Friday, December 30, 2011

Stuff I liked in 2011.

You know I love a good year-end list. So, here are a few of my favorites from 2011. Keep in mind that this isn't necessarily stuff that's new ... it was just new-to-me this year.

Best show you're probably not watching
Up All Night. You know, that one with Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph, and Will Arnett? It's funny. Like, they made a tribute video to a dead coworker and all they had was his W-4 ... so the tribute video was just zooming in on his W-4.

Favorite movie that transported me back to childhood
The Muppets. I found myself smiling like a freak for the duration of this movie - I totally felt like a 7-year-old again. Plus, I about jumped out of my skin when My Boyfriend Dave Grohl made a surprise cameo.

Favorite new album
Wasting Light by Foo Fighters. I know, I know - I'm a sucka for anything by My Boyfriend Dave Grohl. But seriously? This album is uh-MAZ-ing. And it's one of those albums where your favorite song changes because they are all so good. This here is good ol' fashioned, rock-your-face-off rock and roll, bitches.

New surprise artist that I dig
So, I'm only about 5 years behind here, but I discovered Lady Gaga this year. Typically, I view pop musicians with great disdain, because they are rarely serious musicians. But Gaga? Girl can sing! And how she sings is interesting, and catchy. Nevermind the fact that when My Guy and I first saw her on SNL this year, we were both like, "WTF was that?" But then we bought the album and fell in love. And this summer, he was all, "You know I only bought more Gaga for you. In no way was that for me, because I am a straight man and of course prefer much more manly music."

Best book I'm the last person on Earth to read
The Help. Hell yeah. Loved it. Still haven't seen the movie, but loved, loved, loved the audio book. It had several different actresses reading the different narrators. Very effective.

Best book I actually read for Wine Club. I mean Book Club.
The Happiness Project. Not really a self-help book, but a fun read that also prompts self reflection.

Best serious-like novel that will make your shrink sing and dance with analytic joyThe Condition. I typically shy away from serious novels, but the characters in this one were just amazing - so fully fleshed-out and authentic. Highly recommended.

Best book I didn't want to read and then actually made me cold while sitting by the pool
Into Thin Air. My Guy read it while we were on vacation in Florida, then insisted that I take a look. I have zero interest in mountaineering, but this was fascinating. Also? I'm still terrified by the thought of seeing people freezing to death and leaving them there just so you can reach the summit. I would not call this a feel-good tale. Cautionary? Yes. Feel-good? Fuck no.

My Guy's favorite book, because he reads a ton
Into Thin Air. My husband had this to say about this bestseller: "It's a freakin' great book, man. It was real good. I like the words. Can I go back to watching the game now?"

Someone does not take being interviewed for this blog very seriously. That, and I think he's out of practice when it comes to book reports.

So, what did you enjoy this year? What should I check out as I devour more media in 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cha Cha, this is your year!

Over Mexican food tonight, My Guy and I had a little 2011 recap.

We (partially) rehabbed our house.
We moved.
We got married.
We sold a house.
We became landlords on a third house.
I survived The Boobtacular, a stress fracture, and the shingles.
He survived me whining about The Boobtacular, a stress fracture, and the shingles.

All in all, 2012 has its work cut out for it if it's going to be crazier than 2011. Just sayin'.

Here are some personal favorites from 2011.

Best realization about my authentic, true self
I am good at The Bed. Not good in bed, necessarily (oh, OK, who are we kidding?), but good at sleeping. And lounging. And making the bed properly - yes, with hospital corners. If there were Sleep Olympics, I would totally be in there, representing the U.S. And Bob Costas would talk about how on my first night home from the hospital as a newborn, my parents thought I was dead because I slept through the night. Training for the Sleep Olympics already! So, this realization is helping me come to terms with the fact that it's OK if I prefer to sleep 9 hours a night and stay in bed til 10 on the weekends. It's OK.

Best realization about my authentic, true spouse
I asked My Guy why he didn't ever make the bed. He looked me in the eye, and without a hint of malice said, "I won't ever make the bed. It's just not important to me."

At first I was horrified. And then I had to respect that level of self-awareness and the wherewithal to make that statement - especially in the face of such a bed-centric partner. There are things that aren't important to him, and they can be important to me. And it's all just OK.

Best realization we've made as a couple
Cha Cha gets angry when she does the dishes any time after 8 p.m. Keep Cha Cha out of the kitchen at all costs or she will just be pissed off.

Best purchase as a married couple
A new dishwasher. The day it was installed, My Guy texted me a photo of our new favorite appliance with the tag, "Marriage saved!"

Best thing about being married
Taunting my spouse with some variation of "You have to (fill in the blank) because you're married to me and Jesus decreed you (fill in the blank)!" Typically, this takes the form of either "you have to love me even though I'm a twit," "you have to have sex with me," or "you have to be seen in public with me." Huzzah!

Best thing about our blended family of 4 dogs
It's not the endless hairballs, nor the vet bills, nor the deafening noise when all 4 snore simultaneously. It's the wiggle booty. All those tails wagging often make me exclaim, "We are rich! Rich with puppy!"

And now, at the end of December, I've finally broken the 10 posts in a month mark for the first time all year. Thanks for sticking around. My blog friends are the best thing about blogging.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home sweet home.

Today is our houseiversary. One year ago today, My Guy and I took on our 1938 stone cottage.

Sounds quaint, right? Except that it was a repo. That had been owned by a druggie who trashed it before losing it to the bank.

Now, we live in a historic district. But our history with this house includes finding a petrified bowl of rice and beans in a bathroom drawer. And causing water damage by assuming the water line to the where a fridge once stood was, you know, actually turned off by the former owner. Ha ha ha!

We've cleaned like we've never cleaned before. We've painted pretty much every surface. And yet, I still feel the need to apologize to our neighbors for the state of our house, like we're causing home values to go down. Some of our shrubs are dead. We still don't have use of the second floor.

But I stinkin' love this house.

It's going to be our home for a very long time. I see the potential here, and I'm thankful that this house feels like our home. Even the stuff that I thought would drive me crazy - like the broken granite counter top - feels pretty OK. This house is teaching me that life doesn't have to be perfect to be ... perfect.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And to all, a good night. With no more barfing.

We made it to Iowa - healthy-ish and safe. It's a Christmas miracle!

In celebration, I offer you a holiday tradition, with a new twist this year. Enjoy, my friends!

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I want for Christmas is not to barf.

My Guy woke up in the middle of the night with what is either food poisoning or the flu. He's been down for the count all day. Like, "I don't feel well enough to sit up" down for the count.

It's December 23.

We're supposed to go to Iowa tomorrow.

I don't want to sleep in our bed because I sure as hell don't want to get sick.

I don't want to miss Christmas with my family.

I don't want my husband to be sick.

I want my husband to take a shower. For the love of all that is holy.

I don't ask much.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From our house to yours.

This year, I'm proud to continue my tradition of not sending out Christmas cards.

I know, I know. But this is a hectic time at Corporate Behemoth and the idea of one more thing to do makes me crazy.

I've noticed that fewer folks send them out. I blame Facebook. Or maybe I'm just not getting cards anymore because I don't send cards.

But don't worry - just because I don't send cards doesn't mean that I don't criticize cards.

I'm just gonna get right down to it. My Aunt Talbot has sent cards for the last three years that feature a picture of her house on the front. No people, just a house.

It's a big house. A big, fancy house that could easily pass for a sorority house. The first year, it was just, you know, the house. The second year, it was the house with a light dusting of snow - obviously taken before that dust burned off with the sun of the day. But this year? This year, it's a pic from last Christmas, where the house is covered in snow, swathed in Christmas greenery and lit from within by every light in the place. This year's photo also features a photo credit.

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be impressed, or at least warmed in a Norman Rockwell sort of way. But mostly, I'm just annoyed. Seriously, lady. Show me your adorable and numerous grandkids. I'm not impressed by your big ol' house. So quit trying.

I guess it's not quite as egregious as the cards that used to come from my mom's stepsister. She'd always misspell my mom's name on a letter that told of skiing in Aspen and flying to Gstaad as her husband received some hoity-toity cardiologist award.

Gstaad. I'm not even exaggerating.

At least I can be certain that my noncard isn't misspelling people's names or coming off as too showy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Know your limits. And when to go home and have a drink.

There are a lot of Indian guys who work in my area at Corporate Behemoth. Most of them are contractors who come over from India for a year or 18 months, then go back home. These are smart guys who know a minimum of 3 languages and then immerse themselves in this weird culture away from their families. I have a lot of respect for them.

That said, there are some cultural differences that are funny, annoying, or supremely horrific.

Horrific? The thinly veiled contempt for women.

Annoying? The tendency to send an e-mail, then come over to my desk to announce you've sent me an e-mail. Or, the tendency to skip sending me an e-mail, but instead come over to my desk and expect me to drop everything and edit something for them on the fly. Because, after all, I am only a woman.

But the funny?

Oh, sister.

There's this one guy who is so young and clean-cut and adorable. He makes me feel old because instead of wanting to get on him, I have an overwhelming desire to make him a sandwich.
I guess this is what middle age feels like.

Anyway, today? Today, Young and Clean-Cut mentioned that he and some of his cohorts are planning a road trip for the long Christmas weekend. They are generally really excited to see everything they can in America - so, they've seen more of the country than many natives. Their Christmas destination? Mount Rushmore.

Oh, Young and Clean-Cut. You're gonna need more than a sandwich.

A bunch of folks were trying to convince Young and Clean-Cut and his posse that there are other, more suitable destinations for the end of December. His initial response was, "But, the Internet says it's sunny right now!"

The guys were being redirected to maybe San Antonio or maybe New Orleans. But then, Fannypack Bruce stepped in.

Maybe you know Fannypack Bruce. He's the older guy who does testing but asks 27 questions an hour. He keeps two Igloo coolers on his desk and wears a fannypack 24-7. And the fannypack strap has a phone clipped to it. You know, to complete the look.

Fannypack Bruce always has something to add. In detail. And today? His addition was a long diatribe about "a swell KOA near Mount Rushmore."

Camping? Most of these guys don't own winter coats but consider anything colder than 50 degrees arctic conditions. Focus, Fannypack Bruce! Stay on message!

That was about the time I left. I can only do so much.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The sun ain't gonna shine anymore.

Life as I know it is over. Oh-ver.

When I was in third grade, my dad gave me a clock radio for Christmas. It has two alarms, buttons I know by feel, and SIMULATED WOOD GRAIN.

The best part? It has a label on the top that says "SIMULATED WOOD GRAIN." You know, lest someone mistake it for real wood and try to use it as kindling.

We've been together for, umm, 28 years.

And now? My clock radio is ailing.

A few months ago, the clock gained about 20 minutes a day. I unplugged it, said a little prayer, and plugged it back in. All better.

But this weekend? This weekend, it was keeping double time. As in, it gained 12 hours a day.
As someone who likes to be places sort of on time and who is also in no way a morning person, this is a problem.

I did the ol' unplug / prayer combo again, and so far, it seems to be working. However, I can't deny it: my simulated wood grain pal is in hospice care. Our time is growing thin.

I am devastated. Did I mention that I can program this sucka by feel? And that we've been together longer than most marriages?

I was willing to be brave and look for a new clock radio. Except ... they are all horrible. I'm willing to forgo SIMULATED WOOD GRAIN, but I need a radio because a straight-up alarm freaks me out. I need a digital display because I'm blind. And I need buttons that I can aspire to operate by feel. I do not need to dock the iPod that I don't have. And I don't need to project the time onto the wall in giganto size.

So, there are some OK alarm clocks out there. But none of them are Just Right. None of them are my alarm clock. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm truly sad about this. I guess you don't just break up with someone after 28 years without some sort of angst.

Do you have an alarm clock you love? What's it like? I'm taking suggestions.

And yes, I realize this is totally a first-world problem.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Calling Dr. Atkins. And Cesar Milan.

So, My guy is back from his work trip - and not a moment too soon.

I don't mean to be all old-school patriarchal and "Just wait until your father gets home!" But duuuuuuude.

I stayed up late one night making My Guy a birthday cake. He wanted a caramel cake with canned caramel frosting. I could do so much better, but if the birthday boy wants boxed cake with canned frosting, that's what he's gonna get.

The next day when he got home, he sent me a few really random texts:

"I'm so sorry."

"Like 3 inches of cake left."

I thought he got home and ate the cake. But no. The labradoodles had catapulted onto the kitchen counter and scored the birthday cake. The 2-layer birthday cake that was at the very way-back of the counter.

All gone.

It had been a really, really long day, but I stopped at the store on my way home. They had another caramel cake mix, but not caramel frosting. I guessed German chocolate frosting was as close as I could get, and I ran to the express lane.

There was one lady in front of me. She wrote a check.

By the time I got home, I threw the cake mix at My Guy. "It's not the cake you want, but I did just beat an old lady to death with this box."

We went out for dinner and delayed the cake redux.

The next day, the labradoodles got into the bread drawer. They ate an entire loaf of 8-grain bread, 3 hamburger buns, half a bag of pretzels, and half a bag of Tostitos.

There was vomit. And wrapping. Everywhere.

So, we've got some dogs that need to cut out the carbs. And the assholery.

Yeah, it's a word.

The 1 upside? We didn't have a star on our Christmas tree. Now, there's a lovely Tostitos bag shard adorning the top of the tree.

We have the only house on the block that doesn't have Christmas lights. If our neighbors only knew the level of classiness inside ...

Monday, December 5, 2011

My earth-shattering pronouncement about the state of television today. Also? You kids, get off of my lawn!

I have purposely avoided the Kardashian fray. Even before Kim's over-the-top wedding and subsequent 15-second marriage, I've just found that family ... icky.

But now? Now, I think I've figured it out.

See, I sort of half-watched an episode of "Kim and Whats-Her-Name Take New York." Or "Khloe Visits Kim and Whats-Her-Name in New York." Or "Some Other Sister Whose Name Starts With a K Does Stuff in New York." Whatever.

But I watched it with the sound off, which was actually a really interesting sociological experiment.

You know what I saw?

I some some body language that completely spilled the beans.

These people are not nice. They don't listen to each other and they don't give a rat's ass about the other person's wants. There was absolutely nothing authentic about any of it. And really? Kim, we don't believe that you wake up with a full face of make-up, including falsies.

Sorry. And Kim & Ko.? Shame on you for adding to the cacophony telling impressionable young women to aspire to all things superficial. I'm pretty sure thick eyelashes and a ball-player husband don't ensure happiness. So, can you guys please just do the world a favor and go away?

In a striking contrast, I ran across a great article today about someone who devoted their life to using television to spread grace. Not promoting themselves - promoting grace and acceptance.

For a shock to the system, might I suggest this lovely article about The Greatest Person Ever, on TV or Not on TV, Mr. Fred Rogers? It's long-ish, but so worth it. It's a great way to purge that Kardashian aftertaste from your system and to focus on what we should really all aspire to - not bootyliciousness, or having a big effing wedding, but being a decent human being.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I've turned into a softie.

My Guy left yesterday for a convention. He has to go every year, and every year, it's over his birthday. Ick. He'll be gone until Thursday.

I was really sad to see him go. I was surprised at how sad I was.

Let's be honest: My Guy is a kind, funny, wonderful man. But sometimes he makes me crazy. Like how our bathroom mirror is in a constant state of greasy smudgetasticness because he wipes condensation off with his dirty t-shirts. Because boys are dumb.

So, I should be excited to have almost a week of clean bathroom mirrors and time to do whatever I want.

However ...

While I was tooling around Target yesterday, I realized I was in no rush to get home ... and no one was waiting for me. And then I remembered that it used to be like this all the time.

I lived alone, and I was alone a lot. That sort of solitude helps you figure yourself out. But it's also really, well, lonely.

I miss my husband. Which, I guess, means that I've overcome one of my fears about getting married: being dependent upon someone else.

Don't get me wrong: I am managing to function in My Guy's absence. So, like, when Lady Doodle decided that the alpha was gone and so she'd make a play for the position, and growled and barked and was mean to the other dogs, prompting Foxie Doxie to conveniently and oh-so-logically stake his claim by peeing on my bed a 12:45 this morning? I was able to deal with it. And by "deal," I of course mean "go completely ballistic."

But really? Things are just easier when the entire pack is together. That means Mr. Wiping-the-Mirror-With-T-Shirt Guy, too.

Plus? I just miss my friend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why yes, my husband is clean-shaven.

When I was little, I was scared of facial hair. Maybe I watched too many westerns. I was convinced that any man with a beard or mustache was A Bad Guy.

Bret Maverick?
Totally A Good Guy.

Creedence Clearwater Revival?
Haunted my dreams.

I still don't like their music. There. I admitted it.

Let's blame my parents, their TV habits, their record collection, and their ability to remember theme song lyrics. I can sing the Maverick theme song. But I still hate CCR's music.

Images courtesy of Google.