Friends: Confirming our Crazy Since Day 1

Everyday Adventures

I get along pretty well with my new coworkers (thank goodness!). We share an open office with our three cubbies along the same wall and the office is seldom quiet. Mostly we’re talking shop, getting info to the right person in the right moment, but usually once a day there’s something that gets us giggling. It’s a fun environment, our office.

But the other day I realized my cubbie neighbor (I know they’re called cubicles, but that’s so boring, cubbies is friendlier) and I had something in common: our baby nails.

Baby what?

If you’ve ever been around an infant you may know that their fingernails are tiny little razor blades attached to flailing limbs. It’s why baby mittens are a thing, keeping them from flaying themselves alive as they figure out that whole fine motor skills concept. Usually nails get thicker and less prone to flayage as we grow up. Mine didn’t. Mine are still very thin and still fully capable of leaving scrapes and gashes from random contact with my thin, scar-prone skin.

Good times.

They also reject just about every nail treatment out there, a fact of which I’m absolutely convinced but feel a little silly saying, because it sounds so strange even to my own ears. Acrylics lift, gel and shellac manicures chip within 3 days, nail wraps leave the nail bed even thinner–like I just soaked off acrylics–and regular polish? Forget it! I’m lucky if I can go 8 hours without a chip (and that’s when I do them before bed). And yet, I like my nails to look pretty, so occasionally I’ll get on a polish kick.

But my cubbie neighbor? She experiences the same thing. She confirms my crazy.

Which got me to thinking about the rest of my close friends: do we all confirm each other’s crazy in some way or another?

The touch-point may not always be as simple to identify as the above example, I’m fairly certain my closest companions do confirm some level of my existence not to be so out there.

And why is that a good, necessary thing?

Well, most of us want to feel special or unique in some way but the truth is, that there’s a fine line between special and special. Between acceptable and not. Between quirky and scary. Most of us don’t want to be scary. Even those of us who want so desperately to be unique still want to be accepted at the same time. We’re human, it’s natural.

So when we find someone out there who echos one of those fringe traits, we get a reassurance that we’re still within the acceptable limit. We’re still lovable, if still weird. And it’s those people we are grateful for and to and tend to strike up friendships with, whenever possible.

All the time I thought
There’s only me
Crazy in a way
That no one else could be
I would have given everything I own
If someone would have said you’re not alone

Barry Manilow, All The Time

See, he knows!

So, how do your friends confirm your crazy? Have you ever thought about it?

What Do Dirty Dishes Have to Do With Love?

Third Time Wife
Image via | contributed by poison_yvi

Image via | contributed by poison_yvi

I hate doing the dishes.

More specifically, I hate loading the dishwasher. While I’m certainly capable of doing it and did it for  years when I lived on my own, there’s just something about loading the dishwasher that I loathe. Momma would say that it’s no surprise–I wasn’t the neatest, most organized kid growing up, but I definitely was the one most likely to snap if the kitchen was a mess in the house I shared with 3 other girls right after graduation.

No one was more surprised than I, let me tell you.

So when Todd and I first moved in together, we’d discussed certain chores (mostly laundry, we’re strictly a do-your-own household) but I don’t remember discussing dish duty. We traded off weeks to cook (we still do) but whereas the usual beat would be one person cooks, the other cleans, Todd adopted dish duty 99% of the time. And I thank him for it frequently, because he’s saving me from something a detest and, to me, that’s love.

In Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, this pinpoints at least one of my love languages as Acts of Service. If you’ve never read the book (I remember receiving a copy of it as a wedding gift the first time I got married back in ’95), it’s an interesting treatise on different ways we perceive love all with the end goal of making individuals more aware of what they see or hear as love so that they can then communicate those needs to their partner. It’s good stuff.

And even though I read this book years ago and knew on some level what I needed, I wasn’t always good at asking for those needs to be met.

For instance, I remember a particular row with my 2nd husband over groceries. Well, it was more than that, but the grocery shopping was a catalyst that day.

See, his son (who lived with us every other week) had decided to go vegetarian. Seeing as how I’d done similar back in high school (and combined with my culinary training) I was gung-ho to support him and make sure we met his needs while still also meeting the needs of his decidedly carnivorous father. Unfortunately, stepson’s idea of a meal was French bread, Buffalo Chick’n nuggets, and Monster energy drink. I had several objections to a) him subsisting on those items (regardless of how much kale he claimed to consume from the food truck at lunch) and b) the general principle of teenagers consuming energy drinks, so I flat-out refused to buy them in the requested quantities (or at all in the case of the energy drink) and explained to his father exactly why.

Instead, I planned meals in components, like the night I made spaghetti, the sauce, and the seasoned meat separately so each person could add what they did and did not want. Stepson opted not to come to the table. Now, he wasn’t rude or obnoxious about it, he was fairly polite saying ‘no thanks’ over the din of the music through the closed door to his bedroom, but it certainly didn’t show respect or appreciation for my efforts. And we just won’t go into the not-so-easy-to-find-12-years-ago Tofurky incident.

The aforementioned argument was on who did what around the house, and how much each of us (the husband and I) contributed monetarily. Yeah, it was one of those “discussions.” Since I do better on paper with facts at hand, I listed everything out, comparing our salaries as well (he made a third more than I did, but I matched his amount for the household expenses) and included grocery shopping in my contribution totals saying something like ‘and I get the things you like at the store.’ His response: That’s your job!

No. No it wasn’t. Especially when even he didn’t come home for dinner most nights for the last year we were together.

My stance on the subject is best summed up in this quote from Mary Gauthier, heard on Fresh Air weekend but originally aired in her June 24, 2014, interview with Terry Gross:

Playing music and cooking for people are two very tangible ways of showing love.

Amen to that.

Grocery shopping and planning menus is a chore for some, it’s an act of loving service for others, myself included. Planning favorite meals or picking up a favorite snack or cereal when something more utilitarian would do or it could easily be skipped: they are love notes from me to whomever I’m cooking for. It might sound a bit Stepford wife of me, but it’s what I do. It’s the same thing that drives me to volunteer to help this group or that group even when I’m putting my own projects aside (aka Helium Hand or Helper Monkey-ism), because I love, respect, and/or appreciate the group and want to show it in my “native” love language. It’s also why I seldom feel a true need to pull the ‘fend for yourself’ card when it’s my week to cook.

I used to see Quality Time as a key love language along with Words of Affirmation. As I’ve gotten more self-confident, though, they aren’t as important (though Quality Time is still a biggie, it’s just truly quality and not quantity). Back when I was confused about my self-worth, I spoke love to others by almost strictly Physical Touch, thinking that’s what I had to do–again, I’ve since learned that, while important, it’s not the language I need to be speaking exclusively, and certainly not in the way I used to think. About the only one of the love languages I never really keyed into was Receiving Gifts. Not that I don’t love presents, but the gifts language often involves money and growing up without a lot of that around made both giving and receiving such gifts awkward and uncomfortable. Though I enjoy giving gifts to others, they come from the Acts of Service part of me being primarily handmade or diy.

So when I found myself doing the dishes the other night–half because it was time to cook supper and we were out of plates, having not moved over the rest of the kitchen supplies, and half because Todd was exhausted and having a rough week so hadn’t gotten to them in a couple of nights–I didn’t feel all martyr-ish about it. (That, of course, is not Acts of Service if you’re going to complain about how put-upon you are, that’s a passive-aggressive way of asking for Words of Affirmation in my mind.) I was happy to do them, even though it was hand-washing because we didn’t have a working dishwasher and it meant delaying supper a bit, too. I was happy because it was a way I could show Todd that I appreciated what he did for me around the house, the time he frees up by doing the dishes being time I can spend on my projects or nothing at all if I so choose.

Todd had never heard of The 5 Love Languages before that night, when I brought them up after supper. We’d never had a need to discuss them as, in the 6 1/2 years we’ve been together, we’ve been lucky enough to speak the same love languages often enough without prompting.

There’s a quiz going around about rating the awesomeness of your husband/wife over on Brainfall. I took the rate your wife side, trying to guess Todd’s answers, and scored myself an 80%. When I took the rate your husband side of the quiz, I scored Todd a 93%, and I felt that was fair and I often consider Todd an excellent husband and myself a somewhat selfish wife. When I sent the link to Todd, though, he scored me a 94 while only scoring himself a 73 when he tried to guess my answers.

I suppose the lesson is that we both do our best but see room for improvement, while our partner sees near perfection. So much better than the other way around, right?

I’ll continue to be grateful when Todd does the dishes, or cooks dinner on “his” weeks, or kills a bug that dares enter our home. What’s more, I’ll continue to tell him how grateful I am so that he knows I see what he’s doing. Whether it’s dishes or cuddles, it all boils down to the same definition of love in our language.

In Celebration of Birthdays

Everyday Adventures

I love birthdays–I always have and, hopefully, always will. Some birthdays pass more quietly than others, but they are still celebrated in some way, shape, or form. And while I know not everyone enjoys their birthdays, especially as the number of candles reaches conflagration-status, I like what Mom often says:

It’s better than the alternative!

Gallows humor, sure, but she has a point.

Todd, whose birthday it is today, is one of the non-celebrants. He doesn’t mind celebrating other people’s birthdays, but prefers not to make a fuss over his own. So I will likely never throw him a surprise party, and only occasionally suggest we have a small get-together (usually a game night) on his birthday if it works out that way. Nothing big.

But he knows that I will always celebrate his birthday because I am incredibly grateful that he was born all those years ago. I will always get him a little something (usually something fun, since birthdays are not a time for practical gifts) and ask him what he’d like special for dinner (be it my cooking or going out–this year he chose going out with dessert at home). I will always get him multiple cards (at least 1 silly and 1 serious) and usually sing him Happy Birthday when we get up on his birthday morning.

Because he is the most important person in my life, and I think he’s worth celebrating. And he accepts my position on the matter.

In deference to his not wanting to make a fuss, I won’t post the umpteen reasons why I’m glad he was born, or the other umpteen reasons why I’m head-over-heels in love with him, suffice it to say I could and leave it at that.

Instead, I’ll just close with a heartfelt Happy Birthday, Honey!

Episode 10: Love, Lust and Broken Hearts


Welcome to the semi-traditional February episode of Random Acts Radio! Yes, it’s predictable, but there’s a certain comfort in predictability, right? So we’ve got love songs. And lust songs. And songs somewhere in between, before or after. Hopefully you’ll be able to find one song, of the 22 we’ve got here, that speaks to you and your situation.

Keep the Love in Your Eyes–Al Stravinsky
Love I Have for You–Amanda Duncan
Love Song in G–Arthur Yoria
Teach Me Tonight–Connie Lansberg
Autumn Song–Manic Street Preachers
Temptation–Emma Wallace
Hold My Hand–Broni
Raise a Glass–Olivia Greer
Movie Date–Redefining the Moment
Rub Me Raw–Android Lust
Horizontal Tango–Roadside Attraction
Jack ‘n Ginger–Oedipus
I’m Bad–Cotton Jenny
Little Black Dress–Cush
I Don’t Believe in Love–Alicia Marie
Clever Girl–The Birdinumnums
Words Left Unsaid–Kay Rose
I’ll Be Right Behind You, Josephine–Josh Woodward
I’ll Be Alright–Marina V
If You Don’t Love Her–Ashley Rose
Another Sad Love Song–Annie Fitzgerald
Bring the Guitar–Alice Marie

In other news: I’ve set up a Facebook Fan Page for Random Acts Radio. Do me a favor a click that little Like button and I’ll be forever grateful. As well as keeping you up to date with the current podcast, the fan page will be a way to find out about other music (both mainstream and independent) that I find noteworthy (pun totally intended).

Until next month!

the 10th Art: Bed Arrangement

64 Arts

Covered with colored fabrics, placed in the center of the room, for taking meals.

Okay: first thought is that bed and couch are somewhat interchangeable here and we’ve got a similar vibe going here as in ancient Rome where they ate reclined on couches not sitting at a table. So beds, couches, tables and chairs and anything else we deem appropriate will be covered over the next few weeks. Starting with…

*  *  *

After the shell-shock of my first divorce (at age 22) wore off, I eased back into the dating scene with an eye more towards Mr Right, not Mr Right-Now. There were a lot of phone calls, plenty of emails and first “dates” at bookstores, parks and other neutral grounds.

For the few who made it to that stage there was often an invitation to the guy’s home with the lure of cooking dinner together (this is what happens, by the way, when you’re dating while in Culinary School–or at least what happened to me!). Over time I began to notice a pattern.

Now, I’d read somewhere that dating a guy who sleeps in a twin bed is never going to go anywhere. Why? Well, if there’s no room for you in his bed, there’s no room for you in his life.

And while this advice did seem to be holding out true more often than not, I developed a set of corollaries to this “rule” that I will now share:

Size Matters

Twin Bed: Exercise caution. Even if you’re not planning to sleep with him any time soon, it’s still worth considering  that even if you wanted to, you couldn’t.

Full or Double: Totally acceptable (providing the pillow option doesn’t apply–see below). Says there’s room for growth.

Queen: No worries here!

King: Probably okay, especially if he’s really tall and needs the length. But beware: king beds can be party beds. I know more than one guy who had a king bed so he could have more than one extra person in there with him

Pillow Talk

One pillow: Back to square one–no room for your head, no matter how big the bed.

Two pillows: Better–as long as he doesn’t use both for himself.

Three pillows: I think this is the sweet spot–you’re guaranteed at least one pillow for your use, even if you’re just watching television together.

Throw pillows: Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! How many men do you know that have throw pillows of their own volition? Yeah, me neither. Possible sources of the throws…

  • Sister or Well-Meaning Female Friend: Safe zone. These girls help out hoping that it helps to guy out. Usually just to make him happy in the end. Very cool.
  • Mother: A little dicey. It’s a little bit of the same motivation of the sister/friend but it can also signal a mama’s boy. Here in the south I think we’re absolutely lousy with mama’s boys and it’s seldom a good thing. Those apron strings need to be cut! And even worse are pillows (or, well, anything ) that Mom picked out before she died–I don’t care how hideous it is, you will never get rid of it!
  • Professional Decorator: Could go either way. On the one hand, it says that he wants to have a nice place and is willing to pay someone who knows better to do it. On the other hand, it could signify he’s high maintenance–maybe higher than you. Are you willing to chance it?

Of course nothing is ever set in stone. These aren’t rules, just observations I’ve pieced together over several years of dating.

True story: Todd and I met online (as some of you know) and were 4 states away from each other for the first 9 months or so. It wasn’t until I was totally head-over-heals for him that I learned that he didn’t even own a bed. Due to his post-divorce bachelor status and the size of his rental home (600 square feet, if I remember correctly) he slept in his very large recliner and used the tiny bedroom as an office.

So, you know, there are exceptions to every rule. We’ve been together over 2 years, now, and are still going strong. With a double bed.