Friday, October 22, 2010


"Always toward absent lovers, love's tide stronger flows." --Sextus Propertius (Roman poet)

When Ken goes away on a business trip, I don't especially like it. It's impractical for him not to be here. He drives Olivia to school, cleans up after dinner, listens to me tell stories ad nauseum about my job, leans against the kitchen counter trying to look interested as I complain about my hair. He is a very patient man. He's been gone more than he's been home the last few weeks, off to Germany for five days, home for 3 and then off again to San Diego. Three more trips and he's done for this year.

I firmly believe in looking on the bright side, finding the silver lining, the flip side of the coin, because I really am a half-glass full type of person. So I have to confess that there is a very small part of me that feels giddy when he announces, with a sigh, that "They're sending me to ____ (fill in the blank with either an exotic country or somewhere in Silicon valley) and I'll be gone for x amount of days."  Let me be clear, however, in case you don't know, I do love my husband. A lot.
So given that declaration, why do I  feel a little giddy when he leaves? Let's begin with the dinner thing. I dislike everything about dinner, except eating it. The planning, the shopping, the preparation, all of it. I'm no June Cleaver. But my background as an Italian daughter compels me to make dinner. It's like the salmon swimming upstream, you know? Or the swallows coming back to Capistrano. Gotta do it. It's certainly not Ken compelling me. If, upon entering the kitchen when he comes home, he sees no obvious clues that dinner is at least in the works, he'll innocently ask about it, hopeful that there is some sort of plan, one that won't take two hours. It's sad, really. It's like the laundry, which I also never do. When he makes that hopeful trip down to the laundry room, looking for a white t-shirt or some black socks, I actually feel bad for him.
Eventually, I do present him with something edible, and all is right in his world.
He left yesterday for D.C., and dinner, when he isn't here, is now purely an option. I can cook it, or not. I can eat cereal, or a Lean Cuisine if I feel like it. I can make something with mayonnaise in it, which makes Ken want to throw up. If I really wanted to, I could make spaghetti four days in a row, or have take-out minus the guilt.
Tonight, I'm going to leave the TV on in the bedroom the whole damn night. There will be no stolen covers. He won't use the coffee cup I like best. The bathroom towels will be folded on the towel bar just so. The cacophonous jazz music on the radio will not send me over the edge until I want to jump out a window to get away from it.  If I haven't shaved my legs, it's ok.

May I remind you that absence makes the heart grow fonder? It does in my case. Look, Ken and I never get to go away alone. Two teenagers, a son with special needs? Yeah, not gonna happen. So I'm glad he gets to travel and occasionally see sights he would not otherwise see. The Great Wall of China, beautiful German architecture, the busy streets of Japan.
And if you're happily married, you get to look forward to seeing the man you married 28 years ago, who still thinks you're beautiful without makeup on. Who pretends not to notice the wrinkles, the c-section scar, the bunion on your right foot.
If you're lucky, like I am, by Friday you have had enough of the alone time already and the giddy is gone. When he walks through that door, you will be so very glad to see him. Home. Safe.
 And then, all is right with my world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"Things don't change. You change your way of looking, that's all."--Carlos Castaneda

It would be a mistake to think I don't see the disapproval in your eyes. You think because I allow my kids to pierce their tragus, their bellybutton, their nose, that I am a lesser mother for it. What kind of mother would encourage that sort of thing? They look like hoodlums, for God's sake, or worse, the sort who would do drugs and steal your car. Kids who have more holes in their bodies than they were born with must be poor students, disrespectful of authority, having sex at 14.
I used to think just like you. When I'd see a kid with piercings my immediate assumption was that he was troubled, or got into trouble on a regular basis. I couldn't have been more wrong.
On any given day, my kids' teenage friends sit at my kitchen table doing their homework, intermittently rummaging in my fridge or the cabinets for anything edible. They are making vomit sounds, yelling, "Gag me!" or laughing hysterically. They are also reading The Great Gatsby aloud and answering the odd math question. Most of them have pierced several parts of their bodies, and have plans to pierce a tongue or an eyebrow. And so what?
I wonder sometimes at the adults who sit in judgement of a kid who makes a choice different from his or her own. My own family has looked askance at me because of my seemingly liberal view on this subject. It's hysterical  because anyone who is acquainted with me knows I'm pretty conservative politically, the lone Republican in the sea of Democrats who sit around my parents' dining room table.
I just believe that kids need to express themselves in safe ways. I've always discussed Max and Olivia's piercings ahead of time and have made sure they thought long and hard about what they were about to do. Olivia is my fashionable kid and Max is the artsy type. Their piercings fit them.
Doesn't this view of kids with piercings come from a place of ignorance and intolerance? One could make parallels between that judgement and the judgement of people with disabilities who look, act, learn differently. I vote that everyone take a step back and look beyond the nose ring, the wheelchair, the facial differences, and quit the judgemental crap. You may very well find your theory is full of....holes.