Thursday, October 14, 2004

Is it Time for My Tantrum?

Last year, while Randy completed all kinds of winter weatherization projects, I spent weekend after weekend curled up on the couch under a cozy afghan, a cup of lavender tea in hand. Why would I let my husband slave away all weekend, fixing the storm windows, sealing the driveway, cleaning out gutters, and adding insulation to the attic, while I finished reading another book? How could I be such a cruel partner, giving Randy project after project while I reclined on my backside?

Because I had the perfect excuse--graduate school. Another Greek drama text, that collection of Willa Cather stories, the stack of William Carlos Wiliams poetry, the writing journal, the chapbook project, and term paper after term paper to write. All fabulous reasons to stay in my pajamas instead of toiling in the garage, trying to figure out how the caulking gun work.

This year, when I finished graduate school, I vowed to help out more around the house. No more would I leave the dishes to Randy because I had a stack of papers to grade. No more would I rationalize letting the aged leftovers "mellow" in the fridge for another week because I had too much homework to do The diploma marked a new era. A return to the basics of home life that I'd neglected for three years. A return to home-cooked meals, to a grime-free kitchen, to regular use of the vacuum, and to an equal hand in the repair work around the house.

Well, so much for good intentions.

This weekend, I nearly threw a gasket when Randy suggested I help him repair cracks in the driveway. What? Spend hours crouched over a patch of cement, trying to force tar-like sealer into milimeter-wide cracks? Don't you understand I have a whole stack of books I need to read! Once Randy reminded me that 1) winter is coming and 2) I no longer receive grades for reading books, I came to my senses. By the end of the weekend, we had a nicely sealed driveway to show off to all our friends and family. And I still managed to do a little reading.

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana is my current book-in-progress. Reading this book, great chortles of laughter come spurting out of me unexpectedly. It can be disturbing to onlookers. During one outburst, Randy asked me what's so funny. I said, whipping tears form my eyes "See, the mother, she's trying to knit. And the little girl Zippy wants to play Interview. And...It's just funny. You have to be a knitter to understand." Take a look to see what I mean.

Me: "Mom. Mom. Mom. Hey. Let's do Interview."
Mom: "Not now, sweetheart. Let me just finish this arm." {Note: She was knitting a sweater.]
   We hear the "Me" character snort unhappily into the microphone, and something that sounds remarkably like cat fur. The recorder is shut off abruptly, and then comes back on.
Me:: "Hey, Mom. Mom. Mamamamamama. Let's do Interview now."
Mom: "We will. I'm almost done with this."
   There is generalized stomping and fury. The recorder is shut off, and then comes back on.
Me: "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Lootle ones to heem belonga. They are weak but he is stronga. Mom. Mom. It is time for Interview?"
Mom: "If you don't stop pestering me I'll never finish this sleeve and then we'll never play Interview."
   A little primal throaty sound. The recorder is shut off. Comes back on.
Mom:  "Good evening, and welcome to Interview. Let's just go straight to our guest and have her tell us her name. Can you tell us your name, miss?"
Me: "No."
Mom: [surprised] "Don't you know your name?"
Mom: "Okay, then, is there something else you'd like to tell our audience?"
Me "Not today."
Mom: "Well, then. I guess we'll just sign off. Would you like to say good-bye?"
Me: "No."
Tape is shut off.

My, I'm not sure which character I relate with more, the kid or the Mom. At times, I am the pouty eight-year-old, dying for some attention. Other times, I'm the cranky knitter, trying to finish one more row. In the words of Knit-Blogger Marilyn, Shut up, I'm counting stitches.


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