otherwise titled, my plans for the weekend. Of note: Because my husband is going to be a lawyer in the next couple of years, and because right now if you google his name this site comes up, and while he is just fine with the character I make him but not so fine with being so easily identified, I need a pseudonym for him. For a while I referred to him as WonderHusband, WH for short, which he likes, but it seems unnecessarily long and it lacks the texture of a real name. I’m thinking possibly of Rick. I’m not sure why. But maybe I can just get away with referring to him as my husband. Or maybe S. We’ll get there.
Yesterday my doctor’s office put the proverbial fear of God into me by leaving me a voicemail at work asking me to call it immediately. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but at my last appointment my physician made a demonstration out
of how he never, ever calls anymore unless it’s an emergency. Test results over the phone never work, he said. I send letters with typed up explanations, he said. Much easier, less hassle. You’ll get your test results via mail.
So when I checked my voicemail at work and heard a message from Nurse Bobbi requesting that I call her ASAP, my heart rate increased exponentially, I broke out into a cold sweat, I imagined returning home to S., tossing my briefcase on the floor, taking his hands in mine and telling him it really was time to take that tour of the Deep South together. I had first to interview a doctor who recently received accolades for her research into HIV immunotherapy (Quote of the day: HIV is so much more elegant than cancer, she said), so by the time I called Nurse Bobbie I’d worked myself up into a right fine fit of panic. I said a little prayer, and called. And Nurse Bobbie told me that in turns out I am no longer immune to measles, mumps or rubella because a certain mother of a certain writer forgot to get her twelve-year-old daughter a booster shot, and so I need to come in for it.
“That’s all?” I felt a slow anger build towards Nurse Bobbi, of the we never ever ever call unless it’s an emergency doctor’s office.
“Oh yes. Everything else came back normal. Except for your cholesterol. It’s elevated. Not high, just elevated. You should exercise more. Make a few dietary changes.” She shared my numbers with me, which I won’t bother with here, but my cholesterol has actually fallen a tremendous amount and given my parents’ history of sky-high cholesterol, plus such an improvement on my part, I really had trouble worrying too much about a measly 4 point margin. I mean, life really is too short sometimes. But the news that my cholesterol is still a little wonky bothered S., who mind you has not had his own checked in, well, forever.
“I don’t get it,” S. said. “We can’t eat any healthier than we do.” And to some extent, he’s right. We do not generally eat food that comes from boxes or cans or the freezer section of the grocery store; we don’t eat potato chips or cakes or cookies or pies unless they are specially made, from scratch, by me. I would wager that 80% of our diet is freshly made foods, 20% dining out. And while I’m not worried about my cholesterol results, I did say,
“Well, we could actually stand some improvement.” Thinking about the cheese and ice cream and alcohal and red meat and eggs we do partake in.
“I AM NOT SURVIVING ON TWIGS AND BERRIES THE REST OF MY LIFE, COURTNEY,” S. said. “It’s just not going to happen. I’d be miserable.”
So much about marriage is a series of slow compromises. When we first started dating, S. basically ate meat, potatoes and beer. I was recovering from a couple years of a near-eating disorder, where I smoked cigarettes like crazy and survived on minestrone soup, cocoa puffs and coffee. Our eating styles were almost hopelessly divergent, a wild night for me involving chicken with the skin on. For years we slowly ate our way around each other, originally spending too much money on groceries because we simply couldn’t agree on what constituted good food. Six years later, our grocery bill is nearly half of what it once was, and we have a roster of meals we can rely on. Like our music collection, our sheets, our furniture, our top ten choices of baby names and places to travel before we die, our eating habits have evolved through an intimate, complicated dance.
But at our core, I think our natures remain true to what they were before we got together. For S., the threat of high cholesterol brings a sentence of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brocolli and a strict spinach regimen. My organic reaction is the same as it has been for nearly a decade – I am at once terrified with food and nearly obsessed with it. I dream of becoming one of those people who simply enjoys food, for its nourishment and pleasure, but I fear I’ll never be like that, seeing in every splash of olive oil a pound gained, every piece of cake the potential for obesity just around the corner. And I know that it is S’s enjoyment of food, his ability to appreciate every meal of every day, that probably keeps his weight normal and his attitude relaxed, and it is my need to weigh and measure and understand each thing I put in my mouth what keeps me just a little pudgy, a little stressed out every day. So why the hell couldn’t our attitudes compromise as well as our diets?
This weekend I begin my much-delayed search for the perfect church. I’ve been a bit lazy about it, this summer, and need to get my act together. Occasionally I attend the 1st Presbyterian down the road, and I intend to keep it in my roster of possibilities, but would also like to explore some churches that both S. and I could attend (he was raised Catholic; our wedding a joint ceremony). But it’s difficult to appease S. when searching for a church, because it seems to me, and here I’m going to make a sweeping generaliztion, but it seems to me that Catholics seem hell bent only on finding a service suitable to their particular needs. For instance, S. is most interested in attending the earliest services possible so as to avoid families, but families = big services= a long communion line= too much time out of the day. I seek out the largest services, the most family-oriented ones, because half of what church is to me is children and grandmas and grandpas and moms and dads all in one place, together, thanking God for an hour a week. S. also believes that the earlier the service, the better, while on Sunday mornings I appreciate a nice late-morning service that allows time for the Sunday paper and a couple of cable news shows before worship. And these issues don’t even scratch the surface of thetruly important issues, like why we believe what we believe and practice what we do. More on faith at a later date – I’ll clearly label the post in case you feel like skipping.
On discount shopping…
Just the other day it occurred to me suddenly that I NEED my books. That they’ve been packed away for over a year and I miss them and need them, particularly the short story anthologies. Sam and I have probably ten boxes of books in the garage, and we both agreed we don’t want them to rot over the course of the winter, but we need more book shelves so we keep putting the task of unpacking and arranging our books off for another time. But now I NEED my books, I WANT my books, I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without flipping through my Updike collection, my worn copy of Beach Music, my Yeats biographies, my favorite thesaurus, for God’s sake! So I told S.we should look for some bookshelves this weekend.
“Great! We can go to the new Ikea store,” S. said. My husband loves bargain shopping, and he particularly loves big discount stores where he can wander from cheap couch to cheap count, comparing and contrasting the possibilities. He’ll do this with anything, if allowed – car wax, windex, canned green beans. He loves a bargain. I myself do not have the tolerance for this kind of shopping, or really much shopping at all, so a trip to Ikea is born out of somewhere to put my books and not much else. Our home…is not coordinated.
“We shouldn’t take our check cards in,” S. continued. “We should JUST LOOK. And then we can look at other stores. And then we can decide what book shelves we want, and come home and measure for them. And then we can put fifty dollars away every pay period until we’ve SAVED UP enough for them, and then we can buy them.”
“But what about my books now? I want my books out now!” Childish. Petulant. The idea of not only going to one discount store, but possibly many, and then the delayed gratification of buying the furniture, well, it all made me a little nauseous.
“Well, you can still take your books out, and find other places to put them until we can afford the book shelves,” S. said. This, from a man who hates clutter, who hates things not in their proper place, for whom a damp towel on a dry bed is the equivalent of nails on chalkboard? I can take out my books and put them around the house?
Well. Who would have ever thought about that.