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new blog

I think most people that ever read this blog are probably already aware, but in case you’ve found your way here and are wondering:

I have a new blog up at emimakes.wordpress.com

Thanks, guys!

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I’ve become the thing that I hate – the passive-aggressive over-sharing blogger. Trevor once said “I don’t care what you write, I understand sometimes you just need to vent” – and I took him at his word. But he’s had time (and many posts) over which to reconsider, and I don’t blame him for feeling differently now. We’re not always very good at talking to each other when there’s a problem, at just being direct – and I think that’s something we both recognize and have tried to improve on, but my blogging has given me an up-until-now safe space in which to express things I didn’t want to say directly to him. That has never been the point or the goal of my blog at all, but that is ultimately what it has become for me.

What I originally intended to do was to write about my personal experience of being married, specifically my experience of marriage as a woman and as a feminist. I meant to write generally then give specific examples from my own experience and also back up a lot of what I was writing with other feminist texts and resources. But I ended up skinny on the texts and resources and heavy on the personal experience, with not a lot of balance on the side of objectivity or distance from the subject, and with a healthy dose of occasional melodrama. This is not what I wanted, and I’m paying the price for it.

Through this blog, I have somewhat unintentionally invited people to make judgments about my and Trevor’s life together. It would be very naive of me to think people wouldn’t make any judgments. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t, to a certain extent, want people to make (some of) those judgments.

A lot of my writing has been about learning to live with and be married to Trevor, and a lot of it  has basically been venting, and I would expect that people reading what I’ve written might think or say “yea, she’s right, that was kind of an asshole-y thing of him to do” or whatever – one of the more self-serving points of having a blog is that you expect your audience to be full of a lot of people who generally agree with you about whatever you’ve written.

Hand in hand with that, I would also expect there are going to be people who disagree with me. What I didn’t expect was that I would resent them so much, or feel so much anger toward them. I resent their half-invited intrusion into my life, as ridiculous as that sounds. I put it up on the internet for all to see, yes, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that that was a mistake.

Almost every time I’ve posted something, I or Trevor have gotten some kind of “wow, that’s shitty of you/her to post that about Trevor/you” response. We can disagree all day long about whether or not I deserve that criticism – certainly I feel that I have deserved it on certain occasions, regarding posts in which I have been particularly vent-y or harsh – but it’s a moot point. Whether I deserve it or not, voicing it removes the focus from the content or point or even quality of my writing to something else entirely.

I know this is an internet thing. I mean, people read blogs and websites and miss the point A LOT. They don’t just miss the point, they intentionally, willfully miss the point. They make a comment about how big the woman’s breasts are in the picture accompanying the article about the objectification of women, or how fat that guy is in the picture accompanying the post about body-image issues. And then they read my blog and say “Wow, what a bitch. I can’t believe she put all that bad stuff about him online” while then completely blocking out ALL THAT BAD STUFF ABOUT HIM or the argument I was making for doing things differently.

I don’t want you to think I’m missing the point, too. I know a lot of the reason these people are mad at me or think I’m awful is not just because of what I said, but also because I said it on such an incredibly public forum. If I wrote about how much I love and appreciate my husband all the time, and never said anything bad about him, I don’t really think how public it is would be an issue – but somehow being truthful about my experience learning and growing in our relationship, and writing about the very real problems I’ve grappled with around integrating my marriage into my feminism and vice-versa, because these things necessarily include criticisms of my husband and of our relationship (and, I would note, myself), this makes me irresponsible or a bad person or cruel or pick-your-adjective.

In terms of what I feel is happening to me, the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” comes to mind, which isn’t so bad. But the phrase “sit down and shut up” comes to mind, too, and that’s pissing me off. I feel like this is ultimately because I’m not being “nice”. I’m saying not-so-nice truths, and I’m not really prettying them up in any way, and I think there’s the expectation that a good wife either wouldn’t say these things, or would at least shine ’em up a little – to be fair, there’s an expectation that any good partner of either gender would do these things for one another. I understand where this comes from, and do (of course) on some level agree, but on another level I feel like I’m being asked to censor myself, and as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I don’t much like censoring myself.

I can get pissed off at some of you for your opinions, but, again, whether or not you are or I am right or justified is a moot point. You know how people say, “get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat?”  I put Trevor and myself in this situation and I take full responsibility for that. But I don’t want to participate in this anymore, so I’m leaving. I’m getting out of the kitchen, although it’s not just the heat that’s bothering me.

One more phrase applies here, the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. I understand why I’m getting flack for writing “bad things” about Trevor, but ultimately that’s not the deciding factor in my stopping writing these things (although it did motivate me further). I guess this is all going to sound like I’m just pissed off that people think I’m a bad wife or bad partner, but this is about something much bigger, but also much simpler, than that: upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want him writing stuff about me online like some of the stuff I’ve written about him either.

But I’ve really enjoyed this last year or so of writing, which has been more consistent for me than anything for many years previous (as inconsistent as it still was). And I don’t want to stop doing THAT. I may reformat this blog, which I’ve talked about doing before, but more likely I will just start a new one elsewhere, and when I do I will let you know. Suffice it to say, it might not be quite as personal, at least not in the same sense. Thanks to everyone who has been reading, I really appreciate it, and I hope you will continue to follow whatever else I end up doing from here on out in terms of my writing.

See you on the flip side!

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expectations

My friend, Esther, and I have had this conversation many times about how just because our relationships aren’t “cookie-cutter” relationships, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. We do things differently with our partners, but different doesn’t equal wrong. I feel, essentially, that this is true, but every time we have this conversation I feel like we’re more trying to convince ourselves than each other or the wider world. What happens when the expectations you have for your relationship simply haven’t been met? Esther and I have so far tended moreso to deconstruct why we expect those things and put them into the context off all the bullshit rom-com conventions we were raised with, but after we’ve done that, I still feel unsatisfied. On some level, who cares HOW I got my expectations. If (it seems) everyone else in the world has no problem meeting these expectations why do our partners struggle so much with them?

If we’re not “cookie-cutter” than we must be progressive, right? We’re unafraid to do things differently, or so we tell ourselves. But is it truly progressive if the reason we’re doing things so differently still reflects a deference to our partners wishes, or simply to the way our partners are? How progressive can it be when we are still repressing our own desires in order to please others?

A lot of the time, I struggle to place Trevor and my’s relationship. Are we being progressive or are we just being lazy or selfish or set in our own respective ways? Just because something looks progressive from the outside, doesn’t mean that was the intent or the motivating factor. A lot of the reasons our relationship is the way it is have been dictated by Trevor (if unknowingly).

He doesn’t really get into celebrating birthdays and anniversaries because “it’s just another date, and what matters is we love each other, right?”, so we never really seem to celebrate them the way I would prefer.

We split everything down the middle, although I pay our water bill and laundry expenses and he pays our cable and electric bills. He used to buy groceries more often, but now it’s about even. We keep separate banking accounts and have no plans to combine them.

That’s probably the one thing about our relationship that I get the most “wah?”-type responses about from other women. At first it was just more traditional women who were giving me those responses, but since then I’ve really had the same response from all kinds of women, including those I consider quite progressive. The responses range from “but he’s supposed to pay for more” from the more traditional types when I’ve expressed a sense of guilt in the past that he was paying for more than I was, to “well, you guys should be paying proportionally equally in relation to your respective incomes” from more progressive types, including my mother.

I actually on some level agree with the last bit, but try telling someone they have to pay more than you (in terms of dollar amount) because they happen to make more than you do. It’s not their fault that they make more, or that you make less – and why should they have to pick up your slack? Why shouldn’t they enjoy their extra money how they see fit? Women I’ve talked to about it say “well, he has to pick up the slack because he’s your partner, and that’s what partners do for each other, just as you would for him”, but I think, were the tables turned and someone told me I had to pay more because I made more I would be pissed, too. It’s like when your taxes increase as you move up into different income brackets – on one level, you get it and it makes sense, but on another level you’re like “wtf, mate?” – why punish me for making more money, why do I have to pay more because others can’t?

But I think the progressiveness or lack thereof all comes down to intention. I don’t get the feeling that he’s trying to make a statement by not celebrating birthdays and anniversaries – I get the feeling that he doesn’t want to spend the money, doesn’t want more material crap, and doesn’t really think they’re fun to celebrate and so, doesn’t see the point. Same with the financial stuff, although I can at least understand that more. What’s in it for him if we open a joint account or start paying everything in proportion to what we make? Nothing, so he can see no logical reason why he would participate in a set-up like that.

I like to tell myself that if he had all this socio-political reasoning behind his decision not to celebrate anniversaries or share our money, that I would feel better about it. I think I would, but would I really? The end result would be the same, right? I think it’s just MORE frustrating to know there isn’t any good reason for it other than “I don’t wanna. Meh.”

My brother once really pissed me off by calling me selfish. I think it really pissed me off because it hit right at a sore spot – namely, that I do think I am kind of selfish sometimes, but that I try not to be, and for him to say I was just basically told me I was trying and failing. Anyway, I have a theory that some of the reason Trevor and I do (usually) work well is because we are both essentially selfish. We both need our alone time, and our respective space, and we both don’t want anyone judging how we spend our own money. Likewise, we both want to do things our way. Because I’m a woman, and because I’m me, I tend to be the one more likely to compromise of the two of us, or at least to compromise without grumbling about it, but we both have to do it.

I also think I have a quality he mostly lacks – the ability to do something I don’t really want to do and act as though I am just loving the shit out of it while I’m doing it. I don’t necessarily think it’s bad that he doesn’t have this quality, as having this quality basically just means that I can be really fake when I need to be. But it is frustrating on, say, anniversaries when he can’t even bother to pretend to be into it, even though I am SO into it.

It frustrates me on two levels, firstly that I never particularly enjoy these occasions because of his complete lack of joy-taking in them which contrasts so severely with my own feelings on the day, and secondly, I get frustrated because I always end up thinking to myself “does he not even love me enough to pretend to be into it for my sake?” But I try to remember that he just doesn’t have it in him to do that – he’s not made that way, or however you want to put it. If he’s not into it, he’s not into it, and nothing and no one is gonna make him pretend he is. On some level I admire this quality, his unflinching authenticity, but on quite another level I absolutely loathe it.

Don’t get me wrong, he’ll go out to dinner, he’ll even pay for dinner – but he’s not for one second gonna even pretend he’s enjoying it or that he wants to be there. I’m starting to feel like I should just go by myself next anniversary or perhaps plan a girls night so I can spend time with others who are as excited about my anniversary as I am, I’d probably have more fun.

Is anyone sensing a theme? I feel like I’m trying to write about two things at once right now, which are related but separate:

1.) Our relationship is different from many others in many ways, and some of those differences could on the surface look like intentional progressiveness on our part, but often actually is not.

2.) Yesterday was our anniversary and I took the day off work against my better judgment, and although we had a good lie-in together, that was about the end of it. I forced him to take me out to dinner, and he did pay which was nice, but we just stared in silence at each other as we always do on the two occasions a year he might actually take me out just the two of us. I wrote him a heartfelt card he had barely any response to, and in no way reciprocated. My anniversary totally blew and I’m super bitter about it.

The anniversary thing is like so many things about him or about our relationship that I feel torn about. I so want us to be genuine and authentic and true to who we are, both as a couple and as individuals, but I also would like to stop being the freakos that do everything totally weird. It’s not really because of others expectations, but rather because I was raised in this society, too, and I have my own set of expectations that so have not been met.

I expected a honeymoon.

I expect vacations together, not apart.

I expect anniversaries to be celebrated,  and I expect him to want to celebrate us.

I expect that birthdays are kind of a big deal.

I expect that Christmas means something to us and, yes, we’ll buy each other shit, too.

I expect that he’ll help keep our house clean, and that I shouldn’t have to wait 4 months or however long it’s been for him to clean our moldy bathroom ceiling.

I expect that he wants to spend time with me

That’s pretty much it. I guess now it’s time for that tried-and-true wife’s refrain: I’m not asking for much, it doesn’t seem like it should be all that hard for me to get it.

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Well, this is sort of depressing (from a recent article in Newsweek titled “I Don’t: The Case Against Marriage” – emphasis all mine):

“The feminist argument against marriage has long been that it forces women to conform—as Gloria Steinem once put it, marriage is an arrangement “for one and a half people.” No woman we know would date a man who’d force her into the kitchen—and even Steinem eventually got hitched—but we’d be fools to think we’ve completely shed the roles associated with “husband” and “wife.” Men’s contributions to housework and child rearing may have doubled since the 1960s, yet even among dual-earning couples, women still do about two thirds of the housework. (One study even claims that the simple act of getting married creates seven hours more housework for women each week.) In the workplace, meanwhile, women who use their partner’s name are regarded as less intelligent, less competent, less ambitious, and thus less likely to be hired. We may date the most modern men in the world, but we’ve heard enough complaints to worry: if we tie the knot, does life suddenly become a maze of TV dinners, shoes up on the coffee table, and dirty dishes? “The bottom line is that men, not women, are much happier when they’re married,” says Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina who studies marriage and family.

And later in the same article:

“We’ve entered the age of last-minute tickets to Moscow, test-tube children, cross-continental cubicles and encouraged paternity leaves,” write the authors of The Choice Effect, about love in an age of too many options. The result, they say, is “a generation that loves choice and hates choosing.”

Which means that when we do tie the knot, we do it for love. Young people today don’t want their parents’ marriage, says Tara Parker-Pope, the author of For Betterthey want all-encompassing, head-over-heels fulfillment: a best friend, a business partner, somebody to share sex, love, and chores. In other words, a “soulmate”—which is what 94 percent of singles in their 20s describe what they look for in a partner. Yet the idea of a “soulmate” is still a pretty new concept in our romantic history—and one that’s hard to maintain. Measurements of brain activity have shown that 20 years into marriage, 90 percent of couples have lost the passion they originally felt. And while couples who marry for love are less “in love” with each passing year, one study found that those in arranged marriages grow steadily more in love as the years progress—because their expectations, say researchers, are a whole lot lower.”

I’ve thought about and written some about my own reasons for getting married – which are at best vague, hopeful, and naive in the extreme – and I’ve certainly read a lot of articles and books like this, too. Whenever I talk about my marriage in any depth I always frame it as basically a giant leap of faith – you have this little germinating love that you are hoping will grow into a nice, strong, healthy love that can stand the test of time (and all the other tests, too). To me, the only difference between marriage and long-term, committed, monogamy sans-marriage is that you’ve called out your bet. You’ve stood in front of all your friends and family and told everyone that this is gonna work, this is gonna last. You’ve told the state the same thing. You’ve legally bound yourself to another human being. The only difference between marriage and plain old monogamy is basically that you look like more of an ass if it doesn’t work out.

Well, I shouldn’t say that’s the only difference – I have a strong belief that, for many of us, marriage or the state of being married carries with it psychological and emotional implications that are absent in non-married relationships. There are more pressures, there are more stereotypes, there are more standards to meet or exceed or fall far short of – there’s an established blueprint that one feels one is supposed to follow. All these things affect the way we operate in our marriages, as well as the way we view our relationships and how they have changed through marriage.

I, like those described in this article, have grown up expecting a more egalitarian marriage than the ones our parents had before us. When, time and time again, our relationship does not live up to the egalitarian standards I had hoped for, I feel disappointed – in him, in me, in our lack of progress as individuals and as a society overall. Even before we were married, when we were just cohabitating, I fell into many of the typical “wife” roles naturally, more than that I went willingly, happily even, because I so enjoyed that I finally had someone to give these parts of myself to, to do these things for.

Now I guess you could say I’m sick of always giving these things, and rarely being given them – it doesn’t feel like a gift that I give freely anymore, it feels like an expectation he has of me based on the history of our relationship, and based on his own privileged, male point of view. Sometimes I find myself getting mad at Trevor not as Trevor but as some kind of representative for all males, or, rather, I get mad at male privilege and take it out on Trevor when his is showing.

But I guess it makes sense – how do you fight male privilege anyway? It’s got to be on an individual level, in our own daily lives. But fighting it on that level often makes it feel like fighting with your partner, which is something I generally try to avoid. I often feel that being a feminist and trying to fight a lot of these fights in my own day-to-day life often pits me against my husband. Everyone needs a wife, and if neither of us are willing to play that role than how do things get done? Ideally, we would both do an equal amount, and while that sounds lovely to me, it’s kind of a hard pill to swallow for someone for whom that will actually make MORE work, not less.

But just as I’m feeling pretty low about the state of marriage as an institution and the inequity of my own, I read the “I Do, Too” piece from the same special section on Newsweek:

“The truth is, neither of us had thought all that much about the question that both the priest and Bennett and Ellison were posing: why marriage? We knew we wanted to “be together,” of course. Forever. We are best friends, partners, yin and yang, and yang and yin. It’s impossible to imagine waking up or falling asleep without Dustin there. But why bother to formalize our relationship if we already know how strongly we feel? Why did I go to elaborate lengths to get down on one knee on a boat somewhere off the shores of Sweden, and why did Dustin choke back the tears to say yes? Why are we stressing about DJs and photographers? Why obsess over a technicality?

After mulling it over for the past few weeks—the wedding, after all, is fast approaching, and a guy should probably banish these questions from his brain before saying “I do”—I think have my answer. Dustin and I are not “getting anything” out of this deal. Or at least we’re not getting what previous generations of men and women were conditioned to expect. I’m not getting a cooking, cleaning, child-rearing machine. She’s not getting a bringer-home of the bacon. I clean. Both of us cook. Sometimes, Dustin earns more money than I do. Sometimes she doesn’t. We both go to work every day. We both have careers. And when we have children, we’ll both take turns staying home to raise them.

In other words, our roles within the relationship are not defined by gender. They’re defined by who we are as people.

And that’s the point. Stripping marriage of all its antiquated ancillary benefits—its grubby socioeconomic justifications—might make it “unnecessary,” strictly speaking. But it also makes it much more … well, romantic. (This logic applies to gay marriage as well.) Dustin doesn’t need marriage for financial security, or to ensure that I help raise our children. I don’t need a housewife. The tax breaks are irrelevant. All we’re “getting” is each other. In a world where the practical reasons for marriage no longer apply, the only reason left is love. And while cohabitation and monogamy are dandy—Dustin and I have practiced both for years—I’d rather express my affection by indulging in a defiant, irrational, outmoded act of pure symbolism than by simply maintaining the status quo. Doing what you don’t have to do is always more meaningful than doing what’s necessary.”

So apparently, the fact that we’re married just makes Trevor and I MORE romantic, if anything. The getting-him-to-clean-the-shower type stuff, we can keep working on. I’m sure he’d like me to work on the getting-her-to-pay-the-cable-bill type stuff, too, so I guess we both have something to work towards. At least we love each other enough to try.

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Continuing my apparent theme of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – I just totally nerded out for the last hour and a half on various Modnation forums, trying to figure out why Trevor and our friends and I can’t get the online play function to work properly for us with this game.

I joined two forums I may never actually use again, the official Playstation Modnation Racers forum & Modnation Online, just so I could post some questions and make some replies, and try to get to the bottom of all this.

After discovering that this was a common problem/complaint and there is no fix for it yet, I then also proceeded to fill out a feedback form for the official feedback thread on the Playstation forum – because, according to a bunch of other people on there, that’s what you’re supposed to do if you actually want to see change.

I feel strangely accomplished right now…even if all Trevor did when I told him all this was tell me JP had already told him, and then dismiss me, pointing to his earpiece  and arching his brow to indicate he was in the middle of something.

This morning at work, I was still in a bad mood from an unresolved incident between Trevor and me last night – and I was trying to tell one of my sympathetic coworkers about it when another coworker walked in and caught just the tail end. He spun around and said, “you got in a fight with your husband over a video game?!” He had missed all the context, so I just blew him off, but when I thought about it later, I was kind of like, “well, yea, I kind of did. I mean, we kind of do that a lot”.

I mean, it’s not like I go around judging his gaming choices or anything. It’s not like our fights center around “why the hell are you playing Hard Rain? It’s dumb”. But I feel like I can trace a lot the arguments we’ve had during our relationship to not only his relationship with gaming, but to my relationship with gaming, and, more specifically, my relationship with his gaming.

Mostly I just feel left out, I think. I’m not skilled enough to play the games he likes the most, and the games I like the most are not usually games that can hold his attention for very long. And then, often, the games he likes that I might find interesting and might want to try regardless of my skill level, are single-player, so we can’t truly play together anyway. On the rare occasion when we both like a game that is multiplayer, I still don’t usually get to play it very often because it’s his console, his sanctuary of an office/game room, and his time with his friends that I have to interrupt and intrude upon in order to play, and I do feel like an intruder when I do this. Usually playing with me means online play is out, too, which just cuts him off more from the reason he’s there in the first place – to play games with his friends.

I think it’s funny when Trevor and his friends complain about how their significant others aren’t into gaming, though. Funny, and kind of ironic, because why would we be interested when instead of being something that brings us together, as it surely has the potential to be, it’s really more something that pushes us apart, that gets between us? Sometimes I feel like they just put it into this realm of “this is not something I do with you, except when it’s convenient for me, and only when it’s completely on my terms” – and that’s just not always going to work for me, and it’s certainly not likely to be the most effective way to get me excited about it.

Trevor bought me an Xbox 360 last year, and I’m really happy to have one of my own, but as it sits collecting dust inbetween my fevered bouts of Guitar Hero play, next to my seldom-used Wii, I begin to think he really misses the point a lot when it comes to me and him and gaming. There are some games I like on my own, for my own sake (the aforementioned Guitar Hero being one in a very short list which includes Rayman’s Raving Rabbids and House of the Dead and Rock Band and a few others). But mostly I want to know more about gaming, I want to play more only because I want to spend more time with him and understand something that he is so very invested in and enjoys so much, and see if I can find things to enjoy about it, too.

For example, with model-building, it’s not like I have no interest of my own, it’s just that my own vague curiosity was never strong enough to overcome the intimidation and fear I felt in the face of all those beautiful scale replicas – so I never went out and tried it on my own. But when my curiosity is combined with the fact that it’s an activity he loves and that he does well and can help me with, that makes trying it out an obvious choice. It’s very much the same with video games – I liked them before, but I want to like them more now that I’m with someone who loves them so much and plays them so often.

It’s also all part of an effort to get him to just let me in. But I get tired of trying sometimes. And sometimes I think he doesn’t want to let me in, not to this. Which is fine, he should have those things, things of his own – I just wish he had chosen something he doesn’t want to do all the time, or that, if he’s going to choose gaming to be that thing, he wouldn’t do it all the time. One or the other, that’s all I’m asking.

Oh, and some help with my model, please. And maybe some help learning how to walk forward and shoot at the same time while playing first-person shooters wouldn’t hurt either.

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…join them.

I’m gonna try to put together my very own model! I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Whenever I have been to Bridgetown Hobbies and Games (which is an extremely cool place, btw) I have always been the only female in the place (except when my mom and I go together, but then we’re the only two). Today when I went with Trevor was no exception. While I was looking at games, I was privy to a conversation between one of the store employees and a customer he was explaining a game to. They were lamenting their wives’ lack of interest in games, but it quickly became clear from both sides of the conversation that their wives did have games they liked to play, they just weren’t usually the same games their husbands liked to play, and they didn’t usually want to play them quite as often or for quite as long. This is exactly what goes on between Trevor and I, however listening to their own stories about their respective wives, I started to feel a little better. After all, sure, Trevor could have done better. He could’ve found a Felicia Day gamer-girl extraordinaire (although how many of those actually exist is in doubt).  But he also could have done a lot worse – at least I love board games and card games, and I’ll try almost any new game at least once.

In the middle of these two guys’ conversation, I shouted across the room to Trevor about a game we were looking for that I couldn’t find, and he made another comment back to me about a different game he thought I’d like. They both stopped talking and looked at me in amazement. They seemed briefly mystified by me, and I got the distinct feeling that, though their wives play with them sometimes, they certainly aren’t going to the store with them and pointing out different games they’d like to try. And so I feel a little better now about Trevor and my’s varying degrees of interest in gaming. Yes, any video game where I’m expected to master walking forward and looking around/aiming simultaneously is going to mystify me. But, I’ll try your crazy Call of Cthulu board game with nine million game pieces and cards and thingamajigs, and hey, I just found a model of a B-25 I want to try to build if you will help me.

Progress!

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Are you fonder of me because of my internet absence? I really need to get better about this whole blogging thing. Thank god it’s not for profit, I would be awful at that.

Anyway.

Trevor just got back from a visit to his hometown of Fresno, CA yesterday. He had been gone since last Sunday. I always think when my husband is gone I will miss him terribly the whole time, and then I’m shocked when that first day or two are actually kind of pleasant without him. Then the novelty completely wears off very quickly, and it turns out I do miss him terribly after all, such that by the time he actually gets back, I’m desperate to see him.

The thing about those first two days is that they’re quieter. I didn’t realize until he left just how much I miss the quiet of a house sans video games or tv. Reading was a whole new experience. I sat in the living room and there was no incessant background noise, it was just quiet and still and peaceful. That’s how I experienced it in the beginning, as a novel kind of relief from the usual routine. But, nearing the end of the week it started to seem too quiet. And I felt so alone.

My constant complaint to Trevor is that I didn’t get married, or get into a relationship, so that I could be alone all the time. I want to do more with him, do more together. We do a lot of stuff near each other, but not with each other, and I’ve always held that it’s just that difference which often makes me feel so lonely or isolated, even though we spend so much time in the same apartment together. But when he wasn’t here, and I was truly alone in the apartment, I realized that just being near him is, after all, a lot. Perhaps more importantly, it’s enough.

By the end of his vacation, I could no longer sleep through the night the way I could the first day or two. I missed having him near me, and I tossed and turned without his familiar, comforting presence there in the bed with me. Now that he’s back, the apartment is once again filled with the sounds of gunfire and grenade explosions that come from his various video games. I won’t go so far as to say I’m pleased by that, but perversely I did miss it in a way and it’s oddly comforting to have it back. Our apartment sounds like it’s supposed to again.

And once again I’m reminded of how much the small things in life are what make everything worth it. A bubble bath, a cup of tea, a good book, and, yes, the background noise that results from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – sometimes you don’t even realize you miss these things until you’ve gone too long without them.

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