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Solitude, Invading Molecules, and The Scarlet Pimpernel

9 Nov

There is someone in the house. I don’t have to see or hear them. I know by the way my skin prickles and my brain reels. There is someone in the house besides me. I feel his molecules, because I know it’s a man, invading my space making it impossible for me to work. I feel seen, observed. I feel this way every time my husband takes vacation days.

The problem isn’t that he’s in my hair, though it feels like he’s in my hair. The problem is that he’s here at all. He’s actually leaving me alone. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know he’s here. Except that he’s here. When I leave my office to warm my tea or let the dog out or have a snack, there he is. And he’s doing nothing while I’m trying to do something. I go to my office and he doesn’t follow me but I still can’t work. It’s like the molecules he breathes seek me out and watch my every move.

You’d think that feeling observed like this would make me more productive, but it doesn’t. My husband likes my writing, he supports my writing, but I can’t do it in front of him or his molecules. So I check Facebook, then email, then read other bloggers’ posts. I comment and check Facebook again. I go back to email to see if the blogger has responded to my witty comment and the cycle begins again.

This morning, while I was cleaning the kitchen, he woke and came downstairs. I had spent the morning listening to my daughter wail about how she’d ruined her model of the atomic structure of the iron atom. She wailed about it for fifteen minutes then mysteriously stopped wailing. “I didn’t ruin it after all,” she said gaily. I sighed. She went to school.

I had about a half hour in silence. I like silence. Even the dog knows I like silence and only barks when absolutely necessary. Normally, I have hours and hours of silence. But not this week.

I’ve been tolerant of having another human in my silent house. And, really, my husband has been considerate, only engaging me when I’m within a ten-foot radius. He even listens to his music with noise-canceling headphones.

This morning, though, he interrupted my kitchen cleaning ritual with dialogue from 1934’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.

I like the movie; we like the movie. We quote the dialogue to each other, particularly the idiotic poem Leslie Howard pens as the foppish Sir Percy Blakeney, who is actually the infamous Pimpernel, fearless rescuer of French nobility following the Revolution. The poem begins like this:

They seek him here,

They seek him there.

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.

It goes on, ending with “That damned elusive Pimpernel.”

Today, I rose at 7 a. m. with The Empress of the Fine Chinese Whine. My vacationing husband rose at 10 a.m. and came down for his morning coffee. He was cheerful. He was quoting the Scarlet Pimpernel poem, he thought.

“They seek him high,” he said. “They seek him low. Those Frenchies know not. . .”

“Stop yourself!” I said. “You’re doing it wrong! I think I’ve been pretty good about you being here all week, putting up with your molecules all up in my face, but you have no idea how the poem goes!”

To his credit, he stopped. To my credit, I poured a cup of tea, went to my office, closed the door, and wrote about how my husband’s molecules, supportive and understanding as they are, drive me crazy when they aren’t supposed to be here in my solitude.

Next week, he’ll be back at work and so will I. Alone. In silence. Now, though, my teacup is empty and I’m hoping the Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t waiting for me in the kitchen.

Screaming Kids Make Me Want To Scream

27 Feb

Here’s the link to my latest Naperville Patch article. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s about screaming children.What’s not to like?


Take A Letter

3 Jan

I do not make New Year’s resolutions as a rule. It’s not that I don’t like resolutions. I think resolutions are fine things and I make them. I just don’t tie them to January 1. I have already committed to running a 5K race in 2011. I’ve told several people and I even posted it on my Facebook wall. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome. There are a few other things that I’ve promised myself I will make happen in 2011, but I decided on them months ago.

I’m more inclined to reflect back on the year that has passed. This year, I find that a lot of people really ticked me off. Unfortunately, most of them are people I don’t know. Some of them I’ve never even seen. I know, though, that these people didn’t bug the crap out of just me. In the interest of letting go of my ire and beginning the new year afresh, I offer this open letter to the most egregiously anti-social people I encountered this year.

To the grandfather at the hotel swimming pool who deposited four children under the age of six into the water then sat poolside with his coffee: Gramps, I am an excellent swimmer. My daughter is not, ergo, when she swims, I swim. I noticed that not one of the children you put in the pool could swim. Newsflash, Grandpa. A floating noodle is a very poor lifeguard. So, put down your coffee and get in the water. While you’re at it, grab the other adults on the pool deck and get their butts in the water, too. It gets lonely being the only adult in a pool full of potential drowning victims.

To the woman in the carpool: Lady, what part of “don’t get out of your car” do you not get? Your child does not need one last hug. Your child does not need you to hand her her backpack. Even a three-year-old can walk to a classroom, take off his coat, put away his backpack, get to his seat and start his day without any help from anyone. The person with the separation anxiety here is you, not your kid.

To the other woman in the carpool: The “no left turn” sign applies to you, too. It’s not optional. That’s why the “no” is in BIG BOLD LETTERS. You do realize that the line of cars waiting to turn into the lot is growing longer and longer because of you, right? People are honking at you because they are angry with you, not because they applaud your decision to declare your independence and flout the carpool rules.

To the person who owns the Sienna parked in the spot reserved for fuel-efficient vehicles: Wow! Lucky you! When I owned a Sienna, just last year, the best I ever got out of it was 19 mpg. Either Toyota has radically changed the Sienna engine, or you’ve got some really big. . . huevos. I can understand your confusion. I’m sure you get better mileage than the Jeep Grand Cherokee that was parked there last week.

To the person who owns the Odyssey parked in the spot reserved for compact cars: I fear you are either stupid or blind. The “mini” in minivan is a relative term. You own a minivan, a smaller version of a full-size van. Just as a mini-elephant would still be an elephant, your minivan is still a van. I believe though, that you are blind. There is a sign in front of your car. It says, “Rear must not protude beyond white line.” Just a thought here, but maybe you shouldn’t be driving if you can’t see the BIG WHITE LINE your car’s rear is protruding beyond.

To the clerk who puts the price tag over the directions on the package: I was standing at the end of the line when they were handing out X-ray vision. How can I tell if I want to pay the price you’ve plastered all over the item if I can’t read how to use the item? Oh, and tell your buddies at the newspaper that I can’t read through the ads they sticker over the headlines, either.

To the guy on the treadmill next to me: I promise not to sing along with Selena Gomez if you promise to stop grunting. People are looking at you, dude. They’re worried. They think you’re going to drop any minute.

To the other guy on the treadmill next to me: I promise not to complain about grunting guy if you promise to never run next to me again. One word, man: Mitchum.

To the woman who loves the Lucy running vest with the bow under the hood: You say you only run in skirts? And you’ve been looking for something “girlie” to wear with them? Look, Girlie. There is no “girlie” in running. When I run, I wear bright colors so that they match the colors in my face. If there were a moisture-wicking running burqa, I’d be all over that. The only other person I know who runs in skirts and wants a hoodie with bows is my eight-year-old daughter.

Finally, to the people who read my blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is a great pleasure bringing you my thoughts every week. I resolve to keep doing it in 2011. May the coming year be one of peace and prosperity for all of us.

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