Professor Writer

Asspresser and Chipmunks: Our Kind of Breakfast

Marrying someone who is not a native speaker of English might seem like a surprising choice for an English teacher.

I’ve gotten the “do you bring your work home with you?” joke before.

First off- rude.

Second, I do what I like. I like English. Therefore, I English it up.

I like teaching. I’m not sure I could stop if I tried.

I lecture in the shower.

And I super-like Husband.

Anyway, there are advantages to loving a language and marrying someone who is in the learning stages of it.

I’ve read the articles about “keeping things fresh” and “using date night to find a common topic and reconnect,” and they all sound swell. In our experience, though, when things are getting repetitive, all we need is a commercial with an unusual word/phrase in it.

He asks me to explain it.

I give definitions and examples.

He brings the clipboard and asks me to write it down.

He diagrams it.

We both end up searching for linguistic explanations for why English is doing this quirky thing it’s doing.

Repeat in a few days when new vocabulary/wording strikes again.

And we do not get tired- over eight years of marriage, now.

What people sometimes forget is that Husband came here willingly. He wanted to be in America and learn English. He studied English in Korea, and one of his visas was a student visa- when we met, in fact. He might still be figuring this English thing out, but we’re both technically English majors.

It’s our kind of fun.

The other advantage is the stories. Sometimes it’s the way the language works that gets tangled, and sometimes it’s just pronunciation, but it is often hilarious.  

Like the time he tried to order an “asspresser” at the coffeeshop, and I thought a barista was going to slap him.

Or the time I was craving donuts- he grabbed his keys, and asked, while standing in the doorway,

Husband: Do you want the hushpuppy kind? 
Me: Hushpuppy? What kind of donut is that?
Husband: The ones from food lion. Creamy crispy.
Me: …. krispy kreme?
Husband: Of course. Do you want glazed from dunkin donuts? Or chipmunks?
Me: …..munchkins?

There was no real danger here- it’s not like I could be dissatisfied with any kind of donut. Or forest animal.

When Husband wanted to take a walk with me:
Husband: We need the… uh… (starts Google translating).
Me: Romance? Quality time? Exercise?
Husband (holds out phone for me to read): “Photosynthesis.”

Google Translate is like our hilarious roommate.

And, sometimes, not knowing the vocabulary makes us extra creative.

Husband trying to warn me when he rolled the giant yoga ball downstairs.

I have so. many. stories.

We will never run out of things to talk about. English contains infinite quirks.

We make lasting, meaningful memories just from trying to order at a drive through speaker.

I really don’t know how people who speak the same language keep things interesting. They’re at a surprising disadvantage in my book.



Mama Writer

I Might Be Ruining Football

Obligatory first sentence: my husband is awesome, and I love him very much.

Check that off the list.

He’s a family guy, and he doesn’t leave us to go do his own thing lightly. So, when he wants to watch football, for a mere 7 hours on Sunday, he does so right there in the midst of all of us.

I think he should reconsider. I think I’m about to start putting gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings in his wallet.

‘Cause I think I’m ruining his football experience.

I can’t stop:

  • Rolling my eyes and sighing at the absolutely idiotic pregame and half-time commentary.
  • Laughing and making snarky comments when I hear the commentary on the plays (“As you can see here, Tom, this is where he dropped the ball.” “Yeah, I see, and if they want to win, they’d better stop doing that, Rick”).
  • Chatting about which of the names I see on the jerseys would be good romantic hero names (Hightower is winning).
  • Tweeting my inane questions at the teams.
  • Rating and cheering for a team based on the uniform color. Extensively chatting about how this year’s uniforms are so much better than last year’s uniforms. (Looking good, Panthers.)
  • Giving long lists of pros and cons for cheerleaders. (They do a lot of good, have a pretty good platform for charities, etc. but also, yeah, they’re scantily-clad women jumping up and down for a bunch of grunting athletes. And sometimes it’s cold, and they don’t even get pants.)
  • Talking about how the stereotypes of aggression and chauvinism proudly displayed in so many of the commercials hurt men and women everywhere.
  • Only bringing snacks into the room if the halftime show is any good.
  • Wondering out loud why football and patriotism are supposed to be the same thing. Trying to get a political conversation going…
  • Getting excited when the two-minute warning finally comes around, then groaning for every time out and play review that happens afterwards.
  • Throwing things when there’s a tie that puts the game into overtime.

Poor husband.

Next time, I think he should go eat some wings and watch the games with people who just yell out single syllable phrases at the multiple TVs.

Our marriage will probably be better for it. 

Love you, honey. 

Mama Writer

When the Grinch Decks the Halls: a Holiday Paradox

I didn’t know people like my husband existed. He’s a special one.

I mean that for all of the wonderful reasons, of course. But there’s more. He’s unusual because he has this habit of saying curmudgeony things, sometimes just to stir up trouble, even though his actions are the exact opposite of curmudgeony.

If you listened to him expound on philosophy, you’d think he was an uncaring robot who feels nothing from watching the world tear itself to pieces. If you overheard him talking about the holidays, ANY HOLIDAY, you’d probably feel a sudden welling of sympathy for his poor, “deprived” children.

Then, if you plugged your ears, you would see a man who is tirelessly, obsessively caring. His staggering powers of observation make him more empathetic than the most well-meaning people I know, and his inability to be lazy spills over into service for others.

But that mouth, though.

He will argue with me for days, literally days, about buying pumpkins to make jack-o’-lanterns.

“We don’t need them.”

“They’re messy. They go bad after a couple of days.”

“Just let the kids paint the little ones.”

“Okay, but we’ll just get one. You can do it. I don’t want to.”

And every single year, it’s Husband, with his tongue between his teeth, carefully cleaning, carving, oohing and aahing with the kids, taking pictures, and lighting the thing. Every. Year.


He likes to talk about how he wouldn’t help anyone, or even tell anyone, if he won the lottery jackpot. In his opinion, people would only be needier in the presence of that kind of windfall.

Then, when a friend or family member falls on hard times, he’ll wordlessly pass me an envelope and nod in said friend or relative’s direction.

Today, I came home to see he had already put up our Christmas tree. He was waiting for me and the kids to decorate it.

I remembered when we first got married, and I had to convince him to buy a tree.

Today, the kids and I came home to a tree. We all went to the store to pick out an ornament for this year. While shopping, Husband also took the kids to the toy aisle, letting me grab some groceries in peace.

I called when I was headed to the checkout, and, 2 minutes later, Husband and the kids come hustling, panting and heaving, so the kids could throw some new toys on the conveyor belt behind my groceries.  

I raised my eyebrow at Husband, who had recently talked about how materialistic society was ruining kids’ lives. He’d even mentioned cutting back on Christmas toys.

 All he did was shrug as we paid for the cartload.  

Playing with Their New Toys

We came home, and as I started to help the kids decorate the tree, I felt a bit tired. I didn’t have to say anything. Husband just noticed, like he does, and stepped in.

In the time it took me and the kids to trim a tree, Husband had cleared the dinner dishes, set up the kids’ stockings with new hooks over the fireplace, spread our decorations through the house, and even spent a painstaking hour stringing our Christmas lights on tiny hooks through the hallways.

Husband did everything from build the tree, arrange the skirt, dig out AND deliver the box of decorations. I hardly moved.


20171116_194611.jpg It’s one of those magical, cosmic miracles- God gave me my husband before he had a solid grasp of the English language. While we were getting to know each other, it was very much “actions over words.” I never had a chance to believe his curmudgeony stances. All I knew was how wonderful he actually was. He showed me. Telling me (and my subsequent eyerolling) came later.

I’m so grateful for the timing.

And I don’t mind that this heart-of-gold man has a hobby of picking curmudgeony fights. That suits my own super-stubborn, dig-in, inexhaustibly argumentative self to a T.

We were made for each other.