Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Housework is the new Porn.

The other night I was at one of my two book-clubs, sipping on wine and not discussing the book- when an interesting conversation popped up among the group of wives.


Now, we're all educated, hard working, modern women who enjoy Avant-garde films, curry, and our careers. (Well, I don't actually have a career yet, but I enjoy talking to other people about their careers. So, I count too.) BUT YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED at the level of passion that is elicited when the topic of a clean house comes up. One of my friends leaned back against the couch and sighed orgasmically when I described a recent night where I made dinner, froze leftovers, and then cleaned my kitchen top to bottom- taking special care to mop the floors and bleach the counters.

"Don't you love," she started dreamily, "the way a dishwasher sounds at the end of the day?"

A ripple of murmured agreements swept through our small gathering, and we found ourselves trying to top one another with recollections of sexy housecleaning escapades.

"One time, the husband was out of town...and I just got so excited to clean the whole house and come see it still clean."

"Oh, and Meyer's hand soap and dish washing soap? I mean, yes, it is a crime how expensive it is. But, so worth it, right?!"

"God. I just put up new shelving units in our mud room, and I swear to God I came when I saw how organized everything was." (no one actually said this, but I am trying to paint a picture.)

I greedily chimed in: "Even if I cooked dinner that night, I'll insist on cleaning up. He just can't do it like I can...and I swear to God- that last hour of the day, with my glass of wine and the sponge...that hour is the most relaxing."

All of the woman turned to me and nodded encouragingly when I confessed my kitchen fetish, which only made me laugh. "You do realize we are all lustfully describing housework practices, right?"

But, I stopped laughing. Because this was serious. And seriously sexy.

The next night I met a few girlfriends for cocktails, and I almost spit my Moscow mule drink out when the conversation AGAIN, OH MY GOD turned to housework. I held up my hand as I sputtered.

"We can't really be talking about this, right? You all worked today! Tell me about your work day! A guy flashed me on the street the other day, want to hear about that? I finally wrote some poetry the other night...I voted! Want to talk about that?!"

But I didn't really say any of those things because I was excitedly recounting the baked chicken recipe I was going to make that night. And my fool-proof plan for left-overs and clean up.

Maybe I'm getting older.

I actually used wine in my cooking tonight. So, there's that.

But, it's ok.

Because no one...and I mean no one can bring a wooden floor back to life like I can. Or, scour off grease stains with my amazing ability. Or, make amazing cookies with only 2 ingredients.

It's the little things. The sexy, domestic, little things.

Thursday, October 11, 2012



The other day I realized my favorite author David Sedaris was coming to town for a reading, and I casually brought this up with Brett over dinner. And by casually "brought it up" I mean I was jumping up and down in my chair with excitement as I yelled the news in my husband's face.


Brett leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a minute. He does this a lot when I am excited. Or talking. Or in the room.

" going to be weird? Like the last time we saw him?"

"I was not weird the last time we saw him. I was an appreciative fan."

"You held up the line for 20 minutes and invited him to our wedding. Repeatedly."

"That wasn't weird. That was polite."

"You understand the man is in a committed relationship right? And gay?"

"I'm not in love with him, Brett."

"You told him you were in love with him. 97 times. Before we were basically asked to leave."

"That is just say. I'm a fan."


It's true, in a way. I get a little...excited about my favorite authors. Some women go crazy for their favorite band- fainting and screaming and flinging their panties at the musicians as they are pressed up against the stage, sweaty and hopeful and delirious in their adoration.

I'm kind of like that at book readings.

Even the authors that have long since died get the full weight of my frothy fandom. When we went to Rome on our honeymoon, Brett brought me to the Spanish Steps at twilight in a sweet attempt at romance. I was beyond excited, and could barely keep still as he tried to hold my hand. He seemed pleased I was so obviously thrilled, and as he bent to kiss me, he pulled back, alarmed.

"Your hands are sweating like crazy, are you ok?"

"I'm ok." I panted, lifting my gaze away from his eyes and fixing it on the house behind him. "I just...oh my God. Keats died in that house right behind you! Oh God. I can't breathe. This is amazing. Can you take my picture?!"

Which is how, on my honeymoon in one of the most romantic places in the world, I posed for a picture with a house as couples all around us made out like teenagers.

Brett puts up with my obsessive adoration with a level of patience I think is beginning to wane. Last year I had to do a project on Emily Dickinson, and for 3 nights in a row I locked myself in our office, drank wine in the dark, and memorized her poetry. He would pop his head in once and awhile to check on me, shaking his head when I whispered drunkenly that I "just loved her so much."

"Isn't your project a painting? How is getting drunk in the dark helping you with the painting? Do you even have any paint in here?" He asked, trying to flick on the lights.

"I have to FEEL her first, Brett. I can't just paint. Don't be ridiculous."

"So you feel her through a bottle of red wine?"

"It's my way of tapping into her."

"She didn't drink you know. She was a recluse."

"ExACTly! Which is why I am reclusing myself!"

"Not a word."

(I got an A on the project, so it shows how much he knows.)

I realized the other day that if my own husband was nervous about attending a BOOK READING with me, I should probably pull the ridiculousness back a little bit. It's ok to be excited about the artists we admire, but I could probably swing a little of the fandom his way.

On our walk today I told him I was a big fan...of him.

And asked him again to go see David Sedaris with me.

And I solemnly promised to only take 15 minutes in the book signing line.

Because marriage is all about compromise.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"If Music Be The Food Of Love...Play On."

The first time I managed to wrangle a date out of (my now husband) Brett, I cooked for him in my small apartment and promptly burned everything while I sat perched on the counter, babbling away, ignoring the food while drinking wine.

He was horrified, to say the least, and dinner was uncomfortable. He gloomily eyed the "blackened-not-by-intention" chicken and somberly sipped his wine. I sat across from him on my hands, feeling absolutely sure that I would not have a second date with this man, mainly because he was probably going to die from the carcinogenic meal. As we cleaned up, I mumbled that I had 'picked up' (read: BOUGHT. FOR HIM.) a copy of "Finding Nemo." He had mentioned in passing in a crowded and loud bar that he loved that movie- weeks before.

And I went out and bought it, never breaking the plastic. Hoping I could trick him into coming over.

He looked at me, eyes softened. And well...was mine. (Editor's Note: Um. Not in a creepy sexual way. More along the lines of- let's have a second date and then I'm going to marry you way. Ok- carry on.)

It wasn't until I cooked with his family that I realized why he seemed so bummed out over a piece of chicken. To put it simply: Brett loves food. He adores it. It is his heart and soul and the truest form of art to him. He spends hours planning meals, shopping for ingredients, concocting new marriages of flavors and textures...while I still perch on the counter and watch him, babbling. He liked me ok when he first met me, thought I was cute even, but when I thoughtlessly threw wooden chicken on a plate with some frozen vegetables...I basically broke his heart.

For my husband, food is love. To watch him talk about his time when he lived in Italy is to understand this man. He'll look off as his face relaxes and his hands absently travel to his stomach. He'll dreamily talk of how every night he would shave off salty tendrils of prosciutto and enjoy it with a local wine, watching the golden sun dip and shimmer in its fading ballet over the Tuscan rooftops. He'll describe that flank of prosciutto that hung from the worn, wooden rafters of his Tuscan home like he was remembering a gorgeous lover.

What I would give to be a salty flank of prosciutto.

This love definitely came from his mother, and any time we visit I find them in the kitchen in the early hours of the morning, drinking tea in the middle of mountains of cookbooks. It's a life I am happy that I joined, and I have been blessed to have eaten my way through two countries with his parents. Yes, sometimes I ate eyeballs. And fish with the bones still in them as they looked up at me through milky, sightless eyes. And yes, I ate a duck heart once, and now I adore a little foie gras smeared on my steak, and I am no stranger to the elegance of shaved truffle on...well, anything. And Brett cooks 99% of the time, so as long as I keep our wine filled and the conversation flowing, I have nothing to complain about.


Now I have to cook more because Brett is so busy with school. And I am so busy not with school.

And I am shit at cooking duck hearts.

This morning Brett asked me what was for dinner, and I went into full on-panic mode. "What is defrosted?" I asked warily, praying it didn't have a head or wasn't an intestine of some sort.

"Ground beef." He replied. "I figured you are comfortable cooking that?"

"I am comfortable cooking that." I answered. "Are you comfortable with meatballs?"

He laughed. "Your meatballs are great. They really are. You should try branching out a little though! You have come so far since you first started cooking. Your stuff is really good- you could try a cookbook, see what fun things you can-"

"I am anti-cookbook. You know that."

"You're also anti-maps. And anti-directions. And anti-following rule-"

"Point made. But, I really am NOT opening a cookbook. I'm not. I'll figure something out, and you'll love it." I snapped.

"I will, you're right." And he kissed me on the forehead as I warily regarded the ground beef.

In our 7 years together I have become a great eater and an ok chef. My confidence wanes in the kitchen, and I'm happier letting Brett take the reigns as I volunteer to chop, saute, or gossip. I make a few things he loves and a lot of things he questions, but eats. But, I want to try. If this is love to my husband- if this is the language between us that can quickly convey my gratitude and affection- I want to learn it. I want to Rosetta Stone the crap out of it.

Which is why I found myself plumping currants today.

And caramelizing onions.

And adding lamb with the beef and trying to...make art.

And say I love you.

Sometimes words are hollow little boxes we accumulate in life. We stack them away in the recesses of our heart where they gather dust and sit, forgotten. I chose to crack open one of those boxes- and fill it. Fill it with action and with proof and fill it with manifestations of my love.

Tonight we'll eat something I made just for him. And as I set it down with (slightly) burnt hands, it is set before him with a full heart.

And it has LAMB in it. Good God.

That is not even love. 

It's porn.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I'll live.

This morning, as Brett bounded out of bed to throw on his running clothes and flick on every light in the house, I rolled over and groaned into my pillow.

"Oh my God. I think I have left jaw-bone cancer."

"What?" Brett asked, and then thinking better, ignored me. "Want to go for a run with me?"

"That would be pretty hard to do, considering the jaw cancer I am trying to tell you about."

He rolled his eyes. "Why haven't you made a doctor's appointment here yet? Not for your 'jaw cancer', but you seriously need to make an appointment. Don't you have to.." he gestured with his hand wildly in the direction of my uterus. "Get that all checked out and everything?"

"Is there something wrong with it?"

He shot me a warning look as he laced his shoes. "Please make some doctor's appointments, ok? Some check ups. And your back has been bothering you too, so we should focus on your core..."

He was right, as usual. (However, my "core" is none of his business.) I had not been to a doctor in a long time, and it was entirely irresponsible of me. I had been in a new city and had made no moves to choose a new dentist, gyno, wine distributor, nada. Usually I am passionate about upkeep. I have seen too many people I love in my life find things wrong when it was too late...and as a functioning hypochondriac I always prided myself on remaining MORE than up-to-date on my body's check ups. 

I come from what I will call a "medical" family. My father works for a funeral home, and at a VA hospital- so there is a WEALTH of information there that he can supply me with. My mother has always been known to drag heavy volumes of medical dictionaries to my pediatric doctor's appointments, gently trying to imply through garbled Latin medical terms that I was probably in danger of dying every 5 seconds. She would balance the awkward book on her lap and watch with hawk eyes everything they did to me, slipping tongue depressors in her pocket as we left. (She's now in nursing school. Congrats mom! Glad I could help!) With this sort of rich history, I grew up way too aware of my own body. When my mother started assisting with colonoscopies at her training hospital, I sat down with my doctor a week later, asking him if it was time for me to get checked out there.

"Are you having any problems? Have you noticed any changes?" He asked, worriedly, scribbling on his pad.

"Well, no." I answered. 

He paused and looked up at me as I avoided his gaze to check out a poster on the early signs of melanoma. Hm.

"You're very young, and very healthy. I don't think we need to explore that yet." 

"Explore that? Ha."

"I trust you remember the way out?" He asked, standing.

And I did. Of course. 

I've come to understand that my fear of disease comes from a fear of not living enough. I lie awake and watch Brett's chest rise and fall as he slumbers, his hands delicately placed over his chest in an x-pattern as he sleeps on his back. (I hate that he does that. It's like a wake in my bed every night.) Last night I woke him up twice, pushing cold toes into his calf muscles until he snorted awake.

"Wha--- WHAT?! ARE YOU OK?!" he would ask, gasping and breaking his funeral mode of sleep.

"Well, I'm fine now." I'd reply primly, rolling over onto my side. 

(That will teach him to sleep like a dead person.)

Lately, life has taken on a certain sort of...uncertainty. We have no idea where we will be living in a few months. We have no idea if anyone wants to ever hire me. We have no idea where we will make a home, if we will have kids, or dogs, or end up with a llama farm.

But, we have a certain sort of control over our heath. Or, I do. I just hope this left-jaw-bone-cancer isn't serious.

Because I'd like to see the next chapter in this very (healthy) life.