Couples need to be tested.  Couples need to be pushed to the brink and understand struggle.  There has to be some “working out” of the relationship in order to make growth possible.  I hear all of the time, “My boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse and I never argue or fight.”  My first response to this, internally, is to be skeptical of the strength of that relationship.  I am always wondering what catastrophic fight is looming on the horizon for couples when all the built up fights or arguments that should have been happening finally occur.   My wife and I are in a very strong relationship, but it hasn’t come without being stressed and tested and pushed through the flames, and it sure isn’t because I haven’t done my fair share of inducing chaos into our relationship.

Now, I am not talking about fist fights, constant combat, or some crazy non-stop madness, but I am talking about disagreements and frustrations and the articulation thereof to one another–sometimes vehemently.  There is no couple that exists where one individual has not hurt their opposite.  If that hurt goes unchecked, it just builds and eventually there will be a release of pressure.  Sadly, the resulting fight could have been much smaller in scale if, at the earlier point of friction, there was the requisite confrontation and subsequent resolution. 

Fighting (and I use this term generally to include miniature battles between people who love each other) must happen.  It has to, or one of you is either walking all over the other, or being walked on by the other. 

That being said, I have been thinking about things that couples need to experience to help forge their relationship into the strongest entity it can be.  These scenarios will either force the first fight, or be a result of a good fight.  I have included the list for your perusal.  Additionally, I think the list helps you realize how normal you may be in your life and relationships.

1.  Couples need to go on one long road-trip together before getting in too deep. 

Road-trips bring out the worst in every person in the world, but the worst doesn’t show up until hour eight of day two.  Hour seven, seems okay.  Hour seven lulls you into thinking that this relationship is indeed the perfect relationship and that you have found yourself an angel of a woman.  Hour seven is a place you’d stay for the rest of your life.  Hour eight is hour sevens ugly older sister. 

Hour eight brings divulgence.  Your partner begins using something called brutal honesty.  They become less impressed with how closely your voice matches Eddie Vedder;  they have developed an expertise in driving that requires them to give you pointers and correct your deficiencies;  and they take extended naps and require the music (currently the only thing keeping you awake) to be turned to library audio standards.  Hour eight is where you make your money.  Hour eight is where you really get to know each other. 

If, at the end of the road-trip, you still like the person you are with, you have got yourself a winner.  If not, you just saved yourself a whole lot of pain and heartache.

2.  Couples need to experience the constraints of a budget. 

I don’t mean,

“Listen, sweetheart, if we stick to our budget, we will have one million dollars in our savings by next week” budget. 

I mean,

“Listen, darling, don’t touch the checking account, we’ll just eat ramen until our skin turns pale white.  Have you ever thought about stripping?  I think you would look good on a pole.  Maybe you should actually respond to that email you got yesterday about the dude from Asia who claims to have left you money in his will and only needs some of your personal information for us to get rich. ” budget. 

When you have lived through this kind of financial stress together, still laughed, and actually enjoyed yourselves together, you know you have graduated to the big time in relationships.  When you can’t afford to run away and indulge, you are forced to just be with each other.  Sometimes, these moments create better memories than the most expensive of vacations.  Couples need to struggle financially—together, because this struggle is the quickest to cause a good fight especially if financial struggle is uncharted territory for a couple. 

My wife and I have run the gamut in financial scenarios, from shopping (going to my parents or her parent’s house and rummaging through their cabinets) to 4-Star restaurants.  I think some of our greatest moments we shared involved us being creative to save a buck. 

3.  Couples need to conduct at least one residential move.

I have done six of these with mine, and each one is just as awesome as the previous.  For fun, get your wife pregnant and then move her across country—only makes it more awesomer.    I am a big fan of mix and match when it comes to stressing relationships.

If you are not in the middle of a financial struggle as alluded to above, buy an RV and try to make the trip more pleasant.  I say try, because an RV doesn’t make anything more pleasant…just so you know.

4.  Couples need to see and hear their partner cry….or some semblance of crying if you are too manly to cry.

Even if it is during a sappy comercial, or that scene in Braveheart, or Mr Holland’s Opus, or when Daniel Larusso wins the All Valley Tournament in Karate Kid, or when Daniel Larusso has to beats up a Japanese man on his home turf as the result of a decads old beef between Mr Miyagi and Sato, or when Daniel Larusso beats the Bad Boy of Karate, Mike Barns, after turning his back on Mr. Miyagi for a trainer who will teach him to “sweep the leg.”

It doesn’t have to be because you make them cry, but even if that is the reason, there is value in this.  One of the hardest things in the world to hear is the sound of your significant other crying.  Couples need to hear the sound of pain in their partner’s voice, so that they will avoid inflicting it upon them.   Holding your spouse when they cry is a different kind of hold.  It is in these difficult moments that you realize the power of a hug—how much power and strength that gives them and it is a moment that changes a relationship. 

Finally,

5.  Couples need to understand that there are points where you want to banish your spouse to an island for an eternity, so they will leave you alone.

Totally normal.  Mentally banish to your heart’s content.

It’s okay.  Even as you read this with your spouse, you will say to them, “I never feel this way about you,” but you will know, there was a moment when you would have sold them off to a gypsy if the opportunity presented itself.   You remember the time you heard about the woman who ran her own husband over?  Yes, of course you do; it was that moment you thought to yourself, “Damn, she actually went through with it…” 

For the record, actually going through with it is wrong.

I am no expert in relationships, but I am pretty seasoned in struggle.  Over the years, I have become an expert in driving my wife crazy.  Horribly, sometimes I find myself doing it on purpose.  But, as far as I can tell, she seems to enjoy the struggle as well.  Although, I have probably been sent to a million make-believe islands.

I just want you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.

 


I saw teenagers again yesterday.

As a matter of fact, I have seen more teenagers as of late than I have in quite awhile.

I blogged about teens before; they are reoccurring antagonists in my writing. I am always an innocent protagonist just trying to find his way through the obstacles of life being haunted by the constant prospect of teenagers lurking all around. I am of the sound opinion that one could re-write the entire screenplay for The Walking Dead simply by finding all the references to zombies and subsequently replacing them with wild and crazy teenagers. You really wouldn’t have to change the title of the show either, just the wardrobe of the monsters. Instead of tattered flannels and torn jeans, you would need itsy-bitsy shorts with random words across the butt region, and of course skinny jeans.

In the new version of the show, the skinny jean wearing teenage boys are the weaker of the monsters. They pale in comparison to the strength and abilities of the teenage girl monster. This is not that the teenage boys aren’t a force to be reckoned with–quite the opposite actually. It is just to say that if there is a teenage girl present, the teenage boy becomes resigned to trying to please the teenage girl and momentarily forgets his original mission to ruin the lives of the grown adult.

I so badly want to tell you that there are exceptions to this rule and that there are good teenagers out there–like the Twilight version of vampires, but alas, there are no sparkling teens. If you ever believe yourself to either be the owner of one or an acquaintance thereof, you have been seduced by the worst type…the sirens of the teenage world who lure adults into a false sense of security and trust, and then boom, you and countless screaming adult argonauts are shipwrecked and left for dead.

There are no “good teenagers,” there are only teenagers who, like an alcoholic who has kicked the habit but is in constant danger of falling off the wagon, are sober from committing any variety of teenage inequities, but will most likely falter and resume terrorizing the adult of our species.

Teenage boys, while not the most dangerous of their kind, are troubling because of two things:

1.) They have not grown into their appendages. They are a clumsy breed and have trouble with seemingly easy physical movements like walking or any combination of walking and another physical activity. Their feet are awkward and they do not know what to do with their arms. They lumber around from one place to another tripping and swinging their arms with no rhythm. This is why there is a good case for my Walking Dead contention earlier. The teenage boy is, for all intents and purposes, a zombie–in skinny jeans.

2.) They are unsure about their body hair. I have said this before and I say it again. If a teenage boy can grow facial hair of any kind, they will–regardless of whether it is in their best interest. Thusly, teenage boys tend to look homeless, which again aligns itself with the Walking Dead contention from earlier paragraphs. The hairstyles which teenage boys choose to wear are another problem for me. I do not want them to depart from this habit, however. This habit makes them easily negotiable should physical violence ever become necessary. Their vision is impaired by their bangs (this is a sentence that should never be associated with men). Men should not have bangs.

Teenage girls are the meanest of any human species. I have a list of over one thousand reasons why, so I will choose a couple that you NEED to know to function out there.

1.) Utilizing shorts that they had to sneak and put on without any self-respecting father’s permission, they control the teenage boys. They are actually the brains for the entire teenage population. They are the like the queen bee, or the leader of the bugs in Starship Troopers. They are miniature women. They have not yet honed all their skills, like those of their adult form, so they are even more dangerous–think baby rattle snake who is actually deadlier than their full grown counterpart because they cannot control the release of venom. Teenage girls are scary, because they are learning to be adult women, who are actually the most powerful being ever to exist. However, adult women are allowed to be scary and powerful, because 92.3 percent of time they use their power for good (when they do not, however, countries fail, people are murdered, horrible, horrible things happen: For further examples see any show on the Lifetime Movie Network, or take a second and study the breakup of the Beatles).

2.) Teenage girls are exceptionally bad because most of the teenage girls’ parents do not believe that their teenage girls are part of the group of bad teenage girls. It’s quite simple. Even as those of you with teenagers read this blog, you are saying to yourself, “Not my teenage girl.”

**Newsflash** All of you are saying this, but what I have written is happening out there, so at least one of you are wrong.

To a certain extent this rule applies to teen boys as well, but teen boys are not as adept at looking innocent. I am sorry teen boys, but adult women have passed on to their female children an ability to manipulate that will haunt you until your dying day. As a case in point, you know, there was a time when I had PIN numbers that were original to me…Now, after years of work on my wife’s part, all our PIN numbers are ones which she brought to our relationship. Most startlingly of all, I recently found that the PIN numbers utilized in my home are the same that my Mother-in-Law uses. This absolutely confirms my worst fears: Females have a much better training program then males. Its scope and organization is irrefutably better than even the military. I am certain that if males do have a training program it consists of only one rule, and that is: 1.) If what you are doing seems to please a female, continue doing that….

I write this as a warning of our enemy, people. They are not to be discarded as weak even though skinny jeans could lead one to that assertion. Teenagers are a thinking and adapting enemy. They are trying to take over the world and our only hope is that before this can happen, they begin the turn for adulthood. However, I have started to see may teenage characteristics in young twenty something year olds. Be vigilant. Think Anti-Teen Force Protection. Act like teens are trying to kill you and you should be fine.

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in since last night at the movie theater where teenagers were hellbent on ruining the movie….


Have you ever been tortured? I have. I have lived, hell I live, with the constant and agonizing terror of not knowing when my torturer will come back through the door–when the purveyor of pain will return to peddle their product to the innocent man that is me. For years, I have faced the fanatical fiend that found her way under the false pretenses of a fortuitous future into my life. The problem, my friends is that the perpetrator who propagates my plight, is so sweet in the day and evil in the night.

So this alliterative attempt, albeit now with added assonance, is the introduction in another episode of my anguished sleep life.

I have written to you all before of my wife’s nightly antics. I want to record them so badly, but I worry that if I was to show “Awake Whitney,” “Asleep Whitney,” that some tragedy would occur like in Back to the Future with the polaroid and the whole “Marty McFly disappearing while playing Earth Angel” thing.

Lately, its taken a turn for the even more insane. It has become a harrowing experience complete with me waking up to Whitney standing on the bed, looking nine feet tall from my vantage point, head on pillow. In her eyes, resided a look that said, “I am going to stomp your head now.” When I asked her what she was doing up there, Sleeping Whitney scrambled for an excuse, as not to give her true intention of stomping my noggin into flatness. Her answer was simple and logical.

“I was trying to catch the floating baby.”

I am not even sure how to have responded to her statement. Why? Well it’s simple. I am not sure that the floating baby scenario isn’t just about the creepiest thing she could have said at that moment. It’s like interviewing a psychopath using the Rorschach Ink Blot Test. You know how it goes. I hold up a card that looks remarkably like an innocent butterfly and say, “What do you see, Whitney?” To which Sleeping Whitney would respond calmly and like it is obvious, “I see a butterfly…………..with wings made of human skin and the ability to talk, but when the butterfly talks it can only say perverse and vulgar phrases.”

Adding to the drama, once Sleeping Whitney explained her heroic intentions of catching the floating baby, she panicked and dropped in place like she was shot, or worse still, like the demon in her body promptly exited, stage left, and in doing so, her hind end hit the marble top of the bedside table, cracking it, and leaving a triangular shaped purple mass. For two weeks now, when Awake Heath pats Awake Whitney’s butt as an affectionate gesture, Whitney glares at him in pain. For just a moment, a fleeting and brief moment, we remember what lies beneath the seemingly sweet facade that is my wife’s awake body.

And this, my faithful following, was only one event, and it was the most innocent of them all. The following night, I was scared awake by Sleeping Whitney yelling in her sleep. Sadly, this is not too out of the norm in my house, but what ensued was unexpected. After about ten seconds of unintelligible ramblings, Sleeping Whitney somehow propelled herself, without having left the laying down position, three feet out of the bed slamming into the wall. The abrupt meeting with the wall was enough to wake Whitney.

Dazed and confused, she looked at me and said, “See what happens when you steal all of the covers?”

This was horrifying.

“After the “Floating Baby Incident,” and the world record setting “Three Foot Flop,” I quickly realized that crazy had come to town and that it had taken up residence in my bed. Alas, these two were just the labor pains of something much more terrifying.

In the middle of sweet dreams of unicorns, puppies frolicking upon clouds made of marshmallow goodness, and beams of rainbows and Oompa Loompa’s singing rhythmic riddles, I was jerked out of slumber. Sleeping Whitney must have saw my Ooompa induced smiling and felt the necessity to end all happiness. I can only guess as to what led up to it, but I picture a wide eyed beauty, now overcome with evil, panting as she reached across the bed and dug her fingers into my eyes. Grabbing with such violent tenacity, one of her fingers was actually able to get beneath my left eyelid, so that when I jerked away and grabbed her hand, my eyelid actually popped from Sleeping Whitney’s gripping fingers and slapped with elastic fervor back onto my eyeball. It was stretched so far and tight that when it connected with my eye, it created an audible popping sound and sent my head backwards; back and to the left; back and to the left like JFK.

Quickly, I blinked and felt for my eyes, certain I would find a gaping hole where once a deep Sinatra blue orb, capable of wooing myriads of women existed. To my surprise, I still had both eyeballs and my vision seemed only momentarily blurred by the tears resultant from a good quality eye gouging and eyelid popping.

I pushed Sleeping Whitney back onto her side of the bed. Sitting still, breathing heavily, I watched Sleeping Whitney. She appeared to be back to normal sleep. Curiously, I leaned in closely and tried to see through blurry tears. Too dark to get a really good look, I leaned in even closer. Silently breathing, eyes closed and resting, she looked as if nothing had happened. I kept close.

The following is not an exaggeration. I would not joke of such things. As I stared, Whitney’s eyes popped open glaring into my face, a small grin appeared on her face as I jumped back and recoiled under the covers. For the next three hours, I felt that lifeless, wide-eyed grin watching me as I feigned sleep. It was the longest night of my life.

So, let me retract my earlier contestation that crazy was now residing in my house, or in the least, let me revise the statement. Crazy just doesn’t do it, for Sleeping Whitney is far more sinister.

I just wanted you know, because I have been holding it in for years.


Before you cast judgement on me and my opinion on this case, I just want you to read and to understand where I am coming from.

The Trayvon Martin case is absolutely riddled with land mines that can be a pitfall to any person writing about it. Now, add to the fact that a white dude, who usually writes comical stories about his wife’s antics and life that are generally agreeable topics, is chiming in and lets see how this goes…

Lets look at what is good and bad about the whole story and the subsequent ruling, which I believe is not surprising and, wait for it, I believe it was the right ruling. There I said it, but that being said, I also believe that Zimmerman is a stooge, a moron, and the kind of neighbor that nobody wants living in their hood. He is the kind of guy that needs to be incarcerated, because he is guilty; he is just not guilty of what the prosecution tried and failed to prove.

The media, the people being interviewed, and the commentators and legal analysts ruined this case before it even started. The lies and distortions on both sides of the case, even in the moments just following the tragic and untimely death of this young man were so grotesque that it created an alleged clear line down the middle of this case that never existed. Even more unfortunately, all of the aforementioned left the death of a human being as a pawn in a polarizing issue.

In the end, the prosecution fell into the hype. The hype was so loud and it reverberated through the streets and social media. It yelled and shouted and it wore a hoodie and it tugged at the heartstrings of every mother. A voice, millions strong, echoing across a nation exemplifying how things have changed and how small the world has become. The hype caused friends to “unfriend” those who in other circumstances were well functioning friendships. The hype led people to believe that they actually understood the intricacies of this case, when they absolutely did not. The hype led the prosecution to believe that they didn’t have to present a case, because, well, it is obvious, right?

This is where Americans should find some form of solace in the ruling. The murder charge. The murder charge sounded so easy to get and the greatest thing about the case is that it wasn’t. The prosecution failed to get the jury to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt that murder in the 2nd degree occurred that fateful night. This is not a flaw in the system. Conversely, it is a victory for the system; however, it is a flaw in the lawyership of the prosecution. Concentrating solely on the murder charge, the prosecution lost sight of what they needed to be paying attention to…justice. Zimmerman broke the law. Zimmerman committed manslaughter, wrongful manslaughter and should be in prison.

I was a teenager once. I used to walk through neighborhoods. I ate skittles and drank and engaged in riotous partying. I vandalized property. I broke laws. I was for all intents and purposes, a criminal. I won’t pass judgement on Trayvon. I won’t stand here and defend him as a virtuous teen either.

The case sheds light on a law that needs to be readdressed.
The case illustrates that there are racial tensions in America that are so deeply rooted in everything that occurs here that it is almost impossible to move-on. I cannot even write this blog illustrating that I support the ruling, laying down the reasons why I believe it–all separate from the color and creed of the victim, without having some say I am being racist. That is wrong, but it is where America currently resides.

Let there be no doubt about it. Zimmerman is guilty. Zimmerman should be in prison, and life has a funny way of making sure that he will pay. These cases conjure up images of OJ and Casey Anthony walking hand-in-hand down the road together

The good news is that there is no such thing as an open and closed case even if the media wants it, or the masses scream for it. Nobody likes cases that seem so obviously wrong or right ending in a less than desirable verdict until they are the ones being charged.

The sad news is that, because of mis-steps in the prosecution, the dead and the family of the victim will go without receiving justice, and the guilty and his egregious behavior will be misinterpreted as being acceptable.

I just want you to know because I have been holding it in for years….


Longterm relationships, boyfriends and girlfriends, married, gay, straight, all carry around with them the same types of issues. All couples fight, and the ones that don’t are probably more destructive than the ones that actually have members that say what they are feeling to one another. In these relationships, there is a chance for growth. In the silent, seemingly happy and fight-less couples, one member is, no doubt feeling voiceless and oppressed. I told my wife on a couple of occasions, that there has to be at least one moment occasionally, in a marriage where the man should think he wants to become a monk and run off into some form of solitary lifestyle with just men, who all think the same way they do. I picture it being a little slice of heaven in some far off land. It will have over one hundred taps and all the beers will be my favorite microbrews. There would be a place to smoke cigars and it would be well ventilated. Other men would would show up and we’d all talk about 17th Century Literature, and everyone would agree with me…the problem in the end of all of this is that after the first drink from the bar, I would have think, “man, I wish my wife was here, she’d love this place..”

This is not a blog about fighting, you need to figure that our on your own, but you need to know it happens and to suck it up. Nope, enter this blog into the “How to Continue Dating Your Spouse, Long-term Boy/girlfriend” category. You didn’t ask for the advice, but then again, you didn’t ask for anything else I have written either.

Zombie movies are, in my opinion, the number one way to date your wife. Mine pulls me into her and holds on tight when humans are eating other humans. So, World War Z was going to be the venue of our first date (where we actually hired a babysitter and went out). I love my wife, and I want her to be happy. I want her to look at me and think, “damn, I won the husband lottery.”
In my quest for doing so, I compiled the following list of important behaviors. Some are proven, and some are conjecture. Either way, I would immediately include them in your relationships.

1. Open the door for your significant other.
This is huge, and it shouldn’t be that difficult. I open building doors for her, and generally, I am a man of great manners with an extremely chivalrous nature. So naturally, I chose to forego this necessity. Additionally, I opted to further compound my omission by making a joke. It went like this:

My wife says to me, “Just how I pictured our first date in months starting; my husband jumping in the car and waiting for me to open my own door.” I told her that it was rude of me and I would do better. My coping strategy is always to go to humor in order to move past any moment where I have screwed up. So I say to my wife, “If I have to remember these technicalities involved in car-door opening while dating, you have to remember your obligations for lewd and lascivious behavior once in the car, whose door was graciously opened for you.”

In perfect Whitney timing, she responds, “That’s not a problem, I will just think about Brad Pitt fighting zombies…mmmmmmmm.”

2. If going to a movie at a theater, show your wife how much you value her love by stopping at a Walgreens and buy boxes of candy ahead of time.

Don’t read that as sarcasm. This is actually a huge move in a marriage. One box of candy at the movie costs the same as three gallons of gas. It is like the airport and movie theater have the same owners and they are both dicks. Rich dicks. Anyway, I did this yesterday and this actually made my wife fall more in love with me more than ever. She runs the finances, so it is actually romantic for her to see me being economical.

I went into the store and saw the plethora of options for possible candy enjoyment. Panic ensued. I couldn’t remember the last thing Whitney said she was craving, (we don’t eat a ton of candy, so it has been awhile). So what I did was absolutely genius: I pretty much bought every candy there was. Once in the movies, she reached in her purse (the one that all women have that was purely brought to smuggle large items of “stuff” into areas that do not allow the “stuff” to be brought in from off the premises. One of the boxes was Whoppers. I had struck gold. Whitney breathed in a long content sigh and said in a high pitched voice she whisper yelled, “You remembered!!!! You love me!!!!”
Now, I hope she doesn’t realize that in not remembering the actual candy, subsequently panicking, and following that up with buying everything in reach, I spent more money on candy than we would have at the airport/movie theater.

3. When you leave the movie theater, and you remember to open her car door, also remind her of her obligations once inside again, because that joke never gets old, right?

I didn’t do this, but I really wish I did.

4. Make your wife or significant other laugh.
This is what I do to make up for my lack of “conventional good looks.” Making a woman laugh actually makes you more attractive to them. Make them laugh like it is your sole mission. It will show them that they are worth the effort, and there is nothing better than a wife who is smiling.

5. Don’t belittle your wife when she has non-sensical requests.
I say to Whitney, “Baby, little woman, sweet thing, do you want a Starbucks on the way to the theater.” She replied with, “No, I need a Starbucks, but I would rather have a coffee.”
I know, I know, but just let it go.

6. If you see a girl who your wife points out is pretty, always say she is dressed like a slut.
I didn’t do this, but it is always a good move. It is especially important to add a dimension of disgust to your voice. If you say it with excitement, it will not have the desired intent.

These are six important aspects of dating within a relationships that are sure to work.

In the end, I believe all of this is relatively true. We as humans put more time into impressing our bosses, random acquaintances, and just people who don’t matter than we do our spouses or boyfriends, or girlfriends, or whatever. My wife used to teach dance lessons, and she had this strange habit of not letting married people dance together when initially learning steps. Her answer when asked why was startling and true. “Most married people will treat a stranger nicer when they screw up the dance than they would their spouse.”

So find a good zombie movie and go. Buy some cheap candy and make her laugh. You’d be surprised what behavior that could lead to in a car….


The morning sun casts a peculiar glow over the hills of Ramona, California. One can feel an allusive sense of ominous foreboding. Things are not all as they should be, but why they feel it is not immediately evident. The warmth resulting from the peculiar glow, clashing with the cool breeze have pushed and pulled a dense fog up through the valleys and hills as if ghosts, unshackled from hell and the grave, search eerily for a soul to haunt. The fog is thick and invasive, and for an instant, it has swallowed up the world outside of my house leaving me surrounded by whatever it may bring.

Just as abruptly as its uninvited intrusion began, so goes the fog’s departure. What is left in its wake is a mystery. A set of footprints. A fruitless tree. A woman with an imagination as massive as the very blanket of fog, which rested thick and viscous over the house in Ramona, California. This is a story of intrigue and suspicion sure to confuse the most talented of sleuth. Holmes, The Hardy Boys, Mason, The Rescue Rangers, or Columbo, none of them could piece this thing together, because there resides no sense in this story of horror in the fog. None of them could, but Whitney can and did.

My cell phone buzzed and vibrated itself across my desk at work. It danced with and floated for a second or two making the snapping sound of hard plastic bouncing on the faux-wood desk interrupting the silent work of ten or so people.

“Hello, how are you today?” I ask immediately seeing the caller ID and noticing my lovely wife’s name.

There would be no reciprocity to my greeting that morning, instead, and in a frantic tone, “The oranges, they are all gone! Every one of them is gone, disappeared. Heath, where once there was a multitude of oranges a veritable cornucopia of beautiful deliciousness, there is nothing but emptiness.” Whitney rattled off into my ear.

When one’s wife offers up their concern over missing oranges or missing anything, the best course of action is to exude empathy, to join with them in their terror, or to nurture their investigative instincts. As such, I assert that there must be a gang of fruit loving animals roving the area stealing bushels of oranges. Having never had a fruit tree until a few weeks ago, I did not have the requisite expertise to rule out animals altogether. Although, only one night ago, the tree had tens of dozens of oranges and today there are none, not even a rotting orange biodegrading into the roots and dirt below the tree. These animals are overeating.

Whitney, absolutely not content with my assertion of a clan of bandit animals, set out on a mission to solve this mystery. Whitney offered up to me a startling find. While walking just outside our house on a freshly repaved street, still shining with new tar, Whitney found a trail of footprints that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared in the same manner. They were white like they were powdered chalk and after about ten or so steps, the footprints faded to black.

Were these the prints of an orange bandit?
What kind of criminal leaves this kind of tell-tale–the sudden chalk feet running away from the area of the fruit tree?
Firstly the oranges and now the footprints?
What kind of hellish ghoul are we dealing with?
Who steals oranges?
What kind of maniac steals only oranges and not something better; I mean go big or go home?

I tell you what, in Whitney’s head, there is only this set of possibilities: The thief is a human, and said human either floats, emits chalk out of their feet and also floats, and / or is human, loves oranges enough to steal them, but accidentally stepped in a bag of chalk that they were carrying in their car, which logically was there, because after stealing the oranges, they bandits had to hustle to a little league baseball field and prepare the baselines and batter’s box. She hasn’t quite worked out the chalk part yet.

It is under this sense of tension, that Whitney introduced a teenage boy to a 9mm. Our house overlooks the gate to the community. Whitney was looking out the window while doing the dishes. She watched as an unknown car rambled up the long road to the gate and stopped. A teenage boy jumped out of the car and began running up the hill, some three hundred yards to our home. With a rabbit killing shepherd, an aged heeler, and a three legged chihuahua in tow, Whitney met the teenager at the door. Oh yeah, and she had a gun.

The conversation was short lived and resulted in a teenage boy running faster away from our residence. Equally odd. The boy requested a tire jack to fix a flat, but after fleeing from the gun wielding Whitney, he jumped in a car with four working tires and raced off, stopping at no houses on the way out…

I don’t know anything anymore. I don’t know what I believe. I don’t know what comes in the fog, but I do know enough to tell you that I am done doubting my wife. I do not want to go the way of the running teenager. These are the reasons that I believe my wife. She has an unparalleled intuition and a gun. If she believes that the oranges were stolen by a floating, chalk footed, human of average foot size, than damn it, I believe her. So, be on the look out for two things: A floating, chalk footed, human of average foot size, and a gun wielding Whitney on a mission to solve ghostly crimes…

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years…


Man of Steel

I have to admit that I am as excited as anybody to get out and see the newest Superman movie. Although DC comics pale in comparison to its counterpart, Marvel, Superman has been a longstanding part of every man-child’s upbringing. We, the masculine form of our species, have long been enamored with the idea of this spectacle Superman. A dude from another planet with values and morals beyond reproach, with only one weakness, if you don’t count Lois Lane, which I never do, because having a woman / love interest also be a weakness is so cliche it isn’t even funny. I could never stand that Lois would rather see Superman weak and get beat up in a diner rather than just be an awesome lover who could fly her around Metropolis on Date Night Fridays. That is not why I write today, although I would like to expound upon Lois and Superman’s relationship at some point in my life. I write because today is Father’s Day. I want to talk about the old man who brought me up and instilled in me the tenants of being a man.

There exists a thousand stories that I can tell that would prove the assertion that my pops, Lane started me early in training. If you have ever read anything about Teddy Rooselvelt, you would understand that, as a kid, this mountain of a man was weak and fragile. Afflicted with asthma and possessing a generally frail body, Teddy wasn’t the guy who one could see later leading the Rough Riders or hunts for wild animals in far off countries. One day Teddy’s father came to him and said, “Teddy, you weren’t given the strongest body, so you have to make it yourself.” From sick and weak to the Presidency–no big deal. The rest is history. I don’t really tell that story to glorify Teddy. He was a good dude, but I wanted to to point out his father, because in his father, I realize what it is my father did for me.

Lane Phillips, quite possibly the meanest man to have walked the earth, a man who is destined to be the subject of many an outlaw country song, the man who when cut bleeds like a wounded knight from a Monty Python sketch. Lane Phillips, the man who spawned me from his loins and then surrounded me with sisterfolk, the man whose mustache is rumored to be more full and thick than that of God himself. Lane Phillips, my father, and now my friend.

This is my dad in a nutshell.

I got in a bike accident as a sixth grader. I hydroplaned for one thousand feet (read ten or so feet) and came up with road rash all over my arms and legs. I was out of myself in pain. I was running around in circles, and according to my father, I was shedding my clothes like some moron, like I had entered into a state of shock and lost control of myself. People were gathering and watching the entire show. I was a star! My dad grabbed my bike. Walking right onto the stage during the drama, he grabbed me and looked at all of the wounds, probably making sure there were no bones broken. He put my hand on the bike and said, “you need to get yourself together and limp out of here pushing this bike home. Nothing you’re doing right now is going to make any of this better.” His voice was riddled with a tone that said, “wrecking is one thing, embarrassing yourself is another thing entirely, push through this and move on.”

A few years later, I watched my dad catch a fish. The fishing lure he was using had a treble hook and and was barbed to ensure the fish, once caught, stayed caught. While removing the fish from the hook, the fish jerked as fish do, one of the hooks went into my dad’s finger. My dad said one word and it was profane. With the hook through his finger, he still removed the fish and put it on the stringer to be cleaned later. The barb was through the skin so he had to push the entire hook through in order to get it out. He bled like his index finger was actually designed incorrectly and attached to an artery, but never said another word. I saw what a calm and cool reaction did for him and was amazed..He just pushed through and everything was better.

A few years later, I was attending Officer Candidates School for the United States Marine Corps. After jumping into a huge hole full of water, I felt an extremely painful and audible pop in my right ankle. Another Marine had to lift me up and we both kept running. I stayed calm, cool, and collected and finished three more weeks of training on a foot that was missing all anterior ligaments. When I told the doctor that I kinda was just brought up not to act like an idiot when you hurt yourself. The doctor responded, “How admirable, but its the stupidest thing you could have done.” What does he know, right Dad?

My Dad has raised me to be courageous in adversity. Something Superman never has to do. My Dad has built in me a longing to be responsible for my actions–a trait far too lacking in society today. My Dad has raised me with the values that your wife is the someone to be taken care of and cherished. My dad has raised me with a longing to be tough when things get difficult. My dad instilled in me a longing to give my child every single opportunity, but not to give them every “thing.”

My dad said to me recently that he sometimes forgets that his father is gone on to a better place and that there are moments when he will be thinking and he will have a question for his dad. He relayed to me how sad it was to realize again that his dad is gone. He told me stories about his old man, and how amazing and brilliant my grandfather was. I heard emotion in his voice and longing to have just one more discussion with the man. In that moment, me a mid-thirty year, became a boy again. And sitting there, in an honest voice my dad taught me another lesson. My Dad has taught me to slow down and not be as tough–to take the time to be a dad–to look at him as an example of all things good and bad–to take the things about him that I love and apply them, but to build upon other areas. He has taught me that he is not perfect and that the best parts of men are found in how they respond to their own failures and shortcomings. My dad has taught me to be a better dad than even he was.

My beautiful wife has given me a daughter. Today I thank my dad, because he has given me the foundation to be a Man of Steel for her.

I just want you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.


We have become hikers. We haven’t become the hikers who have the shoes, knitted socks, and professional style walking sticks. We haven’t become the hikers who forage off of the land as we hike through it. As hikers, we are somewhat novice, but the cool thing about hiking is that you kind of practice for it every time you walk, because hiking is just a walk. Except, hikes are a walk where you constantly worry about snakes, your hydration, dying from the elements, an accidental wrong turn and subsequent three day search for your hypothermic and near lifeless body, and in my case, you have to worry about your wife trying to murder you.

If one was to get overly technical, the murder was probably warranted, but nonetheless, it added a new and somewhat unsuspected dimension to hiking. Like I said, we have become hikers. It wasn’t the result of a process of thought and in-depth research, it was a spur of the moment decision that hiking is what all the cool kids do, the realization, that we are also cool, and therefore should be hikers. So last weekend, we hiked, and what I want to relay to you in this edition of LifeasIKnowit is what hiking is all about. Maybe after reading this, you will all feel so inclined as to start off on a more active lifestyle. This entry would go down in the category of self-help, and it will be well worth your time to continue, trust me, I wrote it, I know how it ends. Plus, I went hiking with Whitney, the reoccurring character who plays my wife in previous blogs.

Hiking starts off with a bunch of happy hippies on a trail eating granola to carboload for the impending trek into nature’s bowels. Hiking probably actually starts off a day or two previous to the hike in question. I picture people preparing by packing their little hiking packs with water, snacks, compasses, random survivally things. Hiking probably starts with the hikers drinking water to prepare for said hike. All of these things are important for those interested in hiking, and as is to be expected, none of these were things we decided to do. I am being less than truthful, we drank a lot of beer and wine in preparation for the hike, which may have covered the carboloading portion of preparation, but defeated the hydration portion of prepping. (Although, Whitney believes that drinking is a great hydrator as it leaves your pee clear).

Everybody is happy at the beginning of a hike. There is much to be excited about. The trail is pretty, and you feel so productive that you can’t stand it! You walk about three hundred feet and you happen upon your first group of hikers who are finishing up the same hike. You try not to notice that they look like undead versions of the same group of hippies starting at the time you did. They walk, dragging their left legs along beside them. They do not talk; instead, they mumble and grunt loud guttural booms of sound from their respective diaphragms. You try not to notice the dog that probably started out walking with them, but whose lifeless body is now being dragged just behind their left legs. You are blind to this, and you quest on.

You are given one more seemingly innocent, yet foreboding warning of things to come when Whitney, who is walking like a professional walker–hands up and dangling, while breathing in a perfect rhythm who-who-hee-hee, says, “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?” All you can do at this point is continue to fall in love with your own plan, or lack thereof. “We will be fine with what we have brought (which consists of a Nalgene bottle and, well that’s pretty much it.)”

You walk another half mile and the trail starts something alarming. The trail begins to go from a nice, flat and enjoyable walk, to an alarming incline and group of switchbacks. To give you a point of reference, the incline is the same incline Sisyphus was forced to push the boulder up in mythology, or more simply stated, the incline is the same walk you would have to walk, perpetually in hell (you can keep going, but it generally sucks). There was no gradual increase in incline, nature just reached out and smacked you in the face with itself. Softly and sweetly, in the back of your head you can still hear Whitney’s question echoing, “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?”

You are now halfway up the mountain. You have stopped to rest and the pleasant blush resulting from the increase blood flow has turned into relentless panting and random words in between. Where once there was loving conversation between two happily married people, there is pretty much only the sound of contempt ridden scowls. People walk by you and for just a split second, you make it look like nothing is breaking you, like this is easy.

Another hiker on her way down passes and does it. She plants the time bomb. “Be careful,” she says. “I just about stepped on a snake. They disguise themselves so well.” So now, what was a quick moving pace has slowed to the exact same pace that those poor soldiers who search for land mines must walk. Our eyes never leaving the ground, dismally marking every square centimeter of the trail–this would be a part of my hell. “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?” Still echoing.

What seems like four hours later you reach the top. Some experienced hikers are looking out at the view–it is beautiful. You smell marijuana. Some kids are smoking it while philosophizing over life’s meaning. You pan around the area and realize the problem with a hike. When you hike, once you get to the top, you still have to go back. You look to your left and see a group of jerks doing something just to rub their planning in your face. They are eating sandwiches. You turn Whitney around quickly and we start back down. You think you can hear something about sandwiches coming from Whitney, but you just press onward. If you ever thought down can’t be as hard as up, you are dead wrong. Down becomes a torturous near free fall that shoves your entire foot into the front one third of your shoes. You are like a Chinese woman with bound feet. Down sucks.

You find that you are about thirty feet ahead of Whitney. You stop and wait for her to catch up. She nears, and you notice that she is wearing kind of an empty look, like no one is home. You start to talk and before you can get out three words she says, “Unless you have a sandwich, I don’t think you should say a god damned word to me!”

As you near the end of the trail, you are both dragging our left foot behind us and grunting nightmarish sounds from our diaphragms. The group just starting, shoving sandwiches into their packs, still joyful and excited asks, “How was it?” You grunt at them and continue your zombie walk. There, just ahead of you is your truck. You have accomplished what you set out to do. Your marriage is stronger because of your lack of planning, right? Whitney looks at you and says, “I am godawful miserable right now.” Yes, you answer yourself. Not planning for the hike was a great decision for your marriage. But we are hikers now. Tested in the flames of hell.


The street that leads to the five-home community in Ramona, California is dissected by an iron gate that, most of the time, opens when you push the remote control. It is a beautiful gate, and right next to it, is a walking trail that says to the would be cruiser of our neighborhood, “We trust you if you are on foot, but we dare you to try and drive into this area uninvited.” After living here for just two weeks, I know that the gate is here for protection. It protects the hood from teenagers. This country road is the perfect little place for lasciviously intentioned boys to park with equally minded, but coy hipster girls.

My house sits about halfway up a steep hill that, at its pinnacle houses the remaining four homes. I drink. I drink while sitting on my back patio overlooking small family orchards, horses, and llamas (Whitney has decided that llamas are nosy animals). I drink while I listen to the barking and howling from coyotes, the relentless caw of the ravens and crows, and of course I drink while I watch my dogs salivate over rabbits that tease them in a similar manner as the hipster girls in the cars down the way do their skinny-jean wearing boyfriends. Rabbits move in stop animation. They find a spot and they freeze. Rabbits stare at you with their side-of-head eyeballs and taunt you while they poop with reckless abandon wherever they please.

My shepherd dog has had enough of this. Lobo, the big, burly and loving shepherd, has declared jihad on rabbits. They are infidels who have the tenacity to waltz into your yard, where you have staked your claim, where you drink and enjoy the country life, and where your dogs should be the only thing pooping with reckless abandon. Rabbits, to my boy Lobo, are a lost cause and should be eradicated. A battle was eminent and loomed ominous over our household.

Enter my poor, poor, good natured, sweet wife, Whitney. Friday night brought frivolity and movie watching to my family. We have made it a point over the years to use our Fridays as a night to relax at home and reconnect. The movie we watched came to an end, and it was time to let the three dogs out for their last shot at reckless defecation. What ensued was murder. It was the circle of life without Elton singing. What ensued was ravenous animality. Even the three-legged chihuahua was overly emotional as she sporadically ran in zig-zagging motions.

One single, solitary rabbit had found his or her way into the yard. Unfortunately for the rabbit, he or she did not take the tenth of a second necessary to dedicate to memory how it came to be in the yard. This is a life lesson to you, people. Always have a way out. When you walk into any place, a restaurant, a club, a store, or even a church, you have to know where the exits are located. You have to know where you can hide. You have to be engaged in your surroundings, because in the moment of confusion and chaos, you will run around moronically wishing you had been. A prepared rabbit lives to see another day. There are those out there that wish to do harm to unsuspecting and under prepared individuals, and Lobo, the alarmingly agile shepherd, is just such an entity.

Maybe five seconds passed. Lobo had cornered and overwhelmed the rabbit. Surprisingly, Baby, the old, but ferocious heeler was an accomplice in the cornering. Like dogs do, Lobo grabbed the unprepared rabbit and shook his head back and forth with such violence no rabbit spine could have survived. That was the end. That is as far as Lobo, the hunter, the manliest of all my dogs, had planned. He had no exit strategy, so he just pranced around the yard with his spoil of war. Dropping it in the middle of the yard, Lobo circled it and said, “This rabbit, is my rabbit. This rabbit is the first of many rabbits I will kill. This rabbit is…” Lobo stopped talking abruptly when I chased him off with a shovel. I stood over the rabbit.

Okay, for reals now, enter my poor, poor, good natured and sweet wife, Whitney.

“MURDERER!!!!” Whitney yelled compassionately. There Whitney stood emotionally moved to tears. “What did you do. Our dogs have tasted blood! What do we do!” Whitney continued, all the while Lobo is circling the area fist pumping as if he just created fire, but alertly scoping the scene for follow-on insurgent rabbit attacks.

“Whitney!” I yell. “They are dogs, and these are rabbits, this is what dogs do, now, you need to go inside.” I tell her to go inside because I know the rabbit is still alive and suffering. I am going to have to finish the job. Of course, and as I should have expected, Whitney needs background information and she needs it immediately.

“Why do I need to go inside?” “Why are you holding that shovel?” “How did Lobo kill it?” “Lobo will now want to kill everything and so will Baby.” “Our dogs are murderers and YOU are not even registering the gravity of this situation.”

I have to tell her the details, because I think the reality of the situation will be enough to make her head back to the safety of the house. “Whitney, I have to kill this rabbit, because it is suffering.” She responds in the only way Whitney could, “Heath, you need my moral support through this…”

At this point, all I can think of to do is the same thing I did to Lobo when he was rambling on about his kill. I run at Whitney with a shovel and yell, “Go inside, already!!”

Gentlemen. I commend to you today that running at your wife with a shovel was the wrong action. I am not sure why I thought that a shovel run would somehow fix the situation. In the end, I have not lived down this portion of my decision making that night. But, I, like Lobo, didn’t plan beyond the actual moment of action. I thought that Whitney would react like Lobo and just sprint away from me. Something in my mind said, “If you run at her with a shovel, she will retreat indoors, calm down, and respect you all the more after this fades away.” That was all I needed. Again, after a day of retrospection, running at your wife with a shovel is never a good idea.

Whitney will not be run at with a shovel and in the midst of all of the back breaking and war, Whitney’s voice echoed out into the darkness. “CAN’T YOU SEE I JUST NEED TO BE HELD RIGHT NOW?” There I was, shovel above my head trying to get her to flee into the house, stopped cold. “I just need to be held, and you are chasing me with a shovel.” While I did not believe that this was the moment for holding–a suffering rabbit needed to die and all, there was somehow something else in her voice. It was like she really was saying, “You. Ran. At. Me. With. A. Shovel.”

After a few moments, I was able to get her into the house. I finished the job and coerced Lobo, the dog who made me kill, who made me foolishly run at a woman, with a shovel back inside as well.

I found Whitney in bed, holding tightly to her chest the three-legged chihuahua saying, “You’re the only dog I love.” She repeated it like Dorothy trying to escape Oz. We both fell asleep.

In the morning, I woke up naturally to the staring eyes of Whitney. She is so beautiful. She was tracing the shape of my face with her eyes. It was almost like she was discovering me for the first time. I expected her to sing my praises for the manliness I exuded only hours before. Our eyes met. Whitney said softly, “Remember how last night you ran at me with a shovel.”

I had no clue what she was talking about.

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.


When you take vows at the wedding ceremony, the traditional ending is “Till death do us part.” I said it, you married guys have said something like it, and if you haven’t said it, you have seen something that makes this understandable. Instead, I think the woman should have to say, “Till I kill you” because this is what they are thinking. The nicest of women, my wife for example, will kill a man. Trust me. Look at your wife right now, sitting over there all innocent. That woman will kill. That woman will kill you–no questions asked. She will kill you because it just seemed like the right thing to do, and everyone will agree with her. The good news is that woman loves you, and she will just as easily die for you just so long as you don’t mess up the baby’s schedule, or eat the curly potato chip, which she has silently claimed to be hers, and if you loved her, I mean really loved her, you’ll understand why that chip is hers. But again, do not let this give you an overwhelming sense of security, wives are trained like Batman and the League of Shadows, to take men’s souls.

My wife, who I have written extensively about, is a great case study. She has terrific skills with a bow staff and can hang with the worst of men in fights. I’m certain of it. Having a baby has added another dimension–more depth to her fighting portfolio. We had an old method of arguing where we incorporated the “studio audience” method. One of us addresses a fake studio audience and makes fun of the the other’s irrational behavior.

It goes like this. Your wife says something, then you pause and look into the fake crowd of onlookers and say something like, “here is where my wife uses all inclusive statements to irrationally prove that she is right…”

Whitney has developed new weaponry. It is what I call the “baby talk” defense. This is where she looks at the baby and says something in random high and low pitch tones, “Look at you so cute sitting there with your foot in your mouth…Your daddy puts his foot in his mouth all of the time and one day I am going to put my foot in his ass…” It is quite effective because it now becomes parenting and allows you to say things you probably wouldn’t say to each other. She is a respectable foe and lover…

Now, I know in a fair fight, I could take my wife to school. She is strong, but I think I could win–maybe not by knockout, but I’d get the judges decision for sure. But this is only if the judges have the balls to tell her to her face that they think I won. It reminds me of a story about my wife.

Another couple, Whit and I were gathered together over the holidays playing a very competitive game that pitted couple against couple. The game was like the old game show Million Dollar Pyramid. One person had a word that they needed the other person to guess, but they were restrained by a list of words they could not use as clues. The game was back and forth, and Whitney was growing increasingly competitive as time passed. Soon, it came to Whitney to give me clues. I sat anxiously awaiting Whit’s masterful barrage of brilliant clues. She is a genius, for the love of god, we got this in the bag. Whitney began:

Whitney: (Slowly and matter of factly) I want to mont.

Heath: I don’t know what that means

Whitney: (still calm) I want to mont.

Heath: Okay, you’re sick, death, dying, montgomery, Alabama, the Confederacy….(Digressing into words that barely relate to one another, but pretending that Whitney is leading me down this road.

Whitney: (Growing Frustrated at my apparent idiocy) Listen, Heath! I WANT to MONT. I want to mont. (She then motions with her hands to me a gesture that says, “see how obvious it is now.”

Heath: Mont. You want to mont? Need, hungry, starving, children with no food, poor kids in Africa, famine, death and famine, rape, torture, water boarding, surfing, shark bite, apple sauce… (more words spilling out of my mouth at the rapid rate)

Whitney: (Yelling as the last sand falls through the minute glass) I WANT TO MONT. I WANT TO MONT. HEATH, I WANT TO MONT!!!!

Other couple: Time! They yell it with exuberance knowing that they have just been put into the perfect position to win this game.

I turn to Whitney feeling a bit embarrassed that I didn’t solve her clue. I say, “Whitney, I don’t know what a “mont” is. I don’t think it is a word. Whitney’s face is now riddled with disappointment. She breathes in and out big breaths and says “It isn’t a word, its what I was doing….I was rhyming. Want and Mont rhyme. Rhyming was the word you needed to guess.”

I explain to her that she could have rattled off a sequence of words like bat, hat, cat, mat, and that eventually, maybe three words into it, I would have put it together. I even said that I could understand the first go round using “I want to mont” and then seeing that I wasn’t comprehending, maybe moving to a new set of words that rhymed. Moreover, I felt that clinging to a nonsensical phrase was the worst strategy I have ever seen in the history of this game.

Whitney leaned in real close. Her lips so close to my ears that I could feel her breath on my lobes. She is silent. Long pause. She then says to me slowly and well enunciated and loud enough for all to hear. “If you really knew and loved me, you would have figured it out with the clue I provided.”

You have all seen the facts. It is clear that I am right in this case, but let me tell you what happened in that room. The other couple hearing Whitney’s words, understood something I should have figured out by then. Don’t mess with Whitney. If she wants to mont. Let her.

So, I say to Whitney, “You win, you’re right.” She reaches up and grabs my chin gently, caressing it softly with her thumb, and In a tone dripping with love and rainbows and unicorns and puppies and candy canes, she says, as she always does, “Heath, its not about winning…”

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.