Category Archives: relationship

some words of advice

In the interest of posting something that does not take me 239 hours to compose, I present to you: Things I can simply type from a written source! I’ll have you know that I scored 82 wpm on that typing test I took down at the temp agency. Who knew the keyboarding class I took in 10th grade would provide me with my most valuable career skill to date?

After the beau and I got engaged, my mother got to work scrapbooking. What she came up with was a collection of marriage advice from my family. She presented this book at the engagement party my family threw for us during our trip to Michigan last autumn, but it wasn’t quite done then. This week the finished book finally arrived in the mail, and I want to share with you some highlights.

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“My thoughts as you begin your lifetime journey together:
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things that seem like a crisis at the time often end up being nothing at all or slight bumps in the road. Concentrate on what’s important and always try to roll with the punches.
The most important thing, however, is to always make time to have fun. Doing things together that you both enjoy not only lightens the everyday load, it also keeps you close as a couple.
I’m very happy and excited that you have found each other (thanks Napoleon Dynamite!) and wish you the very best!”

– Mom

“From the kitchen of C&L!
The following ingredients are for the base of your recipe. You can add your own spices depending on your tastes.
C: Caring, Conscientious, Cuddly, Comforting, Cute, Creative, Curious, Crafty, Cozy, Consistent, Clever, Courageous, Crazy, Cheerful, Cocktails at the end of a long day!
L: Love, Laughing, Listening, Learning, Light-hearted, Loyal, Lounge, Lover, Lighting, Lazy, Live every day!
If you work together, and combine all of the ingredients the right way, you will have the recipe of success for your future happiness.”

– Aunt L.

“Communication is the key to great marriage. …  Straight  talk no hinting around.”

– Aunt T.

“Grandpa and Grandma.”

– Grandpa

“A few words of wisdom —
Always make time for each other.
Never allow “acceptable practice” determine how you live. [Ed. note: huh?]
Stay best friends.
Dream a little.

– Aunt J.

“Marriage is a great institution but who the hell heck wants to be in an institution.”

– Papa

“You guys are great together! There’s not much else I can say. And I can’t offer any advice because, hell, I’m still single! Maybe you can offer me some advice?”

– Cousin S.

“A few thoughts as you start your life together:
Always take the opportunity to make each other laugh. Humor has a way of helping to maintain the proper prospective — I would not recommend this at a funeral, however.
Don’t forget why you fell in love in the first place. Appreciate the truly positive and important attributes that you see in one another because leaving the toilet seat up is not a felony, at least not yet!
As Tolstoy once said, ‘When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.’
All the best!”

-Dad

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Have you received any marriage advice?

social networking has ruined my communication skills

At the caterer’s place, working on the timeline

Caterer: “OK, so are you guys going to want to do the grand entrance?”
Me [exchanging confused glances with Beau]: “… Grand?”
Caterer: “You know, when everyone goes to sit down after the cocktail hour, and you kind of hold back for a minute, and then when everyone’s finally seated you walk in as the DJ announces, ‘Please welcome for the first time as husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. [Lastname]!’”
Me: “Oh. No. I guess not. I mean, I’m not taking his last name, so that wouldn’t work.”
Caterer [eyebrows shooting up]: “Ah ha ha! You guys are too funny.”
Me: “I mean, I guess we could say ‘Please welcome Lyn [Lastname] and Beau [Lastname]!’ But that’s kind of weird, because everyone already knows our names.”
Caterer: “OK!” [writing notes to self] “No… grand… entrance.”

Much later, at home

Beau: “So, you finally figured out that last name thing, eh?”
Me: “Yep.”
Beau: “When were you planning on filling me in?”
Me: “Whaaaat? I already told you. I’m sure I did.”
Beau: “Nope. News to me.”
Me: “I swear I told you. How did you not know? I mean, I tweeted about it.”
Beau: [gives me a look before dissolving into laughter]
Me: “Oh, shit.”

an omen

“Sometimes I don’t know if I really want to get married,” I told my mom. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, looking for a reaction. “Sometimes I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do.”

“Well,” she began. I could tell she was diplomatically searching for the right words. “You two have very… different characters.”

I felt a little panic rising in my stomach. “I don’t know. I think I want to call the wedding off,” I admitted. I thought about how everything was in place, and about how calling it off would change everything, forever. The panic rose faster.

Then suddenly I remembered: I wasn’t actually marrying that other guy, anymore. I was marrying the beau. I had merely forgotten! I WAS MARRYING THE BEAU INSTEAD. Relief flooded me. I turned back to my mom to tell her that now I actually couldn’t wait to get married, but before I could even open my mouth I woke up.

It was only a dream, but I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.*

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* Yow. Gettin’ smarmy up in heah.

gusto

This is actually my grandparents. In a serious liplock. Like it isn’t even the 1950s.

There’s a special thrill in getting into someone’s pants for the first time. It’s like going to a wild ‘n crazy party every single night: For a while it’s a blast, but then you gradually come to realize that the exact same people are there each time and that they’re just drunk and wearing funny hats.*

You know, they say marriage kills and buries the romance dead. Maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s true if you don’t work at it. Yeah, romance is work. I said it. All good things require effort, after all.

Homework assignment: Find a person of your choice and make out with them like you mean it.**

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* Yeah, I don’t know where I was going with that metaphor either.

** I cannot be held responsible if it goes any farther than this.

i like your sleeves. they’re real big.

So. I never told ya’ll the story of how the beau and I met, did I?

Warning! Potential schmoop alert! Also: REALLY LONG POST alert. Evidently I am not that good at self-editing when it comes to schmoopy topics. In summary: Proceed at your own risk.

OK. Imagine it, if you will: 2005. Tom Cruise was jumping up and down on a couch. Gwen Stefani’s shit was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Katrina was oh so very mean. I’d caught a one-way flight out to California and within a month had managed to find an Actual Job. I know! Employment! Me! California! Me! California! It was a heady time.

I caught a one-way flight back to the east coast to retrieve my car. I packed it as full of stuff as it would hold (which, in a 1993 Corolla, turns out to be, like, three t-shirts and a potted plant) and drove it back to the west coast. Yay!

A week later I was struck with the profound realization that I, at some point, was going to have to stop sleeping on a cot in a friend’s studio apartment. So I signed a lease to rent a room in a house. This was immediately followed by the profound realization that I was going to have to, like, obtain furniture. With which to furnish this room. Another friend of mine recommended that I check out Craigslist. My reaction was: Craigslist? What… is this… Craigslist? Of which you speak?

I logged on and checked it out. Wow! There was indeed a plethora of items for sale! And discussion forums! And … personal ads?

Insert ominous foreshadowing here.

I was at work. Everybody was at a conference except me. It was a Friday. I was tired of tracking meaningless data in Excel sheets. I hadn’t yet signed up for a Gmail account, which meant that the option of wasting an afternoon G-chatting with friends did not yet exist. Basically, I was looking for a good diversion.

And lo, here it was. I floated around from section to section, but the men seeking women page was especially riveting. Post content ranged from egotistical head cases to wounded, accusatory rants. There were also an alarming number of rich, older men propositioning college-age girls in return for being their sugar daddies. Oh, the creepiness! I could not tear my eyes away.

Well, maybe I could. I went away for a while to do something, I don’t know what. Maybe actual work? I came back and refreshed the Craigslist page. And there, at the top, was a new and mysterious post. The title said something like Girls Like Skills. Sketchy, right? The listed age was 24, which — hmm, was the same as me. I warily clicked the link. He bragged of his bo staff skills and computer hacking skills, mentioned he was training to be a cage fighter, and that he’d caught a delicious bass. Yeah. The entire ad was Napoleon Dynamite references. Seriously. And I knew this only because I’d just rented* Napoleon Dynamite a few weeks prior.

I was feeling bold. I opened an anonymous email account, and, using a Google search of movie quotes to guide me, wrote this:

I’m awful at playing dodgeball, but I’ve got some bad-ass cake building skillz. I like to drink 1%, but I could be drinking whole if I wanted to. My hair isn’t long enough to be in a ponytail right now because it gets in my way when I’m making all these illegal ninja moves I learned from the government. I can also take photographs that make you feel like you’re weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little sea horses.

I signed off with no name, only a smiley face. You know, a little nod at how clever we were. That I was in on the gag.

I clicked send. I logged out of my new, anonymous account and proceeded to forget about it for a while. When I finally logged in again, there was an email awaiting me. The dude had written back, saying that he originally ran the ad as a joke, but that he had been surprised to get some actual responses. He also said that out of all the responses he had gotten mine was the funniest, and so, um, that was cool and to feel free to write him again. If I wanted to.

So I responded, sure. Why not? I was young, in a new city, didn’t know people. I wasn’t looking for a relationship, so there was nothing to get caught up in. I figured the worst that could happen was that it would be a weird thing that would fizzle out.** The best thing that could happen was that I could meet a new friend. Maybe more? Who knows? I didn’t care, I just wanted to have some fun. Permit me to remind you, after all, that as the sage Gwen Stefani pointed out, this shit. It was bananas.

We exchanged a couple of emails, then a phone call. Then one weeknight we met up to get some drinks and play pool. A casual thing.

That night was five years ago today. And this is the last year we’ll celebrate April 13th as our anniversary.

So tell me.*** How did you meet your favorite person?

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* There were these days? I used to go to this thing called a video store? And rent movies? Stop laughing. It actually happened.

** Either that, or he was definitely an axe murderer. This was my mother’s opinion on the matter, at least.

*** Congratulations on making it all the way through this big messy post, if you’re still here, by the way. For your efforts you win… ummmm… nothing. Sorry! Better luck next time. Also: I love you.

hi, my name is

Very occasionally I find myself regressing to middle school.* Like this afternoon, when I found myself writing my name in different handwriting styles over and over again in the margins of my note pad.**

Then — of course — I tried my first and middle names with the beau’s last name instead.*** It went pretty well up until I got to the part with his actual last name, then everything went sideways. My hand faltered when faced with a new challenge. My smooth loops were transformed into hesitant, jerky angles. It was like a new personality took over midway through the scrawl.

And that’s sort of how I feel about changing my last name after marriage. Like I’d be changing my identity. My last name isn’t fantastically cool or anything. In fact, it’s kinda weird-looking and easy to mispronounce. But by the time I get married, it will have been with me for nearly 30 years. It’s unique; the product of a botched spelling at Ellis Island. It’s obscure. It’s my family history. I don’t want to give it up.

I wouldn’t be literally giving up my family history, of course. But I’m also not trading my family for his, which is what assuming his last name feels like for me. No. We’re coming together to make our own family, dig?

It all depends on how you interpret the matter, of course. A woman can be enthusiastic about assuming her partner’s last name because, for her, it symbolizes the joining of their lives. Or maybe she’s just always hated her own last name. Or maybe she doesn’t really care either way, and so she yields to custom. We all have our own personal reasons for choosing what we choose. I respect that individual choice.

Maybe this is showing my petty side, but I resent the fact that I’m expected by society to change for my partner, and he’s not expected to change for me. In fact, if he were to take my last name, he would be mocked by others. Viewed as wishy-washy. Less than a man. Not to mention that some states make it hard as hell for a man to change his name. The very nature of relationships have changed since our grandparents’ generation, but tradition is still stacked against us.

Still.

The beau’s not changing his name. He doesn’t want to, and I can’t blame him: I don’t want to either. But he also doesn’t mind if I keep my name. So it’s entirely up to me to make the decision. I’ve weighed the options over and over again. Hyphenation. Maintaining a professional name and a domestic name. Keeping my last name as a middle name.

Truth: It would be much easier for me to just keep my name forever if it weren’t for the possibility that I’ll get knocked up one day in the future.**** Whose name(s) would our theoretical progeny get? Would it be horribly complicated for me to have a different last name than my children do? How could we easily prove that we all belong to each other?

I don’t know. I don’t feel comfortable with any alternative I’ve come up with thus far. So, I’m holding off on making a decision indefinitely. I’m hoping that one day I’ll wake up and rainbows and unicorns will appear over my head and I will suddenly just know.***** And feel okay with it, too.

In the meantime, I am just going to have to settle for these rainbows and unicorns I drew on my note pad.

Are you stuck on whether to change your last name? Was your choice an easy one for you?

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* See lace-trimmed leggings, purchase of.

** I do very, very important things at work. Big things. You don’t even know.

*** The only thing that would have made this more middle-schoolish is if I had been writing this on binder paper inside a Trapper Keeper.

**** The far, far, far-off future. Did I mention how far off it is? So far.

***** Because that’s how things are usually resolved in real life.

like ships passing in the night

You know what? It has come to my attention that living with your beloved is a lot like living with a total stranger. Except sometimes you and the stranger make out.

The beau and I are pretty busy people. He travels for work and rugby a lot, and I’ve usually got some extracurricular project going on. The rare hours we are both at home together, we’re in two separate worlds: He’s watching TV or cooking dinner, and I’m tethered to my laptop or straightening up the house. When we do talk, it’s limited to random, brief bursts of chatter completely lacking context or antecedent, like some form of mild conversational Tourette’s. Highlights from yesterday included:

“We need to buy some new, non-shitty towels.”

“You hear that? The wind finally stopped.”

“Did you lock the front door?”

“I’m going to have bacon for breakfast. And then I’m going to have bacon for lunch.”

“Guess what? I have boobs!” *

There’s a downside to reaching that comfort level where you don’t have to make an effort with the other person, and this is it. Days go by where our deepest level of conversation involves who is going to get up to put the next load of laundry in the washer. When exactly did we run out of things to talk about? Who is this strange dude in my house, anyway? **

Oh sure, sometimes I try to jumpstart a little verbal spark. Probe a little bit inside the beau’s head. Root around in his brain. Unfortunately, my fallback method for attempting to communicate beyond “What should we have for lunch?” is to ask him what he’s thinking about. Like, RIGHT THIS SECOND. His standard response, of course, is work and rugby. But no, I implore him. Tell me what are you really thinking. Like REALLY REALLY thinking. “I don’t think,” he says. “I’m a boy.”

This relationship shit is a lot of work.

What do you do to reconnect with your favorite person?

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* I know! It’s SO CRAZY!!!

** I may not know his name, but at least he’s cute.

can you feel my love buzz?

Ahh, the elusive three-day weekend. How dost one celebrate thee appropriately? Those in the northern states might celebrate by fleeing for warmer climes. But if you’re a coastal/southern Californian,* you might just consider making a trek to see that cold, wet, white stuff** that you’re always hearing about. Yeah, that frozen stuff that is always causing hellacious problems in BosNYwash and beyond.

And how. Like many of our fellow residents of the Golden state, the beau and I paid homage to our dead presidents by heading up to Mammoth Mountain with our friends. This provided me an opportunity to go skiing for the first time. Of course, I went with people who had been skiing since grade school. So what I really mean by “going skiing” is “making a giant embarrassing ass of myself.”

On the very second run I attempted, the beau accidentally took us up the wrong lift. We had been looking for a green route, you see. Green meant easy. What we did not know until it was much too late was that we ended up on a blue diamond, which is one step below a black diamond. Which translates into a “medium-hard” level of difficulty. Ho ho! The universe has such a delightful sense of humor sometimes.

Can I tell you something? It took me an hour to get down that run. In that hour, I have never hated snow so much in my entire life. I knew, of course, that it was not the beau’s fault, so I tried not to vent my frustrations at him. And by tried not to vent my frustrations I mean threw a hysterical fit. “This is the stupidest fucking sport EVER,” I moaned from my spread-eagle position on the slope after biting it for the 28th consecutive time. “I can’t do this I can’t do this oh my god I HATE EVERYTHING AND I’M GOING TO DIE!!!!”***

Not my best moment.

If I tried, I could somehow tie this story into an insightful analysis of the dynamics of our relationship, and how we can sometimes treat each other during stressful times, and how amazing it is that the beau did not just leave me mid-whine on the mountainside, but I am just too tired. The skiing, you see. It takes a lot out of you.

What I want to share with you instead are these vintage cards from 7 Deadly Sinners the beau gave me for Valentine’s Day. Well, he didn’t give them to me in the sense that they reflect his sentiments, he more presented them to me in the context of wow, would you look at these crazy things!!****

Look at them indeed.

Disturbing and misogynistic! Everything you want in a Valentine! Or… no.

What kinds of trouble did you get into this weekend?

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* OH HAI WHAT A COINCIDENCE I AM ONE OF THOSE.

** This will amuse you east coasters: at one point in the trip, we came across a couple of kids who had gotten their truck stuck on a trail. The boy was busy affixing chains on the front tires, and the girl was… hunched over an embankment, shoveling snow into her mouth. Yes. She was eating snow. She said she was from L.A. and it was the first time she had ever seen “real snow.” Insert scoffing noise/estimate as to how high she was here.

*** Wow. Emo much?

**** He is so cute.

those in the know

As a person who is scheduled to spend the rest of her life with some dude, I have a vested interest in this whole “marriage” thing. I want to learn more about it. I want to hear about what’s it’s like, from people who are experiencing it.

This past holiday season put the beau and I back in touch with a lot of recently married friends, which gave me a prime opportunity to pick their brains. The results have been… intriguing, to say the least. A (non-scientific) scorecard of results:

49% said that, basically, nothing changes after you get married.

44% said that, basically, we should totally get married because OMG, you get a lot of stuff.

7% said that marriage has made things easier for them, though I should perhaps note here that a majority of this couple’s premarital tumult was directly attributed to arguments about whether they should get married or not.

That’s pretty much it. That’s all the recon I’ve gathered so far, and it feels like so much fruit salad. Where’s the meat and potatoes?

Now, of course, this kind of response is probably due in part to the fact that I have sarcastic friends. And maybe these friends didn’t want to share their mushies with me. And needless to say, each individual relationship is different because marriage affects people in different ways. But still. I was kind of hoping for feedback on a level deeper than FREE GIFT GRAB or IT’S THE SAME THING AS DATING or even IT SOLVED OUR PROBLEMS YAY.

And that look, always the same look. The startled glaze that comes over each of us when we’re asked to answer questions we’ve never considered. Like deer in the headlights.

I feel like I repeat this a lot, but: It’s been a real treat for me to find blogs. Blogs written by people who are genuinely excited to be married, and genuinely affected by their commitment to another person, and genuinely committed to finding their own meaning as an individual and as a partner in all this mess.*

So here I am, with my deer-in-the-headlights look on. I may not yet know what marriage is going to be like for me and the beau, but I want it to be better than what’s out there. I want it to be better than what you hear it’s like in the media, and I want it to be better than what you hear it’s like around your neighbor’s dinner table.**

It won’t be perfect, but it will be ours.

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* Wifey Wiferson springs to mind, as well as Accordions and Lace.

** Meg’s post from a few weeks back (and her whole Reclaiming Wife series, actually) has very, very good examples of the kinds of things you hear about marriage.