From my notebook: I ask A. whether one is allowed to chase down a burglar on Shabbat and take one’s stuff back. Take it back, probably, says A., but how you’d carry it back home, I don’t know. You could sit on it until Shabbat ends though, he adds, and I picture him perched piously on top of a pile of valuables, placidly awaiting the end of Shabbat, like a grotesque yet dignified bird.
Here is a very fascinating story which I’d like to share with you because it just happened a moment ago and if I don’t write it down I’ll be extremely annoyed and grouchy for the rest of the day. Yes, I treat this blog as a free therapy session. No, I don’t think it’s a problem.
So anyway, A. is at the home improvement store, and he calls me and goes:
— I’m so sorry, but I need you to do something terribly unpleasant for me.
— Sorry, I know it’s bad, but it’s not urgent, you can take your time.
— Oh God, what is it?
— I need you to check the vacuum cleaner and tell me the number for the bag.
Backstory: our vacuum cleaner is old and weird and has some strange bags which are difficult to replace. A.’s been trying to figure them out for a while, and while trying to get the bag out, he broke the lid, so now the vacuum cleaner is wearing a sturdy duct tape belt and has an overflowing bag inside, long past its due replacement date.
So I groan and mutter like Muttley, but I do get to work: take the vacuum out of the closet, wrestle the hose off, unpeel the duct tape, force the broken lid off, haul the bag out, spraying everything with dust (the place having been cleaned top to bottom hours before), turn it around—there’s no number. No identification whatsoever.
— Listen, I say to A. over the phone in an irritated voice, listen, there’s no number, where inside am I supposed to look?
— You don’t have to look inside! I just need the model, it’s supposed to say on the vacuum somewhere.
— Then why the duck did you tell me to look in the vacuum?!?
— I never said in it, I just asked you to check it out.
Well, I think to myself, “Oh, son-of-a-b-b– son-of-a-b-b– son-of-a-b-b– uh, gun. Heh, heh, heh. You thought I was going to, uh, say son-of-a-bitch, didn’t ya?” (source) Then I get back to work: stuff the overflowing bag of dust into its slot, spit out all the dust that got into my mouth, put the broken lid on top, slide it into position, fasten it back to the vacuum with duct tape—
Wait, no, I’m not doing any of that. I did squeeze the dust bag in, but the rest will be for A. to sort out when he comes back. Maybe next time he’ll skip the doom and gloom and not make the task of walking to the closet and looking at some numbers sound so daunting that I’ll assume I need to dismantle half the apartment. Rassum-fassum-rassum Rick Rastardly.
We’ve been planning to have a winter vacation this year, so when I got a nice fat envelope for a translation—really, I’ve never held such a thick wad of bills before, although don’t be mistaken, it’s because they paid me in twenties—we decided to get the plane tickets right away, to have the largest expense behind us.
Usually, this kind of thing is my responsibility, so I logged on to the online booking page and selected the flight we’d set our hearts on already, one with two very long connections in Vienna, so we’d have the additional treat of spending an afternoon and a night in a magnificent city we’d never seen before. Once the flight was booked, the website gave me a printable receipt, and I immediately wired the money over to the agency. Meanwhile, the e-ticket arrived to my inbox. It said: 9 Jan V. to T. via Kiev, connection 5 hrs; 21 Jan T. to V. via Kiev, connection 7 hrs.
Now, Kiev is a city we have most definitely been to before. In particular, we’ve enjoyed its fabulous airport, reminiscent of the train station in A.’s native provincial town in Russia. We’ve actually missed a flight home from Kiev once and had to take an overnight train because we’d made the mistake of thinking that a cab would get us from the city to the airport in an hour and a half. It is obvious now that a five-hour connection would be just about enough to get down town and back without stopping, and provided there’s no traffic.
Well, there was nothing to do but pick up the phone and call the booking agency. Hello, I said, I have a problem with reservation #xxxxxxx. Yes, the one that says NO CANCELLATIONS NO EXCHANGES NO REFUNDS underneath the four-digit price. Yes, I booked it myself just now. Yes, I’ve already paid for it. Yes, I’d like to cancel that, please. Why yes, I’d love a discount code to the same amount on my next purchase with you! Thank you!—After this highly improbable act of mercy on the part of the clerk, I only had to wait for my code to come in and re-book.
The next day (yesterday), the code was sitting there in my inbox, and I rushed gleefully back to the booking page. This time, I double-checked where I was clicking on, and made sure to get Vienna and the long connection, not the option listed right below it, of a mere 40-minute transfer in Vienna’s unfamiliar airport (we wouldn’t want any discomfort the second time round, right?). The tickets were booked, the price difference paid, the confirmation mailed to me, and happy announcements made to our friends in Destination Country.
Today I decided to tell our friend in Vienna, who was a big part of the reason for this whole NO KIEV WE WANT VIENNA hullabaloo, the times of our arrivals. January 9th is the day we’re flying there. The day we’re flying back, deliberated over for over a week with regard to our lonely cats and our limited leave from work, is January 21st. Except that I’d marked this as the day we fly out, so most of the journey would be on the 22nd. A Saturday. When A. can’t fly because he has severe Judaism. On an unrelated note, I hate religion.
To sum up, this, children, is why I shouldn’t be permitted to do things. Especially things involving money, where a mistake would (and will) cost upwards of $200 to fix. Oh, and that lovely second night in Vienna? Will be all mine to enjoy. Alone.
Apparently, I am on a different Facebook* wavelength than most of the educated world, so this meme only came to my attention when Dooce posted it over on her blog. And for much the same reasons as her (because it concerns A. and the two of us as a couple, a topic that doesn’t get enough time in my disgustingly me-oriented spotlight), I hereby bring you the ‘Facts about our Marriage’ meme.
*Can you believe ‘Facebook’ is still not recognized by the WordPress** spell checker?
**Nor is ‘WordPress’.
What are your middle names? We don’t have any. In this part of the world, not many people do. I hear that A.’s Jewish name is Aryeh, but he never uses it.
How long have you been together? 1608 days (4 years, 4 months, and 25 days)
How long did you know each other before you started dating? 660 days (1 year, 9 months, and 21 day)
Who asked whom out? Nobody did. We moved in together the day we first kissed (that was his idea). After all, it was a close move for me from the master bedroom of our saintly friend’s house into her spare bedroom, A.’s residence at the time. We graced her home with our presence (and unseemly noises from our messy room) for another year, and if it weren’t for her, it might have taken us another stupidly unhappy year to finally realize we were meant for each other.
How old are each of you? We’re almost equally 22 (I am 12 days closer to 23 than A. is).
Whose siblings do you see the most? A. is an only child, so my brother.
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple? Living in crowded spaces most of the time.
Did you go to the same school? We did, for a term. Then A. dropped out. A couple months later, so did I. The school we went to was Moscow State University.
Are you from the same home town? We’re from different countries even.
Who is smarter? A. and no mistake. I know lots of tidbits, and am able to answer most of A.’s questions, but he is the one who keeps asking those questions, and with his incredible talent and diligence (and access to books as a bibliographer) he is growing a brain so large he’ll soon need to rent space for it in my head, where there’s plenty of room left over.
Who is the most sensitive? Is sensitive the same as petty? No? You sure? Then I have to say A. He reacts deeply to things and is capable of crying tears of compassion, which is rare and beautiful.
Where do you eat out most as a couple? A delightful salad and soup place downtown, called Mano Guru. Seeing as A. is a vegetarian on his way to becoming vegan, and I’m a predatory carnivore on my way to vegetarianism, the choice is not overwhelming, but we do love our soup.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? Probably Israel.
Who has the craziest exes? A. has none, and my only serious one acted batshit crazy at times, so I have to say me.
Who has the worst temper? Is this the point where pettiness counts? Me me me! Guilty as charged.
Who does the cooking? A. does. See previous post.
Who is the neat-freak? I am, but not to the point of actually cleaning. I am a bit OCD, so when we had our own space I cleaned in sudden deadly outbursts, leaving everything gleaming, but here I don’t know where to start and more importantly, where to end, and it kills me – and our room is a dump.
Who is more stubborn? I think we’d give each other a fair run for the money.
Who hogs the bed? Nobody does.
Who wakes up earlier? A., he is not such a hopeless night owl, and he has to go to work in the morning too.
Where was your first date? A. tried to take me to an amusement park, but it was early spring, and it was closed, and he was devastated. So we went to a mall instead and invented a game where we both got each other cute little gifts, and then we had ice-cream. Of course, that was six months after we got together.
Who is more jealous? Totally me. I ask him whether he likes a girl, make him say she’s okay, and then torture him for a week with accusations that he LIKES SOME OTHER GIRL OH NO DIVORCE BELLS ARE RINGING! Alas, I am as crazy as my ex (viz, batshit).
How long did it take to get serious? We were talking kids and joint rooms at nursing homes right away.
Who eats more? A. is capable of fitting more food into his stomach at a time. But as for actual eating, that’d be me. I go hungry all day (no breakfast and no time during class), and come home at 8-9 pm so hungry that I eat and chew and snack and munch all evening with very short breaks. A sad (fat) smiley face goes here.
Who does the laundry? A. does, and none of my clothes have been damaged yet.
Who’s better with the computer? Isn’t that the same as ‘smarter’? A. can fix almost anything (he thinks it’s actually anything, which is sometimes annoying), and his aforementioned diligence (=he is a nudnik) helped him teach himself everything he needs to know about software and hardware, more than can be said about many a computer repairman.
Who drives when you are together? My dad. A. can’t get a license because of his poor eyesight, and I failed my test (=am a loser), and have avoided retaking it ever since.
More to the point, this man is the one I love and intend to continue loving for some time. At least so long as he doesn’t grow that unsightly beard back and/or until he loses his gift for bedtime stories.
The words – I have none of them! Let’s try pictures.
It is decidedly spring. There are green leaves on every bush, and most trees are sprouting buds as well. This particular tree is a chestnut. With their enormous buds and beautiful candle-like blooms, they have been a joyful sign of spring for as long as I can remember.
While the trees are bringing forth their new clothes, others are shedding theirs. With a fluffy cat and a furry dog in the house, this is tiresome business. Don’t take this to mean I don’t love our pets. I just don’t love them enough to eat and breathe their hair. I still get to.
We have gotten the hang of teaching. As the group finally forms, our purpose grows clearer and ipso facto so does our message. It is rewarding to see seven people, four of whom have taught me in some way, listening attentively and trying the new skills we show them.
This is A. He is mine and I love him.
When I get asked why I hang out with and talk so much about my male friends, or how come A. sometimes doesn’t go where I go, or why he spends so much time in Russia, or all those other questions people like to ask me, here’s what I think about.
There was a time a while ago when I thought I wasn’t yet in love with him and he thought he wasn’t in love with me anymore, and I happened to spend a night on his shoulder. He was courteous enough to keep both his shirts on, and even his socks. He hardly moved all night. I’d never been that comfortable before. Some time later we ended up together.
For a while people said they had never seen a couple as perfect as we were. We clung to each other for dear life, living proof that love existed. Then we calmed down. The reason for that is that in those first months our love was very much on the surface. I wasn’t sure what was going on inside me, and A. proclaimed his support of any choice I would make. All that we had was this mad affection we showed off like a war banner.
Now we have fought those battles. The banner is gone. The love has rooted itself so deep inside that it might be less visible from the outside. But the core and essence of my heart consists of him. I still go to sleep on his shoulder. I still hold on to his hand. He is still my guide, my guru, my husband, and my friend. He is the father of my every imaginary son. Every home I’ve ever pictured was tailored to his height.
However many crushes I might get on my friends, however many hours we might spend apart, however many rows we might have, he is the port I come back to. I am His Majesty’s Ship, and while tomorrow is the designated day of love for everyone around us, I am firmly anchored to him every day of the year.
Look at my blogroll. Most of it is mom-blogs, journeys of adoption, fertility battles, different children, huge families. I guess it might be hard to believe that I am childless and planning to stay that way for a while. Not very surprisingly, then, I was asked about children again today. Here are some of the most common ways I’ve been asked that before:
- ‘I want grandchildren!’
- ‘So when should we expect to see you expecting?’
- ‘How about little ones?’
- ‘I heard you’re pregnant!’
No kidding about that last one. That was about the most popular thing to say to me when I just got married. Somehow, people assume that you don’t get married when you’re eighteen unless there’s a reason for that growing in your belly. You are commonly expected to fall in love, live together, sleep together, use flavoured condoms, get an exotic pet. But marriage? That’s for adult folks.
And then, when they are finally convinced that you got married because you actually love each other, they start trying to fit you into the next stage of their stereotypes: a family is only supposed to be complete when there is a kid. Therefore, naturally, we must be planning one in the nearest future. And people don’t hesitate to ask us about those plans whenever they feel like it.
I am a little tired of saying the same things over and over again: I am not ready. My husband might be, everyone else might be – but I’m not. I have issues that I need to sort out before I even start to think of bringing a whole new person into the world. I am not ready to commit. I am impulsive and irresponsible. I am afraid of pregnancy. I feel utterly unsuitable for parenthood.
It is still strange for me that I’m not alone anymore and never will be. That I always need to act with regard to the feelings of a particular human being. That I need to control my wishes and behaviour for someone else’s sake. There are so many things I can’t do anymore, and miss doing, that I don’t think I’m even physically capable of taking on any more restrictions right now.
This does sound harsh, but no, I don’t view my husband as a hindrance. Nor do I view children as inhibitions. I’m not child-free, I love children and want to have them one day. Right now, though, I’m just scared out of my mind. I am also angered by the hard time people are giving me without even intending to, just by being a little thick – and the even harder time I’m giving myself.
This is A., my husband of two years. I love him still, though I’m sure it’s not going to be much longer if he doesn’t cut his hair JUST LIKE THIS PICTURE again! It’s too long! Too long and messy! And long! Ahem. No, just kidding. I love him and I love his hair. (Maybe take just a little bit off here and here?)