Just beneath the surface of normal

Leave a comment

Sometimes You Just Have to Maraud

Every marriage has its own weird language that’s kind of hard to explain to outsiders. I’m going to try to explain a bit of ours so that I can tell you a story.

First of all, Jim came to me with the nickname Bear. That’s what Corinne called him, which conveniently sidestepped the whole complicated “what do you call the step-dad” mess. Together we have a number of bears, and there are many stories told about their antics, including the absurd lengths to which they will go to procure hidden sweets in the house. When something is askew, we nod to each other knowingly and whisper, “bears.” When I get overwhelmed – which happens to me sometimes – he says “your bear is right here if you need him,” and it is really incredibly comforting.

Early on, I tried to be a bear too. It never quite fit, though I had my momma bear moments when the world would fuck with my kid. We tried on a few things, and I don’t even remember any more how we landed on tiger, or why it was a secret. But I am the Secret Tiger (except it’s not a secret any more, I guess – I’ve always been horrible with secrets. Never give me secrets unless you explicitly tell me to forget as soon as you’re done telling me, which I can do, but I can’t hold onto a secret for any period of time. This is why I do my holiday shopping at the last minute).  When Jim gets overwhelmed, I say “tigers are standing by” and he finds it incredibly comforting.

It’s not THAT unusual.

After a decade, a whole lore and language has arisen around our alter-egos. I have other friends who have evolved other versions, and I suspect it’s a common thing in intimate relationships.

Anyway, today we had to run errands, but we were both feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon was pretty much unavoidable, even though we just needed one thing. We made a plan:

Jim: We’re just going to get in and get out. No browsing today.
Me: Right. We’re marauding.
Jim: YES! Let’s maraud!
Me: Rawr!
Jim: we’re more-odding. Those people are less-odding, but we’re more-odding.
Me: none more odd!

And that’s how we made it through there in 10 minutes with nobody dropping everything and running. Afterwards there were celebratory fist bumps. Now we are sitting at home in the quiet for a few minutes before we do the next Thing Which Must Be Done.

There really is nothing in the world like someone you can be vulnerable with.



The Inter-Gender Understanding Award

1. There should be an award for this. Even a Nobel Prize category would do.

2. It should be mine. Here’s why:

Wait – first let me explain: I hate to get dressed by myself. Almost every morning I come out of the bedroom with some version of “this cardigan……or this one?” and Jim explains his preference along with a surprisingly thoughtful analysis and only rare criticism regarding the sheer quantity of cardigans in my closet. Getting dressed without feedback was one of the more heinous aspects of his former job, which sent him on the road every other week (though I have to admit, the stillness of the bedclothes didn’t suck).

Back in the earlier stages of our relationship, he would come back with the usual “both are fine” or “how the hell am I supposed to know?” just like every guy on every comedy thing that ever portrayed men as clueless, unobservant, and afraid of women’s anger (basically all of them). Not to be deterred from avoiding making my own decisions, In one of my more inspired moments I retorted with, “What do you even mean? Men are pros at looking at girls and deciding whether they look hot. Just look at them both and decide which one makes me look hotter.” Since then he’s come back with amazingly helpful things like, “having that top cut off there visually interrupts the flow, which makes you look shorter and rounder. Do you have a cropped one in a lighter color?” or “yeah, that one really emphasizes your curves.” It’s like having a fashion-conscious girlfriend who also likes to lift heavy, grubby things and have sex with you. I’m pretty sure that alone is the trifecta of marital satisfaction.

I’m not sure I understand what this has to do with marriage, but I’m told it’s a good thing. I would have used a slots reference, but I don’t really understand that either. Also “slots” sounds way more lewd. Not that riding horses doesn’t. I guess the moral here is that when it’s me talking, it’s pretty hard to find a metaphor that isn’t racy. Get it? Racy? Yeah, I went there.

Now, for the ultimate triumph: Every single day I also  ask Jim to help me decide between 2 pair of shoes. This morning he didn’t like either option, so I tried on two more, neither of which satisfied him either. So I trudged back upstairs and pulled out yet another pair, which (because we were running late) were blessedly deemed close enough, “but it would be better if they had a little bit of greenish tinge to them. You should look for some.”

A woman does not see an opportunity like this but once or twice in a lifetime. I seized my moment:

“NOW you see why women have so many shoes.”

A look of wonderment flashed across his face. “I…oh my God, I actually do. Every outfit has a mood and a style and you need a variety for whatever you put together! Not to mention the comfort factor on different days.”

I don't even know what this means.

He also talks about feelings.

I cannot possibly describe the thrill that rushed through me at this revelation. My only regret is that there were no other witnesses to this landmark moment in male-female diplomacy.

Of course, he then went on to sing a verse from the song of his people, a rambling ballad called “I’m So Glad I’m a Guy”. This particular one went something like this:

When I get dressed in the morning, I say, “which shoes should I wear?”
The answer is almost always black.

I can wear them day after day and no one cares.
I just have to make sure that my belt is also black.
Same pants, same shirt – just different colors here and there.
But the shoes never change. I’m so glad I’m a guy.

Although to be fair, it is a far less grating stanza than the one about menstruation.


As part of my acceptance speech I would like to thank you, dear readers, for celebrating the triumph of this historic day with me.

If you need me before the ceremony, I’ll be searching for comfortable brown wedges with a slightly greenish tinge without so much of a trace of guilt.


+4 Nerdplay

It’s registration week, so you get another IM transcript.

Background: I’ve been having some anxiety lately because I made some mistakes* at work, and I can’t really tell the difference between “hey, don’t do that again, okay?” and “I will smite you with the firepower of a thousand dragons for your minor clerical error!”

Jim: Hey just checking in. Hope you’re doing okay.

Me: I’m alright. Less freaked than in the past, but not where I want to be. So I don’t feel awesome, but I’m not totally collapsed into the pit of despair either.

Jim: Okay. Remember to breathe, it really helps. <u>

Me: Thanks. {{u}}
Curious why you’ve moved to caret hugs from bracket hugs
Not that it matters

Jim: Dunno. carets are squeezes, braces are hugs

Me: OH! I thought maybe you were HTMLing me

Jim: LOL no
that would be <hug>Maya</hug>

Me: I guess I shouldn’t worry until you type </u>
or maybe that just means you’re underlining me

I do sort of like <hug>Maya</hug> though.

OMG, I actually just felt my nerd stats level me up.


*In defense of my anxiety response, it was one of those times when every minor, unnoticed mistake I’ve made for the past 4 months came back to haunt me all in the same week, so I looked like a completely incompetent flakeball instead of an intermittently competent flakeball, which I’ve pretty much learned to live with.

1 Comment

Not Too Shabby

Yesterday I had a D&C to get my polyps removed. I wasn’t there for most of it, because I went straight from “this is going to feel like you’ve had a couple drinks” to waking up with an oxygen mask (which is like no couple of drinks I’ve ever had, but maybe the Nurse Anesthetist has been roofied before), but Jim tells me that my doctor told him a) there were A LOT of polyps and b) my uterus is very large. “A lot” as in, she usually takes out enough to fill about a two-inch square and I filled an area about five times that. I always was an overachiever. I’m no doctor, but it seems to me that if your uterus is holding ten square inches of polyps it’s going to be rather large in order to accommodate the extra inhabitants. That or I’m just really well-endowed. Actually, let’s go with the second, shall we?

There’s less to report about surgery than I was hoping. I was unconscious, then really tired, then really nauseated trying to play Skyrim. We ended up the day taking turns reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography, which is weird but entertaining, and more importantly didn’t make me queasy despite many episodes of bad weather at sea. That’s pretty much it. OH, except I also won the menstrual lottery: since my period was just starting it all got scraped out in the D&C and I left spotting less than I was when I came in. That was pretty exciting. It doesn’t make up for well over a decade of bleeding more days out of the month than I don’t, but it’s a start.

Today I’m up and about but still very crampy, which makes sense since my uterus is trying to close fully for the first time since probably not long after my daughter was born. Jim and I went to Home Depot to buy stuff to build me a desk and also “accidentally” come home with eight plants. It was nice to get out of the house, but also a bit irritating because I was sort of limping around and being uncomfortable while he hovered over me like a mother hen. We were walking back to the car when I finally identified the sensation.

Me: It’s like a really tender water balloon inside my pelvis and when I move around it sort of sloshes painfully.

Jim: That…doesn’t sound so great. Are you sure you’re okay?

Me: I’m FINE, I swear. Let’s go build a desk!

{silence (just normal married silence, not awkward silence, in case you were worried)}

Me: I really want to come up with a portmanteau using the word ‘portmanteau’. Maybe if I use one in Kathmandu it’s a portmandu? Or in Canada it would be a portmanitoba?

Jim: The anesthesia still isn’t all the way out of your system is it?

Me: ….no.

{more married silence}

Me: Wait, I KNOW! It’s like a water balloon filled with angry hamsters. Except that’s not the right metaphor either because the hamsters would drown in the water. What’s kind of vicious but wouldn’t drown? Bettas? That would just tickle. Snapping turtles?

Jim: hey, portmanteau lady, why don’t you just call them “dampsters”?

Me: ….

Jim: You know “damp hamsters”?

Me: …. I don’t…. I… I don’t know whether that’s awesome or horrible. Every time I veer toward one, the other beckons me convincingly.

Jim: What can I say? I’m good like that.

Me: Like what, “I’m the best at what I do, and what I do is mediocrity”?

Jim: Yeah, Mediocre Man! Not so much a “super hero” as a “pretty alright hero.”

Me: Ha! And his battle cry is “Meh.”

Jim: He could have that on his costume instead of a giant S. And people would be like, “thanks, Mediocre Man! We’re pretty banged up, but you basically saved us!” And he would drive away in his Civic shouting “Not Too Shabbyyyy!” like how Superman yells “up, up, and away!”

Me: OMG, it would have to be a tricked out older Civic, with the ridiculously high spoiler and-

In Unison: Spinning rims!

Jim: -and one of those prismatic paint jobs.

Me: But maybe with a little rust. I think we have a full-fledged television show on our hands here!

Jim: No, they already made The Tick.

Me: Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Jim: Meh.

It’s good to be back to normal.


My Million Dollar Idea

OMG, you guys, I just stumbled across the Next Big Thing. Don’t try to steal it, because my readership is so small that I probably know where you live.

This morning I finally found the gray, fleece-lined leggings I’ve been looking everywhere for tucked into the cushions of the big red chair, which isn’t surprising because you could lose entire extended families in that chair. I showed them to Jim, who squinted at them skeptically.

Jim: they’re awfully small.

Me: they stretch, see? (I tried to stretched them out wide but they didn’t actually stretch that far.)

Me: Well, I bought them in New York, so they’re probably some kind of New York M/L, which is like a size 4.

For no reason I can possibly explain, I then put them on my head like a hat. 

Jim: What. The…  What exactly are you going for here?

Me: (lifting them up a bit) They’re big, droopy bunny ears, see?

Jim: Yeah, okay. I was thinking more like those head things the kids have that have pockets at the end of them.

Me: I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but this could totally be a hat. A hat with a built-in scarf. OH MY GOD! That’s brilliant! They would always match, and they would never get separated!

First: if a furry hat with ears and a pocket-scarf can be a thing, then my legging hat/scarf can totally also be a thing.
Second: is this the most insanely trampy way to model an animal hat with a pocket scarf ever, or what? Exactly what demographic are they shooting for here?
Third: Furries are taking over the world.

I ran over to the mirror to admire my legging hat with the legs draped jauntily about my neck.

Me: And then when you don’t want a hat, you could turn it around and it would keep the back of your neck warm! This is totally going to make us a million dollars.

Jim: Or you could drape the underwear part in the front to keep your neck warm, like a dickey. That’s what I’m always trying to do with my scarf, is spread it flat so that it keeps my chest warm where my coat opens.

Me: OMG yes! An underwear dickey, you are brilliant! OR…it could be a bib. NOW how much would you pay!?

Jim: And all you really have to do is repackage existing leggings.

Me: AND this is New Jersey, I’m sure those things fall of of trucks all the time! It’d be like FREE money!

Jim: Free felony money!

I swear to God, officer, they were just lying there abandoned.

This is another reason we’re married: anyone else would have me committed, but Jim actually humors my crazy. Probably because he knows I lack the initiative and motivation to follow through.

Actually, on second thought? If you love this idea, you should totally run with it and just give me 5% in perpetuity for the concept. I would totally accept that in return for you doing all the work. Have your people talk to my people.

Leave a comment >

Recent bedtime conversation:

Me: do you think if your name is Jesus [the Spanish pronunciation, hey-soos] you get a big ego? Everyone’s all “praise Jesus” and “Jesus is lord” and all that.

Jim: If my name were Jesus, I’d open a fat rendering shop called –

In Unison: -Jesus’ Lard!!

Me: Awesome! Right next to the Cheeses of Nazareth artisanal cheese shop?

Jim: Totally.

After that we simultaneously broke into “Hey Jude” using “Jesus” instead. And this is why I am happily married.

(I published this out of order because I didn’t want to make my intro post go away from the top of the page yet)