Great Date Ideas For Married People

Having trouble feeling connected to that special someone you’ve entered into a loving, binding, legal relationship with? Wanting to mix up your routine? Here are some great date ideas that are sure to be fun for you and your honey bun!


Watch A Bad Movie Together

Put on a film that will make you feel better about yourself! Fall asleep halfway through and wake up at the end and talk about how awful that thing was. The shared experience of that terrible trauma will only bring you closer together.


Putting Away Laundry

Let’s be honest, neither of you have done it. The piles just sit and languish. Treat yourself to a fifteen minute conversation while you fold underwear and pair socks.


Sleep In

I wish this was a sexy thing, but it’s all about being asleep and not talking to anyone.


Grocery Store Shopping

Everyone has to eat. Everyone needs to bathe themselves. Share in this activity you must do to be a functioning member of adult society!


Attend Someone’s Wedding

Enjoy this excellent take on Date Night by sitting next to someone you’ve never met and trying to make small talk with them while giving your spouse pleading glances and trying to blink “can we please go after the cake” in morse code.


A Romantic Weekend Away

This is the same thing as ‘Sleep In’ but you do it in a hotel located within an hour of the place you live on a Tuesday night because you have a Groupon.


Cemetery Plot Shopping

Too far?

My odd relationship with Jeb Bush

When I signed up for Jeb Bush’s email list in July, I just expected campaign updates. The first email wasn’t from Jeb himself, but his people, thanking me for contacting them and letting me know we’d keep in touch. Sure. Okay.

What followed was a surprisingly personal relationship that attempted to rival even my own close friendships. In honor of him dropping out of the race, I’ve decided to now reveal this relationship to the public. Here is a series of correspondences I received from Jeb Bush, personally. The following emails are 100% real, though in the interest in not encouraging his behavior, I kept these replies private UNTIL NOW…


Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 3:23 PM – Subject: How are you watching the first debate?

Oh, uh. Hey Jeb. How am I going to watch the debate? I don’t have cable (I know, millennial) so I’ll probably see where I can stream it online. Why?

In just a little over two weeks, I’ll be walking on stage for the first debate of the 2016 Presidential Election, and I want you to be there.”

Woah, Jeb. Dude. That’s really nice of you but I don’t think I can head to Cleveland on such short notice. Thanks for thinking of me though!


Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 9:40 AM – Subject: When I wake up:

Oh god, please don’t tell me about your dreams. GOOD MORNING, JEB.

When I woke up this morning and got started with my day there were two things that came to mind.”

Handcrafting me this email and freedom?

“1. Winning the White House and fixing Washington so every American again has the right to rise. 2. Having the resources to do it.”

Just two little things to start the day, eh Jeb?

“I’ll make you this promise: I won’t yield an inch in this fight. I’ll go everywhere and talk with everyone”



At this point, Jeb was the nice guy that couldn’t take a hint. He was sending me every little email he could:

Two emails from Jeb Bush, subjects are "Wow" and "hey"

And then this happened.


Sun, Oct 4, 2015 at 3:41 PM – Subject: Come meet me and my parents


Putting a face to a name is important, especially with all the emails I send you.”

Jeb, I am so sorry. I’m not sure if signing up for your email list gave you the wrong idea and you’re a nice guy and all… But come meet your parents?! I’m married. To a guy I like. I think your wife would be pretty pissed, too. I just don’t see it working out.


Jeb didn’t take it well.

Emails from Jeb Bush, "Lauren, please" "Lauren, let's meet" "Please Lauren" "Hey Lauren" "Hey"



An email from Jeb Bush saying 'I can't do this alone'

An email from Jeb Bush saying 'I can't do this alone' but slightly larger

Oh my god. Jeb. Oh my god.

I couldn’t reply. I didn’t. I had no words to send. And then, a few days later:

Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 4:05 PM – Subject: I know it’s Friday afternoon

Lauren — We’re $14,628 short of our $250,000 goal, so I needed to reach back out.”

JEB. First you’re professing that you can’t do this without me, Lauren, please, etc. And now you’re asking me for money? Really, guy? Really?!


And then, the next day, I find out from a friend that he dropped out. No email, no nothing. Unbelievable.

Jeb, this relationship has been a wild rollercoaster ride, let me assure you! But you drop out and you don’t even tell me? You’ll email about what you woke up thinking about and that you need $14,000 but you won’t email me when you drop out? Seriously?

Until yesterday. Five days later he emailed.

An email titled "thank you" from Jeb Bush saying 'I wanted to take just a moment to thank you for all your hard work on my behalf. While the result was not what we had hopes, we communicated". The rest of the email is cut off.

Oh yes, Jeb. We communicated. A lot. And while I can’t say I’ll miss those emails, I’ll miss seeing Jeb! all over the place. THANK YOU.



Another Great Show Just Ended: Goodbye to Gravity Falls

This week marked the end of one of the funniest and smartest TV shows I’ve ever watched. It was for kids, sure, but was also fun for adults. The show was Gravity Falls and I will miss it so.

Gravity Falls can best be described as ‘Twin Peaks: For Kids!’ Twins Dipper and Mabel go off to Gravity Falls, Oregon to spend the summer with their Great Uncle (Grunkle) Stan. Stan runs a tourist trap off the highway filled with all kinds of manufactured oddities, but the kids quickly learn that their Grunkle’s collection isn’t the only strangeness afoot in Gravity Falls. There’s puzzles, monsters, time travel, teenage angst, and feelings galore.

We’re quickly introduced to other characters that we grow to know and form friendships with. That might sound silly for two dimensional people, but you soon know how they think and act and really miss them between episodes.

The show is cute and funny like kids shows are, but often asks viewers to dig deeper. Sometimes with heartfelt emotion but sometimes showing us a glimpse into pure nightmare fuel. It is always quality. Well. Was.

Well-made shows usually have a team behind them that know their story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Gravity Falls, after two seasons, came to its ending Monday night. The mysteries are answered and the adventure is over.

I suppose I was drawn to this TV show not only because it’s so great, but because I am eerily similar to the character Mabel. In ways that have made my husband pause the show and slooowly turn to look at me. “Lauren. Why are you in the TV?”

Gravity Falls is pretty weird, it’s true. But it’s also just really damn silly. I think that what Mabel and I are at the core of our being: really damn silly.

It’s something I used to hide a lot. Wanting to appear more serious and adult. I have to imagine the results were like this clip:

But as I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with myself, I see my silliness as an asset. It’s fine and makes my day to day a lot more fun. And shows like Gravity Falls have normalized silliness a lot. We’re all a little weird. And it’s awesome. Seeeriously.

Let me tell you what love is.

Last week I got an email from my editor, asking me to profile a local hotel for Valentine’s Day. Our publishing deadline is, sadly, a week afterwards… but his idea was to find a place and spin it as an option for couples who couldn’t celebrate on the 14th.

This happened to be my exact situation. My husband works Sunday. I have plans Saturday. And I gotta be honest – we usually don’t go for the usual Valentine’s tropes. Last year he bought me roses and I was pretty surprised. It’s not that we’re anti-Valentine’s. We tend to go out for anniversaries and the occasional date aaand that’s about it.

But the opportunity was there. So why not?

I booked the hotel, which happened to be the place we stayed when we got married. A romantic choice! We dappered ourselves up and went out for a fancy dinner… that turned into us playing Scrabble on our cell phones and making googly eyes at each other and our meal.

Back at the hotel we got settled into the room. Cookies waiting for us! Wonderful! And CABLE TV. We haven’t had cable in 10+ years. Pajama-clad, we turned on the TV and found a Parks and Recreation marathon on. Yes, we’ve seen the whole series. Yes, it is on Netflix right now and we could be doing this same thing at home. Shut up. It was date night.

Then things took a turn. My often uncooperative body decided it wasn’t feeling well. And how did my romantic evening conclude? My husband. Sitting up with me when I was sick.

I know this doesn’t sound like this evening ended in a very romantic way. But I have to be honest: this meant a lot to me. More than roses. More than jewelry. More than bacon.

I’m lucky to have someone who will sit up with me. He’s a good guy. I love him a lot.


My Submission for the Now Defunct “Wits” Podcast – Extra Ordinary Powers

Alright everyone, thanks for coming out. I have to say this is the most people we’ve seen at the Extra Ordinary Powers support group in sometime! I uh, I hope I brought enough cupcakes! Ehh heh heh heh. Woo. Alrighty. Let’s get started.

For those of you who are new, I always start by introducing myself. My name is Roberto and I have extra ordinary powers. I can understand small song birds and, yes, they are saying exactly what you think they’re saying. I always found it distracting, but now I’ve grown to accept it. That power inspired me to found this group. This safe space for those of us who have something extra… but ordinary. There may be your supermen and your incredible hulks. But what we all need to remember is that just because we’re different from others in our own, extra ordinary ways… that doesn’t mean we’re not human. Well, usually.

Alrighty. Who’s up next?

“I’ll go. My name is Marissa and I have extra ordinary powers.”

Great. Welcome Marissa. What would you like to discuss?

“Well. I sweat a liquid that’s very similar to the classic beverage Tang.”

Ohh. Okay. Okay. Okay. And Marissa, what challenges do you experience because of your ability?

“Um… It’s really just sticky and pretty awkward.”

Sure. Sure. Okay, Marissa, thank you for coming and sharing your power.

Who’s next?

“Hi, I’m Randall.”


“…and I have extra ordinary powers.”

Hi Randall, thank you for coming. You… seem a little distant.

“I dunno. It’s just that I have to speedwalk. Everywhere. And people talk, you know? Randall must want to get out of this meeting. Randall always hustles to the restroom, he must have to go. But Randall wants to run. But he can’t! He just can’t…”

Just let it out. It’s okay. Really. You’re among people here who understand that it’s okay to be different.


Yeah. You want a cupcake?

“Yeah. I’m gunna head over there now.”

Alright. Excuse me, you, sir. Would you like to go?

“Hi, I’m Rudy. And I can fly.”

Woah woah woah. Rudy, I gotta be honest, that is a pretty big deal. Maybe you need to attend Tuesday’s Extraordinary Powers support meeting.

“Oh – I. Oh! You guys are saying Extra Ordinary Powers. Oh ho man. How awkward. Well, I’ll show myself out.”

Annnd flying off he goes. Wow. What a showoff. Anyway. Next?

“Hi, I’m Jimothy. And I can fly.”


“No, sorry, gosh. I mean I turn INTO a fly.”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay. WHEW!

“Yeah, yeah, sorry about that. It’s just that it’s a struggle sometimes, man. Sometimes I can control it and some times I-”

Jimothy? Did anyone else see that? Oh. Oh no. Oh it happened. JIMOTHY. JIMOTHY IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND ME WE’LL LEAVE YOUR CLOTHING IN ONE OF THE STALLS IN THE MEN’S ROOM. OKAY JIMOTHY. JIMOTHY. Good God, I can’t even see him.

Alright everyone, I think that was a great meeting. We talked and worked out some feelings. This was good. Now, the softball team sign up list is by the cupcakes and if someone has even minimal stretching powers we could really use a better shortstop. Slothguy decided not to come back this year. Okay? Okay! Thanks everybody!

In the Face of Natural Disasters, Natural Predators Roam

We lived in Houston when Hurricane Ike happened. It hit Galveston first, about an hour from us. We gathered at a friend’s house and played video games and watched TV while the winds kicked up. The weather would soon rob us of our electricity and leave us to be entertained by the sounds of the earth being torn apart… But before that we were delighted.

We were delighted by Hurricane Bear. Oh yes. Hurricane Bear. It’s so stupid and yet I find it charming somehow.

Hurricane Bear was a teenaged boy in a bear costume stumbling around the shore in front of TV cameras just before things got dangerous. Here’s a clip:

Don’t you have so many questions? Like why? Where are his adults? Was he paid to do this? How did he get the costume? Is he a local? Is this his daily constitutional? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

These questions all surface on occasion and I remember Hurricane Bear. He is a fond memory of an otherwise traumatic family bonding experience.

But then a pattern emerged. Somehow… this was a thing.

Here’s a man jogging in a horse head mask before Hurricane Sandy:

And just from last week’s blizzard not one but two people adventuring in animal costumes. Here’s a dude shoveling up the remnants of Winter Storm Jonas:

And then a guy in a panda costume just rolling around in it, just like his real panda brethren:

I find this totally fascinating. I mean, who knew so many people out there had these full body costumes but also wanted to make the most out of the opportunity of a captive audience and a devil may care attitude.

I asked my husband why he thought this was a thing. His reply, “It’s a thing because not enough people have died doing it yet.” That’s probably true.

But here’s to you, Hurricane Bear: Trendsetter and American hero.

An Update on the Laurens

For those of you who might not know, there are several people who share my name and frequently use my email address when they go about their daily lives. It’s a minor annoyance but I figure it’s my duty in the universe to be a good ambassador of my name.

With the holidays came a new flurry of activity and I thought everyone would appreciate knowing what they’re (I’m) up to.

  • Almost joined the Nextdoor website when someone invited a Lauren for their neighborhood. It’s social media for your physical neighborhood so you can, I don’t know, arrange block parties and complain about that lady who feeds the stray cats. If I were evil that could have been fun.
  • Invited to a track meet.
  • Proof of insurance for a car.
  • Someone loves shopping at Anthropologie!!!
  • Registered a Playstation.
  • Signed up for French daily deal emails. For, well, France.
  • I joined two employment seeking websites in the UK! (Which if she can’t type her email address in correctly does not bode well for her at all.) (I wonder if this is the UK Lauren with the debt service and the disposable phone?)
    • Note to self: she is quickly turning into literary fodder.
  • Had not one but TWO spa appointments. The conversation was great as I fumbled though, “Look, I’d love to take her up on the massage but I think the travel to Florida would disrupt my day.”
  • One Lauren had something (???) destroyed so I was greeted with an email titled, “CERTIFICATE OF DESTRUCTION” which might be the most metal thing I’ve ever been emailed.

But then there’s the sad ones. Where some family member has made a mistake and emailed to let me know there’s a loss. There was one especially heartbreaking one right around Christmas. Grandma wanted everyone to know how she was doing that season, especially since her husband had died recently. She was sad but said she was surrounded by loved ones and it made a difference.

I always let them know that I’m not their Lauren. But I also let them know that loss and grief is something shared by many people. We’ve all been touched by it in one way or another. I hope for their peace of mind.

I never get a reply on those emails and it’s fine. I’m sure they have a lot to think about. But I hope their Laurens are reaching out and trying to help them. We need to take care of each other. It’s what humans do. Even if it means that we don’t get a spa day in Florida.

A Review of Popular “The Force Awakens” Reviews

With over a billion dollars of ticket revenue, it’s safe to assume that a great many people have seen the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it was released on December 18. And with that, a great many reviews have come out as well. You know the saying, “Everyone’s a critic!” Well, thanks to the internet, now everyone really IS.

But how often do people critique the critiques? It’s hard to say how good or bad someone’s opinion is unless you have a critical eye who can examine it. Here I humbly offer that service to you.

Richard Brody, The New Yorker:

Brody pretends he’s better than the fans of the series by insisting he could see plot twists a mile away and that every moment was overplayed and the film ultimately crumples under its own weight. But would you have expected any different for a publication whose logo literally has a DUDE HOLDING A MONOCLE?  Rating: 2/10 lightsabers

L’Osservatore Romano, The Daily Newspaper of The Vatican:

Somehow the Catholic Church feels that the dark parts of this film are too dark, the bad guys too bad. The Catholic Church. Yes. That Catholic Church. The ones who believe in something that isn’t too far off from the idea of The Force, also have funny hats, and literally believe in a concept called “eternal damnation”. Rating: 3/10 blue glowy ghost holograms

My Uncle Bob, our Family Christmas Party:

Bob said it was too loud and he couldn’t keep the characters straight. There’s a lady, a black guy, a bigfoot, and some old people. COME ON, BOB. THEY MADE IT SO EASY FOR YOU. HAVE YOU EVEN SEEN A MOVIE BEFORE. SHEESH. P.S. We all know you’re the one who farted. It wasn’t a squeaky folding chair. Rating: 0/10 no wonder you’re divorced

Little Timmy, a child:

“I liked the part where the spaceships when woo and then the lady got the lightsaber.”

You get it, kid. Rating: BB-great

Dumping Trump

Here’s my new year’s resolution: I’m not talking about Donald Trump anymore.

I’m normally not one for resolutions. The fresh crispness of a new year doesn’t make me want to run out and try to take up jogging or make plans to reconnect with people I haven’t spoken to in awhile. I normally take a week or so to get used to writing the new year in emails and the like. And other than hoping for a good year ahead and doubling down on optimism, I usually don’t make a deal of it. I like the other markers for passing time: birthdays, weddings, Fourth of July parties. These mean more to me than when a clock flips to zero and starts again.

Please understand then how serious this is when I say I am adopting one. And that this new year’s resolution is dumping Donald Trump.

I know I’ve talked about Trump before. I’ve posted about him here. I plan to take that article I wrote and submit it for competitions. I even bought my office Coffee by Trump for Christmas as a joke. Infact, this post was going to be a fake review for Coffee by Trump by Donald Trump. But it’s not.

It’s not because I’m part of the problem. And I see that now.

Every time we mention his name, we reinforce his brand. We make him a household name and continue to normalize him and everything he stands for. We can’t continue to take this man seriously. Even if you find yourself agreeing with his stances or what he advocates for (which I can’t say I do) he’s become a caricature of himself. We don’t talk about his hair or his wives anymore because we don’t have to. It’s an endless regurgitation of the last thing he said, or someone’s reaction to the last thing he said, or he himself talking about the thing he talked about.

I’m done.

Yes, I know, I’m doing it now. This post is about him. But I need to plant my flag and I need there to be an explanation. So when people say, “blah blah blah Donald Trump” and my reply of “who’s this now?” is perplexing, they might understand.

I also plan to take conversations about him and turn them to other things. Topics the public finds endlessly more interesting to discuss. Specifically:

  • food (probably bacon)
  • Florida (or that thing that crazy guy in Florida did)
  • what you would do if you won that billion dollar lotto (probably not going to be you, probably a guy in Florida instead)

So that’s it, Don. It’s been real. Thanks for the memories. You’re kind of a terrible person!

No more Trump. Starting now.

Short Stories for Short People #3: Peanut the Sixth

The crash caught my attention. Nothing too crazy. Just the clatter of plastic and branches. I was surprised. I picked this location because it was out of the way. Lonely. Desolate. Far away from anyone or anything. Just my view of the stark grey of the sky, broken apart by an occasional shiver of the bare bony limbs of this tree as they sway in the wind.


It’s how I’ve lasted out here for so long.

Squirrels actually have quite the lifespan, as I can attest to. There were five other gents under the moniker “Peanut the Squirrel” before me. They all failed because they were low to the ground. Ground dwellers that fraternized with those humans. Raiding bird feeders and scourging the ground for their precious namesake.

This is why I’m up here. And now so is this plastic thing.


I’ll have to see what it does.

It does nothing.

It hangs. Occasionally moving in the breeze. Plastic blades caught. This isn’t going anywhere.

The humans have been trying to knock it down. Throwing things up here. I’ve been hiding out, watching the different things fly by: A ball. A milk jug. Different ball. Frisbee. The Frisbee almost got stuck. That would have been fun.

I thought they might try to climb up here, but their ladder doesn’t get close to the height I’m at. Which is exactly why I’m up here.

Hrm. I could interfere.

No. Too risky. I like my spot. And here I’ll stay.

It’s raining. It’s still here.


The little one keeps coming out here. He comes and stands right under it. And he looks up. Gazing up at it. Hoping for a woosh. Hoping he’ll reach up and it will fall into his arms.

He’s sad. Maybe…


They got a puppy.

I’ve never been so sure of myself in my life.

But he’s so sad.

Maybe I’m not so sure.

You know, I could have stayed in there. I could have stayed curled up in my little space with my little view of the sky. It was a fine life. But the sky is always the same. And the tree with its branches. And the boy with his sad face.

I knew what I had to do.

I ran out to the thing, and I shoved. I shoved and shoved. The boy looked up. He cried out and clapped his hands and stretched his arms out.

The thing crashed into the ground. He is just a boy.

But he laughed and scooped it up and ran inside. I went to run back in but I took a moment. Looked around. Breathed in the air. Listened to the world. So many trees. So many chances.

They rewarded me. Tossed a bag of peanuts up here and caught it in a crook of a branch. Of course. I had to stash them in my hole in the tree.

I suppose the only constant is change.