Friday, August 30, 2013

The ghost of birthdays past ...

In honor of my 38th birthday, I've compiled snippets of birthday posts from birthdays past. Some of these are from these here pages; Other are from the far naughtier blog I maintained -- then shuttered in the early and mid-aughts. (You'll know these from the lack of capitalized letters). 

This year I plan to sit on my couch with one breast dangling into the mouth of an infant, the other in a bowl of popcorn while I marathon, oh, I don't know, maybe Melrose Place. 

Every birthday for the past few years I've wondered what the future held. If, for instance, in the next 12 months, I would find myself with child. 

So here we are. I've nothing left to wonder. 

2005: 30th Birthday in St. Paul
i get the feeling that these last days of 29-hood will be spent readjusting to sobriety. my body seems to be under the impression that alcohol is an actual body part vital to my central nervous system. i wish i could liken the drink to my pinkie toe, but alcohol, you seem more like my spinal cord right now.

by the end of the night i'd been given a pointy hat and a noise-maker, which i repeatedly tooted at the bouncer as he tried to bounce us from the bar. he was being a little excessive in his desire for us to leave, and i casually mentioned that he should relax. i tooted the tooter.

he got a little more forceful. i told him i was going to write a letter to his boss. he told me he was going to have me thrown in detox. i laughed and lied and told him i wasn't even drunk. he kept saying "detox" and i kept tooting my horn. eventually he ripped it out of my mouth and threw it on the floor. i dove down and tried to put it back together. it made a sad groan when i tried to blow it again. the security guard led us from the building.

so, i guess if getting kicked out of a bar during your birthday party is a mark of success, i was wildly successful.

2006: 31st Birthday
"it's her birthday," jcrew informs the waitress. 

the "so what?" is understood in her sneer. 

"so how about some free stuff," i want to say. "how about a funny man in a red wig and size 19 red shoes chasing grimace? how about some hilarity, huh?"

jcrew and i decide to split an entree: 

"how about the gnocchi," i ask her. mispronouncing it noo-she.

she rolls her eyes, gives me a withering glace and says under her breath: "you mean no-key."

i proceed to say it incorrectly three more times and every time it triggers her snob nob. 

"how about you stop being condescending as a special birthday treat to me," i suggest. 

"i can't help it," she answers. 

it doesn't matter what its called, anyway. we both took four bites before considering a career in bulemia. i am so full that i qualify for a handicap parking spot. i've ballooned to the size of a township. my thighs are the mayor that my belly didn't vote for.

2007: 32nd Birthday at the Red Lion
hyperbole, my ass. i had the best birthday since the one where i came luging down the birth canal. i'm sitting here, swinging between "i love the '80s" and the food network, waiting for the wendy's dollar menu to alleviate the dull thud in my head, and wearing a stranger's jesus and mary chain t'shirt. this is absolute perfection.

we walked to coney island for lunch. it is a little early to make this bold of a statement, but i believe the chili-onion-cheese-slatered-hotdog may be my mouth's new super potato ole.

i received a bad touch from a stranger while standing near the stage. i forgave him the first time, when i assumed he touched my ass on accident. but when he literally stuck his hand up my skirt and grazed lower butt flesh, i understood that this was more than just a crowded-bar coincidence. unfortunately, i couldn't discern one pervy old dirtbag from another, so i didn't know who's eyeball to gouge at with my thumbs. i hope his probation officer is reading this.

on the other hand, this sort of bar anarchy came in handy when bubbles called. i tried to take the call on the deck, but the bouncer wouldn't let me take my beer outside. i ducked into the empty men's bathroom to chat. [here i have to ask, why all the lemons in the urinal, boys?] when i opened the door, chuck was standing outside and said my favorite sentence of the night: what are you doing in the men's bathroom?

2008: 33rd Birthday at Builder's Saloon
so i was only 45 minutes late for my birthday party -- which was a display of athleticism in itself. because at about 7 p.m., when i bumbled from bed still wretching and heaving and trying to make ammends with my spleen i was pretty sure that i'd not be able to sit upright long enough to get carted from duluth to superior, wisconsin.

some time around 3 p.m. i'd woken long enough to point to a shirt i wanted on the internet, and chuck found it for me at the gap. 

know what's gross? mich ultra light on a rancid stomach that is already stewing. i basically had to chew my beer to gag it down. 

2009: 34th Birthday at home

1. I read about Erik and Lyle Menendez, and the gruesome killing of their parents, then Google imaged them to see if they were cute. 
2. I chased that with a chapter of "Insomnia," a 700-plus page book I can't complain about reading because Chuck is reading "Infinite Jest," which weighs in at a cool thou. 
3. I woke after just 6 hours of sleep and pattered into the world, beaming like it was Christmas. Or, as I like to call it, Christamas.
4. I drank too much coffee. 
5. Chuck made me a cake.
6. Blow dried my hair.
7. Received a bouquet of carnations in the shape of a cupcake from Lil Latrell.
8. Got my drivers license renewed, Just. In. Time. Decided to be honest about my weight. (Well, at least in a suburb of honesty). 
9. Ate the Monday's Special from Subway, but almost had to ditch it in favor of bulimia when I saw a woman sitting at a table blowing her nose. Loudly. With obvious, gelatinous results. 
10. Received a Carmel-flavored iced something from Starbucks from JCrew. 
11. Immediately went Pixie Sticks crazy off the caffeine-sugar tag-team. 
12. Decided that every person should have a friend like Tuska, who can be on the receiving end of Bristol Stool Scale text messages that just don't translate well on Facebook or Twitter. 
13. Chuck woke up and took me out to dinner at Lake Avenue Cafe, where I did tongue laps around my plate until there wasn't any evidence of my falafel platter left.
14. Tonight: OJ Simpson and more "Insomnia."

2011: 36th Birthday at home
I haven't gone out wreckin' on my birthday for two years, but Chuck and I found another suitable way to damage our innards: The Dairy Queen Heath Bar Blizzard Ice Cream Cake. My slice was more like a slab. So delicious. I still wanted to barf. And it provided its own special variety of hangover.

So bummed that now I have to go back to it not being my birthday anymore. 

2012: 37th Birthday at Cloud Cult concert
I left Bayfield feeling like Cloud Cult looked when they poured their guts on that stage. It was such a great day and there was a big moon and this Katy Perry album. "What if every day of 37 feels like this?!" I thought, secretly convinced that it would.

Then I hit Superior Wisconsin at about 1:30 a.m. and got pulled over for speeding. The deputy asked if I'd been drinking and I panicked. I told him about the two beers I drank between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the two pulls I'd taken from Fannie's Gin and Tonic during the show. I was just starting in on the nail polish remover I'd used at 5 p.m. when I realized that this was all very stupid. I obviously wasn't drunk and if I had been I wouldn't have been driving.

He asked me to step out of the car for a field sobriety test. I understand that when people say they had two beers five hours ago, they really mean that they had 12 beers an hour ago. I had to watch a red dot move from right to left, then up and down. I had to walk heel to toe for nine steps. I had to stand on one foot and count to 20 out loud. Then, because he said I seemed impaired, I had to take a breathalyzer.

This was all very humiliating, the thing a lot of people miss out on because they do this choreography when they're actually hammered instead of not at all hammered. But by then I was wondering if maybe I was drunk and just didn't know it. I don't process booze well. The smell seeps out of my body on impact and then lingers.

"Have you ever done one of these before?" the cop asked as he booted up the breathalyzer.
"Yes," I said, immediately cursing the fact that the first thing to fall out of my mouth was, again, honesty.
This must have some sort of cliche dad-was-a-cop root.

The last time I took a breathalyzer I was drunk riding and I had to blow to see if I could take over driving duties Fannie, who wasn't drunk driving but also wasn't 100 percent sober. I remember watching the number on the alcohol-o-meter rise to .17, rooting it along because I didn't really know what any of it meant. The policeman gave me a disgusted look: "You can't sub in for the driver, you clown, you're worse than her."

Last night  I peeked over to see the number on the reader.
"What is it?" I asked.
"0.00," he said.

I still got the speeding ticket -- though it was a reduced ticket. He said it was a birthday gift, but I hope it's because he felt like a dick for making me compete in the sidewalk Olympics. 

If you love something (times infinity) ...

Apparently my super fascinating 19-year-old cousin broke up with her boyfriend because there was a tell-tale "If you love something, set it free ..." Facebook status. 

I snorted when I read it because I've been 19 and I know that it's a nice thought that probably sells some mugs, but that a more accurate saying would be something like: "Blah blah ... until he sleeps with some other girl next week and you feel a rage so strong and so hot you could boil eggs in it and then maybe you'll get back together but secretly hate each other." 

That one is not huge in the gift shop circuit. 

Still, I thought of that saying when we got home from a walk and I was short my new infinity scarf. "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you ..." I said in my head as I drove our route backward. 

And there it was. Near the haunted house we briefly considered buying until we realized all the key components that make up a bathroom or kitchen had been looted and, well, even our realtor agreed it was haunted. 

This is all just to say: I got my scarf back, so what do I know about 19-year-old boys. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Something new ...

Not to be all: There is this new website on the internet called The FacePlace and people go there to connect, you know: Share photographs of particularly attractive burritos and complain about politics/celebrities/people complaining about politics and celebrities/Mondays. 

But I kinda am.

I set up a Blah Blah Blahler page for reasons that are still mysterious to me now. Especially after inviting a bunch of people to like it, getting some likes, and then realizing: Oh. So now my mom has probably read the words Blue and Balls, linked, on my website, which is way different than being in the same room as her when they say it on "Two and a Half Men" -- a show I can't figure out if they like or loathe or loathingly like.

Then there was the guy who speculated that he'd been duped into liking a Mommy Blog, which totally isn't true. I also write about Melrose Place.

So if you want to *Like* me, do so here. You'll be the first to know when a new post hits the webs!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Sunday and I'm Boring: The Lone Wheat Thin Edition

Chuck gets home from work to find me passed out on a futon, my dress hiked up around my waist. Bambino snoozing to my left. I blink awake, confused and he gives me a "What the hell ..." face. Downstairs the TV plays fuzzy local programming, cashed baby bottles strewn across the floor.

Inconsolable infant. Overtired and gassy. She would pass into a shallow sleep for a few minutes, then become red faced as she attempted to hasten another fart into the open air. It was all-consuming and, obviously, exhausting. Reader: I'm not a young woman.

She wakes and this repeats and repeats for hours well beyond her pretty lax bedtime.

We have a code phrase for her when she won't fall asleep at fall-asleep time: "Beady eyes shining in the dark." She lies in the crib, all compact and lima bean shaped, her wide eyes glowing in the light of the neon screen of the CD player we keep on top of the dresser. It goes on like this until 2 a.m., when I coax her to sleep using some Norwegian Voodoo I'm not yet willing to explain.


It's like I wet the bed, except with my boobs. There's been a mighty milk spill. My chest feels like it has two rocks embedded in it. The baby must eat so that I don't accidentally knock someone unconscious with a suddenly movement.

I imagine that this is what blue balls feel like.


I read seven lines of the new biography of Charles Manson.


Fussy days are followed by calm days and the baby is all "What me worry?" slouched and cool. Except today. Today a fussy day follows a fussy day. More red faces, more rumbles and airy pops that belie her age. She will sleep, though only if we use Norwegian Voodoo. (Stop asking: I'm not ready to talk about it). By noon she is on her second nap.


My favorite food is Amy's Organic Bean and Rice Burritos. I eat one with a handful of Wheat Thins and 32 ounces of cold, cold water. Later I will find a lone Wheat Thin among the debris of my couch nest.


We always talk about Family Nap Time, but we never take Family Nap Time. Today we take Family Nap Time.


Then the baby continues to take Baby Nap Time. She sleeps long enough for me to clean the kitchen, clean off a table, do two loads of laundry and put away her clothes. She sleeps long enough for me to make Velveeta Shells & Cheese and eat it. She sleeps while I write Thank You notes, a words project with messages that become more and more ridiculous the longer I write.


I read more Manson and congratulate myself for already being a better mom than his mom. (Life of Crime).


The TV show "Revenge" is perfect background noise. I don't care enough about it to have to watch-watch, but in glances here and there I can keep up with the (stupid) plot. One thought:  Everyone on the show seems just a little too young, including Madeline Stowe.


Quackers sends me a message encouraging that I play some Replacements for the baby. "They need stimulation," he writes. Instead I spend 2 hours teaching her what it will feel like to run the 400 meter and compete in the triple jump. I pretend to eat her like corn on the cob and gum her cheeks. I shake a butterfly rattle in her face and sing a song I wrote called "Little Bug (Work In Progress)."


Chuck returns to find sanity has been restored in West Duluth. Until the 5 a.m. feeding that ended with Beady Eyes Shining in the Dark.


The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tube time times a zillion ...

Dear Diary,
I watch so much TV right now.

"How I Met Your Mother": This is probably my favorite sitcom of all time. I can't think of one with more continuity, more humor or more cleverness.

But here is where I'm a hypocrite: I saw a guy wearing a Dunder Mifflin shirt the other day and assumed he was every synonym for douche bag presently listed in the Urban Dictionary. I think at one point I thought "The Office" was funny. Then humans broke "The Office" by always, always saying "That's what she said ..." and buying "The Office" swag. Mugs, T-shirts. Suddenly "The Office" was not "The Office," it was just the breeding ground for quotes, plots, pranks that would already be worn out by lunch break the following day. Ugh.

So when I quote Marshall or Barney or try to dress like Lily or sing "Bang, bang, bangity, bang" or otherwise ape the crew from "How I Met Your Mother" I reveal myself to be a total asshole.

"Melrose Place": I think I covered this one pretty thoroughly here. But since that post, the drama has shifted into that "Nip/Tuck" zone, identified as a place where you won't be surprised if a character busts out his Home Circumcision Kit. My favorite moment: Dr. Kimberly Shaw returns, she's not actually dead, and cozies up again to her former fiance Dr. Michael Mancini. Not because she loves him, no, because she wants to kill him. Probably because beneath that sheath of gorgeous red wig, her skull looks like a baseball.

To this end, she steals Jane Mancini's car, dons another wig -- this time it's a blonde bob, the signature look Jane shares with Chynna Phillips -- and runs down Michael in the street in front of the hospital. When he comes to, he believes it was Jane who tried to kill him and never suspects that it is his girlfriend in a Jane disguise.

Gah. It's so good.

"Girls, Season 2" I think this show has either been dismissed or lauded, depending on your opinion of Carrie Bradshaw et al., as a hipster "Sex and the City" when, honestly*, it has more in common with "Louie." Especially around mid-season when Hannah and Jessa go upstate to the latter's father's place, both to decompress from recent hiccups. There is a slo-mo linear story to it, more short story style, that bucks the sitcom trend of: 1. Problem! 2. Chaos! 3. Problem Solved. 4. Hug. Also: This show is so goddamn funny I can't hardly take it. Also, also: Hannah's very purposeful use of her body as a vessel of yuck (slivers in butt, wax in ears) is so Japanese body horror. I wish Lena Dunham all the big dumb giant awards in the world.

"The Newsroom": The first episode of this HBO series set in a cable TV newsroom is super-duper exciting and really dresses journalism in its sexiest duds. Asshole celebrity anchor, his ex-girlfriend hired to produce his program, BREAKING NEWS. It's a real ballbuster. You've got a strong cowboy male, a fiery woman, interesting background characters. Then: Episode Two. That fiery woman becomes a simpering idiot who can't figure out how to use email and regularly interrupts news meetings to air grievances related to this long dead relationship. She continues to be an idiot through the rest of the season. But don't worry, the other women on the show are stupid, too. The cub female reporter also interrupts work for boy talk.

I'm not convinced that this one would pass the Bechdel Test. At least not on every episode. Don't any women write for this show? Has Aaron Sorkin ever opened his door and took a deep breath of post-1970s air?

"Game of Thrones, Season 2": I'm not so much watching this as sitting in the same room as Chuck watches and occasionally glancing at the TV just in time to see a part severed from the greater body area. Although I saw Season One, so I know enough about what is going on that Chuck can explain things to me as they get progressively meatier.

Honorable Mention
"Revenge, Season 1" I spent a day half-assed marathoning this show about a young rich woman's attempt to avenge her father's incarceration/death. Her targets: A bunch of "Dynasty-esque" assholes living in the Hamptons.

"Ally McBeal," I watched just long enough to wonder whether Calista Flockhart's lips are natural and to remember she was famous for short skirts, dancing baby hallucinations and having a head that was disproportionate to her small frame.

* I hope you heard that "Honestly?" in Hannah's voice, because she says that ALL THE TIME

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's Friday and (I haven't decided how to title these posts) ...

Q: You're at Target trying on men's Oxford-style shirts. You finally learned to click the car seat into position on the shopping cart. The baby is wide-eyed and checking out adult-sized Batman-bedroom ware. (What? I know). Everything is going awesome. You realize, suddenly, that you didn't bring your plastic and you only have enough cash to buy, like, half a tube of Chapstick. The generic kind. Meanwhile, you've got a very Rockefeller shopping list.


Back in the car, you wonder what happens when you get home. Will you a) Park, leave the baby in the car, sprint into the house, grab your money, sprint back to car within 35 seconds, jet back to Target or b) Park, remove baby from car, walk at a responsible pace into house, get money, walk back to car, re-position car seat, jet back to Target?

A. (According to Chuck): B! There are all sorts of crazy ladies who want to steal babies!
A. (According to me): B! Our dick neighbor is probably looking for a reason to call social services so that we stop parking in the street.
A. (According to Source Whose Identity is Protected): A! Leave her in the car. Don't tell anyone. Next time buy a house with an attached garage just for this reason.

"Isn't it weird that she's a real person. With rights. And not just our pet human?" -- Chuck.


The photo is a classic: My chest hooked up to the Steampunk Pumping Contraption with two bottles of fresh milk in the light of a new day. I'm not nude, I'm wearing a sweater over my shoulders and a nursing tank top. Not even a millimeter of breast is showing; There is no nip slippage.

I cackled after I took the selfie and texted it to CHRISSIE with the question "Would you like anything in your coffee?" Then, a few minutes later, I bettered it. I resent her the photo and this time wrote "Would you like me to save room for a little cream?"

She told me I could make fast cash on fetish websites and I told her I was going to turn it into a poster and sell it to Starbucks.

It was all so hilarious to me that I decided to post the photo on my blog.

Me: "... And so, in summary, I think it is okay to post this on my blog because you can't see anything and it is so funny."
Chuck: (Quietly looks at the photograph enlarged on a computer screen).
Me: "I mean, there isn't even a visible nipple."
Chuck: (Slowly) You have to think: 'Is there anyone I wouldn't want to see this.' Because by putting it on your blog, you're putting it in the face of everyone. They can choose not to look at it. But you are showing everyone."
Me: (Visualizing the faces of family, friends, enemies, celebrities, high school Spanish teacher, nuns) No. No, I am fine with everyone seeing this photo.
Chuck: ...
Me: Maybe I'll just write about how I almost posted the photo.


Chuck went back to work this week after a month of paternity leave. A month. It. Was. Awesome. There was a rough half day when we realized I try to finish all of his sentences, but always, always use the wrong word.

("Because, eventually this will be available on ..." he says.
"Netflix!" I chime.
"No, Amazon Prime," he says).

And it was weird, man. Our inside jokes have developed inside jokes and they are all buried under layers of communication ticks unfathomable to other adult humans (aside from, maybe, Chuck's best friend The Great Archivist).

I sensed this togetherness was going to be a problem when we encountered outsiders. Like the nurse at the Breastfeeding Clinic, who watched us verbally compute how much bottled breast milk we were supplementing with and finally had to stop us mid fervor to say:

"What does this all mean?"

It was a fast month and much was learned and there was an unyielding diaper rash and hours spent staring into the tiny face and there was only one time that I stood in the shower and cried because I just wanted to go for a walk, maybe have a bonfire -- AND A BEER! -- with my boyfriend without having to worry about whether it's convenient to yank, on demand, ole lefty out of my tank top.

At one point in the unyielding spin cycle of feeding-napping-diaper loading Chuck looked at me and said: "I feel like we're in a war together."

And that was, and continues to be, very true.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Seedy infant shit, etc. ...

A few ways in which my life has changed in the past month:

I'm sitting here in a pair of oversized sweatpants stained with a half-dollar sized dollop of seedy infant shit that escaped the leg of the PBG's Pampers while she was feeding. For the uninitiated, an infant excretes something that looks more like stone ground mustard than Bristol Stool Chart fare.

I have had a change of heart about 5:30 a.m. as a start time rather than an end time. Used to be I'd grudgingly bed down around this hour, my belly a soup of box wine and gas station burrito and this space of the internet filled with inside jokes, swears and my acoustic version of "Firework." Waking at this hour was as laughable as, well, me being intrusted to raise a human being. From scratch. This is now my favorite hour. It still finds me attached to the bed like I'm covered in Velcro. But once I rip myself free, it's the best part of the day. The PBG is all coos, gaping O yawns and expressions that I convince myself are smiles.

I use my free-hand time to happily do chores. M'Lady eats every 2-3 hours, craps regularly, and sometimes prefers a cradle of arms as opposed to her multiple designated sleeping spaces. She's very Cleopatra like that. So, faced with free arms, I load the dishwasher. I wash bottles. I run a load of laundry or empty the dirty diapers. It's very satisfying, this Taking Advantage of Having Two Hands. I imagine that if I wasn't washing, loading or emptying, I'd just clap or make Jazz Hands just because I could.

I no longer believe"Raised You and Your Brother (1972-1998)" means anything on your resume. It's like if I had "Server at Mama B's Italian Restaurant (1996-1998): Guided guests on a gastrointestinal tour of Italy, as interpretted by Midwestern Scandinavians" still on my resume. This little bullet point marking my parents combined experience doesn't mean I won't spend an entire lunch without the baby worrying that her keepers are going to lose control of the stroller and send it into traffic, antogonize a ferocious dog, jostle her brains by purposefully aiming for the biggesst cracks in the sidewalk.

I think your kids are cute. Seriously. Once a reason to skim facebook, I now find the squished Yoda melons of your offspring to be ... adorable. I've even taken to *liking* photographs of kids and status updates recording the darndest things they say/do. Likewise, when I take a picture of my own, it takes all of my strength to not text it to 20 people who undoubtedly don't give a shit that the PBG is a smirking cross-eyed senior citizen in a baby bonnet.

There is milk in my boobs. It can be coaxed out by hand, by pump, and by mouth. And sometimes it just seeps out of its own volition.

I ooze cheese. I talk in a funny voice and make up endearing nicknames. I rub noses with a newborn, conscious that we are like a Before and After photograph chronicaling the history of this particular schnoz. I coo and giggle and say things like "I'm your mom!" I replay the circumstances of her birth and my eyes spill. My heart sometimes feels like someone attached a tire pump to it and we're one squeeze from bursting.

I will touch anything. I have no problem digging crap stains out of a butt or liberating a dangling booger. Those projectile spits that ooze down my torso aren't particularly impressive either. I can do way grosser than this. No evidence that I feel differently about handling leeches, worms, mushrooms.

I've stopped referencing mirrors. I'll probably end up wearing these shit-stained sweatpants in public.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Melk it. Melk it good ...

I have weak milk output. In fact, they called it a lactation deficiency on the official summary of my office visit. Now, whether this is the fault of me -- milk glands emitting puffs of stale air -- or her, the lazy sucking daughter of two Gen Xers, well, I won't point fingers. Although, I hate to think of myself as someone who struggles to make a product easily mastered by cats or, well, almonds.

The goal has been to feed, supplement and pump in two-hour rotations around the clock. Get the baby's weight up; Build up my milk supply. Except.

"Why, exactly, are you terrified of your pump?" the lactation specialist asked during a recent phone call.
"I don't know. Have you seen the photos? The nipples seemingly ripped from their roots, a soulless machine tugging liquid from a place where once liquid didn't exist," I said something like.

That's really why, but it's more. The pump came from a friend's sister with so many bags of accessories that I got The Panics trying to figure out how they all pieced together. I found an instructional video online, but it was for a model of the machine that was just different enough to leave me with questions.

And, of course, the machine itself. If you've never, ever, in your life had reason to encounter a breast pump, this can be a daunting piece of machinery. Not so much steampunk as "Logan's Run." A piece of technology that seems like it was built in the 1970s by men in yellow spandex jump suits. There are cones, tubes, wires, circular membranes and plastic pieces. This brilliant concept so wowed the makers that there has been no reason to improve upon it. And, truth, it does work like magic.

There is a breast-shaped bit of rubber that is hooked to tubes that connect to a contraption that is stuck to a chest with something like a bandeau bra with holes at center breast. With each pull, milk is drawn from the boobs, through a Tinker Toy-like structure and splashes into matching bottles. The machine has a repetitious sound that can become like a mantra for the delirious pumper hunkered over a Kindle for the ninth time in a single day. It can sound like a whiny friend saying "Why, why, why, why?" it can sound like your own voice saying "Noo. Noo. Noo. Noo."

Scientific curiosity trumped nipple cringing fear. Truthfully, I love pumping. I like spending 20 minutes in front of this machine, then walking away with a quantifiable amount of production -- whether it is a meager tally or my world record.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What gets on ground ...

I went to Walgreens with an internal tug for Chips & Cheese, which I bought, but there was also a display for fresh-baked goods. I wanted just a little something-something to carry me from the store and, like, the four blocks back to our house. I subtly bent a cookie spiked with M&Ms and found it was soft. Sold.

"I'm going to keep the cookie out of the bag so it doesn't break," the cashier said when she rang up my purchases.
"Cool," I said. "That thing isn't even going to make it to the car."

I slung the bag over two fingers and began unwrapping the cookie as I left the store. It proved trickier than I imagined, so I incorporated the use of a forearm and my knee to remove the cellophane.

Then, of course, I dropped the unwrapped cookie in the parking lot.

I looked at the cookie. I looked at the car that was waiting for me to cross. I looked at the cookie again. My stomach rumbled, it sounded like "Oh, no." I picked up the cookie and my options spun quickly through my head:

1. Eat it. It was just on the asphalt for a few seconds. You once re-chewed gum you dropped on a sidewalk. Don't be such a pussy.
2. Don't eat it, that's disgust. Plus, the people in that car totally saw you drop it. If you eat it, they will know the depths of your depravity.
3. Pretend like you aren't going to eat it; Eat it in the car.
4. Throw it away before you get any funny ideas about maybe eating it.

I turned around and threw it in the garbage can outside the door. I was still kind of mourning the loss of it as I walked toward my car. It's not like the ground was visibly dirty. It's just ground, you know? What gets on ground that is so terrible.

Two steps later I looked to my right and saw a mound of dog shit.

And that, Foodies, is why we don't eat cookies that we dropped in the parking lot.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A few thoughts on 'Melrose Place,' Age 37 ...

1. You probably remember "Melrose Place" as having all sorts of still-in-a-coma, husband-stealing, miscarriage-having plot lines. Truth: the first half of Season One of "Melrose Place" is a total snooze fest. This is surprising: an Aaron Spelling production with seemingly more in common with the PG-rated Afterschool Special than his other nighttime, floor-length dress, illicit shower sex, amnesia dramas.

But. When the series first aired, each episode had a self-contained story line about the low-to-middle class, moderately attractive 20-somethings living in the West Hollywood apartment complex. The writers seemingly eschewed the hot to trot intrigue in favor of the issue-based programming that had been en vogue since the 1980s. (Arnold vs. The Child Molester, Six Has a Shoplifting Addiction, Uncle Ned Drinks Vanilla Extract).

In keeping with this trend, "Melrose Place" has:
Jane, a Fashion Designer, Gets Pregnant, Goes to Get an Abortion, Changes Her Mind, Miscarries
Jake, a Modelesque Mechanic, Gets His GED
Sandy, a Waitress, is Stalked by a Jilted Beau
Alison, in Advertising, Can't Quit the Married Environmentalist
And later: Alison, Dumper of Married Environmentalist, is Stalked by Someone ... BUT WHO COULD IT BE?
A Really Good Doctor is Abusing His Wife -- And Jane Knows It
Jake and Jo, a New York Transplant, Take AIDS tests

The introduction of Dr. Kimberly Shaw, a colleague of Dr. Michael Mancini, marks the first seeds of the scandals that will later define the show. (Husband stealing, coma, return from the dead, etc.) And when Sydney, Jane Mancini's sister, bops into town all bright eyed and bouncing scrunchie, it further seals the show as one where Shit Will Go Down. (Husband stealing, drugs, prostitution ring, etc.)

2. Seemingly, the show revolves around Alison, an advertising hopeful stuck behind the receptionist's desk at D&D Advertising. In the first scene, Alison's roommate has skipped town in the dark of night. Our girl has a matter of minutes to put tuck her blouse into her jeans and find someone to share the burden of rent before she's evicted.

Enter the boyish Billy Campbell whose lips are saying "We can live together platonically," while his big brown eyes and asymmetrical face say "But the sexual tension could cut right through the seams of your granny panties."

Alison's boss at the firm takes a shine to her and offers up opportunities for advancement well beyond anything Ali deserves. In one episode, Ali calls in sick to spend a sexy day with her creepy-eyed married environmentalist boyfriend. That same week, she ditches an after-hours project for the same face sucking dolt. Still, she climbs the corporate ladder. She's regularly told how great she is at her job. Evidence to the contrary: She almost bangs a client.

For a single episode her boss Amanda gets on her case about slacking, but Amanda's boss continues to drop big time projects on her because she's a major talent. Still: In Season 2's holiday episode, Alison asks her boss if she can take the day off to finish her Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping.

3. Speaking of awful characters: There is Billy Campbell, whose signature move is pulled straight out of a toddler play book. He doe-eyes, pouts and baby talks his way into the ladies' acid washed overalls.

"His nickname should be Biwee," Chuck said as the infantile character said something similar to "Meow meow no likey."

This is unsexy man behavior. No one, except Alison and Amanda apparently, wants to imagine their romantic partner dripping pureed pees from his chin, shooting out mustard-colored craps with the fire power of a paintball gun.

Incidentally, IRL, the actor Andrew Shue went on to invent, so.

3. Sandy is a short-lived character who plays a sort of drawling Southern belle in early episodes. She's Jake's former lover, she's a waitress, she is an actress. She's a fortified Blanche Dubois, full of ogles and fanning herself. It's all heave and dramatics with this one -- until about the fourth episode when she completely drops the accent.

"That accent isn't going to work," someone in authority probably said to her. "Kill it or we'll kill you."
So she ditches the twang but it's not enough. She's written off the show -- off to New York to star in a soap opera -- before the mid-point of the series.

She fares better than her roommate, an aerobics instructor who finds love with a richy-rich. Rhonda just slowly disintegrates from existence.

4. The go-to story line on "Melrose Place": I'M PREGNANT AND THE DUDE AIN'T GONNA LIKE IT. Followed closely by: A. I'm banging someone else's husband (or someone is banging my husband/boyfriend/roommate/neighbor I'm hot for); B. Someone is stalking me, it couldn't possibly be my ex -- could it?

5. The premise of this show seems to be Adult People Bullying Other People With the Same Address. Yet, it never occurs to anyone to move further away than the two-bedroom next door. When siblings Syndey and Jane go talon to throat, Syd moves off Jane's pull out and into a vacant place upstairs; When Billy and Alison break up, he flops with Jake, who, a few episodes earlier, moved out of Jo's place and back into his original apartment. And when Amanda, the show's universally recognized menace, takes over as owner of the space everyone moans and groans but no one files change of address paperwork.

Likewise, the crew always, always hangs at a local bar called Shooters. As if, in West Hollywood, it's really the only place to go.

This incestuous mix of masochists seem to only have each other as friends and/or family. Whenever one is in the hospital -- Alison's uterus gets clogged; Michael is in a wicked car accident; Matt gets jumped by hate crimers -- the waiting room fills the apartment's residents.

In actuality, this show does not have to be set in Los Angeles. It could just as easily take place in Byron, Minnesota.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

From the inappropriate files ...

We got into the elevator after the PBG's first doctor's appointment and ended up sharing the space with an elderly man who looked at the bundle in her car seat and cooed.

"How old is she?" he asked.
"Four days," Chuck answered.

I remembered, then, that Oh! We have a baby! Babies attract attention. Sometimes people smile and look at the -- 

"Thank you for not having an abortion," the man said, a sneak attack that left no time for a response -- if a response to such a thing is even possible*.

* Actually, there are plenty of possible responses. But it takes days, and plenty of retellings, to come up with them.