Employed Husband

Posted in Live-In Favorites on May 18, 2011 by liveinhusband

Over the last two weeks, I have been going to interview after interview.

I have finally landed a full-time job in my industry. I will have been a Live-In Husband for a full year before I start my new job, a sacrifice that I never expected to make in life but one whose end is now in sight.

Applying for permanent residence was a long process, one that involved many restrictions on my actions. I started this blog last summer in part because it was one of the few projects that I could actually take on. It has also been something that I truly enjoyed working on.

Now, 100 posts later, I feel ready to move on to something new.

I am very proud of what I’ve written here. I managed to post three times per week, every week. I wanted to ensure that my posts were written according to a consistent level of quality, and looking back on my work, I feel that I have accomplished this.

I have enjoyed the network and connections that I formed over since last year. To all those that have read or commented on this blog, thank you. Rest assured that I am still reading your work.

I still have many stories to tell, but for the time being, I am going to focus on being an Employed Husband.

Good luck.

Anecdotal Precedent

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags on April 29, 2011 by liveinhusband

They say that some men struggle to listen to their wives. I imagine it must be the same for wives listening to their husbands. After a while, our partner’s reaction to a situation will rarely come as a surprise, so why not tune out?

I’ll tell you why: anecdotal precedent.

Anecdotal precedent paid off big time for me this week when I was late picking up my wonderful wife.

To be honest, I am rarely late. I’m more likely to be ten to fifteen minutes early than I am to be even a minute late. But this time, I was at the gym, in the zone, and I lost track of time. I was almost fifteen minutes late picking up my wife, who I knew had already had a bad morning at work.

I was in trouble.

What to do?

Option #1: Speed as quickly as possible to minimize the damage.

I immediately discarded this option. For one, I was already late. Showing up a few minutes later wouldn’t change that in my wife’s mind. Also, throw in the risks of a speeding ticket or traffic accident and it was definitely not worth it.

Option #2: Excuses!

Well, I have been without a watch for a few weeks now, so how can I keep track of time?! My watch has an extremely thin clock face, which I love. However, jewelers will not change the battery in it because it is so fine. So I had to send it away and make do. What’s a watchless husband to do?

Discard. There are clocks at the gym and my wife pointing this out would not do me any favors.

Option #3: Admit to wrong doing, but do not apologize more than once.

I went with Option #3 the second I thought of it. I knew it would work because my wife recently told me a story about a woman that is always late, but never does anything more than admit to wrong doing. My wonderful wife thought this was a great way to act when one is late.

So I had her on anecdotal precedent.

And it worked!

“We Don’t Have Television”

Posted in Live-In Favorites on April 27, 2011 by liveinhusband

The first round of the NHL and NBA playoffs has been outstanding this year. There have been close games, dramatic turns, and amazing athleticism. It’s been a great season for sports.

It’s also been a terrible season for my waistline.

My wonderful wife and I don’t have television, which means that we usually go out to a pub to watch sports. Usually, there’s only one game a week that we’d like to see, but the first round of playoffs in the NHL and the NBA has been especially exciting. So I’ve been finding excuses to sneak out on my bicycle more than once a week.

The only downside of watching sports at a pub is chicken wings.

I love chicken wings.

My waist does not.

(My monthly budget isn’t thrilled by them, either.)

I suppose if we had TV, we wouldn’t go out for chicken wings anymore, and perhaps I’d lose weight more quickly as a result. Still, I don’t think that my wife and I are going to buy a cable or satellite television package, much to our content providers’ irritation.

I know people that say “we don’t watch television” often come across as smug. I’m sorry, but it really is fun to watch people’s reactions to this statement. Most people think my wife and I are lying. When they realize that we’re telling the truth, they are often baffled.

Once people have digested this information, they’ll often resort to this final question:

“But what do you do?”

There’s a hopelessness in this question that recalls for me Winston’s shock that televisions in George Orwell’s 1984 can be turned off. However, it’s not difficult to live without television, and as more content is transmitted over the Internet, it becomes increasingly convenient to simply go without TV.

My wife and I have both lived in countries that provide very little English language content, and I have lived in public parks that offered no television service at all. Even if TV Guide ruled your life for years, it doesn’t take long to find new things to do. Remember, people lived for thousands of years without television.

There are options.

For example, in April, the trees are turning green and the evenings are lengthening. Birds are singing.

Why not ride your bicycle?

To the pub.

Where you can eat chicken wings and watch playoff TV.

How To Use Your Wife’s Computer To Be A Heroic Husband

Posted in Live-In Favorites on April 25, 2011 by liveinhusband

When I was a kid, my father was expected to fix everything that went wrong with our car. It must have been stressful to have to fix everything, but my father was quite capable.

Our hero.

Unfortunately, I rarely get to be a hero in my marriage. For one thing, today’s cars are designed so that they cannot be repaired by anyone but the dealers and their computers. Also, my wonderful wife can probably change a flat faster than I can.

Usually, I have to settle for catching an ugly beetle that is loudly circling a lamp.

For better or worse, every generation faces its own challenges. For today’s husbands, these challenges are our opportunities to be heroic for our wives. A particularly daunting opportunity available for today’s husband must surely be fixing his wife’s PC.

I am the “sort of person” that uses a Mac, which I think means that I am the sort of person that expects to be able to get things done when using a computer. I am confident that a PC user will be surprised to learn that this is even possible, but I will say it again, when you turn on a Mac, you do not have to wait half an hour to start working.

(I recently watched Bill Gates discuss the inefficiency of governments, America’s education system, and the medical world. I wonder if all of these systems are using Windows.)

My wife’s PC is a lemon amongst lemons.

But I persevered.

Day 1:

Logging in to the operating system. Updates for many programs — all of which helpfully “pop up” to distract me. I also tried to clean up the files, though this didn’t go so well.

“What is this?”

“How should I know?”

“May I delete it?”

“No.”

If this back and forth sounds familiar, keep your cool. Remember that you are trying to be a hero.

Eventually, I was ready to shut down the PC, during which time the Windows Updates would be installed.

I went to bed.

Day 2.

The installation process actually switched itself off mid-shutdown. When I returned to the PC, I had to instruct the computer to continue installing the updates, then wait, then wait for the PC to restart, then wait for the configuration of updates. Then I finally got into the operating system and faced a series of reminders about life, the universe, and everything but what I actually wanted to do. Also, virus scans.

But, my wife’s PC is slightly less dysfunctional than it was before I arrived.

Hero.

Outlet Malls, Population Density, and a Loud Wife

Posted in Live-In Favorites on April 22, 2011 by liveinhusband

I decided to give shopping with my wonderful wife another shot. This time, we went to an outlet mall. Outlet malls are pretty cool because they sell somewhat expensive clothing at a discount in order to clear stock and make room for the new season.

My wife was very excited that we were going shopping.

I think I did OK. I snagged a decent sport coat from Banana Republic and lightweight sweaters from Kenneth Cole and Nautica. I easily saved 50% of what I would have paid if I would have bought these “spring” fashions in January.

If the advantage of outlet mall shopping is price, the disadvantage is population density. If you want to see the challenges population density poses, go to an outlet mall. There’s a line for everything, ranging from the men’s washroom to the cashier to the lane that leaves the parking lot.

Most people would probably assume that the worst thing about the number of people crammed into a mall would be the hectic pace. Everybody is trying to buy the last jacket or the last sweater — even when the jackets and sweaters are well stocked. It is a little hectic, but that wasn’t the worst part of the day.

The worst part of the day came while showing my wife a belt that I was thinking of buying.

You think you can fit a 34 inch belt!? See if there’s a bigger one.”

I don’t blush very often.

But when so many people in such a small store are looking at your waist…

And for the record, I can very comfortably wear a 34 inch belt.

Bird Watching: Make Much of Mundane Mornings

Posted in Live-In Favorites on April 20, 2011 by liveinhusband

They say that artists have the ability to make us see the world in a new way. They can take the mundane and make it extraordinary.

By this measure, some of the most successful works of art that I’ve ever read include:

  • Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which makes food surprisingly fascinating.
  • Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman, which makes dictionaries surprisingly fascinating.
  • David Sibley’s The Sibley Guide to Birds, which makes the morning surprisingly refreshing.

This is my first spring in North America in several years, and I have to admit that I didn’t realize how much I missed birds.

They couldn’t have come at a better time, either.

Working from home can be a pretty long, idle process, especially during winter. Coworkers can irritate, but sometimes it’s nice to have company. It gets to a point where you’re willing to talk with cats extensively about the day’s tasks.

“Do you think we should get back to work, Nia?”

By “we” I mean “me.” Nia will continue to sleep — or if she is awake, she will continue staring at me.

It gets to a point that you don’t mind a cat staring at you.

Life was starting to get a little too mundane.

So I was pleased to notice that there was a lot of birdsong outside the other day. It’s still pretty chilly in the morning, but I put on a sweater so that I could open the window. I used to know a lot of calls, but most of them are gone now. My field guides are still in Canada, which makes identification a little difficult. However, it doesn’t take a lot of work to reach a point where you can identify a lot of birds while taking out the recycling.

This morning, I spotted a Hairy Woodpecker, an American Robin, a Northern Cardinal, and a White-Throated Sparrow.

If you’re interested in taking your mundane morning and turning it into something extraordinary, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a little more about the birds in your area. Spring is a perfect time to study birds because of migration and because the trees do not have leaves yet. In other words, it’s easier to see the birds while they sing.

Advanced birders will have to decide for themselves whether it’s worth walking around the neighborhood with binoculars.

Simple Solutions and Black Socks

Posted in Live-In Favorites on April 18, 2011 by liveinhusband

I’ve come to deeply resent the speakers, consultants, and politicians that advocate simple solutions for complex problems. They almost always include a “duh” moment in their presentation, often mocking the numerous other simple solutions that failed to solve the complex problem without a hint of irony.

While sorting my socks today, I was struck by how often simple solutions fail.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys sorting socks, but I thought I’d beaten the problem with a simple system.

The problem: it takes a long time to sort the gray socks from the red socks from the patterned socks from the etc.

The solution: buy socks that are uniform in size, design, and color.

In other words: buy black socks. I bought nine pairs of black socks so that I’d be covered for an entire week with a grace period. For weeks after the sorting nightmare was solved because all of the socks were uniform and did not require sorting.

Duh!

However, over time, my socks disappeared, and I had to buy new ones.

Still, I had a promising system and I wasn’t going to turn my back on it. I returned to the same store, found the black socks section, and bought replacements. Unfortunately, when I got home, I discovered that I’d bought slightly larger socks than the ones I had before — and I hadn’t realized it, but the older socks had begun to fade. It would have been a waste to toss the slightly faded socks at this point, so I just sorted my socks into two piles based on their color.

Sadly, over time, more socks disappeared.

When I went to the store to buy a second round of replacements, I returned home to discover that I’d bought a slightly different design.

I now had three groups of black socks that were variously faded, sized, and designed.

Today, sorting socks is a nightmare because they all look similar, but are actually not identical at all. I have to work harder to sort my similar socks than I did before the simplification started. Oh for the days of separating green socks from blue! If only I’d bought a variety of socks and accepted their complexity!

OR:

My simple solution has failed and now I need a new one.

If only there were a way to convince my wonderful wife to sort my socks…

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