Friday, May 31, 2013

The problem with Pinterest.

I like the pictures.

I do. I really do. I'm a visual learner, and being able to gorge myself on ideas is quite satisfying.

However.

I typically troll the home d├ęcor section of ol' Pinterest, seeing as how I have an old house that will never be done-ish. I've found Pinterest to be a good way to research period details of my house. This has made slogging past all the McMansion posts to be a worthwhile endeavor.

However.

You know what really kills me? It's the comments.

"Must do!"

"Posting so I remember this when I have a house / baby / garden / bigger house / bigger baby / what-have-you!"

"Wish I'd done this."

Ugh. It's just all these women shoulding all over themselves. Like we aren't good enough, with our right-enough homes and our just-fine interior design.

No. Instead, we have to shame ourselves by publicly posting to-do lists and reminders of our own perceived inadequacies.

Most of my pins have just 1-word descriptions - really insightful stuff like "Entryway" or "Kitchen." Enough so that search can function. But I refuse to attach any kind of action or emotion to them. Because I am a crotchety old biddy who does not have the time to make freakish lists of impractical to-dos or OCD regrets.

And don't even get me started on the grammar on Pinterest. Oh, sweet Jesus.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Of course we talked boobs at the family reunion.

I spent 22 hours in the car this weekend.

Yeah, you know you're jealous.

My mom and I went to a family reunion in South Dakota. Did you know that in South Dakota, the speed limit on 2-lane highways is 65? And on the interstate, it's 75? That right there is reason enough to move to the more tropic of the Dakotas.

Plus, the gas station we stopped at had freakin' FULL SERVICE. The cutest boy in a high school football t-shirt pumped our gas. He was so clean-cut and adorable. I just wanted to make him a sandwich. This might also have been due to the fact that I was delirious with relief at finding a gas station, as I hadn't been paying attention to the fuel gauge on my mom's car and noticed after about 9,000 miles that the red light was on.

Obviously, it was an action-packed weekend.

This was a family reunion where I didn't even find out who was going to be there until I was en route. It was the descendants of my great-great grandparents. Basically, I knew my aunts and my mom's 3 cousins. Everybody else, I didn't know from a can of paint.

But people are kind, and it takes a special breed to either open your farm to strangers who are family, or to travel way out of your way to see family - or meet them for the first time.

I enjoyed spending time with my mom and my aunties. I got a kick out of their cousins, 3 brothers who were clearly up to no good and old enough to know better. And I loved watching the wheels turn as the group tried to decipher spotty genealogical information.

One relative had 2 kids who were 2 months apart in age. Sadly, my fantasy of him having multiple wives simultaneously didn't pan out. He just adopted his second wife's kids from her first marriage. Except that my mom and the aunties remembered the second wife, who lived with them while she was going to beauty school, and there weren't kids around. Or maybe she was the third wife?

Then, there was our host, who was the surprise baby of his family. "Mom was 45 when she had me, and dad was 55," he said, eyes bright. "She said she cried for 2 weeks when she found out she was pregnant. I have nephews who are older than me."

I discovered that my auntie and I are foot twins. Our feet look exactly alike. Surely this information will come in handy some day.

And then, there were the photos. Can you tell the difference between Neva and Laura? Which one is which? And just look at Granny!

My mom leaned across the photos and whispered conspiratorially to me and the aunties. "I just can't get over the boobs! You had to wear a belt to keep 'em above your waist!"

I laughed. "Yeah, they're all very ... bosomy."

My mom straightened up. "I just remember Granny and all the ladies as being really soft and cushy."

I considered genetics and my own NASA-engineered over-the-shoulder boulder holder. I sat up straighter and said a silent prayer to Saint Nordstrom, patron of big-boobied ladies and my personal savior. Then, I realized that high speed limit or no, I couldn't live in South Dakota, so far from the Nordie's lingerie department.

It was a good weekend, full of discovery.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I married well, part 587.

Me: Have you ever read "The Grapes of Wrath?"

My Guy: No.

Me: Really?

My Guy: Well, you've never seen "Jurassic Park." That's way worse.

Me: Uh, you're comparing a 20-year-old summer blockbuster with a novel that is the cornerstone of American literature?

My Guy: It's not just a summer blockbuster. It has DINOSAURS.

Me: Do you even know what "The Grapes of Wrath" is about?

My Guy: Some mad-ass grapes.

Me: ...

My Guy: I rest my case.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A meager PMS prayer.

Dear Lord in heaven, Harold be thy name,

My husband is a good and honest man. A righteous man. A man of The Lord.

He doth not deserve to die in a bloodbath of my own making. He doth not deserve mine wrath, for lo, his only crime is leaving the dishrag balled up in a corner of the kitchen sink, where it festers in its own moisture and sprouts bacteria that will surely beget pestilence and leprosy upon this, our home.

That is his only crime. That, and the loud gum chewing that verily reverberates through the halls of Hades and makes my cramps so much worse.

Heavenly Harold, please protect your faithful servant, my fearful husband. Guard his sweet mug from my hormonal outbursts, for he knoweth not what he hath done. For he hath done nothing. He hath not put the toilet seat down.

Like I said, he hath done nothing. Because I have to do everything.

Like a plague of locusts, I have faith that Aunt Flo, too, shall pass. And the heavens and my husband shall rejoice, and I shall rejoin the flock of People Who Are Not Insane. And all shall be well.

In Midol's name I pray,

Amen.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Golden Girls are my besties.

It's finally warm, I'm on my computer all day, and I like a bargain.

Obviously, this means I've been online shopping for summer clothes.

I've been trying to explore new shopping frontiers and break out of my fashion rut. While always serviceable, my Gap t-shirt and 8-year-old skirt combo is going to fail me at some point. I recognize that I need to possibly consider maybe trying some different fashions. Or anything that's fashionable at all. I should definitely get outfits that can't be described as "serviceable."

So, I'm trying to branch out. And I know a 38-year-old woman should know better than to peruse Forever 21. But I did. But I didn't find anything for myself. But I did find some things my friends would love.
Yes. Thank you for being a friend, Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia.

Traveling down the road and back again, I discovered that while Forever 21 caters to the fake-ID crowd, it also offers styles eerily reminiscent of 1989 Miami.

Just try to tell me that Rose Nylund wouldn't love this sweatshirt.

Sure, the model is clearly embarrassed. But Rose would totally wear this to the Senior Center Rodeo Night!
And Blanche would clearly love this pantsuit. Picture it with kitten heels and a glittery clutch, and Ms. Devereaux is ready for a casual date night!
Seriously - these shoes are orthopedic numbers that even Sophia would abhor.
I found a little something for everyone's favorite betuniced Golden Girl. Dorothy Zbornak, this long cardi is for you.
Let us be clear: Dorothy would tell this girl she looked like a Tijuana tramp. But the cardigan? Well ...
As for Sophia? Well, there was really only 1 choice.
I'm pretty sure this is the only appropriate attire for "accidentally" setting fire to Shady Pines.

Sometimes, it's just easier to shop for other people.

Images courtesy of forever21.com and fanpop.com.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Age ain't nuthin' but a number you forget.

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 38.

Yay!

Two things haunted me about this particular birthday:

1. When I was a wee lass, my dad turned 38. And I made up my own version of "Happy Birthday:"
Happy birthday to you
Two years 'til 40
Then you'll be an old man
Happy birthday to you!

I thought I was soooooo funny. But really? I was heartless. Dad, I'm so, so sorry! I was wrong! I was so, so wrong! Please, tell me I was wrong. Please.

2. My husband never remembers how old he is. He will ask me how old he is, like I am The Keeper of Ages. The scary thing is that evidently, I, too, consistently forget his age - I always have to do math when he asks.

I don't understand how My Guy isn't bothered by dirty dishes on the kitchen counter (dishes! on the counter! the world could end!). However, this age business is an area where I need to adopt his zen attitude. What if we all forgot how old we are? How would we act?

I'd probably adopt an all-chocolate-cake diet. I'd dye pink streaks in my hair and sing along to Muzak in the grocery store. I would also throw the occasional impressive tantrum.

What would you do, my ageless friends?

Monday, May 13, 2013

I got ringworm for Mother's Day.

I guess that's what happens when your kids don't have thumbs, are generally unaware of most Hallmark holidays, and, oh, are dogs.

If you've never had ringworm, you are missing out. And if you've never had ringworm in your freakin' armpit? Well, you simply have not lived. The combination of itching and no deodorant means I am one hot mama. Bow-chica-bow-wow!

Fungus or not, I woke up on Mother's Day snuggling with my little 9-pound dachshund. And the first thought that popped into my head was, "This is a creature of God, and he is entrusted into my care." It was lovely.

And then he jumped off the bed and peed on the floor.

It was a nice precursor to the ringworm.

Leading up to Mother's Day, there was a lot of noise about folks who are disenfranchised by the holiday. Anne Lamott revisited her Why I Hate Mother's Day article. And this lovely post begged churches to include all women / caregivers / maybe-officially-moms-maybe-not in their acknowledgements.

This was my first Mother's Day knowing that I am unable to have kids. I watched myself carefully, like I had been exposed to some horrible Mother's-Day-is-gonna-make-you-sad virus, and was looking for signs of illness.

Mostly? Mostly, I was just fine.

Mostly, I was annoyed at the comments to the kindhearted post about including all mama-types. Some of the comments veered dangerously into "How dare you marginalize vegan non-gendered parents of foster guinea pigs" territory. Because we need to include everybody in everything all the damned time.

Mostly, I felt like channeling my mom, specifically after she's spent time with her Minnesota sister and has a bit of a hearty-northerner accent: "Oh, may-eh gayyyyyy-ud. Get a grip."

Mostly, I was speechless when a pal told me she felt "so, sooooo baaaaaad" for me and my lack o' fertility. Evidently, I have a sad, sorry little life. Evidently, I am pathetic.

But mostly? Oh may-eh gayyyyyy-ud. Get a grip. Moms got flowers and kids waking them up. I got extra sleep and ringworm. It's all fine.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Junior high never ends and mean girls are everywhere.

I was at a meeting where a female acquaintance sidled up next to me. "So, Cha Cha," she said, with That Look. "How's being a full-time self-employed writer going?"

Immediately, my inner junior high girl issued a red alert. I repeat, a red alert: Mean Girl in the Building!

I girded my loins and smiled graciously. "It's going GREAT," I replied. Inside, I was bartering with my big stoopid mouth: "If you don't mention doing laundry or how you empty the dishwasher like a boss, you can have ice cream later. Keep it together!"

Mean Girl flinched almost imperceptibly, but soldiered on. "Oh, really?" She raised an eyebrow. "What are you working on?"

Working on killing you with my mind, bitch. "I have a bunch of websites I'm working on, and a magazine article. It's really great," I said, smile still intact. Inside, I'm all, "Yeah, that's about right. 'A bunch' isn't that far of a stretch from '1 client website and my blog that I would never in a gajillion years tell you about.' I'm still telling the truth."

"It's really freeing to be away from Corporate America?"

Almost as freeing as it would be to kick you in the neck. "Uh-hmm." I AM STILL SMILING!

"Oh," said Mean Girl, admitting defeat in the battle but not the war. "You know, I do a ton of writing. You know, as a lawyer, everyone thinks all I do is courtroom stuff, but all I do is write. I write 25 or 30 pages a day."

Just as I was wondering if I was really going to have to play the female version of "Whose Junk Is Bigger?," Mean Girl Sidekick showed up and inserted herself into the conversation.

"Ohmigawwwwd, I write all the time, too," said Sidekick. "Nobody thinks an auditor writes, but I do, like, all the time. It's good that I've always been a really great writer. I write so much. So much."

About this point, I started attempting an on-demand out-of-body experience. Mean Girl and Mean Girl Sidekick spent 3 minutes and 27 seconds discussing the vagaries of deadlines, and how they aren't real. Which, of course, any "real" writer knows. AHEM.

I was trying to be polite, but finally I gave up on the out-of-body experience. I picked up my purse and excused myself, as I didn't feel like justifying homicide to the police.

I'm annoyed, but mostly I just call bullshit.

It's bullshit that some people always have to one-up the next guy, even when it's clearly not a competition. If it were a competition, clearly, I would win. Because I am a professional writer who writes all the time and is paid to write and studied writing and continues to work to perfect my fucking craft every damned day. Sure, I'm carefully crafting web copy for Bob's Mattress Shack, but I'm also typing my real self into personal words and stories, spreading my soul like homemade preserves onto thin, delicate bread.

It's hard. Even when exactly 2 people read, it's hard.

And because I write about my real self, I can also call bullshit on myself. I just might be a bit overly sensitive about my new role, and may have a teensy habit of projecting my darkest "Cha Cha is just a lazy loser" fears.

But worse than that?

You how I made myself feel better about this entire junior-high interaction? I looked at myself in the mirror when I got home. I looked at my mascara, and my antique necklace, and my kick-ass cowboy boots. And I thought, "Those bitches are just jealous because I'm so much cuter than they are."

Because again, we're all in junior high. I'm no better than they are.

But it did make me feel better.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So much wisdom, it's practically spilling out of my ears.

I practiced Herculean restraint this weekend.

No, I didn't have Dwayne Johnson in some sort of headlock. Actually, my parents were visiting, and we all refrained from calling my bro, Poochie, and Mrs. Poochie. They had an OB appointment on Friday and found out what flavor of baby they're having.

We left them alone! We didn't drive 3 hours to their house to ring the bell and be all, "Oh, hai ... we were just in the neighborhood. What's up?" We didn't even text them. We are saints!

Our patience finally paid off, and Sunday night, the parents-to-be emailed this pic:
It's a girl!

I've known for less than 24 hours that I am going to have a niece, and my brain is already swimming.

Darling girl, you are so smart. You can do whatever you want in life.

I know it's old-school, but I really think you will like "The Boxcar Children." I'll get it for you when you're in second grade.

Trust me when I say you will regret wearing hot pants to prom, even with a sheer skirt.
You always have a place to stay with me. I'll even buy you your own toothbrush to keep at my house. For when you have teeth.

Be kind to that doggie in the photo. He is already guarding your sweet mama, looking out for you.

Be kind in general. It will serve you well in the long run and you'll always be able to look yourself in the eye ... even if you do wear a regrettable prom dress.

I won't buy you beer when you're in high school. However, I will take you out to toast your 21st birthday.

It's OK to have a favorite aunt. Don't worry, I won't tell the rest that you think I'm the best.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Five things not to say to the barren lady.

So, last time I ran my mouth about not being able to have kids, sweet cookingwithgas asked about the folks on the sidelines of the battle to get knocked up:

Where do you feel the role is with other family members who love you greatly and hurt when you do?

The truth of the matter is that I just don't know.

Be aware of the differences between folks who are actively participating in the Infertility Olympics versus folks like me who just know they can't have kids. The landscape is different for the folks who are praying that this might be the month that nature takes her course, or the IVF sticks, or whatever. These dear people are always holding their breaths.

Me? I'm mourning and trying to figure out what's next.

Either way, my best advice would be to acknowledge what is going on, and that you are supportive and willing to talk. Something like, "I know this is really challenging. I'm with you, and will support you however I can." However, you only get to say this once. You don't want to be the person who's all, "Confide in meeeeeeee!" every other second. Ick.

Mostly, I think you have to be responsive instead of proactive. 

Because I always find the process of elimination helpful, here are comments that you really, really shouldn't say to the barren lady:

1. "Just relax and it will happen." - Oh. You mean I'm not supposed to clench everything all the time?
2. "I have a friend who (fill in the blank)." - Well, good for her. Dunno if you realize this, but your friend and I do not happen to share a uterus.
3. "It's God's will." - Fuck you.
4. "So, when are you going to adopt?" - Because adoption is no big deal and super-easy. You just walk into Babies R Us and ask, "How much for zee little gurl?" I understand they also have layaway.
5. "There's just nothing like having your own biological child." - There's also nothing like punching you in the face, because I have no other response to your lack of sensitivity. Hag.

And yes, some well-intentioned friend has said ALL OF THESE THINGS TO ME at 1 point or another.

My sweet mama has mentioned that it upsets her when I use the term "barren," because it sounds like I, personally, have exactly zero to offer the world - a lifeless desert of a human. I respect her saying that, and must admit that there have been dark moments when I have felt like a giant loser and a freak for not having the ability to bear children.

But really? There's not another word for it. It's "barren" or "infertile," and of the 2, I guess I prefer "barren." I certainly don't speak for everyone here. My personal preference is based solely on the fact that whenever I write "barren," I mentally draw it out to be "baaaaaaaaaarren" and picture myself wrist-to-forehead, collapsing on a chaise lounge.

It's a highly personalized journey ... to wherever it is we're going.

I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, because 99% of folks are coming from a place of kindness and love. But sometimes? Sometimes, I want to stomp my feet and carry on about how it isn't fair, and oh, people are dumb.

How do you respond when someone says Not The Right Thing? How do you get over the fear of being that person?