Friday is Valentine’s Day. Hearts and Romance.

Last Saturday I took myself to see “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolfe?”
I left the theater at a run to get back to my own husband. What mean and horrible people filled that play! I was so glad that my days are filled with a responsible and respectful partner.

I mean, mostly. We both are not so good about re-hanging towels on the rack, and other similar transgressions. But we are nice to each other.

Chris said, “Nice people make poor drama.”

In my nice low-drama marriage, I am ready to admit that we are also low on the typical Valentine’s Day hearts and flowers.

For the last couple of weeks, it’s been like this: one of us will say “Valentine’s Day is coming.”

The other will pull eyes up from whatever is being read or eaten and we will lock eyes. Like a game of chicken. Who will say what first? What is expected? What is required?

What if one of us has plans, and the other forgets? Like some kind of blindfolded competition. Neither of us wants to be the one to under-give.

I don’t want to undergive. But this is not what my husband means to me.

I was talking to someone about how I don’t have time to explain to people what’s happening in my day. I was sad that I used to have a whole bunch of friends who I could tell about my day and they would be able to follow along.

I went on, “It would take too long to explain before I got to what I wanted to say. Like, I would have to set the whole table before I could get to the dish I actually want to serve. I can’t even begin, because neither one of us has the time to get to what I want to say.”

Except my husband. He’s been paying attention to all the episodes, the whole season of my life. He’s been willing to binge watch along the way.

So I don’t have to begin my stories with a montage intro “Previously in Murphy’s life..”

He’s been paying attention. And he has opinions about what will and should happen next. He’s a fan.

And I feel the same.

It’s a precious thing, so have someone following along on my life. I’d rather have that than a box of chocolates. It lasts a lot longer.

Fewer Substitutes

I taught someone the word “ersatz” this week. I only learned it last year, and it’s not in common usage.
It means “substitute,” and I needed it to explain to her how I wanted this year to be different from how last year went.
Last year was very busy. That has to shift.
I worked really hard at my job…my jobby job. I had a lot of responsibilities and I got up early and stayed up late and nailed them to the wall. It took a lot out of me.
And I’m proud that I did that, but in a sort of unsatisfying way.
My job takes a lot of thought and I have to be smart and creative to do what needs to be done. So it is creative output.
But it’s a very low-grade version. Like eating popcorn for dinner.
I’ve done that before. I admit. I can eat a huge amount of popcorn and it is technically food. But I’ve learned that if I do that, I will feel weird.
It’s not very good for me. It will do. And that’s probably why I feel like I need to eat a whole lot of popcorn to replace a real nutritional dinner. But a lot of not-enough still isn’t enough.
That’s where ersatz comes in. Ersatz means substitute. So, eating a huge bucket of buttery popcorn is ersatz dinner.
And working hours and hours and weeks and weeks using my creative energy on work things is like eating popcorn for dinner.
It’s ersatz creativity.
And boy howdy, I know how to lean into that bad-for-me bucket of popcorn, or the never-ending inbox at work. Neither of those will tell me to stop. Work is very happy for me to keep it up.
But I feel weird and unsatisfied.
I’ve learned my lesson about the popcorn, but it only just occurred to me that work is ersatz creativity. At least for me.
I’ve been longing to create something. And it was easy to stay in my rut and create these factory spec cogs and widgets for my employer.
Until I had to spend several weeks sick in bed and I had a chance to see what I was doing.
I had to clear some mind space to figure out how to get to what I really wanted. And rebuild some boundary walls.
I have to have a reason to say no.  
I would think I’d learned that. I have. And I have forgotten it.
My first book is about this very topic. The Parable of Miriam the Camel Driver expressed it beautifully. I need to re-read my own book.
This is my life. I loan my creativity out. And I want to keep some for myself, for the quality, nourishing self-expression I know I’ve capable of.
The easy way doesn’t satisfy. I don’t have to accept the substitute.

Veronica cooks

I woke up from a nap

it’s super bowl


and we went shopping for food

I took a long nap and woke up to

Veronica had used a cookbook and cooked rice and a modified black beans recipe

she make fantastic rice

the black beans were a noble attempt

but I explained carefully that she was not yet allowed to use the stove without helpwoke me up