The Romance Reader

Monday it snowed and it was beautiful. Tuesday, by 8:30am, it was already 45+ degrees (Fahrenheit), so the H.J. (my Hirsute Japanese) and I planted.

I love gardening; I love the act of digging in the dirt and dead-heading. I am mad for seeing the results of my work — driving up to our home and seeing the abundant flora makes me feel good. It’s a physical reaction.

Our front yard has a slight slope, so the higher section is less full than the rest, and I am a firm believer in More is More, and More is Definitely Better. Remember when Diana Vreeland described her desire for her living room, that she wanted it to “look like a garden, a garden in hell!” Well, I’m not really after that whole beelzebub imprimatur: I want our garden to look like Tasha Tudor’s. There, I said it.

Diana Vreeland in her garden

Tasha Tudor in her garden

My friend Leslie turned me on to Pinterest last year, and as I am one for eschewing social media (and being a downright bitch about it: judgmental, hypocritical bitch, that is) I put it off. But now I’m kind of a sucker for it and visit it nearly daily. Damn. We have started a minor remodeling but major decorating of our (master) bedroom — it and our bath are the only rooms in the house not yet touched, and we’ve now lived here seven and a half years. I’d stopped seeing it, really, but something happened last year which opened my eyes and I thought “what the hell? I’m tired of living in a college dorm.” I’m 45, dammit! So searching for images which convey my goal, or which help me to winnow, has been both a ton of fun and a huge time suck.

A vulgar phrase but oh so apt. Last week I followed a pin to a board to another pin to another board and before I knew it I was on the board of a lovesick man. At first as I looked at his pins I thought it was charming and romantic, and I wanted to hit the H.J. but of course he rolled over and farted, so whatever.

Look at ME.  I♡UI'll make it worth the stay♡I do ;)And then I smile

However as I scrolled down this particular board I came to understand the pinner is most likely unbalanced and may be a borderline stalker.

Because I am clearly unbalanced while I felt great concern for his well-being I also still felt, hmm, envy, wistfulness, melancholic, about the love, desire he was repeatedly professing for this woman through his pins. I did jostle the H.J. and made him look at some with me, with me telling him “yeah, I want this too.” I want him to pine for me or think lustfully of me … of course that’s difficult to do when you’ve lived together a long time and cut your toenails in front of the other.

When I was pregnant with the Big Angel (who’ll be ten this summer — I am overjoyed at him turning double digits!) so many “well-meaning” (cough cough) women stopped me to tell me the horrors of childbirth: this is f-a-r from a unique experience. In general I understood they simply saw my big belly as an empathic sounding board (they were mistaken), so fine: I’d smile and tell them they sounded like wonderful mothers. However the stories of peri tearing / episiotomies did scare me. I brought this up to the MD who showed the H.J. how to stretch my perineum so when the time came, I’d already be loose resulting in no tearing and requiring no cutting.

Fuck that hurt. Every night the H.J. would put on his head lamp, purple glove, and lube up to stretch my perineum. In the medical office we evidently provided the levity because each visit the staff would direct to my belly “just go toward the light — that’ll be your daddy!”

But a man who nightly stretches his enormously pregnant wife’s perineum is probably not going to also be sending her, rather, ME:


... Every damn day

Hidden poetry


And it's killing me that you don't care

I told Leslie about this board and my concern concomitant to my titillation. We’ve been with our respective spouses the same amount of time, so we both understand that even though the romance is definitely gone (and how), that level of comfort, of safety, of trust can only be had with a truly long-term / been through it all together partner.

I’ve no doubt this is in large part why I am a romance reader, because in them I get to scratch my itch of all those gestures, of those exciting, twitterpating emotions which only occur in the beginning of a relationship. Plus there’s no arguing about cleaning out the cat litter (although we never argue about that).

One of my current favorite authors, Penny Reid, recently queried on her website what is the definition of success, and the more I thought about it the more I found that to me, success is contentment. This is who I am and I am crazy about myself. Finally! I “joke” to others that if I need to feel bad about myself I’ll call my mother; luckily she lives in Paris so it’s a long-distance call. It’s pithy but it’s true, and even at this age she can needle me. I am a “disappointment” because I am overweight, and the Little Angel is “vulgar” because he is disabled. (and for the motherfucking record: the Little Angel is PERFECT — there could never be anything vulgar about that miraculous child and how insanely hard he has to work every single day: I am in awe of him)

For me as a sensitive person (as we would now say, “the sensitive child”), growing up never ever being enough, let alone good enough, took a long time to shake off. I’m ecstatic while feeling sad that I can now love myself just as I am: ecstatic that Hot Damn! it occurred in my lifetime, yet sad that it had to happen at all. I adore the absolute hubris I see in the Big Angel (Little Angel is too disabled to understand himself, let alone beyond himself) — yes, that’s how it should be! A child should think they are the absolute most fantastic, strongest, smartest creature. Yes!

So perhaps my romancing has to come from within. I do give myself the gift of shutting the door and painting my toenails every month — it makes me feel good, it makes me feel like me. I do work on my gardens, and the H.J. is my chief flunky. He truly toils, a labor of love, so we can have beauty. I like that about him, but I’d like it more if he also whispered a sweet nothing. Greedy, thy name is moi.

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