Division of Labor

Within every relationship exists the division of labor.

I don’t necessarily mean the stereotypical gender “woman cooks and cleans/man fixes car” lines.  I mean more that there are certain talents people possess, and in a relationship you figure out who’s the person to do a task based on their talent level.
Tom cooks and does a lot of the light cleaning–picking up, some dishes, etc.  He’s the primary reason why we can consistently see the floor and the kitchen counter.  I keep the bathroom more or less tidy (typically less) and I take the car for the weekly fill-up at the pump.  Tom washes the car, I take it for oil changes and tire rotations.  We both use Macs, so when the computers break or act wonky, I fix them.  I also put in the phone time when we need to call customer service because Tom cannot handle customer service phone calls.  We both do laundry and take care of trash and the recycling.  I book travel and make reservations, Tom plans itineraries.  Our house is not immaculate, but then, we don’t particularly care about immaculate.  It is clean enough that we don’t have bugs and we don’t overbuy items because we misplace things–food is never left out, dishes do not go undone, the vacuum is run often enough.  If my grandmother or aunt or father saw my apartment they’d be horrified, but I have never been able to bring myself to care about keeping things clean to that standard and Tom is only marginally neater than I am.  It’s cluttered and untidy, but not out and out dirty, and so far our division of household labor has gone along quite well.
However, there is a category of tasks that remains entirely Tom’s province, and that is the reason why I must write here to thank him.  Tom deals with the “yuck!” problems.  Garbage disposal clogged?  Tom unclogs it.  Random dish shoved to the back of the fridge that has a mold colony growing on it and a foul smell?  Tom cleans it.  
And today, right before my shower, I noticed that water was not draining properly, and I pulled out the stopper mechanism–along with an eight-inch long clot of hair wrapped around it.  Now, my mother has long, thick, wavy Portuguese hair, as does my sister.  I do not have thick hair, but I tend to shed when I’m nervous and I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  As you might imagine, my father was tasked with unclogging a great many drains in his time that he shared no responsibility for clogging in the first place.  And like my father before him, Tom–hair shaved to the scalp, body hair immaculately groomed–came into the bathroom at my squealing, stammering behest–“Tom, you have to deal with this, I can’t!”–and removed the stopper from my sight.  He thus returned it hair-free and our drain flows freely once again.
So thanks, Tom, and to all the other people who are the perennial “yuck” handlers in their relationships.  You are the ones who make our day to day existence possible.

Bundle of Joy, My Fanny

“Who Says Kids Make You Happy?” – Newsweek

Not that we’ve actively decided to choose the child-free life quite yet, but I think it’d be fun to print this out and hand it to the harried-looking, sleep-deprived parents we know who spend the first five minutes of a conversation complaining about their marital/childrearing problems and then ask “So, why haven’t you guys started having kids yet?!”  It would just save so much time.


California trip itinerary:

July 3: Fly from Honolulu
July 4-6: San Francisco
July 7: Leave SF, drive north through Bodega Bay along the coast to Sonoma
July 8-10: Camping in Sonoma and Napa Valley. Wineries, a trip to Culinary Institute of America, and Tom was a good sport and agreed to be the other half of my couple for a coupon I found for a spa that does discounted mud wraps for couples. Compromise, people: the foundation of any marriage.
July 10: Leave wine country, head south through Berkeley to drop off the rental car in Oakland
July 11-13: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, San Francisco. We’re on the Route Marking team, which means driving all over San Francisco and that we actually get to sleep at night, which is new and different for an Avon Walk for me.

My cousin Mark’s response to the mud wrap deal:
“Have you ever heard that song ‘I’m Still A Guy’?  ‘Boys, we lost another one!'”

The Fit IS Go!

Toward the end of June 2007 we realized that the AC had gone on our primary vehicle, a 2000 Ford Taurus.  The gas mileage on the Taurus was…unsatisfactory, but certainly better than the other option available to us.  So we started looking at cars, new and used.  It came down to the Toyota Matrix, a well known model, and the brand-new Honda Fit.  The Fit won due to better options for less money.  At the time, the Prius was out of our price range, even with the cost of gas (at the time) factored in.

When we decided to buy the Fit, responses ranged from “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those” to “Wasn’t there a recall on those?”  But everyone who’s seen our little orange Fit has been charmed, or at least mollified, by the cute-as-a-bug hatchback.
My boss gets Consumer Reports and the latest cover showed an article on the most gas-efficient small sedans.  The 2009 redesigned Toyota Corolla was the big winner, but too new to be recommended.  In a sidebar on subcompacts, there was a notation on the Fit: it’s a Consumer Reports Best Buy, with one of the best fuel economies for a non-hybrid on the market.  It also won a Car and Driver 10 Best award for 2008, its second in two years of American distribution.
All this is by way of saying that our little unknown car is suddenly getting more popular, and I feel good that our first real adult purchase is being validated by those in the know.  And at $4.17 a gallon for gas in rural Oahu, you can’t beat filling the tank for under $40.

Consumed By a Camera

While in Maine this winter, I found my parents’ Minolta X-370N camera.  It’s a 35mm SLR, and three detachable lenses were in the bag along with it.  My mom said the body didn’t work anymore, so I took it with me with the vague idea that I’d find a shop to repair it.

The more I thought about this camera, the more my interest piqued.  Who gave them this camera?  Was this something they purchased together, or separately?  If separately, who was the shutterbug?  This wasn’t an idle hobby, I don’t think.  A nice SLR with three lenses?  Two fixed and one telephoto?  For a working family in the 1980s, that’s a fair chunk of change to lay down for a hobby.  I do know that both my parents believe in saving pennies and buying high-quality for electronics–you do it right or you don’t do it at all.  (We had our old Sony TV from as far back in time as I can remember until my cousin Missy blew it up.  She didn’t, really, but it’s more fun to say she did since her hand was on the button when it received its last transmission.)  I guess I really want to know who loved to take photographs.  Whose camera was this, and how did it come to be in the family?  
Tonight I polished the dust and grime off the camera and sure enough, it doesn’t work.  I’m going researching for a shop; I think that going to a film camera would be a fun challenge.  I’ve used a traditional “film” camera once; my Canon point-and-shoot that I got for my 18th birthday.  I brought that camera to England and loved it; I want to love the Minolta camera, too.
One of the things that I most enjoy about adulthood is finding out who my parents were before they were parents.  I hope there is a story behind this camera.  I hope that my love of photography is something over which we can bond.

Oh Canada!

So, I’m still away from home, but I wanted to tell you all about my side trip to Ottawa, Canada. First of all, pictures will up as soon as I find a cord to add my photos. Sorry! I had the feeling that Ottawa was gonna be a fairly cool city. It is one of those cities that I don’t think I would have visited on my own, but was looking forward to visiting. I was disappointed. About my only knowledge of Ottawa was what I learned from the Canada exhibit at Epcot Center. This knowledge is limited and somewhat flawed as the video is probably over twenty years old now. 

For starters, the city is just beautiful. A lot of the architecture is the same, green tin roofs and lots and lots of stone. These buildings have their own beauty though and differ greatly from the neo-classical style of much of DC. But that is only a portion of the city, the government side at least. If you happen to cross over the Riddeau Canal you find yourself in ByWard Market, the heart of the city’s nightlife. Think of a Canadian version of Ybor City or the blocks around Gallery Place/Chinatown. This five by five block area is centered around an Eastern Market style plaza with about a hundred restaurants, bars and places to shop. 
Because it is a capital city, Ottawa has a lot going for it culturally speaking. Like DC, Ottawa has a vast array of museums (most you have to pay for) that are diverse and surprisingly up to date. I was happy to find a variety of food options, including Indian, sushi, Thai, Spanish and African. No surprising, the city is very current and cosmopolitan, but very accessible. In the end, I found that Ottawa is a lot like Brussels, Belgium. Essentially a great city to live in, but a terrible city to visit because visitors might find it difficult to find things to do. I say, enjoy the city for what it is, a quaint capital city with much to offer the tourist and the resident. 

Be Interested

One of my favorite websites posted an essay about three years back called “25 and Over.”  It’s a manifesto on the standard of behavior to which anyone who’s reached a quarter-century should be held.  Personally, I think this is generous and should be “20 and Over,” but that’s me.  I’ve been meeting a lot of people here, which has gotten me thinking a lot about this passage of late.  

“Get a library card, go to the movies, participate in the world. Working is not living. Be interested so that you can be interesting.”

Certainly something to keep in mind.  No point in having a blog if you can’t indulge a bit of self-centered pondering, but in general conversation, that’s a great one to remember.  Know a bit about politics, join a book club, take a class, but man, your life can’t be 100% about your family, your job, or your family and your job because you will become so boring that people will actively avoid you.  
Be interested so that you can be interesting–good words to live by.

One Year

Exactly one year ago today, I was suffering from the second-worst hangover of my life (don’t ask about the first; I’ve willfully repressed the memory).  It was the day after my old boss’s company farewell party where there was exponentially more wine than food.  I’ve never drank that much on a work night nor felt that awful on a work day, but I made it to work on time and without vomiting.  And I was more or less productive, too, plugging away at donor records and wishing with all my heart that someone would come to my cubicle and kill me, quickly, preferably with a blunt blow to the head.

Around 11am, I got a text message from my sister: “Can you call me?”  
Looking back, I think I knew what I did because that was so out of character for her to text during a work day, especially with that request.  I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew she had an appointment coming up for an ultrasound regarding what she believed at the time to be an ovarian cyst.  I don’t believe in psychics per se, but I do believe that intuition and perception occasionally come together to provide moments of absolute sureness and clarity.  That certain pieces of the puzzle, like the information on the ultrasound and knowing my sister’s character, snap together in a deeper part of the brain and your subconscious knows what’s what before the rest of you.  Whatever the reason, I knew before I picked up the phone what she was going to tell me. 
And let me tell you, there is no better cure for self-pity in all the world than someone you love telling you that they are pregnant, and that they are scared.  You stop feeling sorry for yourself in a damn hurry.  I forgot all about my hangover.  We talked every day that week about the future and what it would hold, and I listened as decisions were made.
That was one year ago exactly.  Today Erika called to catch up and we talked for an hour and a half.  We talked about work, our relationships, the Celtics-Lakers championship, and Owen.  We are closer now than we have ever been, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t because of that first week of June 2007 when we talked for a half hour or more every other day, even when we didn’t have anything to say.  She gave me my first nephew, a beautiful chubby-faced squawking laughing baby boy.  And Owen gave my sister and I the relationship we have; he gave me my best friend.
Today Owen is four months and one week.  And today, he rolled over for the very first time.  It’s amazing, isn’t it, what changes a year can bring?
I love that chubby-faced squawking laughing little boy; he’s given me and his parents more than he’ll ever know.