Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Reflections

In case you missed it, Valentine's Day was a couple of days ago.

Hallmark's favorite holiday after Christmas.

Did you know that one billion valentine's day cards are sent worldwide each year? It's true. I looked it up and learned something. One b i l l i o n. (Go ahead and say that drawn out with a pinky held at the corner of your mouth. It's more fun that way when you bring in a little Dr. Evil to the mix)

I was not one who joined in the masses of Valentine's card mailings. Or givings. Or even post-it note leaving.

It isn't that my husband and I didn't participate in some semblance of Valentine's celebration...we went to dinner at a friends house with some other couples and had a lovely meal, great conversation, and watched a really bad movie. So that was something.

I learned early on in my marriage that Valentine's isn't my husband's favorite holiday.

I remember buying a card (apparently Hallmark sold one billion and one that year), and a shirt for my husband of 5 months and presenting the gift to him that evening when he got off work. Our first Valentine's as a married kids yet to kill off brain know the drill.

I have pulled way back on my Valentine's giving since that year. He tried really hard, but couldn't actually bring himself to like the shirt I bought for him. He did keep the card though, so over the years I have given the occasional card, but left the clothes buying to him.

It all reminds me of the advice I have heard given to newlywed couples: Start the way you mean to go.

If you don't want to have to add Valentine's as a holiday to remember, don't start off with the extravagant gifts.

I can check that box off. Tried it the other way, didn't work. What we have now works fine. It is what we expect. It isn't a romantic holiday, but it is a good excuse to pretend to make really yummy sugar cookies to give to neighbors, but eat them all yourself...:)

Starting the way you mean to go is like when you make your husband a lunch to take to work. If you start packing a lunch for him, he is going to expect it. Makes sense. So unless you are going to keep doing it willingly, don't start making his lunch unless you are in it for the long haul.

Or like when you are first married and you and your husband are watching TV together and he says "I'm really thirsty", so you jump up and get him a nice beverage. Maybe even add crushed ice...and a straw if you are feeling really loving.

Fifteen (or seventeen) years later when he says "I'm really thirsty" and you pop off with the "Great. While you're up..." That doesn't go over quite as well when he has you trained to help him out of his parched predicament.

(I find it husband? Not so much. But we are getting to a good middle ground now, which is nice).

The one thing I never started was ironing. I hate to iron. Hate. But when I do iron I figure it shows that I care, right? (I'll just keep telling myself that...)

Starting as you mean to go is harder than it sounds. When you are newly married, you are still in the 'honeymoon' stage where you are trying harder to please so that your spouse doesn't start praying that they are just in the middle of a bad dream and are begging to wake up and find themselves single again.

The stage where your "quirks" are still endearing and not yet annoying.

So making lunch everyday with a cute little note slipped inside is more likely to occur in the first year of marriage.

By the fifth year, the note--if there still is one--will usually have fewer little heart doodles and more lists of 'To-do's for when you get home from work.

By the 23rd year you are probably making your own lunch and wondering how you got to that point.

Don't take it personally.

Life changes. Stuff happens. You get more comfortable with each other and don't feel the constant need to remind your spouse that you love them.

Which is probably the very best reason we have to celebrate Valentine's Day.

After a year of living and getting through all the ups and downs that life throws at you, it is nice to have a holiday that reminds you to tell your significant other how much they mean to you.

Because even if you are certain that they already know--I mean, after all...I DID iron those shirts for you...that one time...a few months is nice to have your partner acknowledge that you are an important part of their life. Someone you care for. Appreciate. Can't imagine life without.

You know. Love.

So if you forgot to mention to your better half on Valentine's Day that you are grateful for their presence in your life. Maybe we should change that.

You can never be told too often that someone is happy you are in their life and that you make living life more fun and entertaining than it would be otherwise.

Even if you go through life with a slightly wrinkled shirt and you pack your own lunch.

Happy belated Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"English is your mother tongue, and stuff."

Human vocabulary is fascinating. We have dictionaries with thousands and thousands of words--with pronunciations, forms, and a lot of the time the words have multiple definitions.

If you pick a random word of which you are fairly certain you know the correct meaning and look it up in the dictionary, there is a decent chance that it will be a little different than you thought. You might have the basics down on that word, but sometimes there is more than one way to use that particular word that catches you completely unaware.

For example, since I was feeling a bit melancholy today, I looked it up. One of the noun definitions for melancholy is 'black bile'.

Whatever the heck that is. I couldn't even really figure out how you would use the word melancholy to talk about black bile.

So you see, you don't always use some words in all the ways they could be used.

With my attention now caught for a moment, I saw that one of the synonyms for melancholy was 'funk'. So just for fun I entered f-u-n-k into the search and pulled up this definition:

Funk [fuhngk]

1.cowering fear; state of great fright or terror.
2.a dejected mood: He's been in a funk ever since she walked out on him.

–verb (used with object) be afraid of. frighten. shrink from; try to shirk.–verb (used without object) shrink or quail in fear.

I am probably showing my ignorance of the English language here, but honestly I always thought that only #2 was the definition of funk. When I think of being afraid or fear, the word funk never comes to my mind.

Of course, part of that could be due to the addition of the letter 'Y' to funk for a completely different word. Because, c'mon. How can you be afraid if you are funky? :)

I admit that I am not a wordsmith. Keeping it simple works for me. I don't have to think too hard, and anyone I am talking with doesn't have to pretend to understand what I am talking about.

I will admit that in the past I have pulled the 'dumb blond' maneuver to get out of a relationship with an overachieving wordsmith type. I was a senior in high school and dating a guy who was fond of coming over and reading the paper. He found me a bit naive and childish when instead of watching him read the paper (there was no paint around for me to watch dry...), I chose to go outside in the snow and play catch with a stray dog that happened by. Silly me.

Once I realized that his intelligence was his point of pride, it was really quite simple for me to figure out how to make him think it was HIS idea to break up with me.

I played dumb. And I played it well.

This is the guy who I might have mentioned before, as the one who poured out his life's drama to me and then got angry with me when I didn't have any similar stories of pain and anguish to share.

He popped off with a "Doesn't ANYTHING bother you???"

And my smart aleck (read "dumb", but I meant every word..which I guess is kind of sad...) response was "Yes. I hate it when you eat a peanut M&M and there is no peanut in it."

And the last nail in the coffin could be heard echoing throughout the room.

I saw him a couple of years later and he rattled off a complete sentence with more large words than a Thesaurus, then smiled a cocky smile and waited for my response to that one.

I honestly had no idea what he had said. Not one. I'm not sure it was even English. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation.

I looked at him blankly, shrugged, said "Nice talking with you" , and walked away.

To this day, the man still believes I am dumb as a post. Maybe so. But his life is still miserable and I still only really get bummed about peanut M&M's without a peanut. I can handle the dumb as a post title if my other option is so depressing.

This has been my pensive ramble for today. I hope someone learned a little something here--mainly for my resolution for 2009--and I hope that you think about looking up some words and learning something on your own too.

And if anyone can explain that 'black bile' thing to me that would be great.

Melancholy? Black bile? I just don't get it....