Thursday, November 9, 2017

Priorities and grace.

I voted on Tuesday. You know, like a decent human.

As I was driving up to my polling place, I saw a woman striding with purpose down the sidewalk. And I thought, "That woman is gonna go git it done at the polls!" I was delighted when I saw her walk up to the church basement where the voting magic was taking place. Up close, she was kind of scary. She moved fast and she was not messing around - she was there to get her democracy on. I liked her.

At 2 in the afternoon, there was a tiny bit of a wait - I had to stand in line behind one person. But it gave me time to appreciate the red, white, and blue apparel donned by the volunteers. Plus? People were voting, even though we didn't have anything sexy on the ballot. Revolution starts at home, so I researched those water board candidates and was going to make my voice heard, dammit.

I voted. And as I was finishing up, an older gentleman came in. The volunteers took his ID and asked him to verify his address. And this lovely man said, "I have dementia, so this is hard for me. But I think it's ..." And then he rattled off an address.

I left. Well, I left the building but sat in my car and cried.

Last year, after voting? I also sat in my car and cried. I cried because I didn't have words to express how I felt about voting for a woman for president. I was proud and excited. And I tried to explain to my husband that this vote was for every boy who told me I was "just a girl," for all those times I was told to shut up or was talked over, for all of it. But I didn't have the words.

This year, I cried because the last year has been exhausting and scary and sad. But mostly I cried for the sweet man in the khaki jacket, who shared that reciting his address was a challenge. I admire his honesty and his bravery. And I'm so thankful that he saw voting as a priority. He didn't stay home, even if he didn't have the words. He went out and did the work to be done.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dreams come true: dog pee edition.

My worst nightmare is having a house that smells like dog pee. Forget zombies or that dream where you're at the grocery store nekkid. Having a house that smells and that people talk about behind my back is my number one fear.

This is Li'l Frankfurter.
If you sleep on your toys, that keeps your dog bro from filching your stuff.
He's a dachshund. He does not give a rat's ass about anything. Sure, he'll go potty outside ... if you remind him. But now that it's getting colder? Nope. Left to his own devices, he'd happily pee behind the couch.

Yeah. I rearranged our living room furniture because "behind the couch" became a magical land where all dog folk could do whatever they wanted. Now, there is no "behind the couch." And Li'l Frank has been feeling ... displaced.

So, our TV room is where the kennels are. And it's been smelling a little funky as of late. Why yes, just last week, I washed all our floors with hot water and vinegar. Yeah, on my hands and knees. But no, I didn't move the couch in the TV room. It's heavy and I was already in need of both attitude and chiropractic adjustments.

But last night? Last night, I noticed a few drops of liquid on the floor, right at the corner of said heavy couch. You know, right next to Li'l Frank's kennel? Some paper towel investigation showed that Li'l Frank had marked the corner of the couch ... and there was an ocean of urine under the couch.

I moved the couch.

And this is what I found.
No, that's not an archaeological dig.
Li'l Frank had confiscated bones from his brother, pushed them under the corner of the couch, and then marked the couch as his territory.

On one hand, I admire his ingenuity. And to stash his haul right next to his kennel? Smart move.

On the other hand? It's going to be a long winter.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Me, too, or death by a thousand paper cuts.

I've been a tiny bit reticent to jump into the "me, too" fray for one seriously messed-up reason: what happened to me wasn't *that* bad. Like, it could have been so much worse.

When you feel like being harassed instead of physically assaulted means you maybe don't have a right to be upset? That's all kinds of systemic sexism, like layers of being told "it's not that big of a deal" have grown into our skin, becoming part of us.

Eww.

So let's talk about the "it's not big enough of a deal to report" stuff. Like the boss who came up behind 20-year-old me and started rubbing my shoulders. "You're so tense," he said. (Note: Yes, I was tense because my 50-year-old boss just started massaging me.) "You should come over to the house and sit in the hot tub. It will work those knots right out."

I think I responded with a half-hearted "Ehh-huh" - just enough to make him walk away. I was 20. I didn't know what to do. I was just a baby.

But as an adult? This is how it went down.

My Guy: "I had a great day. I figured out the fix to a big problem. I feel good. How was your day?"

Me: "On the drive into work, this guy was waving and smiling at me, right on the freeway. I finally figured out that he was adjusting his mirrors to look at my chest. Then, I got to work and had a conversation with my male coworker, who insisted that I set up a meeting for him. I refused, since the meeting had nothing to do with me. But he wouldn't let it go. So I ended up yelling, 'I AM NOT YOUR SECRETARY' into the phone before hanging up and slamming my head against my desk. Then, I figured out how to fix a big problem. Nobody paid attention to my fix until a male coworker half promoted it / half claimed it as his own idea. My boss later thanked me for my work but called me "kiddo." Then, on the way out of the parking garage, I got behind Creepy Rajeev, who was driving 2 miles per hour because he had his window down and was driving alongside and talking to every woman walking to her car. He followed four different women. It took me 20 minutes to get out of the garage. I AM SO FUCKING TIRED."

Just think of how much more women could accomplish if we weren't dealing with this bullshit every day. Because all those tiny moments of gritting teeth, of pep talks in the mirror in the ladies' room? They take a lot of mental and emotional energy. And now? NOW WE ARE TIRED.

And done. We're done.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Why I stopped writing.

I kind of stopped writing because I started to think that my stories didn't matter.

It's such a ballsy thing to stand up and say, "Yes, my story matters. It's important and I must get it out into the world and it will make a difference."

But I was depressed and couldn't imagine such things. So I made excuses. I was tired. I was working on writing that pays, writing about Joe's Mattress Shack and their new pillowtop ultra extreme bedding extravaganza. I wasn't denying the world anything of value.

Except I was. I am.

It's so easy to look at other people's stories and say, "YES! This is of value! Get this out in the world!" Like the story that Mary-Claire King tells about Joe DiMaggio babysitting her daughter at the airport. That's an important story.

But the gist of that story is that you never know what ripples a simple act of kindness will have in the world. In Mary-Claire's case ... well, you should just read the story.

In my case? Maybe somebody just needs to hear, "Me, too."

Or maybe I'm more of a cautionary tale. Whichever.

Either way, I'm getting back on the horse. I'm telling my stories, even when it hurts.

Here's what I've been up to:
  • Rehabbed our rental house, put it on the market, and got a full-price offer within an hour. An hour! Last time I tried to sell a house, it took nine months, so this was amazing. Except ... we knew we had to replace the roof. The roofers didn't tarp the roof correctly. We had a torrential rain. THE CEILINGS INSIDE THE HOUSE COLLAPSED FROM THE WATER DAMAGE. It's all so stupid. The roofing company took responsibility and it only moved our closing back a week, but My Guy and I both lost about 10 years off our lives due to stress.
    Dude. That's not supposed to look like that. Also, just out of frame? My husband and I having simultaneous heart attacks.
  • Obsessed all summer about going to the beach. It was to be my finish line after a summer of the aforementioned house flipping madness. I am one of those people who just neeeeeeds water. We were scheduled to go to Florida ... during the hurricane. When I called the hotel to cancel our non-refundable reservation, I was all, "You don't want me during the hurricane! I have no skillz!" and they were like, "You're right, we don't want you. Here's all your money back." I was relieved but ... slightly hurt.
  • Been mauled by this now-50-pound dog.
"Hey! I'mma jump on you, 'kay?"
So. Let's catch up. What's up with you?

Mega, huge, completely indebted thanks to reader Cyndi B. who reached out to say she missed my writing. Thank you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

In which my husband's feet give me a mental breakdown in the HyVee parking lot.

There was something in the air - the planets were aligned, or maybe there's just something about a 70-year-old's birthday party that makes people think, "Hey! I'm gonna ask that 40-something lady why she doesn't have kids!" But it happened.

I was at a birthday party. I knew three people there. Two of those people were men who asked me - separately, but within about 20 minutes of each other - why I didn't have kids, or what I was waiting for, or when My Guy and I were going to get on that already.

When an acquaintance asked me, I surprised myself. Deep within the darkest recesses of my black, black heart, a gracious lady arose. Like a glamorous phoenix! She knew just what to say. I opened my mouth and "Well, we wanted kids, but it didn't work out. But we decided to be happy anyway" came flowing out. Even as I was speaking the words, I thought, "Oh, wow. This is some klassy shit."

When a friend asked me the same question mere minutes later, I had used a good portion of my grace and dignity for the day. Plus, we were pals who gave each other a hard time. And I was getting tired. My response to him? "Shit down there is broken."

And ... that was an effective way to change the subject pretty quickly.

I felt good. I felt like I had successfully maneuvered two conversations that a few years ago would have left me reeling. Instead, I thought about how people usually have only the best intentions. I was mature and strong and had it going on.

On the way home, I ran by the grocery store. I cruised up and down the aisles, thinking about my grand infertile lady triumph, about how not having children in the Midwest in 2017 still makes you kind of a weirdo, but it was OK. I was so calm and mature and Oprah-like.

And then I left the store. As I was walking out, I saw a dad put his cart away and move to lift his 3-year-old son from the seat. The little boy had a rather unfortunate haircut but clearly thought this grocery outing was a grand man expedition with his dad.

Before picking up his boy, the man planted his feet - one foot slightly in front of the other, about hip-distance apart.

Now, I'm not sure how this happened, but I married a jock. My Guy loves any activity that involves a ball, bat, club, disc, or racquet. He has coached. He once held an informal clinic to teach my entire family how to throw a football because, God love us, we are quite indoorsy. He's that guy.

A lifetime of athletic endeavors means that there are some things My Guy does without thinking. Any arm movement - even if he's just tossing a dog toy - comes with a nice follow through. And I don't think he's capable of picking up even a can of dog food without first planting his feet - one foot slightly in front of the other, about hip-distance apart.

So when I saw that man getting ready to pick up his son outside the HyVee, my gut reaction was, "Oh! That's how My Guy would pick up his son."

Except he doesn't have a son. Except, except, except.

Not having kids is fine except when it isn't. And it's not a rational kind of crazy - it's a weird grief that pops its head up whenever it feels like it, even if it's been away for a while.

I didn't tackle the man and start crying. After all, he had his feet properly planted and would have therefore been able to swat me away like a fly. No, instead, I walked past with a somewhat contorted face. I got into my car and had a rational inner conversation about the merits of losing my shit in the parking lot of the grocery I frequent several times a week.

Pro: It might feel good.

Cons: Someone might see me and I come here all the time. I am so close to home, surely I could just have my mental breakdown at home like a lady. Crying makes my face puffy and who needs that?

I drove home. I didn't cry at all, even after I was safely ensconced in my fortress of solitude. I was just ... sad.

And the next day was Sunday, and it was a Sunday when My Guy and I didn't have to go sit at a soccer field for six hours because we don't have kids. Life was good. But sometimes? Sometimes, being childless means lots of little flesh wounds.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

All Walter does is win.

It's time for America's favorite game show ...

WHAT'S!

IN!

YOUR!

MOUTH!

Today's contestant is our reigning champion, Walter the Wonderdoodle! Walter initially came on our show at his mother's urging, as she was astounded by the number of times each day that she asked him, "Walter, what's in your mouth?"
"Am serious dog. Take challenge seriously."
During his reign as our "What's In Your Mouth?" champion, Walter has had many interesting things in his mouth, including bark, socks, mail, underwear, shoes, silverware, pens, newspapers, paperclips, a nut and bolt combo, rocks, toilet paper, and his brother, who is a miniature dachshund. It's all part of what makes Walter such a winner!

Today, let's see what Walter has for us. Hey, Walter!

WHAT'S!

IN!

YOUR!

MOUTH!

Drum roll please ... oh, folks, this is truly a thrill. Walter the Wonderdoodle has really stepped up his game and has something special for us today. Walter, what's in your mouth?

Ladies and gentleman ... it's a box of matches!
That's no little matchbook, folks. That's an entire box of kitchen matches! Turns out our lovable little doodle is also a burgeoning pyromaniac, the little scamp. Let's hear it for Walter!

And thanks to his creative choices, Walter wins ... a heart attack for his mother! Oh, isn't she a lucky lady? Congratulations to you all!
"Am dog. Am very good boy."
Will Walter be able to keep his streak going? We wouldn't bet against him! Join us next time on America's favorite game show ...

WHAT'S!

IN!

YOUR!

MOUTH!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Eat the damned pancakes.

Food is what makes America great. I'm talking potato salad, your auntie's secret marinara sauce, ham balls, spring rolls, fajitas, that Korean dish you can't pronounce, and all the rest. And don't even get me started on desserts. In the United States, we know how to eat.
Merica.
And yet sometimes, we don't.

This holiday, as we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and all that makes our nation a patchwork of awesomeness, I ask - nay, beg - that we all use a little common sense. Lady at IHOP, I'm looking at you.

My Guy and I recently reveled in the magic of Breakfast as Dinner at an International House of Pancakes. While other restaurants use parsley or perhaps a small orange slice as garnish, at IHOP, all the meals are accompanied by a plate of pancakes. It's what makes this country so amazing.

But what doesn't make this country so amazing is ordering the wrong thing. So, lady at IHOP? You were at a restaurant called International House of Pancakes. And you were in Missouri. And you ordered THE TILAPIA PLATTER. And then you sent it back to the kitchen three times.

Now, I'm guessing it wasn't the best tilapia. And you are well within your rights to send back your meal if it wasn't to your liking. But please, let's take some personal responsibility here.

You ordered tilapia. At an IHOP. In a land-locked state. And then you were shocked and angry when it wasn't awesome tilapia.

How about next time, you order pancakes? Because at an International House of Pancakes, they make pretty good pancakes. Note that the restaurant isn't called International House of Fish. Because they aren't known for their fish. They are known for their pancakes.

In America, we have room for - and need! - all variety of people and businesses. And no one should be all things to all people. You don't buy groceries at a Jiffy Lube.

Let's try to embrace folks for the special gifts they bring to the table. Because sometimes, what they bring to the table are light and fluffy pancakes that will fill your belly with joy.

And IHOP? Take the tilapia off the menu. Stick to your strengths. Because that fish smelled rank.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I am having a bloody mary on a Thursday morning and I don't care who knows.

My Guy and I have been rehabbing a house. Not our house. Our rental house. The house he lived in before we got married, the house we couldn't sell during the recession and so have been renting for lo these long six years. The house we very much want to sell now.

The tenants left the house ... asunder? That's too Rodgers-and-Hammerstein-musical kind. Trashed? That sounds a bit too punk rock. Lemme put it this way: In the midst of arguing with my husband about why she should get the entirety of her deposit back, the tenant mentioned off-hand, as you do, that her 4-year-old had been using the carpet in one of the bedrooms as a toilet.

She wants her deposit back. Every last cent.

Holes in walls. A youngster who is now evidently quite adept at signing his name, seeing as how he practiced - in marker - on most of the walls in the house. Trash, trash everywhere.
Nothing to see here. Just a wall. Like all the other walls.
We are doing most of the work ourselves. Everything takes longer than we think it will. And the work we are contracting out costs more than originally anticipated. Like, say, the floors. Why, just this morning, the flooring crew showed up and informed us that instead of taking one day, the job would take three. And they'll need to remove the kitchen cabinets, even though the new countertop was just installed. (You know, the countertop we had to replace because the tenant didn't think the leaky kitchen faucet was worth mentioning, but the entire counter ended up rotten and moldy? That countertop?) Oh, and this whole deal will move the carpet install back anywhere from three days to a week. And this whole thing will cost us 1500 more American dollars.

I broke. I'm day drinking.

I'm trying to view this as some sort of lesson. Mostly, the lesson seems to be, "Don't anyone make fun of me when I randomly clean because that is the only thing that separates us from savages. The lack of deep grime is what differentiates women from beasts."
I've been trying to look kindly upon our tenants. If you don't come from a clean home, I guess you don't know how to keep a clean home. Surely they have many other redeeming qualities.

Right now, the only redeeming qualities I have come up with are:
  • Don't have cats.
  • Didn't leave a sex dungeon for us to clean up.
I'm hoping this list will grow, but right now? It's what I've got.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I am old and I know things and let me tell you all the things. Also? Please think I'm cool.

It's graduation time and that means a lot of stuff.

Well-intentioned but obviously clueless relatives like me write things in graduation cards like, "It's been fun watching your track and cross country exploits from afar. We're so proud of you." When really, what I want to write is, "I know you hardly know who I am and that's OK. I'm your dad's cousin and you peed on me once when you were a baby. I think you're great. Here, have $50. Also? I get it. All graduation cards are lame. But I'm sooo cooooool, I swear!"

Well-intentioned but obviously old and creepy former babysitters like me do a little stalking. I found out that the two darling little girls that I took care of for years and whom I loved very much are both ... doctors. Like, in white coats and starting their residencies and able to deal with bodily functions. I reached out via Facebook in, again, a hopefully not lame-o manner. I got friendly responses, but also, they totally didn't remember me. Doctors are smart. Maybe they are just instinctively distancing themselves from someone who is clearly way old and out of touch. See also: I write lame graduation cards.

Well-intentioned but obviously Not Cool friends of your mom like me try to help new college grads get jobs and write overbearing emails with gems like, "Here, let me tell you everything about my city and you can live here, too! And there's an IKEA, so it will be easy to set up a new apartment and here, you can just have our dining room chairs and your mom is so great and I think this would be a great job for you and I totally get it because I'm young and hip like you."

Except I'm not.

I'm old.

Twenty years ago, I graduated from the University of Missouri. On Friday, I turned 22. On Saturday, I graduated. On Sunday, I drove to Indiana. On Monday, I interviewed at Notre Dame for a graduate assistantship in marketing for the athletic department.

I met with at least five different people, including a lovely woman who only wanted to talk about my upcoming trip to the UK. Then I visited with a funny and frank man who wanted to make sure I'd be OK with being asked to do stuff like attend mass in a hotel room because a priest traveled with the teams all the time.

My main contact was a guy who was a little frazzled, which was accentuated by the fact that his linen pants were torn and held together at the hip with a safety pin (Really? Your football program brings in how much money? Even newly 22-year-old me was slightly offended.). He promised to be in touch within a week. The entire interview went well. I felt really positive about it, even though a security guard wouldn't let me drive through campus because I didn't have the right sticker. Whatever. It was cool.

Friends, I am still up for that job. Despite numerous follow-ups on my part (via phone, because not everyone had e-mail and so I had to call and leave actual voice messages and risk talking to a real human), I never heard from any of those people ever again. I can only assume that the job is still open and I'm still a viable candidate. I could be called upon to move to South Bend at any moment! They might ask me to get a tattoo of Touchdown Jesus to show my dedication to the job and the school - who knows?

Maybe I'm living a fantasy. Or maybe people should just send the damned "Thanks but no thanks" letter so some of us don't put our lives on hold for 20 years.

Here's the thing. You write the note - be it for graduation or to say thanks or to offer a helping hand - for one reason and one reason alone. You might be thinking, "Of course! Do unto others!" And that sounds nice and probably should be the right answer, but no. No, the correct answer is that you write the note so that you can keep buying pretty stationery. Also, so you can feel morally superior. But mostly so you can buy more stationery.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Behind the Doodle.

Working from home has damaged my ability to get places on time. And having a puppy has really just destroyed whatever remained of my "get there when I said I would" skillz.

Case in point?
This gorgeous boy who loves nothing in this world more than he loves plastic cups? Well, he's doing better with potty training. He will do his business outside, but you have to remind him. And if you and Walter don't have synchronized "thinking about potty" and "needing to potty" schedules? Well, good luck.

I was getting ready for a lunch meeting with a new client. Yeah, it was approaching lunchtime and I had just gotten dressed. I work from home. Don't judge me!

I had just gotten dressed, but I was barefoot. Suddenly, I slipped. My heel hit a puddle and in slow motion, I oh-so-gracefully did the splits. And then I sort of fell sideways. Into a larger puddle.

See, the thing about Walter the Wonderdoodle is that his paws are roughly the size of dinner plates. Sure, he's only 3 and a half months old, but he's clearly going to be the size of a conversion van. So, he's got these giant feet, and they're furry. Another data point of note: Walter is incapable of peeing and then not walking through it.

The puddle that caused my initial slide wasn't really a puddle. It was merely a paw print.

I slid through the pee-pee paw print, probably ripped some muscle in my back that will never be the same, and then fell over sideways into a large puddle of pee. An ocean of urine, if you will.

Because when you have a big puppy, they create big puddles of pee. I don't know why we haven't bought stock in Bounty and Nature's Miracle spray.

Anyway, to recap: slip, slide, puddle, covered in urine, on my way to meet a new client.

I decided to be all ladylike and clean up and change my clothes, even if it meant being a few minutes late.

You're welcome.

At least I was able to tell the client and he laughed appropriately. Because let's be honest: if you can't laugh about dog pee, we probably aren't a good fit.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sometimes blessings hurt.

Walter the Wonderdoodle is pure joy - jumping and exploring and drinking it all in.

However.

He's jumping on people and brand-new kitchen cabinets. Exploring means that he's unearthed a bunny nest, has discovered the magic of digging, and loves to rip up hostas. And drinking it all in means that one big gulp of water equals not one but five gigantic pees - most likely in the house - within anywhere between five and 20 minutes.

Also? He loves to eat paper towels, so you best be quick when cleaning up those puddles.

I am new-puppy tired. It's the kind of tired that feels like a dirty secret, like something that shouldn't be admitted. He's so adorable! He's such a blessing! He bit my face two days ago and I still look like I've been in a fight!

One of my neighbors stopped me in the street. Not to comment on my mauled visage, but on the puppy. She asked, "How are you? Are you sleeping?"

She is the mother of four kids under the age of 4. She asked me this while she had a newborn strapped to her chest.

It was so kind of her to ask, and I felt seen. But I immediately felt guilty and said, "I am not going to complain about sleep to the mom of a newborn!" Like I was all tightly wound Joan Crawford and obsessed with etiquette, lest people find out that I'm a schlep after all.

I could fall asleep on the floor right now.
Like this guy, in a rare moment of repose.
It's a weird muscle memory. I was up so much with sweet geriatric Big Doodle in his final months, and falling back to sleep wasn't always my strong suit. And with Wonderdoodle? Well, it's like my body said, "Oh, we're doing this again? Bad decision, but OK." And I'm up looking at Facebook at 4 a.m. because the puppy needed to potty at 3.

It was a privilege to care for Big Doodle. It is a huge blessing to welcome Walter into our home and help him grow. But it hurts.

And my mom friends look at each other knowingly - or at least I imagine they do - like, "She doesn't know true sleep deprivation because she's never had a baby." And like talking to my sweet neighbor, I guess I think they are right, like I have no right to complain.

But right now? Right now, spending 23 hours a day with a puppy that is either passed out or insane and a crotchety dachshund who is just pissed off about the entire situation and bit me this morning because he mistook my finger for the rawhide I was attempting to pry out of the Wonderdoodle's maw?

Well, at least newborns don't have razor-sharp teeth.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Making peace with my emotional maturity. Also? Why doesn't someone ask me to prom?

It never occurred to me that there were things I couldn't do. Sure, there were things I didn't want to do, like run or physically exert myself in any way. But as far as things I was capable of doing? Well, the sky was the limit.

Keeping that sense of possibility has sometimes been a challenge. At 41, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I will most likely never be an astronaut or Miss America. But I still have lots of other options.

Except.

I realized today that yet another door has closed and my world is getting smaller.

I am never going to prom again.

I know. I know! It's hard for me to accept, too. But I am on year 24 of not being asked to the prom. I had a pretty good run of being asked to the prom two years in a row (not counting the time I asked a guy to prom through the drive-thru at Wendy's). But since those two years of promtasticness? It's been a long and lonely slog.

I try to keep up with prom fashions. And my mom and I faithfully watch the local high school's promenade on public access cable every year. The kids are no longer the younger siblings of my younger brother's classmates. Now, they are the kids of my classmates. Or - gasp - the kids of kids I babysat.

My name is Becky. I'm 41. And it would be mega creepy if I attended prom.

I loved prom because I liked to dress up. And picking out a dress was soooooo fun. My mom and I had a ball. Now? Now, I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, and instead of being excited about dressing up, I am wondering if I really have to shave my legs. After all, no one looks at you if you're not the bride.

But prom? Prom was dressing up with your friends and delighting in how adult it all seemed. Which is funny, because prom is pretty much the least adult event ever. Nowhere in adulthood are there streamers and themes like "Enchantment Under the Sea." When you walk into the bank or the hardware store, no one is wearing corsages. They don't even have balloons or punch.

Maybe it's for the best. Prom is honestly a lot of hype for a just pretty OK event. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. But in the grand scheme of things? I've had more fun at a football game.

The one part of prom I refuse to give up? The fashion. I love the dresses and the sparkle of high school kids who feel fancy.

But you know I also have a bone to pick with some of the dresses. And here's where I torture you as I am being tortured. Once I saw this, I realized I couldn't unsee it. Now, you are in the same boat.

These dresses by Sherri Hill are youthful and cute.
But there's something weird about the models.
They all look ... uncomfortable.
This girl is trying to make the best of it, but she can't help but wince with pain.
All these models look like ...
... they have raging yeast infections.
It's not just me, right? This looks horrible.
If going to prom means getting a yeast infection, I'm totally cool with staying home. This girl looks miserable.
This is not the first time I've thought this. I guess the brand is going for a youthful vibe and a certain year-over-year consistency in their modeling poses. But having some sort of crotch-based hand or leg-crossing in every shot does not say "fun and flirty" to me. It says, "I need some yogurt, stat."

So, maybe it's OK that I've officially aged out of prom. My properly balanced hoo-ha is just fine at home in yoga pants. Thanks.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Things the puppy wants to chew: A room-by-room compendium.

Bathroom
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet paper
  • Plunger
  • The little plastic cup thingys that cover the toilet bolts
  • Actually, anything toilet-related
  • Shower curtain and shower curtain liner
  • That one spot in the middle of the baseboard that must smell amazing
Bedroom
  • Curtains
  • Dust ruffle
  • All blankets and sheets
  • Shoes
  • Chair legs
  • Socks
  • That weird foam thing we put at the bottom of the door to the closet to keep the cold air in the uninsulated closet and out of the bedroom; you know, that thing that is covered in dog hair and three years of dust?
"I am told this is officially sanctioned chewing. Therefore, it obviously holds little interest for me."
Kitchen
  • Quarter-round trim around brand-new cabinets
  • Dish towels
  • Refrigerator
Living areas
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Fringe on rug under kennel
  • Any dirt or tree gunk on the floor
  • Paper towels: new are fine, but preferably those already used to sop up puppy pee, as they provide further enrichment when drug across the floor, spreading urine
  • All USB and power cords, now and forever, the most delicious items on the planet
"Human! Earn your keep by providing your hand for my teething pleasure!"
Outside
  • Mulch
  • Dirt
  • Grass
  • Air
  • Rocks
  • Patio furniture
  • Did we mention mulch?
"I shall chew all that I survey!"
All areas of the home
  • People
  • Clothing
  • Hair
  • Jewelry

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Seventeen things I've learned from having a puppy for lo these six days.

Although I have long been a crazy dog lady, I have never had a puppy until Walter the Wonderdoodle came into our home just a few days ago. He is the bestest, cutest, smartest pup on the planet and has already taught me many things.

1. Toilets are AMAZING. They offer a rich bouquet of fragrances and we should all strive to get as close to that olfactory palette as possible. This includes - but is not limited to - trying to climb inside the toilet.

2. It is possible to get stuck behind the toilet.

3. If you should get stuck behind the toilet, scream like you are being actively mauled by a bear. If you can do this in the dark to further confuse your pack, all the better.
Toilet kidnapping aftermath: Total exhaustion.
4. It is possible to get inside a dishwasher.

5. Schedule bringing home a new pup to coincide with the delivery of nine cubic yards of mulch. The newest family member understands each and every wood chip deserves to be chewed and perhaps even carried inside.

6. Nine cubic yards of mulch is approximately 32,627,973 mouthfuls of mulch.

7. Mulch does not match our interior design.

8. It is impossible to pee outside while surrounded by fresh mulch. There are too many smells.
"Hey! Did you guys know there's mulch up here?"
9. Earrings are made for chewing.

10. That goes for bracelets, too.

11. And that sweater with the fringy stuff on it.

12. Also the quilt grandma made.

13. Water tastes better out of someone else's glass. It is worth scaling a side table to reach.
It's an immersive experience.
14. It is a true CRISIS when all members of the pack are not in the same room. If one of the humans happens to leave the room to go to the bathroom or to get something from the kitchen, there is but one option: scream. Do not stop until everyone is back in the same room, no matter how much the humans might try to soothe you or divert your attention with some sort of inferior, non-human toy.

15. If not having the entire pack in the same room is a crisis, having a pack member in the shower is THE WORST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED. You just don't know if or when somebody can come back from that. Screaming and scratching on the shower door is mandatory.

16. Miniature dachshunds are crabby and way too touchy. They snap when you try to tackle them.
"Will somebody get this bro away from me? Who invited this guy, anyway?"
17. Being highly malleable and sporting a large puppy belly will allow you to get away with just about anything.
"And this is how it's done, kids. Watch and learn."
Seriously.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Death and Mexico.

Because I strive to celebrate the absurd and find the humor, I'm going to tell you how it really went down.

I took a long-awaited girls' trip with three of my most wonderful friends. We went to Cancun. They all flew together on a flight that ended up being delayed. I found myself with hours to kill at the Cancun airport.

As I sat down in an airport bar, my phone buzzed. It was my husband, asking if I had landed. Yep. Just ordered a Dos Equis Amber. Then he asked if he could call me later. Huh?

I got it out of him via text. Big Doodle had taken a dramatic turn. My Guy would call me in a bit.

And so I sat in this airport bar where no one spoke English. I tried to keep it together. I thought about how I had said to My Guy the night before, "Listen, I know you think I'm nuts, but if something happens with Big Doodle, don't deal with it by yourself. Call someone. Call Todd or Josh or any of those guys. You don't have to be alone." And he had given me that universal tone that husbands use, that tone that says, "I love you but you're crazy but I love you so I'm gonna pretend I'm totally vested in what you just said." And so I let it be.

But back at the airport bar, I realized I'd said what I said because I'd had a premonition. That giant dog was waiting for me to leave. My mom said he was still alive due to my sheer will. Maybe he was afraid of disappointing me.

My Guy called me. It was sometimes hard to hear him over the blaring Mexican pop music, but he said Big Doodle was in obvious pain and couldn't urinate. He was going to take him to the vet the next day and was calling to ask ... permission.

Of course. Oh, honey. I don't want that dog to suffer for one second. By this time, I had tears streaming down my face. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm not there.

Also ... he did realize the vet was open late tonight, right?

Oh. He would call them immediately. We hung up. I cried into my beer and realized that cocktail napkins are not at all absorbent. My husband texted to say he was headed to the vet. I put my chin to my chest and tried to be invisible. I was thankful no one was attempting to talk to me. Even the waiter was actively ignoring me.

And then, the Mexican pop music clouds parted. And "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart started playing.

Why? Who is to say? Maybe the people of Cancun really want young hearts to be free tonight. Maybe time really is on their side?

Then, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang came on. I was aware that it is against NATO and the United Nations and probably the Geneva Convention to cry during "Celebration." So I stopped. And then the Mexican pop music started again.

I went to find my friends.

After an adventure wherein I discovered that I was at the wrong terminal and I got fleeced by a cabbie giving me a ride to the other terminal but I didn't care because I was barely holding it together, I arrived at the proper terminal. I took one look at my friends and started crying. We got in the shuttle van to the resort.

They were kind, but it was late and the ride wasn't short. Everything looked so distorted and not right, and all I could think was, "I hate Mexico. This is the worst. Mexico is the worst." And then my phone rang.

It was my darling husband. He was crying. I started crying. He told me about our sweet, geriatric boy, about how tests had suggested the cancer had spread from his bladder to his kidneys and liver. He said it was the right thing to do, that our boy was so tired and ready to go. My Guy held our pup as he crossed over.

I apologized to him for making him do this by himself. He apologized to me that it happened while I was gone. We both cried and apologized. And then my van pulled up to a very nice resort.

I got off the phone, got out of the van, and sobbed. My friends put their arms around me and made sure our luggage was unloaded and everything was OK-ish. I felt like all the skin was peeling off my face.

And then? Then, I realized that the bellhops and concierges who had initially greeted our shuttle had scattered. I had noticed the looks they exchanged. Friends, I'm here to tell you that men's reactions to women who are sobbing is universal. There is no language barrier here. They all panic and gladly run in the other direction.

Finally, the greeters drew straws and the loser timidly came out of hiding to offer us scary blue champagne. He tried not to make eye contact. Since I figured I looked like that guy from "Mask," I couldn't blame him. I had stopped crying, but I was clearly hideous.

--

The first two days, I was just exhausted and sad. By day three, I was starting to feel a bit more human. An all-inclusive resort didn't hurt, nor did time with my friends on the beach and by the pool.

It all got real when I got home. My Guy had moved the giant dog beds out of every room. Lil' Frankfurter greeted me like he'd never expected to see me again. And then I spent about a week thinking I'd forgotten to let Big Doodle inside, like he was still in the backyard, chilling in the shrub where he liked to lounge while surveying his domain.

Grief is crazy. The flavors are endless. This particular grief is tempered by knowing that we had been on borrowed time for quite a while. It's sadness and relief and loneliness for a very, very good dog.

I decided I don't hate Mexico. Much.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Goodnight, sweet prince.

The joke is that I had to marry my husband because I fell in love with his dog.
Who wouldn't love this face?
It's funny because it's true. Or partly true. I love my husband. But that gigantic man-dog labradoodle of his? Well, we fell hard and fast.

On our very first date, My Guy and I met to walk his two labradoodles. I walked Big Doodle and I was astounded by this Hyundai-sized furball. He was a perfect gentleman.

A few months later and our relationship had progressed to such a point that one night when I stopped by My Guy's house, Big Doodle did what can only be described as "losing his shit." He was so excited to see me that he jumped up and down, squealed, brushed up against me, and cried. I ended up sitting on the floor of the kitchen while my 80-pound loverboy sat in my lap and licked my hair, still squealing.
"Hello, laaaaadies."
Whenever I'm feeling sad, I think about that. Sure, I might be (fill in the blank with horrible thing du jour), but a dog loves me that much. And I love him right back.

It's hard to see someone you love decline. But My Guy and I have been doing just that for a while now. Big Doodle was diagnosed with bladder cancer in the summer of 2015. And he hasn't had any hip sockets to speak of for, well, a long time. But always, we had a boy made of fur and love.

A few weeks ago, he stopped being able to go up and down stairs. My Guy and I took turns sleeping in the guest room with our boy so he could more easily go outside a few times a night.
It was the kind of "new normal" that could last a few days or a few months. Except that Big Doodle decided it was done. He failed quickly and died a few days ago.

He was bright-eyed and full of joy until the end. Our hearts hurt, but we know it was time.

Lil' Frankfurter gets it and is understandably needy. No one is going to the bathroom without his supervision right now - he refuses to be alone.
They were often mistaken for twins. Obviously.
I get it.

It's a bittersweet time. I feel privileged and blessed to have had such an amazing dog in my life. He was the special friend of many neighborhood kids and was known to lick a random baby in a stroller while we were out for a walk. I have uttered the words, "Can my dog see your baby?" because he was so drawn to small folks.
Enjoying the adoration of his fan club.
Our vet said Big Doodle was quite literally the nicest dog she'd ever met.
He knew how to enjoy every moment.
Me, too.

I'm glad he's at rest. But my heart is a little bit broken. I'm so thankful I got to be his mom.
You are a very, very good boy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then? Silence.

And more silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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

Huzzah!

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

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

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

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

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

Marriage is super-fun and glamorous, yo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 2, 2017

In which I feel all the stress.

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

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

Five names.

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

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

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

It could happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It might have been a career-limiting moment.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Infertility silver lining.

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

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

Neil comforted me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good bras make a real difference.

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

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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

I'm talking about The Canine Yoga Cartel.

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

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

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

How had it taken me so long to realize this?

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

And then it all clicked!

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

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

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

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

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