Pink Journal

Today I’m down to the last two or so pages of a journal.  The book is pink and there is a sticker of a white bird on the cover.  I don’t know who put it there.  A pencil attaches to the book via an elastic band.   It’s about 6 inches high, maybe.  Almost 300 pages.

photoI started it on 12/2/2011 — a gift to my husband.  I would write a statement, a page, each day for the month before our wedding anniversary.  A catalogue of appreciation with specific details.

It sounds easy.  I mean, I’m a writer.  It’s one sentence each day.  And, I picked my husband…this wasn’t like an ‘Ode to Snails’ what was the problem?  We were both in stressful situations.  My husband had a very demanding job.  I had four young children.  One of those children was being treated for leukemia and I spent a great deal of time at Hopkins.  I had to make schedules for childcare and carpooling to sports for the others.  When we were together there was only time for business — which child had to be at what place, when, and which parent was supervising.

So, yeah, not feeling real lovey-dovey.  Instead, feeling like the other person didn’t know how hard our days were.  But, we were committed to the idea of family.  So, I started the journal.  Some days I was really stingy.  Fellow teachers and writers — you know what I’m talking about.  A student turns in a paper and the best you can come up with is, “Wow.  That paper you used was really white and the ink was really black.”  Or, “I like how you stapled the paper at a 45-degree angle per MLA guidelines.”  I wrote the equivalent in the book and marked it off my daily list.

At first, angry at the present, I sifted through the past to find things to appreciate — even going back several years at times.  But, it got easier.  I hunted for ways to thank my husband and appreciate how much effort and work he was pouring into keeping everything running.

When I gave him the journal I thought I was done.  He handed it back to me.  He wanted it filled up.  So I kept on writing.  Not every day.  But, instead of skipping the days when I was angry, frustrated, or disappointed, those were the days I challenged myself to write something REAL.  Something generous and full of love.  THANKSGIVING.

Please don’t think I’m telling everyone to go out and buy a pink journal, although I’d be interested to hear if anyone does start any kind of gratitude list (Valentine’s Day is coming…)  This pink journal didn’t make our marriage better or change our lives.  My attitude — a combination of pride and ‘what have you done for me’ changed.   And that made all the difference.

We’ve been out-of-sync lately.  Not smooth.  New stresses in our lives.  I’ve been writing in the journal.  I’ll start another one.  Because I don’t want to lose perspective.  I don’t want to ever forget to value my husband.  He’s amazing and resourceful and will help anyone who asks.

If I could just make him a fan of Dr. Who, we’d be set….





Dating Again

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” ― Martha Washington

Yesterday morning, and then again this morning, I woke to the thought, “No smoothies today” and a corresponding sigh of relief.  This may seem strange, but for those who have followed my daughter’s fight with leukemia, you know exactly what I mean.  This month the week of 11 doses of cancer-fighting medication mixed into a blended drink met in a perfect storm with my children being off from school and my helper Anna taking holiday while her friend visits from Germany.

The medication, the routine to take the medication, the chaos while trying to keep her focused and the other children not distracting…it can be messy. 

So I want to recognize that we are BREAKING OUT of our protective cocoon.  Not all the way, of course, Purell and shoes still at the door and FEVERS still send us straight to Hopkins, but enough to let light filter in through the holes.  For example, resuming DATING.  Not as easy as it sounds to change the ‘emergency/scared’ mindset, to back off the SuperParent role that we both play well, to introduce ourselves to each other.    

We started in January.  A good time to start, being the beginning of a new year and our tenth anniversary.  We went to New York City. Also a good choice because who doesn’t like NYC?  Husband gets props for planning the whole trip as a mirror to our engagement trip.  We went to an ice hockey game that was really a boxing match on ice.  We had dinner at Gramercy Tavern: the tastings menu. Hotel on the highest possible floor at the Marriott Marquis looking out over Times Square.  Big plush bed (we’re married, it’s okay). Meeting up with Geoff and Anita for coffee and then a Broadway show that just won a bunch of Tonys.  Friends redux at “The View” nightclub THAT SPINS AROUND.  And has napkins with the named buildings.  Pretty cool. You’d think that maybe it’s not the best idea when sipping martinis, but it all works out. A tour through an Irish tenement building.  It was like being on “The Bachelorette” where the environment is sumptuous; you’re treated like royalty and is complete fantasy wrapped in a realistic robe.  I loved it.

So, we tried to go on another date a couple months later.  Just dinner.  Errm.  Not much to say about that except it wouldn’t have gotten a second date.  That’s okay.  Try, try, again.

Went to the Meyerhoff to see “The Tao of Drumming.”  Fantastic show!  Japanese martial arts choreographed to music, primarily drums and flute.  Stunning backdrop, beautiful costumes, and dramatic and humorous sketches mixed in.  First Note:  Hmmm.  Having something to watch or experience together might be better idea for starting dating than having jumped straight to dinner which relied on conversation.  Second Note:  Women had FANTASTICLY TONED arms and back muscles.  Maybe get giant drum to beat on for birthday? 

Next date: A double date with our friends Sid and Deb to see the Capitals beaten down in DC.  Seats right behind the goal.  Yes, that was Sid pounding on the glass on television.  If you don’t believe me, ask Pat Sajak.  He was there too.  But he left early.  Don’t blame him.  Wasn’t the Caps best night, but it was SO FUN for us because of our seats.  Next Note:  Having another couple join you for a date lets you see your own partner in a different light and brings up new conversation points.  Why didn’t I remember this sooner?

That’s all I got so far.  Although, it strikes me that on the train to NYC we each brought one bag – the same bags we’d packed when we eloped to Florence, Italy.  Honey, does this mean a repeat of our Tuscan adventure in a couple of years?