Thursday, June 26, 2008

Get this man an apron!

Recently, my good friend from high school, Jason, came to visit from California. In California, they do things way differently. Way. We already know this and accept it in our Alabama way. But there are some things that are different and should not be. These things should be here and now. They are things that should be upgraded in our little family unit. I was very embarrassed when Jason asked if Mr. Husband cooks. Cook? Like in the kitchen, you mean, not ordering pizza. I scrambled, fumbled, and dropped the ball. I tossed out some lame answer about how I’m such a control freak that I won’t let Mr. Husband into the kitchen realm. Totally lame. I admit it.

I was shamed. I kept hearing the question over and over again, “What does Mr. Husband cook ... cook ... cook?” Its echo haunted me and reverbertated in my head as I realized I've overlooked an essentially needful education. It was like the tell-tale heart of scarlet letters, and my shame spilled everywhere.

Mr. Husband has cooked in the past. He’s made two meals before. Once he made Hamburger Helper that I refused to eat and which he later agreed didn’t taste very well and refused to eat further. Another time he made what we thought were the world’s best hamburgers. So we thought.

I vowed, as God as my witness, I will never be shamed again … for something that I am in control of and which concerns my Mr. Husband’s ability to create a meal. I will not have a husband who does not know how to feed the children. I will have a husband who knows how to make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (his truly are the best—I’d enter them in an PB&J contest any day). And so this evening began the schooling of Mr. Husband and his culinary education.

This evening, on the way home from work, I announced that it was Mr. Husband’s cooking night. His eyes lit up with excitement. He asked what he would make on the side (we’re not to the point of planning the meal on his own, but that, too, will come). I told him “potatoes—we have some in the fridge that you can bake.” We’re also not to the point of full preparation for Mr. Husband. I diced the garlic and onion for the hamburger meat and added other random spices. We’re taking baby steps. I was the perfect and obedient sous-chef. Mr. Husband decided he wanted to cook the potatoes in a skillet. The dang bag gave him two options in the instructions. Stupid bag. Skillet cooking is hard. Baking on an oven pan is easy. It was his night. Skillet it is!

I relaxed and opened a beer to sit on the couch for TV watching as is Mr. Husband’s typical activity as I cook. Ultimate no-cooking freedom. I played the roll of Mr. Husband. He played the role of Mrs. Wife. The only difference in the role reversal is that I watched Jeopardy instead of Family Guy. I also knew that I might need to intervene at some point. As the apartment filled with smoke (as it had the other time Mr. Husband cooked burgers), I went to inspect the operation in the kitchen. Mr. Husband said, “this kitchen is way too small!” Aha! He understands my weary plight. The apartment continued to fill up with smoke as Mr. Husband removed the smoke detector from its ceiling mount and I tried to save the potatoes. It doesn’t say on the bag how one should cook with a skillet. Mr. Husband added butter, put a lid on, and cooked them on high. The poor things were burning and giving off a mountain of smoke.

Mr. Husband turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. He cranked up the ceiling fan. The entire time, there was panic evident on his brow. He turned the burgers and skillfully added cheese that he grated himself. He worked on his masterpiece in our Calphalon grill pan while I readied the buns. The result was incredibly good. It was better than good. He pronounced the burgers perfect and the best ever, “this is a tasty burger!"

And then he cleaned the kitchen. He loaded the dishwasher. He wiped down one counter. He put away the extra food. He was so cute working with sudsy water and skillfully piling plates and silverware into the dishwasher. He earned a new title this evening. He is the Burgher of the Burger. He is solid all-white meat. And he is good. We have a long way to go, yet, but this was a darn good start. He must learn to feel the food and to trust instinct instead of instructions on a bag. He must learn to clean the top of the stove. And he must learn how not to burn my $100 All-Clad frying pan.

And I must learn how not to be controlling and to give of my kitchen. I must remember not to be my Dad. Give of my time and consider that many nights in our new kitchen-to-come will be spent teaching and learning as we come together as gourmet super couple. With enough room, anything is possible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All I want is a fridge somewhere ... and a bug-free, marble-free zone.

In the year of decisions, we are making great progress in some areas, and in others—we are not. Those latter areas where progress seems stilted are areas that truly must wait. The waiting is the hardest part. We need to wait on buying our first refrigerator as we have no place to put the lovely once we purchase it. But she (our fridge has already been relegated to female status as the keeper of the food and the keeper of our dietary sustenance) is already a goodly part of the family. We don’t know if she’ll be a Kenmore, a GE, a Whirlpool, or an Amana, but we know she’ll be. She will live, and the finding of her (she hides and will only reveal her true self at sale time) is an adventure that fills the back of my head and every waking moment much to the annoyance of dear Mr. Husband.

It is a household task to find her—the perfect being in a fridge (if she be a being). She shall have filtered water and make ice cubes in different shapes and sizes. She will offer a space for our glasses that is both convenient and well-lit. She will have drawers that pull out without squeaking and offer little corners where we can store our fun, crisp foods that often wait to become moldy (it’s true). She will be sleek and have two doors, side-by-side. She will have a special place for holding our Diet Coke cans. She will have a front fa├žade that we will use to splash photos of our families across. Thank You notes will dangle from her sides as we remember time and again hand-written messages from family and friends. She will truly be a member of our family. She will display us in all our photo and Thank You note glory.

This is a great household task, household adventure, that will remain with us for years to come. It must be set upon with great care. Our current life is splashed across our fridge with love and little care. Bottle openers are convenient. Life is evident.

The fridge displays everything quite clearly. Other things in a home can be hidden and either jump out at you, drop on you, or roll away from you. Lots of action from you. (From me.)

My Mr. Husband is learning quickly about these out of control hidden issues that do not hang on the fridge quite so clearly. We are learning about household tasks that require Mr. Husband's special care. These are super tasks that require Special Forces for proper completion—Mr. Husband is totally the Special Forces division in this household. When he is gone, or MIA at a convention, I have to suffer and battle evil forces on my own. Recently, this required a shower-morning-battle with a house centipede. Yes, the very creature that has caused women to scream for years as their lives are put into jeopardy by the many legs, countless sections, and threatening tentacles that advertise certain death from a ceiling or corner of the room. Such a creature threatened my life while Mr. Husband was at Tech Ed the other week. Such a creature put my life in great peril.

I jumped out of the shower, blind girl without glasses in the shower (who wears glasses in the shower?), and I screamed for no one to hear. Alone was I! The cats looked at me with great annoyance and offered no support for my well-being. Death lurked near the ceiling. Death was clearly stopping for me in the bathroom that morning. Death walked across the top of the ceiling, dropped into the bathroom sink (kismet),and then met his own wet, torturous death as I all-a-shake turned on the water faucet. He struggled, but I was tough in my suddenly-single-mode-without-interested-cat-to-help, and I ended the life of the deadly creature by pouring Comet down the drain for safe measure. No Hindu, am I.

Of course I documented the life-death-cusp-of-edge-of-being-moment. Here is the Death Bug. Mr. Husband thanks himself daily that I lived throught the experience with all my fingers and toes.

Conveniently, this evening, I’ve dropped a marble down the kitchen sink drain. It is a pretty marble: pink and iridescent. So pretty. Such a problem. As I cooked dinner this evening, fajitas!, I reminded Mr. Husband that he needed to clean the kitchen afterwards. (He is the King of Kitchen Dishes and wears the best imaginary hat you’ve ever not seen that indicates he’s in control of the situation.) I forgot about the lovely marble. Again, convenient. He turned on the garbage disposal and the loudest cracking screamed from the drain as the pretty little marble met his death. (Lots of death tonight.) The sound was so loud that I yelled, “Oh! I forgot to tell you that I dropped a marble down the drain!” Mr. Husband immediately told me that I was to stick my precious hand down the kitchen sink drain to recover the marble. I quickly recited to him my keen knowledge of horror films, which he never watches, that clearly indicate to me that by sticking my hand down said drain—my hand will instantly be chopped to bits and zombies will take over the world. Zombies.

Fortunately, Mr. Husband saw the wisdom in my explanation and apocalyptical zombie vision. He fished out the marble. It was in pieces already due to its struggle with the garbage disposal (I think I forgot on at least two different occasions since the original marble-dropping incident and inadvertently flipped the switch--oops).

We face a new world with our new home. A world filled with our own mystical fridge being, a world with giant bathroom bugs that could end our lives with one bite, and a world with suicide marbles with a penchant for garbage disposals. We face a brave new world. I hope that Mr. Husband is ready … because sometimes I’m basically helpless.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Have you ever been experienced? We have (now).

And so it shall pass. The design review shall be finished and the two who were so excited and united in wonder shall drive home in a fog of finality. Nothing more to choose. All decisions are made. The young couple shall now wonder for up to five months if the color they picked from a tiny strip of paper the size of a pinky finger will really look good on a wall the size of 20 midgets. Not that there’s anything wrong with midgets. I could have written widgets and taken you on an economics ride instead of to the carnival. You see the state of anxiety we’re in? I am second guessing and explaining everything in too much detail with the potential to offend. I love the carnival, don’t get me wrong.

But do I love my new wall color? I don’t know. We don’t know. Why bring midgets into it all? I am unstructured. Why can't my head make me see what will be? All things will come to pass and that means our wall color will, too. Until then, I will be a ball of anxiety and wonder if we did the right thing. My biggest fear is walking into our carefully planned house and finding out that it's true--you cannot plan a 12x12 foot room based on a color the size of your thumbnail. Everything will look like a big bruise and we'll scramble to entice my mother to come visit so she can repaint the whole house.

We picked our faucets and had the girl take a nice blurry photo of us in front of our new master bath fixtures. So here we are being all blurry and mock washing our hands with our stainless steel faucets. Perhaps it is the excitement of the phony water and our finally being done with it all that makes the photo blurry. Perhaps we are moving so quickly in our pretend washing ritual that we cannot be captured in truth. No, we are just blurry. These are our master bath fixtures, but you cannot really see them. Now is the time for imagination minus blurry.

We know that the colors we picked are fun. Let fun dominate every decision and we’ll have an eclectic house where the neighbors judge us with one foot in the door. Bring it.

Mr. Husband was confident when he pointed to “Showstopper Red” from the Sherwin Williams paint strips. That’s the color. That one. Yes. Not “Antique Red” or “True Red,” but the “Showstopper Red” that makes me want to sing cabaret upon entering the room and exit with jazz hands shaking about with my face to the audience. Perfect. I think Mr. Husband did this on purpose. The red room is to be our sanctuary. It is our library. The ceilings and walls are painted red. A showstopping red box within which we will put our books, our great big desks with computers, and our time. (And our love.) The red room will make us burst into song with its very being. Mr. Husband is a fan of my songs. I am forever on Broadway in my head, and now he’s built me the perfect room for my adoring fans. My books will be happy. I will thank them many times over for my shelf of Oscars.

The showstopper red library has a door that leads out onto our upper porch where two fans will bathe us in air that we wish were cooler as we rock in our red rocking chairs. And drink margaritas to watch the sun dip beneath the house across the street. Let it all be bold. Bold as love. We’ll be the third house from the sun. Trumpets and violins. This is the place where we have built our bookish vision. Our home will be in this room.

We picked faucets. We picked lighting fixtures. We picked two other colors to paint the walls in the rest of the house: Svelte Sage and Harmonic Tan. So the green is sexy and the brown is calm with inspirations of Bob Dylan (if you try hard enough). We picked appliances (no upgrade). We picked marble for around the fireplace. We picked knobs—the most uninspiring put-a-fork-in-my-eye-knobs you ever saw. We picked a Kohler pedestal sink for the “powder room.” We picked blinds. We did it. Blinds. Let us close our windows to the world for a while. We picked and we picked and we picked until we were tired of picking. Just give us the bill.

We picked a gooseneck kitchen faucet that was really important to my giant Mr. Husband. We picked mirrors for the master bath. We picked our way home and were satisfied with this incredible house we are building. This week, we have windows and doors. This week we are overwhelmed. This week we wonder what it will be like not to see each other out of the corner of our eye at all times. I can hear him clicking behind me as he makes new creatures with the newly released Spore Creature Creator.

I hope I can always hear him. I learned today that my Mr. Husband has great ideas about our life to come. I learned today that I am so on board with all those ideas. I learned today that we are ready. Bring on the red library. Bring on the future. Bring it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who Will Tell Me What To Do on Father's Day?

So, like, I saw this mug at Hallmark today that was perfect for my dad: “Ask Dad, he knows … and on the off chance that he doesn’t, he’ll make up something pretty good.” That’s so totally my dad. I’ve learned a lot of true facts of life from my father, and I’ve also learned a lot of not-so-true-but-sounds-really-good facts of fictional life from my father. My dad was, more than anything else, fun. Sure, you have to get past the he wants to control everything, which typically causes one to lose her voice and fall into tears after trying to cook with him in the kitchen, but overall—he’s a pretty good guy. He’s easy to laugh, he’s incredibly handsome, and he has this awesome piece of hair that he’s been babying for, like, twenty years.

Here’s a photo of dad and his two sons, Lloyd and Harold (great names, huh?). They’re at happy hour after golfing, laughing and forgiving him for his picking their names.

I love when my dad calls me at work. Most times, I know when he’s going to call. I go ahead and warn my co-workers so they’re not alarmed. Dad calls on holidays, birthdays, and days that I might have sent a surprise gift. Dad always calls as they’re driving to visit. Always. Dad doesn’t drive when mom and dad come up from Florida because dad doesn’t drive fast enough (according to mom). Mom, on the other hand, is a genuine speed demon straight from the nether regions. Thus, this ideal-for-dad driving situation leaves dad in the passenger seat directing mom’s every move and being the Commander of Communication to one waiting daughter. He’s so cute when he calls. Everyone at work knows it’s him. There is a constant song in my father’s voice. He makes everyone smile.

Here’s Dad about to walk me down the aisle. See that smile on his face? He’s about to make me laugh uncontrollably during this sacred moment. He can’t help cutting up and having a good time.

And why not? Dad and mom planned well. They did the right thing and lived for retirement instead of living for the now. Harold and I wore hand-me-down Izods and mom learned to competitive shop on the sale racks at Parisian’s. Mom and Dad now live in The Villages in Florida and drive golf carts instead of big, giant cars (unless visiting one of their three kids). They wake up and play tennis in the morning, golf in the afternoon, and hit happy hour at a local country club around 3:00. It’s probably for this reason that I do not phone my parents at night; I phone them in the early hours of the morning when their happy bodies are free of happy hour wine.

My dad taught me about the great you’ll-owe-me-a-quarter-game. For those of you not familiar with this game, it is the game wherein your father charges a small child a quarter for being wrong about menial things like turning off the garage light, picking up a sweater off the floor, or discovering if the milk truly is low. All my childhood life rang with this game as I was charged a grand total of what surely ranges around several thousands of dollars for being wrong when my father asked me if I’d done something. All fibbers please place your quarter here. I am one. He knew. He was way smarter than me. He milked me out of many quarters. These are the quarters that probably line his wine fridge now.

(Mr. Husband hates the quarter game. The score this week is three quarters to none.)

Here’s a photo of me and Dad on the tennis court in 2006. You can see by my placement actually on the court that he’s not yet made me cry and we appear still to be on decent speaking terms. None of his kids could ever be good enough partners for him in sports activities. That’s ok. I think that’s par for the course for most families. So we’re normal. Go Dad! It’s ok if you make me cry—I’ll forgive you in, like, twenty minutes and a glass of wine (because surely we’re hitting happy hour after this match).

Mr. Husband has learned quickly that dad is in charge for most things. Dad rules. Dad is our patriarch and the one who sets the game plan. It has been one of the most endearing experiences in my life to see my Mr. Husband and my Mr. Father get along and be together. Another thing my Dad did all my life is ask me to “be with him.” He would constantly yell from the other room, “Come be with me!” He’d be watching football or basketball and me, playing the role of diligent daughter, would go be with him. Of course, I made him tell me the stories about the teams and the players. I inserted girl stuff into the mix, but the important part is that I was with him. And, now, I get to see my Mr. Husband go be with my Mr. Father. They like each other. They are being … together. Even though one day, I imagine Mr. Husband will mount a grand coup to take down Mr. Father and his rule and his quarters, for now—they are just being.

Here you see Dad passing down the great family turkey secrets during a Thanksgiving carving session. Look how Mr. Husband is awe-inspired by Mr. Father's skill (and also probably scared some by the knife). Good Husband.

On Father’s Day, a girl always wants to be with her Father; however, my dad is happy in Florida on the golf course, and I am happy heading over to my in-law’s home for a cookout where I get to be with my new Father-in-Law. He’s a grill master and beer aficionado. He’s fun and he doesn’t tell me what to do. So, while he doesn’t quite feel like my Dad due to the lack of constant helpful direction in my simplest of activities, he is the perfect stand-in on Father’s Day. He is always eager to get outside and go exploring with Mr. Husband and me. He is a wealth of good advice and sometimes, much to his favor and my yearning, he suggests to us what we might consider doing. While he doesn’t golf or play tennis, he is a constant friend in our lives, meeting us for lunch, cooking us grilled foods, and teaching us about the history of the railroad in Birmingham (begins with Bessemer). Everyone calls him Pop.

Here is a recent photo of my three men on the back porch, huddled around the grill with spirits in hand, as my Mr. In-Law-Father grills steaks for my Mr. Husband and my Mr. Father. The three of them together is a perfect picture of who in my life tells me what to do. Go men!

One fun recent experience was taking Mr. In-Law-Father to Magic City Brewfest. We got sloshed in, like, forty-five minutes and had fun going from booth to booth to taste the different beers in tiny glasses. The three of us laughed while we drank our tiny beers and waited for the eminent rain that eventually came and forced us to run for grilled burgers at a local bar. Later this evening Mr. In-Law-Father will grill again on the back porch while six kids (three of his and three that are not his but appreciate him just the same) watch eagerly in hopes that it doesn't rain and that he doesn’t burn the steaks.

No tears. Grilled steaks. And beer.

Miss you, Dad.

Walking Through the Frame.

The house is looming big and large and being built before our eyes. The frame is up. A roof without shingles. The rooms are shaped and we can walk among them, planning and thinking about how we’ll call for each other from room to room. We can actually see where and what it will be. We drive by the house every Friday night while on our way to Mellow Mushroom for dinner. It is our Zen moment where we become overwhelmed with this great big progress that we seem to have almost nothing to do with. Sure, we drove through one other day this week when I saw a man stapling on the roof and I gave him an encouraging thumb’s up. He smiled and returned the gesture. We were thumb’s up soul mates at that point. I’m sure he’s now considering the larger aesthetic implications of his stapling. Good man. Good thumb. Pretty staple.

It’s amazing to walk through this physical structure and realize that this is ours (or, at least officially, it will be soon). We chatted one on top of the other, “look, here! Here is our double door!” Mr. Husband ran all around, inspecting the handy work and scratching his head about the master bedroom that could be larger for true comfort. Upon entering each room among the many wooden beams, we’d pronounce its name as if we hadn’t studied the floor plan for countless hours and already have every nook and cranny memorized. Perhaps we were doing a good deed and letting that particular space know about its future. No nervousness or anxiety for our rooms. We’ll provide you with a clear path for blooming into a “powder room” or a laundry room. (Every time I’ve said “half-bath” in front of the sales lady or design lady, I’ve been blatantly corrected with a “you mean the powder room.” Makes me want to stick out my pinkies and lower my gaze to let the Jones’s know that I will not play their room name game. Half bath! Half bath! Half bath! Our poor neighbors and my terrible uncouthness. We beg your forgiveness ahead of time.)

I am learning from my Mr. Husband that we can plan big. We can plan for a future as long as we adjust the present and live within our means. No more living for the moment (unless it’s that free love thing we do so well together). This means going a bit longer with a car whose windows do not work until I can save up the money above and beyond the house saving. This means deleting those wonderful J.Crew emails that announce an additional 20% off sale items and beg me to buy-buy-buy! This means that we’ll eat at home for most of the week, awarding ourselves with one night out at a reasonable restaurant. This means not accepting every social offer that comes our way. This means that we have to apologize a lot to friends and promise them that when our home is built—we will repay you in social kindness via home grown invitations. We’ll cook our butts off for you.

But until then, we have our walls coming together in the greatest creation we’ve yet witnessed. And we both want it all so badly—we want to fill it and build a home that we’re proud of and happy with. We want to walk among the walls and see beautiful things.

This Saturday, we went for lunch and then headed to a few furniture stores to drool over what we might have if we’re good and we plan and we save. Mr. Husband loves the table that I’ve picked out and agrees it will fit eight. Get ready Mom and Dad! Thanksgiving is mine! See you soon Lloyd and Rhonda! We will fit with elbowroom to spare! In addition to hunting for the perfect table to securely win the Thanksgiving day holiday (it’s a competition for certain), we found a few smaller occasional tables and a Beijing red china hutch and bookshelf that Mr. Husband couldn’t tear himself away from. There was another modern looking cabinet that can be turned into a glass and wine cabinet, but it was the Beijing cabinet that got both of us flustered. We imagined it on the far wall in the nook. We imagined it so hard we could see it. We were breathing on it in our place and passing the potatoes past it on Thanksgiving. It is perfect.

But we have to save for the closing costs! What if something happens like one of our legs falls off and we have to pay a super-secret-plastic-surgeon-slash-bone-surgeon oodles of money under the table to have him refasten the leg? At that point, our Thanksgiving table and Beijing hutch will seem foolish. We need a table to pass money under for our underground leg-reattaching surgery, but I don’t think we should risk that scenario not happening if we need it for this table. Not quite yet. I finally told Mr. Husband to “walk away—walk away, Champ.” We had to. Our heads were filled with more than sunshine and lollipops as we imagined the awesomeness eating area we could have. Think of our leg surgery. Walk away. Walk away.

He’s a good man who wants a nice home and understands the importance. He’s a good husband who is patient and enjoys dreaming of the one day. He’s a good man who puts the safety and comfort of our legs before a red china hutch.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take A Load Off Annie

Our lives have returned to the normal, standard, every day, sing-songy way. Some might call it boring. I call it an adventure in making something happen. Always. Mr. Husband is home and safe, eating lunch with me again in the break room at work. He eats my masterpiece sandwiches that I craft for him each morning so I can sit across from him and munch through salad or some other rabbit food like stuff. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we just sit in semi-silence for twenty minutes, both of us lost in our work thoughts. We make random comments about nothing in particular. Nothing exciting. Sometimes nothing exciting is the most thrilling thing in the world.

Before the normal sits down for dinner, there is always something that we’ve built toward and put on display in grand fashion. This past Sunday our big display was the baby shower. How it consumed us. How I lived for it and forced dear, willing, compliant, and patient Mr. Husband to live it, too.

I think my favorite part of the entire affair was the night before the baby shower as we both sat on the floor in front of the TV, cutting up poster board, wrangling cellophane into iridescent shapes, cutting off long strings of curling ribbon (always pretending we’re the first Henry Ford of Craftville), working with glue and glitter, and smiling to ourselves in our own creation as we felt the presence of the other near. It is the sign of a good man who stops and helps. He may not take out the trash or remember to feed the cats after being asked once or even twice, but if he can put his own head-push-pull-go-give on hold and focus on the moment when I need his keen scissor skills, then that, to me, is a darn good man. I could even write “durn” at the chance that this might mean something deeper to some. Isn’t a dialectic misspelling always an opportunity to strike specific senses? Maybe he’s not durn or darn good. He’s just damn good. Yup, that’s it.

I didn’t even need to give him a title. He wasn’t the Emperor of Elegant Poster Board Cutting. Not that night. He could have been, but he didn’t need to be. He was a simple subject in the kingdom of helping-friendliness. He was that guy who stops to ask if a stranger needs help. He was a Samaritan of the living room kind.

We worked so hard. We played and laughed and came up with bright new ideas that will most likely change the world of glue forever (maybe not). There was this comfort. This being together. This calm. By midnight, we had a pile of about ten bags filled with different items for decorating, including favors, a door prize, and a ceramic plate to sign that will immortalize the good wishes to these two soon-to-be-new-parents. We worked to decorate the loft at Jackson’s Bistro into the most elegant, chic, modern, and lovely baby shower venue that we could imagine. Gerber Daisies in pilsner glass vases. Balloons that were carefully blown up by Mr. Husband and Nader. A flower arrangement that seemed ten stories high that was crafted with what seemed like previous expertise by the co-hostess, Hind. Candle favors wrapped in cellophane with curling ribbon. Baby bottles filled with two different colors of pink M&Ms. My Mr. Husband never complaining and always asking what there is to do next.

It came together with time to spare and we all toasted a wonderful couple who have shared most of our best moments.

I have learned from Mr. Husband that giving time to help is key in making the world go round for more than one. Turning away from selfishness to give can produce miraculous results. I couldn’t function at my high-stress, super-neurotic, constant-panic mode without his help. There’s more to simply being a husband than standing up before an official and signing your name. My Mr. Husband is a partner. And he really, really, really understands the reason for curling ribbon and glitter (after many, many, many lectures from me about simple craft aesthetics).

That’s truly a bonus.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Husband-Man Cometh

So after a long, energetic week in the company of my many friends who seemed not able to let me be alone in my abandoned misery, Mr. Husband made his way home. Good thing, too. I think my dear friends were smothering me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We did have a lot of planning to do as the first couple in our tight-knit group gets ready to pop out a baby (they’ve got a bun in the oven, are knocked up, eating for two, in the family way, with the eggs about to hatch, and there’s a tiny gopher about to stick his head out of someplace dark), and the baby shower planning activities kept me warmly submerged in party planning goo. I was well taken care of. But there’s nothing like a Mr. Husband dragging his knuckles home for some serious wife support.

He's got a beard all of the sudden. Cool. I keep telling people that this means he can now wrestle grizzly bears. That's all it takes. Watch out bears! Cool. I love it. See us at the baby shower. See how you totally think he's about to wrestle a big fat grizzly to the ground and show it who's boss. I know. I know.

In addition to his grizzly-bear-wrestling beard, he got his religion—he is reborn. He brought back lots of schwag. God save the schwag. May schwag fall from the sky like mana and paper us all in company logos and free parking tickets. May the kindness of schwag change all our minds and carve for us a shiny new direction with sleek marketing campaigns and catchy slogans that stay stuck in our heads and make us want to spell luncheon meat in a song and marry it. Who needs rock-n-roll when you have a t-shirt that’s smart and sticks you in the eye with its brash and crass witticism on the way the world is today (didn’t you know?). Does anyone actually use the term “rock-n-roll” anymore? I need a new campaign. I’m super stale. More schwag, please!

Mr. Husband gloriously returned with t-shirts, book bags, stuffed animals that make noises, pens, notepads, and foam Legos. He quickly shared with me his mantra, his new statement of the week, his way of the world when he informed me of his creepy love of Legos. He’s often told me that he cannot wait to have children so that he can play with Legos again. He doesn’t want to be that guy, so he needs a kid. Good reason. Watch out playground parents, we’re writing a new chapter. And, God willing, we’re building a helicopter out of Legos.

His best gift, the one that he specifically purchased with me in mind, is a girly light blue t-shirt that has “Geek Girl” sprawled across the boobage area. Nice. Draw more attention to my rack. Good one, Mr. Husband. He made me clap with a five-year-old’s enthusiasm when he showed me his matching black t-shirt with “Geek” emblazoned on the front. That’s my man. He’s my Geek, and I’m his Geek Girl. The fact alone that I’m writing about this clearly marks me as Geek. We are, and we are proud. To truly complete the moment-o-schwag, our t-shirts also have “Microsoft” cleverly, proudly, and boldly displayed on the left sleeves. We support our egg-head maker.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Husband got home, and we had to scour the Galleria area of Birmingham for last-minute baby shower decorations. So in love and renewed were we in each other’s sight, that we inspired others. In one store, as we held hands and wore goofy grins, the shop ladies asked us how long we’d been married. I looked at him. He looked at me. We shrugged. I said, “about seven or eight months.” You could hear the oohing and aahing from all the ladies as they sighed and smiled over our newlywed bliss. I explained, “Well, he just got home after being gone for a week, so I’m a bit giddy by the sight of him right now.” I think one lady actually clapped her hands together over the verbal act of my crazy-love-right-now for Mr. Husband. We walked out of that store with poster board, glitter, colored Sharpies and a dance in our step. Spread it. All of it. Love it. Now.

My Mr. Husband has taught me that travel is good. I’ve always said that I love it when Mr. Husband or I travel. It is the moment of coming home, that new discovery—it is the grin and the bliss reborn in a suitcase.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Technical Vacation

My husband is gone.

Mr. Husband has abandoned me this week for Tech Ed in Orlando. Ok, he didn’t technically abandon me for the technical side of life, and I’m very glad he went as he needed his religion, but I am home alone. I’m no Macauley Culkin and I’m not having hijinx with a couple of silly burglars; I’m sitting here wishing I had Mr. Husband to talk to or sing silly songs to (and hoping I don’t have to deal with burglars, silly or otherwise).

He is my backboard that I hit my thoughts against like a tennis ball. And I realize right now—right now—how tied together and dependent we’ve been on each other since before the wedding. We truly haven’t been apart for very long since October, and I find that we really are together all the time. We work together. We ride to work together. We eat lunch together. We ride home from work together. We sit in the same one-room apartment with each other for the remainder of the night, and then we curl up beside each other and fall asleep at night to the comforting sound of the other one breathing.

I like to take care of other people rather than focus on myself. It’s not like I’m ignoring Heather, but I find my self-expression through playing off another. I’m a twin. I suspect this is learned behavior from growing up with Harold. Harold and I did everything together. We dressed alike in the clothes our mother made us wear. We spoke our own language that only the two of us could understand. We learned to ride bikes together. We learned that I cannot run faster if Harold ties me to the back of his bike with a rope to pull me. We learned that the ends of toes really do tear off when dragged across concrete. We learned that cut toes eventually heal. We were child scientists. We built a tree house together that was really a rocket ship. We rode the bus together. We learned to tell time and tie our shoes together. We grew up side by side.

People say that Harold didn’t have to speak until he was about five-years-old because I answered for him. I took care of him.

I’m fortunate in that with my Mr. Husband I’ve found someone who also takes care of me. Mr. Husband’s primary gift—his magic—is that he is a listener. And I quiz him often to make sure that his gift does not disappear. (You have to keep a gift active so that it does not fade into hibernation like a bear. Gifts tend to mimic the Great North American Grizzly Bear if not kept on their toes. More about toes.) He always has a ready ear for everyone; it is not just me. However, I’d like to think that my verbal music receives a slight bit more attention than others might since I’m the one who falls asleep to his rhythmic breathing at night. Mr. Husband will just about drop anything to take care of someone in need who needs to vent. I do that a lot. I’m often in need. I vent. He makes me feel vented.

There has never been anyone else in my life to whom I look for when I need good, logical advice. There has never been anyone whose opinion I can trust more than Mr. Husband. (Of course, I have super friends like Dowling who the world regards as a genius, but he’s busy changing the world of sockets.) Mr. Husband is patient and kind and listening always when I need an ear to fill. He is immediate and there.

And this, more than the comforting sound of breathing at night and the warm body that heats up like my very own electric blanket, is what I miss more than anything when I cannot physically walk into his office to discuss something that needs a logical ear. We’re a good team. He’s the strength in most things while I have the social aspect of things nailed down tight.

Feed your head, Mr. Husband. Remember what the Dormouse said. And bring me back my electric blanket and logical backboard. I’m going to chase rabbits.