Friday, July 26, 2013

Husbands can be useful...

He's got my back; whether he knows it or not.
Photo by rikkis_refuge via flickr

I was in line at the BJ's Warehouse store the other day and the cashier person asked me if I was an "awards" member. I said I didn't know, was that something different, and she said yes and started to tell me all about it.

She took my card and scanned it and I thought she said that, yes, as it turned out, I was an "awards" member and she started telling me about all the "cash back" I was earning. I was so happy about it and excited...well, she was. And it's impolite not to mirror someone's enthusiasm, don't you think?

However, it was all a mistake. What she'd actually said, apparently, was that I was not a member and she was trying to convince me of how great it was. So, when she said, "Would you like to sign up?" I was stuck.

Here I'd been so excited, giving her hope for an extra sale (and maybe some commission) when in reality, I had no interest at all, especially since it was another fifty bucks on top of what we'd already paid. I'd have to go home and figure out how much I'd have to spend to earn back that fifty bucks. I can't do that kind of math in my head with someone watching me!

So, I heard myself telling her, "I'll ask my husband. I wouldn't want to do it without talking to him first." And then I was aware of all the women around me. Here I was, sounding like a 1950s homemaker who lived on the allowance her husband doled out to her.

So, I saved face...as best as I could, and said, "This whole BJ's thing is his idea. It's his big experiment."

There. Saved. All blamed on my husband once again!

My husband has been, throughout our marriage, a wonderful excuse for anything I didn't want to do. I can't thank him enough.

I can't explain it really, except to say that I was always afraid of confrontation. I don't like saying "no" to people. Often, I'd say yes, because I couldn't think up an excuse fast enough, only to have to come up with a way to wiggle out of the commitment later. Life was such a struggle!

And then I got married and always had an excuse. I feel really bad about it. Seriously, I do. Not just for my poor husband who many people must think is a slave driver, a scrooge, and anti-social (he is that, at least). But I also feel bad about lying to all those people. And I feel bad that I couldn't just say "no."

So, I'd just like to take an opportunity here to apologize to the lady who keeps calling about the windows. In a way, it is my husband's fault. If he'd lay out all that money to purchase new windows, I'd be fine with it. But we both agreed we didn't want to spend that much right now, so no, I don't really have to talk to my husband about it. You can stop calling to find out what he said.

To those kids at the door selling magazine subscriptions, sorry. It's me. I don't want your magazines. Sure, neither does my husband, but I just want you to know that I'm the bad guy here, not him. I'm the one who wants you to get off my porch.

To the Jehovah's Witnesses, I'm sorry. My husband is not holding me hostage, keeping me from joining your church. I just don't want to.

To the cashier at Publix: I'm the one who eats it all. It's me. And to the meat slicer in the deli, I'm the one who wants it that thin, but not shaved. Me. And I'm the one who doesn't want your "sale" ham.

Sure, I'd buy all those stupid insurance add-ons whenever I buy stuff at Lowe's or Best Buy, but only because I can't say no. I know how useless they are. My husband didn't have to convince me. So, while it's sort of him--when I say, "No, my husband says never to do that," it's true enough. But it's still me, because I agree.

To my podiatrist...I didn't have to ask my husband about physical therapy. I just wanted to think it over. Same thing with purchasing the orthopedic shoes. Every single time you hand me the catalog.

Financial guru dude who keeps calling: I really don't have to talk to my husband. In fact, I already have. He doesn't call you back because he's not interested. You can just stop calling. Take the, "I'll have to ask my husband," hint and just go away.

Brighthouse Networks--I don't want an upgrade. I'm happy with the service I have right now. I know I always act like I don't know anything about computers or phones or the Internet and I have to ask my husband. But the truth is--no. Just no.

To that scam lady over in India...I don't have to ask my husband about it. You're a fraud and should be ashamed of yourself and I should have told you as much.

To all the acquaintances over the past twenty years of my marriage who have offered an invitation to friendship...it's not him. Oh, make no mistake, he's just as anti-social as I am. But I'm the one saying no. I don't want to go to dinner, or to a party, or to a meeting. He's got nothing to do with it. In fact, truth be told, if I really wanted to go, he'd go with me, just because he's that nice. But it's me.

But, to that guy at the pet store--the one who tried to sell me that kitten...that one was all on my husband. He won't let me have any more cats.

You know how they tell the alcoholics that admitting you have a problem is the first step? Well, in this case, it's the only step. You don't erase twenty years of behavior just like that. And why would I want to rid myself of such a handy excuse?

At least, that's what my husband says...



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Writing is heaven...and hell...

Black cat; white roof.
photo by ssoosay via flickr

Today*, on my various forms of social media, I posted a link to an article about a brief spat between Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert on writing:

Is writing hell, or heaven? Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert disagree, while 20 writers tell all in 'Why We Write'

My first reaction to the idea was that writing is both. It truly can be hell. It's hell to know you have a story in your head that insists on being put to paper, but you sit and stare at the screen knowing that the first thing you write (from that very first beginning--the one you know won't make it to print--to merely the first thing in that writing session) is going to be pure crap. And you resist writing crap. Naturally.

Then there's the staring because you just don't know what to write. You don't know where to start, what to say, how to say it. You think maybe this writing thing isn't for you. Maybe you're a fraud. People were going to find out sooner or later; it's high time you realized it yourself.

And it's hell when you sit out in the family computer room blogging, or scrolling down Facebook's endless drivel looking for some diversion, playing Words with Friends, or a PopCap Mystery P.I. game, all the while knowing full well the novel is calling you. You can hear it. It's saying, "Get your fat bottom in here and write me." But you don't. And that's hell.

The day gets by you. Then a week. Sometimes more. That's hell. And it's a hell we create. All by ourselves. Fully knowing we're creating it.

We know we're making our own hell, because we've experienced heaven.

We know that once we get in there, sit down, and just start writing, even if it's crap, even if it's just some stupid thought that comes into our heads--once we do it, we start making art. We make ourselves laugh, and cry, and tingle with excitement. We're in heaven when we write, even when we write crap, because we know that once the crap is on the screen, it can be turned to molding clay, and that clay can be shaped into our hearts and our desires and our art.

So, why do we continue to put ourselves through the hell of it? Maybe we think, subconsciously, that we have to suffer for it. Or maybe...maybe the heaven is soul-wrenching, as wonderful as it is. It's frightening. It leaves us exposed and raw. We come away from heaven spent and satisfied, and worried that we won't get it back.

Maybe the heaven and the hell are both the same. The heaven is hell and the hell is heaven. And we just have to deal with it.

I hate philosophy.

Anyway, I've taken to planting candy in my work room as a lure. It doesn't really work. I may have come to the conclusion that there should be no lure. There should be no heaven, and no hell. There should only be my job. And as a job, I would have to agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, it's fantastic.

But, I don't have to pay the bills.



*Originally published on 02/07/2013 on another blog.