Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hat Trick

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was President's Day here yesterday, so I took a day off of blogging to celebrate. By celebrate, I mean to say that I spent the bulk of the afternoon extricating my daughter from her school during the worst snowstorm-related driving conditions we've had all year. Ah, thundersnow, thanks for adding to "Killer Winter 2014: This Season Will Not Die, But You Might, Silly Midwesterner!"

I'm not sure what snow-hell had to do with Washington or Lincoln, but despite the scary drive, I did enjoy the day off, especially the part where we got home safely after turning the car into a bobsled on unplowed Lakeshore Drive.

It is actually a miracle that I could operate a vehicle at all yesterday, given how tired I was. On Sunday evening around 9:00 p.m., two hours into Olympics coverage and chilled out for the night, I thought I'd do a quick check of the Erma Bombeck writing competition website. I knew that the deadline was the next day, and I had anticipated spending most of my morning finishing up my piece and submitting it. I wouldn't call this procrastination, I'd call it "maximizing my time."

I wasn't worried, as I had been ruminating on an idea for the 450-word piece for a few weeks. I started a blog with the thought early in February, then stopped myself, knowing that the subject might be perfect for this competition, and one of the rules was that submissions be previously unpublished. I hadn't written much down since that moment, but I had 90% of the work written in my head. I was actually looking forward to morning coffee and story-from-brain extraction as my Monday start to the week.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I noticed (for the first time, shame on me) that the competition closed at 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday morning. Drat.

I'd love to say that I jumped to the computer to work on the piece right then and there, but I didn't. I sat, watched the Olympics, and thought about this new time constraint. I was in slow-motion Sunday mode, and to shift gears needed additional energy. By the time I sat down to the computer and really got at it, it was late, later than it should have been.

The good news is that writing the piece, a tale of housework and the modern conundrum of "equitably splitting the work" among spouses, took less than thirty minutes. Like I said, it was really all in my head, and aside from some transitions and some additional (hopefully) funny pieces, it really just needed to be put down on paper. The longer part of the process involved surgical cutting to ensure the piece was 450 words or less, while still making sense. I had Mike take a read, and he laughed, so I called that a good sign. I checked it for spelling, proofed it to remove double spaces, and got online to submit.

Two new challenges then faced me: giving the piece a title (I had never even thought about this), and writing a biography of myself. Ugh. I have a work bio, but that wouldn't work for this. This is where waiting until I was tired made simple tasks seem harder than usual. The title I arrived at was impulsive but decent, and after about fifteen minutes, the bio seemed done, which was all I really needed in the moment. Once I hit "submit," I felt absolutely high, so pleased that I had gotten this done, a little buzzy in my head and hands. I figured that falling asleep might be tough, but my eyes were tired enough that I thought they might even out my adrenaline.

I walked into our dark bedroom, and started groping along the dresser to find my phone, so I could turn the sound off. As my shaky fingers felt around, I heard a "ping," just the softest of noises, really, with no thud to the ground. What could I have hit? As soon as I felt my husband's glasses, I knew: I had knocked his wedding ring off of the dresser.

I didn't want to wake him, but I started to panic. I turned on the lights. It turns out he hadn't fallen asleep yet, so it wasn't too horrible of a wake-up.

"Honey, I bumped your wedding ring. I can't find it."


"I lost your ring. I was searching around in the dark, then I heard a ping..."

"Hang on."

Mike got up and we started to look. It wasn't on the floor, but I hadn't heard anything roll, so I wasn't surprised. It wasn't on the soft rug. It wasn't in the two drawers that were slightly ajar, allowing the ring to fall on soft clothes. We shook out and refolded everything. We opened drawers that weren't open before. It was gone, just gone.

That's one of my things: when something goes missing, I declare it gone, gone forever, irretrievably gone. It makes no sense: in this case, the ring couldn't have left our room, but in my mind, it was now lost for the ages. This is not one of my finer qualities.

All of that chemical energy wrapped up in my writing happiness was quickly converted into panic. Where could it be? Where was the ring? Why did I have to do this, now, so late at night?

Mike told me that I shouldn't worry. "The ring is just a thing, just a symbol, not the marriage, itself." It was all okay, he wasn't mad. He was going to go to bed and look for it the next day, and I should, too. He gave me a hug, and was so sweet.

I returned this kindness by practically screaming at him that this was not nothing, there was no way ON EARTH I could get any sleep now, that I needed to have all the lights on to look more thoroughly, and if he wanted to rest he should probably go to the guest room. Oh, and why did he put his ring somewhere so unprotected, anyway, since it may be "just a thing," but it is certainly special, and didn't he even care enough about this ring to keep it safe?

For those keeping score, I messed up and accidentally lost his ring, then I blamed him for putting it where I would accidentally lose it, then told him to leave our room so I could stay up like some half-deranged sleuth with all the lights on and a flashlight.

Ahem. He (very rightly) let me know that my thoughts were not appreciated, then turned off the lights and started to go to sleep.

I left the room, crying. I was really tired, really amped up, and really unable to make sense of things. I paced around. I grabbed all the clothes from the drawers, and searched through them again on the couch. I was no Erma Bombeck, and I was about three universes away from the pithy, "Isn't it silly how we families approach chores!" lady I was a few minutes before.

As I walked back into our room to put the refolded clothes away, flashlight in hand, I wasn't sure what to do. I couldn't possibly sleep, but I couldn't do anything else. I couldn't give up the hunt, but looking made no sense. Mike was right, Mike was right, Mike was right, so why didn't my anxious body agree?

It was as I spun around to leave again, so as not to disturb Mike, that the flashlight reflected back to me a pinpoint of gold. There, in the goofy-cool hat that Mike bought on our honeymoon, hanging on our bedroom doorknob, was Mike's wedding band. The ping I had heard happened as it bounced off the dresser, the lack of any other noise was because it fell softly into the hat. It all made sense. I gasped loudly as I grabbed it, but Mike thought I sounded hurt, so he startled up.

"Are you okay?"

"I FOUND IT! It was in the honeymoon hat!"

"Oh, that is great."

"Where can we put it so that I don't bump it again? I'm so sorry, so so sorry."

"Shhh...it's okay...I get it. I couldn't sleep anyway."

Monday morning came early, with the headache that accompanies not enough rest, amplified by the hormonal marathon my brain had run through before sleeping. I thought about how silly I had acted the night before, and I told Mike I was sorry again...and again...and again. This lady he married, the same gal who can smoothly and efficiently write a whole story in her head, can be so erratic when overtired and overly sentimental—how does he put up with her?

When I saw the big smile on his face as he slipped his ring back on, I didn't worry. I took some Advil, drank some coffee, and remembered that this is the real equitable breakdown of household life: we will switch back and forth in the roll of "calm and patient" spouse roughly a million more times, get the best night's sleep we can, then put our rings on and smile.

1 comment:

  1. Why does he have to take his wedding ring off to sleep anyway? Tell him to just get used to sleeping with it on. As an expert at losing things, I can tell him that the more you take it off your finger, the more likely you are to lose it.

    And yeah, I'm good at blaming the victim too. Heh.