Category Archives: Relationships

“My Husband”

I’ve been paying attention to the ways my relationship with Josh has changed, and the ways it hasn’t, since we married at the end of July. The quality of our relationship has deepened, I think due to the intensity of the process of preparing for the wedding, as well as experiencing together the utter magic of the day (it was astronomically more magical than I anticipated, but I digress). Apart from those things, the quality of our relating hasn’t changed significantly.

Our financial/legal lives have changed, since we now have a living trust in place, as well as our legal and medical powers of attorney. I realized the day we signed the papers it that it was the “second half” of marriage that we finally completed, what straight couples do the same day they marry, by way of signing the marriage license.

And then there was bringing Josh’s accounts into my Quicken file. Whew, that was significant! ; )

There is one other aspect of our lives that has changed significantly that I didn’t consider very much: what we call each other. “Husband.” While there are plenty of folks (gay and straight) who may recoil at my use of this word, I absolutely claim it. The entire time we were preparing for the wedding I was insistent on acting like any other couple where appropriate (and there are few situations where it isn’t appropriate in my mind).

And this is a significant change. We had all kinds of playful names of referring to each other before the wedding: “zombie boyfriend” when groggy after sleeping, “crabby boyfriend” (self-explanatory), “boo-boo boyfriend” (feel free to vomit in your mouth a little). All of those had to be converted from “boyfriend” to “fiancé” before the wedding, and now to “husband.”

Sometimes one of us slips and says “boyfriend,” and the other waits for the brain to catch up, and the correction made. This has been a gratifying conversion, due to the significance of the new moniker.

At times this can be uncomfortable and/or amusing. Because, you see, I use the same word out in the world that I use in my home: Josh is my husband. Even after being out more than 20 years it can still take a breath and a moment of resolve to come out, yet again. Take this afternoon, for instance. Josh called a paving company to have a look at our driveway (it’s in rough shape). While I was mowing this afternoon, a car drove up and parked across the street. I said hello–I had forgotten about the driveway and assumed Josh was getting rid of something else on Craig’s List. Jim stated he was here to look at the driveway, “Are you Josh?” After an instant of thought and a small breath, I said, “He’s my husband. My name’s Jay,” and I shook his hand.

I must say that I experience a non-malicious moment of enjoyment as I watch the *tilt* look on peoples’ faces–in a moment I have forced them out of their normal everyday interactions where things fall into well-worn, well-known categories. Much like being given a gift and finding that it doesn’t immediately belong in one’s home. “What do I do with this?” is the look I often see on peoples’ faces.

As I write this I can’t think of an instance where someone didn’t handle this situation well (I don’t consider the awkward pause a sign of handling it poorly). Today with Jim we went right on and talked about the driveway. He shared his professional opinions with me, I thanked him, and he left to go prepare some quotes for us.

While I don’t enjoy the discomfort I caused (my being the cause is debatable, and you know what I mean), I DO enjoy the opportunity the person has to broaden their experience, as well as the small dent I’ve just made in the world of status quo, old-style-normalcy, and lack of acceptance. The best way to defeat lack of acceptance is to be who I am unapologetically and graciously, and connect with people. Who knows what Jim thought as he drove away: was he uncomfortable? Amused? Happy? Troubled? Who knows. Maybe he told an associate, “yeah, I met this guy who said his husband called me for a quote. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about at first, but he seemed like an ok guy…” Or maybe none of this occurred to him and he just remembered he forgot to put the trash out this morning–I shouldn’t be presumptuous. But I would place a bet.

I don’t know for sure what his thoughts were; I do know, though, that I heard myself say “my husband” one more time, thereby making it more real and more normal in my world and THE world. I believe strongly that it’s imperative we make these small statements as often as we can, wherever we can. It’s an important way that “marriage is two loving people” will become more normal in the world.

McNaughton 10 II

Last April I told you about running the McNaughton 10 while my friend, Ryan Dexter, ran the 150-mile race. Once again this year, I went down to Pekin, Illinois, and ran 10 miles with Ryan.

I left at 6 AM and once again listen to for hours of podcasts from my iPod. However, this year I drove south with the aid of Bruce, the Garmen GPS that Josh and I bought ourselves for Christmas. last year I got a little lost and needed to call Josh to get assistance through Google maps so that I could find my way.

Bruce has been one of the best purchases I’ve ever been involved with. It made the drive very stress-free and really enjoyable. I rarely get or make the time to listen to podcasts, so four hours of Grammar Girl, the Get It Done Guy, and Modern Manners Guy was like a four-hour slice of heaven.A week before the race I was a bit concerned that the weather was going to be as bad as it was last year. I wasn’t looking forward to another day of running and standing around in cold, rain, and generally miserable conditions. I was quite happy that the forecast changed: when I arrived it was sunny and in the 50s. While there had been some serious rain at the beginning of the 150-mile race, the sun had dried up most of the mud, so that, for the most part, the run was on solid ground.

Last year I also made a promise to Ryan and that I would run with him anytime he ran 120 miles first. I made even better on that promise, as I ran with him after he ran only 110 miles. I ran the first half of the eleventh 10-mile lap. The terrain was just as I remembered it, complete with the creek and river crossings. At the halfway point, someone took my place and I took the truck back to the starting point.

Ryan’s wife, Christina, their boys, and Christina’s mother came during the afternoon, bringing hot chocolate with them. This was a big boost for Ryan&mdsash;he really enjoyed seeing them.

Later in the afternoon I ran the last half of the 14th lap. Randy ran in front, and I ran behind Ryan, being the voice and is ear. After the first couple of laps, Ryan always had someone running with him, to help motivate and keep him focused. We got back to the starting point not a moment too soon, as it was getting pretty dark by that time.

Dema ran the last lap with Ryan and, understandably, it was the slowest lap of the race for him. Even with this, however, Ryan set a record of having no lap of the race being more than 2 hours 45 minutes.

Christina arrived a while before the race ended, and Ryan finished his race in great style: through the dark we could see five bobbing lights heading toward the finish line—four of the guys finish the race with him. Andy, the organizer, announced Ryan’s finish and there was much applause and encouragement.

We took a few pictures, then I said my goodbyes and took off after 11 PM. Luckily, I had taken a short nap during the last half of the last lap, so I was awake enough for the ride home. And, while Bruce did an equally fantastic job on the ride down, I was a little tired and a bit absorbed with the New York Times fiction stories on my iPod, so that I missed the turn to 39 N. and instead headed toward Chicago. While I was frustrated with my mistake, I was very happy to have Bruce guiding my way. While he took me somewhere where I’ve never been before, and attempted to get me to do a U-turn where there was a median, he eventually got me back on the right road, adding only 15 minutes my trip. I was impressed.

I got home at about quarter after 3 AM on Sunday morning. My bed felt wonderful, and in the morning I discovered that even after not enough sleep my body felt okay, especially my left knee, which had hurt the most after running. I’ve been quite happy that I wasn’t in as rough shape as I was last year. I hadn’t been planning on running the Madison have marathon this year, but if my knee gets back to normal quickly I just may reconsider.

Ryan won the 150-mile race by more than six hours. Not only that, if he had stopped at 100 miles, he would have won that race by two hours. Big congratulations to Ryan!

Two Down, Many to Go

Josh and I went to the Kalahari Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells to celebrate our second anniversary. I would normally eschew something so touristy (I am a snob in several ways…), yet Josh wanted to go somewhere warm. I was happy to go, especially since he got a special deal through work.

We arrived, as planned, before our room was ready, and went to the waterpark. There were, I dunno, a thousand people in there? The Lazy River wends its way through the whole place, which is punctuated by rides here and there, as well as four hot tubs.It wasn’t as warm as we were expecting–at first, anyway. we walked around for a bit, then went on a couple of the rides, then a couple laps of the Lazy River. What’s very cool is that they have single- and two-person innertubes. We jumped in a two-person and floated around, then went down more rides in that same tube. Then we went down a ride that used no tube–lie on your back, cross your legs (lest you want something unpleasant to happen) and put your hands behind your head. Unfortunately, I put my hands behind my neck, which did not serve the same purpose–I bumped my head. Not too bad. The ride itself was very fun! It involved shooting down a snaking tub into something large that was akin to a toilet bowl, then getting dumped unceremoniously into the pool below when the centrifigal force dropped. We had a lot of fun!

After a while we sat in the hot tub. However, after a few rides, we were warm enough everywhere in the park.

We went back to the room around 4:30 and had a nap, then got ready for dinner. We went to the Cheese Factory for dinner on Diane’s suggestion (thanks, Diane!). If you’re a Facebook member, you can read my review.

After dinner we went back and walked around the game area. Not so fun–lots of cheap, shiny things to attract kids’ attention. It just seemed kinda lame. However, we stopped and took a sequence of four pictures in one of those machines–that was fun. I’m attempting to get the picture up here or on Facebook and am being stopped at every turn–don’t know why.

We went back to the room and played a really fun game of Settlers of Catan cardgame. The game lasted 3 or 4 hours. I just squeaked out a win before Josh was about to take over and win.

What changed our plans was a call before dinner from the “showing line” that someone wanted to see the house a second time at noon the next day! We wanted to spend more time in the waterpark, but that was not meant to be. : ( However, we had a good time while we were there, and will probably go back another time.

One of the Gang

I had a neat experience at Home Despot [sic] yesterday. I went to get the LAST FOUR outlet plates for the kitchen. Of course I could only find two of the four I wanted. They apparently had five in stock, but at Home Creepo [Tim calls them that] all that stuff gets horribly mixed around.

The guy who was helping me got help from another guy at a computer, and a woman was standing by talking to him. I told them how I’d been at Home Depot, on average, once every day for the last two or three months. “To get these covers?” he asks. Funny. “No, I’ve been spending LOTS of money here renovating my house.” “And we appreciate it–we’ll miss you!” Nice.

When he mentioned there were only five in stock, and then mentioned there were 250 at the East Side location, I said that I’d send my boyfriend there after work to get them. They laughed. Not that I said it about a boyfriend specifically, but they got my light comment that I was delegating this responsibility to him.

I make a rule that when I’m in a situation where anyone else would mention their significant other, I do as well, regardless of the consequences (as long as people with white robs holding shotguns aren’t nearby). For a moment I lived in a world where the gender of my life partner didn’t matter.

I enjoyed it.

Dad Update

This directly from Mom:

Today he walked down the hall with a cane. When he comes home Friday, there will be no wheel chair as was first planned on, just the walker. Today we had a conference with the Dr., an OT, a PT and 2 social service folk to get info and ask questions. Got a few instructions. He will have therapists come to our home every couple days. They will inform the Dr. regarding his competence, etc. They will also suggest how to make his life go well here. He has recovered remarkably well. Will have to keep him moving to have it continue. Maybe some walks around the bridge table. We should be playing in a short time.

He’s doing really remarkably well. I returned him to the hospital Sunday night after his furlough. Other than being ready to catch him if he needed it and pushing his wheelchair, I did not help him at all, not even transferring, not even changing his clothes.

Dad Had a Stroke

Mom called me around Midnight Tuesday to let me know that Dad was on the way to the hospital after experiencing what seemed like a stroke. He was taken to UW Hospital, for which I was very grateful. It wasn’t a dramatic stroke–he was mainly experiencing weakness on one side.

I visited with Josh after work the next day and Julie was there as well. Stroke is something unfamiliar in our family, so she didn’t know what to expect. His writing is not very readable (but he can write!) and his leg and arm are weak (but not paralyzed!). He was able to sit up and eat right-handed, albeit slowly. There appars to be no cognitive damage–he still remembers that McCain and Palin are running mates on the Republican ticket, and he thinks that Palin was an excellent choice (that’s not a sign of new brain damage–he would have thought that anyway. ;o)).
Mom was pretty concerned about how she was going to help him at home, since she’s not strong enough to help him ambulate. Well, I just spoke with her this morning, and she is much relieved. Dad will be staying in the hospital for a week getting rigorous rehabilitation. She was afraid of how she was going to help him when his right side is too weak for him to walk. They’re already having him sit for a couple hours at a time and walk the halls with a walker.
They determined from the CAT Scan that the stroke was caused by a small blood clot, but I think she said they said it was moving or had moved through. His brain would have to heal from that, then his body. A physical therapist suggested he’d be a lot stronger by the time they went home.
Dad really wants to go home. He’s jonesin’ for a cigarette. Mom is overruling him–he’ll be staying for treatment. The doctor talked to Dad about smoking very likely being the cause of the stroke. He doesn’t care. He’s not interested in a program to help him quit. And he won’t be smoking for at least another week.
I’m very grateful for his current state, and that the prognosis looks so good.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

I’ve been a ba-a-a-ad blogger lately. Eesh–June 16.

Lots has been going on. Josh and I have been working madly to get his house ready for sale. While it’s been going well overall, things are, uh, happening. It’s like the house knows what we’re doing, doesn’t want him to leave, and wants to get me out of the way. Seriously–it’s like a bad horror movie I saw once about a house that killed the family that lived there! With all the flooding a couple months ago we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the basement; we’ve installed two new sump pumps (impact drills are a BLAST!), and Josh, mostly, cleaned and painted the floors and walls.

JUST when we got done cleaning the floors I go upstairs to get ready for a shower. I use the toilet and flush it. I hear Josh yell downstairs. The capped-off drain has water coming out of it. What the… We thought maybe we broke the cap with the stuff we used to etch the basement. Josh paid a plumber to come in to put on a new $4 cap. 😉 However, he suggested the cap wasn’t the problem, as there shouldn’t be enough pressure to force the water out. He suggested the line needs roto-rooting.

During all this time in the basement, I was continually attacked by venting. Josh has a low basement ceiling and ducts that hang even lower. I have numerous scars on the top of my head now. I guess you could also consider that I’m just too stupid to learn to bend down enough.

Yesterday Josh put in the last piece of trim, completing the last wall upstairs. And not without a fight. The last piece needed to be cut at an angle, and of course the miter needed to be flatter than 45°, so we had to do lots of improvisation with the chop saw. My visual mind comes in quite handy for stuff like this, so it turned out pretty well–it just took an inordinately long time.

On my way out the back door at one point I caught my ankle on the corner of the storm door, and it put a nice little gash on my right ankle. Great–the house has already tasted my blood in the basement, and apparently wants more. Will I get out of there alive?

We met our Realtor, Connie, a few weeks ago. She’s great. We planned out all the stuff we want to leave in the house for staging, and what’s going–either into the garage, to my house, or St. Vinny’s. I did all kinds of cleaning this weekend while Josh worked on other projects.

And this brings us to the big change: Josh is moving in to my house tonight, along with his two cats, Feliz and Maggie. So I’m doing something I’ve never done before at age 41: living with a partner. And we have to do the whole protocol on combining feline families; his girls will have to stay in a bedroom for a full month.

I’ve been so looking forward to out living together, because I’m really tired of having to cross town to spend time together. And I realized last week that there’s some anxiety about that as well. I’ve been used to living alone (maybe with a roommate, but that’s not like a partner) for many years. What will this be like? Add the stress of combining cat households and it gets more significant. That didn’t go so incredibly well when Raja came to live here, and he and Butterscotch never were truly friendly–the formed a sort of detente.

So, after church we go back over to Josh’s house to do more cleaning and moving stuff. There’s more to write, but I’m starving for pancakes.

Flipped

Given: I have a great memory for some things: language, syntax, numbers.

Given: I have a horrible memory for some things: anything related to history such as dates, times, places; what I had for lunch yesterday; where I put my keys; etc.

Therefore: I like systems. A lot.

When I was a kid I’d misplace things and get really frustrated a lot. I discovered that if I did things in consistent ways, I wouldn’t lose my stuff. Further, if I took steps so that I couldn’t help but use the system, I’d be much better off.

Here’s an example: if I need to remember to take something to work, leave it on the counter, under my keys (of course, I always leave my keys on the counter).

Another: Since I have a flexible work schedule, I set all work reminders to the previous workday (24 hours during the week, the previous Friday if on Monday), so that I will remember to be in to work for a morning meeting.

Well, here’s another system I have: when I’m done with, say, a jar of vitamins in the bathroom, I turn it upside down and put it on the shelf in front of me. This is my signal to get more.

Well, imagine my surprise the other night when, in low light, I find that my toothpaste (Mentadent–it has its own little stand) is upside-down! How odd… And later I see the kleenex on the toilet is upside-down. How odd… [Warning: I’m kinda slow.] Sunday morning I hear an odd noise in the bathroom, and see my little piggy bank is upside down; Josh says he’s playing with it. That morning while getting ready, I realize that EVERYTHING on my bathroom counter that doesn’t have an impossibly high center of gravity when turned upside-down is flipped! Yes, Josh has been surreptitiously flipping everything in my bathroom. I laughed and laughed–first at his thinking to do that, second at how long it took me to clue in. And I’m thinking about the time I’ll be at his house alone, and will flip everything in his fridge, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, etc…

Josh doesn’t “waste time” on the internet, so he’ll never read this. So please don’t tell him.

Nice Weekend

I’m funny sometimes. Josh and I were hosting a friend couple for dinner and games at my house Friday night. I had it in my schedule on three separate days to clean the house. Too tired the first, and didn’t feel like it the second. I ended up doing it Saturday–the day of.

Anyway, I made a great stew with seitan (I had vegehoovians in the house) and cleaned like a crazy man. A little window into my psyche: I cleaned all of the obvious stuff, and ended up doing things like thoroughly cleaning my nightstand, etc.

I put the stew on too late, so I had to throw it into the pressure cooker in two batches to get it done. It turned out perfectly–even I was impressed. A recipe of my own making. I also made cornbread from the Moosewood book. Yum. I just had time to cut my hair and shower after Josh arrived and putting the cornbread in the oven before our friends arrived.

Great dinner, wonderful games. We played Hoopla, which my sister Jane just gave us. Very fun! We also played, of course, Settlers of Catan, which Josh and I both like. After our friends left, I threw stuff in the dishwasher and set it to go. I love having a clean kitchen – it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.

Josh and I both slept poorly last night. He left a bit after 7 am to get home to work on a cabinet with his brother, and I slept in, then went to church. People were surprised to see me there without Josh–I think it was the second time I’d gone there alone. Nice service and sermon on the bent reed and dim wick.

I came home, shoveled, and finished the kitchen. Lunch and a nap. Worked on the third bedroom–replacing the light switches with new white ones, and removing the casings from the doorway and closet.

Dinner and now futzing on the computer. With our first anniversary coming up, I went back and read the first couple weeks of Josh’s and my email correspondence (anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to know I save all email correspondence). So interesting to read. Even though a year isn’t a very long time, a lot has developed between Josh and me in that time. It’s nice to see where we started.

Off to do more work on the bedroom.