Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I hate mice and I love my family.

I visited my parents this weekend. They gave me life. And then they gave me mousetraps.

Let me back up.

So, remember when I interrupted a HUGE mouse in my silverware drawer, and it climbed out of the drawer and up my leg and I screamed a million screams and then had to burn down my house?

Good times.

Well, My Guy set a trap and killed that Jabba the Hutt of mice. Killed it dead!

Except ... well, it was evidently more of a Jabbette the Hutt. And she wasn't huge ... she just had some baby weight. Which we discovered because a few days after My Guy slew her, the babies came out looking for food.

Ohhhh nooooo.

And those babies were dumb. Almost as dumb as our vicious dogs. Picture it: My Guy, me, Lil' Frankfurter and Big Doodle were all lazing about on the couch on a Saturday morning, as is our custom. And gasp! There was something moving behind the entertainment center! It was grey and small and rodent-like!

The husband and I had a long, philosophical conversation about what in the name of Han Solo we were supposed to do. We certainly couldn't get off the couch because there was a MOUSE in the same ROOM! And while we didn't want to extricate a mouse carcass out of a dog's maw, you would think the canines would have some primal instinct to capture said mouse.

But no. Our dogs sat on the couch and watched the mouse. Not once did it occur to them to get off the couch and protect their pack from this intruder. My dogs are defective.

Finally, after much deliberation, My Guy bravely got off the couch and led the dogs outside. He escorted me to safety in the other room, and set the mouse trap. Then, he put up the baby gate. Then ... he left. He left me alone in a house with defective dogs and a probably rabid baby mouse.

The gate was supposed to keep the dogs out of the room with the trap. But in my mind, the baby gate would also serve to keep the mouse out of the rest of the house. The baby mouse wouldn't be so crass as to go into other rooms uninvited, right?

Well, there wasn't a lot of time for exploration. Within an hour or 2, I heard the trap go off. And then I heard the screams. Because the full-sized trap didn't kill the baby right away. I cried, and I prayed. I prayed for this rodent I was trying to kill. It was confusing.

And that whole "we're on the couch and we see a baby mouse and the defective dogs do nothing and then we set a trap and kill a poor, defenseless baby mouse" thing played out again the next day. And yet again, no adults stepped in to address the situation. My Guy and I had to handle it all by ourselves. It was terrible.

So, for those keeping track, that was 1 dead mama mouse and 2 dead baby mice. Oh, and then there was the third dead baby mouse I found under a washcloth on the floor. First of all, I have no idea how that washcloth came to be on the floor of our family room. Secondly, it was covering the little mouse carcass like we were filming an episode of "Law & Order: Rodent Division" in our house. It was all very dramatic.

Truthfully, by the third dead baby mouse, my heart was hardened. I just wanted a rodent-free house. Was that really too much to ask?

In the ensuing days, we haven't found any more mice, alive or dead. But you're never totally out of the woods with these things. Which brings us to my visit with my parents.

Now, there have been times my folks have plied me with groceries and gas money and an extra winter hat, just because. I would maybe roll my eyes, but truthfully? There is nothing like being hard-core nurtured by your parents like that. During a particularly broke spot, I returned to my craptastic apartment with 2 full grocery bags - my mom had raided her own pantry for me. The thought of it still makes me teary-eyed. They let me and my brother make our own way, but they made sure we had a little something for the road.

And so, this weekend? As I was getting ready to leave, my sweet dad asked how I was set for mouse traps. They'd had some mice this fall, and he'd discovered some great traps that were only sold at the farm and home store. Well, he'd show them to me. Well, they only sell them at the farm and home. Well, here, just take these, and he'll get some more.

I'm a grown woman and grown women don't cry over mouse traps. But it's sure nice to have parents who give you what you didn't quite realize you need. That, and my dad put the traps back in their original packaging because that's how he rolls. Also, he'd wiped the dead mouse detritus off and it was fine. Because we might pass used mouse traps around the family, but we do it with class.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I'm not dead. Also, here's a book review.

Kind friend Karen commented on my last post, "I'm worried that you haven't posted in several weeks. I'm hoping that you are busy with good things and not in ICU."

Thank you for your concern. Gurrrl, lemme tell you.

While it seemed highly likely that I had contracted some sort of mouse syphilis to go along with my Chilean lung leprosy and antibiotic reaction, that did not turn out to be the case. Discovering a gigantic mouse in my kitchen that then crawled up my bare leg didn't actually kill me, which was a bit of a shock.

No, instead, I have still been dealing with the Chilean lung leprosy. Because I'm sexy like that, and I hear coughing is the new flashing a boob.

When My Guy picked up my antibiotics, the pharmacist was careful to tell him that they might interfere with birth control. Bless his heart, my husband's response was, "All she does is cough. I ain't touchin' her."

So, there's that.

Thankfully, I've mostly stopped coughing and the antibiotics have done their job. I feel insane, but confident that I can get through the last 2.5 days of this Augmentin haze ... not that I'm counting down the minutes or anything. Ahem.

I'm exhausted. I've been sick for 5 weeks. It's ridiculous, and I'm just now starting to feel human again.

But you know what's a great activity when you feel like you have nothing to contribute to the world? Cleaning your closets.

It sounds like I'm joking, but I'm not.

I read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. This is the book that's been all over - people seem to either embrace it or think that the author is a special, banana-sandwich level of crazy. I'm pretty impressed and happy with what it's done for me so far.

The author's thesis is that you shouldn't have anything in your house that doesn't give you joy. And you should touch all your stuff, and gauge how you feel when you touch it, and then keep or get rid of it accordingly.

As ridiculous as it sounds, this was a great activity when I was feeling sick. Because when you clean out your closet and throw all your clothes on the bed? You can lounge on the bed, too. I'd sort through some clothes, then take a break by flopping down next to the clothes. I was one with the clothes. It was either insane or very Zen.

I liked this book because it gave me permission to get rid of guilt-inducing clothes. Kondo basically says that even if you bought a skirt and then never wore it, it served its purpose - it made you feel happy when you bought it, or it taught you that orange isn't your color, or it helped you realize you've never been a size 00 and those people just need to eat sandwiches or whatever. And it's OK.

I cleaned my closet and dresser, and even refolded much of my stuff in Kondo's recommended fold / roll / stack-on-the-end style. I must admit that it's pretty gratifying to open a drawer and be able to see at a glance what's in there instead of digging around. Keep in mind that my wardrobe consists of about 98% t-shirts and jeans, but still.

I haven't gone through my shoes or books, but the impact on my closet was definitely worth the price of the book.

Have you "Kondo-ized" your house? What did you think? And have you ever had Chilean lung leprosy? How long did it take you to feel like a semi-normal human again?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why I should stay out of the kitchen.

I've been sick. Real sick. I had a cold and that cold morphed into some sort of chest madness that I'm pretty sure is tuberculosis mixed with Chilean lung leprosy. I've been hacking up a lung for literally 3 weeks.

I finally broke down and took some antibiotics, even though I hate antibiotics. And those antibiotics made me feel better for a day and a half, and then they made me feel queasy and itchy and hot and dizzy and generally insane. I realized too late that I'm allergic to these demon antibiotics.

And so, I did what any normal girl would do. I went to Whole Foods and bought 2 bags of Red Hot Blues potato chips because they're the only thing that sounds good. I bought chips and Breathe Easy tea and oil of oregano and planned on healing myself without the devil antibiotics. I bought some soup and tried to keep my shit together.

Which brings us to this evening.

Tonight, I peeled my queasy, coughy self off the couch and warmed up some of the soup I had procured from Whole Paycheck. I poured the soup into a pan, and then opened the silverware drawer for a spoon.

There was a fur muff inside the silverware drawer!

The fur muff was moving!

The fur muff was a fat mouse, just chilling in my silverware drawer at 7 o'clock at night!

I screamed. I screamed like a virgin in a horror movie. I screamed, and the mouse ran down the outside of the cabinet and across the kitchen floor.

Like any sane woman, I levitated across the kitchen. But the mouse followed me! The mouse followed me, ran across my foot and climbed up my bare leg.

I hoisted myself up against the counter and kicked. I kicked like my life depended on it! I kicked and that mouse hit the floor, then scampered behind the stove.

Next thing I knew, I was in the dining room, looking into the kitchen. And I was still screaming. I stopped screaming just in time to hear the stove make a weird beeping noise, probably because the mouse was hot-wiring it, like a car.

I decided to scream once more for good measure. It felt good, and right. I wondered if the neighbors could hear. I didn't care.

After I collected myself somehwhat, I texted my husband the CliffsNotes version of the saga. I also informed him that I was burning down our house. As I glanced at his rather satisfying "holy shit!" response, I realized that the dogs were both lounging near the kitchen.

Those losers had done nothing to help me in my time of need! They hadn't become alarmed in the slightest when I was being so cruelly attacked, nor did they respond when I made sounds that I'm sure have never come out of my body before. Note to self: screaming doesn't interest dachshunds or labradoodles.

Today, I have been sorely disappointed by asshole antibiotics and lazy, no-good dogs. Also, by the vermin who continue to attack my kitchen. But I do feel like a mighty warrior, a survivor. Like Cher.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vacation slide show from hell.

So, I've been abroad.

No, not "a broad" in the Bea Arthur sense. "Abroad" in the fancypants sense.

My Guy has worked for his corporation for so long that he got a sabbatical. And so, we took this precious time to get off our couch and go to the United Kingdom. The trip destroyed my feet, gave me a new appreciation for free public toilets, and was generally perfect. Here are some highlights.

Instead of The Dollar Store or Dollar General, the UK has Poundland. This makes sense since they don't have dollars, but pounds. Except that we kept calling it "Poundtown," because both my husband and I are actually 12-year-old boys.
Man, I am really good at selfies.
In what I'm sure is a shock to my humanities professor, I was excited to point out the salient buttresses and flying buttresses of the chapels and abbeys. Basically, I specialized in buttri. Because those were the parts of architecture I remembered. But at least I remembered something, right? Right?
Bath Abbey has both salient and flying buttri. And my husband, listening to an audio guide and pretending it's an old-school cell phone and he's on a very important call, probably with the pope. Or Mayor McCheese.
I really missed the dogs. Luckily, I found this window display.
Your breath is amazing.
This is the Royal Crescent in Bath. It's where crescent rolls were invented.
People here were really on edge, never knowing when the giant tube was going to pop.
Edinburgh is the shit. It is the coolest. And looking over it all is Arthur's Seat. It doesn't look like much of a mountain/hill, but trust me when I tell you that there's an easy-ish way to get to the top and a Marital Death March way to get to the top. Guess which one we took?
This is a slight exaggeration of what we traversed, but not really. And we're still married!
We tried haggis, both regular and vegetarian. No photo. Because it was gross. Not in a gag-me-with-a-spoon way, but in a why-would-anyone-eat-this way.

Toward the end of any European trip, I think it's normal and perfectly fine to be castled and churched out. Here we are in front of the ruins of the Melrose Abbey. Yes, there's a fence between us and the abbey. Because we didn't feel like spending money to see yet another church and we decided to eat instead. It was kind of like in "Vacation" when they see the Grand Canyon - "Well, yep, there it is. Let's go!"
Even our eyes are like, "Obligation photo. Hope skipping this one doesn't make us bad Christians."
The U.S. is great, but can lack a certain panache. Case in point: I have yet to find this cereal back home. Now how am I supposed to become a bekilted Scott Bakula / Huey Lewis track and field star?
Step aside, haggis. This is the true taste of Scotland.
I'm not gonna lie. This trip was great, and such a blessing. Also? I'm really glad to be home. I know what coins are what here, and have a strong sense of how the toilets work.

Once the jet lag wears off, we want to start planning another trip. Where should we go? What destinations have you loved?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book review: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

Sometimes, you pick up a book because you love the title. This is one of those books.

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir is pretty much the best title ever for a memoir about being single when all of your peers are coupled off and having babies. As someone who was in a similar situation, I appreciate this title very, very much.

However ... I guess I did the whole "single in my 30s" thing wrong. Because author Kristin Newman spent her time traveling the world and sleeping with different flavors of international lovahs. I, on the other hand, mostly kept it in my pants. Like a loser.

Anyway. If you want a first-hand account of traveling with no particular plan and making friends with interesting people along the way and changing your return flights so you can keep chillin' with your new Latin lovah, this is the book for you. If you're looking for perhaps a more traditional view of navigating the "but I'm not like any of my friends" waters of 30s singledom, this is not the book for you.

Also? I feel like the author paid as little attention as possible to the real story. She became estranged from her dad for several years, due to a little stepmother situation ... and then she ended up taking care of that stepmother. This is the real story. While Kristin touches on it, she even admits that she can barely talk about it, much less write honestly. But I'd love to read a book about it when she's ready to dig in - she's a lovely writer, and an authentic look at the situation could be gratifying and useful.

Of course, it's also none of my damned business, and if she doesn't want to write about it, more power to her.

I give What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding 2 labradoodles who are kind of over it. No breeding here.
Is there a book that made your inner big-city book editor think the author should go in a different direction?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book review: Bettyville

I review a lot of books here, because I like to read, and it keeps me out of bar fights - for the most part. Most books I like just fine. Sometimes there are books that are like mustard to me - eww eww eww. And very rarely, there are books that I want to marry. Except I'm already married. And I'm pretty sure you can't marry a book.

I want to marry this book.

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman is just ... so ... oh. It's George's account of moving from NYC back to his small Missouri hometown to care for his ailing mother, Betty. She's fading, and the small town is fading, and George isn't sure where he fits in with it all - or if he ever has.

Oh, and he's a gay man whose parents never made peace with "how he is." And his mother has dementia.

Sounds like a real pick-me-up, right? Funny thing, though - it's really life-affirming.

The memoir is packed with moments like when Betty says, "I bet you wish I would die." And George's response is, "Not until you eat this damn meat loaf." It's an authentic dance between 2 people who love each other despite not understanding each other, told by a narrator who has an ear for dialogue and an eye for beauty.

I mean, there's an entire scene wherein his aunt sits on the porch to be with an alcoholic family friend who can't get out of his car. She just doesn't want him to be alone. Peace be still.

This book is honest and authentic and just lovely. It's one of those books where any description - at least in my feeble hands - won't do it justice. So, the best I can do is to tell you to go and get this book. You won't regret it.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give Bettyville 9 packs of dogs.
I'm a sucker for books about the Midwest. Any favorites that you'd recommend?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A minor treatise on women who lost their personalities in a parking lot somewhere, possibly outside Pottery Barn Kids.

There's a scourge invading our homeland. No, I'm not talking about Kardashians. It's worse.

I'm talking about the once-normal women who have morphed into 1-dimensional, perfect little fembots. I call them The Talbots.

These women are well-dressed in completely unobjectional attire. Their highlights are always within the bounds of good taste. Their husbands are well-employed and their children look like something out of a Tommy Hilfiger catalog. The homes? Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, but of course.

So, that part is annoying. And boring. But the real issue I have with The Talbots? They talk. All the time. About nothing at all.

Small talk is the game and your neighborhood Talbot is the grand champion. She will talk your ear off about what kid is going to what school and did you hear about her friends that you don't know, well they sold their house, and isn't it just great? It's all just great.

Here's the thing: there are some people who are just superficial, or dead inside, or whatever. And that's their thing, and it's cool - although I've never met anyone who said, "I'm dead inside and it's cool."

No, the rub is that the Talbots I know weren't always like this. They used to be interesting, engaged, educated women. Now?

Now, I want to stab myself in the eardrum when I see them coming.

Tell me what you're reading. Tell me a dirty joke. Tell me how the dog had diarrhea and half the family walked through it. Tell me anything that's real and authentic. But don't tell me everything is great and perfect and wonderful and also great. I don't believe you. In fact, I feel sorry for you.

I know it's easy for women to get lost in the roles of mother and wife. But it seems like some of my peers haven't so much gotten lost as turned into Stepford succubi completely devoid of personality.

I recognize that we are constantly reinventing ourselves, even when we have no idea what comes next.

But I also know that I miss some women who are here physically but mentally have left the building.

Be ugly. Just be real. And don't be a Talbot. The world needs you - the real you.