Thursday, September 5, 2013

Alia and the Amazing Techni-color Dream Shoes

(Hi friends! Alia and I try to swap off and I didn't realize that she was the last one to write! I feel like a fool but decided to make it up so everyone by writing a new blog posts. I'd like to get in the habit again, like a nun.)

So, strange as is seems, there's been a run of crazy dreams. Not like magic dreams, or even mundane dreams, but the abstract ones like "I'm going to run a lot this month" type of dreams. The dreams that get in your head via the corner of your eye, so you can never quite get around to them.

Those of you familiar with my health situation in the past might know that I had knee surgery in the spring. The year leading up to that procedure and following it until mid-summer (night's dream?), I wasn't allowed to run at all, which was frustrating. In the past, I would try to get Alia to run, and occasionally a jog or something would happen, but it was hard to get anything going considering I couldn't do anything with her anyway!

However! I was able to discover her muse, the pied piper for her cute little feet. She needed REALLY BRIGHT SHOES.

It's quite simple, you see. Bright cool (minimalist) Nike shoes are hot and sexy. How hot? So hot, in fact, that they pretty much force you to run, the brightness and intensity of the color reflected figuratively (maybe literally?!?!?) powering your legs until you become the next Ted Corbitt......... The FATHER of American Ultramarathons......

Anyway, we picked up Alia a pair of snazzy shoes. Got some cute shorts, tanks, etc all in order. Next thing you know she's a running machine!

It's been pretty fun to watch, honestly. She has gone from having very little faith in her running ability (and lung capacity) to pushing herself and beating her best times and really tripling or quadrupling her runs. 

I basically think it's awesome, and I'm happy we found the perfect way to motivate. Once she has rundown this pair, we can find even BRIGHTER, SEXIER shoes. Maybe by then, she really will be like Connie Gardner. .....  the 24 hr US women's record holder (149 mi).....c'mon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Dimensions of Words and Writing

{Here I sit. Homework, untouched for the most part, rests before me in a jumbled array of dejection. Pencil dangling idly in one hand, I stare off into that unending space, that dimension which can exist along side any reality without any metaphysical difficulties whatsoever. The last fizz of my tepid carbonated water whispers seductively of its very solitary state, vying for recognition. The sun’s sweltering rays, magnified by my kitchen window, caress my face in attempts to elicit some reaction. My blasé surroundings solicit my every sympathy, but in vain. I am in that haze of ethereal oblivion; I’ve just received literary inspiration, and have spiraled into to those unremitting, fathomless depths.

I shiver, an action that brings me hurtling painfully back to reality. I find myself intruiged, rather poetically I think, by the endearingly personified nature of everything around me. My kitchen cabinets seem burnished, shimmering in the evening warmth. The sun appears to smile, showering me with effulgent, rainbow shafts of light. The chair I’ve settled in embraces me tenderly. My pencil is clearly an artist’s friend, and the uncompleted derivatives of f(x) lying before me surely hold the key to the universe. Everything is ode-worthy and nothing is commonplace. I reach for a bright, clean piece of paper—what magnanimous paper!—and let the words, like living things, spill to the page.}

Use your words…

Words are like fibers of a tapestry, endowing a layer of beauty to the dank, flaking wall of time—even when they compose cliché and hyperbolic phrases. I’ve always loved their versatility, their cunning, their enabling power to navigate through any entanglement of thought. Since I was small, I’ve been amazed by the many levels of senses through which literature can be experienced.  It began with simple construction and syntax. Disconcerted yet awestruck, I watched the silhouetted female profiles on Electric Company assemble word after word: B—Ox. Box! F—Ox. Fox! M—An. Man! From Bob’s Books to Ralph Waldo Emerson, I’ve long been fascinated with the scope of the English language.

I learned to enjoy writing much later than I learned to enjoy reading the writing of others. Despite this, writing eventually found a host in my being like a parasite. Although I am still in very premature stages of the process, there are a few things whose importance have become apparent to me. This group of things is comprised primarily of the following:  emotion, enlightenment, and a bit of healthy plagiarism (say what, now?)

Actively Insane

I’ve always been impartial to the sappy stereotype of the high-shcool diary consisting of typified teenaged girl dialect: “Dear diary, blah, blah, blah.” Thou shalt abstain from feckless writing! If I’m are going to expend all that mental and physical energy required to put words on paper, it had better be worth it…a depiction of my laziness. And a paradoxical one at that--I avoid work unless it’s hard? Oh well—my lunacy is no secret. For me, it has to convey emotion. It has to be me. Things that happen to me are not me. Writing is not a passive enterprise. Today was okay. I was assigned a lot of homework. So-and-so is said this about what’s-her-face… By the sounds of it, “today” sort of happened to me. Emotion doesn't have to be profound, it needn't even be complicated, but it is sincere, and it is kinetic. I have a tendency to emote all over the page in front of me.

A Demanding Mistress

I happened upon one of my journals from Jr. high the other day. Amid the sappiness, I found this sappiness:

I have come to several conclusions today; education is a choice, happiness is an attitude, and I am falling out of love with {so and so} . Hmmm…love? No. Indeed, between us there was no austere silence, but a vapid listlessness, a warmth and a comfort of acceptance…

{it gets worse}

Is this excerpt a bit over the top? Alright, I’ll admit—it might be so high up that it’s suffocating for lack of oxygen. And I’ll admit that this folly has often been the cause of those 3-month to 2-year gaps in journal writing…sometimes I just don’t feel up for being a poet. I can't fulfill my own requirement of artful genius. I never really do. So I don't even try. My progeny will wonder where I disappeared to during those gaping cavities. Maybe if I were willing to simplify (practical-ify, more like), I’d actually be more productive. Melodrama is a demanding mistress, but for me, often well worth one’s time in terms of future significance/gratification; who wants to re-read journal entries about homework assignments, or an essay void of voice and passion? True, I have often been criticized for my “fluffy”, “over-complex”, “incomprehensible”, “incoherent” and even “delusional” writing. My affinity for words in general has evolved into a propensity to—well…simply use too many of them. Additionally, I tend to poem-ify topics that are (seemingly) empirically artless and mundane; rheumatoid arthritis, for example, or the composition of whitefish blastula.  I’m endeavoring to veer from writing all assignments in a way that could easily be versified.

And I said: Let there be intelligibility!

I soon began to view the act of writing as a way of achieving enlightenment (for however brief a period). Right now, thoughts definitely flow more fluidly and artfully from my mind through my fingers to medium (typing/ writing to paper etc.) than from my mind through my vocal chords. I flow from notion to notion far more candidly and eloquently autographically than vocally.  Which can be annoying. Most people can articulate their thoughts vocally (which is vastly more useful in terms of day-to-day life). As for me, piteously, my preference originates from the desire to actually be able to express myself (a rare occurrence in my day-to-day life).Writing allows me to pick words out of the swirling debris of consciousness and place them in some semblance of an order. In this way, it has become a sort of personal revelation for me. Once my thoughts have materialized on the page, they are real. So its not merely a narrative account, but an act of realization, and even creation.

Art is Dead

Lastly, writing, like any art form, is subject to theft (gasp!). In music, there is no originality. It has all been done. It is the slight artistic variations that allow the art to continue and thrive. In jazz particularly, there is an unrestricted vault of licks, riffs and progression that composers approach and use at their discretion. Although the world of literature imposes slightly more stringent restrictions, a similar system exists. Writing, although it can be the purest reproduction of someone's exclusive and personal sentiment, is also subject to variation based on the author’s exposure to other literature. This inherent bias in everyone’s personal arsenal of words and phrases cannot be helped. 

In my room, on the bottom, right corner of my desk, rests The List. The List consists of any word or phrase that I have read or heard and found aesthetically, aurally, or otherwise pleasing for some reason or another. They are random and widely varying. Such words as lithe, porcelain, serendipity, lilt, panacea, cadence…shivers. What’s that? You didn’t know I was a dork? Well, now you know. Phrases such as “a blur of bodies”, “purple and blue like swirling oil”, “as vivid as a specter”, “fixtures flaking with rust”…sigh. It’s like they fill in the cracks somewhere in my brain. I often refer to The List when I can’t think of a way to depict precisely what is transpiring in the mess of my mind, using it to direct my thoughts and create accessible visages of thought (not quoting them exactly, mind you). Initially this may seem corrupt, or at least dishonest. However, I rationalize this behavior with the assertion that Billy Collins wouldn’t mind one bit.

So, as middle-schoolers are taught to end their papers...

"In conclusion"

Although my trail through the mire of incompetent writing has been (and continues to be) long and often characterized by trepidation and loss, it has been as rewarding as arduous. Though not every piece I’ve written has been the picture of eloquence (okay, not even a few), I try to entangle every word with the lucid tendrils of my emotion.  And every time I become lost in the haze of literary inspiration (even if the product is only inspiring to me) I emerge a little more sure of who I am. And that’s good enough for me.

{I blink several times before my eyes adjust to the dimness. I’m sitting in the center of a vaporous and misty room,  “Where am I?” I venture. The vapor subsides somewhat and a streak of light like opaque, gossamer paint, reveals my muse for the moment. All is lucidly clear.  For now, my disembodied, effervescent thoughts transcend the wall of consciousness, ready for me to put them into words. To make them real. Don’t talk to me now; I’m writing. }

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lessons learned in 20 months

So, Alia and I have been married for 20 months, give or take a few hundred thousand seconds. And, sometimes I feel like that is a lot. Then, I realized if an elephant got knocked up on our wedding night, it wouldn't have even given birth yet.

Mrs. Elle Phant at Lamaze class (breathe in through the trunk)

I guess visuals like that give me perspective on just how short our time together in holy matrimonial bliss has been. However, 20 months has been plenty of time to be productive. I have learned all sorts of things I would have never known had I not married my sweetheart. So, to honor this arbitrary milestone, here is an arbitrary list of things I've learned in marriage.

Never say "fine"--Fine is barely sufficient, fine is passable. When Alia asks how she looks, she doesn't want to hear "fine". "Glorious" or "Ravishing" is preferred, but "fine" is like the toothbrush treat on Halloween of compliments; yeah, it's something, but nobody wants it.

It doesn't matter who made the mess-- Pretty self-explanatory. I have found that I can't earn brownie points by showing how much of the mess was hers--still have to clean it up, and lickity-split at that.

Say "Yes" to the dress (and the receipts)-- If my baby wants new cloths, she can get new cloths, dangit, and I can't cringe when the check-out numbers get higher than Cheech and Chong.

If you start a TV show on Netflix, be prepared to suspend all other needs/desires-- Sometimes, I'll be sitting there and mention that we should try this show or that. It's hard sometimes to convince Alia to try some of them, but then next thing you know, you've seen all 6 seasons (and a movie!) in two days. So, hopefully this happens on a Friday so I don't miss work.

Don't Bait Alia with Surprises-- Ok, I love anticipation. It probably derives from my parents over-doing peak-a-boo games with me as a child, but either way, I like surprises. Alia, on the other hand, HATES surprises that you tell her about before. Por ejemplo, if I go up to her and say "Alia, I just got something super cool for your birthday", she will put me in a chokehold or tickle me until I pass out if I don't tell her exactly what I got and when it is coming. This has just led me to be more creative in my surprises, or doing a bait'n'switch and pretend I got her something super-lame when in actuality it is mind-blowingly awesome (Though some people think blenders or bread-machines are lame). I know my baby, and though it's fun to torture her with suspense, I've been trying to just blindside her with gifts instead.

My Wife is Super Cool-- This is pretty obvious, but 20 months of marriage has just confirmed the fact that I got lucky and married a sweet, wonderful, beautiful, talented, cuddly girl. I know sometimes she feels icky-picky from food allergies and the like, and she describes herself as some sea-monster, but that couldn't be further from the truth. You are always the most beautiful girl in the world, Lee, and I'm glad I married you :-)

Did She Say "Steampunk"?

"Steampunk?" asks the average person over 40, "Maybe she said 'punk rock' or 'steamtown' or 'Stephen'..."

The time has come, I feel, for some classification/clarification on the subject of the various "punk" cultures that are relevant to our day and age. Okay, perhaps their relevance is limited to the appreciation of certain "nerd" subculture...but that is a discussion for another day. I'm doing you a favor really; not knowing about steampunk makes you, in the words of Rainn Wilson,  #Officially Old.

What the heck is Steampunk? Ah, see, that's kind of the problem. Its a bit hard to explain. Its a genre of science fiction and fantasy, its a fashion movement, it celebrates Victoriana and is anti-technology, yet it subverts elements of technology by deconstructing and reinventing them. In need of a visual? Here's a steampunk laptop and a steampunk guitar...the concepts of which aren't altogether consistent  with the culture they represent, but they give you an idea of the style.

Some of mainstream culture may joke that Steampunks are simply the matured refugees of the Cyperpunk era. The most obvious difference is the one between Anachronistic and Sci-Fi subcultures. Steampunk lives in the civilized and decadent past, while the Cyperpunks prefer a more rugged, crime-infused world of the future. Key word? Robotics. On the other hand, Steam-powered gadgets are vastly different from the electronic toys of the cyperpunk era. For one, aesthetics. Steampunks haul around brass gadgetry that is bulky, obvious, and ornate. Its showy and outlandish. In short, its a subculture of statement pieces given new meaning via science taht has been made obsolete and therefore attractive to those who feel above the current culture. Pretty pretentious, really. Like nerdy hipsters!

Cyberpunks are sleek, chrome, and decked in black and green and glowing blues, with tiny computers and embedded microchips. Wires abound and, yes, these glorified hackers keep from electrocuting themselves. And is it just me or do cyberpunks seem to get a lot of time running about grimy and rain-slicked city streets (that might look something like this:)

...getting into motorcycle chases despite the general sedentary nature of the hacker lifestyle? Also the internet is everywhere and is the answer to everything. Lastly, robots infiltrate and are part of everything, even, often, human anatomy.

And lets not forget the power of visual learning. For an intro to the Cyberpunk world, just watch  The Matrix or  Blade Runner. Curious about Steampunks? Think of things like Castle in the Sky or Van Helsing.

That's all I have by way of a brief introduction. If you aren't a nerd and don't much know why you even finished this post, well, my apologies. If you are a nerd, you'll understand me when I say that for now, I'm just waiting for science to develop the hologram-projecting headgear that'll plug me into the interactive mainframe of Internet 2.0, and let me zip back (or sideways, or whichever direction) in time to a place where I can lug around a steam-powered jet-pack and wear knee-high leather boots, a silk Victorian-style bodice, a mini top hat and over-sized airplane goggles.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Couple's Creative Hobbies

Well, world, I don't know if you noticed but Alia and I have been married for almost THREE MONTHS. I know it isn't a particularly long time in a geologic sense or anything, but it still seems like it has flown by to me.

The transition to Couplehood has been a bit, well, surprising, to tell you the truth. I figured that being married would be a continuation of us hanging out together, occasionally seeing some friends, and just pluggin along through life. The only difference from engaged life and married life, in my perspective, was that I wouldn't have to drive Alia home to that forsaken apartment complex, University Villa. Man, was that place a dump.

Anywhoodle, becoming a couple is much more than that, I have realized. I'm not sure if it was the couple months in a couple's ward that made me realize this, or just the other married friends that I have, but a good couple has to have some sort of creative hobby that makes them better than everyone else.

See, in the past, I measured my worth by the attractiveness of girls I dated. I won't say that I was always the best (no offense to any ex's that read this (why are you reading this anyway? move on.)), but I definitely snagged a good one at the end and married her. Basically, I was at the top of my game and felt sufficiently awesomer than my peers.

However, after marriage, nobody cared about that anymore. The other married couples wouldn't compare themselves unfavorably to me, since they were all married too! So, what was I to do? How could I brag to others and prove that I am the best?

After some really deep soul-and-blog-searching, I realized that in order to prove myself superior, I needed to have superior couple's hobbies. Weekly Battlestar Galactica marathons don't make you awesomer than other couples, but weekly sky diving trips do. You know what I mean. I had to nonchalantly pick up a hobby that I could casually drop in conversations at church to make me feel better than the other person.

Which is why, after considerable debate, Alia and I are becoming Bounty Hunters. Now, I'm not talking Dog level hunters, I mean if Boba Fett had an awesome wife, and they went around killing guys, he would always be judging himself off of US.

Now, I know what you are thinking, "Wow, that's so hardcore." Don't you think I know that? Forget scrap-booking--more like crap-booking. Even my amazing sisters, Stacy and Jenny...talents of cake decorating and photography leave a little to be desired, don't you think? Does your camera turn into a jet-pack, Jenny? Can you carbon freeze Han Solo with fondant, Stace? I thought not.

We aren't there yet, but it's a start. And, I am just so grateful to my supportive wife who doesn't condemn me for my dreams and aspirations, and gives me room to grow as a married man. She's always been there for me, watching my six and giving me reloads. I love you, honey.

And, I'm glad we are so much cooler than everybody else.

Alia's Costume Design. She wanted a more feminine feel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Productivity Block

"What do you mean you don't have dry erase boards?" I bark at the elderly woman sitting behind the Customer Service counter at Home Depot. "I can buy a cement mixer, hot dogs and a heart-shaped toilet seat but piece of fiber board covered in glossy plastic is beyond the scope of Home Depot? I mean the building only covers the same ground area as an international airport. In fact, between the plants and the fountains, this place probably functions as its own eco-system, but where on Planet Depot would you find room to fit something practical?"
I am answered with the empty stare of bewilderment. This poor woman after 80 years of bare knuckle boxing her way through life, two world wars, The Great Depression, disco, Pearl Harbor the event and Pearl Harbor the movie, has now resigned herself to a bright orange smock and a name tag because she needs the health insurance to cover her litany of chronic illnesses trying to prevent her from the satisfaction of seeing the end of the world. And now she has me to contend with, badgering her about an item no one really needs unless they're giving a lecture on wave function relativity…or using it as a prop in a movie about someone giving a lecture on wave function relativity. 

I am searching for a dry erase board because I have Productivity Block. You know, like writer’s block only extending to any and every endeavor in life. And through the flawless prism of logic that I have constructed, a dry erase board will obviously assist me in fabricating efficiency. How, you ask? Because I can pace around my apartment wearing a button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, squeakily scribbling down have-done’s and to-do’s in various colors of marker, depending on each items level of importance, circling some, underlining others. (I write the have-done’s so that I can have something to check off, thus providing the illusion of accomplishment. If I could do those things there’s no reason why I can’t do these things, right?). I can then place the preferably oversized whiteboard in an overwhelmingly obvious place on the wall, where I can see it no matter where I am in the room.

Okay, let’s be realistic. I don’t have Productivity Block. I could be productive if I wanted to. I have Productivity distraction. And the entirety of my blame falls squarely on the interwebs.

Culprit #1: Facebook.
If you are trying to be productive, Facebook will surreptitiously tip-toe into your room, softly press a pillow over the face of your productivity and deftly smother it to death. Do you log in to Facebook anymore? Do you even need to use a password? If not, then you are like me—a broken human, continually plugged in. You have now fully integrated with the social network. You are a freaking appendage of your Facebook status update. What is the point? To wait for someone to comment and validate your banal existence?
Culprit #2: Google.
Google is especially dangerous because it blankets you in the illusion of productivity. You say to yourself that you are on a quest for information and information is power! You start telling yourself you are looking for a chili recipe or a news story about the midterm election and 12 hours later you find yourself dehydrated, shaking, and concluding a 300-page Wikipedia entry about monarch butterflies. Another day wasted...but did you know the monarch butterfly is believed to have reached some of the islands it has colonized by hanging on to the riggings of ships?
Culprit #3: Everything Else on the Interwebs
YouTube, Chat, eBay, blogs, podcasts, etc. All of these things distract from a well-lived life. You can go on YouTube and literally not enjoy anything you watch for six hours but continue to search anyway. You can have a chat conversation with an old friend that takes three hours to type, yet fail to comprehend that the same conversation uttered in our native tongue would take three minutes. Ebay is a great way to not only blow a day but $500 as well. No, you don't need a collection of soup spoons used in the Roosevelt Room of the White House during the first Bush Administration... but throw in the linens and you might have yourself a deal.
So I have written this, and you are reading it. Oh have gotten lost on your path to getting directions to Red Lobster. You are probably already drowning in a tidal wave of extraneous nothingness, submerged in a sea of Adam Lambert and cat videos and non-descript photos of mishaps with “fail” printed in power font across the bottom; I still have only a vague understanding of what that means, but if you spend more than 30 seconds looking at it, someone should stamp "fail" on your forehead. You have been trying to update your resume for weeks now, for goodness’s sake; I can't help you with that! Snap out of it, can you hear me? Run as fast as you can, shut this thing off and throw it through your window and scream at the top of your lungs, "I'm bored as heck and I won't take it anymore!"
But before you hurl your PC or Macbook, shattering the glass prison that enslaves you against the infinite opportunity that awaits outside your apartment, friend me on Facebook and click on a few banner ads! I love US Bank! Did you know you can deposit checks using your iPhone! Wow!
If I were you, I'd consider investing in a dry erase board.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Well, it's been done. Inception. For those of you who have seen the movie, the titular procedure's success was tentative, as the entire film was a subversion of reality.

But, I am pleased to announce to you today that my lovely and amazingly astral empowered wife has done it. She tricked herself into studying while she sleeps.

You see, poor Alia has, for some time, been swimming in a sea of homework. I won't say she is drowning, because she's pure awesome, but it has been with as much effort as it would take me to eat a raw onion.

However, she has found a way to study while she sleeps. By implanting the idea of anatomy lectures, she has secretly been getting her RN in the dark hours of 12:00 am to 6:00am (not weekends or holidays). Her technique would have gone undetected, unacknowledged, were it not for the awful sleep I had last night.

I'd say it was about 3:30 am. The scene? Lying in bed, unable to drift back to my fantasies of becoming a post-apocalyptic John Connor, I was startled to see my previously slumbering sweetheart sit upright and suddenly call out "Bryce!? Bryce! Where are you?"

Now, if you don't know, Bryce is Alia's younger brother of 16, and known recipient of Alia's obligatory older sibling bullying and teasing. I sat in trepidation, wondering what heinous scheme would be unfurled upon me, if I was to be identified as her younger brother. I remained silent, quickly praying that I could avoid the possible tickling or punching or being convinced everybody was a demon (all things Alia would do to her poor brother and sisters).

Alia, however, was tenacious, and began to slap her hand around the bed like a blind beggar searching for dropped change. She quickly found my torso, and her hands leaped to my shoulder and began to shake me.

"Bryce! Bryce! Wake up, you have to wake up!"

Now, I was beginning to wonder to what extent was Alia's lack of lucidity, so I calmly responded (though I fear'd my tremulous palpitations would betray me),

"Who am I?"

Hoping I wouldn't get a joking 'Jean Valjean' response in return, I was slightly relieved to hear her response.

"You're Bryce, silly! You have to wake up!"

"Why do I have to wake up?"

"Because you have a camera around your neck!"

Well, this certainly wasn't the response I was expecting. Curious as to the new line of thought, I pushed ahead, cautious of what might lay before me.

"What kind of camera is it?"

This elicited a slap to her own forehead, in comedic frustration with my complete ineptitude.

"The kind of camera our FAMILY HAS!" her voice dripping with forced patience. "The only camera we own!"

I was curious still, however, at the exact purpose, and questioned her on the matter.

"What is the camera for?"

This brought another slap to her forehead. Clearly, we were not on the same plane here.

"You need it for the right side of the digestive system! You need it...for...for...the digestive system."

This dialog had clearly drained her energy, and she began to sink back on the bed. The cause, however, of the dream became clear.

Alia had planted the idea of running a endoscopic examination using a flexible camera to evaluate the digestive system. It was so simple, so brilliant, so much better than studying the textbook or going to labs! My wife is a genius!

So, when I informed Alia that this discourse had occurred, she was mildly embarrassed that I discovered her secret, but I assured her that nothing was wrong with different types of studying, as long as she didn't make me think I had to put my head on a train-track to see Spiderwing, my beloved, imaginary son.

So, Bravo, Alia. I'm not even sure Cobb, Arthur, and Ariadne could have come up with something so brilliant. Bravo.

But, you mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baby names

So, for the past while, Alia has liked to occasionally bring up the topic of baby names. Now, this in no way implies that either of us is planning to have any need for baby names for a while, but discuss them we do. I think it stems from a socio-cultural atmosphere of baby making inherent in the Church, with it's history back to the far-flung days of yore when Alia was in Young Women and they would have activities like "Picking Baby Names", or "How to Choose an Appropriately Worthless Major in College while Still Showing You are Intelligent, So You Can Get Married and Use the 'Baby Names' Lesson".

Anyway(s), it has become a focal point of, how did she phrase it?....debates. The problem being that I don't like any boy names. None. I hate most other boys, and I have always thought boy names were stupid.

Girl names are so euphonious; the way they lyrically drip off the tongue like warm syrup onto the Eggo's of my ears. Alia is a prime example. Beautiful name, good job Ang and Rich.

However, guys have names like Bob, Jermaine, and Spike. Additionally, any name that does sound good runs the very high risk of sounding effeminate. And if that isn't enough, as Alia and I are both the coolest nerds we know, and major geeks, we tend to want to use names we'd see in The Silmarillion or some other fantasy book/video game. I don't want to name my first son Turin Turambar.

Also, every time Alia mentioned a name, I would retort by saying that I knew a guy with that name, and he was a total loser, and if we named our child that, he would most certainly become a prostitute or a drug dealer or would buy Linkin Park CDs. All of which are completely unacceptable.

So, what to do?

Well, Alia asked me last night, while I was trying to fall asleep, but since I love her, I postponed my slumbers for a few minutes, considered it thoughtfully, and said the best name I could think of: Spiderwing. I mean, what's more awesome than Spider that could fly? Forget the ballooning or swinging--- a flying spider is a foe to be reckoned with.

Well, that was met with the appropriate punches in the arm and exasperated sighs. So, I thought a little bit harder, and came up with Merlin. Good name. Powerful wizard, and an older gentleman, the Patriarch, actually, in my stake had that name.

More punches. I guess that falls into the fantasy department.

And thus, as I laid there, with my arm bruised and my elbow bleeding, I realized that I should just give up. My opponent was stronger, faster, and better than me. I know Alia is going to name our children whatever she wants, regardless of my, dare I say, brilliant suggestions.

So, I formally surrender. Alia can name the kids. I've realized I'm worthless. With no power comes no responsibility, and I'm more than happy to rip off my pants and hand them to her.

Proverbially, that is.


Get Me to the Church on Time: What does "Yes" mean?

I'd be lying if I said the the shock of being married has abated. Every once and a while, Alex and I look at each other and know precisely what the other is thinking. Sometimes we don't say anything, but sometimes one of us vocalizes: "Holy crap we're married". We laugh, but inside we still haven't succumbed to purported monotony of married life. Okay, it's only been a couple months, but, for me at least, its hard to remember what it was like when we weren't married. To be honest, I try to block the whole dating scene out of my memory. I may have learned a lot, but sometimes in needlessly (no really, I was stupid) painful ways. Oh, dating...the laughter, the tears, the intrigue, the betrayal, the infamous fake-smile, the money not spent on dinners, the politics, the juggling act. SO not something I miss. But what did it mean to finally say "Yes" (we can all hold off on our comments concerning the word "finally"...I know how old I am every bit as much as you do). Yes. Three little letters. One short word. Of course it implies simple affirmation--nothing nebulous about it. But what does it mean, really, in the matrimonial sense? The decision to marry by two people who love each other is a larger than life decision, one that has the potential to outlive a mortgage. Celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary is not the same as making the final payment on a 25-year mortgage.

Yes means you’re willing to take your spouse to your most private world so that it can be enriched and made brighter with two lights instead of one.

Yes means playing blind to your spouse’s imperfections – be they physical or psychological – because imperfections remind us that the gifts from above are not perfect. They come to us as raw materials and it is up to us to refine and polish them.

Yes means the willingness to bring other human beings into this world, to give them a home and to tend to their needs, giving them the love and a much, much later date (bring them into the world at a later date, not hold off on showing affection until they're old).

Yes means arguing constructively and engaging in diplomatic...banter. There is no contradiction here. Argument can be healthy exercise, the process leads us to more knowledge and to a more enhanced realization of the situation, so long as we are really honest, and really willing to empathize. But fighting has to be carried out diplomatically. It takes a massive dose of openness to master it. And by that I mean, so long as the conclusive phrase "You're right Alia, I didn't mean to suggest that you were wrong" is included, we can diplomatically overcome any disagreement. Though, truly, I can't think of anything we've argued over. Now, I'm not so naive as to suppose it will never happen, but I know that Alex is a big enough person to handle things in a calculative and sensitive way.

Yes means sharing the other spouse’s frustrations and celebrating successes, confident in the belief that were it not for the other, their personal joys and success would be impossible.

Yes means exciting plans and projects for the future: a second home, fulfilling hobbies, travel to distant lands and taking on roles to expand horizons.

Finally, Yes means “I can.” I can make my spouse happy, I can ignore the pettiness of marriage, I can open up my feelings knowing I won’t be judged, and I can share what I have. Will you be able to rekindle the spark? Yes. Will you be able to offer the olive branch in spite of a horrendous quarrel? Yes. Will you be able to weather adversity with an extraordinary amount of calmness so you can think of solutions intelligently and not emotionally? Of course, I can.

...right? Oh, erm, Yes.

I'm not sure why or how we fall in love. I'm not sure why anyone would want to take me, quirks and all, and deal with me forever. As Albert Einstein said, "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love".
So how does it happen? I'm not looking for a biological explanation, here. I'm not of the opinion that Love is a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. No one knows....that's we we're careful about it. You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the slow-motion running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later, when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip. And I don't believe in soul mates, really. That would require two perfect people. No one is perfect, but Alex says I'm perfect for him. And so long as we're trying to be the best we can be, that's all that really matters in the long run, right?


So thanks Alex. I love you. I'm glad I said Yes.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Joy of Unread Books?

At any given moment, my house is littered with a number of unread books. Some I’ve started but abandoned; others I keep meaning to get to. The precarious stacks on the bedside table, the desk, the bookshelves—the ones that aren't occupied by homework, dinners-from-Christmas-past, hair products or bills, that is—inch ever higher, threatening to entomb us in our home “Cask of Amantillado” style. Two overflowing grocery bags sit on the kitchen counter, where they’ll gather dust until I eventually take them to the Strand. When I finally have the time and resolve to read something new, I become a promiscuous commitment-phobe, taking up with another book nightly until I find the one I’m ready to go the the distance with. And that's just the books that I have an inkling to read. What about The Controversies of Nutrition, or Chemistry: The Structure of Life, or Human Anatomy (third ed.)? In college, the list of arranged relationships is stifling. But for me, the line between loving books and feeling overwhelmed by them is practically imperceptible, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. The world needs an expression analogous to having “eyes bigger than your stomach.” Might I propose: bookshelves bigger than your apartment?

My theory? There’s no point in worrying about all those books you haven’t gotten to yet, because very often our preconceived idea of what a book will be is just as valid and enlightening as the book itself might be. I often find that the book I have read is somehow not as exciting as the book I had imagined reading. After all, no book is ever quite as good as it potentially could have been. An unread book is an intoxicating, romantic thing, and the act of reading is, in one sense, destructive: all that possibility is reined in, made finite. Certainly we all have ideas about books we haven’t read before we read them. That’s why we pick them up in the first place. These preconceived ideas can be useful, too: part of the performance of being well-read is the ability to know what a certain writer or novel represents, even if you haven’t actually read them (yet).

I recently came across an article by Kristy Logan, a noted contributer to the New Yorker, entitle "Confined by Pages: The Joy of Unread Books.As a writer, Logan looks to literature as more than a simple diversion. “These books have affected my writing, and I haven’t even read them. Maybe we can learn as much from our expectations of a story as we can from the actual words on the page,” she suggests. In other words, all the unread books on her shelves help Logan conjure ideas for her own writing, and each unread book means one more story she can possibly tell. It’s a powerful idea, but one that’s less useful to the more recreational reader (or the rueful writer).

There’s also a worrying confession tucked away in this counter-intuitive article. “I have about 800 unread books on my shelves,” Logan admits. Anyway you slice it, that’s an awful lot to leave to the imagination. Logan might be O.K. living with the constant reminder of the literature she has yet to consume, but in her circumstances, I know I’d just end up feeling like the poor sap from this classic episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It’s one that never fails to give me the willies. Surely there is joy in the unread book, but for me, it’s only to be found browsing at the bookstore.

(Of course, there is the irony that I sit here burning time writing about how I don't have any time...excuse me while I go read about cardiovascular disease.)