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My mother calls it being “shy”.  I more look at my inability to stand up for myself and ask for what I need as a way to avoid confrontation, disagreement, or simply being told, “No”.  That’s how I found myself with a pack of orange Bubblicious gum in my snow boot one December day, having smuggled it out of the drug store in said vessel.  Mom found me out when, unable to “act natural”, I guiltily pulled it from my boot while still in the car. 

“Where did you get that from?”

“I – had it.”

If kids aren’t pathetic liars to begin with, I am now, and have always been, pathologically awful at misrepresenting the truth.  I had wanted the gum, and didn’t want to ask my mom for it, fearing she might say no. So I took it. I was so embarrassed at having done the deed and by being caught, that I couldn’t bring myself to returning the gum to the drug store, and gratefully gave up the rest of my week of Hanukkah presents for being spared the more humiliating punishment. 

Was my mother the kind of person to deny her child a $.69 pack of gum?  I doubt it.  But was I the type of child to go to extremes to avoid the remote possibility of having my request turned down?  I was. 

Thankfully, the emotional toll that experience had on my younger person has spared me from a lifetime of shoplifting, sneaking around, and taking things that I might only have to ask for.  Unfortunately, the underlying inability/unwillingness to simply ask for what I need/want remains.

On more practical matters, this manifests as a difficulty asserting myself.  I clam up, go quiet, and disappear into myself when my views are challenged, or when my values are questioned. 

I was tutoring a 17-year-old boy in preparation for his pre-calculus final last week.  It was a one-time thing, not an ongoing tutor-tutee relationship like I have with most families whose children I support.  This kid was, like many 17 year olds, bent on distraction and avoidance of work.  So he prodded into my personal life – “Are you married?” “How did you meet your husband?”  As I related this story last night to my husband, I asked him, candidly, “What’s one word you would use to describe yourself at age 17?”  “Handsome,” he responded after a thought.  “No, “I demurred, “One word to describe your temperament.” Easily, he said, “Oh, ‘douche’.” With the decorum of 17-year-olds in mind, I pressed on with my story.  This particular boy is from an Orthodox Jewish family, where people typically marry fairly young, and women are pressed into service as breeders almost immediately.  The fact that I had been married 4 ½ years and denied having any offspring was cause for suspicion.  Therefore, he was within his cultural métier to ask what was taking so long, or if something was wrong.

It was not that I was so off-put by the suggestion, or that the bluntness of his inquiry shocked me into silence.  In fact, it’s a teachable moment for a kid who leads a somewhat sheltered life.  After all, any 17-year-old might have said it, and plenty of well meaning parents-of-newlyweds (WMPON) have.  In the moment, I brushed him aside and refocused our lesson on trigonometric identities and imaginary numbers.   Later, in my head, I concocted a half-dozen appropriate responses.

“People have any number of reasons for starting families later. “ (Later than age 26, in his world)

“We are choosing to start our family when our careers are established.” (A subtle hint at birth control)

“The time just wasn’t right for us.” (Ditto)

 “Not everyone is so easily blessed with children as soon as they get married.” (Infertility not being a topic I’d like to discuss at depth with a teenager)

“Well, I’m sure HaShem wanted to wait until we were ready.” (Religious mumbo-jumbo in language he would certainly understand)

But in the moment, I remained mute.  That’s not “shyness”; that’s deer-in-headlights aversion to defending myself.  I think.  But against what?  Am I really afraid I’ll get into right-to-life debates with a teenager I’m tutoring in math?  Am I fearful he’ll hurt my feelings and accuse me of going against the natural order, or of being a Bad Jew?  Am I anxious my own responses will call him out on his ignorance, and make him feel bad?  Any of these.  None of them.  I don’t know.

I do know that conversations I have even with long-time friends, where they say something I know to be untrue, or on a topic I would be able to have a healthy discussion, I remain mute in disagreement.  And those conversations remain regrets in my mind; they stick with me for years, no matter how trivial the topics. 

  • Sunscreen helps you tan
  • A “double” bed is a different size than a “full”
  • Still photographs are less artificial than people putting on an “act” for a video camera.
  • Jenny’s portrayal of someone with AIDS was unrealistic.
  • Hooks you have to cut off with a “special saw” are better than ones you can just peel off.
  • Running the air conditioner with the car windows down is a good idea.
  • A hereditary history of twins on the father’s side can increase the chance of twinning in his offspring.
  • A woman pregnant with a girl will get a fat ass and a fat face.
  • You mustn’t ever leave the house while the dishwasher or washing machine is running.
  • Soy sauce might just be intended for soy; it might not contain soy.
  • The plural of passerby is “passerbies”.
  • Babies too young to focus more than 12 inches from their faces enjoy watching football on a TV several feet away.
  • There is no cause for alarm if a child is not talking by age 21 months.
  • A shrimp allergy in a child’s paternal grandmother puts him at high-risk for the allergy himself.

The list goes on and on.  And the common theme is that I never speak up.  I never share my knowledge or my opinions, even jokingly, even with friends and family.  I just let the fallacies, falsehoods, and misinformed opinions wash right over me.  I end up thinking of well reasoned arguments after the fact, or consulting Google to make sure I was right.  I can’t even trust myself and my initial instincts about things I know I know.  I need back-up.  I need a citation.  I’m locked in a never-ending round of high-school debate team, and all I can do is dumbly verify facts for myself.

Every time I take a Jungian personality test, I come up INTJ.  The “I” (for introverted) often surprises people; they can’t imagine that the girl who wears chair-print dresses and drives an orange car is an introvert.  I do take a long time to warm up to new people, to the point where I’ve been told I seem stuck up and aloof.  Parties and weddings are Awkward City.  Thankfully I’m married now, so I almost always have someone to cling to, someone I know.  Otherwise, I’m liable to be the girl nestled into the couch nursing a Diet Coke, looking (and feeling) forlorn and miserable.  I may be an actor, but parties are not my scene. 

The “N” (iNtuitive) and “T” (Thinking) are no surprise at all, for I am a direct and logical, rational, reasoning person.  I watch commercials critically, shouting logical fallacies at the screen.  “Soft sell! Emotional appeal!” as some bank shows its softer side.   “Appeal to dubious authority!” as some sports figure I’ve never heard of stumbles his way through his lines, hawking TV or soup, or car insurance.  And, as I settle into watching Spongebob, “Bandwagon!  I need Sillybandz so I can be like my friends!”  I listen to conservative talk radio and do the same.  While I enjoy hearing the “logic” behind the various assertions that Michael Medved makes, what I enjoy even more is that superior feeling I get by shutting him down point-blank.  From the comfort of my car.  While talking back to the radio. 

As much pain as it causes me to be introverted at parties, the personality trait that seems to get me in the most trouble is my “J” (judging).  I don’t just assassinate Laura Ingraham’s pronouncements with my insights and rationale; I also judge her for it.  Harshly.  I am clearly right about things, and she (or someone else) is obviously wrong.  I cannot tolerate wrong.  I judge it, I criticize it, and I determine a person’s value from it.

Pronounce the word vapid “vay-pid” and you’re a fool.  Spell “chiseling” “chizoning”, and you have no right to be an English teacher.  Make a left turn from the wrong lane, and you’re an 80-year-old dementia patient endangering everyone else’s lives.  And don’t even get me started on grammatical and homonym errors.  If you spell grammar “grammer” you are dead to me.  If you don’t know what a homonym is, that just proves my point. 

No one is immune.  Coworkers I otherwise respect, my parents, public figures I support, innocent children.  Barack Obama (and I voted for him!) never uses gerunds correctly in his non-scripted speeches.  Since I heard my father (a first-class INTJ) observe this, every time I hear “Pronoun verb+ing” (I like you cleaning up your room) instead of the correct possessive form (I like your cleaning up your room), I cringe.  Good grammar is dead.  I am a dinosaur. 

The person I am harshest on is not my husband, though he might think so.  I can list his inability to calculate a gratuity, his tendency to throw away recyclables, or his skewed internal compass that once took him North to go to Virginia.  From Pennsylvania.  But the second I do this, I reflect back onto myself, and all my own inadequacies. 

I may have unreasonably high expectations of my husband and others, but I have even higher ones of myself.  Coming out of a store, I often can’t figure out which way we were walking.  I chide myself for not remembering which lane I need to be in to avoid the merge before construction.  I call myself stupid for forgetting to grab a check as I head out the door, for leaving library books to gather dust on my coffee table as fines mount, for neglecting to leave a light on for the dogs, for shirking my dog walking task and letting my husband do the lion’s share, all the while beating myself up if the puppy has an accident on my watch.  Which I of course ought to have prevented by taking her on a 5k walk.  I hate when I forget; I hate when I screw up. 

This week I’ve been working on forgiving myself for my own humanity.  As I sat in the car for 45 minutes, suffering through a seemingly interminable wall of traffic, for a normally 18-minute drive, I freaked out.  I had left a half-hour window for my drive, and I was going to be late, horribly, disgustingly late.  Others were going to think I didn’t care, that I didn’t know about traffic patterns, that I was disrespectful of their time.  The clock, with its endless advancements of the minute, mocked me.  The cars in front of me, mocked me.  The traffic report, tacit on my route, openly mocked me.  In the moments before I started banging my head on the steering wheel in frustration and impotency, I caught myself judging, “You are so stupid.” I countered (in my head, of course; we don’t need other drives thinking I talk to myself.), “No.  You couldn’t have known it would be this bad.  You have rarely driven this way at this time, and the one time you did in recent memory, the roads were clear.  You allowed extra time.  This is a rough break, and you’re not stupid.”  I’m not sure if I convinced myself completely, but I at least caught myself. 

As an INTJ, I’m supposed to be inclined to make long-range plans, to think about the Big Picture and the future.  And I’m supposed to pursue that sucker, whatever goal it is, till the bitter end. In this case, I need to harness all my I-ness to forgive myself a little humanity, that I might then be able to look out at my fellow humans, and let them go about their merry lives, making mistakes, doing things wrong, and, in general, just being human.

I once was visiting my sister at college, and she had a list up on the wall of her likes and dislikes.  It wasn’t lame as in, ” long walks on the beach,” “the smell of clean cotton,” or “sharing a movie with a good friend”.  The list held honest little truths that any one reading it would be able to actually get to know my sister by reading.  Inspired, I tried my own list, but I’d forget to update it, and the entry in my journal I started for that purpose is dated 7/8/09.  Here’s what I wrote:

Things I like:

  • living in a place that has fireflies
  • the smell of linen closets

Things I Don’t Like:

  • When stores do not follow their posted hours, and are closed when their signs say they are open.  Ditto for stores that just leave up the OPEN sign or don’t post hours so you don’t know when to come back.
  • When you stake out a private spot at the beach or a lawn concert or the fireworks only to have a large family, preferably smokers, with many small children sit practically on top of you.
  • Group projects.
  • Meetings that go on for an hour to discuss a 5 minute item.

I think I’ll take the time now to expand the Don’t Like list, since it’s decidedly less lame, and I can rant for hours, while being positive and meaningful is very draining.

MORE things I don’t like:

  • Having such a sensitive nose.  I can detect dog shit if it’s anywhere in the house.  With our new “puppy”, this has become all too frequent.  I’ll start sniffing, Mr. Apron will deny it, and I’ll go on a paranoid hunt for the mythic dog shit.  Or I’ll be the only one offended by someone’s liberal application of Brut, KMart’s finest fragrance, or B.O., or cigarette smoke.  And then I get migraines, and then no one’s happy.
  • The tire pressure idiot light on my dashboard.  The number of false positives that stupid light reads is infuriating.  I pulled over tonight, convinced my car was listing to the left, sure I had a flat on the left, certain I was going to have to change my tire at 9:30 at night wearing a skirt.  Nope.  False alarm.  Like every other time it came on, except once.  And that once keeps me checking.
  • Having the windows down in Mr. Apron’s car when my hair is not pulled back.  Something to do with the wind resistance, cabin-forward design, positioning of the A-pillar.  I don’t know, but that car’s open window blows my hair in my face like no other, including his former car, a 2001 New Beetle tarted up like Herbie the Love Bug, in which the front seat occupants sat practically in the middle of the car, and the only convertible I’ve spent ample time in, a 1973 MGB.  His current car, a 2002 Volvo S40 takes the cake.  I keep a bandana in it for such purposes, only it looks less Elizabeth Taylor, more Golde from Fiddler on the Roof. 
  • Running out of bobbin thread on my sewing machine 2 inches from the end.  Also, realizing I’ve been sewing 80% of my work without a bobbin thread and will have to do it all over again.
  • Rules for rules’ sake, not for common sense.  You see this in stores/corporate places where all the employees can do is recite The Rules, and aren’t allowed to have an independence, sensical thought.  For example, at work, the impending edict is that footwear needs to have closed backs.  The reasoning behind this was not explained.  We surmise it is so we can ostensibly run after children without losing footwear in the pursuit.  But how much more effective are flimsy skimmers than a well-fitted (open-back) sandal at running after eloping children?  We tell the kids to wear sneakers so they can run and climb and play.  We don’t have to wear sneakers, so it’s not an example we’re supposed to be setting.  And why don’t they care about our toes?  I care about my toes.  I’m considering looping a piece of elastic on my flip-flops so they meet the requirement, just to flaunt my disrespect for the rules. Cause that’s how I roll.
  • Having to eat and pee.  Mind you, I don’t mind the processes themselves, rather the inconvenience of always having to plan for those eventualities.  Road tripping?  You’ll have to stop for both.  Day-trips?  You’ll have to think about both.  Bring your own food, store it, keep it cool/hot, or suffer the consequences of overpriced captive audience food, also known as the $9 hot dog at the ball park.  Doing an all-day craft fair?  Find someone to babysit the booth, and then suffer the port-o-let’s cruel wrath.  I like eating, I like food, just not having stop what I’m doing to take care of those needs.
  • Experiencing bad parenting in public.  Occasionally, I’ll hear something that will make my heart sing.  At the same craft fair where I had to be next in line at a Potty Queen after a little boy had spent a loooong time in there, I saw a little girl in a stroller bend over the edge, point excitedly at a leaf, and say, “Look! A heart!” and the Daddy stopped picked it up, and reinforced her discovery, even showing it to me.  This happens 1% of the time.  The other 99%, I hear, “Put it down!”  “No, it’s a leaf!” “Don’t touch that; it’s nasty!” “Why are you doing that!?” and other supportive phrases.  I see clueless parents prolonging tantrums by continually engaging kids with unending threats they’ll never carry out.  “Okay, the next time you do that, we’re really leaving.  I mean it this time.  You do that again, you’re not getting a toy.  That’s it.  We’re leaving.”  But they never do.  It ruins my shopping experience, and my heart aches for the kids. 

Mr. Apron has informed me, via reading over my shoulder, that the post is getting “very long”, so he suggests I leave it to be continued for another time.  I really could go on and on, and on, but that might be something you don’t like.

I’m Jewish and I hate Christmas.  There, I’ve said it.  Do you really need to read any more?

Yet somehow I’m going to muster my strength to tell you more.

I hate the commercialism as much as anybody.  I hate to see people who can’t afford to pushing around two shopping carts at Target or Walmart or Toys ‘R Us loaded with crappy plastic toys that have no scope for imagination.  They epitomize everything I hate about the way we thrust junk on our kids and throw money at foreign toy-makers with recognizable characters emblazoned on their products.  Why again do we need Dora cereal and ice cream?  Why is Spongebob on my backpack and my lunchbag?  Why does my step-nephew have a Disney “Cars” television set?  Why does a four-year-old need his own TV? How did I even get a step-nephew?

More than the overt commercialism, I hate the way Christmas is shoved down our throats en masse.  Whether it’s churches being “clever” with their signboards reminding us of the Reason for the Season or a timeless, heartwarming Santa bringing Coca-Cola to the polar bears population, it’s everywhere.  It’s in the tacky traffic signal colored lights our neighbors string up, the giant blow-up snowmen, reindeer, and snow globes that threaten to jump out at me from the tiny lawns.  It’s everywhere.  I can’t stand shopping during this “season” because of the infernal Christmas carols.  Jewish or not, I have not yet met one person who enjoys the retail nose pollution of the top 140 Christmas songs.  The B101 radio station actually plays this garbage non-stop throughout the month of December.  Can you imagine how much their listenership drops if you don’t count mall franchise stores? 

And don’t try telling me people choose to listen to B101, and choose to play Christmas music in their retail establishments.  Don’t tell me I can choose to avoid these things, because they’re everywhere.  Mr. Apron’s uncle couldn’t attend our play two weeks ago, because on Sunday, the one day a week his store is closed, he had to put up his Christmas display in the front window and decorate the store.  He is a Jewish man, as Jewish as they come, and he is not beholden to any franchise or chain mandate.  This is a Jewish man who owns his own business, and is compelled to deck his halls for fear of seeming heretical. 

Tonight Mr. Apron and I made the grievous mistake of venturing back down to West Chester, PA, where our beloved play was performed 2 weeks ago, to see our friends perform a 40-minute opera in the historic courthouse.  We didn’t know, or had conveniently forgotten, that it was part of the “Old Fashioned Christmas” (their quotes) in the historic downtown.  The drive down was the usual rush hour madness, but what was worse was trying to cram the 6 zillion cars into the 17 parking spots not marked “resident permit parking only, zone A”.  Finally, about ready to give up and drive back home, we found a spot scarcely longer than my little Honda Fit, and into which no other car (save a Smart car, a 3-door Yaris, or a Ford Fiesta) could have fit.  All while slurping down hot soup from Panera. 

I chose soup because we had little time to wait for food to be prepared, and the line was out the door.  (On a Friday night.  In West Chester.  Yes, it’s that kind of town…a town with a vibrant downtown full of acclaimed restaurants, where the populace chooses Panera, a subsidiary of McDonald’s.  But I digress.) I slurped it down while vainly trying to keep the soup off of my new red wool coat.  See how festive I can be?  I burned my tongue because the coat was more valuable to me in the moment, and the faster I inhaled my soup, the lower the liquid line went, as did my chances of spilling.  We rushed to the courthouse, past the sheriff’s deputies earning some pretty overtime, and sat down to a delightful opera. 

I did not sing along with the carols after the show.  I don’t know the lyrics, and even though they thoughtfully provided lyric cheat sheets for the goyim who don’t know the words either, I chose not to sing.  I used to sing.  In 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, when I was in the chorus, I would sing along to the dozen Christmas songs, and one Chanukah song in the holiday program.  I don’t have to sing now because those aren’t my songs, and my parents aren’t in the audience forcing smiles.  They’re fine for other people, but I’m not singing about Christ and Saviors and Bethlehem and the inevitable talk of miracles that seems to pervade all religions this time of year.  They’re not my miracles.  And I’m certainly not singing about figgy pudding. 

If that makes me bitter, bitchy, hostile, or intolerant, so be it.  All my life I’ve been misunderstood by people who were ignorant or intolerant, because I’m Jewish.  I’m not trying to “fight back”.  I’m expressing my rights and my choices.  I went tonight to see and support my friends, who, by the way, did a fabulous job.  And I don’t think anyone noticed my mouth not moving, or missed my voice when they wished each other a Merry Christmas. 

So then we left, and had to fight our way through yet another anxiety-producing situation.  In the 45 minutes since we had entered the courthouse, approximately 42 thousand merry souls had descended upon the streets wearing Christmas sweaters, Santa Claus hats, and balaclavas.  And they were all, each and every one of them, blocking my speedy egress.  I held onto Mr. Apron’s hand tightly, and he steered us through the merriness.  We fought and clawed our way to the street corner, where the conveniently located opening in the police barricades was completely blocked off by people trying to get a good look at the impending parade. 

Yes, a parade.  At 8 o’clock on a Friday night in December.  To mark the “Old Fashioned Christmas”.  The only thing old-fashioned we saw was one strange man wearing a top hat.  I heard decidedly not-old-fashioned Christmas music being pumped into the streets by some definitely not-old-fashioned DJ setup.  I saw some decidedly not-old-fashioned commercialized festivities.  And I wanted out more than anything.  I hate huge crowds of people.  Being 5 feet tall, I cannot see over most people’s heads, and in trying to see where I’m going, I trip over small children and strollers.  Mr. Apron’s bony shoulders and 6 foot tall frame edged his way through some stubborn parade watchers, and he led me across the street, through another throng packed tightly at another “opening” and, finally, away from the madness, passing only disgruntled teenagers with pink hair, dressed in black, and smoking cigarettes.  I hated them, too. 

I tried, folks.  I wore my red coat, I persevered in finding a parking spot, I did not have a complete nervous breakdown in the middle of the street.  But it found me anyhow.  Somehow it came.  It came with small children, it came with police barricades.  It came without sparkles or snowdrops or grenades.  I hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming; it came.  Somehow or another it came just the same. 

And that’s just fine.  Just don’t shove it down my throat. 

You are what people see when they walk past, drive past, and ride past.  You are the only thing that many people read on a given day, now that TV guide has been replaced by the On Demand screen, and people order food from picture menus by number.  I drive past myriad signs on the way to and from work — signs for hair-braiding, vacuum repairs, corner grocery stores, nail salons, child care facilities, Chinese restaurant holes-in-the-wall (that also sell steak sandwiches, seafood, and fried chicken), real estate offices, and private ambulance companies.  They all have thing in common — they are not immune from the pandemic profligacy of the apostrophe S for plural words:

  • Michael’s Nail’s
  • Little One’s of the Future
  • EMT’s wanted
  • STEAK’S, CHICKEN, FRIE’S
  • Two Brother’s Market, selling soda’s, milk, candy, and cigarette’s
  • Creative Corners hair braiding, specializing in weave’s, sew-in’s, and scalp treatment’s
  • And a realtor, with a huge mural-style sign on the side of a row-home, selling “home’s”

You are the sign-printers.  True, you have no editors like the newspapers and magazines have.  True, you are operating out of your basement inhaling the sweet fumes of melting vinyl, and pounding grommet in by hand.  But you are role models for grammar.  No one reads newspapers anymore, no one regulates the garbage content of the internet (like my own blog), and schools aren’t teaching grammar anymore.  You have a job, when Haver Convience Store (actual spelling of a store I pass every day) calls you for a sign, to look up the fucking word, to make sure it’s spelled as best you can.  You have a responsibility to know how to make plural nouns.  I learned this in 3rd grade.  Now I shall review with you, in case you didn’t make it past 2nd:

To make a plural noun, add S.  If it ends in S or Z, or CH, add ES.  If it ends in Y, drop the Y and add IES, unless the letter before the Y is a vowel; then just add S.  Watch me pluralize:

nail –> nails

cigarette–> cigarettes

fry –> fries

Did you see an apostrophe anywhere?  Did you see a “hyphen,” as someone once called it, when instructing me how to spell her own child’s name?  NO! 

Now you try.  Lest I open some can’s of whoop-ass on your sign’s.

Well, Jeopardy! was a rerun from the Ken Jennings series, which I had no desire to watch, which means I’ve spent approximately the last hour trolling the internet doing nothing.  I complain to Mr. Apron I have no time to blog, but I could have written a novella in the past hour instead of looking for strange things on Craigslist. 

Sometimes I get stuck.  It’s usually a weeknight, usually when Mr. Apron is working late, or an evening after a slow day at work, and I just don’t feel like doing anything.  I’ve plugged back in my sewing machine after we rearranged the office post-painting, and even set up a full-size ironing board to replace the little travel-size dealie my mother complained about when she came to visit.  The new board is, appropriately, a house-warming gift from her.  I used to tutor in the evenings, sometimes 2 nights a week and often Sundays as well.  I would grumble and groan as I left the cozy couch, fuzzy dog, and company of my husband, to brave the cold evenings of tutoring.  I just wanted to be home, or just not to have to be somewhere.  Now, as the days get shorter, and I worry, like a lame-O suburbanite, about my precious prime parking spot, I’m reluctant to leave the house once it’s dark.  A far cry from my college student self, who would think nothing of getting on the 9:30pm shuttle to Boston just to walk around, and catch the 2:30am shuttle back to campus.  Not that I was a partier in anyway, but now I feel like I shouldn’t go out on a weeknight, like there’s a karmic prohibition on doing so. 

Tonight Mr. Apron is working late.  He came home for dinner, and now he’s back at work for a late meeting.  Unable to motivate myself to finish sewing a cute baby romper I constructed out of one of Mr. Apron’s old oxford shirts (what is it with all the babies being born?), even though I only have to sew on 2 buttons, make 4 button-holes, and hem the sleeves, I find myself floating between the two screens in our home — the TV and the computer.  At least I get exercise running up and down the steps between the office and the living room.  The bugger is, I don’t depend on Mr. Apron to entertain me.  I don’t need him to play Skip-Bo or Scrabble with me just to keep me busy.  There are many nights when I’m the one  frantically finishing “just one more step” of whatever project I’m invested in.  Yet I don’t want to relearn buttonholes on my fancy sewing machine.  I don’t want to bake cookies for the pre-wedding potluck we’re going to this weekend.  I don’t want to pick out a dress for the wedding.  I don’t want to read my new Japanese craft books or start the new novel Mr. Apron’s librarian mother picked out for me.  I don’t want to load the dishwasher or make my lunch for tomorrow.  I don’t want to do anything.

Melancholy?  Depression?  Agita?  Pick one.  I find myself lacking the motivation even to take a walk around the block in this safe neighborhood I told myself would be a boon to the lethargy I felt when we lived in the city and didn’t feel comfortable walking around at night.  I’m just stuck. 

I don’t often whine, moan, or bitch on this blog.  I’ve tried to keep it light, funny, heart-warming (where appropriate, but not too Chicken Soupy), and interesting.  Maybe a little snarky.  All blogs are supposed to be snarky.  But sometimes, when I’m stuck, the only thing I can do is realize that I am stuck.  I wonder when Mr. Apron will get home, and then I get sad that, as it’s already past 8:30, we’ll be starting to bed soon after he comes home, whenever that is, and I have to go to work tomorrow.  And that, I really don’t want to do.  An elderly seamstress named Amy, with whom I worked one summer, wisely told me, “That’s why they call it work.”

I finally had my Cadbury creme egg yesterday.  Yes, I know it’s the middle of May.  And though I’m not sure,  I believe Easter was in March or April this year.  I save mine.  I savor mine.  I only have one a year.  This is not some diet fad, nor a protest against the Hershey’s distribution of Cadbury’s in this country, nor a wartime ration.  I just have one a year, as I have had since I was a kid.  Growing up, we had certain rules on Junk Food, which we differentiated from Grow Food, which was of course different from Mommie’s Go Juice, but I digress.  Soda could not be consumed before 11am, nor after 5pm, due to sugar and caffeine.  Junk Food could only be consumed after an appropriate amount of Grow Food.  And we were alloted one Cadbury Creme Egg a year.   Of course, there was plenty of othe junk throughout the year: home-baked goodies constantly emerging from the oven; Sunday morning trips to Dunkin’ Donuts before religious school; and Hallowe’en candy I hoarded into January.  Somehow, though, only one Cadbury Creme Egg. 

From the wikipedia entry, from the Cadbury site:  Cadbury Creme Egg is manufactured by making a chocolate shell in a half-egg shaped mold, which is then filled with white fondant and a dab of yellow fondant to simulate the yolk.

To me, it’s a chocolate egg with straight-up frosting in the middle.  I would eat it over the course of 45 minutes, if I could, biting enough shell off to access the fondant, then slowly licking the fondant in miniscule amount until at last the shell was clean.  Then I would lick, bite, taste, and nibble at the shell until I had nothing left but chocolately fingerprints and chocolate gluing my mouth closed.  I don’t think it still takes me 45 minutes, but you’d better believe I savor my egg.  Same thing with the fudge my mother would make.  I would steal away from the kitchen with a cold cube grasped between my thumb and index finger.  I made it last as long as humanly possible, licking, smooshing, until it was nothing but a chocolately pincer grasp. 

Mr. Apron, on the other hand, is a sensory-seeker.  He thinks Reese’s peanut butter cups (big ones) are one-bite foods.  He thinks Oreos are one-bite foods.  I take my Oreo/Newman-O/Twist-n-Shout/Hydrox and carefully dip it in tea until it’s all but falling into my mug.  Then I delicately eat all the soggy bits, and dip again.  Sure, he’s finished all his cookies by the time I move onto my second, but I’m savoring.  He’s stuffing.  I think he burns his calories during consumption; how else can you explain his metabolism?  I think his sensory seeking behaviors are sub-clinical; I’m not going to go all occupational therapist on his ass.  It just highlights a difference between us.

He’ll eat all the good pieces of frosted mini-wheats first, and leave the crumbs of the lousy ones last, for the dog.  I eat all the half-frosted ones first, and keep the sugar-binging pieces last, for a treat.  Maybe this is reflective of our approaches to life.  Maybe he’s an eat-dessert-first, life-is-uncertain kind of guy, and I’m the save-the-best-for-last kind of gal.  That’s why we have separate bowls of frosted mini-wheats, or he’d eat all the good ones before I had a chance. 

One thing he does do, is save a rye chip for last in the Chex Mix Bold bag.  They’re the best pieces.  The pretzels are okay, the sourdough breadsticks are flavorless and just suck, and the chex pieces are nice.  But the rye chips just rock.  They’re so good, we even incorporated them into our wedding vows.  On our wedding day, we each took turns reading,

“I will save the last rye chip for you.”

And we do.

1).  It’s too soon to be hot.  April 26 and 88 degrees do not mix.  I am not ready yet.  We can’t just jump from pleasant spring days in the 60s to summer humidity overnight.  I’m not ready!  I don’t remember how to be sweaty and disgusting by 9am.  I’m not used to carrying my refrigerated water bottle around like a binky.  I haven’t cut my hair away from my neck.  We don’t even know how to use the air conditioners in this house.

2) A working oven is important.  When I met Mr. Apron, he had not, in the time he’d been living in his bachelor studio apartment, used the oven.  Stovetop?  Yes, for omelets.  Foreman grill?  Yes, for burgers.  Microwave?  Yes, for Salisbury “steak” “dinners”.  But oven?  No.  I brought with me, on my first trip to stay with him (shh, don’t tell the unconceived children!), a tub of homemade cookie dough, and showed him how to work his oven in the service of hot fresh cookies.  The next trip, I brought him an oven light. 

Today, our 30 year old HotPoint double- oven ruined a double batch of cupcakes, necessitating a trip to the store for more ingredients because I had baking needs.  My coworkers and friends are expecting baked goods this week.  The oven, supposed to be set at 350, suddenly shot up towards 500, setting off the smoke alarm and turning 24 cupcakes into charred lumps of coal.  Maybe that’s why the batch of meringues last week inverted and burned?  So I sat next to the oven, through the next 3 batches (40 total cupcakes in my fridge…come on over), obsessively checking the oven temperature (so glad we have a thermometer), letting precious heat out of the oven and into the 80 degree April kitchen every five minutes as I peeked at the thermometer.  But they turned out edible.  Sigh.  Guess this means a trip to Worst Buy.  As Mr. Apron reminded me, we discussed this potentiality back in November, when we first looked at the house and cringed at the appliances.  He was wary, and I was optimistic.  “If they die, we’ll just replace them as they go!”  I cheerfully replied.  Now, of course, I just want the fool thing to give me more cupcakes and stop taking my money. 

Spoiler alert:  If you have not seen “Earth”, I revel  some “plot” points.

3) The predators never get sympathy.  Well, almost never.  We saw the Disney Nature film “Earth” last night, amid the loudest house of children and adults I”ve ever witnesses.  From the curly-haired girl bouncing (but quietly) on her seat for 90 minutes to the grown man shouting out, “That’s some fish!” when the shark snapped up a seal (sea lion?), to the mother hailing the mother elephant for pushing her calf onwards towards water, “Go mama!”  Yes, really.  I wouldn’t mind the “Oohs” and “Ahhs” when the cute animals babies first poke their heads out of caves, tree trunks, or pouches.  I even may have uttered a few myself.  It was a beautifully shot movie, full of extreme close ups on the big screen.  And James Earl Jones’ narration led the audience to develop sympathies for the baby elephant as he blindly walks into a tree, the gazelle as he tries to escape a cheetah, and the ducklings as they fall with grace from a tree.  Why are we always sympathetic to the prey?  to the herbivores?  Why did no one cheer the cheetah on as he ran for his lunch?  Why did no one applaud the lions when they at last scored an elephant?  We cringed, we  recoiled, we looked away.  Only when in the final scenes of the movie, we realize the fate of the stranded, starving, and wounded polar bear, do we feel sorry for him.  We feel guilty about global warming and ice caps melting perhaps, or we feel sorry that his family is so far away, or we feel as if his plight in the unfriendly climate is hopeless.  We finally sympathize with the predator. 

4.  Dog should get PE tubes.  When children have chronic or recurring ear infections, they often get tubes to let the fluid drain.  By the time the tubes fall out, their ear canals are better able to drain fluid by themselves, and they’ve outgrown this pesky problem.  Our poor dog has seemingly unending ear infections.  We recognize the signs and symptoms:  he incessantly fwaps his head back and forth to try to alleviate the irritation, and his ear smells like a rotting squirrel carcass doused with vinegar. However, we cannot simply call in a refill on his ear medicine because we’re obliged to go down to the vet for a full wallet-cleaning.  They have to confirm our observations, run labs and cultures, tell us he’s overweight, has a heart murmur, and needs his teeth cleaned, and charge us another $150 before releasing another small tube of ointment and instructing us to do exactly the same thing we would have done if we had the ointment in the first place.

5.  Buying a house is the watershed moment for people to start nagging us about making babies.  Doesn’t matter how old we are (27 and 28), how long we’ve been married (2.5 years), how employed we are (affirmative), or how much space we have (not enough, ever).  My mother’  housewarming gift came with an enclosure that hoped we’d fill our new home with the scents of baking cookies, and, maybe someday, baby powder.  Didn’t waste any time, that one.  Others have started asking, hinting, insinuating.  So much so that I’m using new terminology on the House Tour.  My old highschool friend came to see the house last night.  We showed her the upstairs, introducing the master bedroom, the office/crafting room, and, as I’ve now taken to calling the smallest bedroom, “The Elephant in the Room”. 

6.  Shelves can be assembled while wearing a long skirt and flip-flops, using a dying power screwdriver in about an hour, so long as they’re in the relative cool of the basement and one doesn’t mind tripping over said skirt and dropping assorted and sundry items on one’s toes. 

7.  Sunday night always feels like a precursor to Monday.  And that’s always sad.

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