The Great Cohabitation Experiment: What Life is Like Two Years Later

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[Editor’s Note: This blog is officially ending its hiatus. Over the past six months I’ve been working full-time in software sales while being incredibly lazy with my writing. It’s time to flip that around. Moving forward I’ll try to be extremely productive with the writing and incredibly lazy with the software sales. What better way to kick off the rebirth of the writing than by posting something that will most definitely get me eight to 10 weeks of sleeping on the couch. Enjoy.]

Just over 25 months ago I made the decision to start living with my girlfriend. It was over a beautiful dinner in San Francisco when we had the relationship-changing conversation. I told her I was moving to LA to become a writer. She asked if I intended to keep our relationship alive by asking her to move down there with me. I responded with the perfect answer: “Yes, darling, I think you should totally follow me to LA and get your own place. We can even make sure we live within a couple miles of each other so we can spend a lot of time together.”

After a few weeks of serious thought (by which I definitely don’t mean “sitting on my couch crushing beers while ignoring the gigantic elephant in the relationship”), I started to see things her way: We should move to a new city together and get an apartment together.

And two years later I can honestly say it was the best decision that I’ve ever been a part of. But that doesn’t mean this cohabitation has been without its learning experiences and confused head shaking (she’s probably experienced plenty of those moments herself, but unfortunately for her, she doesn’t write for a world-renowned blog).

For any man who wants to know how life may change if he chooses to follow my path and shack up with his loved one, here you go. Twenty-five observations, changes and adjustments that come with saying those fateful words: “I do…want to move in with you.”

Oh, you wanted to see my credentials before you commit to reading this? Read it and weep….for me:

“You’re a pretty big “Sex And The City Fan”, and you have a great memory. You remember most of the poignant moments, and you’ve seen your favourite episodes countless times. What are you waiting for? Dig out those old box sets and start over!”

Sigh. That was the category I fell into when I correctly got 11 of 18 answers right on some ridiculous online “Sex and the City” quiz that I accidentally took a few months back. I’ve never once consciously watched that TV show. That knowledge is 100% through unwelcome osmosis. I do indeed live with a woman.

And now for the list:

1. Let’s start from the beginning…decorating the apartment. If you’re not much of a decorator, do yourself a HUGE favor and just say yes to every idea she has. It’s better to pay for 50% of the picture frames and Pinterest projects and not have a say in things than to be involved with every decision and actually have this stuff consume even one minute of your life.IMG_4098

2. Speaking of Pinterest, that’ll somehow become a word you use very frequently…as a noun, verb and adjective.

3. Remember those styrofoam containers & cardboard boxes laying around your apartment from night after night of takeout when you were living alone or with other guys? (You know, the ones that the mice made semi-permanent homes in?) No more. Those will turn into plastic baggies that were used to portion out every single meal and snack you’re allowed to eat during the week.

4. Want to save some money each day? No problem. From now on you’ll be bringing grilled chicken to work to make a sandwich out of. That’s fine, but keep in mind that it won’t be a full chicken breast, it’ll be exactly three ounces (you’ll hear that portion control is the key to weight loss quite a few times).

5. Your kitchen will be organized, reorganized and then organized one more time. (A close relative of “let me just put this new spatula away and then I’ll be ready to go to the beach” turning into “well, the spatula didn’t fit so then I realized all the utensils can go into a smaller drawer, our tupperware can be put on that shelf and here I am three hours later just about done reorganizing the kitchen!”)

6. Speaking of being organized…Everything will have a cute little place in your apartment. Keys will go on a homemade key holder, towels & toiletries will go in wicker baskets inside a book shelf in the bathroom, shoes will go in one of those hangs-on-the-door shoe holders. It’ll all be clean & tidy…until your girlfriend is getting ready each & every weekend night, at which point CNN will show up to cover the story of an atom bomb apparently going off inside your bedroom.

7. You will have lost the battle about putting the toilet seat down, even though it’s absolutely insane that a woman would think this is a necessary thing a man should do.

8. While you will be expected to follow her rules with the toilet seat, she is apparently allowed to ignore your rule about the right way to put the toilet paper roll on the holder.

9. You know bobby pins, right? Be prepared to feel several under your feet every single time you take a step in your apartment. They’re not painful or anything, it’s just that there are now bobby pins EVERYWHERE. And every time you pick up a bunch of bobby pins (because apparently her eyesight can read the scathing blog you’re writing about her from 25 feet away, but they can’t see a bunch of bobby pins on the floor five feet below her), you’ll think you’ve got them all, and there will be at least 15 more in that very room you just cleaned up. Out of all the things that could cause a man to jump off his apartment balcony, I never thought a tiny little thing like a bobby pin could be what puts us over the edge.

10. Saying you don’t want to go to the grocery store with her is offensive. Saying you don’t want to go to a coed baby shower with her is next level offensive.

11. You’ll be asked about buying a papasan chair (and when I say “asked” I mean “asked a loaded question where the only right answer is yes”).

12. You’ll need to learn what the fuck a papasan chair is.

13. It’ll sound expensive and unnecessary.

14. One month later a papasan chair will be sitting in your living room and will never once be used.

15. You’ll be paying for 50% of an 800 square foot apartment but only be allowed to use 50 of those square feet.

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16. You know how I mentioned there’s a place for everything, a compartment of some sort? There will be a wrapping paper container in your house. It’s specifically designed for the height of most wrapping paper rolls. It’s an extreme specialty item. You’ll wonder out loud how your life got to the point of needing a $30 container to store $2 rolls of wrapping paper.

17a. The first time she asks you to start mixing in your laundry together you’ll say no. The second time she asks you’ll say no. Eventually she will purchase a hamper large enough to fit her clothes and yours and she’ll tell you she’s throwing out both of your individual hampers because this will save room (room that will be used to fit yet another unnecessary item in the apartment). At this point, the fight is over. You’re now doing laundry together.

17b. She will gladly fold your clothes because it’s easy and you really don’t care how wrinkled/rolled into a ball they are. She will get mad that you never fold her clothes in return, but you’ll try to explain that her clothes are weird shapes and made of strange materials and they don’t fold as easily as yours. She’ll make you feel stupid for saying this. You’ll soon be folding her clothes.

17c. Every now and then, while folding her clothes, you’ll think about how the 13-year-old version of you would have killed to be able to see the tag on a girl’s bra to know exactly what cup size she is…it’ll be far less exciting as a 31-year-old.

18. Your dog is part of the family. And apparently every member of the family sleeps in the same bed every night (learn from me and maybe don’t adopt a Mastiff).

19. If she happens to be a health conscious cook, then very slowly—but very surely—cheeseburgers will turn into turkey burgers, spaghetti made of normal pasta will turn into spaghetti made of spaghetti squash, and pizza with normal dough will become pizza made of cauliflower dough.

20. The cashier at your local McDonald’s will no longer know you by your first name, but the cashiers at Target will.

21. You weren’t interested in ever eating an entire entree at a restaurant without sharing it again, were you?

22. There’s plenty of room on DVRs these days, so space isn’t a problem. It’s just that you’ll have to scroll through 135 “Bravo” and “E!” shows to get to that 30 for 30 or Drunk History episode you were looking for.

23. Suddenly you’ll have to explain to someone why 16 hours of football a week is necessary (but don’t ever expect an explanation on why 116 hours of Real Housewives a week is necessary).

24. You know how you used to power on the TV and could be reasonably certain that a sports channel would already be on? Now the “Hallmark Channel” is what’s always “last on” when the TV was turned off…the worst part about this is the fact that a “Hallmark Channel” even exists won’t faze you a bit.

25. But two years later you’ll be healthier, happier and will even be able to pass your life off as adultish if someone walks into your home. It’s not all bad, I promise.

And if during the those first 25 months she suggests getting a new couch for the apartment, do yourself a favor and say yes. If you’re like me, you’ll be spending some nights on it.

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Around the Clock Trivia: WBFF’s First Legit Reader Contest

While I’m busy cleaning up my puppy’s bodily fluids (and solids), I thought it would be fun to engage my readers in a game of “guess those 12 random locations.”

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I’m a pretty big Pinterest basher. After all, it’s the thing that causes every girlfriend to freak out when you throw away a wine cork (“I was gonna use that wine cork to make a corkboard, and then use the corkboard to make homemade wine corks!!!”)

But I’ll be the first to admit that Julie hit a home run with her Pinterest-inspired homemade wall clock:

Rather than use pictures of ourselves for the 12 numbers—which would have been a progression of photos with me wearing less and less clothes in each—we chose 12 different locations that had some kind of meaning or relevance to both of us or at least one of us.

The challenge to my readers, of course, is to name all 12 locations. You don’t need to be too specific…the town or city will do. For instance, if we had a picture of the Space Needle on the clock, you could guess Seattle and you’d be right (we don’t have Seattle by the way).

The first person to guess all 12 locations correctly—and since there’s no way anyone will be able to do that, I’ll award the person who gets the most correct—will win an actual prize with real value. Even if you’re unsure, give it a try. My prediction is that no one gets more than eight right.

The prize will be your choice of a fully paid In-n-Out Burger meal (this prize can only be redeemed in LA, in person) or a specially autographed photo of two of LA’s most famous people (shipping included).

Below are the 12 pictures with a corresponding number before each picture. Please reply in the comments section, email me, tweet me or MySpace Message me:

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The Man and Woman Shopping Dilemma: A Classic Chicken-and-Egg Situation

My body automatically goes into this position when I’m forced to go shopping

With Julie and I still being recent relocators to LA, I expected to have to deal with multiple shopping trips for buying household items during the first month.  Even though we filled up an entire 16-foot Uhaul truck with existing possessions, you’d be amazed at how many trips to Target we’ve already taken.  And actually, I’m not complaining about Target at all in this post.  I love that place.  I’m fine with shopping at stores where I can see the actual benefit to me being there.  At Target we’ve bought things like a toaster oven, a mirror, a filing cabinet and some additional storage space for our kitchen.  I understand these purchases; I’ll use these items regularly.

The type of shopping that automatically turns me into an asshole is when I’m forced into a store that I would never go to on my own.  For instance, we walked into Michael’s arts & crafts store yesterday, and Julie tells me we need to get a glue gun, cork board, marbles, a clock kit and sandpaper (fucking Pinterest is suddenly the bane of my existence). Since I’m totally confused by these items and can’t understand how they’re possibly going to affect me in a positive way, I go into one of two modes: Either I turn into the little kid in the picture above and find a place to lay down, or I go into dickheaded sarcasm mode.  My brain used an embedded “women be shopping” formula and concluded I was in for a 90 minute nightmare.  I decided to take the dickheaded sarcasm route this time.

“Really?  We need to make our own coasters and clocks now?”

“We have bottles of glue, gluesticks and superglue at home.  Why do we need a glue gun again?”

“Let’s just ask that store employee for the five things you need so we can get the hell out of here.”

And my favorite, “No…you shouldn’t be looking at paint and glitter because you specifically told me you only needed five items, and Martha Stewart’s Paint & Glitter wasn’t one of them.”

When we left Michael’s after only 20 minutes, Julie said I should wait to complain until after I see if it’s really going to take as long as I think.

This leads to my chicken and egg dilemma: Was Julie’s trip to Michael’s always going to be a brisk 20 minutes no matter what?  Or was it my constant bitching & moaning and policing of her every move that caused her to speed up?  I’m of the school of thought that says the bigger the scene I make in one of these stores, the more embarrassed and annoyed she’s going to get, and the quicker she ends the pain for both of us.  You can argue that I’m wrong, but just know that I have 29 years of data from constantly pulling this same move on my mom that says my attitude while shopping directly relates to how quickly the girl I’m with gets pissed off and ends the trip.

Wandering my way through TV and Film while waiting for Pinterest to accept me

My hiatus from blogging is over, but I’ve basically been in a three-day coma since coming back from Vegas.  This post might be rambling, incoherent and a waste of your time.  I’ll be back with something on Vegas before the week’s over though.

-As usual, I’m late to the party, but I’ve been hearing about this Pinterest contraption for the last couple weeks.  Curiosity and wikipedia tell me that it’s most popular with women.  I knew it was a perfect fit for me so I tried to sign up.  Pinterest was kind enough to send me an email saying, “Thanks for joining the Pinterest waiting list. We’ll be sure to send you an invite soon.  In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter. You can also explore a few pins.  We’re excited to get you pinning soon!  – Ben and the Pinterest Team”

We’re excited to get you pinning soon?  Thanks for joining the waiting list?  Does Pinterest realize I’m not putting my name in for Patriots season tickets here?  I’m trying to log on to a G.D. website.  I work in the web-based applications industry.  The whole point is for the customer to be able to use the software immediately, and have as many people as they want on it.  This whole “exclusive” thing just isn’t gonna fly for me.  Oh, and I can follow you on Twitter so you can continue to taunt me about not being a member?  Pinterest, you just lost your worst customer.

I shouldn’t complain though because March is the perfect time for this thing to catch on.  I know a certain girlfriend who went to a bar with her boyfriend two Saturdays ago and proceeded to sit through six hours of basketball.  Pinterest literally babysat her the whole time.  Same goes for that half hour every night where you just wanna watch ESPNNEWS to catch up on the day’s events.  It’s like that very repetitive joke from a million TV shows where the parents plop their kid in front of the TV, turn it on and leave the house for hours.  Just pull up Pinterest on your iPad or computer, hand it to the girl and let her pin away.

The best part is that after you watch her spend an entire day on Pinterest, you can actually get mad at her for ignoring you the whole time.  And she won’t even realize you just watched eight straight basketball games.

From what I can tell, Pinterest is a place where women tell each other all the things they’re not going to accomplish in their lives (“I’m definitely gonna start knitting and make everyone a scarf.”  or “I’m gonna collect a bunch of jars and then fill them with old bottle caps, wine corks and fortunes from fortune cookies.”)

-Even though I hated to put the blog on hiatus for a week, I thought it would be a good litmus test to see if people were excited enough about it to think something was broken since they weren’t receiving the emails or twitter updates.  I expected people would be checking the website to see if they missed something.  Not only do the page view stats not support this idea, but WordPress is threatening to evict me if I don’t start pulling in more than two viewers a day.  Let’s move on to my very random thought on TV:

-I’m loyal to a fault when it comes to my favorite TV shows, especially with ranking who’s at the top of my Favorite Comedies list.  Up until a few years ago, it was The Office, even if that show had already peaked years earlier.  More recently it’s been It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has had an amazing five or six year run.  The true measuring stick of which show I love the best is whether I watch each episode multiple times.  There’s always a show that I need to re-watch, sometimes three or four times in a week.  Based on this information, I’m happy to announce a new top dog in my thirty-minute comedy power rankings.  And that dog is Parks & Recreation.  If you’re not watching it, you’re making a huge mistake.

And if you do watch Parks & Rec religiously, and Andy Dwyer isn’t your favorite character, then you’re a goddamned moron.  How can you not love this guy:

Moving on to movies…

-If you’re considering seeing Wanderlust in theaters, consider this first: A movie for two will cost you about $22 (not counting that extra large popcorn, soda and jujubes, you fat ass), but for free I can send you Role Models and you can imagine Jennifer Aniston playing Paul Rudd’s girlfriend/wife instead of Elizabeth Banks.  If you just picture that movie plus a little more nudity and drugs, you’ve got Wanderlust.  And that’s actually giving it too much credit.  Role Models was solid; this abortion of a movie managed to ruin my entire night and ruin my faith in comedy.  Friedchips better temper his expectations for the not-yet-made Wet Hot American Summer 2 based on what I just witnessed from David Wain.

-The only movies in my lifetime that I’ve needed to see on their opening day were the three newest Star Wars, and I’m not ashamed at all to admit that.  I am, however, slightly ashamed to admit that I’m taking work off this Friday to see the Hunger Games on its opening day.  I bought tickets ahead of time, planning to show up nice & early, and sacrificing a vacation day that could be used for something like vacation eventually to see this movie.  You can laugh…it’s a movie for teenagers/young adults.  I like to think 29 is still considered “young adult” but I don’t think so.  If this movie is as “good” as Wanderlust, I’m going to slit my wrists.