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."

Heh.

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!
YEEEEEAAAAAAAH! Yo, Adrian!
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.

Love,
Becky

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The cold, hard, dead truth about being a grown-up.

I saw the mouse poo in the silverware drawer and only had a moment to process that hey, there's shit on my utensils for the second time in 5 days before I heard the dogfight.

I abandoned the poo and looked out the window. On the patio, 90-pound Big Doodle and 7-pound Lil' Frankfurter were playing tug-of-war with some sort of toy. And they were really into it, their play fighting on the verge of real fighting. Except that they don't have toys outside. And the toy they were fighting over looked a lot like a squirrel.

Next thing I knew, I was outside, broom in hand, and someone was screaming. It might have been me.

I waved the broom I use to sweep poop off the patio. The dog kids were nonplussed. As my screaming reached octaves that only dogs can hear, the giant fluffball and tiny Chipotle burrito of a dog both dropped their end of the squirrel. They eyed each other warily, each waiting for the opportunity to snatch the squirrel and run.

I waved the poop broom and screeched. The dogs gave up and went inside. My husband and I passed each other in the doorway, me going in, he going out to check out the squirrel. I stood at the door and pulled my shirt over my face until he came back inside, grim-faced.

"Well," he said, "It's still alive. I'm hoping it's just in shock. Let's just leave it and see what happens."

"Don't let the dogs kiss you ever, ever again," I said.
"What? We're nice guys. We didn't even kill that squirrel."

And then we went about our day, like it was just another normal day. Sure, we had a maybe-dying squirrel right outside our door and mouse poo all over our silverware. Pssh! No big whoop!

Nothing makes a tiny kitchen feel bigger than having to Clorox wipe every single surface. By the time I was done sanitizing my Kleenex-sized kitchen, my husband was conveniently asleep and the dogs had to go potty.

Oh, hell.

I checked on our squirrel friend. He had gone to the great tree in the sky. But just his spirit. He conveniently left his carcass on my patio. Thanks, pal.

I got 3 Target bags and a shovel. I layered 2 of the bags into a little pocket next to the carcass. And as I used an awkward baggie/shovel maneuver to get the body into the bags, I thought back about how I wanted to date and/or get married because I needed someone to take care of carcass removal.

But there ain't no outrunning being an adult. Sometimes, it's your turn to bag up the dead squirrel.

A few days later, a friend stopped by with her 9-year-old daughter. As fate would have it, there was a dead chipmunk on my front porch. Because I keep an elegant home. And it's a dangerous season for small woodland creatures.

My friend and I both tried to redirect the 9-year-old. However, the girl was obsessed with the dead chipmunk. "Do you think it's sleeping? No way, it's dead! That's soooo grooooss! Ewww! It's totally dead! I can't believe I'm so close to something that's dead! It's so disGUSTing!"

Her mom and I just looked at each other. In the grand scheme of adulthood, a dead chipmunk is pretty tame - way easier to flip into a Target bag than a squirrel, that's for sure. And less of a pain in the ass than mice in the kitchen.

We let the girl be grossed out. Her time would come.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

An open letter to my husband on our 4th anniversary.

My sweet -

Last weekend is a perfect example of our marriage.

Friday night, I was tired and cranky. I was totally your dream wife. Then, I realized that there were mouse turds in the silverware drawer.

If I were a 3-year-old, I would have had a full-blown temper tantrum. As a 39-year-old, I had a half-assed temper tantrum. Perhaps I am out of practice.

But you, voice o' reason, said, "You know, you don't have to clean the entire kitchen right this second. It can wait. Come sit."

And so I did. And then things started to be OK. Thank you for that.

Saturday, we had the bright idea to "just go look" at IKEA. Of course, this meant that we found ourselves standing outside everyone's favorite Swedish superstore at 9 p.m. as it was closing, surrounded by three ginomous couch boxes that - whoops! - weren't all going to fit in the truckasaurus.

And the latch to fold down the back seat was broken. Ha!

You were the brawn. I was the brains who thought to call a friend who lived nearby and had an SUV. You managed to get the back seat of the truckasaurus down. I managed to stop laughing like a stressed-out hyena. We got home and the couch got home with us. It worked.

Sunday? Sunday, we worked together to rearrange furniture, and you put together our new couch. I know assembling IKEA furniture is responsible for the demise of many relationships, but I think we weathered the storm well. It might have something to do with you being a fix-it genius and me leaving the house.

I appreciate you.

Damn. You're handsome.
And Sunday night? We sat on our new couch and watched "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," because we'd never seen it and felt like we were missing a cultural must-have. I covered my face through about half of the movie. And you kindly and patiently told me, "Not yet ... oooh! ... yeah, definitely not yet ... keep 'em covered ... well ... OK, I think it's safe now."

You are a true pal and partner and prevented me from having nightmares for the next 7 years. Thank you.

Also? You surprised me with graham crackers and frosting while we watched (or didn't watch) the movie. Because you are full of surprises and fun.

You are a true partner and friend. You make me laugh every day and teach me about compassion and computers on a regular basis. I am so blessed to be your wife - or, as you say, "mah woman."

Thank you. I love you.

Becky

P.S. This morning, when I asked you where your pants were? And you referred to our living room as "a clothing dispersal system?" Like, I want to be annoyed, but mostly you just make me laugh? And maybe that's a good lesson? But also, our living room isn't a laundry basket? But mostly I just like you?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I'm letting someone help me and now I'm not quite so psycho. Coincidence?

Like a lot of people, I have trouble accepting help. As kind of a bossypants control freak, it's sometimes nice that my kitchen is the size of  Kleenex. I can use the close quarters as an excuse to ask people to get out of my space and my way. I'm a grown-ass lady and I take care of my own shit.

So, accepting help? No way. Asking for help? You have got to be kidding. And delegating? Well, let's just say that was a hard-earned ability when I was a groan-up working at Corporate Behemoth. It's taking me years to master side plank in yoga, and it took me years to master delegation at work, too.

Now that I'm self-employed, there's really no delegation to be done. The dogs don't pull their weight, but I've mostly made peace with it. And around the house? Well, in theory, it should be a lot easier to take care of stuff since I'm here all the time. My advice for anyone who works from home? If you're having a bad work day, throw in a load of laundry. At least you'll be able to say you accomplished something.

Laundry is fine. But I hate cleaning.

My Guy has helped me identify my 1 and, of course, only psycho bad habit: I tired clean. When I should just go to bed or at least sit on the couch, you can find me cleaning a toilet somewhere. It's my meager effort to have control when I'm feeling frayed. Unlike laundry, it doesn't make me feel productive - it just makes me angry. Who is this MAN living in my HOUSE who makes things DIRTY? Who are these DOGS who just SHED EVERYWHERE and don't even have JOBS?

I don't think tired cleaning is acknowledged by the DSM-5, but it should be.

I've been on a collision course for some time. Years, really.

And I've had the card of a highly recommended cleaning woman. This card has been in my desk drawer for more than a year. About once a month, I'd take the card out, look at it, and then put it back in the drawer.

About two months ago, I snapped.

I was tired cleaning and basically hit rock bottom, like a junkie. Our shower was scummy and I was mad. Neither of us had the energy to clean after working long days. We had the financial means to pay someone to help us. And I was so tired that my pride, my bossypantsness, my need for control just fell away. I gave in.

Valencia came to clean. The first time, it took her 6 hours to clean our trust-me-not-large house. It was just that dirty. But Valencia was kind and the dogs loved her - except when she vacuumed. I worked while she cleaned.

Sitting at my desk, something inside me just popped. I realized that true luxury isn't a yacht or partying with rappers - because I totally thought it was, right? No. True luxury is opening yourself up to having someone else give to you.
Not a staged photo.

Valencia has thanked me for the opportunity to clean, but holy bananas. Having her clean my house is like getting a massage, but maybe even better. It's like how I would feel sitting at my grandparents' dinette on a dark, chilly morning, knowing that my grandpa was making the world's best oatmeal for me. He didn't do anything remarkable to the oatmeal - he just cooked up some Quaker Oats. But that oatmeal is still the best oatmeal I've ever had. It was a gift to me, a simple act of service. And as a little kid, I had the good sense to sit and wait for the oatmeal, and then devour it.

So, I'm practicing this long-lost skill. Valencia comes to work her magic, and I work at my computer. And every now and then, I revel in the fact that my house is being cleaned by someone who is not me, by someone who is glad to do it. And it's a great fit. And all I had to do was let go.