Archive for September, 2014

(Even More) Scenes from a Marriage

Friday, September 12th, 2014

We have a refrigerator. That refrigerator has a problem. Or a sometime problem, anyway, which is that occasionally it decides to start freezing food. Cleverly (as is his way), John discovered that the mechanism of the freeze involves a little interior door between the (side-by-side) freezer and fridge. This dollhouse-sized door sometimes cakes with ice and then freezes open, letting in freezing air. We can melt the ice with hot water and close the door manually, but if the problem keeps occurring, which it had begun to do lately, we’re left nursing the fridge on a daily basis, turning it off for spells to unfreeze the food and losing some good vegetables in the process. And that ain’t good.

Here’s the thing: We know the immediate cause of the freezing, but what’s the underlying cause?

I had a (friendly, honest) repair guy out to see what he could determine. He wasn’t sure. It could be the seal on the doors (nope, good seal), or . . . how’s that seal on the door? He then suggested calling Amana directly to see what they had to say and whether we should replace the part. Hence began my campaign to get John to call Amana*, my opening salvo of which was to write a reminder on a sticky note and put it on the kitchen counter. From there, he stuck it to the top of his computer.

Day #1: I ask John to call the following day. John moves the sticky note from the top of his computer (a laptop) to the interior. And doesn’t call.

Day #2: I ask John to call the next day. John tells me that he will call the next day. And doesn’t call.

Day #3, in bed in the evening:

M: Did you call Amana today?

J: No, sorry.

M: How many times am I going to have to remind you to call Amana?

J: That depends on how long you wait between reminders.

M: [Hysterical laughter.] Wow, Sweetie. That’s really genius. I couldn’t myself have imagined a way for you to deny responsibility and put it on me, but you really succeeded there.

J: [Joining in the laughter.] It’s true, though!

M: [Still laughing uncontrollably.]

J: It’s not that I forget. It’s that I’m too busy. I can call only in the morning, because they’re on the East Coast.

M: [Silent, pondering.]

J: Well, it’s a combination of being too busy and forgetting.

M: [Laughing.] Well, thank you for your honesty.

J: I’ll call tomorrow.

M: Really? How are you going to remember to call tomorrow?

J: I have the sticky note!

M: The same sticky note that you moved from the top of your computer to the inside, because you literally could not see it?

J: [Chuckling.] Yeah. That sticky note.

M: [Also chuckling.] Okay, so that should work.

J: Yeah, I think that’ll work.

M: I can’t think of how that wouldn’t work.

J: I’m on top of it!

Day #4, in bed in the evening:

J: I forgot to call Amana.

M: You were right!

J: What do you mean?

M: I waited to remind you, and you told me instead! So, one less time for me to remind you!

J: It worked!

M: Success!



NB: By this point, our refrigerator actually seems to be back on track, perhaps because John did indeed clean out the grille. So Amana may never get that call . . . and everything seems to have worked out anyway.

*I would be more than happy to call Amana myself, particularly as I would do it immediately, but I’ve been down that road before. There’s always some kind of technical question I can’t answer and have to call John about, so now we just start at the horse’s mouth. Unfortunately, the horse is not great at remembering to call.

When It’s September, It’s December

Monday, September 1st, 2014

I experience the calendar year in the following way:

January . . . January . . . January . . . February . . . February . . . February . . . March . . . March . . . March . . . April . . . April . . . April . . . May . . . May . . . June . . . June . . . July . . . July . . . August . . . SeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember.

I’m not sure why, but fall always seems to rocket by for me. Maybe it’s because the final five weeks of the year are so minimally dedicated to work; we always go away for Thanksgiving week and then for two weeks over Xmas/New Year’s. Maybe it’s because there’s a sense of things winding down, even if things aren’t actually winding down? At any rate, that’s how it seems to work for me. Hence my saying: “When it’s September, it’s December.” Blink, my friends, and we’ll be eating pumpkin pie.

I’ve just enjoyed a luxurious week off of work and am girding my loins for the onslaught that awaits me tomorrow. (Why must we all work for money? Why, God, why?) In the meantime, I thought I’d seize this free minute and a half to jot down some recent experiences of culture:

  • Supermensch, Mike Myers’ documentary about agent Shep Gordon. Entertaining, for sure, but disappointing in terms of delivering on its promise. Which was, at least according to Myers on WTF, to paint a portrait of a miracle of a man. “The nicest man I’ve ever met,” according to Myers. Welllll . . . nice in a lot of ways. Good-hearted and easy-going, for sure. But, you know, at least a part-time objectifier of women. (If the main thing you look for in a woman is physical beauty, even in your 60s . . . I feel frustrated with you.) Also, he makes the claim that the car accident that rendered Teddy Prendergast quadriplegic was karma for a scheduled concert, a few weeks earlier, in which Prendergast refused to perform. And that’s . . . just not cool.
  • Bad Feminist. Roxane Gay’s fantastically satisfying collection of essays about gender, race, sexuality and a whole lot more in the media and just generally in society. Deliciously angry, clear, honest, and on-point. She says (many, many) things I’d never thought of in ways I’d never have imagined. She’s informed and sharp and thoughtful and willing to live in the nuance and admit when she’s conflicted—and to allow conflict to be a place of intellectual integrity, as opposed to not having completely worked something out. I don’t always agree with her, but I don’t care in the slightest. All I want is more, more, more!
  • Lucky Us, Amy Bloom’s latest novel. Whatever Bloom writes is worth reading, in my opinion, but this one made less of an impact than much of her previous work. (The novel before this one, Away, nailed to me to the bed with grief—in addition to rocking me with its skill.) Almost as soon as I fell in love with a character, that character inevitably disappeared from the novel, if not from the world. Maybe precisely because Away dug so deeply into a single character’s perspective, Lucky Us was designed more or less as a multi-narrative, and I rarely like that kind of jumping around. I’m a one-person woman, I suppose.
  • Pygmalion, at Cal Shakes. A solid and enjoyable production, but I wish Shaw had written Higgins differently. With most Shaw plays, your allegiances are always shifting, or maybe just never landing; or maybe it’s more that you can never condemn anyone, even the would-be villains, because everyone is so beautifully and fully characterized. But in this play, it’s pretty obvious that Higgins is a boar. Late in the play, he makes some arguments against manners that would be convincing in someone who wasn’t such a narcissist. But because he’s shown himself to be otherwise unfeeling, his authority is undermined, and we simply side with Eliza. Which is boring. Although—very satisfying ending!
  • Mind of a Chef, Season 1. Totally watchable and fascinating and hungry-making. Even though Chang seems like a fraternity bro who suffers from a bad case of machismo, he’s smart and interesting and knowledgeable and worth it. What I don’t like is that aside from his pastry chef, Christina Tosi, there are basically no women in the entire season. Come on, PBS. You can do better than that. (I see that Season 2 focuses on two chefs, one of whom is a woman. Well, that’s . . . 1 out of 3. Although Season 3 features two male chefs, so now we’re down to 1 out of 5. DO NOT LIKE.)

In other news, I came up with a concept: coincidental empathy. It describes that moment when someone who is not ordinarily empathic suddenly exhibits empathy, but only because s/he has been presented with a situation that is exactly like one in which s/he has previously found her/himself. Good, right? If we add this to my previous concept, event-to-processing ratio (i.e., how long the event was versus how long it takes you to process it), I’m practically halfway to a book. Hey, wait—I just remembered my personal definitions of literary comedy vs. tragedy, i.e., that comedy is when you get the information you need in time, and tragedy is when you don’t. Where’s my book deal?

Time for me to hop on the elliptical! And time for December to get itself here.