Breaking The Man Rule

I cried in the office today. 

That has never happened before.  I was on a conference call when I clicked the refresh button on my screen and the reaction was involuntary.  I pressed the mute button on my phone, closed the door and cried an ugly, snotty, guttural type of cry that is never, not unattractive.  It was the type of cry that you make when your wriggling new-born baby is first placed on your chest; when the love of your life returns from war; when he looks at you and tells you that he cannot live without you for the rest of his life; when the nation of your birth finally declares that your marriage is indeed as valid and legal as every other married couple’s union. 
It was an ugly cry, but a beautiful moment.

I composed myself and then dialed my husband’s phone number.  My husband, I can call him that now and people who live in states that don’t recognize my marriage can no longer tell me that he is not.  He did not answer.  When I heard the recording of his voice, I cried again.
We were married three years ago on June 19th in a suburb of Boston in the back yard of his parent’s house. Our family, our friends and everyone who mattered cried with us when we stood in front of them under a brilliant white tent and declared our love for each other.  We were married then and it was final.  So, I was unprepared for the wave of emotion that welled up in me this morning when DOMA was declared unconstitutional.

Then I realized that like most of life’s golden moments the release of emotions comes from the realization that a struggle or fear has been resolved and not simply from the moment itself.  Will my baby be healthy?  Will he return?  Will I find true love?  Will my husband be cared for if I die? Will the world ever change?

I opened the door and walked to the break room.  The receptionist asked me how I was doing.  “I’m married now!” I wanted to say, but said “Just fine!” instead. 
When Phil started talking to me about a method to re-use our VBA code and his concern about how we might be jeopardizing our analysis with these one off modifications I replied “Who cares? I’m fucking married now!”
No, I didn’t.  Because this was my personal golden moment and when you are a member of polite society there are certain rules that you follow.The world continued to spin like it had twenty minutes ago.  The Earth did not explode. Straight marriages did not begin to fall apart, children still had mommies and daddies and work continued to pile up.

There are also unwritten rules for men about crying. 
Don’t cry during a chick flick. 
Don’t cry when you are frustrated. 
Don’t cry when people expect you to be a source of strength. 
Don’t cry in the office. 
But I say fuck that.  I’m a rule breaker and some rules were meant to be broken or at least declared unconstitutional.  And when they are?  I might just cry.




There are two types of people in the world:  those that make lists and those that don’t.  If you were to make a list of these two types of people, Paul would be on the “makes a list” list and I would be on the “does not make a list” list. Most people who know us would  put themselves on the “No shit, Sherlock” list because it is a well-known fact that highly organized people make lists, while more creative types shun them.   On rare occasions a creative person may be a list maker but they are genetic mutants, Martha Stewart for example.  If you were to ask her about world hunger while she was chopping up a head of her favorite cabbage, her likely response would be “I just want to focus on making my salad”, which is why there should only be two types of people in the world.

List makers are always trying to convert non-list makers as if it were as easy as moving them from one column to the other.  But you are right handed or left handed, a smoker or a non-smoker, a mommy-blogger or not, a list-maker or non-list maker. My mother was one of the best non-list makers, so as they say in my hometown: “I git it from my Mama.”
Grocery lists, if they were ever created, were hastily scribbled en route to the store on the back of whatever piece of paper happened to be in the car, an envelope, a used napkin, a receipt.  “OK, what do we need?” my mother would ask us at a stoplight, pen in hand like an expectant waitress, looking up in the rear view mirror. 

“Coke! Cheesecake! Ice Cream!”  My brothers would answer as if these were actual Dameron family staples.
“Honey Combs cereal with a Bobby Sherman record on the back!”  I would offer as my brothers narrowed their eyes and punched me in the arm. 

“I’m not buying any of that crap!”  My mother would shoot back and then whisper “Damn” as she tried to write with an inkless pen.  Ironically enough, pens never seemed to make the list.
Invariably, we would end up a few items short of the necessities, but my mother was an expert at extending an item’s life span.  Palmolive dish soap became green tinted water, milk and water were interchangeable and napkins torn in half were both coffee filters and toilet paper, but never at the same time.  Once, my mother made pancakes with just two ingredients.  Proud of herself she put them on the table, stood back with her hands on her hips and said “There, now what do you think about that?”    

My brothers and I took a bite, grimaced and in unison said “These suck!”   If my mother kept a naughty list, we would certainly be on it.
It was somewhat of a revelation when I met Paul.  In his view, lists can solve any problem, probably even world hunger.  There is always some type of list in our house so we never run out of things.  When I shout “There are no more crackers!” from the kitchen Paul will walk to the pantry, pull out the backup box of crackers, hand them to me, swat me on the rear end and say “put them on the list” while looking over his shoulder.  In our list drawer, there are three neatly stacked pads of paper and four pens. 

I remained a non-list maker because when you are married to one, why bother?  But recently my friend Louise challenged me to make a list of things that made life worth living.  I suppose if you were to make only one list, this would be the one.
The list was easy enough to start:  my children, Paul, my family.  But as I started to add more items to the list it became more esoteric:  Sunday morning jazz, the ocean breeze on a Friday evening in Maine, the way a single streetlight illuminated Paul’s face on the first night we met and the wonder on his face as the sunlight danced above a purple fog on the Sonoma coast.  Some items are so bittersweet that they deserve their own list: the way my children’s mother cried when she gave them birth, and my hands underneath my father’s head as he took his last breath.   
There may actually be more than two types of people in the world or it may be more granular than I once believed, but between me and Paul we have it covered:  Those that love to make lists and those that make lists of love.

Linking up with Yeah-Write


Best Father's Day Gift Ever



Fathers Be Good To Your Daughters

When my daughters visit, they deposit little pieces of themselves all over our apartment: bras on the back of the bathroom door, empty glasses in the sink, and pretzels on the floor. When they leave, things go missing, like my heart....

I wish you all a Happy Father's Day.  Please stop by and read my father's day piece over at The Huffington Post:  Father Seeks Father


The Perfect Couple

My relationship with Paul is amazing because we never fight. 

That’s not entirely true, we rarely fight. I can count on one hand the number of arguments we have had, if that hand was deformed and if it had more than five fingers and less than forty six. But, nobody is counting here. Our arguments are few and far between.  Actually, we fought today.  Although I can’t really say that we fought today, because today we simply were not speaking to each other.  We fought last night when I told him he should wear a T-shirt with a picture of a crab on it to match his attitude instead of that stupid lobster T-shirt.  It was a cheap shot, I’ll admit, but sometimes a little humor can diffuse a tense situation. 
And sometimes, it does not.

I’m not here to say that we are the perfect family, but we are darn near close!  Sometimes I forget all of the painstaking, meticulous and laboriously detailed plans that Paul recounts ad infinitum and occasionally I can be callous when, oh let’s say, I laugh at his coming out song which happens to be “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera.  Remember Disney’s Mulan?  
And sometimes Paul can be less than enthusiastic about my writing projects and offer criticisms such as “I didn’t get it,” or “Does this one pay anything?”  But all in all we are so compatible it is almost scary. 

For example, he loves cars and I love to ride in them. He loves to cook and I like to eat. He loves to clean and I’m a mess.  I could go on and on, but you get the drift.  I’m the yang to his yin, which I suppose means we’re more opposite than alike, but if you think about it the whole yin/yang thing really ties us nicely back to Mulan, doesn’t it? 
Maybe our success as a couple has more to do with our eerily identical sense of humor.  Just the other day, I pulled a pair of Paul’s shorts out of the dryer, put them on and held the waist band out like I had just lost one hundred pounds and let them drop to the floor, then I encouraged him to try and squeeze into a pair of my jeans. We laughed and laughed!  You know now that I think about it I may have been laughing more than Paul, but he always tells me he’s really laughing on the inside when he reads one of my more humorous blog posts.

We are very secure.  That’s what it is when you get right down to it.  I’ll go out with my friends for a “girl’s night out” as Paul calls it and he’s not the least bit jealous.  He knows that I need some time with my friends Sam and Cary and the occasional validation from some drunken guy at a bar who’ll cop a feel.  I’ll come home and tell him how terribly attractive everyone thought I was and he doesn’t bat an eye!  That’s security right there and we have both got it in spades.
In the end we’re not afraid to admit when one of us is wrong.  I know that when Paul picks me up from work tonight and drives me home he’ll be thinking about how lucky he is to have found me.  I’ll go to the gym while he cooks dinner, and he’ll add a little bit of extra love to that meal as the final ingredient. And when I step out of the shower and sit down to a warm meal? 

He’ll apologize.

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