Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Picture Post Card, A Folded Stub, A Program of the Play

When I was in high school I kept a scrapbook.  It wasn't anything formal or fancy - but it was more than a photo album.  I kept mementos - scraps, if you will - taped into a big book with no archival quality paper or adhesives or sheet protectors.  Just a book of scraps - ticket stubs and programs and newspaper clippings, nametags and feathers and photographs - if it would lie relatively flat, it found its way into my book.

I continued this process in college and for the better part of a decade beyond.  Sometimes I added little snippets from magazines if I found something that fit - something that provided narrative to my story and served to make it look a little bit like a ransom note.  "Help!  I'm being held hostage by the present!"

Those books ended up forgotten in storage in a cubby hole in my mom's house where they became yellowed and brittle and the tape lost any adhesive qualities it may once have had.

After Dad passed away, Mom went on a huge house purge.  Dad was a depression-era hoarder and Mom goes into conniptions at the very thought of clutter.  You can imagine.  They had worked out a compromise of sorts - but when compromise was no longer necessary, she got to work getting everything that she didn't need out of her house.  She enlisted the help of my sister and I, not wanting to make the mistake of throwing out something that she viewed as junk and we might view as treasure.

It was in this already sentimental, vulnerable state that I came across my scrapbooks.

Friends that died way too young smiling at me from a time when they were even younger, relationships that had long gone sour looking fresh and sweet and new, flowers pressed from a dance with a boy whose face looks familiar but whose name is elusive - these are just a few of the things that were preserved - albeit unprofessionally - within those pages.

It was overwhelming.

It was wonderful.

I don't keep a scrapbook anymore.  I haven't kept a scrapbook since 'scrapbook' became an acceptable  verb.  I didn't think it was pure. I thought it took something away from the purpose - storing memories - and turned it into an almost competitive craft - something to show off rather than to treasure quietly.  Something impersonal.  Classes on how to craft a beautiful page - bah!  There was really nothing beautiful about those scrapbooks I found in my Mom's cubby hole, but they were among the most lovely things I'd ever seen.  I thought the perfectionism of the craft diminished the sweet sentimentality that was inherent in a 'real' scrapbook.  ('quotes' around a word twice in one paragraph - tread carefully there, Tammy - it's a slippery slope...)

So imagine the mixed emotions that went running all around in my brain when a digital scrapbooking company offered me the opportunity to do a really sweet giveaway.  Digital scrapbooking is not for me.  But I knew the moment I read her email that a lot of my readers would really like it.  And while I don't grok the concept of scrapbooking as it has evolved, I fully understand the need to preserve today's memories for tomorrow.  Just because I'm an opinionated dinosaur doesn't mean everyone has to be one.  So I accepted the offer.  But I will not be using and reviewing the product.  I will leave that to Lea - my eldest - who was thrilled with the prospect.  So.  Great giveaway coming up soon.  Watch this space.

I'll leave you with a little Billy Joel, because it seems appropriate.  And speaking of music - I hear there's a way you can listen to it now straight from your phone.  I'm more of a vinyl gal, m'self - although I did succumb to CDs.  Easier to listen to in the car.  But I hear they're about to become obsolete.  I hear this phone business works in the car, too.  *shakes head in wonder*  What will they think of next?  (I'm only sort of kidding...)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Marriage Bed

Tom went upstairs this afternoon to read his book.  I smiled when he announced this.  My grandmother made it a habit to go upstairs and read the paper every afternoon.  She would never admit to enjoying a nice midday nap.  A good, industrious woman would not succumb to sleep in the middle of the day.  (My grandmother was a wise woman, but we part company when it comes to that particular sentiment.)  She saw nothing wrong, however, with  propping oneself comfortably on one's pillows while reading one's daily newspaper.  If that level of comfort sometimes led one to snore, well, so be it.

Tom is usually more straightforward.  He is not quite as motivated by the thought of being an industrious man.  He has been known, on the weekends, to take a good honest nap before he's even gotten out of his pajamas.  I will not even feign superiority on this point, as I have been known to do the same.  I'm an early riser.  Sometimes I take my first nap before anyone else has even gotten up - leading them to the erroneous conclusion that I've slept in.  I never sleep in.  But I am not averse to a nice morning nap.

Today, when Tom went upstairs to read, I gave him a few moments then joined him.  I didn't bother to bring my book.  Those of you who spend a lot of time watching happy marriage porn and are expecting this story to take a turn for the bow-chicka-bow-wow are about to be sorely disappointed.  I  apologize in advance.  

I found him as I expected to, sound asleep with his book on my pillow and his glasses on top of it.  Bless his heart, it looked like he might have given reading an honest effort before ditching it in favor of sweet, sweet daytime sleep.  I put the book and the glasses on the nightstand, kicked off my shoes, and slid in next to him.  His arm found its way around my waist instinctively, without disturbing his slumber.

We have a small bed.  A full sized bed.  The sort of bed most people nowadays buy for their children.  Initially, we didn't opt for anything larger because I had inherited a lovely antique bedroom set from my grandmother - the same bed she'd lie on to read the newspaper every afternoon.  It would only accommodate a full sized mattress. When the time came to buy a new mattress, I broached the subject of getting a larger one.  Sure, it wouldn't fit perfectly, but who would know?  It's not like we have a daily parade through our bedroom or anything.  But Tom said no.  At first, I thought he was just cheaping out - and I was preparing to react in the traditional passive aggressive manner of a woman who has been cheaped out upon.  But before I'd even managed to work up a good, "I suppose I don't deserve a bigger bed", he said, "I don't want a bigger bed.  I like having you right next to me.  Sometimes when we sleep in hotels or other people's guest rooms - in a king sized bed - I can't even find you.  I don't like that.  I sleep best when you're right next to me."

So we spent the next few years cuddled up like two cliched spoons in a drawer.  Because what woman could resist a position like that?  A bigger bed would put you farther away from me.  I want you closer.  Sweet.  You people in larger beds must not be nearly as adored as I am.  I envy thee not.  (Apparently the more self-righteous I become, the more likely I become to use phrases like:  I envy thee not.)

This was swell, until the hot flashes came along.  Suddenly that proximity to another warm-blooded being in the middle of the night became unbearable.  We would still fall asleep the way we always had, but a couple hours later I'd end up on the floor or the sofa or - basically anywhere where I could escape the feeling of heat emanating off of me, hitting him, and bouncing back at me in an amplified state.

What a drag it is.

So we're taking the plunge and shopping for a king-sized bed.  We figure there's plenty of room in the middle for us to fall asleep in the manner to which we've become accustomed, then to roll away as the night progresses and actually get a decent nights sleep without having to leave the bed.

You don't suppose that once we start sleeping well at night, we'll give up our afternoon naps, do you?  I hope not.  They are delicious.