It seems love is in the air, as the theme of February’s A Year of Reading book challenge was romance. I am not normally a reader of romance books, so I went with the nonfiction recommendation, Modern Romance, by comedian Aziz Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg.
Ansari was curious about the dynamics of falling in love and relationships in the modern age. Were things easier before so much technology? How have dating websites changed the name of the game?
Whether you’re single, dating, or married, this book has plenty of interesting viewpoints on love. The authors (Ansari and Klinenberg) conducted focus groups around the world and spoke to leading sociologists, anthropologists, and economists.
Even with all that research, it’s a fast read. It’s not as in depth as you might want it to be or think it would be from its premise, but it does touch on multiple reasons why we date the way we do.
One thing I found interesting was the impact geography had on love. I’m a bridge Gen X/Gen Y baby, so for my peers, we’re on the cuff of cyber-dating’s rise. I have lots of friends who married someone they met online. For our grandparents, that didn’t exist. Most couples met and married someone that grew up in their neighborhood, many times in the same apartment building! The notion of e-meeting someone across the country and long distance dating, or the willingness to relocate based on a connection with someone they met online, is pretty new.
Texting is big in this book. The art of the text, and even the sext, is well examined by Ansari, who in his stand up, shared examples of text conversations he had with women he liked. They’re often nerdy and humorous. He would also call others up on stage to share confusing text messages they’d received from potential partners. If you’re fascinated by reading the meaning between the lines, dissecting the denotation between phonetic spelling and emojis, and just plain curious about some of the texts you’ve received, you will laugh your butt off in these chapters. But probably learn something too.
My most favorite A-Ha! moment from the book was this: The idea of the soulmate is a relatively newer trending ideal. For our grandparents, they selected individuals who would be good partners. And that partnership was most commonly about work duties. For example, if you were a farmer, you needed a partner who could weather long days, hard work, planning ahead for the seasons, money pinching, etc. Among all the elderly couples Ansari and Klinenberg interviewed, this was a reoccurring statement. Courtships were shorter, both people knew their roles, and love came later, over time. (Note* I’m simplifying this a bit, as the book does cover an example of discriminatory gender roles and an abusive marriage. I think that bears mentioning as it’s still an all too real issue today.)
Couples today are much more likely to say they’re looking for their “soulmate”. We want a partner that “completes us,” we want them to understand, know, and accept us like no one else on earth can, we want intimacy, AND we also want a partner to work with – they need to pay their share of the bills, keep the house clean, raise the kids, fix dinner, etc.
We’re asking a lot.
That hit me. Maybe because I’m a language nerd and the emotions and needs tied to the language we use for our partners is powerful. We want them to be EVERYTHING for us. Of course I think all unions should have partnership and love to be happy. But now, I understand why that feels so stressful to maintain.
We want our partner to be the person we tell our secrets to and we want them to take the damn trash out already! It is really, truly, and undeniably hard for one person to fill every single role all the time. They are bound to fail. We fail. We’re all only human.
That’s one idea why relationships today appear to struggle more than the “good old days” when “things were simpler.” And it did make me more appreciative of my partner and all that we do provide for each other.
Don’t take my word for it! Listen to Ansari himself, in this fabulous mockumentary dating vid about the book!
Aside – I need to watch the movie Singles like right now thanks to this clip. Seriously, remember that movie? When Sheila Kelley makes her singles dating video that looks like she’s flying over the city and invites guys to “Come to Debbie Country.”
What are your thoughts?
What do you think of modern romance?
Ever watched Singles? It’s so good.
Break out the champagne and candles! We’ve been married for one year!
I know it’s hard to fathom. Two youngest children forced to play nice together. Most odds would have us laying tape lines around the house, each sticking to our respective sides. Or at the very least, using a conch shell to determine whose turn it is to talk.
“Sucks to your assmar!”
But we’ve managed to co-habitate with relatively little violence and debauchery.
(In case you’re wondering, the violence is from our new set of kitchen knives. Every time Joe uses them, he manages to cut himself. Either those knives are sharper than a Lady Bic throwaway razor or Joe has the skin of a flower petal.)
In contemplating our one year anniversary, it occurred to me there were many learning lessons along the way.
Top Five Things I’ve Learned About Married Life
1. Simply Being a Wife Does Not Make You More Domestic
I admire those women who are able to keep perfect households where everything matches and dinner is on the table at 6. When we first got married, we needed to buy a couch. One year later, we still need to buy a couch. And Joe does all the cooking. I am, however, an exceptional take out orderer.
2. Being a Wife Does Not Make You More Medically Intelligent
You know how some women just know all these natural, home remedies for how to fix everything? They can cure fevers and soothe upset stomachs with nothing but a nail file and a half a lemon. (I don’t know if that’s what they actually use, I told you I’m not one of them!) My husband once suffered a sneezing fit, and I treated it like the hiccups.
“Hold still, and I’ll come out and SCARE you!”
3. Some Decor Ideas Do Not Find Compromise
You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are arguing over whether or not a wagonwheel coffee table goes in the living room or not. Well, I’m Carrie Fisher in that scenario, and it doesn’t.
4. All Those Times You Blamed Your Roommate, It Was in Fact Your Spouse
If you and your spouse ever shared living quarters with a roommate, you may have bonded over a mutual frustration with said roommate’s bad habits. Now that said roommate is gone, you may have discovered your spouse has extremely similar bad habits as your roommate once did. What are the odds?
5. Date Night is Still a Thing
You may think by “putting a ring on it,” you’re work is over. The reverse is true. Married life requires more creativity, more compassion, and more commitment. And this is where I publicly thank Joe for creating the #Appetour date night – wherein we hop from stop to stop in town and enjoy a drink and/or appetizer, maybe some live music, and then head to the next place.
Side note* If your spouse leaves you to play on stage, they pay for the next round. It’s not technically in our vows, but now I’ve got witnesses.
So thank you, Joe, for that last date night. It was most enjoyable.
What are some lessons about love you’ve learned, whether married or not?
Do you think we’ve earned our paper anniversary?
Maybe I’ll print this post out and put it in an envelope for Joe. ❤
And, you can relive the magic from Our Big Fat Secret Greek Wedding.
Or hear us sing “Home” from our stateside ceremony below. Enjoy!
As writers we want our main character to be likeable. But we also want them to be real. That means they have to have flaws.
Have you ever read a book where the main character didn’t have any flaws?
I recently finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen as part of my To Be Read Pile Challenge. It’s a goal of mine to finish reading all of Jane Austen’s works because I
want to live in a Jane Austen movie admire her work’s critique on social classism and gender inequality.
With that said, I’m just gonna set this here for a minute…
(I have a whole Pinterest board for this.)
Mansfield Park has never been one of my favorite Austen storylines, although some critics argue it’s her greatest work. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, a gentle-hearted, kind girl who goes to live with her wealthy aunt, uncle and cousins. She is obedient, grateful, and never says an ill word about anyone even though she is often mistreated by her aunt, uncle, female cousins, and neighbors.
And let’s face it, she falls in love with her cousin, Edmund. I know that’s how things were done back then, but ew.
You know else does that? Karen from Mean Girls.
The happily ever after in the book depends on all the other characters screwing up in order to fulfill Fanny’s dream – marrying her cousin, Edmund.
I did enjoy the novel. And, I really liked re-watching two of the film versions to see where they adapted the storyline. But I don’t know if I ever really liked Fanny. She’s too good.
One could argue that Fanny’s flaw is being too nice. While other characters do point that out, there is no change in Fanny’s character. She remains constant in her loyalty to family, service for others, and everyone else achieving happiness over herself.
I would argue that’s the reason the 1999 film adaptation was quite liberal with their side stories including slavery and an extra-marital affair, which though it could be insinuated happened in Jane Austen’s novel, it is never said outright. In the movie, Fanny (played by Frances O’Conner) is a cheeky little thing and also hopes to become a published authoress. None of her quips, nor challenging statements to her uncle, or the notion of writing her own novels are in the book.
So I ask again, can an audience bond with a character that is too likeable?
What examples can you think of?
Have you read a book with an overly likeable character? How did you feel about them?
Wedding weekend extravaganza is officially over. Joe and I were married this weekend…
Or were we?
That’s right, we had a bit of a surprise during our ceremony.
But now the cat’s out of the bag, and you all can be in on it too! During the wedding, we showed a slideshow, and today I’d like to share it with all of you! (It’s 7 minutes long, so those wanting to jump to the really good part, should fast forward to 4:30ish.)
*All music composed and/or arranged by Joe Gantzer, except the Greek song, all vocals by Joe Gantzer and Jess Witkins. The Disney song has been rearranged by Joe Gantzer.
Kah-lee-MER-ah, Everyone! (That means ‘good morning’ in Greek! And yes, I wrote it phonetically, because I do not have the Greek alphabet on my keyboard, nor would most of you be able to read it if I did not do so.)
Thank you to Misty and Deanne for keeping you all company while I was away!
Greece was magnificent! We thoroughly enjoyed our pre-wedding honeymoon (yep, it’s backwards thanks to Joe’s gig schedule, but I’m just happy we got to get away).
We started in Santorini, which was breathtaking.
We stayed in one of the southern most cities, Akrotiri, which is the historical part of the island. It was quiet and scenic as our room overlooked the caldera, with Nea Kameni (the volano island) right in the middle.
This is what breakfast was like each day.
We rented ATV’s a couple times and cruised all around the island, checking out the northern most city Oia (pronounced Eeh-ah), relaxed in Perissa on the Perevolos black sand beaches, and headed down to the southern tip where we watched the sunset from the rocks around the lighthouse.
Our next stop was Athens. We left the beaches and wineries of Santorini for the Capital city. We got lost – in a good way – on the streets of the Plaka. We buzzed about Adrianou Street and ventured out to dine in street cafes where we listened to local musicians and stared up at the Acropolis.
On one of the hottest mornings of our trip, we trekked to the Acropolis. And it was totally worth the heat.
We visited the National Archeological Museum, the largest in the country. My favorite room showed the items and murals found in ancient Thira (Santorini) in the ruins of Akrotiri – an ancient trade port that was covered for centuries by volcanic ash and uncovered in the 1800’s. We walked the ruins in Akrotiri, and had to wait till we got to Athens to see the murals that were recovered there.
Famous Mural – The Boxing Boys
Did you all read Deanne’s guest post about the Greek Changing of the Guard? We did see the Evzones.
We had a date night at one of the most famous outdoor theaters, Cine Thissio, which was built in 1935.
And of course, the FOOD was amazing!!!
1.) Shockingly, I’m sure to you all, we only got kind of lost one and a half times. The first was after our ship docked in Piraeus and we had to find the metro to connect to Athens and check into our hotel. This was all after 9 o’clock at night, so it was dark out and there weren’t any signs for the metro that we could see.
We basically got there by meandering the city and following some other tourists for a bit, all while dragging our luggage along. We were hot, sweaty messes when we finally checked into our hotel. Oh…and I had what I thought was motion sickness, but ended up being vertigo, so I threw up a bunch that night!
2.) Yes, I got vertigo – actually still have vertigo – and that made touring Athens interesting. We had to take several breaks throughout the day for me to sit and cool down and start believing the walls and pavement were not in fact coming after me. For the record, vertigo sucks.
3.) The second time we got lost was our first full day in Athens. We had a map of the city, which was in English, but once you venture away from the main streets of the Plaka, most street signs are only in Greek, so the map didn’t help a ton. And it was also 99,000 degrees Celsius. Yes, Celsius!
We were literally wandering inside the very mouth of Hades!
4.) And this one is minor, truly. But, I did get me some sun poisoning in Santorini. As any good ginger knows, being in too much sun will cause one to self combust, and sauntering all over that beautiful island caused my arms to break out in some form of minor hive-age.
I paid a visit to a pharmacy in Fira where a very kind Greek woman helped me purchase what I hope was Grecian benadryl and anti-itch cream. The “Greek-adryl” box was entirely in Greek and her only counsel on the drug was to take it for 5-6 days. I didn’t know the dosage or whether the stuff was non-drowsy or what, so I resigned to only taking it at bedtime, wherein I seemed to conclude that it was in fact the drowsy version. It worked wonders on our final flight home in which Joe tells me there was some serious turbulence and a lightening storm that I completely missed. 😀
The anti-itch cream made me laugh as it was in Greek and Grenglish? My favorite part of the tube is where it read that the cream helps with “the itch of elderly people” followed directly by “contact with jellyfish.” It was most comforting to know that if I came in contact with either an old person or a jellyfish, I was covered itch-wise.
That’s our story! All in all, a very happy honeymoon!
As they say in Greece, “Cheers” or “Yah-mas!”
How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? Do tell. Dish!
Are you a hopeless romantic when it comes to
Cupid? Or are you more into Singles Awareness Day?
I would be ok with this.
I think Valentine’s Day is like any other holiday. Yes, of course the stores use it to make money so we’re bombarded with sales pitches and $$$ signs. Plus the media focuses on romantic love relationships, which is leaving a lot of people out.
Why not celebrate all kinds of love?
I sent Valentine’s to my mom and pop, my sis, and my bestie. No gifts. Just a nice note letting them know I was thinking of them.
There was a lot of chatter at work and online, everyone asking each other what their Valentine’s plans were. I heard the whole spectrum: from the traditional fancy dinner reservations to a Walking Dead marathon. They both sound great to me!
Joe and I started a non-traditional tradition for Valentine’s day a few years ago where we stay in and gorge on my favorite date night dinner: meat, cheese, crackers, fruit, all with a variety of spreads like pepper jams, mustard, and jelly, and of course, WINE.
Ok, ok. I know you see it mixed in there and are scratching your heads. Why, you may ask, did we watch The Silence of the Lambs for Valentine’s Day?
Well, that’s our tradition. We watch very (emphasis on the very) un-Valentiney movies for Valentine’s. I think it started the year Joe convinced me to watch Tremors.
I am the best fiance ever. Seriously.
I readily agreed to watching Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins solve the Buffalo Bill murder investigation.
I gotta say, you all cracked me up when I shared that photo online. Many of you asked where the fava beans were. And had we been smart, we would have picked out a nice chianti. 😉
Thank goodness Joe didn’t buy me any lotion for V-Day! That might have set the creepy bar over the edge.
Instead, he got us a new plant. His name is Hubert. Say hello, Hubert.
Two years ago, Joe got me a plant for my birthday. She was beautiful with peach colored blossoms. We named her Calliope. We gave her sunlight and water and took her outside sometimes…only to learn that she didn’t like a lot of sun or weather changes or water.
We started over on last year’s birthday with a new plant we named Rue. After Rue McClanahan (Blanche in the Golden Girls). I like my plants to have pizzazz. Rue and Hubert are happily watching out the kitchen window for spring to come. Which I fear is never.
What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate all forms of love? What’s your favorite non-traditional date night activity you and your love share?
And stick around for some mystery this Friday when I have guest blogger, Kathy Owen, on The Happiness Project talking about Sherlock Holmes and “The Red-Headed League.” I can’t wait!
There have been some great blog posts lately, all of which are motivating me to stay focused on my goals. I hope to be 3/4 of the way done with edits by my April writers conference. I’m also working on author branding and hope to create new business cards as well as start up a pinterest page. Any advice from you all is greatly appreciated.
I know many of you are hard at work on your own goal list: figuring out which conferences to attend, starting new novels, finishing drafts, or maybe just planning a romantic night out with your honey.
If so, I’ve got you covered! Pull up a chair, wrap your fingers around a mug of your fave beverage, and happy reading!
In Preparation for Valentine’s Day:
- Emma Meade interviewed erotica author Kitt Crescendo on her latest release (of the literature sort) in Blogger Pal and Author of Steamy Fiction. *Bring a glass of water to cool down after you read Kitt’s book excerpt!
- Shannon Donnelly guests at Writers in the Storm to answer What Makes a Romance? with seven tips for helping anyone on the fence about whether their book fits.
- Liz from Be.Love.Live. is celebrating February by Learning to Love Yourself Through a Photo a Day. She’s hosting a photo a day challenge to take 28 selfies that share something beautiful about you! Aww.
- Shameless plug: Stay tuned for a Valentine’s Day guest post from pet behavioralist and thriller writer, Amy Shojai, right here on the Happiness Project!
- Adam from Roof Beam Reader gives his take on the J.K. Rowling interview in J.K. Rowling Can Say What She Wants. Have you heard about this?! Rowling was interviewed (by Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films) and commented that intended for Hermione and Harry to end up together in the end, NOT Hermione and Ron. It’s a fascinating conversation and I would LOVE to hear your opinions on it.
- Speaking of Harry Potter, author Ginger Calem’s daughter snapped the cutest picture of a Harry Potter fan ever. Check this adorbs out! And follow Ginger on Instagram!
Is this cute or the cutest?
- Piper Bayard and co-blogger/author, Holmes,
kidnappedinvited bestselling author Ellie Ann to their blog to discuss the Steampunk trend as well as Enhanced Books. Fab interview on these new medias. Steampunk and Books That Sing
- Julie Glover discusses the power of book’s first line with great examples from both classics and her own works. I love that she includes Daphne du Maurier’s wicked character Mrs. Danvers to illustrate! Kickin’ It Off Right: A Novel’s First Line
- Bradley Somer posted in Wordbitches What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Writing, which is filled with great tips for anyone who has, or wants to have, speaking engagements like book readings or presentations.
- Kristen Lamb shares Why All Writers Should Attend a Writers Conference which is full of useful networking advice, tools and updates on the publishing industry, as well as information about an upcoming online conference!
What goals are you working on? What are your Valentine’s plans? And what blog posts inspired you this past week? Feel free to share links!
Joe and I were watching one of our favorite shows, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, when one of the characters mentioned he was working on his “glamour muscles.”
“What are glamour muscles?” I asked.
“They’re muscles that have no purpose other than looks,” Joe explained.
Apparently, this is a thing now. These “make believe muscles” as I’ve come to understand them came up again when Joe was watching a wrestling match on TV. We were watching these wrestlers perform and Joe was telling me how a lot of it is staged or choreographed. I kept thinking, “what’s the point of working out then? Why all the muscles?”
With a “well, duh” expression, Joe brought it back to glamour muscles.*
*Note: Joe is reading over my shoulder and wants all potential wrestlers reading my blog to know he values you and understands you’re stronger than he is. Please don’t punch him.
Later I was watching How I Met Your Mother with my best friend, and they talked about working on their “relationship gut”.
Another phrase I’ve never heard before!
So “relationship gut” is defined as the weight you gain after you’ve spent time in a committed relationship. Sort of a nice way of saying, “you’ve let yourself go.”
Well now, that I can identify with a bit better than glamour muscles! It’s tough to keep the mystery there all the time!
Joe and I were talking about something inappropriate in the potty humor realm and he commented, “You would have never made that joke 2 years ago.” To which I replied, “Well, 2 years ago I pooped my pants in public, so that changed things between us don’tcha think?”
I love that I’m still learning new things everyday!
So, are you working on your glamour muscles?
Or perhaps fashioning a nice relationship gut?
This is the story of how one boy met this one girl.
Nine years ago, I sat next to this boy in one of the worst college classes ever. We struck up a conversation and got to know each other. I knew he played guitar in a band, a pink paisley guitar to be precise. He knew I was a theater minor at the time, and probably crazy.
It was not meant to be. Both of us were dating other people. He was a graduating senior, I was a Freshman. We talked in class, when he showed up that is, and that is all.
Two years later…
I’m downtown having a beer at the Bodega – that’s a lie, I didn’t drink beer yet, it was probably an amaretto sour – when I see that boy across the room. We started talking again. I thought he was really cute.
Little did I know he had forgotten my name. *sigh*
He remembered my face and we kept talking. A friend of his came over and introduced himself.
“I’m Jessi,” I answered back.
Now he knew my name again.
His friend told me I should come hear this band playing on the weekend at the Alpine Inn. I said that sounded fun, but I didn’t have a car, so had no way of getting up there.
“Joe can give you a ride,” he suggested.
And thus our first date was set.
We talked about everything you’re not supposed to talk about on a first date. Religion, politics, and ghost encounters. I learned he still played in the same band and was also substitute teaching. He learned I dropped my theater minor in place of Women’s Studies, and that I wanted to be a writer.
It happened while we were dancing…
Joe claims he knew I fell for him when we danced that night. I say I just really like Stevie Wonder tunes. Whenever it happened, we became a couple.
Once I graduated, got a job, and moved into the abyss known as adulthood, we started traveling in style!
And no, I’m not talking about my ’88 Mercury Sable.
Every year we would travel together. We started small – a day trip to Minneapolis to the Science Museum. The next year, Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Then Boston, MA!
I think I started rubbing off on Joe, because the next year, I actually got him to leave the country with me. We made it as far as…Canada!
Then Joe rubbed off on me, and I agreed to a road trip. We drove out west touring the Badlands, Deadwood, the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Salt Lake City.
Wherever we go, it’s usually an adventure.
But not always the safest one…
It’s been a wonderful journey so far. I couldn’t imagine a better partner. Which is why I’m excited to announce a new journey we’re embarking on.
From our house to yours, we want to thank you for being a part of our lives!
Happy holidays everyone!