Rationing for the war effort

Image by Chase Urich – http://flickr.com/photos/q4radioguy/237028612/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1592771

Me (carrying four rolls of toilet paper to the bathroom)

DH: Don’t use them all at once!

Me: Don’t you judge my bathroom habits!

Which reminded me.

Years ago, I worked at a local teaching hospital, in one of the graduate programs.

I guess this other employee got bored one day, so she was complaining to me about the amount of toilet paper her husband used. Apparently she wanted him to ration it out, only using a certain number of squares each time he used the bathroom. I forgot the number now, but she felt very strongly about it, and talked to me about how she made sure to not use any more than that each time. It was a pretty low – and unreasonable – number. I want to say it was four, but it may have been five.

That complaint has stuck with me for a few reasons.

First – that she would count. I mean, it was the days before cell phones, so maybe she got really bored in the bathroom. She was older, so maybe number two was a struggle for her. Counting sheets could keep her busy when she was done reading magazines.

Second – that *this* was her marital complaint. She was almost ready to divorce over it. No problems with him cheating, him spending money, him lying. Nope. Not that he did those things, mind you. He just used too many damn squares of toilet paper. And I would totally not blame him for doing any of those things, especially because that would probably mean he got to use enough toilet paper to actually wipe his ass.


The real test of a relationship…

26013000 Ice cubes on blue background

There are a billion (okay, maybe a billion and one) pieces out there that purport to provide the ultimate tests to see if your relationship will last or if it’s doomed to destruction. Based on some simple characteristics or a few innocuous actions, you’ll be able to dump your partner or live a life of bliss.


Those are all full of shit.

The real test – the only test that matters – is what happens when you have a refrigerator that doesn’t make ice. In July. In Texas.

It doesn’t matter if you or your partner farts. Or picks their nose. Or scratches themselves. Or doesn’t change the toilet paper roll. None of that makes any difference in how well your relationship will run. Nope. The only thing is that damn ice tray.

Here’s the thing: when we moved into our house, it came with a nice, new, contractor-special, low-grade, standard refrigerator. White. Plain. Boring. But it had an ice maker.

I loved that ice maker.

Ice, all the time.

I’m addicted to ice in my drinks. The more ice the better. I would put in two ounces of a drink and twelve ounces of ice, then let it melt. Cooooold.

Then that lovely refrigerator bit the dust. Repairs – if they would be possible – weren’t worth it. But we didn’t have much money. So we did what we had to do.

We bought the cheapest refrigerator that had a fridge and a freezer.

It didn’t have an ice maker.

That’s okay, we told ourselves. We can make ice. It isn’t hard. People used to do it all the time. And it’ll save $50! That’s more than a tenth the cost of the refrigerator! Totally worth it!

I want to go back in time and bitch slap myself.

I haven’t had to make my own ice in 10 years. Ten years. Now I’m doing it twice a day. (Yes, I use that much ice. Don’t you judge me.)

I’ve also learned the ice issues.

First, I bought the cheap ice trays. Cheap doesn’t mean bad, right? Yeah. Yeah, it does. They have to be seated a certain way in order to stay one on top of the other. Ask me how many times I put them the wrong way and have water well up, covering the counter, floor, and my feet? At last count it was about 467. And that’s only been in the past two months.

Second, you discover the ice tray tricks. Things like always leaving one ice cube in the bin so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice. Things like sneaking a single ice cube from the trays so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice. Things like choosing to go without a drink so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice.

Third, you also learn how quickly your spouse catches onto those same tricks when you go to get ice and find out that the tricks have already been pulled and you’ve been screwed into the position of being the ice maker.

We’ve been together for 25 years and married for 20.

All the things we’ve gone through. All the things we’ve done. All the stuff that’s supposed to make or break a relationship. But it all comes down to the ice trays.


My Table

Let me take you back…about thirty years ago, to be exact. I spent a morning working down in my grandfather’s basement. Pop-pop had a full workshop from his many years as an engineer, and I think he was probably pretty happy that (even though he had granddaughters instead of grandsons), they were still interested in what he did. So we spent that summer morning building a cube. It was simple, it was easy, but, for me and my eight-year-old self, it was awesome. Later on, I drew flowers on it with a marker, and it disappeared somewhere down the line. But it was a big, solid block, and I think I even used it as a trashcan for a while.

Of course, Pop-pop was way better at it than I was. We still have one of the “Pop-pop chairs” in my house – one of the chairs made for my sister and me when we were little kids. They were awesome, and they’ve held up to years of abuse.

So, to me, making stuff is important.

Fast-forward. A few years ago, we got a big, comfy recliner to go in the bedroom. The only space for it was next to the bed on my side. The problem was that it was a bit bigger than we thought. It didn’t fit with the bed and my bedside table, so I moved my bedside table and began using a simple little IKEA table. It worked, and it fulfilled its purpose. But no matter what, it was a black, thin, fake wood (can it even be called “wood” with the word fake in front of it? And when it’s that obvious? And doesn’t that also imply that there could be some confusion and someone could somehow imagine that it was made of wood?).

More forward movement. I went away for my final residency at University of Tampa for my MFA in Creative Writing. And I came back to find something in the garage – Patrick had begun making me a table. Like from scratch. And from wood. Actual, honest-to-goodness pieces of wood that had once upon a time been part of a tree. He took some time to get it finished up properly, and just this past weekend, he finished it up and moved it into the bedroom, into its proper place.

Now let me tell you why it’s so awesome.

  1. Many years ago, I heard a story about Richard Pryor. Apparently he had an awesome idea for a joke one night when he was asleep. Being the clever sort, he had a tape recorder at his bed-side, and he woke up enough to share the brilliant joke with the microphone. The next morning, he woke up and listened, ready to hear – and jot down – his masterpiece. Except it wasn’t there. All that was on the tape was mumbling, punctuated with a lot of laughs. From him. He had no memory of what was so funny, and he had no way of interpreting his noises.

    Why bring that up?

    Because I’ve done similar things, only worse. Falling asleep, inspiration strikes! I know what to write about! I’ve come up with the first line – or the last line – of whatever I’m working on! I’ve solved the problem with my plot! (Or character! Or setting! Or whatever!)

    And my brain convinces me that I don’t need to write it down

    But I do need to write it down! And since it’s always late and dark that means fumbling around for something to write with or write on. But no more.

    Because Patrick is so awesome that he made the top of my table a whiteboard!

    So now I can just grab a handy marker and scrawl it out on the table so that, in the morning, I can look at it and say, “What the hell does that mean?” (I have a note in my phone that says “Robot Roosevelt.” Still have no idea why.)


  1. It has a totally custom, totally amazing inlay of a hummingbird. Last summer, I got this hummingbird tattoo.  Since I like my body art to be unique (or mostly unique), I contracted with Victoria Shipman to draw me a hummingbird and a blue rose – two images I wanted to merge for my tattoo. Well, Patrick took the original artwork and used the hummingbird to create the inlay. Super awesome sauce, right?


  1. As you can so easily see in the picture, it holds my cable to charge my phone! Patrick threw a little hoop on the back, and if the cord is threaded through it, the hoop holds it in place. So my cell phone can sit on the table and get charged without the cable always falling behind it when I foolishly unplug it to answer a call or respond to a text message.


So, now y’all can see my awesome table and be all jealous of how awesome Patrick is.