Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ordinary Folks

I feel like Miss Chef and I have suddenly entered a new level in our life together. As I mentioned in my last post, her schedule has changed, so that she is now home for three weekdays--in a row! Last night was the first of these, and I was amazed at the difference.

It's been hard for me, over the past eight years, to fully explain, even to myself, all the difficulties and disadvantages in having a partner on a schedule completely opposite of mine. Yes, it sucks that she's not around for the few dinner parties we get invited to. And I've been very aware of the struggle to make myself cook or eat a full meal at night when I'm by myself. But actually having a normal, get-up-together, come-home-together day made me want to try to capture the real differences.

For example, yesterday morning, as I was standing outside the front door, locking it on my way out, I thought of something I had wanted to tell Miss Chef. Nothing imperative, just something we needed to think about over the next few days. My first thought was to reopen the door and tell her before I left. Then I remembered, "I can tell her tonight!" We have both gotten into the habit of keeping a mental list of things to tell each other when we have a chance--in the ten minutes she's awake before I leave, or the ten minutes I might be awake when she gets home. Otherwise, we have to save it up for Saturday morning.

Since my memory is like a sieve, I constantly have to trim and re-prioritize my list, keeping only the most essential bits. Then, when we finally have a couple of hours to spend together, I am constantly trying to remember the other stuff I had wanted to tell her, thinking I'm going to miss the chance to bring up something else. It made our time together feel like overtime at a football game--gotta make the most of it!

So I was truly looking forward to last night. I got home first, but had barely managed to change before Miss Chef walked in the door. The dog was overjoyed, if not a little confused.

The first difference: we got to talk about our days while they were still fresh in our minds. I didn't have to wait until 11 pm to share how stressed I was when a coworker was called out suddenly, and we had to scramble to redistribute the day's workload. By 11 pm, I would have swallowed my stress and been too tired to talk about it. Plus, we both felt we had time to listen and ask questions and, conversely, didn't need to worry if we forgot to ask about something. We could ask over dinner!

After catching up, I took Rosie on our daily walk while Miss Chef started dinner. Yay! Finally, I get the advantage everyone always thinks I've had--a personal chef! Normally, she cooks on Sundays, but the rest of the week I'm on my own. Which usually means sandwiches. Because I've had enough of cooking for one, and often don't feel like eating much at night anyway. The serious problem with that, though, is that I'm supposed to be having a glass of red wine every day by doctor's orders. Seriously! I inherited a dangerously low "good" cholesterol level from dear old Dad, and red wine is "like medicine," according to my doctor. As a Francophile, I was delighted, but red wine and PB&Js really don't mix that well.

Anyway, as I was out walking my stress off, my mind kept wandering back home, thinking of Miss Chef bustling around in there. Usually I get back from a walk to a quiet, semi-dark house, then settle in front of the computer while I try to figure out what kind of sandwich I want for dinner. Yesterday, there was life and light, and conversation when I got back. It was Home, instead of The House.

An easily predicted benefit to sitting down to a real dinner is eating a more balanced diet. Miss Chef knows I don't like vegetables, so she makes a point of seeing how many different ones she can get me to happily ingest. Last night was Asian lettuce wraps. I love your basic Chinese, and this is a nice, light approach. The sweet/salty mix in the sauces satisfies all kinds of cravings. Besides lettuce, she got raw carrots and bean sprouts into me. And no carbs. (Except for the Nutella-spread biscuit I had as dessert. But she knows she has to choose her battles!) Plus, I had my glass of red wine.

Of course, over dinner we got to talk. I don't think we made any big consequential decisions or discoveries, but we didn't have the pressure of trying to get it all in, either. And then, the real Adult Stuff started: we got up and did the dishes.

When we eat by ourselves, we both like to read. As a result, we spend far longer at the table, and by the time we look up, either Miss Chef needs to get in the shower, or I need to get to the one or two things on my list before it's bedtime. So we usually end up just throwing our dishes over by the sink for "later." Which often means we start our weekend with a huge stack of dirty dishes, and a dishwasher that needs to be emptied, filled, rerun and re-emptied. It doesn't make for a relaxing Saturday morning to walk into that kind of mess.

So I was thrilled to be acting like a responsible adult, leaving a clean kitchen behind. Also, since we're cooking more, we'll run the dishwasher more, which means the dishes won't dry out and cake, allowing the dishwasher to get them cleaner. It's like a big system that we just hadn't quite gotten the hang of before.

Next bonus: a Miss Chef-packed lunch for the next day! Again, she makes a point of making sure I get my veggies. "How about an Asian salad?" she asked, and ready to dive into this brave new world, I said ok. This is a big step for me; salad does not a meal make. I did sneak some biscuit bits and Nutella into my lunch box though!

As we finished up the kitchen, Miss Chef said "It's eight o'clock already. How did that happen?" That is one disadvantage to all this grown-up activity; you don't get to screw around for hours doing nothing! But as I've found in my past lives, the more I have to do; the more I get done. I sat down at the computer and checked my email, but instead of wandering around on different blogs, I finally remembered to write my aunt and uncle a thank-you note for the Christmas gifts they'd sent me. I mean, how much more adult can you get?? And, as it turned out, I still had plenty of time to sit down and get lost in my novel, which is all I'd really wanted to do all day.

I was once again glad that I don't have kids, because this all would have been quite different if we'd been trying to fit in practice, homework, extra laundry and general Quality Time. As I said in my previous post, as long as Rosie gets her walk and a little bit of attention, she's pretty happy. So I guess I haven't gotten the full Adult thing down, but I'm satisfied with what I've got!


  1. I'm jealous now. Sarah is rehearsing nights, and I work during the day.

  2. Well, for what it's worth: I feel your pain.

  3. Couple things..

    Clean kitchens rule. My husband is a neat freak and has taught me the benefits of never waiting until later. Sometimes it sucks when you're tired to have to clean up after a big cooking project, but you NEVER regret it in the morning.

    Also, yay that Miss Chef is home! I am delighted for you because everyone deserves to be with the ones they love.

    I am so enjoying getting to know you post by post. You have such an interesting knack for stringing words and thoughts together and I just love stopping by. Really.

  4. I love getting up in the morning and coming into a clean kitchen. It rarely happens, but I do love it!

    I like this post, and now I have a hankering for lettuce wraps.


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