A blessing and a curse

Keep feeling fascination … and you end up with a blog.

What Goes on Between the Sheets July 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — tiffanyfox @ 6:01 am
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We like to do it at night, behind closed doors, with the lights out. But when it comes down to it, anywhere will do — on the train, at school, the movie theater. It’s something we don’t discuss unless we’re not getting enough, and then it’s all we can think about. Some consider it sinful, but I say it’s a biological need, and when there’s no one around to do it with, I do it all alone.

I’m talking about sleep, and in our house it’s become an extremely popular (if increasingly uncommon) activity. There’s the small matter of the newborn baby who has taken up residence in our bedroom — a sweet, precious newborn baby who typically sleeps like an angel,  but has a sixth sense about the nights when we really need eight hours, those nights before a big project or an early morning meeting or a long drive across a barren desert while being forced to listen to  recorded lectures about Keynesian economics. On those nights it’s Bam! wakey wakey, wet diaper, need a bottle, need a cuddle, need to whimper, need to babble, need to assert my supremacy as Omnipotent Ruler of  Everything You Once Held to Be Sacred.

And then there’s the matter of my husband, who has no trouble sleeping. No trouble at all, not even when he happens to be precariously gripping a glass of red wine over a plush white carpet, or when he’s, say, driving 80 mph on an unfamiliar freeway. You see, my husband’s narcoleptic — no, not River-Phoenix-in-My-Own-Private-Idaho-narcoleptic where he collapses to the ground in a snoring heap with absolutely no warning. More like, “Wow, I’m really sleepy all of a sudden, now what is it you were say-zzzzzzzzzzzz.” In other words, he feels it coming on, I see it coming on, he rubs his eyes, and I either take the wine glass away or tell him to pull off the next freeway exit (situations which, I assure you, are mutually exclusive).

And finally, there’s me. Aside from being occasionally jolted awake by a tiny creature clamoring to suckle at my breast, and aside from the fact that I do more than my fair share of late-night drives home from wherever it is my husband has spilled wine on the carpet, I try to get a decent amount of sleep. Usually 7-8 hours, give or take a midnight bottle-feeding or two. And that’s because if I do not get 7-8 hours of sleep, I am rendered incapable of properly dressing myself, doing even basic mathematical calculations or speaking the English language in a way that is understandable to others. Plus, I’m not very nice. I’m just one of those people who needs to sleep like other people need to horde cats. I can’t help myself.

There are, of course, those nights when sleep is not mine to be had. There are the aforementioned raging parties the baby decides to throw at 3 a.m., or the times when I get stuck in what my friend Chad calls “the loop” — where I think about thinking about thinking all night long until I swear the sun won’t come up at all, that the End Times have finally come and wouldn’t you know that I didn’t even get a good night’s sleep on the last day of my existence. It’s those nights when I think sleep is overrated, when I wish I could multi-task while my brain clears its cache or whatever it is that happens while I’m unconscious and drooling.  Think about how much I could get done with another eight hours! There are plenty of other things I can do while laying prone with my eyes closed! Entire civilizations have been built that way!

OK, maybe not entire civilizations (unless you count the M.C. Escher-like cliffside village that I am forced to wander in my recurring dream about the aliens who invade Cinque Terre and hijack my undersea research vessel). But I’d be happy getting by on six hours. That’s two more hours I’d have for, well, writing this blog. And, well … my other biological needs.


Bunsen-burning love May 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — tiffanyfox @ 12:32 am
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I like to consider my marriage a scientific experiment, complete with an oft-revised hypothesis (“If we have more sex, he will do whatever I say”) and a complex set of variables that include, but are not limited to:  Money,  kids, household chores, the mysteriously rage-inducing question of married couple in a tiny carwho will decide what we’re having for dinner.

As a matrimonial empiricist, I’m always eager to read any longitudinal study, personal essay or Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet that claims to offer the secret to a happy marriage, and lately there seem to be a lot of people writing on the subject. Of particular interest to my inner science geek was  Salon.com’s interview with NYT blogger Tara Parker-Pope, author of, “For Better: The Science of  a Good Marriage” (the title alone makes my heart go pitter patter).

Parker-Pope goes so far as to introduce actual mathematics into her equation for love, recommending that couples have at least five small positive interactions (smiling, touching, offering to don a HazMat suit to change baby’s diaper) for every negative one (and we all know what those are). Her admonition to be nice during fights might not be rocket science, but interestingly, she suggests that couples who must cope with snoring are more apt to divorce.

Also, I like her argument for why monogamy is not too much to ask of the human species:  “It’s true that monogamy and sexual fidelity are not common in nature, but it certainly does occur. There is no other area of human behavior in which we defer entirely to biology — if we did that, every woman would have 10 kids.”

As for my own marriage, I’ve kept a running list of experience-based outcomes, witticisms and advice that I hope to share with my children when their time comes to get hitched. But in the meantime, here’s a taste.  Lab coats on? Notebooks at the ready? Proceed:

  • “Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.” — Wendell Johnson
  • Before saying anything to your spouse, ask yourself: Is this true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
  • Don’t make assumptions … have the courage to ask questions instead.
  • For your wedding day (or for your anniversary), buy a new perfume or cologne that you adore. Post-nuptials, wear the same fragrance every once in a while to remind yourself of why you married the person you did.
  • Lead the least secretive life you can lead.
  • Never do anything that would embarrass you if anyone knew about it. Full stop.
  • When in doubt, take the high road.