Friday, February 17, 2017

In which you're just gonna have to get your own snacks and toilet paper.

Did you feel a slight seismic tremor yesterday? It was a woman saying, "Fuck right off." Except in nicer language.

My pal serves on a volunteer board of four men and four women. Every year, they have a big to-do board retreat. It's off-site with tons of food and a program and it's just A Thing. Yesterday, the woman who has planned it for the last several years asked for help.

Woman No. 2 immediately volunteered. Woman No. 3 is gravely ill and so was off the hook. And then? Then, the entire board turned and looked at my friend, Woman No. 4.

They just looked at her. They fully expected that she would / should be the person to volunteer.

(I know. I know! This is the part of the story where my eyes rolled so far back in my head that I could see myself having a stroke. Because all women have been there, right? We've been there, we've just done shit because it needed to get done, we've been the person who is suddenly responsible for some shit job because for the love of all that is holy, no one else seemed to notice that SOMEONE NEEDS TO BUY TOILET PAPER REGULARLY. My friend's situation has played out time and time and time again.)

But my brave, strong friend was not having it. Not on this particular Thursday. No.

She said, "I'm happy to help. But I'm not OK with this being an all-woman committee."

All the men just stared at her. The male board chair turned red, laughed nervously, and said, "Well, why not? Nothing wrong with that, right?"

And Woman No. 4 said, "Nope. We need gender diversity. The board is nicely balanced with four men and four women. The planning committee needs to be balanced, too."

And then? Silence.

And more silence.

Finally, the guy she knew would eventually volunteer did. The board moved on. And the guy sitting next to Woman No. 4 leaned in and whispered, "No, thank you. I already had my turn organizing that retreat."

To her credit (or not?), my friend did not immediately start screaming, "What, Bruce? What? You helped carry some trays of food into the building six years ago and now you're off the hook for infinity? What? Are you even capable of feeding yourself? Because you seem pretty spineless to me!"

Instead, she gave him The Eye. But the entire conversation caused a slight seismic shift in the meeting and, hopefully, the world.

At home, my friend's husband laughed and said, "You're just lucky none of the men said their wives could help."

Then she killed him and made it look like an accident.

There's so much unaccounted labor. Unvalued labor, unpaid labor. Who schedules the meetings? Who sends the reminders? Who makes sure the supplies don't run out? Who never gets thanked or paid for this work that just magically gets done? This work that half the population doesn't even seem to realize exists?

I think we should get t-shirts made that say, "If you weren't stranded without toilet paper today, thank a woman."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

When stress explodes, scars you, and frightens young children.


I've written a bit about how I am ... kind of holding on? I'm internalizing stress related to goingson in the world and my sweet Big Doodle is making sleep a rare commodity. These are times that try women's souls.

I thought I was doing OK. I really did. And then My Guy and I went to a Super Bowl party.

We weren't much invested in the game, seeing as how our teams had lost during the playoffs. But we were looking forward to hanging out with our friends and their kids and eating our weights in snack foods.

All was well. I had a plate of vegan pizza and was about to dig in when I coughed. And that cough made something in my neck erupt. Pain and tears ensued. Basically, I got a charlie horse in my neck. Like the winner that I am.

I stepped away from the group and rolled around on the floor, trying to yoga my way out of the pain. No dice. I discovered I could barely swallow. I started to cry in earnest while clutching my husband's arm, begging him, "Don't leave me!" while he looked like a trapped animal and responded, "I don't know what to do!"

Marriage is super-fun and glamorous, yo.

God love our host, a doctor of pharmacy. "Pharmacist" just doesn't seem to cut it here - I think his actual title is "Giver of Life and Taker-Awayer of Pain," because he gave me a muscle relaxant and a heating pad. Within 10 minutes of communing with my new life partner the heat pack, I felt good enough to leave my cave of despair and rejoin the party.

I played a board game with the kids and discovered that my neck was all discolored and weird.
Seriously. This shit is amazing.

And then the muscle relaxant kicked in and I could hardly keep my eyes open. So, I spent the end of the Super Bowl passed out on the floor in front of the TV, acting as an example for the kids of why you shouldn't abuse prescription meds.

Honestly, I don't understand why we don't get invited places. Between My Guy's crazy faces and my obvious drug problem, we are a living warning to our friends' kids. Stay in school, friends.

But the neck explosion was more than just an amazing party trick. It was yet another reminder that This Is Not A Sustainable Model. I can't keep getting up with the dog at all hours of the night. I need to self-preserve while still being an engaged citizen. I have to find a way to balance this shit out so that I quit scaring the children.

Y'all? I am so tired. And my dog is not well.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

In which I feel all the stress.

This morning, I was wracked with anxiety over something that happened in 1983.

I was in third grade and, as youngsters of my ancient generation were wont to do, I learned cursive. One day, we were assigned what I'm sure was supposed to be a "fun" task. We were to pick our favorite cursive letter and then write words that started with that letter - an animal, any sentence of our choosing, five names.

Five names.

I chose the letter L. And my little third-grade brain completely freaked out and couldn't think of five names that started with L. So, I carefully wrote out "Laura, Lonnie, Larry, Larueow, Leaomy." You know, in hopes that those last two were maybe, like, names? Names that kids would not be privy to, but that adults knew, and then my teacher would be super-impressed at my knowledge of obscure names?

Yeah. It didn't work that way. My page of lined writing paper came back with a big ol' "-2" at the top. I was heartbroken.

This morning in the shower, I found myself listing L names ... Laura, Laurie, Lorrie, Lori, Lauren, Laurel ... my God, I am so prepared now. I could pass with just women's names alone! And yet, I'm still anxious about that long-ago assignment and feel that I need to be prepared lest someone approaches me on the street and demands that I rattle off five names that start with the letter L.

It could happen.

This particular flavor of anxiety is just one of the cornucopia that I'm experiencing as of late. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who finds themselves saying, "He did what? Are you effing KIDDING ME?!?" at least once a day.

So, there's that. And there's my sweet Big Doodle, he of the bladder cancer and advanced age and zero patience.

Big Doodle can't sleep through the night anymore. Bless his heart, he will wake me up to let him outside. This can happen any time between 3 and 6 a.m. I take him downstairs, he does his thing, I go potty out of solidarity, and then we go back to bed. Or not, as the case may be.

I seem to have lost the ability to go back to sleep after I've been up. That has made life ... challenging. And Big Doodle's lack of any hip sockets to speak of means that he isn't always so psyched about going back upstairs after doing his thing.

Sometimes, we lie on the couch. Others, we go to the downstairs guest room. He sleeps and I ... try? I don't want him to feel abandoned, so if he doesn't go back upstairs, I don't either. Besides, we are having more Doodle Dementia Days.

You know, like the night he wanted to sit in the middle of the patio and look at the moon at 3 a.m. Or today, when he was going bonkers inside the house but would do nothing but bark at the sky when let outside.
I see this a lot.

I just got off of a work call. At the start of the call, all was calm and bright. Both dogs were asleep - Lil' Frankfurter in my lap, Big Doodle on a couch at the other end of the house. But about halfway through the call, Big Doodle came sauntering into my office. He got right up in my face and blarfed out the loudest, most "Oh dear God, are you dying?" hack that you've ever heard.

The good news is that the guy I was talking to laughed with me when I explained what happened. But for the rest of the call, Big Doodle would lie still and then cough cough HACK mucus HACK unexpectedly. I just kept my hand over my microphone unless I was actively speaking.

It might have been a career-limiting moment.

But I decided to focus on the funny. Do you know how much mucus an 80-pound dog can produce? Especially a geriatric 80-pound dog who has no personal etiquette? It's a lot of mucus. Mucus that he wants to show you by getting right up in your face. Because he loves you.

I should probably be feeling anxiety about this instead of something that happened when I was in third grade. It's not like that cursive assignment prevented me from going to college or anything. I don't look back on it as the turning point when it all went to hell.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm working on perspective. Sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don't. And stress and weariness are making themselves known in odd and powerful ways.

How's with you? And what are your favorite / worst ways stress shows up in your life?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Infertility silver lining.

About two weeks ago, I drug my sorry self to the dermatologist to get carved up. I hadn't been for a while, and I was pretty sure he would want to slice a couple of things off my very pale skin.

I was nervous because SCALPEL. I felt nauseated when I walked into the waiting room. But as I made my way to the desk, I realized that the music playing was Neil Diamond's "Love on the Rocks." And because I'm actually 87 years old, I quickly identified the recording as an alternate version, not the single.

Neil comforted me.

I was the only person in the waiting room who wasn't a teenager with acne or an old farmer who never wore sunscreen a day in his life. I was just so-white-I-glow-in-the-dark little me, making my offering of flesh to the gods of dermatology, even though I wear sunscreen every damned day.

I love the guy I see. And the good news is that the stuff I was sure would make him recoil ... didn't. The bad news is that the weird bumps along my jaw that I've lived with for about four years? Totally alarming.

I guess the other bad news was that it was mega cold that day and I was layered up in Uggs and fleece pants and like 17 sweaters. And while taking the biopsy from my jawline was painless and took about 7 seconds, the stitches took forever and made me woozy.

Suddenly it was all, "Bend your knees! Talk to us!"

It was fine. Well, fine except for the fact that I ended up drenched in sweat. I got to experience a sweaty underwire in the deepest depths of winter. Thanks, derm!

So, I was OK, and I left. But I ended up sitting in the lobby of the medical building for about 20 minutes, trying to stop feeling so insane. So, I did what any woman in my position would do: I checked my email, saw that Nordstrom was having a flash sale on my favorite bras, and then bought three bras at a deep discount ... all while rocking a sweaty January bra and trying to avoid eye contact with the mean old lady who was complaining at the top of her lungs about the granddaughter who had just dropped her off and was going to park the car.

Good bras make a real difference.

Then, I drove to the QT and bought a ginger ale and a York peppermint patty. And I declared triumph over evil, over nausea, over weird skin stuff.
Because Joe Biden is always appropriate.
Turns out I have some rare, weird - yet totally benign - skin thing that is not unlike having uterine fibroids. I'm not making this up - they can be related. Because of course they are.

No word yet on treatment, but we're calling it Ute Face. It seems fitting, since this business popped up when I was trying to no avail to get knocked up. I didn't get a baby, but I got uterine fibroids on my face. It's practically the same thing, right?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why dogs can't be trusted but you also shouldn't cross them because they are organized.

If you're like me, you ate your weight in sugar over the last month. And, it's safe to say that your pants don't fit. And you generally get in trouble for going out in public not wearing pants. So you resolve to stop eating sugar straight from the bag. And you resolve to start moving your body again in ways that aren't merely moving food from a plate into your gaping maw.

If you're not like me, now is not the time to talk about how you actually lost weight over the holidays or how much you love CrossFit. Go sit in the corner.

So, it is time to get more exercise. And I've tried. I really have. But in the midst of a modest workout, I uncovered a vast conspiracy, one that extends well past my corner of the world. An especially shady syndicate, if you will.

I'm talking about The Canine Yoga Cartel.

Here's the deal. I have written before about how my dogs lose their minds when I attempt to do yoga at home. I get stepped on.
And stood over.
And barked at for not throwing the Kong.
And, because the winter air is especially dry and Lil' Frankfurter's skin is especially delicate? I've been surrounded by blood from his cracked lil' paws.

(No photo of this - and you're welcome. The latest bloody paw incident left our rec room looking like a crime scene. For such a tiny dog, he really bleeds a lot.)

So, as I was prone on the floor, being barked at and surrounded by blood, I thought, "It's almost like they don't want me to do yoga."

How had it taken me so long to realize this?

Big Doodle and Lil' Frank are clearly trying to disrupt my Zen and discourage me from doing yoga in our home. It's almost like they want me to do yoga ... elsewhere.

And then it all clicked!

This is Olive.
She is a connoisseur of large sticks.
If it's less than four feet long, get the eff out.
Olive also governs my neighborhood yoga studio with an iron paw.

Sure, in theory her mom Patti has the studio. But we all know who runs the show. I mean, look at these sticks. Olive means business.
You can't tell me that Lil' Frank, Big Doodle, Olive, and all the other dogs aren't in cahoots. Clearly, this Canine Yoga Cartel is working to increase visits to Olive's yoga studio. I'm guessing Olive collects sticks on her daily walks so she can use them to pay off members of the syndicate who send their humans to her studio.

My dogs probably get kickbacks in the form of tennis balls, since they aren't really into sticks.

But whatever arrangement these pooches have, it's working. I'm a strong woman, but I'm no match for a canine cartel. And I'm pretty sure that even if I put up a baby gate and do yoga on one side with the dogs on the other, Lil' Frank will still bark his head off and leave me an assortment of bodily fluids to clean up.

I will go to the yoga studio and I will practice with my like-minded peeps. We will work on our ujjayi breath and try to focus while our minds invariably wander. We'll think about our dogs and their strange yoga-related behaviors. We won't mention them to anyone else, lest we look like bad parents who didn't train their pups properly. But we'll all be in the same boat, adrift with a vague unease that something is amiss. It's almost like those dogs are ... planning something ...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Patience and grace and remodeling.

Don't ever pray for patience.

If you do, God will laugh at you and somehow convince you that it's a good idea - nay, a necessity - to remodel your kitchen. And then you will learn about patience.

This is what patience looks like.
Why would you pray for this?

Now, to be fair, the kitchen hasn't looked like that for a few weeks. It's been a series of exciting gains, like when the cabinets were delivered to the living room.
And then when they were installed in the actual kitchen.
And why yes, yes I did shoot a photo documentary of our new refrigerator being delivered.
For those playing along at home, never fear - the old fridge is still right next to our front door. Because we're klassy like that.

And so the cabinets are in and the countertop is on and, as of about 20 minutes ago, the tile is installed but waiting grout.

I put plates in the cabinets because I just couldn't stand it any more. They will all need to be washed and the cabinets will need to be dusted again, sure. But having plates makes me think that I might be a real, live grown-up in a real, functional home.

This might be the worst part of the whole remodel, the most "the night before Christmas," sick-to-my-stomach, can't-hardly-wait part. We're so close. So close!

Also? To the ladies at the two different tile shops who tried to convince me that I didn't want the backsplash I wanted? Who were sure I would be happier with something beige-y and cream? And especially to the one lady who couldn't find a tile to match my paint swatch and so actually suggested that I repaint all the trim in my entire house?

This backsplash is kick-ass and you just wish you were half the design visionary that I am. SUCK. IT.

I have been patiently waiting to tell you this since July. You're welcome.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Let's hear it for the boy!

I have a bit of a problem with stalking. As in, I do it.

Long-time readers know that I am mildly obsessed with one of the check-out guys at my grocery store. When he started a few years ago, he wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. He didn’t interact. He was very focused on bagging, and it seemed to be a real challenge.

A little while after that? Well, I noticed him smiling broadly while restocking carts. His teeth were gorgeous – big, lovely pearls. Like, movie star teeth. And when he got picked up at the end of his shift? Well, he opened the car door, let out a whoop, and hopped inside.

I swear, I’m not just loitering about the grocery parking lot. I’m just there a lot because my husband is ridiculous and seems to think he needs to eat every single day. Completely irrational, I know.

So, on my many trips to the grocery, I always make a point to thank My Bagger Boyfriend for sacking my supplies. I’m used to him looking down and, at most, acknowledging me with a barely perceptible nod. It’s cool.

But this week? This week, he sacked my udon noodles and bag of salad because kitchen remodeling has shocked any meal planning skills right outta my system. And then? Before I could thank him for said bagging? My Bagger Boyfriend looked in my general direction and said, “Have a good day.”

Now, it is nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t permanently scar this poor guy by immediately grabbing him in my arms and proclaiming my love and pride. But because I’m all emotionally strong and shit, I acted chill. No big deal. Nothing to see here.

But really? It was the highlight of my week. And this is coming from someone who got a new refrigerator this week. More on that later.

It’s a privilege to watch this young man blossom, to watch his story unfold.

It makes me hope that we all have secret cheering societies, our own little pep squads of which we are completely oblivious. The other day, when you managed to pump gas without dribbling it all over your shoes? That gas station attendant who wears sandals year-round saw you, and he was full of stoic pride. And you don’t know it, but he will report it proudly at the weekly pep rally in which your fans cheer you on and revel in your successes big and small.

There will be confetti.