Friday, November 20, 2015

This Is Just To Say

This is just to say that... I have had absolutely no time to blog this week.  It's worse than normal.  Work is busier than ever. I went out to the Randy Dandies show Saturday, had a wedding show Sunday, had dinner at my parents' Monday, ran errands Tuesday, and had the Vendors Choice Wedding Awards last night.

So that left Wednesday night, in which I collapsed on the couch with Mark, a book, and Gotham, our latest Netflix binge show. And that's been all of my down time until tonight.

Half of me doesn't even know how it got to be Friday.  The other half knows that I'm going to feel this way until December.

That feeling is a little overwhelming, when all I want to do lately is stay home.  It's cold, it's dark, and I miss introverting.  I haven't had as much recharge time lately, and it might be starting to get to me.  On the other hand, it's not like I don't want to spend time doing the things I am doing.  I want to work.  I want to see my friends.  I want to be a good daughter who spends time with her parents.  And I want to go out to awards dinners and pretend to be Elsa.

Or wear a green dress with a green screen.  Whatever.

It's hard. It's only just getting into the season of socialization. Thanksgiving is next week. Christmas is all-too-soon after. And there's my parents' birthdays. Friends' birthdays. A million holiday parties Fish Eye Fun is booked at. 

I feel desperately behind in most things currently. Cleaning. Reading. Writing. Hanging out. A friend has taken to calling me "the mythical unicorn" because I'm notoriously absent from most events lately. 

Mostly, it can't be helped. I have to prioritize somewhere, and my job and my boyfriend are both at the top of the list. I just have to fit everything else in as best I can. 

And count the days till January and my much-needed vacation. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

PSA: Equality is Sexy

I read this article the other day talking about how an equal distribution of household chores between couples leads to better and more frequent sex.  I've been thinking about it ever since.

There are a few reasons this particular subject has stuck in my head.  And it's not just because it talked about sex in all its naughty clickbait.  Sex is not the real issue (though it is, obviously, a bonus).  It wasn't even the main focus of the article, which was mainly about relationship satisfaction and how, shockingly, a lot of relationship satisfaction comes from a more equal division of responsibilities. (And duh, more relationship satisfaction leads to more satisfaction in other, ahem, areas.)

The issue is that it hardly seems possible that in 2015 we're still debating the benefits of both partners contributing to a relationship and a home.  These are not the days of the 1950s housewife, as much as I might like to dress the part.  Most of us have realized that, just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to run a household.  Note: this is not just a "men, get off your asses" post.  Everyone should get off their collective asses every now and then and show they care about the person they love (romantically and platonically, for that matter), according to their own unique relationship.  Because what "equal division" means depends solely on the individual couple's expectations and desires.

So don't get me wrong: I definitely like parts of being a homemaker.  In an ideal world, I picture myself as more of a stay-at-home wife type.  I love cooking and baking and have come around to large portions of domesticity.  These days, I don't even mind doing dishes that much.

But I will never like cleaning.  Ever.  I can create a reward system for chores. I can listen to my favorite music.  I can have a drink.  It doesn't matter.  I'm never going to enjoy cleaning.

You know what?  Most people don't.  Most people wish the bathroom would magically be spotless, and that laundry would do itself, and that the dog would sweep up his own damn fur.  But this is not the case.  Chores have to be done.  By someone.  Of course, we could live in perpetual squalor, but most times, it feels like I'm only barely on the brink of acceptable cleanliness already.

And so I spend precious moments of my far-too-little free time (when, honestly, I'd rather be reading or watching Netflix) to keep the house right on that acceptable level.  (I actually wish I had more time to devote to organizing the mess of my apartment.)  Because it's what adults do, and I am, allegedly, an adult.

This is not new.  I've been more-or-less successfully keeping the house "clean" for the past 8 years.

The difference is that now I'm in a relationship with someone who cares enough and is an adult enough to actually help out, who also spends moments of his far-too-little free time to do the not-so-fun things.

I've come home to him mopping.  Or sweeping.  Or fixing things.  Or making dinner.  Or installing lights under the counters or above the washer and dryer.  Or replacing the outside motion-detector lights.  He takes out the trash.  He tells me I don't have to always worry about doing laundry on the weekends, because he could do it when he gets home from work.

And honestly?  It is a turn on.

More importantly (and highly possibly why it's a turn on)?  It makes me feel loved.  For me, what it boils down to is feeling like I'm an equal, like I'm part of a partnership instead of a master/servant relationship.  I don't think that should be such a novel idea, even though it is a fairly new experience for me.  Sharing responsibilities for a household shows that you care about the relationship you're in and, by natural extension, the person you're in a relationship with.  It shows that you value your partner as an equal as as a valid and important part of your life.  It shows that you're willing to give up your free time for a even few minutes to make a difference, to pick up the slack with your partner has had a bad day, or just to help out because you can.  How could that possibly be anything but good for a relationship?

The article also struck a personal chord for me, since I did the unequal master/servant relationship for seven years.  I probably shouldn't be shocked that we still need to talk about this.  Because I lived with a man who continually asked more and more from me from one year to the next while he sidestepped more and more chores because of one excuse or another.  I was better at cooking, he didn't like unloading the dishwasher, he didn't like cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping was too stressful, he'd help me do dishes after I baked for an event if I gave him some of the money I made.  It got to the point of him asking me to clean the bathroom for a party he was throwing while we were actually separated and I was living at a friend's house.

And the craziest thing?  I did it.  I did all of it. I did it even though we both worked a fairly equal number of hours and made a fairly equal amount of money. I did it because it was easier than arguing, than asking for the thousandth time for him to help out.  I did it because someone had to.  I did it because I wanted to help.  I wanted to be a good wife.  But in the end, I felt resentful.  I felt unappreciated.  And I felt guilty for feeling that way.  I felt like a nagging wife, and I really, really hated feeling like that.  And those feelings?  They're not sexy.  They're not healthy.  They're not what you want in a relationship.

Honestly, if my ex-husband hadn't stopped trying from the moment we got married, it's very likely I wouldn't be divorced right now.  I could have overlooked a great number of sins if only I felt like I was valued for anything other than monetary and sexual reasons.

What I was asking for wasn't someone to help cook and clean.  I'm fully capable of cooking and cleaning on my own, even with limited free time, thank you very much.  What I was asking for was respect, for a partnership, for some sign that he took even a few minutes to think about me or about our life. I was asking to be treated like an equal.

Equality is sexy, guys.  I'm not going to lie to you about this.  Sharing a bed is pretty high on the intimacy scale, but legitimately sharing a life and a relationship?  Willingly sharing the annoying, dirty, tedious parts of that relationship?  Respecting another person's time as much as you respect yours? That's true intimacy.

And that kind of partnership leads to a pretty amazing relationship, in my opinion. And it's taught me what I, and what everyone, deserves in a relationship.

(If this sounds familiar to anyone else besides me, I suppose it's because today's blog is a more explicit extension, of sorts, of my blog about relationships and what they're not.)

Sometimes, I can't believe it took me so long to take the blinders off and realize what I was missing out on.  After all, I'm surrounded by friends who are in true partnerships of relationships, beautiful couples who support and take care of each other in turn, who sacrifice together and work together and want the best for each other, and who want the world to know what a wonderful person they're with.

If there ever were relationship goals, those are it, guys.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Of Halloween and Hannibal

In a pleasant contrast from last week's blog about everything going wrong, this past week has actually been fairly pleasant.  I had a lovely Halloween working the fabulous costume wedding of Tina and Luc, where I got to introduce Fish Eye Fun to a room full of my friends, all people who love having their picture taken (except for Alexis).

 Plus, the bride and groom were an amazing Morticia and Gomez Addams.

It was lovely to get to combine my work with my play.  It's happened on a small scale before, with having Sandi and Alexis help me at events when needed.  But to turn my friends loose in a room with candy, alcohol, costumes, and Fish Eye Fun?  It was pretty epic.  I had a line most of the night, but still was able to hang out and enjoy the reception.  And be in my own share of pictures.

Meanwhile, I wore what is possibly my favorite costume to date, and definitely the most comfortable in years: Where's Waldo.  I now pretty much want to dress like Waldo all the time.  It might make up for the fact that, apparently, Waldo was an incredibly popular costume choice this year.  There was another Waldo at the wedding I was at, a friend of mine posted a picture of her and her husband dressed like Carmen Sandiego and Waldo, and they were apparently out en masse at a bar that Jake went to.  Hmph.  And I thought I was being original.

In other news, Mark and I went on our first "road trip" on Monday.  It's his week off, and I don't technically work Mondays, so we decided it was time to get out of town for the day.  For lack of any other ideas, we drove to Hannibal, where I was told to stand in front of some signs.

Somehow, we managed to not do a single "historic" thing while we were there, in spite of being in, well, Historic Hannibal.  We didn't go in any museums.  We didn't tour the historic mansion.  The closest we got was going on the hour-long riverboat cruise, which was probably our favorite part of the trip (outside of the food).

As Mark said when we drove into town, "We can do whatever we want.  It's our day."  And that turned out to be entirely the case.  We ended up not feeling like going in the museums, and so we didn't.  Instead, we just wandered around, had lunch at the Mark Twain Brewery, shopped in antique malls, and went in the less-than-impressive Train Museum.  Then we drove home and stopped for dinner at our absolute favorite Mexican restaurant, Espino's.

While we were both a little underwhelmed by what Hannibal had to offer and uncertain how to feel about the fact that we managed to avoid nearly every single museum in the place, we still had to admit that we had a good day.  The weather was perfect, we got away from our usual St. Louis haunts, splurged a little on eating out, and hardly ever stopped talking to each other.  So I, personally, consider it to be a successful day trip.

It's still slightly amazing that, after knowing someone for twelve years, I haven't run out of things to tell him.  And he hasn't run out of things to tell me.  Most days, we hardly ever shut up to each other.  There are, of course, mornings and nights where we are both working on our own thing, or lying together on the couch reading, but I don't think I've ever had someone know me so well and talk with me so much as Mark does.  And it is talking with me, not at me.  It's a small word, but a world of difference.  He listens to me.  He acknowledges my opinion, even if his differs.  We appreciate and value each other's input.  For someone who is usually only chatty at parties after a few drinks and never before shared so many of my honest thoughts and opinions, I still find that aspect of our relationship surprising and entirely enjoyable.  Much like most of my life.

And, as I type, my boyfriend is building me a bookshelf.  Relationship goals?  Accomplished.