birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


It is 3:04 AM and I have to get up to go to the bathroom. I smell the poop before I step in it and when I turn the light on in the bathroom- it is 8 or 9 little piles all over the bathroom. It smells so bad that there is no choice to ignore and go back to bed. I turn on the bathroom light and I am not thoughtful about my husband lying in the bed next to the bathroom. I clean up the poop- take the trash outside to the can-spray air freshener all over the bathroom. I crawl back into bed with the hope that I can go back to sleep.
My alarm goes off at 5:40 and I have gone back to sleep. I feel a little guilty that I was so loud and obnoxious cleaning up the dog mess this morning. My husband has multiple sclerosis and has to get a weekly shot that makes him feel like he has the flu for about 5-6 hours. Last night he had his shot. This morning I am feeling gratitude that he sleeps soundly. Some days I am exasperated at his sound sleeping especially when a dog whines wanting to go out in the middle of the night or wanting water. I know that I can wake him up to do the chore but I am awake- it seems the mean thing to do.

We jokingly call him the dog hoarder. We have 4 dogs- 3 leftover from our four kids. If you were a dog, you would want to live with my husband. He is the dog whisperer in all ways. They watch him adoringly. I once saw that look upon Paul Newman’s face when he was looking at his wife Joanne. That is the look that the dogs give my husband. I once thought I wanted him to look at me that way. Today I am not so sure.

There is such a paradox to having a housemate. On some days you would give anything to have a quiet house. On other days there is the panic of what life would be like without that person who understands your strangeness and laughs at just the right moment. My husband likes women and is righteously indignant when he discovers the inequities. He sometimes perpetuates those inequities and I would have to say unknowingly. He will happily sit and watch me prepare supper and then watch me clean up without offering his services. I have learned to ask for the help I need rather than expecting volunteers.

Following the 2016 election, at the Thanksgiving dinner table, he told his brother-in-law that because he had a mother, a wife , two daughters and a grand-daughter, that he did not vote for the pussy grabber. He said this in front of his mother who was 84 at the time, and from Mississippi where the word pussy still probably means a cat. This spark from a man who has never failed to walk me to my car door and wait for me patiently to go ahead of him. He has always been my hero and I think he will always be my hero. I wish I could be more like him- kind and gentle.

But heroes have clay feet and they leave the toilet seat up and they ignore dog poop on the bathroom floor. There are some days when gratitude must be forced. One more meal to prepare or pair of pants to be folded just feels like one too many.

I am grateful that I am married to such a wonderful loving man. I probably need to tell him so more often.

The Sixth Mass Extinction

An Uninvited Housemate