June 2010

Mysterious happenings abound. A full carton of eggs vanished from my refrigerator and I can’t get over it. This particular carton was being saved for a large egg casserole I was planning on making for my brunchy birthday party. Straight out of the Relief Society cookbook, this casserole calls for a 32 oz bag of frozen hashbrowns, 1/2 pound of cubed ham, 2 cups of cheese, 1 whole onion, and a dozen eggs. It is presumed to be a delicious, gooey, mess and exactly what I know most party guests secretly hope for. Oh sure, we politely eat from the veggie and hummus tray, but what we really crave is starch and dairy: i.e. The Breakfast Casserole, (and maybe some mimosas to wash it down).

A month ago I made a latte for myself in an old, chipped mug I had purchased eight years ago in a Las Vegas gift shop. It’s terrible cheesy, a collage of playing cards, chips, and Vegas icons decorate the exterior. The cup is small and was purchased for only a dollar…I bought it because I had recently committed to drinking coffee and needed more mugs in my kitchen. I found a much better souvenir mug a day later, one that read “I Heart Las Vegas” in simple script. That mug is now missing and its not-so-attractive twin is still around. Or at least it was…the mug plus latte went missing for a full 24 hours before it resurfaced in the cupboard.

I had made my special coffee drink right before putting the baby down for his morning nap. The latte would be my reward for the sometimes 1/2 hour ordeal of talking my son into sleeping via rocking, nursing, bouncing, and generally cajoling him into closing his eyes. When I returned to the kitchen the drink was gone. I checked everywhere a simple mug could be found: cupboards, the fridge, the freezer, the living room. Reluctantly, I made a second drink. Surely, the latte would appear in a funny place, right? My house isn’t that big, I rarely go upstairs anymore, retracing my steps was simple (from kitchen to baby’s bedroom and back again).

A few days later, the mug reappeared, washed, and clean in the cupboard with the rest of its muggy kin. “Oh, I probably found it and put it away,” my husband said, which I found very, very hard to believe. Josh is notorious for leaving his dishes strewn around the house. Wouldn’t he take note of a full cup of coffee lying around? Besides, he’s more likely to let dishes lie.

Perhaps we have a late-in-coming ghost who likes children and has recently resurfaced now that we have a baby in the house. Many of you might recall my initial concern that our house might be haunted when we first moved in. Built in 1916, I often wonder about the house’s history from a trim little Craftsman built in the middle of nowhere during the early part of the 20th century to a dilapidated mess with an illegal Auto Repair business in the backyard (circa mid 1990’s). Surely, someone has died in this house or had someone die in their life and POOF, that ghost was hiding out until just the right moment.

This ghost is good natured…simply hiding items is certainly better then haunting us or terrorizing us in our dreams. Perhaps this ghost is what has kept us safe as the pesky neighborhood crime whispers around us: cars stolen, occasional windows smashed, graffiti tagged, the scariest of stats ebbing and flowing on the Seattle Neighborhood Association’s interactive map. I’ve long thought the irritating pair of chihuahuas next door have kept our house remarkably safe–no one wants to waste time breaking in with a pair of ratty dogs screeching at the top of their lungs a few feet away.

But perhaps, it’s been a spirit all along. One that enjoys playing little tricks. Perhaps this ghost is not used to me being home all day long, day in, day out…the dreaded ‘stay-at-home Mom’ title sneaking up on me every now and then. (But I’m not! I teach 2 classes a week and perform regularly). Maybe this ghost is a mother who hides in the kitchen and is baffled by my constant attempts at culinary excellence. From homemade ice cream to fancy cupcakes, I spend hours in my kitchen. My son plays on the floor, gnawing on a pair of measuring spoons, while I whisk and stir. I pound out the fear that someone will swoop in unannounced, ready to steal our belongings and run off with my child. I beat eggs furiously, grate cheese with protective gusto and chase the fear away.

But somewhere, I know, there are a carton of eggs just waiting to be found, right? There just has to be…I know I bought them.

In an attempt to make peace in our household, I find that my husband and I have resorted to sweets. After a recent argument (stupidly held at the unreasonable hour of 2am), he came home the next day bearing Molly Moon ice cream and I, in turn, brought two offerings from Cupcake Royale.

Our arguments have changed over the years. When we were courting, we would spend hours in the car traveling the 1-5 corridor. He lived outside of Portland, I lived in Seattle; it was a romance we decided would only last for the summer of 1999. Together in the car, passionately debated the merits of religion, politics, and LIFE, that big, beautiful world we were using as our playground. I was fresh out of college and throwing around all sorts of big words thanks to my freshly graduated, newly acquired, academic vocabulary (‘homogeneous’ is one of the words I can recall overusing). Josh had recently spent two years in Brazil, and his new found worldliness made him extra sexy as he expounded on the struggles and hardships of South America. The hours we had in the car, unfettered and totally free, allowed us to really get to know each other…we decided to continue dating after the summer.

After I dropped everything and joined him to become a snowboard bum in the CO mountains, our arguments transitioned into that of any new relationship: space, time, food, and habits. Neither of us had ever lived with the opposite sex before. Standard issues like toilet seats being left up, milk cartons found accidentally left in the cupboard, and clothes left all over the place were standard grievances. Larger fights involved a certain person loaning the other one’s car out to a fellow mountain local (who didn’t have a driver’s license due to a head on collision with a bus the year prior). Time and time again I was continually putting my foot in my mouth at various parties (subsequently causing embarrassment and eventual scolding on the drive home). As we transitioned out of being a new couple into a more seasoned one, we learned to forgive one another’s respective quirks and relished in the simple fact that we had each other. The twenty-something years are typically filled with lost, wandering, feelings as one scrapes out a living and tries to become an adult. We felt lucky that we had each other during those times.

After marriage, we fell into a few standard arguments: the dishes, money, and, oh, I don’t know…me putting my foot in my mouth in front of friends and (his) family. The arguments fell into such a usual pattern it was if they were scripted. A few things were resolved, i.e: I clean the dishes and Josh puts them away. I am also in charge of sending Josh monthly emails that usually involve me FREAKING out about our finances (I don’t think he even reads these anymore). We’ve developed a series of hand signals which we use during public events (usually indicating the desire to ‘leave…NOW.’) When I was pregnant we rarely argued, so astonished by the enormous undertaking we were about to embark, Josh tiptoed around me in stoic reverence. I glowed, I waddled, I expounded my new-found sense of taking on the world, one pregnancy at a time.

Then the baby came…and at first we didn’t argue at all. We simply put our heads down and plowed through the inexplicable exhaustion, the sleepless nights, arms going numb from jiggling the baby in a rhythmic, hopefully sleep-inducing, dance. We approached newbornhood as a team, determined to make it out together. Because babies are constantly changing with no predictable pattern, it was hard to get any real rhythm going. And while the sleeping has gotten better, it still doesn’t change the basic feeling of being unrested that I feel from day to day.

After the first three months, Josh started sleeping through the night again as the baby made his preference for his mother loud and clear. I masked my resentment with the resigned acceptance of a martyr. Sure, I had the boobs, the food, the familiarity…but couldn’t the baby understand that a bottle was a fine substitute? Sure, Dad smells different…kind of like an office building…but that’s ok too! I always had this rule pre-baby: No fighting with Josh after 10pm. All arguments were on hold until the morning. Now the rule should really change to: no fighting at 2am.

Last week, at the unfair hour of 11:30pm (too late to be still in the evening, and too early to really get any sleep under my belt), the baby called out. I had been enjoying a really nice spoon, the kind where everything feels right in the world. I was so tired I was experienced “Floating Bed Syndrome,” where the whole mattress feels airborne. My husband had been whispering sweet nothings in my ear before he abruptly dropped off into a deep sleep. I was following him, blissfully, into a state of dreaming. With my child making his wakefullness known, I rolled out of my hubbie’s embrace and into the cold, blanketless world.

The encounter didn’t take long, about 10 minutes, before I staggered back into bed, eager to feel the warmth and love of my marital bed. Josh was not in the same position I had left him in. He was lying flat on his stomach, turned away from my side of the bed, with a pillow over his head. I slid into bed and tried to turn him over…wouldn’t he like to continue snuggling? His shoulder was unresponsive. I lifted the pillow off his head and made my wishes known…silence. I lay there in the dark, the chill of being up in the middle of the night still on me. “Pssst,” I whispered. “Can you spoon me? Hey…hey….can you SPOON ME?” Hubbie woke up with a start, disoriented and confused: “Snnrrgggfff.” Thus began a two hour siege involving me becoming the most unspoonable human on the planet and yet outraged that Josh wouldn’t comply. Threats were thrown, pillows were gathered up, the couch was slept on briefly before I bribed him back to bed (only to immediately pick up my spoon crusade again). The sheer injustice of not being spooned was so palpable, so personal, that I could not let it go. I found myself blubbering in the dark next to my baffled, (but stubborn), husband.

Sleep dep does remarkable things to one’s spirit. Arguments you would never have in the broad daylight at a reasonable hour occur in the darkest of times. The rational side of me is the first thing to go. Suddenly, my wild imagination takes over and I become this crazed, unlovable, harpy. I am lucky that I have a partner who knows me so thoroughly. “I love how open and honest you are about your feelings,” he once said during the many car trips we took on the I-5 corridor eleven years ago. “I never have to guess how you’re feeling.” The coy, secretive, Geisha was never my style.

Silently, we eat our ‘truce’ cupcakes and lick our ‘make up’ ice cream. Sometimes, I worry about the occasionally dark turn our arguments have taken. What happened to the sweet simple days of fighting over who does the dishes? Will we ever lapse back into making fun of each other’s house cleaning quirks? Despite this, there is laughter behind our eyes, because despite the argument aftermath, I know we’ll tell this story again: “Remember how I yelled at you to spoon me at 2am? That was so, so funny…”