The (Not-so-great) Noticer

One of the Mister’s favorite things to say about me is that he could “lock me in an empty room with a tiger and I wouldn’t know it was there until it started chewing on me.” Which, unfortunately, is probably true.
I don’t notice anything. An elephant could cross the street right behind me as I checked the mail and there is a very good chance I would never know it was there.
If a friend changes her appearance somehow – like if she gets her hair cut – unless I’ve seen her in the past day or two, nine times out of ten I won’t notice. The best you can hope for is that I can tell something is a little different, but I probably won’t be able to tell you what it is.
The Mister, on the other hand, notices everything! We’ll be driving down the road and he’ll see a hawk on a tree limb on the opposite side of a field. We’ll be watching a tv show and a character’s bathrobe could be tied on the left before the commercial break and on the right afterwards, and he’ll point it out.
It’s not unusual for us to be standing in a store and the Mister will point out a poster or some such thing (today in Kirkland’s it was a giant tiger painting, ironically) on a shelf, and it will take five minutes of pointing and describing before I have the slightest idea what he’s talking about. It’s sad. If we lived in the jungle, I really would be eaten.
One day a few months ago, for example, the Mister went to work in his usual blue jeans, boots and t-shirt, and came home in a different t-shirt, soccer shorts and somebody else’s rain boots. He purposefully paraded around the living room in his new attire, flaunting the rubber boots right in front of me, for about fifteen minutes. In the end, he still had to point out his change of clothes and the only thing I asked was why he was wearing rubber boots in the house. (There was a reason for the change, but I don’t remember what it was. It probably involved manure of some kind.)
This ultimately begs the question, “What am I going to do when we have kids?” They aren’t going to get in trouble for anything because Mom won’t ever notice they’ve done it. Sure, I may notice that something looks different about one of them or that my flowerbeds look slightly askew, but my greatest threat will have to be, “You just wait until your father gets home. Then he’ll tell me what you’ve done!”
The most common phrase uttered in our house is going to be, “Honey… Did you know that….?” With my response being something along the lines of, “Huh?”
So I’ll either be the most “awesome” mom on the block, where kids can get away with most anything as long as there isn’t blood everywhere, or I’ll be the mother everyone talks about because my child’s hair is four inches shorter on one side and it hasn’t occurred to me to fix it.
Or probably both.

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It’s just shrubbery…

I’m going to commit one of the cardinal sins — I’m going to poke fun at my mother in law. 
(Don’t worry. She knows and she’s ok with it.) 

The mister and I have been hearing for at least a week about how excited the mother in law is to decorate her house for our Christmas arrival and prepare her Christmas brunch list. So when we get to her house Sunday afternoon, she wants us to come see her tree in the living room. We’re expecting an exceptional display, and the tree is beautiful! All lit up and covered in red ball ornaments, surrounded by glittering presents and gift bags bursting with colorful paper. It truly is impressive. 

Partly because it’s only two and a half feet tall. On a step-stool. 

Instead of reacting to our surprised stares, however, she rushed to show us the other piece of holiday joy in her house — a snowman on the computer room desk. Very festive. She just laughed at our expressions. 

Her response to our teasing went something like this: “He’s (meaning the mister) out of the house! I don’t care anymore. When it’s time to take the tree down, I’ll put it in a trash bag and stuff it in the attic and be done! Voila!!” She was so excited, and it’s hard to keep teasing a woman who’s so joyful about a tree in a bag.

This is actually not an unusual exchange at my in-law’s house. It’s perfectly normal for us to sit in the computer room and debate the merits of the Elvis Presley ‘Blue Christmas’ version versus that of Porky Pig. (Which is what we’re doing at this very moment, as I’m writing this.) But you can’t help but love them. They even provide entertainment when they’re not around, as the mister and I had fun allowing people to believe Richard Geer was at our wedding (the father in law looks just like him. And I’m not exaggerating.)

So, I suppose the long story short is that I have been blessed with a wonderful in-law family. My biological family is wonderful too, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I think there is something to be said for having chosen a good in-law family. It just shows, more than anything else I can think of, that I truly do have good taste. 🙂 

The Voice(s) of Reason

The Mister is often the voice of reason in our house. However, he’s also the voice of many other things. Howie Mandel’s “Bobby,” the white bat from Anastasia, “Gru” from Despicable Me, Batman and the penguin from that Pier 1 commercial come immediately to mind.

I don’t know how he does it, but he knows which voice to pull out to make me crack up laughing every time. And I mean every. single. time. I don’t know why hearing the voice of that penguin giggle and say “my foot’s smooshed in a cupcake” never gets old. I don’t know why it’s not annoying to hear an entire day’s activities narrated in the Russian-ish voice of Gru. It should be, but it’s not.

Everyone I’ve ever talked to has always said that finding someone who makes you laugh is one of the most important aspects of a relationship, and I agree it’s definitely in the top 5. I dated a guy once that was incredibly intelligent and we had deep, world-problem-solving conversations, but he wasn’t funny. It just wasn’t his nature.

The Mister, on the other hand, is not afraid to joke his way out of trouble and pull out the “Bobby” voice to distract me from whatever I was about to get upset about. I’m usually so busy laughing at his narration and accompanying gestures that I forget why the problem was a problem in the first place.

It’s also a very good way to relieve tension. Like when we could hear water dripping in our bathroom ceiling and a bulge above the shower was getting bigger, hearing Matthew tell me we should call the maintenance department was depressing. Hearing the “Bobby” voice say, “Uh oh… somefing is dwipping…” was hilarious.

I realize this is one of those posts you can’t truly appreciate unless you’ve been there in the moment, but it’s actually, somehow, become an important part of our marriage. The voices are something that only we truly appreciate and that never transfer well in the retelling. It’s like they’re our own little jokes the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

So don’t worry about me. The next time I do something that may seem a little off, it’s probably because Batman told me to.

From My More Muscular Half

This week’s post was written by a guest columnist. He’s finishing up a news writing class right now (much to his complaint and distress), but he’s not all that bad, actually. The following is a column he wrote for his publication credit in said class, and I wanted to share it with all of you. So here, without further ado, is The Mister is his Nut House debut. 🙂

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I’m a regular student at UTM.  I get up every morning, go to class, work, study and sleep.  One thing makes me a little different than most students:  I have a gold band on my left hand.

When most students find out I’m married, they look at me like I’ve grown an extra arm.  The same questions are generally asked when people find out:  “How old are you?” “Are you having a baby?” and “Why?”

The answers are as follows:  22, Lord willing not for a while, and because I love my wife.  I know I’m not the only student at UTM who is married, but there aren’t just tons of married students running around campus.  The other question usually asked by closer friends and family is: “How is married life?”  So here’s the truth:

I love it.  My wife and I have loved and supported each other through this past semester and it has made it one of my favorites.  Married life is also busy.  We’re “big kids” now.  We have bills, rent, insurance, etc., all on top of having to go to class, but we get by the best we can and so far we’re doing fine.  All in all I love it and I wouldn’t go back for anything.

The final question from those who tend to look at me like I’ve grown extra appendages is: “How do you survive?”  We survive like every college student and relationship.  We live within our means to the best of our ability.  We make time to go out and do special things, but we remember that we have bills and we’re living on a fixed income.

We communicate and listen to each other.  Communication is crucial to any relationship and married life is no different.  We also love each other.  Not just say it, but live it by supporting each other.  Support is not just those words of encouragement, but getting involved and helping when possible.

So how is married life?  It’s different that’s for sure, but it’s great.  If you’re engaged and want to wait until after school to get married, that’s great.  If you’re like us, then you now know it isn’t impossible to be a married college student.  I promise you won’t grow any more arms.

The Bare Minimum

Our last week article was about my confessions as an over-achiever and how I really only do the bare minimum to get by. This is true in more than just my academic life.

Unfortunately, this is also true in my spiritual life. I am more of a “Sunday-Wednesday Christian” than I care to admit, and I know that is something I need to work on soon and fast.

On that note, something was said in our Sunday morning adult bible class this week that really made me stop and think: “If you don’t enjoy doing the things a Christian should be doing – if you don’t enjoy fellowshipping with the saints, spending time in song and worship or finding new things in God’s word – then, assuming you can make it into Heaven on the bare minimum (which you can’t), you’re going to be miserable for eternity because those things are what the people in Heaven will be doing.”

This is true. Revelations 7:15 says that those before the throne in Heaven “serve Him [God] day and night in His temple” (NASV). If you’re just a Sunday-Wednesday Christian now, but really enjoy the people and activities of the world during the week, then assuming you can get into Heaven (which, again, you can’t) you’ll have to spend eternity worshipping, singing and listening to the words of the Lord – something you won’t enjoy any more then than you do now.

On the flip side, just because you may enjoy the sinful people and things of this world does not mean Hell is a place you would have fun. Even in the most evil places in the world, there is somewhere a glint of goodness, because there is goodness deep inside all men.

In Hell, however, those last flashes of goodness will have been wiped out. It is a place of complete and total depravity; a place filled with the most terrible companions imaginable. That’s not really the type of evil you enjoy, is it? It’s not a type of evil we can comprehend, because something that completely and totally wicked does not exist here in this world.

What does the bare minimum get you? Well, in the story of the servant who buried his one talent (Matthew 25:13-30; Luke 19:12-28), it got him cast “into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v.30). He didn’t use the talent (a unit of money) wickedly. He didn’t order a hooker or hire a hit man or even waste it on booze and cigarettes. He buried it and kept it safe until his master returned.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was to use the money profitably and bring home an increase, just as God wants us to take our talents and blessings and go out into the world and bring home other souls. In this, the servant failed. In this, many of us are failing. Am I? Are you? Let’s think on these things.

 

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) . . .  but “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. . .’” (Acts 2:38).

Confessions of an Over-Achiever

It may come as a surprise to many of my professors over the years, but I am actually a slacker. I am a procrastinator. I take advantage of the system.

My personal motto is “work smart, not hard,” and if I can repurpose an old essay, project or idea I will do it in a heartbeat. I really don’t want to do any more work than I have to.

I work really hard at the beginning of semesters for the sole purpose of being able to slack off later in the year. If I rack up 50 bonus points early on, and then only have to make a 40 on the final exam to keep my A in the class, that means I get a free ride. Do I study for that test? No sir, I do not. I go in and answer the questions I know and fill in random bubbles for the questions I don’t. Confessions of an overachiever: We’re not overachievers to be the best. We’re overachievers so we build wiggle room to be lazy.

Sometimes my definition of “bare minimum” is different from that of others’, however. For some, the bare minimum is whatever is necessary to get a C and graduate. For me, it’s whatever is necessary to get an A and graduate at the top. But it’s still the bare minimum.

And that still only applies to classes and assignments that I feel are relevant and useful. Intro to music? History of theatre? I think I only went to class for the exams. Last-minute busy work assignments that I know won’t get graded before grades are due? Forget it. Final exams in courses that drop the lowest score? I won’t even look at it. (Almost lost my 4.0 that way once, but that was a long time ago and I’ve refined my method since then.)

I know people will say, “When you get out into the work force you can’t count on racking up points. You’ll have to do the work.” Yes, and I plan to. I’ll work hard when it benefits me and the work is applicable. This is not always true in the classroom setting.

Another confession (pay attention Dr. R): I do not like to be at the top of everything all the time. In the English department here, there is one particular student who is a wonderful writer; we’ll call her “Christy.” Every spring the department hosts a writing contest with four categories, and Christy wins every category every year without fail. She’s very good at what she does and her pieces deserve to win, but it’s very discouraging to all the rest of us who work all semester only to know we don’t stand a chance of winning.

This past spring, I finally got an email saying I had placed in a category. I was so excited! The mister and I attended the awards banquet and the first three category winners were announced. Christy won two of them and I got honorable mention in one. The last category came up and I was on the edge of my seat, so excited to hear my name finally called as a winner. I had gotten a notice, after all. But, to my great shock and disappointment, I was called honorable mention again. . .  and Christy took home the prize for a third category. There’s nothing wrong with honorable mention awards, but I was crushed to have come so close and still lost twice to the same person I’d been fighting against for four years.

I don’t want to be someone else’s Christy. I don’t want to be that student that makes others not even want to compete because they already know the outcome. There are lots of students in my department that work very hard and are good at what they have chosen to study. They deserve honor and praise as much or more than I do.

When my advertising class had a campaign competition earlier this semester, I was chosen as a top-five finalist and I had expected this, to be frank. But I was hoping I would not win – that someone else would have that chance. And I didn’t. The girl who won had a good campaign and I had enjoyed her materials; she deserved it.

She wasn’t in class the day the winner was announced, and one of her friends told us all she had gotten a text from the girl earlier that said, “Just text me when Erin wins.” She had given up the fight, assuming I would take home the prize, and hadn’t even come to class that day. I’m glad she got it. I’m glad it wasn’t me. I don’t want to be someone else’s Christy.