Thursday, July 31, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation, part III: Take me to the river.

Now, where were we?

Oh, right.

Part I: My Boyfriend Dave Grohl stands me up.

Part II: I barf my guts out.

That brings us to … being totally terrified.

After hurling more than my body weight, thanks to the magic that is altitude sickness, I was a little, erm, tender. I did not feel like hiking. Or maybe even living. So, Mr. Wonderful and I road the lift up the ski mountain to enjoy the view.

As some of you may recall, the last time I was on a ski lift, I attempted to ski and told Mr. Wonderful that he should leave me on the hill to die. This time was a bit of an improvement, although I was a bit trepidacious about just how high we were. But the views? Glorious. And the best part? I didn’t have to ski when I got off the lift!

Later that afternoon, we went whitewater rafting. We signed up for the uber-beginning float, so it was us and all families with kids. I figured it would be pretty safe since there were 6-year-olds doing it. Everything was cool until the float leader spoke at length about what to do if you fall out of the boat. Which was important information, because we would be passing through some class 3 rapids.

Say what?

Suddenly, my life had a new meaning and purpose. I would stay in the boat. Under no circumstances would I fall out of the boat. Dave Grohl himself could be swimming out to me and I would not let my ass leave that overgrown pool raft.

So, Mr. Wonderful and I were in a boat with Hippie Dad and his two daughters, aged 6 and 13. Our guide was so lovely and charming and … bald. Lovely Bald Girl was covered in tattoos and had a shaved head and the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen and I totally want to be her when I grow up.

Lovely Bald Girl got us situated in the boat, and I shoved my foot as far into the foothold as I possible could without actually breaking anything. We paddled like we knew what we were doing. And we got splashed, and the water was amazing, and I looooooved it! I laughed the entire time.

We were almost done when we came upon The Big Rapid. Lovely Bald Girl prepared us for it and told us she’d tell us to get down in the boat. She wasn’t kidding. The Big Rapid hit, we got down in the boat … and I felt the water pulling me out of the safety of the overgrown pool raft!

I looked at Mr. Wonderful, and I did the one thing I knew how to do. I used my core skill: language.


And it worked. The rapids passed. I remained in the boat. All was well.

And then I realized that I cussed at the top of my lungs in front of two kids. Two kids who didn’t seem to be fazed.

Mr. Wonderful and I later decided that they were probably all high anyway, so it didn’t matter. But I still felt a teensy bit guilty.

The rafting company took photos of us along the way, but I looked like a bloated, orange-vested chipmunk in all of them, so there is no photographic record of our historic journey. However, it was totally awesome.

After that adventure, we adjourned to the hot sulfur springs, where we sat in what looked like hot milk and offered our bodies as a feast to the gazillion mosquitoes surrounding us.

Next: The. Best. Hike. Evah.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summer vacation recap disrupted by the letter H.

H as in hellfire and damnation.

I knew post-vacation reentry into the work world would be painful. I did not, however, anticipate a senior leader on my team telling me that I was "making the department looks like idiots" for not doing something I wasn't told I was supposed to do.

Good times.

H as in Holly Holy.

Because we are insane and because I love me some Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, Mr. Wonderful and I spent six hours in the car on Thursday, journeying to see Neil Diamond. We met my brother and it was great. It was my third time seeing the Solitary Man, and my brother's fourth. It was Mr. Wonderful's first interaction with Neil.

And my brother and I call him Neil because we are so close.

Mr. Wonderful thought Neil should have closed the show with America instead of Brother Love. My brother responded, "It's a tradition - he always closes with Brother Love! But, since you're a Neil virgin, it's ok. You just didn't know any better."

H as in holy shit.

I spent the weekend with Mr. Wonderful, the Ladybug, Mr. Wonderful's parents, his grandma, and his niece and nephew. We were at the lake house for the Ladybug's 5th birthday extravaganza.

On the way, Mr. Wonderful and I picked up the Ladybug from her mother's house. I sat in the car with the dogs and waited. At one point, Mr. Wonderful came out by himself, opened the door and said, "We can go, but first we all need to have a conference. Come inside."

I had my hand on my seatbelt and felt like barfing when he said, "Just kidding! I just came out to get her flip-flops."


The kids stayed up way too late on Friday night and didn't get naps on Saturday. You can see where this is going. Saturday night was full-out mental breakdown, pretty much across the board.

Mr. Wonderful was trying to put the Ladybug to bed and you could hear her screams outside the house. I walked in, thinking I could help ... and then I realized that I was completely helpless. She is not comforted by me. Half the time, she doesn't acknowledge me when I speak to her. I am not the mom, and I will never be the mom, and when she's having a temper tantrum of seismic proportions, me getting involved does not help. I asked Mr. Wonderful how I could help and he just looked at me.

So, I went to the bathroom. I walked in to find Mr. Wonderful's grandma, struggling to get off the john.

So while the house was filled with a temperriffic 5-year-old's screams, I pulled an 87-year-old off the can. And then I sat at the kitchen table, feeling the screaming in the individual yarns of carpet. And Mr. Wonderful's mom asked if I wanted a drink, and all I could do was laugh.

I am overwhelmed.

After the Ladybug fell asleep, Mr. Wonderful said he would apologize to my parents if, after that episode, I never gave them grandchildren. My response was simply, "What do you mean 'if?'"

Becoming a stepparent sucks serious ass. I'm not saying that I'm not all in, or that I don't understand the magnitude of getting involved at this level. I'm saying that finding the footholds, ironing out the communication, and figuring out roles and responsibilities - all of the transitional stuff - makes me feel like shit.

I'm going to be the Ladybug's bonus mom. But right now, I am very tentative about what role I'm supposed to have with her. And the few times that I've taken charge, like I'm a grown-up or something, Mr. Wonderful has stepped in, either to take over or to "help me out."

I've never pushed a baby through my ladyparts, but that doesn't mean I'm an idiot. I babysat a shitload as a teenager and I have been around my friends' kids. I am not socially inept. I don't need Mr. Wonderful telling me to wish his daughter a happy birthday. I am not quite that clueless.

But it's a fine line - Mr. Wonderful is desperate for more time with the Ladybug. And because his parenting time is so precious, I am reticent to step in as a parental-type figure, lest I rob him of some of that time.

But when the Ladybug - who at 5, is way too old to kick and scream over anything - is having a fit of epic proportions and all I can do is sit and feel the kicking reverberate through the floorboards?

Well, I feel like throwing a fit, too. At the very core is something so shameful and embarrassing: I am hurt that Mr. Wonderful married someone else. I'm hurt that he decided to have a baby with that woman. I'm hurt that now I have to have that woman - who doesn't even make eye contact with me - in my life. I'm hurt that I now have to figure out how to navigate this situation and no one will give me a fucking map.

I'm hurt that he couldn't wait for me.

Don't get me wrong: the Ladybug is an amazing person. I don't deny that, and Mr. Wonderful loves being a dad and he's really good at it. I don't mean to deny any of that. It's just ... it's just that if we're throwing temper tantrums, this is mine.

And now I'm done.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation, part II: Love the one you’re with.

After the devastation of My Boyfriend Dave Grohl postponing his concerts, Mr. Wonderful and I experienced the three stages of grief:

Stage I: Disbelief

Stage II: Strenuous physical exercise

Stage III: Physical pain and distress

Once stage I wore off, we got in the car and drove the hour to Winter Park and got into our condo and collapsed and tried not to think too much about how we planned our entire vacation around two concerts that got postponed.

The next morning, we explored a bit, and we ended up spending more than an hour driving up an old logging road at 5 mph to reach the site of an old hotel. It had been built at the turn of last century to serve the railroad line that went up along the continental divide. It was worth the drive and amazing. My dad is a train nut, so I was excited to see the abandoned trestles and hike along the old train line.

Important to note from that last paragraph: it was our first day in the mountains. We hiked along the continental divide – this was stage II of our grief. Stage II, really, really high up. This will be important later.

At the end of the day, we enjoyed pizza and a glass of wine at a lovely restaurant in town. I developed a bit of a headache.

By the time we picked up a few groceries after dinner, I could feel my pulse in my right eye socket. Good times. I could feel stage III of the grief cycle coming on.

We returned to the condo and I sprawled out on the floor. Then I crawled into the bathroom. Then I barfed my guts out. Hello, stage III!

Gentle reader, heed my warning: altitude sickness is real.

I ended up sleeping for a few hours on the floor of the bathroom. If that doesn’t say “My vacation ROCKS,” then I don’t know what does.

But the best part? Mr. Wonderful sat next to me on the floor of that bathroom the whole time. I think he worked on his laptop, read a book, and maybe ate some ice cream while I moaned and prayed for death. If I had any hair to speak of, he would have been holding it while I reexperienced dinner. He stroked my head and brought me a pillow and a blanket and made me consider not praying for death.

It’s a testament to Mr. Wonderful’s kindness that mid-wretch, as he patted my back, I actually thought, “My boyfriend is so fucking awesome!”

And then he said, “First Dave Grohl, now you!”


Next: Cha Cha is terrified, then delighted.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation, part I: We’re not mad, we’re just … disappointed.

I went on vacation. Oh, yes I did. For a whole week. The first week-long vaca to somewhere other than my parents’ house that I’ve had in three years. So you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to be blogging about it for a while. Mostly because I have nothing else to write about. But also because I am cruel.


Mr. Wonderful and I got up at the crack of dawn on Monday and drove 74 hours to Denver. We arrived in time to go to the Great Divide brewery, which has a lovely, intimate tap room where you can sample their fine wares starting at 3 p.m.

By 5 p.m., we were so soused that we had to find a dinner spot we could walk to. We did. I ate bison meatloaf, as I guess that’s what you do in Colorado. Then, Mr. Wonderful slept in the car for 20 minutes while I counted the Subarus and Toyota 4-Runners that drove by. Colorado is evidently the Subaru’s native environment.

Then? Then Mr. Wonderful woke up. And MapQuest fucked us over, and we were late. Late for a date with My Boyfriend Dave Grohl.

Yes. We had tickets to see the Foo Fighters. Monday and Tuesday nights. At Red Rocks. The greatest band ever at the most awesomest amphitheatre in the universe. Yep.

So, MapQuest got us lost. And we were late. And then we found Red Rocks! And it was lovely! And … there was a lot of parking. A. Lot. Of. Parking.

We parked next to the entrance.

We figured something was very, very wrong.

We found some similarly lost-type folk. Turns out My Boyfriend Dave Grohl was sick, and they had postponed their Red Rocks shows until September.

We sat in our front-and-center seats and stared at the empty stage. It just wasn’t quite the same. We were glad that something awful and tragic hadn’t happened, but at the same time, I was all, “I quit you, Dave Grohl!” Because I am mature like that.

Next: Cha Cha moves on. But her dinner doesn’t.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do not cross us or we will cut you. Bitches.

Yes, of course I'm talking about me and my mom.

We are getting to the bottom of a mystery: the mystery of the cancer running rampant in our family. Our investigation has involved lots of questions, lots of tears, and genetic counseling. The deal is that if my mom tests positive, then I will be tested. If she doesn't have a genetic mutation, there's no reason for me to be tested.

We have been waiting.

And in the midst of my marathon o' freelancing, my mama called. She had test results for two of the three genes we are investigating.

Negative for mutation. Both. Negative.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: Jesus Allah Buddha, I love you all!

We are still waiting for results on the third gene. It could take up to six months. But right now, we're two fer three. Not bad.

I was sort of, "Oh, great - thanks!" when I spoke to my mom. I have been Working. I have put in 12 hours of hardcore writing in the last 36 hours. I haven't even thought about packing for the vacation I begin in 14 hours.

The writing has been completed and sent to the client. I'm starting to decompress. And I'm starting to really think about this.


On one hand, I'm all, "Genetic mutation, you can kiss my ass! Go fuck yourself and that sickly horse you rode in on. I fart in your general direction!"

And on the other hand, I am deeply, deeply thankful. And hopeful - but not too hopeful - that we can go three for three. Please.

It's not that I can't deal with it if the third ends up being positive. I can, and I am meant to live to be a very old woman. I know this in my soul. It's just different now ... now, it's more important that I'm alive and healthy. Now, if something happens to me, it's not just me ... I want to spare Mr. Wonderful. Please, oh please.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

!Viva la Poodle!

Just as I was reading this post about cat pee, Geriatric Poodle walked into the office and took a dump.

I’m not even kidding. Dog is still trying to give me a sign.

I was at a meeting last week where a woman remarked out of the blue how she’d had the most amazing experience that day. She had taken her dog to a holistic vet and the dog felt better after a little acupuncture.

Of course, I was interested. We visited at length. She saw the same holistic vet that my vet had recommended when he informed me that the Geriatric Poodle was most likely not long for this world.

So, we went this week. The Geriatric Poodle? May not be so geriatric after all!


Holistic Vet agrees that Geriatric Poodle is about 10 – but says that he probably has another 10 years in him because he’s spritely, alert, and healthy. She wonders if his cataracts are the result of a nutritional deficiency (insert Bad Mama Guilt here). And she says that the reason he paces all the time is because he is suffering from severe neck pain.

I know – I’d read all this and be all, “Yeah, right.” But I was there, people. She manipulated Geriatric Poodle’s neck and he about bit her face off. He was clearly in massive pain. I almost cried. I had no idea his neck hurt him so.

So, we’re trying some herbs and a holistic pain pill that must taste like pork with crack mixed in because he snarfs it right down. And, I’m adding ground beef to his diet.

Actually, Foxie Doxie is benefiting the most from this. He’s fine but because his mama is a sucker, he gets beef, too. I can’t give it to just one of them. And if I’m Queen of the Crappy Nutrition (It was prescription dog food! How can it be bad?), then I’m not going to make not one, but two dogs go prematurely blind.

So. We have hope. And we have a more energetic, taking-a-crap-where-he-darn-well-pleases Geriatric Poodle. And we might have some serious thinking to do, as Holistic Vet thinks cataract surgery in one eye would give the kid a new leash, err, lease on life. Cataract surgery that runs a couple grand.

Yikes. I’m going to try the herbs and acupuncture and go from there. But it’s nice to actually think that he’s improving instead of dying slowly before my eyes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A report from the late-night freelancing trenches

God is trying to tell me something. Or rather, Dog is trying to tell me something.

And that something is “Clean up your shit!”

You see, I’m what I like to call a lateral organizer. This means that I prefer to organize my workspace laterally. Like, across. Like, across any workspace.

Considering that my desk is a tiny 1940s kitchen table (lurve it!), this means that I spread my shit all over the floor.

I come by this tendency honestly. My father is the most organized and neat man in the universe (He has a system for his closet that depends heavily upon what direction the shirts face. C’mon.). And the lateral organizing? He does it, too. His freakishly organized office typically has a row of manila file folders on the floor along one wall.

I’m not totally into the folder thing, so my piles are typically just piles of paper. I like to think of it as my Carpet Credenza. IKEA will be picking up this concept at any moment. It can be yours for just $199, but assembly is required.

Anyway. Geriatric Poodle has spent the better part of my freelancing marathon on my lap. Finally, I was just over it. I set him down. He wandered for maybe 30 seconds … and then peed alllllll over my office floor.

Me: No, no, no, honey!

Geriatric Poodle: Oh, hai! Did you know I drank 17 gallons of water today?

Miraculously, he didn’t hit the Carpet Credenza. Thank Dog. But I think it might be a sign.

Ramble on to self actualization.

This has been my week:

Bitch moan work work work moan work fuss work work bitch moan.

I have been, uh, shall we say, getting worked up over stuff that's fleeting. Stuff that's just the tedium we deal with so we can get to the business of life. The business of life has nothing to do with Corporate Behemoth. It has nothing to do with deadlines and stock prices and my own personal nitpicky hell of comma placement.

Hi, I'm an editor.

No, the business of life has to do with the stuff they never cover in the news, the stuff that passes you by if you aren't paying attention. Most of the time, I don't pay attention.

I woke up painfully early this morning in an attempt to make a painfully early meeting. At 7:30, it was already so humid that I questioned my decision to take a shower. But in the damp morning sky, I saw a rainbow. Something clicked.

Later, I read a lovely story about a brother and sister, separated by the Holocaust and reunited after 66 years. Sixty-six years! Ages 83 and 73, they had no idea if the other survived until a Red Cross program - run by volunteers - helped them find each other.

The Ukrainian brother told reporters, "I don't believe anyone has ever known such happiness. Now, I truly believe I can die satisfied."

If you'll just excuse me for a moment ... I sort of need a tissue.

And because the universe is trying to tell me something ... this blog has been building my heart up with a slow crescendo. The lovely Michelle writes Diary of a Dying Mom with such honesty and bravery. I am afraid to comment because she writes such beautiful posts that I would sully them with my "Oh, hai. Me like." -style comments. Because she makes me feel that dumb. But in a good way. In a learning way - she's teaching me a lot. However, she is going to have to change the name of her blog because she's more alive than most of the people I know.

I am sequestered away for a weekend of mad freelancing (bwah-ha!) so that I can leave for vacation on Monday with a temporarily empty inbox and a light heart. Walking out of Corporate Behemoth tonight at 6 (on a Friday. yeah, I know), I felt, for the first time this week, that this light heart business might actually be a possibility.

I'm praying for a little peace and clarity. And I'm trying to remember what's really important. And it's not commas.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Make my day.

Many heartfelt thanks to the lovely Green Girl for this:

Yeah, I make her day. Jump to her blog to revel in her fine prose (seriously – it’s one of my favorites!), and to meet up with the other bloggers that make her heart go pitter-pat. We are an eclectic posse and may soon have our own reality show.

It makes me hoppy.

I wrote not too long ago about how The Ladybug drew a picture in which I have two sets of ears - one human, one bunny - and I appear to be pregnant. This artwork adorns my fridge and was the center of attention when I hosted book club a few weeks ago.

Apparently, being with child and sporting two sets of ears isn't the ultimate sign of affection from our little bunny-loving artist.

Mr. Wonderful has a new drawing on his fridge. It says "DADDY" in big block letters across the top, and he's featured as a stick figure. He, too, has two sets of ears, one human, one bunny. And he has a circle of some sort at his midsection.

"Honey, what's that?" I asked, pointing at the circle.

He smiled. "It's my bunny tail."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Roll with the changes.

I'm trying to get ready to go on vacation. It will be my first full week off since May 2007. And it has me seriously considering never coming back.

I am under pressure at Corporate Behemoth to stockpile a bunch of work so that the troops can have the pedal to the metal the entire time I'm gone. I am under pressure from a freelance client to just hurry up and finish writing a couple hundred pages before I go, and by the way, why wasn't it done earlier?

I am tired. And starting to seriously consider money. Like, what would happen if I didn't have any. Like, I didn't have any because I changed my work situation.

Once upon a time, I had a fledgling freelancing career and no other means of support. I worked retail at $7 an hour to cover necessities like dog kibble. I was terrified.

And then I got all this work and then I was all successful and shit and I bought a house and wow, Ma, lookit me now!

But I'm still holding on to that terror. I can't turn down freelance gigs. I have to stay on at Corporate Behemoth until someone figures out I don't know what I'm doing. To say no would be to leave money on the table ... and who knows when I'll have an opportunity to line the coffers again? Ramen noodles ain't cheap, people!


I did not grow up one paycheck from the street. I have been blessed with Plenty throughout my life. And yet my fear of Not Enough is making me miserable.

So, I'm busting my ass to earn the privilege of an entire week of no work. And hopefully, while I'm busting my ass hiking around Colorado, I'll have a moment of clarity and figure out how to move forward. Because this current approach is clearly flawed.

Until then, I'm just blasting a little REO Speedwagon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stuff I like.

1. Mr. Wonderful recently referred to his super-sexy Dyson vacuum cleaner as “wife bait.” I laughed, but it does beat the hell out of my dowry, which is a rake with a handle held together with duct tape. No, I’m not kidding. My dad told me it was my dowry in about 1986. When the handle broke, I figured I was destined to be an old maid. I’m hoping Mr. Wonderful can look past the duct tape.

2. Mr. Wonderful and I stayed up waaaaaay too late last night, laughing ourselves silly and making up new verses to the diarrhea song. Yeah, you know you know it. Every verse is “Something something RHYME, something something RHYME, Diarrhea! Diarrhea!” My favorite new one is “When you want to take a breath, but the bathroom smells like death, Diarrhea! Diarrhea!”

Yes, I am a 12-year-old boy.

3. Nothing says “I love America!” like Neil Diamond. This is a scientifically proven fact. However, nothing says “I love America, and I grew up in the 70s!” like my love of this lovely, lovely gem. Happy Independence Day!