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A Kind of Balance

March 7, 2005

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. In fact, it was thoroughly entertaining with those lovely angelic voices of the women from St. Kate's. Made me want to call up Mr. Belfavy and join the church choir. Unfortunately, they practice every Wednesday evening and I've signed up to volunteer at the nursing home on Wednesday nights. (I have to do thirty hours of community service and the nursing home is it. Officer Peevy didn't have it in him to fine me, bless his heart.) "Do both," Mr. Sundberg says. "You're a smart woman. You can do seven things at once. Why not throw yoga in there, too?"

This might sound like sarcasm, but it's not. He means it. And he's talking to me again after my brief jail episode. There was a stretch of time there where he was awfully quiet and finally the silence got so loud I said, Are you thinking about trading me in for a new wife? A tiny little smile appeared and he said, "No. I'm just trying to understand you and I can think better when things are quiet." So there you have it. Mr. Keillor said it on Saturday's show: women know how to do some things men can't do. I do my best thinking when seven things are going on. Mr. Sundberg prefers silence.

It's not that women are better than men or vice versa. We just go about things differently. If I'm going to help the kids with their homework, you can bet it's while I'm cooking dinner and listening to the weather report with the dryer running and a pan of bars in the oven. Mr. Sundberg reads in the loveseat in complete silence, sometimes for hours, without getting up. In the evenings I get out the kids' clothes while I tuck them in and pick up their rooms and find out what they've been thinking about lately and what they're afraid of. (The closet doors have to be shut all the way before the light goes out.) In the evening, Mr. Sundberg shovels the sidewalk and when he's finished he comes in and spends a few minutes with each of the kids.

Thing is, either way, things get done. It's a kind of balance. Where I'm about to fall apart weeping, he says, "Now let's think about this." Where I make noise (when I'm angry I tend to kick things — last week I put a decent dent in the drawer below the oven), he keeps silence. I sleep five hours a night, he prefers ten. I enjoy an assortment of condiments with my hamburger, he keeps each item of food on his plate from touching the others. Mr. Sundberg enjoys skeet shooting; I'd prefer to be shot out of a cannon. He has a lovely voice but kind of mumbles when he sings, where I just belt it on out. It's the old story, you know. You say this, I say that. Thank goodness for it because I can't imagine living with someone exactly like me. I'd lose my marbles. We'd have to have an intervention and things wouldn't be pretty. Nope. Things get done this way. How they get done is beside the point.

Mr. Sundberg does bake once in a while. His specialty is cake. White cake. Plain, no frosting. He likes it this way. And when he leaves for the day, well, that's when I get out the Cool Whip.

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