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Bass Ackwards

Today's post is brought to you by some kind, anonymous The Reader who gave me one whole tip and then wouldn't even let me tell you his or her name.  Thank you, Genderless but Generous The Reader, whoever you are!

Priests aren't allowed to reveal a word about what's said in the confessional, but the confessees are not so bound.  Pull up a kneeler.

Listen, I told you I've been pissy.  And I mean piss-yJosh The Pilot is summarily creeped out whenever I say this, but I'm an empath, an emotional sponge who serves as the mood barometer of the surrounding territory:  It is physically impossible for me to remain calm if the rest of the room is falling apart.  (Okay, unless it's 2004 and I really, really hate my job.)  I would suck as a POW.

This extends locally and even nationally.  Therefore, as you can imagine, these past few weeks have been one little stormcloud of Fun.  If there's stress around me, even just my own stress, I will suck it in, process it poorly, and send it back out amonst the universe in the form of a Swiffer hurled across the kitchen hallway.  I'm not talking the airy little Swiffer rag you stuff up into the sweeper here, people: I mean the entire Swiffer, pole and all.

That's not acceptable adult behavior, of course; anger is normal and human, Swiffer javelining is not.  Christ threw out the moneychangers, but He did not hurl about cleaning implements because He was pissed that it was cleaning day again and there was still a stack of essays left ungraded.  That plus a multitude of less Procter and Gamble-sponsored outbursts ("I'm SORRY, I guess I'm just too INCOMPETENT, FAT and UGLY to hear you POLITELY ASK ME TO PACK YOU A SANDWICH FOR LUNCH") landed me in the Confessional.

Now, the Church teaches that if Confession is done properly, it's not a drive-thru sort of situation. It doesn't work if you swing by to pick up a little penance on the way to the orgy.  You have to go in there truly repentant, all  "No seriously, I'm not going to sit around radiating little furor waves at that cop anymore." (Please note that I'm not including this to start a big ol' religious argument fest down in the Tasting Room, so any attempts to start one won't get out of approval mode.  I'm just explaining where my faith is here for narrative purposes, so if you have Confession-related catechismal issues, please direct them to this address. The recipient will be more than happy to help you out with that.)

So on Monday I plopped down behind the screen (if you're lucky, your church will still have a screen with a highly uncomfortable kneeler, instead of the church I grew up in, which stocked the confessionals, Oprah-style, with two armchairs and a potted plant.) And the priest, as good priests do, made the event a spiritual counselling session rather than ten seconds of "Wow, sucks married to you.  Five Hail Marys, see next week, same sin-time, same sin-channel."

I threw the whole mess down at the screen and the priest said, "Have you tried praying for healing? I can tell you have much anger in your heart.  And when you are angry, you cannot move forward.  But you're worse than stuck.  You are moving backwards."

Which... true.  Even though I hadn't gone into the Olive Garden details there in the box, I sit here a despairing newlywed, because I have been pulling *#&@ that I would never have considered during the dating phase.  And-- yeah, the marriage and the toilet scrubbing arrives, the roses and the "When you.. I feel" statements go.  Because you get tired and you get impatient, and the furor flashes up and you don't want to have a twenty-minute sob-encrusted wrenching conversation when two second's worth of a hurled Swiffer will say exactly the same thing.

No, I don't cheat and I don't hit and I don't name-call.  The Great Swiffer Toss was aimed well in the opposite direction of my husband.  When I scream, the vitriol is aimed exactly where it belongs:  At me.  But that isn't how a woman who wants her husband to date her for another fifty years or so behaves.  Not when the husband greets me at the door in my perpetual exhaustion and says "I have a present for you!" and the present is a freshly-made bed, complete with stuffed animal to keep me company while he unsticks the hinges on the front storm door.

So, yeah:  He maintains, even steps it up, as I move backwards.  Backwards in my marriage and backwards in my career, because when the economy went cliffdiving, so did many of my freelancing contacts, which meant I had to start putting on a bra to make a living again.  That's translated to many, many minutes of staring at the back wall over my students' scowling, bored heads:  "Why can't you be a nice long line at a book signing?"

And so I left the confessional sniffling, and lay down on the bed with my husband, and we did my penance together, which was to pray over Scripture about Christ as a healer.  Then I drove to my classroom and went around the room with my students' latest essays.  And in front of the whole entire class, I praised each and every one of them on one good thing they'd done with the assignment, even if the thing was "You remembered to put your name on it!" Only two of them fell asleep.

And then I got in my car and I saw the two following bumper stickers during my drive home:

1)  Hand lettered, black cutout furor on a white background: BLAME THE REPUBLICANS

2)  Professionally produced, and all the more heinous for it:  WHY COULDN'T HILLARY HAVE MARRIED O.J.?

Backwards, all of us.

be cool at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender

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Reader Comments (14)

While I have yet to hurl cleaning implements, I understand your struggle to remain rational when surrounded by irrationality. It is overwhelming at the best of times and can completely break your brain if you're not careful. I have found some release by listening to talk radio during my commute and having very loud, one-sided, yell-y and scream-y conversations with the hosts and commentators. I can name call and rant without them talking back.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEm the Reader

I am the same sort of newlywed as you! Only we don't have a Swiffer, so I have hurled less-clean things like dirty socks and underwear while I'm picking them up off the floor. And I understand what you mean about your career being in a less-than-peachy state right now.

You know what helps me feel better? Every morning on the way to work, I pass a neighborhood guy taking his walk. He walks every day, no matter how the weather is, and always wears a sunny yellow shirt. Every car that passes, he smiles and waves--even though they're complete strangers. You know what? If that guy, with his bald head getting all cold and soaked in the rain, can still smile, I can too.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

Oh MB..been there done that but AT WORK. I threw a whole grocery bag of cash register tape that a supervisor incorrectly told me to keep ACROSS THE ROOM as hard as I possibly could and it was ON SECURITY CAMERA. Hated that job. Now I just head for the chocolate like I just did about 10 minutes ago. We all deal with stress the best way we know how so keep your chin up.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara N

"It doesn’t work if you swing by to pick up a little penance on the way to the orgy. "

LOL With large fries and extra ketchup, please ;-)

Em the Reader's got a good point. One thing I learned when living in this surrealist city I call home, is that in order to maintain your sanity, you need to get a little crazy. So I sing like an idiot on the way to my work, or stare in envy at the dog walkers... stupid things like that.

It would be really nice if people started to put on their cars bumper stickers that said "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" instead of the partisan crap. Even for a person who doesn't follow the Church —like me— that psalm is still pretty powerful.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Married less than a year, I went into full "you've-made-me-mad-but-i'm-not-going-to-discuss-it" mode one day with my terrific husband, and tried to leave the room without resolving the issue (no cleaning implements were harmed). He grabbed me around the waist and lifted my little feet off the ground and announced that leaving the room was not how anger issues were going to be resolved in this marriage. We had a good laugh, but more important learned that half the battle is determining that you're in this for life, and you're going to learn to deal with it if you've got that commitment.

PS A really terrific book on marriage is "Love and Respect" by Roland Emmerich.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

Roland Emmerich??

'Independence Day' & 'Day After Tomorrow' dude?

How would he know about maintaining the structure of a marriage, when all he wants is to blow things to Kingdom Come? ;-)

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Aww! As a desperately-wanting-to-be-married single gal, all I can say is congratulations on finding a guy who so models Love that he actually makes the bed and has the forethought to include cuddle objects! Apparently JTP's been reading Eph. 5:25.
Now if we could just clone him.... ;o)

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I am with Jess. You have a wonderful man and are blessed. I understand your being pissy though and hope for all our sakes that things get better soon. Please know you are not alone. I ate an entire tube of cookie dough tonight b/c things just feel that bad. I honestly haven't done that since Sr year when my comp didn't pass, even after all your help. So, buck up, chin up, and pass the chocolate.

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKell Belle

Aw, thanks, Kelly. I am grateful that you're out there, and very much appreciate your kind thoughts-- looking forward to the actual letter!

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

If it's possible, I may deal with things too well. I'm so good at going with the flow that sometimes I go over Niagra Falls.

So the other half isn't so hot, either.

The Cubs lost tonight. I have a Swiffer WetJet. Wanna see how far I can sling it?

OY! Thanks RPJ The correct name is Emerson Eggerich.

October 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

MB, I came over here from a link at my friend, Leslie Carbone's, blog - and I'm so glad I did! I've been poking around, reading this and checking that, and I've been delightfully bemused and wowed many times. I very much like your "I am as I write me" straight forwardness and clarity.

Hm. Actually, you write rather like more than a few conversations I've had with myself ;-)

I especially liked this post, because I've been married 22.5 years, and very happily (though not always, erm, perfectly happily, as I'm sure you understand). This post reminded me of how much I've grown in my marriage - and of all the "stuff" I still need to give over to Christ.

Just to let you know, you will still have these days after 20 years of marriage - but you'll probably be able to resolve them more quickly and without a trip to a confessional counselling session ;-)

Our husbands will always, to a certain extent, remain beloved mysteries (hey... They're guys! I'm not always sure they're the same species...), but I assure you that you will grow ever closer and more in tune if you continue as you seem to have begun. It is MORE than worth it!

Oh, and if you're going to claim the "blonde" champagne (love Korbel Brut as an "everyday" bubbly, myself), *I'm* gonna claim the only "brunette" champagne I know - a sparkling Shiraz from Rumbal (sp? Been many months since I've sipped it, darnit). Although it's really more of a "red head" I suppose....

Thanks again for this great post; keep up the wonderful writing!

-- Kat

October 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Oh! How kind. Thank you so much for coming over my web house, and for the incredibly supportive, much-appreciated words. (My favorite particular word is "bemused." I think that's a good one to describe me.) I hope you stick around and comment some more, because you are truly a wise lady.

October 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Well... "Wise," I dunno... As you get to know me better, you may amend that to read "wise-a**"! LOL

And I'm planning on sticking around; I enjoy places to go where there can be different views that can be discussed civilly and thoughtfully. As I see you've already noticed, that's terribly rare these days!

Anyway, I'm in the middle of writing a meditation on Isaiah 1, Jeremy Riddle's "Sweetly Broken," and a dash of Michael W. Smith's "A New Hallelujah," so off I go to my self-imposed writing assignment!

Big hugs, and may you have a wonderfully blessed day - and don't forget to tell the hubby how much you love and appreciate him! ;-)

October 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKat
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