Monday, April 29, 2013

The Perfect Spouse

Too much alum in the pickles.
It’s finally, really, spring on the Row. The grass is green, trees are budding, the alium and tulips are getting ready to bloom, and the temps have been in the 70’s lately. Every time spring rolls around, I remember why I live in South Dakota. Rebirth. And along with the many blessings of spring, I’ve been contemplating the blessings of having the perfect spouse.

ONE. In the winter, Ray sometimes takes a break from snowblowing to ice skate in the driveway.

Perfecting his Scott Hamilton moves.
(Side note. I sometimes think about moving to town, mostly so friends will drop in for coffee. Then I realize Ray ice skates in the driveway, I have painted ironing boards in my garden, and I often do outside chores in my nightgown. This is the kind of stuff that would result in angry neighbors and possible visits from Little Town police officers, many of whom have been my students and already don’t like me. I would just be ASKING for trouble.)

TWO. Every night, Ray risks my wrath by asking if I’ve taken my meds. He knows I’ll resent his treating me like I’m incompetent, and he knows that I probably HAVE forgotten to take my meds.

THREE. He’s the kind of person who will put on a CPAP mask to pose for a ridiculous Christmas picture or dress up in a silly costume to play a joke on our children.

Borg assimilation nearly complete.
FOUR. Away from home, he’s so quiet that he’s earned a reputation for being silent. But once in a while, he will make a perfectly-timed, darkly witty remark that’s so funny, coffee or wine will spray from my nostrils. While the spraying can be messy & unpleasant, and it usually happens on the rare occasions I’m wearing white, the comments are jewels of hilarious perfection.

FIVE. Ray does ALL the vaccuming. In fact, he’ll clean for several hours so that I can host a women-only Sisters of Perpetual Disorder dinner. He knows it means he’ll get to hang out—undisturbed—in his hideout/playroom during the dinner, watch TV, archive record albums and transfer albums to CD, then score magnificent potluck leftovers after everyone’s gone.

SIX. He sometimes suggests we invite my mom—and her dog, Oprah—to dinner or a movie.

Little Town date-night couture.
SEVEN. Yesterday, Ray patiently listens to me whine about my draggy foot or my foggy brain or how I can’t go outside in the perfect 73-degree spring to do yard work because dammit, I had a STROKE, and dammit, I need a nap. He gently pleads with me to just drive the lawn tractor/trailer for an hour, so he can load up raked piles of garden refuse to dump in the burn pile. Just sit there on the tractor and enjoy the sunshine, he says. He knows I like to drive the tractor, and he knows that once he gets me out there, I’ll love it so much, that I’ll end up helping him pull dead weeds in the raspberry patch, or tinker with solar garden lights, or feed the peacocks. And he knows I’ll feel better because I got outside.

(Side note: I had another dream, my second, about our MIA peacocks. I dreamed I looked out the window and saw a couple dozen peacocks at what looked like a chicken feeder. Among them were at least a half-dozen chicks. It took me a minute (in the dream) to realize that our missing flock had returned. I was overjoyed, of course.)

EIGHT. When we come inside for a break, he starts up the bread machine to make a fresh loaf of sourdough, then he sits down and watches a couple episodes of Game of Thrones with me.

(Side note: When I bought the season 1 DVD, I didn’t understand why the cashier—a woman in her 60’s—looked at me askance and asked if I had kids at home. I’ve since discovered the reason for her chagrin: The show is really just a boring storyline “spiced up” with lots of soft porn. Will we stop watching? Hells no. The show has horses and dragons.)

NINE. Did I mention Ray has had two heart attacks, never complains about them, and STILL listens to me whine?
Play "Wipe Out" a few hundred times more, please.

TEN. He’s a drummer.

There are more blessings, of course, but I don’t want to sound any schmaltzier than I already do. This could very well be only a momentary flush of tenderheartedness, but as I’s spring on the Row. All the world is opening up, and everything is promise promise promise.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Boston Moment

Like most people around the world, my heart is both broken and rejoicing over the Boston marathon tragedy. I am stunned by the devastating mindlessness and loss, and by the incredible acts of kindness and bravery—the sad, beautiful, surprising extremes of which humans are capable.

But I’m also stunned by the venomous, vengeful rhetoric about the two suspects, circulating on TV and online media: Crowds cheering over the death of one young man and the serious injuries of another. Facebook posts and comments explaining in graphic, gory detail what the commenter would like to do to the hospitalized suspect. Dehumanizing the brothers by referring to them only as shooters, terrorists, gunmen, enemies.

I understand that sometimes we feel helpless, frustrated, and in shock, and that sometimes this deep sense of fear comes out looking a lot like hate. I understand that we feel a kind of kinship with and loyalty to those killed and injured in the bombings, and we feel somehow traitorous if we show any tenderness for the Tsarnaev brothers. I understand that some people have already stopped reading this.
But my heart is broken for these boys, too. When I see their faces (over and over and over again), I want to cry. The oldest brother was the same age as my son. The youngest brother is the age of the students I teach. I am profoundly saddened that two young lives could go so horribly, unalterably wrong. That all that amazing potential is lost. That there will be no redirecting, no chance for them to learn from their mistakes and move forward. I have nothing but love for the brothers’ friends, children, parents, grandparents, and extended families, whose lives have now been permanently scarred by these events.

Please don’t mistake this for acceptance; what these young men did was unspeakable, absolutely beyond my comprehension. I honor and mourn for those whose lives these boys have taken, and I trust the Universe to protect and give strength to those injured, whose lives will never be the same, even if their bodies heal. For most of us, compassion comes easily for the victims.

Compassion is harder to muster for the Tsarnaev brothers, I know. But compassion for ALL our fellow humans (yes, the brothers are my fellows, as well as their victims) keeps us human. In this age of violence, divisiveness, and narcissism, maybe compassion is the only thing that can keep us human.