Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Jet-Lagged Thanks

Are you still with me? 
Apologies for my absence.  The past weekend and week were a bit hectic and I didn’t make writing a priority (bad blogger/writer).
Now I am safely ensconced in my parents’ house in SouthWest Cleveland for the next month.  Without transportation.

Lord, what have I done?

Why did I think leaving my husband for a month would be a good idea? 
When I booked this trip, I thought a month away on my own would be a healthy and empowering experience.  And maybe it would if I had actually made some plans.  In an unexplained brain-dead moment I pictured spending my days catching up with old friends and doing some writing, maybe starting on that project I keep thinking about. 
But then I realized all my friends and family members have jobs and/or children.  I am the only ‘carefree’ housewife around with time to spare. 
So here I am, hanging out with the cats in my parents’ house, all the time in the world and nothing doing.  The cats make very boring housemates.  All they want to do is sleep.  Until I decide to make something to eat, then they want to fight to the death for my sandwich. 

Days of Thanks

I am behind.  Let’s see if I can get caught up quickly without too much waffling.

26. Internet Friends
This is a weird one, I know.  But in the last year I have made a few wonderful girlfriends all thanks to the internet.  Crazy.  On Saturday I met up with a few new friends in a pub to enjoy some cocktails and talk about a book.  Or at least that was the premise of our meet-up.   We didn’t do a lot of book talk.  We mostly just got to know each other and find some common ground.  Many of the women are displaced Americans which is always interesting to me.  I find it fascinating to see how other expats are blending culture and identity.  But what I found more fascinating was how many of us were currently identifying as housewives and feeling a bit ashamed about it. 
To be fair, I was ashamed about it at the beginning as well (as many readers will remember).  But the more women I met and the more I throw myself into being a housewife, the more uppity I get about that shame.  In the context of the book on the table and its thesis of declaring yourself a feminist because the work isn’t done, I will no longer feel shame or less-than for being a qualified woman that enjoys making a comfortable and happy home for her family of two.  And yes, I do enjoy it most days.  Sure there are days I resent the constant routine of housework, but how is that any different from my husband resenting the office he goes to every morning.  It is work that must be done and I am doing it.  Because it is ‘behind-the-scenes’ and unpaid it can be easy to fall into a trap of feeling like I’m not contributing.  And lord knows I have fallen into that sticky trap quite frequently.  But that trap is one that needs to be avoided.  If recent world financial history has taught us anything it should be that money does not equal ‘important’ or ‘meaningful’ contribution. 
I will not fall into that trap anymore, and I thank my new internet friends for showing me that I am not alone in my distress/enjoyment at this turn of events.  I see many housewives unite! meet-ups in our future.

25. Coupledom
Or more specifically, couple habits. 
This was our last day together for a month and between my string of minor freak-outs about packing at the last minute, we managed to throw in a few regular weekend activities to make the day seem a little more usual and spend some quality time together. 
The day before I apologized to the ladies at book club because I wanted to duck out early to spend some time with my husband before I went away.  I guess I felt that I was betraying my sex a bit by wanting to spend time with my ‘man’ over them.  They put me right straight away.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the company of your husband.  Why did I feel I needed to apologise? 
(do you sense a theme developing here?)
There is a narrative out there that after a few years husbands and wives transition from loving partners to tolerating co-habitators.  I don’t know where this comes from, but I suspect TV is to blame (it’s always a safe assumption).  How many sitcoms have we watched in which the main comedic arc has to do with some ‘relatable’ domestic argument/misunderstanding? 
Just as I will no longer feel shame at being Dr. Housewife, I will no longer be ashamed of preferring my husband’s company over anyone else’s.  We chose together forever for a reason.  Each couple has their way of operating and Pete and mine simple habits are an important part of our coupledom.

24. An extra two feet
My Monday morning flight to Cleveland via Charlotte was made all the more easier by gently encouraging my seat neighbour to take advantage of the other empty aisle seats dotted around the plane. 
This may have been a bit selfish, but I see no reason why I (and my seat neighbour) should be miserable if there is a way to make us both comfortable.  I politely refused to give up my aisle seat due to my usual travel sickness and a need to be able to escape my seat when necessary for my tiny bladder.  Luckily, the elderly gentleman to my right was just ornery enough to not ‘carry on’ in the usual British fashion but take some initiative to secure an empty aisle seat for himself a few rows up. 
The extra two feet of personal space made all the difference in that eight hour flight and made coping with a 3+ hour layover in Charlotte slightly more bearable.   I arrived in Cleveland exhausted, but in a much better mood than usual following a trans-Atlantic flight.

23. Unexpected good weather
My first day in Cleveland was an unexpected sunny and mild day.  After waffling around for three hours in the morning and finding it was still not even 9am yet (thank you body clock?) I decided to take advantage of the weather and head out for a run.  It was Tuesday Fit-day after all and I thought some morning exercise would be a great way to get into the right time zone and flush out any residual bloating from the plane. 
It wasn’t my best time or effort and the scenery along my route through a southern suburb was not as impressive as the Thames, but exercise is exercise and I was very thankful that I was able to keep up my fitness without having to find a gym.  And, if I’m completely honest, I was surprised and proud of myself for taking the initiative to make my fitness a priority. 
I’ve come a long way, baby. 

Which brings us to today…

22. Trinculo
My cat.  He resides with my parents so I only see him when I visit and it takes him a few days to figure out who I am, but he is a cutie.  We are still in the remembering phase right now, but we had a good cuddle yesterday and he is slowly resigning himself to repeated interruptions to his day-long nap. 
He has also provided a particular poignant illustration in the complex relationship between parents and adult children.  He gets grumpy with me when I relate to him in the same way I did when I left him here as a kitten.  He has obviously matured into a grumpy old cat/cheeky adolescent with new habits and preferences and I am ignoring the changes in an attempt to relive/reclaim our past relationship. 
He is only a cat, but in order to have any relationship with him I have to pay attention to his new ways and preferences and accept that he is no longer my little boy. 
Today I am thankful for my cat and the lessons he continues to teach me about family dynamics. 


  1. I enjoyed the bit about husbands)) I love spending time with my husband. We are so comfortable in each other's company, that sometimes (well, more often than not) we actually prefer it that way, rather than going out with people we know (I don't say friends, as I think we all only have 1 or two true life long friends, all the other people, no matter how nice are acquaintances) :) Thank you for sharing your musings! Enjoying reading your blog as always! x

  2. I'm in the same position re: being around when everyone else is in their normal work lives. I've taken to a really quiet routine during the days (and it is quiet, but I do get to do what I want to do) and then being really flexible in the evenings as to who can do what when. It's so weird, the life you have in different places; I feel more alive in some ways when in my old haunts but not settled in other ways. (And yes, I miss himself as well!)

    Hopefully you'll settle into a rhythm.

  3. I love thankful point 25, and remember we talked a little bit about it at the first book club we met at. As nice as it is to go out and get together with friends, I know I'm a homebody at heart and my very favorite evenings involve me, J, a movie and a large bowl of popcorn. We definitely shouldn't feel ashamed that we actually like to spend time with the people we've chosen to spend our lives with.

    Anyway, hope you're settling into Cleveland life a little bit. I'm sure you'll get a lot out of it, even if it doesn't seem like it now. And, if nothing else, it will make for a hell of a reunion with the husband when you come home :)