In 1993—just shy of age thirty—I began seriously writing. I had always thought I’d be a writer. I wrote my first novel (on an electric typewriter) in the seventh grade but had written nothing since graduating in 1986 from college (where I took difficult classes such as the one where we spent an entire summer studying music videos–honestly, I get tired of hearing law and nursing students complain about their workload when I think about my arduous classes).
My plan was to write screenplays in Hollywood, but I ended up back home with my parents and working at an ad agency (typing spreadsheets, still using a typewriter, and an occasional newsletter). I worked my way up to becoming the Promotion Director for a prominent National Public Radio station (it’s easy to be the Director when you’re the only one in the department), but then I nosedived down to being a secretary when I thought I’d try graduate school. I never made it to grad school because I began to write again.
At the turn of the millennium, I began to publish that writing.
In other words, outside of pesky day jobs that earned a paycheck, I’ve been working at one craft, one dream, one goal, for two decades, if not my entire life. I did some obsessive gardening for awhile, but even that I thought of as research for a future novel about a gardener.
I recently read this quote from Brenda Ueland (1938, If You Want to Write):
“Families are great murderers of the creative impulse, particularly husbands.”
I thought, Wow, I’m lucky. Not only have my parents encouraged my dream (who do you think paid for that rock video class?), but The Man I Married has also positively supported me as a writer for a couple of decades. I’ve worked a paying job (not related to writing) for most of that time, so I’m not talking financial support. I mean that he has always assumed that I can do it, I will do it, and that I have the talent, determination, and perseverance to succeed. Whenever I’m part of a group reading, he always tells me I was the best, and he means it.
Although my need for time alone and for quiet doesn’t always mesh well with his lifestyle, he’s always backed me. He’s been my loudest cheerer and my biggest believer, especially when I started, which is when I needed it the most.
Likewise, I have supported him. With all of his goals except for one.
In that same amount of time, our 25 years together, the Man I Married has focused on, in chronological order, the following hobbies, crafts, dreams, and passions:
To become a high school art teacher (he hooked me with that one the night we met)
To become a counselor for brain-injured people
To ride his motorcycle cross-country
To restore an old motorcycle (which became a half dozen motorcycles)
To ride his motorcycle (which one?) from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
To ride his motorcycle around the world
To start a head injury rehabilitation business in New Orleans (where we first had to move)
To scuba dive, so that he could:
Underwater metal detect for lost treasure
To build a treehouse, which quickly became:
To run a Treehouse Campground
To restore an antique wooden sailboat
To sail around the world
To learn how to play the guitar. Then the standup bass. Then the banjo. Then the fiddle. (I’ve missed a few.)
To play in a band.
To make beer.
To be a father.
To make hard cider.
To write a book about being a father and a cider maker.
To start a hard-cider business.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few, like his brief obsessions with parrots (that was a bad day for me and the parrot) and bonsai (the upside is that you can’t really tell when a bonsai plant is dead).
He’s always gotten the neon green light from me, even when I thought his dreams were unrealistic and doomed, like that old boat, but it gave him a place to smoke cigars; the leaky boat was like a humidor and so smelly you didn’t notice the cigar. Even when he effortlessly churned out thousands of words on his book, which I’m sure would be a bestseller if he ever finished it.
I’ve never stood in his way. Even if he were to drown in the Bering Sea or meet his maker in the Andes, he’s been free to chase his dreams.
Obviously I’m attracted to dreamers—although when I married him he was still on Dream Number One, so I couldn’t have predicted this trait—and I get something out of the drama they create. Otherwise my life in front of the typewriter would be pretty dull. As he likes to say, he gives me something to write about. He’s why I don’t need a television for entertainment.
So, why then, am I finding the last item on the list so difficult?
First of all, there’s the list itself. To put it bluntly, I’m fucking exhausted. I’ve invested something of myself in believing in each item on his list. I’m feeling kinda done, except for getting this child safely through childhood and pondering yoga and an annual vacation and thinking about scheduling my first colonoscopy in a couple of years.
Second, we’re now parents. Which was a big item on his list. Wasn’t that supposed to satiate something? In a big way? And, with parenting this particular child, let’s just say that we have a lot on our plates.
Third, he’s thinking about entering the food industry. Which, let’s be honest, involves 1) long hours of hard work (not his strong point) and, 2) a high percentage of failure (unlike statistics for novelists).
But, after much soul-searching, I’ve realized the most important difference between this dream and all of the others preceding it:
The treehouses, the motorcycles, the boats, were all offsite, which, let’s face it, contributed to the longevity of our union, since he was largely occupied elsewhere and we then had something to talk about when he arrived back home.
But the hard-cider business involves my kitchen.
And laundry room. And bathtub. All of the traipsing around with sticky things between kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room involves my floors.
We’ve never had the same standard of cleanliness, which has led to the lion’s share of our disagreements over twenty-five years, but it’s been navigable: I’ve lowered my standards and he’s raised his. But when a man is making 200 gallons annually of hard cider, it affects my territory. Terribly. Awfully. Tragically. Irreversibly. The bathtub is now permanently scarred from keg skid marks. It’s like the Phantom of the Opera but with porcelain and grout instead of acid and face masks, and the off-key shrieking is mine, all mine.
Yes, MYkitchen, because I am currently the chief cook (but not chief bottle washer) in this domestic arrangement.
Which pisses me off a little bit: How is it that a man who can’t even take the hairs out of his hairbrush (any of them, for years) or wipe up his crumbs—ever—can regularly sterilize 200 bottles? Who hasn’t bought toilet paper in a decade can travel a hundred miles to buy special tanks? Who doesn’t notice that he’s standing in six inches of water from a plugged shower drain can monitor minute changes in fermentation? Who can’t contribute to a shopping list when he’s used the last of something but can keep copious, meticulous notes about his brewing process?
Not that I don’t know that he has housework in him. Our arrangement of domestic chores changes depending on who is working outside the home more. When he was a college student with summers off and I was a full-time cubicle worker, he did more of the housework, which he took a great deal of pride in. One day he was so driven to have pretty, shiny floors that, in a burst of inspiration, he mopped them with Armor All. The drawback to this plan didn’t become obvious until his wife stepped in through the front door at the end of a hard work day and slid across the floor until she landed on her ass across the room. When the man is motivated, he brings his creativity to mundane routines.
In his defense, it’s not like he’s sitting on his duff while I parade around in an apron. He contributes significantly to Care and Management of the Little Monster. And he takes care of big ticket items that are out of my scope, like replacing the water heater or installing new faucets. I call these the Standalone Sexy Tasks; we will notice and admire his handiwork for years, while my mopped floor is past tense in three minutes—or less if he’s brewing.
Apparently my wily method of keeping him from reading my blog posts isn’t working, because he read my post asserting that he would never manage to clean the three 55-gallon drums through their two-inch holes. He took this as a thrown gauntlet and not only cleaned them but bought two more.
So now I have a dilemma with his hard-cider business. If I scoff and say he’ll never do it, perhaps that will drive him to stick with it, to the detriment of my kitchen.
But if I encourage him as I’ve done with all of his other harebrained ideas, perhaps he’ll give it up. This is a mighty tempting and devious plan.
But perhaps my best bet for marital harmony is to say, “You’ll never manage to install a sink in the laundry room.” To prove me wrong, he would install the sink, which would keep his nefarious cider business out of the kitchen and bathroom, at least.
Because it would be sad if he gave it up. Gosh darn it, his cider is not only tasty, but he’s created a co-op (of really nice people who might need a good twist to get their heads on straight) and fostered community (of alcoholic nut jobs). Also, hauling around all of the equipment contributes to his hot bod (not bad for a man in spitting distance of fifty).
BUT, in regards to the cideries we’ve traveled to (interpretation: our last seven vacation trips)? The wives at these places are a happy and integral part of the business that was clearly their husbands’ bright idea.
No. No. And no. If I bake one apple pie a year, it’s a banner accomplishment. I refuse to help run a cidery. Let me rephrase that. I refuse to help run my husband’s cidery.
Although I did help him clean those 200 bottles once when he was under the gun. If only to get them out of my kitchen.
But just the other day, he went too darn far with his dastardly plan to get me to buy in to his cidery:
He came up with his first-ever terrific plot idea for me. Involving, you guessed it, a cider maker.
Let the research begin.
The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition at Amazon
12.5 humorous stories about sex and the sexes. These sensual yet comic stories offer a fresh take on literary erotic fiction, as if Anaïs Nin and Erma Bombeck met at the library to spin tales of laughter and the libido. Collected from the pages of Best American Erotica, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best of Literary Mama, Clean Sheets, Zyzzyva, and others.