Category Archives: Clayton

My gums are still bleeding.

I love spending time with my husband. Now that I’ve begun with that statement, you should know that the rest of this will discuss attitudes that may seem in all ways contradictory to that statement.

I DO enjoy almost every second of playtime with Clayton. But I also have a schedule to keep. A very strict, late morning alarm, midday cereal, early evening nap type of schedule. And while I’m not completely anal, I do like to move through my day at my pace, completing my to-do’s in my way. I’m so fortunate to work from home, but I wouldn’t get anything done if I didn’t stick to some sort of routine. 

Enter Clayton’s “easy” weeks. When his boss is out of town, Clayton sees less patients and gets home before I’ve fallen asleep in the previous night’s pajamas that I’ve yet to change out of in front of a “Friends” rerun. These few and far between days are necessities for him to continue functioning normally; he absolutely needs and deserves them.

But they really cramp my style. When he rolls in from a short shift at 11 a.m., he wants to party. And I am standing at the coffee maker, still dazed from the afternoon sun that woke me up, wiping sleep from my eyes. It’s a recipe for misunderstanding.

Hypothetical Easy Week Conversations

Something I might say: [Silence. Yawn. Silence.]
Something Clayton might hear: I could care less that you are home. I may have not even noticed that you are home.

Something I might say: Good morning, Mr. Bryson! Are you still sleepy weepy peepy? Wanna go potty soon? Huh? Do you have to make a poopie, my big sweet puppypie?
Something Clayton might hear: Good morning, Mr. Bryson! Don’t you hate it when that guy over there tries to third wheel all over our patented morning snugglefest? I do. Pretend like you don’t see him; that seems to be working.

Something I might say: I’ll be in the office.
Something Clayton might hear: Go back to your office so I don’t have to work in that cramped dungeon and can sprawl out on the couch like normal.

Something I might say: What time do you get off tomorrow?
Something Clayton might hear: Keep your dirty business casual loafers out of this apartment until the sun sets tomorrow. Or it’s going to get ugly.

Something I might say: Are you going to have any coffee?
Something Clayton might hear: Touch my coffee, pal. Do it. I dare you.

We’re maturing, one dose of the silent treatment at a time.

Today marks the beginning of an easy week. And I prepared. I had finished most of my work for the day before he even called to check in, i.e. ask permission to return to our mutual dwelling for which he pays about 99.9%. Look at us learning.

I was so excited to share in party time (that’s not dirty, btw), I had forgotten one crucial piece in the easy-week-adjustment puzzle. I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet. I’m not even going to request that you not judge me. I judge me.

Thanks to a spontaneous room re-do (I’ll tell you about that later), I saw Clayton driving towards our apartment complex entrance. I immediately realized my blunder and hurdled one dog, one computer chair and a bed frame to get to the bathroom. I brushed like a mad woman, trying to get rid of all evidence of coffee, devious plans to go to the outlets and the hours of chick rock I’d been singing along to all morning.

My sweet slacker of a husband waltzed in, none the wiser, to me waiting for him Mrs. Robinson-style all up in my newly arranged office. If Mrs. Robinson wore a men’s XL t-shirt and 7-year old pajama bottoms and smelled like she bathed in mint toothpaste. One day these easy weeks will be easy for the both of us.

Remember that frying pan ain’t washing itself.

Don’t tell him I said so, but my husband is kind of a doll sometimes. Like Tuesday night. He has been sick for about a week and was on-call all weekend, but my little trooper agreed to put all that aside for the good of the team. And by team, I mean my love handles.

I had a horribly disappointing run on Sunday (the whole “I’m a lightning fast cheetah runner goddess busting out these 7 miles. Wait, this can’t be accurate. I’m driving it to double check. Oh, it’s SO not accurate. I ran 4.8 miles. I want to cry and eat chocolate.” thing happened). I decided to give it another go Tuesday after carefully driving and re-driving and Google mapping and calling my Congressman to verify the distance.

As running luck would have it, it was exactly 4 miles from our apartment to a paved trail that we recently discovered. The trail itself is 3 miles. So my darling peach pie of a husband agreed to meet me at the entrance to the trail and accompany me for the last bit of my run. He rode a bike for the entire 3 miles, but still. He was there. And he even left a little earlier like I demanded suggested to make sure I didn’t get stolen on the first solo portion. (That I.D. channel screws with your head, for serious.)

Strangers watching him might have thought it was peculiar as he trailed behind me for a mile driving 4mph staring at my ass. I thought it was positively heroic.

Even though those last 3 miles were infuriatingly slow, they weren’t spent alone. I even managed some gasping conversation, which I never thought I’d be able to do while running. He was nice and silent about my pace, even though I felt like an overweight, euthanasia-bound greyhound desperately trailing behind the bike, which Clayton wasn’t even kind enough to attach a dead rabbit or Banana Republic gift card to.

When we got home, it was shark o’clock, so I obviously couldn’t be bothered with caring for the nutritional welfare of my family. And do you know what my husband did? When he brought me the grilled cheese he made me, he forgot to bring me water. After a 7 mile run. On second thought, sometimes my husband can be downright self-absorbed.

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Untold Stories

I only agreed because I didn’t think we’d be allowed to proceed. But oh, did that desk clerk at Sandy Bottom Nature Park throw me for a loop with her “sure you can take pets on the boats!” I faked a pleasant reaction and paid the woman.

My husband likes to think that we can read each other’s minds. I mean, I’m pretty dead-on when I do it, but him? Lacking. So, while I was in charge of compiling research and data, delivering payment, plotting the course and acquiring the key, two life jackets and two paddles, Clayton was in charge of watching our dog. Not moving, just watching. I came through splendidly with my portion and teetered my way down the sidewalk to our former picnic table with paddles smacking and life jackets dragging along the ground, nearly toppling over with every step. And my husband was missing.

After two different strangers mockingly noted and gestured that “the canoes are that way,” I was ready to file for divorce and fight for sole custody of B-dizzle. But then the boys appeared, looking all too “this is going to be awesome!” to my “what the hell, Clayton?”

We arrive at the canoes to find The World’s Largest Great Dane, who was just itchin’ to meet our family of three. Looked like he was going to get his wish when we saw he was being detained by an 80-pound owner who was almost hurled backwards over the bench when the great dane raised his eyebrows. We were not as obliged. Dude was skurry looking. (I know, I’m a hypocrite.)

The kind dane owner must have sympathized with our darting eyes, furiously trying to recalculate our path to the canoes, and pulled the 489-pound pup further down the trail. We could exhale. For about a half a second.

The canoes were ginormous and, as Clayton and I long ago retired our Strong Man hopes, getting that boat into the water was going to require all hands on deck. Not three hands on deck while one hand wrestled a stubborn, sand-sniffing Bryson. Thankfully, the easiest part of the whole ordeal turned out to be tying Bryson to the canoe rack and letting him entertain himself while we finagled the canoe up, over and down onto the ground. Thank you, two years working as a personal trainer. (And thank you husband/orthopedic PA who will soon be treating my torn rotator cuff.)

Bryson had sufficiently covered every hair on his body with muddy sand in the two minutes it took for us to move the canoe. I guess he’s good at some things.

About a million “Come on’s,” “Up, up, up’s,” and “Good boy’s!” later, Bryson goofily half stepped/half-tripped INTO THE CANOE. Terrified. Antsy. Distraught. But all four legs were touching the boat bottom. From that point on, my entire mission in life was to keep Bryson IN THE BOAT. Using a stealthy combination of power-locked thighs around B’s torso, a death grip on his collar and a seriously stern Mother of All Punishment (MoAP) voice, I got him to obey me about 40% of the time.

Clayton gave us a push and then hopped in to fulfill his role of all-time-rower. Don’t feel bad. 1) He liked outrageously dramatizing the effort to make his biceps pop and 2) you try being all-time-disciplinarian to a mischievous 109-pound, curious canine canoe virgin. Thought so.

The first few minutes dawdling away from the shore were the most precarious of the day. Bryson was throwing around his boat-shifting weight from lying down to sitting to standing to streeeeetching out along the entire length of the boat. Every movement tilted the canoe in a time-freezing, this is it, iceberg ahead! dangerously off-center way. I was positive I was swimming home.

It was so entertaining, in fact, a darling spectator was not shy about gaping at our efforts from the moment we put the boat in the water. Last I checked, I hadn’t signed a reality show deal with Bravo, so dude needed to either lend a hand or move it on down the road. Instead, when we had floated a bit out of eyesight, Creepsy McGee stands up, moves to a better vantage point and stares at us. I suppose, like me, he saw the future You-Tube video in the making.

There was a brief span when Bryson calmed down enough for us to actually enjoy the ride. And that’s when Clayton took a detour from the shimmering, inviting lake and headed under a bridge into the sewage inlet. It took a good stern MoAP “suggestion” to get that boat turned back around and my dry heaving under control.

When B-dog had accepted his motionless, prostrate fate of not being able to see or sniff anything but the sides of the canoe, I think he really developed a passion for boating. Or just didn’t throw up on my Rainbows. Same diff. And then we snapped these little mementos, one of which was posted on Facebook for the distinct purpose of making my dog appear adorable and not life-endangering.

Explaining the lingering stench that hinted of green beans and mashed potatoes

I can remember wondering throughout most of my life what actually constitutes being “lazy.” For example, is it acceptable to lounge around for two days and watch an entire season of Friday Night Lights in 20 hours while neglecting exercise (my own and my canine’s—why does that sound sexual? OMG I need to run.), anything that could be mistaken as real food and all phone calls IF those two days are Saturday and Sunday? What about, thoroughly hypothetical, on a Tuesday and Wednesday?

In the last six years, my sporadic moments of un-motivation have carried an added element of guilt, thanks in part to my dedicated husband. Clayton is the kind of person who simply does what needs to be done, regardless of whether he’s tired or there’s only two minutes left of Modern Family or he just finished an 18 hour on-call shift or the new couch just this instant finally developed the perfect body-hugging indentation. At 2 a.m., when we wake up and groggily realize we’re still on the couch and all the lights in the house are on and the leftovers are still on the stove (oh, and the PG movie we were watching on Showtime at 8 p.m. has evolved into something…slightly different), who has two thumbs and heads straight to bed? This gal. But Clayton? Dollface puts the leftovers in the refrigerator, gets the pots a-soaking, ensures all the door locks are inner-city safe (for realsies…have you been in  downtown Newport News? Good, don’t go adding it to the bucket list, mmkay?) and sets two alarms so that he can wake up in three hours. I am exhausted just typing out that routine. I hate to admit that, after watching my midnight pan-scrubbing husband for almost three years, nothing’s changed about what I think can wait for six, twelve or 1,362 hours (Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge until February? Anyone? Anyone?).

Sometimes, life just has no sense of urgency to me. Does that smack of a mental health symptom? It shouldn’t. I simply don’t think I’m all that American when it comes to whether or not we should partake of siestas in the middle of the day or keep the pedal glued to the floorboard constantly. I know how to do nothing, and while Clayton’s inability to fully engage in R&R elicits a terribly straining sideways glance, I can still sit on my a-s-s like it’s my j-o-b.

And I’m good with that. I actually think it makes me healthier and more balanced to embrace a good couch campout now and again. Not to start pointing fingers (because I’m still on my exercise ban and that right hand is just so heavy), but don’t you think most people you see frantically rushing through yellow lights and popping blood vessels straining to see if the line is moving at Starbucks could benefit from a big ol’ helping of the lazies? I’m going to consider that, just as soon as I finish season 4 of FNL

Saint Valentine, thanks for hooking me up, player.

I’m thinking that a couple’s massage has the potential to be either the most awesome or the most awkward experience ever. My knee-jerk reaction is that watching some perky, fresh-faced University of Phoenix massage program grad rub all up on my husband doesn’t exactly facilitate relaxation. Rage, maybe. Then again, if I could spend 60 minutes staring at my pretty husband while a hunky, exotic import rubs all up on me, um…yes, please. None of this matters, of course. We don’t have a couples massage planned, but with the constant influx of spam in my inbox for half off couple’s massages, well, my mind gets a-wanderin’.

What this girl wants on the day of Valentines, and basically any day, is chocolate. Milk. Freaking. Chocolate. We can watch Spike TV and all 37 Rocky installments if I’m munching on something with caramel or raspberry or nougat dribbling down my chin. Which is about as hot to my husband as Rocky Balboa is to me.

Why all the romantic talk? Clayton and I hit our 1000th day of marriage milestone this week. Yeah, it’s a milestone, even if there’s not a Hallmark card for it, so if you could stop rolling your eyes, that would be fantastic. Anyway, he was actually visiting his family this past weekend, so we only spent about 7 minutes together that night when I picked him up at the airport at almost-midnight (aka why you don’t purchase the cheaper tickets that tell you arrival times after you’ve bought them).  

Without gushing to the point of blubbering, I will just say that I got one of the good ones.  Since Clayton and I have been married, we’ve experienced a graduate school graduation, adopting a puppy, moving three times in Tampa, my going back to school, taking the boards, too many FSU losses, explaining to family that we would not be having kids 30 seconds after getting married, a grown up job search with grown up conversations afterwards, an Auburn national championship, lots of frozen pizza and the hardest 6 months of my life. I know that lots of love stories are more glamorous or more heart wrenching or just plain more dramatic than ours. But ours is beautiful for all the quiet times Clayton knew to brush the hair from my eyes and pull me into an everything-will-be-okay hug, for all the sarcastic remarks that make him genuinely laugh instead of judge me for being kind of snobby, for all the attempted dinners that he takes down in large bites with a conspicuous amount of water, for giggling when we curse, for every night he double checks all the door locks before going to bed, for not trying to talk to me when I’m really sad and just pulling straight into the closest coffee shop, and for all the life we’ve lived together and the family we’ve built in 1000 smiling, crying, frustrated, smitten, wouldn’t-change-a-single-thing days.

His Arguments Are Reserved For…Other Things

I want an honorary Ph.D. in Retail Argumentation. The unfounded but so meticulously organized reasoning that I present to my husband when I want a new pair of whatever is, basically, brilliant. Can I tell you how I talked my way into a new pea coat last weekend? Here’s the argument, more or less:

“Well, I know I bought that coat last year, but it’s teal, and that doesn’t go with everything. Also, it’s short, so I wear it when it’s over 55 degrees. The other coat goes with a lot of things, but it’s more casual. It’s heavier, so I won’t wear it unless it’s around 55 degrees. But it’s not long, either, so what I really need is a neutral coat that is long for casual or dressy outfits when it’s between 40 and 50 degrees outside.”

We didn’t exactly find the “Neutral, Longish, Dressy Casual, For Cold but Not Unbearably Cold Coats” section. But we definitely found a gray pea coat that had my name all over it.

Tomorrow we are planning to go to the nearby outlet mall. My first stops are usually J. Crew and Banana Republic. I am already gunning for the “Modern but Not Trendy, Basic, Winter, Wear with Jeans or High Waisted Pencil Skirt, Goes with Boots and Flats” tops. Because, of course, those are what I really need.

Friday Fun Facts

  • Working from home is every bit as delightful as you’d imagine. You should actually be completely jealous of me every Friday.
  • I had announced (to my husband) boycotts of Walgreen’s and DirecTV after being pissed off by both companies in the same week. But then DirecTV was installed properly, and I. Am. Obsessed.  Walgreens’ photo department can still suck it.
  • You just can’t not like the Miami Dolphins.
  • I decided to cancel the event planning because Flip, Flip, Flip-irginia just isn’t as catchy. (We are friend soul mates if you understand this one.)
  • My dog is special needs. It worries me that maybe God is preparing us for some really high maintenance kiddos. Ok, his special needs are severe allergies, but still!
  • Clayton stopped to get me coffee creamer after working an on-call shift until 12:30AM. Without me asking him to. I don’t think I really need to expand on the countless ways that shows how much we’re meant for each other.
  • I still bleed garnet and gold.
  • Our kickball team has started the season with three wins. That’s approximately three times the number of calories I’ve burned playing kickball.

Happy Weekend!

Not Exactly Sexting

Text from her: Hey thanks for pulling the trash cans to the road : (

Text from him: I realized that halfway out of the neighborhood and I was late

Later that day…

Text from him: I have injury clinic tonight 6-7pm. We can eat leftover tacos.

Text from her: Already put chicken out. Strike two, noa.

Text from him: But yesterday I was so good.

Later that night…

Text from him: Sean and some guys want to grab a quick beer if thats ok.

Text from her: Saw that coming. Whatevs, up to my eyeballs in brit lit.

Later that same night…

Her: So where did you guys end up going?

Him: There was a place right across the stree–

Her: You went to Hooters.

Him: Yeah. We did.

Her: *sigh*

Him: Seriously? They were stockings under their shorts!

And, to be fair…

the following day…

Text from him: What’s our vet’s name?

Text from her: Not sure, but it’s a guy…

On Summer

This whole experience of moving has come with a seemingly endless well of firsts. And I’m talking in just the last three hours there has been a growing list. Like right now, it’s almost 1AM and I’m just now using the office in our “new” house specifically for writing. It’s intended purpose from the start. Feels pretty good. It might feel better if the sudden kick into the blogosphere wasn’t the result of “To Catch a Predator”-induced insomnia. Seriously, why is that show on television? To reduce overpopulation by changing the minds of potentially potential parents? To help socially uneasy twenty-somethings begin accusing every city workman or grocery clerk or emergency room doctor of sending IMs of their hoo-hoos to 13-year olds? Well, mission accomplished, Chris Hansen. Now get your cameras out of my neighbor’s kitchen.

Beyond that, life has been pretty good to us this summer. We moved into a three bedroom rental house that is old enough to be charming but updated enough to keep us hot, cold, and cleansed at all the right times. (Once we figured out that we had to turn the gas on for hot water, of course. Raise your hand if you grew up in Florida where heaters were installed just for the irony.) I’ve settled in quickly and (brace for it) happily. I absolutely adore this house and totally understand why people drain their savings and sit on naked floors for months to call something this personal their very own. There are too many perks to name, but the biggies are the safe, tree-filled streets, the huge backyard for Bryson (complete with full size picnic table and working grill left by the previous tenants), the guest bedroom we will guilt our friends and family to use in the next 10 months, and the third bedroom that I got to claim as my office. If picking paint colors and an area rug solely with the purpose of inspiring creativity won’t jump-start a career, then you should probably re-think your goals. This beautiful new-to-me space will not rot away collecting dog hair on my watch.

Which brings me to the fistful of writing projects I came home with after a meeting with my corporate contact last week. I’m too excited to jinx this new wave of work by talking about it. But it certainly forced us to whip this office into working order.

We were also lucky enough to spend two weeks in Florida this July. After a brain freezing circus of figuring out possible logistics, we ended up doing everything Clayton was opposed to: driving the entire way and bringing Bryson. Neither turned out to be disastrous, although we did end up at a vet’s office less than a week into the trip. First was Pace, where we met and smothered our first (and possibly the world’s cutest) nephew, Caden Noa. We babysat twice, and only once did I find myself in a panic that involved a volcanic explosion of murky poo up the back of baby Caden’s diaper and onto my forearm while he lay screaming on the too-small changing pad on the floor while my husband was out walking the dog. I think that scenario was avoided in the future thanks to my quick adaptable learning skills and the DeathCom Level 10 laser stare Clayton received when he came smiling back into the house from his little canine excursion. I’ve come to expect a certain atmosphere at my in-laws’, and the knowing has allowed me to develop an affection for all things I might encounter on a trip to Pace. I can honestly say it was nice to see my family.

We had a pit stop in Tallahassee for Clayton to perform Best Man duties at our good friend’s wedding. Tallahassee was quite a tornado of activity and meet-ups with as many people as we could squeeze in. I can’t describe the warmth of seeing friends after months of a friend drought. Like saying  screw it to the size four skinny jeans and letting it all out in those baggy boot-cut sixes. While popping a Valium.

We ended our trip in Tampa. A place that I fantasized about leaving and now miss like one of my dearest friends. The city I rolled my eyes at when my brother boasted of its perfection and pointed out its unassuming but noticeable skyline. Tampa. I didn’t love her until I left her. Ok, this is sounding way too Nicolas Sparks. So we parked it in Tampa. Clayton could only stay two days before having to fly back to Virginia and get back to work. I, however, am surprised I’m not still there, lounging around on a raft in my parents’ pool with Diet Peach Tea and Us Weekly. I can’t say I had my fill of chats with best friends or poolside afternoons or lazy evenings watching a lazy sunset melt into the Bay surrounded by my family. But I did get a fix that should hold me for awhile. A short while. Getting in the car to drive home was made easier because it was no longer the first of the goodbye hugs along this journey, and because I don’t have the capacity for emotion before 5AM. The long drive didn’t feel that long at all, and Bryson and I were back. Just like that. I still don’t really know if I left ”home” to come back, or came back “home.” I think I’m still working that out. I guess we’ll see at Christmas.