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Dec 23

Love me, love my gift

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 in Happiness, Parenting, Relationships

The Kid has been unusually nice to me lately — offering to take out the garbage, walk the dog (and clean up her poop), asking me how my day was (which almost sent me into cardiac arrest).

Might that have anything to do with Christmas?

© Caroline Henri/

© Caroline Henri/

Despite all his best efforts, there isn’t going to be much “there” there under the tree this year. And, I’m feeling really good about it. Even if the world (and, especially, me) wasn’t in such bad economic shape, I can’t help thinking — don’t we have enough stuff? Do we really need polyester Mickey Mouse boxers, “I (heart) Beer” mugs and remote control hamsters that kids will forget about — or break — before the next fad hits?

I remember one year when The Kid was a toddler; I watched as he ran down the hall — wide-eyed as he took in the bounty underneath the tree — and then spent hours playing with the shiny wrapping paper, ribbons and bows! OK, that hasn’t happened in years, but I have wrestled with the message of excess and consumption that the world — and, yes, I — have thrown at him.

I’m not sure it ever was the right message, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the right one now.

The world he is inheriting is, among other problems, an ecological mess. As a parent who has raised a child to be open-minded, tolerant, kind, mindful and moral, how could I in good conscience help turn that child into yet another a mindless consumer?

Do the iPods and Zhu Zhus and “French maid” wine bottle covers we buy for our friends, lovers and family prove that we love them — or even that we really know them? A lot of times, we get or give stuff because we had to get something. That’s not a gift; that’s a total lack of imagination and sincerity. (Even jewelry, the “sign” of true love, can mean trouble; I’m always worried my guy’s sucking up.)

It’s foolish to think people will ever stop giving Christmas gifts, eco-catastrophies be damned. But, maybe we can be more mindful and creative. OK, yeah, I whipped out the charge card for The Kid. As for Sean, I haven’t spent a cent, but you can be damn sure what I give him will be, uh, priceless.

  • What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?
  • Given?
  • Would you be hurt if your partner didn’t give you a gift?
  • Do you struggle with mindless consumerism?

No matter what you celebrate, hope it’s a happy and healthy one!

Dec 21

Is she crushing on my man?

Posted on Monday, December 21, 2009 in Affairs/infidelity, Honesty, Marriage, Relationships

It was the first time I’d been in SF in a while, the first Christmas party I’d been invited to and the first time I’d been to Natalie and Michael’s hip loft near the ballpark since they moved from Marin a few months back.

Everything  — from the view to the guests — was glittery.

“Wow,” I whispered to Natalie as we made our way back to the kitchen to grab more hors d’oeuvres to pass around. “You have a lot of attractive new friends. They are so not Marin!”

“I know. That’s why I invited you and my old Marin gals, just so I can look young!” she joked.

“Who’s the knockout redhead in the green satin top?”heart

“Oh, she lives a few buildings down. She goes to the yoga class I go to, so, I invited her and her husband, he’s the tall guy with the earring, over for dinner a few weeks ago and we’ve gotten together a few times. They’re really fun. I like them a lot.”

“You’re lucky. It’s so hard to make friends at our age.

“Yeah, except, I think she has a major crush on Michael.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, the first time we got together, I could tell Michael was checking her out. But I was, too; she’s pretty striking. But later I saw him check out her cleavage and she saw him do that. We all saw him. I didn’t think too much of it then because I’m not jealous or anything, but ever since, I think she’s been super-flirty with him. You know how we gals get when we like a guy.


“So, I like them and I like her and I absolutely trust Michael, but I now I can’t be totally comfortable around them.  I’ve never had to deal with someone crushing on my husband before. It feels awkward, you know?

Yeah, I think I would feel awkward, too, although I’m not a jealous girl.

Sean and I playfully talk about who’s hot, who’s not, and we can tease each other about it even when he has the hots for my friend. But, I’ve never had to deal with someone so obviously crushing on my sweetie, and I’m not sure what I would do — if anything.

Now, it could be Ms. Redhead is a shameless flirt; I get that because I am, too,  and it’s all in innocent fun. Maybe she’s reacting in kind to his obvious appreciation of her beauty. Or maybe she’s a temptress, a woman who gets off on attracting a married man.

How do you know?

It would help to feel confident that your guy is clear on his boundaries, because I don’t think there’s a guaranteed way to affair-proof your relationship.

What would you do if a friend had a crush on your partner?

Dec 17

Should women man up?

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2009 in Advice, dating, Honesty, love, Relationships

I was in line at the coffee shop, forced  to overhear the animated grumblings of the two attractive blondes behind who were dissecting The Troubles. One was having problems with her boyfriend, the other was dishing out advice — bad advice,
like Cosmo mag on steroids.   two women

I’ve heard conversations like that before. Hell, I’ve had conversations like that before. What woman hasn’t? The man we’re hot on isn’t responding the way we want and so we ask a girlfriend for help. What do we get in return? “Play hard to get, don’t return his calls, make
him jealous, ask him where he relationship’s ‘going,’ give him an ultimatum …”

As much as we mean well, women aren’t so great at giving other women tips, because, well, we’re women, too! We understand women, not men, and most of us have been tainted by all the crappy dating advice the media keeps throwing at us. And we buy more self-help books than men; there’s a warning sign right there!

Not to say that I haven’t given my share of advice; I have. But one of the best compliments I ever got was this, “You think like a guy.”

Well, I don’t really. I’m a girlie girl, one who revels in my femininity and all that it encompasses, and who appreciates men for all their masculine traits (and am forgiving of the ones I don’t get, as I hope they are of me!)

But I often feel disconnected to what’s considered “typical” female thoughts and actions.

But, despite that, I can be as helpless in helping a gal figure out her love life as anyone else.

If you wanted tips on how to give mind-blowing blowjobs, you’d ask a gay guy, right? (Think: he knows what it feels like giving and receiving). So, if we’re trying to understand men, shouldn’t we be asking men about men? Asking another woman for advice about men is about as helpful as asking a Yes Man; you may hear what you want to hear, and not what you need to hear.

Now, you have to be careful which guy you ask; you don’t want to ask a player for relationship advice. You want to ask a guy who’s grounded, insightful and real.

Can men ask the same of women? I want to say yes, but … women don’t always know what we want. I know, because I’m a woman.

So, whom do you ask when you need relationship help?