Tuesday, December 22, 2009


(We need a little Christmas).

D$ and I are headed to my hometown for the holidays, until January 5th.

This means that the kitties will have full range of my clothes drawers and there may not be any posts for the next couple weeks.

No one in my family knows about this blog. In fact, I haven't told anyone but D$ and he is sworn to secrecy. (Turns out that is easy because he doesn't read it).

I have a huge family and we are...insistent. On constant interaction. I doubt that there will be any time when I am at a computer by myself. To be blunt: my older sister and I are really close and perhaps marginally obsessed with each other. Whenever we are in the same city she basically crawls up my ass and takes residence there.* ** So it is really not feasible that I would have time to write because she would see what I was doing I don't want to tell her about the blog, at least not yet.

I wish you the best possible holiday season. I'll be back after the New Year with tales of a first married Christmas.

*Figuratively, people!

**Don't worry. My sister and D$ get along really well, so he doesn't mind her presence. When we talk on the phone my sister will usually end the conversation with "Tell D$ I love him" or "Tell D$ I love him more than you," or some such nonsense.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

But let's be honest, here

Last night D$ and I went to a party with some people from his department. As we drove home and I saw the lights of downtown appear over the hill, I just felt it - that thing that has been knawing at me for several months, even as I try to figure out the best way to move forward. We hadn't been talking, just enjoying the view, but I broke the silence to finally put out what I've been feeling for a long time.

Me: I'm really scared to leave Minneapolis.

D$: Yea. I know.

(And so now you know where I live. I suck at being anonymous).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Negotiation Epilogue: Women Don't Ask

  1. In a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, a professor found that among students graduating with Masters Degrees, 57 %of men and only 8 % of women negotiated the salary for the first job they received upon graduation.
  2. At age 22, a qualified man and women are offered the same job at $25,000/year. The man negotiates and get his offer raised to $30,000. The woman does not. Each of them receives a 3% raise per year. At age 60, the man will be making over $15,000/year more than the woman ($92,243 vs. $76,870). If you count up all the extra earnings over the 30 years, the man will have made $361, 171 more than the woman.
  3. A web survey reveals that women report much more anxiety about negotiation then men, and this can be true of even extremely powerful and successful women.
  4. When they do negotiate, women tend to be less successful than men, setting lower targets and giving in more quickly.

In the book Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change, Linda Banock and Sara Laschever explore the phenomena listed above and the societal double standards that support them. They focus a lot on the gender norms that pervade our society and reward assertive behavior in men while punishing the same behavior in women. Some of the things they say I don't entirely agree with: one of the points they spend a lot of time on is that women are much more relationship-focused than men, leading them to emphasize relationships over getting what they want. While I see this as potentially possible (and totally true for me) I am loathe to generalize that much about women, or anyone.

However, they do make some incredible points about women and negotiation and the way that societal double standards create a triple whammy against women by
  1. Teaching them that assertiveness and self-interest isn't ladylike;
  2. Punishing women for assertive behavior (through things such as the "Bully Broads" program which was created to "soften" female executives. Gross) BUT THEN
  3. Viewing them as weak when they fail to demonstrate assertive behavior or negotiate on their own behalves.
I could go on and on here. And this isn't about marriage per se, except that in a lot of marriages there is at least one woman. And that if we women aren't thinking about these things and striving to work against them we may stand to lose out in ways that will affect our professions and our personal lives. That is one of the reasons that I have been writing these posts; because I truly believe that women need be encouraged to be assertive. I, as a woman, feel the need to encourage other women to negotiate.

To help you on your way here are the books I have been referencing, with brief descriptions.

  • This book is a little text-booky, and dense. But I got a lot of the information from the first two posts from this book.
2) Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
  • This book looks like a silly self-help book. And...it may be a little bit of a silly self-help book. But it is also a quick read with a lot of easy, simple, good tips. It is also around $10. The stuff I wrote about focusing on interests over positions is from this book, mostly.
3) Women Don't Ask (mentioned above)
  • I only read a few chapters of this book (hey, I was only given a few chapters!) but I might read the whole thing. The website (linked above) talks about the broader topic of women and negotiation and I think features more books with specific tips
4) Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher and Dan Shapiro
  • Okay, so I haven't actually read this one at all. But I will! The woman who taught my negotiations class, who I deeply respect, recommended this to the class. Again, may be a little embarrassing to read on the bus as it looks like a self-help book, but whatever. We can just practice not caring what other people think of us.
Happy Negotiating!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm coming back tomorrow

I PROMISE. Finals end tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. and a blog-post will be on the way shortly after that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Negotiating your way through marriage, Part 3: Expanding the Pie

More pie? Hells yea. Although, I'd have to say I'm technically on Team Cake.

Basically, "Expanding the Pie" is negotiator jargon for coming up with creative options so that you create a win-win situation and don't leave any resources "on the table." They argue that most people get concerned with "dividing the pie" and don't see creative ways to create value for both parties. Again, this is more easily applied to a stereotypical business negotiation situation: One party wants higher wages, the other party wants to cut costs. This seems like a pie-splitting situation: more money for one equals higher costs for the other. But what if there are ways that the first party can cut costs that would also allow them to increase their wages?

An example that is dear to my heart is: I really, really hate washing the dishes. A lot. D$ loves to cook and I love it when he cooks, but hate it when he makes a lot of dishes (because I would have eaten beans from a can and only made one dish). We could fight all damn day about who has to to the dishes, basically seeing it as a fixed-sum game. Either I have to buck up and do more dishes (and D$ has to listen to me bitch about it) or D$ has to do dishes when he makes extremely complicated meals. Either way one (or both) of us is going to lose. But wait! Do we have enough money in our budget for a dishwasher? Would that help us get our needs met and create mutual gain? The answer is: yes, it would. Using some of our money to get a dishwasher would solve the problem in question and we would both "win."
(As it turns out we rent and can't afford a dishwasher, but we have agreed that next time we move there will be a dishwasher).

That is an easy issue, but negotiation solutions aren't always that clear. Here are some of the tactics I have learned in class for expanding the pie and inventing mutual gain (applied, cause I'm self-involved, to D and my lives).

1) Unbundle the Issues. Expand the set of negotiable issues.

For us, some of the issues are:

  1. How much money do we want/need to make?
  2. Do we both want/need to work?
  3. What kind of jobs do we want to do?
  4. When do we want to have kids?
  5. Where do we want to have kids?
And on and on and on.

It is hard not to think about some of this as one big issue of "Where will our jobs take us?" but failing to unpack the issues will make it harder to make a decision. For example: I want to live in my home town so I can see my family more, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with our jobs. What if we get jobs that are far away but pay us enough to to allow for frequent travel? If we don't unpack all the issues we might miss that kind of option.

An example from one my texts is separating the price of something from the terms of sale or lease. Let's say one person is really concerned about getting price A for a good, but the buyer doesn't want to pay that price. It turns out that for the buyer it isn't really the price that is the issue, it's that they want to pay over a series of months rather than years. If the two people can decide on a payment plan that will allow the seller to receive price A on the buyer's timetable, then they will both be happy and the sale will go through. But if they just negotiate price they might walk away from the deal, or one person might accept a price that they are unhappy with.

2) Separate Inventing from Deciding. First of all, you have to broaden your options by brainstorming. But create a space where you can come up with creative options without worrying whether or not they are something each party could live with.

For D$ and I this will be very important, since we have so many issues on the table.
Some potential scenarios:
  1. I mentioned before, one possibility is for us to live separately.
  2. If he gets an awesome job we could move up the baby-making schedule and I could take a few years to stay home with the kiddies while he works that job. We could then switch, or move to where I could begin work that I'm interested in.
I don't know that I like either one of those options, but we aren't in the decide phase. We are in the brainstorm phase, and having all the options out on the table will help us to sort through the possibilities (and will probably help us clarify what our true interests are).

3) Come up with several equally satisfactory "packages."

For example:

I'd be happy living far from my hometown if we both had awesome jobs, got to have a house with a yard, and could make X amount of money a year.

I'd be happy making only Y amount a year if it meant that we were living in my hometown, working in fields that interested us, and could start planning for baby-making time.

I'd be willing to live apart if we made enough money to see each other once a month and both had extremely amazing jobs putting us on career trajectories that would allow us to move to my hometown (or near it) within 3 years.

And so and and so on. The thing about the multiple packages, is you have to know your own interests, and you have to be able to prioritize what is important to you. But you would also benefit from knowing what the other party's interests are so you can create your "packages" in a way that is attractive to them, so Parts 1 and 2 are important here.

I think I've gone on too long (if you've made it to the end of the post congrats)! So I'll stop for today.

I can't tell if I'm beating a dead horse with this negotiation stuff...should I stop now or continue? I think I've hit the stuff that is most essential, but I could do one more post if y'all aren't totally sick of this crap by now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Being by yourself is really, really great.

D$ still can't open his mouth very far or eat anything with chunks, but he is at a friend's house to watch a football game. Which leaves me home alone to write a paper, drink a glass of wine, and listen to The Nutcracker and The Boston Camarata's "An American Christmas" at full volume.

More negotiation tactics tomorrow...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brief Interruption

We had a minor medical emergency today; D$ got his wisdom teeth pulled out, it went awry and we had to go back to the hospital. All is well, but now I am plying him with drugs and milkshakes, so the blog will be quiet for the weekend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Negotiating your way through marriage, Part 2: The Power of Preparation

Okay, so, this seems a little obvious, right? Being prepared is basically always a good idea (a small boy in a khaki uniform told me that once, I think). But...it is totally easier said than done. And this is probably, again, one of those things that would be even harder to manage in a marriage. Why in the world would I need to prepare to talk to my Hubs about who should do the dishes or why we should get fourteen puppies? It does seem sorta dumb, and it is true that preparation is probably more important in a professional negotiation situation like negotiating a job offer or a pay raise, but...let's just go with it.

Here is what the negotiation books have to say (and yes, at some point I will tell you the names of the books as well, I'm no plagiarist).

1) Self-assessment. What do you want? I talked about this a fair amount yesterday so I'll leave it at this, but it is still important to say. If you don't know what you want how will you know if you got it?

2) Know your BATNA Oh yea, I threw down an obscure acronym. BATNA stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, and I like cause it sounds like Batman and it is really, really important.

Basically: what will happen if you can't come to an agreement? What will you do, or what will the other person do? What is your alternative? How strong is your alternative compared to the person you are negotiating against? That last one is related to power relationships in the negotiation: if one person has a really attractive alternative than they are less likely to need to come to an agreement and one way you can increase the amount of power or leeway you have in a negotiation is to strengthen your own BATNA, or try and weaken the other party's BATNA. Some of that might not be so awesome for a marital situation; I don't think I want to advocate trying to strengthen your position against your spouse. But you can still benefit from knowing your realistic alternative.

Example: For D and I right now, the "alternative" is living apart after we graduate. (I'm not going to go there and say the alternative is the big D word. Because that just isn't an alternative to this situation). In the realm of human possibility we could live apart for a while and pursue our own professional interests. However, neither one of us wants to do that at all: so we both have the same BATNA, and it sucks. This means that we are both really invested in coming to an agreement that we can both live with.

2) Determine your Target Point and your Reservation Point

Your Target Point is basically your ideal. My target point is each of us having awesome jobs that pay us reasonable salaries (wait, it's my target point: GINORMOUS salaries!) in my home town.

Your Reservation Point is the point-which-you-shall-not-pass. In negotiation there may be some things you are willing to concede but there will be other things that you absolutely are not willing to accept or give up. Rather than go past your reservation point you will "Activate your BATNA," walk away from the table, cease negotiating, etc etc. Get the hell outta there.

You're supposed to figure out your reservation point beforehand and, if possible, write it down, or have it in your head clearly. If this is a financial issue that is easy enough: although I'd like to buy a house at X price, I can go up to Y price but then that is IT. This isn't so realistic in a marriage, when you will be negotiating all the time, and it is harder with matters of the heart - how do you quantify the need to feel professionally fulfilled or to live close to your family? But it might still be helpful to think about, and people work this out various ways. Maybe "I could live 60 miles from a city but not 120," or "I'm willing to clean the bathroom all the goddamn time but I am sure as hell not killing any cockroaches if any appear in our house."

Right now we are still working out our reservation points (which are pretty intricately tied to our interests, of course). In some ways our reservation points are the same as our BATNA - we are not willing to live apart, so we have to come up with something.

But within our situation there are other things for which we we can determine a reservation point. Example: D$ could potentially get a high-paying job in a far away city, and we have to decide what we want to do about that. So, what is our reservation point; how far is too far?
If we can figure that out, we have a plan. That way, if one of us gets an amazing job opportunity that offers us trillions of dollars but is in the Bermuda Triangle, we don't run the risk of getting caught up in dollar signs and signing on for a job that will make both of us miserable. We can say: "Well, wait, look: our reservation point was "No ocean-crossing" or "Only two time zones" or whatever." Having a reservation point doesn't mean you can't change it as situations change, but it does help you from getting caught up in the moment and making a decision that you will later regret.

I think I have gone on long enough for tonight. More to come soon! Although maybe not tomorrow because tomorrow is my 13 hour day.

Also - I would like to state for the record that neither one of us will be offered trillions of dollars. What is most likely to happen is someone will offer me $30,000 to work 60 hours a week in an immigrant rights organization or public assistance office...and I will jump up and down with joy and be totally thrilled. After negotiating the hell out of that salary and benefits package, to be sure.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Negotiating your way through marriage, Part 1

I am currently taking a course on Negotiations that is being taught by a prominent local elected official and I really, really love it. As the semester has moved on we have done a lot of background reading and performed various negotiations ourselves and I really feel like I am gaining valuable skills. But as I have been learning how to apply negotiating skills to professional situations I have also been thinking about how the skills I am learning can and will be really useful in my marriage. I see particular possibility for this as D and I move through the various big conversations that we will need to have as we decide what to do with our lives.

The term "negotiation" sometimes gives people a strange feeling; people get flashes of Donald Trump banging his fist on the table and a room full of old white men making extreme poker-faces. And for that reason people (especially women, I'll get to this later) are really uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating in families or friendships, not to mention marriages. But this is really silly. First of all, the kind of positional power-play bargaining that is the "face" of Donald Trump-style negotiation is actually NOT effective negotiation most of the time. In fact, one of the tenets of good negotiating is the ability to come to an agreement with someone while maintaining a continued relationship with that person. Second of all, you will end up negotiating with your partner all the time anyway, so you might as well learn how to do it well.

Honestly, I think that openly negotiating in marriage is a really good idea, and I think that many of the skills I am learning will really, really help as the hubs and I work through the next several months and the rest of our lives. And I know that some of you are in similar situations, so in the interest of idea-sharing and general negotiation-promotion, in the next few posts I am going to share some of the "main" negotiation skills I have learned and apply them to our upcoming situation. I may end with some more general negotiation lessons (particularly for us women-folk),we'll see.

For today, Lesson One is:

1) Focus on interests, not positions. If you do not know what someone's interests are, ask them.

The focus on interests is key here - because D and I both have professional interests, we have personal interests for ourselves as individuals, and we have family interests (as in, what we want for our new family). It is highly likely that our professional interests will directly contradict each other and while our family interests may be shared, they may also be divergent, and we need to be able to talk about that openly and honestly. As I've mentioned before there is potential for a lot of emotional struggle here. But if we can focus on each other's interests (i.e. family is really really important to me) before moving forward into specific "positions" (i.e. I have an awesome job in Canada) then the whole process might be both more fair and less emotionally fraught.

And the asking is really important as well. If we openly ask each other: "What are your personal interests, desires, goals? What are my personal interests, desires, goals? How does this relate to profession? To family?" We not only create space for discussion but we make it okay for each one of us to have those desires. In situations like ours both people can feel guilty for wanting what they want, or for not wanting something, and there is incentive to hide one's true feelings. But having a discussion about our basic underlying interests makes it okay to want.

Asking is also important because when you live with someone it is easy to think you know what they want or what their priorities are. But this is never, never something anyone should assume. Everyone should have the chance to speak their piece and be heard, especially in a marriage, and even if you ask and they say exactly what you thought they would, it is likely that the person will still appreciate having been asked the question.

I think that is all for lesson one.

Next up: 80% of Negotiation is Preparation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ugh, this is hard

In an attempt to procrastinate from homework I just went on a wedding blog binge that ballooned into photography and design blogs...all of which started to make me bitter and grumpy. Why can't I have a lovely home and a creative outlet that also happens to support me financially and bla bla bla bla.

C'mon Project Good Attitude, where you at? It was Thanksgiving after all.

Self: get it together and remember what you have to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A few months after D and I started dating, he and I were lazing around one day not really knowing what to do with ourselves. I was in a funk for god knows what reason and we were trying to figure out a low-key way to entertain ourselves and put me in a better mood. We ended up at the video store (remember those?) wandering around aimlessly, like you do. Somehow we ended up in front of the Addams Family movies and I became convinced that watching Addams Family Values would make me 100% better. I turned to D, desperation (and a little bit of joy at the prospect) in my eyes and asked:

"Can we pleeeeeease rent Addams Family Values?"

Luckily for our relationship he readily agreed. It totally did the trick.

A few weeks ago the original Addams Family movie was on TV and we watched snippets in-between a football game. D turned to me and said, "You know, I really don't think I could have married you if you hadn't loved the Addams Family." Uh...Ditto babe.

In honor of those stories I bring you this, my favorite Thanksgiving-themed anything:

And yes, apparently my life is wholly defined by campy movies from the 80s and 90s.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Can I get a Boo-Ya?

I'm not gonna lie, I have had one productive-ass weekend. Because I feel like patting myself on the back a little bit, here's a list of the things I accomplished since Friday (the * connotes involvement of the Hubs in said activity)

Watched Ghostbusters*
Went pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping (hello, nutmeg)*
Cleaned the house*
Did Laundry*
Bought new running shoes
Went on a walk
Wrote two (count 'em, two) papers
Studied for an exam for approximately 7 hours
Watched basketball with an old friend (related: drank microbrews and scotch)*

And on top of that, D$ rearranged our living room and I am waaay more excited about it than I thought I would be.

And so now, my dears, I am off to relax until tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

About that limbo

Today on the way to the grocery store D$ and I were talking about a friend of mine, who just got a really great job opportunity that will take her to NYC in a matter of weeks. D$ asked if she was scared and I was telling him that yea, she was nervous, but mostly really excited, when he said:

"Yea, that is why I am glad that next year, I will be moving with you."

I asked him to clarify and he said:

"Well, its just that all of that, moving to a new city, starting a new job, is normally so terrifying. But I'm not terrified at all, because I'm moving with you."

I just beamed.


Friday, November 20, 2009

I did it, y'all

I cooked dinner two nights ago. Yes, this is a fairly large event in our household. During our wedding I actually vowed to Daniel that I would cook dinner once a month, but I’ve already screwed that up (unless you count making burritos, which really only happened once and barely counts as cooking anyway).

Wednesday night I found myself without a class to attend, excessive homework to do, or any other obligations. Due to my being a jerk about dinner the night before and my campaign to have a better attitude, I decided that I should pull my weight and make us dinner.

The only problem is that I honestly don’t know how to cook anything. I spent all Wednesday surveying my grad school friends about easy recipes, stressing out, and searching on the internet for easy ideas that could turn my thawing chicken breasts into something delicious. I tried to look on Smitten Kitchen, as the hubs loves that blog, but I quickly remembered that that blog just makes me bitter and insecure.

So I ended up googling “chicken spice rub,” making up my own rub since I didn’t have all of the ingredients suggested in the first search result, and going from there. D$ was enlisted to purchase wine and set the heat on the burners.

The result: delicious, if weird-looking, chicken couscous.

Was I totally proud of myself? Yes.

Did I cook in a teddy and an apron? Obviously.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Now I feel sheepish (baaa).

So as you all probably already know, Meg has asked a whopper of a question today.

Q: Your Marriage: What do you want, what do you fear? Or, What kind of marriage do you want to have?

I was going to try and answer here, but that felt like cheating off of her to make my own blog post (I have total fears of being an asshole on the Internet without meaning to). And I was completely unsure how to answer.

But the question comes at a good time for me because, as noted, I've been in a total funk about my life lately, and I'm realizing how ridiculous I was acting. I went out with a bunch of friends on Saturday night and realized that two of them are going through either separations or divorces right now. One of these women is the most friendly, engaged, and all-around good natured people I have ever met- and I realized as we all celebrated and danced that she has been that good natured and friendly and fun to be around while her marriage is in crisis. And I, who have nothing to complain about besides an obnoxious supervisor and too much homework, have been a scowly pain in the ass for weeks. When I got home that night I grabbed the hubs and took him to bed. And then later told him that I felt like a spoiled brat and that I will try and realize how damn good I have it (in all things, not just my marriage).

But...I have to think more about Meg's question before I commit anything to writing here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Keeping me sane is teamwork, indeed.

It has been a rough couple of days. On Thursday I was hideously frustrated with school, and then I went to my yearly lady parts appointment and my [totally rad] doctor was fully pregnant and due in two weeks. And there were all these happy pregnant couples sitting in the waiting room. Long story short, I got back to school and emailed D$ to say "I want to drop out of graduate school and have a baby." Which obviously isn't a very fair thing to email one's new husband, but he responded by saying (over g-chat) "Dude let's just get preggers" before pointing out that a) I wouldn't be "big and round" until after graduation time anyway so I couldn't justify dropping out of school and b) we could just get a Slow Loris instead. We compromised; I will stay in graduate school and we will try to find a Slow Loris that I can put in little outfits.

Then, yesterday I stayed home from school to finish a job application that I had already spent hours on. Hours, people. The application was due at midnight last night and I had planned on having it done by noon, only to have the site reject my application over and over again for several hours in a row. I tried really hard not freak out; I took breaks, ran errands, repeated mantras about not wanting to move to that city anyway, and occasionally slammed my first down on the desk repeatedly. I held it together and had basically resigned myself to not applying for the job until D$ got home at around 6, when I started to lose it again.

But then my husband, my dear, sweet, large-brained, computer geek husband sat down and went through every damn text box in that damn application to figure out what was going on. And he fixed it. And I danced around and told him I loved him about twenty times, and I felt like a normal person for the first time in three days.

And then we walked to a bar to say goodbye to a dear friend, and lest you think the hubs is perfect, I should tell you that while walking he accidentally hit me in the head with our umbrella at least five times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I'm not normally the frilliest of girls, but...really. With the boots? I'm pretty sure I could make that work in a way that would make Tim Gunn proud.

Dress found via Etsywedding, originally from here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I am not happy about this

I realize that a lot of this blog has been me writing strange letters to inanimate objects, and I promise that won't become my schtick, but last night after hearing about the passing of the Stupak Amendment I got an email from Barak Obama, telling me to be proud of the House for passing the Health Care Reform bill and asking for my donation.

I raved a little bit, went to bed and then lay awake and fumed. Finally, I got out of bed, hit "reply," and wrote this:

Dear whoever reads this/President Obama,

How dare you send me a triumphant email about the health insurance reform bill mere hours after the House passed an amendment to restrict insurance from covering abortions?

I am tired of revolutions selling out womens' rights; tired of being told that my rights are not as important as the common good, as whatever lofty goal needs achieving.

And as for my $5 donation: I'll be saving that so if I happen to have a life threatening pregnancy I will be able to afford the abortion that my insurance won't cover.

Today, I am still upset. I mean, I work in policy and I know that people in government have to make terrible trade-offs every day. And I do think that passing health care reform is really important, but it is just such a familiar feeling. Women (and the GLBT community) being told, once again, to wait our turn. That the time just isn't right for us. I don't have a solution, and I can't even say for sure that the Stupak Amendment will matter (D has been telling me it will die in committee and I hope he is right), but it just exhausts and disheartens me that once again I am being told that my rights and health are not as important as the greater "common good."

Oh- my silly little e-mail got returned. Apparently you just can't "reply" to the President's e-mail...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear The Nest Magazine: Newsletter Edition

Dear The Nest Newsletter:

Did you REALLY just send me an e-mail (to my junk e-mail address, I am not stupid enough to let you have my real e-mail address) titled "Are you in a Sex Rut?"


Are you really going to go with that stereotype-laden email to your newlywed populous you heinous monsters?

For the record, Nest Magazine, my sex life is just fine. But thanks for putting the possibility that it isn't fine into the minds of all the poor saps that think your magazine is important. By titling your e-mail that all you are doing is buying into the stereotype that once people get married their sex lives shrivel. What is wrong with you, Nest Magazine? If I open that Newsletter, will I get a Cosmo-style tip to put a scrunchy somewhere naughty to "spice things up?" Who even wears scrunchies anymore?



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I can do this!

So, the hubs has the flu.

I feel like this is a test of my partnership duties. I want to be comforting and helpful! The thing is...I can't make soup or anything else comforting besides maybe a cup of tea.

But I can go to the local Vietnamese deli and pick up two pints of our favorite Chicken Egg Noodle Soup. And that is just what I did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

In Limbo

This will be long.

This week our household got some very exciting but potentially very nerve-wracking news. We found that that D is going to graduate this year, and he has immediately started working on applications to post-doctoral positions.

Those of you with experience in this know that the post-doctoral application process is intense; after one day D has identified over 30 positions he will apply for all over this country and several others. Applications are due between now and December and we probably won't know anything until at least March, if we are lucky.

This would be scary enough if it were only one of us who would be starting a new career or if we didn't so much care where we moved. But, get this: I am also graduating this year, and we have very, very strong preferences of where we live. And my degree is one that can be used almost anywhere, whereas D's is a very specific subset of a very specific field that can really only fit into a University with very similar research interests. So if we moved to the town where we both want to live I could find a suitable job fairly easily, but if D can't get a post-doc near there (which is basically not an option) than he would need to take a private sector job. He has always said this that he isn't too sure he wants to be a professor, so giving up a post-doc for a private sector job isn't terrible...but I can't help but think that when you've gone this far to get a PhD you should keep going.

To provide a little more context to this, let me go back in time a little. D and I started dating during the last semester of our undergraduate careers; a few months into our relationship I discovered that I had been offered a scholarship to live and study in West Africa for almost a year. D was slated to start grad school in the U.S. We lived apart, had a open but committed relationship while I was gone (a story for another day) and I moved back to join him when my time in West Africa was over. We have been here ever since.

The decision join him was one I made fairly easily because a) I wanted to be with him, b) he had a life-plan, and I didn't, so it made since to follow his plan for a while and c) there was much more opportunity to work in my field where he was living than in my hometown, which was where I had originally wanted to go after graduation/Africa. But the ease of the decision does not mean that in my worst moments I didn't heap all kinds of guilt upon him about it. The truth is that I would never have moved back to this town if it weren't for him, and sometimes this gets to me. But the other truth is that I really love the town I live in, I have really good friends here, and I have had good work and educational opportunities the whole time.

So we are entering this new phase with the knowledge of our past, and obviously the potential for fights, heartbreak, disappointment and sadness are huge here, and honestly I think we are both trying to hide how scared we are. Neither one of us wants to be so petty as to say "Well, we followed D's dream for a while, so now he has to sacrifice his so that MWK can live where she wants" or so gender and academia-normative to say "Well, a post-doc is the most important thing, we will move wherever D gets one and MWK can just wait a few more years to pursue her own career until D gets on his feet." Both of those options are basically shitty.

Why? Well I am scared that if we move to where I get a job, possibly meaning that D takes a private sector job instead of a post-doc, that he will grow resentful and unhappy. On the other hand, if he gets a post-doc in a tiny town in Canada I don't know that I can move there with him and not grow resentful and unhappy. [Note: I have nothing against tiny towns in Canada, except that they are far away from my family and friends and would make it hard for me to get a job I liked]. And the option of living apart is not one we are willing to take; yes we both have our separate dreams, but we have a damn lot of dreams that involve the other person as well.

There are couple pie-in-the sky options, like D's dream job, that would combine the place we want to live with great opportunities for both of us, and I have to try very hard not to emotionally think of those as realities. Up until now I have been really successful at figuring out what I want and working like a dog to make that happen, so it is hard for me not to believe that simply wanting something so bad won't make it happen. But seeing how much I want something only makes D feel more stressed to "make it happen" and I don't want to put unfair pressure on him that may cause him to give up something he truly wants in an effort to make me happy. I am pretty sure he feels the same way, (he worries out loud all the time about making me follow his dreams again when we have been doing that for years) but he has been keeping his feelings about this a little closer to his vest these days.

So we are coming upon a big, scary crossroads here in the first year of our marriage, and we are both very nervous. We have always said that we will both apply for jobs all over the place and than the person who gets the best job will "win." But we haven't really figured out how to decide what the "best" job is, and neither one of us would feel comfortable "winning" at the expense of the other.

I am trying hard to think of all this as exciting: a new town, a new apartment (or, inchallah, a house, even if we are renting) actual salaries for both of us. And all of those things will be exciting. And I know we love each other, and that ultimately we will make a decision that works for both of us. And that, if we are thoughtful and loving and respectful, at least most of the time, then we can come out as a stronger team in the end. But I am still nervous, and probably will be until...actually I am not even sure when I would stop being nervous about this.

My mom gave me the advice to "Remember the vine maple: use anything that happens as an opportunity for further growth." And this is what I will try to do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear The Nest Magazine:

What the F, how did you find me?

I mean, I know how you found me - I never should have signed up for your stupid Knot website and your hive-inducing to-do lists.

But WHY ARE YOU IN MY HOUSE? I didn't ask you to come here. In my 16 months of being engaged I never once bought a wedding magazine and I damn sure don't want a magazine that tells me how to act like a married person. The idea of "dating another couple" makes me want to stab myself in the eyeballs* and I don't need you to make me feel depressed about my white-walled and beige-carpeted apartment because it is all I can afford. I don't live in a damn bungalow and my only dinner dilemmas are a) what is D making and how soon will be be done or b) should I make my quesadilla in the microwave or on the stove.

So: get. out. I do not want you here! So far I have been able to avoid looking past your cover, but I fear that if you stay any longer I may acquiesce.

* More on this later.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If the Hubs and I co-wrote a blog

It would go like this:


D$'s Post: Check out this sweet dead-TaunTaun-as-sleeping-bag wedding cake:

**BigDogSmallBaby from PeoniesandPolariods (who got it from A Dirty Blonde)

**Dead TaunTaun Wedding Cake from Gizmodo, which is I site I didn't know existed until today. Yea. The hubs and I use the internet for different things...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WWII Veteran Speaks about Marriage Equality

I found this via boingboing and it made me cry.

Excerpt: "The woman at my polling place asked me "Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her: what do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"A Practical Wedding" on Wife-dom

Meg has written an absolutely wonderful and eloquent post on wife-dom and the reclaiming (or self-defining) there-of.

Go read it. Right this very minute.

My only complaint is that she wrote it today when I have too much homework/work/birthday celebrating to do to really be able to sit down and reply adequately.

Birthday Snacks

You know that terrible song about "Birthday Sex?" Well my friends and I discovered that it is a way better song if you just sing about Birthday Snacks instead. Try it out "Birthday snacks, Birthday snacks..." Way. Better.

And yes, it is my birthday! I woke up to an ice cream cake (yess!), tickets to a basketball game when my team comes to town, and DVDs of Ghostsbusters 1 and 2.*

Pretty f'ing excellent.

But the best part was the message on the cake:

[my name] = 3 cubed + Awesome cubed

It actually had the little higher-up 3s to designate cubes, but I can't figure out how to do that in blogger and am too lazy to keep trying.

Ah, love through numbers...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Read this: American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld's first book, Prep, threw my high school insecurities at me in such poignant, right-on language that I wanted to simultaneously jump for joy and jump out of the nearest window.

A good friend gave me her third book, American Wife, as a wedding present and it sucked me in so much that I had to tear myself away from it ON MY HONEYMOON. (Yes, I was reading a book with that cover on my honeymoon. Yes, I felt silly).

A highly fictionalized account of former First Lady Laura Bush's life, the book starts with her childhood and ends during the first term of her husband's presidency. The writing is impeccable and the story is fascinating; a peek into what it might be like to fall in love with and marry someone whose political views and family background are widely divergent from yours and then have that person unexpectedly gain the power to exert these views on an entire nation while you are expected to sit by as as the "wife." I wouldn't say that the book is about marriage, or even about American marriage, but it is a really well done and creative story that explores (fictionally!) a really famous woman's life before and after a marriage that grew to define her existence.

I gotta tell you, I had never thought much about Laura Bush before reading this book, but if I did think about her I am sure my thinking ran along the lines of "How could you be married to him?"* Which of course is totally unfair and demeaning and not about Laura Bush at all. What is great about this book is it isn't just "Here is a story of what it might be like to be married to a famous President." This book is about Alice Lindgren, a woman from the Midwest who is smart and independent, who loves to read and is interesting for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with who she chose to marry. It is also about how who she loves and marries has impacts on her life, but the person of Alice Lindgren never gets lost, and it is her that I kept wanting to hear more about.

Seriously. So good. I'm talking getting-past-grossness-of fake GWB-sex-scenes good. I think I liked the first part of the book before she meets fake-GWB better, but the whole thing is a very satisfying page-turner of a read.

Go read it! You can thank me later.

*Last year a friend of mine told me that when GWB met Laura and asked her what she did, she responded: "I smoke, and I read." So. Rad.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Conversations at our house, Take 2

Okay, so this wasn't actually a conversation that took place at our house (someone please shoot me if D and I start g-chatting while we are in the same room). This is a g-chat from work last week:

: It's perfectly reasonable to bomb the moon is what I"m telling you
3:49 PM http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/index.html
3:50 PM
MWK: so "lunar impacts" = bombing the moon?
D$: Well, let's see.
3:51 PM It is currently travelling at 2668 mph
and is 57,000 km out
3:56 PM D$: assuming it's now just falling toward the moon, it should end up going about 4,000 mph
MWK: what does this have to do with whether or not it constitutes bombing?
3:57 PM D$: well, hang on
I have to find out how much it weighs
ahh, 5000 lbs
3:58 PM OK
3:59 PM so, it turns out to be almost exactly the same energy as a TON of TNT

MWK: in other news: the Christina Aguilera channel on Pandora is totally awesome.

Made for Walkin'

The weekend with the parents was really nice- sometimes it is nice to be a daughter, you know? Both my dad and step-mom stayed in our apartment with us and it actually turned out really great. This was our first time hosting anyone as a married couple, and the definite first time having one of our parents stay with us, and I was nervous. Nervous that our place is too small, mostly, since it is a glorified studio with bedroom walls. We did have to re-do D and I's makeshift couch-bed in the living room each morning in order to have a place to sit, but it was actually fine. D made us breakfast every day and the four of us got to spend a lot of time drinking coffee in our PJs that wouldn't have happened if my parents had stayed in a hotel. And, my step-mom spontaneously said the apartment was "really homey," which is basically all I have ever wanted anyone to think.

But the real news is: I got the best early birthday present EVER. I have been drooling over Frye boots for a while now and inventing ways in which I could afford them (I don't need to pay grad school fees, right?) but I sort of thought that I would never actually get them. But, as it turns out my dad did take me shopping, in a huge way.

And just look at'em: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Frye's Carson Pull-On Boot

Maybe now I'll remember how old I am.

I'll spare you the tale of my guilt over the price tag because my Dad really did seem keen to get me something nice for my birthday and kept saying that he was saving money by staying at our house. Let's just say that my guilt is totally overwhelmed by my glee at getting to wear these bad boys around town. I was so excited that I bought two different kinds of leather protector, did internet research to find out which one to use, and have decided to use them both.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking a short break

My Dad and Step-mom are coming into town this weekend (actually my Dad is already here. He spent the night last night and is working from our apartment today) so I won't be posting until at least Monday. I will be too busy eating at restaurants I normally can't afford and trying not to feel silly about the fact that I am 26 years old and still want my parents to take me shopping.

So to the approximately four of you reading: don't go! I'll be back!

On another topic: last night was the first night that my dad met the kitties, and he looooves them.

Also: when I first wrote this post I wrote my age wrong and didn't realize it for a full ten minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Strong Women and Marriage

On our wedding day my mother's two best friends both came up to me separately and told me how much they loved our ceremony. These women loom large in my upbringing and their opinions meant a lot to me. They both mentioned one reading in particular and I was incredibly touched and happy that the reading struck a chord with them. The reading itself also comes from a pretty awesome place; the woman who wrote it, Madeleine L'Engle, wrote some of my favorite children's books and I think she was a wonderful role model for strong women everywhere. I've been thinking about it a lot so I thought I'd reproduce it here. Apologies: it is long.

I'm asked with increasing frequency, "But why marry?", a question to be taken seriously. The desire to make sure that there is integrity in love, that neither partner wants to use or manipulate the other, is a healthy one. But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other much ask themselves how much they love for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take.

If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.

When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together, we become a new creature.

[Someone once said]...that marriage is a question not of creating a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries, but rather a good marriage is that in which each appoints the other the guardian of his solidtude. My love for my husband and his for me is in that unknown, underwater area of ourselves where our separations become something new and strange, merge and penetrate like drops of water in the sea. But we do not lose our solitudes, or our particularity, and we become more than we could alone.

Madeliene L'Engle, The Irrational Season*

*Full Disclosure: I pieced this together from a longer chapter.
**Full Full Disclosure; I first read this quote, in a slightly different format, on the "Vows" forum on IndieBride. Check it out!
***Geek Out - Can't you just see Charles Wallace reading this at Meg(aparsec) and Calvin's wedding? No? That's just me?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear Universe,

You know that dream job? The one that D$ told me he wanted years ago and is actually open now exactly at the right time for him to apply for it? The dream job that also happens to be in the city where we both want to move?

If you could arrange for him to get that job, I'd really appreciate it. Like, a lot.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conversations at our house, Take 1

Me: Is Stephen Colbert married?

D$: I think so.

Me: Can you imagine being his wife?

D$ (immediately): I would marry him in a second. AND dress up like a woman every day.

Lessons from the Sea?

We got a belated wedding present in the mail today, from D's aunt, who I have never met. It was this book:
Secrets of a Very Good Marriage: Lessons from the Sea

I haven't read it yet (hello, it arrived today!) but I will let you know how it is. It doesn't really look like my kind of book, but along with the book came a card, and along with the card came this note:

I hope your marriage is a happy one. And I hope that through it, because of the support of it or maybe because of the pressure of it, you are able to take risks, grow, and find something true.

Ex.fucking.actly. I got teary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

F-ing A!

Just noticed that I am the one-and-only link on Meg's new section "Reclaiming the Word Wife" on A Practical Wedding!

This makes me very very happy and very very nervous. Because people might actually come here now.

Guess I gotsta step up my game.

If you've found your way over from A Practical Wedding, welcome! Let's be internet friends, yes?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't get a read on this...thoughts?

Today while I was at work researching immigration policy and being alternately enraged and enheartened Pandora kept interrupting my Busta Rhymes jam sessions to advertise this website:

*sorry for the terrible screen shot - the internet gets the better of me a lot. Also I have no actual image programs on my computer

I tried to ignore it for a while but then curiosity got the best of me and I HAD to check it out. Apparently it is some sort of website for married people? To help with them with their married lives and offer resources?

I dunno, I suppose I should be really excited about this but something about it weirds me out. I made D$ do some internet-sleuth work to figure out if it was some sort of veiled "Pro-Marriage as in Anti-Same-Sex-Rights" propoganda or secretly done by a religious group, because it has that weird uber-normal-not-really-saying-anything kind of ad that usually means "we secretly want to take your rights away." But as far as he (or I) can tell it is part of a Health and Human Services Program called The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center (NHMRC) which is "a national resource and clearinghouse for information and research relating to healthy marriages."

As you can see from the screen shot the website features pointers on communication, "how-to"s on finding time for your honey, and other tips. It all seems pretty innocuous, so why am I so weirded out by it?

I mean, think about it. I started this blog to process my own marriage, and I would love for there to be more people talking about marriages (or commitments) instead of just weddings. So why am I not excited about this website? I think it might be the squeaky-cleanness of it, or maybe the intense hetero-normativity (why shouldn't it address all committed relationships? Why married and engaged couples and not just couples? Where is the section on domestic same-sex partnerships)? I can't help but thinking there is some sort of hidden message that I would find offensive - if I could only figure out what it was

So what is it? Am I just a cynical naysayer who can't appreciate an honest effort to support marriage? Or is there something fishy here?

Things I can't wait to have # 1


Or one bathroom that looks like this.

I would settle for dual sinks, but I'm hoping I won't have to. And since the world where we no longer live in our current apartment is but a far-away dream, I can fantasize-up whatever I want.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2 months

We've been married for two months. Neither one of us realized it was our "monthaversary" until about 8 p.m., which could have something to do with the fact that we were accidentally out until 1 a.m. last night celebrating a friend's achievement, which led to a very foggy morning for the both of us.

The evening's anniversary activities included drinking our favorite cheap wine and eating pizza from the place next door. In our sweatpants. While we watched Project Runway and Psych. Now D$ is off to a party and I am off to bed so I can actually get some homework done tomorrow.

Before we realized it was our two month mark I was watching NCIS (don't hate) in my PJs while D$ goofed around on our computer. I had a momentary moment of "oh no! We are ignoring each other on our Friday night" - but then I realized that we were both doing exactly what we wanted to be doing after a long week of school and work. And I was just glad to be in the same room with him while we each relaxed in our own way.

And then I convinced him to go buy us pizza so we could snuggle and watch PR together.

It really was the best kind of night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"So how is being married? Is it different?"

I've been asked this many many times since the wedding, and my response is normally something like, "Oh well, you know, it's great! Not really that different, blah blah blah." To be honest, I never really know how to answer, because:

1) This is one of the those questions that people don't really want the answer to. Like if someone asks how you are and you say "Fine" because it would be weird if you said "Ugh, I have had the farts all day like you wouldn't believe." Even if married life was terrible (and it totally isn't) it would be super awkward if I said that.

2) The people who ask seem to expect me to say it isn't that different; they make a face like that is what they expect me to say and it is easy to comply. I do feel different, more stable and quietly happy and rooted in a way that I didn't expect, but I'm not going to tell that to my old co-worker on the bus.

3) To be honest, up until a week ago, after the honeymoon ended and our normal lives commenced again, it didn't seem all that different (aforementioned feelings excluded).

Up until a week ago.

About two weeks ago I got in a huge fight with some close family members. The biggest in years...we're talking angry letters (in the mail! With stamps!) huge gaping emotional wounds being opened, etc. Normally this would have broken me for days but this time I felt much calmer than normal. Not that was I wasn't upset, I definitely was. I didn't even realize what kept me so calm until after the fact, but then someone asked me that stupid question and I went, Aha! It felt different to be going through it with my husband. It wasn't that D did anything any differently than he would have done two months ago (in fact he was barely involved in the whole thing) but for some reason the knowledge that he was there on my side made the whole thing easier. I guess it felt like, hey, I am making my own family now, and that made the ordeal with my parents and siblings all that much easier.

Figuring this out made me really happy but it also sort of weirded me out. It gave me a good answer to the question, for one thing. What is weird is that I would never EVER argue that marriage is the key to anything, much less stability or emotional balance, but it does seem to have increased both of those things in me.

That is all the analysis I have right now. Yes, it is different. But I am still figuring how and why, and I am damn sure that the "difference" marriage makes is different for everyone (and not something that marriage has a patent on, to be sure).

Monday, September 21, 2009

D$ would like you to know

That not only did I go to a restaurant for brunch while he went to the laundromat, I went to his favorite restaurant. oops.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I mean, really

This morning, D$ got up early to help me clean (including vacuuming the cat hair off the couch), then went to the laundromat and did our laundry while I went to brunch with a friend.

And then later he made me dinner. Tofu curry, to be exact.

Someone please remind me of all this next time I am mad at him for something stupid.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So here we go

Hello, internets.

How does one start the very first blog post of one's very first blog? Does one introduce oneself, even though one knows that there are no readers (mostly because one has hidden the blog from view)?

I guess I'll just jump right in. After a year and a half of reading (the awesome and non-panic-inducing) wedding blogs and developing secret crushes on the wise wedding ladies of the internet I got married a little less than two months ago. I've been thinking about starting a blog for a long time, I fancied myself a writer in earlier years, but I have always hesitated. I wasn't sure what to write about, or to whom I would be writing, or if it all wasn't just a little bit silly. But since the wedding, since starting out in the brave new world of married life, I have been feeling the urge to write more and more. Because there is all this talk about weddings and not as much about marriages. And so far I think that marriage is pretty darn great, and definitely worth thinking and writing about. I've heard that the first of marriage is one of the most difficult, and frankly I'm prepared for that. If it is then I wanna talk about it - really think about what makes it so difficult and how my husband and I can work through it together and come out on the other side hand in hand.

And if it isn't hard, well then I would like to gloat. (I kid!)