Tag Archives | marriage

finishing touches

Older Son sent in his early decision university application the other day; the application to the universities in the UK went in a few weeks ago. There are more applications in the offing, and Husband has racked up any number of marriage points by filling out the nightmare that is FAFSA, and so as they say, shit is getting real. (They also say that marriages shouldn’t be about keeping score, but anyone who has been married for any length of time knows that’s absurd. It’s all about keeping score. Filling out FAFSA puts Husband ahead for at least the next few weeks.)

I am aware that I’m touching Older Son more than I used to; I walk past him and touch his shoulder, his back, his head. It is, I realize, a literalization of how I’m feeling: I’m trying to put my finishing touches on him before he leaves.  He turns 18 later this month and while I know I should be proud of the young man he’s becoming, I am want so badly for him, and his younger brother, to still be the tiny dewy-cheeked, pudgy-footed toddlers for whom I was the entire universe. I watch both boys with eyes that are clouded with nostalgia and a sense of loss. Is that inevitable? When I’m doddering in my dotage and unable to cut my own food, will I still look at them and see the babies they were?  (Or Kit Fisto Princess Star Wars Jedi, as the case may be): Ghosts. I think that aging means learning to live with ghosts, even of those who are still very much with us in the world.

Continue Reading · 0 on November 4, 2018 in aging

Marriages and Safaris: Beauty. Dung. Sometimes Rainbows.

One of the gifts, for me, of being on safari, is all the time spent in the jeep staring out at the landscape as we drive around looking for animals, birds, whatever.  Of course, that’s also sort of the downside, too: you spend a lot of time looking for things and sometimes you’re lucky…and sometimes you’re not. It is the proverbial crap shoot, with a literal emphasis on crap (more about that in a minute).

As it happened, this safari of ours happened a week before Husband and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. Fifteen years starts to be a rather long time, don’t you think?  Which is fantastic and also means that we are getting freaking old.

The two things started to come together in my mind as we drove around (or actually, as we were driven by our guides–the marvelously named Jelly, in Samburu, and Daniel, in the Mara), and I started to think that maybe safaris and marriages aren’t really that different, when you get right down to it.

Consider: when you first get married, you’re all we’re married! There’s that whole happily ever after thing, which lasts for …maybe a week/month/year and then it starts to be weird toenail clippings, and undone laundry, and why do you have to straighten up when I’m napping on the couch, and whose turn is it to do the laundry, and why am I taking care of the kids, and for the love of god get off the computer, and no we’re too tired/poor/busy to go to a party/dinner/theater/movie, and who messed with my Netflix queue?  (At least, that’s what I hear from other married people. Husband and I have had fifteen years of uninterrupted bliss.)

Life starts to look a lot like this, except without the little birds:

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Consider: on your first day of safari, you’re all safari! And you take pictures of everything, thanking the lord that someone invented digital photography: you’ve got thousands of pictures of the jeep, your camp, the guide, each other, the hotel manager’s pet dog. It’s all vastly, amazingly exciting. You see A LION. You see AN ELEPHANT.  And it’s exhilarating and amazing, until it starts to be a little bit of  LOOK!  A BIG BIRD THAT MIGHT BE AN EAGLE OVER THERE. NO, OVER THERE. And you jounce and jolt along the trails, hour after hour, and it’s mostly amazing…and a lot of grass.  You bounce along, bumpety bumpety, and you get closer and closer to Maybe It’s Something and…it’s a rock. Or a tree. Or a bunch of rocks. Or a warthog. Which is like a rock but with tusks and a little tail.

See the analogy? Bouncing along, never quite knowing what you’re going to find? One day you’re incredibly lucky and fulfill every fantasy you ever had about being a photographer for National Geographic, and then it’s hours of driving along looking at the same trees you saw yesterday and the day before. And they’re very nice trees, you know, and you’re very happy to be on safari but…is this it? Driving around looking for stuff?

Here’s another thing: when you embark on marriage, or on a safari, no one tells you how much you’re going to learn about poo. Whether you’re married with children or without, other people’s poo will become your business. It should be written into all marriage contracts—anyone settling into a long-term partnership, gay or straight, married or just shacking up—that separate bathrooms are a prerequisite. Because really. Do any of us need to know our beloveds that intimately?

On our last safari, we learned a lot about poop, which surprised me and meant that I was a little bit more prepared for stuff that looks like this:

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Those of you with cats might have a sense of what we’re looking at: crap with fur in it. Which is to say, furry shit.  You might think, oh my cat who grooms herself and had a fur-ball left something like that in the litterbox (although actually fur-balls make cats puke, so front end and not back end).  Nope.

That there is lion poop. A lion what ate an antelope fairly recently.  Fur, it seems, isn’t digestible.

Aren’t you glad you know that? You’re welcome.

So yes, you get out of the jeep sometimes, look at poop, or at ants, because hey, that’s what the safari threw you that day. And so it is with marriage: roses one day, yelling about the laundry the next.

But sometimes, just as you’re getting completely fed up, there are rainbows in a cloudy sky.

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Continue Reading · on September 1, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, family, Kids, marriage, Travel

Monday Listicle: the anti-resolution resolution list

I took a little internet break over the winter holidays, or tried to, anyway (I can’t ignore twitter, what can I say) but now I’m back in Abu Dhabi, back in the interwebs, wondering what to write. I mean, it’s seven days into January. I don’t know about you slackers but I’ve already lost ten pounds, written a novel, redecorated the house, re-organized my files, and gotten a second doctorate.

Okay, that last one is a joke.

You can imagine my relief, then, when that fantastic Northwest Mommy suggested that we write a list of things we have no intention of changing in 2013. Sounds good to me. And then maybe I’ll get around to pondering the meaning of the new year sometime later this month, when I celebrate Barack’s second term and my last year of being forty. I mean, omigod my last year of being in my forties. Yes. That’s right. In 2014 I hit fifty. Or fifty hits me.

So with that end in sight, herewith a list of things that ain’t gonna change in 2013. At least not this month.

1. There will be cheese. I went a whole month without cheese, really I did. And good lord was it dull. A shop window in New York gave me a word for myself:

The word is “turophile” and it means a connoisseur of cheese. Yep. If you’re on Broadway around 18th street, stop in at Beecher’s. Try the Hooligan. You won’t be sorry.

2. There will be family. Last Christmas, when we visited New York, I raced us around visiting all and sundry, without logging in nearly enough time with my family. This year I learned my lesson and we spent a big chunk of our time hunkered down with family galore. Well, we’re not that big a group when all is said and done, but so it was a small galore, but still…a galore. And it was galore-ious. For those friends who we didn’t see, thousands of apologies and promises for long visits this summer, after we get the kids out of the bread line.

cousins queuing up for soup, Depression style

3. There will be driving. I will drive around to various soccer-related events. I will drive and drive and drive, in my little SUV, stunned that somehow I moved all the way to freaking Arabia and became a soccer mom. Here I am in an cosmopolitan city, living in a fifty-story high-rise, and yet I drive around like I live … in New Jersey.

4. I will keep working on my various writing projects. And more than that I will not say, other than to say that if I keep saying “my writing projects” in public, then eventually I will have to produce said projects. Which is to say that in fact I haven’t really written a novel this year. Yet. Dammit.

5. There will be teaching. And as much as I might complain about grading the essays and preparing for class, it’s still the best teaching gig I’ve ever had. Bright, committed students from around the world–the kind of students who are shocked shocked when they go to other institutions and discover that sometimes students come to class without doing the readingStudents like these? A gift.

6. I will remain fascinated (rather than frustrated) by life in Abu Dhabi, life in the Gulf, life so far from “home.” I suppose this one is really more of a hope than a resolution but I’ve seen what happens to people when they only see frustration. It’s an odd place to live, there’s no doubt, but it’s not altogether a bad place to live, if a person has to live somewhere.

7. I will be grateful for the health and happiness of my children, who amaze and delight me on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but the tragedy of Newtown haunts me; I say a tiny “thank you” every time I hug one of my kids.

8. Husband and I will find time to be together when I’m not nagging him about picking up his socks and he’s not wondering why I’m so tetchy about making the bed every morning. Remarkably, we will celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary this summer, so we should probably remember to be nice to each other most of the time all year.

9. There will be ladies night out. I believe that couples should spend time together without kids (if they have them; without pets if they have those), but spending time with women friends helps me re-charge my batteries. A walk on the Corniche, a long lunch, or a weekend away from the families–it’s practically a medical necessity (and certainly helps with #8, above). Roger Cohen, in this column from the NY Times, said that “one has best friends in part to talk with them about the problems one has with one’s loves.” Bingo, baby. I mean….that’s what I would do if I ever had any problems with darling sock-dropping Husband.

10.  I will keep in mind this advice from Bill Cunningham, via a chalkboard outside a shop in New York:

Continue Reading · on January 8, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, family, Kids, Monday Listicle, NYC

monday’s listicle: a list for husbands

Because of traveling and work and just general life, I’ve missed a few listicles, which I swear to god keeps me awake at night – will Stasha hate me, I wonder?  But now the semester is over, so I’m climbing back on the listicle bandwagon – and this week’s topic is a doozy: a list for husbands.  How to tackle such a topic, especially when one’s Husband is perfect, the very model of a modern man? (Cue Gilbert and Sullivan here).  I mean, a person might write a list itemizing all the ways in which her partner’s shortcomings make her realize that the only reasons swans can mate for life is because they neither speak nor wear socks – but humans are not so lucky.

My sweet husband, however, in our almost fifteen years of marriage (how in god’s name we’ve been married this long seems impossible, given that we’re both only 29), has perfected any number of important staying-married skills.  Here are a few high points for other husbands (or wives, whichever seems appropriate).

1. Husbands do not wake their wives up for sports.  Husband loves the New York Rangers with a deep and abiding passion. He is a Fan. I am not a Fan, or a fan, or even someone who particularly likes hockey. Nevertheless, I am aware that having the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a Seriously Big Deal. I mean, the last time that happened was in the previous century, for god’s sake.  Stanley Cup Playoffs is the good news. The bad news? We live nine time zones away, which means that in order to watch the games, Husband gets up at ungodly hours of the morning: 3:30, 4:00, 2:00.  Here’s how much he loves me: the nights (or mornings) he’s going to watch the game, he sleeps on the couch in the TV room because his darling wife has become an insomniac and if he stirs out of bed at 3AM, she will wake up and never go back to sleep. This will make her grumpy. She has been known to bite when she is tired.

2. Husbands offer unconditional tech support with little or no explanations. Yes, I know, I know, I should learn how to do various techy things myself but really? I don’t want to and it gives you such pleasure…just download, install, sync, upgrade. There is no need to explain your decisions to me; you’re the one who reads Wired. I have nothing to offer in this conversation.  (And for all those times I haven’t said thank you? Thank you.)

3.  Husbands offer unsolicited compliments, foot rubs, and gifts. These things do not all have to happen at the same time – sequentially is fine, but unsolicited is key.

4. Husbands remind their partners that “hot” doesn’t always have to refer to feverish children, soup, or last night’s leftovers. Husbands should also be aware that sometimes “hot” really DOES mean children, soup, leftovers, and that maybe it’s a good night to watch reruns of last year’s Premier League games.

5. Husbands know these things: how to make a crisp G&T; how find joy playing with their offspring; and that the grosser elements of housekeeping (clogged drains, clogged toilets, dead bugs, live bugs) will be his domain. Continue Reading →

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Continue Reading · on May 22, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, family, marriage, Monday Listicle

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