Well, I Never!

Rhino Head and the U-Haul, New Orleans-bound
Rhino Head and the biggest U-Haul truck available, New Orleans-bound

For years now, I’ve had three “non-goals”: things I strive never to do in my life. Since I always forget at least one item on my list of rules, and I’ve lately added two, I finally had to write the list down:

  • Never sue anyone.
  • Never divorce.
  • Never rent a storage locker.
  • Never use a hash tag.
  • Never use a drive-through.

Read More »

Ten Influential Books

I have been tagged to list ten books that have influenced me. My knee-jerk reaction was not to do it, because my list would look nothing like others’ lists that are popping up on Facebook. I started to get a complex, reading these erudite lists.

Mine would have no Virginia Woolf or Doris Lessing or Octavia Butler or anything that makes me look or feel wise and smart. In my girlhood, I was touched by the Brontes and Mary Stewart and Daphne duMaurier and Laura Ingalls Wilder…books that had nothing to do with “literaryness” and everything to do with my yearning for a bigger world from my little rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where there were no prairies, no moors, no snow, no castles, no moody atmosphere, no seasons. Where I didn’t look like anyone else at my school. Where I was privileged but felt something was missing. I was different (what young person doesn’t feel different, I now wonder?).

I could have included Woolf’s Room of One’s Own on my list, because it gave me an early high horse upon which to stand when demanding my own sacred space in which to write, whether it was an IBM Selectric that took up a significant amount of space in the corner of our first bedroom, a closet-sized room in our first house, or this lovely room I now have. But putting Room of One’s Own on a list is kind of cheating, isn’t it?

So my list is largely made up of books that became important to me in my 30s and 40s, or books from my youth that I continue to think about as I creep up on spitting distance of 50.

Che Guevara kick-starting a bike and a new way of thinking.
Che Guevara kick-starting his bike and a new way of thinking.

The Motorcyle Diaries, Che Guevara. Because when I finished reading this library book, which I can’t begin to fathom why I picked up in the first place, I said to MIM, “Let’s buy a motorcycle.” And we did. And we rode it. Which probably saved my marriage. And because it showed me how much difference one person in the world can make. What a guy. A young, good-looking, well-to-do guy travelled to visit lepers when few would go near them, and he gained empathy for the native people of his continent as he journeyed. He could have spent his summer going to the beach, frolicking with his fiancée. Whatever your views about what he did later and who he became, it’s a stunning thing to witness a young person’s consciousness expanding on the page.Read More »

Nothing Happened This Year

We brought no foster children into our home. We adopted no kids. So we had no big party. I still have not put away the party dress from last year’s adoption celebration, held one year ago tonight. The gown is still hanging over the back of the bedroom door. Guess it’s not going to the cleaner’s anytime soon. I’m in no rush. On pretty much anything.

The child we already adopted was neither suspended nor expelled. Well, there might have been an in-school suspension or two, but I have suppressed the memory. He is busy growing. He works so hard at this that he is now almost as tall as I am.

We had no social worker visits. We loved our social workers, make no mistake. Warm, wonderful, amazing human beings who supported us above and beyond the call, but, still, there is some relief in having no social worker visits after two per month for over three years. Perhaps this explains why the house was not kept nearly as clean in 2012. Our standards slipped.

We took no five-state road trips. We took a two-hour road trip and cut it down from the planned three nights to two nights. We came back early in order to hook up with an out-of-state aunt and uncle so that they could help us break open a rock. Said aunt had given the Little Monster a big geode. Breaking open the rock was one of the highlights of the year. That’s how exciting we are. Somebody had to go fetch a couple of tools. That about took it out of us.

None of us quit our jobs. This was twice as easy as last year, because one of us had no job to quit.

We continued to enjoy the vasectomy results.

We put down a few square feet of grass seed. We watered it. The grass is growing. Come see our grass.

We didn’t manage Christmas cards. The cards I never sent last year are still on the coffee table. They are dusty.

The Little Monster and I did go to Hawaii. We sat around and ate. We went to the same beach every day. I am still recovering from the energy I had to expend walking to the car and back. Ask me what I’m doing and I’ll tell you I’m still digesting.

We contributed very little to the economy.

All of this to say: 2012 was a fantastic year in which nothing much happened. Aw, sure, there was the ceiling collapsing from a falling toilet, the shingles, the 40-to-60 foot flame (depending on who you ask) lit by The Man I Married.

But mostly we were too busy simply being a forever family to do much else.

EWH front coverThe 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.

Guest Blog Post by My Dad about My Mom, w/ Rebuttal

Following is an email from my father, proving that one can never fully know one’s spouse. Also that my Dad is hilarious. He and my mother have been married for 51 years.

> From: Dad
> To: Jennifer
> Subject: weird Mom (Tutu)
> cc: Mom

> After all these years, I have found out that your mother doesn’t eat Oreo cookies in the way that normal people do.
> First, it takes 2 Oreo cookies at a time, not one (one is insufficient). The particular variety of Oreo cookie (there are several varieties) is not important.
> Next, give each of the 2 Oreo cookies a good firm squeeze.
> Then, carefully peel the top (outer) layer off each of the 2 cookies. Put the 2 top pieces aside.
> Now carefully peel the filling layer off one of the cookies and place it on top of the other filling layer.
> Put one of the outer pieces on top and squeeze hard a second time.
> Now remove the top layer cookie (it can be eaten now).
> Peel off the double layer of filling and carefully put aside (it MUST be eaten LAST).
> Eat the remaining outer layer cookies one by one.
> NOW and ONLY NOW, the squished filling can be eaten with gusto.
> I couldn’t believe it when I saw this demonstrated last night.
> Love to all !!!

Mom swiftly sent her corrections. I don’t think it matters that I don’t really understand the oreo cookie eating process she herein describes:

> Subject: Re: weird Mom (Tutu)
> From: Mom
> To: Dad
> cc: Jennifer

> Okay, that’s not right.  I take one cookie off each of the two cookies, then put the two centers together, squeeze GENTLY, remove a third cookie, and then remove the merged centers.  I then eat the four cookies, one at a time, and then eat the two centers.

> Actually, I can simply separate only one cookie and eat the cookies and then the center.
> He saw me at the end of the process, with the filling and cookies separate, and just can’t get his head around my explanation of what I do.
> One thing it shows is that there is a communication gap when one tries to explain what one has done.
> And after 51 years of marriage, he still has things to learn about me.  I only get to hear the occasional story of his youth that he has neglected to tell me.

Today is my mother’s 71st birthday. I think a package of Oreos instead of a cake this year?

The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition at Amazon

12 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.

Mule, Not Mewl

The Man I Married taps his toothbrush three items on the edge of the sink when he’s done brushing his teeth.

So does my son, the Little Monster.

Score one for nurture.

The Man I Married often repeats things, especially punchlines, three times. So did his grandmother.

The Little Monster? I wish he stopped at three times.

The Man I Married’s mother often said that when MIM was a baby he was inoculated with a phonograph needle. When he was outside playing with a group of kids, she never had to check on him, because she just listened for the constant sound of his voice that was louder than any of the others.

A psychiatrist we once visited said that the Little Monster basically has an iPod attached to his brain, broadcasting every single thought (typical of the ADHD child). LM wakes up every morning in mid-sentence, his eyes and mouth wide open at the same time to cheerfully and energetically greet the day. His vocal cords are like Popeye’s biceps on spinach.

Score one for nature.

The Man I Married’s father said that he had to hit MIM over the head with a 2×4 to get his attention. And that he was like a mule.

Ditto the Little Monster.

Nature again.

Now wait a gosh darned minute. We skated around the ole biology connection here, so I thought I’d been handed a Get Out of Inherited Annoying Traits From Your Spouse Free card.

Nope. I don’t know how it happened, but they are two peas in a pod. Both singing (not so bad) and passing gas (not so good) the livelong day.

And although the annoyance factor has been multiplied by two, it’s the most adorable thing in the world.

What did the Little Monster “inherit” from me, I suppose?

If the mule thing wasn’t already taken, I’d cop to that one. My father often insists that my mother’s side of the family is stubborn.

The Little Monster is SO stubborn that I can believe that it’s a trait that’s been squared in him on the nurture side on top of nature’s deep roots.

And that’s why we made it as a family, I suppose, just a trio of mules who dug our hooves in and refused to call it quits on each other even when the going got tough.  

We met the Little Monster exactly four years ago today, when he was just shy of his sixth birthday. When DSHS convened a meeting to decide whether MIM and I would be a good fit as the Little Monster’s forever family, LM’s social worker voiced her concern that I didn’t talk enough. Right. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise while MIM b.s.’d the room full of nurturing women. He’d done the same thing with our first landlord when trying to convince him to rent a house to us, though we were both unemployed and many other people were competing for the bungalow. MIM waxed poetic about being an injured veteran and pretended interest in water valve shutoffs and lawn care; we got the house. As we did the Little Monster. I’ve learned when to shut up and let MIM work the room.

As if my not talking enough would be a problem in this braying family.

MIM kept from rolling his eyes at the social worker’s suggestion that I was more of a mewler than a mule. (My father cannot roll his eyes. I hope the Little Monster takes after my side of the family on that one.)

MIM knows that when the cat’s got my tongue, I have other ways of communicating, such as throwing a potato at him (that was 24 years ago, and now I am wiser and would throw something soft like a tomato, which would effectively yet silently express my displeasure yet not break the dining room window like the potato did when MIM ducked and it sailed over his head—he concedes that the potato throw was warranted by what he said to provoke it).

I can’t say that I make as much noise—or as much mess—as my two guys, but I can get up a pretty good hee haw when those two get me laughing. Or when I’m yelling at them to pipe down. Or when I’m proving to them with gusto that I know all of the words to O Canada (and Canadians don’t put the “h” in their “oh” because they are anti-“silent h” as well as anti-gun?). Or when I’m saying today, thunderous as an atomic bomb, “Happy Anniversary to my little nuclear family!”

To us and to you, our friends and family who helped us to become a forever family, please join me for a hearty Mazeltov!, loud as a Malotov cocktail.

The Strangler Fig: Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Now on Kindle at Amazon.com

Six sensual, darkly fantastic tales that reimagine classics such as Dorian Gray, Helen of Troy, and The Yellow Wallpaper. The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories author turns to a darker eros with her new collection of haunting and magical tales, which have appeared in various fantasy, horror, and literary anthologies.

Cover image courtesy of Rhonda “Shellbelle” Renee © 2009, ShellbellesTikiHut.com

The Lament of the Cider Maker’s Wife

I have three goals in life, but they are all negatively phrased. They are things I want to get through life without doing.

Lately I’ve added a fourth goal, which is to remember my three goals. On a recent visit, my dad found my three negative life goals intriguing. He phoned me later to discuss them, but I couldn’t at the time remember for the life of me what the third goal was.

Now that I’ve remembered them, I’m writing them down:

  1. Never sue anyone.
  2. Never rent a storage locker.
  3. Never get a divorce.

These seem simple, but I realize that they are tied to big-picture philosophies that can be phrased positively, yet not quite as succinctly as the yang to their yin:

  1. Try to get along with people, and don’t hold resentments or try to get even (not even with that ahole who honked at me in Ballard, where it is illegal to honk, and who didn’t even look at me when I rolled down my window to shout bleep at him when he ran the red and damn I hope that guy gets his nuts sued off someday when he hits a bicyclist or pedestrian).
  2. Don’t get tied to material stuff and don’t own more than I need.
  3. Marriage is hard work but worthy work, and my long-term marriage is one of my proudest accomplishments, especially in this day and age.

Obviously, life can throw curveballs, and I also need to remain flexible.

  1. If someone through meanness or carelessness incapacitates me or one of my loved ones and I subsequently need money to care for myself or them, of course I would sue for it. One does what one has to do. There are good reasons for lawsuits.
  2. If I had the chance to live somewhere exciting for a year, of course I’d get a storage locker for irreplaceable objects, like that wedding dress that I’ll never fit into again.
  3. And I would urge anyone with an abusive partner to get their butts out of that situation. Not all marriage is worth saving. It’s only a sacred bond if both parties respect each other and that bond. I got lucky. My guy is quirky (maddening! aggravating! there’s a cow horn in my dishwasher! we drove to a winery yesterday for a tasting and we left with an empty 55-gallon drum tied to the car roof!) but trustworthy (when I asked, he told me exactly what the 55-drum on the car roof and the two in the vehicle cost…at which point I upped my order to include the vintner’s private reserve and a few others, instead of the one token bottle of Chardonnay I’d planned on, indicating that the Man I Married should pull out his wallet to pay for it). However, I’m lucky I live in a society where divorce is an option when someone is miserable in a marriage.

I am largely content in my marriage, though there are sometimes minutes or hours or days when I’m miserable in it, such as that car ride home with the 55-gallon drum lashed to the car roof.

Worth the price if FULL of wine

It wasn’t so much the cost I minded as the noise. Anything over 43 mph and we had a 55-gallon bagpipe droning an excruciating dirge, which I shall entitle Lament of the Cider Maker’s Wife. I’m not sure if the noise was caused by the friction of wind through the tie-down straps, or wind through the small opening in the drum to which MIM had cleverly affixed the strap hooks, or whether it was the unholy manifestation of the screaming in my brain. Around the block would be one thing, but we had 66.12 miles to travel—us, the mobile embodiment of a soccer stadium swarming with vuvuzelas.

I turd you not, this is exactly what we sounded like [click here], but louder.

“This sounds just like the load of wood we carried home on the car roof last weekend,” the Little Monster piped up from the backseat. I couldn’t see him, blocked as he was by the steel keg wedged in the seat next to him.

The Little Monster and I should be grateful that MIM left room for us in the car; he had planned to purchase more than three drums. Before you give MIM credit for not stuffing one of us into a drum, I must point out that the drums don’t open (except for a 2” hole), which is why the clever vintner was selling them. “They’re difficult to clean,” he noted. You might be wondering: if a professional vintner has difficulty in cleaning these kegs, how in the world is the Man I Married going to manage? Ah, Grasshopper, trouble not your meditative thoughts with this conundrum, because he will probably never get around to it, and, if he does, it will keep him busy enough to prevent him from purchasing other equipment, except for special cleaning supplies.

But even the noise I could take. What I couldn’t take was when I turned to the Man I Married and asked, “Is it safe?” It’s second nature for me to visualize disaster scenarios like the drum tearing loose and crashing through the windshield of the car behind us, resulting in 1) us being sued because we’ve killed, paralyzed, and/or disfigured the extended family traveling happily to Great Grandpa’s 101st birthday party, and 2) losing everything in the lawsuit except worthless sentimental crap that we’d have to shove in a storage locker while we lived on the street, until 3) we divided up all of the useless crap after the divorce because I would never forgive him for the unsafe 55-gallon drum on our car roof that wrecked our lives. But I have an active imagination that is very adept at Technicolor visions of worst-case drama, to which he usually gives me the “thigh pat,” which is the nonverbal condescending communication that translates as, “Of course it’s safe, honey. Stop your constant worrying, which, although amusing and endearing, is also tiresome. The world is not about to end, and I would not endanger my family so recklessly. The load on the roof is secure, I assure you. Trust me. I have huge amounts of experience with buying large, expensive objects which I will spend the next few years carting from place to place while I figure out what the hell to do with them.” Yes, all of that can be communicated with one touch.

But he did not give me the thigh pat. He shrugged and shouted over the noise, “I have no idea!”

If looks could kill, I need never worry about #3 on my list, because I would be a widow instead of a divorcée.

The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition at Amazon

12 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.

He (Not) Said / She (Not) Said

I don’t think that the Man I Married and I are the only folks in long-term relationships who often misinterpret what the other one is saying. We have 25 years of conversations and assumptions running beneath whatever we’re saying, rather like the current that continues to trickle along the bottom of a frozen stream.

Like the other day.

I came downstairs to find one of those huge collapsing ladders sitting in our entryway hall. It had been sitting on our porch for months, so I’d gotten used to sweeping leaves around it all autumn and learning not to see it despite it blocking my view outside every morning, the way we ignore telephone wires and airplane noise. Oddly enough, I had not mentioned the ladder on the porch even once, a highly unusual tactic on my part, since any comment just might be the Breakthrough Moment When He Actually Gets It, preventing all future strife and disharmony, so why risk blowing that opportunity? Take the cow horn in my dish rack, for instance. Yes, cow horn: dish rack. That is one of those ratio or whatever they are word problems that will never compute.

Do you think I kept mum about the moo? But my comments have been a moot point, because there the cow horn remains. MIM and the Little Monster see only the positive side, since they both noted triumphantly, “Hey, it doesn’t smell so animal-y, anymore!”

Though I’d ignored the ladder on the porch, now the big ladder: small entryway was hard to miss.

I asked the Man I Married, “Are you taking this up to the pear orchard today?” He goes up to a friend’s acreage every weekend, and I knew he would be leaving shortly.

What he heard me ask was, “How long is this ladder going to be sitting in the hall? I don’t like it in the hall, it’s irritating me, and I’m hoping you’re removing it pronto.”

What I meant was, “I hope that you are not taking the ladder with you to the pear orchard, where you will climb it all alone in the middle of a bunch of trees where no one can see you, without having told anyone that you’re climbing a ladder, and you will fall, hurt yourself, and slowly die in agony, and you won’t be found for hours, until the Little Monster gets hungry and comes looking for you, and then he will be even further traumatized than he already is, and I can’t handle a re-traumatized nine-year-old if you are dead and not able to help me raise him.”

What he said was, with a note of irritation in his voice that I was (in his mind) pestering him about moving the ladder, “It’s not staying here for long. I don’t have time to move it now, but I’ll move it when I get home. Don’t worry.”

What I said was, “What I’m worried about is you climbing it today without telling anybody, like you just did upstairs.” I didn’t remind him that he’d climbed it halfway before realizing that he hadn’t properly locked it open, and I’d come running upstairs at the big thumping sound of a body falling off of a ladder. I did say, “Don’t get irritated. I don’t care if you leave it in the hall for awhile.” Just please don’t die, I didn’t add.

To which he said, “I’m not irritated.”

Long-term marriage is streamlined and efficient. You can have a 2000-word discussion in only 20 words, then you can get irritated about things that your partner hasn’t said, and then you can argue about a tone your partner hasn’t used, and then you can get a lot done because you and your partner are no longer speaking and you have a lot of misplaced energy. For instance, you can now sweep the clear porch, whisking away the leaves that cluster around the ladder-shaped outline in the mold. Then you can scrub the deck chair, sit back with a nice martini, and enjoy the miraculous view.

And when he comes out to join you, you can hold hands and say nothing, absolutely nothing at all, and know in this moment that you both understand each other perfectly. 

The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon

12 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.

Now on Kindle

Always Never Land

Standing in the shower awhile back, I reached for my soap. I had recently unwrapped a new bar and put it in my special soap holder, the one that’s tucked up and away behind some shampoo bottles, so hopefully the Man I Married won’t grab it. As we age, we have different embarrassing issues which require different special soaps. Plus, in order to get our foster-to-adopt license, we once took a First Aid/CPR class together, in which the teacher ominously asked during the germ portion of class, “What is generally the last place a person uses their soap on when they shower?” No one would voice an answer. I for one felt like it might turn out that I was a freak if I shouted out an answer that no one else shared, humiliating myself to discover that I didn’t even take a damn shower correctly. Plus, how to say what we were most probably thinking without getting inappropriate?

She waited through the silence, and then said, couching her terms by quoting someone else, “As one of my former pupils said, ‘The Crack.’” Her point: stop sharing soap. As a liberal couple, we rarely march to the orders of authority figures, but The Crack Lecture fixed itself in my imagination. I like to feel clean and squeaky in a shower and not find myself visualizing where my bar of soap has been during someone else’s ablutions.

So our soaps, like many things in a long-term marriage, no longer mix. I bought myself a different soap holder.

But my brand new bar of soap was gone. It was my last bar out of the economy pack of twelve, so I could not even drip and dangerously slide my way over to the closet, risking hip fracture, to get another bar. I looked in MIM’s soap holder: nope, just his fragrant Costco soap that had gotten slimy on the bottom. When I got out of the shower, I looked in other likely places, like the kitchen sink. My soap was nowhere to be found.

“Did you take my soap?” I asked MIM at my first opportunity to accost him.


“But I can’t use your soap!”

“I forgot.”

Then I broke a cardinal marriage counseling rule, which is to NEVER use the words “always” and “never” during conflict. “You ALWAYS take my things!”

That got him mad. “I NEVER take your things!”

“I had to start hiding my comb, because every time I go to use it, it’s gone. Same with my toothbrush. I had to build a special holder where you wouldn’t grab it. You use my towel. I go to use it and it’s wet.” My evidence was mounting, but I changed the subject, ever so slightly. “So where’s my soap?”

“In my toolbox.”

But of course. Where else would my special soap be but in a toolbox?

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a Comedy-Romance written by Nora Ephron while she has the flu. Worse, it’s an outdated rerun that doesn’t quite stand up to the test of time. Our marriage often isn’t typical in gendered task-division or ownership of styling products (all of the stuff in the bathroom that looks like it should be mine is really his). Yet I was house-wifey hoppin’ mad that my special soap was floundering amidst the hammers and pliers.

But MIM could not find his toolbox. It wasn’t in the garage where he thought it was, nor was it in the laundry room. Finally, after a twenty minute search and a shoe change, he found it outside in the shed. With the other tools.

Should I have asked why my soap had migrated to a toolbox?

I used to always ask such questions of a man who never had an answer, but now I never bother.

Now on Kindle

The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories

by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon.com

“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…”  —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor

 “I laughed like a little maniac. I just loved it. Hilarious.”  —Mary Guterson, Gone To The Dogs

 “…poignant…”  —San Francisco Chronicle

 “…touching and funny…”  —Slowtrains.com

A Wrinkle in Laundry

The Man I Married decades ago decided that our stackable washer-dryer doors were hung the wrong way.

Rather, he decided the dryer door was hung the wrong way. So he switched the dryer door to open to the right. He was very proud not only of his sudden observation that the door was hung incorrectly according to the layout of our laundry room, but that he also managed to reverse the door.

But he didn’t switch the washer door, which opens to the left.

Now I have to contort like Gumby when I transfer a load from one to the other, squeezing myself in between the two open doors that tend to swing partially-closed. And I ain’t that skinny.

Gumby I Ain't

I end up hitting my head on the dryer door when I stand up from crouching in front of the washer.

Or I step back and nearly topple backwards over the washer door when I’m standing to sort things from the dryer.

I require hazard pay to do a simple load of laundry.

(Here I must protest that laundry is not simple. I seem to be the only one in the house possessing the advanced skill of not only remembering to transfer laundry from washer to dryer, but to transfer it from dryer back to place of origin, all in the space of time it takes to keep everything from wrinkling.)

Still, MIM was so proud about this door-switching feat that I hesitated to say anything. I myself would be incapable of switching a dryer door, so some level of admiration was in order. Plus, he’d spent part of his Christmas vacation making this fix (instead of doing any number of other things around the house that seemed to the ignorant and uneducated [i.e. his wife] to be more pressing, such as installing a sink in the laundry room so that he ceases to use my kitchen thusly):

I Even Helped Clean Them

Ah, now the dryer door project makes more sense, because installing a sink in the laundry room is daunting, overwhelming, and full of obstacle after obstacle. And there was the dryer door right in front of his nose, such a satisfying and quick fix that gave him a real sense of accomplishment and daring-do.

Which is, oh, kind of like writing a blog post when one is supposed to be working on a book-length manuscript.

His intentions were good, and he was proud, and who wants to mess with that? And maybe he was right, and maybe I was being close-minded. I thought the layout would be something I’d grow used to with time. But I did not. So after a month passed, I voiced my concern when he ventured into the laundry room while I was twixt and ‘tween the doors, feeling rather like a horse in a cramped stall with the top half of the stable doors open. I tried to utilize my rusty skills, dredged up from all of those marriage counseling lessons over the years. I ventured, “I feel frustrated by the dryer door and the washer door opening in different directions.” I refrained from adding, “I feel like it was a dumb idea.” We didn’t flush all of that marriage counseling money down the drain.

“But it makes more sense this way,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Then the washer door needs to switch, too.”

“I can’t. It won’t switch.”

We both paused. And paused.

“Who does all of the laundry?” I asked him.

“You do. Fine. I’ll switch it back.”

Here’s what gets me about long-term marriage. Even though he didn’t argue (much) and said he’d do what I asked, he managed to say it with a tone that implied that my request was unreasonable, and that he was being very reasonable to comply with it without (much) argument.

Further, if I said that this was his tone, he would counter that his tone had not been condescending in the least, and that it was all in my head, as usual. Such a discussion would end up sounding like this:

“Did, too.”

“Did not.”

Furthermore, I know that the door will not get switched back until I pester him again about installing a sink.

In long-term marriage, you can play out the entire argument in your head before it even happens. It’s like a boring television rerun from, like, the seventies.

So I didn’t say anything.

I just blogged about it.

Which he will never read, because I have an anti-husband-reading-my-blog tactic.

Awhile back, my cousin and friend were visiting and they both mentioned my Reader, I Awakened Him post and how much their partners had gotten a kick out of it. Unfortunately, MIM was there during the discussion. He had completely forgotten about the night I had woken him up. So while my cousin and friend were visiting, he got mad about it all over again.

“But I never wake you up,” I reminded him during our subsequent ‘discussion.’ “You always wake me up! That’s the only time I’ve woken you up in almost a quarter century!”

“I know!” he said. “That’s why I was so mad! It just wasn’t right! It’s not the way it works!”

Some days later, he surprised me by casually mentioning something I’d blogged about.

“You read my blog?” I asked him. 

“Well, I thought I’d better after that last discussion,” he said, “so I tried to. But there were just too many, and they’re all way too long, so I quit after reading part of just that one.”

So, to avoid spousal-blog-reading: be frequently long-winded, and your hot air will be ignored by those who grow weary of it and pay it no attention. Kind of like marital disagreement.


Now on Kindle

The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon.com


“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…”  —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor

“[I] was fixated. I really laughed out loud (by myself)…”  —Bobbi, Literary Mama Reader

“…marvelously refreshing…”  —CleanSheets

“Munro writes with an honesty and rawness… a brilliant piece of writing…”  —Innsmouth Free Press

Dungarees–When Life Throws You Dung

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, I continue to reflect on 25 Years of Wedded Bliss and Blisters

I’ve always worn the pants in our family, but lately I’ve taken the pants thing to a whole new level. I am, quite literally, wearing the Man I Married’s pants.

When I say that I’ve always worn the pants in our family, that’s not to say that I’m a balls-breaking kind of gal. Hoisting myself up by my bootstraps and wearing the metaphorical pants was a simple necessity when the Man I Married suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury not two months after our first date.

A smarter woman would have noticed that MIM had also had a Traumatic Brain Injury not two months before she met him. To my credit, nobody else detected the effects of the first brain injury, either. I guess I liked off-kilter kinds of guys, and this charming sailor was so off-kilter that even his close friends disregarded the after-effects of his riding his motorcycle into a chain link fence without a helmet. To them, he was simply more of what he already was: quirky, artistic, weird, unique, unpredictable, unreliable, devil-may-care, and, underneath it all, suicidally unhappy and thus a binge-drinker like the rest of them. I fell hard for the Byronic type, easy to see in retrospect, but at the time it all must have seemed dangerously romantic. I was twenty-two and he had a VW Beetle convertible. I need say no more in my defense of falling in love with a loopy-in-the-head man.

Nobody knew much about brain injuries back then in 1987—apparently not even his doctors—because it had only been relatively recently, due to advances in medical technology, that larger numbers of people were surviving brain injuries. So MIM’s first Traumatic Brain Injury was not officially diagnosed until the “poor reasoning skills” and “lack of impulse control” resulting from the motorcycle wreck led to the second head injury a few months later. (Logic dictates that “poor reasoning skills” must also have included dating me.) The “poor reasoning skills” caused him to mouth off in an Akron bar to a group of frat guys who took offense and beat his head into the pavement until he stopped mouthing off–because he was in a coma.

When he emerged from the coma, the doctor told his mother that she would be caring for a vegetable for the rest of his life. He was home in Ohio on vacation when all of this happened, and I thought I’d never see him again. But he gradually improved, although he couldn’t remember that he was a vegetarian, was walking out of the house in his underwear in the middle of the night, and couldn’t remember words like “car” and “potato chip.” At which point the Navy shipped him back to his station in Honolulu. Meaning to me. Me, after barely two months of dating, now his Primary Caregiver and his entire support network, all in one. He had no family there, and his Navy friends all shipped out to sea.

It never entered my head that I had a choice. I’d planned to dump him when he returned from vacation, because the “unreliable” part of his personality wasn’t so sexy after a month or two. I’d met someone else, and it turned out that MIM had been muttering another woman’s name while in his coma (so not sexy!). I definitely had not yet said, “in sickness and in health.”

It’s a marvel to me now, looking back from the perspective of two and a half decades, that I didn’t jump ship. But my parents were both Scout leaders, and they are the kindest, most generous people I know. In my ripe old present-day age, I’m more of a hard-hearted Hannah than they are, because I’ve seen how some take advantage of their bigheartedness (ahem, btw, is that check in the mail yet, Mom?), but back then the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. My parents rescue the most decrepit creatures you will ever have the misfortune of meeting, which was about the state of MIM when he shuffled his way off the plane.

He was, quite literally, a different person from the boy who’d taught me how to fancy-up a Budweiser by squeezing a lime into the bottle and who’d mimicked the technique with his tongue in my ear.

The results of the coma were very much like what happens to a stroke-victim, with paralysis in half the body. MIM had difficulty walking and talking (this was going to extremes to get out of Scottish country dancing with me). He no longer liked to smile because of his lopsided face. I drove him to occupational therapy appointments, where he made me clay pots: 

Not the kind of pot he'd indulged in before then

That pot will be twenty-four years old this Easter, and I always say it’s the first thing I’ll grab in an earthquake. He’d also learned a thing or two about inscriptions since the engagement ring episode, plus he had a female OT who nudged him to give it to me in the first place. (I wonder where Lieutenant Harrison is these days? She was a special guest at our wedding not long after.)

He was right-handed, the same side as the paralysis, so he taught himself to write and draw with his left hand. I think that quality is what hooked me. Most people (like me) would cry into their soup instead of deciding to switch hands, simple as that, and still manage to make art like this: 

What His Brain Saw

I married him. What the hell? We were already living the life of an old retired couple, so we might as well reap the benefits.

He suffered dizzy spells, and he couldn’t drive. We sold the convertible, and I was the one in the driver’s seat (a tan, compact Toyota) for the next few years.

He endured debilitating headaches until they were magically cured by a spider. I rolled over in bed one night and screamed at the sight of a hairy black spider on the pillow between us. I’m not a balls-breaking kind of gal, and neither am I a screaming-at-spiders kind of gal, but this thing was disgustingly gross and it was on the pillow. It turned out not to be a spider at all, but a huge, dried clot of blood that had finally worked its way out of his brain and down and out of his ear canal. No more headaches. Consider that a hot date night for us. Is it any wonder that I had a Don Johnson calendar on my wall for some imaginary excitement?

Most people who meet him now would never believe that he was once proclaimed to be cousin to a drooling cauliflower. He’ll never be fully recovered, but our arguments over whether certain irritating habits are Head Injury Symptoms (excusable) or Typical Male Behaviors (inexcusable) have proven futile. His father says that MIM was always like a mule and needed to be hit over the head with a 2×4 in order to get his attention.

What is certain is that after he recovered enough to drive again, and he started using words like “paradigm” on me (talk about below the belt!) and no longer slept twenty hours a day, I had to give up the driver’s seat and the metaphorical pants. This was a difficult transition for both of us. Let’s face it, when you’re a girl in the driver’s seat and you’re used to wearing the pants, it means that you always, always, always get your way. My guy couldn’t formulate a thought in his damaged brain about what he wanted, much less remember it long enough to tell me if he had one, much less sustain an argument if I protested that I wanted something different. The car went where I pointed it (including the marriage altar), and that was that. To be fair, getting to choose the movies we went to was just recompense for turning eighty overnight.

But give up the pants I did. Although recently, 25 years in to our relationship, I spied a new pair of pants that he’d bought for himself, laid out on our bed. He’d never bought a pair of work pants like that before. I lusted after those pants. They’re construction worker type pants, with lots of pockets, and loops from which to hang your manly tools. They have extra belt loops, ineffectual even so against plumber’s butt when weighted down with a toolbelt. They’re a weird sort of mustard-khaki color apparently made only for men who get greasy. They’re a thick canvas, a nice heft of material not possessed by anything in my side of the closet. They’re manly-man pants, and I wanted them. So I tried them on. And they fit.

There is no logical way in anywhere but Oz that MIM’s pants should fit me. He’s seven inches taller and generally forty pounds heavier, although this varies depending on which end of the scale we’re each on. I’m thrilled when it’s forty and not thirty, because the ten pounds of narrowing the gap is usually on my end, not his. He’s a slender kind of guy. But fit they did.

The truth is that I’ve been wearing men’s pants for years. I quit the ladies department the day I learned that men get to buy pants of the exact correct length. Women of whatever size waist all get the same length, and you have to guess at your size, which might be a 10 or 12 or 14 for the same person, depending on brand, planetary alignment, and who is holding the office of state ombudsman. Unexacting. If men go up or down a waist size, say after the holidays or after being released from an Italian prison (in which case the paparazzi all gloat about how marvelously slender he looks after his post-murder-rap diet—NOT), they still get to buy the correct length. If I increase in waist-size, my pants not only get longer, but by the time they fit around my okole, the crotch is halfway to my knees, so I look like a parody of a homeboy.

I complained about the length problem with women’s pants to MIM one day, and he said, “Well, of course. That way you have to buy a different pair of shoes to make the new pair of pants be the correct length.” Because I’m short but wide, I’d need shoes like this: 

Lying down without pants, maybe...

If I wore these, the long pants problem would be solved, because I would wind up like this: 


I’m not sure if I believe in a fashion conspiracy theory, but I do wonder why women put up with it? I have wasted many precious hours in the women’s dressing room when I could have been out bettering the world or at least having a nice martini.

For the record, I don’t want to hear about such-and-such a brand or such-and-such a store in which I can get women’s pants that come in the correct length as well as width. Women, like men, should be able to walk into any store to buy such a thing. If MIM can buy pants of the correct width and length at Fred Meyer, so should I. So it’s what I do. I buy men’s pants. They shouldn’t fit me. It makes no sense that they do. I haven’t measured in years and have no intention of starting, but I’d guess there’s a good foot, probably more, of difference between my waist and hips, and that ain’t no man’s bod.

But I’ve never worn manly-man pants. Durable pants that require steel-toed boots and a hammer and maybe some chew. In fact, they are so manly that they are called Dickies.

Dickies. Seriously. I cannot record here what the female equivalent would be.

I stole my husband’s Dickies. Like times of old, I gave him no choice. He didn’t look happy about it, but he justified my larceny by admitting, “Well, they were a little snug on me.” That’s one of the nicest compliments he’s ever given me.

I don’t think he should be allowed to own Dickies, anyway, because he never checks his pants pockets before putting them in the hamper (typical male? or head injury?), and that’s a lot of pockets for me to check.

How I love my Dickies! You can hear me coming a long way off in my Dickies, because the thick canvas material magnifies the sound of my legs swishing together. Also I probably stomp and swagger in them, because how can I not?

I even remembered a girlie hammer that my mother gave me years ago and found it at the back of a junk drawer. I stick it in the tool loop to femme it up a bit.

If I Had A...

It’s a powerful feeling to have a tool knocking against your leg whenever you take a step, as half the population already fully well knows. But my dickie is prettier. And now it’s handy when I need to (lightly) tap MIM on the forehead when he’s not listening.

Now on Kindle

The Erotica Writer’s Husband and Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Kindle Edition Now $0.99 at Amazon.com


“Jennifer D. Munro had me howling with [her] irony…”  —Susie Bright, Best American Erotica Editor

“…utterly new and eccentric…really a great piece of wit…[with] magnificent brevity…”  —David Lenson, Editor, Massachusetts Review

 “Not since reading David Sedaris have I laughed so hard…talented, funny and insightful.”  —Gitana Garofalo, Hedgebrook

 “…made me laugh out loud…I still chuckle…” —Samantha Schoech, Editor, The Bigger The Better The Tighter The Sweater