The other night I had the kind of experience I thought I’d always have when I married husband. He had his guitar out and we sang a song – together. And it was fun.
When I met husband, I thought this would always happen. He’s a singer songwriter and I like to sing. How could it not?
Sadly liking to sing and being able to hold a note is a different thing. I, according to husband, can’t sing “street.” I can only sing “show tune.” When I sing with Husband, it always ends up with Husband attempting a harmony, me joining in with my “vibrato /lisp/Kazoo” voice and both of us ending up in giggles.
I should have known this would happen. I’m a big girl. I know that movies are fiction and real life is not.
I dated an artist once and, despite what I thought would happen – him sketching me while I slept and then painting a masterpiece of my face at rest - he only painted me once. Bob – and no, that’s not his real name – had an assignment for a class he was taking and had to do a nude. When he asked me to be his subject, I was thrilled. We'd been dating for years and it was finally happening. I was going to be immortalized in oils. I was in my mid twenties. I had no extra jiggles or fuzzy bits. My boobs were still perky-ish. I was over the moon. My twenty something body was going to be preserved forever in oil.
We were living in an artist collective in Chicago across from Second City. It was so very much like something out of a movie, a romantic comedy about down on their luck artists in love. The reality was, we were on the verge of breaking up and really shouldn’t have been together in the first place. But these things didn’t cross my mind when I was putting on my Victoria Secret robe and stumbling out of the bathroom for my great art debut.
Nervous, I drank most of a bottle of wine as Bob arranged his easel to face the bed and then set to work setting a pile of pillows for me to prop myself graceful up against. I was giggly and dizzy, though I’m not sure if it was from the wine or from the anticipation. I stood at the foot of the bed waiting for him finish. In my mind, I knew how this would play out; he would paint me for a while but spending all that time looking at me, at my body would distract him, he would be overcome with love, throw down his paint brush, stalk over to me posing and pull me into his arms, all the while telling me he loves me as the scene fades to black.
Reality is much harsher when you go into a situation with that stupid movie playing in your head.
Bob finished arranging pillows and stepped back for me to get onto the bed. He pulled me this way and that way until he got a pose he liked and then quickly moved behind his easel. For hours he painted and I posed and, in between the cramping of my arms and legs as they stayed faithfully in their posed positions, I dreamed. After his painting was discovered and placed in a museum, we would travel the world and he would paint and I would perform and we would love and live happily ever after.
Finally he was done. Did I want to see it, he asked. Playing it cool, I just nodded. Slipping my robe back on, I awkwardly slid off the bed and wandered slowly over to look at the masterpiece.
And then my world fell apart.
What Bob had neglected to tell me was that the assignment for his class was not supposed to be a real life painting. The assignment for his class was to paint someone as obese and as anorexic. I wasn’t looking at a lovely rendition of his love for me reflected in paint. I was looking at me immortalized on canvas, preserved forever in oil as horrifically anorexic and morbidly obese.
My wine buzz faded as my romantic movie turned into a black comedy. We broke up a few weeks later and I moved back to California, slightly more jaded and definitely more aware.
I know now that when husband asks me to sing with him, it’s not going to be pretty. And I know he’s going to tell me it’s not pretty. That is the best kind of romantic movie – an honest one with a happy, slightly off tune ending.
This wonderful couple I babysit for totally had an "ej experience" last night.
They were at a silent auction, standing in the back of this very large barn. The wife noticed mutual friends. She pointed them out to her husband. He saw them and waved – and ended up being the highest bid on a packet of restaurant gift cards. It was a very expensive wave.
I think I’m contagious.
At some point, long before this blog happened, friends of mine would message me with their own personal ‘ej story’ – a most embarrassing thing that happened to them becomes funny moments later. They would totally refer to it like that - "Hey. I totally had an ej moment yesterday!" It flatters me greatly to know that I’m associated with someone's most embarrassing possible moment and that knowing me has turned it into someone's funniest story.
I have loads of embarrassing moments every day. I'm not sure if it really is just me or if I just try to see the funnier side of things so I don't die. Yesterday was a rough day but even rough days are pocketed with moments of mirth. While trying to change one twin's diaper, the other twin quietly emptied a packet of diaper wipes. I turned and he was covered in them. Later, when I tried to grab the wipes, the first twin did a runner. Thankfully, I had plenty of wipes readily accessible to clean up the mess.
I worked late and ran into a sub shop for a sandwich and only just realized I was partly dressed as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - the red nose part. Then, Tigger the Dog, trying to get a little ear love pushed my chair around in a circle and couldn't understand why I wouldn't rub her ear when she put it right there, (chair moved), right there, (chair moved) right there (chair moved).... It's hard not to enjoy that silliness, no mater the day.
Today, on my to-do list is mulching and digging the front yard. With my special talent for stepping on rakes or running my pelvic bone into wheelbarrows, I'm sure to have a story to tell. Or maybe, I'll just have a pretty section of yard. Either one will work. I'm not picky.
I got a call from Dr. Payne yesterday. Yes, honestly, that is my doctor’s name.
Dr. Payne was calling to let me know the results from my ultrasound. The one where they initially found a uterus where there shouldn’t be one. Apparently, not only do I have a “bulky cervix” with some “weird fluid” but I also have a cyst on my left ovary.
I didn’t ask if it was left as in "the left one not the right one?" or left as in "it’s the only one I’ve got left" one.
She was very serious.
I was not.
Because Dr. Payne said she wants to send me to a Gynecologist for a follow up. A Gynecologist named - Dr. JOY COX!
Not making that up.
Because of issues with my Jenny Taylor, my Internist, Dr. Payne, wants to send me to a Gynecologist who is actually called Dr. Joy Cox.
When we decided to move to Nashville last year, we made quick visit out to find house. It took us three days but we found one that was perfect for us. It was remolded in a style we both could handle, was landscaped and was in a location we loved. We went back to California, got our house ready to sell and stupidly waited to make a bid on the Nashville one until ours was sold. The day we sold our house in California, we called our realtor in Nashville - and found out the perfect house here had just been sold too. Ack.
No house meant we needed a new plan. Husband flew out here to find us a house one weekend last December. I was at friend's birthday party when I got his phone call about this house. Husband knows my buttons. The he first thing he said was that this house had an office space I wouldn’t have to share with a guest room. What?!? A space that was going to be all mine! Sold! It was a foreclosure, he said, but in not bad shape and, Husband promised me, my office would be first on the list to remodel.
It wasn't first.
It wasn’t even second.
First we had to replace the windows, all the windows. Because some of them were not actual panes of glass but were really saran wrap and packing tape panes of dead bug bits. Then there were the den glass doors that didn’t actually close - or touch the walls on any side. Which meant it was snowing and raining inside. A lot.
Second on the to-do list was the driveway retaining wall and the steep hillside. The very narrow falling down brick retaining wall in the driveway wouldn’t make it much longer. It didn't help that the tree in the planting bed at the top of the wall was pushing it over and threatened to fall every time a bird flew by. And then, due to the large amount of mud Tigger the Dog was bringing in from outside every time she went out we had to do something about the mud hill. That meant second on the list was to hardscape outside. Sadly, even though we hired someone else to do the work, nothing happened with my office.
I’ve lost track of third. All I know is it was all more important than my office space. The floor of the den was springy and rain/snow damaged and we were unsure that it would hold the beautiful new deck doors. The doors that led to nothing since outside deck, that had been attached to the house with only two bolts, had been pulled down during the outside work. Then there was floor of the master bedroom that sits over the garage. Someone had cut large chunks out of the beams below to make room for the garage door opener. Which meant that every time TTD walked by the bed, it felt like a 4.0 earthquake on the Richter Scale. We also had to fix the wonky electricity, the lack of insulation in the walls, the blah, blah, blah and the blah blah blah... My point is, we were ten months in, currently working on the kitchen/den project and I still had no office.
Then, other day, I read an article/blog about peoples writing spaces. The author had gone and interviewed all these writers and artists in their creative spaces about how their spaces came to be and how they worked. These were home offices of successful artists and writers of books I’d grown up reading, books they’d created in these studios on their large properties or additions to their large houses or offices in their average size homes. It was awesome to read, to look at photos of what other folks felt were important to their creative process. (And yes, I did feel pretentious when I wrote that.)
It inspired me to just make my office a functional space - despite the fact that it is currently just un-insulated cinderblock walls, a dirty linoleum floor and has no electricity, heat or air. I took the old workbench from the garage, dismantled it, sort of sanded it down, hauled it thorough the basement and into my office. I repurposed our old dining room rug in an attempt to hide the pink and green check linoleum floor. I pulled up one of our counter top chairs and now, two plants, a box of tissues, and a pen pot later and I am happy. Ish.
I do have to walk through the construction site that is the den and through the former home for dead rodents that is our kitchen to get to the basement stairs. And I do have to carry my laptop and my cup of tea down the stairs - stairs that will someday collapse and kill me - because there is no heat and no electricity. But I have a lovely view from my window of our expensive outdoor hardscape, the fire pit and the tips of some flowers that haven’t quite realized it’s fall. I can watch the chipmunks dart about the woodpile, the wheelbarrow and the four pallets of bricks from the falling down brick wall. The washer and dryer provide my heat and my background soundtrack. I probably will get a splinter from the workbench and am likely inhaling radon, and other toxic fumes that will lead to an early death -BUT I’m writing in MY office and that makes me happy. For now.
The guy who came to take out our asbestos pipe was a wealth of random information and stories. Bob – and that is not his real name – chatted with me while his minions did the work. In the course of an hour, he told me a dozen different stories – and never finished a single one. He’s got ‘squirrel’ worse than me.
He started by asking about our dog. Turns out, Bob had a dog that just died. You see, he’d found his dog – we’ll call him Fido – lethargic and sickly under a tree so he took sixteen year old Fido to the vet and the vet suggested he put him down but Bob didn’t want to. So he took Fido – home, made Fido some food and added hot water for gravy and Fido ate a little bit and perked up. But the next day, Fido was not looking so great so, Bob loaded him into his truck to take him to another vet for a second opinion but on the way there, he noticed Fido taking these big slow breaths so Bob pulled over to the side of the road. He walked back to the bed of the pick up truck and saw that Fido’s eyes were glassy and then Fido took one big breath and he passed. So Bob took Fido home to give him a funeral. He was going to put him in the box that his five-month-old grandson’s coffin came in…
They lost the grand-baby last year. Bob had to pay extra and special order the coffin because apparently if you want a coffin for a baby that small, they give you a cooler. And then the funeral home wanted $250 dollars to pick up the coffin at the airport, which Bob thought was ridiculous so he and his wife drove down and picked it up.
He’s been married for 35 years and he loves her. She is his life. Last month his wife came with him for his colonoscopy to keep him company. She is only 50 years old but she has three grandparents that passed from colon cancer so Bob and the doctors talked her into getting one of her own. The next week she was in surgery where she had a third of her bowl removed because they found stage 3 Cancer and she is now having chemo…
And last week, while she was getting her chemo, his daddy called. He has dementia and Alzheimer’s but is still driving and called Bob because he was lost. Luckily he was lost right near the hospital his wife was having her chemo so Bob met him to escort him home. He pulled up beside his daddy's pick up and waved for him to follow him. And his daddy did - right through a stop sign where he T-boned a car. When Bob asked him what happened, why his daddy didn’t stop, his daddy confessed it was the second accident he’d gotten into that day. Apparently he had pulled into a parking space that already had a car in it….
Bob is real close to his daddy. He grew up poor and his daddy would go off and work in Chicago where the ‘big money’ is made and Bob and his five brothers and sisters lived in a tiny shack with their mom where the weekly bath was in a creek no matter the weather and he shared a bed with his two brothers while his mother and sisters shared the other bed. But they learned a lot of things like hunting and fishing and how to have fun without toys. Unlike the kids today with their toys and their TV and video games….
His daughter bought his 5yr old grandson a dirt bike, the kind with the motor and he was out at the track the second week he had it and took a jump but crashed. Then the grand son sat up, dazed and promptly got hit in the head by not one but two road bikes driven by teens racing. The first bike’s tire knocked him down and the second bike’s frame caught his head and spun him in circles. The ambulance took 45 minutes to get there but Bob has life flight insurance and he was upset they didn’t use it to take the grandson to the hospital…
He’s used life flight twice, once when he cut off his foot and the other time when one of his daughters got hit by a drunk driver and left for dead in a ditch. The drunk guy had apparently asked her out and she said no so he followed her as she walked home and hit her with his car and broke her neck. Bob used the life flight then to get her to the hospital where they found one of her vertebra was broken and had turned around but luckily had not sliced her spinal cord…
There was more. Lots more. The funny thing is, in the hour of talking, not once did Bob finish a story. I have no idea what happened to his daughter or his grandson? Is he going to take his daddy’s keys away? Did anyone get hurt in the T-boned car? How did the 5-month-old die? How did he cut off his foot? And how much is gone? He said he feels the quick of the toenail but has no toes but how much of the foot is left? He also said he walked up hill to get help after he cut off the foot and it was the second worst pain he’d ever felt – but never said what was the first worst pain…
So many questions and no more asbestos pipes to remove. I wonder if Bob installs kitchens….
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me