Your complaints about other people tell you what you need to change in you

My husband and I are driving to cello lessons in Madison, because my son is going to a new teacher, Uri Vardi. Usually Carla would drive, because I don’t drive, and if my husband drives all the time then he will, effectively, be my driver. So I can either pay a lot of money for a driver or a lot of money for a divorce.

My husband will ditch lesson to play disc golf. He’s training for Amateur Worlds.

I am not interested in disc golf but I’m very interested in telling him how to practice.

I didn’t start playing volleyball until college, but I could compete with women who played their whole lives because I was better at practicing. I made it to the pro volleyball tour by making plans and executing them while everyone else just played match after match hoping to get better.

As a parent supervising practice for cello, violin, and piano, I focus my attention on learning how to practice most efficiently. (Tidbit: Spend more time on scales to learn the instrument the fastest.)

I want to tell him it would be like if the kids played songs instead of practicing scales. I don’t say any of that to him. But I’m telling you; it’s not my nature to simply be quiet.

We stop at the gas station right before the highway. We stop there all the time, as if we live in a home without food and wait each day for that moment when we can enter the oasis of gas station junk food.

My son comes back to the car with a turkey and cheese Lunchables. I tell him he’s throwing out the juice (red dye no. 40) and the cookie (Oreos are banned until the kids can tell me the reason for each ingredient) and the cheese (not only do I have my own definition of junk food, but I also have my own definition of kosher, and the kids can eat turkey that’s not kosher but they can’t eat it with cheese.)

I get a Starbucks Vanilla Latte. I was going to tell you that I will never get another one ever because they are empty calories and must be junk food. But just typing the word Starbucks make me want one, and I start wishing I was in another gas station. The kids don’t realize this kind of coffee is basically junk food, sort of like no one told kids in the ’70s that alcohol was a drug. Adulthood requires such secret privileges. Adulthood is difficult.

We pass a guy in a truck on a random farm and my husband waves and I ask “Who’s that?”

My husband says, “It’s the guy who tests our soil.”

“He tests our soil?”

“He used to. I don’t need him to analyze the soil. I can analyze it myself.”

“Oh,” I say, “Like no blueberries grow because they need acidic soil?”


“What else?”

“Well, he told me I shouldn’t plant orchardgrass because it’ll clump after a few years.”

I look at my husband. “Is that true?”

“No. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Our has been in the ground for seven years and he couldn’t even tell.”

“So what did you say to him?”

“I asked him if he know how long I’d had it in the ground.”

“That wasn’t nice. You trapped him.”


I tell him, “This reminds me: My brother is getting coaching so he can deal with his big promotion, and the coach told him don’t ask people why. Asking why is aggressive.”


“You ask the boys why all the time. You shouldn’t do that.”


“Actually most of the questions you ask are aggressive. You don’t ask questions to find out information.”

“Okay,” he says, “You’re right. I’m done talking about this.”

Humph. It’s not satisfying to hear that I’m right. I need it to be more heartfelt.

We drive. I look out the window, listening to ’80s music up front and YouTube videos in back. This is how our car always sounds. I have to develop an ability to not hear anything I’m hearing.

He says, “Who are you calling?”

“I’m calling someone who wants to talk to me.” I want him to say that he wants to talk to me. But he’s not the lying type.

I call Melissa. No answer. I call my brother who does not work in an office. No answer. My other two brothers work in an office. There is no one else for me to call except Peter who works for me full time, so it’s like it’s his job to answer the phone if I call.

I never call him, so he’s probably thinking that I must be lonely, but I don’t want him to know I’m lonely. So I talk about official business, like whether he learned how to edit photos for my blog.

He says he resized some photos from Brittney Wright. A food photographer who organizes food by color.

My son pipes up from the back seat: “I can do that in Photoshop. How much would you pay me?”

I tell my son I will pay him $2.50 per photo, and he says, “Oh, I didn’t really want a job. I just wanted to try one photo to see if I could do it. Can I have $1.25 to buy a gem for my Pokemon?”

There is a bad lesson here, I just can’t pick it out. I think the lesson is that when you are with your kids, have a friend who you can call so you don’t have to hear how your kids do not want to work for money.

I am still not talking to my husband as he drops us off at the cello lesson. He is excited for disc golf and has forgotten that I am in a fight with him.

I gave up on the silent treatment early in our relationship when, after a week of silent treatment, he called my assistant to tell her that she’s really done a great job of helping us and we’re getting along better than ever.

Why don’t I have something like disc golf that makes me not care if we’re not talking?

And why do I ask myself why? Its aggressive. I need to treat myself better.

I need to practice being good at marriage. I remember when I went to graduate school for writing and all I wrote about was my sex life, and the professor told the class we write about what we we yearn for.

Which means I am yearning for more conflict. I cannot get it from my husband. And I don’t even have a friend I can call to say, “I just called to say hi and engage in conflict.”

Practicing being good at marriage is really just practicing being a reasonable, rational adult. Taking personal responsibility means giving up the joys of passive-aggressive behavior.

It occurs to me that the reason people don’t practice is not because they don’t know the best way to practice. It’s because practicing sucks. It’s not the fun part.

I want to practice reading lots of comments on a blog post. I want to practice something that depends on someone else doing the work.

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  1. Samantha
    Samantha says:

    “Which means I am yearning for more conflict.”

    The fact that you’re able to recognize and acknowledge this in yourself is just amazing. Not many people can do that.

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