Something Unusual Here: Jeff Gephart Guest Post


I don’t write about relationships a lot (unless you consider NVSQVAM to be relationship advice), but here’s someone who does. You might find it a refreshing break from my flavor of misanthropy. It’s pretty misanthropic, just from a somewhat wackier direction. You could also say slap-happy. Anyway, fellow humor writers need to stick together! This is part of a series on Jeff’s blog:

And check out his latest novel, Accidental Adulthood.

Accidental Relationship (Vol. 1)
Learning & Growing From Mistakes
by Jeff Gephart
To be able to write a book like Accidental Adulthood, I had to go through myriad dating and relationship experiences–some fun, some perplexing, others horrifying. Despite internet dating sites’ propensity to act like flypaper for freaks, I actually met my current girlfriend online, and it’s gone so well that we recently took the monumental step of moving in together. Monumental in the sense that its significance in my mind makes Mt. Rushmore look like an Etch-a-Sketch doodle. I’ve never shared a living space with a girlfriend before. There have been lots of adjustments by both of us, and more than a few arguments have arisen. I mean, who the hell stacks the dirty plates on top of one another in the sink? Then you have to wash the BACKS of the plates too, like a sucker!

She’s been encouraging me to write blog posts about relationships, since that’s one of the major themes of my book. Her recent suggestion? “Talk about our own relationship–the specific challenges we’ve faced with cohabitation, what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown by going through them.” It was at this point that a sinking feeling washed over me, and I thought: “Oh shit, I’m supposed to be LEARNING something? I’m supposed to be GROWING as a person?” Sure, in the grand scheme of things that’s a life goal of mine, to become a better partner, a finer friend, a higher quality person in general. But I guess I just thought that would happen naturally, like facial hair growth, or like the unraveling of America’s stature around the world under the current administration. I didn’t realize it was supposed to involve conscious effort on my part. I don’t seem to absorb, process, or learn anything without taking the time to sit down and actually write about it. All this time my girlfriend has been taking mental notes about how to relate to me better, while my mental note-taking has amounted to a guy standing in front of a blank whiteboard, rummaging through his pockets for a marker. In the first couple of weeks that we’ve lived together, my disgustingly perceptive girlfriend’s mind has been noticing patterns of behavior, analyzing arguments, and concocting more positive ways to interact with me. My mind, on the other hand, has been preoccupied with thought like “Why is there so much yogurt taking up space in the fridge that could be devoted to real food?”

After an argument, I generally wake up the next day and think: “Whatever man, I love her more than I feel like tripping about whatever it was we disagreed about yesterday. Wait, what was it we disagreed about? Hey, are there still English muffins in the cabinet?” I’m usually not one to hold on to anger. But now I realize maybe I should be using these occasional skirmishes to learn how to avoid them in the future. I generally consider myself to be a pretty reliable self-examiner, but sometimes amid the nettlesome bustle of everyday life I neglect to take opportunities to check in with myself. Maybe all of us should try something like that in our relationships–when we hit a snag, wait for things to cool down and then reconvene and try to make some sense out of what happened, and why, and how we can improve. Hell, maybe you’re all already doing that, and I’m just the last one to board the short bus. Maybe I’m an idiot. It’s a possibility I haven’t ruled out yet. I’ll have to give that one some more thought in the future. Once I’m not so busy wondering why anyone could possibly need 23 decorative pillows strewn about an apartment…

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