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My husband fixed the icemaker

There is something incredible about a man who can take apart a freezer-door icemaker, look at it’s insides, put it back together, and suddenly the icemaker that’s been broken for six months works perfectly.

I would marry him all over again.

work space

Mike in his impromptu balcony woodshop, June 18, 2011

Strawberry Pie

The week of our anniversary, we went to visit Michael’s mother in her home – not his childhood home, his parents didn’t buy this house until the summer before his senior year in high school, but he did live in this house, and it was a really big deal for me to visit his mom in her home, where he once lived, because we’ve been together for nearly eight years and I’d never even seen a baby picture of him.

You can tell what a big deal it was because that entire paragraph turned into one giant run-on sentence.

You see, Mike’s mother lives out of state and for one reason or another, we’ve never been able to visit her. She’s visited us several times, but we’d never been able to visit her. In fact, Mike hadn’t been home at all in eleven years. It was time.

We stayed for three days and we didn’t leave the house except once to swing by the supermarket. Instead of running around doing stuff, we spent all three days pouring over old family photo albums. Actually, Mike studied for micro-biology while his mother and I poured over old family photo albums. I was absolutely in heaven. I got to look through Michael’s baby book – his baby book! I saw his first lock of hair from his first haircut and the hospital bracelet he came home in and the very first penny he ever found and picked up for good luck. You guys. The happiness almost killed me.

And the photo albums! There were pictures of all of his Halloween costumes – he was Chewbaca two years in a row and if you saw this costume you would die itissoadorable. There were pictures of his first Christmas and every Christmas after. Snapshots from his birthday parties and his first steps and all these beautiful, happy, perfect memories caught in tiny squares of faded paper like so many pressed rose petals.

It’s funny because I was secretly a little sad that our anniversary trip was a trip to visit family. Not that I wasn’t delighted to be visiting family because I was. I planned this trip and looked forward to it for months. Just that, you know, it was our five-year wedding anniversary, it would have been nice to go somewhere romantic and alone. But as it turned out, this quality time with family was exactly what we needed.

I want to know Michael. I want to understand everything about him. I want to know him better than anyone in the world. I wish I could go back in time and be a fly on the wall at his sixth birthday party. Or I wish I could have been his favorite toy – his little velveteen rabbit. It drove me crazy that we’d been together for so long, but I’d never even seen one of his baby pictures. There was this chunk of his past that was a complete mystery to me. I’d ask him questions about his childhood and he’d look at me like I was crazy and say, “How am I supposed to remember that?” But now I know he had tin-soldier wallpaper and a birthday cake shaped like the Easter bunny. I’ve seen his lego towers and his cat Snowball. I’ve read his birth announcement and flipped through his parents’ wedding album. Pieces of him, however small they may be.

The visit was also an extraordinary opportunity for me and my mother-in-law to bond over the greatest thing we have in common – the tall, handsome, funny, smart, strong, kind of nerdy man we both love. I got to gush over pictures of her towheaded, blue-eyed baby boy while she took a leisurely stroll down memory lane. She told the most wonderful stories about my husband’s childhood and of her own life, before he was born. I’m still kicking myself because we didn’t bring our digital recorder. It would have been incredible to record these family stories. (Remind me to tell you about three-year-old Mike and the inflatable bunny.) One night his Aunt and Uncle joined us for dinner – I had never met them before and they were the absolute loveliest people – and it was such fun to hear Mike’s mother and her big brother reminiscing about their childhood. You guys, it was amazing. It was the best time ever.

I don’t know how to put into words why this experience – this chance to peek into a part of my husband’s past – was so important to me. Before the trip, I loved Michael more than I ever knew I was capable of loving someone. But after the trip? Afterwards I couldn’t believe how much more I loved him. It was as if my heart grew three sizes bigger and all the extra, new space was filled up with Michael.

This post was supposed to be a post with a recipe for my mother-in-law’s awesome strawberry pie, but I got a little carried away talking about our wonderful anniversary/family trip, and now you’ve probably thrown-up in your mouth at least three times (because really? No one wants to hear a married lady gush about her husband) so I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. And now you have something to look forward to! You’re welcome.

Where Does Quinoa Come From?

I love Quinoa. My mother introduced me to it, but it was GGC who taught me that quinoa is something you can eat a million ways and seventy times a week.

Ok, not that much. Everything in moderation.

My favorite way to eat quinoa is as breakfast (with hot milk, cinnamon, a sprinkle of brown sugar) or instead of pasta. It cooks up super fast, has tons of protein, tastes good, and is way better for you than pasta.

First you clean it. I rinse it the same way I rinse a bunch of grapes, only instead of a regular colander, I use a tiny mesh colander.

rinsed

Then I put it in a little pot with maybe a quarter inch of water on top of it. Like so:

just add water

You want to let it come to a nice boil over medium heat. When it boils, turn the heat way down, cover it, and let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. The water will soak into the seeds until they open and become almost transparent. They are surprisingly beautiful, strange looking little grains.

needs a fluffer

You just can’t tell in this picture.

We like to dish it out, then smother it in homemade pasta sauce and Asiago cheese. We eat it out on the balcony and watch the sun set. And when I try to take a photo of Mike with his wonderful quinoa dinner he says, “Seriously? I’m chewing.”

he is chewing

Weekend Update

Sure, a weekend update is more of a Monday morning post, but yesterday I had some crazy to get off my chest.  I feel much better now, thank you, I really appreciated everyone’s input. It seems I’m not the only one with fears about the future, which is reassuring. And it’s also reassuring to hear that if we do decide to make babies, that will be ok too. We probably will end up parents at some point, just not this week. Or this year. Or next year most likely. We’ll see. Who knows what the future holds.

The weekend was great. The show Friday night was a lot of fun and my nephew was really fantastic. Work was great on Saturday, I really enjoyed the speakers, but the bike ride kicked my ass. Not too long ago I could ride ten miles without flinching, but in three short weeks I’ve gotten so out of shape that five miles leaves me winded and sore for days. That, my friends, is called getting old. But not to worry! This week I’ve made it my goal to ride at least fifteen miles, or five miles three times, so I will reclaim my lungs and my legs in no time.

I didn’t get nearly all the cleaning done that I wanted to on Saturday, even though I was at it for four hours. I did, however, finally unpack the remaining four boxes that were piled in our bedroom. When Mike got home from work and saw the empty floor space in our bedroom he said, “What happened to the boxes? I thought they were permanent?” To which I replied, “Are your arms broken? Because YOU COULD HAVE UNPACKED THEM YOURSELF, MISTER.”

In addition to unpacking those last four boxes, I scrubbed all the counters and sinks in the kitchen and both bathrooms, I dusted the entire apartment, put away all the crap that piled up over the week, and watered all the plants. Then I took a nice long shower, put on makeup and a dress, and let my husband take me on a last-minute date to see Rango.  It was really cute, you guys. It wasn’t as good as Tangled, I’m just going to be honest. But it was really cute.

Sunday we lost an hour of our day thanks to the time change, and didn’t roll out of bed until (GASP!) 11 a.m. We never sleep that late. I hate sleeping that late. But we did sleep that late and there wasn’t nuthin we could do about it. We skipped our leisurely breakfast and opted for cereal so we could get an immediate start on our day. Mike needed to study, so he cracked his books and I got back to work on the apartment. I vacuumed every nook and cranny, mopped the bathroom floors and the kitchen floor, did a little decorating in the office, started a DIY project (pictures coming!), and bathed the dogs. And you know what I have determined?  It takes a long long time to keep this apartment clean. I have two times the bathroom to scrub and twelve times the kitchen. Not to mention there is a whole extra room, what with the office and all that. I spent a full eight hours cleaning this weekend, and I still never got around to cleaning the showers. (Mike did them. Because he loves me and I am so grateful he does.) And I’m not complaining, I really am not, I’m just marveling. If we had any more space than we have now, I would either need to quit my job or else hire someone to come in and clean for us because my goodness it is a LOT of work.

We never did get to go to JoAnne’s to pick out fabric for our kitchen curtains, and there were a few other projects that I didn’t get around to, but what with the surprise date Saturday night and an impromptu visit with friends Sunday night, it really did turn out to be a wonderfully perfect weekend.

sunbathingThese two really need to start pulling their weight around here.

I Love Palm Springs

Four Palms

Before last week I never understood why people vacation in Palm Springs, but I totally get it now.

Paradise

In some places people are bundling up to go outside and dig their car out of the snow. But in Palm Springs, in February, you can gaze at palm trees as you roast in the sun.

You guys, I love the sun. If I wasn’t already married, I would totally marry it.

mexican food

A dear friend from college joined us on Wednesday and we all went to dinner at this fantastic Mexican restaurant called Las Casuelas Terraza. It’s been there since 1958 and the food was unreal. It was a Wednesday night but there was a live band playing the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Journey, Chicago, and other such classic rock & roll staples. There was a dance floor and you guys, PEOPLE WERE DANCING. Not the kind of epileptic-type dancing you see the young people doing today, but actual, real, grown-up dancing. I almost died of happiness.

joe

On Thursday Joe flew out from the city of New York to join the party. We picked him up from the airport and headed straight to Ruby’s for the World’s Best Burgers.

best burger ever

I’m not kidding about those burgers. (Nor am I being paid to write that.)

After lunch we hit a matinee performance of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a troup of sixty to seventy-eight year-old ladies who dance like whipper-snappers and look like, well, very attractive and fit older women in pancake make-up and feathers. It was absolutely delightful.

street fair

On our way to dinner that night we discovered a street fair. It was as if all of Palm Springs was gathering to celebrate Adam’s birthday!

AandJ

Dinner was a feast at Wang’s in the Desert. We ordered the catfish which arrived head and tail attached. I tried to get a pictures of Joe and Mike licking the fish’s eyeballs, but I hate and despise my camera so you are getting a photo of Adam and Joe being adorable instead.

I miss them already.

Vignettes

Slowly but surely, in bits and pieces, the apartment is coming together!

bedroom lamp

New bedroom lamp, a gift from my mother, who has exceptional taste. Antique eight-legged table,
on loan from my brother Ty and his wife Kirsten, who also have exceptional taste.

radio table

Lamp found street-side. Art Deco radio table also on loan from Ty and Kirsten (and of course the first thing we did was lose one of the bakelite knobs. Currently searching Internets for a replacement.) Books are from my collection of antique books & plays, dead bird sculpture a Christmas gift from Ty and Kirsten. They know me well.

Perfectly Perfect Perfect

When we moved from Hells Kitchen to Harlem I was working eleven hours a week and Mike was unemployed and on Spring break from school. We were able to spend the better part of every day cleaning, unpacking, decorating, nesting, and we were all settled in a matter of weeks. It was fantastic. But this time I’ve been at work every day and Mike’s had to do most of the heavy lifting without me.  Me, who likes to do everything myself because I want everything to be perfectly perfect perfect.

This has been the source of several very high energy moments in the past couple of weeks. Mike is very patient and very laid back, and I am the Tazmanian Devil. We signed our lease on a Monday but by Tuesday I’d spent four days decorating the apartment in my mind and making long lists of everything that needed to be cleaned.

One morning as Mike was driving me to the office, we had a huge fight.  Except it wasn’t really a fight. Calling it a fight implies yelling and screaming, and that’s not our style.  Anyway, immediately after lecturing Michael on how I won’t be able to live in the apartment until the bathrooms have been scrubbed inside and out, I started telling him that I thought it would be fabulous to decorate said bathrooms with all gold vintage decor.  He made a face at me and said he thought that was the most horrible idea I’d ever come up with ever.

Except not really. What he said was, “That will look really tacky,” but what I heard was, “That is the most horrible idea you’ve ever come up with ever. Also, you are fat and ugly.”

When he dropped me at work I was nearly in tears. I was also on my way to being late for work, so I couldn’t sit in the car and talk about how I was feeling. Instead I had to sit in my office and stew about it.  And stew I did, for a nice long while. Then I texted him:

“I love you. I want for this to be a fun and happy time for us.  I want to feel like you accept me and like my ideas. It’s crushing when you think my ideas are stupid. You’re my best friend and when you think my ideas are stupid it’s really painful. So far you’ve hated every idea I have and I’m starting to feel like this is your apartment, not ours.”

Don’t you love how dramatic I am? It’s so awful it’s funny, right? “So far you’ve hated every idea I have…” Straight out of Days of Our Lives, the generic suburban version.

He texted back:

“All I’m doing is cleaning. I understand how you feel. I’m sorry. I don’t want to feel the same – like you want to make this your apartment, and all I do is scrubbing and hauling. The good news is that we are not in a huge hurry. I want us to work together to make a home. I respect your ideas, and I know we can make this work.”

I took a deep breath. Why was I so angry? I mean, seriously. Sixties gold décor in the eighties-era bathroom with the clamshell sink. It wouldn’t have worked at all. So I called my mother and my girlfriends, some of the most brilliant and wonderful women I know. “What should I doooooo?????” I whined. They all three said the same thing. They pointed out that we both had valid points and we’d both expressed a desire to work through the situation.  They said we were ahead of the game. They offered help, advice, encouragement, and comfort.  They made me laugh. And Kim gave me complete instructions for how to wash out my filthy dishwasher, something I otherwise would not, for the life of me, have known how to do.

I wasn’t angry that Mike didn’t like my ideas. I was angry because he was doing it all without me. I felt like I was missing out on everything.  All the cleaning, all the moving, all the furniture-arranging.  He thought he was getting a big chore out of the way, but I felt like I was being cheated of an opportunity to nest – something I’d been aching to do since August. Meanwhile, here he is, spending his days scrubbing and hauling while I yammer on about curtains and throw pillows and give lectures on how to clean the toilet. No wonder he didn’t have the patience to talk about gold vintage décor.

When we finally got another chance to talk, we realized that we were both aiming for the same thing – a fabulous little home we’ll love for the next two to five years, depending on how long it takes us to save up for a house.  Once we figured that out, we were able to talk about all of the things that needed to get done, his priorities and mine, and I realized that moving comes before decorating and maybe my evenings were better spent scrubbing the filthy toilet instead of shopping online. Which, of course, was what I really wanted to be doing anyway.  After all, there is nothing in the world like a freshly scrubbed toilet.

Dark and Twisty

Oh man, you guys. I am in a rough spot. There is a lot of anxiety happening all up in my shiz. Lots of teeth grinding and fingernails raking and brows furrowing. My face hurts from all the frowning I’ve been doing in the last three days. I have got to lighten up. I want to, I really do, I am trying to stay positive, but I am seriously bumming out.

What do you do when you get into this kind of head space? Like, when you just. feel. lonesome. And a little bit worthless. And like kind of a failure.

I know it’s silly, I really do. There are people in the world who really are alone, and who are sick and starving and cold. And I’m fine. I’m living in suburbia and I have a fantastic job and a wonderful family, I know. I am blessed. But tonight I feel sad and lonely and scared and confused. And I just need a friend. Someone to listen while I cry and then say something stupid so I’ll laugh.

I hate it when Mike works nights. I hate that it rained and was dreary all day. I hate that I’m doing a job I don’t know how to do. I hate that Valentine had to have six teeth pulled out of her head.

Fine, there it is. My big shameful secret. One of many. We never had Valentine’s teeth cleaned, not the whole time we were in New York, and she started spitting out teeth a couple of months ago, and as a result of our negligence that poor little dog has no front teeth.

How is she supposed to be ferocious with no front teeth?

It’s shameful, it really is. It’s shameful that I didn’t take better care of her and it’s shameful that I just spent a months worth of savings on a doggy dental visit. And its shameful that I’m upset about the amount of money I spent. It’s all just terribly shameful.

And also the weather and Mike working nights and not knowing how to do my job. I want to know how to do it, I really do. I would absolutely love to know how to do my job, to be good at it. That’s what’s killing me. The feeling like I’m a giant stupid idiot who can’t do anything right. A giant stupid incapable idiot who can’t do anything right and doesn’t take care of her dogs.

And it’s pouring rain and gray and cold and I miss Mike. I haven’t seen him, except in passing, since Sunday. I hate having opposite schedules. I wish we could just run away together and disappear on a sunny beach somewhere on an island in the middle of the ocean. Somewhere where the sun shines year-round and the weather never drops below eighty except at night when the air is cool and crisp. Somewhere where we wouldn’t have any obligations except to relax in the sun while unicorns dance under rainbows at the edge of the sea and Valentine chases them with a mouth full of healthy teeth.

I keep telling myself that the dog will be ok with six less teeth, that I’ll learn how to do the things I’m being taught, that Mike and I will realign our schedules so we have more time together. That this is all temporary. And it helps to get it off my chest, out into the open. I feel a little bit better now. Lighter. A little bit hopeful. So thank you. Seriously. Thank you.

sunlight

The World Keeps Spinning

Shadows

My heart has been so heavy the last couple of days. Mike started working nights again, which is awful. But it’s particularly awful because he’s working a job that brings him absolutely zero satisfaction, so he’s not even enjoying himself. At least if he were doing something he enjoyed, like EMT work, or a property management gig, or if he was gone all night because he was taking classes or something, at least I would know he was getting something out of it. But instead I know he’s on his feet all night, miserable, the hours dragging by like years, and so it’s hard to sit through my own personal loneliness with a brave face.

Then there’s the weather. You guys, seriously. The weather has been cold and gray for days and days. It has rained three times this week. Are you honestly telling me that we moved back from New York for this horrible, gray, dreary weather? Seriously? Because I could have stayed in New York for this. And then at least I’d be in New York.

I don’t mean that. I really do love the Valley. But this weather is seriously bumming me out.

Next is my job. It’s super frustrating right now. I’m having to learn a whole new set of skills, and what it feels like is that I’m learning a new language, and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little scary. I’m learning how to do things I never thought I’d have to learn and on the one hand, that’s the entire reason I took the job. Because I knew it would challenge me in ways I’ve never been challenged, and that was exactly what I wanted. And yet.

I think the problem here is that I don’t handle change very well. Or maybe I handle change just like everyone else does, and maybe everyone else feels super overwhelmed by change. I don’t know. Can you answer that for me? Because all of these little life changes are starting to pile up and feel a little crushing, now that the honeymoon has worn off, and I’m freaking the eff out.

Deep. Breath.

Another. Deep. Breath.

And yet. We chose this. We wanted this. Mike and I both. We stopped going out and eating at restaurants so we could save up enough money for this. We talked about it and planned it out and when we found out it was all real, we were so happy we cried.

And there have been days since we moved when all we can do is grin at each other and knock fists and bro-hug, we’re that pleased with ourselves. There have been happy reunions and little victories and days we both felt our lives were too good to be real. So I’m not trying to say that we made the wrong choice, or that I was starting to regret our decision, or anything like that. It’s just that it’s life, you know? It’s complicated and messy and boring and then it’s fantastic and perfect and full of tiny bursts of light like shooting stars that make all the rest of it worthwhile. I guess the thing to do is try and find the peace within it all. The zen. So that the crappy stuff doesn’t matter so much and the happy stuff is the thing you notice the most.

God Bless Suburbia

After dinner last night, right before we headed upstairs to get ready for bed, we realized we’d forgotten to run the errands we needed to run. We were supposed to pick up coffee, sugar, a GFCI electrical socket, and the required black pants/black shirt Mike needs for his new part-time job. (Yay for the part-time job!)

Luckily, it was only seven-thirty, so we tucked the dogs in for the night, grabbed sweaters to protect against the freezing sixty-degree weather, and hopped in the car.

Yes, we get ready for bed at seven-thirty. What can I say? We’re an old married couple.

By eight-thirty we were brushing our teeth and marveling at how we’d just run three hours worth of errands in one. It was because of the strip mall. And the trunk of the car.

You see, most people who live in suburbia take for granted their ability to run multiple errands in a short period of time. I know, because I used to be one of those people. And then I moved to New York and figured out how the rest of the world works. Or at least the part of the world situated in Manhattan.

If we were still living in Manhattan, we’d have had to make three separate stops, instead of the one we were able to make last night. First we’d have gone to K-Mart for black Dickies and a generic black button-up. It would have taken us thirty minutes to get there, plus a ten minute walk off the train, and it would’ve been a miserable experience because that K-Mart was never fully stocked and it was always so full of people there ought to be signs out front warning shoppers not to enter if they fear large crowds. Next we’d spend another twenty minutes on the subway, another fifteen minutes walking, and then we’d be at Home Depot, also terribly crowded, with checkout lines thirty people deep. Fifteen more minutes walking and an hour on the subway before we got to our neighborhood market, all while carrying everything we’d purchased elsewhere. By the time we finally got home we’d have spent at least three hours, probably four, and we’d be exhausted, sweaty, and praying for an early death.

Instead we hopped in a car, drove to a strip mall, purchased everything we needed at a Target and a Home Depot sitting back-to-back, and were home in sixty minutes. Yes, it’s a little freaky that we can buy groceries and clothing in one location, I’ll be honest. Target’s new grocery section makes me feel a little bit dirty, I don’t know why, but still. I do not miss the city at all.

P.S. There’s a wiener in the lantana.

wiener in the lantana