Thursday, April 30, 2015

Toast to an old friend.

I had to say good-bye to a dear friend. We'd been through a lot together. This is hard.

See, when I got my first apartment, my grandma gave me an extra toaster. She preferred the one she'd had for 50 years, and I couldn't blame her - it made the best toast. Someone had given her this "new" toaster, and she'd kept it as a back-up, but never used it. When she gave me this back-up toaster, it was in the box. And the box contained coupons for 10 cents off a loaf of bread. The coupons expired in 1978.

This was 1996.

So, The Toaster and I began a beautiful relationship.

I love me some toast, and The Toaster never failed me. We moved 9 times together, but the toast never changed. It was crunchy but not burnt, soft but not gooey. The Toaster was from a time when men were men and appliances were appliances. The Toaster was built to last.

When I got married and My Guy asked if we should register for a new toaster, I scoffed. There would be no other toaster. There was One True Toaster. The 3 of us settled into a happy home.

A few months ago, The Toaster sort of popped his lid. His metal casing kind of exploded, and I couldn't get it to pop back together. Luckily, I am married to A Man, and he did some sort of manly magic to right The Toaster. Everything was fine. It was so fine, in fact, that The Toaster and I experienced a kind of Toast Renaissance. I rediscovered toast - cinnamon toast, peanut butter toast, even toast with a runny egg and A-1 Steak Sauce. Everything was great.

Until last weekend.

Last weekend, I pulled The Toaster out of his nest in the lazy susan. When I set him on the kitchen counter, his guts just kind of went everywhere. The metal casing went all cattywampus, and the lever for assigning the level of toastiness popped off and flew across the room. It was bad. Real bad.

My Guy spent about 20 minutes that night piecing The Toaster back together. But even when things looked OK-ish, the lever still wouldn't smoosh back together. And then there was the little detail about The Toaster buzzing violently whenever we plugged it in.

"Babe, this just isn't safe," my sweet husband said. "It's time. It's time to get a new toaster."

I ordered the highest rated metal toaster I could find on Amazon that didn't cost a gajillion dollars. I love me some toast, but there is no way I'm spending more than $40 on a toaster. The new toaster arrived a few days ago, but I couldn't even open the box.

The Toaster was still on the kitchen counter.

I just wasn't ready.

So, here's a photographic retrospective of my time with The Toaster. I encourage you to listen to Boyz II Men's "It's so hard to say good-bye to yesterday" or maybe Sarah McLaughlin's "I will remember you" while perusing this album.

The Toaster was a super fun dude. We had some good times.
Road trip!
Ain't no party like an appliance party cuz an appliance party don't stop unless someone throws a breaker!
This was an epic night. The Toaster didn't remember much the next day. But he was in better shape than that drunk-ass blender. That dude can never hold his liquor.
The Toaster and I had quiet times, too. He was a particular fan of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
Once things went bad, we tried everything to make The Toaster feel better. The ace bandage didn't even help. And if Bactine can't fix it? Well, you're in trouble.
In the end, we opted for a Viking funeral. It was so hard, but it was what he wanted.
If you need me, I'll be home, eating untoasted bread and raising a glass to a friend who gave all he had to give.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The cold, hard, dead truth about being a grown-up.

I saw the mouse poo in the silverware drawer and only had a moment to process that hey, there's shit on my utensils for the second time in 5 days before I heard the dogfight.

I abandoned the poo and looked out the window. On the patio, 90-pound Big Doodle and 7-pound Lil' Frankfurter were playing tug-of-war with some sort of toy. And they were really into it, their play fighting on the verge of real fighting. Except that they don't have toys outside. And the toy they were fighting over looked a lot like a squirrel.

Next thing I knew, I was outside, broom in hand, and someone was screaming. It might have been me.

I waved the broom I use to sweep poop off the patio. The dog kids were nonplussed. As my screaming reached octaves that only dogs can hear, the giant fluffball and tiny Chipotle burrito of a dog both dropped their end of the squirrel. They eyed each other warily, each waiting for the opportunity to snatch the squirrel and run.

I waved the poop broom and screeched. The dogs gave up and went inside. My husband and I passed each other in the doorway, me going in, he going out to check out the squirrel. I stood at the door and pulled my shirt over my face until he came back inside, grim-faced.

"Well," he said, "It's still alive. I'm hoping it's just in shock. Let's just leave it and see what happens."

"Don't let the dogs kiss you ever, ever again," I said.
"What? We're nice guys. We didn't even kill that squirrel."

And then we went about our day, like it was just another normal day. Sure, we had a maybe-dying squirrel right outside our door and mouse poo all over our silverware. Pssh! No big whoop!

Nothing makes a tiny kitchen feel bigger than having to Clorox wipe every single surface. By the time I was done sanitizing my Kleenex-sized kitchen, my husband was conveniently asleep and the dogs had to go potty.

Oh, hell.

I checked on our squirrel friend. He had gone to the great tree in the sky. But just his spirit. He conveniently left his carcass on my patio. Thanks, pal.

I got 3 Target bags and a shovel. I layered 2 of the bags into a little pocket next to the carcass. And as I used an awkward baggie/shovel maneuver to get the body into the bags, I thought back about how I wanted to date and/or get married because I needed someone to take care of carcass removal.

But there ain't no outrunning being an adult. Sometimes, it's your turn to bag up the dead squirrel.

A few days later, a friend stopped by with her 9-year-old daughter. As fate would have it, there was a dead chipmunk on my front porch. Because I keep an elegant home. And it's a dangerous season for small woodland creatures.

My friend and I both tried to redirect the 9-year-old. However, the girl was obsessed with the dead chipmunk. "Do you think it's sleeping? No way, it's dead! That's soooo grooooss! Ewww! It's totally dead! I can't believe I'm so close to something that's dead! It's so disGUSTing!"

Her mom and I just looked at each other. In the grand scheme of adulthood, a dead chipmunk is pretty tame - way easier to flip into a Target bag than a squirrel, that's for sure. And less of a pain in the ass than mice in the kitchen.

We let the girl be grossed out. Her time would come.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

An open letter to my husband on our 4th anniversary.

My sweet -

Last weekend is a perfect example of our marriage.

Friday night, I was tired and cranky. I was totally your dream wife. Then, I realized that there were mouse turds in the silverware drawer.

If I were a 3-year-old, I would have had a full-blown temper tantrum. As a 39-year-old, I had a half-assed temper tantrum. Perhaps I am out of practice.

But you, voice o' reason, said, "You know, you don't have to clean the entire kitchen right this second. It can wait. Come sit."

And so I did. And then things started to be OK. Thank you for that.

Saturday, we had the bright idea to "just go look" at IKEA. Of course, this meant that we found ourselves standing outside everyone's favorite Swedish superstore at 9 p.m. as it was closing, surrounded by three ginomous couch boxes that - whoops! - weren't all going to fit in the truckasaurus.

And the latch to fold down the back seat was broken. Ha!

You were the brawn. I was the brains who thought to call a friend who lived nearby and had an SUV. You managed to get the back seat of the truckasaurus down. I managed to stop laughing like a stressed-out hyena. We got home and the couch got home with us. It worked.

Sunday? Sunday, we worked together to rearrange furniture, and you put together our new couch. I know assembling IKEA furniture is responsible for the demise of many relationships, but I think we weathered the storm well. It might have something to do with you being a fix-it genius and me leaving the house.

I appreciate you.

Damn. You're handsome.
And Sunday night? We sat on our new couch and watched "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," because we'd never seen it and felt like we were missing a cultural must-have. I covered my face through about half of the movie. And you kindly and patiently told me, "Not yet ... oooh! ... yeah, definitely not yet ... keep 'em covered ... well ... OK, I think it's safe now."

You are a true pal and partner and prevented me from having nightmares for the next 7 years. Thank you.

Also? You surprised me with graham crackers and frosting while we watched (or didn't watch) the movie. Because you are full of surprises and fun.

You are a true partner and friend. You make me laugh every day and teach me about compassion and computers on a regular basis. I am so blessed to be your wife - or, as you say, "mah woman."

Thank you. I love you.


P.S. This morning, when I asked you where your pants were? And you referred to our living room as "a clothing dispersal system?" Like, I want to be annoyed, but mostly you just make me laugh? And maybe that's a good lesson? But also, our living room isn't a laundry basket? But mostly I just like you?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I'm letting someone help me and now I'm not quite so psycho. Coincidence?

Like a lot of people, I have trouble accepting help. As kind of a bossypants control freak, it's sometimes nice that my kitchen is the size of  Kleenex. I can use the close quarters as an excuse to ask people to get out of my space and my way. I'm a grown-ass lady and I take care of my own shit.

So, accepting help? No way. Asking for help? You have got to be kidding. And delegating? Well, let's just say that was a hard-earned ability when I was a groan-up working at Corporate Behemoth. It's taking me years to master side plank in yoga, and it took me years to master delegation at work, too.

Now that I'm self-employed, there's really no delegation to be done. The dogs don't pull their weight, but I've mostly made peace with it. And around the house? Well, in theory, it should be a lot easier to take care of stuff since I'm here all the time. My advice for anyone who works from home? If you're having a bad work day, throw in a load of laundry. At least you'll be able to say you accomplished something.

Laundry is fine. But I hate cleaning.

My Guy has helped me identify my 1 and, of course, only psycho bad habit: I tired clean. When I should just go to bed or at least sit on the couch, you can find me cleaning a toilet somewhere. It's my meager effort to have control when I'm feeling frayed. Unlike laundry, it doesn't make me feel productive - it just makes me angry. Who is this MAN living in my HOUSE who makes things DIRTY? Who are these DOGS who just SHED EVERYWHERE and don't even have JOBS?

I don't think tired cleaning is acknowledged by the DSM-5, but it should be.

I've been on a collision course for some time. Years, really.

And I've had the card of a highly recommended cleaning woman. This card has been in my desk drawer for more than a year. About once a month, I'd take the card out, look at it, and then put it back in the drawer.

About two months ago, I snapped.

I was tired cleaning and basically hit rock bottom, like a junkie. Our shower was scummy and I was mad. Neither of us had the energy to clean after working long days. We had the financial means to pay someone to help us. And I was so tired that my pride, my bossypantsness, my need for control just fell away. I gave in.

Valencia came to clean. The first time, it took her 6 hours to clean our trust-me-not-large house. It was just that dirty. But Valencia was kind and the dogs loved her - except when she vacuumed. I worked while she cleaned.

Sitting at my desk, something inside me just popped. I realized that true luxury isn't a yacht or partying with rappers - because I totally thought it was, right? No. True luxury is opening yourself up to having someone else give to you.
Not a staged photo.

Valencia has thanked me for the opportunity to clean, but holy bananas. Having her clean my house is like getting a massage, but maybe even better. It's like how I would feel sitting at my grandparents' dinette on a dark, chilly morning, knowing that my grandpa was making the world's best oatmeal for me. He didn't do anything remarkable to the oatmeal - he just cooked up some Quaker Oats. But that oatmeal is still the best oatmeal I've ever had. It was a gift to me, a simple act of service. And as a little kid, I had the good sense to sit and wait for the oatmeal, and then devour it.

So, I'm practicing this long-lost skill. Valencia comes to work her magic, and I work at my computer. And every now and then, I revel in the fact that my house is being cleaned by someone who is not me, by someone who is glad to do it. And it's a great fit. And all I had to do was let go.