I am back with the farmer.

This probably is not surprising to you, because admittedly, it is absurd to be engaged one day and not engaged the next day. But there are exacerbating factors, and basically, the way I got him back was to be more likable.

I have spent most of my career overcoming my lack of social skills by studying research about what makes people likable. And I think the research I've applied so systematically in my career is finally helping me in my personal life.

Here's what we know about being likable:

1. Don't give ultimatums. It's disrespectful. Instead, be a negotiator.
The farmer does not want to be in this blog. As you might imagine, we have this discussion a lot.

First it was like this:

Him: I don't want to be in the blog.

Me: You have to be. I can't live without writing my life.

Then the conversation was like this:

Him: I don't want to be in the blog.

Me: How about if you can edit whatever you want?

2. Try to think about situations from the other persons' perspective.
That worked for a while. But the problem is that I've been setting boundaries about what I write about for my whole life. He's only been doing it for a year. And after the Thanksgiving Day post he felt like he did not do a good job. In hindsight, he thinks he should not have let me write about that.

But here's the farmer's dilemma: He is fascinated with the idea of living an honest life. And he loves watching me do it, but he's horrified to realize that there are a million versions of every story, and the person with the big blog audience gets extra weight for her story.

3. Don’t hide what really motivates you; secretive people are not likable.
So I am back with the farmer, but we have new rules about what I can write. Well, I think we do. We were going to. But then we had to think about the ramifications. If I don't write about the tension on a farm, then who is writing about that?

Do you read The Pioneer Woman? I love her blog. I love her blog so much that I told my designer he should make me her blog.

He said, “You don't want her blog. It's huge. It probably takes five full-time people to run that blog.”

I said, “No. I do want her blog.”

He said, “I think you want her life.”

The Pioneer Woman does have a great life. Every guy in the photos on that blog is on a horse or about to get on a horse, and all the men are hot. Their rear ends poke out of chaps. Everywhere. And their tough, gritty faces suggest they'd ravish me in bed.

Sure I want that blog, and that life.

I also love how that The Pioneer Woman never, never never disrespects her guy. The Marlboro Man. That's his name. He's always studly, sexy, kind, fun.

The farmer is that, too, but there are issues. He's not studly when we're having a fight. The problem is that I'm drawn to writing about the fights, and the Pioneer Woman is drawn to writing about pies, and feeding the Marlboro Man.

I am a great cook. But this is not the sort of thing that would go over well on this blog. I'm the kind of cook that understands principles of food so I don't ever use a recipe. But I'm not drawn to tell you how to make pot roast perfectly as a precursor to cowboy sex. I'm more drawn to tell you that I experimented with fruit in stew and accidentally used bad wine, and to fix it I laced it with brown sugar. And it's not just that the farmer wouldn't eat it, but neither would the farm cats, who will eat almost anything in winter.

I want to put a recipe of that. The worst stew ever. With grass-finished beef, of course. Because the farmer gets a full cow butchered and then stores it in his freezer. And before he knew me he used to turn everything into microwaved hamburger, but now he brings me gifts of frozen cuts of grass-finished beef that I defrost over days and turn into dinners to wow him.

The secret, really, to amazing cooking with beef is to spend a lot of money on ingredients and then do almost nothing to them. The farmer did not know this until he was with a city girl who will spend $5.00 on a bag of spinach.

4. Try to look at the positive side of things; people like optimists.
I digress. Sort of. Not really, though. Because what I'm telling you is that what would be perfect is if I could be the Pioneer Woman and only tell you good things about me and the farmer.

But what about that she's living on a family-owned ranch that is a business, and surely, she had to sign a prenup? Surely her in-laws are nuts over the possibility that their son gets run over by a stampede and she inherits his part of the ranch and marries a different guy with a tight ass in flowing chaps and gives her share of the ranch to him?

What about that? Was there discussion?

Is there discussion over that she has so much traffic on her blog that surely she earns more money than the Marlboro Man? This is not easy stuff to deal with. But there is nothing about that.

Unfortunately, for me, the world loves reading the Pioneer Woman. And so do I. She's upbeat and her site is gorgeous, and no kidding: the minute the farmer broke off my engagement I started thinking there's gotta be a guy on her ranch who's right for me.

But I am drawn to write about only the hard things. I don't need help from a blog community to know that I'm great in the kitchen. I need help from a blog community to figure out my anger management problems . Because I need to fix that fast: The farmer won't put up with me yelling anymore.

So I guess that's what I'll blog about. I have an anger problem with the farmer, and, honestly, everyone at work is sick of my anger issues, too. So I have a problem. It's so much more interesting than the cupcakes that I decorate so well that my friend said she could sell them in SoHo.

5. Understand peoples' boundaries and respect them.
This would be a great place for a picture. Of a cupcake. But what I'd like is a picture of me, and the farmer.

He won't do that. He is figuring out boundaries. And that's definitely one.

Another is yelling.

And another is his family.

I am figuring out boundaries, too. I would be insane to say that my blog is more important than he is. But, in some ways, it is. My blog is what makes me able to support myself–I can support myself, somehow, as long as I'm posting to my blog. And my blog is what makes me able to not feel isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I'm always connected to people if I'm blogging.

But I told him that I'd stop blogging about him if he wants me to.

I could offer that only because I knew he wouldn't want me to. He likes it. He likes that we would have had to keep a secret, forever, that we considered an abortion, but now we can talk about it openly and he can tell people what he thinks. He's from a farm in the back, dead end street of a road in the middle of nowhere. No one ever asked him what he thought of abortion before. It's interesting to him. To have a real discussion.

It makes him uncomfortable. But the thing is that the stuff that is most interesting to me is what makes me uncomfortable.

So we agree that we are back to where we were: Me blogging and him getting final edit to any post with him in it.

And I say, “Thank you so much. You make me feel really loved.”

He says, “Tell that to your readers so they know that. ”

And I say, “They already do.”

285 replies
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  1. Beth
    Beth says:

    every good relationship – especially a marriage – is based on compromise. Nobody gets their way entirely – only partially. I like the farmer. I think he’s good for you. I think you’re happier when you are with him. Don’t fight to be “right”. Pick your battles. And ask yourself again, and again “if we broke up over this issue would it seem stupid to somebody outside the relationship?” I don’t like the fact that my husband leaves his dirty clothes on the floor, but at the end of the day, no biggie.

  2. Helen
    Helen says:

    My partner also told me he could not handle me yelling. And it was (and still is) a hard habit for me to break. I yell because I think I’m not being heard, and he gets quieter the louder I am — a self-reinforcing action.

    There is no magic bullet. I try to remember. I try to really look at him when we fight — I can see it on his face when I get too loud. It still happens, but I try to check myself as soon as I realize, and apologize, if only for yelling, when I do.

    Liz’s comment about asking for what you want is very true. Also, recognize for yourself what you want. I had to realize that I didn’t want to be fighting more than I wanted to be right.

    And it’s hard to be nice, to apologize, to compromise, to resolve a difference, when you feel like you’re under attack. So, if changing my fighting tactics is more likely to get me what I want, well… that makes it easier to remember not to yell.

  3. Jon
    Jon says:

    One of our favorite books is “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn (and the companion book for men). I don’t think you’re much of a book person and you’d have to ignore the fact that it’s nominally a Christian book.

    But it gives great insight into what the average male thinks about many subjects. I think it’s especially good at explaining what are almost conditioned or programmed responses by us guys. We kept it in the bathroom for a month until we’d both finished reading it. I kept nodding my head in surprise – “Yeah, I do that.” even when I didn’t realize it.

  4. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    Caitlin @ Roaming Tales says:

    I didn’t know that you liked to cook. I find that interesting. I love to cook too – it’s such a creative and also nurturing process. Somehow your posts about how you only eat power bars and you have difficulty with restaurant menus made me think you weren’t that into cooking.

    It’s nice that you are back with the farmer. Are you still engaged? What’s the plan?

  5. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    Caitlin @ Roaming Tales says:

    I much prefer your blog to the Pioneer Woman! I know she’s popular but I just don’t see it.

    But while we’re on the subject of fabulous blogs, I should remind everyone that next Monday is the deadline if you want to nominate a blog for the 2010 Bloggies. http://2010.bloggies.com. (Some of my kind fans have nominated me for travel and food).

    Also I meant to say in my previous comment that even the nicest, freshest, organic spinach doesn’t normally cost $5 a bag.

  6. Jacqueline
    Jacqueline says:

    Have you read anything by Tim Sanders? He wrote _The Likeability Factor_ (most relevant to your current post) as well as _Love is the Killer App_ and _Saving the World at Work_. I think you would like his work.

  7. jhajer
    jhajer says:

    Always a pleasure to read. Farmer makes me happy too. It’s refreshing to hear about grass and cows instead of Gucci and Prada. Also, with your 5 points I can now finally prove to my husband that I am one of the most likable. thank you.

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    We do know it.

    I’m so delighted you’re back together, I was sad when you weren’t. But I am also sad when anyone disrespects the person they are with. Having difficulties like yours, I hope he has the enduring patience to learn the difference. My marlboro man does.

  9. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    This has actually raised an interesting question for me. Has the farmer gone to therapy? I know you are a fan, and I am curious. I have spent many years in therapy and when I lived in San Francisco I don’t think I knew anyone who had not been at some point. Now I find myself living in a small out of the way place, in a relationship with a wonderful guy who has never seen a therapist. I find it poses some tricky issues when it comes to sorting out disagreements and plans for our relationship. Perhaps it’s just the lack of that common ground of language and experience of self-knowledge that you gain from therapy. I wonder if you find the same thing with the farmer.
    Just idle thoughts.

  10. George Birbilis
    George Birbilis says:

    Regarding anger management, a thing that has worked for me lately is to pay my wife a prearranged ammount of money (say $50) at every incident I yell at her. Same would go the other way arround. Of course this works as long as you quickly pay it and stop yelling when you realise you’ve done it again

  11. coffeewithjulie
    coffeewithjulie says:

    I don’t know you or your blog well enough to be happy (or not) about you and the farmer being back together. I got distracted with your links to other posts related to Aspergers.

    I have found myself fascinated by you and your writing and what you say because it is so blunt, so frank … and so rare. It’s all so less confusing and so refreshing at the same time. It’s only now that I realize what I’ve been drawn to is a characteristic of Aspergers. Huh. Now I want to find as many people as I possibly can that are diagnosed with Aspergers and surround myself with them and see if life gets any less confusing. (Okay, it didn’t sound as wierd inside my head as it does now in writing!)

    I’m off to go check out what this Pioneer woman is now.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s funny that you want to surround yourself with people who have Asperger’s. I do that – intuitively – and it gets sort of dull. Blunt, unfiltered honestly gets boring after a while too.

      Did you read AJ Jacobs book about a year of living biblically? I forget the title, but he has a chapter where he lived the commandment “thou shall not lie” literally. That is my life. And the chapter always bothered me because it’s not actually that great a way to live. I mean, people who don’t know how to lie in a conventional, probably-very-human way are actually mentally challenged.

      So, I guess I am saying that I am happy that you like the blog. But also that everything gets boring if there’s too much.


    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s funny that you want to surround yourself with people who have Asperger’s. I do that — intuitively — and it gets sort of dull. Blunt, unfiltered honestly gets boring after a while too.

      Did you read AJ Jacobs book about a year of living biblically? I forget the title, but he has a chapter where he lived the commandment “thou shall not lie” literally. That is my life. And the chapter always bothered me because it’s not actually that great a way to live. I mean, people who don’t know how to lie in a conventional, probably-very-human way are actually mentally challenged.

      So, I guess I am saying that I am happy that you like the blog. But also that everything gets boring if there’s too much.


  12. Judy
    Judy says:

    The number one strategy – not to give ultimatums – was how you and the farmer got engaged, and how he broke it off.

    You wrote in a post that (while walking between rows of corn) you told him you couldn’t keep bringing the boys unless you two were married. He caved. Then later a similar situation occured while negotiating with his parents. He caved to the parents.

    I am delighted to hear that you are rethinking this relationship strategy. I think you and the farmer belong together.

  13. Erica
    Erica says:

    The important things to figure out about people are always what they don’t say, because that is always what is so obvious to them that they don’t need to say it. When you blog about your issues with the farmer, you are not talking about how amazing he is or how much you love him, but it is implicit in every post. You would not blog about him if you didn’t love him. You would not still want to be with him, even though your relationship has so much angst, if you didn’t love him. Hopefully the farmer knows that the reason you need to say so many unpleasant things about him is that he is the best thing in your life.

  14. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    Tell the farmer (and whisper it to yourself) that: “I know that”. I am in a relationship where “they” said it wouldn’t last six months. Where family ties were strained and almost broken because we wouldn’t listen to the advice of those who loved us and thought they might know better. Where we agreed to give up a great deal to live in the shelter of each other’s greatest gift of love. And here we are, my love and I, thirty one years later (sixty two, six-month zero hours have passed) and as happy as the day we decided that we could walk away from that loving but flawed advice. My wish for you and the farmer is that you stay true to what your heart tells you; be damned the consequences that others doom for you. The love you share is the only thing that matters.

    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      Hmmm. Sometimes love’s not enough. Which is a hard lesson to learn. (Not saying that’s the case with Penelope, just as a general rule I get nervous when people suggest that love conquers all.)

  15. lhamo
    lhamo says:

    Yay! I hope you guys can work it out.

    I think it would be wonderful if you could make it your mission to reinvigorate America by encouraging more smart, successful but slightly lost women to hook up with the single farmers out there and totally reshape the American countryside: The Family Farm 2.0. You need a new project, Penelope. I feel like some of your issues with The Farmer might just have been that you had too much time/energy to be able to focus on all the problems and that made them bigger than they were. So his parents want a pre-nup? So what? If you and The Farmer put your heads, your talents and your energies together and work to build something, you will make so much money you can buy 10 of his parents farms. There are so many things you could do that would benefit you, The Farmer, your kids, his family, and all of the rest of us. What are his dreams, what are yours, where do they intersect? Make it about the future, not the past. Focus on the things that you both care about, that you both feel you can make public, and turn your life, and this blog, in that direction. You can continue to be honest, but maybe not about everything in such a public way. I hope you can make it work. You and he both deserve it. And we are looking forward to following your journey!

  16. Becca
    Becca says:

    I’ve subscribed to both your blog and Pioneer Woman’s for a long time… let me just tell you that I skim through 95% of PW’s posts. She’s spunky and upbeat, but there are only so many pictures of cows one can really pay attention to when there are 500 posts in my Google Reader waiting to be addressed. But when I see a new one from you, I always savor every word. Your words make me laugh, cry, and most importantly- see the world from a new perspective. I’ll take nitty gritty reality over photoshopped farm animals any day :)

  17. biting tongue
    biting tongue says:


    And not the yucky, uninvited, you-are-invading-my-space kind.

    The kind you receive without realizing you are being hugged until you feel warm and safe and recognize that you leaned in to the other body too.

  18. Neeraj Bhushan
    Neeraj Bhushan says:

    I have been following you on Twitter for some time. And reading you as well. You inspire confidence.

    May I take this opportunity to request you for your invaluable feedback and / or few words about my efforts to expose the corrupt sitting at the helms in India’s premier news agency Press Trust of India (PTI).

    It is prayed.

    Thank you so much and Best.

  19. Neeraj Bhushan
    Neeraj Bhushan says:

    I have been following you on Twitter for some time. And reading you as well. You inspire confidence.

    May I take this opportunity to request you for your invaluable feedback and / or few words about my efforts to expose the corrupt sitting at the helms in India’s premier news agency Press Trust of India (PTI). The same can be reached at neerajbhushan.com

    It is prayed.

    Thank you so much and Best.

  20. Green
    Green says:

    You are a jewish girl from New York. So despite the fact that you are back with a farmer (who I am assuming is not jewish because what farmer is?) I want to ask you a food question: when making matzah ball soup, I know the soup can be frozen for weeks/months/ever, but how long can you keep the matzah balls in the fridge, and can you freeze and defrost them?

    Congrats on compromising with the farmer.

  21. Simone
    Simone says:

    I’m so happy that you and the farmer are back together and I am quite relieved that the pair of you reached a consensus- that you can continue writing about the famer subject to his final edits- that is amenable to your readers.

    My favourite posts are the ones that are about your relationship with the farmer. And for some reason i think that the farmer is a very sexy man.

    I hope it all works out for you guys.

  22. Di
    Di says:

    So very nice to find you out here in the blog world. Having read Pioneer Woman and not subscribed or kept up with her despite admiring her site and life and stuff, I can quietly whisper that I did, however, subscribe to you because I like what I found here.

    I found a quote yesterday, you might like it too … ‘It is problematic to assume that you can ask people to create and also to behave.’
    David Whyte, poet and writer of prose.

    I noted it for future ‘discussions’ with my Belgian bloke.

  23. Stephanie Hight
    Stephanie Hight says:

    YAY! I’m glad to hear. Really, really glad. For your kids, too, who clearly liked the farmer.

  24. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I am a fan of love…therefore I am happy to hear that the man who makes you smile is back in your daily life. What I’m not a fan of is that you seem to have changed who you are to make him happy. What is he changing about him to suit your needs? He’s the one that chose land over you. Isn’t love about compromise? He wouldn’t compromise his ‘work’ but he’s happy with you compromising yours? Love makes you do crazy things…I’ve been there and done that. I hope he knows how lucky he truly is. It isn’t every day you find someone who loves you enough to be someone whom they may not even be…just on a whim of being loved back. Take care. ~Jessica

  25. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:


    I am not sure why this post made me so uncomfortable.

    Perhaps it is because my incredibly high level of respect for your insight is currently struggling with my tendency to lose respect for those who return to relationships that have repeatedly hurt them (esp. when they have a supportive network who wants to see them succeed).

    And I quote, “If your boss loves you, stay. If your boss does not love you, assess where you went wrong, and decide if you can fix it. If not, it’s quitting time.”

    Sub your boss with The Farmer, and I suppose you are seeing if you can fix it. But wait, haven’t we already been through this? I don’t see the part that says ‘repeat assessing, trying and quitting – ad nauseum – until you have mashed your soul into a thousand pieces.’ He's not your boss. It's his job to come to the table too.

    Do me a favour, and prove my inner cynical naysayer wrong. I’m really glad he makes you feel loved, and I hope that over time the small “I told you so” in my head never has reason to surface.

    Best of effort (because it's not luck that runs a relationship, is it?).

    • Dan Owen
      Dan Owen says:

      Elizabeth, this is very perceptive observation. I also struggle with the many contradictions in the content of Penelope’s blog. It’s led me to completely dismiss her career advice — that and the fact that I think much of it is simply wrong and bad. Her self-diagnosis of Aspberger’s has also clouded how I think about much of what I read here. Is her approach to a relationship problem — make myself more likeable — actually useful and healthy, or is it simply how someone with this kind of handicap must approach a relationship problem? When someone with Aspberger’s yells and cries during conflict with someone, I think something different is going on with them than when someone without Aspberger’s encounters the same situation. I haven’t made up my mind about what to think about this, but I will say that I often feel the same kind of discomfort with these posts that you describe here. Thanks for naming it!

      • Elizabeth
        Elizabeth says:


        You’ve certainly got me thinking. I’m sad to hear that you dismiss P’s thoughts and advice due to her contradictions and self-diagnosis. Might I venture to say that the flawed and human nature of her blog is one of the reasons it is so successful?

        I believe I meant to note the difference in approaches that P (along with many of us) use in our personal lives vs. our private lives. I have seen many people who are capable of being successful professionally, but when faced with a personal situation are incapable of having the self-respect required to demand a quality partnership.

        As for her ‘self-diagnosis of Aspberger’s,’ my opinion is this: If you are self-diagnosing as a method of excusing yourself, then I think you are abusing the system. If you are self-diagnosing in an attempt to better yourself, then go for it. I’d like to go on believing that Penelope falls within the latter group, but I must admit that I have noticed myself taking one or two of her posts with more of a grain of salt lately.

        Thanks for the reply. It got me thinking about what I really meant.

  26. Carole
    Carole says:

    Good luck with the farmer.

    I had never seen the Pioneer Woman’s blog before, what a flash blog. It looks very celebrity and plastic. I enjoy reading yours it is more gritty, more real.


  27. Nick Hutch
    Nick Hutch says:

    Congrats, if you want them, on getting back with the Farmer, and certainly good luck. I can appreciate the problems the pair of you share and hope you can keep working past them

  28. KristinCanWrite
    KristinCanWrite says:

    of course, i’m thrilled to hear you’re back with the farmer [for the second time; first time, webinar]. but damn you, now, i’ve been unexpectedly sucked into that there pioneer lady’s blog, with no hope of escape [before 3a, anyway].

    AGHH! I love/hate you!

  29. Syl
    Syl says:

    People with anger management issues, especially those who yell and rant a lot are VERY hard to deal with both professionally and personally. It causes havoc and makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It is impossible to have a rational conversation when someone is behaving irrational. A pyschiatrist referred to it as “emotional vomit”.

    I was married to someone with anger management issues, and his tirades were the primary reason I left. Aftewards, everyone who knew us as a couple, said the same thing. His anger made him completely unbearable at work and personally. Not one person told me the relationship was worth staying and fighting for. Had he not been a yeller, I imagine people’s opinions of him would be different.

    It is good to recognize this is an area of growth and development. Changing this one trait could be the single biggest gift you give to yourself and those around you. For those around you, it is the difference between walking on egg shells all the time, and creating meaningful, safe connections.

    wishing you lots of luck!!

  30. Deb Joy
    Deb Joy says:

    You know, I used to read The Pioneer Woman all the time, but she lost me when she talked about the only pair of jeans in the world that she could possibly wear cost like $200. I don’t begrudge her the $200 jeans – I just don’t have much in common with someone like that. I realized she was only showing us the good stuff. If I want Cinderella, I’ll watch Walt Disney (and even Cinderella had some tough times!). If I’m reading about someone’s life, I want more truth, less fairy tale. I don’t always agree with you or what you write or your personal beliefs, but I always feel like you’re being honest about the hard stuff. Thanks.

  31. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Fruit in beef stew is great.

    Try chopped prunes. Keep the seasoning middle-eastern — garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick, cloves, turmeric, and maybe a bit of allspice and nutmeg. It will scream for chickpeas too. Raisins and chopped apricots also work.

    Kitchens are for the courageous.

  32. Kim
    Kim says:

    I too love the Pioneer Woman and her blog. But I like your blog even more because although secretly I strive to be as multi talented as the Pioneer Woman, there is a piece of her that in a way seems unattainable. The roller coaster of my life is not the same as yours but I hope that I handle the twists and turns as you do with bravery, consciousness, with humor and dignity. You convey this with your writing which is why I am hooked.

  33. MaLo
    MaLo says:

    Hello P.

    I am happy for you and hope you the best with the farmer. Oh, and thank you for mentioning the Pioneer Women. I didn’t know her and spent the entire afternoon yesterday reading her arlequin love story at work. Not good, you would say, but well, I really have nothing to do so it was better entertainment than refreshing the reddit page every 10 seconds! Anyway, I have been bothered by only one thing since I have been following your blog: the poll question! It’s been the same question for months… So get ride of it or make a post out of it and ask another one. I am sure people love to give their opinion about stuff… Love, love your blog :-)

  34. I want to race and ride and rope me a girl
    I want to race and ride and rope me a girl says:

    Here’s what I don’t want to say: You are a baby. It’s about survival and you are not in Kansas anymore. I’m in his shoes in all ways except the cow and pig shit and the relatives. I have horses and a tight ass. There is no such thing as cowboy sex. I live just far enough from Madsion that I have to compete with everthing Madison has to offer and women have a drive fatigue factor that will last from 1 day to 1 year depending on desperation and how nice I am not at times. This is where honesty really sucks.

    What I want to say: You are frickin persitant!

  35. Sara
    Sara says:

    Penelope – ah yes, The Pioneer Woman. I run the website at a gift manufacturer (Blue Q), and one day we saw a huge spike in our numbers all due to…..The Pioneer Woman. She barely and briefly mentioned one of our products – a teeny tiny picture of one of our products. And tons of people flooded in to our site. I became obsessed – who is this woman who lives so perfectly in pastures with horses and men and home schooled children and has time to not only cook but take pictures of it and post it and have all these people follow it and follow everything she says?

    But, please don’t wish to be like her. Even though I too wish to be like her. And I adore her. At least I think I do. My friend got me her cookbook for Christmas and last night I sat on my freezing kitchen floor in New England and read the whole thing. But my face looked like I was trying to figure something out. Like she's hiding something or she MUST be hiding something, no she's certainly hiding something – ..

    I follow you too. You're more like me. You question out loud.

    If you wrote a cookbook I'd sit on the kitchen floor and read from cover to cover too. But I probably wouldn't look like I was trying to figure out an algebra problem. I'd be like – ..nodding….

  36. Kristin Ohlson
    Kristin Ohlson says:

    You’re my favorite soap opera! And aside from that–and the joy I feel now that you and the farmer are back together–I so enjoy and learn from your endless cogitations. Love your candor and humor, too.

  37. Kye
    Kye says:

    Penelope, on the subject of anger management you might want to check out the nonviolent communication (NVC) process. The classic book on the subject is called Nonviolent Communication. But I’d recommend you start with Rosenberg’s short and simple book on anger management; if you google “anger management rosenberg amazon” it should take you right to the book.

    Someone above suggested meditation (not mediation). That’s not as silly as it may sound, because meditation (some kinds anyway) is practice in being aware of what your mind is doing right now, and choosing to do something else with it. And that’s the most important part of changing your interactions–noticing what you are thinking and feeling, and choosing to do something different. You don’t have to sit cross legged on a cushion to practice that.

    There’s more I could say but if I do it’ll turn into a whole post on the subject. Which gives me an idea–I think I’ll write that post!

    Good luck. And I hope this is of some help.


  38. The Accidental Farmwife
    The Accidental Farmwife says:

    Hi Penelope: Go easy on your farmer. My Farmer doesn’t like to be identified in my blog or column (which appears in a chain of community newspapers) either. So I just call him The Farmer and if I include a photo I never show his face. Apparently he can be identified by his ass, however, as he is often recognized in our small town. By not identifying him, you can exercise delicious creative freedoms and shape him into more of a character. I’m sure the Marlboro Man isn’t always studly, sexy, kind and fun. No cowboy can be up for it all the time. ;) Diana.

  39. Mischa
    Mischa says:

    This is all good and well and the *right* things one *should* do, but let’s face it, we each are born with our own inherent personality traits. Some inherited, some learned along the way. We can neither apologize for it nor continually blame some so-called diseases for it (come on ausberger is not crippling, I’ve a raised a son with this now new label and he is awesome so stop using the term). We are who we are. You cannot change what makes you the way you are anymore than I can. Strong, independent, mouthy women are great! Have you ever noticed how a man loves that quality and then gets upset because you actually are that? They can’t have it both ways. Stop trying to conform. Yes be nicer if that is what you feel in your heart, but don’t pay lip-service to it. It’s disingenuous.

  40. Sara
    Sara says:

    Ahhhh a new year and a new train wreck. I know, I know love is hard, all relationships require compromise….. Blah, blah, blah. I have a secret- that’s total and complete bs dreamed up be people rationalizing staying in bad relationships. Marriage is work, if the courtship us this freaking hard-RUN!

  41. Marie McHale Drake
    Marie McHale Drake says:

    I’m glad to hear you are back with the Farmer. Ask the people dishing out advice how long they’ve been in a relationship and if they are in one now. There’s always stuff that has to be worked out in my experience, which, by the way, is vast, incredible and has given me the ability to exude boundaries perfectly while baking pies and dancing backwards in high high heels. OK, the second part of that last sentence was complete bullshit. But still, I have to compromise with my friends and the people I work with too, so why wouldn’t I do a little compromising with the person I live with unless we are just roommates but even then I’d have to (stop drinking my fucking juice, etc.)

    • Sara
      Sara says:

      FYI – happily married 17 years. I stand by my advice – if you have serious compatibility issues BEFORE you have to deal with all the heavy stuff of marriage – get out before the prenup becomes relevant.

  42. Denise
    Denise says:

    Hi Penelope – I just discovered your blog recently and I, too, am an immediate and fast fan. I am captivated by great storytelling, authentic voice, insight and – €“ that secret sauce I can't begin to attain in my own life let alone in writing – €“ honesty (even when being honest might hurt someone else (my big sticking point). But in the end, it is the wisdom. What you uncover (and your community of readers take and turn over) about the hard business of living for the rest of us.

    So this is what I gained from your post today. First, actually from your Thanksgiving post linked in this post:

    I used to work at my grandma's bookstore. I worked with a cousin – Laurie. She told me I should move to LA even though no one wanted me to. Everyone thought it was a crazy idea. But Laurie explained that the job of families is to keep you in line with the rest of the family, in a predestined path that is good for the family. And your job is to create your own path.

    This insight was also a big aha moment in my own life (way back when), and it also puts the farmer's dilemma in focus. I came from a family who had never been to college before, so when I graduated high school my parents wanted me to save money and live at home while taking classes at a nearby city college. I stood my ground in the face of great parental protest, went away to university and it changed my life in many ways, not the least of which was a gained confidence in my own ability to know what was best for me. The farmer is also creating his own path – €“ with you. He shouldn't doubt his direction.

    I also relate to your issues with anger management and I will take with me Liz's advice on anger management: yes, my husband of 24 years and I continue to try to control one another with a variety of strategies – and it is the failure of these strategies that causes my rage! I also know I have a difficult time knowing what I want, let alone articulating it. So I plan to practice her replacement strategy: stop, ask myself what I want, and then simply state it (there's that honesty thing again).

    And the equally tough challenge of stopping long enough to give myself however much time I need to figure it out (despite my inner critic who tells me I'm too slow).

    Sorry this is so long – €“ I'll keep my comments shorter next time. Thanks again!

  43. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I love your blog so much more than PW’s, because you write real stuff about your very real life. PW is a good writer and not a bad cook and a truly masterful spin artist, but she doesn’t grab me like you do.

    Very happy to hear you’re back with The Farmer :)

  44. Denise
    Denise says:

    oops – read over my comment again and realize there’s a BIG mistake in first line (needed more coffee before I responded!): strike the word “not”: I AM — a…fan!


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