Saturday, December 13, 2014

Being the second wife.

I've got it good. I realize this.

My sweet husband was married before, but his first wife sounds like a fairly nice human. I've never met her - she lives across the country, and they didn't have kids, so it's not like there's an awkward drop off / pick up scenario multiple times a week.

I got a fantastic guy with a bit of a broken heart and some random housewares. Basically, I got leftover wedding gifts, wedding gifts for which I did not have to write thank you notes. Pretty much a win.

When we merged households, I rather subconsciously got rid of stuff from Before. If we had duplicates of something, I chose to keep mine rather than keep his. I wouldn't admit it, but I was trying to purge his first wife from our house. Sure, I'd keep the towels from her bridal registry, but I'd use them on the dogs. I sure as hell didn't want them hanging in my bathroom, reminding me that I didn't come first. I didn't want to admit it, but I was a touch insecure.

I've mellowed in the 3 and a half years we've been married. Maybe because my initial purge was so successful, or maybe because I got over my fear of being devoured by marriage, of ceasing to be myself, of somehow being in competition with this other woman.

I did have a run-in with a leaky wooden salad bowl that left me cursing her name. But other than that? My Guy's first wife isn't on my mind. After all, I've already outlasted her. This means I won, right? (What did I just say about not being in competition? Hmm. I don't recall.)

But Christmas is a tiny bit different. My sweet husband loves holiday decorations, and brought what can only be described as a shit ton of Christmas ornaments into our marriage. About 99.99% of these ornaments came from his first marriage.

We put them up. I will admit that they aren't my favorite, but they're Christmas ornaments. It's not like you can actively hate a Christmas ornament, unless it plays music incessantly.

But there's this one ornament.

It's a gingerbread man. And on the back, written in Sharpie, it reads, "Our First X-Mas 2004."

I hate this ornament. Why should I want an ornament that celebrates my husband's first Christmas with someone else?

Now, I was once in a relationship where I was supposed to pretend that I had hatched the moment we started dating. I wasn't supposed to talk about past relationships. It was a reflection on my boyfriend's insecurity and narcissism, and it was somewhat debilitating. It denied me as a fully formed human.

I sure as hell wasn't going to impose such craziness on my husband. Sure, let's put up all those ornaments you bought with your ex! They are important to you. Look how loving and accepting I am!

Except that one ornament. I hate that ornament. It surpasses my capacity for grace.

Our first 2 Christmases together, we hung the gingerbread ornament and I wanted to say something, but I didn't. Instead, I sulked just a teensy bit. Oh, woe to the second wife!

But this year? I pulled the ornament out of its bag and opened my mouth before I could even think about it. "This ornament makes me sad!" I exclaimed, holding that shady gingerbread man up for My Guy to see.

He looked at me blankly.

I turned the ornament over so he could read the inscription.

He looked at me blankly some more. Then he said, "Was that Foxie Doxie's?"

And then I laughed like a hyena.  No, the ornament didn't belong to my dead dog.

I spent years being hurt about an ornament that he had no knowledge or appreciation of. And I kept my mouth shut about it. But when I finally said, "No, this was from your first marriage," My Guy just laughed and shrugged. "Throw it away," he said.

But then I laughed some more, feeling crazy and free. "No! I don't want to throw it away now," I said. "Now, it's hysterical!"

OK, maybe not the funniest thing ever. But a reminder to go ahead and open my big mouth, and to realize that maybe my assumptions are a little off-mark. And maybe I can chill out just a bit. It's just marriage - it's not that serious.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In which my dead dog gets the last laugh.

I tried something new and crazy.

I did the kind of cleaning where you actually move stuff. Like, instead of just vacuuming around things, you move the things, and vacuum in those spaces, too.

I understand that some people do this regularly. I don't know these people.

So, anyway, I tried this new fancy cleaning. It left me feeling virtuous and slightly better than everybody else. Well, until I moved something and found dog pee.

Yes. I moved a metal storage bucket that's permanently next to the bookshelf in my office. Because sometimes, you just have stuff that belongs on the floor, and it's fine, and that's just how it is.

Unless you live with a dog who marks, a dog who does not like stuff on the floor, even furniture.

My late little Foxie Doxie was one such dog. He believed that all furniture should levitate off the floor. If it didn't, it was fair game, and he claimed it. And by "claim," I mean "peed all over."

So, the metal storage bucket thing? I picked it up and was immediately assaulted by the stench of months-old pee.

Foxie Doxie had marked the bucket. I know it was him, because the other dogs aren't markers. Lil' Frankfurter pees wherever he likes, but he's not one to mark.

But Foxie? He was an Olympic-caliber marker. And he left me one final, odoriferous gift.

I imagined him watching me from doggie heaven, satisfied that there was no doubt that the metal bucket was his. And I pictured him looking nonplussed and trotting away when I bellowed his name.
What?
The smell was ... ridiculous. The puddle had just sat there, melding with the bucket and the floor. Steam mops, baking soda, and cursing were required.

I miss that little devil.

Also? This is why you should never do the kind of cleaning where you move stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My phat dachshund.

I am not gonna lie: I am so freakin' excited.

Lil' Frankfurter, he of the inflammatory bowel disease?

Yeah. So, he was on antibiotics, and he gained a few ounces. And then he lost them. And he was looking horrible. And shaking all the time.
I'm sick but I'm pretty.
I took him to the holistic vet. And she was basically like, "This animal is critically ill."

And then I was like, "Dude. I just lost a dachshund. I can't lose another one. Here, take all my money."

So, for the last six-ish weeks, Lil' Frank has been dining like a king on canned duck and canned pumpkin, four different probiotics (including one called "Digestive Slurry!"), and two meds. He has never been happier, as he is required to eat four times a day.

Also, since the vet told me that this dog was literally freezing, I have been free to buy him many fashionable shirts and coats. On clearance, of course. But still, I am That Lady.

Yesterday, we had a check-up. Lil' Frank is now rollin' at 6 pounds, 4 ounces. He's gained a pound. He no longer looks like a dachshund dressed as Skeletor for Halloween. He's interested in his toys. His poops are kind of normal-sized. He is a total stud.

The holistic vet leveled with me: "When you first brought this dog in, he was dying."

I tried to act all, "Oh, uh-huh," about that, but I was startled.

She went on. "I'm so, so pleased with his progress. Would you mind terribly if I wrote him up for a journal? Would you happen to have any 'before' pictures?"

At this point, I laughed. I take pics of my kids every day, so, yeah, I've got pictures.
Fat, happy, and helping mama write.
But then I got to thinking ... Lil' Frank's fame is going to grow! Maybe now I can realize my true life dream of being an overbearing stage parent. Maybe my pushiness can propel Lil' Frank into pageants, movies, or - dare I even dream! - a reality show!

My Guy was a little less thrilled with my horrendous parenting, but ecstatic about the weight gain. Our 8-year-old now weighs almost as much as I did as a newborn. Hurray!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book It! And get a personal pan pizza!

Or ... just enjoy some good reads and omit that grease from your diet. Whatever.

Here are a few books that I've enjoyed (or not) as of late.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants - I'm pretty much the last human on the planet to read Malcolm Gladwell. There, I said it. Feel free to shame me openly. I don't know why I've resisted his books, but I enjoyed this one. His approach to revisiting ideas that are mostly givens (but shouldn't be) is refreshing. Except for the section about people whose kids had been murdered, this was a really invigorating read. (Dead kids. I just can't do it.)

Fragile Beasts: A Novel - In Coal Run and Back Roads, Tawni O'Dell so beautifully captures small-town life, its politics, and its bittersweet honesty. In Fragile Beasts, some of that delicate narrative is there, but she also intersperses tales of Spain and bullfighting. Now, I'm from a small town, so those sections really spoke to me. But I'm not from Spain, so the bullfighting sections? Not so much. Still, an engrossing read.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema - Gurl, I love me some old-school Hollywood gossip. Current gossip? Ehh. But give me a Mack Sennett bathing beauty with a coke problem or a 1930s gangster actor with a little bigamy issue, and I'm all over it. Anne Helen Petersen is literally a doctor of celebrity gossip and wrote a series of fascinating columns for The Hairpin. Now, she's pulled together all new content about the Hollywood truth machine in this fab book. Pickford and Fairbanks? Check. Bogey and Bacall? Check. Montgomery Clift? Oh, check. Check it out.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life - It's no secret that I love me some Wade Rouse. He's hilarious and honest, and this memoir of leaving the city to live amongst nature and dirt and stuff is funny and tender. Wade isn't afraid to dish about times when he was a fish out of water and looked like a fool. Sure, his ego might have taken a hit, but we readers benefit. This book is also a lesson in accepting yourself and how imperfections make our perfection.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler novelized the life of the most infamous author's spouse around. This book is at times energizing and at others heartbreaking. Mostly, it raises the question of whether Zelda really was crazy, or just a narcissist trapped by a bad marriage and restrictive gender roles. When I read The Paris Wife, I decided that I'd made a good life choice by not marrying Ernest Hemingway. After reading Z, I determined that not marrying Scott Fitzgerald was a similar life win.

So, friends, what are you reading? What should I pick up next?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Things I said before 9 a.m.

"The backyard is not a buffet!"

"Are you trying to have a shit-eating grin?"

"Eating poo is not your best life decision!"

"Don't lick his ween!"

"Put your penis away. Seriously."

It's gonna be a long day.
You're not the boss of me, lady.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stack your pets for easy storage.

I'm having trouble getting motivated today. Nothing seems more important that holding my shivering Lil' Frankfurter.

He's always cold.

It hurts my heart, but it has created moments that have warmed my heart considerably.

We have a lot of hot dachshund-on-labradoodle action at our house. It looks affectionate, but I'm pretty sure it's just Lil' Frank's way of scamming body heat from Big Doodle. The Stack, as we call it, takes on many shapes and forms.

There's The Wall Stack:
 The Face-in-Crotch Stack:
 The Bathroom Tile Stack:
The "Hey - Let's Spread Out Right in Front of the Dishwasher Because That's Super Convenient" Stack:
 The Sunshine Stack:
 The "Holy Crap, Those are Two Cute Butts" Stack:
 And, of course, The Mega Adorable Stack:
It kind of burns your retinas, doesn't it?

Monday, September 15, 2014

I'm bad at grieving.

Thank you for the kind words about the passing of Foxie Doxie. They truly mean more than I can ever say.

This is hard.

I'm cycling through all the stages of I'm-not-good-at-this grief:
  • Eat your feelings. Pad Thai for breakfast and pizza for lunch? Don't mind if I do!
  • Sleep. All the damned time. My excuse is that sleep was a rare commodity the last week of Foxie Doxie's life. The truth is probably closer to "I don't want to face the world."
  • Watch "Rambo: First Blood Part II." This is actually a really good movie. If you're grieving, I highly recommend channeling your pain through John Rambo. He will shoot people, and it will make you feel better. You'll feel guilty for feeling better, but you'll feel better.
  • Call your parents and start crying when you hear your dad's kind, even voice. Make him tell you all about how he went to coffee and then to the dentist this morning, and take comfort in your dad being your dad and the beauty of the everyday.
  • Make an executive decision to wash your hair and put on some pants. Not sweatpants. Real pants. Implement this decision, even though it takes longer than usual to prepare to face the world.
  • Leave the house. See friends. Realize the depth and breadth of your riches, as well as the simple power of a frou-frou cocktail.
  • Love on your dogs. They're hurting, too. Cuddle up, even though the entire house still smells like dog pee and you should scrub the floors instead. Choose love and a slight funk over a clean house.
What's your go-to stage of grief? Clearly, I'm no expert. Any suggestions?