50 Words: Chivalry

I saw one of these 50 Word Challenges on WordPress a while back and thought I’d try. I’m a notorious long-writer. So, I guess, just pick a topic or concept and illustrate it in 50 words or fewer. This attempt required about 13 minutes and a half-dozen “Really? That’s more than 50 words?” moments.

Anyways, here’s 50 words on Chivalry:


He brushes off the clinging cold, ducking into the driver’s seat after 10 minutes of scraping ice. She scurries from the warm house into the warming car. Reaching for the heat blowers, she sees they’re already pointed at her seat. All of them. He breathes into his hands and starts to drive.


Thoughts? Does anyone know of any other tricks to brevity? I mean, I like my writing style, but I could benefit from harsher self-editing. Also, if you have ideas for topics, throw them my way. Apologies to anyone I’ve offended by mentioning snow or winter or cold at the height of summer. But it’s coming. It always is. Damn, I hate winter. But the picture’s all summerish, so there’s that.


Ease your spouse’s mind with the Marital Status Disclaimer, but results may vary

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

My wife and I have been “My wife and I” for three-quarters of a year. Our marriage is so young that it still quantifies age by half- and quarter-years, like a 9-year-old who really wants to be 10 already. “I’m 9-and-three-quarters!”

We’re 30-ish (I’m 31 and she’s 30), still young and cool and down and whatevs. We still meet new people. New people of the opposite sex. And sometimes those new people are pretty cool. Cool enough to mention in normal conversation when you’re talking about your day.

“Yeah, she’s hilarious, very witty, married for a few years, and likes the same shows we do.”

The Marital Status Disclaimer is injected directly into the conversation, usually spoken faster than any other part of the sentence like the side effects of new drug on the market. May cause heart pain, stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

When Caitlynn drops a new man’s name, I admit I immediately need to know the extent of their relationship. Do they have a history? Is he handsome? Successful? And, of course, married? I don’t ask these questions, because, ya know, gotta play it cool. Can’t look threatened or like she’s not trustworthy. Honestly, “threatened” and “not trustworthy” are a bit extreme for how I feel when I hear about a random Greg, Dave or Dick (yeah, that’s on purpose). It’s closer to that thing your parents used to say about you going out with friends. “I trust you, I just don’t trust your friends and I want you to be safe.”

Marriage is an emotional investment like nothing else. I need to make sure my investment is protected. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about successful marriage is to pay attention—to warning signs, to needs, to wants and to yourself. So when she mentions a man, he’s worth mentioning. If he’s worth mentioning, I want to know why. And she needs to know I want to know. And, of course, this works both ways.

We both drop MSDs for two reasons: 1) A sign of respect knowing the other person probably wants to ask but won’t, and 2) Because if either of us has to ask then they’re going to assume there’s a reason they have to ask—”What are you hiding?” So ridiculous, but then again, we’re only three-quarters year old, so cut us some slack. My hunch is that this isn’t abnormal.

We drop the MSD to protect the image of innocence. This other person—who might be funny or nice or cool or sweet—is not a threat to the marriage because they are married, engaged, or at least have been with someone for years. First off, why the hell does it matter? YOU’RE MARRIED! Why does their status matter when your status trumps it? You’re status is the Right Bauer. The fact they’re happily married or happily single is dwarfed by your Jack of Hearts. (Do you play euchre? No? Sorry… the Right Bauer is the Jack Bauer of euchre. Can’t beat it. Look it up.)

Still, there appears to be some value in assessing the threat level of him or her. The hope is that their marital status (other than single) truly matters to them. If so, they’re less likely to pursue something that ruins their own relationship much less ours. This risk assessment is helpful to our own piece of mind, a sort of relationship insurance. Unfortunately, like most insurance policies, not everything is covered. A positive MSD (married) doesn’t mean nothing is going to happen. If it did, we wouldn’t even need the MSD because, again, YOU’RE MARRIED.

The MSD is not rendered useless because of the unsettling fact that married people do un-married people things, though it does create a paradox. How can we use an MSD as piece-of-mind insurance when our minds know it is theory rather than law?

How should we know? We’re only three-quarters-of-a-year old! All I know is some medications have negative side effects. They can heal, or they can cause heart problems. It says so right on the bottle. See …

*Marital Status Disclaimer does not protect against all forms of extramarital conduct. Use as directed by spouse. If effectiveness of MSD decreases over time, consult your spouse about an increase or decrease in dosage. MSD should not be used in place of the fact that YOU’RE MARRIED.

Fit at 30: A guide to fitness from a guy who’s not that fit

I’m 30. For another week, I’m 30. Then I’m 31. I have an email in to a local professor to confirm that 32 comes next, but I have yet to get a reply. If this trend continues, in nine years I’ll be exactly nine years older.


That’s my new hashtag; tried it a little while ago and was rewarded with a “Favorite” from my favorite professor back at Ithaca College, Brian Sweany. I’m pretty sure he was only there for two years before returning to Texas, but I’m glad those two years came when I was around. He’s favorited or retweeted a handful of my tweets over the past few years, but, whatevs.

“Hit the gym this morning. Turns out I’m 30. #AgeHappens”

Brian was, I believe, in his early 30s when he was at the front of my classroom in Park, and I assume he’s aged at the same rate that I have. He’s got kids, a career in journalism, a life, and I don’t know much more about him than that. But the fact he’s been 30 longer than I have tells me he gets it.

I’ve never been and never will be one to freak out when February 18 comes around again and my cake requires two breaths to put out the inferno of candles. I embrace growing older as long as I don’t have to grow up. While some men are excited to come home to “Dinner’s ready!” from their wives, my favorite Welcome Home Moment so far is:

“Hey, baby, I loaded all of your Nerf guns for you.” She’s the best.

True story. No kids yet (myself notwithstanding) but I’m pumped about that idea and being childish with them. I figure I take my age and their age, split the difference, and we’ll have a blast building forts and blaming the cat for knocking over a vase.

But today, age happened. I recently bought my father-in-law’s workout bench, which he brought over this past weekend. After spending some time online searching for the best exercises, best time of day to lift and best time to eat (before or after), I got back to getting fit.

I should preface with my fitness background: 6-feet tall, 182 pounds (personal high), three-sport athlete in high school (football, boxing and lacrosse), athletic but not a student-athlete in college, spurts of regular exercise after graduation, turned to running and can comfortably run 5 miles right now. Completing my first and only half-marathon in an hour and 45 minutes stands as my proudest athletic feat. I’m not in bad shape, I just don’t work at it, like a lot of the over-30s out there.

So, with my boombox set up in the basement tuned to ESPN Radio, I got started … again. I outlined a list of stretches (even more crucial now) and then hit the bench. The weight won’t impress anyone for 3 sets of traditional bench press and some inclined press, then some legs (extensions and curls), some triceps and I’m sure some other muscles. I don’t know a lot about what I’m doing but I’m glad I’m doing it. I carry amateur status at best.

I want to be in shape, but the most healthy aspect of mine right now is perspective. When I was 16, 17, 18, I wondered why I wasn’t 30 pounds heavier and jacked despite a pretty consistent workout regimen. I resented it for the longest time that my body refused to put on weight beyond 160 pounds. I hated thinking that I would be a great athlete if I could just be bigger. Now I’m 30, and I get it. I didn’t have to be 200 pounds back then and I certainly don’t need that now. I’m not just comfortable, I’m happy knowing what my body is and what it can be.

So I hit the gym. And it turns out I am definitely 30. I’m sore, and the weights don’t weigh that much but for some reason are heavier than I remember. But this is what I want and how I want to be. Instead of having dreams of athletic glory, I have goals of being healthy; of carrying 1 to 3 kids until they don’t want to be carried anymore because they’re all grown up at age 5 and they don’t need me anymore. Apparently, #AgeHappens to them, too.

If you’ve got any tips for at-home exercise, drop me a line. I’m still considering CrossFit and a future post may or may not exist to that end. For now, I’ll be on the Bayer Smoothy diet.