Relationships Circa Age 30

Mark Morford has a great column this week about getting to be a certain age and not being married. He had me until the last few paragraphs, to which I reacted with horror, but now I’m beginning to wonder if he’s not onto something. Regardless, there are a lot of statements made that completely resonated with me:

For every happily married couple I know (and I do know a few), there are three more who are confused and tense and battling all sorts of doubt and crisis and regret. For every wedding announcement, there are two more separations. For every guy I know who’s tremendously happy to be settled, there’s another who wishes he could’ve had “just one more year” of unbridled freedom.

This is one of those truths that so seldom gets acknowledged in our culture. We really have some unfortunately high expectations about marriage and happiness in this country. Probably because we watch too many movies that set us up for unrealistic expectations (see Klosterman, Chuck: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Page 1 at Google Books).

Vacation Recap

Sorry it’s taking me forever. When I got back from the trip I felt a bit woozy and slept most of the weekend. I did get some house cleaning done on Sunday, though.

A week ago Friday I jetted off to Chicago for an almost week long vacation. Pictures here. Upon reaching my hotel in the downtown area, I found myself in the middle of a square dance. Because my life is not ironic enough. I also saw a wild rabbit in the park.

The main reason for the trip was to catch up with my old friend Heather Cox, who I haven’t seen in about ten years. On Saturday we went to the Art Institute of Chicago and to a Cubs game. After 20 years of keeping up with the Cubs, this was my first game ever. It was as perfect a day as could be had.

Sunday we did some shopping around Wrigleyville, and Heather departed. I went on to attend the last few shows at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Another 20-year devotion was fulfilled when I got to see De La Soul. I spent the night with Nica and Trey and we stayed up watching a scary movie and then the streets below where the transvestite hookers and drug dealers hang out after midnight.

Monday I flew to San Diego to hang out with Meredith for a couple of days. We tooled around, saw some sights and did some shopping. Then we drove up to Los Angeles to catch Isaac Hayes at the Hollywood Bowl. Thanks to Chris‘s job as tour manager, we got to meet the man himself. He has really soft hands. That’s all I can say, really. If I weren’t such a blithering idiot, I could have also met Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the MG’s and Eddie Floyd, but I was entirely certain that I would say something stupid. Nevertheless we were hanging with living legends after the show.

Then I hung out at LAX on Thursday, flew to Phoenix, ate some really good Chinese food, and flew back to Little Rock. Tired.

FYI has the widest selection of karaoke backing tracks I’ve ever seen. All for $.88 each.

I know this because DeLaine called me today in dire need of the backing track to Allison Krauss and Union Station’s “When You Say Nothing At All” for a wedding she’s singing at this Saturday. I was charged with finding it. A quick Google search revealed the answer. And by the way, no, the karaoke selection at iTunes is severely lacking. Leave it to Wal-Mart to fill the niche.

Argument Tactics

I’m having a hard time putting into words a very common scenario in debates. So here’s an example:

Issue: Gay Marriage
Side 1: The sanctity of marriage must be protected. Gays must not be allowed to marry.
Side 2: Marriage is already falling apart as an institution. Might as well let gays marry.

Granted that’s not the entirety of the argument (the main thing is the relative morality of gayness), but I hear it a lot. The “might as well” defense. Here’s another example:

Issue: Further development along polluted river
Position 1: The river must be protected. No new development.
Position 2: There are already a lot of worse developments along the river. Might as well build another.

Is “defeatist” the proper term for Position 2? I guess the slope can get slippery where relative measurements enter into it – say if the river is 90% polluted and the new development will add 1% more pollution to it. But as a general principle, isn’t the “it’s already bad, so let it get worse” argument a bad way to go? Am I wrong? I guess it depends on how much of a stake you have in the issue. Personally, I find the sanctity of marriage to be largely irrelevant in contrast to river pollution, but that’s just me.

Words of Wisdom

Heath sent me this, and I think it articulates some things that might be helpful for others to read:

I thought I’d write to tell you that I’m glad[1] you’re moving to New York. I’ve thought for some time that you would come to regret it if you talked yourself out of moving. Measured against your obviously strong desire to go, the “practical” concerns you were allowing to keep you in Little Rock were paper tigers at best.

I was reluctant to state my position before you made up your mind[2]. I’m leery of giving advice unbidden, and I wouldn’t have desired to do so even if you’d asked me. The giving of advice is fraught with pitfalls, when you think about it. It seems to me that the only time we can take advice is when the decision isn’t self-interested, and then what does it matter? When decisions are ego-involved is when we need an outsider’s perspective, but it’s also the time when we’re least likely to view it with clear eyes. And so the asking of advice is reduced to fishing for encouragement, confirmation, or validation. You ignore advisers who dissent, or else you turn them into a “bad guy.” I mean, what’s the point?

Still, there’s one thing I would like to address, and that’s the question of what happens if things don’t work out in New York. I’ve had several conversations with you where you’ve expressed concern about failing; that is, you seem to think that if you move somewhere and it doesn’t work out, then you’ve failed somehow. I don’t really think this is true. I know that this is a fluffy position to take, but I think that you never really fail without thinking it so. Put differently, there’s no such thing as failure, though there is success. If you have a good time and learn some things, that’s success, no matter what others might think. If you have to move back to Little Rock (or just somewhere else; there’s no reason it has to be Little Rock), the only way that can be taken as slinking back in failure is if you act like you failed[3].

Then again, this last paragraph doesn’t really look like advice to me, which lets me off the hook, I guess.

The topic of a favorite rant (one I’m sure Mary Beth has grown very tired of) is the conservative assumption that change can only make things worse. “Sure, you’re not likely to lose by keeping things the same,” I argue, “but you’ll never *win* that way.” The fun thing about this rant is that fear of change is something I’m guilty of too, so I come off like a total hypocrite. So anyway, I’m happy[1] you’re making the leap.


1) This is a strange usage. I’m not really glad you’re moving per se; I’m vaguely intellectually satisfied. That’s not really the same as being glad. My feelings actually lie somewhere in between not caring at all and slightly annoyed that it will be inconvenient to visit you. But that’s language for you — when accuracy is needed, it inevitably lets you down.

2) I started thinking about writing you an encouraging email weeks ago. I was still gathering up the gumption to write it when I saw the blog entry announcing you had made up your mind.

3) Spiteful folks would say you were fooling yourself, but fuck ’em.

Clarification: Procrastination

The details of my road trip plan mentioned below are to venture forth to these destinations and persons west:

Dallas: Owenses, Odegards, Allison/Rodney
Austin: Rixes
Dalhart: To witness and photograph John Todd Drive, named for my grandfather
San Diego: Meredith
Los Angeles: David, Mary, Nikki, Erin
San Francisco: Erika, Amy
Seattle: Matthewses, Eberts
UPDATE: Roslyn, Washington – aka Cicely, Alaska from TV’s Northern Exposure
Salt Lake City: Matt, Zoe
Laramie, WY: Heather
Oklahoma City: Harrelsons
Kansas City: Kevin, Michelle
St. Louis: Durhams
Blytheville: Molly
Memphis: Chris, Christy and newborn Colter

And then back to Little Rock. On the way out east I’ll probably stop in Memphis a bit, then:

Nashville: Shelley, Glen, Bryan (he may still be on tour with Steve Vai, though!)
Huntsville: Amy/Jeff
Logansport, Indiana: Jamie
Pittsburgh: Nikki
Roanoke: Trina
Washington, D.C.: Tracy

So there you have it. It will all most likely take a month or so if I can afford a leisurely pace.


The trouble with having an eventful space of time in your life is that you’re generally too wrapped up in it to stop and write about it.

Weekend before last I went down to Flora-bama with my mom, sister, brother and their kids. A full day of driving, there and back. Two actual days for me of vacation. During that time, I had the opportunity to talk with my family about…where I am.

Ever since October I’ve been debating the relative merits of moving to New York. I’ve always thought about moving to a major city. The primary impediments were: no network of friends, no money to make the shift, and a reluctance to give up what I have here. Over the last 10 months, each barrier has been slowly peeled away. In October I fell in with a bunch of musicians and made new friends. In February my grandfather passed away, leaving each of us kids a tidy sum of money. And June brings my brother’s divorce and the sale of his house, meaning that he can take over my mortgage and I don’t necessarily have to sell my house, plus I can store my stuff in the garage. I have the option to take it back. In addition, I told my boss about all this last week and he said the door would always be open if I wanted to return. So now I have a substantial safety net, and no reason not to try.

So I’m going. As soon as my office can find and train my replacement.

I’ll delay my actual departure for a few weeks to take a road trip out west, before packing up a few basics and taking a leisurely jaunt to various destinations before landing in the city.

In other news, last weekend we had a yard sale at Heather’s on Saturday, and I went up to Harrison to see my friends Tiffany and Jessie, who were in town from Rhode Island. Pictures here on Flickr.