Five Things: June 17, 2020

It’s my wedding anniversary today, so I’m zooming through this one. I’m sure you’ll understand. Here’s today’s five!

Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben head toward retirement: Because 2020 is the year when companies finally realized brands explicitly referencing slavery times and/or peddling racially submissive stereotypes are just not cool. Which, I mean, yes? Good? It would be easy for me to be snarky and say “was anyone really asking for Aunt Jemima to go into retirement?” but as it turns out, yes, they have been, and for some time now, so this is another place where my privileged white ass meant I had a blind spot in my understanding of the world. Funny about that. I’ll be interested to see what brand name replaces both items — I don’t see either PepsiCo or Mars, the companies retiring the brands, being all that keen to relinquish market share for these products.

Covid is spiking in 21 states: again, funny how when you don’t actually solve your virus problem before you open back up, the virus comes back as if you didn’t actually solve your problem. So strange! Also, it does seem the current political solution for this is “(shrug) guess people will die, then.” So, yeah, if you were hoping for this all to be over with quickly, at least here in the US, I’ve got bad news for you. And I hope you weren’t planning to do any international travel any time soon. Krissy and I had big plans to celebrate our 25th anniversary in Iceland. At this rate, we might be considered lucky to make it there for our 27th or28th.

Juneteenth an official holiday? It’s happening in Chicago, and there appears to be some momentum to make it a national holiday (if you’re going, uhhhhh, whatteenth now?, here’s a backgrounder for you). Personally I’m totally down with making Juneteenth a national holiday; some people want to swap it out for Columbus Day, and while I’m not opposed to that I think it’d be fine to have Juneteenth and take the current Columbus Day spot and make it a National Indigenous People’s Day/Enrico Fermi Day joint celebration.

“Homegrown”: If you were randomly thinking to yourself that you wanted to listen to a never-released 45-year-old Neil Young album, then today’s your day. Also, you have weirdly specific desires. I’m listening to it right now, and, yup, it sure sounds like Neil Young at his most Neil Youngish. As the kids say, if this is the sort of thing you like, then you’ll like this sort of thing. The direct link to the album stream on Young’s site is here.

Next July in Disneyland: In case you were wondering when the Happiest Place on Earth was planning to dip its toe back in. It’s also worth noting the things Disney plans to make their resorts safe, which include full masking and reduced capacity. Since Disney is a corporation intensely aware of its potential liability, it’s probably not out of line to suggest that Disney’s best practices here are probably a good minumum standard for other places to follow. Especially about the masks. Wear your damn masks, people!

 

25 Years

I don’t want to say that it doesn’t feel that long ago, because, well, it does feel like a while ago now — in the course of twenty five years for ourselves, our friends and families, children were born and grew, loved ones passed and were mourned, careers were made and sometimes changed. Old friends remained and new ones joined them. And the life Krissy and I would make with each other, all potential then, has been written. It’s not done being written, of course. Hopefully we’ll still have volumes yet to go. But what has been written to date is wonderful, and fulfilling, and a story that I delight in telling and in composing with her.

I think it’s better to say that the time doesn’t feel like it’s been idle or wasted. Twenty five years is a pretty decent stretch of time to stay married to one person, and I can understand how in that length of time one can eventually take one’s partner for granted, seeing them as part of an unchanging background of a life on permanently stuck in a loop. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt that about Krissy. There’s not been a time where I wasn’t finding new things to like and to love about her, never a time where my respect and admiration for who she is and what she brings to our partnership has not grown.

I don’t want to give the impression that I consider Krissy in nothing but glowing awe. She’s human, folks, as are we all. She’s no more perfect than I am, or you are. But that’s my point. My appreciation for her is grounded in who she is here in the real world, and by how she moves through it, on her own terms and as my partner in this life we’ve built and are still building together. She’s made my life better, and she’s made me a better person. I like to think I’ve done the same for her, these last twenty five years.

With that said, I should be clear that, while fully acknowledging the essential humanity of my spouse, there’s that part of me that every day looks at her and goes, bwuuuuh??? because I genuinely do think she’s amazing. The fact that she’s genuinely physically stunning is the obvious manifestation, and the reason why every time I post a picture of her somewhere, someone (usually more than one) feels obliged to remind me that I’m out of my league. Yes, I’m aware of this, indeed, and from literally the very first moment I saw her, when she walked up to me to tell me we should dance, which we then did immediately because while I am a man of average looks, I am not without some intelligence.

But you should know her physical beauty is only the door that opens into the rest of what makes her amazing. I tell people that Krissy is smarter than me and they think I am being flattering to her. I’m not. She has the ability to size up people and situations better than anyone I know, and has a capacity for straight-line thinking that has to be seen to be believed. Her ego is composed in such a way that there’s never been another person I’ve met who is more comfortable in their own skin; she knows who she is and she’s good with it (this is an ability that confuses many many people). She is kind and good, and you will never have a better friend than you will have in Krissy, provided she’s decided she wants to be your friend. Also, and not for nothing, she’s freakishly strong, which is both useful and amusing to me. In sum, Krissy is indeed human, and also, she is one of the best humans I know.

And I know all of this not just because I’ve lived these twenty five years with her, but because every day of those twenty five years I’ve seen these things in her. I make it a point to appreciate them about her, and to let her know how much I appreciate them, and her. Her goodness and kindness and usefulness as a human make me want to be better as human, too — to be, in my own way, as good and kind and useful as she is to me and to the others in her life. I want to be as good to her, and for her, as she has been to me.

While I think there are many ways to have a good marriage, I think this particular model — an awareness and appreciation of your partner’s gifts and skills, a desire to reciprocate in kind, and a recognition that it is all a continual process — works really well for us. I’ve said many times before that marriage is work, but I’m not sure I’ve always communicated that how much joy there can be in the work, or at least, how much joy I find in the work. I love that every day I get another chance to let Krissy know how much I love and value her, and the life we make together. I love that every day I get to go to work, making this life with her. There is nothing better.

Twenty five years is a long time, and it doesn’t feel long enough. I want another twenty five years, please, and — why not? — another twenty five after that, if it can be managed. I want every day to wake up next to my amazing wife, this best human I know, and to tell her that I love her, and I love the life we’ve made for each other, and I’m ready to make another day with her. I’m ready to learn more about her, and to learn from her. I’m ready to be useful to her, and to make her laugh, and to every day better become the person who she loves, and loves to be with.

Who wouldn’t want all of that? Every day? For as long as it can possibly last?

I love you, Kristine Blauser Scalzi. Every day. Happy anniversary.