Saturday, 31 March 2012

The secrets of wedded bliss

Shaune takes care of our finances.

When we moved in together for good that last time, he asked me if paying the bills could be his thing. I shrugged, said sure and silently took on the responsibility of being the shopper. I try to do my part and also I think it’s important to play to our strengths. This arrangement works fine most of the time. However every few months or so Shaune’s senses seem to heighten and he catches me off guard.

“Is that new?” he asks pointing to a skirt I’ve got on. Purposely I pull at the sweater I’m wearing.

“This? Are you kidding? I’ve had this since 2004.”

Then he goes back to his old self. At other times he just looks at me pleading,

“Do you need to shop Every. Single. Week?”

At these times I remind him of a handful of women he could easily have ended up with, women who have much more expensive tastes than me, who get costly hair and nail treatments every few weeks, wear only high-end name brands. I’m not sure if I really know this about them but it’s an effective rebuttal until my husband says something asinine like,

“I would never have married someone like that; I don’t find that sort of thing attractive.”

You don’t find nice hair and pretty nails attractive?

But sometimes we’re on the same page about our finances. Like this morning when I was on the phone with our cable and internet provider. (I like to keep things confidential around here so I’ll just say this: their name rhymes with Boger’s but starts with the letter “R”.)

I waited two days to file my complaint because I wanted to be calm and articulate.

Because on Thursday when my internet and cable were down, and I was home with two sick kids trying to connect my laptop to my work server, I was definitely not calm or articulate with the tech specialist who was treating me like I was an idiot because I didn’t know the difference between the modem and the router. In fact reciting the serenity prayer did nothing for how I proceeded to conduct myself especially when instead of patiently explaining to me that the power cord was the thin black wire, the tech guy just enunciated the phrase “POWER CORD” louder and louder.

Even after I explained to him that I wasn’t stupid, that my husband usually did these types of things, he continued to treat me like I was a Neanderthal. I had a half mind to explain to him that I had other strengths:

Birthing babies.
Winning half the bread in this household.
Cleaning the bathrooms.
Ensuring everyone has clean underwear.
Writing angry posts about bad customer service on my blog.

Our phone call on Thursday did not end well. When he told me that he would be scheduling a service appointment in the next few weeks and warned that if he found we had messed with our internet or cable somehow and this was the reason it was down that we’d be charged $49.50 for the appointment, well that was when I may have lost my mind. I may have screamed not very calmly into the phone that he hadn’t helped me with a goddamned thing, that I still didn’t have cable for my two sick kids or internet to get my work done.

I may have hung up on him.

And so this morning when I called to speak to the supervisor of that tech specialist to calmly but articulately complain that I had not been treated like a valuable customer who spends $300 a month in cable, internet and wireless fees with her company, Shaune and I were definitely on the same page. While I spoke with her, Shaune sat on the couch pumping his fist if I said something particularly powerful, motivated me with reminders of other ways Boger’s with an R had screwed us over in the past.

We were really in sync.

Sadly this conversation did not end well either. The supervisor showed very little empathy for how I’d been treated and in fact took the opportunity to try to get me to upgrade to the next package level in my cable and internet. I may have blown a gasket, threatened to pull the plug on all of our services and go directly to Boger’s Vice President.

I’m not sure what we’ll do though, shopping for another cable and internet provider seems fruitless. We were with the other company (rhymes with hell but starts with a B) for years before moving to Boger’s with an R and they were definitely no better. I recall some equally frustrating conversations with their support staff. In fact, it may have been the last time Shaune and I bonded this well on matters of finance.

It’s magical moments like these that tell you that the marriage is working.

Better late than never right?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

When you're a blogger

I took a few weeks off.

Mostly it was because work and home have demanded all of me, but there was also a small part that had to do with the need to reconsider, rethink  and maybe even regroup (sometimes alliteration is irresistible - sorry).

What is the purpose of my blogging I began to wonder. What am I really sharing? Am I sharing too much? Am I sharing the right things? Am I adding value to the few dozen people who stop by here every week? Am I writing out of obligation? 

Have I lost my momentum?

And also, I thought long on this need we bloggers have - the need for comments, our primal need for feedback, for connection, to hear that we've been heard. I've realized that for a small-timer like me, my traffic is a two way street. The people who are kind enough to read my posts and take the time to comment, well they rightfully want the same from me. Often lately though, I can't get to my friends' blogs to read and comment. I just can't find the time. So I've contemplated shutting this down.

But the thought broke my heart.

Because although the friendships I've found here are wonderful and the constant feedback addictive, these have been only secondary to the true impetus of my blogging. These modern times have gifted me, a once closet writer, a platform to express my essayist heart.

I don't want to give that up.

I didn't not write over the last few weeks because I had nothing to say. I didn't write because I wondered if it was fair to expect my fellow bloggers to read my stuff when I knew for sure there was no way  I could take the time to go to their sites, read and comment on their posts. Something else on my list, something else I could feel like I was failing. This reality weighed on me.

It didn't feel authentic but it was the truth.

I thought about some of the bloggers I admire. There're lots and lots of them but the ones who came to mind inspired me. I thought about Ann and Jim who turn their comments off, write without the need for constant feedback.  I thought about Rae who writes beautiful honest stuff every week and even though I've never discussed this or anything else with her, I'd be willing to bet that feedback has nothing to do with why she writes. I thought about Kelle and Glennon - oh Glennon you slay me with your gorgeous thoughts -  Kelle and Glennon who write with purpose and so much love.  

And of course I thought about Heather who writes with a pioneer's fearlessness.

Yeah, I reconsidered, rethought and regrouped. But I'm not sure I reconcluded because the thing about blogging for me is that it's become part of my feel-good routine. 

Give quality me to my family.
Show up for work.
Go to the gym.
Write something you can share with the Internet.

So that's it friends, the space my mind has been stuck in. I just can't keep up even with blogging. And I almost turned comments off but the need to hear  your thoughts, to know if you are feeling the same about your blogs, well it was irresistible.

Monday, 12 March 2012

I got a haircut and other fascinating tidbits

A few days ago when my friend popped by with her toddler, I was on the verge of apologizing for the disaster-state of my house when I realized I’d just finished cleaning it only an hour before. I let go of my need to make excuses, hoped she wasn’t taking silent inventory of the Cheerios I’d missed with the vacuum.

And I was going to give you some long-winded explanation about how I didn’t have time to style my hair before Shaune turned into a paparazzi snapping these terrible pictures of me without warning. But the truth is, I did style it and not only that, I asked him to take some photos of my new haircut for my blog. Sadly these are the best he could do with what I gave him. What can I say? This is how I usually look, with a few rare days of good hair in between.

There’s a feeling that washes over me every few weeks – a feeling which never fails to bring me down. It’s a wagging finger during my busiest times, when balance is elusive, the demands of work and family leaving me exhausted, too spent to indulge in my art. It convinces me that I will never amount to anything writerly, that inspiration when ignored too many times will stop showing up.

It’s the same feeling I get sometimes when I catch a glimpse of my aging 40 year old self - a mix of well it could be worse meets Really - this is what doing my best to eat right and exercise gets me now?

I had hopes of editing the two books I wrote last year on maternity leave, making this blog a regular place you stop by for sweet little stories, inspiration. Back then, I imagined myself this well-rested, working mom, writing on the side, running the odd half marathon.

I’ve been back to work ten months and I have to tell you: It’s hard. This living and working and raising a family - it is hard work. And none of it looks like the picture you had in your head. You know the picture I’m talking about? The GQ corporate life followed by the sweet obedient vegetable-eating children snug in their beds so you can have a few hours to pursue your other self.

But when I watched this old Ted talk a few days ago (I think it was right about the time Oprah demanded we all read Eat Pray Love) where Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the notion of nurturing your creativity, I realized that I could change my mind. Art doesn’t have an expiry date. I could focus guilt free on what’s right in front of me, write when I could. I loved the story she told about Tom Waits – looking up at the heavens after getting some of his best song inspirations while driving on the highway.

Really? When I’m driving and can’t stop to write this down – this is when you’re [inspiration] going to hit me?