Category Archives: Marriage

Shifting Into Third. Maybe Fourth.

The other night, at family dinner with Pebbles and Bam-Bam — a feast consisting of leftover bratwurst and steamed broccoli — DH announced that he’d read my blog.

“Really?” I asked.

I’ve been writing since before I met my husband, 11+ years ago. He has been nothing but encouraging and supportive…as far as he’s concerned. And in part, I absolutely agree with him. He has bent over backwards to give me the space and the lifestyle to write. He paid the rent while I indulged in two years of MFA study in Manhattan. He puts up with my treacherous moods and fits of self-loathing. And he’s so appreciative of my instinct to explore.. from a distance.  But he doesn’t read what I write. Not unprompted, anyway.  Certainly not out of demonstrated personal desire to know what’s what among the squirrels in my brain. 

I try not to take this personally. I mean, all a writer really wants is to be read, right? We want to amuse, entertain, shock, and [insert one of countless possible reader reactions here].  We’re all hoping to spin sentence after sentence that beguiles another human, to apply a literary hand on the back of a reader’s neck and do not look away from the page motherfucker

Needless to say, I don’t think he likes my writing, the subject matter. Maybe it’s the cursing. Or he doesn’t know how to respond. Or my content and tone simply don’t resonate with him. In any case, several years back, about midway through writing my novel manuscript, I pretty much gave up. I know DH loves me. I know that he loves when I”m happy. And I believe he even loves the idea of being with a writer. But something about my writing does not… interest him. In, you know, the same way the Green Bay Packers official website interests him. Not by a country mile.

“Yep,” he confirmed, slicing into another bratwurst. “I read the blog today.”

I nodded.  I coached myself not wait for praise, no matter how badly I desired it. “Well thanks,” I said, swallowing some limp broccoli. “That’s great. Thanks.”

“I think you’re barely out of first gear, ” he added, reaching over with his fork to coax another bite of ketchup-soaked sausage into Bam-Bam’s mouth.

What?

“Pebbles,” I said, “You are not getting up until you finish that broccoli.” I fixed my hot gaze across the table at my sweet Kindergartener. What did you just say to me?

“I think you need to need to really do your thing,” he continued. “You know? Open it up. You’re… idling.”

I stopped. I dug deep into my mental files for some sage advice offered by our former marriage counselor. “Could you get me that bottle of red from the kitchen?” I asked.

“You sure you don’t want me to just hook you up to the bottle with an IV?”  Now he was smiling tha smug-yet-uncomfortable-with-the-words-that-just-came-out-of-my-mouth midwestern smile of his.

“You want to go ahead and get. me. the. wine?” I repeated.

“Is something wrong,” he asked. “Do you not want me to comment on it?”

“The wine?” I asked. I know what he meant.

“The blog.” He handed me the wine. “You know what I meant.”

“Oh no,”  I said. “Of course I want you to comment.  Of course. I mean, You’re the only one who will comment honestly. Who… actually cares.  I need your feedback.” Gears!? What do you know from first or fifth? You didn’t even finish my manuscript 5 years ago!

Then we got into it…. the medium of the blog, my purpose for this blog, my attempt to keep to a reasonably narrow scope. I argued that this is non-fiction, memoir-ish (“I think it’s been well established that the line between fact and fiction is quite blurry,” he countered.) I defended my desire not to seriously or permanently offend co-workers, family, and friends. (You publish anonymously!” he argued.)

And then I finally broke down and admitted how hard it is to be writing a blog at this stage in my life — in what I had imagined would be a much more illustrious literary career. Hell, at this stage I’d give my right arm for a fledging literary career.  There are so very many things wrong with that expectation, especially given the choices I have made,  but there you have it: the truth. ‘Atta girl!  Instead, I focus my work days on ghost-writing content-free executive emails and/or creating complex powerpoint presentations. And I’m blogging at night after the kids go to sleep in order to do something. Because this is the way life goes. And this blog is my little attempt to start again, to pull a thread of an idea, to practice and play, and eventually, turn out a story of merit that is actually published. Or maybe two. Someday.

***

“Darlin,” he finally said, “I’m so sorry.” He put his hand on my left hand, fiddled with my rings.

“For what?” I shrugged, pouring another glass of wine. “For telling the truth?”

“For being hard on you,” he said. “I just want to help. I love you and I want to help. I don’t always know how to express it.”

“I know,” I said. “I know you do.”

“I’m a little bit like my father that way,” he said.

“And I’m a little bit like my mother with the histrionic reactions,” I smiled.

He  poured himself another glass. Took my hand. “Hey. So. I don’t doubt you. I love your work and I react when it doesn’t seem true to who you are, you know? That’s all. I want you to realize that.”

I’ve been waiting to hear that for 10 years! Be it the look in his eyes or my second glass of wine, but I felt brave at that moment. I told him what I’d been waiting to tell him for a week.  “I have some other news, actually. Which — as nice as this chat is turning out to be — may actually further delay my writing career.”

“Yeah?” He put his arm around me and the girls slid away from the table to play quietly with their dolls in the other room. “What’s up?”

“We’re going to have another baby,” I whispered.

When I finally looked up to see his reaction, DH looked like I just handed him the moon and the stars on a platter. He’s been wanting another child for some time and I have been reticent — with what seemed like good reason. But these things happen when they happen, depsite our best efforts at control.  

“Guess we both need to downshift now, eh?” I smiled.

“We do…” He wrapped both arms around me and grinned. “We sure as hell do.” 

***

Everything between the *** never happened and in no way represents the truth or actual conversation we had on the evening in question. (This means I am NOT pregnant, mom.)  Just a little blog experiment, if you will, in blurring those fiction/non-fiction lines.

Idling in first gear, my ass.

Game ON, boyfriend.

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Filed under Humor, Marriage, writing

All Joy and No Fun?

I am not crazy.

I read an article in New York Magazine today and it’s in there. Somewhere in the article is what I’ve been trying to explain to people about this decision to get two Brittanys while working, raising two kids, and trying to keep my marriage from going into the great, gray Netherland of ambivalence. 

“It’s so hot,” I said to DH tonight, ripping into a bottle of white wine. “This weather is just… completely unreasonable. It really is, don’t you think? Unreasonable?”

DH nodded.

“I can smell myself,” I muttered. “I’m sick of smelling myself.” I sniffed. I groaned.

“Me too,” he said.

“You’re sick of smelling yourself, or sick of smelling me?”

He nodded again.

And before we could laugh or even make eye contact, Bam Bam and Pebbles started fighting and pushing over whose crown was whose in their new silly band collection.

The New York Magazine article confirms all of this. Parenthood is a grind. We do have moments of mind-blowing joy with the girls and these, to be fair, are not so few and far between. But it’s also hard work of the constant and mind-numbing variety.  In the middle of an important meeting, my shoulders can knot instantly over a maternal brain fart: you still didn’t submit the medical forms for kindergarten registration, or send the evite for Bam-Bam’s pool party!  And any attempts DH and I make to escape from daily life — when we try to fool ourselves into thinking we’re as fun, interesting, or driven as we once were — are folly. The plain truth is, we are on a domestic death march for the next 16 years.

Then there are Sadie and Dub. They inspire within me great joy and comfort that whispers to hell with it … in perfectly reasonable, daily doses.  I mean, I might as well march along (toward death? toward paying college tuition?)  in step with those things that offer random moments of disassociated delight, right? And peace.  Like yesterday evening, when I walked my two lively, panting, grinning dogs through the woods. I’m still filling an obligation to another creature! It’s productive! It’s even exercise! I watched them nose each other, take turns in the lead, reassure our little pack through body language that we were doing the right thing; that is, we were all having fun.

Because with 30-60 minutes of free time a day, my brain can’t even begin to focus on an intellectual activity. I have no chance of being interesting. Am I gonna knit?  Read 12 pages of a worthy novel or take half a yoga class?

Fuck it. I just want to have fun during the precious moments that belong solely to me.

Read it: All Joy and No Fun.  You’re welcome to come play with the dogs anytime.

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Filed under Kids, Marriage

good that i only had 45 seconds

Yesterday evening around 6pm I had about 45 seconds to myself. I’d just gotten home from work, was sitting in the living room, and my daughters (let’s call them Pebbles, 5.5, and Bam-Bam, 3) were playing quietly in the kitchen with some frozen peas.

The dogs, the new dogs, now  just 48 hours away had been on my mind all day. I looked to the corner of the room where Samson’s bed used to be, and thought of how crazy but happy our home would soon be with two, healthy dogs in the house. This may be the best stupid idea I ever had! Or am I having a life crisis and don’t even realize it?  There’s still a coloring book page taped on the wall, near the floor, in Samson’s corner. Pebbles colored a bright red heart for Samson to look at during his last weeks, when he rarely moved from his bed.  “So he knows how much we love him,” she’d explained.

Samson, January 2010

How much indeed. Samson had been with DH and me since we got engaged, almost 10 years ago. In the first few moments after he died this spring, we looked at each other with wonder and sadness.  Samson had taught us to work better as a team, to exercise regularly, that it’s ok not to be in control all the time, and that you can induce vomiting with two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster. DH and I were losing the silent partner in our marraige.

And so in my 45 glorious seconds of “me time,” I marveled that it was happening again. Realizing that our sweet, pain-in-the-ass dog is not coming back.

Then Bam Bam ran in and grabbed my hand. “PEE PEE! I NEED TO PEE PEE!”

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Filed under Brittanys, Marriage

What to expect?

  1. This blog is about the dogs in my life. And maybe motherhood. Wifely duties. A deep affinity for the amber liquors that bolster my ability to endure all three. But mostly about the dogs.  Dogs I once owned, and the dogs to come. 
  2. You’re welcome to share stories about your dogs. Same for the motherhood and wifely duties crap.
  3. Blog Rating: PG-13. May contain adult situations.
  4. I will, however, refrain from unnecessarily foul language.
  5. In keeping with the greatest animal writers, and out of respect for animals, I will work hard to avoid anthropomorphizing dogs and for that matter, all of God’s creatures.
  6. Count on regular references to literary dogs. (And by this I mean, for example, Tulip. Not Philip Roth.)
  7. I’m not a religious freak; that “God’s creatures” business was just me unable to think of another word for animals.
  8. Chipmunks may talk from time to time. Because chipmunks, and I think history proves this, deserve it. Maddening little motherfuckers.
  9. I will continue posting for 6 months and then reevaluate. That gives me until… hang on…counting ahead from the day I launched….December 21st.  The winter solstice.  My goal has a name! Now it’s definitely my end date.  I believe this to be a sure-fire sign of a book deal.
  10. Recall point #1; this is not about a getting book deal, it’s about my dogs.
  11. Wow. The winter solstice!  Shortest day of the year. Interestingly, this is also my parents’ wedding anniversary.
  12. My father died 12 years ago. My mother has been happily remarried for years.  Her new anniversary is in May.
  13. I will not end any blog lists on the number 13.  Who gets selected to adopt a beautiful Brittany, much less lands a book deal, by not attending to superstitions? I don’t stop on sidewalk cracks either; please reference #12 for substantiating proof point.
  14. I will post a few times a week. That is the all I can offer you.
  15. I should be clear; I don’t actually HAVE a dog at the moment. I’m between animals.
  16. And finally, I will stop before the cutesy, devicey stuff gets to be too much
  17. Or shortly thereafter.

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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Brittanys, Kids, literature, Marriage