Let Me Tell You About My Best Friend

I want to talk a little bit about my relationship with my wife.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too mushy, I have a point to make.

A lot of people refer to their spouse as their best friend, and for many it seems an exaggeration, but for me, it is not.  If you take out the physical attraction to her (and the returned attraction from her) I’d still have someone who makes me laugh harder than any other person.  When she makes me laugh uncontrollably, she calls it ‘dragon tongue’ because the face I make resembles a fire-breathing dragon.  Well, I rarely hit ‘dragon tongue’ level with anyone else in my life, but Sarah makes me do often.

It’s tough when I’m trying hard to launch Chocolate Diamond Media, and editing books as a second job, and working my regular job, and we’re raising a 2 year old (who is great, but has so much energy) to find time for each other.  There are days where we spend hours together, only to realize we miss each other, because there wasn’t twenty full minutes of just us talking, uninterrupted.

It can be a struggle to find any kind of real connection time, anything that stimulates our brains in more than an “aww, isn’t he cute” kind of way.  So, we went looking for something, some dedicated ‘us time,’ to feel like adults again.  Then, on a road-trip back from Massachusetts to North Carolina, Sarah found the joys of podcasts, and said “we should do a podcast together!”  The podcasts she enjoyed, and the ones I listen too, are vastly different, but she finally got what I’d been talking about for a couple years.

We started brainstorming for a podcast concept that worked for both of us.  We didn’t want one where we felt the need to talk about relationships, or babies, or any of that, we wanted one that engaged us more intellectually and less emotionally, to give us a different direction from the rest of our life together.

After much discussion, and a bit debate about what ‘list’ of movies to watch, we decided upon, and launched “Mike and Sarah’s Best Picture Podcast.”  We’ve done 21 episodes so far, and it’s really difficult for us to find the time to record, and we haven’t been able to maintain the release schedule of one episode per week, but we’re doing our best.  What we have found though, is that it’s really fun, and that it brings us something that was definitely missing the last year or so.  The podcast wasn’t just an excuse for us to watch a different movie every week and talk about it, but in the better situations (the most recent episode about 1948’s Gentleman’s Agreement for example) it served as a spring board for a larger conversation, and exchange of ideas.

Throughout the process, as has always been the case with Sarah, I’ve been surprised.  I’ve been a major movie buff my whole life, and took “Language of Film” kinds of classes, and so I knew I was going in well prepared, but I’ve been stunned at how well versed she’s been in all of it.  I stupidly thought this would be me giving her a film education, but it hasn’t (and I’m glad for that).

The point that I wanted to make in writing this, is that finding something fun and different and new for us has been the thing that keeps our relationship feeling vibrant and not like work.  We’ve always made a concerted effort to do things together, whether it was planning trips, or our wedding (I participated more than most grooms).  We know that a little effort to stay connected will beat the effort it will take to reconnect.

Sorry if this was too mushy, but I hope I got my point across.

How I Knew She was the One

Today, is my three year wedding anniversary, and in honor of my amazing wife, I wanted to tell you all, about when I realized she was the one.

A little bit of background, we started dating in early November of 2010, and pretty much immediately we started seeing each other every day.  At the time, I worked a crappy job at a cell phone store, with odd hours, and she worked at a restaurant and bar, with even worse hours.  Our first date was a lunch date, because we wanted to go out that day, but both of us were working in the afternoon until at least 10 (she was probably working until 1 or 2).

By January, we had seen each other every day for roughly sixty days in a row, and were going strong.  We decided we wanted to go away for Spring Break (we were both enrolled part time in school in addition to full time work).  So we planned a road trip down to Florida, we would stay with my aunt for a few days in Jacksonville, and we would go to Orlando for a few.

Finally, Spring Break came, and I worked until 5 P.M. on Friday, and she picked me up at my parents house at 5:30, and we drove straight through the night.  We obviously took turns sleeping, but drove until about 11 the next morning.  Driving straight through like that can be irritating regardless of whether or not you like the person your with, but we had fun.  Sarah still likes to remind me of going through the McDonald’s drive-thru at two in the morning, with me fully asleep in the passenger seat, covered in her hot pink Snuggie.

During the week, we went to St. Augustine, and saw an alligator park, and Disney, and Universal.  The only break that Sarah and I got from each other the entire week were our bathroom breaks, and there wasn’t a single moment in which we felt sick and tired of each other.

It was the first time in our relationship that we weren’t stealing a brief couple hours from the rest of our busy lives, and it was a true test of whether or not our relationship was conditional based on the circumstances, and we passed.

At some point that week, I realized I wanted to marry her, and the vacation was so incredible to her, that we have gone back to try to recreate it three times.  The first time we went back, which was two years later, I proposed to her at Epcot, and then a year and a half later (three years ago today) I got to be her husband!

I love you Sarah.

I Absolutely Love Being a Father

Sometimes, our lives get busy, and we tend to overlook things.  We get into a rhythm and things get done more from rote memory than conscious decision.  This doesn’t mean that those things aren’t important, or wonderful they are just easy to not give much thought to.  Then a curveball comes through, and we are snapped back into the reality of our lives.

Thursday morning before my son or I woke up, my wife left to fly back up to Massachusetts for one of her best friends’ baby shower, and so I have been on sole parenting duty for two and a half days.  I knew for months that it was coming, but I’ve never gone so long without a pair of helping hands with him (14-15 hours max probably) and so I was a little nervous.  Would he sleep well, I had to work Thursday and Friday and needed to get some rest, and so as a pessimist I had all the possible negatives run through my head.

None happened.  The last two days have been the best I’ve had with him at least since I went back to work.  We’ve played, and had pizza, and he’s slept great, and got himself stuck in numerous large toys.  It hasn’t been without him crying, and there have been all the lesser quality everyday baby things (i.e. Diapers) but it’s been a blast.

It reminded me that I love being a father, and I really needed to be reminded!  The thing with a lot of things in our lives, is that the repetition makes us forget, and with things like fatherhood, it’s easy to forget.  I never forget that I love my son, when I look at him, I feel it instantly but that is a different feeling than loving being a father.  And I’ll be honest, I may only love being HIS father, maybe it’s just he’s the perfect kid for me and I’d love it less with another kid, but I love being his father, and for right now that means I love being A father.

This experience has made me realize that when things get busier in our lives, if my wife needs to go take care of things, I can definitely step up.  I think I could definitely do a longer stretch of time, and that it would only make me happier.

These several days away from wife, also made me realize that I love being a husband, in addition to loving her.  I love that I can hold down the fort so she can do the things she needs to, and so she can get a little bit of a rest.

(Now just in case I made it sound like I don’t do much on a normal basis, that’s not really the case.  I change diapers and get up at night regularly, and I think my wife and I are split close to down the middle. Also I realize that getting pizza and not cooking probably sounds much easier than many parenting situations and I don’t for a second think this is as hard as being a single parent.)

Alone Together

Weeks pass; pages flipping in the wind,
we stare but can’t touch each other the entire time.
A constant chaperone, a miniature drunkard, stumbles between us.
As he falls asleep on duty, I sneak closer to you,
his eyes blink open, and his glare bores a hole,
I go back to my place,
frustrated, but not ashamed.

My lips are chapped sandpaper in the heat of the summer,
and need your velvet kiss to heal me.
The wet of yours seap in like a salve,
You are across a canyon, but i can hear your every whisper.
I miss you, and I need you.
When he’s asleep lets sneak off, and rediscover each other.

Lets sneak away when we get a chance

Call to Action

All week, I have been obsessing over the events in the news, and trying to make sense of them, more importantly, I’ve been trying to think of how I can contribute, what I can do to make the world better.  I’m not kidding myself and thinking I can solve the problem, or that I can have some giant impact, but ultimately I’m not happy with doing nothing.

I came up with an idea, one that you are free to steal if it sounds good to you, one that you can contact me if you want to participate.

On a small scale (either a town, or a county) or maybe on a slightly larger scale (in the big hub city closest to you) we throw a catered event.  The “Everyone’s Welcome Dinner,” where we get food donated from restaurants, or perhaps its more potluck style, and we cater to every dietary restriction, so that everyone feels enticed to come.

As the title says, everyone is welcome, and that means everyone.  The idea would be that we would get people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and just be a community.  Everyone is welcome also means people in racist organizations, it means everyone.

The key, is that we get the best food options to really make people want to come, and the rule is we talk about things that we have in common, not things that divide us.  Do you play the guitar?  Were you on the football team in high school?  Have you always dreamed of climbing a mountain?

Now, I’m aware this seems pretty unlikely, and perhaps a lofty idea that won’t happen.  I’m not delusional.  What it would need to start out as a group of like minded (open-minded) people, who invite one or two people they know who are more clothes-minded, enticing them with the food, but also being completely upfront about what the event is.  We don’t scold people if after the event they return to their everyday beliefs and behaviors, we don’t even scold them if they don’t do a great job of mingling, we just continue to invite them back.

I think it becomes very easy for us to seclude ourselves not only in political echo chambers, but in groups of people where we can blend in, whether that is our churches sticking with people who know the same general behaviors, or our race where our skin doesn’t stand out with others.  This may be a melting pot, but I think largely there are a lot of chunks where the ingredients have stuck, and not fully melted in.

So the idea is this is a place where everyone is welcome to come and brag about their kids, or reminisce about their sports triumphs, or make plans to climb Everest.

These are the things that will make humanity great, when we see goals, and dreams, and accomplishments, and fond memories, but we’re stuck on these other things.  So maybe once a month, or quarter, or however often we can manage to make this happen, we should get together and focus on those things, with what I like to think of as the other great human effort, and that is food.

Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in working on, or if you have any ideas for it, or any other thoughts you may have (try to remain cordial, that’s gonna be the key to all of this, even if it’s just a formality).

Before Yours

How many eyes did I look into before yours?
Some were greener,
sparkling emeralds encased in perfect white cloth.
Others were blue,
brighter than a robin’s egg, in a nest made of cloud.
There were even a couple that were brown,
rich chocolate drops, dabbed on white packaging.

How many lips did I dream of kissing before yours?
There were pairs that were glossy,
promising to taste as sweet as icing.
So many were ruby red,
precious jewels made to smile.
The light pink ones were tantalizing,
like yours, more natural but no less tempting.

But then I saw your eyes,
I felt the gravity in them, and they pulled me in,
and then I kissed your lips,
I felt the release within them.  I knew I never wanted the last one to come.

I still don’t.