Thursday, September 29, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge - Long Exposure

"Hey, when you take your shirts down from the closet, can you grab the hanger, too? Toss it on the bed or put it in the hamper. That way I don't have to go hunting hangers when I'm in the basement doing laundry." She turned and looked at him. His eyes were on his computer screen and he didn't reply.


He looked in her direction.

"Did you hear me?" She wiggled the hanger in her hand interrupting the heavy air between them.

He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Hangers in the hamper. Okay."


Nothing changed in that regard. The hangers remained askew from where he'd yanked the shirt down in his rush to get out of the house. She'd sigh that annoying martyred sigh, reach up and pluck the hanger from its spot, often having to untangle it from its neighbors.

On her bad days, those hangers are the symbol of one more thing she does for people who could do such things for themselves. She knows this because there was once a time when she, too, rushed out the door to get on with her day and the hangers made their way to the laundry room without her morning hike around the house.

On her good days, she'd remember that those hangers never made it to the laundry room unless she reminded him and the children to bring them down. Or, as was often the case, she spent her evenings after work and weekends going from room to room retrieving them and resenting the fact that despite of her job and long commute, she bore most of the domestic duties, as well.

Also on her good days, she'd remind herself that he was busy. Always working. Away from the house and at home. She'd recently joked (okay it wasn't so much a joke) that with the hours he put in planning and grading and answering emails and all the other things a teacher does, his hourly wage was probably hovering near minimum wage.

All their married lives they'd struggled for balance between them - who was giving enough, who was giving too much, who wasn't paying attention, who was using work as an escape, who was looking out instead of in. These last two years had been a real test of their ability to adjust the scales.

So what was it about the hangers that lit the pilot of her ire?

"Where's the hanger for my jacket?"

One simple sentence. A legitimate question asked by a reasonable man who just wanted to hang up his hoodie now that the day was warming. At other points in their twenty-three year marriage, she would have been thrilled that he even thought to hang it up.

"I must have taken it when I collected them to take downstairs. I'm sorry."

He stood holding his jacket and frowning. "I just wanted to hang this up."

"I'm sorry. Put it on the chair and I'll bring up a hanger in a little while." Unbelievable. He was pissed at her for keeping the wheels of domestic order in forward motion? Did he think all this shit got done by magic? She'd asked him more than once (and yes, that matters when you're keeping score) to deal with those fucking hangers at the time he took his shirts out of the closet and he'd either forgotten or refused (which would not be unlike him to spite her in a little way like that!) and now he was bitching about not having a hanger.

He repeated his grievance. "You know, I just want one hanger."

"I'm sorry. I said I'd take care of it!"

These words got said over and over, louder and louder until she left the room, slamming the door behind her.
Monday morning came and everyone with somewhere to go raced out the door or, in the case of some of them, dragged themselves out. She wandered the house, picking up things that had been discarded without a thought as to where they belonged, making beds, tidying this and that. The closet door stood open and there hung an empty hanger slightly askew. She reached up to take it then stopped.

UPDATED: Geoffrey has a different and essential perspective.
Randal is not Armin Tanzarian, but you might remember him from such blockbuster films as Librarians Go Wild.


  1. Oh, boy, do I get this. The key is the score. If you don't want it to kill you, you have to stop keeping it.

  2. Is it that we were raised to see these things or is it inherent to our mature female nature? It's always amazed me that an otherwise competent and well organized adult never notices it's time for a new bar of soap in the shower - even if a fresh one is unwrapped on the counter right outside the curtain.

    Excellent exposure.

  3. This sounds like the drum roll for my life. Honestly I've had two husbands from two races, two cultures, two career spheres, two mindsets, but they both left wet towels on the floor!

  4. See, people were meant to live solitary lives as hermits. This whole 'society' think is just a gimmick.


    Are you telling me that you guys don't ball your just-washed-and-dried clothes and jam them into a corner?


    (I think Mr. If is on to something)

  6. I've been married for 43+ years. Early on, we discovered that we had different tolerances for disorder and filth. Oddly, the differences are such that between us the apartment is habitable. Our basic rule has been if something bothers you, then make an effort to fix it, clean it, or put it away.

    I just do the dishes and clean the bathroom, without thinking about it. If she wants something washed outside the daily cycle, she either washes it herself or it sits until I do the dishes again. If she wants an item of clothing washed, she either makes up a complete load from the hamper and washes it, or it sits until I do the laundry again. I try to do the dishes at least daily, make an effort to set up the bathroom if we're expecting company, and keep the laundry hamper from overflowing onto the floor.

    When the last of the kids left home, she assumed their bedroom as her computer space, and I took the dining room as my computer space. My computer room is somewhat neat and orderly. Her room looks as though the DEA has just finished ransacking it, and I NEVER talk to her about it beyond keeping an open path to the bathroom.

    The rest of the house? If there's a clear field of fire for the remote control devices, the living room only needs fire lanes, as far as I care.

  7. Apparently you didn't read the fine print in the marriage contract.

    Somewhere on page 14 or 15, between hair in sink and heater thermostats, is the rule regarding hangers.

    A competent justice of the peace or even a bright but drunk minister should have pointed out these rules to you.

  8. So well done. You touched on marriage so perfectly without really touching on it at all.

    This could be really great for a certain 1500 word short story contest...Deadline mid-October...

  9. It is the utter, ridiculous, non-stop, ongoingness of housewoork that just makes us crazy.

  10. This is brilliant. A completely different take on the concept of "long exposure." Long exposure can strengthen or erode.

    A long exposure is an exercise in accumulation - whether of the impacts of photons on film or digital media, or of grievances...

  11. Mine piles his clothing next to his bed and on top of our dresser INSTEAD of drawers and laundry baskets. I gave up.

  12. Wilco rocked. Sorry you couldn't make it. Great show. Nels... just wow.

  13. The hangar situation gets me too. What bugs me even more is how much stuff is inside-out, unzipped and just plain wadded up.

    My take is my time just isn't worth as much as others.

    I just check out for a while sometimes. When there are no clean clothes to wear, people take note about certain simple requests. I'm not into being passive/aggressive, but sometimes you can only say stuff so many times before just throwing up both hands.

    And put the friggin' lid down before you flush! The mental picture of the propelled flush-mist makes me wanna have a new tooth brush every morning.

    Even if it is in the cabinent!


  14. Ugh, I'm struggling with the "housewife" role myself. It is relentless.

  15. Yeah I get this too. And I've driven myself crazy keeping score. MSB is right on that one.

    Love your take on long exposure and I love this post. You have shown the frustration and love and anger and empathy wrapped up in the daily grind of a marriage. Well done, you.


And then you say....

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