La Quinta Inn in Brunswick, GA. Maybe I used the back roller yoga wheel too much. Back spasms underneath my right arm pit. Maybe it’s the small bed. Me, Kate, and Ellie on a full bed, instead of the king at home. Little things become big things at night. 

The hotel is dog friendly, so we brought Tacoma. On the way from car to check-in, I told him Tacoma go potty. Kate and I had hands full with baby, backpacks, dog stuff, human stuff, etc. The dog peed on Kate’s foot. I laughed. Little things become big things at night. 

Dishes. Must. Be. Clean. I wrote this yesterday. After the dog piss on foot, The Loveeachother marital unit released its pent up pressure. Do I ignore Kate when she vocalizes her nesting preferences—that I participate in regular household cleaning, that wash the dishes with soap and scrub and not just rinse and meh, that I use semi-decent and non-profane vocabulary when around her soccer players, coworkers, family, the baby? 

Kate said she feels like my mother. I wonder what my mother felt like. Ryan get your feet off the table. Ryan do you want soap in your mouth. Ryan get your feet off the table. Ryan don’t tease your sisters. Have I failed to grow up? Failed to civilized myself?

Apparently, I need bright red forehead anger and popping neck-veins to PAY ATTENTION. Like I don’t hear casual conversation. Like only hear things if the table is set and the rules are chiseled into stone like the Ten Commandments. And sparks fly. And hot iron mallets cold rock. 

Thank god there’s coffee this morning. Even with plastic half and half containers. And styrofoam cup. 

I’ll actually clean the dishes. And I’ll help more with clean the house. And I won’t swear, or will strategically swear. 

I don’t believe you. You’ve said this before. 

Yes but now I hear you. 

I do well with mantras. And succeed with to-do lists. 

Clean dishes. Clean house. Don’t swear. 

Clean dishes. Clean house. Don’t swear. 

Clean dishes. Clean house. Don’t swear. 

Little things become big things at night. 

This week I gave a fellow writer a massage and she said she’s the kind of person who is achievement oriented which means she views people in terms of what they can do for her and that this is the classic Achievement Archetype. And in the 3 hour car ride, I told Kate I felt similarly. I have friends only insofar as they’re useful to me. Insofar as they give me something. Kate said I probably should balance taking with giving. 

Or maybe I need to balance the Taking Archetype with Listening. Or Cleaning. Or both. 

Every day is an opportunity to burn past pages and the parts of ourselves we wish to change and start anew. 

Little things become big things at night. This has very high truth value. Especially in terms of predicting intensity of conflict between tired partners in a relationship. And yes, fights blow. And yes, the goal is to minimize them. And yes, the ideal is to air our concerns and grievances and frustrations and have our partner HEAR us and LISTEN to us before Vesuvius explodes. 

But progress is progress, you know?


>>>NOTE: The Alt Dad Diary is an experiment in daily diary made publicly available. Can I maintain a daily practice? Can I write honestly and resist the temptation to manicure rough edges? I say this is an experiment because I don’t know the outcome. I say it’s an experiment because I’m testing the hypothesis that the truth will set you free—especially the unpleasant truth. My friend Bradley the artist who wore blue for a year asked me why “Alt” dad. He asked if it referred to millennial and the keyboard “Ctrl + Alt + Delete.” I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think alt is a generic feeling for not belonging in the bright white picket fence box that the American Dream proscribes. I could have called this Weird Dad or Uncommon Dad or Shadow Dad or Real Dad or Unfiltered Dad or Raw Dad. For me, Alternative is shorthand and  synonymous with all that. 

>>>ANOTHER NOTE: Some people say I shouldn’t write about marital conflict. Like it’s sacred ground. And disrespectful to air dirty laundry. I agree to some extent. And wouldn’t blast Kate or vent about her prior to conflict resolution. But post conflict, I feel like discussing the grit of marriage is useful because it validates similarly situated people. Like if a reader reads that I’m in the heat of conflict, then maybe they won’t think they’re this outlier, that everybody else is perpetually smiling and blissful, and maybe they’ll come to terms with the idea that maybe conflict is an essential pressure release valve. 

>>>YOU DIG? If you’d like to support this daily diary project and me, please head to my Patreon page at It really does blow air under my wings.