One of the best things about marriage is the complementary characteristics that the union joins, making a complete package. Theoretically.
It was a big deal to me when I got married that I now had someone who would be in charge of the yard. We fell into the traditional roles - he was in charge of the outside and I was in charge of the inside. That's why we've won "Yard of the Month" multiple times and our refrigerator has been reported to the Health Department even more times.
The sad reality is, that in our marriage he brings a broader, more applicable skill set to real life. I can sculpt an entire miniature doll house Thanksgiving dinner. He can actually cook real food. I can take my car to get the oil changed; he can actually change the oil. I can get a tan; he can waterski in a long-sleeved shirt and scrub pants and look like he's evading some sort of evil water villain. We have very different skill sets.
So imagine my delight when hubby comes home last week and tells me he needs one of my special skills. I had made social plans with a friend to go out for her birthday dinner. I am in charge of the social calendar - so what I say goes. (Unless he says no.) Well, this woman's husband had made plans to surprise her for her birthday, the same night we had planned our dinner. Why I wasn't invited to this celebration still eludes me; I have excellent party skills. But the husband told us that we had to cancel our plans so we didn't interfere with his; one of us had to break up with her.
History has shown that I'm not that good at the break-up. One college boyfriend took it so well he stood beneath my window and yelled, cried and sang for days. My floor-mates loved that. Another one just looked at me and said "No." We ended up dating for two more months before I could convince him it was over. So even though my track record was not good, hubby said clearly I was the one to do it.
Protesting I said, "Me? Why do I have to do it?"
Without missing a beat he said, "Because you're the better liar."
Sadly. He is right. At least I bring some value to the marriage.
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy
Valentines Day. The Grinch streak in me doesn't like it. The hope that somehow one's feelings can be expressed by a bunch of pink carnations, an overpriced box of chocolates and a foil-embossed card left me many, many years ago. This being said, I admit my hypocrisy and still get a little sappy on the day.
As we go into this year's Valentine celebration, it's the first year my kids haven't purchased the pre-packaged perforated classroom valentines. They're growing up. No longer is one's love to be shared willy-nilly with anyone lucky enough to be stuck in your class. At first I wondered if this was a bad thing, but the more I've thought about it, I believe it's a reflection of the fact that as they've grown up, they've developed deeper relationships in their lives. They are wonderfully generous with their love and concern for those around them. I admire this in them and try to be more like them.
These deeper relationships have a price. As I've developed those relationships my heart has expanded and I feel grateful for those I care deeply about. Yesterday was a pensive, prayer-filled day as one friend underwent brain surgery, another friend received the bad news of her son's biopsy. I sat with another friend who was recovering from a terrible accident which is ushering in some great changes in his life. I received a call from another friend struggling with great depression, and another suffering marital challenges.
As I spent time praying, trying to comfort, trying to lift their spirits, I felt wholly inadequate. My friend's challenges made my heart physically hurt for them, and I realized, for me, this is what Valentine's Day is truly about: sharing the burdens of those we love and care about deeply. It's noticing little things, celebrating, mourning, waiting, comforting, sharing - all the things that truly require the heart.
I have a lot of people I consider Valentines, but none greater than my own family. As I made my late-night rounds to tuck-in and kiss each of my children, my heart felt better. I took joy in my teenager's belly laugh that comes so easily. I smiled remembering my son's desire to sit next to me wherever I sit. My daughter's tender nature, making sure my feet are covered with a blanket or stroking my hair. My little Valentines are precious.
Entering my seventeenth year of marriage, I can't imagine my life without my daily Valentine. He is everything to me. One of the great things about our daily Valentine celebration is that it has nothing to do with candy, flowers or over-priced stuffed animals. It has everything to do with the quiet daily devotion. The service, the kindness, the tenderness, the forgiveness, the patience and the humor.
Valentine's, like any good holiday, should not be a one day thing. It's about loving the people in our lives enough to stand with them and support them all year long. Happy Valentine's Days!!!
Those of you who have been following my blog wondered why I haven't shared yesterday's story sooner. Unlike some Supreme Court nominees and Czar appointments, I fully vet the stories I share before they reach the public.
Like an inductee into the witness protection program, my story cannot be proved or disproved. Did it happen? Did I make it all up? Is there more I'm censoring?
Some of you were moved upon to do further research and try to find back episodes of the ill-fated show on the internet.
Some of you Google searched me. Let's just say when you typed "Aselin" and "Studs" in the search box, you deserve what you got.
Some of you searched Wikipedia and wondered how you can contact Marc deCarlo the original host of the show.
All I can say is, bummer for you guys.
On this subject I cannot be blackmailed. (Notice I said, "this subject").
I have a slight competitive streak. OK, the only reason I had children is so I had live-in people I could beat at games.
This character trait is usually cause for rejoicing. No longer am I chosen last for team games. I usually walk away from baby showers with nifty prizes and am in charge of the entertainment at family reunions.
I enjoy a good fight, and while I hate to lose, I am willing to risk losing just to have the chance to play.
This competitive quality has not been without it's downside.
Back before I had the wisdom of the sage, I had a hard time turning down a dare. Usually the dares I encountered were things like eating a raw jalapeno at a fancy restaurant, or running fully clothed across the gym during the time out of a high school basketball game. Nothing anyone else would remember. OK, my spicy daring date may remember me spitting out partially chewed jalapeno all over the table as I gagged for relief. He picked pepper bits out of his tie. But mostly, no harm no foul.
Recently I was reminded of an ill-thought out incident I've tried to block out.
Just a reminder, there are people in your life who are fantastic examples of how you should live. I am not one of those people.
In the early '90s I was sulking around the office after a breakup. It was a rough ending, and I was pretty mopey. Good friends trying to cheer me up gave the natural suggestions about other fish in the sea, and getting back on the horse. Platitudes did little, as everyone knows only time heals such wounds. Well, time and poorly used brain cells.
The '90s saw the advent of shock television. During this time there was a terrible dating show called "Studs". Two boys took three girls out on separate dates. The girls were interviewed and then boys had to guess which of the girls said various quotes. Everyone was watching this train wreck of a show, and my helpful coworkers suggested I audition to become a contestant.
After a number of unsuccessful requests, one of them called me a chicken, or something powerful like that. Not to have my honor insulted I immediately dialed the hot line for the show and left my contact information on their answering machine. HA! That will show my snarky co-workers. They all gathered around me patting me on the back and wishing me luck as they dispersed back to their important jobs.
Caught up in the adrenaline of the moment somehow I found myself at the audition. Dressed in business attire, in a large room filled with a large population of scantily clad females and mouth-breathing males I realized this was a baaaaaad idea. Each potential contestant was called to the center of the room to stand before the judges. After listening to imbecile, I mean potential contestant, after potential contestant, go through the audition I realized with great relief there was NO WAY a skinny little Mormon girl would ever be considered for the cast.
Finally my name was called and I took my mark. My business suit and heels hardly fit in with the crowd and the judges immediately picked up on the fact that I was probably lost. Reading my application a casting agent noted, "BYU huh? So, you're a Mormon?" All three agents rolled their eyes as another said, "Well that means you don't party then?"
See, this is where I could have gotten out of the whole thing, if I were smart. But noooo, I shot back (clearly without thinking) "I party as hard as anyone I just remember everything the next day."
The judges were reduced to laughter as the interview continued. I was the first person cast that day.
Driving home I could not figure out if this was a triumph or a tragedy.
I shortly found out: I had two very nice dates. An actor from New Jersey who had been in the movie Top Gun, and a lifeguard from Huntington Beach. While neither one was a love connection I decided this was not entirely a terrible experience. That was until taping.
After the second borderline obscene comment they were attributing to me, I stopped taping and took off my microphone. and stood to leave the set. Prepared to walk out, the staff surrounded me and attempted to smooth things over. We came to an agreement and everything that had to do with me became G rated from there on out.
The end of the show requires that each girl and each boy choose someone they would like to go on another date with. Imagine my joy as both boys chose the other two girls and I sat there as the loser odd- man out clapping for the newfound love that surrounded me. It was clearly a high point.
Weeks later, the night of the show, I sat alone in the dark, watching the train wreck unfold on television for millions to behold. Now I got the joy of watching my awkward self standing next to the host as the other two couples embraced. Gee, this is like high school all over again.
The show ended, I turned off the television and hoped that a good dose of Benadryl might drown out my humiliation. Suddenly the phone rang. I stared at it for a few rings, sure it was one of my friends calling to rub the whole experience in my face. (I've always had good friends).
Finally I picked up the receiver and squeaked out a hello.
"My name is Aaron and I work with Jay, your lifeguard date from the show tonight."
"Uh, huuuh." I said even more tentatively. I quickly realized the bozo had given out my phone number to his friends. Niiiiice. This just kept getting better and better.
"Well, we're all down at the station and just watched the show and wanted to let you know we think Jay is a complete moron."
How sweet! I then heard sounds in the background of grunts, and oofs like the soundtrack from an Adam West Batman episode.
"We're teaching him a lesson and are embarrassed at how stupid he is for not choosing you."
The sound of breaking wood punctuated his Hallmark sentiments.
Aaron talked me in to meeting the whole group at Black Angus for a "drink" which Jay informed all of them was a ginger ale for me. I rounded up my roommate and went in search of my dignity.
While there was no love connection for the evening, it was a lot of fun to be out with an entire lifeguard troupe. As Jay walked me to my car he apologized for not choosing me, he confessed he was not sure I would choose him so he went with the ickier sure-thing contestant. He then asked if he could see me again.
Not being propped up by a gang of goading idiots, my brain was fully intact as I politely declined. Sorry Jay, you can't be a chicken on TV and get a second date with me. Noooo sireeee.
For some people following an exercise regimen is a challenge. There are a million reasons which prevent us from putting on our jogging shoes, or driving to the gym whose dues we've been paying for years only to use our membership card more for picking sesame seeds from Big Mac's out of our teeth than to check in.
I love yoga. I started practicing years ago when unnamed child #1 was a toddler and unnamed children #2 and#3 were infants. I am certain it was not the allure of the actual yoga which drew me to the practice. It was the free childcare at the local YMCA coupled with the 12 pm class time. This was a stage in my life when I could not get anything done before 11:30 am, and if someone would watch my three miscreants I would happily stand with my forehead against a wall for an hour. The yoga option seemed more believable as a productive activity, so I went - five days a week.
The YMCA had a variety of instructors of varying levels. I learned all sorts of things about myself I had never considered and gained a mental discipline which was totally outside my possibility without this experience.
So now, I'm a housewife armed with a little more focus, a little more flexibility and the knowledge of a few Sanskrit words.
Imagine my delight when a certified yoga instructor moved in next to me and wanted to teach classes... in my home. Let's see, overcoming the hassle of getting in the car and driving somewhere? Having my morning exercise commute be from bed to living room? Sign me up.
Somehow we talked a few more suburbanites to join us. So there we are, two mornings a week, twisted and contorted into all sorts of ambitious positions. I am the only member of the class who has had any yoga experience, so daily we go through the introduction and explanation of the name and mechanics of each pose.
Last week, our little band of women were laying on our backs, with bent knees, holding our toes in Ananda Balasana or "Happy Baby Pose." It's a pose where you really should avoid looking around at each other. It is not flattering, and you look as stupid as the person next to you, but the stretch on your hips is incomparable.
So there we are, a room full of beginner women trying to pull our knees to the floor when someone says "I wish I had known about this pose before I had my children." Um, ok, I see how it might help with the flexibility for delivery. I try and refocus on my pose as another pipes in, "Do they have the men do this pose too?" The instructor is trying to get us to focus but this question sets most of the women in the room off on a tangent. "They should have men practice all sorts of stuff so they know what it's like. Do you remember putting your legs in the stirrups for delivery?
OK, I'm as 'in the trenches' as the next gal, but you ladies are messing up my concentration and I'm not sure what this has to do with Happy Baby pose.
The instructor reels them in again, and begins to explain a few tips for Ananda Balsana. Breathing, focus, posture, all the stuff of child birth. As she's explaining some of the details she again says "As you're performing Happy Baby..." when one of the women pipes up very loudly: "Happy Baby??? Happy Baby??? Ohhhhh, I thought you were saying "Having Baby. This makes more sense."
The room devolves into laughter, including me. We were indeed happy we were not having babies.
Sometimes the universe looks out for me. Usually it doesn't, but I can tell it is thinking of me when I'm entertained.
Raising a teenager is an activity that deserves its own special awards. I got one today.
Teenage girls interests and focus narrow to an almost myopic scope. Universally their interests are not school, grades, curfew, clean rooms, or nutrition. Nope, their interests are, in no particular order, boys, hair, clothes, boys, clothes, hair and how their hair and clothes look to boys.
I'm not criticizing, I get it. I went through the same stage. It shuts all progression of time and space as those of us not enslaved by the minutia of lash length, curl variance and jean branding are held hostage to the amount of time it takes to get those details just right. So we wait, and wait, and wait...
Now, a quick digression, as I watch my own daughter gussy herself up each day - I'm WAY impressed. I was a teen fashion disaster. And not it a good way. Her creations come out pretty well. Mostly she has learned the art of 'less is more' when it comes to make-up, and 'more is more' when it comes to hemlines. I was not so evolved as a teen.
Back to today. She's primping and prepping for a night out with the girls. We have a deadline so the other family members are in the car inching out of the driveway as she comes running out, jumping in the passenger seat.
WHOOOO WHEEEE - I audibly note that it's a good thing her activity is outside since she has a gallon of perfume on. She giggles and says "Yeah, I had sort of a smell so I put a few extra spritzes on."
Ok, not a bad idea, but as I'm driving through the neighborhood I start to think...what kind of smell? I look over and notice with glee that she has borrowed her Daddy's sweatshirt.
I start laughing so hard I can barely speak. I almost have to pull over as she is begging me to tell her what is so funny.
"Well, you know how your Dad is training for a marathon?"
"That's his sweatshirt, and he trains in that sweatshirt, and it's really, truly a sweat-shirt."
She screams and says "It was hung up!!! On a hanger!!!!"
"So it could dry out from his run this morning, and yesterday, and the day before... it hasn't been washed this week."
I can't express the joy at this moment. We did not have time to return home for a change of clothes. Her activity was outside at night, so she would need the sweatshirt. This was too funny: she was a beautiful, perfumy, sweaty, stinky, lovely mess.
Yep, that's my girl.