I Made This About Bras

Comedy’s not really where my head’s at right now.

This is still hard for me to do regularly, as you can tell, but it feels good when it happens.  I let it all out in writing so much easier than I can do it in speech, or when I’m worried about comic intentions or being hilarious.  It’s nice to return to this format.

We’ve been thinking a lot.  And talking a lot.  About everything.  We still don’t KNOW anything… which seems to be particularly uncomfortable for us, as Type A humans, but we’re spending more time with that sort of feeling & trying to get comfortable with it.  In fairness we’re a lot more comfortable in that discomfort than we were 2, 3 or 5 years ago.  So the thinking and the talking is where it’s at.  And we’ve been doing so much of it together that my need to do it here, alone, is not nearly as chronic as in the past.

Now, though, I’m approaching the meta state.  So much talking & thinking is going on that I feel the need to think & write about all the talking & thinking.  Why?  Because, in all honesty, I think we’re really pretty frikking great at it, and no one else around us seems to have it buttoned up quite the way we do.  Yes, that sounds very braggardly… but honestly we may be the Kim & Kanye of Dealing With Ourselves in a relationship.  We’ll name our next kid Yeezus as a result.  Or at least Kate’s first dog.

There are some more experienced couples we know that are good at this – a few may even be better at it than we are – but we’re coming up on just our 7th anniversary, and I feel like we’ll never have something we can’t talk through.  Most of the professional counselor contacts we’ve talked to give us a lot of praise, in a surprised tone, for the way we handle our marriage at “such a young age”.  I put that in quotes because I don’t really feel it’s a justified classification.  We’re adults, and we’re only a decade away from being middle-aged adults… so how is that “such a young age”?  If they’re talking about the age of our marriage, I call statistical baloney – the median length of a marriage for men & women in the US is only eight years, per Wikipedia.  Even if you control for idiots that keep the Vegas altars in business (funny how none of the non-Vegas altars are viewed as participants in business, but for all the marketing religions have done), I sincerely doubt it doubles to 16 years, so we’re probably approaching at least the median age of a marriage.   So while I doubt you’d look at someone who’s uber happy by age 39, at half the average life expectancy in the 2010 census, and say they’ve figured out life at such a young age, alas, they applaud us for being so damn good at this, and are surprised when they meet us in person vs. hear our stories over the phone or in writing.  Apparently they picture Warren Beatty & Annette Bening without knowing any better.  (That is one side-by-side I can live with.)

Let me clarify for those of you who will wonder at what I have wrought:  we are fine.  We are great.  But many, MANY, of our friends & peers & Twitter followers seem to have challenges in this area.  So I wanted to create an on-demand resource, borne out of the conversations we have during which we try to give our advice on a piecemeal basis, that might save a few marriages around the interwebz.  That’s all.  No big whoop.

So in complete ignorance of the typical capitalist habit of somehow protecting a patent on a productive partnership, though I’m sure others have tried, let me break down how this shit works.  Below are the details of our… habit, I suppose, is the least controversial noun – less so than “practice” or “method”, which I feel are being usurped by advertisers & those schilling their wares.  A habit is still negative enough to be outside the sphere of copywriter opiates.  It’s a set of circumstances, which usually arise in something of a sequence/cause-effect chain, in which each step generates an action & each action therefore generates the next circumstance.  That, in fact, is all anything really is.  If you want to understand why your boss/spouse/child/vegan soy vegetable soufflé isn’t treating you the way you want/listening to you/rising in the oven like the damn paleo diet ebook said it would, sit down & understand these basic elements of circumstance, action & reaction.  Newton, Leibniz, Fermi, Fermat, Fibonacci… all the other F guys… the so-called “natural philosophers” knew what the hell they were doing.  Observe, Analyze, Report, Repeat.  You do that for your marriage, then you create a positive relationship & can keep it moving in a positive direction.

How To Create & Maintain Positive Momentum In Your Marriage

(Like how I’m expressing that in copywriter opiates?  Blech.  Practically screams SEO Google AdWords.  I’ll bet it asks you to click it later, after that third drink.)

STEP 1.  Be honest about what you’re actually thinking / feeling / doing.

STEP 2.  Communicate that clearly & then stop talking.  I read recently that you should spend 3/4 of the conversation listening to the other person, and 1/4 of the conversation talking.  Mathematically, when you both stick to this rule, it can’t possibly be a one-sided conversation, because you’ll both shut up before you feel like you’re getting to 50% of the talk time.  I am summarily disgusted by things that don’t make mathematical sense, such as fad diets, skinny jeans, and Fox News, but the numbers here would lead to a satisfactory outcome, so I won’t quibble.

STEP 3.  Listen to what the other person is saying, in an active way.  Meaning try to ignore the voice in your head that is talking while they are talking.  You’re not in a rush here… unless of course you are in a rush, in which case you invoke The Emergency Rule, below.  You need to hear the words and then think about them – they are talking about their feelings & what you should DO about the circumstances, so if you want them to do what you asked them to do in step 2, you have to listen the fuck up & figure out what you’re going to do about THEIR concerns & circumstances.  Our own nature works against us here – instead of listening to their side & figuring out what we can do to help them, we listen to their side & never stop thinking about how we feel about it, so that when s/he is done we can talk more about our feelings to get what we want.  However, if you both want the conversation to take you to a place that is better than the one wherein you started the conversation, you will have to do both actions: a) Listen & Decide What To Do In Regards To Their Needs; b) Listen & Decide What Else To Ask For In Regards To Your Needs.  (The Capital Letters Are Important.  No They’re Not.)  This takes more time than the current socially-acceptable normal conversation with most people – i.e. you don’t have this amount of time when you’re telling the barista how many pumps of mocha it tastes like vs. how many pumps of mocha you really want it to taste like – but unless you’re Oprah you’re probably not in a deep life-altering partnership with your barista.

STEP 4.  Repeat the above steps until all your shit is aired out, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, unless invoking The Emergency Rule.

THE EMERGENCY RULE:  If you aren’t in a place, physically or mentally, where you can make every honest attempt at engaging in each step repeatedly until your conversation is over, this is how you handle it:  “{Personal Moniker}, I want to continue to keep moving through this discussion to get to a better place that meets both our needs, but the circumstances we need  are not what we have right now, so let’s come back to it at {Set A Specific Time, Preferably Before The Next Sunrise}.”  Make sure the Personal Moniker isn’t a loaded term – i.e. it shouldn’t be overly saccharine, nor should it be placating & of course not demeaning, and, if you ever want to have oral pleasures again, avoid anything sexually playful, i.e. Sugar Tits, Mr. Big, Lena Dunham, etc.

That’s it.  That’s the big damn secret.  Notice that nowhere am I explicitly saying any of them are easy.  Much like other lofty goals such as maintaining good nutrition, raising a child to be an upstanding citizen, and unhooking modern-day bras, knowing what the steps are, and understanding how to follow them in a sequence, is the easy part; actually doing it is where the magic is.  (Seriously with the bra thing:  show me one other piece of clothing that has that many impossibly tiny & implausibly strong hooks, and I’ll bet its intentions are much less innocent than simply keeping the girls covered up.  Talk about over-engineering safety for one guy’s mistake… can you imagine being the guy responsible for the bra?  Like, because of you, all of the remaining boobs, all of them, forever, all of them had to be covered up?  And by such a medieval device?  I want to know what he did to two boobs that was so bad we had to lock up all the other ones with tiny metal locks and elastic fabric that stretches unnaturally.)

HOW’S THAT FOR A CHANGE IN TONE AT THE END OF AN ESSAY??!??  Take that, Comp Lit Majors!  Enjoy your no job & weird spices & braless girlfriends!


That is all.

Harmony is Too Pretty A Word. Try “Ballswelloquent”.

NOTE:  the below post includes references to a masturbating holy figure.  Please discontinue reading if this will offend rather than amuse.

This is one of those mornings (not Those Mornings).  One where you get up, feel pretty good, have a cup of coffee, get to the gym, and then get to work, and everything is kinda humming right along.  You feel good.  You feel like you’re in sync with the rhythm of the world, like you’re circadian rhythm is lined up right next to the sine wave of the universe… like you’re in your car, and the rest of the world is in the car next to you as you both hit the red light at the same time, and you, very cockily, rev your engine.  Like you can outgun the cosmos.

That, my friends, is what I call a Good Friday.  Not to be confused with Jesus’ Good Friday… which I’m still confused about – was it the day they all decided they couldn’t abstain from whatever they had just given up for forty days?  (First, who chooses 40 days?  That’s not a clean number at all, so I don’t think it was a choice.  King James was a bit of a censorship nut, so no one knows the real story:  I think Jesus & his Lenten posse made a bet to see who could give up stroking it the longest… like that episode of Seinfeld.  I’ll bet Paul came back within 7 minutes & said “I’m out!”, but the rest of them made it forty days, and probably could’ve kept going except Jesus called it off because he rubbed one out during an especially enlightening prayer session… on a Friday, and they all went “Good!” and immediately sowed some orthodox oats.)

It’s April 1st.  It’s snowing in NJ, and I’m spending 3 hours of my day on a conference call – yes, just ONE conference call for THREE hours.  But I’m okay with that.  I’m revving my engine, toeing the line, ready to sprint.  The only word I could reasonably come up with for this feeling of “all is right with the world” is harmony… but that’s too pretty.  It lacks machismo.  It lacks bravado.  It lacks braggadocio.  It gives no sense of the up-fuckery sentiment – like it’s so good that you feel you could easily do anything, even things you’ve never done before, and it’ll all work out, and you’ll have added your own little dose of oats (orthodox or otherwise) into the mix.  You’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, and it’s changing the world.

… maybe that’s a little too far.  But harmony is too pretty a word.  We need something braver, bolder, faster, stronger.  Something with more balls.

I submit the following recommendations as terms that could be defined, loosely, as “the feeling that you can beat the world”:





Feel free to vote or contribute your own candidate in the comments.  My personal favorite is Ballswelloquent.

Jungle Gym Jitters…

… is probably the coolest name for a kid’s book I’ve ever seen. Alliterative, descriptive, and anxiety-inducing! C’mon, we’ve all had them… whether the jitters came from being the fat kid who couldn’t even run TO the jungle gym without wheezing (Bad Jitters), or whether they came from being the popular kid who always got to make out with all the girls who wanted him to be their first kiss (Good Jitters), we’ve all been somewhere on the jitter spectrum with regard to jungle gyms. That, my friends, is what we call a common point of reference. It’s what Jung would qualify as a collective memory. And it’s what red states call bullshit.

I saw that book in a book store on my way to get coffee this morning. I went to a new coffee place. It’s like six blocks farther to that place than my ‘normal’ coffee place. Why, you ask? Because I could. Because I just made it happen. Because my big-ass time-sucker of a project at work is FINALLY over. Because that project was the last major to-do item for me for 2008. Because, my friends, I have now been brought back from the brink of the corporate chasm, and I have learned a thing or two.

Thing One: Owning a big project like that, when you’re ready for it & you know what you’re doing, is frikkin’ AWESOME. The only thing that would’ve made this one better is having another set of hands/another left- and right-brain duo to share in some of the work. But all in all, I’ve discovered that the level of responsibility that comes from managing a shit-ton of work for a lot of very well-respected business people is something I can handle. This time, I was ready for it, and it worked out very well. I made it happen.

Thing Two: I need to get way better at owning stuff like that if I ever want to see my wife, family, friends, blog, or NA sponsor ever again. Not only did I not have time for you, dear reader, but I didn’t even have time for Jesus. And we all know how important it is to make time for Jesus. (This is different than “making time WITH Jesus”, which is the old-timey way of describing the act of copulation with the deity.)

In the last… oh, maybe 8 months, I’ve sacrificed a LOT of the personal stuff. Comedy/improv has just completely fallen off, podcasts have been canceled & rescheduled, races have come & gone without a decent performance, and even my ‘happy-go-lucky’-ness (is there a less pansy way to say that?) has seen better days. Just ask the wyf – I’ve gone through all seven Dwarf namesake emotions in as many months. (The month as “Doc” was weirdest – somehow I drew the proctology card on that one. What’d I learn in a month as a proctologist? Every guy has an ass-rope braided between his cheeks after years of wiping, so I’m not alone. Note: not all ass-ropes are created equally; some smell worse than others. If yours is uncomfortable or causes an erection lasting more than 4 hours, see your therapist/professional waxer/non-proctologist doctor.)

But when you ask your next question, ‘Was it worth it?’, I’d say yes. But I think that has to do with my need for validation. See, this project came out well, and a lot of congratulatory emails of recognition & appreciation have come my way. And it’s been a LONG time since I’ve gotten many of those that actually felt like I earned them. Or maybe this is just the first time I’ve been mature enough to know that it’s okay to accept compliments/appreciation without feeling they’re unwarranted. But in any case, it was this project that has made me feel the most validated in my ‘career’ since 2005. Worth it.

What’s next? Not sure. Definitely moving out of my current roles & responsibilities, either to a level higher in this group, or to a level higher in another group that’s got more of a consumer/customer focus to it. It’s great that there’s probably some permanent validation on its way, as I anticipate a promotion, AND I’ll get to move into something I’ll probably enjoy even more.

Here’s the “…but”: I haven’t TOUCHED my stand-up material in ~3 months, and haven’t had an improv session in even longer. Hell, the only creative juices I have flowing right now leak right into Twitter, where they just get soggy & start to smell like ass-rope after a few hours. S-U-C-K-S. But I could wallow in that sacrifice, or I could recognize that it paid off professionally, and then challenge myself to use my time better & employ both sides of my personality at the same time. Ideally, this would be done for me by having a job that required both sides – but as I don’t see that happening in the near-term, I’ll have to make it happen.

So here’s to making it happen. Oh, uh… so here’s where I might’ve tried to weave this back into the Jungle Gym Jitters thing, but give me a break – it was a moderately weak headline to begin with, and I just made two ass-rope jokes laced with a Viagra reference. That’s enough awesome for one entry.

PS – Thursday is Turkey Day! Come back later this week for a Turkey Day Tribute! It’ll be awesome! I promise! Meanwhile, I have to go learn how to trace my hand on a webpage so I can make an electronic hand-turkey. (Now you’re really excited! Me too! I’m four!)


This morning I got up at 6 instead of 5:30, still went to the gym, had breakfast, got a shower, packed lunch, and made the 7:40ish bus downtown with R. But in the process of compressing my routine into a smaller nugget so that I get a bigger morsel of sleep, I managed to forget: my phone, my watch, and the book I’m reading on the train.

Now my entire DAY is probably going to be impacted by the fact that I don’t have at least one of these three things. In fact, I’m WRITING about it here. I walked by a completely empty & thusly discarded roll of toilet paper on the sidewalk outside of a burger joint in Rockridge this morning, but NO, I’m so interrupted that I can’t even write about THAT.

What’s the point? Jesus hates me. And this invective is a little bit more about pointing out the importance/significance that our routines hold, and, had I the time this morning, I’d contrast that against the idea that Johnstone purports about people going to dramatic productions in order to SEE these routines interrupted, in order to see people do things they can’t do because they’re locked in their routines. Like, I could write a short story (albeit a bad one) about how bad my day could be because I forgot three things I normally always have with me, and someone could turn that into a one-acter or even a 10 minute improvised scene. Acted properly & with the right kind of director that’s sensitive to these neuroses, you would be riveted (or at least enjoy it minorly whilst eating some Red Vines).