Some For You, Some For Me, All For Us

My husband and I have been together for about 12 years. When we first got together, we told each other all of our deepest, darkest secrets – all of the likes and dislikes and fears and desires that another person might hear and say “Ew. That’s weird.” Telling him these things made me feel I was testing him. If he could hear the worst about me and still want to be with me, then he really loved me. Hearing those things about him made me feel he was blessing me with things he couldn’t share with other people.

Somewhere along the line, it got harder to share things. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we keep secrets from each other, but we certainly went from “I love you and I want to share every single new experience with you” to “I don’t want to bother you with this, I know it’s not your thing.”

On the one hand, that’s a good thing. I think that every relationship goes through that initial phase where you’re pretending to like things the other person likes just to have an excuse to have more experiences together. Once you live with someone and get to experience them in uninterrupted stretches, there are things you can skip.

On the other hand, when you’ve been with someone for a long time, it’s easy to make assumptions that cut off what could be shared experiences. Assuming that your partner doesn’t like a pizza because one time you asked if they wanted some and they said “no,” or thinking that your partner’s dislike of a particular band equals hating an entire genre of music means that there are whole areas of potential shared experience that you won’t have.

My worry is that once you start cutting out shared experience, you start diminishing your relationship. You find other people to go out for pizza with, you start going to see your favorite band alone, and then you start building new communities that don’t involve your partner. The bigger worry is that the reason one person isn’t sharing is because they’re afraid. Afraid that you won’t like their new thing. Afraid that not liking that thing may make you not like them.

It’s an effort sometimes to remember that risks are still part of bonding, even after we’ve been together for so long. I’m always encountering new music and theater and movies, etc. that I think are interesting. It’s good to think back to those early days, and remember how amazing it felt to spill all my secrets and remember that it was sharing that made us into an us in the first place.

 

Why I Learn

For the past 36 hours, I’ve been going through the tutorials learning to use FileMaker, a database creation software.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Didn’t you finish putting all that info into a NeoOffice database?”

Yes I did. And then I moved the file from one folder to another, and the database disappeared.┬áThe form I created to populate it remained. The report I created to show all the edits in a printable list remained. It’s the actual table – you know, the thing with the information in it – that disappeared. The Pirate and I poked around for a half hour before I said “It’s no use. If NeoOffice’s databases are this fragile that you can’t even move the file without entirely breaking them, they’re of no use to me. I need something better.”

I had similar incidents that led me to learn Photoshop, Dreamweaver, how to drive a manual transmission car, how to make homemade pizza, how to build a chicken coop, FrameMaker, InDesign, how to use a tampon…I could go on and on. It seems like I have not had a single week in my adult life where I wasn’t learning a new thing to solve a new problem I’ve encountered.

My mother, when she found out I was getting her an iPad for her birthday, signed up for a class to teach her how to use it. I’m not that person. I can’t seem to get motivated to learn something until I have a specific problem I need to solve, and the way I learn things is to take the tools I’m presented and poke and prod them until I’ve figured out how to solve my problem. Granted, this leads to solutions like a rock-solid chicken coop built entirely without right angles, but I’m not after perfection. I’m after completion.

It makes me wonder what other people do when faced with an obstacle. The whole purpose of the database was so that I could put all the hundreds of edits I’d received for my novel into a single list, sort it into types of edits, and then tackle them in an orderly manner. I suppose I could have just saved a copy of my manuscript and then picked up each markup I’ve received, make the edits, and then move on. That process would take two to four times longer, but it would get the job done. And I’d have to do that longer, manual process on every novel for which I receive feedback. Now, I have a single tool that I can use to enter all my edits for any novel, and I can use it over and over again. I’ve solved my organizational problem.

I guess that’s why I learn. Because I’m not after perfection in my end results. I’m after perfection in my processes.