She caught her reflection and stopped. It wasn’t vanity… or was it? She didn’t think so, but she’s good at justifying herself. It was more about awareness. She is endlessly fascinated by perception — how hers can be so skewed. She wondered how hers can be entirely different from theirs. Is someone right? Is everyone wrong? Why does the world get to decide what the world thinks? Why don’t I agree?
She pulled in the driveway and drew the car into park, shutting off the engine. She looked at her house, surrounded by gray and houses too close to hers. She reached up to the windshield and pulled down the visor to reveal her face in the mirror.
She looked old. Older.
He walked in, handsome as ever in his straight jeans and black cardigan with slightly-wrinkled shirt poking out underneath — a typical Sunday afternoon look. He looked at me, pitifully, and, it seemed, disappointed. I was in bed for the second day in a row. Sick, but not that sick. I was on the mend, but I’ve been known to declare myself well too quickly and go about business as usual, only to find myself in bed again. So this time I’d persisted in the “I’m sick” phase.
“These days must go by so slowly for you,” he said. I knew what he meant. He wasn’t talking about me. He had been feeling… convicted, I think. Is that the right word? I think so. He had been feeling convicted about how much rest he was getting, be it sleep, leisure, lack of stress, whatever. And I — pajama-clad in bed with my cat and my MacBook — was not helping the situation. He needs a buzz about the house; the hum of activity and plans hatching and the clinging of a cash register. Too much silence and rest makes him schlumpy. And I was the visual representation of how he was feeling.
I was busy thinking about all these things. We looked at each other.
“I suppose you’re thinking a lot though,” he added. Ha. Caught in the act. Ever since he declared his belief that I literally think more than other people, he has found ways to work this into our conversation. Was he being snide? No, he’s never snide. Was he trying to make up for his previous pitiful comment? Maybe. Was he wishing that he could be content in a world of words rather than a world of action? Not likely.
Perhaps he was, as Freud might suggest, projecting his need onto me?
I think I said something about being rather content with Mac and my books. He left the room. I wrote a blog post. That was 10 months ago. Today I published it. I’m like that.
Her gaze fell upon the untidy stack of magazines on the floor. They’d been there for what… six, nine months now? A reminder of her miserable shortcomings as a household manager. For a moment, she contemplated taking the entire stack out with the trash tonight. She probably wouldn’t know what she was missing, after all. Is the serendipity of actually needing the information in that magazine clipping, remembering that you have it, and knowing how to locate it really worth the time, effort, and headaches of reading through them all to find such potentially useful information to then categorize and organize? She knew the answer, and yet could not manage to respond appropriately. And so she, again, swallowed the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that tended to swell when allowing herself to think on such things, and turned away.
When the president visited a Master Lock factory in Milwaukee last month to discuss American manufacturing, he got a laugh from the workers when he told them: “As I was looking at some of the really industrial-size locks, I was thinking about the fact that I am a father of two girls who are soon going to be in high school and that it might come in handy to have these super locks. For now, I’m just counting on the fact that when they go to school there are men with guns with them.”
From The Huffington Post
It happened sometime after 11pm. We were discussing the revelation I had about my vast, amorphous, persistent false guilt (the revelation being that it exists) and it’s ties to my deep-seated perfectionism. I had changed into a purple striped vintage-style pajama top and was looking for the matching pants.
Me: Where are my pants? I ask. He finds everything.
He: I don’t know. Where did you put them? He responds with my favorite question at times like these.
Me: I don’t know. I can’t find them. I try not to be annoyed.
He: Here. Here are your pants. He jokingly hands me a pair of his shrunken flannel pajama bottoms.
Me: You know what? Yes. Yes, these are my pants. This is so fitting right now. I put on the pants, think I have somehow delivered a fatal wound to my perfectionism. “Wound” is right. The clash is too much for me to handle.
Me: I can’t wear these pants. It hurts. It hurts to wear them, and I know it hurts you to look at them. I close my eyes.
He: I’m not looking at them. He’s not looking at them.
Me: I don’t think I can stand this. I just don’t want to be this woman. I am truly stressed.
He: You’re not that woman. You’re just wearing the outfit, but that’s not who you are. He tries to be the loving, supportive husband he always is without trying.
Me: Yes, it is who I am. I am the woman who would wear something like this to bed. From this day forward I will forever be that woman. Just the thought of that makes me want to take this off ASAP. My stomach hurts.
He: Babe, it doesn’t matter. He is patient.
Me: But it matters to me! I am right. It does matter to me.
He: It doesn’t matter to God. He is right. It doesn’t matter to God.
Me: Well, I have higher standards than God. It appears I have lost my mind. Or I just revealed my long-existing insanity.
I think I need to keep the pants. And I have some writing to do…
She filled her glass to the brim with milk and tossed the carton away. There was such abandon in knowing that a full one was waiting for her at the back of the fridge. Walking back to her office, she caught a glimpse of her slender figure in the full-length mirror. She really liked her shirt today. She liked the way she felt in it – cozy, enveloped, and unbridled. It’s funny that a shirt can so provoke ones disposition. Peering down at her boy-fit shorts, she thought that perhaps she had achieved that effortless, casual-elegance, Grace-Kelly-on-holiday look. Not that anyone was there to see it. Not that it mattered if anyone did.
She sat down to her computer and smiled as she humbly observed, as if for the first time, the unelegance of her MacBook sitting atop it’s newly-acquired stand: an Adidas shoebox. It seemed particularly ironic just now. Grace Kelly would never put her laptop on a shoebox. But Grace Kelly wouldn’t compromise her posture to hunch over a keyboard. Grace Kelly wouldn’t be spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon clicking away on Illustrator, either.
The phone rang, triggering the letdown of a sigh that had been bottling up in her since noon. It was relief, and yet, unwelcome. She didn’t need another cause for distraction.
My husband referred to my blog style, graphically, as “edgy.” I have never been associated with anything edgy in my life. I have been called “extreme,” “unconventional,” “radical,” and “bold,” but never “edgy.”
I must be turning a new leaf.
I don’t like the “edgy” page, though. I’d much rather skip ahead to “graceful” or “lovely”… that is, if those pages are in my book somewhere.
Sadly, I can’t say I’ve ever been called “graceful” or “lovely” either.
So, “edgy” it is. For now, anyway.
P.S. I think “edgy” is one of the ugliest words words to look at. It’s almost as ugly as “ugly.”
I flipped the switch to reveal an unmade bed; my pillow dotted with mascara. I considered the scene, flooded with the unlovely radiance of “the big light.” It was late. Too late for my normal evening routine, much less this. “Would you mind terribly if I changed the sheets?” I called into the hall. It had been almost two weeks.
“If you really want to…” came the reply.
“Time me!” I suggested, more out of curiosity than sport. “What time is it?”
I lunged for the nearest pillow and began to peel away the case. For a moment, I considered whether I might race around the bed, flinging away the blankets so that I might find myself between two new buttery-soft sheets as quickly as possible. It was then I remembered something I had learned in gun fighting school.
Smooth is fast.
I was never a graceful girl, and, though I try very hard, I am not a very graceful woman. To make up for my deficiencies, I married a man whom my sister and I had always referred to as “smooth.” He doesn’t run around and get flustered and drop things like I do. He moves much more slowly, but always intentionally and always gracefully, and always, somehow, finishes before I do. It was at gun school that I learned the name of his secret and internalized it. Smooth is fast.
It helps that bed making is one of my talents, and an oft-used one at that. It also happens that I take great pleasure in arranging my folded sheets so that flat and fitted are virtually indiscernible from one another as they occupy a neat stack with their two daughter pillowcases. I briefly consider a video post on how to make a bed. I could tell everyone how to fold a fitted sheet. But I think I’d rather tell them that smooth is fast.
I smile with comfort at what is suddenly the puffy pintucked marshmallow I wanted and tossed a multiracial family of useless textured pillows onto its folds.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Eleven twenty-six,” he said. “I love you.”
Sunday used to be my least favorite day of the week. These days, I’m already looking forward to it when Monday comes.
What I love about Sunday:
- Meeting with our whole local church family and engaging in true fellowship (not how-’bout-them-Packers “fellowship”).
- Participating in a class and awesome discussion on transformational Bible reading.
- Hearing and gleaning from a gospel-oriented sermon (currently from Galatians).
- Chipotle for lunch. Not always, but often.
- A slower pace with few demands.
- Gentle preparation for the coming week.
- Reading as much as I want.
What is your favorite day of the week?