Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The dream of home ownership.

I knew I had somewhat, err, aggressive visions for cleaning and painting our new house. In my mental utopia, we'd do a quick clean and then begin painting and transforming the house from a dump into something suitable for the Vanderbilts.

I didn't imagine that I would spend all of last night and all of today cleaning the bathroom.

Yes. One bathroom. Twenty-four hours.

I've gone through an entire canister of antibacterial wipes. A big canister - 70 wipes.

Again: One bathroom.

And I've bleached and scoured and scrubbed and cursed the guy who literally a) didn't aim; and b) never cleaned. So, I've cleaned up shit all day.

I took a break and ran to my house to let the four pups outside. Remember when I said I was impressed that Lady Doodle hadn't had an accident in the house?

Umm, yeah. About that. Poor girl had explosive diarrhea in my laundry room.

I stood in the garage and could smell something foul. When I opened the door to the laundry room, I was frozen. Two dogs. Poo everywhere. The dogs had to walk through the poo-ridden room to get outside. I had to walk through the poo-ridden room to get to the cleaning supplies. And somewhere in the distance, Lil' Frank was in his kennel, barking his head off.

Welcome home.

I spent an hour scraping poo off the sisel rug, then lugging the rug outside, then draping it over my deck railing, then hooking up the hose, then spraying the rug. Then? The rug fell off the deck with a splash into a mud puddle.

I drug the wet and poopy rug back onto the deck and hoisted it back onto the railing - getting myself somewhat wet and poopy in the process. All of the dogs were really interested in this new decorating scheme. I ran into the house to get some Resolve, and I realized that there was poop in the kitchen. Someone had tracked it in ... and that someone was me. I'd stepped in doo-doo in the yard and had it all over my shoe. And of course, when I sprayed my shoe off, I managed to get my shoe, sock, and pants soaking wet.

Then? Then, it was time to wipe Lady Doodle's posterior with baby wipes. She wasn't happy about it, but her litter mate Big Doodle was really interested. So interested that he licked my head as I leaned down to get a visual on her butt.

And? My house smells like shit.

And I've literally been cleaning shit all day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why God invented rubber gloves.

After getting home from a snowy and festive Christmas in Iowa, My Guy and I consolidated canine households. All four dogs are currently staying at my house. The labradoodles are surprisingly mellow, although they keep sliding around on the wood floors.

There is one slight issue, however. Lady Doodle has a bit of a nervous digestive system. She has, umm, diarrhea. But! Because she's such a smart and good dog? She hasn't had any accidents in the house.

She has, however, had the worst gas imaginable. Like, the entire house smells like farts. Toxic dog farts.

I've sprayed organic oils throughout the house. Candles are burning. But, if we're honest? My house smells like shit.

So, it was only reasonable that this afternoon, the poo stink was so bad that I walked around looking for the doo. And then I realized that somebody had tracked clumps of dirt onto the couch. And then I realized that those clumps weren't dirt.

Ahem.

Foxie Doxie had stepped squarely in a big ol' pile in the yard, then tracked it throughout the house.

We had an emergency bath. I washed three pillow covers and scoured the couch. I washed the floor. I cleaned the kitchen since the emergency bath was in the kitchen sink. And then I threw myself into the car and ran out ... to close on our new house!

Yes. My guy signed our lives away today. And they gave us keys! To our house!

We took pictures of every room.

We decided we're morons because just now - on my third trip to the house, My Guy's fourth - we realized the former usage of the shelf unit in the basement.
Hmm. How useful that each shelf has its own lights!

And then My Guy was all street-smart. "Uh, maybe it was used for ... growing."

So, yeah. We have a pot farm in our basement. Great!

Once we got over that, My Guy commenced replacing the 27 broken lightbulbs around the house, and I commenced cleaning one of the bathrooms.

You know how there's dirty, and then there's willful destruction?

So, yeah. If I'm wiping random brown and yellow stains from walls, window sills, and basically every surface? And if I was at it for more than two hours and still didn't get done? That's willful destruction. And if you're a grown damned man, like the man who lived in the house before it was owned by the bank? You should be able to aim. Just sayin'.

So, basically, I have been dealing with shit all day. Huzzah!

But I did get teary-eyed when we walked into our house for the first time. Our house.
Yes, it warranted a filthy bathroom mirror self portrait. Life is good.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In which I represent my old hag peoples.

I don't know if you know this, but Christmas is four days away.

I know!

This means that I'm finally really in the mood for Christmas music. My fancy cable offers many holiday music channels, including my favorite, Holiday Traditions. Perry Como? Bing Crosby? Twelve different renditions of "Baby, It's Cold Outside?" Yes, please!

One of the holiday channels is called Holiday Remix. Its description? "Today's hottest DJ's give tired tracks a new spin. Featuring some of the biggest acts on the turntables, this is the coolest Holiday mix tape around."

Where to begin?

First of all, I, personally, know that "DJ's" should be plural, not possessive. And I know that "Holiday" is not a proper noun. So, as long as we have that out of the way.

But "tired tracks?"

Dude. Nat King Cole might be dead, but he ain't tired.

I know I sound like I'm 35 going on 70 and wear puff-painted sweatshirts and Easy Spirit sneakers. But Christmas music is serious business. The only Christmas song from the last 30 years that I like is Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas." And it took me about 15 years to come around to that one.

I like to embody "careful consideration."

Now, before you go thinking I'm a close-minded ol' biddy, give me a minute. If you're totally jonesing for a new take on a classic, there's but one that has earned a Cha Cha Seal of Approval this holiday season.

I submit for your consideration ... Carol of the Bells. By The Muppets.

Do you have any new favorites that I should consider considering for The List of Cha Cha's Officially Sanctioned Holiday Music? Much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's a waiting period. But it's so worth it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Somebody's chestnuts roasted.

I'd like to apologize for an important omission in my recent post about the feces and dead mice in our rental house.

My sweet mama was kind enough to fill in the gaps in my memory.

To: Cha Cha
From: Cha Cha's Mama
Subject: Clarification
Dear Cha Cha -

While the whole mice issue did have me teetering on the brink, discovery of the [live] garter snake in the basement prompted me to announce that they'd better make sure the plumbing was functioning cuz we were moving the next day. And we did.

xxoo Mom

Because the mice weren't bad enough? There was a snake?

Wow. Merry Christmas, one and all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'll be home for Christmas.

This has been sort of an odd holiday season. I didn’t put up my tree, since it just seemed like something else I’ll have to pack and move soon. The only decorating I did was draping the pink and turquoise funky Christmas quilt my mom made me over the back of the couch.

And the shopping? Well, it’s been minimal. In less than two weeks, My Guy and I will own a grand total of three houses. The new house is our gift to each other. And most other folks? Well, the gifts are mostly from our hearts, not from our wallets. Which makes me feel a teensy bit guilty.

All in all, it just seems to be a holiday season in flux. But it makes me think of one of my favorite Christmases ever.

When I was 3, my parents built the home they still occupy. All spring and summer were filled with wonderful adventures. When the cement guys had sand down as a base for the concrete garage floor? I walked across it with my sandals, leaving ice cream cone imprints. Yes, I’ve always had an eye for d├ęcor. And all of the cabinets for the new house? Well, they came in the most wonderful boxes. I had multiple houses, and my tricycle had a garage. Don’t even get me started on my Shangri-La in what would become the kitchen sink cabinet.

My folks sold their old house, and the closing was before the new house was ready. So, we moved into a rental, and all of our stuff moved into storage. I remember that the rental house had brown shag carpet, and I remember that was the Halloween I dressed as an artist. My mom’s memories differ a bit.

According to my sweet mama, the house had been empty, and so it was overrun with mice. She and I would sit on the couch and watch the mice run across the floor, and I was not allowed to play on the floor. One day, my dad came home and asked innocently, “Honey? Why is your snow boot in the front yard?” And my mom answered, “There was a mouse in it. And don’t even bother bringing it back in, because I’m never wearing it ever again.”

You get the picture.

There were traps. And mice were captured. But we’re talking a lot of freakin’ mice. And my mom wanted nothing to do with the mice removal. So, my dad devised an easy system – he flushed the dead mice. All of them.

The new house was coming along, and I got to play on the carpet there, even though carpet time was strictly forbidden in the rental. We were going to move in to the new house around the first of the year. Well, until The Incident.

Evidently, flushing mice is not a plumbing maintenance best practice.

The sewer backed up into the basement of the rental house. Raw sewage and hundreds – nay, thousands – of bloated mice corpses covered the floor.

If she wouldn’t wear a snow boot that had contained a live mouse, you can bet my mama wasn’t going to stay in a house with our own version of The River Styx in the basement.

We moved into our new house two days before Christmas. I don’t remember any furniture, but I remember we had a tree. And lots of snow.

I remember sitting in my mom’s lap on the floor of our new living room, admiring the tree and looking out the window onto our new yard. And I felt so content.

That Christmas, Santa brought me a coloring book, a box of 64 Crayolas, a baby doll, and a boat.

Well, I thought it was a boat. It was a red plastic sled. In the photos, I look so completely satisfied in my orange footie pajamas – almost smug. All was right with my world, even if we didn’t have furniture or front steps or a kitchen counter.

I’m trying to take that memory with me into this season, and into the adventure of imperfect home ownership that My Guy and I are about to enjoy. Because later? All of the imperfections will seem perfect.

Case in point? After Christmas, my dad took the Christmas tree and just threw it off the front porch, where the steps should have been. And left it there until April, proudly announcing that The Clampetts had moved into the neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our love is true.

What the very ticklish My Guy said to me as I was oh-so-innocently counting his ribs with my index finger:

You are the devil! You would've turned in Anne Frank!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gettin' ready to get all married.

My wedding dress came in. Six weeks early. Crazy, huh?

So, Saturday morning, my friend A. and I trekked to the bridal salon, where I put on The Dress. Since I ordered it in August, I'd started to have ... not second thoughts, but doubts. Was it really the right dress? Did I really look OK in it?

Well, rest assured - all is well. I look good.

My veil was in, too, so I tried on the whole ensemble, and we played a bit with jewelry. I feel confident that I'm going to look like me, but me on a really, really good hair day.

My entire look will be pretty, umm, classic, even with my own funky touches. Of course, I'm basing this "classic" judgment on my most recent addiction: Married to Rock.

Yeah, they're married to rock stars. Yeah, one of 'em just had a fancy wedding, where she entered the ceremony via a giant tulle-swathed swing from the roof of a nearby building. And yeah, her bridesmaids did wear large, Hello Kitty pendant necklaces.

Like I said? My wedding will be soooo booooooring.

But Married to Rock? Well, I've been a little disappointed in Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It. His kids are just too messed up for me to fully lose myself in the show. But Married to Rock? It's nothing but sweet, sweet collagen lips and pretty decent - if disproportionate - boob jobs. And I don't feel a need to find any of the families portrayed a good child psychologist.

Thanks to Married to Rock, I've learned about rocker post-tour depression, and the special burdens of being a rock wife. I've also learned that a proactive way to keep groupies at bay is to FedEx your husband a life-sized doll in your likeness.

Well, it would have worked had FedEx not lost the doll. But it's still a valuable pointer that I'll carry with me in my marriage.

Image courtesy of eonline.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cha Cha goes to the movies. Or sits on the couch.

When I was in junior high and high school, I babysat the crap out of my hometown.

Seriously. I don't mean to brag, but I was in high demand. I babysat a lot. I like kids, kids seem to like me, and I was careful to clean the kitchen before the parents got home.

One particular Saturday night, after my young charges had gone to bed and I'd tidied the kitchen, I made a gruesome discovery. My otherwise hip and awesome employers ... didn't have cable.

Seriously.

But I found myself entertained by an old movie on public television. If you've never seen it, rush out right now and rent, buy, or steal Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine.

Marty is a lovely little movie - and I hadn't seen it since until it was on TCM this week. Watching it again was like slowly savoring creme brulee.

But here's the deal: it's a movie about lonely people, people who are scared of not being needed, people who are on the verge of giving up. There are old women who are unsure of their role when their children don't need them anymore. And there's an old maid and a lonely bachelor who are both on the cusp of accepting their fates as duds.

As a teenager, I could appreciate feeling left behind. But as a woman who is about to be married for the first time at 35?

Well, when the woman daringly tells her potential suitor that she's 29 - outing herself as a spinster - and half expects the man to reject her immediately?

I could taste her apprehension.

I have been that woman.

I have toyed with the idea that I was deficient, an ill fit, destined to be alone - but not wanting any of that solitude. I've been bitter, but managed to pull myself back from that abyss a few times. I chose to pursue my happiness even though I was terrified - and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

The great thing about Marty? It's all about good, decent people and the decision to pursue or settle in.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The best of times, the worst of times.

It's been a quiet Sunday. I haven't left the house, and didn't feel the need to put on a bra. The doxies are wearing sweaters for the first time this season, and the extra warmth is making them sleepy. Sweaters! They're like blankets that you take with you!

I've worked. I've read. I've done laundry.

And now? Now, I'm freaking out just a tiny bit.

My Facebook wall is alive with the question: Cha Cha! What will you do Dec. 28? Who will you root for - your life-long loves, the Iowa Hawkeyes, or your beloved alma mater, the Mizzou Tigers?

Ohhh, crap.

Yes. My two teams are playing in the Insight Bowl.

Well, I know I'll wear black and gold. But other than that?

The first time I cried over sports was when Chuck Long lost the closest Heisman race in history to Bo Jackson. I was in fifth grade, and not sure what to make of my anger and hurt. Evidently, I channeled it into a healthy grudge: I still hate Bo Jackson.

The first time I attended I football game at Missouri, I laughed at the crappy stadium. I was a college sophomore and just learning the joys of a pleasant buzz at sporting events. It was like riding a bike without the training wheels for the first time.

I grew up in Iowa. But I blossomed at Missouri.

Maybe I won't watch the game. That's the day My Guy and I close on our house, and we will probably be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Or, if I do watch the game, maybe I'll watch it with my hands over my eyes, like how I watch horror flicks. Because that's how I've watched many Iowa games this season - lots of times, they played like doo-doo.

Or maybe I'll multitask, doing stuff around the house while the game is on. Because that's how I watched many Mizzou games this season. Let's face it - many of their games were like watching paint dry. Not hatin', just sayin'.

At any rate? As if the nervous anticipation of Christmas wasn't enough, we're closing on our house three days after Jesus' birthday. And now, I can firmly plan my fangirl mental breakdown for the same day. How convenient.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My mutant uterus, part 2.

So, I evidently made my future mother-in-law cry.

Starting married life out on the right foot? CHECK!

During day three of the Thanksgiving family celebration marathon, MIL, her sister and her niece asked me if I'd gotten cornered by Grandma. CHECK!

They laughed and apologized. MIL's sister said that Grandma runs her mouth about stuff that isn't any of her business, and how she has lost any filter she might have ever had. She talks about sex and has told her daughters about how she wanted kids but wanted nothing to do with the how-kids-come-to-be part. She's discussed this in detail. Evidently, you can say whatever you want when you're 90.

Which made us all laugh. And then started the kids conversation in earnest.

MIL said she never wanted anything but to have children and be a mother.

MIL's sister and MIL's niece both said that while they love their children more than anything, they never felt like their lives would be incomplete without children.

Which led me to say, "Well, I feel the same way. But if we don't have kids, you can give me a piece of your mind when you're 90."

MIL's sister and MIL's niece both laughed. And MIL turned her back to me.

Come to find out, she cried - yes, cried - to My Guy later about how she didn't understand why I didn't want children, and she knew he did, and how could this happen?

Ahem.

My Guy once thought he wanted kids. And he has since changed his mind somewhat - the jury is out. (Trust me, we've talked about this.) And he would like to think his mother expects that he could stand up for himself.

I don't know if I want kids or not. My Guy and I will figure it out. I would like to think that my future MIL respects me as an individual and not as a uterus going to waste. I would like to think that she would respect any decision I make.

This is such a stereotypical situation - it's embarrassing. But I'm a little bit crushed. I like my future MIL, even if we aren't always on the same page. I fear that I outed myself as totally different from her, and now she won't like me. Ever. And I fear that this is just the first in a long line of conclusions that she will jump to about me and my diseased brain and wrong way of doing things.

But I'm also not going to bust out a bunch of babies just to make her happy.

I love her son. We are partners. And we will figure it out together.

Just have some respect, m'kay?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Let's talk about my uterus, shall we?

I spent Thanksgiving with My Guy and his family. He is one of five children. There were 17 of his family members there. And me. It was a touch overwhelming. Fun, but lots different than the typical me, my parents, and Poochie.

And? I fell into The Trap.

A sat down to talk to My Guy's grandma. She's sassy and I like her. My Guy has alluded to her difficult tendencies, but I hadn't seen this first-hand.

We talked about the new house. Which led to:

Grandma: So, what are you going to do with all those bedrooms?

Me: Well, we'll figure it out.

Grandma: Are you going to have children?

Me: Well, we'll figure it out.

Grandma: You know, My Guy has always wanted children.

Me: (oh, shiiiiit.) Well, we're not really sure.

Grandma: Oh really. Why?

Me: (fuuuuuuuck.) Did you know that I'm five years older than My Guy?

Grandma: Really? No, I didn't know that. Are you worried you're too old to have babies?

Me: (well, that lame-ass plan backfired.) Umm?

Grandma: There are lots of ladies who have babies into their 40s. Their FIRST babies.

Me: (giving up.) Uh-huh.

Grandma: You have lots of time!

Me: (kill me now.) Can we get married first?

Grandma: Well, I'd hope so.

And ... scene!

When I recounted this to My Guy hours later, he was apologetic. "I'm so sorry! Was there anybody there to save you?"

"Uh, no."

"That sucks. My cousin is usually really good about that. Grandma probably isn't happy that we'll be living together before the wedding."

"Really?"

"Whatever. I don't care."

"Do you think your grandma thinks I'm a virgin?"

"Uh - I don't know. I don't care."

"Maybe I should have told her that I don't want to have children because I'm terrified of intercourse."

"Yes! You should have asked her about it! 'Do we actually have to touch? What if he just has really good aim?'"

"Love it. 'You had four children. How does it work?' That was totally a missed opportunity."

And then we cackled like the evil people we are. And I was thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A moment of appreciation.

In the immortal words of your hero and mine, Bret Michaels, "It's not if life is going to knock you down. It's when and how. And it's definitely how you roll with it."

Mmm. Every rose has its thorn, indeed.

But here's the thing, in this season of thanksgiving: I have been knocked down. And I have rolled with it. And now? Now, I look around and realize I'm reaping the rewards.

When all my friends were having babies, I was having a mental breakdown, leaving a bad relationship and moving into a shithole apartment. And it sucked. But it made me stronger.

And I had another crappy relationship. And it sucked. But it made me realize what I need, and how I deserve to be treated.

And now? Now, I am engaged to a kind, funny, smart, generous man who makes me laugh like a hyena. He is my best friend. I wouldn't fully appreciate this relationship if it weren't for its not-so-awesome predecessors.

And my former real estate woes? Karma, baby. We're buying our dream home on our dream street. And yes, it does contain my dream bathroom.Which will not stay this color for long. And yeah, we might clean it. But that is the original sink and the original tile. Huzzah!

I feel like my current theme songs are Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" and "I must have done something good" from The Sound of Music. And not just because of the bathroom. For all of it.

I'm not gloating. I'm just acknowledging. And giving thanks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How can we be lovers if we can't be friends?

Today, we had the inspection on our house. It was built in 1929, has been empty for a few weeks, and was a foreclosure. Oh, and the former occupant trashed it before moving out.

A lot could have been wrong.

But the real estate gods were smiling upon us! The foundation is solid. The roof has several years of life left. Yes, there's some wood rot, and yes, the dishwasher leaks and needs a new seal. But other than that?

Well, other than that, we were faced with the trash filling the house. So, while the inspectors inspected, My Guy, Awesome Realtor Guy and I filled trashbags with stuff left behind by the last owner.

We found a half-full bowl of mostly fossilized rice and beans. In a drawer. In the master bathroom.

And gay porn. With pictures on the DVD case. Educational pictures.

And, of course, we found a Michael Bolton "Soul Provider" CD. Which we were actually really excited about. Because we are giant nerds.

We don't close until after Christmas, but today gave us an opportunity to at least get the trash out of the house, and sort through our own personal flea market in the garage.

Yes, that's a shopping cart full of hubcaps. I saved the shopping cart. The hubcaps? They went in the dumpster pile.

We also realized that the paint colors we've already picked out - because good LORD, we feel like we need to be doing SOMETHING - will be perfect.

One of the bedrooms is black stripped. For now.

Currently, most of the main living space is this lovely color of pumpkin vomit.
And this potted plant obviously sold the house. We took one look at this prime example of fauna and knew this was the home for us.

There's so much cleaning and painting and painting and cleaning to be done, but right now, we're just hanging out. But this is totally meant to be our house. And we're pretty fucking pumped.
Images courtesy of Ione the iPhone, because my camera suddenly went from having a full battery last night to having no battery this morning. Sorry for the awesome photo quality.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The agony of defeat. And the thrill of victory!

Remember the tiny and ancient house that My Guy and I loved?

We saw it again. With a contractor. We made an offer.

And we didn't get it. The listing agent wrote an offer with some other buyers. An offer that was $20K less than our offer. And the sellers took that offer. We don't think she ever even presented our offer.

This all went down on Saturday. Combine these real estate woes with a completely hideous Iowa football loss, and you understand why I took to my bed for a three-hour nap. I simply couldn't face the world. All I want is to live with my fiance. Is that such a crazy dream?

Sunday, our Super Realtor - still pissed as hell about how things went down on tiny and ancient house - gave us a few addresses to consider. One of which had been on the market before and we'd loved, although we'd never actually been inside. Now, it had been taken by the bank and wasn't officially back on the market. There wasn't even a sign in the yard.

Sunday, My Guy and I poked around the yard. I liked the patio. My Guy liked the lush, cushy grass that felt like it had a carpet pad underneath. We told the Super Realtor we'd look at the house after work on Monday.

Except, Monday? Super Realtor called me at noon, saying he'd heard that some other folks were considering making an offer. So, half an hour later, My Guy, Super Realtor and I converged on The House. And discovered that it truly was The House. On The Street. And contains Cha Cha's Dream Bathroom.

We saw the house at 12:45. By 7, we had a signed contract.

Holy shit! We're buying a house! Which we both love! And holy shit! We will own three houses! That's bad!

The House has been trashed. There's garbage strewn throughout, and Coke has been sprayed all over ceilings and walls. The granite in the kitchen is shattered. While most of the house has hardwoods, the places with carpet need to be stripped.

I have never been so excited to clean in my life!

We take possession right after Christmas, pending inspections next week. Right now, it's hard to think about anything but paint colors and furniture placement.

And yes, we're getting uber aggressive on our houses. Because two people with three houses? That ratio is all sorts of messed up.

But I feel such a sense of relief and joy knowing that yes, yes we are going to live together. And this will be where we do it. And this is where we will make our home together and live our married life together - where we will wipe muddy paws and feed our friends and enjoy just hanging out with each other in our home.

I never imagined that having three houses would be a relief. But it is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where are they now: Cha Cha's hair edition.

Long-time readers might recall the ongoing struggles with my luscious tresses. Growing out a pixie into a bob? It's not for the faint of heart.

It seemed to be stuck in a 70s Marcia Wallace phase for a long, long time.

And then when it started to grow out? I looked like I was livin' on a prayer. Total 90s Jon Bon Jovi.


Then? I got a haircut that instead of being a trim ended up being more of a maintenance cut. And it looked like 70s Marcia Wallace. Again.

I was going for the Linda Evangelista. Instead, I ended up with more of a Shaun Cassidy.

For a while, I got high on my heady hair-growing prospects. I wanted Cher Hair! I was going to have hair down to my butt! It was going to be glorious!

And then I remembered that my hair is freakishly thick and the one time in my life when I actually had Cher Hair, it took an hour to blow dry.

I do not have that sort of time. So I changed my focus instead to more of a Louise Brooks bob.

I believe I am finally - finally! - growing out the pesky layers that make the right side of my hair flip into origami shapes. Which is good, because as my Crazy Stylist says? I no longer have hair. I have Engaged Hair.

No, I'm not getting extensions so I can have some craptastic up-do at the wedding. But each haircut now seems to have greater weight. One false move and my Engaged Hair could go horribly wrong! And I could end up with Bad Wedding Hair.

It's a lot of responsibility.

My sacred haircut today turned out to be super interesting. Now, Crazy Stylist (you know, the one who blew off all conversation about the presidential election with a breezy, "Oh, honey, I can't vote - I'm a felon!")? She was talking to somebody when I got to the salon.

Somebody with really, really bad hair - like, two inches of dark roots and a bad home blond dye job. Somebody who ... uh ... wouldn't leave.

Yes. My hair salon was overtaken by a crack whore who wanted to use the bathroom, then wouldn't leave, then was convinced that her ride a) wouldn't know where to pick her up; and b) didn't have her phone number.

So, she kept calling the ride, asking the guy if he had her phone number, and verifying that he would be there to pick her up at 5:43. Not 5:45, not 5:40. But 5:43. And then she'd hang up, then start asking the folks in the salon where she was, because she didn't know if her ride had her phone number, then calling him to ask if he had her phone number and if he was going to pick her up at 5:43 because, and I quote, "I just got my hair done." Then she'd wonder if he had her number.

Finally, everybody in the salon was like, "He's got your fucking number!"

And then she was asked to wait outside. Then she was asked to wait outside not blocking the door of the salon. And then a car pulled up and she tried to get in - only to find that it was the husband of one of the stylists, picking his wife up from work. With their baby. And a crack whore tried to get in the car.

Forget Nancy Reagan. Forget "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." You want an effective anti-drug campaign? Spend some time with a woman who is so strung out she thinks she just got her hair done because she took a dump in a salon bathroom.

But my hair looks good. Still on track for Wedding (read: non-sucky) Hair. Over and out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I really need my own show on HGTV.

Last week, in the midst of my real estate meltdown, it occurred to me that when all this home selling and home buying is done, I should become a hoarder. It's like the opposite of having your house staged - you have lots of stuff, and you see all of it all the time! Win-win!

Flawed planning? Perhaps.

But now? Now, I realize that it's not that I love tons of stuff. It's that I like to see the beauty in the real, in the flawed.

Yeah, I got your flea market finds and your stray dogs right here.

And having a staged house is not about being real or flawed. It's about living a lie, pretending that I am one of Those People who makes their bed every morning and never leaves dishes in the sink.

Secret admission? Sometimes? When I leave dishes in the sink? I think, "Yay! This is my house, and I can leave the dishes in the sink if I want to. Bwah-ha!" And there's beauty in that, too.

My Guy and I saw a house yesterday that is a) for sale; b) way, way, way within our budget; and c) old and tiny and lovely. I'm seeing the beauty - the huge backyard, the possibilities for adding another garage, the amazing, original architectural details. I'm thinking about making due with the teensy ugly kitchen until we could remodel. I'm focusing on the beauty, not necessarily the functionality and the practicality.

But is that so bad?

When I can't find my shoes because our stuff is distributed amongst four tiny closets? Yeah, it might be bad. But isn't starting married life together all about seeing the beauty and the potential?

And no, neither of our houses have sold, so no, we couldn't make an offer on Old and Tiny and Lovely House tomorrow. But, it's good to be prepared. Right?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sort of homeless.

My Guy and I have had a week of Real Estate Madness. I had an open house for realtors on Tuesday, and we both had open houses for the public today. His open house for realtors is this Tuesday - about the time of my impending mental breakdown.

I like New Realtor Guy - he seems to me making things happen. But I don't like all these people traipsing about my house. I can't help it. I came home after the realtor open house to find that my house smelled like cheap, stale pizza; one of my bedroom windows had been left unlocked (super cool!), and someone had used the bathroom and left the lid up (bad feng shui and a personal pet peeve).

And then? Then, there was the feedback from the realtors.

I got a lot of "Rooms are too small" and even one "Garage too small."

Dude. It's a post-war, two-bedroom ranch. What do you expect? This actually made me think of Roger Ebert - the great thing about his movie reviews is that he judges a film based on what it's trying to be. He doesn't judge something like The Hangover against Citizen Kane. He seems like a very karmically minded guy who tries to see the best in every movie, and I like that.

The realtors might take a few notes on that approach.

Along with the "too small" comments, it was suggested that I put a rug down in the mudroom. Fine. Done. But the real kicker?

I have a huge, gorgeous, framed copy of this in my living room:
I adore it. However, there is evidently a Puritan Organization Of Professional realtors (POOP) in my town. And all of POOP's members saw fit to provide feedback saying "Replace naked lady picture in living room - inappropriate."

So ... I had been having this DAY, you know? And my house smelled like cheap pizza and someone was obviously planning on breaking in later through the unlocked window, and people had been touching my stuff. And I lost it.

I cried. Ugly cried.

But then I went out for Chinese food with my friend L to That Place That's Always Closed and had some restorative hot and sour soup and then things were better. However, I've realized that I am one of Those People who are emotionally attached to their home. Freakishly attached.

But, if we're being kind ... who could blame me? I had $25.35 to my name when I decided to leave an abusive relationship. I worked my ass off and bought a house a year and a half later. I've remodeled the house, and figured out who I am in the house.

Now, I've emptied the house of almost all of my personal stuff in hopes of selling Casa de Cha Cha - and I get razzed for the one Cha Cha-type thing left in the house.

Well, POOP can suck it. I'm tempted to put a pasty on the one exposed nipple on the picture and call it good. But my mom really put it in perspective and made me laugh and laugh and laugh. She e-mailed, "Betcha they were really snooty realtors who won't touch a property that lists under $2,000,000,000,000,000.00."

I don't even know how to say that number.

In our real estate wanderings, My Guy and I found a $4.5 million home that has - are you ready? - a ball pit, complete with slide from the story above. Yes. There's a home in town that was designed with a ball pit, like they have at Chuck E. Cheese.

That's probably why our houses aren't selling. No ball pits.

Image courtesy of allposters.com.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sailing into the sunset in my gravy boat.

Thank you all for the bridal registry suggestions - they have been suuuuper helpful! I love hearing what makes people happy. And if you want more awesome suggestions, hop over to Sweet Tea and Sunshine - Sherilee's readers had some great ideas, too. I would be hating life if I forgot to register for an ice cream maker, and Sherilee saved me. Thank you!

The whole china / no china debate is interesting. I love china, mostly because it's pretty - not because I have a china-using debutante lifestyle. However, the big reason why I'm not registering for china is because I have my grandma's set.

When my grandparents were moving out of the home they'd lived in for 40 years and into an assisted living facility, my grandma had a few things she was very particular about. And one of those things was that I would get her china.

I was 26 and shacking up with Ex-Ex at the time. Maybe Grandma knew he was a loser who would never marry me. Or maybe she knew that I was the one person in the family who would truly treasure the china. At any rate, it became mine.

The pattern has tiny pink and pale green flowers on it. As a youngun', I used to think it was sort of weird to have pink plates. But, then Grandma had a pink bathroom, too.

But the really weird thing? I started collecting vintage kitchen items - in pink. And my kitchen? I painted it a pale green. Without intending such a thing, I designed my kitchen around my grandma's china - the plates that she used all the time because she loved to feed her family.

I figured out in about fifth grade that the secret to eating at Grandma's was to take freakishly small portions so that you would always have room for seconds. Otherwise, both of my grandparents would assume that the food wasn't to your liking, or that you were sick. If my grandpa was serving, you had to tell him "when" early, knowing that he'd put an extra dollop on your plate.

My family still jokes, "More beans? I can heat up some more rolls. How about another piece of pie?" at pretty much every meal. It's endearing to us that these two people were so focused on nurturing the people they loved. It's even more meaningful when you think that they started their married life during the Depression, on a farm in western Kansas - my 19-year-old grandma, her groom ... and his three teen-aged brothers.

So, when I tell you that she could stretch some bread crumbs and a can of peaches into a feast? You know I'm telling you the truth.

And that's why I, personally, am not registering for china. I already have the most precious set imaginable.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Decision 2010.

It's election night and the results are pouring in. This is the perfect opportunity to have an intellectual conversation about the two-party system in America, what truly impacts voter turn-out, and the role of the media in our governmental system.

But that's for somebody else's blog.

Here? Here, I need your input on Decision 2010. And by Decision 2010, I mean figuring out my bridal registry.

Now, I had a few friends who were all, "Are you even going to register? Do you need stuff?"

The gracious Cha Cha responds to this with a friendly hug and an explanation that every bride wants to set up a beautiful household for her new husband.

The deranged spinster Cha Cha cackles and notes that she's typically been spending all of her extra cash on cat food and housecoats, not on platters and other servingware, so yeah, she's gonna register.

And bitter but popular Cha Cha? She recounts all of the bridal shower gifts, bachelorette gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, and baby gifts that she has lavished upon her friends. And she cackles with delight and thinks, "You owe me, bitches! And I'm registering for some nice shit, too!"

I'm a nice person. Really, I am.

But it's time to register. And I'm at a bit of a loss.

We aren't registering for china. And I know we'll register for The Object of My Desire, aka a KitchenAid stand mixer. But other than that? Umm?

So, spill it. What kitchen or household item has been the most awesome item in your arsenal? What cookware do you recommend? And what did you think you couldn't live without ... only to find that, dude, you totally don't need it at all?

I need a new turkey baster. But I think that I will probably need to register for more stuff besides a mixer and a turkey baster. Just sayin'.

Help a girl out. What do you love?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I should pitch screenplays for a living.

So ... didya watch Oprah yesterday?

The entire cast of The Sound of Music was on. Why this wasn't recognized as a national holiday, I simply do not know.

This is one of those movies that I saw about a gajillion and seven times as a child ... but I hadn't thought about it for several years. As I'm sure you know, I played second-oldest daughter Louisa in a 1988 community theatre production of The Sound of Music.

You know Louisa, right? She's the one who has a line wondering what her mother was like ... when, based on the ages of her siblings, she was at least 9 years old when her mother died. She was also the one who sang "I flit, I float! I fleetly flee, I fly!"

So, I played the stupid von Trapp.

Anyway.

I was ecstatic about the reunion show, but when I tried to explain the gravity of the show and the movie to My Guy? It went like this:

Me: Do you know what today is?

My Guy: Thursday?

Me: No! Well, yeah. But it's the entire cast of The Sound of Music on Oprah!

My Guy: So?

Me: So? It's awesome! Don't you like that movie?

My Guy: Uh, it's a musical. So, no.

*Stunned silence during which I questioned my choice of life partner. I didn't think to point out that My Guy loves Glee.*

Me, taking another tactic: The Sound of Music kicks ass. You know ... it has Nazis.

My Guy: Singing Nazis?

Me, vamping: Uh, yeah! And there's this captain, right? And he puts the moves on his kids' nanny - who is a nun!

My Guy: You're lying.

Me, picking up steam: No! It's true! He puts the moves on the nanny and she ends up leaving the convent to hook up with him, and then they have to escape from the Nazis! It's a true story! And then they made a movie about it!

My Guy: Oh. Well, that sounds OK.

And that's why if it weren't football season, we'd be watching The Sound of Music this weekend. But it is football season, so we'll be glued to the gridiron all weekend. I'm sure My Guy is disappointed, but we'll get through.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two things that made me laugh this week.

Because I was a mathlete.Woman’s t-shirt at the chiropractor’s office:

Math is awe “sum”!
And yeah, I’m forgiving the quotation usage.

Because I knew this girl in college … and that’s all I’ll say about that.Best Facebook update ever:

At dinner tonight, I said, “Guess what I did today?”

My 4-year-old: “Got arrested?”

My 6-year-old: “Went to the liquor store?”


The answer was “I got a pedicure.” Glad my kids think so highly of me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Look at the baby! Look at him!

Behold my dad's despondency at the end of the Iowa / Wisconsin game. Note the proud black and gold, accompanied by disappointment and ...
... and a little puppy.*

Yes! My parents brought home the newest family member this weekend. His name is Murphy and he is a 7-week-old shih tzu.
And holy crap, he's cute.

My mom says he like to chase leaves, and he needs a boost to get inside the back door ... the threshold is about six inches from the surface of the patio. You know how it is when your legs are an inch long.

But don't let the cute, cuddly baby exterior fool you. The Murph is already angling for supremacy in the family.

I asked my mom about him and her immediate response was, "He's so smart!" Then she told me all about his potty habits.

I have a college degree. Poochie is working on his master's. But we know where we stand.
Hopefully, our parents will still remember our names and we won't become "Oh yeah - our other kids. Wonder what happened to them?"

But really? The Murph is so cute and such a blessing. It's cool.

*Even when he's got the "We're not mad, we're just disappointed" look, isn't my dad just super handsome? I like him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today's show is brought to you by the letter W.

My people are a football people.

Case in point? Uh, last week? My family - me, My Guy, my parents, and my aunt and uncle - were all late to my brother's rehearsal dinner. We were watching the end of the Iowa / Michigan game.*

What? It was important.

And this week? My Guy and I were exhausted and pissed as hell after watching the 30-31 Iowa / Wisconsin debacle. But we needed our strength! My alma mater - where I also worked in the athletic department - played the Saturday night game.

Set new records for attendance at College GameDay? Beat the number one ranked BCS team?

Yeah, we did. M-I-Z!

But Brent Musburger hates all teams that wear black and gold. Seriously - he couldn't stop talking about Oklahoma even as Mizzou was beating the crap out of them. And anytime he calls an Iowa game? Well, don't get me started. In the words of my dad? "Everybody knows Brent Musburger hates Iowa. He always has."

I think it's more that our buddy Brent still favors the traditional powerhouses. Maybe he's trapped in the 70s. Maybe he has "Roll Tide" tattooed on his ass. Who's to say?

I thought about this while watching last night's game. And I thought about Brent in his powder-blue leisure suit, reporting on the 1977 World's Strongest Man Competition. The dude has paid his dues.

However.

I think I'm going to start hosting my own show about college football. It will be called The Cha Cha Show, and it will be a weekly half-hour where I talk about stuff I know about college football.

You wanna watch it, don't you?

I'll talk about the coaching tree of Iowa legend Hayden Fry (seriously - like, a gazillion Division 1 coaches either played for him or coached for him). However, I won't be afraid to do hard-hitting investigation, like my controversial look into why Bill Snyder of Kansas State is an ass (he runs up scores needlessly). And I'll remember arcane and totally useless facts like the score of the 1985 Iowa / Michigan game (12-10 in favor of the number-one-ranked Hawkeyes. Actually, I'll probably bust that out every episode.).

There will be a segment where my dad identifies his favorite college football player names (Marvin McNutt, anyone?).

Then, My Guy will do some talking about technical stuff and will say things like "Watch the strong safety during this hook-and-ladder play." I will nod during this segment, like I have any clue what he's talking about. I will also be strangely turned on by his athletic prowess.

Finally, every episode will close with a segment called "What Cha Cha's Mom Thinks of Joe Paterno." She and I have practiced this segment, and it pretty much consists of my lovely mama looking at the camera and saying, "I hate him."

And that was "What Cha Cha's Mom Thinks of Joe Paterno!"

Light on tough college football analysis? Possibly. But it might start to make up for ol' Musburger's complete lack of respect for those teams that haven't won multiple national championships. Check your local listings.

*It sounds worse than it really was - the rehearsal dinner was a small affair at the home of Poochie and Mrs. Poochie. And we were only like 15 minutes late - totally within the acceptable limits of lateness due to football.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gratuitous photo Friday.

Cute, isn't he? I think I'll marry him.

Also? My Guy gets triple points for moving tables, organizing wayward relatives, and generally kicking ass and taking names at Poochie's wedding. What a gift.

Plus? He's so cute!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because the people demand satisfaction!

So ... Poochie's wedding.

Was lovely. Obviously.

The day was warm and sunny. Everybody was happy. I did a pretty OK job of officiating. I got sunburned, which was awesome since my dress had an asymmetrical neckline. I now have one pink boob and one pale boob.

And now I understand why so many wedding blogs are mostly pictures with very little text. It's hard to explain the hubbub of the day. Our sweet neighbors - who are kind of like grandparents to me and Poochie - were there, smiling and laughing. The rowing club held oars up for the happy couple - who met rowing - to walk through. We enjoyed Dutch letters - yummy pastries filled with almond paste - in lieu of cake.

And Poochie? Was so, so happy. Which made me happy.
You can see more photos here. If you need a photographer in central Iowa, call Allison. She was wonderful. Obviously.

Photo #1 courtesy of the tourists who snapped a pic with Poochie's iPhone. Photo #2 courtesy of Allison Marie Photography.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marriage and shit.

Poochie and his beautiful bride got married yesterday. The day was lovely, sunny and warm. The bride was stunning and the groom was handsome. I had a few people comment that I did a nice job officiating and they didn't realize I was the groom's sister until after the fact. So, all in all, a good day.

I'll share more later, but ask that you forgive me for just hitting the high points today. My Guy and I drove back today. When we got back, we had an hour to kill before meeting our realtor, so we went to the bank to open a joint account. WHICH TOOK AN HOUR.

Seriously. We're both existing customers. Why, oh why would it take an hour to set up a new account? Bank of America? You suck serious ass.

So, we were late getting to my house to meet my friend our realtor and our new realtor. My friend just had her third (gorgeous!) baby, so she's handing over our listings to The New Realtor Guy. This new guy, whose first impression of me is that my house smells like shit.

Because Puppy Love Lisa, the beloved dog sitter? Has issues with portion control. She went through a week's worth of dog food in three days. And Foxie Doxie, he of the delicate digestive tract? Had crazy diarrhea in his kennel.

Yay!

So, while My Guy and The New Realtor Guy talked real estate strategy, I drug a shit-filled kennel outside, then gave Foxie a bath. My friend tried to soothe her cranky 3-week-old. And Lil' Frankfurter got jealous of the attention Foxie was getting with the kitchen-sink bath. So, he pooped and peed directly behind me in the kitchen.

My house smelled awesome.

We decided to drop our prices again, and I had an almost freak out of the "I had $25.35 to my name and then worked my ass off to buy this house and I don't want to lose money on it" variety. And then My Guy pointed out that the goal here is to live together, and he was all reasonable and shit.

So, we did the real estate stuff, and then My Guy hosed out the kennel and threw away the bedding. I think he saw that I was on the precipice of a meltdown. We agreed that throwing away the bedding was the best decision ever.

And then we ate dinner, and I had an adult beverage. And now I'm getting ready to go to bed. Because 8:30 is totally my bed time after this sort of day.

But Poochie got married and it was lovely and we'll talk about it tomorrow. M'kay?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turn on your heartlight.

I was going to write about a maybe big-ish argument / confrontation / disagreement that my brother and my parents are having right now, the week of his wedding, and how it makes me want to hide in my closet.

But when I tried to log in to Blogger? I got a "503 - Service Unavailable" screen. I guess that's a sign.

So, instead? I'll tell you the magical story of Poochie and Our Jewish Dad.

Yes.

My very first non-Sesame Street LP was Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits. I looooooved this album, even though it features a barefoot Neil on the cover and I have always been iffy about men's feet. The album was all mine - I got it for my fifth birthday from family friends who knew how much I loved their Neil eight track.

Neil's always been a part of our family. And when I was in college, Poochie and I convinced our mom to buy us Hot August Night on cassette, promising that we would share it.

Keep in mind that at the time, we lived four hours apart and neither one of us had a car. But we did share that tape - it was so, so good! I'd bring it home on school breaks, or Poochie would offer it up over summer vacation.

But that fabulous recording of Neil in concert? It proved to be just a gateway drug.

It's not politically correct, but Poochie and I refer to Neil as Our Jewish Dad. I've seen him in concert four times; Poochie's seen him five. Over the years, there have been many Neil recordings that we've given each other, and we've seen him together twice - two shows that felt like a combination of church and family reunion. Good times.

Now, longtime readers may remember Poochie's track record for remembering birthdays. As in, he doesn't. One of my favorite voicemails ever was last year on my birthday, when Poochie serenaded my machine with an impromptu song about my birthday - a song during which he began to doubt that it truly was my birthday. So, about two-thirds of the way through the song, "happy birthday" morphed into "I'm pretty sure your birthday is sometime this month - hope it is / was / will be good." That was also the year he gave me a Snuggie for my birthday, but didn't actually give it to me - he used it in lieu of a sleeping bag on a bike trip.

This background is important so that you understand the gravity, the weight of what I'm about to tell you.

This summer? Poochie gave me a belated birthday gift. Two, actually.

He gave me the used Snuggie. But the blanket with arms was wrapping! Wrapping for The Single Most Amazing Gift Ever In The History of Gifts.

Poochie gave me a framed, autographed photo of Neil Diamond. Neil in all of his hairy, spangly, late-70s best.

I'm not often speechless, but I truly was when I uncovered this prize.

Again: autographed photo of Our Jewish Dad. I know!

Now, My Guy and I have agreed that whatever our future home looks like, it will need a lighted niche - complete with security lasers - to properly display and protect Neil. We have my brother to thank.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I am on a horse. Cow.

The countdown is on! My baby brother is getting married a week from today. So, I thought this week could be A Celebration of Poochie.

Fun Fact You Didn't Know About Poochie: He had / has a thing for Grover. Yes, everybody's favorite furry little monster.

Poochie received a Grover stuffed animal as a gift when he was a youngun', and Grover became his one and only. Poochie and Grover went everywhere together, and Grover is featured prominently in many family photos.

One year for Christmas, Grover asked Santa for a purple t-shirt. This caused my mom a lot of heartache. How could Santa possibly deliver a purple t-shirt for a monster whose presence was absolutely, without question necessary for my brother to fall asleep?

Let's just talk about how awesome my mom is for a moment, shall we? She'd wait til Poochie fell asleep at nap time (he's the favorite kid - he actually took naps). Then, she'd sneak in, steal Grover, and figure out a pattern from his furry blue body. When she was done, she'd throw him on the floor in Poochie's room, so when Poochie woke up, she'd just be all, "Oh, Grover fell out of bed."

Then, Christmas Eve? She and my dad had to steal Grover in the middle of the night. My mom sewed the t-shirt on. Then, they tucked Grover back in bed with Poochie. And my brother awoke Christmas Day to find that Santa had, indeed, given Grover a purple t-shirt.

So, Grover sports a purple t-shirt to this day. And I think he's on retina transplant number 19, as the pupils on his plastic eyes keep wearing off and being touched up with Sharpie. And he has a bald spot on his rear, as Poochie would rub Grover's silky tag against his upper lip for comfort. In the grand tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, Grover is as real as they get. Super Real. Super Grover.

It's all just one of those things that makes Poochie who he is, and makes me love him.

But Grover's a man who evolves. You might remember his Olivia Newton-John era aerobics bit, or his disco dancing. Now, he's spoofing those hilarious Old Spice commercials.



And ... you're welcome.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In which I am mucusy and sweaty and long-winded.

I have had a cold this week. Perhaps you've heard of it? It goes by the monikers Cold of Death, The Sinus Crusher, and, occasionally, Snot Doggy Dogg.

I feel like I've been hit by a truck.

Yesterday, though, I finally remembered my friend Sherrie's comments about how when she's sick, hot and sour soup is the only ticket to health. So, My Guy and I went to the home of the world's greatest hot and sour soup: Fire Wok.

Or, as we usually call it, "You Know, That Place That's Always Closed." Which seems to have caught on as the official moniker, despite the fact that I really tried to get "Fire Crotch" to catch on, just because it made me laugh.

You Know, That Place That's Always Closed has the best hot and sour soup. And really? It has an awesome buffet, too. They are open from 11-2 and 5-8, weekdays only. Never on the weekends. And really? You have to be a really good restaurant to survive being open for only, like, half an hour every week.

Anyway.

So, last night, the hot and sour soup from You Know, That Place That's Always Closed made my nose run and my lip sweat. And then I felt better! And so, today, after work? I stopped by and got not one but two servings of soup to go. Yes, I gorged myself on two bowls of hot and sour soup for dinner. It was the best dinner ever! And my nose ran and I got sweaty ... and I'm thinking I will triumph over this cold.

And yeah, that's the excitement here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Did I mention? I can't wait for your show?

I'm watching vh1's 100 Top Songs of the 90s. This means several things.

1. I cannot turn away from vh1 countdown shows, no matter how many times I have seen them. Case in point: my recent viewing - not once, but twice - of vh1's Top 100 Artists of All Time. I believe you will join me in my utter disgust that Buddy Holly was omitted from this list. And Journey? Only number 96? Seriously?

2. I am ... a bit of a has-been. I graduated from high school and college in the 90s, and I'm just now coming to realize that holy crap, so much of our music sucked serious ass. And on what planet is a bodysuit and a flannel shirt considered proper "going out" wear? Oh, right - Planet 1995. I knew you well.

Actually, it's sort of like someone I used to know lived in the 90s. Certainly not me. This is also how I felt about that person I used to be who had an escape plan to lock herself in the bathroom and jump down the laundry shoot to escape an unpredictable boyfriend. It's so ridiculous - I don't know that person any more. Like I also don't know the person who, at 110 pounds, wore XXL sweatshirts with leggings and ankle boots.

*shiver*

3. Because vh1 is vh1, every single commercial break has alerted me to big, big news. Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It premieres Monday, Oct. 18! Set your DVRs now. But, actually, it's easy to remember, because Bret's show premieres the day after my big premiere as an ordained woman of the cloth at Poochie's wedding.

Yep. You're welcome for that handy mental crutch. It's like a traditional mnemonic, but better. It's all "every rose has its mnemonic" mnemonic.

So, Bret.
You're awesome.

And I can't wait for your show.

And I will totally be wearing my t-shirt.

And even though I'm super excited to be marrying My Guy? He understands about you. About us.

So much so that when I saw these engagement photos that were crashed by none other than The Boss, and I demanded that My Guy and I have the same Springsteentastic engagement photos?

My Guy sighed and said, "Well, I had Bret Michaels lined up for our engagement shoot, but I guess I'll cancel ..."

So, can't wait for your show, Bret.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

God has me where I'm supposed to be. Right?

So, My Guy and I put our houses on the market the first full week of July.

Have you seen all the news stories about how we're currently in the very worst real estate market ever in the history of houses?

Dude. It is totally true.

My Guy has had four showings in those two and a half months. I have had two showings.

The jokes about how someday we might live together are starting to get a little old. And I feel guilty about the twinge of desperation that I feel. I want to put positive energy into the universe: Yes, our houses will find the buyers who want them! Yes, we will be paid fairly for these homes! Yes, we will be exactly where we are supposed to be!

But I can't help but be a bit discouraged.

We've dropped the prices. We've even been making our beds every single day, for the love of Ray J!

I even turned to The Lord's Realtor. I ordered St. Joseph statues. Evidently, he is the patron saint of carpenters and real estate. You're supposed to say a prayer and bury him head down, facing the street. According to the brochure that came with our St. Joseph statues, he's "The Underground Real Estate Agent(tm)."

My Guy buried his as soon as it came in. Mine? Well, I was busy and didn't get to it immediately. However, this showed how truly sacred my mom's Catholic upbringing is.

When I told her I hadn't yet buried my Underground Real Estate Agent(tm), she had words. Harsh words.

"Dammit, girl! Get out there and bury the damned thing!"

Ahem. So I did. And ... nothing. Perhaps in addition to selling my home, St. Joseph is also trying to teach me patience.

I'm at a bit of a loss. Any words of wisdom? Anybody want a really cute little house with a main-floor laundry and granite in the kitchen?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You say TMI, I say funny.

I'm a bit of a delicate flower. Which is a nice way of saying that if I think about poison ivy or look at it from 347 yards away, I break out.

With two dogs and a fence line that is occasionally overgrown with questionable vegetation, this means I've had more than one brush with everybody's least favorite rash. The dogs brush up against the plant. The dogs brush up against me. I get the oils on my skin. I get the rash of death.

Good times.

So, this week I've had a patch of poison ivy on my arm that's about the size of a large grape. And boy howdy, has it ever itched. Like, I'd wake up thinking about the throbbing, itching heat on my arm. Holy crap. The itching. Itching!

Also? It looks awesome. Oh, you know Cha Cha? That girl who works on the 16th floor? You know, the one with the arm leprosy?

Combine that itchy, visually appealing awesomeness with a nice visit from Aunt Flo, and, well, you've got yourself a party. I am a mess. It's been a great week.

I haven't seen much of My Guy this week. He's had a nasty cold and has sequestered himself away. "I can't get you sick," he said. "I would just feel so guilty."

I thought he was just being overly sensitive and unable to think straight due to an overabundance of mucus. Then, he put it all in perspective.

"You already have poison ivy and your period. If you get a cold, too? Well, that combination is what killed the dinosaurs."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flavors of self-improvement.

So, it's the season premiere of The Biggest Loser. The trainers are traveling around the country, gathering hopefuls and having three potential Losers compete for two spots.

And holy crap. There are some really sad stories. Mamas who have lost their kids. People who were told they were nothing - by the people who were supposed to love them. So many people who have buried their pain in food.

Usually, I like the show because it's a lesson in perseverance. But tonight? This episode just makes me sad for all the folks who want to be on the show but don't make it. People who are desperate.

I've never been obese, but I went through a very definite chubby phase as a kid. And when I discovered that if I just didn't eat? I got all skinny-like! It was great.

Ahem.

I was never truly anorexic, but we flirted.

And as an adult? The only diet that's every worked for me is The Breakup Diet. Yep. Every time I get my heart broken, I drop about 15 pounds. When you're 5'3", that's a lot. But that post-breakup shopping spree is soooo fun. It's the gaining it back - and a bit more - that sort of sucks.

The problem with depending on The Breakup Diet is that I'm getting married. Which means that I shouldn't have any more access to The Breakup Diet. Which is good. And bad. Because while I look good and stuff? I can tell I've got a bit more meat on my bones than I'd prefer. I can just tell, you know?

So, I broke down and joined Weight Watchers. Which should really just be called One More Thing to Play With on Your iPhone. Because the app is awesome.

Given my flirtation with The Big A, I've never owned a scale. But there's one in the locker room at Corporate Behemoth. So, I weigh myself every Monday. Because that's an awesome way to enhance any Monday morning, when I'm usually running late anyway.

I've lost three pounds in a month, which doesn't feel like much. And since I didn't lose any the first two weeks, I was all, "Oh, I am NOT feeling guilty over my beloved Dannon Coffee-Flavored Yogurt to not lose weight, bitches!" But today, I realized that I've lost, like, 2% of my total body weight. Which, on The Biggest Loser, would be pretty good.

For a week. It would be good for a week instead of four. But considering that I'm not working out eight hours a day? And there's very little chance that Jillian Michaels will make me cry on national television? It's cool.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why I'm stepping away from e-mail for the weekend.

I received an e-mail last night from our vet clinic. Our sweet, wonderful vet succumbed to cancer.

As soon as I saw his name in the subject line, I knew. I put my hands over my face. All I could say was, "No, no, no."

This man always had a smile on his face, but not in a weird way. He clearly loved his job, and I considered him my friend. He saved the Geriatric Poodle's life. And he was honest with me when the Geriatric Poodle was getting toward the end of his road.

I am forever grateful for this man and his kindness. I never felt embarrassed crying in front of him. And with the Geriatric Poodle? Sometimes, there was a lot to cry about.

On the clinic Web site, they posted a notice of his passing ... along with a photo of him wearing a red velvet crown. You know, like they give to the homecoming king? The look on my friend's face is priceless, and the photo seems so perfect. It's obvious the people who worked with him love him.

This morning, I discovered an e-mail in my inbox from Ex-Ex. He was writing to tell me that our vet had died. As if he was the only client they e-mailed. As if I live under a rock.

I found myself saying, "FUCK YOU!" out loud.

Rationally? I know that this is yet another attempt from Ex-Ex to interact with me and get some sort of validation that he's not a total schmuck.

But irrationally?

I want to write him back and tell him that he's sullying the legacy of a man of great kindness and integrity by using his death for those purposes. I want to tell him that our vet was a man of honor and my friend - two things that he certainly didn't have in common with Ex-Ex. And Ex-Ex? You and I both know you didn't do squat as far as vet care when we lived together - that all fell on my shoulders. And our sweet vet? I never had an escape plan from him, like the escape plan I had toward the end of our relationship when I figured I could lock myself in the bathroom and jump down the laundry shoot to get away from you if necessary. So fuck off.

So, yeah. I don't think I'll be responding.

Friday, September 17, 2010

And what recording artist are you?

I've been in Boston this week for work. By the last day of our trip, we were admittedly getting a bit slap happy. The conversation that follows was the highlight of the trip.

"You know, we had another baby because we thought we'd get another one like Jake. Instead we got, like, Crazytown."

"Huh? Emma's crazy?"

"Yeah. Like, she's only 3, but she's insane, like she's high all the time."

"Hmm."

-pause-

"The best way I can describe it is that Jake is like Michael Buble. And Emma? Emma's Amy Winehouse. "

-guffaw-

"Seriously. Jake's like, 'Can I help you clean something?' And Emma? The other day, I got her dressed and put some pants on her, and she started screaming! 'I need something in my pockets! I Need Something In My Pockets! I NEED SOMETHING IN MY POCKETS!'"

"Ohmygod! What did you do?"

"I just grabbed a bunch of shit and stuffed it in her pockets!"

"What did she want in her pockets?"

"I don't know! She's just insane!"

(At this point, we were all laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. I think I blacked out.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is it just me?

I had the humbling experience of receiving two very kind, very generous e-mails today. Both messages lauded me for being an authentic, honest blogger.

By "authentic and honest," I'm assuming both of these friends meant "mute and MIA."

I'm more than a bit disappointed in the volume of my writing as of late. I look at the post counts from last year and think, "Ah, those were the days! 30 posts in one month - I really had it going on!" And I forget that yeah, I posted 30 times in one month ... a month in which I didn't really leave my house. My main activities were knitting, blogging, and nursing a broken heart.

And now? Now, life is coming at me at the speed of ... well, at the speed of a really high-quality Internet connection. And I just don't have the time or the energy to post like I think I should. I'm too busy doing. I'm swamped at work. I have a lovely albeit time-consuming second job planning a wedding. I like to do crazy things like spend time with my fiance. And yet?

And yet, I am still attempting to not learn the very valuable lesson that My Guy would teach me if I'd just pull my head out of my ass and fucking pay attention.

That lesson is compassion.

I feel like I'm doing everything half-assed. I'm having moments of freak-out over the wedding. The pile of work at Corporate Behemoth continues to grow. My house is a mess and all of my produce has gone bad. I feel like a fuck up.

And yet? This kind man still loves me. And when I confessed that I didn't think I was being a very good friend to myself? He said, "I'm so glad to hear you say that. You're such a good friend and so understanding and compassionate. You need to cut yourself some slack."

So, this is me being honest. And attempting a cease-fire in the war with myself. And asking to hear from all you other my-own-worst-enemies out there: how do you engage in peace talks between the warring factions in your brain?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Because I can't blog about anything but boobs.

Guess what I did last week?

I bought a wedding dress.

Yep. It was sort of crazy. My mom came down and we visited three bridal salons. It took until about the middle of our visit to the second salon for us to get over the "OMG, Cha Cha's in a wedding dress and is going to get married!" shock. I just kept saying, "I'm getting married!" And my mom just kept crying.

No one tells you this, but trying on wedding dresses is exhausting. I mean, it's not just that you want to look good - it's that this is the most-photographed ensemble you will ever wear. And you're supposed to have been planning this ensemble since you were 3 years old and wearing slips on your head, pretending they're veils. Nevermind the fact that these gowns are also truly marvels of engineering, tend to be heavy, and make you sort of wish for your pajamas.

But we found a dress. I didn't know at first sight - in fact, we left the salon, had lunch, went to another salon, had a mental breakdown over the third salon's 18-year-old consultant who kept bringing me stuff that I had already said I didn't like, and then returned to the second salon to order The Dress.

And it's a surprise. However, this is my artistic interpretation of the gown.

Yes, there's a reason why I'm a writer and not a visual artist. Whatevs.

So, I'm excited. But the real story with the wedding gown shopping?

My mom insisted that I have a strapless bra to wear dress shopping. This was the staple that was missing from my lingerie wardrobe ... mostly because strapless bras are the boob-management equivalent of driving on ice. No control!

But I saw the rationale of my mama's stance, so before any of the dress-shopping shenanigans, we headed to Nordstrom to get the girls fitted for a strapless bra.

Now, longtime readers might remember my love affair with the Nordstrom lingerie department and my shocking realization three years ago that I was wearing totally the wrong size bra. Like, really, really the wrong size. I shelled out some serious dinero for some seriously nice bras. Nice bras that are now starting to feel a little ... umm ... past their prime.

On our quest for the strapless bra, I figured out why.

Those poor bras have been working overtime. In the last three years, I have gone up TWO CUP SIZES.

I have not been pregnant. I have not gained a ton of weight. I haven't been taking any weird drugs or been doing that "we must increase our bust" exercise from "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret." Evidently, I've just been sitting around, quietly turning into Dolly Parton.

My mom just kept saying, "Honey, people pay good money for those things."

And when I told My Guy? He high-fived me and smiled sheepishly. "Well done," he said. "Well done."

*And, for the record? If you need a strapless bra, go to Nordies. I wore that strapless bra all day and never fell out once! It was a marvel of modern engineering!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm slow, but I eventually catch on.

I woke up with a magnificent - if somewhat belated - realization.

Remember Ex-Ex and his ecologically friendly wedding? The wedding where they had bamboo plates and utensils and printed on cork instead of paper? The wedding where they scoffed at the caterers' suggestion to serve salmon, since it isn't native to a 50-mile radius of the ceremony site? The wedding they kept at 150 guests because they wanted it to be intimate and to have the slightest environmental impact possible?

Right.

It was a destination wedding.

Where everybody had to drive anywhere from an hour to 15 hours to get there.

I'm speechless ... except to say, "Ecologically friendly, my ass, you pretentious bastard."

But other than that ... speechless.

OK, speechless and a bit smug.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take a picture - it'll last longer.

In the last few days, I've had the "well, of course that's the photographer we'll use" wedding photographer tell me that she's already booked for our day. Bummer. But she did give us the names of three other photographers to try.

Of those, Photographer Number One evidently doesn't know how e-mail works. Photographer Number Two sent back a price list of the "are you kidding?" variety. And Photographer Number Three sent a very sweet e-mail:

Dear Cha Cha -

Congrats on your engagement! As it turns out, that day is also the day I am getting married. I would suggest other photographers to you, but they will all be at my wedding that day.

Good luck -
Photographer Number Three

And then my head exploded.

I pictured every photographer in the metro at one wedding, laughing at and toasting to the misfortune of every other bride in town. It would be the opposite of Mr. Ecologically Friendly Wedding's "you know, being in the agency world, we had three photographers covering our wedding" obnoxious-yet-well-documented nuptials. It would be me and a box of crappy disposable cameras taking crappy pictures.

My mom offered a better take on it. "No!" she exclaimed. "We can do Polaroids and old Instamatics!"

I considered. "The ones with the square bulbs? Totally!"

Then my mama really outdid herself. "You know ..." she said slyly. "We still have grandpa's movie camera."

And then I lost my mind.

My grandpa had this movie camera that had two huge lightbulbs on the top of it. The thing put off more heat than the sun, and more light, too. I vividly remember him documenting our family, holidays and get-togethers accompanied by the whirr of his camera.

The best part, though, was that the blinding lights meant that in every movie, all of us kids look like Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds with crazy, looking-glass eyes. We have no pupils. We are blind, frozen in our polyester plaid slacks. As the movies go on, we start to sweat, too.

I would love nothing more than to see those movies now.

Last weekend, My Guy and I had lunch with his grandma. She's sassy and I adore her. And, truth be told, I think I have a greater appreciation for her because all of my grandparents have passed.

As we said good-bye, My Guy's grandma asked if I had any grandmas. No. She asked if I had any grandpas. "No," I said, "but I was so lucky to grow up five minutes away from a set of my grandparents. They were such a big part of my life, and I was so fortunate."

As My Guy and I walked away, he asked me some question and I realized that I couldn't talk. I was crying. Hard.

We finally got to the car and all I could say was, "I miss my grandma."

Now, I think I've figured out some good options for the wedding photography. This little interlude has shown me how important the photos are to me, and the idea of my grandpa's movies reminds me of how precious all of these times are. But no wedding photographer in the world can put the people who are missing back in the picture. And that makes me sad.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time management fail and personal entertainment win.

So, evidently, if you kill yourself working all week, you don't automatically wake up refreshed on Saturday morning just because it's the weekend.

Shocker, I know.

And if you work in your yard and get eaten by bugs and generally exhaust yourself? You are extra exhausted. And if you take naps both Saturday and Sunday? You can still be tired ... and sleep through social engagements. And then you will write the world's dullest blog post and feel like a huge loser.

So, I'm breaking the cycle of violence. First of all, I'm going to go to bed early. Secondly? Well, secondly, I'm gonna tell you a funny story. Just because I find it entertaining and, well, it's better than reading more about how freakin' tired I am.

I have a bad habit. Just one. I tend to repeat things that I think are funny. Like, My Guy once commented that I say "herpes simplex ten" from Beverly Hills Cop about four times a week. Because I think it's hilarious.

I'm right, right?

Well, another thing that I say a lot, especially in the summer months, is a quote from my darling brother, Poochie. As a youngun, Poochie had a thing for my Barbies, and especially for Barbie's pink Corvette.

I think this is just proof that nobody can resist a bubblegum pink Corvette. Just sayin'.

Anyway, Poochie's favorite thing to do - and keep in mind, he was still in diapers at this point - was to strip Barbie down, stick her in the Corvette, and then drive over to where I was playing with the other Barbies. He'd drive up, his Barbie all nekkid-like, and use his best 2-year-old-impersonating-a-woman voice to interact with my Barbies. Invariably, his Barbie would ask my Barbies, "Hey you guys. You wanna go to da poo?"

Yes. And in this usage, "poo" means "pool."

So, about once a day, I find myself saying, "Hey you guys. You wanna go to da poo?" Because it's funny. And we can all use a laugh, even if we're the only ones laughing.

And yes, my mom does have pictures of a diapered Poochie playing with the pink Corvette. I hope they appear in his wedding slide show.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nameless, faceless corporate drone.

I feel like the world's worst blogger. Or maybe just the world's worst human.

I've been working like a crazy woman all week. As in, working late, coming home, then working some more. Waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about work, not being able to go back to sleep, and deciding I should just get up and work. Then, next thing I know, I've slept through my alarm and am late for - you guessed it - work.

Balance? Huh? Whaaa?

But I have managed to walk Dachshund Nation every day this week. Tuesday night, I managed to coerce them to go to bed at 9:30. So, little victories. But I haven't even had time to watch my DVRed Miss Universe Pageant, chock full o' national heritage costumes and hosted by Mr. Bret Michaels.

Now? Now, it's almost the weekend. And I promise to have something - anything - to write about then that will be at least marginally interesting.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I want to get married, not weddinged.

So, My Guy and I have been engaged for three whole weeks. It's been educational. And happy - don't get me wrong. But there's just so much to do and learn and people are wonderful and weird.

There was the friend who kept asking me if My Guy was "worthy." Uh ... yeah, I vetted that pretty carefully. And it's funny how newly engaged women become merely the vessel of The Ring. No one really wants to look at you - it's The Ring they want to see. I bet this is what it's like to have a newborn.

I've been amazed to see that now your wedding is supposed to have a theme. From David Tutera to pretty much every wedding blog, people are all, "Oh, my theme is April in Paris, and here are my Hobby Lobby 3-for-$1, made-in-Taiwan polyester flowers. Don't they scream Parisian opulence?" Other popular themes appear to be "I'm tattooed and wearing a wedding dress, get over it," "I want my whole life to look like an Anthropologie photo shoot," and, of course, "My dad gave me a blank check."

I'd now like to announce the theme of our wedding. It is ....

... ready for it? ...

"Dude, we're getting married."

Yep. It really wasn't that hard to narrow down the theme options.

We've selected a venue, despite the fact that the coordinator caused me to discover what might actually push me over the edge into Bridezilla territory. The initial proposed menu included salmon ... after I specifically stated that I am allergic to everybody's favorite pink fish. My response to the coordinator was simply, "Since I am allergic to salmon (per my original note), can we perhaps trade out that menu item for something else?"

But inside? Inside I was all, "I'm allergic to that fucking fish and I don't want to be fucking puking my fucking guts out on my fucking wedding day!"

Hmm. So this is how it starts.

But I did manage to smile and nod when we looked at one venue where the lady told us that they don't have enough chairs to cover seating at both the ceremony and at the reception. "It's so easy, though," she told us. "After the ceremony, you just have everybody grab their chair and carry it up the steps to the reception area!"

Right. I'll just ask My Guy's grandma to carry her own damn chair up a flight of stairs. That's DIY wedding planning at its finest.

So, we're getting married in April. I still appear to be somewhat sane, even though the teetering stack of wedding books from the library might lead you to believe otherwise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Like the last scene in The Way We Were. But worse.

A few days ago, I got a message via Facebook from Ex-Ex.

My gut reaction was what you'd expect upon hearing from someone you dated for seven years and had broken up with more than five years ago: I sighed like an overweight lady trying to board a bus while carrying lots of bags. And then I thought, "Whaaaat? What now? Jeeezus."

He'd found some old photos and scrapbook-type stuff of mine from college. He wanted to know if he could drop it off, or meet for coffee.

Cue another public-transportationesque sigh.

I knew exactly what photos he had found - I had torn the house apart looking for them when I moved out, and eventually had to make peace with the lost photos being the price of admission to my fabulous new Ex-Ex-free life.

I asked if he would just leave them on the porch and I'd pick them up. He demurred, saying he'd rather meet me. Jeeezus.

I figured he was planning on breaking it to me gently that he was married. Whatever. I agreed to meet him at a coffee shop. And then I dreaded it. Like it was a horrible errand, akin to a pap smear. After all, it took me four years (4! Years!) to forgive him. It's not like I want to be his BFF.

But then I started thinking ... what, exactly, had he done that was so awful? He'd robbed me of my sense of self and treated me horribly? OK, but people don't exactly do that kind of shit without your permission. Really, what was so awful about Ex-Ex?

And then I saw him today and I remembered!

I had my laptop. I specifically sat at a table that had only one chair. But instead of just dropping off the bag of random stuff, he sat on a hearth next to my table. And talked. For more than an hour.

It started out with niceties about families, acknowledgement that he was married and I was engaged, where we are working, etc. And then it morphed into a diatribe (his) about how he and his wife planned an ecologically friendly wedding with bamboo plates and utensils and had a fancypants print company here in town print everything on cork paper for them and how he planted a garden and makes his new stepson eat vegetables and how they had three photographers covering their wedding since they're in the agency world and all, and two photos from the wedding have already been optioned for stock photography by some national company and how he has a client whose restaurant logo features clowns and oh, could I even believe it, and well, I would appreciate how he told them that it just haaaad to go and our former house is now rented to three college baseball players, but the college is one of his clients so he called the college president, who called the three students into his office and put the fear of God into them stating that landlord Ex-Ex is his close personal friend and he would stop by to make sure they were taking proper care of the house.

Meanwhile, I was having an inner monologue about that crazyass eyebrow sticking about an inch out from his face and I would have at least pointed that to his attention when we were together but he looks like he has an antenna and how can one person talk so much - like a 90 / 10 distribution of talking between the two of us and gawd, it's just so tiring listening to him talk and good LORD, did he do this when we were together because surely I would have developed some sort of hearing loss just to save myself some heartache and I'm so tired and I really want to tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP but instead I keep nodding and why don't I at least tell him I need to work but really I just want to tell him to shut up and, really, if we're being honest, move far, far away and yes, it really was nice of him to save the photos and contact me and go to the trouble of getting them to me, but JEEEZUS, listening to this diatribe of how awesome I'm supposed to think he is soooo isn't worth it and ohmygod, that EYEBROW.

And then he told me to stay in touch and he hugged me and he left.

I felt the need to go home and either have a drink or take a nap. Maybe both. I gathered my stuff and realized that the overflowing shopping bag he'd brought me had a broken handle. Classy.

So, along with my purse and laptop bag, I had to schlep a broken shopping bag. Like I was an overweight lady getting on the bus while weighted down with too much stuff.

At least there was that symmetry to the entire experience.