Monday, August 29, 2016

Yoga for the family.

This morning, I found a couple of yoga videos on Amazon Prime and decided to play along. The first video, full of sun salutations and warrior poses, did not get even a raised eyebrow from the dogs. But the second video, the guided savasana that was a glorious 18 minutes of guided meditation and total relaxation?

Well, the second I laid on my mat, those dogs acted like they'd never seen me - or another human, really - ever before. This is how it went down.

Voiceover: "Welcome to your personal retreat for relaxation and centeredness ..."

Me: Prone on floor, eyes closed, breathing slowly.

Lil' Frankfurter: OHMYGOD! Who is this person on the floor? I must investigate! I will stand on it!

Me: "Uhhh" as dachshund jumps on my ladychest.

Big Doodle: Hey, what's going on? I will saunter over.

Voiceover: "... feel your breath move to every part of your body, bringing relaxation and peace ..."

Me: I sense something beyond a dachshund on my chest. I open my eyes to see Big Doodle manparts hanging over my face. In his investigation, my 80-pound labradoodle has straddled my head and come to a complete standstill. I usher him along.

Big Doodle: "Siiiiiiiigh."

Voiceover: "... breath in peace ... breath out tension and pain ..."

Lil' Frank: OHMYGOD! I love Kong! Let's play Kong! I will get the Kong! I will gum the Kong with great gusto, then place it in your hand, which is conveniently palm-up! Let's play Kong! Let's play Kong! WHY AREN'T YOU THROWING THE KONG?
Nothing is better than gumming a Kong. Nothing, except gently encouraging loved ones to throw said Kong.
Me: Submit to the high-pitched doxie bark and throw the Kong so that I might avoid losing my hearing wholly and permanently.

Voiceover: "... something soothing ... that I can't hear ... over the barking ..."

Lil' Frank: Throw the Kong! Throw the Kong! Throw the Kong!

Me: Throw the Kong and attempt to achieve inner peace.

Voiceover: "... Kong is a journey through breath and high-pitched barking ..."

Lil' Frank: Throw the Kong! Throw the Kong! Throw the Kong!

Voiceover: "... Kong is a way of life that leads to peace and contentment ..."

Lil' Frank: Throw the Kong! Do it again! Throw the Kong!

(repeat forever)

Bonus! At some point, I give up, open my eyes, and realize there's blood everywhere. Lil' Frank's delicate paws were not made for such fevered Kong action. He has run a paw raw and oozed blood all over me, the yoga mat, and the floor.

If this isn't relaxation, I don't know what is.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

In which I attempt to donate some shoes.

If you're like me, every once in a while, your closet needs a little kick in the booty. And by "kick in the booty," I mean "exhaustive cleaning because you never get rid of anything and probably don't need that sweater you bought secondhand in 1991."

I recently cleaned out my shoes. Now, keep in mind that I have worn the same size shoe since fifth grade. And, my mom and I wear the same size. And I figure everything comes back, right?

However, even I couldn't deny the need to share the love. And by "love," I mean "size 6.5 shoes that I probably bought at DSW because they were on clearance and loved briefly but haven't worn in the four years I've worked from home."

I had the best of intentions. I really did.

But I caught myself having these internal dialogues. Words and phrases that would sound ludicrous if spoken aloud, but that made perfect sense rolling around in my brain.

I should also mention that I did said shoe purge while wildly hormonal. I do not recommend this.

Here's a sample of my thought process:
  • I know the heels of these shoes have literally disintegrated into dust, but I was wearing them when I walked home from a fraternity party during a thundersnow that dumped 19 inches of snow on campus overnight in January 1995. My friend Soup and I stopped to eat snow in the Lambda Chi parking lot. I couldn't possibly get rid of these shoes.
  • Should I really get rid of the shoes I wore to the closing of my first house? Probably not.
  • I wore those cork wedges on a date with Mr. I Want You To Want Me and I stepped on his foot. All things considered, I probably should have stomped on his foot. How could I get rid of such serviceable shoes?
  • I wore those shoes with my first - and, to date, only - real, grown-up suit. Sure, I bought them in 1999 and the suit has long gone on to the women's clothing version of a nice farm with plenty of room to run. But these shoes were so cool and everything comes back, even a square toed, high-heeled mary jane, right?
For what it's worth, I kept the suede pumps my mom bought in 1990 because they are on the verge of being of a "yeah, that retro style is in, but I have the real deal" ilk. And, of course, there are the stalwarts that will never be purged - my penny loafers, the shoes my grandma wore to my parents wedding (what? they fit me, and I have her dress, too), and the several many black pumps because, well, black pumps never go out of style. Even though I never wear heels anymore. Because I have kind of given up on being fancy. And my feet hurt.

Maybe cleaning out my shoes while mega hormonal wasn't the best choice. However, I was able to gift several pairs of shoes to a friend who literally squealed with delight. And I made more room in my closet for the comfort footwear that now seems to be my jam.

It all feels very, "To everything, there is a season." Which makes me miss my leopard-print Danskos. Autumn? I eagerly await you!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Two things that changed my life this week.

Doesn't that title make me sound like Oprah? Or at least someone who writes clickbait? Maybe if I titled it, "Two things Oprah doesn't want you to know!"

Well, at any rate, these things twisted my reality in the last few days.

1. Traffic cones. 
There's a guy around the corner who has been parking his truck all illegal-like on the street. But he's put two orange cones around the truck. The cones send the message that hey, this is totally legit. Nevermind that it's not a utility truck or a delivery truck. It's just some dude's GMC pickup.

It occurred to me that traffic cones are the universal sign of "These are not the droids you're looking for." They're like an instant get-out-of-jail free card! You can do whatever you want as long as you have some orange cones around you.

Clearly, I need some traffic cones. Forget my parallel parking anxiety - I will just leave my car in the middle of the street, throw out a few cones, and call it good. And I bet the cone shield works without a car, too. Worried about getting arrested for loitering? Set up some cones around ya. You're no longer loitering - you are doing sanctioned work. The Lord's work.

Obviously, this is life-changing.

2. Compliments.

I was shopping a few days ago. I had actually made an effort that day ... which basically means I wasn't wearing running shorts. I had on a dress and cute sandals. I felt good.

A woman walked passed me, touched me lightly on the arm, and said, "You are so beautiful."

Now, I recently took a quiz to tell me which Golden Girl I am. It said I was a Sophia, but I'm not so sure. I think my response to this kind woman's compliment might make me more of a Blanche. What flew out of my mouth was not, "Picture it: Sicily, 1923." Instead, it was a very southern, "Oh, honey, thank you!"

She walked off. I don't even know if she heard me. She certainly didn't stick around to comment on which Golden Girl I am. But what she said stuck with me for days.

At random moments, I've thought, "Oh! I'm so beautiful! That lady said so!"

I guess we all need those friendly reminders, those random acts of kindness. I'm so thankful that woman took two seconds to say a few kind words to me, even if they were code for, "Thanks for not wearing those ratty shorts again," which I'm pretty sure they weren't.

So, if I were really Oprah, I would tell all of you to look under your chairs. Traffic cones and kind words for everyone! YOU get a traffic cone! And YOU get a traffic cone! And YOU get a traffic cone!

Also? You look really nice today.

What's changed your life this week?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Statues and ferries and girl power!

Last week, I visited the Statue of Liberty. As you do.

It was part of a three-day whirlwind trip to NYC with a friend. And for those keeping score at home, yes, this is how I used my frequent flyer miles instead of buying a Barbie house/chicken coop.

Anyway, we'd both seen Lady Liberty before but neither of us had actually been to Liberty Island. So, we braved the crowded ferry and got our audio guides and walked around what is truly a big statue.
She's tall.
The audio tour was bossy as hell. "Turn to your left. Look up. Now look away! Now walk three steps to your right! Now look up! I said look up! Doooo eeeeeeet!"

Combine all the directions with tourists who insisted on having their photos taken about every 10 feet so as to capture a different angle of the statue and, well, we were kind of over the whole deal.

Except.

The audio guide did drop a bombshell. And that bombshell was that when the Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled in 1886, no women were allowed at the ceremony.

According to wikipedia, the official line was that event coordinators were worried the fragile ladies would be crushed in the crowd, what with the strapping menfolk being so caught up in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A group of suffragettes chartered a boat and had their own ceremony, cheering liberty being personified as a woman. Oh, and talking about how women should be able to vote.

It only took 35 more years!

So, today, I'm thinking about that men-only ceremony to fete freedom, of all things. And I'm thinking about my grandma, who was born before women had the right to vote. And I'm thinking about my mama and the misogynistic treatment she endured in the workplace. And I'm thinking about how a kid at school told me I was "just a girl" and so what I thought didn't matter. And I'm thinking about a young friend who recently told me she'd had a similar experience. Now. In 2016.

But mostly, I'm thinking about how a woman is about to become a major party's candidate for president of the United States. In some ways, it doesn't seem like a huge deal - she got the most votes. She's mega-qualified. Cool.

Except it is a big deal. It's a huge deal. Because think of all the girls who now get to grow up thinking it's not a big deal. Of course a woman can be president. It would be silly to think otherwise!

I'm proud. I'm sad it's taken this long. I can't believe half the human race is still treated like less-than. I'm glad we're shifting, slowly but surely, to full-fledged people.

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.

Sonofa.

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.

Oh.

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 ...)