Listen! / Andres Fernandez-Morrell


Thy desire shall be to thy husband…

– Genesis 3:16

Bucket List

ITEM #1: Go to Kilimanjaro with Jim.

PURPOSE: I’ve wanted to go since I read that Hemingway story about the dying guy who hears the hyenas howling and senses the vultures hovering and dies and flies to the peak of Kilimanjaro (and who, coincidentally, tells the woman that she doesn’t know anything). His deathbed doctrines suck. Listen to your wife or die might have been (and is) a better code. He chooses the latter, as in die.

ITEM #2: Install black quartz countertops.

PURPOSE: To replace the current faux-stone spray-painted particleboard counters. Black quartz would resist the knife nicks, the spaghetti spills, and the protein pongs.

ITEM #3: Start my home business.

PURPOSE: Not many people know this (and by not many I mean no one – at least no one alive – and especially not Jim), but I am an expert seamstress. Under my grandmother’s tutelage (God bless her soul) I mastered the curved seam, the chiffon hem, the mitered edge, the perfect bias, and the invisible zipper. Then one day I came home from school to find her sewing machine (sans shuttle and shafts) mutilated on the ceramic tile – one of many casualties (inanimate, of course) during the drunk dad days, which Jim and I never discuss, ever.

ITEM #4: Read the Bible from cover to cover.

PURPOSE: I am a lover of lists and plans and charts and diagrams and all else organization. But Bible reading plans are an exception. I’ve tried them and failed them, all of them (some twice). I’ve tried the Fifty-Two Week Plan, the Five by Five by Five Plan, the Bible Reading Chart Plan, the Chronological Plan, the Historical Plan, the Professor Grant Horner’s Plan, and I even wrote my own plan. The main problem (I think) is that the plans give a list of passages to read each day, but then in the passages there are more lists of names (like Methuselah or Enoch) and ages (Methuselah lived 969 years; Enoch didn’t die) and who begot whom (Eve begot Cain and Abel and Seth; Sarah begot Isaac) and who “went in” to whom (Abraham – Sarah’s husband – went in to Hagar, who begot Ishmael) and how many wives and concubines they had (David had a few; Solomon, his son, had a thousand), like lists within lists within lists.

ITEM #5: Travel to the Iguazu Falls.

PURPOSE: To experience the beautiful Argentinian scenery (and men – so, perhaps I’ll do this one without Jim?)

ITEM #6: Plan an evening of spontaneous romance with Jim.

PURPOSE: To mix up to our love life (which nears non-existence). I read an entire Cosmo article about it: married couples stopping for love on the side of the road, at the nearest hotel, on a secluded beach, in the upstairs bathroom of their neighbor’s house during the Christmas party, etc. I could easily plan something spontaneous like that.

ITEM #7: Compose a list-list.

PURPOSE: To give to Jim (hopefully), to make him understand how much I do, so that he will listen to me.

To-Do List (Business)

ITEM #1: Compose a list of supplies needed.

PURPOSE: To be prepared. Like Jim told me on Italian night, mise en place makes the pasta. (No, actually, I make the pasta. How’s that for mise en place, Jim?)

ITEM #2: Order fabric samples.

PURPOSE: To test for quality. Perhaps I will also use one to make myself a new blouse, since Jim tore my J. Crew (which I loved) during the spontaneous romance I planned at the Omni (which I didn’t love).

ITEM #3: Research new sewing methods.

PURPOSE: I’m determined to prove Jim wrong. I told him about my business, and he told me to read Proverbs 31:13, about the excellent wife who “worketh with hands willing,” which I did (read, that is), and then told him I did, to which he responded by telling me I am nothing like (and could never be like) her.

ITEM #4: Create a logo.

PURPOSE: To market my business. I’ll get feedback from several friends: Linda, Isabella, Steve, Tami, Ethan, and Nestor (the Argentinian!) But not Jim, I won’t get feedback from Jim, because I don’t want to hear it, and neither does he, really.

ITEM #5: Order all supplies.

PURPOSE: Jim would never let me do this. But my good friend (Nestor, whom I love, and who listened for a whole hour while I explained by business plan to him) is lending me the money for the initial investment (he’ll send it to the separate bank account I opened up).

ITEM #6: Set up a work station.

PURPOSE: I need a work station that will be conducive to productivity. Jim’s office (which he keeps locked, even when he is in it, which he is, mostly, late at night, while I’m asleep) has plenty of extra space. Anyways, it’s time for his old, nasty, green-covered, stain bespattered futon (which does not, and will not, ever, serve as a venue for spontaneous romances) to go.

ITEM #7: Set a goal for each day of the next year.

PURPOSE: To stay organized. I’ll compose fifty-two separate lists (one for each week of the year) with seven items on each list (one for each day of the week).

To-Do List (Pleasure)

ITEM #1: Schedule hair appointment.

PURPOSE: I should not yet be in the going gray generation, and I could not yet bear for Jim (or Nestor) to find out that I am. Plus, my stylist is Tanzanian, and she grew up in Moshi. She woke up every morning to the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro reflecting the rays of the sun into her bedroom window (quite a wakeup call). She says plane tickets to Kilimanjaro International Airport are relatively cheap, and that there are plenty of lodgings in Moshi, and even more Chaggas (native tribesmen) who are expert porters and who will guide you to the peak (and back) for a reasonable price (though I doubt Jim would actually go – I might as well scratch this off the Bucket List.)

ITEM #2: Get a manicure.

PURPOSE: Last week I found an old list (from the delightful dating days, I think) of Jim’s likes and dislikes (gathered and compiled from date conversations). I had forgotten about many of the items on there, like his like of yoga (what the heck led us to talk about that?), his dislike of Latin American cuisine, his dislike of old church ladies (one of which, now that I think about it, alas, I am slowly becoming), and his like of me (which, now that I think about it, alas, is probably slowly fading in direct proportion to my transformation into an old church lady). But the one that surprised me the most was his like of French manicures. Well, I think this time I’ll get the reverse French manicure.

ITEM #3: Call my mom.

PURPOSE: Ever since my grandmother died (God bless her soul), my mom has had it pretty rough, especially being alone, all the time, with my dad. While I may have entered the cursed connubial chapter (for now, at least), she’s still living in the drunken dad days (a worse fate, to be sure).

ITEM #4: Beat Jim’s high score on Piano Tiles.

PURPOSE: Even though I have unlocked more pieces than Jim, including Liebestraum 3 (Liszt), Invention 13 (Bach), Sonata 34 (Haydn), Tempest 3 (Beethoven), Etude 9 (Chopin), and Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky), his single highest score still exceeds mine by 117 points. I think I’ll try to surpass him with Por una cabeza (Gardel and Le Pera), since he hates Spanish tango, and Nestor loves it (and dances it very, very vertiginously well).

ITEM #5: Make a meal plan for this week.

PURPOSE: Since Jim is out of town this week, I’m going to change things up. I’m especially looking forward to the Choripán (Nestor’s sausage dish, which he made for me after tango night, and which I love, especially when finished off with Dulce de leche).

ITEM #6: Try the new ice cream parlor down the street.

PURPOSE: While Jim was in his office the other night (it was late, and it was locked, I mean the door), I pulled out the delightful dating days box (to put in that old like/dislike list), and I came across a couples’ quiz book. The first question is: “What is your partner’s favorite song?” He (Jim) answered: “Brown-Eyed Girl” (I should have known then, my eyes being blue). The right answer is: “Ice Cream” (or, “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream”). I’ve screamed for ice cream enough (we all scream for something, don’t we?) He doesn’t listen. So, I’m going this week (or the next, I think). Really, I’m going.

ITEM #7: Schedule Saturday brunch with the girls.

PURPOSE: There’s so much to tell: Jim (or lack thereof), Spanish tango, Argentinian cuisine (with Nestor, whom I even told about the drunk dad days), our trip to Iguazu Falls, the possible end of the cursed connubial chapter, the possible beginning of the satisfactorily separated season.

Cleaning List

ITEM #1: Reorganize the house.

PURPOSE: To figure out what to bring to Argentina. I’ll need a few bikinis, sunglasses, flip-flops, snorkel gear, and especially sunscreen. I’ve spent the majority of the cursed connubial chapter cooped up inside of this house: cleaning, cooking, composing lists, and homemaking, and all in silence (dark, cold, damnable silence). It’s time to step into the light, into the warm arms of a man who listens. But I will need sunscreen (100 SPF).

ITEM #2: Wash all the bedding.

PURPOSE: It was Sunday night, and Jim’s flight from Kilgore got cancelled (it was snowing, I think), and Nestor’s Malbec from the Lujan de Cuyo got decanted (it was rich, and spicy).

ITEM #3: Clean the kitchen counters.

PURPOSE: Knife nicks, spaghetti spills, and protein pongs aside, I feel like I need to scrub off Sunday night’s adultery (not even sure if the black quartz would help with the guilt, or anything, really, even after what I found in Jim’s office, which is why I called Nestor that night in the first place).

ITEM #4: Clean Jim’s office (once more).

PURPOSE: After last week’s cleaning while Jim was out of town (during which I made the discovery), I’m glad that this will probably be the last time. I wouldn’t even bother, but it seems right to put my eyes on the magazines (which I found in his bottom desk drawer, which he apparently forgot to lock) one last time, to be sure I’m doing the right thing. Plus, I’m going to leave my list-list inside the top one. Then he’ll know that I know (and wish he would’ve listened).

ITEM #5: Do the laundry.

PURPOSE: Mount Cotton (consisting entirely of unfolded laundry) must be conquered. Jim is as unlikely to help in this conquest as he is to climb Kilimanjaro (though he’s always done his part in the creation of it).

ITEM #6: Brush all of the dog hair out of the sofa.

PURPOSE: And out of the fire place, and out of the armchair, and out of the closets, and out of the dryer vent, and off of the baseboards, and off of the tables (I will not miss Cooper).

ITEM #7: Vacuum.

PURPOSE: To finish cleaning. One last thing my grandmother (God bless her soul) taught me was to leave the house clean. I’m going to leave this house (and Jim). It’s decided now. It’s done. And I’m going to leave it (and him) clean.


ITEM #1: Bucket List

DONE (in part).

ITEM #2: To-Do List (Business)


ITEM #3: To-Do List (Pleasure)


ITEM #4: Cleaning List


ITEM #5: You should have listened to me, Jim. I just wanted you to listen.


ITEM #6: By the time you read this, I’ll be in Argentina with Nestor.


ITEM #7: List-List


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