Spinster Camp West
July 24, 2008

Our place is always quieter when Mathra leaves. Not when he leaves for work, but when he's away on one of his longer trips. The door closes behind him and his suitcases and he's really just a few steps away, but suddenly all the rooms hush up.

Forget the fact that the cats are snoring in sun patches or stalking invisible bugs, or that I'm cooking, working, doing dishes, or watching TV, the very air becomes preternaturally still as the lock snicks into place.

I could run out the door and catch him before he even reaches the outside door. But I won't because there's no point to it and it's just like running down a train platform as the bombs drop while the Free French are doing their best to free people and without the spreeeefffs of engine steam, I just don't look as good.

In the San Francisco winters (read: January thru July) I've also noticed that the apartment is noticeably cold until he comes home. No matter how high I pump the heat, how many sweaters I layer on, or how many times I rub the cats all over my body as hot bottles, I'm not warm until he's home. It's body heat, right? No, not in the Harlequin romance sense (though Passion Blooms in Alamo Square Park might have a certain ring to it) and think of the science behind it all. Two bodies mean more heat, yes? Something to do with physics and stuff.

Over on the Overwhelming Positivity podcast, Bunting referred to Dave's time in Toronto as "Spinster Camp" for Tara. It's awesome and I'm totally signing up for it. Tara's already got a good head start on her daily activities. Like me, she's dabbling in the baking side of things. Of course unlike me, she probably doesn't have a crippling fear of it.

Here's an example of Spinster Camp:

Day 1:

8:30-9:00 AM: Breakfast in Lakawanna Eetcha mess hall. Dump bad coffee.

9:00-10:30 AM: Clean apartment.

11:00-12:00 AM: Purge fridge and pantry of all expired products.

12:00-12:30 PM: Lunch in Lakawanna Eetcha mess hall. Dump bad coffee.

12:30-1:00 PM: Scrub tub until the mold runs clear.

2:30 PM: Swim test.

3:00-6:00 PM: Try to work.

6:30 PM: Lanyards in the craft barn.

8:00-8:30 PM: Dinner in Lakawanna Eetcha mess hall.

11:00 PM: Get into bed and lay diagonally across mattress with a cat on either side.

12:00 AM: Lights out, TV on.

12:30-5:00 AM: Get up repeatedly to check that door is triple locked. Consider the ramifications of leaving all kitchen knives on counter since one would have to pass by front door before reaching any defensive objects. Consider putting chef's knife in bedside table drawer but worry about temporary amnesia and subsequent self-slicing when rummaging around for Breathe-Right strips.


There are some good things that happen around here when Mathra's gone. For one, the apartment gets a vigorous scrub down on the very first day. That way, any mess that happens from there on out is all mine and somehow more manageable. (And we all remember how OCD I can be about cleaning, don't we?) I also purge the fridge and pantry of the expired products that Mathra never lets me get rid of if he sees me doing it. He thinks he can still eat them since they're not technically expired. (We've just had them since Boston.)

It's additionally nice to know that any mess made after the Great Clean-Up is mine and mine alone. I don't have to bug him to pick up his socks, I just have to bug me and I find it much easier to win an argument with myself when I don't want to pick up my socks yet I hassle me until I do it.


Another upside is unless I'm going out to dinner with friends, I eat my own cooking fairly exclusively. When Mathra's here, we do takeout on a semi-regular basis, but I'm far too lazy to do it on my own. Is that an oxymoron? To say that scratch cooking is less strenuous than getting takeout? Possibly, but I also have a shyness (read: bizarre laryngitic anxiety) of calling for takeout. (I call it "Orderaphobia.")

Meanwhile, scratch cooking not only gets me away from the unrelenting blank screen of my day job, but it has the added benefit of weight loss. (Well, it has that particular benefit only when I recall there's only one of me eating and thus make smaller portions as a result. Otherwise, it's all gravy. Literally.) I've also noticed that I get fuller sooner without someone here to talk to, which would seem to go against the French Women Diet analysis of how a long time spent at table in conversation trims your waistline, but what can I say?

The drawback to not having Mathra's mouth around is that when Rachel and I do our Baking Boot Camp, neither of us wants the leftovers. After I was left with a pile of shortbread that finally went into the trash after four straight days of shortbread breakfasts, we finally agreed that the price paid for the comfort of cooking in one's own kitchen is adopting a Don't Ask Don't Tell policy when dealing with the pastry overflow.


I'm a fitful, light, frustrated sleeper. Poor Mathra is often driven to mumble, "You're verging on MY territory!" because I sleep on my side, Flamingo Style, with one leg straight and angled behind me and the other doubled up almost to my chest. When getting comfortable, there's a lot of thrashing, plumping, straightening, and pushing emoting from my side of the bed. Once I'm finally settled, there's a studied stillness on Mathra's side of the bed. "Are going to be you okay?" Mathra asks with concern.

(MEANWHILE, he just gets into bed, is asleep within minutes, and doesn't wake up even when Hunc yanks down the bag of laundry quarters at 3 AM.)

With Mathra gone, the pre-sleep thrashing affects only the cats, who tend to sympathize more than judge since they have to do a "lick, turn, scratch, lick, turn" dance at least five times before settling down into their original positions.

Beyond all that, he's a very good roommate who takes out the trash and recycling and makes very good coffee and I miss him.

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