Thursday, September 27, 2012

Confessions Of A Mousewife

Today's post comes from a very hilarious and manly housewife, Rob Bishop.  Rob's significant other is a third year medical student.  Rob is a talented writer who has even published a book during his time as a medical student's slave (what a way to use up free time). He is the father of two loyal felines and owns a pretty nice film collection.

Hopefully, he will grace us with his writing again soon, but until then.... Check out his first guest post on the C&B Chronicles.


                I do not have a husband in medical school. I don’t even have a husband. It’s not for a lack of trying. It’s not even because I haven’t quite found that perfect man for me. I have. But since he won’t have me, I instead settled for the silver medal of courting: a female medical student.
                That was a joke.
                She is more like the bronze medal.
               My trip to the podium is one not terribly dissimilar from that of your regular contributors to this blog save for one difference: male genitalia. Notice no use of adjectives to describe the size of the difference. Whether it is due to shame or humility is one of this entry’s eternal ambiguities.
                Way to connect with your audience, Rob.
                Skipping along the path a bit further, when confronted by others about what it is exactly that I do for a living --- and since I am apparently now an adult, the question does arise from time to time --- I answer with a simple, one word response: housewife. This retort is occasionally met with a chuckle, but more often than not, it is a much different look. One of pity.

The lovely Ms. Maroney is not impressed.
                What sort of man would openly admit to being a housewife? The short answer to the query is this—the same sort of man who habitually shaves his legs and eats ice cream by the pint.
                This isn’t going well. Better start being overly verbose. Maybe they’ll stop reading.
                The long answer is, you guessed it, longer, and likely a far more pathetic one. So I’ll spare you the details and instead you can picture John Travolta circa “Staying Alive.” Yeah. That’s the ticket, ladies.
                There is something wrong with you. Get back on track.
                Here goes nothing. Prior to the commencement of my four-year sentence as a medical school male housewife, or mousewife for short…
                I really hope no one calls me a mousewife.
                … I was a lean, tanned purveyor of manual labor, working a greenhouse for seven years. Despite the implication of working with flowers, it was the pinnacle of masculine endeavors, toiling away sowing geranium seeds and planting wave petunia hanging baskets, trimming azalea bushes and double-watering the perennials because we planted them in too damn small four-inch cups. 
                That sounded decidedly feminine. What is wrong with me? Insert something masculine so readers don’t think poorly of you.
                Professional wrestling. Scotch. Face tattoos.
                Good job. You amaze me.
                In between aiding old ladies with their picking the best celosia for the combination planters, I was tasked with hefting ninety pound bags of planting soil hundreds of yards from the retail store to the planting area. Sometimes, when college girls* were around, I’d throw a bag over each shoulder and make the lengthy trek. Again, picture Travolta circa “Staying Alive.”

This should help. Wowza!

                While the ball and chain worked her way through undergrad, and the thought of medical school was firmly entrenched as a ‘down the road’ idea, I was the breadwinner. And though the loaf was small and covered in aphids, it was mine and mine alone. And also those damn claw machines in the front of Wal-Mart. I have a problem.
                Seriously. Do you really expect anyone to respect you after this confession?
                My days as the breadwinner came to an end in the summer of 2010 when I put in my pink slip after over half a decade of service at Hurley’s Greenhouse and moved to Lewisburg.  It should be made clear that I was adamantly against the move.

Actual photo taken while loading moving truck.

                I was accustomed to hanging out at the gym with my friends in the morning, playing pick-up basketball after spending way too much time picking things up and putting them down. I was accustomed to going to work for fifty hours a week alongside my best friends, getting tan and paid at the same time. The change brought upon by the move was immense.
                I went from being the one bringing home the bacon to not only frying it in the pan but going to the store to buy it. And along with the bacon, I was tasked with shopping for everything from all the groceries to shampoo (it cleans your hair), conditioner (it conditions your hair) and deodorant (I still don’t know what this is). The shopping in Lewisburg was limited, and I became a regular at Wal-Mart to such an extreme that I not only knew the names of a wide array of the ladies at checkout, but they knew me probably better than they knew their grandchildren.
                Here is where I confess that I hate crowds. Not big crowds. Crowds in general. Because of this, for nearly eighteen months, I woke up seven days a week at 4 AM so I could both go to the gym without worry of people clogging up the free weights and hit up Wal-Mart without having to see the leprous, troll-like creatures native to the store during daytime hours.

Oddly enough, she's as smart as she is classy. Even more oddly enougher, she is unattached.

                Shouldn't you tell them that she was your prom date? Hell no.
                A few months ago, the story took another twist when we moved from the small town of Lewisburg to the city of Bridgeport, a burgeoning metropolis by comparison. This was good because it provided a much-needed change of scenery. It was bad because the crowds became much more commonplace.
                But for the second time in nearly as many years, I have adapted. Crowds remain a nuisance for me, but I am far more tolerable of them than during my youth. I do still get up early, albeit not 4 AM early. And I am home for good most days by 8 AM. Thanks to headphones at the gym, for the most part, I talk to only one person, my lady friend, during the day.
                One person and two cats! Freak.
                I buy the groceries and prepare breakfasts. I pack lunches and cook dinners. I watch six to ten hours of Major League Baseball a day from April through October, and in the hours when baseball is inactive, I watch films and read books. Sometimes, during the doldrums of winter, anywhere from four to seven movies a day or ten books in a week. Even my lady friend wonders how I do it. How I sit at home all day? How the only person I talk to face-to-face most days is her? To this question, I am completely honest with my answer.
                I spend every day with my best friend.

No, not Screech. But damn close.
                My best friend is someone I see every day. It's someone I couldn't live without.
                Here is where people are saying things like ‘Ahhhh’ or ‘How sweet’ or maybe even ‘Liar’.
                Time to yank the rug out, daddio.
                And here’s the rub. What I wrote is true, but it is misleading. I spend every day with my best friend. And even better, I spend all day with him too. I love him. I love me. Conceited? Good lord, yes. But the truth is the truth.

                So, as my bronze medal is working her way through her rotations, serving the role of being the sole source of face-to-face contact I have with the living world, I will continue to do what I do. Listening to podcasts while I wash the dishes and making trips to the grocery store in hopes of finding raspberries on sale. Driving to Target to get bags for the vacuum cleaner and spending far too much time tracking my macronutrient intake.
                She is my bronze medal, and despite my hermetic tendencies, I am dutifully filling the role of being her Trophy Mousewife.
                Way to close strong for the two people who haven’t moved on to watching videos of baby sea otters.

Cute as youngsters. Delicious as adults.

*and high school girls.   

-- r

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blogging as Inspiration

Its a weird phenomenon this whole blogging thing.

If you think about it, blogging is incredibly self-centered, narcissistic, egotistical, conceited, vain... I could keep going.

Do you disagree?

I have a point. Stick with me.

Why does one start a blog?

I am sure the majority of bloggers weren't thinking when they hit that create-a-blog button, "I am doing this because the world needs to know who I am."

So, what was their motivation?

Documentation? Chronicling life? Finding a voice?

It seems that blogs began as a forum for struggling or wanna-be writers desperate for a platform.

Today, it is something quite different.

Anyone can start a blog--with one click of a button--within five minutes, it is up and running.

Bloggers have so much power. Its kind of scary if you think about it.

Motivation seems to run the gamut. Fashion, cooking, writing, travel, boredom, art, life changes, pregnancy, children, weight loss, outlet for work stories, etc.

How many of your favorite bloggers now have books?

Cupcakes and Cashmere. DesignSponge. Dooce. Love Maegan is working on hers.

How many of them have you seen on the Today show (NieNie Dialogues) or sitting in the front rows of major fashion shows (Style Rookie) or with their own shows on Food Network (Pioneer Woman)?

Its amazing. Incredible, really.

I mean, Cap and I were contacted just the other day to pen a 3 volume how-to series on being a medical school spouse. REALLY.

I'd like to know exactly how it all started.

I wonder when it will end?

Now that Cap and I have been at this whole blog thing for just over a month, one singular thought continues to pervade my mind--a thought I hate to admit to you all, dear readers, but one that is oh so true.

My blog gave me a life. (FINALLY. I was beginning to get worried.)

Its true!

This blog has become a motivator.

Get up, it says to me on sleepy Saturday mornings.

No, seriously, GET UP. Shower. Get dressed. Now, go do something, it yells annoyingly at the top of its lungs.


FINE, I yell back as I reluctantly pull myself off the couch and make plans.

And then, Saturday night, as W and I made our way up the winding stairs to our apartment, I felt extremely grateful for the blog and its insistence at purposeful living.

That was so much fun, I thought, recounting the day's adventures.

W and I set off on a windy road mid-morning, amidst the official dawning of Fall. The mountains have taken on a honey-colored glow, letting us all know what season has set in. I think those brief days before the leaves really begin to change are my favorite. Its like looking at the world through gold-tinted glasses--everything is warmed and crisp, fresh out of summer's oven and ready to cool off.

We met Cap and J at Hawk's Nest State Park that promised a fascinating gondola ride down the mountain. It was a bit disappointing to take in said fascinating gondola and the three minute ride down a large hill, through a pine forest. Not quite the breathtaking rock faces and churning water views we expected. We decided that we could live without it. So, puppy in tow, we headed to Fayetteville and New River Gorge Bridge. We ate huge cheeseburgers, fried pickles and fried green beans. We shopped around the Hobbit Hole. We chased puppy on the courthouse grounds. Then, we went to the gorge. (If you would like to see our adventures, visit the weekly recap.)

It was a perfectly fulfilled Saturday that made lounging around all day Sunday so much more satisfying.

So, what does this weekend hold? Let's see if I survive this first:

I get to hang out with this girl this Thursday & Friday. She is my oldest friend, who also happens to be my youngest friend. Figure that one out.

Photo from her 21st birthday party, natch.

Here is how it all went down:

"Therefore and such as," I will be driving down to SC tomorrow evening, meeting the newborn nephew for a few brief moments, and then hightailing it to Birmingham Thursday morning with her to consume lots and lots of cow.

Who drops everything at the mention of free, expensive food?


(follow our adventures on Instagram: bri_jackson & hchap426)


Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Laundry Powder

One of the beauties (and frustrations) of being a wife of a medical student is being broke!  Granted, I am never against having an excess of money, but I will say that living on student loans has taught me to be frugal.  VERY FRUGAL.  And for that, I am very thankful.

Also, what fun is being a newly wed if you can't yell at one another for using too much expensive toilet paper?

I have a small list of core household items that I deeply believe no one should have to buy cheap....

The expensive necessities:

Toothpaste (AIM makes me feel like I'm brushing my teeth with cardboard!)
Toilet paper  (This is self explanatory.. so I'll spare you the details.)
Fresh/healthy foods (because I believe the food we take in allows us to live longer and BETTER lives!)  I also just really like good food, and this gives me an excuse to shop in the organic section at Kroger.

... let's not forget the most important expensive necessity of ALL....


With that said, I skimp in LOTS of other areas.  Such as re-purposing left overs, remembering to freeze food, using coupons (not the crazy way), buying generic, and making my own laundry detergent!

The laundry detergent was a hard switch for me at first.  I LOVE the smell of Gain, and for a while... the smell alone was worth the $12.  Gain reminds me of my Pop's old house.  He used to have a laundry shoot in the upstairs hallway that dropped to the downstairs laundry room, and though he may not know this, as kids we would monkey ourselves up and down the shoot while dodging laundry missiles being thrown from above... all with the lovely scent of Gain in the background.

These days, my allergies and "pocket book"  (as Bri would say)  :)  can no longer handle the wonderful fragrance of Gain Original Scent.  So, I've moved on to the cheap and fragrance free stuff!  (but I still have the great memories)

Homemade laundry powder takes a little extra time to get together, but it last FOREVER!  It works great, it is hypoallergenic, and most importantly.... It is CHEAP!

Here's what you'll need:

First, Shred the entire bar of Fels-Naptha soap in a large bowl.  (I use a microplane for this)

Transfer the shredded soap into the storage container that will house your new cheap and amazing laundry soap.  :)  Add in 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and 1/2 a cup of Arm & Hammer.  (I would suggest a full cup of the regular Arm & Hammer if you have stinky men, anatomy lab students, or well water)

Next, shake it all up!  

You will only need about 1/2 of a tablespoon for small loads, 3/4th for medium loads, and 1 tablespoon for large loads, or really soiled clothing. 

Cost breakdown:

Borax - $3.27
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda - $2.73
Arm & Hammer $2.50
Fels Naptha - $0.97

You will easily be able to get at least 2-3 uses out of each box of Arm and Hammer and your box of Borax... which will make your grand total per batch around $3.80!  For J and me, each batch lasts about 2 months, and J is a huge believer in multiple wardrobe changes a day! 

That makes lots of pocket book room for my coffee habit.  ;)

Hope you Enjoy!  Let me know if you try it out!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekly Recap

This weekend I...

Celebrated J's 27th birthday!

Brought Mosley EVERYWHERE!

Got a little taste of Louisiana in Fayetteville, WV

Went sight seeing at the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV with Bri and W

Watched puppy take in the views

Hung out with this cool pup.  (photo courtesy of W) 

Watched this guy fish.

Waited for white water rafters to attempt the rocky streams.

Took puppy on a rocky walk.

Took our first family photo.  :)


This weekend I didn't do much except cook. (I also had my museum's fundraiser that I was responsible for on Tuesday night. I hope that excuses my blog absence just a bit!)

Table decor at the fundraiser.
Spicy Italian sausage and arugula over penne.
Leek risotto. YUM.
Chicken thighs in tomato gravy.
The ubiquitous margarita.
Ended the weekend and started off Fall with some sight-seeing.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Isolation and its Correlation with Bouts of Vacuuming

If someone were to ask me to describe in one word what the medical school experience has been like thus far, I would say isolated.


vt \ˈī-sə-ˌlāt\
: to set apart from others: as a : to separate (one with a contagious disease) from others not similarly infected b : to separate (as a chemical compound) from all other substances : obtain pure or in a free state 

Medical school has physically separated me from family and friends.
Medical school has oftentimes physically separated me from W as he works long/night shifts.
Medical school has most definitely separated me emotionally from W.

Medical school has very adeptly separated me intellectually from W.

Medical school has seen me atrophied on the couch, flipping through channels, isolated from fun, activity, society, life, on numerous weekend evenings as W worked/studied/sold his soul.

I blame medical school for isolating me from my skinny jeans.

Medical school has isolated me from the South Carolina coast for over a year now.

There will be no forgiving medical school for that one.

I find that medical school is always the best scapegoat for most of mine and maybe even the world's troubles and worries.

For instance, global warming.

I blame medical school.

So, how do you know if you are isolated?

Do you find yourself calling your parents randomly and frequently just to ask them such questions as,
"What did you guys have for dinner?"
"Did you go out to eat this weekend?"
"Can you send me your Sams card so I can buy those big blocks of cheese?"
"What are your plans for the night?" (By the way, its a Tuesday, and you know good and well that your parents are always in bed by 9--9:15 tops.)
"Are you sitting on the porch?"
"When did I stop liking ham?"
"Did you buy anything this weekend?"

Have you talked to your cat lately? Admit it.

Have you contemplated the drawbacks of Netflix? I mean, how long does it take for them to update their instant streaming new releases!?!

Do you know how many kids your Kroger cashier has and what ages they were when they stopped wetting the bed?
Do you talk about reality tv stars like they're your BFFs? 

Do you worry about them between episodes?

Do you vacuum your entire apartment every day? I find that the more frequently I vacuum, the lonelier I am. Case in point: W worked three 12 hour shifts for the past three weeks. The apartment was vacuumed 3-4 times each week.

If you do any of these things, then, yes, you are extremely isolated.

Seek help ASAP.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Puppy Love

Weighing in at a whopping 1.13 pounds, this is the cutest creature to ever exist.  He's name is Mosley.  He poops, he pees, he loves toes and he chews on EVERYTHING.  But because he is this dang cute... It all seems SO ADORABLE!

Going about getting Mosley was quite an adventure.  After J's test Monday (which was also J's birthday), we started on the long trek to Phillippi, WV.  For some reason, all of the locals seem to think everywhere in WV takes about an hour and a half to get to.  On the contrary... Phillippi was about a 4 hour drive down the most winding and terrifying road in WV.  J and I were fine with the long drive UNTIL we tried to call Wilma, the dog breeder, to get directions to her place and we got a busy signal.  J continued to call and call and call and call.  Getting more and more worried that he and Leah were scammed by a sweet old lady with every busy tone.  Wilma is about 75 years old, and her husband is about 100.  I wouldn't say they were the most technologically up-to-date older couple.  One would probably even venture to say they don't own a cell phone, but Wilma knew J and I were suppose to meet her in the "city" between 3-5pm so we figured she would start to wonder why her phone hasn't rung, and why these people who paid a pretty penny for a puppy haven't showed up.  We decided to keep driving and hope Wilma would call.  We continued to make our way to Phillippi, and never heard from dear sweet Wilma.  

J, Leah (my sister) and I decided to play Nancy Drew and hunt little old Wilma from Phillippi down.  Our detective skills quickly proved to be IMPRESSIVE.  My sister gave us Wilma's last name and husband's name; which we then googled in hopes of finding an address.  We found this... RR 4 BOX 291A.  If you aren't familiar with Rural Routes, it basically means you live in the West Virginia hills that the movie WRONG TURN was modeled after.  These Rural Routes are not true addresses.  They are only helpful for the postal service.  They make NO sense to anyone else, and they do not in ANY way show up on google maps.  I know this, because I too live on a Rural Route. (joy!)

When J and I finally made it to Phillippi, we decided to just pick random streets to drive down and look for "RR 4" on mailboxes.  We found RR 2, RR 3, but no RR 4.  That's when I decided to call the local post office.  A nice woman informed me that while she does not have the exact address, she does know that RR 4 is near The Old Barn Country Store.  Then, my lovely phone decided to cut out before I could ask her for directions to this Old Barn Country Store.  Well played, AT&T.

J and I were left to old school defenses.  Being that neither one of us really have a great sense of direction,  finding Wilma became quite a man hunt.  We stopped at every gas station we saw until someone FINALLY knew where The Old Barn Country Store was.  The Old Barn Country Store was just that... an old barn turned country store, and right across the street from the country store was RR 4.  It was practically shining in all of it's Nancy Drew Mystery glory.  We were proud of our accomplishments, and THE SCENT OF PUPPY WAS NEAR!

We turned down RR 4 looking for BOX 291A, and realized we were only at BOX 2.  I knew this wasn't good, but it wasn't until I realized that each family plot had a BOX 2, BOX 2A, BOX 2B, BOX 2C, BOX 2D, BOX 2E, and even a BOX 2F (THIS is how you say BACK WOOD in West Virginiaese), when I realized this was really really bad.  We were still nowhere CLOSE to Wilma and puppy dog. We kept driving.  Thinking surely box 291A would show up soon.  We drove and drove and drove, and Finally... we found a woman walking her two children.  In shear puppy determination, I decided to just go for it.  "Excuse me, do you happen to know a Wilma who breeds Yorkies?"  

"Oh yea, Wilma's just around this curve.  Her farm backs up to this farm here."


We pulled up to a white house and knocked on the door.  A ferocious dog ran to our car door, and we pondered whether we should risks our lives and get out of the vehicle for about two whole seconds.  Then, in unison, J and I both looked at each other and smiled.  As if to say, "We've come this far... If we are meant to get mauled by a dog, I guess it's DESTINY."  We exited the vehicle and managed to make it to the front porch with only a few scratches and a case of attempted rape against the ferocious dog.  Even though this house was very sketchy and their dog was very mean,  I COULD HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT!  J was telling me the whole way to the door (between doggy attacks), "Cap, if it's a scam I promise we will still get a puppy from SOMEWHERE."  (I picked a winner!)

The door opened, and J and I got the weirdest look of "who the hell are you?" from the woman who answered.

"Are you Mrs. Wilma?"


"Do you know Mrs. Wilma?"  (not ready to give up hope)

"Yea, she lives under the hill."

HALLELUJAH!  (again)

We pull up to Wilma's house and see her working outside on her bird cages.  I wanted to hate her.  I wanted to scream, "WHY DIDN'T YOU ANSWER YOUR FREAKING PHONE?"  But she was a cute old lady working on bird cages, and she had yorkies EVERYWHERE.  No part of me could have expressed my frustration with her.

Wilma-  "Well, there you are!  What took you so long?"

J- "We didn't have your address, and your phone was off the hook."

Wilma- (looking guilty, and obviously not understanding our 5 hour struggle to get here) "Well, you're here now."


* Note to self, when someone who is obviously very tired and frustrated with you comes to your home... Show them a puppy.

This little guy was worth it.

In two short days, Mosley has quickly captured the hearts of J and me.  He is the ONLY thing that can wake me up every morning at 3:30 and keep me up for hours with no coffee.  He currently goes everywhere with me, and he is no doubt already spoiled ROTTEN.  He has officially filled my friendless void.  : )

Enjoying J's left over Tbone.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekly Review

 This week I:

Convinced myself I was meant to be a photographer for National Geographic Magazine.

Celebrated the engagement of my beautiful S.I.L!  Congrats Jenny!  

Made potato hash and tomato gravy for my main squeeze.

Fell in love with this little guy.

Realized J loves the chickens more than I do.

Watched my friend, Hen, become a TRADER! 

Received a lovely shipment of Italian coffee.
Made Mexican stuffed peppers with these beauties.  (Thanks for the idea, Bri!)


Made lots of To-Do lists.

Mexican with W.

Ate W's buttermilk pancakes. MMMMMMmmmm.

Went to the East End Bazaar a few blocks from our place. It was great! Local artisans and delicious food.

Ate vegetarian chili with non-dairy cheese. It was actually delicious.

Bought the first pumpkin of the season.
Welcomed a new nephew!