Friday, September 23, 2016

How YOU doin'?

My Guy and I have noticed an alarming trend as of late. And that trend is the dearth of people who genuinely inquire about our wellbeing.

It sounds pretty "Woe is me!" But hear me out.

It turns out I married an introvert-who-pretends-to-be an-extrovert. Like me. And upon comparing notes, we've both admitted similar experiences. In gatherings and conversations with friends and family, we both ask questions. We listen actively. We work to make the other person feel important and loved.

And ... we don't get a whole lot of that back.

I thought it was just me. But My Guy admitted it happens to him all the time, too. So, I've been paying closer attention.

In a recent three-hour convo, we were asked about our dogs. And our house. And that's it. This, from close relatives.

It's kind of a bummer. But it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy of keeping shit close to the vest, because now when people to ask how we are? We are so shocked by the inquiry and, dare I say, leery of the intent, that we respond with a nicety instead of a more in-depth, accurate response.

I guess if you talk about yourself for two hours and then ask in passing how I'm doing, I don't feel compelled to bare my soul to you.

Is this the introvert's lot in life? Are my husband and I just horrible people? Or is it now such a luxury to be listened to that it makes people high and incapable of functioning? And by "functioning," I mean "holding up their side of a two-sided conversation?"

Part of it might be that our peer group is knee-deep in KIDS! and so talks about KIDS! quite a bit. Obviously, we don't have a horse in that race, so there's no "And how are your young'uns?" in response to our query. But by the same token, I'm super glad your kid is taking swimming lessons and therefore won't drown. However, I didn't actually want to talk about it for 20 minutes. When I was practicing active listening and nodded my approval at learning how not to die around large bodies of water? I was just being nice. I wasn't asking for more detail. I already know how to swim.

But I've seen it with other groups, too. With people who are supposed to love us who actually just ... want stuff? They want time. They want attention. And these are people we love, and we're happy to oblige ... to a point. But after hours of talking about you, well, aren't you tired? Because we are. And we love you. But even we are sick of talking about you.

I'm not saying we're saints of conversation, or even terribly nice people. I'm saying that upon discussing this recently, I asked My Guy, "How did we get here?" And he responded with, "Well, it certainly wasn't by having people genuinely ask how we're doing."

And then I laughed and laughed. Because at least we're in this terribly lonely place together. But seriously. What happened to basic human interaction?

And yes, if you were to ask? I'm OK but I've been sad for a few weeks. And now My Guy has given me a horrible cold and I want to be gracious about it because it wasn't on purpose but I also want to kick him in the skull. Thanks for asking.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zombie-ing for beginners.

It's been a summer of varmints and bugs and gross stuff. First, the ever-popular mice. Then, I got stung by a wasp. And there was some eye rabies in there, too. Good thing I've already locked in My Guy because if it weren't for that whole legally binding marriage thing? He would be outta here.

I figured The Rule of Three applied, so I was done. Mice, eye rabies, wasp. I was free! Except I was mistaken.

The wasp sting didn't heal. And then I got what are called "satellites" - basically, a rash away from the original sting. Grooooooss. And one of the satellites was huuuuuuuge. I broke down and went to the allergist.

Now, the allergist was all prepared to do venom testing and find out if I'm cray-cray allergic to wasps and need to walk around with a $750 epi-pen hanging around my neck at all times. Except she took one look at my giant satellite and was visibly disappointed.

"Oh, that's not a satellite. That's a spider bite."

She deflated just a touch. I recoiled. A WHAT?

So, basically, I got bit by a spider in the middle of the night. And now the bite is all inflamed and angry and itchy and gross looking and clearly no one has ever suffered as I am currently suffering. But instead of providing me with a careful treatment plan, the allergist told me two things.

Take some Zyrtec. And watch for necrotizing tissue.

You know. Tissue with necrosis. Tissue that is dying and rotting on my person.

Ewwwwwwwwwww.

So, My Guy and I have become mildly obsessed with the spider bite. I was all pouty and sad, so we went out for tacos last night. We had to wait 20 minutes for a server, and my sweet husband chalked it up to no one wanting to be around my possibly rotting shoulder. Later, as I responded to a work email, he kept helpfully suggesting, "Don't mention the shoulder! Avoid all shoulder talk! You can't let them know!"

At least now I have an easy way to taunt him. "Don't make me rub my shoulder on you."

It's all fun and games until someone's body starts to rot. Is this what it's like being a zombie? You get bit by a zombie and you feel a little weird, but you aren't sure if you really got bit, so you just watch to see if your body starts rotting? Do potential zombies meditate and use essential oils in hopes of staving off the zombieness? Would an ice pack on the zombie bite help?

I'm not sure how any of this is supposed to work. So, I'm taking Zyrtec and icing my shoulder and watching for giant chunks of my body to fall off. Oh, also? I'm burning down my house because SPIDERS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Artist's depiction of this blog after my entire body rots and falls off in chunks, which my dogs will obviously try to eat because everything in my house is gross. See also: spiders.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stings suck, or why I will no longer be bullied by the wasp lobby.

I've been spending a lot of time outside. Not because I like outside, but because my dachshund cannot be left unattended.

He loves tomatoes.

And now that my tomato plants are finally bearing fruit, he views my tiny garden plot as his personal salad bar. I say, "Frank! Get outta the tomatoes!" approximately 437 times a day.
So, I was standing next to the tomatoes, keeping watch while Lil' Frankfurter pretended to be looking for a place to potty. I was just standing there, you know? So, I decided to pull a weed.

Note to self: Pulling weeds is for suckers. Because I evidently interrupted a wasp. And to show his displeasure, that wasp stung my arm. Twice.

I like to think that I didn't start screaming "FUCK!" repeatedly until I was actually inside my house. For any neighbors who might report that that was not the case? I apologize.

But there I was, screaming "FUCK" in my kitchen, holding an icepack to my tricep while trying to open a Benadryl one-handed. I had forgotten how much wasp stings hurt. And how stupid individually wrapped medications are.

Then I took the Benadryl and forgot everything. My arm kind of hurt, but I was floating along. Nothing could faze me. Lil' Frank wanted to eat some tomatoes? Fiiiiiine.

But the next day? The next day, my arm featured a bright red welt about the size of a Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pie. It was hot. It hurt. It itched. And, according to the interwebs, it was "a large localized reaction."

Woe, woe is me! I kvetched about my sad, sad plight to pretty much anyone within earshot or within sight of the welt I'd covered with a paste made of baking soda. I'm turning into my grandma, but with way more whining.

One of my pals asked, "What do wasps do, anyway?"

It was a valid question. If I got in the way of a wasp who was researching leukemia or working on a road crew, that was one thing. But a wasp who was just chillin' in my yard, where he does not pay rent? That seems like something else entirely.

So, I did some research. The interwebs informed me that wasps are super-important. They do basically the same work as bees, except they aren't as beloved. And, if wasps go away? ARMAGEDDON. Mass environmental destruction. Fire raining from the sky! Dogs and cats living together!

I think we can all agree that this is propaganda from the wasp lobby. Big Wasp is behind all of these lies. Here's the truth:

Wasps are the payday loan sharks of the insect world.

Sure, some of them are bookies or own vaping emporiums. But for the most part? These greasy, too-much-cologne-wearing, pinky-ring-having slimeballs do nothing but rip off hardworking folks like you and me.

That wasp robbed me of an entire workday as I mellowed in a Benadryl stupor. And now I will never be a tricep model, as the welt is still evident. That's not even getting into the emotional scars.

So, friends, I beg of you: Do not get your information from Big Wasp. Do your own research. The next time a Facebook friend posts a pro-wasp link, don't just mindlessly click "Like." Seek out independent sources that aren't part of the pro-wasp media or under the wing of the wasp lobby. We have to think for ourselves.

Years ago, Mom, Poochie, and I stood at the sliding glass door, cheering as Dad sprayed Raid into one end of our metal jungle gym and then ran like hell as a swarm of wasps flew out the other end.

This "Leave It To Beaver"-like tableau is on my mind and close to my heart, especially in light of recent events. Dad? Thank you for teaching me what is right.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Watching movies like an adult.

I was in junior high when "Dirty Dancing" was big. And lemme tell ya, that movie was a revelation.

BFF and I loved that some of the oldies our parents listened to - and by extension, we listened to - were suddenly cool. And another close friend had a pirated VHS copy of the movie and watched it every single day after school.

Personally, I spent my afterschool times listening to the radio, waiting for "She's Like the Wind" to come on. Then, I would put down my homework and stare off into the distance. Sure, I was an awkward tween with glasses and braces and a perm. But somewhere out there was a Patrick Swayze lookalike who compared me to wind.

Wind, which is the flow of gases. Somebody thought I was mega-gaseous and mega-amazing.

All of this is lost on my sweet husband, my boy-man of a life partner who is five years my junior. We have a movie deficit for the years 1986 through 1999. While I was devouring "Dirty Dancing," he was into all the Ernest movies. While he was watching "Jurassic Park" with his junior high classmates, I was seeing no movies because I didn't have a car and there wasn't a theatre within walking distance of campus. Also, I was broke. And too busy drinking beer.

When I went away to college, my husband was in junior high. JUNIOR HIGH.

So, I guess this is being a cougar. We make fun of each other's lack of movie viewing. And we occasionally force each other to view movies of the "Ohmigod I can't believe you haven't seen this" ilk. This means that I recently saw "Varsity Blues" for the first time.

My Guy was really enthusiastic about this movie. "I can't believe you've never seen it! You love football! You will love this movie!"

And I did. I enjoyed it like you enjoy store-bought desserts. Tasty, but probably not worth the calories and not the best ever. But fine.

However, "Varsity Blues" did leave some unanswered questions.

I would like to know what high school football program would allow a student to take over head coaching duties mid-game and then would allow another student to have bottles of beer on the field after a big win. What town is this? What is happening here? And isn't glass dangerous? Wouldn't it at least be cans? Where did the beer come from? Was it in the trainers' ice chest? Does that mean there wasn't enough water? Were the players dehydrated? Is that safe? Why was James Vanderbeek's girlfriend so grouchy and anti-football all the time when she came from a football family? What high school boy would turn down a girl in a whipped-cream bikini? And, the biggest question of all: What high school actually has a teacher that moonlights as a stripper in the same town?

I guess these queries don't occur to 19-year-olds viewing the movie because My Guy was completely taken aback. Watching the film as an adult was a totally different experience.

"Uh, these are all good questions, but ... they won the game! Didn't you see, they won the game?" he asked.

Clearly, he was working hard to hold on to the "This movie is AWESOME" experience of his youth. He had no desire to look at "Varsity Blues" with the cold eyes of an adult.

I let it go. I didn't want to ruin it for him. And besides, this is probably why I haven't watched "Dirty Dancing" lately. Why was it OK that all these people were infantilizing this teenager by calling her "Baby?" Didn't her parents notice she was gone all the time with those ruffian dance kids? What in the world is Johnny going to do in the winter when he's run out of dance money and eating ketchup sandwiches? Or will it not matter because he'll be in prison for statutory rape? Because you can't tell me that Jerry Orbach is just going to let Patrick Swayze get away with this, no matter how well Baby executes The Lift.

Ahem.

I'm great fun at parties.     

What movie of your youth has lost some of its sheen in the cold light of adulthood?

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: "... breathe in peace ... breathe 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?