Monthly Archives: November 2009


Lisa: “Do you want to put some music on?”
Mike: “If it’s not going to distract you. You know, that’s another thing we need to do – figure out how to get our music on each others iPods. We’re married. We should be allowed to share!”
Lisa: “I like it when we share, particularly when you share with me.”
Mike: “I know you do, that’s what “share” means to you – that I share with you.”
Lisa (clapping): “You’re making such good progress in learning to speak marriage fluently!”

Role shift

Lisa and Mike’s last skype date Aceh to LA on this particular trip. Skype hasn’t dropped out once in the whole hour and fifteen minutes of this conversation. There is no delay, static, or echo on the line. Lisa and Mike are feeling like they’ve got it so good it’s like they’re practically in the same room, sitting on the same couch. Practically.

The subject for the last fifteen minutes has been a dilemma. One of those multiple competing-interests-involved-personal-dilemmas:

Mike: “You know what part of your problem is? You try so hard to make everyone happy.”
Lisa: “And isn’t that just lucky for you.”
Mike: “Mmmm, I’m going to sit on that one for a while.”
Lisa: “Why do I always come off as the bad guy in our exchanges? It’s because you don’t take my set-ups when I expect you too.”
Mike: “Every story needs a protagonist and an antagonist, honey.”
Lisa: “But why do I always have to be the damn antagonist?”
Mike: “Because you do it so well.”
Lisa: “Everyone wants a role shift now and again, though.”
Mike: “Well, today’s just not turning into your day, is it?”

In, out, and about

It has been a quiet weekend. I ran myself all over town last week (including a 2 hour 20 minute drive from Pasadena to Westwood on Thursday to farewell good friends who are moving back to Australia). I had such good plans for how the evening would go. I was going to turn up at their place as a calm and caring presence. After all, I am an expert on relocation and farewells – I have done both far too many times. I was going to be cool and collected, ask insightful questions about their transition, and bring take out for dinner so that we could have a lovely, intimate, farewell sitting in the middle of their empty living room and eating off paper plates.

None of that came to pass.

The 110 was crawling, and so was the 10. TWO HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES after I left work I arrived at their appt frazzled, exhausted, and having left my wallet on my desk at the office. No calm, cool, and collected presence. No money to buy take out. I lay on the floor of their appt for 10 minutes and then we went out for dinner.

They paid.

I did pull myself together at some stage and we had a lovely conversation. I was glad I’d gone – even with the traffic.

LA, oh how I love thee… let me count the ways.

Traffic would not be on that love list, by the way.

Anyway, it was a busy week and I was ragged by Thursday night. So, knowing that I had a busy week upcoming too, I turned down several other lovely friends who suggested dinner and stayed indoor nursing a sore throat and snuggling on the couch with my laptop.

Which is not nearly as good a snuggle buddy as my husband…

Who is currently on some remote island north of Banda Aceh in Indonesia and who I will not get to talk to again for another 48 hours. (In proofing this entry before I pressed published I noticed that I originally 48 days instead of hours… sometimes it feels that way).


Silver lining??? I am making good progress on the next book.

And I did laundry for the first time in three weeks – which may not sound that exciting, but is.

Trust me.

Thanks for stopping by,

Skype date, the monologue

It’s 3:30pm in LA, 6:30am in Banda Aceh. The last time Lisa and Mike talked was four days ago – a mobile phone conversation that lasted precisely 12 minutes and 32 seconds before the line unexpectedly dropped out.

There is a three second delay on today’s line. This means a lot of stop and start simultaneous conversation if they try to talk naturally. They have learned the hard way that the best way to do a skype date with a delay on the line is to treat skype like a two-way radio and have a “monologue date”. One person asks a question, then waits. The other person talks for as long as they want, on whatever they want, before handing over the floor. Sometimes this is fine because, let’s face it, there are times when everyone wants to talk uninterrupted to a captive audience. Sometimes it’s damn annoying.

They are three weeks into this trip. They are over skype dating. It’s firmly in the damn annoying zone.

Lisa: “Hi!” [simultaneously] Mike: “Hi!”
Lisa: “Oh, delay.” [simultaneously, and sighing] Mike: “Delay.”
Lisa: “How are you?”
Mike: “No, you talk.”
Lisa (complaining): “But I did most of the talking last time. You talk.”
Mike (not budging): “It’s early, very early. You talk.”
Lisa: “Early doesn’t seem to be a problem other times. Fine.” [Exaggerated sigh] “What do you want to hear about then?”
Mike: “Are you going to treat me like this when I get back next week?”
Lisa: “Maybe. If you’re very, very, lucky.”

Skype dates and shootings

Lisa is in LA. Mike is in the Red Cross guesthouse in Aceh where he’s been in a security lockdown all day after a Red Cross delegate was shot in Aceh late yesterday (for reasons that are as yet unknown) while riding in a clearly marked Red Cross vehicle.

There’s only so much you can discuss a situation like that when no one knows anything more than they did six hours earlier. Ergo, enter conversation stage left, the other shooting that’s been on Lisa’s mind today.

Lisa: “So, did you hear about Fort Hood?”

Mike: “I heard some headlines, nothing more.”

Lisa: “The shooter was an army psychiatrist. Looks like he worked as a trauma therapist with returning vets.”

Mike: “Seriously? Not so good for your profession’s image then.”

Lisa: “Nope. The mental health equivalent of priests abusing choirboys.”

Mike: “Except I wouldn’t compare US soldiers to choirboys.”

Lisa: “There are already articles up on CNN talking about how going on a murderous rampage is not the normal progression of vicarious trauma.”

Mike: “Well that’s good then. Glad to know I won’t have to worry about sharing knives with you in the kitchen.”

Lisa: “Oh honey. Baby. If I were going to kill you I wouldn’t use a knife. You’re six inches taller than me and a good deal stronger. I’m not stupid.”

Mike: “Yeah, true. So how was your day?”

The pit of negativity

Lisa is not going to tell you what she said to spark this exchange. Suffice to say that it was 11:30 at night and she suddenly stepped over the line from drama-queen venting into a real “I suck and I hate myself” kind of statement. The kind of statement she usually manages to stay far, far, away from.

Mike: “Whoah. Stop. Seriously, stop. Where is that coming from?”
Lisa (grumbling, knowing she’s gone too far): “The pit of negativity.”
Mike: “And what do we do with things that come out of the pit of negativity?”
Lisa: “We look at them and say, ‘Oh my, there’s all this truth I usually ignore.’”
Mike: “No. We thrown them back down, spit in the pit, and keep walking out of that valley over the mountain of irrationality until we reach the mountain of positivity. And what’s on that mountain?”
Lisa: “Ice cream trees. And rabbits.”
Mike (agreeably). “Sure, ice cream trees and rabbits. And we do not spiral downward into the pit of negativity at 11:30 at night. That does no one any good.”