Portrait of a Man

cakeThe man rocked his swaddled baby back and forth in his exhausted arms, while the baby stared up at him with two bright eyes as a curious observer.  The baby had no intention of going to sleep but he enjoyed being rocked and was willing to allow his father to continue as long as he wanted.  His daddy dimmed the lights with one hand and then turned down the volume of the tv.  He rocked and bounced and bounced and rocked until the baby’s eyes began to slowly close.     

Suddenly, the infant was asleep.  

“Success,” he whispered to his wife and mother of the boy.

“Piece of cake, really,” he said with a wink. “I’ll be back in a jif.”

He carried the bundle into the nursery and gently lowered him into his crib.  As soon as the baby’s back hit the mattress, his eyes flew open in confusion.  He never meant to fall asleep.  Fat tears spilled from his eyes and ran down both sides of his face as he cried.

Meanwhile, back on the couch his mother heard the refreshed cries and picked up the monitor.  It sat on a pillow next to her, like a prize pet with a seat of its own.  She flicked the screen, bringing it to life.  A man stood next to the crib, diligently rocking and bouncing the crying baby again.  The two did this dance every night, each trying to wear the other out until one dropped to sleep.  Fortunately, it was always same diapered, swaddled one who gave in first.  She laughed and turned off the monitor to wait. 

A few minutes later, her husband emerged shaking his head.  He pulled the door shut with a click and tiptoed back to his wife. 

“Tough little guy.”

He flopped down on the couch, letting himself sink down into the cushions knowing that he would do it all over again tomorrow.  I get to do it again, I don’t have to do it, he thought.  He was a perpetual optimist even on his worst day. 

“Listen,” he whispered.  “Did you just hear that?” he asked cupping his ear towards the nursery.

“No, I didn’t hear anything,” his wife replied in alarm and reached for the monitor again. 

“Exactly… silence.  Like I said, piece of cake.”

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Eggs for Dinner

Penchant

eggs

I am on a week-long husband holiday.  I get to sleep in the middle of the bed, use up all of the hot water in the shower, and eat whatever I want for dinner.  It’s like being back in college but with a house, a full-time job and responsibilities and without the drinking or late night pizza.  So not quite as fun.   

After work, I head out for a jog around the neighborhood.  Flashing lights draw my attention towards a work crew of sunburned men.  They look tired and dirty as they take down a power line with an end of the day carelessness that motivates me to run a little faster. Somehow getting electrocuted and spending the rest of my husband holiday in the hospital is not how I plan to spend this time.

Once home, I peel off my sweaty running shirt and drape it over the back of the couch.  I can be a slob during my holiday week, but it doesn’t suit me.  The thought of a perspiration soaked shirt on the furniture makes my skin crawl.  Some people can’t stand spiders and beg for their death or removal, others get queasy at the sight of blood. Me, its dirty socks and laundry where it doesn’t belong. I can’t handle it regardless of if I’m on a husband vacation or not.  I retrieve the shirt and carry it back to the bedroom to dry and makes its way to the laundry basket.   

Now the cats need feeding and so do I.  The thought of sampling their expensive kibble briefly crosses my mind.  Its nutritionally balanced and even boasts of nutra-bits; whatever those might be, the whole shebang would be nourishing and so easy to prepare.  However, the smell is too disgusting and the greasy, crummy residue left on my fingers after scooping out a serving is too gross to give more time to this as a possibility for dinner. 

Instead of cat food, I go in for my old stand-by.  Eggs.  It’s been a long time since eggs were a main staple for dinner and the poor nutrition years comes rushing back.  Scrambled, hard boiled, sunny side up, fried, burned, omletted, more often with a piece of shell than not, eggs got me through the lean, mean years and taste almost as good now as they did then.  Survival food, it’s much better when eaten out of preference than necessity.

Counting down the days until my “vacation” is over because I’m sick of eating eggs, taking long luxurious showers, and sleeping alone in the middle of our big bed.   

The Grumpy Insomniac

alarm 2

Since becoming an insomniac, I have tried everything to sleep. I started with a sleeping mask but my eyes were still open all night.  I thought the room was too bright so I added black out blinds and still my eyes were open.

Try this sleeping potion, its guaranteed to make you sleep, the guy at the supplement shop promised.  Sleep I did, but unlike Sleeping Beauty, I became a Walking Zombie who was charming and delightful to no one the next day.  Birds were not landing on my shoulders, and woodland creatures were not gathering round my darling ballet slippers the next day.

A sleep therapy noise machine that I only came into by a stroke of good luck helped for a few nights.  Alas, this too was only the placebo effect.  After a week of gentle ocean waves and white noise, I was back up.  Two shining eyes peering out into the darkness, hating the night for what it held back from me and gave to so many others.

In contrast, my husband gets up every morning as soon as his alarm sounds with a cute little stretch and a yawn. He hops out of bed and says things like, “What a great night of sleep.” And “I am just so rested now.”   Then, he bounces off to do a number of productive morning things while I hit the snooze button, again and again and again.

I could glare and growl at him but it makes no difference to that puff of sunshine who travels around in such a well-rested state. So instead, I keep my grouchiness to myself and pull the pillow over my head hopeful for a last minute fog delay or natural disaster to allow me to repose just a bit longer.

 

Business Trippin’

plane

If it wasn’t for my husband, I would be a recluse. I would be a little crab curled up in my shell, only bothering to come out for food and fresh air. I might live in a treehouse, high enough to spy on the people in the area and with a specialized system for getting groceries from the ground to my treehouse kitchen, trained monkeys. The bananas would never make it up to me.

If it wasn’t for my husband nudging me out of my comfort zone and into the world (making me go to work, family reunions, Kohl’s), I would never take any risks. Lately, leaving home poses a risk. There is a shooting on every other street corner. Bodies are washing up in the river. Drugs and money are passing through grimy hands to flow through more veins than there are craters on the moon.  Without him here, I am much less inclined to go out into the world; if only it wasn’t for that nagging issue of a paycheck.

It’s a scary world to navigate with rocks hidden just under the water and pirates hoping for a crash or leak at the very least. I would avoid it all, fine with reading about it in a book. That is life experience enough for me.

If it wasn’t for my husband, I would eat more broccoli and drink less home brewed beer. I would have nine cats and drive a green Smartcar. The cats would ride unrestrained, in the passenger seat, on the dashboard and stretched out along the back window.   I would have a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus is my co-pilot” with “Cat” scrawled over the word “co-pilot”.

Things would be different, that is for certain.  Life would be lonely with only cats to share it with, albeit with 9 pairs of almond shaped eyes and a Smartcar.

Perhaps I would be more reckless with less to lose? I have the world by its toe when we are together. Pirates and hidden rocks be damned. Two more nights until flies back home to this madhouse and the woman who loves him.

Jinxed

One week ago, we walked along a nature trail, happily taking in the fresh air and newly naked trees.  Fallen leaves lined the path; birds flitted back and forth in front of us in flashes of red and brown.  It was a perfect afternoon.

“Can you believe we haven’t been sick, yet?” my husband asked, swinging his arms alongside his body in a casual Sasquatch style.

Suddenly, the sky clouded over and the birds disappeared.  An eerie silence fell on us as my mouth dropped open in disbelief.  I looked around to see if anyone heard what he had just asked.

Unbelievable! What was he thinking?

The look on my face must have led him to believe I didn’t understand the question.

“Can you believe..” he tried to continue and repeat himself.

“Stop!” I yelled.  “For the love of all things holy, don’t say it again.”

“What?” he asked in earnest.  He really didn’t know what was happening.

What have you done?  I wondered silently and shook my head at our bad luck, like a black cat had just crossed our path as we walked under a ladder; I knew what our future held.  I knew it with absolute certainty and it wasn’t good.

“You jinxed us! That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to talk about it anymore and make things worse.”

He laughed and shook his head, a complete non-believer.

He stopped laughing a week later when he got sick with a fever, chills, runny nose and the works. Yet, somehow he remains a disbeliever and chalks his illness up to the flu season and the high prevalence of unwashed hands in the work place and gym.

Now, it’s my turn to laugh.  A big hearty and healthy laugh.  It wasn’t germs that got him sick, it was talking about it and jinxing himself.  Its superstitious and maybe even a little ridiculous, but there’s something to it.

A little something called denial, and that’s more powerful than any old regular pathogen trying to sneak past my immune system.

Prioritize

the three i’s
have decided
that we will
work no longer
much to the
distress of our
dear, darling husband

nose blind?

cat3
Recently, we were expecting company and up against the clock to prepare for their arrival. The house was a wreck, but only because of our three roommates. To put it simply, they are hairy, lazy bums. When they aren’t lounging on the couch or hacking up hairballs, they are kicking litter out of their boxes, digging in the potted plants, or tearing up random mail/papertowels/anything they feel like destroying.

And they don’t even pay rent!

In any case, we launched into a crazy, cleaning frenzy. We swept, mopped, dusted, and scrubbed. The fridge was cleared of mold covered leftovers, the trash was bagged, and the clutter was organized. After a few hours, the place was spotless from top to bottom. The floors gleamed and the windows sparkled.

It was impressive what we accomplished that afternoon. Our roommates came out of hiding (they hate the vacuum and all cleaning activities) and sniffed the air. They inspected each room before throwing themselves onto the couch with bored yawns and meowed for an early dinner. Bums, right?

As I put the cleaning supplies away, I heard spritzing from the next room. The spritzing noise traveled through the rest of the house. I tried to quietly creep towards the sound and was stopped by a scent-wave of artificial wild orchids that stuck in my throat.

Coughing through the mist and covering my eyes, I escaped into the unpolluted air of the living room. I found my darling husband with a bottle of febreze and a determined on look on his face. He was carrying out a self-imposed mission to spread the potent odor of fake flowers throughout our home.

When he saw me choking on the sweet air, he stopped and smiled.

With the bottle in one hand, he explained, “It’s in case we’ve gone nose blind from the cats.”

I couldn’t argue with him and suddenly feared it was true. This was something that I had heard about somewhere…the nose blind concept.  Could we have gone nose blind and even with all of that cleaning, the smell of stinky cats still lingered?

How embarrassing.

Nose-blindness is a stealthy condition that slowly overtakes olfaction when exposed to less pleasant smells on a regular basis. It’s an adjustment of the senses to a new normal that happens without one’s self-awareness of the change.

Yet again, he saved me, the hero of my senses.

Of note:

Later, I remembered where I heard about this condition.  The same place where I get all of my other reliable information, commercials from tv, of course.  This is a real condition, if conditions that are invented and coined by huge corporations as part of advertising strategies are real. The first article listed below actually uses science to explain the phenomenon. Whoa!

Check it out.

Here are some links:
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/why-cant-you-smell-your-own-home.html
http://www.febreze.com/en-US/noseblind
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=noseblind

Strangest Week: Top 5 Reasons

mon 2

Truly, this was the strangest week. Here’s why…
1.Meta-meta-metamucil
In trying to impress my husband with my culinary ability, I baked a squash with butter and cinnamon sugar for dessert. This seems like something that would be healthy and delicious, except for one thing. The cinnamon sugar turned out to be orange flavored Metamucil in an identical and unlabeled container. No one was impressed.
2.Neti no-no
I overhead a co-worker on the phone say, “So you put probiotics in your neti-pot and now you have a sinus infection?” So much for risk taking and alternative medicine.
3.Prison
At a client’s home in the middle of the woods, a dirty looking man with tattoos on his arms sat and had a conversation with himself about escaping from prison. I didn’t stay long and no one minded when I left.
4.Tables
Out of the five home visits of this week, no one had a kitchen table. When I asked for something to put my computer and paperwork on at the first home, the client offered to pull up another chair. This was in a room with chairs, boxes, bags, and trash lining the walls. I feared moving anything would release an avalanche of old soup cans, shoes, plastic furniture and random junk onto my head. My lap sufficed and I didn’t ask again.
5.Problems
Possibly the strangest thing – the realization that problems are never what they seem, especially when they belong to someone else. #not my monkeys, not my circus
mon

Under the Rug

dancers

Have you heard of the idiom to sweep something under the rug?  It usually means to try to hide something embarrassing, like getting into a fender-bender while applying mascara or texting your boss a sexy message meant for your husband.  Things like that are meant to be glossed over and forgotten, banished into the distant past, and swept under the rug.

This weekend I learned the true meaning to the phrase as more than just figurative language.

We had a group of rowdy, rabble-rousing friends over for a few days.  After a night of debauchery, we returned to our small home to wind down when I felt the twinges of a headache/meltdown begin after watching the gang share a bag of Doritos.  Junk food alone does not usually cause this reaction, observing them use their pants and couch instead of napkins to clean their orange fingers does however immediately cause this reaction.

It was then that I excused myself to bed and allowed whatever mischief and bad behavior was left of the night to play out unhindered by the likes of yours truly.

And it did play out.

What I found the next morning was a pile of dirty white socks, Gatorade bottles, half eaten brownies, and two kittens concerned with the ever-changing environment and weekend tenants.  Naturally, the boys were still fast asleep.

Then, I discovered the white plaster chips and flakes on the floor from something that had shattered.  I first thought it was a hole in the wall and prepared for my head to explode.  Thankfully, my head stayed in place as there was not a hole in the wall and my temper subsided.  I looked up to the shelf and found only a ring of dust and bare place where something had once been standing.  As any good detective, I began an interrogation of the suspects who were busy snoring on the Dorrito dusted couches.  They waved me off as the guilty often do.

I started to gather evidence.  First, the white chips and flakes by the door, then an arm, and a head were located under the back of the couch.  While I was low to the ground, I noticed the lump under the rug.  I didn’t have to move the rug to know what it was; they had literally swept the broken statue of dancing lovers under the rug.

So I scooped it out from under the rug and held all of the pieces mournfully in my hands.  The boys tried to make it right later in the day by reassembling the piece into something that they considered modern art.  In retrospect, I should have put man-proofed our home before the gang arrived, removed all fragile knick-knacks and thingamajigs, and felt happy the figurine was the only causality of the weekend.  I’ll try to remember this peaceful gratitude as  I continue to find treasures lost in the couch and swept under the rug for the next few days.

Heart of gold and other business matters

candy-bowl

“We close up shop when the candy is gone and not a minute sooner.  These kids need candy,” my husband informed me with all seriousness on Halloween.   It was a very dramatic moment in our lives and the first time that I learned of his passion for trick-or-treating.

Naturally, I had been pressing for an early end to the trick-or-treating free-for-all that was taking place on our street.  A simple flick of the switch to the front porch light is all is would have required and his patrons would have taken their business elsewhere.   However, under his watch this proved to be impossible as he eyed me suspiciously every time I walked in the vicinity of the light switch.

So I gave into the spirit of the night and helped the Halloween enthusiast who is my spouse to hand out tiny boxes of Skittles and Nerds.  I have to admit his excitement was contagious as Ebola.  It was something I dreaded catching and when I finally did, I hoped it would all be over soon.

When we had a lull in activity, he anxiously paced and continuously checked the window.  He peered out through the blinds onto the darkened street with great concern.

“Porch light is on but no trick-or-treaters,” he said to himself, looking left and right for shadowy figures moving on the street.

Several costumed delinquents were suddenly spotted and he practically squealed with delight.  After he gave them handfuls of the fun-sized candies, and we closed the door, he sat down with a satisfied sigh claiming another set of happy customers.

By the end of the evening, we had a total of 10 visitors and a very proud man.  He declared it a good night of business and began on his improvement plans for the next year.  Full sized candy bars instead of fun-sized candy packs and matching costumes for the two of us, inflatable lawn ornaments and pumpkins for the front porch were all among his plans.  He explained this was a long term business plan and the trick-or-treaters would tell their friends for the next year.  I could see the stars in his eyes as he dreamed of his empire, to be built on candy and costumes.

It would have been pointless to remind him that trick-or-treating wasn’t a business because to the son of a shopkeeper everything was business.

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