Saturday, December 13, 2014

Being the second wife.

I've got it good. I realize this.

My sweet husband was married before, but his first wife sounds like a fairly nice human. I've never met her - she lives across the country, and they didn't have kids, so it's not like there's an awkward drop off / pick up scenario multiple times a week.

I got a fantastic guy with a bit of a broken heart and some random housewares. Basically, I got leftover wedding gifts, wedding gifts for which I did not have to write thank you notes. Pretty much a win.

When we merged households, I rather subconsciously got rid of stuff from Before. If we had duplicates of something, I chose to keep mine rather than keep his. I wouldn't admit it, but I was trying to purge his first wife from our house. Sure, I'd keep the towels from her bridal registry, but I'd use them on the dogs. I sure as hell didn't want them hanging in my bathroom, reminding me that I didn't come first. I didn't want to admit it, but I was a touch insecure.

I've mellowed in the 3 and a half years we've been married. Maybe because my initial purge was so successful, or maybe because I got over my fear of being devoured by marriage, of ceasing to be myself, of somehow being in competition with this other woman.

I did have a run-in with a leaky wooden salad bowl that left me cursing her name. But other than that? My Guy's first wife isn't on my mind. After all, I've already outlasted her. This means I won, right? (What did I just say about not being in competition? Hmm. I don't recall.)

But Christmas is a tiny bit different. My sweet husband loves holiday decorations, and brought what can only be described as a shit ton of Christmas ornaments into our marriage. About 99.99% of these ornaments came from his first marriage.

We put them up. I will admit that they aren't my favorite, but they're Christmas ornaments. It's not like you can actively hate a Christmas ornament, unless it plays music incessantly.

But there's this one ornament.

It's a gingerbread man. And on the back, written in Sharpie, it reads, "Our First X-Mas 2004."

I hate this ornament. Why should I want an ornament that celebrates my husband's first Christmas with someone else?

Now, I was once in a relationship where I was supposed to pretend that I had hatched the moment we started dating. I wasn't supposed to talk about past relationships. It was a reflection on my boyfriend's insecurity and narcissism, and it was somewhat debilitating. It denied me as a fully formed human.

I sure as hell wasn't going to impose such craziness on my husband. Sure, let's put up all those ornaments you bought with your ex! They are important to you. Look how loving and accepting I am!

Except that one ornament. I hate that ornament. It surpasses my capacity for grace.

Our first 2 Christmases together, we hung the gingerbread ornament and I wanted to say something, but I didn't. Instead, I sulked just a teensy bit. Oh, woe to the second wife!

But this year? I pulled the ornament out of its bag and opened my mouth before I could even think about it. "This ornament makes me sad!" I exclaimed, holding that shady gingerbread man up for My Guy to see.

He looked at me blankly.

I turned the ornament over so he could read the inscription.

He looked at me blankly some more. Then he said, "Was that Foxie Doxie's?"

And then I laughed like a hyena.  No, the ornament didn't belong to my dead dog.

I spent years being hurt about an ornament that he had no knowledge or appreciation of. And I kept my mouth shut about it. But when I finally said, "No, this was from your first marriage," My Guy just laughed and shrugged. "Throw it away," he said.

But then I laughed some more, feeling crazy and free. "No! I don't want to throw it away now," I said. "Now, it's hysterical!"

OK, maybe not the funniest thing ever. But a reminder to go ahead and open my big mouth, and to realize that maybe my assumptions are a little off-mark. And maybe I can chill out just a bit. It's just marriage - it's not that serious.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In which my dead dog gets the last laugh.

I tried something new and crazy.

I did the kind of cleaning where you actually move stuff. Like, instead of just vacuuming around things, you move the things, and vacuum in those spaces, too.

I understand that some people do this regularly. I don't know these people.

So, anyway, I tried this new fancy cleaning. It left me feeling virtuous and slightly better than everybody else. Well, until I moved something and found dog pee.

Yes. I moved a metal storage bucket that's permanently next to the bookshelf in my office. Because sometimes, you just have stuff that belongs on the floor, and it's fine, and that's just how it is.

Unless you live with a dog who marks, a dog who does not like stuff on the floor, even furniture.

My late little Foxie Doxie was one such dog. He believed that all furniture should levitate off the floor. If it didn't, it was fair game, and he claimed it. And by "claim," I mean "peed all over."

So, the metal storage bucket thing? I picked it up and was immediately assaulted by the stench of months-old pee.

Foxie Doxie had marked the bucket. I know it was him, because the other dogs aren't markers. Lil' Frankfurter pees wherever he likes, but he's not one to mark.

But Foxie? He was an Olympic-caliber marker. And he left me one final, odoriferous gift.

I imagined him watching me from doggie heaven, satisfied that there was no doubt that the metal bucket was his. And I pictured him looking nonplussed and trotting away when I bellowed his name.
The smell was ... ridiculous. The puddle had just sat there, melding with the bucket and the floor. Steam mops, baking soda, and cursing were required.

I miss that little devil.

Also? This is why you should never do the kind of cleaning where you move stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My phat dachshund.

I am not gonna lie: I am so freakin' excited.

Lil' Frankfurter, he of the inflammatory bowel disease?

Yeah. So, he was on antibiotics, and he gained a few ounces. And then he lost them. And he was looking horrible. And shaking all the time.
I'm sick but I'm pretty.
I took him to the holistic vet. And she was basically like, "This animal is critically ill."

And then I was like, "Dude. I just lost a dachshund. I can't lose another one. Here, take all my money."

So, for the last six-ish weeks, Lil' Frank has been dining like a king on canned duck and canned pumpkin, four different probiotics (including one called "Digestive Slurry!"), and two meds. He has never been happier, as he is required to eat four times a day.

Also, since the vet told me that this dog was literally freezing, I have been free to buy him many fashionable shirts and coats. On clearance, of course. But still, I am That Lady.

Yesterday, we had a check-up. Lil' Frank is now rollin' at 6 pounds, 4 ounces. He's gained a pound. He no longer looks like a dachshund dressed as Skeletor for Halloween. He's interested in his toys. His poops are kind of normal-sized. He is a total stud.

The holistic vet leveled with me: "When you first brought this dog in, he was dying."

I tried to act all, "Oh, uh-huh," about that, but I was startled.

She went on. "I'm so, so pleased with his progress. Would you mind terribly if I wrote him up for a journal? Would you happen to have any 'before' pictures?"

At this point, I laughed. I take pics of my kids every day, so, yeah, I've got pictures.
Fat, happy, and helping mama write.
But then I got to thinking ... Lil' Frank's fame is going to grow! Maybe now I can realize my true life dream of being an overbearing stage parent. Maybe my pushiness can propel Lil' Frank into pageants, movies, or - dare I even dream! - a reality show!

My Guy was a little less thrilled with my horrendous parenting, but ecstatic about the weight gain. Our 8-year-old now weighs almost as much as I did as a newborn. Hurray!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book It! And get a personal pan pizza!

Or ... just enjoy some good reads and omit that grease from your diet. Whatever.

Here are a few books that I've enjoyed (or not) as of late.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants - I'm pretty much the last human on the planet to read Malcolm Gladwell. There, I said it. Feel free to shame me openly. I don't know why I've resisted his books, but I enjoyed this one. His approach to revisiting ideas that are mostly givens (but shouldn't be) is refreshing. Except for the section about people whose kids had been murdered, this was a really invigorating read. (Dead kids. I just can't do it.)

Fragile Beasts: A Novel - In Coal Run and Back Roads, Tawni O'Dell so beautifully captures small-town life, its politics, and its bittersweet honesty. In Fragile Beasts, some of that delicate narrative is there, but she also intersperses tales of Spain and bullfighting. Now, I'm from a small town, so those sections really spoke to me. But I'm not from Spain, so the bullfighting sections? Not so much. Still, an engrossing read.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema - Gurl, I love me some old-school Hollywood gossip. Current gossip? Ehh. But give me a Mack Sennett bathing beauty with a coke problem or a 1930s gangster actor with a little bigamy issue, and I'm all over it. Anne Helen Petersen is literally a doctor of celebrity gossip and wrote a series of fascinating columns for The Hairpin. Now, she's pulled together all new content about the Hollywood truth machine in this fab book. Pickford and Fairbanks? Check. Bogey and Bacall? Check. Montgomery Clift? Oh, check. Check it out.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life - It's no secret that I love me some Wade Rouse. He's hilarious and honest, and this memoir of leaving the city to live amongst nature and dirt and stuff is funny and tender. Wade isn't afraid to dish about times when he was a fish out of water and looked like a fool. Sure, his ego might have taken a hit, but we readers benefit. This book is also a lesson in accepting yourself and how imperfections make our perfection.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler novelized the life of the most infamous author's spouse around. This book is at times energizing and at others heartbreaking. Mostly, it raises the question of whether Zelda really was crazy, or just a narcissist trapped by a bad marriage and restrictive gender roles. When I read The Paris Wife, I decided that I'd made a good life choice by not marrying Ernest Hemingway. After reading Z, I determined that not marrying Scott Fitzgerald was a similar life win.

So, friends, what are you reading? What should I pick up next?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Things I said before 9 a.m.

"The backyard is not a buffet!"

"Are you trying to have a shit-eating grin?"

"Eating poo is not your best life decision!"

"Don't lick his ween!"

"Put your penis away. Seriously."

It's gonna be a long day.
You're not the boss of me, lady.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stack your pets for easy storage.

I'm having trouble getting motivated today. Nothing seems more important that holding my shivering Lil' Frankfurter.

He's always cold.

It hurts my heart, but it has created moments that have warmed my heart considerably.

We have a lot of hot dachshund-on-labradoodle action at our house. It looks affectionate, but I'm pretty sure it's just Lil' Frank's way of scamming body heat from Big Doodle. The Stack, as we call it, takes on many shapes and forms.

There's The Wall Stack:
 The Face-in-Crotch Stack:
 The Bathroom Tile Stack:
The "Hey - Let's Spread Out Right in Front of the Dishwasher Because That's Super Convenient" Stack:
 The Sunshine Stack:
 The "Holy Crap, Those are Two Cute Butts" Stack:
 And, of course, The Mega Adorable Stack:
It kind of burns your retinas, doesn't it?

Monday, September 15, 2014

I'm bad at grieving.

Thank you for the kind words about the passing of Foxie Doxie. They truly mean more than I can ever say.

This is hard.

I'm cycling through all the stages of I'm-not-good-at-this grief:
  • Eat your feelings. Pad Thai for breakfast and pizza for lunch? Don't mind if I do!
  • Sleep. All the damned time. My excuse is that sleep was a rare commodity the last week of Foxie Doxie's life. The truth is probably closer to "I don't want to face the world."
  • Watch "Rambo: First Blood Part II." This is actually a really good movie. If you're grieving, I highly recommend channeling your pain through John Rambo. He will shoot people, and it will make you feel better. You'll feel guilty for feeling better, but you'll feel better.
  • Call your parents and start crying when you hear your dad's kind, even voice. Make him tell you all about how he went to coffee and then to the dentist this morning, and take comfort in your dad being your dad and the beauty of the everyday.
  • Make an executive decision to wash your hair and put on some pants. Not sweatpants. Real pants. Implement this decision, even though it takes longer than usual to prepare to face the world.
  • Leave the house. See friends. Realize the depth and breadth of your riches, as well as the simple power of a frou-frou cocktail.
  • Love on your dogs. They're hurting, too. Cuddle up, even though the entire house still smells like dog pee and you should scrub the floors instead. Choose love and a slight funk over a clean house.
What's your go-to stage of grief? Clearly, I'm no expert. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Farewell, sweet friend.

When I first adopted Foxie Doxie, he had a big ol' bald spot on his side.

He'd gotten burned by some fresh asphalt, and the vet said my hyper doxie would probably never grow hair there.

Well, clearly, the vet was full of shit, because Foxie totally grew lush side-body hair. He was the dachshund equivalent of Farrah Fawcett. He did things his own way, thank you.
That was 12 years ago, and Foxie has been full of piss and vinegar every since. You lookin' for somebody to trap a possum, at night, in the pouring rain? Foxie's your man. You wondering just who would pee on wedding invitations?

Well, Foxie was a tiny bit ashamed about that one, but evidently, it had to be done - even if it meant wearing The Overalls of Shame afterwards.
So, 12 years and one week after I first met my little guy with the bald spot on his side, he got the same hairdo again. He got shaved for an ultrasound, as we hadn't been able to shake his raging UTI.

Never in my wildest, most hypochondriacal dreams did I think that Foxie Doxie's little tinklepotty problems were actually prostate cancer.

But they were. And that bidness is bad, bad news in dogs.

Our options were basically "ship him off to Colorado for treatment that will scar him emotionally and fry all his internal organs" or ... let him go.

We found out Friday. By Saturday, it was obvious that he was miserable and wasn't going to get any less miserable. My Guy and I decided that keeping him around would be wholly selfish on our parts.

Foxie cuddled with Lil' Frankfurter, and then enjoyed some sunshine.
I wrapped my boy up in a blanket and we went to the vet.
He died in my arms.

I can't stop crying.

So, here's the thing: Foxie Doxie was the longest non-family relationship of my adult life. He knew stuff. We went through a lot together. And while he didn't say much, he knew.

And he was a total jackass. This is a kid who peed in my bed more than once, just because. He had such social anxiety that he would lose his mind if another dog even deigned to walk down our street. He felt it was his duty to mark every piece of furniture in my house - and my parents' house. He took this duty very seriously.

And yet. He had the softest ears on the planet. When I held him, he would tuck his head under my chin and snorgle loudly. He was my boy, and I was his mama.

My heart is broken.

And yet. When the vet tech asked for a phone number to call when the ashes were ready, I told My Guy to give her my number. He was upset, and the phone number he rattled off had about 17 digits and wasn't even close to my number. Like, the area code wasn't even right. I was holding our dying dog, and I started laughing like a hyena. I looked at the tech, who was mortified. "That's so not my number," I said. "We've been married 3 and a half years, and that's not even remotely my number!"

So, at least there was laughter through the tears in Foxie Doxie's last moments.

Later, dear, kind, generous friends wordlessly showed up on our porch with our favorite, completely complicated pizza order, a 6-pack, 2 bottles of wine, and 2 gigantic mums. As my sweet husband told me, "I don't even know what to say. Except that this feels good after a few really shitty days. I don't even know what to say."

Lil' Frankfurter and Big Doodle are sticking to us like glue, as they know we need each other more than ever. Our little pack is reeling, but we're doing it together.

We're heartbroken. But blessed.

We love you, Foxie.
Enjoy marking the pearly gates.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Better Homes & Gardens, c'mon over!

We've got a mouse.

I used my mad detective skillz to figure out we have a mouse because someone chewed through the bag of Fritos, right before I made chili. So, you know, there were no Fritos for chili. Our lives are so terrible!

And after it became obvious that there had been a mouse in the bread drawer, I checked out all the other kitchen cabinets. The lazy susan was filled with corn starch, and the corn starch had tiny little paw prints running through it. There were actual turds in the blender.


For those playing along at home, here's the final tally:
  • Baking supplies thrown out: 5
  • Canned goods wiped down with bleach wipes: 752
  • Appliances with mouse droppings in them: 2
  • Hours of my life lost to disinfecting my entire kitchen: 27

This crazed disinfecting took so long because I had to keep stopping in order to clean up dog pee. Foxie Doxie has a raging UTI, and is basically slow-rolling through the house, tinkling as he goes.

You know you want to come over.

Last night, My Guy and I surveyed the damage. Everything except canned goods is on the counter, because surely our mouse isn't surly enough to breach the counter. This means that we have about 4 square inches of available counterspace for actual cooking.

We ate some chocolate chips and discussed our food options. And then I realized that the bag of chocolate chips had two tiny holes in it.

We're probably going to come down with the bubonic plague. It seems fitting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

An open letter to my parents and all my elementary school teachers.

Hi all - 

I'm not really a stripper.

Today, my coworkers and I went to lunch. We were celebrating a birthday, and we ended up at a downtown restaurant / bar.

Now, this restaurant / bar is next door to a fabulous strip club. Actually, I don't know if it's really fabulous - I haven't been inside. But the glass entry shows an escalator. Because yes, this strip club is so fancy that it has an escalator. Or maybe it's not really fancy, but it certainly looks nicer than the club a few blocks away that has the "TOTALLY NUDE" flashing sign.

Ours is a downtown in transition.

The strip club and the bar / restaurant share a parking lot. As I wedged into the lot with several large trucks, I realized that the strip club was packed. Dudes were spending their lunch hours at the boobie buffet, if you know what I mean.

As crossed the parking lot, I noticed a few guys purposely not making eye contact. Hmm. If you're ashamed of what you have for lunch, maybe it's time to switch up your diet.

Later, my coworkers and I enjoyed a lunch of food, not body parts. One of my cohorts glanced out the window and said, "Oh, look. There's a Google Earth car."

Hmm. Recording street-level views for all the internet to see. Nice.

Capturing my car in the parking lot of a strip club. Recording it for posterity.

I related this to My Guy later. His response? "I'm gonna find that on Google Earth and send it to everyone I know!"

But really? Google Earth is providing proof to suspicious spouses everywhere! I found the current Google Earth view of the parking lot in question. While the license plates are blurred, the car makes and models are very clear. And ... there's a guy in a blue and white shirt walking across the parking lot. I wonder if he knows he's forever captured in this state.

Wouldn't it suck to be caught on Google Earth walking out of a strip club?

But, I'm off track. The point of this open letter is to let you know, before Google Earth updates its images, that I'm not currently working as an adult entertainer. I may cuss a lot, but I'm still basically a good girl.


Monday, August 11, 2014

That weird combination of happy and horrible.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you just whispered, "Oh, shiiit," you're not the only one with that reaction.

But, that was a few weeks ago. The whole thing turned out to be the best possible scenario - they caught it early, and she won't need chemo or even radiation. Once she's healed up from the lumpectomy, we can kind of pretend this whole thing never happened.

Except that it did.

It turns out that I'm the official family Cancer Sherpa. As Cancer Sherpa, I know what stuff means and how things generally work. I'm the one who explained what margins are in terms of removing a tumor. I know things. I'm like a very sick version of Liam Neeson's "I have a very particular set of skills" character.

The whole thing revived the latent PTSD I have from my mom's breast cancer. You know, that cancer that I like to pretend never happened, except that it did? The cancer that now, with a mere 16 years of distance, we can all agree was horrific?

It's a fine line between sharing my experience and telling stories that aren't mine to tell. I hope my MIL doesn't mind that I share her diagnosis. And I hope my mom doesn't mind that I tell you how even now, even after the dust has long since settled, I am still traumatized and terrified by what she went through, and the scary times our family faced.

My mom is a badass. I think I've covered this. But it's still hard to believe that we are living our lives as if we're normal, everyday people. Sixteen years ago this summer, my mom was pretty sure she wasn't going to make it to Christmas. The rest of us didn't want to entertain this possibility, even though it kept knocking at the door.

Mama was given an 80% chance of reoccurrence. She had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. She went into heart failure on the table. Her body rejected some of the transplanted tissue.

Oh, shiiit.

She told me recently that she still can't believe she went through all that she did. And I opened my big dumb mouth and said, "Well, it's not like you were just going to lay down and die."

She could have. But she didn't, because that's not who she is. And I'm glad.

She's said that she knows she's a bit overzealous when it comes to her new grandbaby. But she explained that she never thought she'd see my brother graduate high school, much less get married or do something totally insane like become a parent. And so, she celebrates.

We're shell-shocked, if we're being honest, even 16 years later. But we celebrate.

And so, I'm celebrating for my MIL, and my sweet husband's family. I will be your Cancer Sherpa, and share what I know only if you really need to know it. Right now, what you need to know is that it's OK to be upset.

But I highly recommend celebrating.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's hard to write when you're up to your eyeballs in it.

After I finally left Corporate America for good, I kind of mourned all that blog fodder. What in the world would I write about if not Creepy Rajeev, the world's best sexual harasser? Or how Corporate Behemoth required me to use a tool that they wouldn't allow me to install on my computer?

It was a time of intense soul-searching.

However, never fear! I have found that crazy is all around us. Case in point: I'm currently working with a client that does everything by committee. A rather disheveled committee wherein everybody is multitasking and no one is really taking charge. Working with these folks is a lot like herding cats.

We have the guy whose email signature is "This is an email from: Bob Smith." Just in case you didn't realize you're reading an email, and that it was from Bob.

We also have the guy who makes final decisions, but then changes his mind after it's too late. You know, like after a billboard is printed and up. Little issues.

Then, there's the guy who promises to do a lot of stuff, doesn't, and then points out what everybody else is doing wrong. He's swell.

And finally, we have the guy who emailed me, took my business card, received 3 emails from me, and then left me a voicemail in which he stated, "I would have emailed you, but I don't have your email address."


Speaking of shit, it turns out that Lil' Frankfurter has inflammatory bowel disease.

Yep. Well, either inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. Or some fungal disease that comes from the Amazon. But we're betting on inflammatory bowel disease. Because who doesn't love the word "bowel?"

Lil' Frank has been on meds for about 2 weeks and, miraculously, has actually gained some weight. This is good, because I felt really, really guilty for calling him "Skeletor," even though it was so fitting because you could count his ribs from across the room. Now, you just have to be next to him to count his ribs.

So, he's still skinny, but he's gaining weight, even though he's still pooping like it's his job. I, personally, would be fine if he didn't work so much, especially since it's disconcerting to see a 5-pound dog produce a 4-pound poo. But mostly, I'm just happy that he's no longer wasting away.

So. Two varieties of shit. That's why I haven't been writing much.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let's talk about ladybits, shall we?

So, the Supreme Court decided that it's OK for a "closely held corporation" to decide not to cover birth control in their employer-provided insurance.

On 1 hand, the 3 employees at the perennially understaffed Hobby Lobby in my hood are all over 70. They are also always on break. I'm pretty sure not having birth control covered by their employer isn't a huge deal.

On the other hand, not all birth control is used for contraception.

Case in point? Me.

Turns out that there are no 2 humans less able to conceive a kid than my husband and I. If you had a word cloud of our skill sets, you'd see all kinds of creative, technical, and cake-based endeavors. However, the term "conception" wouldn't be anywhere. It would be in the next town over, hiding out in a smoky bar, trying to buy a lucky lady a drink.

But you know who's on the pill? Me. The Baroness of Barrenness.

I'm a bit reticent to talk about this, because it's nobody's damned business. But I guess now the Supreme Court is saying that it is. Thanks, 5 old guys, none of whom own nor operate a uterus. You're swell!

So, I have some sort of horrible ladyparts curse that makes my lower abdomen hurt. A lot. Maybe it's polycystic ovarian syndrome. Maybe it's endometriosis. Who's to say? Because ladyparts are so mysterious and research is underfunded, literally no one can say without cutting me open to check it out.

Instead, I opted to go on the pill. It keeps the symptoms in check and seems a hellova lot smarter - and cheaper - than exploratory surgery.

Now, I am blessed to have rockstar health insurance through my husband. But what if I didn't? What if I worked at Hobby Lobby? Would they pay for me to get cut open, but decline to cover medication to make the cutting open unnecessary - all because they don't believe in contraception?


Stand where you will on today's ruling. But remember: I'm the woman who needs birth control. I don't need it to whore around and piss off Jesus. I need it so I can get out of bed and be a productive member of society. And I don't see where that's part of your religious freedom.

Friday, June 27, 2014

May your birthday be excrement-filled.

I just called to wish my most awesome dad a most awesome birthday. Because we just can't seem to help ourselves, the conversation took a bit of a turn.
Me: Oh, I heard back from the vet. Lil' Frankfurter's tests all came back normal. There's nothing wrong with him.

Mom: Well, pssh.

Me: I know, right? There's nothing wrong with him, except he's wasting away.

Dad: He's so thin.

Mom: Did I send you that dog food recipe?

Me: Yeah. But it doesn't matter what I feed him - he just keeps losing weight.

Mom: He eats and he poops, but nothing happens in between.

Me: Right! I mean, he poops like a champion.

Dad: I've always thought so.

Mom: He's just so cute - and you think, "oh, look at how he's sitting in the middle of the patio ... "

Me: ... and then you realize he's taking a giant dump in that delicate little stance.

Dad: He's got good form.

Me: Happy birthday, Dad! Let's talk about poop!

Mom: Well, it could be worse. It's not like we're talking about a human family member.

Dad: No. We're way too classy for that.

Me: We could be all, "Oh, say what you will about Uncle Floyd, but he could really take a dump."

Mom: Well, we all have our special gifts.

Dad: Ha! "You know, with Uncle Floyd, you always knew when it was time to leave the house."

Mom: Yeah! And "You knew it was best to let things air out a bit after Floyd had used the facilities."

Me: Sorry, Dad. This really devolved.

Dad: I would expect nothing less.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh, I'm on my way, I know I am.

Ten years ago this summer, I spent a lot of time alone in a sticky home office. The window A/C unit that had been passed around the family since I was in college whirred away, and I made beaded jewelry.

I had this idea that in addition to being a freelance writer, I'd also be a jewelry artist, selling my wares at art shows. Between the fledgling writing and barely there jewelry careers, I was flat broke. This was before I realized that I like wearing jewelry a lot more than I like making it, and that 1 self-employed trade was plenty.

But I would sit in my uncomfortable, second-hand metal desk chair, night after night, beading bracelets and listening to Cat Stevens. I was still young; that was my fault.

I was alone because my live-in boyfriend was gone all the time. He traveled for work. And when he was in town, he managed to be out of the house. At the gym. With friends. With a particular female friend. Not with me. Not interested in me. I was just starting to admit that perhaps this wasn't going to work out.

I would listen to the Cat Stevens CD that my brother had burned for me illegally off a library album. He'd told me about his Cat Stevens epiphany, about how the music had shifted his outlook. I took the CD, skeptical. But I'd listen to the album, and I'd be overcome with what felt like a giant bubble in my chest. It was overwhelming, like I was about to explode. But I wasn't the exploding kind. I was the nice, make-it-work kind.

I would sit, and I'd bead, and sometimes I'd bead with tears running down my face. I didn't know why. I began to sense that I was on the cusp of something big. I didn't know what it was, or I didn't want to face it yet. But it was a huge change. I was lonely. And I was scared. And I had no idea how to even begin to put any of it into words.

So, I made some truly heinous bracelets, and a few that were OK. My friends bought my jewelry because they are good, kind people. Perhaps they knew that they were investing in my future, providing seed money for my escape. I didn't realize it.

I would sweat and string beads and cry. I thought I was at the end of the world.

Turns out I was only on the edge of the world I had known.

Things got worse before they got better. But they did get better.

This weekend, I gorged myself on free HBO. Seeing Cat Stevens inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made me think of that sticky summer, and that now-battered CD. Yusuf, I'm sorry my brother pirated your music, but I like to think that you understand. I also like to think that you know how appreciative I am of your gift of music. Thank you.

What music defines a period in your life?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Like a butterfly.

I have big, fabulous, very happy news.

Remember the bagger at my local grocery? This was a young man who found bagging very challenging, and who wouldn't make eye contact. Like an abused animal, he seemed to be willing the floor to open up and swallow him whole.

Well, a few weeks ago, I saw someone in the parking lot, wrangling carts. He looked an awful lot like my sweet bagger, except ... he was smiling. He had the most stunning, pearly teeth.

I had to do a double-take. It was, indeed, my bagger. And he was clearly enjoying cart duty. It made my heart so happy.

But then? Then! Yesterday, I was at the grocery - because I end up going like 27 times a week because my husband expects to eat every day - and I saw my bagger again. On my way into the store, he was helping a woman load groceries into her car. She was talking a mile a minute. And my bagger? Probably couldn't get a word in edgewise. But he was smiling.

Well, that was enough to make me float through the store. Which takes a lot, because grocery shoppers are generally idiots who can't manage basic cart etiquette. But I digress.

But then? Then! When I headed back out to the parking lot with my cart o' sustenance, there was my bagger again. It was the end of his shift, and he had a bottle of pop. As he got into his dad's car, he let out a triumphant "Whoop!"

I like to think he was celebrating a job well-done.

I'm so proud.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy @#$&*#$%@# Father's Day.

Now that Father's Day is over, I'm gonna give you the real lowdown on good dads.

Good dads give you a corsage for the dance when you don't have a date.
Good dads carry your crap up stairs into un-air-conditioned dorm rooms in August. And put together your shelves. Like a boss.
 Good dads make you laugh.
And good dads teach you new words.

Now, my dad is a wordsmith, but not in a traditional sense.

The man can cuss.

My brother and I learned all kinds of vocabulary anytime there was a project of the home-improvement nature. Words were linked together to create magical new meanings, some of which I still don't understand. What, exactly, does "Jiminey Christmas" mean, anyway?

I still don't know. But I learned this: Words have power.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued a good story. You could get away with just about anything if you could spin it into a captivating - and preferably funny - tale.

Words have power.

For me, words gave me the power to do something with my life besides live in my parents' basement. So, even if my dad thought he was just having words with a window screen, or entertaining his kids with a very detailed story about how garbanzo beans come from The Valley of Garbonz? He was teaching us the power of words.

Well, and he was ensuring that I would eventually move out and become a writer.

I'm forever grateful. Besides, my other major life skill is making grilled-cheese sandwiches, and it's rough going making a living just serving up Kraft slices on wheat. Writing is much better.

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Avoiding jail for fun and profit.

Thanks for the well-wishes and knife-safety tips. I hope the saga of how I stabbed myself with a steak knife can be a learning experience for us all.

The exciting news is that my finger has now turned purple. It's weird how the wound is on 1 side of my finger, but it's the other side that's now the color of eggplant. At first glance, I thought, "Wow - this is just like when we read Steinbeck's 'The Red Pony' in 9th grade, and our teacher had to explain to us that the boy's arm turning black meant that infection was spreading and he was going to die."

And then I thought, "If I die from stabbing myself with a friggin' steak knife, I am going to be so pissed. Like, I will find the Ginsu family and haunt them for all eternity. Also, if I'd known I was going to die, I wouldn't have spent the last few weeks on Weight Watchers."

But ... so far, so good.

And maybe it wasn't "The Red Pony," but it was some depressing book wherein everything was dusty. I read it 25 years ago.


So, I stabbed myself, managed to cheat death, and then I almost got arrested. Yes, all in the same day.

See, I have these wonderful friends who live in Michigan. And Michigan is home to many amazing wineries. That make wine. That is delicious.

Also, you can't carry on liquids when you fly. And I'm not going to pay $25 to check a bag because come on, and also, the wine bottles might break anyway.

So, when I visited Michigan and some of its wineries, my pals were all, "No problem! We'll mail you any wine you want to buy!"

We'd been to enough tastings by this point that mailing wine to my "Don't mail wine here or you'll be in big trouble" state seemed like a good idea. My friend Jen was confident. "Don't worry," she said. "The lady in my mail room at work helps me mail wine all the time!"

Jen works at a church. I love my friends.

So, Jen mailed me 2 bottles of wine.

Time passed. One day, I got a knock on my door. It was my mail carrier, who isn't the strongest master of the English language. What I got out of him was, "Package, problem, go to office, see manager, liquor."


So, the day of my massive stab wound was the day I was headed to the post office to face the liquor-mailing music. I was nervous, and carefully planned my outfit to look responsible yet contrite. I practiced looking surprised to find that someone had attempted to mail me alcoholic beverages. "Why, I don't even imbibe," I'd say with a ladylike and somewhat Southern drawl.

Despite my planning, I still had visions of being immediately handcuffed and sent to Mail Jail. Hopefully, my fellow mailjailbirds would see my stab wound and know that I wasn't one to be trifled with. Hopefully, I wouldn't get my ass kicked for using terms like "trifled with." Hopefully, Mail Jail would have cable teevee.

The line at the post office was long, and, of course, there was just 1 lady behind the counter. She had a long, chatty conversation with another lady in Chinese while the line grew. People shuffled their weight. We all tried, unsuccessfully, not to be annoyed.

Finally, it was my turn. I explained what my mail carrier had said. The mail lady left to search for my package. She came back empty-handed. "I can't find your package," she said, as if this were my problem to fix.

I explained the situation again. She went to the back again, and I felt the stares of my former line comrades drilling into the back of my skull.

Finally, the mail lady returned - and she was none too happy with me.

She held up an opened box that contained broken glass.

"Dis box has wine in it," she said. I prepared myself to play dumb about the state laws prohibiting mailing alcohol, but never had the chance. She went on, "Dis box has wine, but was sent MEDIA MAIL! YOU TRY TO DEFRAUD FEDERAL GOVERNMENT! YOU STEAL MONEY FROM GOVERNMENT!"

This was not at all how I pictured this going. I did my best "I'm taking this very seriously" look and didn't have to pretend to be shocked. I said, "I see. I'm sorry."

The mail lady looked at me with disgust. "We let you go dis time. But next time? NEXT TIME YOU PAY!"

And with that, she shoved the box at me and called the next person to the counter.

One of the bottles of wine had shattered, but the second bottle was intact and ready to toast my successful avoidance of Mail Jail.

As I left the post office, I wasn't sure if the folks in line were looking upon me with pride or disgust. I like to think that they were silently applauding as they all clutched packages containing items that were fragile, liquid, and perishable.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How I stabbed myself and almost got arrested.

This morning, it was all business as usual. The dogs were starving and on the verge of death, and I was taking approximately 700 years (that's 4900 years in dog time) to prep their breakfasts.

Since Lil' Frank is skeletal and bald, I put a little fish oil on his food every morning. This means that every few days, I stab a fish oil capsule so I can pinch a few drops out onto his food. He only weighs 5 pounds, so he can't have a lot of the oil. And so I pinch out a few drops every day until the capsule is empty, and then we wash and repeat.

This morning, I stabbed a new capsule. Except instead of fish oil, blood came gushing out. Because I didn't stab the capsule - I stabbed the side of my finger.

At first, I was all, "Wow! That's really a cascade of bodily fluid!" And then when it didn't magically stop bleeding when I did my 1 and only first aid move of holding it under running water? Well, then shit started to get real.

I wrapped my finger in a paper towel. The dogs were still crying for their food. The paper towel turned red. The dogs started crying in slow motion. I very slowly got a fresh paper towel and somehow wobbled to the kitchen table, grabbing an ice pack from the freezer on the way.

Now, I didn't know what I was going to do with the ice pack, but I thought it would be helpful. I ended up seated at the table, ice pack on my chest, wrapped finger held above my head. The room spun and I wondered how in the name of Florence Nightingale and Steve Jobs I was going to get my phone, which was upstairs. I needed my phone to call my husband to come home and take me to the friggin' ER because I stabbed myself with a steak knife at friggin' 8:15 in the morning and was clearly suffering massive blood loss.

I hoped I wouldn't bleed out before he got home.

I sweated profusely and noticed that the dogs stopped whining. Their silence was a very "oh, shiiiiiiit - she's the only one with thumbs!" kind of silence.

Time was long dog time. My eyes didn't work. The ice pack was my BFF.

But then? Then I realized that I had kind of stopped hemorrhaging. 

And like a Christmas miracle, I could suddenly see again.

After a few minutes, I pieced together that I had basically passed out from seeing my own blood. And my pajamas were soaked, because evidently you sweat when you pass out? Or at least klassy ladies who stab themselves with steak knives at 8:15 a.m. do?

Finally, I got up to survey the damage. I wasn't insane - there was blood in the sink and in the dog food dishes. It was so bright! So red! So dangerous!

So, I cleaned up the crime scene and fed the dogs - with no fish oil. Then, I trekked upstairs to secure a bandage and my phone, which is now Velcroed to my body at all times. And by "Velcroed," I mean "shoved in my bra," because, again, there are certain things that klassy ladies do.

My first order of business with said phone? I ordered some liquid fish oil. In a bottle. That doesn't require the use of any sharp objects.

Up next: How could the day get any better? How about pissing off the federal government!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Advice for the new graduates.

Yesterday, at lunch with my coworkers, the talk turned to graduation. And commencement speakers.

While I think that college commencement speakers have a chance of leaving an impression, I think we can all agree that high school graduation speakers are, for the most part, a giant waste of time and oxygen. I can say this because I was 1 of the speakers at my high school graduation. I gave what is probably 1 of the worst speeches ever, and I'd like to personally apologize to every human crammed inside that sweltering school gym.

Also, 18-year-olds don't listen to anything.

But if you could go back and give your 18-year-old self advice, what would you say?

My coworkers were hilarious. A flood of words rushed out over our table:
  • Don't do drugs!
  • Don't have sex with that guy!
  • Don't take out all those student loans!
  • Don't get married!
  • Don't date him, him, or him!
Lots of "don'ts." And we all agreed that our 18-year-old selves wouldn't have paid any attention. But there was also the unspoken understanding that all of those horrible mistakes got us where we are today, and were somehow necessary. Horrible, yet necessary - much like vaccinations, or family vacations.

To my 18-year-old self, I'd probably just say this:

Everything is going to be fine. Wear sunscreen.

Because I was wound a bit tightly, and am just now learning how to let the fuck go. Also, sun damage is no joke.

So, happy graduation season. And if you're in Iowa, enjoy eating ham buns at a party inside a cleaned-out garage. My husband makes fun of ham buns, acting like they're just ham sandwiches. But we know the difference.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Is your summer soundtrack ready?

NPR posed an important query - really, a question for the ages: What's your go-to driving song, the tune that's perfect for rolled-down windows and wind-blown hair?

I poured over the comments because, really? I'm always on the lookout for new tunes - or tunes I'd forgotten. Some of bands I'd never heard of just made me feel hopelessly square and unhip (The Japandroids? Who?). Other bands, I thought the commenters must be insane (Pink Floyd? Really? Is it legal to play that music outside of your parents' basement?).

Perhaps my window for new things is rather narrow.

When I got my first car with a cassette player in the summer of '96, I made a mix tape within about 2 hours of getting my ride home. That tape has since been lost to time - or my basement. I remember that it had "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley on it. And the live version of "So Lonely" by The Police. Other than that? Hmm.

If required to make a windows-down mix tape now, here's what I would concoct:
It's a shame that K-tel no longer makes compilations, because I would obviously be their top programmer.

What songs would be on your windows-down mix tape? What am I missing?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My last day as a 38-year-old lady.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 39.

With so many of my friends freaking out about turning 40, 39 seems like a non-event. For that matter, turning 40 seems like none of my concern - kind of like circumcision. I know some people get really worked up about it, but it's not really my issue.

I guess that means that I like getting older. I'm happier.

Actually, I was way more Zen before I found a white eyebrow today, and before I spent 2 hours talking about marketing with a funeral director.

But still. I am happy.

I'm happy, and I'm thankful for another year. I'm glad I'm not dead yet. Too much to do.

Here's what I've learned - in no particular order:
  • Marrying a computer nerd means you'll never have to set up a router again. Totally worth it.
  • Sunscreen works. Use it religiously. You'll thank me at your 20-year reunion.
  • Having a bad dog isn't necessarily a reflection on you as a person. Some dogs - like some people - are just a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket. Having 1 of those dogs - or people - in your family doesn't mean you're a bad person.
  • Order dessert.
  • Get your thyroid tested.
  • Living in an old house is a great way to hide your housekeeping skills or lack thereof. That weird smell? Old house. That crooked wall? Totally made you overlook the giant dust bunny, right?
  • If you feel like going to bed early, go to bed early. It feels decadent, and it's free.
  • A kind, loving partner is worth the wait. You'll be glad you didn't settle. 
  • Being the favorite aunt is super-cool, but sometimes, not being the mom is really hard.
  • People say the wrong thing. Ninety percent of the time, they didn't mean it. Let it go. Or at least try.
  • Expensive bras are worth it, especially if you're a lady of a certain ... biological wealth.
  • Worrying is, sadly, not an Olympic sport. Put your imagination to better use. Like blogging!
  • If it makes you feel bad, don't eat it. (Evidently, this doesn't apply to dogs and poo. They still eat it.)
  • It doesn't matter how old you are - you always need your parents.
  • French onion dip on a BLT is pretty much the best thing ever.
  • No one knows what they're doing. We're all faking it, to varying degrees of success.
  • Because I hate cleaning my car, paying to have it detailed is worth every penny. Sometimes, it's OK to throw money at a problem to make it go away.
  • Don't badmouth your friend's ex because she might get back with him and then you'll feel dumb and she won't forget what you said. Unless he's a total tool, then eventually, she'll tell you how right you were.
  • Everybody loves Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler." And if they say they don't, they're lying.
What have you learned so far?


Wanna celebrate my birthday? Like noodleroux on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Yes, I'm trying new things, even at my advanced age. I hope I don't break a hip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In which I run around my house nekkid, licking all the stuff.

My Guy and I have been blessed to host various and sundry family members over the last 2 weeks.

I genuinely like these people. They are good people.

I've been cooking. And cleaning. And changing sheets. And washing towels.

The good news out of all of this is that holy banana sandwich, I have found my life calling. Clearly, I was put on this Earth to be a spokesmodel for Bar Keepers Friend - even if the product's lack of apostrophe makes me cry. This stuff is freakin' magic!

Let's say you're like me, and you live in an old house. And you've scrubbed and scrubbed your home's original tub, and it's fine. But once you introduce Bar Keepers Friend to your tub? Your tub will shine like new! Years of gunk that you didn't even know was there will rinse right down the drain ... along with a few layers of skin from your hands because you forgot to wear gloves. But it's so, so worth it.

My only regret is that I didn't take before and after shots (of the tub, not my hands). But it's probably for the best, as the after shots would be so bright that readers would be blinded, and I'd get sued, and it would be a whole thing.

So, that's the good news.

The bad news about hosting a bunch of family across a few weeks is that you get a little crazy and just need a little alone time. OK, maybe a lot crazy, to the point that once you're alone, you want to run around your house nekkid, just because you can. And maybe make nekkid snow angels in the dirt on your floors. And maybe lick all your furniture to mark it as your own, because you're a girl and the idea of peeing to mark just seems like too much trouble, even in your somewhat irrational state.

The few friends I've mentioned this to have seemed more than a little alarmed. Is this whole licking thing not a normal impulse?

Granted, I grew up in a house where licking a cookie meant that it was yours. It was viewed as a somewhat offbeat tactic, but acceptable because the ownership of baked goods is a big deal. Perhaps my peers don't have this same point of reference?

You will probably be relieved to know that instead of spreading saliva, I've just been going to bed really, really early. And ignoring laundry. And admiring my visage in the reflection from my better-than-new tub.

You're welcome.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

When Mom needs an intervention.

This week, my amazing mom has been kind enough to let me interview her and feature her on this here blog. If my blog were a movie, this post would be the DVD extra that propels you to buy the DVD. Why? We're dishing the dirt on Mother's Little Helper.

Me: I would be remiss if we didn't address your addiction. When did you get your first library card?

Mama C: Busted. I thought we would get thru this without talking about it. Sigh. Well, we lived on River Heights, across the Meredith Willson footbridge from the library, so it was 1st grade or earlier. (Ed. note: Mama C grew up in the town on which "The Music Man" was based. It's a famous foot bridge!) I'm sure I wasn't in kindergarten yet when my sisters would take me over there. I don't remember picture books, but I do remember they had shelves and shelves of biographies in the children's section ... they had orange covers ... Johnny Appleseed, Abe Lincoln, Molly Pitcher, all the presidents. I read them all. And we had the Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, R.N. series at home.

Me: Did you set out to raise readers, or were you just stuck taking us to the library with you?

Mama C: It was purely selfish on my part -- you had no choice because I HAD to have books to read.

Me: I respect that. How many books do you average a week?

Mama C: Back in the day, I would check out 10-12 books a week. Now I usually have about 3 books going ... actual books plus what's on my Kindle.  And if I'm down to only one book, I need backups. Having to wear glasses cut back on my reading to some extent cuz I can't do my hair and wear glasses to read, but I can read and fold clean clothes.

Me: You used to read while you were doing your hair????

Mama C: Of course. Blow drying or curling my hair. Emptying the dishwasher. Cooking.

Me: Well, emptying the dishwasher, sure. But handling a hot curling iron while reading? I'm not sure whether I should award you a medal or call Dr. Drew. Mostly, I'm impressed. And I love you.


Happy Mothers' Day, everyone. May your addictions be good ones.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Interview with Mom: On creativity, friends, and profanity.

My mom is a saint for putting up with all these crazy interview questions. In the final installment of my Mothers' Day celebration / interrogation, Mom opens up about taking time for herself, the value of girlfriends, and being a lady.

Me: I've always thought of you as an artist. Do you identify yourself that way?

Mama C: Not as an artist. Creative, sure. I was never 'good enough' as an artist because I define that as painting or drawing or sculpture. I could master techniques but was never satisfied with how I used them. But I definitely have an urge to be creative, to do something with my hands.

Me: Do you feel like you've found your niche with quilting?
One of Mom's many gorgeous quilts, and a shih tzu who approves.
Mama C: I love the colors and feel of the fabrics. Walking into a quilt store, I'm just on overload. I love the satisfaction of putting a quilt top together, although I usually follow a pattern. And the fact that there is a useful quilt at the end of the process is gratifying. I do know that I get cranky and irritable [or just more so than usual] when I haven't quilted for awhile, so maybe this is my cozy niche.

Me: I get hung up on the "usefulness" aspect - perhaps it's a Midwestern thing. So many of the crafts and crap I see on Pinterest, I think, "Yeah, you could do that - but WHY?" With a quilt, it's a creative endeavor with a very solid end result. People need blankets or they get cold and die.

Mama C: Yup. I love the idea of somebody snuggling under a quilt I made on a cold evening. I've also found great joy and satisfaction in being a 'Quilt Fairy' and swooping in unexpectedly on people to give them a quilt.

Me: That is the best! Do you schedule time to quilt, or does it just kind of happen organically?

Mama C: The problem is that I forget to take ME time to quilt ... ya know, the bucket with the holes punched along the rim or the pyramid of champagne glasses that won't fill til the top one gets filled? So, I think the secret is to cross out an afternoon to quilt, just like you would for a meeting or appointment or whatever else was going on.

Me: This sounds like a good rule about just about anything. Women seem really skilled at putting ourselves last.

Mama C: Women tend to be nurturing and we take care of everybody within our vicinity, but we forget to take care of ourselves. Where is it written that we can't sit down to read a book or quilt or sit on the patio in the sun? I'm really bad at that, then I have a strict talk with myself and it gets better ... and then I forget.

Me: Do you think girlfriends help?

Mama C: YES. [I censored my response] To have a close friend move away or die just leaves a hole you don't know how to fill. Who can you talk with, bitch about things to? Who will tell you you're not crazy? Who can you just sit with in silence and enjoy the company? I read something somewhere [who knows] about people coming into your life when you need them, but not necessarily staying for long and I think that's true. But definitely yes, you do need girlfriends so you have somebody to laugh, cry, and hold dear. And reconnecting with past girlfriends is a real gift -- they know all your history.

Me: Was there an "eff yeah" in there originally?

Mama C: Um, perhaps ... but I am a lady of grace and dignity and I will not stoop to profanity. [snicker]

Me: Umm, OK. Sure.


She's pretty great, isn't she?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Interview with Mom: Yes, she really almost left us on the side of the road.

It's almost Mothers' Day! I'm celebrating all week with my favorite mom. That's my mom. And no, you can't have her.

Yesterday, Mom gave up the secret to marriage. And today? Well, a mom's gotta talk kids at some point.

Me: So, what was the hardest part of parenting, besides not leaving us on the side of the road even when you wanted to? What has been the best part?

Mama C: The hardest part is letting you two make your own mistakes because I knew you wouldn't listen to advice from a parental unit. A few times we did make you do things that we felt were important, but generally you had to learn to make good choices. Side of the road almost happened, though.

(Ed. note: Circa 1983, Mom traveled to the next town over - kids in tow - to go to Target. Poochie was 3, and I was 8. If memory serves, we were little monsters the entire trip. On the ride home, Mom had had it. She pulled her Buick Regal over to the side of the highway, in front of the Pioneer Feed plant. She used a chilly, dead-serious tone we'd never heard before. I began to calculate how long it would take me to walk home 20 miles. Although she didn't physically remove us from the car, whatever she said [the words are lost to time] really got the desired effect. No one said a word the rest of the ride home - nor the rest of the day. The episode lives on in family lore - obviously.)

Oh, the best parts ... unexpected/spontaneous hugs from you two whether as kids, teenagers or adults. They just melt my heart. Seeing the adults you and Poochie have grown to be -- loving, kind, caring people. Uh-huh ... need another Kleenex.

Me: We take after our parents.

What's your experience been like as a grandma?

Mama C: Everyone tells you it's awesome as they bore you with endless pictures of ugly babies. But Nora is so wonderful. And beautiful and smart and all those other things. I am overwhelmed with love, with the miracle of her. And tearful [hard to believe, huh?] when I think that my mother never knew what wonderful children I have, my dad didn't really 'know' you and Poochie. I think when you're the parent, you're so busy taking care of the baby/child you forget to see the wonder of it all, but as a grandparent you just sit back and watch.


I love "the wonder of it all," don't you?

Tomorrow, don't miss Mom's thoughts on creativity, friendship, and that crappy habit women have of taking care of everybody else first.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Interview with Mom: The secret to wedded bliss.

The week-long celebration of Mothers' Day - and my rad mama in particular - continues!

Yesterday, Mom talked about style and raising a feminist. Today? She talks about her gajillion years of marriage, all to the same man.

Me: So, you've been married since about the dawn of time. What have you learned from 45-plus years with the same guy?

Mama C: As his mother said after almost 70 years of marriage ... "you just take it one day at a time."

Some days the little stuff drives you crazy, some days it's endearing to know exactly what he's gonna do or say. But when I look at him, I remember that really cute guy with the killer smile and those blue eyes from so long ago and I know that he will be there to hold my hand not only on the good days but on the really bad ones too.

And now I need a Kleenex.

Me: I love you so much.

I think that was a gift you gave me and Poochie, too - even when it was obvious to us as kids that you and Dad kind of wanted to kill each other, we knew you looooooved each other, and nobody was going anywhere.

Mama C: Hmmm - nobody was going anywhere ... maybe that's because I kept telling your dad how happy he was. "Repeat after me, Steve."

Me: What advice would you give those of us who want to be married and stay married but kind of have no idea what we're doing?

Mama C: Seriously, I think Gramma said it all. Marriage is not always easy, but it is a commitment that you've made to another person. It takes work. Sometimes you have to give [and give and give ...] and sometimes you need to take. I wish it wasn't so easy for people to end a marriage cuz they don't take it seriously enough. I certainly don't have all the answers, or even some of them. But one day at a time is good advice.


One day at a time is how I'm taking this interview, too. Tomorrow? Learn the truth about that time Mom almost left her kids on the side of the highway and never looked back. Really.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Interview with Mom: Raising strong women and lookin' good.

In honor of Mothers' Day, we're talking to my mom. Yesterday, she dished on her real-life "Mad Men" experiences. Today, she tells all when it comes to raising a daughter and finding her personal style.

Me: How did your "Mad Men"-esque experiences impact how you raised your daughter?

Mama C: I'd like to think she learned the value of herself, although I don't think any of us really do. We're basically conditioned to doubt ourselves. To stand up for who she was, not take any crap.

Realistically, we played house and school for hours on end - typically female roles. So I don't think I instilled radical feminist beliefs in her except by accident. But I think she knew [and knows!] that she could do anything as well as anybody else, male or female.

Me: Well, for what it's worth, when some idiot on the playground attempted to belittle me by saying I was "just a girl," it didn't work, because I had no earthly clue what he was talking about.

Mama C: Thank you for that!

Me: I've always experienced you as being very feminine – your nails are impeccable, and you’d rather die than leave the house without earrings. Have you always been a girly girl?

Mama C: You have to remember that I grew up in an era of starched dresses, hats, gloves and mary janes. I remember slacks because you had to wear them UNDER your dress when it was really cold outside and you were walking to school. Even in high school and my two years of college, I was still wearing skirts [mini tho they were]. I did wear jeans once in a variety show in high school. And hair - once I was in high school, it was the era of teasing and hair spray ... flipped, of course, which was tricky. Sleeping in curlers. Ack!

Me: In my mind, though, you knew all the tricks. So glamorous! Who / what influenced your style, either back in the day or now? Also, it kind of kills me that you remember the one time you wore jeans in high school. I must have been a huge disappointment.

Mama C: No you weren't ... I was envious. I would have loved to be able to wear jeans. Oh, and we didn't have panty hose either so there were the undergarments and nylons and runs. Egads, So ... I really wanted to be Audrey Hepburn, but I wasn't built like her. I looked at the magazines for trendy styles for hair/clothes. I watched what my friends wore. What was worn on TV. Truthfully, I worked to buy my clothes, so my wardrobe wasn't very extensive. I've always wanted to just have a classic look that never goes out of style. Haven't found it yet, but I still clean up pretty good. Is that called peer pressure?

Me: You know, Audrey probably would have killed for your rack.

Mama C: Hahahahaha. I will keep that thought in mind always.


My goodness, I love this woman.

Tomorrow? Mom talks marriage. A lot of marriage. Because she's been doing it for a long time.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Interview with Mom: My mama could write for "Mad Men."

I recently spotted a church sign that read, "MOTHERS ARE A GIFT FROM GOD."

And then I barfed.

OK, not really. I just rolled my eyes really hard. Perhaps I'm a teensy bit sensitive, but it seems like Mothers' Day has morphed into The Canonization of All Mothers Day. As a non-mama, this makes me a bit testy, as if the world is closing in with pitchforks and torches, ready to teach me once and for all that I have no value as a female human since I'm not a mom.

Possibly jumping to conclusions, table for one?

But after my initial eye roll, the church sign initiated this thought process:
  • What EVER.
  • Well, actually, my mom truly is a gift from God.
  • My mom is awesome.
  • Mothers' Day, I will focus on my mom!
Sadly, this does not mean that I'm spending this week just staring at my mom, following her around, gazing at her with adoration. Although that would be fun for the whole family.

No, instead, I interviewed my sweet mama. She is lovely and amazing and knows a lot of things about a lot of stuff. Also, she's patient and puts up with my random requests.

Here's Part I of our chat.

Me: OK, let's get the big question out of the way: I'm your favorite, right?

Mama C: You are my very favorite daughter!!

Me: Ha. Yeah, I am. (Ed. note: I'm the only daughter.) When did you know you wanted to be a mom - or did you?

Mama C: I guess I always wanted to be a mom ... played with many dolls. I was of an age that I ended up on the line between 'you get married and have kids' and 'I'm gonna burn my bra and change the world' attitudes.

Me: What did you think of the feminist movement? What impact did it have on you?

Mama C: Again, see above comment. I was caught in the middle -- young enough not to be happy with the way things were "supposed" to be with women being second-class citizens, but not quite young enough to really rock the boat. I worked in the "Mad Men" environment, which could be very difficult. I believed that if I could do a job as well as a man, I should have the opportunity to have that job and be paid the same as a man. But I never worked in a situation where that really became an issue because of where I was employed ... not a big corporation, etc.

Me: I know "Mad Men" is a great show, and, well, Jon Hamm - come on. But I can't watch it because it's really upsetting to see how the women are treated. How did you deal with all those tiny slights?

Mama C: I could definitely write a few episodes of "Mad Men." Hard to comprehend, perhaps, but I was 19, 20, 21, working in an environment where my boss was the epitome of a gentleman and the rest of the men harassed me. They thought nasty cartoons or items in a desk drawer were hysterical. One thought the secretaries all needed shoulders rubbed when he came up behind them while they sat at their desks. The men were too happy to get a reaction and I learned to shut the desk drawer without comment and to suddenly scoot my chair backwards with satisfying results.

Me: HA! I hope you had one of those chairs with the big metal adjuster thing on the back.

Mama C: You know, I did!!! … And not to brag or anything, as your Dad has said, I was 'hot' and I wore incredibly short skirts and have great legs. Don't know how I did it. Okay - moving on.

Me: You can't help it that you're incredibly good looking.

Mama C: And my daughter is sooooo much like me.

Me: Damned straight. (Ed note: I should be so lucky.)

Tommorrow ... find out what Mom has to say about raising a daughter and finding personal style.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Abe Lincoln + cheese sauce = romantic vacation.

My Guy and I went on a little belated anniversary celebration road trip. Because we are collectively 800 years old, we traveled to Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln. Or, as we now call him, Abe. Because that's how we roll.
Us chillin' with the A to the L. And in no way is this a completely unflattering, psycho killer photo of me. Nope. No way.
The museum and Abe's house were mega cool. Like any good trip, they left us wanting to learn more, more, more! Did you know Abe is the only president to hold a patent?


My Guy and I stayed at a quaint inn in what was the first upscale apartment building in Springfield. An upscale apartment building built by a self-made awesome businesswoman. In 1909. No biggie.

The inn met My Guy's 1 and only criteria for hotel stays: we didn't have to eat breakfast at the same table as a bunch of randoms. However, we got to listen in on the breakfast conversations of some interesting folks.

One woman was regaling her man friend with how she found out her dad was shacked up with a girlfriend even though he was in theory living with her mom. Hint: If your boyfriend is still married, don't have a picture on your desk of his grandkid, and then tell all your coworkers that the cute baby is your boyfriend's grandchild.

Another table spent their breakfast discussing the Holocaust. Instead of being thoughtful, this convo was peppered with comments like, "Do you know how many camps were in Poland? A lot. Since I'm a teacher, I teach my kids that."

And then there was the table that was trying to figure out what movie that woman from that one show was in. And because it's rude to eavesdrop, I had to use superhuman strength not to be all, "'The Year of Living Dangerously!' It was 'The Year of Living Dangerously,' which I've never even seen, but I know because I'm a human IMDB!"

Sigh. Even on vacation, I'm working.

Speaking of working it, the husband and I totally ate our way around town. It was good. We are now fat. And on our last night in town, we took on the local specialty, The Horseshoe.

The horseshoe is a piece of Texas toast with the meat of your choice piled on top. Then, that's covered with a gallon of cheese sauce. And then the whole mess is suffocated with about 7 pounds of French fries.
Behold the culinary awesomeness!
When this entrée arrived at our table, My Guy moaned just a bit. Then he asked me, "What do we doooo?"

Well, we dug in. Or, more accurately, I chowed down on my spinach salad and ate some of his horseshoe's fries.

Half a horseshoe later, My Guy was kind of whimpering. It was delicious, but it was a bit much. Like all road trips, there comes a time to go home.

It was time to go home and eat nothing but rice for several days. We're eating rice, and we're sad about the lack of eavesdropping opportunities in our house.