It’s a lot easier said than done, eh? I mean, here we are, moving along and easily connecting the dots of our lives to The Rules and seeing the relationship between the two. This is taking shape and actually makes a great deal of sense. Then wham, we hit a road block and get stuck. This helps me see the areas we need to concentrate on.
It’s like seeing a picture in a magazine of a beautiful holiday feast being served on a gorgeously decorated table in a setting that is festive and elegant. Instantly I feel warmed by the ambiance and happy because of the sparkling decorations as I imagine myself sitting in this beautiful setting. I fall in love with everything in this picture from the placements, the linens, the elegant china, the Baccarat crystal glasses and the twinkle decorations, too. The recipes look just as inviting — so I decide to recreate the same scene in my home for a springtime version of this holiday dinner from the festive themed look to the recipes served for this feast. I literally envision myself cooking and tasting the richness of each dish. Forging ahead, I give it the good old college try. And I fail.
It wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be. I struggled through most of the recipes and creating a festive and inviting look for the table. When all is said and done, none of it came close to the picture(s) in the magazine. I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t feel the same ambient and happiness I felt from just looking at the picture in the magazine. I now know what went wrong.
I realize now the picture in the magazine is staged, created by a team of professionals from interior designers, food specialists, chefs, art directors, editors, and at least one professional photographer with a team for lighting. All professionals who teamed up and used their training and schooled knowledge and tricks-of-the-trade to create a professional picture as a marketing tool designed to intentionally elicit a specific feeling in the typical reader (that’s me) to sell or advertise a product. It worked, too. So nothing was wrong with my springtime dinner.
My holiday scene didn’t look or do anything to me close to the picture in the magazine with good reason and the food I served actually was perfect because it wasn’t primed, painted, sprayed, greased or photo-shopped to change the way it looks much in the same way they edit models’ photos in magazines — both seem too good to be true. Unreal.
And I think this is similar to our current situation living The Experiment. One aspect is recognizing and learning The Rules and applying them daily, if need be, which we both seem to understand. But just like there are no instructions how to recreate something we see in a magazine, there are no instructions or how-to details to tell us how to fix “the wrong”s and change them into the “rights” in our relationship. Our communication is our biggest challenge, to me, which at this point doesn’t match the perfect picture in my head — not yet anyway.
I think we wasted a lot of time and energy this morning because, in the end, the discussion turned into a great big, old-fashioned (well as old-fashioned as emailing is, that is) fight!
Let’s face it, babe, in the past (and even today) there is always a point where we lock horns in a discussion or the discussion makes a sudden sharp turn and heads south. I know when you get good and mad — you suddenly send me an email that seems to be written by someone else. Someone who is having a completely different conversation than the one we are having — which almost makes me chuckle a bit inside. When I received the tell-tale email indicating to me that Gary has left the building (“He gone!” as they say on Duck Dynasty), this was my cue to give myself a self-imposed “time-out”. Which, as you might recall, wasn’t always the case.
No, I didn’t back down easily. I can engage and fight back with the best of ’em! I “couldn’t not” read the next email from you, or the next one… I couldn’t help myself. My curiosity is like a devil sitting on my shoulder, egging me on and badgering me, “open that email, come on, you know you want to read it! What if I it says something really important?” I try to resist. I think, “No, Don’t do it. Walk away, just leave it alone for a time, close the computer and walk away.” To which the devil sweetly whispers words of encouragement in my ear trying to convince me otherwise. I fight myself and I always lose! And we end up writing stupid and meaningless words back and forth to each other. And that feels so wrong. It is wrong and such a waste – – life is too short!
The Devil Made Me Do It!
I know we have improved in some ways by getting rid of some old bad habits and that’s a positive start. Remember that being interested in each other’s lives and asking each other questions is a good thing. It says that your life and what happens in it are important to your partner. How can this be mistaken for anything but good? We have no secrets or hidden agendas. Honey, don’t confuse me trying to make plans as being intrusive or a reason to feel defensive. Remember Rule #7 from The Rules. Also remember I am the number one cheerleader for Team Gary & Franny! Nothing I say or ask you is wrong…(and visa versa).
So when I didn’t reply to your email today, did you also realize that the conversation had gone south? I had to retreat, zip my lip and let silence (and time) work its little magic. Remember a while ago I told you that I learned about the kind of communication I want to have with my partner by observing people around me and people I knew? Do you know who is good at knowing when to walk away and not engage in or make an argument worse? My girlfriend, Paula, is very good at changing the course of a discussion or stopping an argument dead in its tracks by not engaging. In fact, she’s so good at it that she used to frustrate me with her silence and I was just a bystander. Of course, she is also the same girl who told me the funniest story one day about an argument she had with her husband over their messy garage (apparently he felt this was her fault) which began with this one simple sentence: “Did you know that Got Junk answers their phone at 1:00 a. m. and will come to your home right then and there to pick up your junk?” Need I say more?
But it was my sister, Mary, who showed me how a couple can communicate about anything no matter what the subject — even if she and her husband, Drew, don’t agree on something they quietly take turns stating their personal point of view while the other listens respectively — all without any fuss. Every single time. I want to communicate exactly like they do. Mary and Drew’s example painted a beautiful picture in my head. One that I hope to mirror. Perfection doesn’t happen overnight!
When you and I hit the point of no return earlier, I did what any other normal, red-blooded female would do — I decided to get busy with my hands and begin to cook! Actually, it was a joint affair and sister, Leslie, and I decided to create a recipe for homemade pizza.
Creativity is a good outlet for anger or frustration. Anger can be channeled and used in positive ways. For instance, there are hundreds of examples of paintings called “Angry Art” that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cooking is the perfect outlet for diffusing my anger circuit. The time helps silence the noise in my head and the frustration in my body and allows me to channel negative feelings into positive ones by making something from nothing. So when I am Betty Crocker’ng it up in the kitchen, what do you do?
And as always, creating the recipe is half the fun! Mostly because here in Leslie’s kitchen, her “nothing’s in the fridge” is a lot better than most. Not to mention that there seems to be an unending supply of single packed, vacuum-sealed steaks in the freezer and usually one is already thawing in the fridge waiting to be discovered — it’s a wonderful gift to any chef — how can you go wrong with a filet mignon steak? (On a side note: I, myself, have yet to find one of these mystery steaks in the freezer! And believe me, I’ve looked!)
As I un-steamed my steam’ng head, Leslie whipped up a batch of fresh dough for our homemade pizza. As she was measuring out the ingredients, she taught me the basic equation to use to make the dough for a loaf of bread. This basic bread dough can even be used as the starting point for yummy homemade yeast-risen pizza or even cinnamon rolls. There are three-3’s & three-1’s for the six ingredients: Can you guess what they are? Okay time’s up.
Sister’s Easy to Remember Homemade Yeast Dough Recipe:
3 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup of warm water
1 package of rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
While the bread machine performed its due diligence on the dough setting (I think a bread machine is one of the finest inventions found in the kitchen), we listened to music and worked on our blogs. And, if we were wearing our clogs, we would be the clogging, blogging sisters!
About 30 minutes before the dough was ready, I sautéed the toppings that consisted of:
Homemade Pizza Topping:
1 filet mignon steak, cut into small bite sized pieces
1/2 cup of uncooked chopped up pancetta
2 finely chopped scallions
Sauté and set aside.
This was all I needed for the topping for our pizza — there was perfection in every little sautéed delicious bite. The dough was the right amount to split into two to make two pizzas. Leslie tossed and stretched the dough forming them into two pizza rounds then topped them with a good drizzle of White Pizza Sauce (Leslie rocks at sauces).
White Pizza Sauce:
2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
3 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout Cheese
Stir over medium heat until bubbling, then simmer for 5 minutes, adding more milk if needed to make a milkshake-like consistency.
After we melted the 1/2 cup of grated Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout Cheese into the white sauce per the recipe above, we spread the sauce on the pizzas then we sprinkled the topping over the each pizza already covered with white sauce. The last step was to sprinkle 1 additional cup of the Kerrygold cheese over each pizza (but you can use more cheese, if you like, its that good). It’s important to remember to wait until the oven is fully heated before baking the pizza. We baked the pizzas at 420 degrees for about 20 minutes until the edges were golden and crusted and their centers bubbling hot.
As it happened, the Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout Cheese was the only cheese we had in the house — which turns out to be a blessing in disguise! And it was this cheese that gives the pizza the WOW factor. I think a lot of good things happen like this in life, too. Go with the flow and life will surprise you in many good ways…
I’m glad I was able to clear my head and think through some things and, better yet, I was able to share this information with you to explain how I felt and why. I wasn’t even aware of what was really bothering me until I figured it out during my self-imposed time out.
And what I figured out was this: I am hyper-sensitive to something that really sets me off (which now I see needs to be addressed quickly or any discussion otherwise will be tainted unless this is brought into the open). I have an infinite amount of disdain when my special someone tells me they are going to do something — something that was, in this case, important not only to one but to both of us as a couple — only to discover that the person (that would be you) never followed through. (It’s a “do what you said you would do” thing.) Before this came to light, I knew I felt edgy but didn’t know why.
And if you recall, you who brought it up to me in the first place. You said that you needed clarification from your manager about your new week-ends-off schedule. I agreed that this was important to you as well as us because this would determine how much time you would have to spend here in LA for our upcoming rendezvous. It never occurred to me that you never followed through with this action. When I finally did ask you what your manager said about how much time you could take off I was shocked to learn you never asked. Think about it, when you add up the previous week’s communication, hearing the defensive sound in your voice reacting to my questions trying to pin down specifics about your upcoming visit, the increasing tenseness, and finally learning that you never even asked your manager about your time off all made me feel, in that moment, as if you really didn’t care about our relationship and me, after all, and didn’t care about coming to see me. I felt crushed. Your actions didn’t match your words.
So again, this is a good reminder on just how important it is to do what you say you’re going to do. It’s pretty simple, really. This applies not only to your personal relationship but to any relationship be it personal or business. Rule #1, #4, #10…etc!
If you didn’t do what you promised to do, for Pete’s sake, don’t make the situation worse. The fact is you are 100% in the wrong and you need to admit this as soon as possible to your partner and apologize. At this moment it is not appropriate to try to give a reason because anything you say will sound like an excuse and won’t be appreciated or considered (but will later). Be consoling and understanding. The last thing you should do is act defensively. Enough said.
And always remember The Rules….when we don’t keep a promise to our partner we are complicating the relationship. Why stir the pot? Why cast a shadow of doubt where there was none before? Rule #3
Off topic: Did you happen to read that interview last week with Gwyneth Paltrow about Conscious Uncoupling? This is the term she used to describe her separation from her husband, Chris Martin of Cold Play. She said it was a Conscious Uncoupling. I found this is a very thought-provoking, odd-yet-interesting concept. Pretentious? Probably. But it did intrigue me and I’m not the only one, so it seems. The statement “conscious uncoupling” was all over the web the next day. Baby, if this is the case, then we are doing the exact opposite. We are Conscious Re-Coupling, right? !!! Yes !!!
Call it what you will but no matter what you call it, a fight is a fight but this DOES NOT mean we are uncoupling anything. We have to know by now that it’s going to happen. How we rebound from the fight and move forward is as important as how we behave during the fight. We all know the rules-no fighting dirty, no hitting below the below the belt, no bringing up the past (which is kind of hard to do because usually a fight is about something that was done in the past and/or is a continuing replay of something that is currently happening that bothers one or both of to the point it needs to be addressed).
Control your emotions, choose to rebound quickly from Mad to Happy! Rebounding from the argument should be done quickly without harboring any ill feelings. Let it go. No parading our wounded pride by wearing it like a banner. No gloating when we win and no pouting when we lose. I try to move forward and go right back into being happy with you. For me, it’s such a relief to be able to get through my feelings and be able to talk with you about something that bothers me! Neither of us is any different from when we woke up this morning. You know the old saying — smile and the world smiles with you? Just smile.
Without trying to rub it in, I must tell you that the pizza was excellent, even if I do say so myself. If I had been in Italy, I would have burped at the end of this meal. I do like Italians. (I am half Italian so I should know.) By the time dinner was over I felt calm and rational.
So my advice is to eat something good (this pizza works!), keep on smiling and your world will be right as rain again! Then watch this video on youtube — it will change your day and charm you.
Your girls (Syd and me! Woof!)