MAN ON BOARD, Part V: You Know You’re “Marr’ed” When…


Remember that cowboy I met on the Zoosk dating site and wrote about in “Man On Board, Parts I-IV”?  Well, two years have passed since our wedding day  — March 2, 2014.  Jeff and I are now inseparable. Seamless. He is my soulmate. My confidante. My partner-in-crime. And, even though I also have female besties, he’s the best buddy a wife could ever hope for. Shortly after our first anniversary,  we have crossed over that subtle but definite border between being “married” into being, as we Texans say,  “marr’ed.”

We started joking about this word even before we said “I do.”

One night, when Jeff and I were together, I suggested that we buy a six-pack of beer to toast the occasion.

“For our wedding day,  we oughta buy a  ‘bu’r.”

“A  what?” he asked.

“Bu’r. You know…”. I tipped back an imaginary brewski. “A bu’r.

“But why should we buy a bu’r?”

“Because that’s whatcha do when you’re marr’ed. You drink bu’r.”

Yes, here in Texas, everybody knows that “married” is what fiancees look forward to becoming and squeaky-green newlyweds like to  call themselves until reality sets in, roughly two years later. It’s that time when we begin to feel even more comfortable around our spouses and freer about being who we really are until, one day, one of us looks at the other and says, “We’re marr’ed!”

So, to put a new twist on Jeff Foxworthy‘s classic “You might be a redneck if…” jokes, you know you’re marr’ed when you:

  •  spit into the same sink at the same time while brushing your teeth together.
  • hold your morning conversations in the bathroom
  • swap slobbers by sharing a water bottle
  • understand why your spouse suddenly lowers the car window after dinner during a road trip.
  •  answer your spouse’s unasked questions.
  • Look forward to your nightly pillow-talks.
  • And — finally — realizing there is no way you can sleep without your spouse beside you at night.

So, these are all of my observations about Year Two of being “marr’ed”. What have you discovered about being “marr’ed”?

Jeff Schwarz, the love of my life








“Get real.”

“Get a life!”

“Get a job.”

Every day, people hear those words from friends, family, colleagues, and even enemies. But where do they go to “get-a” something they cannot get with money? Welcome to the “Get-A” Mall — the place you go to “get-a”. Open 24/7/365, this mall is available for all your “get-a” needs. But, a word of caution, it is not online. You need to “get-a” there in person.

The “Get-a” Mall offers a variety of stores, including its three most popular:

* “Get real”: First, do you really want to get real? Reality is scary. Sometimes, it even sucks! Divorce, disease, disability, death, bankruptcy — they are all part of life. But, if you are tired of your virtual existence, the nice folks at “Get real” aim to serve.

* “Get-a life”: Now this store’s waaaay more fun. Always wanted to be a stuntman? Here’s your chance. A ballerina? We have a tutu for yuyu. Rock star? Rock on!

* “Get-a job”: “What?” you say, “I don’t have any training!” Relax, man. Get someone else’s job. Be a doctor. Yeah, being a brain surgeon would be cool. All you would need is a good Black and Decker drill and you’re golden. Just go operate on someone else’s brain, okay? I’m good for now.

Attorney: (You really want people to vilify you?) Get a pair of running shoes – handy for chasing those ambulances.

*Teacher: (What? Are you crazy?)

Those are only three of the “Get-A” mall’s most popular stores. But how many times have people’s faces gone brain-dead and their eyes glassed over when you told them a joke? For those unfortunate sense-of-humor-challenged souls, there’s the “get-a joke” store. In one department, “stand-up comedy” schticks. In another, vaudevillian slapstick. And in a deep, dark medieval dungeon reserved for the truly humor-deficient, court jesters hired to jump out and tickle them senseless.

So, there you have it. “Get real”, “Get-a life”, “Get-a Job”, and “Get-a Joke”. Be the first to visit the “Get-a” Mall today.



This Monday, March 2, Jeff and I will celebrate our first year of “Mr.-and-Mrs-ness”. We’ll buy a bottle of champagne at Costco, feast on their $1.50 hot-dog-and-drink special, and go home and rescue our frost-bitten wedding cake from the freezer and take turns licking it like a popsicle. Then, we’ll reminisce over our wedding pictures and dance to our wedding music. If we have any money left over after paying our bills, we might even take a day trip to Canton Trade Days.

Yes, March will always be our favorite month, but it will always be bittersweet. My mother passed away on March 10, 2004. So, a week after I married my soulmate for life, I took him. flowers in hand, to meet my parents — at Rose Hill Cemetery.

I wish they were alive to meet Jeff.  He and Daddy would have loved each other — you know, in a guy-kind of way. And my mother and I would go off in another room where she would ask me how I met him, what I wore, where we went on our first date, and whether he acted “smitten”.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I miss both of my parents. But my mother? Well, helping me plan my wedding,  zipping up my dress, calming my nerves, looking regal as the usher walks her down the aisle, and crying happy tears from the front row?  Well, isn’t that what mothers do when their daughters get married? Shoot, it’s in their DNA!

From the first day I met Jeff, on Thanksgiving Day 2013, I ached to tell Mama about the handsome cowboy I met on The one with the kind face and eyes and — be still my heart! — gray sideburns peeking out from under his cowboy hat. I wanted her to be the first to see my engagement ring — a one-carat, three-stone “past, present, and future” design — that Jeff presented, down on one knee, when he asked me to marry him.

I yearned for Mama to go with me to David’s Bridal for my wedding dress and at Michaels to help me find silk bluebonnets and yellow roses for my bouquet and Mason jars for our unity sand.

I wish for my parents every day of my life. To drop in and have a bowl of fudge-marble ice cream with them because, as Daddy always said, “our little girl has come home”. Their faces would beam when I tell them what fine  husbands, and fathers Tam and Terry have become. To meet their grandchildren, Harald, Sofia, Sadie, and Thomas. And to hear all about my teaching and writing triumphs. And, finally, to get to know Jeff, the love of my life, my husband and their son-in-law.

But, you know — I sort of get the feeling that, just maybe, they already know.



MAN ON BOARD,PART III: “Our Wedding, Our Way”


Since Thanksgiving, when Jeff and I met on, our relationship  has broken the sound barrier. In Parts I and II of this series, I have led you from our explosive  chemistry in  “Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom” to “Sometimes You Just Know”, about the moment we realized our meeting was a “God-thing”. In January, we got engaged. Since that first “wink-wink” online, everything about our relationship has fallen into place. Although this marriage is not a first for either of us, it will certainly be the last for both.  That said, Jeff and I have decided to shake things up in “wedding-land”.  Martha Stewart — if you’re reading this post, cover your eyes.  This will be our wedding, our way.

First, instead of printed invitations, we’re using  Facebook to spread our good news. Our friends can RSVP to our event by clicking “going”, “maybe”, or “decline”. For our FOF’s (or, Friends outside Facebook), there is the old Texas “Y’all come” via phone or in person or even email.

Second, no white dress-and-tuxedo for us. In keeping with our Texas/country theme, I plan to walk down the  aisle in my non-white wedding dress and brand-new boots on the arm of my handsome, Western man.  Guests may wear  Stetsons, blue  jeans, and boots, if they choose.  Horses and pickups, also, are welcome.

Next, instead of the white, tiered version,  we’ll serve up slices of sheet cake  the size of a small ranch. Instead of separate bride’s and groom’s cakes, ours will be half-and-half. Cookies or cupcakes will be available for the children. And, because it’s a church wedding, my bridegroom and I will toast each other with sparkling punch, instead of champagne.

Finally, after we toss my garter and bouquet and get ready to skedaddle, well-wishers can mosey outside, scoop up fistfuls of bird seed from a small feed trough, and toss it at us as we dash to our  “limo” — Jeff’s old, Dodge pick-up truck.

We have a list of “to-do’s” before our “I-do’s”. Flowers, wedding pictures, and…oh, yeah…marriage license coming up.

Stay tuned for Part IV, the conclusion of  “Man On Board”.

So, ladies, what does your “dream” wedding look like? If you are already married, what would you change if you could do it all over again?


MAN ON BOARD, PART II: Sometimes You Just “Know”.


Since the weekend we met,  my relationship with Jeff has zip-lined along. At first, caring friends, who had seen me hurt, advised me to take things slowly.

“Be careful,” they urged. “Get to know each other, first.”

And Jeff and I did just that, talking on the phone, chatting on Zoosk, and text messaging into the wee hours. We lived forty-five miles apart, yet, with each day, we became more emotionally intimate. Although I had been a night owl, I was able to slip into a sweet sleep, dreaming of his arms around me. 

Since “Jeff and I”  became “us”, everything has fallen into place. Convinced that God led us to each other, we started talking about marriage.

Last Friday, January 17, as we strolled the aisles at Dallas Market Center, we discovered J.C. Jewelers.

“Hey, babe, let’s see if they’ll size us,” I suggested.

Sure enough, the couple at the booth measured our fingers. I was a seven,and Jeff, a ten. Seeing wedding bands nestled in velvet-lined cases, we tried on one ring after the other and marveled how wedding band designs had  changed. One even had a little chain for a bored spouse to twirl around. Another was a skull with glowing ruby eyes. Jeff and I traded amused looks.

Skulls? Really?

After  trying on five or more styles, we settled on a  pair of brushed, silver, Triton bands, guaranteed to withstand the toughest of marriages.

As we hurried out to the pickup, we huddled against blistering wind whipping around us. Before Jeff pulled back onto the road, he stopped and gazed at me in wonder.

“Girl, do you realize we just bought wedding rings? Wedding rings! I  thought I’d never buy another one of those, again!”

I placed my hand on his and whispered.  “I know. Neither did I.”

We were in the best possible kind of shock.

Now, it’s been a little over a month since we met.  That may seem short, but we have found out more about each other than some couples learn in a lifetime.  Our relationship is built on love, respect, and trust. Shoot, we even like each other!

The wedding is only six weeks away, and we can hardly wait.  This time, we just “know”.

So,  ladies, how did you “just know” you had found the one? I’d love to hear from you.

Stay tuned for “Man On Board, Part III”.


THE ” ‘I DO’-PLEX”: Secret to a Happy Marriage?

Duplex home
Duplex home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Today, a friend and I  met for lunch. I hadn’t seen her since she married — again.

“Where are y’all living, now?” I ask, sipping my tea.

“We live in a duplex.”

“Oh? How do you get along with the neighbor?”

“Fine,” she said,  smiling drolly. “He’s my neighbor.

“Whoa!” I  catch the tea  spewing from my nose. “Gotta wrap my head around this. You’re saying that you…and your husband….”.

” We live in a duplex,” she says, with a nod. “He lives in A. I, in B.”

“So,” I asked, in my best Dr. Phil impression. “How’s that working out for you?”

She wiggles her eyebrows. The naughty-girl from within lights up.

I lean back and shake my head.

 No way could my man talk me into  that. To me, marriage equals one husband, one wife, one roof.

“So, where do you sleep? On your side? Or his?”

“His. Mine. Depends.”


She leans forward. “All right, here’s the deal. He and I love each other, right? But our differences could  be game-changers. I’ve gotta have my fur-baby; he’s allergic to dogs. If we buy a duplex and each take our half, I get to keep my dog where I want.”

“And you’re living in a duplex for that reason alone?”

She shakes her head. “Not all. I also have a bazillion pictures of kids and grand-kids on my walls. Having my own space allows me to keep them that way.”

“And we decorate differently,” she adds. ” Look up minimalist in the dictionary and there’s his picture.  Me?” She winks. “Girl, you’ve seen the way I live. I’ve got some big-honkin’  furniture. And I like my stuff where I can see it.”

“It’s the best of both worlds,” she concludes. “Togetherness and me-time. He’s got his man-cave. And I have my chick haven.”

The server appears. “Separate tabs for you ladies?”

When she reaches for her check, I  shoo her hand away.

“Nah, this one’s on me. You just gave me an idea.”

Sounds like a plan to me.  What part of it works for you?


Beach Road, Port Aransas Texas


5:30 p.m.

So, here I am — teaching pre-writing techniques to thirty freshmen. As usual, while they free-write, brainstorm, and cluster ideas at their computers, I’m doing the same. Ten minutes pass.

I wave my paper in the air.  “All right, time’s up! Who wants to share?”

Stultifying silence ensues.  Eyes drop to the floor. Throats clear. Well, at moments such as these, I am not above bribery.

“C’mon, everyone. Ten points to a daily grade?”

*rustle of  hands *

As I mill around from one student to the next, they share  everything:  favorite books such as  Harry Potter  and The Hunger Games. Favorite foods? Again, Mexican rules. And goals run the gamut — forensic pathology, criminal justice, pediatric nursing, marine biology, screenplay-writing.

After I give the volunteers a chance to read their writing,  I share mine:  vacation spots — Port Aransas, . San Clemente,  Stockholm, and New York City.

But when I lead them into the next technique — brainstorming — they really start clicking the computer keys.  So do I.

After they reel off their lists, so do I: the top ten items on my  “bucket list”. In true David Letterman fashion, I present them in reverse order:

10. Bungee-jumping (Hey, not like I’m going to do it!)

8. Drifting  above the clouds  in a hot-air balloon (with a snootful of Dramamine)

7. Acting in a soap-opera sex scene

( Collective sharp intake of breath… gasping…. giggling, as all thirty students imagine…well…whatever it is college students  imagine. At least they’re staying awake!)

6.Winning a million dollars on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (or at least enough to bank-roll items #5-2)

5.  Possessing either a baby-grand piano or a Mac laptop (either one, a win-win)

4.  Touring the world, stopping in Sweden  for Christmas

3.  Lolling, writing, and then lolling some more on a Port Aransas beach

2.  Publishing By Her Daughter’s Hands while I’m still sound of mind

And (drum roll, swell of orchestra)  number-one on my  list….. as if it’s any big surprise?

1.  Marrying my sweetheart  somewhere between Medicare and long-term care.

The room is quiet, again.  Some eyes are misty.  I wheel around and dab a tear from my own eye. Sharing….it’s  beautiful. In fact, I believe we’re  bonding.Sweden