Monday, July 29, 2013

Confessions of a Snorer's Wife

Dear Diary,

My first 20-or-so years of marriage have been blissfully absent of snoring, the cause of so many spousal spats and fitful nights for other couples.  But in recent years, my husband -- God bless him-- has developed some upper respiratory problems which affect his nighttime breathing.

Now, my evening's repose includes sounds ranging from a purring Chewbacca, to an angry sow, to a monotone dolphin, whistling through its blowhole. It is an unwelcome cacophony as I try to get my well-deserved rest at the end of my day.

Being the genteel person that I am, I do not do what I envision some wives may, which is to straddle their husband, take him by the neck, and shake him awake while yelling, "Stop making all that racket!" 

But that scenario is purely speculation on my part.

No, no.  I take a much more passive aggressive approach. Subtle. Innocuous. That's me.

The goal is to startle my husband enough to change his sleeping position and/or interrupt his sleep cycle so that his breathing/snoring changes. Even the methodic sound of Darth Vader's asthmatic breathing beside me would be a balm to my ears at 1 a.m. 

Here are some of my coping mechanisms.
  • The cough.  Utter a well-timed quick, loud sound, such as a cough or yelp, to startle the snorer.
  • The position change.  This entails shifting my body in such a way as to create a large bounce or jiggle in the mattress, allowing physics to carry the energy to his side, thus giving him a cushioned jolt. This also can be accompanied by a cough and an exhuberant fluffing of the pillow.  Well, really more like a punching of the pillow..... 
    Note: Having changed to a Sleep Number bed, this technique is not as effective.  You know, wine glass... bowling ball....
  • Bodily contact.  This includes a quick jab of the elbow or kick with the toes.  It is not meant to be prolonged, but enough to startle the snorer without making him aware that his spouse just performed an act of aggression on him.  Sometimes the act can be accompanied by an innocent sounding "Sorry, honey."
  • The earplugs.  This is my last resort before changing bedrooms.  It is a last resort because I don't like them. 
    First, it goes against all my motherly instincts.  I have three children and a dog.  What if they need me in the night and I can't hear their terrified pleas for help, their inconsolable cries for mama? OK. I may be exaggerating.
    Next, once inserted, said earplugs allow me to hear, well, nothing, except for my own breathing and swallowing.  Magnified.  Kinda weird. 
    Last, the earplugs serve as a nice quiet backdrop for my tinnitus to come screaming into my consciousness. 
    Bottom line, it takes a lot of effort for me to relax with earplugs in.
Which leaves me with the last resort: The guest bed.  This is effective only if the bed is made up.

Which reminds me, it's time to take the sheets out of the dryer,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What's in a Name?

Dear Diary,

This is not a big deal.  But then I guess most of my posts aren't a big deal. 

I consider myself the female blogging counterpart to Jerry Seinfeld's "TV show about nothing." 
I do like to find the lesson or humor in otherwise ordinary things. (Though I think Jerry's focus was only on the humor.)

In the past year I have come across two names that have never left me.  My impression was not necessarily for the person behind the name (because I don't know them), but for the name itself.  I just thought they were the coolest names ever.

First, the girl's name:
How does this seem both old fashioned and so modern at the same time?  I came across it while reading a post she wrote as a guest on a blog I read often. In commenting on her post, I had to throw in my admiration for it.  Had I come across this name several years ago, I could be mothering a child of the same alias.
OK, now the boy's name.  It is what I believe to be the ultimate in masculinity.  Maybe it's because it takes an already macho name like "Dave" and couches it inside testosterone-filled prefixes and suffixes. 
I had heard this name on the radio, in reference to an up-and-coming football player at USC.  When I heard this name I was struck by two things.  The creative first name, and the way it acts as an antidote for this guy's really, uh, joke-of-a-last name. 
Because the name Jadeveon Clowney is an oxymoron, agreed?
Of course most of us have stories of why we are named the way we are.  Mine came about because my dad was a teacher and he wanted a name that didn't remind him of any of his students. 
I know, so nostalgic, right?
Sometimes I get fancy with my name and spell it out, rather than using just two initials.
That said, I remain always,
El Jay

PS Go ahead and comment on cool names you like!

Monday, July 22, 2013

What Were They Thinking?

Dear Diary,

It is mid-summer.  The heat has kicked in. 
Even the dog abbreviates his beloved pastime of barking at the lawn mower to find quiet rest in the shade.

It is time to look forward to my vacation, the timing of which will mark summer's end and the beginning of a new school and work year.

In the midst of planning this getaway, I envision sweet time spent with the family:  no homework, no practices, no distractions, no work.
The hardest job on this trip will be to decide where to eat our next meal.

That said, last week, I heard the most appalling, shocking, and yet so laughable, advertisement on the radio.  Really.  I thought it was a farce at first.

It was a dialogue between a husband and a wife who were on vacation, promoting an IT (information technology) networking product which "keeps you connected to your work wherever you go."  [It is unfortunate I can't find a link to the ad itself.]

The advertisers decided that using a vacation setting with the wife and kids was a great way to promote this technology.

The jovial wife is so happy her hard-working husband can stay connected to his work, even while blowing up the kids' water toys, and during their additional day-cruise.

I realize that, here in the 21st century, the Internet has created a "smaller" world, and is creating workaholics nationwide. But----

Who markets their products to disrupt perhaps the most sacred of family traditions? 
The time when wives most nag their husbands to get off their phones and off their laptops!  (And so as not to be sexist, here, perhaps husbands do some nagging too?  Nah.)

I have a husband who needs to be connected to his work, who travels worldwide, and needs to be reachable at all hours of the day.  So I understand a product like this can be useful. But NOT during vacation. 
No way.

As I get reservations made and itineraries set up for my little family trip, I find this ad quite laughable. 

Yet somehow I'm not laughing,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Candy Jars and Florida Rooms

Dear Diary,
I'll be forthright.  This post is mostly for my own indulgence. 

I had quite the trip down memory lane the other day -- no, literally, I was driving, so I was on a literal trip that took a figurative turn down memory lane.

I drove past a home that triggered my earliest childhood memories of visiting grandma and grandpa's house when I was still in the single-digit age.

In my early childhood, I actually had the benefit of having both sets of grandparents in the same 'hood.  So if we visited one, we usually got to see the other too. (And we got to walk down the block to church, where my granddad was the pastor!  So novel!)

Seeing this house immersed me into a daydream about my grandparents' homes and what I remembered, tangibly, about each one....

Climbing the backyard fruit trees and playing outside in the concrete window well.

The room the adults oddly called the Florida Room, but my young mind was confused at this label since we were in the middle of the Midwest!  I can still smell the vinyl from the indoor/outdoor furniture in that room, and remember listening to the ocean from a conch on an end table.  (Yes, the room does seem obviously named, but you aren't seven years old, either.)

I remember a special stool in the kitchen we cousins would sit on, and loved the icy-cold feeling of an aluminum cup in my mouth, which offered up water or lemonade on a hot summer day.

My other grandparent's home had the water bed.  A jiggly, gurgly, rockin' and rollin' kind of bed from the '70s, which really could make a kid nauseous trying to sleep on it. Even reaching to scratch an itch could cause a tidal wave effect for the surfers sleepers.

I remember drinking Pepsi at this house. We were Coke and Tab kind of people so Pepsi was such a fizzy, sweet treat!  My grandparents had a fridge where ice and water came out of the door!  That was a novelty to me. 

I also remember the green glass candy jar with chewy, sugar coated jellies in it.  The fragile nature of the jar ensured I had to ask an adult for candy, rather than sneaking one myself.  I am the lucky owner of that jar now.

I also remember a naked lady lamp.  Well, maybe in my maturity I would now call it tabletop Greco Roman light-up art.  A Grecian style female was the centerpiece, surrounded by 360 degrees of wire pillars, which dripped beads of oil so it looked like water was constantly raining down around her.  I remember it glowed a soft yellow and I couldn't resist touching a drop of oil occasionally. 

I am not the owner of that piece of memorabilia.  (Maybe my brother nabbed it?)

I was so lost in thought on my trip down memory lane that I emerged from my past only when I found myself pulling into my present day driveway. Ever wonder how you got from Point A to Point B sometimes?

For folks blessed enough to grow up with visits to grandma's house, I hope this instigates candy jar and Florida Room memories of your own!

And if you still are reading this,
thank you for indulging me.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

His Story - My Story

Dear Diary,

Recently I read an article about the deeds of a tattoo artist.

I never thought it would put a tear in my eye.

The reasons for my emotions are two-fold. 
     #1-- His story is a cool one. 
     #2 --I want to have a story like that.

His Story
You wouldn't know it by looking at him but tattoo artist Chris Baker, a well-inked, tough-looking dude ya wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, actually has a heart for the less fortunate.

A year ago he had an idea: to cover or remove the branding tattoos of former gang members and sex trafficking victims at no charge.  A year since, his idea was so well-received he was invited to attend the US State Department's international meeting on Trafficking Persons.  His idea, coming from a talent he already has, and from a heart that reflects his love of God, has grown bigger than anything he thought possible, and has resulted in his founding of a ministry called Ink 180.

My Story
Chris and I share a love for Jesus and a desire to help the less fortunate.  But that is where the similarities end.  He and I don't share the same talent.  It has taken me decades to figure out what mine are, and I still only have general ideas.  I feel like a "jack of all trades but master of none." 

When I read a success story like this one, my emotions are at play because Chris embodies (tats and all) an ideal I want to live up to:
An everyday gal using her resources and talents she already owns, to share her blessings and somehow provide a better life to others in the name of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not going around searching for the meaning of life. 
I like what I do, and I know it is worthwhile. 
And my ministry to my family is foremost and has been full of successes and blessings indeed.
But reading stories like Chris's gives me an itch.  A desire that there is more I could or should be doing.

I believe the most golden ideas are simple ones; ones that use the resources and talents already at hand, like Chris did. 

It is a special person, indeed, that must move mountains to get the job done.  That person I will never become.

Which is why I love reading about the everyday guy or gal who whispers an idea in his basement, only for it to grow into a voluminous shout to the persons who matter.

Idealistically yours,