My Week 205: The Nothing Box Explained

So I’m still on a ship and the wifi is about what you’d expect, so for now, here’s something I worked up before we left. This blog may contain stereotypes, so sue me—if you can find me…

A couple of weeks ago, I referenced something called the “Nothing Box”. I’m not sure how many people know what that is, so I thought I’d provide some background and context:

Every morning, Ken wakes up super early to take the dog out for a walk. When he’s done, he comes back into the bedroom and immediately falls back to sleep. I’m a tolerant person, but I have my limits, and the other morning I announced, “If you want to keep doing this you’ll be sleeping in another room tonight.” And it was a REASONABLE response because A) I’m on my holidays and B) I have no desire to be awakened at 6:30 am on my holidays while Ken and Titus run out of the room then run back into the room, because they both are REALLY excited about their morning walk. While Titus is leaping on and off the bed and yelling, “This is the best day EVER!!”, Ken tries to sneak around getting dressed, but the more he uses his tiptoes, the more the wooden floor bounces, and then I’m wide awake. “What’s the problem?” Ken asks. “You can always go back to sleep.”

No, Ken, YOU can go back to sleep, but I CAN’T. Because I’m a woman and you’re a man. The second I wake up, my mind starts racing with all the stuff I need to do that day, and how I’m going to do it. When YOU wake up, your mind says, ‘Sleep Now’, like those creepy alien guys in the movie Dark City, and you’re like “OKAY!” , and you go back to sleep, all f*cking cheerful and whatnot. But me? I’m DONE. My mind is now turned up to 11, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Later that day, Ken posted a meme on Facebook that said women typically lose 2 to 4 hours a night lying awake thinking about stuff, and I said, “See? Even the internet knows I’m right.”

And I don’t want to generalize, but that to me seems to be the main difference between some men and women, like Ken and me. I heard once a long time ago on a talk show that men have a Nothing Box in their heads. So when you say to a man, “What are you thinking about?” and he says, “Nothing,” he’s telling you the absolute truth. There is literally NOTHING in his mind because he’s in the Nothing Box. And sometimes, I’ll ask Ken a question, and I’ll be waiting for the answer, and he seems to be taking a really long time thinking about it. Only he’s not. He’s still in his Nothing Box, and when I ask if he has an answer yet, he’ll look at me kind of surprised, like he forgot we were in a conversation. This happens quite often when we’re having a ‘debate’, and I’ll ask “What the f*ck is wrong with you?!”, totally expecting a response, because I’m NOT BEING RHETORICAL, KEN, but he’s actually just disappeared into his Nothing Box when he’s SUPPOSED to be figuring out the answer. I, like many women, don’t have a Nothing Box. I never think about nothing. In fact, I can’t even meditate—if you ask me to clear my mind, I immediately start thinking about how to do that, how long I should do it for, does my breathing sound weird, and also what does “empty’ mean in this context anyway? There are literally a thousand other things that ultimately prevent my mind from actually emptying. Ken, similar to a lot of men when told to empty their minds, are just like “Done. Let’s meditate.” Then they go into the Nothing Box and stay there for a while. It’s like the saying “Lost in thought”. When Ken is lost in thought, it’s just ONE thought that he’s contemplating, like shortcuts or compass points or homemade pizza. When I’m lost in thought, I mean I’m LITERALLY lost in a f*cking maze of bizarre and random ideas that jump from one thing to another like a hyperactive frog, but the one thing I’m ALWAYS doing is problem-solving and making decisions. Even if it’s not readily apparent to the guy in his Nothing Box.

But despite all the solitude in his mind, Ken is not good at the decision-making process. Oh, he can MAKE decisions all right, but then he pretends that he needs my help to figure out things, which is super-frustrating. We have had MANY debates over the years about why he does this—here are some examples of this little quirk of his.

Me: Let’s go for a walk.
Ken: Sure. Which way do you want to go?
Me: Towards the park would be good.
Ken: No, we should go towards the store so we can check our lottery ticket.

Me: Which one of these paint chips do you like best?
Ken: I don’t care. They’re both fine.
Me: I like this one the best.
Ken: No, that one’s too yellow-y. The other one is the colour we should paint the room.

Or more recently:

Ken: Should we check into the hotel first or return the rental car?

Me: Return the car.

Ken: No…blah blah obscure reasoning…


I always say, “Why did you ask for my opinion if you already knew what you wanted to do?!” Then I wait for an answer. But I never get one, because he’s in his Nothing Box. Lucky bastard.

It’s absolutely empty.

58 thoughts on “My Week 205: The Nothing Box Explained

  1. I hate to mess with a good stereotype, but my partner–who’s entirely female–can go to sleep at will. She can wake up, look at the clock, say, “Five more blissful minutes,” and go back to sleep for five more blissful minutes. I don’t know how the hell she does it, but does it she does.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. OMFG we share a brain! This, this is the stuff right here…..”When I’m lost in thought, I mean I’m LITERALLY lost in a f*cking maze of bizarre and random ideas that jump from one thing to another like a hyperactive frog,..”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh and the awake/sleep thing – same. And after sex my man is snoring within 3 minutes and I’m ready to do a triathlon (you know, if I actually did those things, I would be ready…not in the actual literal sense but my brain is in a triathlon).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh thanks, Suzanne. At what point during your vacation week did you decide you were going to post your “proof positive that Tom is not a man” essay? In fact, just before posting you changed the name from “Proof Positive Tom is Not a Man” to “The Nothing Box Explained,” didn’t you?


    I would argue the point and give you an entire diatribe of proof that I do stuff like men do sometimes, but I’m too tired to fight, having woken up at 5 am because Ludo shifted and I had a million things to do today and had to put them in some kind of logical order and get started or it would never all get done.

    That sentence was long, scattered, and probably proved your point.

    Okay, just don’t tell Mrs C, okay? She’d be crushed to find out that after all these years she didn’t really marry a man. At least, she would be if she were awake. She’s not. She rolled right back over and went back to sleep and will be there until at least 10 this morning. She’s probably in the middle of a dream, right now, about nothing.

    Sadly, my voice just cracked as I said that last part in my head.

    I give up. I’m heading to the bar to tell the other fellas I’m a man. Maybe I’ll start a bar fight. That’ll teach ya. But I better bring a hat. I hate when, after a bar fight, I have that mussed up hair.

    Dammit. I did it again. 😣

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Some of us Y-chromosomes, when asked, “What are you thinking?” answer “Nothing” because we don’t want to let anyone into the bizarre maze of random thoughts we’re lost in. We’ve learned that it’s an even scarier place to others than it is to us. When Bluebeard told his bride “Don’t go in that one room” she should have listened. I’m not saying we keep a bunch of severed heads, or even violent thoughts, in our heads but there’s a lot of weird stuff in there. Anyway I’m sure you’d find “Nothing” was a better answer if Ken ever asked what you were thinking.
    However—and I want to preface this with a statement that I like and respect Ken and, as you know, I’ve even volunteered to be his assistant and I apologize for the language—but asking your opinion only to shoot it down is a dick move. The lottery ticket can wait. A nice day at the park is only going to last so long and sharing it with you is the least he can do after he and Titus already woke you up so they could spend time walking to the park.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, right?! I think he does it hoping I’ll just agree with what he’s already pre-decided, but that rarely happens, lol. I say to him all the time: “Why does everything have to be a debate?!”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know exactly what you mean. I do lie there not being able to not think of anything and everything. My husband would fall asleep like a rock. You could say sleep and he’s out, in any situation. But I think it was because when he came home he was tired of the box being too full and just wanted it to be nothing at night. I have no answers, but I can never go back to sleep either.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. NOW I know what it’s called! And girl, you and I are frighteningly similar—once I’m up, game over! There isn’t a single extra ‘z’ to be caught. After about 23 seconds, I’ve run through agenda and transportation configurations for all family members for the next fortnight. I want a Nothing Box too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh girl, this whole post just made me like you all the more. I’ve had this conversation with so many men, and you just armed with a very clear analogy that won’t make ‘them’ have to think too much. The empty fucking box!!!
    Side note. The effing snooze button! For god’s sake! I make it very clear from day 1. He gets one shot. I don’t care what song he chooses, what annoying alert sound. It will only go off ONE time. And then he will scoot out quietly, and I don’t want to hear another peep as I drift seamlessly back into a profound sleep.
    That will never happen, but he better do everything he can to pretend it could!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I so missed you on Sunday; I was hip deep in family stuff, and now I know that Joe was very possibly in his Nothing Box! No surprise that it was worth the wait, although I wish I hadn’t had to wait. Now I am making this all about me and that is seriously obnoxious – sorry. Anyway, as ever, you are brilliantly funny and inventive and make my day better. You have also done Joe a big favor, because now that I know about the Nothing Box, so much has been explained that used to annoy the crap out of me. Hope you are enjoying your holiday!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my gosh, don’t apologize! Family stuff ALWAYS takes priority:-) As for me, I’ve been out of the country for over a week with very limited wifi and I haven’t had a chance to get caught up yet myself–so much good stuff to read!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You make me laugh on every post. I realize that I’m not the only one that as these things happening to them. My mornings are the same way, spouse gets up to leave for work and I’m awakened by the dog and her getting ready. It takes me forever to go back to sleep for all the thoughts going in my head and how to solve them. Drives me crazy. I’m happy to know I’m not alone. Thanks as always for sharing your stories, have a great holiday. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Funny post but the sad part or news from this older, not wiser Irish woman, is that the nothing Box expands as they age. So best if every woman were to start working on our patience or become deaf, or learn to dream of hunky men while waiting for an answer!

    Liked by 1 person

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