Monday, February 24, 2014

Vacation: Days 5-9: Skin ...

The Parents Pista have a closet full of toys that has been emptied onto their living room floor. The PBG is introduced to Kendrick Fairfax and Fae Clarissa, Cabbage Patch Kids who are now in their 30s, yet look eternally youthful.

The PBG licks Kendrick's bald head, maybe recognizing a similarity in their features. He just might be her first boyfriend. 

Worlds collide, man. Worlds collide. 


I forgot to pack glasses and I have just enough contacts to get me through the trip. But I can only wear contacts for about 8 hours at a time. LensCrafters ends up crafting me emergency lenses. 

We wait it out in what was once a dismal diner with amazing omelettes that just oozed with Velveeta. Now it's been rebranded as a cute cafe so I have Lemon Ricotta Hot Cakes. 

It has just begun to snow. Ma Pista studies the Peace Plaza. 

"There's this sculpture over there that from this angle looks like ..."
"It looks like ..."
I get up to check out her view. 
"A pregnant lady with a weinie?" I ask. 
"You don't have to say it so loud," she shushes. 


Chuck looks out the window at snowflakes the size of a lazy man's confetti. 

"I have a case of The Shinings," he says. 
"Me too," I say. "We can go back into the world tomorrow."
"Tomorrow will be too late," he says. "I'll already be chasing you with an axe by then."

We go for a walk in a thick and wet snowfall. Branches bend beneath the weight of snow. A woman assumes that since we're out walking, we've abandoned our car. A man motions for us to walk on his freshly blown sidewalk. This is good because we almost got hit by a bus a half hour earlier. 

Chuck points to a willow tree. 

"If we were in 'Lord of the Rings,' that tree would chase us," he says. 


The power goes out in the middle of "Jamberry" so I slam the book shut with a triumphant "THE END." I put the baby to bed by the light of a cellphone. Chuck and Ma Pista have lit everything in the house that has a wick. 

Chuck and I belly up to the bar, crack into some wine, toast electricity and play a few rounds of War. 

"She's the comeback kid!" I sing, the voice of a sports announcer, when I turn six cards into victory. 

When the bottle is cashed, Chuck invents a drink that tastes like chocolate cake using the Parents Pista's Narnian liquor cabinet. 

Ultimately this will become a vacation highlight.


Ma Pista had resigned herself to not seeing as much of the bambino as she would want. She planned to beat the streets home after work for some QT. Then she got back-to-back snow days. 

Why? Because she's a lucky sunofagun. 

I suggest she buy a lottery ticket, but she's revealed herself to be unworthy of large monetary prizes.  

"I'd only need a million," she crazy talks. 
"A million. That's nothing," Chuck says. "If I won a million I'd give it back."


Chuck and I spend three hours on Friday trying to clear relatively few inches off my parents' driveway. 

"Did you know we can fit at least 8 cars on that driveway?" Ma Pista asks. 

My back and shoulders scream: "Yes."

There is a fluffy top layer that is a decorative powder over a solid underlayer. One must push, chisel and scoop. 

The problem with volunteering for this gig: my dad isn't a half-assed sort of guy. If we start clearing the driveway, we should finish. 

Instead we get a rock stuck in the snowblower, rendering it useless, and leave behind a quadrant of snow. 

Then we eat burgers at Newt's. Mine has guacamole and tortilla chips. 


On Saturday morning the PBG takes her weird little jagged baby teeth and bites my nipple. Hard. I yelp, which you aren't supposed to do according to The Moms Of The Internet. 

I tell her not to do that. She does it again. I growl. I look down into my sweet baby's face to gently remove her from the tap and she is SMILING. 

I close up shop, sacrificing a few layers of nip skin in the process. 

This comes on the heels of other bad nursing behavior. 

1.  Scratching at my aereola with her talons. She picks, like it's a scab. The answer came from an outside, certainly inexperienced source. 

"Put her socks on her hands" Pa Pista suggests. 

2.  She claws at my face and tried to a) rip off my lips, b) scratch my teeth. 

My Pavlovian response to breast feeding, right now, is a full body quake. 

Note: She hasn't bit me again. 


We give ourselves an extra two hours to get home, but as we merge onto the highway less than 2 miles from my parents' house, I suspect it's not enough. 

There is at least an inch of hard snow covering the highway. Everyone is driving 20-30 miles per hour. Every few miles there is a car embedded in a ditch, usually facing traffic. 

I've got a death grip on the wheel and some choice words for tailgaters. Then, like magic, the world opens up. North of Canon Falls is smooth sailing, but I keep the death grip intact in case things lean shitty again. 

Then, hunger. 

I breastfeed in the parking lot of Jimmy John's. 


We return home to a mystery: Where exactly did Hal pee? Main level, yes. Near the steps, seemingly. But there is no telltale puddle. 

(This will not be solved by the time this post goes live).


But the bed feels good. 


I have witnessed the second-cutest thing in the world: a baby who has just learned to clap. 

First cutest: a baby who has just learned to clap clapping with her feet. 

And with that, vacation over. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vacation: Day 4. Unkempt faces ...

Under ordinary circumstances I'd not be pleased. It's 6:30 a.m. and the babe is tossing and sleep-crying. At 6:30 a.m. she's probably not going back to sleep if she wake-wakes.

But today Old Lefty is at capacity. A perfectly normal breast has completely hardened with liquid gold. I'd not be surprised if my nipple popped off like a cork, endangering every eyeball in the room, hell, neighborhood. 

I'll bite. I'll take a sorta awake baby and put her to work. I snatch her from her crib and settle in for the duration of a morning meal. Sure enough, she's up for the day.  

As luck would have it, Chuck gets up with her and I fall asleep mumbling:

"Dress her in her 'I'd rather be naked' outfit. It'll be comfortable for travel."

I wake two and a half hours later.


"Seriously," I tell Chuck. "It's so full, my nipple might pop off and bust through the windshield. ... Just so you know, I've already tested this joke today."


It's a long trip, the one from Duluth to my hometown. NPR airs a debate: "Was Edward Snowden justified?" and it makes the first third of the trip go quickly.

I mistake a man in a knit cap for a nun. An elderly gent passes us, half his car crunched like an aluminum can. We trail a State Trooper and wonder which of our fellow travelers is gonna get it. People zip by us in the left lane going at least 78. Nothing happens. Then: Cocked hat. Monster energy drink sticker in the back window.

"If not him then who?" I wonder aloud.

Still nothing.


"I trimmed my beard this morning," Chuck says after a bit of silence. 
"Oh, yeah?" I say. 
"Rochester doesn't fall in love with an unkempt face the way Duluth does," he says. 


We take a time out in North Branch to wander around outlet malls. We eat in an Arby's parking lot in Forest Lake. We test out a phrase we heard while watching the Olympics last night, but use it in different contexts:

"I had six Chinese Daredevils, blacked out and woke up in some guy's basement."
"One Fourth of July when I was 12 years old I lit off a whole brick of Chinese Daredevils."
"I had to drink three glasses of milk after eating those Chinese Daredevils."
"So then he asks me if I'll do the Chinese Daredevil, so I slapped him and stormed out."


Something about the combination of long car rides and fast food makes me long for a time when it was perfectly acceptable to chuck a bag of garbage out of a moving car.

"Just 1970s it right out the window," Chuck says.

We don't. Of course. But there is nothing worse than staining a car with the smell of Arby's. It's a lingering regret. Like cleaning beer cans off the coffee table in the morning. One eye shut. Head throbbing. Sun shining on the remains of a Crave Case.


We go to dinner at a Greek restaurant, seduced by the promise of flaming cheese. But by the time the saganaki gets to our table, it's been squashed. For shame. Still, my Falafel Pita is good and we manage to keep sharp restaurant objects away from the babe.


The Parents Pista have an Apocalypse-ready amount of wine. We enjoy a red.

"Here's to the U.S. athletes," I say, skiers skiing on TV in the background.
"Here's to Words with Friends," Ma Pista says.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vacation: Day 3. Pfft.

In my dream the PBG can crawl. Crawl-crawl. Not this flail and inch thing that she finds so so unfulfilling. It happens suddenly. She's up on  all fours scooting out of the room like one of those bazillion legged insects that pffft across basements.

Needless to say, I can't catch her. 


There is also a dream that I'm entertaining a boy band and one of the singers and I decide to play the leads on "Our Town."


The problem with shotgunning "Breaking Bad" is that I've missed most of the Olympics. I get up early today to watch women's hockey, only to instead see the cast of the Today show dressed patriotically. 


It is snowing in a very snow globe-ish way and the woman across the street is outside in just a robe clearing off her husband's car with a broom. She's wearing footie slippers and stepping into shin deep piles of snow. 

One time I saw her sweeping the street and she said to me "I suppose you think I'm crazy! Sweeping the street!"


Eventually it stops snowing and we all go outside and then 1/3 of us get wet hands and make a sad face so 2/3 of us go inside. I shovel and it's awesome. So fun! So healthy! So aerobic! Why haven't I always shoveled?

Oh. Because I used to be weak. And I hated lifting things. Now I'm constantly lifting thing. Person. 

Back inside I notice my arm muscle through my sweater. 


Me: What if (the PBG) wants to be an ice dancer?
Chuck: Then we'll let her try it, she'll realize it's hard work and she'll quit. 


Me: Gah. I can't wait for the Americans to get out there and bust a nut. 


Jimmy Fallon basically stole the choreography from our dance challenge. 911. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vacation: Day 2. Mud ...

Chuck is sick, so we block out the sunlight and turn on the tube first thing in the morning. 

"She's a hussy, man. She just said she wanted to get in his plane and sit on his lap," Chuck says as I walk into the room. 

On screen, Ginger is wide eyed and breathy and desperate to get off the island. 


A new phrase has entered our lives:
"A maturity of crap."

This is what happens to babies experiencing puréed foods and it is also the name of my roman e clef. 


I unwrap a new bottle of Ortega Sauce. Chuck thinks the stuff is gross. A cafeteria-grade condiment. I disagree with the gross; agree that it enhanced the tacos at St. Pius X in the 1980s. 

"You must use that all the time," Chuck says. "I never see a full bottle."
"It's a holdover from my pregnancy," I say. It was one of my craves. 
"It's a holdover from your childhood. You're going to put it on you Vandekamp Fish Sticks."


At 3:55 pm we both look at our daughter and sort of growl "Muuuud."

We are watching the movie "Mud." Aside from that, there is no reason why we would both pick that moment to say that.

We look at each other for a minute. 

"What did you say?" Chuck asks. 
I laugh. 
"Mud," I say. 
"Did you know I was saying that?" He asks. 
I shake my head.  

This level of brain synch was not uncommon when we spent a month together this past summer. But we are only on the second day of vacation. 


Once the PBG drops a Maturity of Crap, it's smooth sailing. She might've ruined her outfit and your lunch, but it means the tubes are cleared for the rest of the day AND the next day. It's a thing. So regular, it's practically a rule. 

Which is why I'm in her bedroom swearing in my sweetest mom-voice as she sticks her foot into the thick of a diaper holding her second deuce of the day. 


... Five minutes later I'm washing my hands in the kitchen and turn to see Hal, our kidney stone cat, spraying urine all over our cupboards. 

"I'm moving out," I tell Chuck as he hands me 409 spray. 


A scientic study by researchers at Zimbio determines that, of all the characters on Seasame Street, I am most like Big Bird. 


I am in bed reading by 9 p.m. Day 2 of vacation has been just so ... Bodily. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vacation: Day 1. Manscaping ...

"Let's go to lunch at Burrito Union," I say. "But let's be casual about it. Let's not, like, bust a nut to get there because we're on vacation."

"I'm not sure you understand what 'bust a nut' means," Chuck says. 

"Doesn't it just mean to go fast?" I ask. 

"No," he says. 


I cut my finger slicing a bagel.
"What a cliche," I whisper. 


I fill two bags with clothes for Goodwill which means we have two fewer bags of stuff in our lives. 


Bad news. I realize on my way to the eatery that I have to pee. This place has the worst bathrooms of any civilized space. Two unisex stalls, not a lick of potpourri. And other gross things that Chuck sums up with a single Tweet:

"Judging by the floor, this restroom is where middle-aged buffalo go to manscape."


"I've got one her age," a woman says. "A real chubb-o, too. I like a chubby baby. I'm glad she's bald. And look! She's only wearing one sock!"


Watching "Contagion" with a life partner who, coincidentally, has a cold. It's like watching the movie in 3D. So real!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Most Authentic ...

Photo by JCrew, who had the sweet seats
On Thursday morning a professional touched my hair for the first time in 11 months. I told him I wanted to look like Krysten Ritter, but he just made me look like me with fewer split ends and bangs.

Thursday night was the dance challenge. I won Most Authentic, one of those EVERYONE IS A WINNER prizes. It was so, so, so fun. The PBG danced and wiggled and yelped through the rest of the show, her eyes all wide and her mind blown. (Except for the part where she detonated a burrito in her diaper and Ma Pista had to McGuyver cleanup using a public bench and a frozen bag of wipes). 

Later Thursday night Chuck and I went to see one band but wound up seeing another. Someone said to me: "Welcome back to real life." It was too loud to respond "Dude, our cat has kidney stones. Every night we administer an IV to fill him with fluids so that hopefully he can flush the stones to a final resting place in his bladder. There is no 'Welcome back to real life.' I've got real life in spades." 

We watched a bunch of kids wearing white face paint play trombone and saxophone and a wood block and a shirtless guy ripped off his denim vest and threw his head back and howled. 

"This band reminds me of a girl I knew in high school who drank cold coffee from a mayonnaise jar," Chuck said. 

We took a cab home. It felt very strange to be a little fuzzy, sneaking into our own home with my parents sleeping upstairs next door to our daughter. Daughter. Daugh-ter. Our's. Our daughter. 

I got up too early on Friday morning with The Morning Lark. Meant to go back to bed but I was seduced by Hoda, who always seems a little one eyed and wine drunk. I picture her propped up against Kathie Lee, two sides of a triangle at last call. Ma Pista can't get enough of these clowns. 

My parents are people who get stuff done. Projects and lists and even the toaster goes in a specific place in the kitchen. We kidnapped them on Friday afternoon. Held them hostage on the couch for a Breaking Bad marathon that must have been a personal record for them: Consecutive episodes of anything ever watched ever in the entire world. 

On Friday night Chuck and I went out for burgers. Mine was a wild rice patty with jalapenos, onions and blue cheese and it stained my tongue with flavor. Afterward we went across the hall to see The Rock Star Amy Abts play. It was a spare setup: just our girl, a small stage, a stack of new music and a band mate I might have babysat in the late 1980s. 

We sunk into a couch and a guy who looks like Louis CK shot video on his phone. Amy closed with a cover of "Pale Blue Eyes" and a joke about Mellencamp. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

In the drink ...

Lunch was a 6-inch ham and turkey on jalapeño cheese bread, the daily special. I added cheddar, lettuce, spinach, green peppers onions and banana peppers. A thick line of Sriracha, of course. 

I was the only one in line, so I got it toasted. 

I ate a table while reading the internet. Toast makes for more crumbs, so of course I was lousy with crumbs. 

Then I pumped. 

Twenty minutes later I removed the pump cones and pump bags and a large pinky nail sized bread crumb fell from my bra into the fresh milk. 

These new boobs are traps. My cleavage is like a funnel for Baked Lays, bread crumbs and, oddly, sweat. 

Still. What to do with the milk? Dump the tainted loot? Sieve it? Serve it as is? 

C-cup problems, huh.