Getting Better On Family

Secret weird things I do

One of my favorite podcasts is Reconcilable Differences, which is a biweekly conversation between two parents in tech/podcasting about their lives. It’s a huge inspiration for this blog.

There is a recurring segment the two hosts (John Siracusa and Merlin Mann) talk about called “Secret Weird Things People Do,” in which they talk about just that — not just confessing to the things they do, but also dig into where the weird thing came from, why they do those things, whether it’s actually weird or pretty normal, and the like. I find these discussions incredibly interesting and compelling and humbling.

In that spirit, here is a list of some secret weird things I do:

  • I cannot let my kitchen get messy, and if I do, it viscerally bugs me to the point of a near-anxiety attack. This is especially problematic since my wife is an Italian who leaves a huge mess in her wake when she cooks. Typically at meal time, I am cleaning up as she is making messes — much to her frustration, since sometimes I inadvertently wash dishes she is still using. If we are hosting people for dinner, I will try to escape the conversation to clean up the kitchen — also to the frustration of my wife.
  • If I need a reminder to do something (say, in an app), I can’t just take it down. I need to pick a time and appropriate category/list for that thing, even if it’s neither easily categorizable nor time-sensitive. Sometimes this bites me when I get a reminder at a horribly inopportune time, but it’s the only way I know how to keep track of things.
  • If you ask me to do something, I can’t listen to the next thing you have to say until I write that ask down. Due to the previous weird thing, this might take me an extra second and I’m sorry.
  • I compulsively look for things to automate, organize or optimize in my home, even if it’s a negative return on investment. (Merlin talked about this in a recent episode.) I spent an absurd amount of time trying to correctly place speakers around our house for audio playback. I rearrange my iOS device home screens almost daily — not for fun, but because I think I’m missing something by how they’re arranged. I track my dog’s bowel movements in a Numbers spreadsheet. I’ve set up part of my home to be smart and I’m not sure it was worth it, but it keeps feeling like something I must do. Sometimes this extends into my wife’s stuff, and she usually gets frustrated with me. I’ll probably write more about each of these weird things later.
  • I compulsively use GPS in my car even when I three-hundred-percent know where I am going and there is no possibility of traffic.
  • I don’t bite my nails, but I pick at them compulsively. Alicia loathes it and slaps/pinches me to get me to stop. I think this used to be a nervous tick, but now it just happens constantly.
  • If there is a stack of books (or book-shaped things like laptops/iPads), I must have them perfectly aligned in the stack. If there is a book in the pile that is slightly rotated, I must rotate it so all the edges are aligned.
  • Despite a lot of my cleanliness-related weird things, I don’t seem to be bothered by objects covered in dust.

Are these things actually weird? Do other people do weird things like this?

Getting Better On Family

Engaged, tone deaf & color blind

I proposed to Alicia over the weekend. It took almost a year, but I finally did it. I had a custom engagement ring made and I took her out to a beautiful dinner overlooking Boston Common and I walked her around the Public Garden and then we celebrated at the Omni Parker House.

Simple, but classic us.

The amount of anxiety that you get when trying to pull off a proposal is staggering. It’s not even necessarily the hardest decision of your life — since we’re madly in love with each other and it was a no-brainer — but it’s still a massive commitment that relies on a level of faith & confidence in both the relationship and oneself. I had wanted to say something ultra-romantic and profound before getting down on my knee…but I totally choked under my own anxiety. I ended up just kissing her repeatedly to hide my sweating and buy myself time to figure out something to say.

Which is when I reminded myself, again: if you really love someone (or something, for that matter), why the anxiety at all? Drop the anxiety. Just do it.

So I did! And now we can call each other our fiancés.

Oh, here are some pictures of us being cute and engaged and stuff.