Thursday, February 8, 2018

So Many Other Things

The day after the Super Bowl, it occurred to me that I watch a lot of football games.

I spend a lot of time and money on football.

I go to a lot of parties celebrating it.

I support those who love it and live it.

And on that day after the Super Bowl, I was relieved that football season is over for now. Having a breather from arranging my life around football – either watching it or avoiding it – is welcome.

It’s not that I’m morally opposed to football. It’s just not interesting to me. I don’t care about it. I feel about football the way other people feel about opera, or the way engines work, or astrology, or the feeding habits of mackerel, or Project Runway. Football just isn’t my bag.

And yet, because those important to me love football, I spend a lot of my life on football.

It is weird to not be into something that your friends and family are really, really into a lot of the time. I can’t speak meaningfully about football, recall details about it, or join the excitement that follows it. You’d think that just by association I’d be more into it, but instead I withdraw when the subject rolls around. I’ve been told “If you tried to understand it, you would!” “If you learned how it’s played, it would make more sense!” Well, of course.  But I’ve achieved my peak level of interest in the game. I know enough to know I don’t want to know more.
It occurred to me, the day after the Super Bowl, that though I love the people around me who love football, I haven’t really been working that hard to do the things that I find interesting.

It’s my own fault for not looking out for myself better, but it’s also a consequence of being a mom and wife. I’m used to helping others with their own interests and putting mine to the side. I put my interests first a few years ago when I started writing, but even that fell by the wayside as my family’s interests became more demanding and I became more involved in supporting them.

I’ve spent years giving to others so that their lives can function, to the sacrifice of my own interests. It’s cool to give yourself to others, but when you have filled your life with the lives of others, the life is sort of squeezed out of you.

So the day after the Super Bowl, I wondered just what is it that interests me?

So many other things, I remembered. Faith. History. Other cultures. Working with others. Movies. Art. Languages. Reading. Writing.

Football didn’t make the cut.

But how do you get back to what interests you, after a time of only being interested in what others are interested in?

You start small.

What can I do? I can read. I can dust off my blog for the hundredth time and get back to writing. The Oscars are coming up and I never miss watching. I can go to the movies to see all the Best Picture nominees, something I want to do every year but have never, ever done.

My interests are many. You’d never know it. I almost forgot, too.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fifteen Candles

A couple of weeks ago my husband was driving us home from some sporting event that one of my kids was involved in (don’t ask me who it was or what kind it was; after a while they all sort of morph in my brain into one giant SPORTS fusion) and I was on my phone poking around, as any ill-mannered auto passenger is wont to do1.

[“Wont to do” is one of those old-timey phrases that annoyingly pops into my head instead of a more modern wording of the same idea. Also see “champing at the bit2”.]

I feel I should mention that doing anything other than talking to the driver while you’re a passenger in a car is R-U-D-E rude. It’s right up there with sleeping, or insisting on turning up the radio when your favorite song comes on. By the way, I do both of these things, too.

Anyway, while I was being rude to my husband by ignoring him and surfing the internet waves instead, I spied a wonderful advertisement which announced that my favorite scented candles were on sale FOR ONE DAY ONLY for Less Than Half Of The Regular Retail Price!!! Soon after reading the ad, I watched a friend’s video featuring a shopping frenzy related to This Amazing Sale and at once I felt called to be a part of it.

And then I immediately complained to my husband that I was going to be missing the sale because we were trouncing around the countryside all day to watch kids play sportsball.

So I did the next logical thing: taking advantage of my misappropriated downtime, I shopped online.

“Limit of 15,” the website read. I sneered – how dare they limit my shopping power?!? – and promptly ordered 15 candles. That’s fifteen, with a ten and a five. Fifteen three-wick candles of dubious scent combinations. Would they compliment the natural aromas of my household? Would they please guests? Overpower nostrils? Leave perfume migraines in their wake? For 8-10 business days, we wouldn’t know. It didn’t matter. I got mine.

Fifteen candles ordered, three weeks before Christmas. I will argue that I got a screaming deal on these candles, because I can burn through two of them in a given week, an expensive habit. I will argue that because they were on sale I saved a ton of cash. I will argue that it’s Christmas, otherwise known as Treat Yo’ Self season.

But the truth is that I bought them because it was easy.

My fifteen candles came in a big heavy box yesterday, big enough to warrant having to create a storage spot in my house to accommodate it. As I stared at the box and wondered where the heck it would go, I mused that, ten years ago, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy fifteen candles at a pop. I would have been in the car, turning up the radio to sing along to Andy Williams on the Christmas station, or boring my family with a monologue about old-timey phrases that should be brought back into the lexicon, or sleeping. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been as easy to shop online while cruising at 70 mph, asking my fellow hapless travelers what they think a blend of cypress and vetiver smells like.

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been teaching my kids how to be a bad auto passenger as well as a spendthrift. I wouldn’t have been staring at a box as big as a microwave ten days later, trying to think where I would stash it. I wouldn’t have been kicking myself for spending all that extra money on stupid stuff like candles. For myself. At Christmas.

Fifteen candles is a lot of candles.  

1adj. accustomed; used (usually followed by an infinitive): He was wont to rise at dawn.
Also: an annoying habit.

2v. to betray impatience, as to begin some action.
Also: to be up someone’s butt with your needs.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Year 18

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I were wed.
In honor of our anniversary, we decided to force our children to watch our wedding video.

Celebrating 18 years of his hand on my butt.

He called on his way home from work to tell me what time he’d be home, like he does every day that he’s not traveling for work. His timing has always been impeccable in that he unfailingly chooses the very worst moments of the day to ring. Today was no better, but at least I wasn’t elbow-deep in a raw chicken or finishing up in the bathroom or any number of two-hands-needed activities that I’ve been in the middle of doing when he calls. Usually his ETA information is in hours and minutes, coupled with “I meant to leave earlier” or “Traffic is crazy, I thought I’d be home an hour ago” or “I was on my way out when the phone rang/someone came into the office for a chat/a gorilla was standing outside the building and I had to wait until he was gone to leave.”

And whatever time he says he’ll be home, I add twenty minutes.

He adds, “I’ll see you soon. Hey, I didn’t get you anything for our anniversary.”

I exhaled, relieved. He’s the gift-giver between us; I struggle with this aspect of human decency. I don’t really care about gifts. He’s still waiting for a Father’s Day 2015 gift that I promised and then sort of… just didn’t buy. It’s been a problem over the years.

“Yeah, me either.”

“I didn’t even get you a card.”

“Me either. It’s okay, jeez. Being together is the gift that keeps on giving, right?”

He laughs heartily. A little too into the joke, I think – but whatever.

I continue with the low expectations: “And I didn’t make anything special for dinner, either. We have leftover beef stroganoff and salad that needs to be used up. You’d die if you knew all the food I threw out today.” I’m projecting; he doesn’t really care about throwing food away, but I do, and it makes me feel better to say it. “The kids are both home, so we’ll wait for you to eat our leftover beef noodles and old salad together, and then I thought we’d make the kids watch our wedding video with us.” It was a great plan, and I knew he’d love it.

“That sounds fantastic. I can’t wait.”

He wasn’t joking. The man never turns down an opportunity to relive good times. He used to haul out his high school football videos to watch as entertainment when we were dating. I remember those naps as particularly restorative.

I put out a glass for him and poured myself a glass of cheap cabernet, and when he got home I plated and nuked the beef and made my famous garlic bread from some Texas Toast that had been languishing in the pantry. We toasted our anniversary and after dinner, tasked the kids with dish duty and locating the wedding DVD, and while we waited for them to finish, he and I drank wine and reminisced about our wedding day and our notorious wedding reception, every sweet and sordid detail captured on video.

You see, my husband and I, in a bit of poor planning, exited our wedding reception a couple of hours before it ended to stay closer to the airport to catch our early-morning honeymoon flight. We missed a generous portion of the reception activities, which, after the requisite garter and bouquet toss, various forced couple dances, and cake cutting, devolved into an unholy mess, and kind of an awesome party.

Side note: We had an open bar at our wedding reception.

Soon after our honeymoon, the videographer sent us hours of raw footage from the wedding day. He included in the package a form on which we could jot down anything that we wanted omitted from the final edited DVD of our special day: an embarrassing moment, a sloppy best wishes interview, or anything questionable of taste or character on the part of us or our guests.

After watching those hours of footage back then, I specifically remember, after wiping away tears of mirth and disbelief over what we had just witnessed through the lens of what had to be one of the top ten best days of our videographer’s career, looking at each other and saying “Wow, our guests sure had fun after we left. Eh, they won’t put any of that crazy stuff on the DVD. It's our wedding video!”

And we threw away that form.

Short story: Our wedding video is comprised of nothing BUT that crazy stuff.

So naturally we wanted to share it with our children.

Turns out that our kids eagerly settled in with us to watch the official celebration of the beginning of our family, prompting comments and questions, from our son asking if my hair was in cornrows (it wasn’t) to our daughter asking if me and two of my bridesmaids got our between-the-shoulder blades tattoos together (we didn’t). We all agreed that the button-tuxedo look was a little dated but hope that the look comes back. We oohed and ahhed at how cute (and young!) relatives and friends were all those years ago. I found that, unlike prior viewings, I cared less that I stuttered during my vows and winced less that we asked my sister-in-law to read an excerpt from The Little Prince instead of the more common religious text, for Pete’s sake. I teared up – again – at watching my dad and me dance together, and we all got quiet when seeing the images of our grandparents and other guests who are no longer with us.

And we laughed and loved watching how much fun our guests had at our wedding party, questionable behavior and all.

I read that the traditional gift for the 18th year of marriage is appliances, but I think that leftovers and wedding video watching with your teenagers is just as good.

Actually, it just might be the best way to celebrate an anniversary.

Matthew 19:4-5 "Have you not read that he who created them ... said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?"
It says "hold fast to his wife." THIS IS MY ENTIRE LIFE YOU GUYS