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.

AIDS Walk San Francisco

Thank you to all of you wonderful people who donated to my team for today’s AIDS Walk San Francisco. As part of Team Gilead, I was able to contribute $550 to our team total of $47,221!

It was not the best weather for a 6-mile walk through Golden Gate Park. While temperatures were low, spirit & morale were high – so many happy, smiling faces walking around Sharon Field, grazing on free breakfasts & listening to good music. As the walk started, we made our way to the front of the pack… slowly. It took 45 minutes to go the first two miles because there were a TON of walkers. I think the final tally was more than 20,000 walkers, and they didn’t exactly keep a blazing pace. But we progressed, and in our little party of six, we found ourselves taking pee breaks every half mile – someone always had to go. As we made our way through miles 2-5, we saw AIDS quilts laid out on the lawn, a Memorial Wall for folks to leave messages on, some live music, and plenty of gung-ho volunteers there to cheer us on… it was such a fun way to spend a Sunday morning. And of course, this is all before you remember that we did it for such a great cause. We felt good being out & about, we got some free live entertainment, and we got to take part in something that’s much bigger than all of us. Such an awesome way to take part in the community.

Ninety minutes later (a 15:00/mile pace), we found ourselves EXHAUSTED, back on the grounds of Sharon Fields. We couldn’t believe just how tired, sore & hungry we all were; luckily, the nice folks at Boudin SF (a Forklift Brand restaurant) donated plenty of box lunches for us. We sat on the lawn, enjoyed our lunch, and made our way home.

R is already asleep on the couch (six miles is still six miles), and I’m writing this now to make sure I say thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who supported us today. And now I’m going to catch a nap. :)

Events Like These

Last night our friend Mary Schaefer brought us along to a benefit dinner for 826 Valencia:

From their website:

Simply put, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.

So, last night we had three hours of sushi, wine, and an unexpected “field trip” experience in which all 70 of us collectively composed a short story. The short story was typed up on-screen as we went, as well as illustrated on the fly courtesy of Lisa Brown, author of Baby Mix Me a Drink and wife of Lemony Snicket (Dan Handler). We all left with a bound book, a decent wine buzz, and feeling like we had contributed to an important, nay.. VITAL .. community organization.

I, however, left with a serious jones to be a Volunteer Leader within this organization, joining the ranks of Jory John (website, which is funny but not about him) as a Field Trip leader. Jory & his leaders basically do the highly-improvisational work of leading a classroom full of kids through the highly-improvisational process of highly-improvisational story creation. The work is improv because he can’t possibly plan how things will end up, the process is improv because each class will go about it differently, and the story is improv because, well, they’re making it up. You can tell that he really loves what he does and that it’s highly rewarding for him. I’d love to take some of the burden off his shoulders. 826 has like 1,600 volunteers on its rosters in the Bay Area, but only six.. SIX… of them share the Field Trip leader responsibilities with Jory. I’m hoping to be lucky number seven.

Now, most of you don’t live where 826 Valencia makes a difference… but you probably do live damn close to one of the other 826s.


If you’re at ALL intrigued by the concept of empowering our future through the thoughtful donation of time & resources to help children/students write sentences better than this one, I urge you to investigate this organization. It was founded by Deggers, one of my favorite authors, and has been helping students around the country based solely on support of donors (of both money AND time). It’s an AWESOME endeavor, and I really can’t wait to play a bigger role in it.

Now it’s just the issue of figuring out how to sell the boss (& her boss) on me taking 3 hours every other week to lead a Field Trip. If anyone is an expert at getting a small-to-medium corporation to release you from business needs for volunteering opportunities that aren’t organized by same corporation, please let me know. Jory has offered to write a very nice letter to those who need to approve my departure, but I’m still nervous – any tips/tricks would be helpful. (I would’ve been happy just participating in the company’s Junior Achievement program, but they totally dissed me – I signed up to volunteer and haven’t heard diddly-squat back – so now I’ve got 826 as my avenue to give something back.)

Anyway, back to work. The pressure’s eased a bit, hence the blogging over an actual lunch period, but I still have crap to do.