On Fessing Up, and Why Happiness Is Boring

As we know, I have not been blogging much about my latest romantic interest: you know, the one I keep mentioning on the blog as the guy-I’m-not-blogging about.

This has been for a couple of reasons. For one, I hadn’t yet told him about it.

This was not an act of deliberate concealment. I realized that, in general, the whole blog thing has come out in some sort of organic way early on. (I realized this, of course, when it did not come out in some organic way early on.) I haven’t yet had to make an official announcement (“by the way, I write a blog about this thing that we’re doing”) the way that one might, to revisit my friend D’s crass comparison, tell a potential partner about an STD.

Finally, though, it did come out. In a way, if not totally organic, not totally official either. (“It’s kinda awkward,” I told him on Friday night, over chile rellenos and mystery-meat tacos, “A student of mine left a comment on my blog!”)

He already knew I write nonfiction about relationships, which perhaps explains why he didn’t seem to be particularly shocked or traumatized by the revelation. And, so far at least, appeasing my grandmother’s fear that my blogging will drive an instant wedge between me and the possibility of intimate companionship, he seems okay with the enterprise.

Yesterday morning, while I slept in, he he got up to bake breakfast (yes, the man baked me scones and brought them to me in bed, with coffee) and then spent some time on his computer in another part of the house.

When he returned and told me what he’d been doing, I waited what felt like a triumphantly long period of time–probably around three minutes–to ask him if he’d read the blog. He fessed up.

“So? What’d you think”

“It’s well written.”

“And? Do you have any other response?”

To which he, perfectly, replied: “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

I’m not sure it’s really any better to blog about someone’s personal life when they’re aware of it than when they’re not, but it feels that way to me. So, here we are.

The other reason, though, came to me yesterday afternoon–as I lay on the couch with my head on his lap, watching an episode of 30 Rock, contemplating a fireplace and my relative comfort.

“Wow,” I thought. “Happiness is real boring.”

It’s true. A few months ago, when researching for an essay on my miniature quest to figure out what makes other people’s partnerships work, I called my newly-married college friend M. At the end of the call, she offered a small rant on why it’s hard to talk about things that are good.

“Nobody wants to listen to somebody gush about their relationship,” she said. “Stories about Β how everything is messed up are way more interesting than how everything is great. It’s like graduate school, it’s way easier to talk about why something is fucked than why it works.”

As a writer, this ought to be something I understand deeply: a story is only a story when there’s a conflict. When, as I tell my creative writing students, somebody wants something and other things stand in the way.

I’m sure he would agree, though, that any fretting about how to balance a blog with a reasonably positive love life would be highly premature.Β It’s still quite early. Obstacles may yet abound.

Which, with a certain person reading, may be more or less difficult to write about than a pleasant Saturday afternoon spent on the couch.

We’ll cross that bridge later.

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5 Comments

Filed under Love Life

5 responses to “On Fessing Up, and Why Happiness Is Boring

  1. Emma

    That is interesting. It is harder to find language for describing happiness than for conflict or things going badly. We are also trained as academics to find gaps or faults with an argument, story, or idea, which for me has spilled over into my interpersonal relationships. Added to that, I also have a creeping fear about speaking of something that may be going well. It feels not only egotistical at times, but happiness, contentments, or little joys of partnership feel temporary and jinxable to me. So, when someone asks about my love life, it’s usually hard to gush. I guess I’m having trouble not being the cynic, and agree that it does seem less exciting somehow to describe the ‘happy.’

  2. ep

    I had this friend in middle school/high school–you know, the angsty years–named Amy. At one point we had a conversation about how difficult it is to tell people–like all your friends who really like gossip–about when things are going well in your life. It’s easy to bitch; bitching makes really great stories that can be embellished and retold and laughed at, that others can relate to and respond to in kind. But talking about happiness almost feels selfish, or at least, that’s what Amy and I concluded. People don’t talk about when things are going really well because, well, fuck, they don’t want to be seen as those people who brag all the time about how awesome stuff is; and, furthermore, it can be crushing to tell someone who’s just been bitching that you know, your own life is just dandy! That just seems, mean, almost. Being happy, in a world full of unhappy people, can be boring (less material to talk about), but also alienating–we’re trained to share the bitchy things but not so much the wonderful things. So, Amy and I made a pact that lasted a couple of years until she moved away–we always called on each other to share the good things, the little happinesses, when it felt like no one else would listen. I try to remember to do that, even now. It’s okay to have good days! And to talk about them!

    • ep

      And on that note, E – I know I bitch a whole lot to you, especially recently–but you’re also good at listening to the good stuff. And fyi, I don’t think your happiness is boring.

  3. Emma: agreed, our academic training can be a bit of a burden! And I know what you mean about not wanting to talk about the positive for fear of jinxing it. Nothing like blogging to disabuse one of those paranoias!

    ep: you bitch no more than me, even lately. And I love living vicariously through your, often happy, domestic adventures. I also love your story about Amy. And it’s true: all happiness isn’t boring. It’s just, you know, less compelling than the rough or complicated stuff. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regularly allow ourselves to gush. Though it can sometimes seem that whenever you do gush the friend you end up gushing to is the one who has had the world’s worst week. But no matter my mood, you hereby have permanent permission to gush to me!

    Thanks for weighing in, ladies πŸ™‚

  4. kathy

    There may be no compelling conflict, but I love hearing about scones and coffee in bed and cuddling together on the couch! Thanks for sharing your happiness πŸ™‚

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