Hope And Optimism Or Regular Oil Changes? You Decide.

I got a flat tire yesterday. It was the result of part of a very sturdy chain-link fence being embedded in my tire. I don’t know how that happened. My husband Jim was curious about it as well.

He was even more curious when he took the car to have the tire patched and found out that I also needed an oil change, and had been overdue for an inspection since May.

“How did you not notice this?” He asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said. “How didn’t you?”

“The fine would have been $180 per month for every month it was overdue,” he told me. Many times.

“Good thing I didn’t get caught,” I said.

Back when I bought this car, I had to really work to convince him that I should buy used cars only, now and in the future. Someone else’s problems, is what he calls used cars. The only type of car a person like me deserves, is how I think of them.

“Have you ever changed your air filter?” He asked me, on the way to pick up the freshly inspected and tire-fixed car.

“Yeah,” I said. “NO.”

“How often do you get your tires rotated?”

“Never.”

It’s like he thinks a person just gets air filters changed and tires rotated with no prompting. Like I am some kind of mechanic. I told him maybe he should have married Danica Patrick.

If my tire looked like this – well to tell you the truth I probably wouldn’t notice.

And yet my cars, with the exception of one that I hated, have always been trusty steeds despite any accidental neglect on my part. Even despite smashing them into telephone poles and pillars in parking garages. In my defense, I’d like to point out that I have never smashed into anything but inanimate objects. Never other cars and certainly not people. This is a source of pride for me, and maybe that’s sad or maybe not – like everything else in life, it all depends on your perspective.

Unlike my cars, my husband’s vehicles always seem to give him trouble, despite all his babying and “regular maintenance.” My dad was the same way. He used to change the oil in his car and leave himself a note in the glove box that said something like, Oil changed 4/21/1996, used Pennzoil whatever, E.J.M. Those were his initials. He wrote his own initials on his notes, as if one day some stranger might sneak in and change his oil when he wasn’t looking. And then leave a note about it. My dad washed one of his cars so often that the paint on the trunk and hood started to wear off. He took it into the garage to ask what was wrong and they said, “You are actually washing the paint off of your car.”

My car never gets washed, unless my husband does it. It also never gets vacuumed, though I do occasionally empty all the iced tea bottle caps and random wrappers from the various compartments. I always appreciate it when my car gets cleaned, because it feels so fresh and nice to get into a clean car. But I never mind when it’s dirty. It just doesn’t bother me.

I barely even know what this is.

Springtime is rough on my car, due to potholes. I do try to avoid them but pretty much just shrug it off if I don’t. It is like I believe my cars are indestructible, or that whatever doesn’t kill them makes them stronger. My husband would tell you this is exactly how I feel but listen, I do realize that things just aren’t built to last anymore. My parents had the same toaster for my whole life. You know how many I’ve had? Like forty.

Anyway. I do love my used car, and I’m pretty sure my used car loves me. As a matter of fact just yesterday, my car told me via periodic incessant dinging that my purse should be wearing a seat belt. I mean, I ask you – is that considerate or what? I’m not one to name my cars or to anthropomorphize them in any way, but I will admit that right then I was pretty tempted.

By now you might be wondering what the point of all this is, and if so I wouldn’t blame you. So am I. I guess I’m just trying to say that there are two types of people in the world – those who enjoy time spent at the Midas or Goodyear or Jiffylube place, and those who prefer to get by on hope and optimism. What’s important is that we recognize which one we are and celebrate it. What’s even more important is that no matter where we are going, we do not text and drive on the way. Or play Pokémon Go or take selfies or investigate average salaries for your profession nationwide. That is really my point, here. Never mind if it doesn’t follow the rest of what I’ve written. Just go with it.

Thank you, safe travels, and Merry Christmas to all.

For Those Days When Single Parenting Looks Like A Really Attractive Option

me-and-jim1To all my married/engaged/otherwise coupled friends and acquaintances: I ask you, have you ever hated your significant other?

I don’t mean hate like, “oh, I just hate him, haha!” I mean HATE. In all caps. Maybe even bolded.

HATE.

If you say no, well, I guess that is nice. How lovely for you. Me? I have hated. I do hate, right now. That is why I’m writing this. I hate my husband! Profoundly and with extreme malice!

Once again, let me assure you I am not referring to your average, run-of-the-mill anger and/or dislike. I mean hate, as in, if he suddenly got shot in the stomach, I would kneel down next to him and stare into his eyes and pull his intestines out inch by inch with my bare hands. And then I would wrap the intestines around his neck and head and perhaps stuff the ends into his mouth and I would say, “There. Now you have something to complain about.”

Can I tell you, I feel SO MUCH BETTER just writing this down?

And that’s the thing about hate, isn’t it? Well, about hating your loved ones, anyway. In particular the loved ones whom you’ve chosen as your romantic partner and are therefore expected to spend the rest of your stupid life with. The hate never lasts. It’s almost like it can’t last. The Hate Train loses steam, you get bored with it, you move on. No matter what you do, no matter how firmly you tell yourself this time I’m staying mad forever! — it just doesn’t work.

Sigh. I guess that’s a good thing. Sustainable hate is a scary concept. Plus, it gets awkward around the kids. Plus, I get tired of shooting withering glares and find it a huge relief to return to my regular, everyday glares.

I can never get my makeup quite like this. But you get the idea.
I can never get my makeup quite like this. But you get the idea.

Although, you can always make yourself re-mad, if you want to. This takes some focus but it can work if you try. I am pretty sure I hated my husband for all of 2010, which I know because I write a lot of shit down. And when I reviewed my 2010 notes recently, I made myself re-mad about things that happened over six years ago. It’s true that the state of being re-mad is even more fleeting than regular mad, but it can be soothing to revisit the righteous anger of days gone by.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in America we say “mad” when we are angry, when in fact the primary meaning of the word “mad” is something very different? The first definition of “mad” on dictionary.com is “mentally disturbed; deranged; insane; demented.” Which, quite frankly, is hitting the nail on the head. When I look at my husband and think, I am so mad at you, what I really mean is, I am feeling very mentally disturbed right now, and deranged enough to murder you in your sleep as I have planned to so many times in the past. 

Speaking of definitions, though. Referring to dictionary.com again I see that the first meaning of “love” is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” I don’t disagree with that. I do at times feel a very profound affection for this man that I have married. He cares about things. He can be very nice, more to other people than to me but, still. He lets people go in traffic and remains patient in the slow lane instead of shooting past everyone and then trying to cut in at the last second. He does things for my parents when I ask him and sometimes when I don’t. He is generally a good person whom I sometimes see across a crowded room and think, awwww. He’s so cute.

Here is an image that came up when I searched for "angry." I don't know. You tell me.
Here is an image that came up when I searched for “angry.” I don’t know. You tell me.

I still hate him. But this is where dictionary.com gets it wrong. Under antonyms for love they list “hatred” and “dislike,” which really makes me wonder where they’re getting their information. We do not arrive at hate because there is no love left; in fact, I believe I specifically hate my husband in direct proportion to the degree I normally love him. Indifference is the feeling we have to watch out for. Indifference means, I don’t care whether you live or die. Indifference means I can’t even be bothered to talk about you, or to discuss how much I hate you on the internet. There cannot be hate without love, but there can be indifference without anything at all.

And that is how I know I have not married the entirely wrong person, here. Because even when I really feel like puncturing all of his organs and watching him slowly deflate like our blow-up Christmas yard decorations, the fact is that I feel something. I hope he is comforted by that fact, when he reads this.

Which is not to say he shouldn’t watch his back. Did you hear that, sweetie? Oh, shut up, I’m just kidding. Fine, be mad if you want. Just don’t be indifferent.

Much love to all you haters out there.