, and we should have nice things. He is fond of saying, “well, you get what you pay for.” And he’s most often right. Wait, he is always right. I think part of his ability to be right most times comes from the extremely large size of his head. They grow them that way in Scotland. Inside that enormous man-head is a super-sized brain that leads him to great acts of chivalry in the two thousands. He is a generous, giant-headed, gargantuanly gracious, and good man.

Every day I think that if his evil little wife could have one little ounce more of what he has in that great head of his, I’d be a better person. Maybe, at least, a little less evil.

Today is the Magic City Art Connection downtown. One of our favorite things to do is to visit art festivals and soak up the art, music, and carnival food. We love to splurge on our ever-watchful diets and eat heaping plates of gyro meat and rice. The porta-potties that always smell like the inside of everyone’s strange and mysterious bowels do not bother us on this day. We walk around, letting the magical color hit our corneas and light up the inside of our heads. All afloat with bright brush strokes on canvas and wood cut into silly shapes, we traipse around hand-in-hand with goofy smiles on our faces. Interested always in what the other has to point out. We examine the great crafts and then discuss what larger item we will buy. This is the exciting point of the day where our blood races and our hearts begin to pound in our chests with excitement. We’ll buy one larger piece that will be with us forever and bring us back to this day, this very moment, this hour in time.

Last year it was an incredible woodcutting with Thoreau running from the garden. We also purchased some whimsical children’s paintings that feature two black cats. Previously, we’ve purchased a large wooden ottoman tray that has become our dinner table, a large wooden bowl for Mr. Husband to pile all his man-stuff from his pockets in each night, and earrings. Ah, the generous act of kindness that got me started on this story. The first earrings Mr. Husband ever bought me.

I’d been dating Mr. Husband for a whirlwind three and a half months the first time we went to Art Connection in 2006. At that moment, the two of us were still amazed—struck with amazement—that we’d actually found another person who liked doing the very same things as ourselves. And Mr. Husband is not only generous with his finances, he is generous with his time and his heart. If there is something I really, really, really, really want to do, he does not hesitate to sacrifice. He is goodness through and through. And here we were in April 2006, walking around Linn Park among the 300+ little artists tents while rain spilled over us and we laughed and pinched ourselves to make sure it was all truly real.

We stood for hours watching the little Irish dancers, the giant belly dancers, and the other children and adults perform traditional foreign dances. What man can appreciate this type of activity? He can. Generous is he. We’d found a couple of wooden pieces that Mr. Husband, then Mr. New Boyfriend, purchased to spruce up the new apartment we had just begun sharing. I remember that day, thinking back on it—it was like we were falling down a water slide (it rained rather hard all day). There was this giggle ever constant in my throat and the smile never faded from my lips or from my dancing eyes. I followed him as we toured the tents, he with genuine interest.

We were both soaking wet and had come to the end of the park. It had been a full day. We stumbled upon a jewelry maker who was gone eating lunch, but her mother was watching the tent with it’s glass cases filled with nature-inspired jewelry. My eyes became large like the full moon hanging effortlessly in the evening sky as I gazed at pearl drop earrings with a leaf within the design. They were beautiful, elegant, and simple and they called to me like Tolkien’s ring might call to a hobbit. I was dazed and struck, and I’m sure I was drooling a little bit. Mr. New Boyfriend came waltzing up behind me and he caught my wonder. He watched. He took it in. He asked the price. I heard the price and my heart fell. They were expensive earrings. They were tiny works of art.

He didn’t stumble. He didn’t think twice. He told the lady we’d take them. I turned to protest and he reminded me that my birthday was right around the corner. He bought them for me and was rewarded with quite a little happy dance there in the rain, under the trees, alight in the forest, in front of the jewelry maker’s tent. To this day, they remain the most expensive pair of earrings I’ve ever owned. I wore them on my wedding day. They are a symbol of my Mr. Husband’s great trusting generosity. It is simple to make others happy by saying “yes” instead of “no” every once in a while. I’m sure that I floated home that day. I can still close my eyes and see the moment when he bought me those earrings that turned my world upside down. It was not so much the earrings themselves but the selfless act and the desire to make me happy, the willingness to act.
Though we are very careful with money, we do remember that every now and then it is more than ok to splurge and give ourselves a happiness that can only come from generosity in a material kind of way. My Mr. Husband is generous with most things, he is ever caring and thoughtful of others—he is always generous with his time and his love. He is the one I want to be.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Love 40.

I used to play tennis every day … before I met my husband. I had immersed myself with tennis. I played almost every night after work and then played all weekend. It was my life. I didn’t have a love life, so I had tennis. When I met Mr. Husband, he understood that tennis was my life. He re-arranged his life for my life. I’ve now done that for him with video games, but first came the Mr. Husband and his Big Tennis Give.

For the first six months of our relationship, he accompanied me on many tennis excursions. We even went to Mobile for the 3.5 USTA State Doubles Tournament where I got my butt kicked viciously due to the fact that hanging out with Mr. Husband was much more fun than practicing tennis. Totally. But practice, I did, half-heartedly. And he would come and watch and support me every night as he banged away on his laptop. He’s building a video game, http://vyde.com/, so he worked on this while I ran around on the hard courts late at night. My Mr. Husband was never athletic. Never at all. The fact that we went on a hiking honeymoon on the Highlands in Scotland is a wondrous mystery to his family. He is somewhat athletically savvy now. However, then, it hurt him to walk for distances that were longer than point A to point B, wherein point B is the car.

Today, we went out on the tennis courts. This was court visit #3 for Mr. Husband. At six foot, six inches, it’s hard for him to get moving and then hard for him to stop when he gets his frame into motion. He’s a beautiful wonder on the tennis court. He doesn’t mind that he’s terrible. He continues to try. He loves it. He smiles. He misses the ball. He smiles and tries again. He hits the ball outside the fence surrounding the courts. He smiles. He dumps the ball into the net time and again. He smiles. He misses the ball. And he smiles. I love his plucky tennis attitude. He smiles.

Our good friends Nader and Hind called and wanted to play tennis. Nader knows how to play tennis because he lost a bet about a Simpson’s trivia fact in 2004 and had to play tennis with me for 16 evenings. Hind, his wife, is naturally athletic and picks things up easily. None of us had stepped on the court in years. We were evenly matched for fun social tennis. The four of us bounced around the court and laughed as we made mistakes. Mr. Husband being the most non-athletic of the bunch did very well. I believe I’ll make a tennis player out of him yet. I believe it will happen. He’s six foot, six inches and a half – he’ll kill at the net. My family, who are all tennis players, have always looked at him with a spark in their eye. He makes them drool. The net game we could have! Just think!

He’s mastered Wii Tennis, why not the real thing? It is a wonder in marriage when your better half helps and tries at the things that mean most to you. I have this in my Mr. Husband. I learn from him and try to be more like him as he tries to be more like me and my family on the tennis court.

Attached is a photo of us in Mobile at a tennis tournament. He takes such good care of me. I want him to live forever. I think teaching him tennis will help me reach that goal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When Taxes are Fun.

Though I often feel like donning Indian red feathers when it comes to tax season, I’ve never actually done my own taxes. I’ve been fortunate enough to be taken care of by a careful father and a kind sister-in-law who is an accountant for a large cable company. The verb “coddle” comes to mind when thinking of how these family members care for me and my meager earnings each year. I’ve successfully weaseled my way out of having to do taxes myself. Ever.

For all the unholy avoidance I do to get out of managing my own tax numbers, I sure do a lot of complaining when the figures are read to me and judgment is final. I can’t stand not to have a tax return. To me, a world without tax returns is the bleakest of bleak nightmares—a place filled with torrential cold rain and vultures that pick on the living. That is simply not my world.

And in the door walks the first year of marriage with the debate over how to file taxes: separate or jointly. I don’t care how it happens, but I want my tax refund. I want my dream of traveling with the Dead and living in tents for a month off the money that Uncle Sam gave me back. I want my new rug (to pull the room together), and I want to spend this seemingly free money with wild abandon. I want to run through fields, giggling with glee as I feel the money building in anticipation of being spent in my pocket. There’s a whole lot that I get from my tax return that the typical person might not. My tax return is a whole bag of unicorns jumping over rainbows, turning wildflowers into candy that melts on the tongue while the giant warm sun sings silly songs from the 1950s. It’s magic.

My husband doesn’t share this magic with me. They are numbers. Taxes are not fun. We may not even get a tax return, he says. I call him “Robot Jeff” when he gets into his super-logical-consider-only-the-facts-state-of-mind. These are money matters and not the stuff that Dead tour and unicorns are made of. I think he started to glimpse into the hope-of-hopes hole that I keep my tax return thinking in when I began to cry yesterday in the car. He told me something about how not all people get a tax return every year. What?! What kind of world does he live in? Oh, yeah. Robot Jeff.

Well, while Mr. Husband Robot Jeff may be super-logical and have a brain the size of Texas, which keeps us incredibly warm and comfortable in the winter, he also has a weakness: video games. Robot Jeff was once small boy Jeff with dreams about dinosaur wrangling and spaceship flying. Yes. He used to dream.

This tax season, he’s taking back a little of the dream for himself. Instead of our putting all the returned money (yes, thankfully, we do actually get a tax return like “normal” people this year) into savings for the house we’re building, Mr. Husband has decided that half of the money should be spent with good old wild abandon! And once again, he proves that this is the man I love and simply had to marry: incredibly logical—a rock for me to depend on both emotionally and intellectually—while being super fun with hidden laughter dripping off of every finger and making happy puddles near his toes for only me to see. I like to think that I have the secret to his happiness tap—pour me a cold one, Sir, and see that you don’t skimp on the Grand Theft Auto. And now my husband wears a giddy smile as he thinks of the XBox he’ll buy, adding to our collection. He’ll be as a child with his new system for days. And me, I will ride a unicorn into the sun, seeking the mystical spending place for pouring out our seems-to-be-free-but-really-not-free-money back into the economy. America needs us. We are here. We are happy married couple spending with wild abandon for this limited time offer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

King of Husbands and Wife of Kings

After a couple years of taking such good care of my husband as to ensure that the man is physically and mentally crippled if ever I was not around, I’ve slowly begun to introduce him into the Domestic Chore Realm (DCR). This is very much like introducing a caged tiger that’s been raised in a zoo back into the African wilderness where he truly belongs. I must move slowly, be calm and understanding when he accidentally kills out of fear, and be patient when he cannot find anything to eat. I have introduced the Husband Monster to housework and the great reward that comes with helping out around the apartment.

We’re in the process of building a new house, so we are basically stuck in a place too small for quite a while longer. I must move ahead with my master plan before we have more space, which will surely overwhelm me and lead to my early inclusion at the local asylum. At this point in our brief marriage, I have complete confidence that my absence from his being will cripple Mr. Husband emotionally to such a great degree that I can take this crucial step in securing my sanity. We both work equal hours in the corporate world, so we are now working to establish a working equality at home. Next week, I’ll work on bringing socialism into the bedroom. The first step there will be to pick out matching uniforms.

I’ve found that in slowly and carefully migrating one Mr. Husband into the DCR, one will find greater success if man is clear of his role. I have achieved this by defining roles and removing all ambiguity from what might be expected. For instance, it has already been established with about five successful runs that Mr. Husband is the official keeper of the dishwasher emptying service. In order to help him better understand this role, a title has been added for increased understanding: Supreme Dishwasher Emptying Supervisor. While “Dishwasher Emptying Supervisor” might have successfully satisfied his confusion with the new job role, adding the qualifier “Supreme” has taken his role up 3.5 five levels and given Mr. Husband an increased pride in his job as he realizes that the wife and two cats clearly recognize his great worth. Clearly.

Fortunately, this system has begun working without any unforeseen glitches. Seamless. I didn’t even need to move to Plan B, which included the addition of badges and hats to increase the outward appearance of worth and, by so, tripling the obvious pride as is documented in the “Husband Helps Around the House More Than a Hippo” Principle from the famous Economic and Domestic work entitled Maybe Wollstonecraft Knew What’s Up (Adams and Johnson, 32). Additionally, one always wants to steer clear of Plan C that entails sharing Milton’s ornery discussion of marriage and the life thereafter. Yes, we must steer clear of that.

Anyhow, I have come up with a system of titles for Mr. Husband as he becomes more and more acquainted with the strange and unknown ways of the DCR. For instance, Mr. Husband has been known on occasion to carry any one or multiple titles like the following: Cat Food Bowl Referee, Auditor of the Laundry Basket and All Surrounding Fiefdoms, Chief Inspector of Carpet Vacuuming, Safety Inspector and Head Assistant to the Driver, Bathroom Floor President and Chief Technician of Pipes, Litter Box Lieutenant and Master of Poop, Manager of Bedroom Sheet Province, etc. More titles will be created and bestowed upon Mr. Husband as need comes to light.

Thus far, the subject has successfully migrated into the DCR with great aptitude. This wife is positive that the outcome will be favorable for all sides.

--Emperor of Happiness and Love