I am a newlywed. One-half partner in a newlywed couple. And we are definitely in the honeymoon stage.
I had no idea of the vast, incalculable advantages of marriage. Continence alone is so much easier since you can stay chaste by being married. But even beyond those most primal urges, just the sheer happiness of being nearly constantly in the presence of someone you like so much is nearly overwhelming. The pleasure of having near constant access to someone who genuinely likes you and is genuinely interested in what you have to say… lonliness is banished! (Even for someone like me who does. not. get. lonely., the difference is marked.) Oh the joy of discovering complimentary tastes – in food! in decorating! in preferred housework! (Let me tell you, there is something quite satisfying, almost a relief in discovering that one of you hates to wash the dishes, and the other hates to dry.)
I am told that this near frenzy of appreciation will soon wear off. I am already bracing my self and searching desperately for a way to make it continue. “Catch for us the little foxes,” the scripture says, and I am riddling my life with foxtraps. If there is a way to make the honeymoon last, I for one am desperate to find it. (All advice continues to be graciously accepted.)
But the one most noticeable advantage for me in marriage has been my productivity. I am naturally a very lazy person, mind prone to wander whenever work is not mixed with fun. Generally, my solution has been to find a way to transform everything I do into some kind of game. (I took Mary Poppins very seriously.) But still the child in me quite often finds that web design is more play-like than history research, and even history research is more play-like than rote memorization of Greek conjunctions. Reading is always fun, but not all of my work is reading, and that part of my work that isn’t reading is what I call “productivity.”
I suck at productivity. As long as there are no necessary end results (like, say, a paper), I can be busy as the busiest bee. Homework is an excuse not to do housework. But when it comes to having something to show for it- heaven help!
And so He did. Valerie is my godsend. To the extent that I am lazy, she is not. In this we are also complimentary, no? From sunrise till dusk, and even after in these wintry parts, she sets herself to doing and will not rest till all doing is done. That is to say, she makes me look bad. I am the only audience, and in my own eyes I am put to shame by her industry. And so, as long as she is in the room, watching her as she plows on through, embarrassed, I take up my pen. Or my book, or I pace the room, rummaging through stacks of articles to find the quote I need. Or I shuffle vocabulary cards aimlessly, searching for a way to let my mind wander without her noticing and embarrassing me.
Slowly, against my will, my work gets done. I have marriage to blame for this.
However, the curse has been that it only works when she is in the room. Send my wife away, and oh the joy of having nothing to do! Well, honestly, a few hours lonliness is a good thing for someone like me. It clears the head. But it’s best if when she leaves I’m already working. Momentum will sometimes carry me through. The true problem has been when she was sleeping.
My wife requires more sleep than me. I wrote a [poem](http://www.neumatikos.org/poetry/sleeping/) about it once. She requires a *lot* more sleep than me. In an average night I need, at most, seven hours. Occasionally, four will do. For her, nine is the minimum, if not ten. Some days, it literally is a 6 hour difference in the sleep we get. The problems this creates are near incalculable. Theoretically, my general laziness should be offset by the fact that I just get more hours in the day. But it breaks down in so many ways.
If I stay up late, my productivity plummets. The only work I can do is to read. But our space is very limited, and reading hunched over the dinner table begins to hurt one’s neck. The best place for me to read is in bed. But my wife is asleep in that bed. Fortunately, Valerie has the miraculous ability to sleep with a reading lamp on, which skill I do not have. The other night, I stayed up reading for an additional four hours after Valerie had gone to bed.
The next morning, I was up before her by a good half-hour. I am not kidding. Which brings me to my morning dilemma: how can I be productive in the morning?
Despite my late night, uh, escapades. I’m actually a morning person. Morning is my most productive time (notice how “productive” I’ve been at blogging this morning). Many are the times when I wake up two to three hours before her, ready at once to get to work, only to discover that I can’t.
It would be deplorable to begin the day’s business without a shower. And I *can’t take my shower until my wife gets up.
No, I’m serious. See, we have this one-year bible, and we were all caught up on it until we got married, had a honeymoon, and moved clear across the country. Somewhere in there we got behind. And then we couldn’t figure out how to catch up. It used to be that read the bible together when we’d call or visit each day. But, what with never having to “visit” anymore, the opportunity never came up to read our Bible. We kept getting behinder. Finally, when we were three months behind in our reading, we finally came upon a solution: we would read in the shower.
This is an amazing feat, because we have managed never to get the book wet. The trick is that I take my shower in the morning, and she takes hers at night. So while she’s in the shower, I read to her, and while I’m in the shower, she reads to me. Oh the felicities of early marriage! The balance! The simplicity! The temporary benefits of childlessness! The… Ahem.
So I can’t take my shower until my wife is awake. And laziness prevents me from being truly productive before that morning ritual is complete. So what’s to be done with a prime wasted hour?
Up to now, it’s been taken up by browsing comics and weblogs, but I’ve discovered that wasting time early doesn’t keep me from wasting time later, and continued acclimation to increased productivity (combined with the approaching advent of finals) makes me leery of wasting any more time. So I’m working on an ingenious solution: pray. An hour or two, first thing in the morning, what better way to start the day?
Except my wife is sleeping.
It’s generally ill advised to pretend that praying silently in your head is very productive. Generally speaking, you end up praying about that interesting blog you read the other day, whether you’ll ever make it to “playful primate” on the [TLB Ecosystem](http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php), or whether your new friends really like you all that much. It’s best to pray aloud, so you can hear what you’re saying and focus your thoughts into an actual *prayer*. And beside, praise is a foundational part of prayer, and I take Psalm 150 very seriously as a proper model for praise. What I need is a prayer closet. But our apartment *is* a closet!
Solution: we have a basement. There are three apartments and a laundry in the basement. The rest is set aside for storage. Some of it is small rooms for rent (of which we have one, filled with extra books, bicycles, chairs and Christmas), but the rest is a giant cavernous hodgepodge. It used to be a bowling alley, and you can still see the lanes.
I now have a prayer closet. And it’s just the size I need.