Saturday, February 28, 2009

Research and the Homefront

I have been wandering around the house in bathrobe, tissue paper and plastic bag carried close. It's only a head bug and so I have been spared the inevitable intimacy with the toilet that would have otherwise developed.

I got up this morning to find a message in my inbox from someone I had not seen before. Curious of course, I opened it and discovered it was from a company asking if I would write a review for their product on my blog, for payment or for a free sample.

"Someone wants to pay me for my writing!" I gasped. "My first writing inspired pay!"

And then I looked more closely at the product. It was an enhancer for men... Not sure, really, how I would have reviewed the product, since the necessary equipment is not hand.

Sometime this month our Bissel vacuum cleaner gasped its last, dusty breath. I wasn't really fond of the thing, it seemed to spew out as much dirt as it was picking up and it was always covered with a thin film of grit. It had many parts that needed to be taken out and cleaned and then dried and then wedged back into place, with much effort and some profanity.

I complain like this and yet, not so long ago, I would have been dragging the rugs outside and beating them on a line with a broom.

I saw the funniest clip about a comedian who was talking about a recent flight and the young person beside him had been complaining about how horrible the flight was because it was delayed for twenty minutes and then they had sat on the runway for another forty.

"And then what happened?" asked the comedian sarcastically. "Did you fly?? Did you fly though the air??? You were in a the sky!!" (I'm paraphrasing)

How quickly we can lose the wonder of things.

In any case, when I told Keith about the vacuum cleaner, his response was that we could fix it together, over the phone.

"I thought about that," I confessed wryly. "But then I decided that destroying our marriage over a vacuum cleaner probably wouldn't be worth it."

He dismissed this fear as groundless. "Just do exactly what I tell you," he said. A short five minutes later he sighed and admitted that the vacuum was indeed broken. Our marriage escaped unscathed.

I reminded him of the housecleaning situation yesterday and his voice became light with boyish enthusiasm. "I knew I had set some money aside for somethin'!" he exclaimed. "Hon, I'm gonna do some research...unless, do you wanna pick it out?"

"No, no," I said nasally, prostrate on the bed where my head cold had left me amid the litter of discarded tissues. "I wouldn't have the faintest idea which one was better and I know you love doing this kind of research."

Several hours later he called again. "Hon, now, don't be angry," he started off humbly.

"Oh no," I groaned, getting off the bed and put my fingertips to the window, as though this might help me bring him closer. "What did you do?"

Inwardly, I was recalculating all our expenses. "We'll be fine," I was reassuring myself, "we'll pay it off monthly...we can afford monthly payments..."

It turned out he had bought a second hand Kirby at an astoundingly good price and as he rattled off all the attachments, the guarantees, the qualifications of the on line site where he had bought it, my heart swelled up with so much love for him that I thought it might burst like a balloon.

"'," he continued, excited, "it even has this motor where it senses if you're gonna push or pull an' it goes with your motion. I thought that might help with your back. An' it's got this heppa... somethin'...where it blocks the dust from comin' back out an' I thought that might help you with being sick an' all..."

I love the sound of his voice when it is all light and unselfconscious. I love how he says the word "hundred," as in, "It was just three hundert and fifty..."

It reminds me vividly of his youth; he so often looks and sounds at least ten years older than he is. And that is dear to me as well, but when his voice is all light I'm reminded that I have a young and virile husband somewhere out there in the world. And maybe he can't come home and take care of me when I am sick and warm our cold, too large bed, but he can spend hours finding me just the right vacuum cleaner when he should be sleeping.

"You are such a good husband!" I exclaimed, in wonder at the fact of it.

"Well hon," he replied, surprised. "You're such a wonderful wife!"

I have been doing research on my story, I have a timeline and character studies going. During the day and often the night I am wrestling with what happens. How did they meet? I get side tracked by small questions, like, if they met because her car broke down, what car would she be driving? Why would she be driving it alone? How could her family afford a car in the thirties?

And then I spend hours on line doing research and not writing a single word. But I do know interesting things about that time, like the fact that food was rationed at a time when America was producing more food than they ever had before in history and that Monopoly came out then and when Congress was debating whether or not America would get involved in World War II (before Pearl Harbor) a group of mothers sat outside the session, wearing black veils over their faces in wordless protest.

I have discovered her name and fortunately, it is not Kitty. Her name is Helen Sophia Carr. Her father is the dean of a small college in the mid west, her mother is on women's committees and wears brooches on her ample chest.

Helen's husband is known as Red but she calls him Everett. His family has a repair shop the next town over and when he is not working on cars, he plays checkers. He keeps a board in his ruck sack and he played on the beaches of Omaha, in the days after D-Day, with buddies from his company, using bottle caps for missing pieces, faces grubby and exhausted, before they were reorganized and sent out for the next battlefield. In his letters, he calls her, "My darling girl..."

I suspect that I am capable of doing research indefinitely and at some point will have to actually force myself to begin writing.

Oh, and tomorrow I will be able to say that Keith will be home in five months and thirty days. Five months! (and thirty days-I highly discount the days in order to maintain moral.)

I see the light at the end of the tunnel.


jlc said...

Yay for the light!!!

Wow looks like we're both be looking forward to the summer then, I didn't realize. Sooo soo glad. :)

jlc said...


Sorry 3 hrs of sleep last night sorta did me in.

Somebody's Princess said...

wow, thanks for the comment you left. I can't belief you had the patience and fortitude to read it all. I'm completely flattered and impressed. Thank you so much for the kind words!

I look forward to reading more of you posts!

New Girl on Post said...

Are you feeling better yet? I'm hoping so!

jlc said...

Haha!! I'm all about food and def gained 6lbs when he was home!!

It's okay my eating habits were so poor when he was gone, that I kinda needed that fattening up.

Hope you are having a good day hun! Are you feeling better??

. Becca . said...

Hello there, lady!

I hope you're feeling better! :)