Sunday, July 17, 2016

Addendum to my tale of eye rabies: Advice for CVS and Walgreens.

Hi. I like your stores because if I ever need Funyuns, mascara, ringworm treatment, and first-class people watching, you provide one-stop shopping. Thanks for that.

I recently received a prescription for drops to treat my ongoing eye rabies. My doctor didn't call the prescription in to my regular pharmacy. Instead, he called it in to the local Walgreens, as a manufacturer's rebate was available only at the Walgreens.

No problem at all. I drove to the Walgreens. I went inside and stood in line at the pharmacy. And then ... I thought it was funny that a Walgreens would have signs for CVS.


I had gone to CVS. Because Walgreens and CVS always build their stores across the street from each other. And both have red signs and similar branding.

Dammit, CVSalgreens, I can't tell you apart. And it has nothing to do with the eye rabies. To me, you are one entity.
I nonchalantly left the CVS, hoping no one was watching as I got in my car and drove across the street to the Walgreens. I got my eye drops. My eyes were on the road to recovery. But my ego was bruised.

I am an adult woman. I can read. I function in society. And yet I can't tell a CVS from a Walgreens.

Dear people of CVSalgreens, for the love of all that is holy, somebody change your branding. Please, please, somebody use a color that's not red for their sign lettering. Somebody choose a secondary color that isn't blue or grey. Please, in the name of Oprah, baby pandas, and all good, pure things, differentiate your stores so that I don't need a big ol' vat of store-brand migraine medicine.

Unless that's your objective.


Well played, CVSalgreens. Well played.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In which I have eye rabies and fight with my husband.

Because I'm an adult lady and super fancylike and also dignified? I try to keep it classy. And one of the best ways to keep it classy is to not have pink eye.

Sadly, I have failed this basic tenet of fanciness this summer. I have pink eye, and I've had it for a few weeks. But don't worry - I have been assured that it cannot be spread over the interwebs.

When I got pink eye, I did the smart thing and saw my eye doctor immediately. He was like, "Hmm. It looks like one thing but it might be another, but let's do the cheap eye drops and see what happens."

Sadly, he did not prescribe a regimen of pouting and complaining about the pink eye. However, I figured that was an important part of the process and took that on myself. I figured it couldn't hurt.

But the eye drops did hurt. They hurt a lot. I figured that meant that were working. It was only after the treatment was over that I realized I'm allergic to one of the main ingredients in the eye drops.

I am not the brightest star in the sky. Besides, I was too busy obsessing over the fact that I was going to be pink-eyed and glasses-clad for The Official Family Photo that my mom was coordinating. Because when you're super fancylike and also dignified, you generally don't want to be photographed when you have the modern equivalent of leprosy. But I took one for the team, me and my gunky eyes.

I called the eye doctor again and was forced to 'fess up about the allergy - which, to be fair, he didn't catch, either. But he was incredulous, like, "So, the drops hurt really badly, and you kept using them?"

Clearly, he is a man. Any woman would be like, "Ah. That sounds like thongs and hair color and any form of hair removal. Of course you keep going."

So, now I have new eye drops. Eye drops that cost $260 but that I paid a mere $60 for, thanks to a manufacturer's coupon. Who says drug companies are gouging patients?

Anyway, I updated My Guy on all of this. He eyed me suspiciously, and then looked at the sleeping dachshund in my arms. "You know why this is happening, right?"

I looked at my sweet husband. "Because I'm paying a karmic debt for being so awesome?"

He shook his head solemnly, paused a moment, and then let me have it. "No. No, you have EYE RABIES because you let this little dog with the BIG POOPY MOUTH kiss you!"

I clutched my hand to my chest. If I had been wearing pearls, I'd have been clutching pearls.

"There's no way those two things are related," I said.

"What-EV-er," My Guy replied. "Lil' Frank eats poop. Then he licks your face. You probably have Zika and emphysema and ringworm, too!"

"You think EVERYTHING is ringworm! I had strep throat and you tried to treat it with Lotrimin Ultra!"

"It would have worked, too, if you'd just given it a chance."

"You sound like the bad guy from every 'Scooby Doo' who says his plan would have worked, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids."

"The bad guy says it because it's true!"

"I have eye rabies from an undetermined source. Lil' Frank doesn't kiss me on the days he's eaten poop. We have an agreement. And he never kisses my eyes."

At this point, My Guy shook his head and walked away. He tried to act all bad and mad, but he scooped the dog out of my arms so they could cuddle. Because I'm not the only object of dachshund affection.

Besides, how could anyone blame this face?
"C'mere and lemme kiss ya."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book review: Across the River.

Like small towns and novels that are wicked and full of heart? Do I have a book for you!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the author is my friend, Melissa Westemeier. Many of you know her as Green Girl in Wisconsin. She's a hoot and a wicked awesome writer, too. And she has an ear for dialogue and the kind of stories you can only hear in the Midwest, in a small town, in a bar, after a few rounds.

"Across the River" is this and more. It's a novel about Mona, a young bartender who has lived in Bassville her entire life. Her world is filled with interesting characters with names like Maw and Dob and Loyal. And there's that all-too-familiar pull between the way things have always been and the great unknown. Oh, and there's this handsome guy who might like Mona, too. Oh, and a guy who owns a bait shop who becomes a celebrity and tries to turn his store into a "Girls Gone Wild" photo shoot. You know, the typical folks you find in small-town America.

I love how "Across the River" captures the feel of small-town life while still maintaining an interesting and engaging pace. It's one of those books you tuck into and then realize you've been reading for hours. Huh? Whaa?

You can order "Across the River" directly from the author or from Bridle Path Press. Skip Amazon on this one - buying that way basically steals dinero from Melissa's hands. And we all need to eat, including authors. Especially authors who mention "Jontue" in their books. (I'm shocked to find it still exists, but that's another story entirely ...)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Time travel through real estate.

So, I almost started bawling in a stranger's kitchen.

This weekend, my family was given a tour of the house my grandparents built. They lived there from 1961 until they moved to assisted living in 2001. And lemme tell ya - those 40 years were packed with kids and grandkids and cousins and meals and card games and the stuff of life.

My brother and I grew up about seven minutes away. So, we spent a lot of time with our grandparents. At a certain age, I came to feel like I was being dumped at their house. But my grandparents were kind, loving people, and they just rolled with it. Maybe that's what happens when you're looking down the barrel of 80 but still offering to watch your grandkids. You make them oatmeal in the morning and tomato soup at lunch and something with green beans and rolls at night and you just roll with it.

Their home was always well-tended, even as such tasks became more difficult. After we sold the house, it fell into disrepair. My mom warned us never to drive by. I would gaze upon it from down the hill, two blocks away. From that vantage point, it seemed OK. I could roll with that.

Now, a couple my parents have known for a while (OK, like 40 years) has purchased the house. They fixed the moldy soffits and dug all the trees out of the gutters. On the spur of the moment, they invited us in.

We stood in the garage that my grandpa had paneled. The screen door to the kitchen was the same. My grandpa had undoubtedly built the cabinets next to the door, too. And as we stepped over the threshold, I felt a tidal wave in my heart. I'd stepped through that door thousands of times - most notably to rush to the kitchen sink to puke after a particularly bumpy school bus ride. This time, I didn't worry about which side of the sink had the garbage disposal (I'd gotten it wrong last time - sorry, Grandma.). This time, I wondered if I would cry.

The floor was new and lovely. The cabinets had been painted a cheery cream. The dinette was tiny - how did we fit five people around a table in such tight quarters? The brick fireplace had been painted and a rustic mantle hung where the plastic fruit used to drape out of a metal basket thing that can only be described as, "You know, like from the 60s?"

The new homeowners had done everything that every HGTV show tells you to do to make a home your own, to freshen a house that may be a bit dated.

I wanted to tell them that their furniture wasn't quite in the right spots - the TV goes *there* and you need to make room for a piano against *this* wall. But if it had been the same sea-foam green carpet that I remembered, that would have just been sad.

These folks were obviously very excited about their new home and the changes that they'd made. It looked lovely, even if it was a bit jarring to find that it had changed at all. The pink bathroom was gone - the tile had crumbled when the plumber tried to repair the shower. And what was always my room - what had been my dad's room during his high school days - had become an office with an expanded closet to hold the laundry.

But that's where I sorted my grandma's clothes after she died. I sat on the bed and smelled her dresses.

But that was also the same bed where Grandma lay with her arm over her eyes, too exhausted from the stress of moving. I had been tasked with keeping her company while the movers loaded up furniture for what she was sure was a temporary move to an assisted-living facility 90 minutes away. At the time, not many small-town Iowans of a certain age got to stay close-to-home.

I tried to keep her mind off the fact that her home was being emptied. She told me about how on their last night of a European vacation, she and Grandpa had been too tired to do anything. So, they went to the movies and saw "My Fair Lady." And she listened to me talk about a dress I'd just bought, and how I thought my boyfriend was emotionally scarred from his parents' divorce and it was keeping him from proposing.

She kept her arm over her eyes, but she listened to every word. "Well, he just needs to get over it," she responded.

Get over it.

When the new homeowner was showing off her new washer and dryer and how it fit into the new, larger closet, I gave a cursory glance. Then, I walked back down the hall to wait for my family in the entryway. The new homeowners had a little table where the grandfather clock was supposed to be, but I rolled with it.

When we left, I touched the woman's arm. "We had such good, good times in this house," I said. "I'm excited for you and your family to do the same."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Products I considered buying instead of using my frequent flyer points for a hotel because I was on hold for 43 minutes.

Huh! Lookit this! You can get Godiva chocolates with your points! And just dark chocolate - that's a nice touch. Classy-like.

Thank you for holding. A vacation consultant will be with you momentarily. We truly appreciate your patience and look forward to helping you with your vacation plans.
Well, I don't have a Grumpy Cat scarf/hat combo. It looks warm. And it's on sale! It's not a look an adult woman could or should really rock. But speaking of rock ... the Muzak has shifted from nondescript crap to "Roll With It" by Steve Winwood. I hope they paid him a lot of money. I now equate this song with depression.
OMG. Now we're talking! This is the chicken coop / Brady Bunch house / Barbie house of my dreams! I have no desire to have chickens, but we could play Brady Bunch Barbies with this! It could be what happens when the Barbies move to the farm. Barbies meet "The Brady Bunch" meet "Green Acres." I am brilliant.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. We apologize for the extended wait time. Please stay on the line and one of our customer service representatives will be with you as soon as possible.
You can get a 3D printer with frequent flyer miles? This is insane! I still own a VCR!

I'm starting to feel mildly homicidal. I've been on hold forever, and one of the two "thanks for holding" messages plays not every minute, but every 30 seconds. It's too much. It's taunting me. I think it might be lying. What if my call isn't important? What if all the vacation specialists are on a smoke break, hanging out behind the building and laughing at my on-hold plight?
Lil' Frankfurter would really love this. I shouldn't encourage his "no walking ever" dreams, lest he end up on some "My 600-pound Dachshund" special on TLC wherein he is removed from our home via crane, but ...

Ah, Southwest. You are indeed the Greyhound of the skies, yet I cannot quit you. Your people are so nice and your credit card gives me a gajillion miles. Miles I want to use to book a hotel. If only you'd answer your damned phone.
This is AWESOME! I need this car! Look at these girls - they're like Thelma and Louise without all the death! The pain in my heart isn't due to Southwest Rapid Rewards - it's because I don't have a Power Wheels Ford Mustang with a sticker of the Frozen characters on the hood. My life is a lie!

Thank you for holding. Our vacation consultants are mocking your pain. We truly appreciate your patience and look forward to completely ruining your vacation plans by keeping you on hold forever.
If I use my points for this pool toy, my husband would be forced to install a pool in our backyard, right? Right? Then I wouldn't need a hotel, because I would never leave my house.

After all the frequent flyer miles-based suffering I've been through, I deserve a pool complete with a Pirate Island Adventure Set. I'm only calling Southwest because the website ate my points and then it took 72 hours to get them refunded and I'm not about to spoon-feed the website my hard-earned points again. No sirree. No. I don't have time to be on the phone because I need to be out in the yard, plotting out where our pool will go. I hope there's no ancient burial ground in our yard like in "Poltergeist." That movie totally traumatized my brother. I bet he wouldn't have been so upset if we'd had a Pirate Island Adventure Set.

Actually, I could really use a new electric toothbrush. Periodontal health is so important.

We are currently high. We apologize for the extended wait time. Please stay on the line and ... I forget what we're supposed to do.

Epilogue: After a mere 43 minutes, a very nice man booked my hotel. I was so taken aback by an actual human on the line that my initial communication was in the form of grunts. However, I managed to elocute my rewards number and get the hotel booked. I am appreciative, even if my mental health took a hit.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why I should be your next elementary school commencement speaker.

Now that I'm an ancient 41, I firmly believe that I know nothing. Also? I'm super excited to give advice.

You might see a problem here, but I think an advice giver who thinks they know everything is way more dangerous. At least I'm all, "Ehh, take it with a grain of salt, buuut ..."

This attitude might be the reason why yet another graduation season has passed without me being asked to give a commencement speech. Couple that with the fact that I'm on year 23 of not being asked to prom, and it's been a rough few months.

But commencement speeches. I tend to be drawn to them in May and June each year, wondering if some celebrity is going to impart a bit of wisdom that would change my outlook. Mostly, I'm just entertained. And I like to pretend that every spring is a fresh start, so it's like I'm a new graduate every year.

Again, maybe this "new grad" mindset is hindering my chances of being asked to be a graduation speaker. After all, I was one of four speakers at my high school graduation when I was, in fact, a new grad. Even while I was giving the speech, I knew I was bombing. To be fair, there's not much audience engagement in a jam-packed gymnasium that isn't air conditioned. But still.

I think I'm a better candidate for speaking at an elementary school graduation. Let me tell you why.

When I was in high school, a handful of us were asked to speak to sixth-grade classes. It was towards the end of the school year, and we were tasked with answering questions about moving to the junior high. We were also supposed to empower the sixth graders and have an anti-drug message. The program was through DARE, and there was a cop supervising the whole shebang.

I was with one or two other high school kids speaking to the classroom taught by my grandparents' next-door neighbor. He was a low-key guy, and you could tell his classroom was similarly low-key.

My compatriots and I spoke about making new friends at the junior high and what it was like moving from class to class. Then, somebody raised their hand and asked if we had been nervous going into seventh grade.

This is where I jumped in and regaled all the kids, their teacher, and the DARE cop with my tale of woe about my seventh-grade locker.
Do you feel the tension?
See, I had never operated a combination lock before. And for the duration of the summer of 1987, I was obsessed and panicked about opening my locker at the junior high. I had a reoccurring dream that I'd get to the junior high on the first day of school, and I'd find my locker just fine. But I wouldn't be able to open it. And then, the bell would ring, and I'd be late for class. Then, I'd realize I was nekkid and I had to walk home.

Now, I like to believe that the kids who heard this were relieved. "Ah, it's not just me!" I was bringing honesty and authenticity to their worlds! But I don't remember their faces. Instead, I remember DARE officer putting his head down on a desk. Like he couldn't believe this was his life and he had to deal with these shenanigans and, if anything, I was a spreading the message of using drugs because DEAR GOD, KIDS, JUST DON'T BE LIKE HER.

My parents were horrified by this story. My grandma kind of shook her head, but I like to think she thought it was funny.

I was honest. And if I'm still being honest? I still have that dream about twice a year.

So, I'm just gonna put this out there: If your school needs an elementary school graduation speaker, call me. Obviously, I will tell it like it is.

Also, I am willing to be paid in cake.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mouse Scourge, Part II: The Reckoning.

Don't even try to tell me I shouldn't write B movies. Check out that title - clearly, I have the gift.

So, I know you've been waiting with baited breath to hear how the whole there-was-a-mouse-in-the-kitchen-so-I-covered-everything-in-blood thing went down.

Well, I set the hardcore traps that my dad gave me. You know, the ones that you can only get at the farm and home store? Yeah. They are serious.

So, I set the two traps. Sadly, they didn't go off immediately. Instead, my rodent antagonist had decided to mess with me. I kept everything out of my kitchen drawers and then kind of forgot about it. I had to emotionally distance myself from the whole mouse/kitchen situation. It was just too much.

That night, I woke up because so help me Oprah, someone broke into our house. I could hear him (or her - no judging) sneaking around downstairs. I woke my exhausted, finally asleep husband and we both remained in bed, stiff with adrenaline coursing through our veins. I wondered when My Guy was going to grab his softball bat and if I shouldn't just go ahead and call 911.

After a minute of listening, My Guy said, "It's the mousetrap." Then, he rolled over and went back to sleep.

He abandoned me.

But, considering that I was then unable to sleep for the next three hours, I can say definitively that we were not burgled. And examining the trap the next day showed ... no mouse. Just tiny little claw marks in the trap's peanut butter.

Basically, the mouse had gotten a little bit trapped, made a whole lotta noise, and then escaped.

I set the trap again.

That night, no noises. Or maybe we were burgled but the dudes (or dudettes - no judging) were really quiet and with the house in such disarray, I didn't notice anything missing.

But turns out, there were no noises because the trap did its job. Inside my bread drawer was a dead mouse approximately the size of a Honda.
That was the good news. The bad news was that I was home alone.

I immediately shut the drawer with the dead mouse in it and started walking around my house, clapping purposefully. Like a pep squad girl who is a little bit off. I was clapping because hurray, we caught the mouse! And I was clapping because oh no, we caught the mouse and now we have to do something with it, and by "we" I mean "me" and I am completely freaked out.

See, the trouble with the really nice traps from the farm and home is that you can only get them at the farm and home. And there isn't a farm and home anywhere near me because I'm a fool and moved to the city, away from such places. These were hardcore traps, not the kind that you could just throw away without a second thought. There were traps of country folk. Folk who could kill a snake with a shovel and not think twice. (Hi, Melissa!)

I thought twice. I thought three and four times about what I was going to do about that dead mouse.

Then, I realized it was Saturday. My Guy was just out gallivanting around. He would be home within an hour. An hour wasn't enough time for there to be a noticeable increase in dead-mouse decay.

The carcass could wait. I could delegate. Because I am a leader and a strong woman and in no way would need to turn in my feminism membership card simply because I asked my life partner to complete a specific task in our home.

And so it was.

He made the Honda-sized mouse go away. I let scalding water run over the empty but certainly reusable trap. Order was restored.

In case you're wondering, no, I'm not going to become an exterminator.