Day 906: My Spouse, My Role Model

My wife’s been very inspiring lately. Despite my being in the doldrums, she’s been relentlessly helpful and supportive, really working to help me cover daily life stuff and being a champion of, well, me at home.

She’s out for a run now, which I should be doing; I’m still in the Grand Funk (but I think it’s been better for the last couple of days).

She’s doing sobriety better than I did, despite being more invested in booze as a writer and podcaster before she started. In fact, in the time we’ve been married she’s led a lot of transformations: veganism, fitness, cat fostering (although we wound up adopting the cats), and a lot more.

In short, she’s pretty amazing and I’m proud of myself for somehow convincing her to hang out with me for the rest of our lives.

Day 850: SpouseTales!

My wife giving up drinking was a bit more monumental in some ways than it was for me. She was doing a podcast and writing about craft beer; she really, really loved it but ultimately loved her sanity more, and when it started wreaking havoc with her medication increasingly over time, dropping it was the only sensible thing to do.

But that leaves a certain “what next?” question. So the plan from here is in May, I do everything around the house. Cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry, etc. We normally are pretty good about a 50/50 domestic split, but this is going to be all me, all month.

The idea is to give her as much space as possible to try stuff on for a month. She loves reading, photography, (legal) marijuana is of some interest, reads a lot, and used to write regularly but hasn’t done much in the last while. She’s curious about simple woodworking and picking up tool skills. We’ve taken sewing classes.

It’s not a high-pressure FIGURE YOUR SHIT OUT IN ONE MONTH exercise. To be clear. It’s just a way of clearing some space so she has as much “hobby time” as possible to figure out what resonates and is worth continued exploration.

On that note — I gotta go cook!

Day 411: Back on my feet; work adjustments

Back on track! A weird week for the Sprint, but it continues. Good snack-resistance last night, good exercise this morning.

My wife’s working a new job, which is great financially, but it’s weird-hour shiftwork, so she had to get up at 3:30 this morning and I got up briefly to see her off, then went back to bed. I was worried that this might be effectively insomnia again, but I conked out proper, got focused and exercised well, and seem to be in good shape for the day.

I’m entering the back half of the February Sprint going strong. Key from here is just staying on it. It was hard to bear down on exercise for the first five minutes this morning. One million mental excuses. But I just kept going at it, and after a few minutes found the rhythm of the thing and put in a good 30.

We’re halfway through the month! Feeling good.

Day 334: Still Reaching for that Saddle

Holy cow, it’s turning into a rough week. Slept in today; the alarm went off, I got up, turned around, went back to bed. This is not really typical, as I’m usually pretty good about getting to exercise now. Today, though? Just not having it.

I don’t get into my wife’s STUFF on this, because it’s not my stuff. But it might be fair to say that she’s been having a rough few months, with a death in the family and a significant birthday. Helping each other through the tough times is part of what couples do, but there’s also an empathetic “when you’re down, I’m down” link there as well.

So I think there might be a bit of a Household Slump going on right now, that we’re going to have to dig out of together.

Running late, so that’s it for today — it’s time for us to activate our Wondertwin Powers or something. Ugh. Still tired.

Day 294: Lazy Sunday

It’s a late morning — partly because it was an early morning, and then I went back to bed. I sometimes get up early on Sundays, and watch movies my wife isn’t interested in. This morning it was Colossal.

I knew it was a weird indie monster movie comedy but I had no idea had a lot to say about alcohol, too. I’m trying to compress it into a booze metaphor, but I think that’s too easy. Good movie, though.

Starting the day on a movie about an alcoholic was kind of a weird beginning to it. Especially since yesterday was rougher than I thought, emotionally — frankly, it’s weird to be with drunk people when you’re sober. Sometimes more weird than others. And maybe I don’t deal as well with drunk people while sober as other sober people do.

But it stresses me out. Emotional unpredictability is hard for me to deal with normally, and alcohol turns that up about 1000 times. So I find myself crazy exhausted today — just wanting some peace and quiet and recharge time. Lots of yard work to do, and some schoolwork, which I think will be a good place for me to be today.

I feel like a bit of a wimp talking about this. “Not being drunk is hard! Waaah!” But it’s the truth of my situation. I’m not the world’s best person at dealing with emotion normally. Slam those levers into the red and roll dice every five minutes and I’m just not the right person for that job.

So I’m going to have to talk to my wife about this. I don’t think she drinks too much by normal standards, but she does get really drunk when she drinks, and it’s hard on me. I thought it wouldn’t be, but it is.



Day 293: Not Jealous (Honest)

It’s a car weekend. We don’t own a car, for financial reasons, mostly, but rent one from time to time. And my wife, with her women and craft brewing project, Harpy Hour,  has been invited to an out-of-town beer festival.

So I’m driving. This is not the first of such arrangements — it’s probably the fourth or fifth time we’ve done a day trip or longer trip where I’m the driver and she’s… the drinker? That doesn’t sound right.

And it’s fine. Not “Gunshow cartoon” fine, but generally fine. It’s taken a bit of mental jiggery-pokery to get there, though: I have to enjoy the drive, and bring stuff to do while my wife does her thing. The iPad is a godsend. My new phone plan (my phone got replaced post-theft) with its 10GB data plan will be a godsend. I’ll find things to do.

But yeah! It’s been a bit of interior work to be… okay with this. Full disclosure: I told my wife I’d be talking about this today, and she’s kind of displeased. She doesn’t like the image of me being the slave-chauffeur to my boozy spouse. Which is completely understandable. It’s not a great look.

The fact of the matter is, when there’s drinking on the menu, somebody’s gotta drive, and when I don’t drink, the choice is pretty obvious. If there were an alternate, parallel hobby set where, I don’t know, I’d go to cut-your-legs-off festivals and people were to chop my legs off as my passion, I’m sure she’d drive! But that’s where we’re at.

The positive side of all of this is I’m not really jealous (honest) and I don’t feel driven to drink by this. Strangely, being around booze is less of a trigger to inspire booze desires than stress or complacency.

But it does take work to get there. Getting over the pure selfish instinct of “I’m giving up my day for this.” I have to actually grapple with my inner child and smack that kid in the head and say “this is a partnership, dummy.”

Day 195: Couples Running

I’ve been enjoying couples running, on Saturday mornings, with my wife lately.

We don’t run together often, because I started at the kind of 10k range when she was doing couch to 5k, and I’m now training up to a half-marathon as she’s training up to 10k. But Saturdays are a rest day for me, and a “recovery run” day for her, so its an opportunity for us to do a light run together.

It’s nice! I enjoy it. Plus, it’s a motivator to get some exercise first thing on Saturday, which makes the radio show much better (being awake and alert on the radio is helpful! Who knew?).

Couples running is also talking time.

First rule I learned: there is no music during couples running. We are not putting on the Van Halen and putting the foot-pedal to the street-metal. It’s a light, chatty run. Which is, again, nice. It’s a different mode than my usual runs, which is also a good thing. Mixing it up is a good idea.

Second rule: we’re not running for time or distance. We’re running to a clock, but not to set or beat any kind of records. It’s a faster version of “out for a stroll.”

Third rule: nobody owns the route. We’ve been trading off, but I think we might start free-forming soon.


Day 190: Drunk partner sobriety

Ugh. This is gonna lead to awkward conversations at home later. But it’s a thing that happens with sober people, so it’s worth talking about. Drunk partner sobriety. It’s rough.

When you’ve opted out of alcohol, but your partner tends to lean into alcohol. When you’ve got company. In the kind of “I haven’t had drink much too too, you’ve had too drink much much” way. There’s a stacked awkwardness. When you’re both drinking, you can say “hey, maybe you’re a little past the line” without seeming judgmental. But when you’re sober… hoo boy. It’s kinda rough.

Because you don’t want to be one of those former smoker anti-smoking zealots. Remember when that was a thing? And when you’re already vegetarian/vegan, you live on the knife edge of people getting angrily defensive at you just for saying you don’t eat meat. So I’m already in a world where people assume I’m judging, when I’m just passively being myself. I’m not looking to stack more judging on top of that.

So you get into this kind of people are glancing at each other space. And you don’t want to say anything, because then it’s gonna get emotional and fighty. And also all of the judging stuff.

There’s not really a solve here, except to wait until the next day and hopefully have a reasonable conversation about it. Still dicey. Still tough sledding.

The good news, for what it’s worth, is that it’s not a drinking trigger for me. It’s kind of an anti-trigger, really. In earlier days, I might feel a bit motivated to get “revenge drunk,” which is crazy, but it was something I felt.

Drunk partner sobriety just makes me embarrassed and mad and a bit tired.

So it’s off to drink a ton of water and figure out exercise for the day. And have some very tense conversations. Eek.

Day 167: A Sigh of Relief, After It’s Over

Mega-conference is OVER. We did it. We made it. Yesterday at 1 p.m. was one of the first times in my life I’ve literally let out a sigh of relief. Like, I made the noise.

gala dinner CANHEIT
Gala dinner at CANHEIT 2017. Photo: Michael Barr

I’ve learned a LOT about information technology in the last 18 months. My main takeaway is the breadth of the field. Everything from thermodynamics (this box is going to get super hot and we need to cool it) to social engineering (get people to stop clicking the bad thing).

And, equally fascinating, I have noticed that almost every key issue in IT today is either a communication problem, or has significant communication outpoints. It’s a genuinely fascinating and underexplored field.

But. Yes. Conference over.

It was a sigh of relief, and not of expectation.

My medium-term goal is going to be not filling that hole with something. It’s been a roller coaster, with a lot of the adrenaline-spiking deadlines and disasters. So it’s going to feel a bit flat to have it out of my life. And that’s… okay? Obviously, my pace was far outstripped the past few weeks, and I can now push more “life” into my work-life balance.

But it’s going to be hard not to want that synergy again.

One definite takeaway was that I like reporting things. Giving and getting feedback on a monthly, then weekly basis was something I got a lot of value out of. Even when it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

So that’s one thing I can work on immediately. Manage up, and down, to get better feedback loops going. If I do well in a feedback-rich environment, I should be looking for ways to increase and enhance that. In a way that adds value to the people I’m asking time from.

There’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I suspect among my fellow steering committee members there’s also going to be some post-partum depression. Two years of work, the last three months super intense. Then four days. Then… it’s over. It’s going to be a new experience for me to manage.

Day 115: Drinkjacked! (Again)

Twice in two weeks! Last time around I called it being a “booze hostage,” last night the phrase in mind was “drinkjacked.”

The situation: I’m not drinking. My partner is not not drinking. Social occasion — volunteer thing at a bar. She orders a beer for her and our friend. They drink. Then he orders a beer for both of them. 

The event is close enough to wrapping up that you can get out.

But the beer’s still there.

So if it’s late, and you’re tired, and you just want to go home and go to bed, you’re left with a bunch of crap choices:

  1. Abandon your wife to walk home alone, drunk, in the dark, you monster
  2. Leave and tell her to take a cab home, making what was supposed to be a zero-budget evening more expensive still, and getting Bad Husband points
  3. Stay and rush somebody who has already had a pint of high-gravity beer chug a second
  4. Stay and try to be pleasant while exhausted and increasingly pissed off, patiently waiting for her to finish her beer
  5. Ask her to dump the beer so you can go the hell home

…in retrospect, I wish I’d thought of the last one. I opted, obviously, for the “wait and be irritated” option.

And you can’t have a conversation about this, because tipsy people are the absolute worst to have a conversation with. And again, you’re tired and not really up for an argument.

Getting drinkjacked is the worst, socially

I love hanging out with my drinking friends. They know I’m not drinking. They’re down with it. But I can leave my drinking friends.

So this is a partner-specific problem, and I expect it happens in any partnership where one person is a drinker and the other person isn’t.

I guess I’m going to have to up my pre-negotiation game, and establish clearer ground rules about when I’m out. Maybe mentally slot taxi fare into any leaving-the-house venture. I don’t know.