Monday, June 30, 2008

Red, white and blue.

I did something really, really dumb yesterday.

I got sunburned.

Like, really, really sunburned. Sunburnt? Whatever. I'm too red and itchy to care.

We were at Mr. Wonderful's parents' lake house. Foxie Doxie was running the show in his Outward Hound life jacket. The kids were frolicking in the water. I sat on the dock in my cover up. And then? Then I got all crazy like, took off the cover up and got on a raft, where I proceeded to float around for about an hour.

Evidently one hour + spf 50 + Cha Cha's delicate white skin = Certain Disaster.

Mr. Wonderful and I have been trying to look on the bright side. The bright red side. It's nice that I was wearing boy shorts, so that only part of my, uh, cheeks are the color of a red crayon. It's also a good thing that I was wearing a hat, so my shoulders and face are unscathed.

Mostly I just feel dumb, like I have ruined my skin for all time. But the dumbness has its perks. Mr. Wonderful and I have been making all kinds of sick jokes about my candy cane-esque complexion. The best one is so dirty that I can't post it here, which makes me sad that I don't have an NC-17-rated blog. You'll have to use your imagination on that one.

But Mr. Wondeful sent me a list today of things that I should avoid in my delicate state. Between the two of us, we came up with:
  • Getting stung by any sort of insect

  • Getting scratched from hip to ankle by a very claw-tastic Foxie Doxie (this actually happens about once a week)

  • Bumping into a textured wall

  • Getting busy on a couch upholstered with burlap

  • Having an accident with an electric sander
Obviously, the world is a dangerous place when you're the color of cherry Kool-Aid. And it's also a very voyeuristic place.

Dorothy just had to see the sunburn. So, we stepped into a conference room at Corporate Behemoth and I showed her my back. In trade, she showed me her unfortunately placed mosquito bite. I think we're going steady now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The world keeps turning ‘round.

My dear friend and former roommate e-mailed the other roomies at midnight the other night. She wanted to let us know that her father had just died, and she and her husband were traveling across the country immediately to be with the rest of the family.

My heart hurt, still hurts, and wants to smother her in love and chocolate and impractical but decadent gifts. Anything to make the pain go away.

I cried. And I cried to my mom, standing in the bathroom doorway. She was here for … for genetic testing. We’re trying to figure out if the breast cancer in our family is genetic.

We are both operating under the assumption that it is. And we hope to be pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

So in the midst of my “am I going to be a good stepmom / no one talks about anything but kids / do I want a(nother) child” mental breakdown, I’m also throwing in “should I even have a biological child?”

Because it’s good to go all out and just become completely psychotic.

While there were plenty of tears, my mom and decided that we were being women of action. We were on a fact-finding mission. We were like Simon & Simon.

Except we couldn’t decide which one of us would be Rick, and which one would be A.J.

Geriatric Poodle woke up with a nasty eye infection, so we traipsed off to the vet. While we were waiting for his prescription, my mom pointed out a burly man in the waiting room. He had asked if he could bring back a half-used bag of dog food. He was waiting while his wife and daughter were in the back having their dog put down.

He looked wholly uncomfortable. When the mom and little girl came out, the little girl embraced her dad and sobbed. He embraced her and tried to keep his shit together. And I had to turn away.

We had ice cream for dinner. And we hope for the best. Because life keeps going on.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I would even have talked about religion and politics.

This weekend, I attended a reunion with about 10 of my sorority sisters. There was beer and general frivolity.

A funny thing happened, though. All of these women have college degrees, most of them advanced. They have traveled far and wide, had adventures, lived life. And we all knew each other back when oversized sweatshirts were in vogue, when we didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up, when The Rachel was every girl’s hairstyle goal.

We should have a lot to talk about.

And yet? And yet, the topic of conversation all weekend was motherhood. Children. Pregnancy. Feedings. Preschools. Discipline. You get the picture.

Granted, not everyone in the group was BFF during college, and so some of that reminiscing would have been an odd fit. But really, is parenting the only topic we had in common?

Because I didn’t.

When I found myself single at 30, surrounded by married and childful friends, I felt very Other. There was an appreciation for our differences, but sometimes I would leave social gatherings feeling like a leper.

Now that I’m in a serious relationship that’s Going Somewhere, I don’t feel that type of leprosy anymore. But this weekend, I felt a different strain of the disease.

If you want to talk about feeling Other, consider being an Almost Stepmom in a room of Bio Moms. “It will be fine” and “You’ll figure it out” don’t constitute a meaningful dialogue about my brand of parenting. There was almost an implied “Just have a baby of your own and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A step is a good starter.”

I am on the fence about having a biological child. Having a biological child just so you have something to talk about with your friends is, uh, not a good reason to have a child. But why can’t we manage to talk about anything else?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why posts might become more frequent but more stupider.

One of the crappy things about being a writer is that you actually have to write.

My blog posts have been spotty at best in the last few months. Blogging is the only writing I’m doing for myself these days, no matter how many “Oh, of course I’m working on a few short stories” lying liar comments I might throw out when asked. Blogging is my current outlet, and I’m pretty much ignoring it.

I’m busy. I’m busy editing yet another no-swear-word-is-strong-enough spreadsheet for Corporate Behemoth. I’m busy trying to figure out the ins and outs of how Mr. Wonderful and I spend our time and what that delicate balance should be. I’m busy being tired all the damn time and being burned out at work and worrying about things that will unfold in their own sweet time.

I am tired deep in my bones.

Sweet Melissa introduced the world to her Screw Iowa! writers’ workshop. And it is delightful. And I said I would join – of course I should join! I’m an aspiring writer! And encouragement from like-minded folk would do me a world of good.

Except that I’m not writing.

I’m remodeling a bathroom. And I’m scheduling time to kick-start genetic testing to see if the cancer rampant in my family has any pattern or reason. And I want to go to bed and stay there for about three days.

Perhaps I am depressed.

Or maybe I’m just lacking in discipline and enthusiasm. Perhaps a little of both.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Mr. Wonderful made the comment yesterday that I have pretty much changed my entire life in the year that we have been together.

I’d just told him that the only time I have been to the nice seafood restaurant in town, I was too hungover to hardly eat. So, of course, my smartass reply was, “Sure. I don’t go out and get sloppy with random people anymore.”

And he thought I was serious and I wasn’t and I’ve never been one to go out and get sloppy and I don’t drink that much anyway but PBR after a bottle of merlot is never a good idea, people.

And then I realized that yes, yes my life has completely changed in the last year.

Yes, I still work at Corporate Behemoth. But outside of that? Instead of coming home every night and either working or watching Dog the Bounty Hunter and doing Suduku, I’m interacting with the three-dimensional world.

Yeah, that’s a pretty big change. For the better. But sometimes I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I’m always late for something. I don’t have time to read. I actually vacuumed Mr. Wonderful’s blinds … something I’ve been meaning to do at my house for, oh, two years.

We’re staying at his house right now. So I’m at my house for the weekend while The Ladybug is at his house. There aren’t any groceries at my house. I ate a disgusting Totino’s frozen pizza for lunch, only to find while I was cleaning up that it expired last October.

My house isn’t my house anymore. But his house isn’t really my house yet. It’s unsettling. I am a nomad. However, I think that’s better than being a hermit, which is where I was headed.

And instead of holding old photos of my dogs, my refrigerator now boasts numerous cards and notes from Mr. Wonderful. And a delightful new addition – a drawing by The Ladybug that features a Foxie Doxie-esque dog and a stick figure that’s supposed to be me. Me, if I had bunny ears and was pregnant.

Seriously. Mr. Wonderful keeps making fun, and I can’t say I blame him. How many stick figures do you know who have two sets of ears (one human, one bunny) and a large, protruding midsection? Oh, and no arms. I can only imagine what that 4-year-old brain thinks of me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Water, water everywhere.

Historically, spring hasn’t been kind to my basement. Last year, I had six inches of water and had to call in Surrogate Dad to reroute my sump pump. I lost “valuables” like my mother’s circa 1970 Kenmore sewing machine. (Doesn’t seem like much of a loss, but dude, it was green. And she had just found the instruction book.)

This year, Mr. Wonderful helped me reroute the exterior piping for the sump pump. We’ve had some hellacious storms and I have some minor water in the basement, but it’s all very manageable. Really, when you have a cinder-block foundation, what are you supposed to expect?

The wet spring weather has not been so kind to my people. I just saw footage of the flooding in Iowa and I must say … I am simply aghast.

People in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City and Des Moines are being evacuated and seeing their homes, businesses and schools fill with muddy, sloshy yuck. These are not people who live on the river or on a swamp. The water is impacting people who even came through the flood of ’93 unscathed. The disbelief on their faces is painful to see.

In the summer of ’93, I had just graduated from high school. The high water levels weren’t an active concern in my self-absorbed, post-graduation brain. However … the water rose to such levels that there was basically one road out of town. Getting around the state was impossible. And then entire city of Des Moines lost its water supply.

I have photos of the standing water in my parents’ front yard. Back before disposable or digital cameras, we took rolls and rolls of “real” film because we figured that we’d never see so much water again.

Maybe it was because we hoped we’d never see so much water again.

Today, they put a call out in my hometown for volunteers to help sandbag the water plant.

Please pray for these good people. Please may the rain let up. Please keep everyone safe.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nature Equals Danger.

On our second date, Mr. Wonderful and I went for a walk. As we traversed along a trail through woods and along a creek, I told him in no uncertain terms that I Do Not Like Nature.

I then proceeded to point out various birds, plant species and deer trails.

I've since come to realize that "I don't like nature" was my code for "Do not, under any circumstances, expect me to camp." And that seems to be a truth with which we're both comfortable.

It still cracks Mr. Wonderful up, however, that I suggested we go hiking in Colorado this summer. We've been training ... we have hiking shoes and have been exploring various trails around town. We're in search of great hills to practice on, but have been sidelined a bit with a lazy-ass kneecap, which has decided to veer off course. I now have a knee brace to keep it in line.
Am I a jock or what?

So, last night, we were exploring a new-to-me trail on the edge of town. The trail is blacktop and fairly well-traveled, and provided some serious hills. I'm surprised I'm not sore today.

As we were about 3/4 of a mile from the car, I suddenly levitated off the ground and made the kind of noise that can only be described as "GAAAAAHHHRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!"

A baby copperhead snake crossed the path just as we did ... and ended up squarely between my feet. How I avoided being bitten is truly nothing short of a miracle. My spontaneous levitation somehow got me about four feet away from the snake in approximately 0.23 seconds.

We tried to toss sticks in the general direction of the snake to get him off the well-traveled path, but he just stayed there, head up, looking intimidating. We finally left it, figuring the mound of sticks around him would alert passersby.

Only then did it hit me that if I had been bitten, we were 3/4 of a mile from the car and civilization.

Mr. Wonderful said he would have piggybacked me and ran to the car ... after beating the snake to death with a rock so that we could take it to the emergency room with us.

I processed this a bit. I could have been riding piggyback on my boyfriend, dead, venomous snake in hand, trying to keep my heart rate down so as not to increase the blood flow to the site of the bite? Are you kidding me?

Why, oh why did people ever settle in areas with snakes? This does not seem like a smart move! Sure, Iowa has deadly tornadoes and 300% of your daily recommended cholesterol in every single meal, but at least we don't have deadly snakes.

I'm seriously rethinking my life choices here. Pro: Mr. Wonderful wouldn't have left me for dead. Con: why is that fucking snake getting all up in my grill in the first place?

It's a dilemma.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Easy, breezy cover girl.

I'm having a torrid affair with The Spreadsheet From Hell. Every day for the last forever days, I have been doing pretty much nothing but working on this spreadsheet. However, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and I've been working from home in a mad scientist-like effort to seclude myself and finish my masterpiece.

I have discovered, however, that I get more work done on this bad boy not in my home, but in various coffee shops. I don't understand it, either. I don't even drink coffee. But the coffee shops? I work feverishly as I try to outrun my laptop's battery. I have been kicking some serious spreadsheet ass.

Today, I'm wearing a Light and Flirty Skirt in an attempt to bully the overcast day. I worked for three hours at a coffee shop, and was a bit surprised to find near-rainy conditions when I finally walked out to my car.

As I reached my car, a giant gust of wind came up. Up my Light and Flirty Skirt. Which, in turn, flew up around my waist.

I'm pretending nobody saw my rather sheer underwear. Work with me here. But I won't be going back to that coffee shop for a few days.

Once in the car, I had to laugh, too, because I realized that Mr. Wonderful would have thought that was the funniest thing in the entire universe. Just then, "You make my dreams come true" by Hall and Oates came on the radio. And a giant truck with Mr. Wonderful's first name all over it drove by.

Is this the universe telling me that my boyfriend has always dreamed of me flashing innocent coffee shop patrons? Because that's a rather sick fetish.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Safety first.

I just spent 43 minutes on the phone with AT&T getting my e-mail to work.


And so, to celebrate, I will tell you about The Greatest Thing Ever ... which also happens to be Reason Number 986,422,307 Why Cha Cha Needs a Digital Camera Already.

Mr. Wonderful's wonderful parents have a lake house. On a lake. Filled with water. And Foxie Doxie, Geriatric Poodle and I were invited.

Geriatric Poodle spent the weekend being held by Mr. Wonderful's delighted mom.

And Foxie Doxie?

Foxie Doxie spent the weekend wearing one of these:

It's a doggie life jacket. Made for doggies. By a company called ... Outward Hound.

I know. I know!

Foxie Doxie spent the weekend riding a boat. And inspecting the boat when it was docked. And swimming. And riding a waverunner. And standing just a bit straighter every time he put on his life jacket.

And Mr. Wonderful and I? We spent the weekend randomly calling out, "Outward hooooound!"

Monday, June 2, 2008

I live at 100 Clueless Drive, Naivetown, USA.

Mr. Wonderful has become my lawn maintenance man. In the last few months, my yard has morphed from tidy but rather unruly to well-manicured and carefully landscaped. It has involved mulch, grass seed, and a very sweaty boyfriend. Yard looks good. Boyfriend looks even better.

This is in stark contrast to the home of my next-door neighbor. He's just let his yard go to hell. I was working in my yard about two months ago and his mom came out to walk her dog. They were visiting for the weekend, and she immediately launched into Mom From Hell speak:

"Well, you know that Sam got into some trouble."

Me: "Uh, no?" And why would I?

Mom: "Well, he lost his job. And I'm making him go to counseling. But his dad and I are here this weekend to try to help him decide if he's going to sell the house or just let the bank take it. He's already behind on the payments!"

She was very friendly. And talkative. And the whole time, I kept thinking that if she was your mom, you might keep your head down and mouth shut a lot, lest all of your dirty laundry be aired for the world.

So, Sam never mowed his backyard. Like, not since last fall. And the front yard? Only once. And his car isn't around anymore. I thought about calling the city on him, but figured the bank would own the house by the end of the month and I should just hold tight.

Last week, a legal notice was taped to the front of the house. Mr. Wonderful noticed it while working in the yard. And another neighbor ambled over, and they started talking about it ... and another neighbor came by to verify what the first neighbor had to say.

Sam hadn't shown up for work for a week. His boss called the cops. The cops came, saw him enjoying a little weed, and then came back with a warrant.

Ladies and gentleman, my neighbor got busted for growing 200 marijuana plants in his basement.

And when did this happen? Like, two and a half months ago! You couldn't turn down my street for all the cop cars. And I had no idea!

I now feel like sort of a moron for being all, "Why the hell do you think I know your son lost his job, lady?" when I talked to his mom. But it was good practice if I'm ever the clueless neighbor interviewed on the local news. "He was a nice neighbor, real quiet. Kept to himself..."

And, do I get credit for the fact that the only word caught by spellcheck was "marijuana?" I don't even know how to spell it. Now, please excuse me ... I have to go catch that Waltons / Matlock marathon before going to bed at 7.