Monday, December 31, 2012

An open letter to my dad on the day of his retirement.

Dear Dad -

Huzzah! A mere 40 years after joining the family business, you've made it to retirement!

I know Mom jokes about getting you a job as a greeter at Walmart. Personally, my money is still on a second career as a school bus driver. Remember how you'd tilt the steering wheel of the Buick way up, and pretend to yell at us kids? You're a natural.

When I was little, I wasn't quite sure what your job was. So, I told everyone you were a businessman, like the guys in suits in the J.C. Penney catalog. I was somewhat in the dark, but proud.

As I got older, I figured out what your job entailed - because you were willing to explain it to me, no matter how many random questions I asked. I also figured out that a family business was a pretty special thing. Poochie and I both had our first jobs with you - I was a file clerk, and he was a janitor. To this day, I'm awesome at alphabetizing. And Poochie? Well, I think he finally took "sanitation engineer" off his resume to make room for his master's degree.

You worked really hard. We learned that drive from you. We also learned that doing your best, treating everyone well, and living with integrity were givens. You taught us by example.

Your hard work enabled us to live in a nice house and enjoy fun extras. We had some awesome vacations. You sent our sorry asses to college - despite my expensive out-of-state educational tastes - and set us up for success. You also empowered us and gave us the freedom to follow our hearts, even if that led us away from home. I'm only now starting to truly understand the value and depth of these rare, special gifts.

I hope this new era gives you these same opportunities - the time and the freedom to try new things and enjoy grand adventures. Keep on being your interesting, always-learning self. I can't wait to see what else you have to teach me. You've already taught me what it means to be a success.

Thanks, Dad. Love you always -


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stuff I liked in 2012.

It's the end of another year, and time for yet another year-end list.

I love year-end lists. Seriously. What books and movies did I miss? Who died? What was great?

I will say, though, that my local paper - a once-great institution of real journalism - really sucked up the joint with its online photo gallery of people who died this year. The gallery kept showing different photos of the already-listed folks. So, according to the paper? Whitney Houston died 4 times this year. Who knew?

Anyway. I will stop being a curmudgeon and share the stuff I liked this year. Not necessarily new stuff, just new-to-me stuff. Also? I will refrain from listing the same items multiple times (ahem, local paper).

Best show my husband made me watch; also, best proof that I might be turning him into a democrat
The Newsroom. This is the first Aaron Sorkin show I've watched - yeah, yeah, I know, I live under a rock. But I'm not typically into dramas, and it takes a something pretty great to make me commit to an hour-long show. The Newsroom was so worth it. It's well-written, even if it can be a little heavy-handed. Sorkin can write dialogue. I know that's totally Earth-shattering commentary on my part, but dude.

Best change
My Guy and I joined the same gym. Duh.

Scariest outcome of best change
We're going to the gym more. I have been spending more time on the treadmill. For the first time in my entire life, I have been ... umm ... jogging. Voluntarily. For, like, 3 minutes at a time. OK, really more like 2 minutes at a time. But still. Running! What the hell?

Best album
I have no idea. I have clearly fallen off the new music cliff in 2012. All I know is that the Foo Fighters didn't release an album this year and I hate every musical guest on SNL. Because I'm usually home on Saturday nights. Shut up.

Movie that had me pumping my fists
Argo. It's a great script and a super-interesting story. But there's something almost intangible about the film that just puts it over the top. The music and the acting and the editing create this tension that was practically palpable in the theatre. Plus, the filmmakers really captured the feel of the time - the clothes and hair and set decoration were amazing.

Best movie surprise
James Spader in Lincoln. Poor James Spader. I've hated his guts ever since Pretty in Pink, when he played evil rich kid Steff with such insolence. Like Lawrence Fishburne, who will always be Ike Turner to me, James Spader will always be the mean guy who was cruel to Molly Ringwald.

Anyway. I was not prepared for James Spader to be in Lincoln. But he is. And his character is hilarious. He's pretty slimy, but watching him is a joy. Like, he is so surprised at meeting the president that he actually says, "Well, I'll be fucked!"


Best movie I'm glad we watched on DVR
The King's Speech. I realize that My Guy and I were the last humans on Earth to see this movie. But I'm so glad we watched it when we could pause it and discuss the historical background. Quick discussions to figure out who was prime minister and just when certain stuff happened made the viewing experience more robust. Plus, we both ended up going down Wikipedia rabbit holes after seeing the movie. So much to learn!

Also, it's a great movie. And Colin Firth is just ... well, you know.

Biggest disappointment
Let us not speak of the 2012 college football season.

Best surprise of the 2012 college football season
One of my college friends is the uncle of 2 players on the Iowa State football team - including the kid who is the big stud and heart and soul of the team. Seeing my pal's Facebook posts has made my heart glad. They range from random ISU crowd shots to picks of a tiny grandma in head-to-toe Cyclone gear. Families are awesome.

Best nonfiction book
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I've gone on and on about this book before, but dangnabit - I freakin' loved it and think the whole world should read it. It's got sports and World War II and triumph of the human spirit and ohmigod, just read this book already.

My Guy's favorite book of 2012
11/22/63: A Novel. My Guy has this to say about Stephen King's novel: "It was good. What? You know that's the extent of my book reports."

Best Target dollar-aisle finds
While they are usually dressed as reindeer / disco bison, this year, the doxies mixed up the costumes a bit.

Santa was in the house, lookin' all manly.

As was his elf ... who really felt like more of a Vegas pirate than an elf, but whatever.

So. What did I miss this year? What books / stuff / movies / shows / dog costumes made your year?

Psst ... when you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pestilence and famine came for Christmas.

Or, just the flu.

My poor sister-in-law Mrs. Poochie got hit first. She spent all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in bed, missing out on the festivities at my parents' house. Then, by the time we drove home Christmas night, My Guy was similarly down for the count.

Knock on wood, I have been spared - so far. But our plans to visit My Guy's family are kaput. And there's the little business of my husband feeling near death.

So, let's focus on the positive.

This Christmas, the family discovered something wonderful: My brother has a horrible fear of whales. Good thing he lives in the Midwest, as he is terrified of being swallowed by a whale.

So, it was only natural that when we decorated sugar cookies, a few of the mitten-shaped cookies were transformed into whales. Vicious, blood-thirsty whales with disemboweled frosting carcasses in their mouths. Happy birthday, Jesus!

This holiday also saw what I can only hope will be the first of many Lego-offs. My mom got the bins of Legos from the basement, and assigned a bin to each adult kid. We then had 45 minutes to craft an amazing, Christmas-themed Lego creation.

It. Was. Awesome. I had the bin of pirate-ship Legos, and for about 20 minutes actually thought I could create some sort of "I saw 3 ships come sailing in" kind of thing. But then I realized that a) the only line of the song I remember is "And what was in those ships a'three?" - and the answer is I have no clue; and b) those Lego ships are super complex, and there was no way I was going to be able to cobble together 3 of them in under an hour. So, I created an island lair - manned by monkeys - where Krampus takes bad boys and girls.

Mrs. Poochie made an amazing Santa sled, complete with a Santa shark. My Guy crafted an incredibly detailed living room vignette, complete with a tree and awesome gifts - including a G.I. Joe aircraft carrier. Not that he's still bitter he never received one as a child. Ahem.

And my brother? Well, Poochie made a Lego nativity. A nativity with a Lego dragon playing the role of the angel.

There were prizes. Obviously.

We had great fun. We were privileged to celebrate mostly together. And the flu doesn't last forever. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Never show weakness!

I think the Christmas tree has messed with Foxie Doxie's head.

It's the only change in our house I can think of that might have driven my little dachshund to lose his mind more than usual. On the best of days, he's the type of kid who should wear a helmet. But lately? Lately, he needs to be in a Hannibal Lecter-esque full-body restraint, complete with the the face mask.

See, Foxie is marking more than normal. Like, turn-my-back-for-3-seconds-and-he's-peeing-on-the-fridge kind of marking.

I realize this isn't news. But it has me considering psychoanalysis for my dog.

The other morning, Foxie fell down the steep stairs that lead to our bedroom. These are the same stairs that are so narrow that they necessitated we cut our box spring in half in order to get it to our bedroom. Those scary stairs.

Foxie missed a step and bounced down the bottom half of the stairs, much like Wile E. Coyote. It happened in slow motion, complete with me being all, "Noooooooo" and trying to somehow catch the dachshund, despite the fact that my athletic skills are amoebic at best.

So, Foxie fell down the stairs and ended up under a chair, halfway across the dining room. Time stood still as we looked at each other, both kind of like, "What the hell?" Then, I went into Mommy Mode, cooing over him, patting him down for any exposed bones or gushing wounds.

I sized him up. He sized himself up. We both decided he was freaked out but fine. We both let out a sigh of relief, and Foxie started to melt into a little mommy love as I attempted to smother away any bruising.

Except. Then, he realized that the other 3 dogs had witnessed his stunt-man-worthy fall. They had seen him freak out and how he let his mommy fawn all over him. He needed to regain his man card.

It was at this point that Foxie puffed up like a middle manager. He literally grew in stature as he made purposeful eye contact with each of the other dogs. Then, he did what any self-respecting dude would do: He walked over to a wall, lifted his leg, and peed.

Again, just like a middle manager. Mark your territory, boys!

I went ballistic. But Foxie was not concerned. Or at least he was playing it cool in front of the other kids.

This is what I'm dealing with. Doggie shrink recommendations are most welcome.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book-giving for smartypants.

Christmas is a mere week away! Krampus the Christmas Frog and his shih tzu helper are ready. Are you?

For your last-minute book-learning gift-giving needs, I present Cha Cha’s List o’ Books About Stuff!

Yeah. Basically, I read some books and learned some stuff.

Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World (Vintage) - Richard Rhodes
Hedy Lamarr was the most beautiful woman in the world … and she happened to invent some super-smart technology. This book tries to sell the Hollywood starlet as an unsung hero of World War II. However, it spends so much time focusing on her co-inventor that I ended up not knowing much about Hedy at all. Since I’m not much of a tech geek, my mind wandered.

I finished the book fixated on the fact that Hedy was bitter about the lack of acknowledgement for her technological work. She also refused an invitation to a fete thrown in honor of her inventions because she had aged and didn’t want to be seen. This shouldn’t have been my big takeaway - I feel like I missed the gist of this book. This might be reader error on my part, but I’m marking this tome as a missed storytelling opportunity.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life - Bill Bryson
If you ever need to prime and paint, then scrape, reprime, and repaint a fireplace surround, this is a great audiobook to accompany you. Don’t ask how I know.

Bryson is my favorite Iowa-born expat because his storytelling is so down-to-Earth - it’s like hanging out with your dad’s old pal. I especially love his audiobooks because he has a soft, soothing voice, and his delivery is just fun. If he’s telling you a crazy story, he’s not even going to pretend not to be incredulous himself.

At Home is about just that: home. This book talks about the evolution of houses - everything from domestic chores to the history of the living room as a stable. For animals. For real. We are now uptight clean freaks by comparison.

Special shout-out to Cyndi B. for the recommendation several months ago - thanks!

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson
I bought this book when it first came out about a gajillion years ago. I shelled out money on the hardcover (gasp!) based on the strength of a very compelling review. Then, the book sat on my shelf, untouched, for several years. Then I loaned it to my brother. He let it sit on his shelf for several years. I got the book back. Finally, I checked the audiobook out from the library. It came due. I renewed it. Then, I finally listened to it.

I’m not sure if my reticence to read this book was due to the gorey, horrifying nature of the subject, or just general laziness on my part. Let’s go with the former, as this book tracks a serial killer who saw the Chicago World’s Fair as a perfect opportunity. I learned a ton about the fair and the logistics of creating giant buildings meant only to be temporary. Also, I had no idea the Ferris Wheel was such a marvel. I have a whole new appreciation now.

But the serial killer in question? Oy. Bad news. But a really interesting book of good and evil colliding.

Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul - Karen Abbott
I was evidently on a bit of a Chicago-at-the-turn-of-the-century kick. Abbott’s book studies 2 sisters who invented themselves and a whole new kind of debauchery at their Chicago brothel. They basically revolutionized the world’s oldest business by making it classy - their establishment had a gold piano, and wouldn’t even let a gent through the door without a credit check.

Of course, the competition did not take kindly to strangers coming in and taking the best girls and the best clientele. And the underworld has politics like any other area of society. This book has intrigue! And murder! And guys named “Hinky Dink!” It paints vivid pictures of a very specific moment in history.

Need other book suggestions? Check out my takes on beachy reads and biographies.

Disclaimer: When you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sometimes, there's not much to say.

I’m a firm believer that part of honoring the sanctity of life is honoring the silly, the mundane. The good stuff that makes life great.

Besides, sometimes? Sometimes, you just need some levity. And some chickens. Choreographed chickens.
Mad props to Kelley to bringing this important video to my attention!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to know if you're destined for upper management.

Today was the holiday luncheon at Globotron. I sat at my table of lowly contractors, and we enjoyed free lunch. It tasted free. But, again, it was free.

CEO-types tend to fancy themselves to be "people people," and Globotron's CEO is no different. He deigned to sit with us unclean contractors and work the room.

He was a nice enough fellow. But I think he's a cyborg.

See, the luncheon made up for the free food with excellent party favors. Every place setting had a little box of Godiva chocolates. You know, those square boxes of 4 chocolates? Yeah. Class touch, Globotron. I approve.

After we were done eating, Cyborg CEO picked up his box of Godiva. "You know, I've never had a Godiva chocolate," he said. "I buy them for my wife all the time, but I've never tried them."

At this point, he should have made some comment about the joy of trying something new. But no.

Cyborg CEO tossed his box of chocolates to the guy sitting next to him. "Here," he said. "You have 'em."

And then I died.

Why, oh why wouldn't you try the chocolates? You don't even know what you're missing!

But the obvious "chocolate good!" grunts aside ... I immediately thought that Cyborg CEO must never sing in the car or try weird foods or do anything silly. And it made me sad for him.

And then I resumed my Bitter Corporate Denizen persona and decided that you simply cannot be senior management in Corporate America unless you are flat-out insane.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tonight, my husband asked, “So, did you make out with the janitor today?”

I’m experiencing a career low point.

The contract gig that I’ve been working for 2 months has not delivered as promised. Instead of writing, I’m being groomed to do business process analysis. You know who doesn’t give 2 shits about business process analysis? This guy.

And instead of being a business process analyst, I’m being treated like a glorified admin. You know, that admin who isn’t too bright? The one who cannot be trusted to make copies correctly?


I’ve got people arguing with me when I point out their text is grammatically incorrect. Clearly, I am not to be trusted.

Let us be honest: I am a decent communicator, whether that communication be print, online, verbal … or a combination of Spanish and pantomime.

That last one isn’t on my resume anywhere. But I guess it should be. If you ever doubted my abilities, let me just tell you: Today, I discussed infertility with my Spanish-speaking maintenance guy pal.


I had a random hallway run-in with Maintenance Mercury, my Freddie Mercury look-alike amigo. He showed me pictures of his family on his phone. He positively gushed about his 2 sons and young daughter. Then he asked me if I have kids. Then he asked me why not.

First, I tried to explain in my faltering Spanish that I’ve only been married a year. In my fluster, I may have fallen back into my high school vocabulary and mentioned hay muchos libros en la biblioteca.

Maintenance Mercury showed me more pictures, then asked me again.

Somewhere in there, I realized that he is 1 of only a handful of authentic people to be found at Globotron, and I like him a lot. And I decided to just let it all hang out.

“No es possible,” I said. Then, I did what I can only assume is the international sign for “barren” - waving my arms in front of my crotchal region while shaking my head.

Then, Maintenance Mercury looked sad, and asked me if we’d considered adoption.

About this time, I realized that I was talking about my ladyparts, in fake-ass Spanish, with a near stranger, standing next to a busy elevator bank in some random office building. Yeah!

Then, I drew a chart tracking my hormone levels. OK, not quite. Instead, I realized that I never thought to ask my high school Spanish teacher the Spanish word for “infertile.” Some things you just can’t predict.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book-giving guide: Biographies.

'Tis the season for giving gifts. And if you’re like me, books are second only to dancing stuffed frogs on your list of Completely Awesome Gifts.

Oh, Krampus.

Here are some biographies that I’ve read recently. Perhaps they will help in your gift-giving quests!

I Suck at Girls- Justin Halperin
Ol’ Justin wrote Sh*t My Dad Says, which is funny. I actually liked this book better. It’s about his quest for love - which, of course, his dad has a few choice words about.

This is just a funny book. Also, it taught me that it’s never a good idea to screw a waitress who’s willing to screw you - and anyone else - in the storage closet of the restaurant where you both work. Life lessons, friends.

Like a Lampshade In a Whorehouse: My Life In Comedy - Phyllis Diller
When Diller died, I thought of 2 things:
1. I used to babysit a little girl who always wanted to play house. I was to be the mom, and she was to be the cleaning lady - always. And she always wanted her name to be Phyllis.
2. Phyllis Diller is this icon of comedy and totally a badass, and I know next to nothing about her.
So, I laughed about #1 and remedied #2.

Diller wrote this autobiography after she’d retired from comedy in her 80s, so it offers a complete look at her career. And lemme tell you - she doesn’t hold back. Girlfriend names names. And the stories of her childhood and her marriages provide context for her comedy and why she did the professional things she did.

This book was a quick, entertaining read. I was fascinated by her personal life and how it fed her comedy but was also completely separate from it.

Then Again - Diane Keaton
I listened to this audiobook. And haaaated it.

I think it just didn’t translate well to the medium, as part of the text is Keaton’s mother’s journal, and part is her own musings. So, with an audiobook, it was really difficult to discern what was what.

My shrink loved this book and thought it was richly textured. I thought it could have been dishier. I mean, c’mon - your main relationships have been with Woody Allen and Al Pacino. Oh, and Warren Beatty. And you just kind of laugh them all off? She clearly wrote with the intent of not spilling anyone’s secrets.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) - Jenny Lawson
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little blog called The Bloggess. If not, you should run right out and read it and all of the archives. This memoir is by The Bloggess herself, and it’s honest and funny and very educational. I learned so much more about taxidermy than I ever thought possible. This is a fun book for anyone who likes social media, or laughing, or preserving dead animals, or laughing about preserving dead animals.

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son - Anne Lamott and Sam Lamott
If you’ve ever even held a newborn, I trust you’ve read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. It is amazing and authentic.

So, this book? Anne wrote with her son about the first year of her grandson’s life. Maybe it’s just where I am in my life, but … ick. Keep in mind that I read this book right about the time we found out we’re barren, so it’s yet another ill-timed book that definitely shouldn’t be in any “So, you just found out you’re barren” book club.

Anne just came off as so neurotic and like the mother-in-law from hell. I feel so bad typing this. But it was my gut reaction. She was authentic. But I was turned off by her authenticity. It was not a good fit for me at the time. But if you’re looking for a gift for a grandma-to-be, this might be OK.

Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office - Jen Lancaster
I am probably the last woman on Earth to read this book.

Jen was a somewhat snotty, $600-purse-carrying, fancy-car-driving VP who got laid off after 9/11. She and her husband went from fancy to brokety broke broke, and this is the tale of their fall and ultimate redemption.

Loved it. Reread parts of it. It made me laugh and also feel pretty OK about my decision to leave Corporate Behemoth.

As with so many things, if 1 is good, 5 is better, right? I worked my way through all of Lancaster’s memoirs. Bitter is the New Black remains my favorite. I have to admit that by her latest, Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner, I got bored. There was no redemption. And I found that I disliked her more often than I liked her. I’m a fickle reader like that.

Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood - Laurie Notaro
Notaro is another memoirist who has entertained me with many books. “Fat Bride” isn’t her latest, but it’s the one I read most recently. Unlike Lancaster, I like all of Notaro’s books. However, I would be scared to eat food that came from her house. Her books just kind of make it sound like any vittles would be covered in cat hair. Considering the dog hair situation at my house, I do realize this is a pot / kettle situation.

If you have a moderately fucked-up bride-to-be on your gift list, get her this book. It will make her laugh and feel better about her daily mental breakdowns over stuff like napkins and envelopes. Also? I think all bride-to-bes qualify as “moderately fucked up.” See also: my entire blog from Aug. 2010 - April 2011.

What great biographies have you read lately? What should I add to my never-ending “to-read” list?

Disclaimer: When you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I forgot my husband's birthday until I saw it on Facebook.

I am the worst wife ever.

To be fair ... he has to travel to a convention every year the week of his birthday. And the night before his official birthday, I stayed up late wrapping his birthday gifts.

But when it came to the day of the blessed event? Well, I was running late. And the dogs were doing stuff. And I was having a bad hair day. And blah, blah, blah.

So, imagine my surprise when I finally had a chance to look at Facebook and saw many messages wishing my sweet husband a great day. Oh, right!

Luckily for me, he was a few time zones behind. So, my mid-morning (OK, who are we kidding - late morning) birthday text just looked like I was being conscientious about the time difference.

Now he's home, and he appears to still love me. I don't think he even noticed. Sometimes, it's good to be married to A Guy. They don't notice crap. Like bikini lines, food that's past its expiration date, and the proper timing of birthday greetings.

Yep. I married well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Strumpet spouse or multicultural maven?

My husband is at a convention this week. I miss him horribly. I haven't talked to him in 3 days.

This is what was going through my head when I got kissed at work today.

I know, right?

Remember when I was kind of obsessing over Globotron's Hispanic Freddie Mercury maintenance guy?


I came out of the ladies' room today to find Maintenance Mercury waiting outside. I apologized for taking so dang long to pee. After all, I'm from the Midwest. That's what we do - apologize for everything for no reason.

Turns out Maintenance Mercury doesn't know a lot of English. And I don't know much Spanish. But we attempted a conversation. He apologized for his English and I whipped out some truly poetic Spanish like, "Mi espanol es muy malo." At least I varied somewhat from my super-useful high school lessons of "The library has many books" ("La bibilioteca tiene muchos libros," for those playing along at home).

Maintenance Mercury was obviously excited to practice his English. I had to keep talking to him - he's such an ebullient person. It was only toward the end of our chat attempt that I realized he was complimenting my eyes and my laugh. Then he said something about my husband, shook my hand, and kissed me on the cheek.

My initial thought was, "I can't wait to tell My Guy!"

I guess this means I would be a horrible adulteress. And I'm totally OK with that.

My second thought was, "That was probably inappropriate. Huh."

And then my third thought was, "Mama's still got it! Yay! Even if I have a total double standard, being pissed about being called "girl" at work but thinking it's not terrible to be kissed by a maintenance guy who might have been following the norms of his culture."

Does this make me a harlot? Do I have to turn in my feminist membership card? I say no on both accounts. I think it makes me a friendly adult who just doesn't want to be treated like a child.

Well, a friendly adult who cannot wait to tell her husband, mostly because he will be so disappointed I didn't talk about "todos los libros en la biblioteca."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tumbleweeds. In my ladyparts.

The ad running on my blog right at this moment promises hot flash relief.

Because there's something about my blog that says, "Hey! Are you all dried up like me? All dust bowl uteri are welcome here!"

Hi. I'm 37. Thanks for the ad love, BlogHer.

Actually, it's kind of ironic. After this summer's initial wave of "Hey! We're barren!" shock and awe, I think I'm hitting a secondary wave of hormone-related madness.

After a late-summer flurry of remodeling activity, My Guy and I are coming out of our home-improvement comas. We're talking about how to enhance our basement rec room, and the idea of a kitchenette / bar area has been thrown about. Mostly, it would augment our Kleenex-sized kitchen. As part of this, I'd move my sewing machine and crafting area from the basement into the completely empty bedroom off our master.

Oh, you know. That bedroom that was going to be a nursery.

And, for a number of reasons that just add up to a giant ol' mess of TMI, I should probably go back on the pill.

Now, God love my husband. His comment about the "building a bar / reclaiming the possible nursery" move was that nothing is permanent.

As for going back on the pill? I said, "I feel like it would really be putting the final nail in the fertility coffin." And he countered with, "Didn't we do that this summer?"

Well, when I vowed never to take any more drugs or undergo any more tests, and we broke up with the reproductive endocrinologist with a nice, "It's not you, it's us?" Yeah, I guess we put a nail in the fertility coffin ... but I guess the tiniest part of my optimistic little heart held back. That part kind of paid attention to the women who tried to be comforting with the whole, "Oh, it'll happen when you stop trying" schtick.

For the record: don't say that. Because sometimes? It will never, ever happen. 

I guess going back on the pill is the ultimate in "not trying." It's also the ultimate in "Fuck you, heart. This is the brain talking, and we are sick of the ladyparts chaos. There's a new sheriff in town!"

I'm not angry. I'm not really upset. I just feel like I've come off of a pretty good bipolar bender. Years of "Oh God, please don't let me get pregnant," followed by a brief but intense run of "Oh God, please let me get pregnant" have made me kind of numb. I keep getting the message that I should want a child, but things are different when it's a no longer a see-what-happens. Now, it would be much more methodical and deliberate.

I'm kind of waiting for a sign on whether or not we should explore adoption. So far, the only signs I've seen have been of the "Refrigerators on sale - perfect for your rec room bar!" variety.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book It: Holiday Gift-Giving Guide!

It’s been a good long while since I’ve presented a book report. Like, I have approximately 3 gajillion books to either make dioramas about or write about here. Since I tend to hoard shoe boxes, I’ll skip the dioramas and write up my thoughts here - in convenient holiday gift-giving themes!

Today’s theme? Beachy reads. These are fun books that I either read on vacation or would recommend for vacation-type times. Or times you wish were vacation-type times.

The Next Best Thing: A Novel - Jennifer Weiner
My pal Alice read a horrible review of this book and so cautioned our otherwise Weiner-loving book club. However, I am here to tell you: I loved this book. I enjoyed it more than the author’s recent books, and it was one of those books that makes you wonder about the characters when you’re not reading. Plus, I learned a lot about how shows for the teevee are made, since the plot follows writer Ruthie through the process of getting her sitcom produced. Also, it made me really glad I don’t live in LA.

Speaking of not living in LA ...

Attachments: A Novel - Rainbow Rowell
This was a recommendation from Alice, and I also loved it (I do read some books I don’t love, I swear). Let’s hear it for a novel where the main characters don’t live in LA or New York! These characters manage to lead interesting, nuanced lives in Omaha. Gasp! These Midwesterners were well-developed and the prose in this tender little love story was engaging. Rowell has another book out soon and I can’t wait.

A Different Kind of Normal - Cathy Lamb
I have read everything Lamb has written - she’s great at escapist fiction that asks readers to just go ahead and believe in a handful of hopeful, crazy things. I enjoyed this book, but I have to admit that it made me think that I’ve got the author’s formula figured out: One traumatic event + A headstrong, lonely woman + A masculine but sensitive guy + Some random psychic or witchy ability = Book! Not to knock it, but … I can’t quite remember the plot. Something about a son with a cranial deformity and being in love with his doctor.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness - Barbara O’Neal
If I’m razzing on plots that depend on random supernatural business, I shouldn’t recommend this novel. But I’m going to. Publishers Weekly calls it a “bland kitchen romance” but that seems harsh, so they can suck it. If you’re looking for a recreational novel, this is a good, mindless choice. Elena’s a chef, and she’s haunted by an accident from which she was the only survivor. And then some stuff happens. And then you’re glad for her.

Welcome to Eudora: A Novel - Mimi Thebo
Holy cow - yet another book that doesn’t take place in LA or New York. What is the literary world coming to? This little gem centers around comings and goings in small-town Kansas. I grew up in a small town. I’m given to occasional tangents wherein talking about my hometown morphs into a meandering soliloquy that might feature generations-deep genealogy, careful descriptions of long-gone buildings, and the phrase “she turned up pregnant.” So, I totally appreciate any novelist that attempts to capture small-town life. Thebo did a great job and crafted a sweet little romance, too. Extra credit goes to the author for writing about the influx of Latino residents that’s shaping so many Midwest towns. Lots of people are scared to talk about this, but she handled it with grace and aplomb.

Next up in Cha Cha’s Book-Giving Guide? Biographies!

Disclaimer: When you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You know you want to visit. Also? Join my cult.

Recently, I found yet another puddle in my house.

Yes, Lil' Frankfurter decided yet again that peeing in the middle of the living room was a great option. In fact, it was a much better option than nosing the bell hung on the back door, alerting me he needed to go outside. To go potty. Because, as My Guy and I remind the dogs several times daily, "WE GO POTTY OUTSIDE."

It's like we have a cult, except instead of talking about Hale Bop or drinking Kool-Aid, we're all, "WE GO POTTY OUTSIDE."

Right. Except sometimes Lil' Frank just can't be bothered.

So, the other day, I found yet another fucking puddle. And although I'm usually just Mommy Dearest and yell something really useful like, "Shameful! Shameful!?" Well, this time? The spirit just got into me and I went off.

"WE GO POTTY OUTSIDE," I said to a non-plussed Lil' Frank. "What are you doin', peeing in MY HOUSE? This is MY HOUSE, and I just let you live here."

Then, it got weird.

"You ain't got no J-O-B. You ain't got no JOB! Git yo'self a jobby job and earn your keep!"

I just might be watching too many reruns of "Martin."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving: A Retrospective.

I hope y’all had a happy Thanksgiving. I’ve been mulling over just how to describe my holiday … there were so many nuances.

On 1 hand, it wasn’t bad. We spent 2 days with My Guy’s family. There was plentiful food and a scavenger hunt.

On the other hand, we spent 2 days with My Guy’s family. An intervention was planned, and I surreptitiously drank wine out of a coffee cup.

Yep. That about covers it.

I had fun antiquing with my MIL, and I scored a Griswold mailbox for the hopefully soon time we rip the rotted lean-to off the front of our house and have an actual front porch. My 9-month-old nephew is a happy baby and such a charmer. When I kept refilling my coffee cup with wine, no one commented, and I have to say that Riesling is an easy-drinkin’ accompaniment to any family gathering.

My FIL was more than an hour late. His almost 40-year-old son sat next to the door, visibly hurt. “I’m afraid if he gets here and the door is shut, he’ll have an excuse to just turn around and leave. I called and left messages. I don’t know where he is.”

My heart crumbled. The best I could manage was a “Good Will Hunting”-esque, “It’s not your fault.”

My MIL told me in confidence that she worries to this day that her kids might be mad at her for divorcing their dad because it allows his crazy to flow free. Again, my best response was, “It’s not your fault.” Thank you, Robin Williams.

I guess this is what it’s like to get more ensconced in a family.

And being more ensconced means that I also did not ask who the hell thinks they can have Thanksgiving without stuffing. Even though I wanted to.

Seriously. Who the hell thinks Thanksgiving is complete without stuffing? What the hell sort of low-carb family did I marry into?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving just got real, yo.

This month, tons of my Facebook friends have been posting things they're thankful for. It's a nice sentiment, but I've kind of rolled my eyes at most of the posts. Oh, you're thankful for your family? And your home? No way!

I just felt like an ungrateful wretch until one of my high school pals posted the ultimate response:

Let's talk about true gratitude. I'm thankful for Velcro. And new car scented air freshener. And cream soda.

Hell yeah. Super hell yeah.

So, I've been thinking: what am I really thankful for?

I'm thankful for my round hair brush. And salsa. But mostly?

I am super psyched and crazy-thankful for the power locks in my car. Seriously.

My locks were broken for about 2 years. Two long, arduous years of manually locking 4 doors every time I got out of my car. And don't even get me started on the tumor lodged in My Guy's brain - you know, that tumor that prevented him from ever remembering to lock the car doors?

Yeah. It was a real strain on our relationship.

But this fall, I bit the bullet and took my trusty Honda to the dealership. Twice. In what felt like a frivolous expenditure, I spent a few hundred bucks getting my locks fixed. But I am here to tell you that the price per car ride is so, so low - and so, so worth it.

When we picked up the car, My Guy thanked the service guy for saving our marriage. The service guy didn't even smile, but My Guy speaketh the truth. I'm no longer all up in his business when he walks away from the Honda like it can just lock itself - because it CAN lock itself. Like magic!

Now, every time I get out of my car, I can lock all 4 doors with just the touch of a button - and it thrills me. I seriously get a jolt of sweet, sweet satisfaction every time I prevent thugs from slipping into my unlocked car and stealing my Tic Tacs and 15-year-old CDs.

I am thankful for power locks. Amen! Hallelujah! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Reader, what are you truly thankful for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

An open letter to the guy with the fake "hair."

Hi, friend.

I was standing behind you in line for a concert Saturday night. The line was long, and so I hope you'll forgive me for the time I spent staring at the back of your head.

I am a woman, and I have what can best be described as a shit-ton of hair. This, admittedly, means that I don't really know what it's like to be a man with thinning hair. I can imagine, though, that it's frustrating. So frustrating that you'd be willing to try just about anything.

I am here to tell you - as a friend - that the colored spray you spritzed on your bald spot is not fooling anyone. As a friend, I must tell you that said spray makes it look not like you have hair, but like the crown of your head just got out of an Ash Wednesday service. And the black ashy stuff that was supposed to adhere to your scalp? Isn't.

Yes. You are molting black fake-hair dandruff.

I'm guessing you aren't a chimney sweep. There is no reason for your head to be caked in flaky black dust. And as a lady, I can confidently say that hair from a can is not going to get you laid. Personally, I'd be afraid that you'd get black crap all over my upholstery. And that's not a euphemism.

Embrace the bald spot. Own your noggin. Get that shit off your scalp.

Your pal,
Cha Cha

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm not a dog trainer, but I play one on TV.

Remember when I was all, "My dog is destroying my life?"


Longtime friend of noodleroux Patti left an impassioned comment about her own personal canine hell.

... I saw a picture of a cute puppy on FB and next thing I knew I had an 8 wk old spawn of satan. ... My free dog has cost me $300 in training and she is still a wild ass monster. ... I hold you responsible Cha Cha after all your cute dog pictures and talk of puppy love. I obviously overlooked the parts about ruined bedding and destroyed possessions, but someone has to be responsible for this mayhem that I have visited on my life so I choose you ... I could be on dog shaming every single day of the week. My dog's sign would say "I am a face licking, door scratching, fence digging, shoe eating, couch ripping cushion digging food stealing counter jumping dinner begging arm breaking old lady tripping cat chasing mother f-ing nightmare except I make sure everyone is AWAKE by my loud and endless barking" signed Olive. Help me.... 

Oh, sister.

First of all, get a bottle of wine. Not a glass. A bottle.

Now then.

I'm so, so sorry.

Keep in mind that this entire blog is basically 1 giant exercise in "do as I say not as I do." Just for the record, I do not condone having 4 dogs, 3 of whom are assholes. I do not suggest letting them rule who sits where on the couch, and I don't recommend being "flexible" (read: "completely inept") with the training. Legally, I assume no responsibility for shit you get yourself into after reading this here blog ... so Patti, honey? Don't you dare drop your dog off at my house in the middle of the night. I will know it was you, and I will make sure Olive finds her way back to you.

That said ... I don't actually have experience with puppies. All of my dogs have come into my life as adults. Your puppy sounds like a coked-up toddler. At least you know there's no reasoning with her - I mean, she's a coked-up toddler, and there's not much you can do with that except ride it out.

Training is good. Routines and good. Crates are awesome and absolutely necessary. And getting the pup as tired as possible is good. But you know all these things.

Here's my black-market dog advice:

1. Get some Rescue Remedy. They make a doggie version, and you can either put a few drops on the dog's food or put a few drops on the top of her head, specifically at the high point of the skull, kinda in between the ears. It's calming.

2. Learn the Vulcan death grip. Back when I was working with a homeopathic vet, trying to work miracles for Geriatric Poodle, I learned a little doggie acupuncture. Put your thumb on that high skull point I just described, and put a finger on the back of each ear. Consistent pressure on these 3 points is supposed to be calming. It worked on the Geriatric Poodle, but I will say that dachshunds consider this move to be voodoo bullshit and refuse to be calmed by it.

3. Git you some Nature's Miracle. The cleaners are great, although the No More Marking spray hasn't quite lived up to its name at my house. (Foxie Doxie, I'm looking at you. It's been 9 years. You can stop peeing on the furniture legs any time.)

4. Puppy-proof your house. If there's stuff that you would die if it got ruined, put it away for now. You can get your nice bedding back out and be more laissez-faire about putting your shoes away once your toddler has come down from the cocaine high. Recognize that you are living with a crazy being, but that the insanity is temporary.

5. I really like RELAX Riesling. And it's only like $9 a bottle. Get a case.

6. Focus on the puppy cuteness. God made babies and puppies cute so that we don't kill 'em.
Readers, what puppy advice do you have for Patti?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Because there's a time and a place for everything.

One holiday several years ago, I found myself seated next to my aunt's mother-in-law. Let's call her Mrs. Danvers.

Mrs. Danvers was terrifying in her prime, and at this point, she was in her 90s and still scary. She looked around the room with a disapproving eye and had a vibe that just screamed, "Everyone I like is dead. And now I'm stuck with you people."

Obviously, I was thrilled with the seating arrangement.

But I got Mrs. Danvers talking about our shared alma mater, a women's college that she attended in the 30s. She got very animated telling me about taking the train to campus, and the great fun she and her friends had in school. She said, "Even later in life, those girls were some of my best friends."

It really struck me to see this mean old lady get positively wistful and to refer to her female friends as "girls." She was in her 90s, yet the girl she had once been was still alive inside. And she saw her fellow girls in her mind's eye. Her girls.

My very closest friends refer to ourselves as "girls." It's not a term that I use lightly because it feels so intimate. It seems appropriate only for those female friends who remember that horrible haircut you had in 1989 or who have patiently and compassionately held your hand while you cried all of your makeup off. "Girl" is a term of endearment that is not easily earned. It means you've seen each other's inner children ... or have been friends long enough to remember being children.

So, maybe that's why I have a hard time being referred to as "girl" in the workplace.

Yes. Today at Globotron, my boss's boss - a woman - referred to me and my 2 fellow female writers as "the girls." In an email. For the world to see.

I barely know this woman. I'm sure she used the word as a female version of "guys" and didn't even think about it. In that way, I should just write it off.


She certainly doesn't fulfill my personal criteria for earning use of the term "girl." And the usage felt infantilizing in a corporate environment. I've worked too damned hard to build my skills and my career to be referenced as a child in the workplace. Especially by another woman, who more than likely knows how difficult it is to hold your ground - not to mention gain any - in what is still a very male-dominated environment.

In the workplace, I'd rather be called "bitch" than "girl." Bitches have power. And you can take that brand of name-calling straight to HR. But "girl?" It's more insidious. It's a not-so-subconscious way of making women feel small.

Would you ever refer to a group of knowledgeable, capable, professional men as "boys?" Hell no. So why the double standard?

Am I being overly sensitive here? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Triple points with Jesus!

I am totally a saint. Just, you know, FYI.

See, I was leaving the house, walking the dogs. As I reached the street, who should drive up but everybody's least-favorite neighbor, Creepy Chuck.

Ugh. There was nowhere to hide.

Creepy Chuck leaned out the open window of his car and spoke to me over the sound of chainsaws from a neighbor's house. "So, what's going on back there?" he asked me with huge, super-concerned eyes.

I tried to keep moving. "They're having some tree work done."

This was way too mundane to satiate Creepy Chuck's thirst for conspiracy, and he would have none of it. "Are you sure? I think they might be having foundation problems."

I gaped at Creepy Chuck. I looked at the truck directly in his line of sight - the one with a tree logo on the door. And the trailer behind said truck, which also had a tree logo on it, and a bunch of tree-related business on it.

I refrained from telling him he is full of shit. I did not whisper a secret command that turned the labradoodles into deadly attack canines, like those red-eyed lizard / dog beasts from "Ghostbusters." I didn't even slam my fist into Creepy Chuck's car door with a well-deserved, "C'mon, man."


Instead, I kept moving and said, "Yep. Tree work."

Eat your heart out, Mother Teresa.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Behold my dog, Destroyer of Worlds!

Over the last few months, I've been obsessed with And when I say obsessed, I mean checking it several times a day. It makes me laugh with gems like this:
 And this:
I love the site because it shows dogs (hellloooo? super like!) and gives an idea of their individual personalities. Also, it makes me feel less alone in parenting canine hellions.

Yes. It's that time of year again. The time of year when the labradoodles sometimes stay inside because it's cool or rainy. The time of year when Lady Doodle gets bored and pissed off and so acts out.


If I were to submit a photo to Dogshaming, it could be this one:
Other alternate captions include but are not limited to:
  • You know that scarf that you've spent hours knitting for my dad? Yeah. I ate it. I simply cannot abide knitting needles in my house. Rage! I am filled with rage!
  • You know your favorite gloves, the really nice ones with the Thinsulate? The ones you got on sale? Yeah. I ate one of 'em. It was taunting me. Don't let the bows in my hair fool you - I am a wrathful bitch.
  • Remember that time you were bragging to my dad that you'd gone to the dentist and had a new toothbrush and it was yours and he couldn't use it? Yeah. I ate it. Hubris got cha!
  • Remember how you were feeling all smug because you got a bunch of Christmas shopping done? Yeah. I ate one of those gifts. Hubris in da house!
  • Do I even need to mention how I feel about your new throw pillows? Yeah. Didn't think so. Good luck picking up all those feathers.
So many possible captions. So little time.

Seriously - so little time. All of this shit has gone down in the last month - and yes, my kid acting out does coincide with me going back to work. I know. I know!

I'm working, and I'm busy dealing with the intense shame of having to tell a librarian that my dog ate my library book. Well, and my disappointment in her response when I mentioned Dog Shaming. She was all, "People submit photos with signs? What's the point?"

At this point I died a little. "Umm ... it's funny."

She continued processing my credit card. "Oh - OK."

And then I proceeded to tell her that she totally needed to get fitted for a bra because she had quadraboob. OK, not really. But I wanted to. Something tells me she would not have found the humor in the situation.

Make me feel better. What's your dog done lately that's been insane?

First 2 images courtesy of Go there. Laugh. Because it is funny.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The shark in Jaws was named Bruce. I think I've worked with him.

A big ol' "WTF?" shout-out goes to Globotron.

My new employer has 6 TVs in the cafeteria. Usually, they are set on a variety of news-like programs. Sit in one area, you can catch up on ESPN. Sit in another and you're all MSNBC or CNN or whatever.

Except today. Today, every single TV was set on a static PowerPoint screen urging employees to sign up for benefits. Instead of a variety of news-like channels. Because it's election day. And we can't be trusted to watch completely useless midday election coverage without it devolving into a corporate throwdown.


For the last week, I've been copying text from a database and pasting it into Word docs. I know a lot of folks out there are curious about the true value of a college degree in the modern working world, and I'm here to tell you: fuck if I know. I've just gotten paid for 40 hours of work that a monkey could have performed.

I'm glad for the cash, but it's soul-sucking. Like most things in Corporate America.

Based on my experiences at Globotron, Corporate Behemoth, and Mega Corporate Behemoth, I feel confident in saying that there are 3 distinct flavors of corporate workers.

The Sea Anemone
Letting corporate waves carry you wherever might seem scary to a control freak - but it's awesome for lazy anemones. They don't do anything. They just show up and offer zero value. Also, they aren't afraid to remind folks when a task doesn't fall under their job description.

The Shark
This person is a mover and a shaker - which also means he or she is a total asshole. A shark will eat their way up the corporate ladder, kissing ass and making enemies with zero concern for actual human beings. You'll see a lot of sharks in "who's who" issues of business magazines. Their hair is shiny.

The Blowfish 
Who likes to puff up and look big and important? This guy! The rub is that blowfish are often not very bright. But that doesn't stop them from talking. And talking. And sometimes being mistaken for somebody with a brain. Blowfish like to believe they're sharks, but really, they are the sharks' bitches.

And then? There are the rest of us ... that very small group of fish who actually work hard and are nice. Sharks eat us a lot. Blowfish overshadow us. And sometimes we get lost in a sea of anemones.

I know I'm a low-key worker fish. But the truth is, I'm not sure who I am anymore.

I used to be a senior manager, but I was stressed out all the time. Now I'm a contract worker, showing off my mad Microsoft basic-function skillz. Part of me feels like I have made a series of terrible mistakes and I'm surely atrophying as a person. Part of me thinks this current gig will get better, and I have a more balanced life now. And part of me just wants to stay home and never work in Corporate America ever, ever again.

This is top-of-mind because I'm bored out of my skull right now - although I don't know if fish have skulls. Because I am atrophying as a human being.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In which I admit I am a sap for democracy. And cute old men.

My Guy and I had a hot date tonight.

We voted. Yeeeeeaaaaahhh!

Thank God / Allah / Buddha / Oprah for early voting. Seriously. It was awesome. And God love the retirees who run the show.

We waiting in line for about half an hour, but the line moved quickly ... partly due to My Guy's jokes about there being a lot of folks in line who obviously weren't white, male landowners.

And then we got in and sent through the line. At one point while I was waiting, I turned to the volunteer and thanked her for doing what she was doing. She put her hand on my arm and said, "Honey, we've been busy all week. It's so exciting! I just love it!"

I wanted to make her a pie.

So I got through the line and went to my station. For the first time, I pulled up my notes on my iPhone to make sure I voted for who I wanted to vote for (sorry, some of the judges get confusing). Then, I turned my little card in to the retiree who was also handing out "I Voted" stickers. I smiled.

Sticker Guy smiled back. "First-time voter?"

I laughed. "Umm, no."

He grinned. "Am I close? Close but not quite?"

I made a mental note to a) continue with the sunscreen; and b) never discount the flirting prowess of the over-80 set. "Not close," I said. "But keep on thinking whatever you're thinking."

Which probably sounded dirtier than I intended.

I met My Guy outside. "Hey, smiley," he said. "Geez, you really like voting."

"Yeah, but Sticker Guy just asked if I was a first-time voter! You're so lucky. Your old lady looks so young and foxy," I said.

"Umm, I think old guys just have game," said my completely unappreciative spouse.

Now, I will admit that when we walked out into the beautiful night, I pumped my fists. "I love voting!" I bellowed.

"Yeah, but our votes won't count because of what state we're in!"

"Yeah, but at least we tried," I countered. "I mean, 100 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to vote."

And then I got choked up.

That wasn't that long ago. And yes, I might be a teensy bit PMSy, but c'mon - what a huge deal. It made me feel giddy.

So, I pulled myself together. Then, we celebrated democracy at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I *heart* America.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Obviously, not much to report.

I got my aspiration on today. It went well, and now I have a lovely bruise on the ol' boobie.

As usual, I can't take any good painkillers - only Tylenol. I don't mean any disrespect to the fine people who make Tylenol, but ... WTF, Tylenol? Seriously. Tylenol is only good when you pair it with wine. Which I am. Because I am a proactive, smart, take-charge, kind-of-buzzed lady.

Kudos to Average Jane who advised that oh, crazy lady, maybe you don't need to tell your new male boss exactly why you need to take the afternoon off. Good call. Based on Jane's comment, I mentioned it to My Guy ... who was basically like, "Oh dear God! Why would you tell your boss about your boob? No! Nooo!"

So, yeah. Thanks, Jane!

Mega thanks, too, to my dear husband, who understands that every breast procedure calls for burgers and fries. So, when I texted him, "The boob needs Five Guys," he did not question the request. Instead, he came home with fries and burgers - the perfect accompaniment to Tylenol and wine.

He just offered me more wine. I should probably stop blogging.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yes, I am worrying my pretty little head about it.

I can't bring myself to watch "Mad Men." I know it's a great show, and if anyone could convince me to watch any program, it's Jon Hamm. But I just can't stand watching how the women portrayed on the show are treated.

I'm almost OK if I think about it as an accurate portrayal of sexism that is long, long gone. But it's not distant history. It seems like we're rehashing the same stuff in the upcoming election.

Obviously, I'm super pumped about democracy and you bet your ass I'm going to vote. But all the tomfoolery? Make it stop!

My particular pet peeve is the growing number of candidates who seem to feel like it's finally OK to just come right out and voice their opinions on my ladyparts, my role in my household, and, oh, how being a woman is a pre-existing condition that requires special care and consideration.

Some rape is legitimate - more rapey than other rape. Women need flexible work hours so they can go home to cook dinner for their husbands. Being handed women's resumes that you didn't request means means that you really did try to hire women. Abortion is the business of the government, not a woman and her doctor.

I've learned so much.

And now? I'm tired.

I'm tired of being told that I'm not to be trusted with my own body. I'm tired of being told that I should be happy to have a job and shouldn't worry my pretty little head about what I'm actually being paid. I'm tired of people acting like the crazy talk is kinda normal.

I guess I can blame my parents. In yet another example of how they failed me, they never bothered to tell me that I am not bright and my work isn't worth as much as that of my male counterparts. They never sat me down for "the talk," where they covered sex, Santa, and how Jesus and George Washington expect me to prepare gorgeous meals every night for my husband. My mom and dad even went so far as to make me think that I was smart, and could do whatever I wanted to do in life - in or out of the kitchen.

I know, I know.

Now, I'm finding out that it was all just a big fat lie.

I'm also finding out that my entire career as a writer and editor has been built on a yet another lie.

Of course, I'm talking about Bic's new pens for women. All these years, I've been using Man Pens and didn't even know it. It's a miracle that I haven't permanently ruined by manicure and my mind. Ellen explains it all best:
Yes. Men have pills for hair loss and erectile dysfunction, and women have finally gotten a pen.

Please vote - with your ballot and your dollar. Vote for the people and companies that have your daughters' best interests at heart.

Also? I'm pretty sure that "best interests" does not mean "a future in a steno pool."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just athletic enough to climb on my soapbox.

So, there's this article, aptly titled, "In which I blame my PE teacher for ruining exercise for me forever."

And I read the article, and was basically like, "This author is my spirit animal! Yes!"

And then I read all the comments, which are basically a gajillion women saying, "Yes! You are my spirit animal!"

And then I realized that holy shit, that mandatory class that's supposed to teach us how to be healthy and active has basically turned thousands and thousands of girls / women / female people off of being healthy and active.

It seems that every non-jock has at least 1 horror story about a PE teacher who was mean, vindictive, unsupportive, and / or batshit crazy. If you're like me, you hate this crazy, so you hate PE and try to find ways to get out of it. Somehow, your brain expands that to hating all exercise.

I hated PE since the dawn of time - quite possibly because my elementary school memories include:
  • Getting beamed in the face at close range by a basketball, and having the PE teacher tell me it was my own fault because I ran 2 feet off course in our obstacle course
  • Dying of embarrassment when the PE teacher made a big show of attempting to teach me how to swing a bat - but eventually admitting defeat - as my entire class got pissed that their softball game was halted

Physical activity? Fun? What?

I read somewhere recently that exercise is like pooping - your body just has to do it. It's necessary and not negotiable.

Now, instead of going off on a tangent about how my then-2-year-old brother decided for a while that he didn't like pooping and so just wasn't going to do it (this was also around the same time he decided he was only going to eat orange foods), I'm going to stay on task and save the poo tale for another time.

Here's the thing: we have to empower girls to take charge of their bodies. And making somebody feel bad because they can't serve a flippin' volleyball is not the road to empowerment.

I hope that things have changed since the olden days when I dreaded PE with all my heart and soul. I'm guessing they probably haven't. Not for me, anyway - I still have dreams that I'm running late for high school PE and if I miss it, I'll have to run to make up the class ... the class that was GRADED and counted towards your real-life GPA. It was a nerd's nightmare, and it haunts me to this day.

In my fantasy world, all PE teachers focus on learning new stuff and having fun. And this speech is mandatory at the beginning of every class:

Today, we're going to learn new things and we're going to have fun. There's room for everybody in this class. Remember, we all have different skills - some people are great at math, and some people are great at kickball. We all have our special gifts. Now, let's have some fun!

Oh, and anybody who makes fun of another student automatically flunks the class. For the year.

Maybe if I had that type of environment, I wouldn't be, you know, almost totally sedentary.

Did you like PE? How did it translate to your adult exercise or lack thereof?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There's a reason I stay at my desk and don't talk much.

The great thing about starting a new job is all of the people watching. Everybody is new and interesting, and foibles stand out. Basically, you haven't had time to become numb to the weirdness.

At Globotron, there's the coworker who strides - not walks, but strides - like a confident hooker. She's mean, and yesterday she had her skirt tucked into the back of her underwear. I saw her across the room and didn't have the opportunity to help her out. I'm assuming she figured out there was a reason she was feeling a draft.

There's the lady we called Jumpsuit Judy for the 3 days she worked at Globotron. She might want to consider laying off the shoulder pads and icy blue eyeshadow.

Then, there's the maintenance guy who looks like a hunky, Hispanic Freddy Mercury.

Maintenance Mercury is always smiling, and I looooove him. Every time I see him, I want to break out into the "heyyyyyeheheheheheheh" part of "Another One Bites the Dust."

Or at least greet him with some song lyrics.

See him pushing a broom? "You work hard ... every day of your life! You work 'til you ache in your bones!"

Grab the elevator door so he can get on? "You've paid your dues ... time after time. You've done your sentence, but committed no crime."

Pretty much any occasion? "Fat bottom girls, they make the rockin' world go 'round!"

I can't help but wonder what the world would be like if we all said exactly what we think. I would either be in prison or lauded as a great creative thinker. Probably the former.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This is what real awareness looks like.

I'm celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a very special way. Much like a very special episode of the cheesy 80's sitcom of your choice, "very special" = "kind of crappy."
Remember a few weeks ago when I found a lump and had a mammogram and sonogram? Good times! Today, I had a follow-up appointment with the breast surgeon - or, as I like to think of her, The Boobie Doctor. Because I hate the idea of surgery, and she's really great and wears cool glasses and was honestly impressed today when I told her that I got my cool bracelet at a garage sale.

The Boobie Doctor and I decided that I should have my current asshole cysts aspirated - not because they are dangerous, but mostly because they hurt when my 7-pound dachshund walks on them, which is basically every night. I'm going to get my aspiration on on Monday.

The good? I have done this 3 times and totally know the score. When the nurse was going over the instructions with me, I was all, "Yeah, whatevs. Been there, done that. I like your hair."

The bad? I get to tell my new, male boss that gee, I need to take at least an afternoon off, and gee, wanna talk about my rack?

The ugly?


This is so dumb and so not fair. And even though I've switched to a non-aluminum deodorant and am in the process of throwing out all the plastic in my kitchen and completely revamping my diet, The Boobie Doctor basically said that all things considered, stress is causing my cystacular flair-ups.

Whaaa? So, she's saying that trying to get pregnant, leaving a job I'd had for 6 years, starting a new job, finding out that oh, we're barren, and getting fired was stressful? That's crazytalk.

It's annoying that stress isn't something you can fix with a vitamin. Addressing it is deliberate, and difficult. And it doesn't really fit in with the pouting thing that I've got going on right now.

But the even stranger thing than the pouting?

I really am OK with the aspiration.

I was by far the youngest woman in The Boobie Doctor's waiting room. I was alone. I wasn't upset. I knew what the situation was, and I knew what the options were. I was in control. I didn't even feel like crying later in the car. Mostly, I'm just annoyed about talking to my boss - even though he will be lovely about it.

It just sort of is what it is.

Maybe this is just what my normal is like ... regular normal, punctuated by needles-in-my-boobs normal. And really, needles-in-my-boobs normal isn't that big of a deal.

But I would rather be on a beach somewhere, drinking a Bloody Mary. I'm not completely insane.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

But my teeth are lovely.

Yet another day o' corporate training. Would you like to see a process model of my trip for far? Sure you would!

Cha Cha -> Training -> Mind Explosion -> Cha Cha's Brain Oozing Out Her Ears

The end.

One day left. I'm ready to go home and see my sweet husband. We've been able to chat every night, and that helps my sanity. Traveling is OK, but it's just not the same as being home.

Case in point? I forgot my mouthguard. So, I've slept all week with a nekkid mouth. I mentioned my "lips together, teeth apart" mantra as I attempt not to clench my jaw while I sleep. It's the absentminded packer's sad-but-less-spitty mouthguard substitute.

My husband's response? "Well, I won't worry about you gettin' busy with some random dude on your business trip since you left all your sexiness at home."

Yes. When My Guy thinks of my mouthguard, he automatically thinks of sex. Or, Not Sexy.

You know that scene in "Date Night" where Tina Fey has already put her mouthguard in, and she responds to Steve Carrell's sexytime overtures by pulling her spitty mouthguard out, and he's all, "Uh, nevermind?"

This is my life. My poor husband.

I'm delirious and need to go home.


Wanna read something a little more, erm, not insane? Check out my profile at Derfwad Manor's Slow Cook Thursday. There's a delicious recipe in there and everything!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And now for something completely different.

I am really lucky in that I genuinely like the people I'm traveling with. Sitting in a hotel conference room starting at 7 a.m. our time is made much more bearable by funny, friendly folks. It's pretty much the antithesis of my experience at Mega Corporate Behemoth.

I've been fortunate to have made some really lovely friends in my various and sundry jobs.

When I first moved to my fair city 13 years ago, I didn't know a soul. "Friends" had just gone into syndication, and the local Fox station played it 3 times a night. I watched it 3 times a night. Because I had no 3-dimensional friends.

My first day at my new job, my cubemate Minnie showed me the ropes, and took me out for lunch. Her manner was so warm and friendly, and she immediately put me at ease. Minnie and her husband kind of took me under their wings - like, he was the guy I called when my basement flooded. They are those kinds of friends.

When I sat in my Cube of Despair at Mega Corporate Behemoth with no friends and no one who would give me the time of day, I thought a lot about Minnie. It didn't take much for her to reach out to me, but it made all the difference in the world to me. I desperately needed a friend like that at Mega Corporate Behemoth, but just thinking about Minnie made it a little better. After all, I couldn't be a total leper if she was still my friend. And I could be a friend to the newbies hired after me.

I got to see Minnie and her husband last week. They've moved away and we don't get to see each other much. It was wonderful to hear their laughter and catch up. And I was so glad that I had the opportunity to tell Minnie about Mega Corporate Behemoth, and how in a roundabout way it gave me the gift of her friendship all over again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

This is what winning looks like.

I’m traveling for my new job at Globotron. This means I’m so entirely out of my hermitting-it-up-at-home element.

I’m in North Carolina for training. So far, I’ve seen the Chapel Hill campus (lovely!) and eaten some jambalaya (yum!). This almost makes up for the fact that I’m in 4 days of training in a nondescript hotel conference room … training run by a guy who looks like John Malkovich sporting John List glasses and another guy who looks like he could very well have had a renaissance-themed wedding. I spent some time today trying to imagine his various wedding costume options. Is it possible to make chain mail out of pop-tops? Because that's what I settled on.

I realized this morning that I should never travel without my tweezers. Evidently, no mirror in my home has adequate lighting. Whenever I’m away from home, I immediately notice rouge brows. And yet, I have no means of addressing the situation. So, I sit in a nondescript hotel conference room, thinking about John List, John Malkovich, ren faires and my yeti-like brows.

Oh, and I think about the training, too. Sure. Yeah.

How are your weeks starting off?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

We really need our own show on HGTV.

My brother and his wife are planning on buying a house in the spring. An older house. They are admittedly a little apprehensive about home maintenance and remodeling.

Since My Guy and I bought a beat-down old house, we are now basically Poochie and Mrs. Poochie's home-ownership role models. Like AA sponsors, but with more dried paint in our hair.

Mrs. Poochie is looking for the silver lining, or at least some humor to justify the sweat and dirt of fixing up an older house. Her questions made me remember some of our best home-improvement adventures. And by "best," I mean "funny in retrospect."

Case in point?

Poochie helped us paint the exterior of our house. He and My Guy determined that they were better painters with steadier hands if they drank beer. I generally stayed on the opposite side of the house and painted trim while standing on the ground. I just couldn't watch them climb the big rented ladder, and I didn't want to think about the beer.

Several months afterward, I learned that at one point, Poochie got stuck on the steep roof. And My Guy had to go inside the house, throw him a rope through a skylight, and belay him down the side of the house. Like our house is the Alps.

My mom, Mrs. Poochie and I all had the same cringing response to this tale. My dad, on the other hand, thought it made perfect sense. Dudes.

Our more recent home-improvement debacle involved remodeling the entire second floor of our house. Even though we had the bathroom and floors done professionally, it still took forever to get the space habitable. Finally, late on a Sunday afternoon, after eons of work, we finally moved our furniture up our narrow little staircase into our new, luxurious master bedroom.

Well, we moved all of our furniture except for our queen-sized box spring.

I guess in 1939, building staircases to accommodate big ol' furniture wasn't a top priority. So, while we could cram the mattress up there, the box spring just wasn't happening. We got it jammed into the doorway of the stairwell ... and then it became clear that it wasn't getting any further.

At first, I kept thinking that we just needed more brute strength. But really, there was no way around it: no queen-sized box spring is going to fit through a stairway the size of a straw.

We were exhausted. All we wanted was to set up our bedroom a mere 14 months after moving into our house.

Now, our pal Google will tell you that it's possible to cut a box spring in half. You may scoff at this suggestion, and figure that such butchery would spell uncomfortable sleep from there on out. You might even go so far as to say that folks who attempt such tomfoolery are white trash who didn't plan well and buy a 2-piece box spring in the first place.

Ehh. I can't argue on the white trash bit, but I can tell you that you can cut your boxed spring in half, fold it like a burrito, carry it up your narrow-ass stairs, and then reassemble it. And no sleeper and no chiropractor is any wiser. Shit works. Even if you can't look as your husband saws your bed in half, it will all work out. Slap a dust ruffle on there, and no one will ever know.

If you need a tutorial, YouTube is a gold mine. I highly recommend the video where the wife / girlfriend person gets her arm caught in the boxed-spring burrito. It's hilarious. We watched it several times for the entertainment value alone.

See? Having a house is kind of like having kids. Much dumber people that you have done it. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I married well.

My Guy survived his 5-day conference. Yahoo! Sure, he had to schmooze clients like a salesman even though he's a software engineer. Sure, the hours were grueling. But I got to see him in a sport coat, looking all cute-like. So, I'm pretty sure it was all worth it.

To celebrate, we went out to our favorite neighborhood pizza place. The typically hopping spot was strangely deserted. We figured that since it's Wednesday, the neighborhood families were at school. Or maybe church. More beer for us!

As we finished up our beer, carbs and cheese, a family came through the door. It was a dad, 2 kids, and a mom ... a mom who is a director at Mega Corporate Behemoth. The woman who hired me, handed me off to a different manager 2 days into my contract, and then abruptly ended my contract when I outed myself as, you know, someone who wants to work. And not just sit around.

My bad posture immediately got worse. I dropped down into the booth. "Ohmigod," I said. "That's my old boss!"

My Guy, classy fellow that he is, did not immediately turn around and stare. He also didn't get up, knock over a table, and cause a rumble. No. Instead, he sat up taller and allowed me to cower behind his huge noggin.

Seriously. Between my bad posture, his good posture, and the angle of the booths, I was invisible. Like my time at Mega Corporate Behemoth, except that I had someone to talk to.

From the safety of my husband's hulking skull, I was then able to consider our options.
Option A: Admit defeat. Say hello as we walk directly past Director Lady's table on our way out the door. Make sure my lip gloss was fresh, even though I was wearing grubby-looking fleece pants that basically make me look unemployable. The chances of me willingly choosing this option were slim to none.

Option B: Sneak out the back door. This was my favorite option. My Guy surveyed the situation and saw that the back door had a sign on it, asking confrontation-adverse patrons not to use it and to instead woman up and just walk past their old bosses. Or maybe the sign just said, "Broken-ass door. Do not use." But the outcome was the same: we were stuck exiting through the front door, right by Director Lady's family.

Option C: My Guy would get up from the table first. I would walk behind him. We would time our escape with the waitress's visit to Director Lady's table, therefore obscuring Director Lady's view. We would be Important People With Places to Go, so we wouldn't have time to look around the restaurant on our way out. Worst case scenario, I'd hold the to-go box in front of my face. Like the lady of grace and dignity that I am.

Option D: Order more beer. Drink enough to get up the courage / idiocy to approach Director Lady and thank her for wasting my time and crushing my spirit. Point out that she has nonexistent managerial skills and has fallen into the sad category of folks who build corporate fiefdoms aimed at insulating from layoffs, not producing actual work. Add that her haircut is not flattering. Accidentally knock a pitcher of red Kool-Aid into her lap. If a pitcher of red Kool-Aid is not already on the table, order one in order to knock it over. Wait for waitress to bring Kool-Aid. Realize that big, dramatic gestures lose some power and style when you have to wait patiently for props.

So, I went with Option C. I avoided conflict, fake niceties and jail time. However, I have to give My Guy credit - he was up for whatever. Also, he pointed out that I have nothing to be ashamed about, and that skulking about town is not necessary. I didn't do anything wrong. And even though I told my manager that "nobody gave a shit" that I was there, it was a fuck-friendly workplace; my use of a level-B cuss word was not justification for termination.

I don't care. But I do. You know?

However, all's well that ends well. We made it out of the restaurant alive. Once on the sidewalk, we felt a bit giddy at our successful escape. And, My Guy earned himself some extra credit. Without me saying a word, he said, "Wow - her haircut is really not attractive."