Tuesday, January 20, 2015

He Calls Me Little Mouse

There is nearly always a story behind a nickname. There are several behind one of mine. Chuck calls me "Little Mouse," which will probably horrify my mother who detests most rodents, but particularly, the lowly house mouse.

My earliest memories of mice involve my mother standing on a chair, or leaping to the safety of the kitchen counter, with her mouth and eyes wide open in terror, screaming. When I was little, I had inherited her fear of mice, based on nothing more than an association of mice with my screaming mom. Over the years, I did my fair share of leaping out of harm's way and screaming, and eventually, I softened to a mild disgust at discovering a mouse's presence in my own home.

As Chuck and I were getting to know each other, I was delighted that he not only recognized my reference to Bridger's favorite book of The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Don and Audrey Wood), but he, too, had it memorized, almost in its entirety. I loved him even more knowing he read a story so often to his own little boys that he could retell it from memory, nearly two decades after he was no longer reading bedtime stories. 

"Hello, little mouse," the story begins. "What are you doing? Oh, I see. Are you going to pick that red, ripe strawberry? But little mouse, haven't you heard about the big, hungry bear? How that bear loves red, ripe strawberries."

My heart melted as I recalled my little boy Bridger, who had barely started talking, but who could remember the words of his favorite book. He would sit on my bed, turning the pages, and "read" the words on each page with emotion and inflection, imitating the way he had heard it read to him.
Chuck didn't hesitate when I asked him to read to my second graders at school. He is so comfortable with people of any age. It tickled me to watch him interact with my little students. 

Chuck had also read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," by Laura
Joffe Numeroff. I love that not only does he juggle several books at any given time, listening to a novel a week during his commute, and reading a couple of books at home (Civil War, music appreciation, and works of fiction), he has also read a wide variety of children's literature. This man was made for me, I tell you! 

In the mouse and cookie story, an easily distracted mouse goes from one activity to another all day long. I am that mouse. I live that mouse's life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My mind thinks this way. My day flows this way. (You can probably detect some of this distracted mouse syndrome in my writing.)

As night falls each evening, I am always surprised by what I was able to accomplish, and what I was not. My intentions are so good, but as a multi-tasker extraordinaire, I dabble at several tasks at once, and barely finish one or two. Every day I have a goal to write, to read, to rest; Chuck says they are the three Rs of retirement. I also have many mini-goals to make our house more homey, to keep in touch with our kids, to study, to do photography...well, you see, there's just so much to do. Focusing is such a challenge for me. 

We all know the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse. Since moving from a rural Utah town with a population of less than 400 to a suburban city with a headcount of closer to 30,000, the name Country Mouse fits me to a tee. 

The other day, I told Chuck that I thought one day I might just become a city mouse. 

He just grinned, and said, "I doubt it." 

"Oh? You can take the mouse out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the mouse; is that it?" I suspected the reasoning behind his doubts.


Throughout the day, I get texts while Chuck is at work, "What is my little mouse doing?" 

Or: "What has caught the eye of my little mouse today?"

My husband is getting used to my way of doing things. He just laughs when we enter a store, having just heard me say what we're shopping for, but then he gets pulled in a completely different direction when something else catches my eye. He, being an IT analyst by profession, and a male by birth, is quite focused on whatever the task is at hand, and sees it through to completion. I, on the other hand, have more than a touch of attention deficit-disorder, and I take a buckshot approach to my day, and let the chips fall where they may.

My vocabulary is expanding the more I am exposed to Chuck's way of speaking and writing, and the other day, I was once more forced to ask him to define his terms. "Non sequitur" is the label he slapped on one of my comments this weekend as we were talking at breakfast. 

APPARENTLY, one should find a natural segue into the next topic of conversation, rather than just jumping blindly into it, but in my mind, it made perfect sense to see the murky water in the vase of flowers on our kitchen table, and then think of the murky water of my old betta fish Elvis's fish bowl, and suggest we get a Vietnamese betta fish. Granted, we weren't talking about pets or fish, but my mind wanders around the visual stimuli in my environment. He should thank me. We rarely have a lull in our conversations. (Hmm...that's a good thing, right?)

So, Chuck calls me his little mouse, and his country mouse, and we call the way I do things "mousing." There's rarely a dull moment, even though sometimes I'm a little hard to follow. 

If this blog post seems a little more disjointed than usual, I'm blaming the muscle relaxers I've been taking to help me with an old injury that has resurfaced. Having just re-read this post myself, I think we can all safely assume that the disjointedness may just be my natural self coming through, a little more loudly and clearly than usual, as my filters are in a slightly weakened state today. 

This little country mouse has had quite a day, and is grateful to have finally gotten her writing done, with about ten minutes to spare, before her city mouse gets home from work. 

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