Thursday, June 25, 2015

Love is helping your honey walk around the driveway.

I have a crush on my octogenarian neighbor. He sits in a lawn chair outside his garage quite a bit, and is always quick with a smile and a wave when I walk by with the dogs. He's also the guy who told me that he was cleaning up his yard because his grandson was coming, and he didn't want the young man to think that his ol' grandpa was getting soft.

See? Crush. Deep crush.

I hadn't seen Cute Neighbor Man for a while, and I started to worry. But then I started seeing him driving past with his wife at the wheel. They would both wave, and I would wave in return, resisting the urge to throw myself in front of their vehicle and demand to know what was going on.

We are neighbors, maybe six houses away. I don't even know their names. But we smile and wave and exchange pleasantries. I certainly don't know them well enough to ask if everything is OK.

Recently, Cute Neighbor Man resumed his post in the driveway, this time with a walker and his wife by his side. Her hair is the most beautiful color of silver. And the walker seemed an unwelcome interloper.

The dogs and I walked by. We smiled and waved. It felt like such an invasion to ask about the walker and compression hose, so we chatted about a neighbor's remodeling project. I was talking about new windows, but what I really meant was, "You are brave and amazing."

A few days ago, the dogs and I walked by as Cute Neighbor Man was making his way down the driveway, aided by a cane. His wife was by his side, ready to grab her love should he falter.

Although they were just doing a little physical therapy in the cool morning air, I felt as though I had stumbled into a very intimate, private moment. It was a scene of trust and dedication and true partnership.

And then there was pride. Cute Neighbor Man was clearly embarrassed to be seen at a weak moment. Big Doodle trotted towards him, and my neighbor said, "I know, you say, 'Why's that guy walking so funny?'" He smiled.

I looked down at my huge dog with the hot mess haircut from his medical adventures, the lanky pup with a funny gait from having basically no hip sockets left. I smiled. "You know," I said, "It's fine, because he's walking funny, too."

I was talking about my dog, but what I was really saying was, "We all have our moments. We're all delicate. It's OK."

And we all laughed, and I took my dogs on down the street. Not because I didn't want to cheer on these lovely, good people, but because I was an interloper. They were in the thick of Marriage.

We celebrate youth and weddings. But I can't help but think we're missing the boat. We should celebrate the mate who drives you to your colonoscopy and doesn't make fun of you too much. Or the spouse that gracefully supports a venture that may or may not be crazy because their love is in love with it. There should be marriage merit badges, and ceremonies and parties for reaching certain milestones.

But it's all so intimate. I'm guessing my neighbors wouldn't want that kind of attention. But I just might make my husband a sash and some badges. It seems appropriate.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Traveling the country, like "Kung Fu" or "Highway to Heaven."

When Geriatric Poodle wasn't so geriatric, his spleen just kinda ripped in half for no reason.

We happened to be at the vet. He collapsed, like that scene from "Bambi" when the animals are learning to ice skate. His legs just slid out from under him. It was horrible.

A few hours later, I was driving across town to the emergency vet. I had a comatose poodle on my lap and a bag of donor blood in the seat next to us. I was barely - barely! - keeping it together.

In the parking lot of the emergency vet, a rather granola-ish lady was getting in her car. She stopped and visited with us. She said, "Your baby is very ill."

Although I was thinking, "Yeah, no shit," I did not have any mental reserves, and speaking without crying was a challenge. So I just nodded.

She said, "I'm a poiwnvoipuiyswekrhlkwyer healer. May I send healing energy to your dog?"

I literally have no idea what kind of healer she said she was. But I nodded, and she put her hands on my sweet dog. Healer Lady closed her eyes, and Not-So-Geriatric Poodle sighed.

And then Healer Lady told us to have a blessed day, got in her Corolla, and left.

After a scary few days, my poodle pal was just fine. We never found out what caused the torsion, but he didn't seem to miss his spleen. Who knew an entire organ could be so superfluous?

Sometimes I think about Healer Lady. I wonder if I imagined her, or if she was some sort of magician, just traveling the land from emergency vet to emergency vet, healing animals in the parking lots. I would totally watch that show. But if nothing else, I was and am so thankful for the thoughtfulness, and the energy.

Which brings us to this week.

I was back at the emergency vet, this time with Big Doodle. We thought he had a UTI, but now it looks like it might be something more complicated and/or sinister. He's one test result away from driving two hours to a vet school so they can scope a camera up his private parts.

All the vets we've seen have been so kind and complimentary. "I see a lot of dogs," one of them said. "This is literally one of the nicest dogs I've ever met."

"I couldn't believe it," said another. "He let me catheterize him like it was nothing."

High praise, indeed.

Of all the people we've seen, we haven't yet seen Healer Lady. I've seen a lot of Anxiety-Ridden Mom in the mirror, but I'm not feeling chill and centered. I'm feeling like I could probably go for an Ativan and a stiff drink.
Behold, the boy's amazing, ultrasound-friendly summer haircut.
So, if you would? Consider sending a little healing energy to Big Doodle. Or if you see Healer Lady? Direct her Corolla our way. Thanks.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wuhve. Twuu wuhve.

I'm tucked away in my office, listening in on my husband's conference call. I'm not trying to be a Nosy Nellie, but he's on speakerphone down the hall, and I have ears. Also, I would very much like to go use the blender, but I'm guessing that would be bad marital etiquette.

His voice his calm and measured. But I can tell he's mad as hell. Like, "Ima burn down your cubicle with you sittin' in it" angry.

I guess this is a symptom of marriage. Not the plotting homicide part. The "I know what you're really thinking" part. You spend so much time with someone that you learn the subtleties of their language. Verbal language, sure. But tone and delivery and timing and holy crap, don't even get me started on body language.

I freely admit I'm a novice at this whole marriage thing. It's been 4 years and I still have moments of wondering when this person is going to go home. But one of the real joys so far has been getting to truly know this amazing, interesting, textured person.

He's introduced me to new things about myself, too. I was not fully aware of how completely psychokitty I can be when I'm exhausted. Now, he reads my signs and I see his signals. I start to tired clean, and he physically points me in the direction of the bedroom. He's kind yet firm, and I realize, "Oh, he means business and I'm too tired to do anything that will end well." We have a system. A shorthand.

In the past, when I'd broken up with boyfriends, I would mourn the shorthand and the inside jokes. But I had no idea. Dating - and I once dated a guy for 7 years - offers the Cliffs Notes of couple shorthand. Marriage is more of an Encyclopedia Britannica. Do either of this publications still exist, or do they now collectively go by the moniker "Wikipedia?"

At any rate, I will stick with my old-school references and my old-school thoughts about marriage. It's a privilege. And I married well. And if he does burn somebody's cubicle to the ground, I will bail him out.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mice. Why did it have to be mice?

The first thing I did was pour some wine and turn up the Earth, Wind & Fire.

Of course, I'm talking about finding mouse poo in my silverware drawer again. Again again. For the fourth time in 2 months.

My Guy has set traps. I've shoved foil in every crevice of the cabinet boxes and sprayed peppermint oil everywhere. And yet?

And yet. The lure of the tortilla chips in the bread drawer is just too strong. And you can't make a trip to the bread drawer without first shitting all over the silverware drawer. Duh.

I will admit this freely: I got myself good and drunk while tearing my kitchen apart for the fourth time in recent memory. I could try to blame it on fumes from the bleach wipes, but let's be honest: it was the wine, and then the bloody mary. Oh, and the bitterness. Don't forget the bitterness.

My impaired state did give me a special insight, though. It seems so odd that this evil force would continue to rise up again and again. This isn't how the world works at all. I have to believe that good eventually wins out or my little heart will explode.

But ... what if the mice aren't evil? What if our little rodent brethren are ... the good guys?

This would make me the bad guy. The antagonist, if you will. I am the evil doer, the force trying to stop hardworking mice folk who just need a tortilla chip to feed their families. I have no excuse for attempting to hoard all the tortilla chips. None.

It was at this point in my drunken introspection that I realized: I am Hans Gruber.

My house is the set of "Die Hard," and the mouse is Bruce Willis, walking barefoot across broken glass, trying to get to the tortilla chips. That makes me evil Hans Gruber, being all German and bad.

Or maybe the scene playing out is "The Lego Movie," and I'm maniacal President Business. The mouse and his pals are the regular Lego folk, and I'm attempting to squash their dreams. Everything is not awesome!

But no. My house is now "The Sound of Music." The mice are the Von Trapp family, except instead of climbing over the Alps to freedom, they are traversing my kitchen cabinets, looking for freedom in the form of slightly stale tortilla chips. And I'm a Nazi! I'm like Liesl's dirty Nazi boyfriend, Rolfe, standing up for all that is wrong and Fascist and khaki.

I may be slightly overreacting. I'm probably just The Six-Fingered Man from "The Princess Bride," and the 1 lone, poor little mouse is Inigo Montoya. Last fall, I killed his father in a trap, and now he must get vengeance by eating all my tortilla chips and/or giving me the plague by pooping on my cereal spoon. Except that I don't speak mouse and therefore can't decipher it when he's all, "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You kill my father! Prepare to die!" So it kind of loses some of its impact.

Or, maybe my meager kitchen is the site of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Our little mouse friend is Indiana Jones, trying to keep the tortilla chips out of the wrong hands.

Try not to be jealous of my mad Photoshop skillz.

And yet again, I am a Nazi. Fitting, no? Mouse Indiana gets the tortilla chips, but then I throw away what's left of the bag, and then where is he? Maybe the big garbage can in the garage is my home's equivalent of the gigantic warehouse at the end of the movie, where stuff gets stashed, never to be seen again. And I admit, when I first saw the mouse poo? It did feel like my face was melting.

I would be willing to proclaim myself the bad guy, to own up to being in the wrong if it meant no more mouse poo. Don't get me wrong - I'm mega psyched that Indiana Mouse has finally stopped exploring the dish towel and waxed paper drawers and now focuses solely on the bread and silverware drawers. I'd just appreciate it if he found another movie set to explore.

Otherwise, I might have to channel Drew Barrymore in "Firestarter."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This is 40. Or, how I almost killed myself doing a lazy triathlon.

So, we're at the beach.
This is the beach, yo.
It's lovely. My Guy and I are having a combo celebration covering both our anniversary and my birthday. We like to multitask.

I decided that instead of being depressed about turning the big 4-oh, I would be thankful. So many people don't get this privilege. And, as My Guy and I discussed, we are rich as helllllll. We are happy and healthy and engaged in pursuits that challenge us and bring us joy. We are surrounded by healthy, loving, amazing friends and family. We have the 2 best dogs in the universe. (OK, we have 1 great dog and 1 jerkface dog, but I will fight anyone who says they are less than amazing.)

Life is good.

And so, I decided I wanted to celebrate 40 with feats of strength. I wanted to push myself and prove that I am capable of much more than I realize. My Guy, the jock, was more than willing. And so, my sweet husband created The Lazy Triathlon.

Instead of swim/bike/run, The Lazy Triathlon would include kayaking, riding tourist bikes, and walking on the beach. It all sounded pretty sweet.

First up? Walking on the beach. This is pretty much in my top 5 things to do ever, so easy peasy. One morning, we walked to the end of the beach. 10,000 barefoot steps before 11 a.m.? Don't mind if I do!

We decided to tackle the kayaking and biking back-to-back. First up? Kayaking. So peaceful and amazing. I cannot stress enough the value of a) an athletic husband; and b) a 2-seater kayak. I sat in the front and paddled away, feeling like a total badass. However, if we're honest? My Guy did the heavy lifting here. But we floated past mangroves and watched fish and birds and were totally 1 with nature, bitches.

For those keeping track, I wore my water shoes for the kayaking. Best $11.99 Target purchase ever, because even though I've worn them exactly twice in 8 years, just owning them makes me feel like I might be an athletic person.

After the kayaking, I felt the need for a snack. Also, it was hot. Damn hot. And my shorts were wet from the kayak. I left my shorts to dry on the dash of the rental car and walked into the snack bar wearing my swimsuit. Again, like a real, live athletic person.

The snack bar did not have snacks so much as it had a fryer. I selected french fries to fuel my biking adventure. They truly seemed like the best choice, as the other options all involved meat in casings. I was being an athlete by choosing fries.

Let's overlook the fact that most truly athletic ventures do not include the term "snack bar."

By the time I consumed those bad boy fries, my shorts were dry. I changed into my tennis shoes and realized it was approximately 700 degrees out. No problem - I was wearing a hat, and donning my third footwear choice for this third stage of The Lazy Triathlon.

My Guy and I rented 1-gear bikes. These were bikes that would even make The Golden Girls scoff. But they were our bikes, and off we went.

Full sun. Belly full o' french fries. Using muscles that last saw action during the Reagan administration. Good times.

Well, good times until I realized that fries are salty and I was dehydrated. And in full sun.

About that time, an older couple passed us on bikes. "I thought we were the only crazy ones," the man exclaimed. The woman, with teased hair of a color not found in nature, smiled gamely, but I could see it in her eyes. She was not having fun. She was indoorsy.

I briefly considered grabbing the woman and suggesting that we sit in the shade while the menfolk biked around like damned fools. But then I remembered my desire for kicking ass and taking names via feats of strength. We pedaled on.

To his credit, My Guy fully acknowledged how hot and miserable the entire experience was. His conversation ranged from "We can stop anytime" to "Tredge, tredge, tredge" to "I really doubt we'll actually die out here." And when I told him to shut up? He just laughed.

We biked and biked and biked. And then realized later that we had biked a little beyond the actual endpoint of the official trail. We were champions!

To be honest, the trail was paved and flat. But this was my second time on a bike in 20 years. And the air was like lava, if lava were, you know, air.

But we did it. We completed The Lazy Triathlon. And I didn't even die. I thought I was going to throw up, but I avoided that, too. It was a win all around.
Me, after completing The Lazy Triathlon. I love my husband so much that I cropped him out of this photo because we both look completely insane. Look at those eyes. Those aren't the eyes of a sane person.
We've joked about getting a "TRI" sticker for the my car, but I think it's a bad idea. After all, then people will want to talk to me about my tri experience, and then they'll learn that The Lazy Triathlon was about 2,586% better than their tri, and then they'll just feel bad. And who needs that?

I guess this is the grace that comes with age. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An open letter to the kids who went to prom in Des Moines on Saturday.

Dear friends,

I had no idea that getting your prom photos taken outside of the Iowa statehouse was a thing.

But it totally makes sense. With its gold dome, the capitol is pretty stunning. I tend to feel sorry for all other state capitols, as they are clearly deficient. As my brother pointed out, this is especially true for Nebraska. He referred to their skyscraper capitol as "The Penis of the Plains."


But anyway. You all looked so lovely in all your prom finery. I realize I'm now an old biddy, because I look at you and think you look to be about 12, and I have old-lady thoughts like, "I'm so glad long dresses are back in style. Nobody needs to see vagina at prom."

But you looked great.

Now, I feel like perhaps I should apologize for what happened on the steps of the statehouse, but then again? Maybe I should just explain.

My incredible family feted me with a surprise early birthday celebration. These amazing people planned many fun surprises, and we had a wonderful time together. Saturday afternoon, we spent 3 hours and $36 playing arcade games and drinking beer. We had no idea my dad was such a pinball whiz, but it's true. You learn new things about the people you love all the time.

I should probably also mention that at this bar/arcade, my mom and I were hit on by 2 very nice gentlemen. They tried to buy her shots and bought me a beer. You're in high school and don't need to drink and probably get hit on 24/7 because you're young, hot, and hormonal, but this was a big deal to us. See, I'm turning 40 next week. And my mom has been married for 46 years. Having these guys hit on us was kind of the highlight of our years.

We were feeling giddy.

And so, when we were walking back to the car, post-arcade? It just made sense that I would run up the steps of the statehouse, a la "Rocky."

At first, we thought all the matching white tuxes meant there was a wedding. But then, we realized that it was prom, and photos were the name of the game. So, we improvised, and decided that instead of running up the steps to the statehouse, I'd just run up the steps leading up to the steps of the statehouse. There are a lot of steps.

I played "Gonna Fly Now" on my phone and ran up the steps while my family cheered and my mom captured the magic on video. I ended jogging at the top, arms raised in triumph.
No, I'm not having a seizure. I'm triumphing over adversity.
Except that the camera didn't work. We had to reenact the magic. No problem. I played "Gonna Fly Now" and ran up the next section of stairs. We got more into it, and my family pretended to be the kids in "Rocky II" who run up the steps with him. We were fucking champions.

But the camera didn't work again. So, we re-re-enacted the moment, looking more ridiculous than ever but having a great time. Pretending to be Rocky without actually getting punched is pretty sweet. I highly recommend it. You're gonna eat lightening and you're gonna crap thunder!
So, my friends? That's why you have a ragtag group of random people running and jumping around in the background of your prom photos. Years from now, when you're showing your prom photos to your kids and grand kids, you can tell them that while getting dressed up and fancy is fun? Acting silly and looking stupid is where the real joy is.

Also? You're gonna regret those white tuxes.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Toast to an old friend.

I had to say good-bye to a dear friend. We'd been through a lot together. This is hard.

See, when I got my first apartment, my grandma gave me an extra toaster. She preferred the one she'd had for 50 years, and I couldn't blame her - it made the best toast. Someone had given her this "new" toaster, and she'd kept it as a back-up, but never used it. When she gave me this back-up toaster, it was in the box. And the box contained coupons for 10 cents off a loaf of bread. The coupons expired in 1978.

This was 1996.

So, The Toaster and I began a beautiful relationship.

I love me some toast, and The Toaster never failed me. We moved 9 times together, but the toast never changed. It was crunchy but not burnt, soft but not gooey. The Toaster was from a time when men were men and appliances were appliances. The Toaster was built to last.

When I got married and My Guy asked if we should register for a new toaster, I scoffed. There would be no other toaster. There was One True Toaster. The 3 of us settled into a happy home.

A few months ago, The Toaster sort of popped his lid. His metal casing kind of exploded, and I couldn't get it to pop back together. Luckily, I am married to A Man, and he did some sort of manly magic to right The Toaster. Everything was fine. It was so fine, in fact, that The Toaster and I experienced a kind of Toast Renaissance. I rediscovered toast - cinnamon toast, peanut butter toast, even toast with a runny egg and A-1 Steak Sauce. Everything was great.

Until last weekend.

Last weekend, I pulled The Toaster out of his nest in the lazy susan. When I set him on the kitchen counter, his guts just kind of went everywhere. The metal casing went all cattywampus, and the lever for assigning the level of toastiness popped off and flew across the room. It was bad. Real bad.

My Guy spent about 20 minutes that night piecing The Toaster back together. But even when things looked OK-ish, the lever still wouldn't smoosh back together. And then there was the little detail about The Toaster buzzing violently whenever we plugged it in.

"Babe, this just isn't safe," my sweet husband said. "It's time. It's time to get a new toaster."

I ordered the highest rated metal toaster I could find on Amazon that didn't cost a gajillion dollars. I love me some toast, but there is no way I'm spending more than $40 on a toaster. The new toaster arrived a few days ago, but I couldn't even open the box.

The Toaster was still on the kitchen counter.

I just wasn't ready.

So, here's a photographic retrospective of my time with The Toaster. I encourage you to listen to Boyz II Men's "It's so hard to say good-bye to yesterday" or maybe Sarah McLaughlin's "I will remember you" while perusing this album.

The Toaster was a super fun dude. We had some good times.
Road trip!
Ain't no party like an appliance party cuz an appliance party don't stop unless someone throws a breaker!
This was an epic night. The Toaster didn't remember much the next day. But he was in better shape than that drunk-ass blender. That dude can never hold his liquor.
The Toaster and I had quiet times, too. He was a particular fan of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
Once things went bad, we tried everything to make The Toaster feel better. The ace bandage didn't even help. And if Bactine can't fix it? Well, you're in trouble.
In the end, we opted for a Viking funeral. It was so hard, but it was what he wanted.
If you need me, I'll be home, eating untoasted bread and raising a glass to a friend who gave all he had to give.