January 24, 2000
A Bumpy Ride

 


 
David was wearing his Sad Puppy expression when he dropped me off in front of my office this morning.

"Don't be mad at me," he said.

"I'm not mad at you," I said. "I'm just a little annoyed." And I gave him a limp goodbye kiss and hopped out of the Subaru.

David and I never fight. At least, not in the generally accepted sense of the word. I get into the occasional snit, and he patiently waits for it to blow over: that's pretty much the extent of any "fight" we may have. On the two or three occasions when an argument has occurred during work hours, we've ended up calling each other at more or less the exact same moment to apologize.

We're just too *in synch* ... and too crazy about each other ... to waste a lot of time squabbling.

Which made this morning's disagreementfasten your seatbelts; it's gonna be a ... all the more ridiculous.

Last night he reminded me, before bed, that he was planning to drop the car off at the shop this morning, after he takes me to work. The Subaru has been running a little funky lately: the right front shock absorber is MIA, and it makes for an eXtReMeLy bUmPy rIdE. I don't mind the bumps -- it's actually sort of thrilling, especially when we're cruising across the Bay Bridge at a heart-pounding 35 mph -- but Daughters #1 and #2 are flying down from TicTac at the end of the week, to spend a few days with us, and he wants to get the car fixed before they get here. It's a safety issue as much as a thoughtfulness issue. 

You've gotta love the guy for that.

"If we could get out of here earlier rather than later, tomorrow morning," he said, "it would be helpful." Translation: "You will probably need to get up half an hour earlier than usual, Secra." 

Fine. I had no problem with that. I knew we had a ton of personal junk -- jackets, old books, bicycles, guitar stuff -- that needed to be hauled out of the back of the Subaru and lugged into the apartment, before the car goes into the shop. And the earlier we got started on it ... the better.

So I [more or less] uncomplainingly crawled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. this morning -- on a dark and rainy Monday, no less -- and hurried through my morning beauty ritual. My usual eleven and a half minute shower? More like ten, today. No conditioner. No guava mud mask. No exfoliation of any kind. And I skipped that fourth layer of Maybelline, just to save a little additional time.

Meanwhile, David took his usual forty-second shower, dressed, poured himself a cup of coffee, and sat down at the computer ... ostensibly to wait for me.

By 7:30 a.m., I was coiffed, caffeinated, and ready to go,  a full twenty minutes earlier than usual. I waited for some signal from him to indicate that it was time to hit the road, but he was still sitting at the computer, writing leisurely message board posts about cannibalism. 

I figured, "OK. Apparently there isn't as much of a rush as I'd thought." And I sat back down and watched Katie Couric "interview" the two Cuban grandmothers.

By 7:50 a.m. -- our usual morning departure time -- I figured I'd better jog his memory. "Are you going to need help hauling stuff out of the car?" I asked him. It was pouring down rain: I was simply wonderingit's murder on the marlo thomas 'do if I'd need to come up with some sort of scarf configuration, in order to preserve my perfect Marlo Thomas 'do.

"Well," he said, "It's too late now."

Say whut?

"We should have left twenty minutes ago," he said.

I promptly came unglued.

"Why didn't you SAY something?" I screeched. "I've been ready since 7:30! I even got up half an hour early, just to make sure!"

He looked baffled. "I didn't know that," he said.

"This is precisely why I need you to spell out exactly what TIME we're going to be LEAVING, David," I said, between clenched teeth. And I grabbed my jacket and huffed out of the apartment and all the way out to the car without him.

(In the pouring rain. Then I had to stand there fuming in the parking lot, waiting for him to catch up. By the time I slid into the passenger seat, my Marlo Thomas looked more like Morticia Addams. Grrrr.)

I wasn't mad at David, really. I was annoyed with his wishy-washy, guylike inability to commit to a specific schedule. This is something we've gone around and around about in the past. "I need to know precisely when we're going to be leaving the apartment," I'll beg him.  "Please give me an EXACT TIME." That way I know how much time I've got to press my evening gown before we leave for dinner at his parents' house ... or how long it'll be before we head for the office. 

But instead he'll leave things infuriatingly vague. "Earlier is better," he'll say ... when what I want/expect/NEED for him to say is "Let's try and get out of here by 07:32:17 a.m. PST."

Was I peeved? Yes. Inconvenienced? Yep.

(PAINFULLY premenstrual? You betcha.)

But genuinely angry? 

No.

Still, I treated him to the *Super Deluxe Silent Treatment* during the entire twenty minute drive to the office. Usually on the way to work we chat and listen to Louis Prima tapes and kiss at all the stoplights. But not today. Today I sat on my side of the Subaru, stoically reading my book ("Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood," Naomi Wolf), saying nothing. At one point I almost broke down and said something, just to break the ice ... almost reached over and put my hand on his leg, the way I usually do when we're driving someplace ... but I didn't.

I kissed him goodbye with all the enthusiasm of a twelve-year-old kissing Great-Aunt Edna at Thanksgiving dinner.  And by the time he drove away, I was already inside my building. No fond *goodbye* wave.

Boy. I showed him ... didn't I?




In spite of all this, I believe I'm getting much better about managing my negative emotions.

Twenty years ago, a minor disagreement like the one I had with David this morning might have escalated into hurling profanities -- and/or Corningware -- at each other.

Ten years ago, I would have sublimated my rage with manic housecleaning and a dozen Uno Candy Bars.

Two years ago, I would have *managed* my anger by dive-bombing into a box of Mountain Chablis.

So I think I can honestly say that some progress has been made. These days, my "strategy" is usually to just keep my mouth shut, walk away ... and wait until some of the intensity of the emotion levels off. Which is pretty much what I did this morning. Or what I tried to do. I could have handled it with a bit more finesse, perhaps ... but that was the underlying plan.

I have a long way to go, obviously. And there will always be the mood variables that I have little or no control over -- wildly careening hormones, crummy weather, uncomfortable undergarments, negative planet alignment -- that make it impossible to totally corral my galloping emotions. There will always be days when it all blows up on me. But mostly I think I've come a long way from the woman who threw her hairdryer out of her second story window in a fit of temper, two short years ago.

The Totem Pole Company, of course, is proving to be the perfect training ground for emotional control. But that's another story for another day.

And I still have the occasional reason for a little long distance "parental-anger-management." (See: Son #Only, incurring his second AOL TOS violation in one month, over the weekend, for calling someone a "fucking dumb-ass" online. Sigh.)

But most of the progress I've made in this area is the direct result of living with the world's calmest, most rational, most pacific, most solution-oriented human being.

A human being who reminds me, every day, that our sobriety is the key to handling things like out-of-control emotions.

A human being who loves me dearly, and who treats me like a goddess, and who allows me to act like a great big BABY once in a while.

A human being who believes I'm MAD at him, right at this very moment.

Crap.



 
The first thing I usually do when I get into the office on Monday mornings is to check my voicemail.

There were no new messages from Franz today, thank god -- his oral surgery last week pretty much rendered him out of commish for a few blissful days -- but I did have some untranscribed messages left over from last week, requiring review. So I hit the "Old Messages" button.

And there was David:

"I love the sound of your voice. Call me when you get this. Bye."

No, it wasn't a new message. This was a voicemail message from last August, which I have lovingly preserved, and have replayed on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, ever since. Five months later, it still gives me a little *tingle* every time I listen to it. And hearing his message again now -- after our stupid Non-Fight -- melted my heart like a bag of M&M's left on a Subaru dashboard.

I disconnected from voicemail and dialed an outside line. It was time to make things right.

And of course, at that precise moment: my phone rang.

ad nauseum



self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: so how was our weekend? glad you asked.

david and i decided that it was time to take that huge, scary, all-important next step towards [gulp] real lifetime committment ...

... and bought new bedding. for *our* bed. [bedding that harbors absolutely zero DNA from previous ... uhh ... liaisons.]  that means my blue and white comforter goes ... as do his green and white sheets and pillowcases. they looked hideous together, anyway.

i said "flowers." 

he said "geometric pattern." 

we wound up with ...

... geometric flowers.

of COURSE.


self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: the good news about this week's torrential rain, here in the bay area?

i'm not feeling quite as homesick for SEATTLE as usual.

[the bad news? it's making me crave taco time. wahhhh.]


a year ago

special *howdy* to: my mother ... who may or may not be laying on a sunny hawaiian beach, even as we speak. [last i heard, it was raining in HAWAII, too. sheesh.]


*reading*/listening/watching [besides the naomi wolf book]:
* "her blood is gold: celebrating the power of menstruation," by lara owen
*"telling lies for fun & profit: a manual for fiction writers," by lawrence block

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what are *your* special anger-management tips?
if it's counting to ten, i don't wanna hear about it


amazingly profound thought of the day: "The greatest remedy for anger is delay." ~ Seneca ~



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