Category Archives: Relationship

How NOT To Drive to Los Angeles

FinallycartoonDo any of you other married people have a random, sensitive topic you never bring up because you and your partner once had a huge fight about it and that weird fight came to symbolize all the ways you and your partner don’t see eye to eye?

Yeah, me too.

Only, it pertains to my first marriage. My husband John and I were both married before (no kids) and I think his trigger topic with his first wife was television medical dramas or home improvement shows or something because she was always buying sod in Tahoe and killing it.

My ex-husband and I, on the other hand, could never bring up:

The Best Freeway For Driving Between Northern And Southern California

A fact that my mischievous cousin Vanessa probably remembered, so when we were all siting in a hotel near Disneyland last week (more on that trip in future posts) and she casually mentions how her buddy Steve was arguing about why people shouldn’t take Interstate-5 to get to Los Angeles, I had to jump up and shout:

“WHAT?? I-5 is the ONLY sane way to get to Los Angeles and ONLY LUNATICS WOULD TAKE ANYTHING ELSE!”

Before launching into a history lecture about how I-5 was specifically built so the military could move weapons across the state and any other route takes forever… getting far too worked up about the best freeway to use because, well, this argument and I have a long history together.

Taboo Marriage Topics

See, I met my first husband in the Army during a youthful existential crisis where we were both learning Arabic. He was from Virginia whereas I’m a Northern California native who went to college in Los Angeles and therefore lived in Southern California for several years while regularly driving up north to visit family.

 

Well, imagine you’re a California native who is engaged to a Virginian who hasn’t set foot off the military base, yet keeps telling you Wrong Things About California. Like, that San Jose is part of San Francisco. Or that you should be calling it “Frisco.” (I had to refer him to Emperor Norton during that argument).

And further imagine that you’re getting ready to drive up north to your wedding rehearsal dinner, with your super-gay usher in the car (I’ll tell you more about him if you want), when said Virginian starts demanding you take US-101…

And you tell them NO, because you’ve made this drive a thousand times and truly know that I-5 is the better route. You keep pushing for I-5, yet they keep insisting on 101 and when you want to know why, you find out that their dad once had a business conference in California where someone told him that 101 is a prettier drive–a dad who never actually attempted I-5 but clearly must know better than you.

“Okay, so you know that I lived in Los Angeles and probably drove up north about once a month for several years, right? Don’t you think I’d have a better idea than someone who never even tried…”

“Well, my dad said it was better.”

“WHEN DO I EVER, EVER INSIST ON A ROUTE? DON’T YOU THINK I’D KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT?”

And it was true.

See, I can’t find my way out of a paper bag. I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat. I have a HORRIBLE sense of direction and I completely accept that about myself.

People have different strengths and weaknesses, and finding my way around will NEVER be one of my strengths. My family tells funny stories about how I tried to drive to San Francisco in high school and ended up in a cornfield or whatever… in short, I know this and have made peace with it. My ego is completely disconnected from the art of knowing the best way to get to anywhere and I DO NOT BOAST about knowing any directions unless I’m 100% SURE.

But if I know any direction in the world, it’s that I-5 is the best way to drive to Southern California, because I’ve tried the other ways and have been stuck in a 21 hour-vs-6 in rush hour San Francisco traffic before.

I’ll probably be shouting as much to the convalescent home aids after Alzheimer’s has devastated 98 % of my brain: “TAKE I-5 TO GET TO LOS ANGELES BECAUSE IN ANYTHING ELSE, MADNESS LIES” as the nurses shake their heads: “She’s going off about Interstate 5 again…”

Because THAT fact may be the last one left standing.

No matter. My ex pulled out a map to show me how 101 parallels 5. He kept arguing about how his father’s casual overhearing of something should trump my actual, hands-on knowledge until I finally said:

“FINE. Let’s take 101.”

And of course, a more experienced man would’ve known that “fine” translates to a dare in the female universe. But we were kids at the time.

So the drive ended up taking twice as long.

We missed our wedding rehearsal.

We missed the rehearsal dinner.

I ended up in a hot tub in the middle of the night, drinking cheap wine out of paper cups with my gay friend, who kept asking me if I really planned to give up dating forever for a guy who kept insisting he could smell ozone and that San Jose was part of the greater San Francisco metropolitan area (allegedly mentioned in southern textbooks).

JUST LIKE 101 IS THE BEST WAY TO DRIVE TO LOS ANGELES, RIGHT??

Yeah, he kept correcting my knowledge about California until I was forced to pretend that dividing by zero is possible (“You’re dividing it by nothing, so it doesn’t divide. Five divided by zero is five!”) just to watch him freak out (this is what happens when nerd marriages go wrong).

And that’s the thing with these weirdly-sensitive arguments that never make sense to outsiders–they always represent something deeper.  In this case, his lack of respect for what I brought to the table and my pleasure at letting his doomed plans blow up.

But here’s the thing… turns out Vanessa’s friend Steve was arguing that 99 was the best route. He made some compelling arguments.

Compelling enough that John and I actually tried it. We drove home from Los Angeles using California State Route 99 as Satan ordered his minions to shovel all the snow inexplicably blanketing his domain.

And… it was… ahem

IMG_5535
(What passes for historical artifacts in California)

Roughly as good as taking I-5.

It took a little longer, but only about 20 minutes, and had more interesting shops and restaurants along the way.

In fact, we briefly fell into a time warp when the kids discovered old Coke machines and novelty soaps outside a unique antiques & snacks shop.

So… I was wrong. There IS another sane way to dive across California. 99 is a breath of fresh air after years of taking I-5.

But I’m STILL completely against 101 for interstate travel, despite the 40 minutes of prettier initial scenery before adding several hours to the trip.

And I won’t even talk about the Pacific Coast Highway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Elephants

IMG_5492While I realize my recent blogging break is making me slow on the draw here, I still wanted to give my husband John props for planning a fun Valentine’s Day activity.

All by himself, he reserved us a couple of spots at this place called “The Painted Cork,” where you paint something (elephants, in our case) while drinking wine. He then packed a dinner of stuff like salami, cheese, bread, olives, and dark chocolate with sea salt, which ended up piled around our easels for the evening.

It was LOADS of fun, even if things got a bit rowdy after a couple glasses of wine and I ended up talking too much and going crazy with shadowy goth elephants because why not?

It was a tribute to our dating period, when he impressed me by taking me to an art class where we painted some apples and our apples were similarly different back then as well (his a perfect rendering of the example apple and mine a pile of shadowy ennui painted well outside the lines).

But in truth, it was bound to be an awesome time because I’m never gonna criticize a date my husband sets up all by himself because only a fool would discourage their spouse’s efforts to be romantic (or wash dishes or pick up or say nice things or bring home gifts) unless, maybe, he was taking me to a monster truck rally for the third time (I’d be game once) or giving me one of those godawful Big Johnson shirts that were popular a couple decades ago…

netflixddateAnd frankly, I’m proud of both of us for going out at all and NOT spending the night binging on Netflix while wearing sweats and eating hot wings (despite how much we swore we’d still be Cool Parents who Still Do Stuff ) because parenthood can be so draining that you sometimes want to collapse the first second someone’s not demanding anything.

But we didn’t. We put on proper clothes, listened to grown-up music instead of Disney, drank wine and talked about world events like actual grownups on a date. Yay!

 

When Your Husband Sleeps With Dragons

As previously mentioned, my husband and I have wildly different circadian rhythms. He falls asleep by nine, whereas I don’t even try for another five hours or so.

Partly, this is because I’m a freelance writer who must squeeze in work whenever a toddler isn’t demanding I admire her pee or open up yet another yogurt cup.

But mostly, my husband and I are just differently wired. He gets groggy by 7 PM, while I will literally have no memory of any conversation we have before 9 AM. “Write it down!” I’m always reminding him. “So I can read anything worth remembering after coffee.”

On the other hand, whenever I accidentally wake him up in the middle of the night, he jumps up, looks at me as if I’d just dumped the cat box all over his room, then repeatedly grunts while flinging the covers over his eyes to avert the horrors. He claims to have no memory of said reactions, but his disapproval is nevertheless made abundantly clear.

So my stealth skills have dramatically improved because I like a challenge (even if said challenge is just moving things around in your husband’s room so he wakes up confused).

Still, I’d been trying to stop that lately until the other night, when I realized I’d left my phone in his room and… argh… it was 3 in the morning. I didn’t want to wake him up, but I needed to count up how many Anglo-Saxon kings died suspiciously young in the Kingdom of Mercia.

Why? Because they didn’t have a lot of reliable methods to figure out causes of death back then and so many kings died within a couple of years of taking the throne, often in their early twenties, and aren’t you curious too?

Maybe not, since I’m uniquely weird like that and in retrospect, this question probably could’ve waited until the next morning. But it didn’t feel like it at the time.

Plus, I’ve now been tiptoeing around my husband long enough that I assumed I could slip in to access Google and sort out all the Anglo-Saxons without my husband ending up any the wiser.

And I approached this mission like a ninja boss: I squeezed the door knob completely before opening the door. Leaving the light off, I walked toe-heel, toe-heel to the nightstand to quietly melt my hand over my phone. I really thought I was getting away with it, when…

He suddenly lurches forward in bed with enough force to knock a pillow off.

I freeze.

He turns his head toward me.

He takes a deep breath, rubs his temples, and says…

“I’ve been letting her use my dragon costume again.”

He sighs in relief.

What?

Okay, so the man was clearly dreaming. Apparently, about loaning out his dragon costume again.

Wait a minute. Who has been borrowing his dragon costume? It sounded like an admission. I try to imagine any situation where you’d be nervous about admitting this fact.

Wait… he’s obviously been loaning out his costume to some other woman and had to finally come clean about it before all the costume-swapping led down a dangerous path. I mean, a kid wouldn’t fit into a grown man’s dragon costume, right? So my husband must’ve been loaning it out to some lady on the sly. To some nefarious end.

Who borrowed your costume?” I asked him.

“I don’t remember,” he said.

“You were JUST telling me about it.”

“Umm… you?

Like that’s not suspicious. Knowing he’ll be mindswept by full consciousness any minute now, I scramble to satisfy my curiosity via a different route:

“When was the last time she borrowed it?”

And he looks annoyed, like I’m asking him to remember what he ate for dinner two Thursdays ago.

“It was…” he starts. “Borrowed what?”

“Your DRAGON costume.”

He blinks a lot.

“I have NO idea what you’re talking about,” he says.

Dang it. I guess we’ll never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Couples Sleep in Separate Rooms?

usCoverIf you’ve been on the internet today, you’ve probably read the shocking news about Donald and Melania sleeping in separate rooms.

It’s everywhere right now: NO PILLOW TALK FOR PRESIDENT! His marriage must be hanging by a thread!

Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

But I wouldn’t pin it on whether or not they keep separate bedrooms, because my marriage is doing just fine and my husband and I…

… have our own bedrooms too.

shocked.pngI’ve hidden this fact for a long time, for reasons the current media explosion is making obvious: I didn’t want people whispering about how my husband and I were probably having marital problems and were maybe even headed for divorce.

Because sleeping in separate bedrooms is strangely taboo. It makes people think your marriage lacks intimacy.

So I kept it quiet until the day I moved next door to the kind of neighbor who would march through your house, taking inventory, until she couldn’t help noticing two master rooms with giant beds in them.

She’s exactly the kind of neighbor I’ve desperately needed. The kind who knows everyone in the neighborhood: where they live, what they do, how they’re currently fixing up their house and what kinds of BS problems they’ve been having with the school district. The kind whose confident, direct approach could be the perfect Yang to my Yin-like ballet of barely grasping what color car anyone drives and fretting about how anything I might say could possibly offend someone. (Did I say ‘hi’ wrong? Did they just give me a weird look?)

Well, I respect that kind of of forthright honesty and couldn’t bring myself to counter it with a bunch of lies. We were going to be living next door to each other for a long time and I could tell we were going to be friends, so why start out with some Three’s Company-style charade?

That’s John’s room, and mine is upstairs…

She looked at me sideways until I told her, “He snores, and I’m an insomniac.”

And that’s pretty much how it happened, how I came out about our separate bedrooms deal.

How it all began

My husband and I never intended to sleep in separate rooms. We slowly evolved this peaceful arrangement after our bedroom had turned into a nightly battlefield.

You see, I’m a hardcore night owl, chronic insomniac and very light sleeper.  He, on the other hand, is a champion snorer who can wake you up through three closed doors, from a different story of the house.

He also considers his sleep utterly sacred. “Like a religion,” to quote him exactly, which makes him prone to extreme grumpiness whenever woken up in the middle of the night by my tossing and turning or because, say, I needed him to roll on his side because my ears wouldn’t quit bleeding.

I used to stare at him at 4:30 in the morning, irrationally resenting how easily he could just drift off like that and reminding myself how wrong it would be to shove a pillow over his face right now.

I felt horrible about being mad at him for something he couldn’t help, but I was just…

so    t i r e d.

insomnia cat
(My sleep-avenging insomniac superhero fantasy self)
We tried everything. Earplugs, nose-strips, even sinus surgery. None of it worked. Turns out, they’d have to reset his entire jaw to fix the problem and it wasn’t worth the risks.

It finally all came crashing down one night when I was pregnant, in that brutal late period of pregnancy where nothing is ever comfortable and you find yourself overheated, aching and flipping into broken starfish positions across your bed, trying against hope for a few sweet hours of oblivion as your baby keeps digging her foot into the underside of your ribs…

It was during these painful hours of sweaty exhaustion, when his spoon-in-the-garbage-disposal snore was pushing and pulling two inches away from my ringing ears like Satan’s own accordion, that I finally snapped:

“I’m sorry, but you have GOT to GO.” (Before I kill you, darling.)

Either pitying me or fearing for his life, the poor guy relocated to the couch.

Well, the couch kept happening until it turned into a futon that turned into the office converted into another bedroom. Then we ended up buying a house with a serendipitous second master bedroom and could finally stop pretending that this sleeping apart thing was a temporary deal.

Some unforeseen perks

Although my husband and I started sleeping in separate rooms for purely practical reasons, we’ve discovered the arrangement offers real  perks beyond being able to get a decent night’s sleep.

You see, one of the coolest parts of being single is having complete dominion over your own territory. Being married means companionship, but you can sometimes lose all of your personal space, which is probably why couples tend to carve out man caves and femme dens.

On the other hand, having your own room means:

 

unicorns
(My room)
You can express your decorating style without having to compromise with anyone. My bedroom involves a bathtub with peach curtains and chandeliers. I keep fresh flowers on my coffee table, next to a tea set and whatever fluffy indulgences make me happy.

My two daughters call my room the “girl clubhouse” and like to hang out on my flowery bedspread with all of our cats, purring in harmony around the throbbing pinkness of my rose-strewn monument to glittery estrogen. The whole place reeks of vintage movie stars and unicorn magic.

Meanwhile, my husband can put up that monkey-drinking-booze poster that that he finds hilarious without me giving him crap about it. His place is one big Testoster-oni treat of electronic wires, open closets, spread-out zombie comics and tiny hair shavings.

He can leave his underwear on the floor or refuse to change his sheets until they don’t bend anymore if he wants to and I don’t have to care, just as he doesn’t have to deat with having a thousand throw pillows in his way.

 

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“Hold on… I need a sec before we get started”
We don’t have to watch each other clip our toenails or nose hairs, because we have separate, private places in which to do these things. Kind of like when we were dating and didn’t have to watch every nasty step of each other’s transformation. We can still pretend to just wake up like that.

Having separate bedrooms doesn’t mean we can’t still visit. Or even stay a while.

But it’s not a given. You’re on boy or girl territory with a temporary visa.

Maybe that sounds cold, but it’s actually fun. It keeps you courting… you can’t juse scratch your butt before Dutch-ovening your partner while knowing they’ll have to put up with it. Unless neither of you minds, I guess.

Keeping a little mystery can bring dating excitement back to the marriage. You still have private territory. Your own identity. Your own refuge to think or read or do whatever without having to entertain anyone else. 

Maybe we should rethink the separate bedrooms taboo. It may not be right for everyone, but it doesn’t obviously mean a marriage is falling apart.

So stop being so judgey, people. You just made me defend Donald and Melania Trump.

 

 

Advice for Men: Cracking the Fat Pants Code

look fat.jpgMany guys who have been in long-term relationships will, sooner or later, find themselves staring down the barrel of the following question:

Do these pants make my butt look fat?

According to male comedians, this is a very stressful problem. You’re not sure how to answer this question without either lying or starting a fight. It may even feel like a huge, manipulative bid for forced compliments and you’re not sure how to handle being put in this position.

Well, I’m here to help.

You see, I think what we have here is a male/female communication problem. For whatever reason, men tend to speak directly whereas women deal in subtleties. While you think it’s a loaded question, we’re not actually trying to set you up.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t wrong answers. Here are a few examples, followed by our likely emotional response:

Do these pants make my butt look fat?

 

honey-do-these-pants-make-my-ass-look-fat-no-your-ass-makes-your-ass-look-fat-8f2e4.png
Hardee har har…

1- “No, that bowl of ice cream you scarf down every night makes you look fat.”

(You bastard, calling me fat! What about you cramming down cheeseburgers while you sit on your farty butt playing Call of Duty all day!? How DARE you judge ME? Stupid photoshopped magazine women…)

2- You get all nervous and scared before saying, “Umm… no, umm… you look fine.”

(He didn’t even look! Why is he so freaked out? He obviously thinks I’m a hideous whale and now he’s LYING to me about it. He’s probably lying about EVERYTHING ELSE TOO.)

3- Without even looking, you say “I don’t know. Whatever. I don’t know anything about fashion.”

(This is obviously important to me, yet he can’t take 30 seconds out of his day to give me his honest opinion. Just like how he doesn’t  care about what color we paint the living room. He’s not invested in me or our relationship.)

trap.jpgOkay, so this seems like a trap. No matter whether you say yes, no, or I don’t care, you’re still bound to be wrong.

But here’s the thing: women who ask this question don’t actually want you to evaluate their figure.

See, women’s fashion is infinitely complicated. We’re always trying to strike a delicate balance between looking like we just stepped off a Mormon compound or looking like we charge by the hour.

We want to wear clothes that are flattering, but may not be sure whether we can pull an outfit off, so we want a second opinion. We don’t want to walk outside looking terrible, but also don’t want to be insulted. So…

We don’t ask:

Am I fat?

We ask:

Do these pants make me look fat?

The difference is subtle, yet important. We’re giving you a pants parachute. We’re saying, “Go ahead and tell me if I shouldn’t wear this, but definitely blame it on the pants.”

 

To illustrate, I’d like to share an example of someone answering this question perfectly. Granted, it was a girl, which meant she held a huge advantage in navigating female psychology.

I was attending college in Los Angeles at the time, getting ready for a party. I had put on a silver-sequined skirt and kept studying myself in the mirror, unsure of whether or not it was working for me.

So, I decided to ask my roommate Ellen what she thought…

Me: Ellen, could you please come over here a minute and give me your opinion? I want to wear this skirt to Sara’s party but I’m not sure if it looks good on me or not. What do you think?

Ellen gets a real serious look on her face before walking around me in a circle, carefully evaluating every angle of the skirt.

Ellen: Hmm. Okay, you know what? I HATE that skirt!

Me: Umm.. okay.

Ellen: Because that skirt is doing HORRIBLE things to you. It’s making it look like you have a BIG SQUARE ASS, but you definitely DO NOT HAVE a big square ass, so I’m not sure how it’s doing it.

She walks around me a couple more times.

Ellen (looking angry): You know what? Take off that skirt and give it to me right now!

I take it off, wondering what’s she’s planning on doing next.

Ellen grabs the skirt, marches over to the trash can and chucks it inside. Slamming down the lid, she says, “I NEVER WANT TO SEE THAT SKIRT AGAIN. That skirt was INSULTING YOU. It was taking your nice figure and making it LOOK LIKE ABSOLUTE CRAP.”

And then she stomped off, leaving me giggling while looking for something more flattering to wear.

Now, you see how she did that? She let me know I looked horrible in that skirt and should never, ever wear it out in public, without hurting my feelings one bit. Because she blamed it all on the skirt.

That’s the trick. I hope this helps.

One note of caution, however: I don’t recommend throwing away your significant other’s clothes. This was a bold (though highly entertaining) move that would be too risky for most guys to attempt.

 

 

Bob, The Pyramid Construction Guy, Has It Out With His Wife

I’ve talked before about how cool it is that anyone can blog now. Maybe everything published isn’t as polished as it used to be, but at least everyone’s voice can be heard.

It’s neat that future generations will have so many records of what we everyday folks were thinking, even if those thoughts mostly consist of bitching about annoying coworkers, talking about lunch, or showing off stuff we just bought.

That’s just not the case with earlier periods of human history, considering only the writings of highly-educated, elite aristocrats survived. I’ve sometimes wondered if we picture these periods as being more formal than they usually were because their lingering voices are always issuing edicts or chanting lofty works of poetry.

egyptcats.jpgTake Ancient Egypt, for example. Most people couldn’t write and those that could were chronicling important historical events or carving painstaking hieroglyphics across sacred monuments for billionaire employers. Stuff the gods were supposed to read for all eternity.

But what about Bob, one of construction guys hammering out the pyramid bricks? He had a life too. I picture Bob getting home after a long day pushing blocks and talking to his wife Della like this:

Della: Hey Bob, how was your day? Did you remember to pick up some figs?

Bob (groaning): No, I didn’t grab any figs.

Della: Dammit, Bob. I’m meeting Lucille at temple tomorrow and now I can’t make honey fig casserole. And I can’t make any honey cakes either because some rats got into the wheat bags last night. What am I supposed to do!?

Bob: Geez, I’m sorry Della. Guess I was too busy today HAULING 80 TON BRICKS UP WOODEN RAMPS to think about your figs. And how are rats getting into the wheat bags again? What good is your stupid cat? I don’t know why we keep on feeding it.

Della: Watch your mouth, Bob. She’s not just a cat, she’s the living embodiment of the Goddess Bastet.

Bob: Well, your goddess just crapped in the living room again.

Della: Great.

Okay maybe they never had that exact conversation, but I’m guessing more people were  worried about getting to work on time and wondering what they ate that was bothering their stomachs than thinking the highbrow stuff plastered all over city monuments.

 

Stashing Stuff Under Your Butt: a Karmic Primer on the Ego-Crushing Mirrors of Parenting

Anyone who’s been in a serious relationship long enough will eventually start wondering if their partner is crazy.

I think other married people will know exactly what I mean. It’s about getting too familiar with your partner’s quirks. See, we all do weird stuff we usually repress when other people are watching, but no one has the energy to cover up their crazy all the time.

So after spending enough time with anyone else, you’ll inevitably notice odd patterns of behavior.  Like, my husband John is always convinced I’m sitting on whatever he’s looking for. A typical conversation about it sounds something like this:

John: Can you get up? I can’t find my shirt.

Me (sitting on the couch): I don’t have your shirt.

John (frustrated): Can you just get up for a second? You could be sitting on it.

Me (surveying all the clutter): Have you even checked anywhere else? I’m not hiding your shirt.

John (generously): I’m not saying you did it on purpose, but maybe you accidentally sat on my shirt. CAN YOU PLEASE JUST GET UP?

Me (annoyed but standing up): FINE.

John (baffled): Huh. I guess it’s not on the couch.

Since I can’t recall a single time he’s actually caught me sitting on anything missing, I’ve struggled to make sense of this ongoing saga.  Did some part of John’s upbringing make him unusually paranoid about people sitting on things?

img_3667
Her Minnie blanket gives her special powers

It just doesn’t make sense, but here’s the thing: one of the most surreal aspects of parenting is watching your own strange tendencies be karmically mirrored back in your face.

 

Like, it’s possible that Brontë got her habit of endlessly rambling from me and I finally get why hearing someone talk nonstop can be exhausting…

But earlier today, she also had the following exchange with her father:

Brontë (with authority): WELL, I CAN’T FIND MY MINNIE MOUSE BLANKET.

She stomps over to the couch.

Brontë: DADDY, I NEED YOU TO MOVE SO I CAN GET MY BLANKET.

John: I don’t have it. You need to go look for where you left it.

Brontë: IT’S UNDER YOUR BUTT.

John: Nope.

Frustrated, Brontë puts both arms against her dad’s side and starts shoving with all her might, saying I NEED TO FIND MY BLANKET over and over again. She’s pushing on him with the kind of desperation you’d expect if she needed to move a boulder out of the way to exit a burning building before the monsters jumped on her eyeballs.

John sighs while tilting sideways so she can check. Not seeing anything, Brontë grumbles before running to John’s opposite side and trying to push him over from the other direction.

John (standing up): I don’t have it!

Brontë (baffled by the empty couch): Hmm, it’s not here. WHERE DID YOU PUT IT?

img_2407
Exhausted after their blanket argument

If Brontë truly got this genetic tendency from her father, then the fact she eventually found her blanket in another room entirely won’t do anything to make her doubt he’s crouching over  her stuff in the future.

 

Still, you have to wonder if it even makes sense for something like this to be genetic. Was there ever a biological advantage to checking for valued resources under people’s butts? Was hiding stuff under your butt ever a viable strategy?

I wouldn’t have thought so, but Bridget did recently try to cover up the chocolate chips she’d stashed in our couch by sitting on them. We may be getting a window in to early resource competition, folks.

If only childfree people could get the embarrassing perspective of having to spend so much time with themselves…

 

 

So I had to apologize to my husband yesterday…

For constantly accusing him of cranking up the thermostat.

I was convinced John was getting me back for programming the thermostat in odd numbers. He doesn’t like odd room temperatures, believing proper thermostats always read at 70 or 72.

So of course I couldn’t help setting ours to 71, just to prove the universe wouldn’t blow up. But after waking up sweaty in an 88 degree room enough times, I told him to cut it out, that these thermostat wars had gone on long enough.

He swore he didn’t do it and I wondered what kind of passive-aggressive shenanigans he was playing at, until the morning I walked in on this…

IMG_3707
Dang it

Well, fair is fair. I apologized for all the accusations and feeling vindicated, he tried to blame the kids for putting the toilet seats up and always leaving his clothes in the dryer.

Nice try.

 

 

 

 

 

The Jedi Mind Tricks of Four-Year-Old Girls

IMG_3342I’ve written before about how my daughter Brontë is the girliest girly-girl ever.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a girly-girl, but I tried not to brainwash her from the start. I painted her room green, bought her gender-neutral toys, and avoided all those horrible onesies with cutesy princess slogans that say crap like “I’m so cute I never have to learn math” or “Someday boys will buy me things.”

Okay maybe they don’t say that, exactly, but it’s definitely the subtext.

Yet despite my best efforts, my daughter turned into the kind of girl who wants to wear princess costumes every day and needs just one more episode of My Little Pony before she gets the shakes.

What’s more, I’ve witnessed different boy and girl tendencies while working at her preschool.

Now before everyone gets all riled up, of course these are only tendencies that don’t apply to every individual kid. But I’ve noticed general differences. We have to stop little boys from punching each other on the regular, for example, whereas it’s tougher to break up the subtle mind games involved in girl conflicts.

And you know all of those cheesy internet memes about how it’s impossible to win arguments with women so don’t bother trying? Yeah, well there’s some truth to that too.

The other day, my daughters Brontë (four), Bridget (two), and I had just returned from the park when my husband John came home from work. He walked in seconds before Brontë, who was excited to see him, started chattering about her day.

John was distracted, though, by setting down his stuff and sorting though all the mail and whatnot. So he brushed her off without intending to.

This is how she handled it…

Brontë (stomping upstairs): FINE. I’ll just TALK TO MYSELF THEN.

John (following her): Sorry, Brontë.

Brontë: ‘Hi Brontë, how was your day?’ Oh, it was good…

John: How was the park, Brontë? Did you have fun?

Brontë (pretending she doesn’t hear him): I like mermaids, mommy. You like mermaids?

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Envisioning her future world domination

The funniest part is how it sounded EXACTLY like an argument I’d have with my husband myself. I think I’ve actually HAD that same argument, in fact, except for the part about mermaids.

And she’s already mastering it at the tender age of four.

The Force is strong with this one.

Girl Farts and Water Faucets

According to a mic.com survey recently covered by Glamour and Women’s Health, most people start farting around their significant others sometime between two and six months of dating. About ten percent let it rip from the start.

Reading this reminded me of something a guy friend posted on Facebook. He had seen a female coworker walk into the bathroom with a newspaper and couldn’t get over the shock. Apparently, it was the most horrifying, unfeminine behavior he had ever witnessed.

I couldn’t help but respond: “You know women have to use the bathroom too, right? We have working bodies just like you.”

“Sure, sure,” he said. “But I picture them floating above toilets with yards of fluffy dresses, totally unconnected from what’s happening below. The newspaper makes it all too real.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” I told him, “Sometimes I used to take a book into the bathroom at work when I didn’t even have to go. I just wanted a break.”

It did make him feel better, which was hilarious since he was hardly some teenage boy living in dreamland. He’d been married to his high school sweetheart for fifteen years… how could he still be so touchy?

But then, who was I to talk? I was so shy when my husband and I were first dating that I’d turn the water on whenever I had to go number one. I didn’t want him hearing my pee sounds.

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When women hold in farts

And if I needed to do anything more elaborate, I’d make him take his dog for a walk: “Your Rottweiler just told me she needs to go for a walk around the neighborhood.”

John, bless him, would actually do it. He’d grab the leash with a big smirk on his face because he knew exactly what was going in but found it cute that I went to such lengths to maintain the princess illusion.

He had no such hangups, transitioning into open-farting and walking around in ratty shorts early on. He’d pop one and I’d scowl at him and he’d tell me it was just because  he felt comfortable around me now.

“A little too comfortable,” I’d grumble.

girlfartsMy friend Steph thought I was crazy. One evening she took my hand and sat me down, looked deep into my eyes and had a serious talk with me about bodily function acceptance.

“You have needs too,” she said. “You have to pee and fart like everybody else and there’s no call for this amount of shame.”

“I know,” I said. “I just think contorting your body while grunting out farts all the time isn’t good for romance.”

She rolled her eyes but needn’t have worried, because pregnancy would be a game changer. Beyond throwing up left and right, you reach a stage during pregnancy where you have to pee every ten minutes, very urgently and often with little warning. There just isn’t enough time for elaborate preparations, so the faucet-starting subterfuge had to quit.

But that wasn’t all.

I remember distinctly the moment it happened. I was nine months pregnant and John and I were standing in the garage when I felt a fart coming on….

I clenched my butt-cheeks as per normal, but began to panic as I realized it wasn’t going to cut it this time. I felt the tingle of a thousand air bubbles straining my lower intestines as my butt cheeks valiantly struggled to hold back the dam…

But it was no good. I had a ten pound bowling ball collapsing my intestines and realized this fart was about to happen, like it or not.

I tried to let it out slowly, hoping it would pass quietly and inconspicuously , but it began audibly rumbling from the gates. It started with a balloon squeal, then as my muscles faltered, it crescendoed into a growling roar.

It was the longest, most horrible fart I ever farted, beating any night alone after cauliflower and beer. I don’t know if it was the pregnancy hormones or if the baby was farting simultaneously, but the thing just kept on going and going, amplified by garage acoustics.

Echoing throughout the garage, I may as well have had a microphone by my butt, and there was no point in pretending anymore. I started nervously laughing in horrified embarrassment and each flex of my stomach muscles popped the fart noise out louder until it sounded like the fart was laughing too.

I swear this thing lasted at least a minute and a half. It was such a ridiculous fart that you wouldn’t think it was real if you saw it on a slapstick comedy. “That’s just stupid,” you’d think.”No authentic farts could possibly go on for that long. Some special effects guy needs to back off the whoopee cushion.”

Well, pregnancy farts do. Somewhere halfway through mine, my husband John broke into hysterics. His delicate wife who wouldn’t even pee without the faucet on was now farting right in front of him like the champion frat boy of alpha epsilon omega. By the time it was over, John was grabbing his stomach and rolling on the ground with tears pouring out.

The weird thing is, I think the Great Fart made John happy. It meant we were really a couple and could finally let down our guard. He was now the guy I trusted enough to fart around, and once you’ve farted like that, there’s just no going back. The princess illusion is over.

Thank god for that.

Not so for my four-year-old, however, who sees no conflict between farting and princessery. She’ll happily run around in elaborate princess dresses and rip farts whenever she feels like it. She’ll giggle while telling us “my butt said ‘thurp'” before going back to her tea party like she’s the fairy unicorn sorceress of Glitterland.

I’m glad she can fart in peace.