Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

Harold is here. Harold says that maybe if I write about someone other than Mr. Husband that more people will read my blog. I say, he always was a slow reader. Mr. Husband is definitely the most exciting, thrilling, top-of-the-world, stupendous topic ever. We’ll see what Mr. Husband says about that poignant criticism. We’ll just see.

Or … I could take Mr. Twin Brother’s advice and write a blog all about Harold. Harold. My twin. The kid who no one knew could speak until he was around five years old. The kid who stuck a giant King’s Island pencil in my leg when we were six years old. The kid who refused to sit on the hump in mom’s bike kiddie seat (she had two kids in one seat—Bravo, mom!) that resulted in my losing an ankle to the vicious bike monster spokes. The kid who proposed the theory of rope-around-waist-and-tied-to-bike will result in faster running, which backfired and resulted in all the ends of my bare-feet-toes becoming bloody stumps for one summer. (His theory, obviously, was complete bunk.) The kid who always had a new idea. And I was the kid that always said, “That’s genius, Harold.”

I always thought he was a genius.

When we were little, Harold used to tell me what to do. Before we were one-year-olds—when we were babies. We had a secret language like most twins. I’m absolutely certain that our secret language was superior to all other possible secret languages. We were always superheroes. We were the Wonder Twins. I was a bird and he was a pail of water. Mom always made our costumes at Halloween. She even made the polyester tights for our Batman and Batgirl costumes. We were certain we could fly. We had a backyard spaceship tree. We had a neighborhood filled with kids like Johnny Odom, Mike Milner, Chris Vogel, and Andy Justin. We were renegades. We were always filled with laughter. And we were often discovering what things in nature could be set on fire. We lived in Ten Mile Creek in Sylvania. Bring on the flood.

Harold likes to take things apart. I was always afraid that Harold would steal my radio, my clock, my tape player, or my electronic microphone that attached to the special tape player. Why was I afraid? Because Harold took apart everything. Nothing could stop him. He had to dissect all electronics. The VCR. The little black and white TV. His own lizard. What makes it tick? What makes Harold tick?

Many do not know. I know. Kindness. He is all goodness. He is selfish, too, but when he’s not being selfish he is being ten times more kind and generous than when he is selfish. He comes to stay with me and we talk for hours. We never stop talking. We laugh. We do not live so much in the “remember when’s” as much as we understand exactly how the other one feels about things that are going on in each of our lives. That twin connection. He is easy going. I am uptight. He is free and relaxed. I am a wound-up bag of neurotic nerves. He is my other half and was always beside me growing up.

Today, he is here. He is downstairs watching TV (and hopefully not taking it apart) as I write and attempt to ready myself for lunch. We’ll go shopping. We’ll have constant banter over clothes that he needs to buy. I’ll make sure he looks good. He’ll make sure that I smile and forget my ever-present worries for a while. He’ll fill just a tiny portion of that big lonely void that Mr. Husband has left behind with his being in L.A. We’ll roll around Birmingham with happy little faces and not a care in the world. I wish everyone could have a twin.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Living at Level Orange.

We are back from Florida, and Mr. Husband is now in LA at the PDC convention. He’s totally geeking out. I am here single-momming it with the two cats and many friends who always come around in droves to make sure I’m ok while not in the special care of Mr. Husband. I believe that all my friends imagine me to be half-retarded and unable to take care of myself without Mr. Husband. They might be half right.

I’m still unwinding from Florida and our surprise trip for my older brother’s fortieth birthday. He’s old. Older than dirt, they say. I doubt it, but with my great youth—I’m no expert on dirt and its age. Mr. Husband and I saw the beach for the first time together for about twenty minutes in Vero Beach on Saturday morning. We are mountain people, not like hill people, but we prefer hiking and the woods to the beach. We drank up those awesome twenty minutes through a straw and will continue to digest the sand-in-toes-and-sand-on-ankles good brief moment we had.

Fortieth birthdays in my family are big affairs. My dad had a surprise 40th birthday party in the 80s with a belly dancer and plus-size stripper. I remember seeing the photos from the no-kids-allowed-party. Dad later surprised mom at Inverness Country Club in Toledo for her surprise fortieth birthday party. There’s something about birthday and surprise that is part of my very being. Mr. Husband has eagerly taken to the tradition and we can look forward to many more surprises in our future together.

While in Florida, Mr. Husband played video games with Mr. Twin Brother and I sat and bugged my mom when not watching Lifetime. On Friday, mom and dad woke me up at seven in the morning to decorate older brother’s birthday cake. Ugh. They said we were going to do it together, but the decorating fell on my shoulders with mom and dad telling me what to do next. Dad baked the cake and mom iced it for me. It would have been nice to get some warning and perhaps bathe before the cake decorating, but there is never enough time in our family. We are always rushing to meet some deadline. Mr. Husband slept through most of the making-the-icing and preparing-the-cake. He came and joined us in the kitchen to laugh and eat Pringles. My mom loves to feed Mr. Husband and always has his favorite foods on hand.

For the trip down to Vero Beach, where older brother and sister-in-law live, Mr. Husband got to drive with Mr. Twin Brother while I was stuck in the minivan with mom and dad and the cake. Every five minutes, we had to check the cake. Mom is a crazy driver—gas, brake, gas, brake, gas, gas, brake. Her tires squeal when she takes turns. Dad sits in the passenger seat and tells mom what to do. Constantly. Dad likes to put everyone into panic mode. They were absolutely certain that the cake was going to fall and the party was going to be ruined and then we’d all die in flames or something. Something bad is always about to happen to my parents. They live like that—on the edge at all times. My parents have a very good life and bad things rarely happen to them. However, they are always bracing themselves for immediate disaster. They are level orange at all times and always veering on red.

Mr. Husband totally got the good end of that driving to Vero Beach deal. Mr. Husband and Mr. Twin Brother are very close. They are buddies. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is one of those things that I count as a blessing. Mr. Husband actually likes everyone in my family. He understands their quirks and takes part in the end-of-the-world-at-any-second mythology to which my parents subscribe. They got a package deal. Mr. Husband takes it all in stride.

In the end, older brother was totally surprised—he couldn’t take his hands out of his pockets when he walked in the door of the country club. He didn’t know what to do. Sister-in-law was the best wife in the world that night for pulling off such an amazing party. The cake survived much to the incredible surprise of my parents who imagined the cake as a pile of goo after the first ten miles from The Villages to Vero Beach. And Mr. Husband and I got another weekend of close family sharing, laughing, and drinking really, really good wine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Steal your baby right off your face.

I will steal your baby. Ok, maybe I won’t technically kidnap your baby with all the craziness and meanness that actually involves, but I will borrow your baby for photographs and a momentary glimpse into what it’s like. I will take a million photos with your baby playing the role of my baby and your baby won’t know any better. Love your baby, I will for the briefest moment. Babies are delightfully poseable creatures that tend to photograph well. Mr. Husband and I are on baby quest 2000. While we do not really want your baby (except for the eight million photographs we need to make ourselves smile), we need, for now, to experience your baby. Your baby is third baby from the womb when we need it.

Overnight, all of the singles became marrieds and, then, had babies to become instant familes (just add water!). Overnight, a Friday evening after work moved from the local bar to someone’s dining room. As if we were all growing vegetables, we grew great, big, new significant lives with more meaning and greater responsibility. We grew. We tended our gardens. We weeded out the unnecessary. In the blink of an eye we became the semblance of certainty. While some stranger was coughing in the other room, we all started down the path that our parents before us marked out with breadcrumbs and birds. When no one was looking, I started to dance with Mr. Husband, the only possible man, and I now find myself dancing with him on Sunday mornings, both of us donning cozy bathrobes, as the coffee maker provides our music. Hold me tight forever.

Mr. Husband and I sit often in the living room and also on the upper porch late at night, discussing our ideas about babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers. We discuss the phenomenon of marriage and family and this challenging thing we’ve thrust ourselves into. We talk. We keep the channels of communication open and believe that if there is a problem, we can begin to solve it with talk. Talking. Talk-a-roo. We ask blatantly and discuss boldly. All of our ideas and thoughts, no matter how absurd, are given arena. We realize that nothing in the world can prepare us for babies and the change that is to come to our lives, but if we keep on sharing our hopes, fears, and dreams—we may be closer than we think to understanding and facing this magical thing together.

I remember the night I fell in love with Mr. Husband. It was all due to his speaking to me frankly and without embarrassment or apprehension. On Saturday, January 14th, 2006, we walked around the track at Ramsay High School in Southside. It was cold and he was wearing his new black cashmere overcoat. We did not touch, not yet, not then. We walked side by side. I could not invite him into my apartment, for we’d only been “seeing” each other for less than two weeks. I didn’t want the evening to end and I didn’t want awkwardness in a closed space like my apartment, so I suggested we walk around the neighborhood. We ended up circling the track while watching our breath in white, cold clouds before us in the night. We asked question after question about our ideas about the world. We found ourselves in a lengthy debate about the nature of wisdom—the definition with examples that provide the answer to “what is wisdom.” I don’t remember what our conclusion was, only that I know he caused the synapses in my brain to fire and fire and make me warm. He made me think. He challenged me. Our talk was so free. I looked out of the side of my left eye and up at his tall figure walking beside me, and I said to myself, “I’m going to date this man.”

For days we continued to discuss wisdom and all her properties. We found that, through this discussion, the two of us hold similar worldviews.
Now, it comes as no surprise that we hold similar views toward raising children and beginning a family. We believe we are being wise in starting a family. While we can continue taking photo after photo with your baby, at some point, we want to add our own.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Before we get bit, slow down.

Life is humming along on Werewolf Lane. We survived our first new full moon in the house without any external injury. No bites. Very fortunate this close to Halloween when werewolves are well-known to be hungrier than normal. While our life is humming along and werewolves are not biting us, we’ve been too busy—way too busy. And just when we realize we’ve reached the hectic-non-stop-going-to-crash-point, it’s time for us to pick up and leave again. But before then, we have today. Today, this Sunday, we have one day to ourselves. One blessed day all to ourselves. And we’re going to be greedy. We’re going to lock ourselves away from the world and dive into each other and live in our house. We may even carve our pumpkin for the neighborhood pumpkin carving contest. We'll stretch our arms and wiggle our fingers and see if we've got what it takes to make scary out of big, fat, orange vegetable-thing on front porch. We just might. but if we do not--that's ok, too. No schedule. Not today.

How did we get to this point? Hm. Let’s review what we’ve done in the past five days: babysit for loaner son, have a general gathering of six people in our home that included some family and friends, have Maja over for veggie dinner and a movie, go grocery shopping, go to a birthday dinner, go to the symphony, go for drinks after the symphony, go to watch football, go to a Christian-Hindu wedding, go back to a house party, and then come home and say to ourselves, “no more.” We are staying home. We are worn out.

What does this mean for us? Well, that means that after taking a shower in what we have labeled “the water park” for it’s not one, not two, but FIVE spigots, we will retreat to our own little corners of the house. Most likely, this is where we feel the most change. We won’t be able to hear each other’s every breath like we did in the apartment. Mr. Husband will spend countless hours relaxing and gaming in our new library. Most likely, he’ll play Spore today in a grand attempt to control the universe. And I support him. May he wipe out all other offending creatures that happen to demand tithes from him. Do not stand in Mr. Husband’s way—he’ll obliterate your species. He’ll blow up your planet. Yes, we’re your standard hippy family here.

And me? I will turn my attention to the wood floors that must be cleaned once a week. It’s crazy to see the amount of debris that falls from us humans. Perhaps it is the cats moving our debris about at night—moving our fallings and placing them clearly in view as something of an art project. Yes, our artist cats. That’s it. I will also wrestle with the dishwasher—the stupid dishwasher that is most likely the worst model ever made. It makes me re-wash by hand certain dishes. It is the-dishwasher-that-lives-to-leave-residue. Nasty washing-box hates me, I know it. We learned from cousins Priscilla and Don from Chicago that we must feed the dishwasher Jet-Dry! They knew immediately what our problem was when we explained—this means, it’s information that most everyone else knows but us. I hate that. When did they stop making dishwashers that work without additives? That’s so stupid. I shake my fist at you dishwasher and dishwasher-maker-man.

We’ll soak up the entire day, being lazy like cats lying in the sun. We’ll continue to unpack the occasional box and continue to arrange our life just so. We will let our arms stretch around each other and encourage each others’ having nothing in particular to do. We will hum along on Werewolf Lane and attempt to make life a little bit cozier for our cats and us. I will also read a little between laundry and feeding Mr. Husband. The perfect day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When Harry met Anne ... and then Jean.

When Harry met Anne, he produced three big, strong, strapping Stewart men. Years and years later, after a good long life together, Anne died and Harry was alone. Thus began the period that the Stewart family lovingly calls “The Harry the Hermit Years.” Then Harry met Jean, and he was no longer alone and gained two new stepdaughters. Jean pulled another eight years out of her pocket and dropped it in the Stewart family lap. When I met Mr. Husband, he first introduced me to his parents, one week after kissing me for the first time, and then two weeks later, he took me to Nashville to meet Granddaddy Stewart and Jean.

While everything around us yet refuses to be just perfect with the house, we take time for family as we did last weekend. There is always family. This past weekend was Granddaddy Stewart’s memorial service. Granddaddy donated his body to Vanderbilt so that the students learning to be doctors could increase their big brains with knowledge of his brain and other parts. It was a noble thing to do. He was the noblest of men. The phrase that resounds after his death and all through his memorial service and remembrance is “he was a man without guile.” He was a man without deceit. He was truth. He was completely caring for all. He was all kindness. He was goodness in all things.

I believe Granddaddy Stewart may have been an early hippie. Or one of those rare things--a true Christian.

Granddaddy lived for others and lived to make them happy and see their lives easier. In that vein, his memorial service, which fell some three weeks after his actual death from Prostate Cancer (at a long and wonderfully lived ninety-years-old), was a celebration of life. It was a celebration of family. It was a coming together for the entire family. From the four corners, or perhaps just two, the Stewarts descended upon Nashville. There are three Stewart boys: David from Tokyo, Dick from Florida, and John, my father-in-law, from Birmingham, Alabama. All three men brought their hearts and their families to Nashville to convene for a big Stewart family gathering. All of this—all of what we did that weekend was due to this one man’s bringing life into the world. And that one man’s many lives that he brought in turn brought their lives. Bring it we did. And so there they were: nine primary Stewart cousins with a few extras thrown into the Stewart family pile (I am an extra as a wife of one of the original nine cousins, for example).

Many others came. Other cousins like my favorite cousin Tom and his brother Alan. These are the cousins of the parents—extended family at its finest. Everyone gathered together with the same sense of humor and the same incredibly fine outlook on life that was surely handed down among the generations from fine Granddaddy Stewart who we came to memorialize. All of us laughing. Some of us getting to know each other for the first time. In the end—Granddaddy gave all of us one big gift: he gave us each other.

For the first time, I met my girl cousin from Uncle Dick’s family, cousin Crystal. Why we didn’t get to know each other before now is a crime. She just passed the bar and is fighting to change the world in D.C. For the first time, I got to meet Andrew from Honolulu, another lawyer cousin. Andrew got Mr. Husband to smoke a cigar at Yazoo Brewery. Ok, so Mr. Husband took one puff. Still. Andrew is a persuasive lawyer, he is. His wife is a laywer, too. Lots of lawyers, but my favorite cousin Tom is not a lawyer--he's an architect. The other favorite cousin Tak works in an architect firm. A handful of lawyers with a couple of architects under the fingernails. It's an intelligent group. Many more careers hiding behind other cousins, too.

On Friday night, the whole family went to The Station Inn in Nashville to see a bluegrass band, The Steep Canyon Rangers. We ate pizza and drank beer. We talked and got to really know each other. We hung out. We were family. We sat comfortably side-by-side and knew that we were safe. We were all brought together by Granddaddy Stewart. It was a wonderful evening that spilled over into the next day and into the next evening. Everyone eager to see each other and to know each other. Everyone.

We came together to remember. And we did.

Mr. Husband Takes the Cake.

Look down below. Do you see it? Do you? Mr. Husband and his surprise attack on my blog is a sweet reminder for why I love this tall-drink-of-water-super-man. He sneaks up on me in the middle of the bloggy night and he takes care of me. Always. He is forever behind me as a supporter and a helper. I try to do the same for him, but my support typically comes in the form of English muffins and chicken sandwiches. He feeds my heart and I feed his stomach.

Our first anniversary is coming up. And I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I'm not dreaming, either. (My dreams tend to be totally awesome.) And, you see, even when I am not looking, he is there thinking about me, and planning for me, and taking care of me. I just want to crawl up inside him and live in his heart forever.

This is a sickeningly sweet blog. Feel free to vomit. If you want, I’ll send you an airplane bag so you can also bag your vomit.

Sweet like cake. Mmmm. Cake. Mr. Husband takes the cake. I should bake him more cakes. I will.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Feed URL

Hello, Mr. Husband here.

If you've subscribed to Heather's blog—"The Mr. Husband Papers," as my late grandfather liked to call it—then please take a moment to redirect your feed reader (Bloglines, Google Reader, etc.) to the blog's new, FeedBurner-enabled URL:

Mrs. Wife has been asking Mr. Husband to burn her blog (in a good way) for a long time now, but only recently did he crack her password. (Good relationships are built on trust.) She wants to know how many people are devout readers, so let her know by commenting on the posts!

Thanks to all of you for sharing in Mrs. Wife's poetry!

- MH

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Callin' me back to where it all begins.

So it’s happened. No, we’re not pregnant. I’m not knocked up, yet, but we’re in a comfortable place and finally relaxed in our new home. We did it. While we’d already done it by moving in, we were not yet living in our new home. We are now living and experience life and all her sunshine and shadows while again growing into each other and laughing at random things. The silliness has returned to our marriage. We are again what we used to be and no longer stressed over every new box we turn around to find. So what if I still haven’t located my box of underwear that I hid from the movers? So what if Mr. Husband can’t find the second sock to all of his single socks that are strung out and lonely in his new empty sock drawer. So what if our underthings have gone away. We are no longer concerned and are smiling with blinders on and falling into each other while waiting for the rain.

It’s supposed to rain, they say. The next few days are supposed to bring rain. Mr. Husband and I are waiting on pins and needles for the expected honey-colored rain that we assume will fall from the sky in buckets of golden foolishness. It will be our very first rain in the new house. We imagine we’ll sit on the upper porch and laugh into every raindrop as we take in the great wonder of nature spilling onto our very first house and splashing us with all its middle-of-the-week-wonder. We’ll make a poem out of every breath and stare into each other’s eyes with sparkly marshmallows that drip from the fire of our yesterdays. We'll eat regrets off of each other's linen table napkins as we scream into cardboard boxes and listen for paper hats to call our names. We'll be one boring new age poem after another. Saturday will sit up from her bed of shaved glass and shake her frown at us until we sweep sentiment under the neon moon. Green will climb uphill with feathers for eyeballs and turn his arms akimbo staring blindly into the pizza of his soul. Suffice it to say, we are two people who seriously love the rain to the point of not being real. So we'll go to our drippy world of raindrops ....

And then we’ll come back to reality and images that make sense. We’ll be solid and real again. We’ll stand still in our new house and realize there is still much to do. But until then, we are taking a much needed break. This evening, we went to VinItaly at B&A Warehouse in downtown Birmingham. There were over 175 different wines to taste from Italy. It was all Sangiovese, Aglianico, Dolcetto, Cortese, and Nebbiolo. Tart wines with grapes with names that roll off your tongue and are unforgiving. They stab you and take your money when you’re not looking. Give me California and her sweet peppery full flavor—I’d rather not be bitter. While we didn’t enjoy this as much a Pinot Camp (which was much more fun to say due to the potential shock value on the listener’s end), it was a nice relaxing evening where we went, we tasted, and we got slightly buzzed. See, you cannot drink the wines. You’d be plastered while not quite halfway around the room. We sip and we toss what we do not want.

We laughed as we drove home, making Italian mafia-like voices for every angry grape we encountered. We drove with a lightness that we’ve not really had for the past three weeks as I’ve been wound up tighter than a ball of angry spiders and Mr. Husband has been worrying more than a groundhog who’s only found cement beneath his feet. We were out of place. We are finding home again. Home is within each other and with each other. We raced home to watch the most boring presidential debates that promise to be exciting (gets us every time) and sipped more wine and ate Boursin with fresh French bread. We settled into each other like one big sigh that reminds us that we’re back where we once belong. We're back where it all begins.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Subprime Son

Sometimes, friends divorce. Sometimes, you, as the friends who knew the couple, don’t really care why they divorced but care more that the two friends who have now gone their separate ways are ok and happy … in their new spaces. Is it really anyone’s business other than theirs why they decided to end the marriage? No. It is no one’s place to judge. It is often the friend’s place to support and listen. We listened. Oh, how we listened. And while it is sad to see the demise of a marriage, new adventures and the prospect of finding their way now awaits these two friends … these friends we know. These friends we will continue to know. And how does it affect us? Sure. But. We get the kid.

Ok, we don’t “get” the kid, but we benefit from enjoying a Loaner Son for at least one evening a week—sometimes more. Our dear friend, Mrs. Ex, sings with the Birmingham Symphony. While she is off singing her heart out, the child, the angelic tow-headed boy we like to call our Loaner Son (LS) comes to stay with us every Monday evening. Mr. Ex has moved on to healing pastures and is busy traveling the country with his new job. Mr. Ex remains a big part in LS’s life. We do not play partisan politics in this house as we try to be logical and understand … but more than that—it’s all about the child. All of it. Every last bit of it.

And you know what, they know that. They’ve been good about it, and they’re being good to each other. I think it’s one of those classic cases where two people who lived together and could not agree while married turn out to be good friends when divorced. Somehow, they’re suddenly able to root for each other and wish happiness on the other. This type of behavior only helps the son. Good parents. We support them and try to help them with their hard time that will slowly get better. And it will.

So, we get a son. One day a week Mr. Husband and Mrs. Wife get a Loaner Son. He is the joy who helps us experience parenting. He is the one who bounds into the room asking a million questions and insisting that we watch the movie Shrek over and over and over and over. He adores Mr. Husband. Mr. Husband is careful and inquisitive. The two of them walk all over the house asking each other questions. It is like my Mr. Husband found his best friend ever. They play Star Wars Legos together. They play Wii together, they make creatures with the Spore Creature Creator, and we enjoy crayons. We’ve established that Mr. Ex now calls on Monday nights to see what our LS is eating for dinner and to try and speak with him on the phone. Our little Loaner Son is only two and a half, so he likes to shrug and smile at the sound of his daddy on the phone. It is a good tradition to establish.

I can hear LS following Mr. Husband around in the next room all night, asking, “what’s that, Deff? What you doin’ Deff?” It is question after question. And so we decided that if we are here and he is wondering and we are the stand-in parents, then we will teach him. Last night, we bought LS his first toys that will be at our home. We bought him an ABCs wooden puzzle and an Amaze-n-Marbles set. It is our job to bring the joy. It is our job to just be there with mirth. We are not the disciplinarians. That is not our job. We are fortunate that LS is an exceptionally good child. However, we might be starting to experience the Terrible Two’s. We are learning to be parents. He is learning us good.

And we are hoping to make the transition into this new way of life a little easier for Mrs. Ex and Mr. Ex. They are both good people who created an awesome little boy that we have the fortune to loan from them once in a while. Glad we can help. Who’s helping who? My ovaries are so calling. Yup, they’re screaming.
It is two people who put differences aside and focus on the child or children that make tomorrow better for everything. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Ex for doing just that. Oh, yeah, and thanks for loaning us your son. We love it. I never knew I was so very good at cutting up food into tiny pieces. I never knew. If only I could be as good as Mr. Husband is with children. He's the one. He's going to be a superb father. I'm lucky. My unborn children are luckier.