Jun 30, 2006

The Inconvenient Truth

So I might have mentioned that TJ has to attend a conference in Korea in the fall. In fact he has quite a few conferences to attend each year, often in foreign lands. What I would like to do is go with him, just for the opportunity to travel with purpose. It might be a little dilettanty to go with him and then wander the streets while he gives his talks, but it sounds quite sublime. Still, I can't typically go at all, ever. Because I have a regular work-a-day job and am always in the red as far as vacation time. He'll probably be going to Barcelona in January. Damn, I'm jealous.

The other day, we're eating dinner and he says to me, "Hey did you know Tokyo's only a two-hour flight from Seoul? I was thinking to extend my trip an extra week and go bum around Japan."

Me: "Oh. An extra week? By yourself?"

Him: "Well, yeh, I think so. I mean, I haven't decided yet, just bouncing it around."

Me: "I need to determine how I feel about this. Please hold."

So that was the last we really spoke about it and I have been keeping him on hold while I figure out my stance. The gut reaction at first was that I was jealous and felt that it was mean of him to extend his trip a week, without me. There are several nuances... I mean, I know he's not purposely trying to rub it in my face that he has a more flexible schedule than I. And I know that I would want the freedom to go somewhere without him, too -- just because we're married doesn't mean we have to do everything together. But somehow I suspect that after a week in Korea he will be actually rather ready to come home, rather than go run around Japan alone.

As for me, I will be lonely the first night or two, and then I'll call up Courtney and we'll have a knitting evening or something. Then I will go play softball with the work people, and then things will start to get normal without him around. I will get used to taking my fair share of dog-walking duties, and it will be fine. So it can't possibly be about me feeling abandoned or lonely.

I think what it's really about is not wanting him to be so willing to live without ME. Am I that emotionally needy? Maybe. Pay attention to me! No, really, pay attention. I'm wearing a pretty dress!

Bottom line: I legitimately would prefer that he be unwilling to extend one week without Dubin into two. And that's sort of juvenile, but also who I am and have always been and it's the truth, however inconvenient.

The thing about blogs is that you can practice psychoanalyzing yourself and get the judges reactions. I am going to bring it up again with him tonight. In the meantime, please feel free to weigh in.

Jun 29, 2006

Practice Less Denial

I thought my last post was cute and touching and whatnot, but I got some rather pointed feedback from those older and wiser than I am that is DANGEROUS to broach such topics in public or private because men are squirrelly about the mention of boys in the past. This sent me into a little loop of self-consciousness, like, why am I writing this whole thing in the first place? In concept it seemed like a good idea, but I realize that if you write a blog on the topic of "Learning about what Marriage Is and How to have a Good One, the Play-by-Play" then you start framing your life in terms of potential problems to write about. This could be an accidentally diabolical way to generate neuroses.

On that note, let's talk about something else for a while. I've been riding my bike to work these days because it's still not too muggy... when it's not raining, it's been really lovely. And there's no better way to see more of the charm of living in this town than tooling past early- and mid- 19th century rowhouses all adorned with window boxes.

I'm not the most skilled at riding in traffic; in an ideal world I'd ride only on paths and roads that have no moving or parked cars on them. But in Philadelphia you can sometimes get where you're going by taking only the tiniest of side streets. In the mornings, there are never any cars on them at all. So I meander around those, with the game of staying off the big streets as much as possible. Each morning I refine my ride by trying to stay off the sidewalk more and more, until I can figure out a way to get all the way to my office on asphalt without traffic.

So I'm riding along each morning, and all of a sudden I realize I'm having an ongoing imaginary conversation with the officer that tries to give me a ticket for riding on the sidewalk. This is a fantasy, there is no actual officer giving me a ticket. It's bizarre how this conversation happens continuously, and usually involves me making excuses for how I hardly ever really ride on the sidewalk, but uh, they're repaving the street here and there, and uh, well that street was one way and I didn't realize it until too late, and um I really never ride on the sidewalk hardly EVER but last year I got doored by a taxi and I'm scarred by that, and so really please consider not giving me a ticket.

There comes a point that you realize that if you are constantly having an imaginary conversation with an officer begging for leniency, you are probably riding on the sidewalk more than you think you are. Note to self: practice less denial.

P.S. Now that so many little streets are being repaved, you can see all the old cobblestones underneath! Philadelphia rules.

P.P.S. This morning TJ mentioned that since he has to go to a conference in Korea in the fall, he was tossing around the idea of staying an extra week to visit Japan given that it's so close and when-will-he-ever-be-out-there-again? My first reaction was confusionwhyareyouleavingfortwowholeweekswithoutmejealousy. Is this normal? We can discuss this tomorrow, for now tawk amongst yourselves. Thanks.

Jun 28, 2006

The Science of Cognitive Everything

My acquaintance, Ross Bender, used to have a blog called "The Science of Cognitive Everything," which he's now pared down to this because blogging apparently took up too much time. That phrase is the kind of phrase that makes you want to say it over and over again in your mind for no reason. The Science of Cognitive Everything. Ross has sent me some of his recent writings in which St. John the Divine Cathedral in Washington Heights plays a prominent role, so I've been thinking about the Cathedral and therefore of stone carving, and therefore of the summer I spent living in New York.

I think my official title was "Intern for the New York City Parks Outdoor Sculpture Restoration Group." In reality, we did restore outdoor bronze sculptures, including repatinating with oxides and blowtorches and repointing granite bases and other skilled things. But we also spent a lot of time waking up early and erecting, un-erecting and re-erecting the same aluminum scaffold system from off the top of the van. It was a million degrees and humid, and we often had to wear respirators and rain gear when we were torching or pressure washing. A strange amount of the job had to do with "removing" "guano" (a.k.a. cleaning bird crap) with a "special anionic detergent" (soap and water).

My time that summer was a very romantic time in my life in general. I was living in Amanda's small apartment with Zach Berman, who I didn't really know at the time, but we were practically on top of eachother in that little space (not sexually, just geographically). There were roosters in the backyard even though it was Greenpoint. Did I mention is was a million degrees? The kids from upstairs would come down and ask for Amanda, and Zach would try to tell them she was in Laos for the month. They didn't know where Laos was, so they colored while Zach tried to show them on the atlas.

You know, it was summertime, not much to do but sweat and walk around. My friend from the crew was a stone carver. He took me to St. John's and showed me the newest figurative sculptures there, which are strangely phantasmagoric and evocative of contemporary themes. He told me how stone is carved, in general, not in the way that most boys will tell you about what they know but rather wholly without boasting. We looked at the places where people left plastic flowers next to the dead entombed in the walls. We sat in the apse and watched everyone, and then got Hungarian pastries and ate them with hot chocolate.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I think of past adventures because I'm married now, and perhaps TJ would feel left out if I spoke about them too much. I get the feeling he doesn't reminisce as much as I do. I spend a lot of time in my brain, day-remembering. I think TJ lives more in the present. Why do I feel guilty being nostalgic about how I felt about myself and the world at that time? I was younger, more confused, less settled in my daily life. I was open to more, and now perhaps I'm not. Maybe I miss the old me a little, even though that person suffered more than I do now.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the memories evoked by Ross's stories. If TJ should stumble on my blog (I haven't really told him I'm writing this yet), I hope he won't be put off by the fact he hasn't been informed. I will tell him, but right now -- it's like this is a private diary so far, except that strangers and friends can read it. Weird, I know. But anyway, I will tell him and I'll probably be surprised by his lack of curiosity in reading it.

Ok, so he's not as curious and he's as not nostalgic as I am. He likes to watch the World Cup games and play Oblivion on the X-BOX. Still, somehow, when I wake up and see him, I know he's the only one I want to spend my days with. When he does that thing where he picks up the cat and brings her over to the mirror so she can look at herself, my heart becomes like a cupcake, all moist and crumbly. And he puts up with my crap with grace and humor. Last night he cooked me a lovely dinner of spinach and lentil dal with mango shrimp curry, and we fell asleep looking at kitchen and bath magazines...

NB: If you're reading this entry for the second time and notice that it may have been, er, edited -- I think that had something to do with the Patriot Act, but I need to look into it further.

Jun 27, 2006

Identity Crisis, in brief

Of the many identity crises I've experienced in my life, this one is the one I didn't see coming. I don't know what the hell my name is right now!

You see, I assumed I'd change my name to my husband's. Since I'm a child of a child of the Feminist Movement, I have the luxury of doing such things (kind of like I also have the luxury of enjoying handicrafts and wearing skirts to work).

My mom, you'd have thought, would have been more likely to keep her own last name than I would, given that it would have been a STATEMENT. Even though our society is still far from egalitarian, somehow I have the luxury of taking my man's name because it's not so important anymore to overthink it. I just very simply want to be clearly in the same family as TJ, and it would be nice if we all had the same name so we could put it on our mailbox or something.

But, the weeks are going by and I have done absolutely nothing committal to change my name. It's as if I've forgotten to address the issue. I just can't seem to do it. People have been calling me Dubin since forever, and it's who I am! I am Dubin. I am in serious denial about needing to deal with this conflict. People ask me if I've changed my name, and I'm like, "Look! Elvis!"

So now it's like I have no name at all. I'm not one and I'm not the other. Someday soon I'm going to have to pick...

Jun 26, 2006

La Raison d'Etre

I've noticed that some people's blogs serve a greater purpose, like chronicling the writing of their dissertation, or posting a cartoon daily, or updating people about Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. If I want my blog to be well trafficked and to someday have as many fans as Megan, I figured I'd better thematize this thing.

My "life issue" these days is that I just recently got married. What happens when a stubborn 31-year-old girl gets married to a nice, handsome, funny guy who happens to play a _lot_ of video games? What happens if they have a dog and a cat and a slug named Gary? What if they live in a cute house on a cute street in a nice Ye Olde town like Philadelphia? Sounds pretty idyllic, don't it?

Yeh, it's pretty sweet.

Yet there are some growing pains, which I intend to log here at least until they start to become boring and no-big-deal. You see, T.J. and I (unlike most of our peer-types) didn't live together before we got married last month. Sure, we spent a lot of time with each other, but we physically didn't live in the same house. So there are things we're both learning about each other that are actually new and surprising and totally disturbing! Want to hear some of them? Yes, maybe you do.

I'm not going to be heavy handed with my theme. I will surely talk about other stuff, especially as I begin to realize that I am still the exact same person I was before. But the novelty du jour is my marriage, and therefore, my nominal raison d'écrire.

Jun 25, 2006

The Blank Page

Hello, world. I am now motivated to see if blogging might be a good way to keep track of the mundane things that happen in my daily life! I am sure that if this turns out to be no fun at all it will only last a few days. However, if it does seem to be a reasonable way to journal my existence, I'll be able to show my grandkids something and they'll know how funny I was in my youth.