Friday, June 24, 2011


I love to hike. My husband hates to hike. Thus I end up hiking alone A LOT. This usually does not pose a major problem, since I primarily hike in the woods by my house and the biggest risk factor is a tick. (Although my neighbor swears she saw a bear) When I'm at our Deep Creek Lake house, there are many hiking options. When pressed for time or hiking solo, I typically stick to the state park trail 5 minutes from my house. In/Out in 60-70 minutes and park rangers seem plentiful should any disaster strike, such as snake bite, bear attack or twisted ankle.

After hiking said trail 5 DAYS IN A ROW, I am sick of looking at the same rocks and trees. I decide to venture out somewhere new. Honey, do you want to go for a hike with me? That sounds like too much work. I'd rather fix the dock. What does it mean if the map says that the trails are unblazed? It means that you will get lost. People tell me all the time that it is UNSAFE to hike by myself in the WOODS. They are right; it is unsafe. (Clearly this is not an incentive for him to accompany me)

Reason 1: Axe murdering rapists could be lurking, ready to attack.
Clearly someone's watched Deliverance one too many times. Most of the trails are very remote and I rarely encounter another person. An ax-murdering rapist could grow old waiting for a woman to hike by. He would have better luck lurking at the honi honi bar where scantily clad girls down copious amounts of alcohol.

Reason 2: Bears could be lurking, ready to attack
Black bears do populate the forests, but they are the small, friendly, black kind that are more scared of you than you are of them. I keep hoping to see one, but haven't had much luck. Only 1 sighting in 8 years. My husband however sees them frequently outside our house eating the neighbors' garbage. Last night, he woke up at 3am, because he SMELLED a bear. This from the man who can't even smell his own gas.

Reason 3: I could break my leg. No one would find me and I'd have to cut off my leg and eat it to survive.
I concede that this COULD happen. Not sure how I'd cut off my leg, since I don't carry a knife. Most forests do not have cell phone coverage, so I might be stranded for a while. I decide that this is a risk I will take.

I choose a trail called SNAGGY MOUNTAIN. It is a 9 mile moderate hike.
Directions: go past Roman Nose Blvd, Cheeks Lane, The Saw Shop and Drunken Brethern Church. In the dip of the road before Herrington Manor, pull over and park. It starts to rain 2
minutes into the hike. It's remote and I do not see any other hikers or ax-murdering rapists. I don't even see footprints or pawprints to indicate recent visitation by hungry black bears.

I pass through a meadow and see a sign in the middle of the woods that says DO NOT DISTURB. I assume this is a park ranger's idea of a joke. Do not disturb the nature. ha ha. Like anyone in their right mind would wander off the trail into the tick-filled grass to touch a tree. Of course now that I've seen the sign, I'm a bit curious and I venture into the tick grass to get a closer look.

That's when I see the OTHER SIGN. Experimental Control Plot. I think I've watched too many seasons of Lost, because I immediately think of the episode where the Lost crew discovers the hatch in the middle of the forest. What is the plot? Is it a grave plot that I'm not supposed to disturb? How can it be both experimental and controlled? Who is controlling it? Perhaps the government is plotting secret experiments in the Garrett Forest, as part of their anti-terrorism campaign and they've enlisted all the axe-murdering rapists to assist them? In case the plot is booby trapped with a bomb, I keep a respectful distance of 5 feet. My cell phone does not have a zoom, which prevents me from getting proper documentation of this covert plot.

I hike back out with no unexpected encounters with animal, plant or alien life.
To be continued....
radioactive orange mushrooms a few hundred yards from the experimental control plot.

stormy meadow near the experimental control plot

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Marriage Whisperer--Celebrating 20 Years of Irreconcilable Differences--Part 4

Have you noticed that there are a slew of professional "Whisperers"--those gurus who supposedly can train your hellion children or marley-dog? Recently I came across a guy who is called THE MARRIAGE WHISPERER. Here are a few of his PROFOUND findings.

#1--The divorce rate has been 50% for the past 60 years, because people think conflict means you are with the wrong person. In reality, conflict is growth waiting to happen.

#2--You can't work on an issue unless it is triggered. If your spouse triggers an unresolved issue that causes conflict, you are with the right person.

#3--Real love vs. Romantic love
The feeling of romantic love is one of joy, pleasure, relaxation, excitement and euphoria. Couples eventually will lose that feeling and encounter conflict; if they can work through that, they can get to a point of real love. Real love feels like romantic love, but romantic love is fragile and driven by expectations, whereas real love is durable and lasts through frustrations.

In case you are wondering, it took this guy 28 years and two marriages to come up with this wisdom. With my newly enlightened view of marriage, I can now tell you with positive conviction, that I am married to the right man.

How can I be so confident? In my household, there is an over-abundance of growth just waiting to happen. I just didn't know it was disguised as conflict. My husband is a professional triggerer. If you've been reading the blog, you know my triggers and he triggers them daily. For example, our disagreements about whether our 13 yr-old son should be allowed to keep his phone after caught "SEXTING" isn't about different parenting priorities, but potential GROWTH. I'm a bit unclear if this growth is supposed to look like a blooming flower garden or blue mold on an unidentifiable food item left in the fridge or a stage 4 cancerous tumor?

The point about real vs fake love has me a bit worried. I mean really--who wants to give up pleasure, joy, relaxation, euphoria in the name of GROWTH? Especially if it's the poisonous kind. Give me blissed-out, euphoria over a tumor any day of the week.

Since I'm currently jobless, I decided that I have all the qualifications to be a marriage whisperer. I encounter growth opportunities daily and can talk at length about triggers--both literal and metaphorical. However, instead of blablablaing about real vs fake love, I would whisper very quietly DON'T DO IT. I think people would pay me a lot of money for that sage advice. Think how much they would save by avoiding costly therapy sessions to resolve their growth opportunities.

when i googled imaged growth--this is what came up. definitely not the blooming flower kind.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Celebrating 20 Years of Irreconcilable Differences Part 3

During times of duress, those irreconcilable differences tend to magnify, ESPECIALLY during election years. I think the Bush years were the worst. I call this the B period in our marriage a.k.a. whatwasithinkingmarryingarepublican? It seemed to last FOREVER!

During one campaign, things got especially heated in our household. I remember watching a debate on t.v. sitting on the opposite side of the couch from my husband. He made the LAST STRAW comment. "Honey, you are soo smart, how can you be so dumb about this?" That was it. Not only could I not be in the same room as him, but we needed BOUNDARIES. New rules. No watching anything remotely political together. No talking about politics. And most importantly, I divided up the house into zones--mine and his. I drew the line down the middle (think Harold and the Purple Crayon). Under no circumstance, could he cross over into my area. It wasn't quite as bad as Israel and Palestine, but close. It was more like Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in War of the Roses.

Moving is another stressful time where our irreconcilable differences come out. Most recently we were purging to prepare for our upcoming move. I should point out that purge is not in my husband's vocabulary. I think he's a hoarder and he thinks I'm a hoarder. Maybe this is the THIRD thing we have in common!! His hoarding involves holey clothing and dead sports equipment. Mine involves collecting organic dead things.

My husband has been known to pick things out of the garbage. (Usually after I've sneakily thrown something of his away --like the holey t-shirt with yellowed sweat pit stains that he wore to his first keg party--complete with vomit splatter patterns.) I don't pick from the garbage, but I have picked up various treasures from the side of the road or while woods walking. For example, I found an INTACT DEER SKELETON last weekend at the Cranesville Swamp. (see my profile blog pic--me holding the deer vertebrae) I showed immense restraint by only bringing home the skull and vertebra. It was only a little bit smelly and buggy.

Part of our irreconcilable differences stems from the fact that I am an ARTIST and he is not. Not only does he NOT LIKE art, but he thinks artists are weird. This will be the topic for another blog post. However I needed to set up the context for this next part to make sense. I make art. I exhibit said art in museums and galleries worldwide. Despite my mild acclaim, he still does not value my art or my art-making supplies.

Setting: garage
"Honey, why do you need two sets of golf clubs when you only play 1x/year? You should throw away the rusted set." "That was a set made especially for me. It was a really good deal." "You have ten pairs of snow skis. Do you really need all of them? I don't think there are any ski slopes in Texas. Why are you saving all of those dead deflated soccer balls?"

"Sweetness, there is no way that we are taking this mummified fox with us. Or the 100 gallon box of syringes or the bag of locust shells." " Where did you find the fox and locusts? I've been looking EVERYWHERE for them. I thought you threw them away. I NEED those for my art work."

In case you are wondering if I'm a IV drug user, the syringes are used for casting. I spent 6 months casting vienna sausages out of rubber. Given that I'm a compromise kind of gal, I conceded to throw away the syringes. I also threw away my snow/leaf machine, which was part of my master's thesis. NO WAY WAS I GOING TO BUDGE ON THE FOX OR THE LOCUSTS.

This led to another argument about my dead dog Chase, who is buried in our backyard. I enlisted my 18 year-old daughter to help me dig her up. I wanted to bring some of her with me to Texas. "Dad--did you hear that Mom asked me to dig up Chase, so that she could bring her skull to Texas?" "THAT IS JUST WRONG! YOU CAN'T DESECRATE THE DOG'S GRAVE! IF YOU DIG IT UP, ANIMALS WILL COME AND SCAVAGE THE BODY! WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK?" "Honey, don't you think it would be worse if the new owners found the dog's bones while landscaping? She's been dead for three years. She will be all bones by now. Also people take cremated loved ones with them all the time. Why shouldn't I have part of her to memorialize?" "ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU ARE OUT OF CONTROL." "Sally Mann dug up her dead greyhound's remains and photographed them. She made a lot of money on those photographs." "THAT IS SICK."

I'm currently planning an elaborate momento mori for my new Plano, Texas mantlepiece. It will include my greyhound's skull gold-leafed and bejeweled, surrounded by thousands of beaded locusts swarming around resined rose petals. Woodburned into the mantle will be this inscription: To my beloved husband, in celebration of our twenty years of irreconcilable differences.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Celebrating 20 Years of Irreconcilable Differences--Part 2

Shocking as it may sound, I haven't ALWAYS celebrated our irreconcilable differences (I.D. for short). In fact, there have been a few times where I almost jumped on the bandwagon with the 1,135,000 other Americans who annually get the big D due to I.D. However, I'm not known for my conformity and I resisted the temptation.

What may you ask would tempt me to stray from my non-conformist behavior? I will call it the big G period a.k.a. pre-middle life crisis period. For those who do not know the story, my husband went out and bought a GLOCK 9MM and hid it under the bed. You may be wondering how I discovered his new toy. I grew suspicious after he was uncharacteristically nice to me one night. "Oh you are so sexy and beautiful. I love you so much." WHAT HAVE YOU DONE????

The gun was supposedly purchased to "PROTECT" the family from ax-murdering, child-molesting intruders. Up to now, he always kept a baseball bat by the bed. Suffering from the ALMOST-40-TOXIC-SHOCK-SYNDROME, he no longer felt confident in his brain-bashing abilities. Nevermind that we could have just activated the built-in security system.

I told him that he and his Glock could go live HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER somewhere else. The big G almost caused the big D.

Most recently we entered into a new phase of our marriage, which I've labeled the P period a.k.a. the acute-mid-life-crisis period. Recently promoted, my husband had to relinquish his company car and purchase a vehicle. He comes home one day and says "I think I'm going to buy this car."

"Honey, why would you want to buy a car that screams NARCISSISTIC A-HOLE, IN A MID-LIFE CRISIS, WITH A SMALL WEEWEE?
(I've edited my language for a PG rating)

"Honey, why would you want to buy a car that I can't drive? Why would you buy a car that only fits two people? What about the kids?"

"Honey, remember you company's mission statement is all about servant leadership. What kind of servant leader drives a car like that? Shouldn't you be setting an example for your employees?"

The rebuttal: You make some excellent points that I agree with. BUT it's a good deal and it will be fun.

He tried to convince me that he was actually doing the good samaritan thing by buying the car from a friend who was moving to Africa. "He needs the money and I need a car."

If you are a FB friend, you may have seen the postings guessing what kind of car now sits in my garage. The first guess was a corvette, which everyone agreed (including my husband) was a smaller wee-wee car than his current purchase. (On a side note, his boss drives a corvette. I'm not sure whether this strengthened or weakened my servant leader argument. Draw your own conclusions).

As difficult as it is, I'm resisting the big D once again. When asked if I loved riding in it, I told him that people are looking at me. Not with envy, but with disdain. Look at that women in the Porsche Boxer. She is married to a narcissistic a-hole, in a mid-life crisis with a small wee-wee. Think of how many starving children in Africa they could feed just with the cost of the gas.

What saved me from the big D was the realization that this car may be an essential component for my new art project--a 2 year performance piece as a stepford wife in Plano, Texas. I'm currently in negotiations with Lifetime TV. They think it will blow Housewives of New Jersey right out of the water.

Celebrating 20 Years of Irreconcilable Differences Part 1

Since I haven't posted for 7 months, this is going to be a series of posts. Not that I haven't had PLENTY to post about, but that thing called WORK kept getting in the way.

While visiting Deep Creek Lake, MD last weekend, I went to a church service in a movie theater. (That really should be its own post.) I don't remember exactly what the sermon was about, but one thing that the pastor said really stayed with me. "My wife and I just celebrated 20 years of irreconcilable differences."

My husband and I just had our twenty-year anniversary. Those of you who know us, know that we are polar opposites. On good days, I think our differences COMPLIMENT each other. (I can't bring myself to say "complete each other" without gagging) On the rest of the 364 days a year, I can count the number of things we like to do on 1/2 of a hand, minus the thumb--we both like to eat and drink (although he is a beer drinking carnivore and I'm more of a wine drinking herbivore)

When people ask me what my secret is to a long lasting marriage, I tell them the truth--LOW EXPECTATIONS. If you have low expectations, you won't be disappointed when your 20th anniversary is not celebrated on a beach in Maui, but in a motel room in Plano, Texas after a frustrating day of househunting. (I liked the uber-cool contemporary artist home surrounded by woods and a creek. He liked the clear-cut, cookie-cutter stepford-wife development with NO TREES). BTW Hawaii was supposed to be my 10th anniversary present and I'm still waiting. However I'm waiting with LOW expectations.

I was recently in the doctor's office filling out 500 pages of medical forms in preparation for my 5 minute office visit. One of the questions asked me how I manage my pain. I wrote "I drink wine." What do you do when the pain becomes unbearable? "I drink A LOT of wine." Now I figured the doctor was way too busy to actually READ my medical history, but I figured one of the nurses would get a chuckle. To my surprise, the doctor came in laughing and told me that I sounded like his wife. Not sure this was a compliment.

In addition to LOW EXPECTATIONS, my other marriage secret is wine. Most doctors would agree that it might not be the healthiest pain management technique, but it does the trick 99% of the time.

In thinking about the pastor's comment, maybe as a culture we view marriage from the wrong perspective. Instead of trying to reconcile our differences, or divorcing over our irreconcilable differences, why don't we CELEBRATE them?

The next few posts will share some of the ways, we have been celebrating....

photo by my former student, now professional photographer Joe Molieri