Tag Archives: marriage

If loving Pitbull is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right

That is not me on the left.

I’m kind of in love with Pitbull. I think. I’m pretty sure.  Admittedly, I don’t know much about the guy since my infatuation is based almost completely on the single time I saw him perform, which was at the most recent MTV VMA show. The weird thing is, I felt this way in spite of the fact he was wearing a white blazer and red pants. Am I going into menopause or something?

I was able to totally get past his  pimp suit and bald head and his penchant for wearing sunglasses indoors and love him anyway.  Maybe I was listening to Ne-Yo’s sweet voice when they were showing him or something, so that swayed me,  but I was all, “Damn, Pitbull. I think I loooove you.” (The way little Michael Jackson says it in ‘ABC’) Really, Love? Really?

Really.

His voice is kind of low and gravelly and…I don’t know, this thirty-something, suburban working mom of three found herself oddly and mercilessly attracted to the guy.  For very good reasons, I try not to think about mojo because the world cannot afford to have me become a mother again, but as I watched the VMAs I thought I might consider having Pitbull’s love child.   I thought this was odd, and so I felt the logical next step was to inform my husband of my new attraction to this Pitbull character.

Now, you should be aware before we go further that a full 90% of the things I say to my husband on any given day get exactly the same response.  Statements like,  “I think I have a brain tumor”, “Our neighbor’s kid stole our ladder”, “For a second today I thought I had misplaced my Josh Groban Noel CD”, and “Do you think that brown thing in the kid’s shower is poop, or a candy bar?”  all garner the exact same, very quiet….noise.  It kind of sounds like “ugh” but without the negative emotion most of us say it with.  It’s a totally neutral response devoid of any emotion or judgment – just enough to acknowledge I said something, but not enough for me to gauge any sort of meaningful response to the statement.  I’d wager the other 9% of the stuff I say does not even warrant the noise –that is met with silence — and then the last 1% of my musings  may get a full sentence response, but he saves that for emergencies, mostly to tell me what he wants me to pick up for lunch or (I suppose) if one of our children suddenly began to seize.  I think my husband conserves words because I have such a high propensity of wasting them.  And we get along fabulously this way.

So I expected that when I announced to BD  one afternoon that  “I  really like that Pitbull guy” it would be met with the customary “ugh” or perhaps silence. I mean, like most things I tell him, there was a 99% chance I would get one of these two reactions, so no biggie.

It was not to be.

To my utter amazement, when I made the announcement my husband actually turned his eyes away from ESPN,  looked at me, and proceeded to freak out.  “Are you kidding me?! You’re kidding, right? Pitbull?!”  Whoa. WHOA. I haven’t seen an emotional outburst of such magnitude from him since 2005, the year he found out that I had thrown away the hair gel he bought in 1997 that was sitting in our shared medicine cabinet, untouched for 5 years.

“Um….yeah, I think.” I stammered, the shock and awe of his response only beginning to sink in. A millisecond later, when I noticed he did not turn back to ESPN, my fight or flight response was triggered. My senses became sharp and keenly aware.  Time slowed down. My husband had somehow just become emotionally invested in my statement about Pitbull and he was engaging me in a conversation about it.

My brain went into overdrive: “Wait? Whaaa? Is this really happening?  BD knows who Pitbull is? I didn’t even know who he was until I saw the VMAs a week ago.  Oh my god! Maybe my husband is the one with the brain tumor! Oh my god! He may have only weeks to live!”

“You do not like Pitbull.” he tried to say with certainty, trying to regain his composure. “What on earth could you possibly find attractive about that guy?”

“I don’t know. He’s just…cool. Maybe I’m suddenly interested in younger men who don’t appear to be very intelligent, may have an accent, dress like pimps, say “Hey Baby” a lot and surround themselves with scantily clad cokeheads.  What is so weird about that?”

“Who are you?” he demanded. I’m pretty sure he wanted to follow up with “and where have you taken my wife?” but he was a little flustered.  At that moment I realized that he was also in fight or flight mode and his brain was saying: “Oh my god. She actually does have that brain tumor she’s been talking about since our first date. Oh my god! And she is going to die and leave me with all of these damn kids.  This is the worst day of my life!”  Simultaneously, we were both thinking the other had gone all Charlie Sheen and that we’re about to lose each other forever.  All because of Pitbull’s irresistible sex appeal.

We probably should have hugged and kissed and been supportive of the other person’s brain tumor, but instead I said, “Whatever. You liked Christina Aguilera when she was at her skankiest! I married you in spite of that! That should count for something.”

“I was young then. That was years ago!”

Fortunately, before things got way out of control and my husband missed more than five minutes of the game, our seven year old son, aware for the first time in his life that his parents were engaging in an emotional conversation with each other that wasn’t about the true nutritional value of frozen pizza or the absurdity of this year’s college football uniforms, stepped in to end the madness.

“Pitbull sucks, Mom.”

And that was that.  BD nodded solemnly. I reminded our son that “sucks” is not an appropriate word to use in our house, and then I left the scene, devastated.

Not only because one or both of us clearly has a brain tumor, but now my chances of getting tickets to the Pitbull show for Christmas are pretty much nil.  Damn.

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The gods must be crazy…

Okay. So I’m back. Hopefully for good, but you know I’ve found out that god has a sense of humor recently, so you never know.

So where have I been? What have I been doing?

Remember all my posts that detail what a good mother I am? Like the one about how I didn’t breastfeed and the one about how I feed my kids McDonalds once a week and how my two year old feels me up in Target?

And then remember how I had that really mind bending post entitled, “Hellz Yaz” about whether its better to have huge puss-filled zits all over my chin or have a sex drive? And everyone voted that I remain a sex kitten with zits? And my big-boobed sister warned me that natural family planning was a very bad idea?

And then remember when I told you the story about when I had to tell Professor Bourbon I was pregnant after they let me into the PhD program?

Do you see where this is going? Yeah. Surprise!! I’m preggers. Not really what I was planning for 2010, or 2011 – 2050.  And my angel didn’t even have the balls to warn me this time. The news hit right after New Years Day (same day I got my new job offer, so my new boss got to be the second to know) and I don’t think I’ve been quite the same since. I can’t figure out whether the nausea is from the pregnancy hormones or the idea that the gods thought it would be a good idea to put another human on this earth who has me for its mother. When I found out, BD was so worried about my mental state (probably because he’d never seen anybody catatonic before) he promised to stay sober with me this whole pregnancy, which is awesome. The other two times I was the designated driver and it was not awesome. It actually does make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who will be suffering the next nine months, which I think is what makes BD love me so much.

So I won’t lie – the change of plans has had me in a tail spin for the last two months, which I probably could have recovered from in a week if wine could have been involved, but without alcohol, and with nausea and a new job and exhaustion, I could sum up my life perfectly in one non-word: “meh”. Which is why you haven’t heard from me. The juice has been gone.

However…the good news is that I’m over it now. I’m going to be a mother yet again, and red wine no longer calls to me during my long, sleepless nights and now I have a third chance to make a first impression. Maybe I’ll try breastfeeding this time. Or maybe I’ll freak out and change my mind a month before like I did the last time. No promises there.

And maybe this kid will be the one who winds up changing my diapers when I’m 92 and I’ll be like “Oh, now I get it, God. You’re the best!” And lets not forget about the nightly “happiness” I have to look forward to in the coming months. This time I will make buying porn a part of the getting ready for baby checklist, just so we don’t have to go through the histrionics of yesteryear.

So I’m psyched. I didn’t think we’d have any more kids but now that it has been determined that we will indeed, I’m stoked. And I haven’t seen an episode of Oprah in two months, and its given me a strength I didn’t know I had. I think I might be okay when she stops the show now. I think I might survive. And that goes for everything – the pregnancy, the delivery, the new job, the new house we’ll have to buy and even the…GULP…minivan? (okay, that last one was really hard for me to say)

It’s a new world order.

Welcome back to my life. I’ve missed you guys.

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Exodus

***if you are new to the trilogy, it started here.

Despite my grand illusions of who professors actually are and what they actually do (like screw around with undergrads and smoke pipes), my PhD experience wasn’t really all that I had hoped for. I liked all of my classes and I was doing fine, but the stress of having an advisor like Professor Dragon and the feeling that I would be railroaded into a field of study I didn’t even like became overwhelming. Not to mention that I was pretty sure that BD was probably getting tired of being a single father and I heard once that if your husband isn’t sleeping with you, he is likely sleeping with someone else. And I didn’t want him taking up with the cleaning lady because she wore thongs and I didn’t.

So we decided to take a romantic getaway to Napa. Because it would be nice to see each other and talk about something other than how Professor Dragon hates me or how I have to work the weekend or asking him to tell me stories about our son that was in bed by the time I got home. There were many days when I thought I had probably made a huge miscalculation about my fitness for academia, but I kind of suck at admitting when I’m wrong. And I’d already sunk almost two years into the thing, and I knew I was smart enough, so I just felt like there was no going back.

But thank God we were going to a place that was relatively warm and had wine, in abundance. I was so stoked to just drink wine all day, get loaded, have lots of conjugal relations and sleep in. It would be a great escape for three days and then it would be back to the salt mine. But we weren’t going to talk about my work this trip. We were just going to keep it light and have fun.

So off we went. Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the plane ride, because they are generally pretty boring.  Whenever we fly together, we always buy the aisle and the window in particular row, hoping nobody will buy the middle seat. I’m shocked how often this works. But alas, on this trip, some old dude did buy the middle seat, and I offered him the window and I took the middle so I could sit next to BD. The only thing more annoying than the person who buys the fucking middle seat is the person who wants to chat throughout the flight. I do my best not to ever talk to anyone ever on any plane because chances are that you will either fall in love with them or be stuck talking to them for the WHOLE FLIGHT about their god awful boring ass job or family (at least these are the only two scenarios that have ever played out in my life). Since I was already married, the first scenario would have been super awkward with BD sitting on the other side of me, which only left the latter option. And this was going to be a four hour flight, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to open up the lines of communication.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how Old Balls Who Bought The Middle Seat managed to get me to respond to him. Perhaps he offered me a Take 5 or maybe it was a million dollars? I feel like those are the only two reasons I would decide to start talking to a stranger at the beginning of a fucking transcontinental flight. It was probably a Take 5 bar, because if it were a million dollars, I would remember that more vividly. But anyway, he started talking to me. I’m guessing after he gave me the Take 5 he said something really compelling like, “So….what brings you to San Francisco?” to which I would have rolled my eyes but felt obliged to reply through my very full mouth with teeth covered in chocolate, peanut butter, pretzel, caramel: “Spring break”.  Opening him up to asking where I went to school. And I look like I’m about 22 and this makes me salty sometimes because I really want to be taken seriously so badly that I went to get a PhD and I feel like I have to prove I’m old, so I said “I’m studying for my P.H.D. At [prestigious univeristy].” I thought this clever retort would make me sound super smart and important and he would look at me in awe and figure out how god damn important I was and shut the hell up and let me finish the candy bar that I feel sure he must have given me to talk to him in the first place.

“Oh yeah? What are you getting your PhD in?”. Fuck. Here we go.

“Marketing.”

“Oh. That’s a really growing area in business schools.” Love’s right eyebrow shoots up. Whaaat? He knows something about this? “I’m a business professor at [not a university I’d ever heard of] in Michigan. Boy, I remember my PhD days. What are you doing your dissertation on?”

“Um. I don’t really know yet. I’m just finishing up the coursework.”

“Ha! So you don’t even know what work is yet.”

“What?” He looks at BD and then at me.

“You guys have kids yet?”

“Yes. One. A two year old boy.”

“You ever see him?”

Suddenly the stale, recirculated air leaves the cabin and I feel like I just got sucker punched.
“Um. Well, its hard, but I mean, we make it work.”

“Ha!” He leans over me, taps BD on the knee and says to him, “If you think you don’t see her now, just wait until she starts her dissertation!”

I think BD was probably mad that I wound up talking to this guy, but it was too late now and we were both listening. So I said, “Finishing your dissertation was hard on you?”

“Brutal! Oh it took me a long time. That’s about the time I got hooked on amphetamines and started really abusing alcohol. It took me until I got tenure to realize I had a problem. That’s a lot of years. Actually that’s why I’m going out to San Francisco — to visit my AA sponsor. I’ve been clean for 12 years.”

“Um. Oh. Congratulations?”

“Thanks. Yeah, oh God I remember those days!! How could I forget? I was married back then too. But we got divorced right after I got my first job. I can’t blame her. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Plus, I was never around. She left me for a guy at her gym. But I can’t blame her.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, I could already picture BD and I re-enacting this whole conversation as we snorted wine out our noses from laughing at how inappropriate the conversation was. On the other hand, holy shit.

“Well, I’m sure it will be fine.” I said, totally NOT sure it would be.

“Yes. I’m sure it will. It takes a really strong person to be married to an academic. We’re a rare breed. A lot of stress – very cut throat. It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re trying to publish and get tenure. It doesn’t end with the dissertation. You’re fooling yourself if you think it does. The stress. It just doesn’t end. You know, I used to teach at [prestigious university] but I took the job where I’m at now just to get out of the rat race. It’s the only way I could stay sober. And then I met a nice lady and got remarried now and life is pretty sweet.”

That’s about the time when BD and I asked the stewardess for two little Jack Daniels bottles and a diet Coke. It probably wasn’t that respectful to our new friend, the talky-talky-jaded-alcoholic-recovering-drug addict-oversharing business professor Old Balls sitting next to us, but the stuff he was saying was scaring the shit out me, and the only coping mechanism that always works is drinking myself into a stupor. Oh wait….shit. Was I going to be an alcoholic soon too? I have never done amphetamines that I’m aware of, but was I just a dissertation away from that and a divorce too? I mean FUCK. I was already miserable. Was it only going to get worse?

So I told the guy I was really happy for his sobriety and I hope he had a good time in San Francisco, but I really needed to sleep because I hadn’t done that in a while. And as I was switching on my iPod to drown in my self-defeating thoughts, he says, “Ha!…Get your sleep! Do it now while you still can! They don’t just give PhDs away at [your university]!”

Eh. Heh heh? Shut up shut up shut up shut up, Old Balls! I never should have taken candy from a stranger. Here is this living, breathing person sitting next to me basically embodying my every fear in the world about what I was doing. Of all the fucking flights on all the fucking days, this mother fucker is the guy who sits next to me.

But wait…was this a sign? Was this my angel punching me in the face so that I would finally listen to what she’d been telling me for months? I can’t quit! Can I? Should I? I mean, what the fuck am I doing? I could get a great job with my MBA – I don’t need this to have a job. I don’t really need this for anything, except to stroke my obnoxious ego. If I keep going down this road, I’m going to be fucking miserable as a professor. I don’t like to do experiments! I like thinking of questions, but I’d rather have someone else tell me the answer. I don’t like doing lit reviews! I don’t like writing and re-writing the same damn paper 653 times just so some other PhD asshole can tear me a new one. I think I might like teaching, but I’ve never done it and maybe I would suck or I would hate that too. What the fuck am I DOING?

That is what was going through my head for the last two hours of the flight. But BD was going to kill me if I told him I wanted to quit. We had invested too much. So we got to our hotel and then went out to a Chevy’s or something like that for lunch and just as the nachos came, we looked at each other and BD said, “So that dude? On the plane? What did you think of that?”
“Um. Interesting, I guess.” I tried to be coy.
“I mean, what the fuck?” he said.
“Yeah.” I said. Silence.
We looked each other in the eyes for the first time in I don’t know how long.
Then I said it. “I can’t do this. I need to be done with this.”
To which, to my shock and relief and delight he replied, “I agree.”

And that was that. It was over. Thanks Old Balls!! We decided by the time the check came that I only had a quarter left to finish up classes and that I should do that and get the hell out of dodge. Just be ABD (all but dissertation). Forever.

We talked about the possibilities in our new life: we could have another kid! And financial security! And stay in Chicago! And have sex once in a while! And time at the park with our little boy that wasn’t full of guilt and tension! We could be free.  Free at last.  I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I could imagine what freedom from the anxiety and stress would feel like.

And that, my Internet friends, is the story of how I became a PhD school dropout.

**********If your eyes are tired or you’re bored, you should stop here, but for those of you hanging on every word, there is a shocking epilogue I just can’t leave out:

When I got back to school the following week, I announced my decision to my cohort. They thought I went crazy. They tried to tell me it was just miserable because Professor Dragon was mean, and maybe I should just get another advisor. But I knew it wasn’t her. Sure, she wasn’t an easy person to deal with, but it was me. I just wasn’t built to be an academic. Most of the other people in my cohort are. They’re the genuine article. Me? I’m something else. I’m a smart-ass, potty mouth blogger/US Weekly subscriber/Oprah Winfrey stalker. That’s my niche. That’s what I’m REALLY good at.

Word of my decision traveled fast and even Professor Bourbon – all the way from his new University – gave me a call to encourage me not to give up. He conceded that the academic world was full of assholes, but that it also had its bright spots. He told me if I could just hang in there and get the PhD, he’d give me a job and we could work together again, with normal people. Because he was only hiring people who were cool. But as tempting as that was, I know he is also the genuine article. Somebody born to be an academic. I was just faking it and he’d know it and then one day he would stop having me into his lair for chats because I was unproductive and I would lose the respect of a person who I loved to death. So I was resolved. I had to quit.

But I also had to tell Professor Dragon before she found out from someone else. I was at once completely ecstatic and scared to death of telling her I was quitting. I felt like when I told her, her head might spin 720 degrees and then she would shoot fire out of her eyes and nose and my hair would be totally singed off and that would suck for me in job interviews. I’m no Sinead.  At the same time, whatever she did, whatever she said, it just didn’t matter anymore. Because I was free.

So I go into her office with some flame retardant clothes and our conversation begins to take the normal course where she starts off kind of like she cares whats going on in my life, but then she’ll explain its only because she is trying to understand why I suck so bad. So I told her that I had a great vacation and I decided that academia wasn’t for me and that I was going to finish up my classes and finish being her research assistant and I was leaving the program in June. I was going to get a job. Probably back in sales. Thanks for everything, yada, yada, yada.

To which she replies, completely calmly, “Don’t be silly. You just came back from vacation and you’re thinking strange. Now go edit this paper, because I’m not satisfied with the lit review.  I don’t want to hear another word about this until you’ve had some time to think.”

Um. I just quit. It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. But I was quickly shoo’d out of her office and I got back to the PhD room where my cohort was waiting. I think they were as surprised as I was that I emerged from her office with hair and no visible third-degree burns.  “WHAT DID SHE SAY!?” I had to explain that though I had quit in no uncertain terms, in Professor Dragon’s world, I had simply said something crazy and that was probably the direct result of sunshine on vacation, or because I’m a moron, and if I just got used to the flourescent lighting of the business building again, I might come to my senses. Basically, she did this neat move where I tried to quit, but she didn’t really let me. There is very little drama, or satisfaction, in that.

So I worked for her for another three months. We did not discuss my pending departure. In the meantime, I filled out all the necessary paperwork to drop out and they were kind enough to give me another Masters degree as a parting gift. It’s no PhD, but two Masters degrees are cool. I could live with that.

A week before leaving, I finally reminded Professor Dragon that I was leaving. She told me that she wished I would reconsider, but she understood. And THEN — wait for it —- she planned. a fucking. party. for me. I shit you not. She pulled out all the stops and ordered in great Chinese and desserts and everything.  It was a feast the likes of which mine graduate student eyes had never seen, except for when they were recruiting the top PhD talent and we could come in later for the leftovers. Not only that, but it was a complete surprise to me. She kept asking me to come in to get some papers one day and I was like oh hellz no! and she kept insisting and I kept coming up with excuses until she was finally like “Fine. I am having a party in your honor today for all the hard work you’ve done. I hope you can come.” The fuck? And it gets even better – at the party she gets up and gives a short speech to all professors and students who came wherein, with tears streaming down her face, she said I was a wonderful person and student and that she would really miss me and that I could come back any time if I changed my mind.  I felt like somehow the time-space continuum bended and I found myself in an alternate universe called “opposite day”.

I had no idea until that point that she didn’t think I was the very worst student that she’d ever worked with in her entire life and that I hadn’t totally dishonored her by quitting. But she was more than cool on that last day, and I salute her, for throwing me a party after chasing me out of a profession I was never cut out for anyway. I have forgiven her for being from Hong Kong and showing me the kind of Chinese love that in an American context is generally experienced as torture. Now we’re tight. We still talk occasionally and I have nothing but love for her.

After that I got a job, my first son started understanding what a “mom” was, along came Baby #2 and BD and I are still married and I’m pretty sure I’m not technically an alcoholic. In other words:

THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

If you actually read this whole post and this whole quadlogy , you deserve a medal. Or a Masters degree of some sort.  You might even want to consider a PhD….

Cheers!

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Judges

Okay, so I decide to get a PhD from a top program and then I get accepted to said program, even though I was about to have a kid and getting a PhD with kids is like climbing Everest with kids. I’m not sure anybody has ever done it.  Everest with kids, that is.  But that isn’t a totally fair metaphor. Because people have earned PhDs with kids – it just that they are mostly the men that didn’t give birth to those kids and it didn’t come without cost.  This became kind of apparent, kind of early on.  But I’m not making excuses, because people do it. It gets done. And it was my plan to be one of them.

As I looked around on my orientation day at the 6 people who were to be my cohort I was kind of comforted. First, they looked normal.  Second, no douchebags. Finally, I could understand all but one of them when they spoke.  Plus, there were five women and two men. The feminist in me had my hands in the air just like Miley – noddin’ my head like yeah, movin’ my hips like yeah. (Please let the record reflect I had this move WAY before Miley’s song and I do not condone references to Miley Cyrus songs. Ever. Except when you were already doing that shit when she was nine and you I want credit because I deserve it, dammit.). But I think all that movement freaked some of them out because my very large, protruding pregnant belly wasn’t making it cool. It kind of looked like maybe I had gas or I might go into labor.  I eventually stopped so the men wouldn’t pass out.  But there was one thing that stood out — I was the only person married and the only one who was going to have a kid when we started.

Two of the women just graduated from undergrad, so they were like 22.  And then there were four of us who tried the whole working for a living thing and decided to go back to school and then there was another woman from China. She didn’t speak English all that well, so I don’t know what her story was.  All I know is that she moved here from China for the program and she had this Chinese boyfriend that followed her around everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean he actually would follow her into our seminars. You know, where the 7 of us were learning how to be smart and he would just come along and sit down like he was in the class. It got so weird because at some point he was volunteering to present papers to the class and it was like, “Dude!? You aren’t even in the program. And you don’t speak English. The fuck?” but Google translator doesn’t really do a good job putting that into Mandarin.  So he kind of just hung around and while his girlfriend slept through the seminars, and he took notes and we all looked at him like “WTF?”. I don’t think the look needed to be translated. I’m guessing it was the same in China as it is here.

The least he could have done was solved the Rubik’s cube for us, but he never did.  Probably our fault for not bringing one.  But he eventually was told to get a life by the faculty and she eventually wound up getting kicked out because unfortunately she wrote English worse than she spoke it, and then there was that little problem she had with narcolepsy. When you’re in a class with 7 people and one prof who holds your future in his hands, you don’t fucking sleep through it.

I digress –  I need to stop talking about my cohort, who I  love to death because they did humor me and talk about US Weekly with me and Oprah and they are way cooler and way smarter than me, which is the kind of company I like to keep. And now they are all PhDs and professors and prestigious universities across the country and abroad, so I don’t want give their students any fodder for ridicule. No – lets just talk about fodder you can use to ridicule me.

I wanted Professor Bourbon to be my advisor.  I took some of his courses as an MBA and most of my peers found his class super strange and abstract and not applicable to being an investment banker, so they didn’t like it. But I thought he and his work rocked. He was really an anthropologist by training and the stuff he did research on was fascinating.  He was kind of a hippie at heart, but still he dressed in tweed sports coats with little corduroy patches, so we had a shared sense of fashion.  And his office was like this really dark, cozy lair because all of the walls and windows were covered floor to ceiling with books.  He told us once he read 10 books a week – and that was just fun stuff. Not the stuff for work. Oh yeah, and he was so nice about me getting preggers and all.  So see? He was pure awesomeness.

So the program requires you to take two years of seminars on marketing research and stats and math and psychology and sociology and all kinds of fun stuff, but at the same time you’re also supposed to figure out what kind of research you are drawn to so you can have a dissertation topic at the end of the two years, that you will spend the next 3 to 4 writing.  In the meantime, you have to write papers for faculty review to start your big career as an academic researcher.  Unfortunately for me, I’m the type of person who likes to be a user of knowledge, not a creator of it.  And unfortunately, it turns out that in order for professors to keep their jobs, they have to create knowledge in the form of research that gets published in journals that only about 40 people read, and those are the 40 that publish in that journal and they don’t really want anybody else to publish in their little journal.  So when you submit a paper, they read it and tell you in very academic language that you suck and hope you fail miserably in life and reject your paper.  And then you cry and get over it and try to kiss their ass until one of them will let you write a paper and put their name on it and then they’ll let you in their journal.  Apparently teaching and facilitating panels of CEOs is just what they do on the side and counts for nothing as far as their career goes.  Yep. Didn’t really know that before I signed up.

But no matter – Professor Bourbon inspired me. Compared to other academics, he was like the man version of Mother Teresa.  He didn’t seem to get the same glee that his peers did in humiliating his students and working them to the brink of a mental breakdown. At the same time, he didn’t coddle. He just told you that you sucked in a really nice way, without using the terms “suck”, “ludicrous”, “trivial”, “excrement”, or “fuck you” and then encouraged you to do it all over with some helpful suggestions, but you left feeling like you still wanted to live instead of hanging yourself, which is about the best feeling you can hope for as a PhD student.  Other professors would be more likely to yell at you for wasting their time even reading the drivel you spent that last three months on.  Then they would set it on fire in front of you and spit in your face.  Okay, no. They didn’t do that, but you could tell they would if they had a lighter and if their desks weren’t so wide.

So after my first year I was going to declare Professor Bourbon as my advisor when, quite out of nowhere and suddenly, he resigned. He got an offer at his alma mater to be chair of the department and he probably was sick of the assholes he had to be around at my school and he left.  And the school he went to didn’t have a PhD program. And he couldn’t be my advisor. And my blissful PhD world came to a screeching halt.  He was leaving me? Noooooooooooo! It’s not FAIR!! I kind of had a mental breakdown about it, but it didn’t change anything. I was S.O.L. Nothing I could do.

So I had to find another advisor.  I surveyed that landscape and there was one other Professor I had as an MBA that seemed to like me alright and I liked her when she taught me back then.  Lets call her Professor Dragon.  She did completely different research than Professor Bourbon and she was very, very good and well-respected for her contributions, but none of it really interested me.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  And I knew if I could work with her, I’d be learning from the best in her field and I’d get stuff published. Plus, she said she’d work with me. So.

But after my first couple of months as her advisee, I began losing my grip on my will to live. I started working 70+ hours because no matter what I did, it was never good enough.  Professor Dragon was born and raised in Hong Kong.  She came from a culture where if you like someone, you tell them that you hate them, because that will make them stronger.  So on a daily basis I would walk into work and she would ask how my son was, and then she’d ask what I had done lately and then she said it wasn’t enough and my ideas were lame and maybe I wasn’t serious and that she was disappointed and maybe I needed to try harder or maybe this wasn’t for me and I was embarrassing her and she didn’t want my loser ass dragging her down. This is actually how she showed her love — the students she didn’t like, she just ignored completely. But her love kind of felt like hate to me most days.

It got to the point that for the Saturdays when I was physically at home, my thoughts were still at work and I would feel guilty for bringing my son to the park because I had so much work to do. BD was doing all of the cooking and cleaning and childcare when he wasn’t at work.  I never thought I’d win a Mom award, but I suddenly realized at some point that I was probably in contention for Worst Mom and Wife Award.  But I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t going to break because I could do this. Plus, my husband wasn’t going to let me because of all we’d sacrificed for this and plus, it was only going to be three or four more years of torture. I could probably endure it, right? I mean, I bet Dr. Phil had to pay his dues before Oprah gave him his own show.  I just had to be Dr. Phil and suck it up and get through it.  It’s not like everybody else in my cohort was on easy street. Then again, it wasn’t like anyone else in my cohort was married with a kid either.

One thing I noticed almost immediately when I started was that every single one of the tenured professors in my department were on their second or third marriages. They’d all lost their first spouses early in their career when they were working like dogs to get tenure.  It wasn’t long before I could feel myself getting on exactly the same track.  Somehow this fun “game” of mine – to get the PhD — had higher stakes than I’d ever imagined.  With this new lifestyle, more kids were out of the question for us.  We always wanted a bunch, but I had no time and no money and the situation wasn’t just temporary — there was no logical time that having other kids would make sense until after I got tenure, which would put me about about 40 – best case scenario.  So here I was in Year 2 of my bright, shiny dream to be a bonafide intellectual with papers to prove it and my advisor apparently thought I was a fucking moron and I was convinced she was right about that.

Wow! So my big, beautiful dream had turned into a nightmare and I wasn’t sure I could find a way to earn three new little letters at the end of my name without losing those three little cherished letters at the beginning of it, namely MRS.

For spring break of my second year in the PhD program, BD and I left the baby with my parents and we escaped to Napa Valley for a weekend.  Just to get away and to spend some meaningful time together  getting drunk having fun, which happened very seldomly at that point.

The life changing plane ride that happened next was kind of a small miracle and will be revealed in Love’s PhD Trilogy*: Exodus.

*Yeah, I know this is the third installment and I’m telling you there will be a fourth and it’s only supposed to be a trilogy, but they don’t have a word for a four part series, so what am I supposed to do? Blame the person responsible for making up words like “irregardless” and “moist” instead of a more valuable term like “quadlogy”.

Round here, we stay up very very VERY VERY late…

BD and I went out last night on a real, live date.  We usually go out to eat once a week sans kids, but it’s usually a quick dinner around 6 – when all the old people are just finishing up.  Last night, the kids stayed somewhere else and for once, we didn’t have to be home at any given time.  We went to dinner late when all the cool-people-without-children eat, drank a lot of wine and went to a late night Christmas-themed burlesque show a friend of mine was in, which was a first for both of us.  The dancing ladies paid particularly close attention to BD, (maybe because my friend told them to), and we just laughed and cat called and a tipsy BD even was pulled up on stage to dance.  It felt like we were 22 again and I was transported back to a time before marriage, mortgages, and motherhood. And apocalypse planning and terrible hang overs.  But I won’t lie — it was totally. mindblowingly. awesome.

And at some point during the evening, “Round Here” by the Counting Crows came on (which is the best heaping helping of awesomeness ever served up in a pop song, EVER) and we discovered for the first time, after being together 10 years, that both of us distinctly remembers exactly where we were the first time we heard that song.  It was a defining moment for both us, like where we were when the Challenger blew up and JFK Jr.’s plane went down and 9/11.   And it was the same moment for both of us too– when the Counting Crows were on SNL in 1994 — that we both heard it.  Proof that across time and space we were totally meant to be (don’t fight me on this, quantum physicists).  Anyway, that got me thinking of a note I wrote to myself a month later when I was a senior in high school, after a particularly bad relationship, which turned out to be eerily prescient.   Its one of the only things I wrote that year that isn’t both hilarious and atrocious in its over-the-top ridiculousness, although it is still both of those in many parts.

Anyway, it’s time to put it out there, but not without my additional comments in red. This one’s for you, BD:

February 1994

To The ‘One’:

I wonder what you’re doing now.  I wonder where you live and I wonder, God forbid, if I know you.  My guess is that I’ll meet you in college and I guess that’s about the right time for me, but we’ll see.  Well, I just broke up with another boyfriend, and probably things which I had experienced with him, I’ll remember when I’m with you.

Like I hope that you aren’t obsessive, whether it is with a drug, a person , an idea, or even me.  I also hope you aren’t the jealous type, someone who smothers me and demands all of my attention and time.  Although I hope to spend my entire life with you, and be in love with you always and forever, I just don’t want us to lose OURSELVES.

I won’t define myself as YOUR wife, but a huge part of me will be dedicated to our relationship and your happiness and well-being.

So, a friend is setting me up with another guy. Who knows? It could be you.  Then again, I could do something or experience something with this guy which may, even in a small way, affect us (hopefully I wasn’t talking about contracting HIV).  Kind of strange, huh? I mean, everyday I get closer to the one that I’ll meet you, and I wonder if I’ll even know the significance of it.  Have you ever thought that the first time you set your eyes on someone, you could know in that instant that you were going to fall in love with them?   It’s never happened (obviously) to me, but I think that when and if it does, he will be you (HA! This part came true).   I don’t know if this is strange, because I’m only 17, but all I want to do right now is find the one I’m going to marry (you) and do it ASAP.  If I’m 20, and I know it’s you, I’ll be ready to get married as soon as it’s convenient. (Really? As soon as it’s convenient?) I guess I assume you’ll feel the same way, but I guess I also assume we’ll agree on almost everything (um, no.).

I wonder if you’ll be as in love with me as I will be with you.  My last boyfriend says that my husband will be whipped (meaning able to make all of his opinions, beliefs and thoughts fit to my own) also meaning (when asked to do something, does it for no other reason than that he was asked) (My last boyfriend was also a total ass).  Well, I know if that’s being whipped, its where I’ll be.  I guess I believe a married couple should be (um, no.).  Well, cheers to one day less I’ll have to wait before meeting you, love.

Love always, Love

So it didn’t all turn out like I thought it would.  BD and I met after college, but it turns out we were actually in the same class at the same university and just never met, even though we shared several mutual friends.  And it turns out that the first time I saw BD, I did know he was to be my husband.  Because I’m psycho psychic like that.  However, I wouldn’t say that either of us is whipped, by my ex-boyfriend’s definition at 17. We do not agree on everything, especially as it relates to the best way to mix up packets of instant oatmeal (hot tap water, obviously), whether LED light bulbs are the worst things ever invented, or the best (they are the worst), or how many dish towels are necessary for one household (the more, the merrier, I maintain).

But all in all, I did alright.  Sure, I had to stalk him, and it took a year for that first (terrible) date, but with Oprah’s encouragement, I finally landed him and started living my best life — and now I have BD, bacchanalias and burlesque. What else do I need?

High Infidelity

I know I shouldn’t care and it’s none of my business and it’s a little disgusting and disturbing, but I’m obsessed with this whole Tiger-Woods-cheating-on-his-wife-with-several-bleached-blonde-VIP-club-waitresses thing.  I’m not totally sure why. Well, I’ll admit to being quite intrigued by the whole story that Elin beat him with a golf club (the irony!), which of course is awesome.  But I just want his wife to slap his face and walk away. I feel like she must leave him or maybe I’ll die.  Why the outcome of this fiasco is meaningful in any way to me is disturbs me, but somehow it matters.  Like I want to yell, “Elin, don’t let this boy DO you like that! Walk out on his punk ass and don’t look back!” But I don’t know him or her. Or about their pre-nup, which I think matters a lot when you’re one of the most famous/talented people in the world.  I mean, as evidenced by my very scientific poll (question 3) way back when, I have always thought that women that marry rock stars or professional athletes are crazy if they think their man isn’t cheating, but golfers don’t count. At least, until now. But thanks to Cheetah Tiger, I’ll add them to the list.

But I’m completely naive about these matters.  Marital infidelity is something I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.  I just don’t understand why you don’t just leave someone if you want to cheat on them.  Just admit you suck at being married, get a divorce, and then sleep with whoever, whenever you want. But don’t do it while you’re married, behind your spouse’s back and kiss your kids goodnight like you’re not totally fucking up their whole world because you’re horny.

I’ve never been tempted to cheat on my husband. Perhaps it’s because neither Angelina Jolie nor Milo Ventimiglia has begged me to have sex with them, or maybe it’s because cheating on my husband would devastate him, and our children and our families and undo everything we’ve done together.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve never understood casual relationships/sex. I’ve never had a one night stand. Not for any sort of moral/ethical/religious reason – more because it would introduce too many unknowns for me. I’m a binary person that likes things settled. Things are black or they are white. You’re married or you aren’t. You’re in love or you’re not. You’re with somebody or you aren’t.  Oprah is your BFF or she isn’t.  It’s hard for me tolerate “it’s complicated” or “lets not put a label on it” or “let’s just see what happens”.  So I just don’t get how you can live a life being married to someone, but cheating on them and lying about it all the time.  I’m just a total Pollyanna on this subject — I can’t help myself.

I’m 33 years old, so I should have this figured out. Or understand it a little. And YET,  when married men hit on me I’m always completely surprised by it.  Especially when it’s a married man who knows I’m also married.  I’ve found myself in this situation way more than I think is logically probable, which causes it to dawn on me WAY later than it should.  Generally this occurs sometime during what I think is a routine lunch meeting, but which he thinks is his chance to get laid.  When they start getting shady (one guy told me nonchalantly, completely out of the blue:  “I really like small breasted women, like about your size,  because my wife’s breasts are so large. Clothes just don’t fit on her as well as they do on you.”  To which my mind replies : “Oh dear Jesus! We’re not talking about business anymore.  He totally wants to sleep with me! He’s married!! I’m married!! How could he even think for a second I’m interested in him like that? Ew…. EWWWWW… Must. Get. Out of here. FAST.”

I totally panic like a deer caught in headlights when a guy starts getting suggestive because in my world, if you’re married, you’re married, so you’re not making it a top priority to get in my pants.  But apparently I’ve run into several men that don’t share that world view.  And then I spend the next week wondering why, of all the chicks in the world he could be spending his time trying to sleep with, he chose me.  Me, who is married with two young kids. Me, who has absolutely zero interest in him outside of work, who does not flirt with him or dress provocatively.  Me, with tiny boobs and glasses and a muffin top. But also me, who is intelligent, charismatic, hilarious, pretty awesome and completely modest. And married. Do I look like some one who wants another woman’s husband? What makes him think he could even compete for a second with my husband?  Honestly, I’m baffled by this.  Why me?

But I think I finally may have got an answer today I can live with.  I brought up the whole Tiger Woods thing (because I’m obsessed with it, as I said) with a totally random British male coworker about 28 years my senior today. He was saying he was totally sick of the story and couldn’t get why Americans even care when people cheat, since cheating is so rampant here.  He travels a lot on business and says that he is never at a hotel where he doesn’t find married people having affairs all over the place. Really? I guess I’ve never noticed, but then again, I probably wouldn’t see it if it slapped me in the face, because I don’t look for it and I like to pretend it doesn’t happen.

I told him I’ve had several of my clients want to turn a totally normal business relationship into some type of sexual/romantic relationship, and all of them were married and all of them knew I was married as well.  “Well, I don’t know you very well, but I would say it’s easy to see why they would hit on you.  You’re a very open, transparent and funny.  I bet you talk to them about their families. Most people aren’t like that, so you probably make your customers feel so comfortable and they mistake your openness for romantic interest in them.” Reeeally?  I make my living selling.  Salespeople are supposed to show interest in their clients.  I just never thought that asking a client something like, “Did your son win his soccer game this weekend? ” would so easily be translated by that man into “do you want to have a torrid, illicit affair in the back of my Subaru?”.  Maybe I should stop asking my clients about their kids.

Per June’s comment, I put this back in:

Oprah had a dude on her show that said the reason that men cheat on their wives is that they don’t feel their wife thinks they are “special” or important or awesome.  So in order to prop up their fragile egos, they will go out and find someone to have an affair with who does make them feel special and manly and awesome.  The kicker is that almost always the women men cheat on their wives with are less attractive, less educated, and pretty much less everything than their wife.  So I guess I must make my male clients all feel special and loved.  But then that means that if they want to have an affair with me, they also think I’m less attractive than their wives. And I’m offended by that.  Assholes.  Next time one of my clients literally wants to screw me, I’ll remember that they think their wife is hotter and I’ll just kick them in their old balls.  Then maybe their wife won’t seem so bad after all.

All in favor of five year marriage contracts, say aye.

You may not have heard of this movement before because I have only recently made it up, so before you vote, I’ll explain it.

First, what I mean by marriage: two adults (I honestly don’t care about the gender) consenting to be legally, emotionally, physically, sexually and financially bound together until one of them dies.  If you get married in your twenties and you both live to be 90 — that means you’re looking at 60 – 70 years with the same person.  All of their good qualities, annoying habits, sicknesses, health, meltdowns, crisis, bad days, good days…for 65 fucking years.  I mean, even if someone is THE BOMB, 65 years is a long fucking time.

And then there are the millions of people who get married and decide that it sucks and then they get divorced – but not before they endure complete financial and emotional devastation in the process.  And if they have kids? Yeah. It’s messy. There is just so much pressure and its such a hassle to disentangle yourself from a marriage.

So I have an idea that could solve lots of problems.  Lets make it so that marriage isn’t necessarily forever.  I propose to make marriage a finite period of time.  So when you get engaged, you negotiate for how long you want to be married ahead of time.  Lets say its five years — I recommend this for the first contract.  It’s kind of like being in the army, where you sign up for an amount of time and during that time, the other person has your ass – exclusively and all the stuff that normal marriage is about. Then at the end of the time, you have the option to sign on for some more time, or split up the assets according to the original contract and amicably and legally go your separate ways. This way, if you marry somebody you wind up hating, you know you only have to deal with them for another couple of years and nobody is surprised or angered or shocked or all judgey that you aren’t renewing the contract.  If you made a good decision and your spouse is a keeper then you’re going to do everything in your power to ensure they want to renew the contract, so you’ll be a nicer person.  You won’t have the leeway to think, “So what if I haven’t taken out the garbage in 16 years? This person is stuck with me, so I can be an asshole whenever I feel like it.” You’ll try harder.

Say you’re in a five year contract and you’re coming up for renewal in a year.  Things are pretty good and you like your spouse. Are you going release some huge, putrid fart in the bed when you wake up right next to the other person? No. You’re going to save it because you want your contract renewed.  Are you going spend all the money on bobble-heads or porcelain figurines of turtles or Taco Bell Chalupas (yes, please) or are you going to tone it down? Are you going to make sure your partner is satis.FIED in bed, or be a three minute man? Are you going to think twice before you say something you don’t really mean, and say more of what you do really want, dream, hope, care about? Yeah. Yeah.  People in happy marriage contracts will constantly be working on the relationship and focused on it, knowing it can all be over soon if they don’t and it can keep getting better if they do.  And people who are miserable can see the light at the end of the tunnel, get their stuff together in an organized and professional manner, renew their Match.com subscription and start looking for the next contract. They’re going to be a free agent!! Bring. it. on.

I’m just thinking the finite contract lengths would inspire people to be more civil, more kind, more respectful to one another in marriage.  Sick of your partner or fallen out of love or out of lust? That’s okay. The contract will end. You can bear it until then.  Then you have the option to do what you want to do without being a total asshole within a marriage you aren’t happy with.  And how about when you get old? People change. Maybe the person that rocks your world at 30 makes you want to kill yourself at 60.  Or you have insane sexual chemistry with a person that you’d never want to raise kids with.  No worries!! You can find the right mate for you at every stage of your life, and have the commitment and consistency of a monogamous relationship.  And once people got used to this thing culturally, there wouldn’t be all these bitter divorces. People would understand that relationships between two committed adults are really important for human welfare, but that they don’t have to last forever.  They can end. And amicably. Or they can keep going, but on terms can be forever renegotiated, so everybody is getting what they need.

And for those few people who wind up renewing over and over for years and years, til death do they part, awesome! Romantic! You made it! And it makes it even cooler that all along the way you had the freedom to go and you didn’t. It probably means more than a traditional marriage that stays in tact for 50 years but the people don’t even talk to each other any more.  They were just too lazy or too religious to do anything else.

So now that you understand my idea, it’s genius, right?   The only thing I haven’t really figured out yet is the kids part.  That gets a little tricky.  What to do with kids that get made within the contractual period? Because I think kids are best off with two parents that love them, and each other, to death and that stay together happily until forever.  But as we’ve discussed already – that isn’t easy.  So maybe there is a special class of marriage contracts that specify the couple will want to parent children together and even if the “marriage” ends when the contract is up, there is still the understanding that both will be totally committed (and contractually obligated) to co-parent until the kids reach adulthood.  Kind of like what happens when people get divorced now, except without the expectations that parents stay together forever.

I guess my plan will not win fans with genealogists – it would make family trees a fucking nightmare.  People would end up with 10 or 12 step parents and a million half siblings, but that could be really good times.  It might also make Christmas card lists dicey, and people would have maybe 10 or 12 weddings in their lives, so you’d probably be at somebody’s wedding every Saturday.  On the other hand, maybe there wouldn’t be so much damn pressure on Your Big Day to make it perfect. And you wouldn’t burn bridges and sever ties because someone didn’t want to sit next to the cat at the reception or wear a feathered hat as a bridesmaid. Or if your best friend got preggers while you were planning the wedding, you wouldn’t care because you might have another one in a few years. The world would be full of parties and weddings that weren’t so damn complicated and were just fun! And finite!  Maybe even Stedman and Oprah would have done a 5 year “official” stint together, if they didn’t have to commit to forever. No. Probably her lawyers would spend 5 years just to negotiate the thing.

You may think this isn’t romantic, but methinks it’s actually the most romantic idea of all.  I hope that if I lived in this world of finite marriage contracts, BD and I would be one of the couples to keep signing up for more until we were 70, when we contracted to drive off a cliff together, happily, on a mutually convenient date.  I don’t know about you, but I like it.

Okay, so NOW all in favor, say aye….