5 Lessons from 5 Years of Marriage

I got married 5 years ago today (August 30th).  In celebration of that amazing day*, I decided to list five things I have learned during this time.  It is by no means meant to sound know-it-all-y or anything close to advice, it is just me recapping how things went.  Please feel free to add your thoughts on other topics in the comments section.

*When I say “amazing day” I don’t just mean it was the day I married the most amazing woman.  I am also referring to the fact we were surrounded by tons of family and friends, and there was nothing but smiles, dancing, drinks, and laughs from dawn until last call at the Red Door.

1)  When bickering or fighting, things don’t have to / can’t be patched up right away.  I hate conflict.  I want it to be over as soon as it starts.  When conflict arises, I want to just make it all better as soon as possible, often to the chagrin of a certain someone else involved.  Not too long ago I had an epiphany:  After some testy words between me and the wife-y, my instincts to immediately smooth everything over kicked in.  I stopped myself at the last second and thought, “It’ll be ok.  We can do this an hour from now, or 4 hours, or a day.  It’s fine.”  ‘Til death do us part’ means she’ll be around for a few days, allowing plenty of time to get back on track.

2)  Being grateful for something every day.  Something shitty will happen at some point in everyone’s marriage.  The usual suspects are loss of a job, someone getting really sick, car accident, fill in worst fears here.  No matter how crazy, gut-wrenching, or sad a day can get, there is almost always at least one thing to look on with less than a frown.  Before going to bed, we list one, two, or three things that we’re grateful for happening throughout the day.  “Dinner didn’t suck,” and “I’m breathing,” made lists at the end of some rough days in our house.  Taking the time to try to think positively was a breath of fresh air during times when everything seemed tasteless and stupid.  When those days pass, and the habit has stuck, listing gratefulness is much more fun.

3)  Do something to improve our marriage at least once a year.  I came across this piece of advice on some article from Twitter or stumbleupon.  The writer suggested that no matter how rock solid your relationship is, it can never hurt to read an advice book, see a counselor for a “tune-up,” or try a series of relationship building activities to improve some aspect of the marriage.  Doing so will simply give us better tools to work with when rocky or potentially rocky times hit, and open the door to possibly learning something new about my partner. I don’t want to make any recommendations of what we have done because, with the internet, it is so easy to find whatever will work for you and yours.

4)  Remembering we are roommates.  Now that people are getting married later in life and living together before they’re engaged, it seems silly to mention, but marriage is forever and chances are pretty good both halves of the couple don’t have much experience living with someone other than parents for 7-10 years.  After so many years of picking up the dirty socks under the coffee table or closing the ketchup lid that’s been sitting out since Tuesday, … Tuesday!, temper any appeal for a change in behavior with, “Hey I have a small roommate request….” Doing so will remind both the asker and offender they both have little annoying habits, and instantly puts the request into the “this is nothing we need to fight over,” category, thus creating a lower probability of arguing over an attempt to cram more trash into an already overflowing trash bag even though trash day is tomorrow why not just start a new bag 8 hours earlier than you would have.

5) I’m glad we explore our spirituality together.  During my lone wolf days I was somewhere between disinterested and dismissive of religion. I would read some Dali Llama, get all deep thinking and stuff when sitting in a forest, and was satisfied. My wife, luckily, was in a very similar place when we met.  Exploring different beliefs, thinking about deep issues (why are we here, brah?) from new perspectives allowed us wrestle with heavy topics together.  We both knew we would have some common beliefs and some areas we don’t agree on. Not only did these discussions help us handle disagreement early in our relationship, it cemented us into the same page,  which was convenient for when we really needed it. During moments of extreme stress, there was no time wasted on discussing where we stood.  This is also an ongoing thing, so the potential for discovering new things together is always there.

Happy Anniversary, Babe!! I love you!!


Monday Song #34

I found this video after searching for the Rufus Thomas song “Do The Funky Penguin, Part 1” which is THE funkiest thing I have ever heard. There was no sign of it on YouTube, but I came across this gem and figured it would provide the funk fix I was looking for.

5 Favorite Ted Talks

I’m sure most of you have seen most of these talks, and if you’re not familiar with the series, check out http://www.ted.com/. There are thousands of 15-20 minute talks from great speakers / thinkers ranging in topics from string theory to business to comedy. Here are my five favorite, in no particular order. Feel free to share your favorite in the comments section.

Reggie Watts Disorients You In The Most Entertaining Way
The beginning of this talk might seem a little confusing, but stick with it. For those who haven’t heard of Reggie Watts before, look him up on youtube! He is at times hilarious and at times mesmerizing.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity
I’m sure many if you have seen this (it is the most viewed Ted Talk), but the teacher in me just HAS to love this and agree with everything Sir Ken says. The thing I find most vexing is how do we implement what he is proposing (because he is right) in the broken and polarized world of education. In a utopian society where no one had to worry about teacher accountability, parental involvement, or budgetary constraints and misuse, what Robinson talks about would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, we do not live in a utopian society.

Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong With What We Eat
I love how Bittman really supports local, all natural food without being dismissive of food that is not. All proponents of natural and organic food, and those who label the way they eat (vegan, piscatarian, “local-vore”) need to watch this talk and learn a thing or two. Everyone who is angered by people who label the way they eat need to learn a thing or two from this talk too.

Dan Buettner: How To Live To Be 100+
This talk is so interesting and inspiring. Buettner GIVES us the blueprint to a long and healthy life. I try all the time to at least some of the things the people do in the featured areas. Let me tell ya, it is HARD, even though it sounds so easy.

and last but certainly not least…..

Malcolm Gladwell: The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight
Gutsy. This talk was much-anticipated after Gladwell’s first talk, which was about how one of the spaghetti sauce companies was innovative in the way they developed flavors and gathered feedback about their product. This talk covered a little deeper topic. Trying to explain or add my two cents to this talk is pointless, just strap yourself in. IF YOU ARE ONLY GOING TO WATCH ONE OF THESE TALKS, MAKE SURE IT’S THIS ONE.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to click on the Amazon links to the left when buying something on that site, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, or check out firecatcentral.blogspot.com to order pictures featured here.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, everyone!

Monday Song #33

This is a training video made by Wendy’s in the early ’90’s. After watching this video you will know all you need to know to serve hot beverages at this particular fast food chain. If you take the time to also watch “Cold Drinks,” and “Chili’s Always Served with Cheese,” before your interview, you’ll improve your chances of getting a gig. Good luck.

Journal of a Peace Corps Volunteer

As I’m was combing through my picture collection deciding which ones make the cut to be scanned, I came across my library of 5 or 6 journals I compiled during my two year stint in Bulgaria.  I thought it would be fun and possibly interesting to others if I shared some entries from them.  I combed through, and while many of the pages were just filled with tracings of my hand, all the known digits of pi, and in-depth descriptions of completely mundane daily happenings, I was able to find a few entries that give a good snapshot of what it is/was like being a Peace Corps Volunteer in the middle of their service.  The middle part of the two-year stint was remarkable for me because nothing was new and exciting about living in the village, and the time to start planning to go home / reflecting on my service had not arrived yet.  I only flipped through one journal which had its first entry on January 11, 2005, and last on March 27, 2005.  I hope these are interesting to you all.  Enjoy.


Sunday, January 27, 2005 3:18 a.m.

Using the dial-up connection in my apartment, I am watching the ESPN GameCast constantly update the Patriots AFC Championship game against the Steelers.  Of course I blared Aerosmith, had a couple beers, and cooked tubed meat before the game started.

24-3 at the half!! Woo Hoo!! Things are looking pretty gosh darn good for the Pats right now.  The two biggest plays are the one play drive with a 60-yard touchdown pass Brady to Branch, and Marvin Harrison’s 87-yard TD interception return.  Pats football, baby, don’t turn the ball over and big players making big plays when needed.*  So needless to say I am psyched right now.  Looks like it’s Sofia in 2 weeks, woo!  I’ve also decided I’m not going hunting next weekend and I’ll just tell those guys that I’m not allowed to use firearms or I’m gone.  It will make my life ssooo much easier for next weekend.  Scratch needless to say I’m getting pretty tuckered out right now.  The way the first half went, this game isn’t gonna get over until like 5 o’clock.  I think I’ll set my alarm for 10am just so my sleep’s not totally screwed.  I’m glad no one from town is here.  I would much rather sit here and look up from my book when I hear the clicking of the update instead of having to talk to people.  2nd half about to start.  GO PATS!!

 *After re-reading that line, I can’t believe how corny that sounds.

Tuesday, February 16, 2005, 2:31 pm

This is not the highpoint of my service.  I am in my office, the rest is self explanatory.

Alright, today is just a straight-up DOWN day, on the bright side, it’s almost over, but I’m not feeling great so I’m going to vent:  Starting things off, I slept like shit last night. Didn’t fall asleep until around 2, then woke up like 20 times.  So I’m beat, I spend all morning reading Newsweek, listening to my coworkers sneeze and bitch about being sick.  I can’t believe how many people complain about being sick around here, even when they’re on the phone talking business with someone, what is going on here.  And as I’m writing this right now I can hear someone in the next room complaining about how sick they were last night.  Also, it’s like 50 degrees out and the windows are shut and it’s like friggin 80 and stuffy in this room and every time someone opens a window, someone else comes along and closes it, god forbid a little breeze gets in here and makes you more sick.  So I went home, couldn’t nap, came back here, got my Bulgarian corrected, so I decided not to speak.  I started reading about all the great projects that got funding in 2004.  That really got me down for three reasons 1) it shows how hard it is to get money (FAR projects – 150 applications, 27 accepted)  2)  these were all programs I tries talking up in my office to no avail, just a reminder of the banging my head against a wall feeling I have sometimes, and 3) most of the places that got funding are these nicely developed resort-type places that have had Volunteers for years.  I really don’t want to be here right now.  Maybe I should leave the office, but where the hell would I go, to another place in this town where no one wants to do a freakin project with me.  Shit, now I’m starting to get on my own nerves.  I guess this points to the Nietsche quote, “When we’re tired, we’re haunted by demons we conquered long ago.”  Oh no, it looks like a meeting is about to start, do I have time to…..  NNOOO I’m stuck here.  I should have bounced but I was writing.  Damn, guess it’s back to Newsweek.


Sunday, March 27, 2005, 2:08pm

I’m sitting on my decks (I had one in the back and the front of my house) enjoying the explosion of life that is spring in Bulgaria.

This year I have to look into getting something to deal with these bugs back here, because once the sun goes to the other side of the house, the bugs just go crazy.  I think when I’m in Rousse this week I will look into this. Damn, I’m going to the other side……. Well just moving to the other deck seemed to have helped a bit.  The view out here is actually a lot nicer than in back.  Right now I am really appreciating the village life.  It’s so quiet and peaceful, it’s great.  Now a little local conversation between babas going on right now.  And the neighbors are taking the baby out of a little walk.  This view is just so cool, seeing the whole town’s rolling hills and everything.  Someone’s cutting wood in the background.  A group of kids are talking down the street.  Pencho’s rooster just cackled.  Someone down the street it banging 2 metal things together.  Something that sounds like wagon wheels just went down the street…….

(This description goes on for almost an entire page, but I think you all get the picture.)

So there’s a little slice of the good the bad and the ugly during February and March of 2005.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to click on the Amazon links to the left when buying something on that site, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, aor check out firecatcentral.blogspot.com to order pictures featured here.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world everyone!


5 More Top Fives

First off, thank you very much for reading this blog.  I really appreciate it.  Here is the link to my most recent post for Stay, Work, Play.


Five More Top 5’s

I have accumulated more random top 5’s to share with you.  It is exactly the same concept as the post a few weeks back.  Don’t forget to add in your own two cents in the comment section.  Dispute a list?  Have your own?  Share it!  So without further ado:

Here are my top five…….

  •  Things we should agree to just retire:

5)  Call the internet the intraweb, interweb, ultranet, or anything else like that

4)  Ads “borrowing” from the Got Milk? campaign  (got catnip?  C’mon.)

3)  Laughing at Robin Williams doing “silly” voices.  It was hilarious in 1989, though.

2)  Baby on Board!  (I saw one two days ago.)

1) Really?!  Really?!

  • Situations that are common across the world and need no translation if you see them:

5)  City drivers swearing at cabbies

4)  Making a check in the air or pretending to write on your hand as a symbol for the bill at a restaurant

3)  Pop stars urging people to either put their hands in the air and wave ‘em like they don’t actually care, or telling everyone how special THIS crowd is

2)  Old men drinking, playing cards, making fun of each other, and arguing about shit they think they’re experts on

1)  Rubbing the thumb against the index and middle finger when discussing money

  • Sandwiches:

5)  The burger I bought off a street vendor in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.  Patty, cheese, ham, avocado, egg, tomato, on a toasted bun.

4)  Any grilled cheese bought after any Phish show.

3)  Kebab Sandwich from this certain stand in Istanbul, where the guy tried selling us a flying AND a swimming carpet as he was cutting the meat.  We went back for more the next day.

2)  “BS Bacon, drop the home fries!”

1)  Any Rueben, anywhere, anytime

Click on any of the band’s names in the next 2 lists to see a live performance from said band.

  • Bands I Need To See But Haven’t Yet:

5)  The Heavy

4)  Rodrigo and Gabriela

3)  Gypsy Kings / Bruce Springsteen (tie)

2)  Manu Chao

1)  The Black Keys

  • Bands I Must See Every Possible Chance I Can Get:

5)  Le Vent du Nord 

4)  Carolina Chocolate Drops 

3) North Mississippi Allstars 

2)  Taj Mahal 

1)  Phish 

Ok, I feel like this is a short post, so I’m going to put up a couple more pictures from last weekend’s Pittsfield Balloon Rally to give this post a little more umph, yuk yuk, and a little vroom vroom, if ya know what I mean.


Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to click Amazon links to the left when buying something on that there site, sign up for the free trial of Amazon Prime, or check out firecatcentral.blogspot.com to order pictures featured here.

Keep on rocking in the free world everyone!!