Friday, June 27, 2014

Convos at 9 a.m. ...

"When I was in eighth grade I wrote all these short stories in a teal notebook about how I was going to show up at high school wearing poodle skirts and ponytails and all the boys would like me," I tell Chuck. "Isn't it weird that I thought I could get a boy by --"

"Dressing like you were going to a sock hop?" he says. 

"Exactly. It didn't occur to me to show boobs or have the word 'Yum' on my ass. I didn't know sexy was a thing," I say. 

"No one did," he responds. "There was a girl in my high school who wore jeans with a rip across her butt. It was like she was speaking a foreign language."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Super into this week (Jack Antonoff Edition) ...

The Mojitos we had two Cocktail Saturdays ago barely put a dent in our massive mint bush. We enjoyed then with chips and salsa, the movie "Her" and then had the good fortune to sleep almost 9 hours, a reprieve from our daughter's cruel nightly ritual.

When Chuck bought the Galliano for our Harvey Wallbangers, the cashier said to him: "We used to use that to make Golden Cadillacs, which then quickly was added to-do list of drinks. When that sort of thing happens, the drink becomes your Spirit Drink, which is like a Spirit Animal except you drink it.

Friends: It's pure dessert. Heavy cream, Galliano and Cream de Cacao. He shaved some chocolate to put on top. Then he said, like a crazed maniac, "I'd rather have this than cheesecake." HAHAHA. That's crazy talk.

(Last night we had Moscow Mules -- Ginger Beer, Vodka -- because I saw a photo of Fannie drinking one. I'm not going to count the drink as official until we get the official Moscow Mules Mugs).

So, "Her." It has been said before about me, by me, that I like to watch movies where everyone has good hair. This isn't my most charming characteristic, but it's true. This is all just to say that the fashions of the "Her" era distracted me a little. Not-River Phoenix with his pants to his pits, and all. I like to imagine Spike Jonze giving this a preview screening to close friends who gnaw on their knuckles, unsure if it's supposed to be funny or terrifying or dramatic.

Otherwise, we cranked through a few eps of this web series: "High Maintenance."  If this was 2008, I think I'd really go nutso trying to hunt down the best of the best in web series. That's the kind of thing that happened in 2008.

I've come to really love this song and if it was on Spotify I'd add it to every mix.

I read "The Fault in our Stars" and saw what all the hubbub was about, but I only got fizzy-nosed once so obviously I'm a total asshole. I also finished "Adam" By Ariel Schrag, which I almost quit reading until I realized that it was a contender for Worst Book of 2014, so I had to finish so to properly crown it on December 31st.

Now I keep picking at "Wonderland" by Stacey D'Erasmo when I really want to be reading "Fever" by Megan Abbott and the New Yorker fiction issue. Problemos.

And here is some stuff from the Internet:

I'm a little bit obsessed with Jack Antonoff. Every time I hear a song by fun. I try go into a deep, deep place of fan fiction where I try to imagine what the relationship between Antonoff and Lena Dunham is like. This story answered so many questions for me, including some I didn't know I had. It was a real pleasure to read.

I read "The Fault in Our Stars" without knowing a lick about John Green's whole teen movement. So this story was fascinating. (Sounds exhausting being Green).

And here is a super cute photo of my 11-month-old baby (by Chuck):

Since there is no reason to link to Amazon anymore, I'm scrapping my dinosaur of a series Weakly Reviewed in favor of Super Into This Week. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

So brave ...

At 4:20 a.m. I remind myself that I don't have to do this. It was a free entry. 
I've not even invested time. My last run was a 5K in like April. My entire house is breathing in unison. It's yuck outside -- 40-something degrees, mist, fog. Standard "Scooby Doo" fare. Perfect for running; not the kind of weather that makes it easy to hit the eject button on a pillow. 

But I'm up. The clothes are laid out. Here I am in the shower; here I am starting the coffee before I can stop my own trigger finger. 

So I guess I'm doing this. 

The melons must be emptied. That's paramount. My number one excuse for not running regularly is along the lines of: "But oh these cans are lousy with liquid." Running with boobs is an entirely different sport than just plain old running. It's painful, like walloping yourself in the chest with a sock full of Jello-O over and over and over. After they're fully juiced, I "Boys Don't Cry" them with twice the usual number of sports bras. 

Per usual, I find myself sprinting a decent distance before the race has even begun -- from my car to the shuttle -- and I wonder if maybe the starting line can be nudged ahead a few blocks, just for me, to make up for the work I've already done on this day. Excuse me, Sir. But I've put in, oh, say, 3/4 of a mile and I'd like to be justly compensated. 


"I'm not going to stand for a half hour," a runner in front of me says as one of the city buses, among a fleet that will talk us to the starting line, fills to standing-room only. 

A handful of us nod, all hell-no-we-won't-go, and the doors close with a whatever shrug. The fleet leaves. A girl behind me asks, finally, "but more buses are coming, right?" A volunteer says yes, but every 30 seconds she wonders aloud again until she finally laughs nervously and says "Seems like I'm the only one who is worried about this."  

Me? I don't care. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn't, I'll have something to be fake angry about as I crawl back into bed. I'll be part of an elite team of People Who Were Left Behind. We'll be this year's Big Story. They'll have us all meet up again for a reunion on the "Today Show" just before the 2024 race. 

"I've never forgiven myself for not, just, agreeing to stand for a half hour," a quiet voice will admit from the pack of surviving Left Behinds. 
"We had to jog in place to stay warm. I was going to have them subtract that distance from the route. They still owe me," I'll tell Kathie Lee Gifford's drunk skeleton. 

Of course, the bus comes. 

I share a seat with a friendly woman with a drawl who claims to be a below average competitor, yet tours the country participating in races. She will do 15 this summer. This seems silly to me. Why fly to an entirely different state just to be below average? You can do that for free at home. I should know. 

I stare out the window as we're taken further and further from the city limits to, finally, deer tick breeding zone. This could be the beginning of a terrific horror film. 

"I can't believe we have to run all the way back," I tell my new friend. 

We turn onto a side road and rumble through what counts for a neighborhood in the country. 

"What if you lived out here?" I say to my seat partner. "And you just woke up on race day and you were at the starting line?" 
"A lot of people would pee in your yard," she tells me. "It's a real problem." 


I tuck into a tight pack of people, just a little too close to Porta-Potty Camp. The countdown to start-time smells like All-You-Can-Eat-Pasta after it's been rung through a digestive system. And then the race just ripples to a start. I plod along and think about how this feels pretty good. Lake Superior looks gorg and the temperature is exactly right. 

I finally get cell reception, so I plug into Depeche Mode's "101."  I want this to be the most chill run of my life. I want long strides and a fugue state. And it's really starting to go that way. I watch for blue balloons, which indicate another mile has bitten the proverbial dust. 

There are townies with coffee mugs sitting in lawn chairs on the curb. Some sociopath dressed like a lion does an interpretive dance. All sorts of people hold signs that say "Beer! 9 Miles!" and some kid has one that says "Smile if you peed your pants." 

I run up on an acquaintance, who is eardrum deep in a podcast. 
"You train for this?" he asks. 
"Mostly I just drank a lot of water," I say, before drifting off backward. 

There is a problem of a sloshing bladder, and I tell myself I'll stop -- but only after Mile 4. Right at the balloons I ditch to the shoulder of the road and become the 12th person in line for the Porta Potty. It's a detour that even hand sanitizer can't fix. By the time I get in and out, 20 minutes have passed -- as has the pack. 

Now it's Stragglersville. People take selfies with spectators. A girl stands pensively reading the information at a scenic overlook. A guy chugs from a beer bong provided by college aged spectators. "I just want a Big Mac," someone, (me?), says to no one in particular. 

When people clap for us, they do it with a little pout, frowned brows and a stage whispered "So brave!" 

Some people fly halfway across the country for this, I remind myself. 


I never really caught my stride after that. My foot hurt so I retied my shoe and then it hurt more. My knee hurt, so I started imagining a rapid erosion of my meniscus. 

I drank as much PowerAde as I could -- not just for the hydration, but because it was free. Someone passed me a tube of some kind of gel -- which had a raspberry Clif bar meat flavor. 

A man on the side of the road held a slice of watermelon and I angled toward him and whispered "Really?" 
He nodded. 
It was the best food I'd ever eaten. 

By the time I hit downtown I'd quit running. Sometimes I'd say to myself: "TO THE STOPLIGHTS!" and then I'd almost make it to the stoplights. I chugged past my friend Greener and Farmtown, just to show off, and kept it up until I'd rounded out the corner out of their sight. 

I walked behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, past the William A. Irvin. And when the fifth person of the day yelled to me "YOU GOT THIS" I vowed that I would never say "YOU GOT THIS" to anyone ever again. Forever. Never. 

I ran the last 600 or so meters. By then I'd already been passed by the top 4 finishers in the wheelchair marathon that started an hour after the start of the half marathon. 

"The elite runners are coming," another straggler warned me. 
I figured as much. An elite runner might run a full marathon in 2 hours, 10 minutes. I was easing my way toward a 3 hour half marathon.  My headstart was about to be a hilarious footnote. 
I laughed. 
"Seriously," he said, and plodded on. 

I cruised across the finish line and thought of raising my hands in victory but didn't. I bypassed the foil wraps and then doubled back. 

"I've always wanted one of these," I said to the volunteer, a kid who wrapped it around my shoulders like I was his elderly grandmother. 

I finished with the worst time I've ever run in a half-marathon and one of my toenails fileted the neighboring digit. I'm thinking that I might start not-training for 5Ks instead. So says me. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jack ...

Selfies by CHRISSIE!
I don't remember the circumstances the first time I did it. I just looked up from our Wasabi Shumai and it seemed like something weird had happened and I realized I'd said the word "shit" in front of two kids -- Lu, 7, and O, 9 -- and my own 10.5 month old.

"Oh," I said, barely remembering, the word a dot in the rear view mirror. 

The next time I said it, the PBG was about to whip a soy sauce dish like a Frisbee

"As long as you do it infrequently and no adults hear you, it's probably ok," Chrissie! tells O. 

He tells us that he sometimes says "the J word" quietly about his teacher. 

"There is no such thing as The J Word," I tell him. 

"Jack ..." He says. 
"I'm not familiar," I say. 
Finally he mouths "Jackass."

"Oh! I'm going to whisper a swear word in your ear," Lu says to Chrissie!

"I'm am adult," Chrissie! says, but leans in and Lu cups her mouth at her ear. 

And then I said it again, in reference to our daughter's recent hunger strike -- yet her willingness to set it aside for a spoonful of whipped cream. 

"Great. Now all she'll eat is shit," I say. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Super into this week ...

This past week we had Whiskey Sours for Cocktail Saturday. This includes a raw egg white shaken to a smooth foam. Think Rocky, if Rocky was a great marathoner of streaming TV shows.

I'm cultivating a short list of great drinks I can order if I ever again find myself in a bar. My nĂºmero uno remains the Harvey Wallbanger. I cannot STFU about Harvey Wallbangers. There is something magical about Galliano. I'm going to start asking for a bottle of it for every gift-giving holiday. 

Speaking of marathons: "Orange is the New Black," obvi. Two episodes in, it feels less organic than the first season. More try-too-hardy. Still, I'll watch. 

This week I've been super into Haley Bonar's new album "Last War," which I want to rename "Songs for Roller Skating To." This is my favorite album of 2014 so far. Srsly. Here's a song.

I read "The Vacationers" by Emma Straub and though I've not yet written a review, my prevailing theme will be that you can tell she was smiling when she wrote it. It's good fun, but not without it's cheesy moments. Fun wins. 

Here is where I cheated and reviewed a handful of books I hadn't yet reviewed. Go there if you care about graphic novel love stories where someone dies, hikers imprisoned in Iran, people who like Bob Dylan, people who went to school with Bon Iver or Neil Gaiman-esque magical realism. Or go there for a definition of a term I invented: Owl Panic.

Here are some things to read on the internet:

Writer Darcey Steinke revisits a day spent with Kurt Cobain, 20 years later.

A cartoonist wanders around NYC drawing his favorite bookstores and, in the meantime, getting little anecdotes about the joints.

Reading about Tavi Gevinson makes me happy that she's making the world a great place for girls and sad that I didn't have a platform when I was 12. Or 18. Or now, really. But also a little glad about that whole no platform thing.

And, of course, a cute picture of my baby. (Photo by Chuck)

Since there is no reason to link to Amazon anymore, I'm scrapping my dinosaur of a series Weakly Reviewed in favor of Super Into This Week. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our Pet Human (at 10.5 months) ...

On the last day of vacation the girl took a digger. Her monkey-style branch-to-branch mode of travel failed and while reaching for her next hold, she swung face-first into a bit of jutting wood and split her lip. She wept, of course, so did I.

Her mouth was a mess. She looked like The Joker, with the addition of a red arc of a scratch from lip to chin. Her onesie had thumb print-sized blood splotches.

Urgent care, no urgent care.

By the time the question was weighed the bleeding had stopped and she was back to pointing indiscriminately at things and saying "Dat?" Still, the lip looked bad, the cut deep. If we didn't go, would this be a thing, a scar? Would she nickname herself Wonky Mouth and have it printed on the back of her jerseys? "Which one invented brain internet for her science fair project?" "That one. The girl with the lopsided lips."

Or is this some sort of first-time-parent-ism that the urgent care docs cackle about, doing imitations of our breathless worry while they later snack on brownies in the break room? "And then she's all (heaving breath, heaving breath) do you think she needs stitches?"

But we are first-time parents, you know, so we owned it.

The doctor ruled that she would give her a single stitch that would eventually disintegrate. It would keep the alignment of her lip intact. She swaddled the PBG in a blanket, to the girl's scrunchy red-faced shrieking horror, cleaned the lip and re-assessed.

Nah, she said. Guess not. If it healed weird, it could be dealt with later. It'll be fine within a few days, she said.
I unswaddled the very angry baby.
By the time we got home, it had improved. I felt like I was watching regeneration.
"Can I see a photo?" Ma Pista messaged me.
It didn't translate. It looked like a paper cut.
First-time parents.

The PBG can no longer say "Mama." It just went away. It used to be, at the very least, her battle cry. But she's lost the M sound. On the other hand, she's got "Dada" down 100 percent. She does this thing where she chants: Da-DA, da-DA, da-DA! sometimes throwing in little claps.

(Lest Chuck get heady, she now calls almost everything "Dada.")


I've recently had the opportunity to socialize with people who are also carting around tiny mites and so at least have one thing in common with me.

This is good.
This is exciting.

This is a reason to take your child to a school parking lot far away from civilization so that she can not care about a fire truck, an ATV, a police car, a bus. Far, far away where I can deny her the event's highlight: the boiled hot dogs. (So good with mustard). Baby school. Transportation night.

But I'm weird. I hear myself talking to other parents and I always feel like I'm lying or at the very least acting like a completely unrecognizable human being. I spend a lot of time whispering to myself "Calm down, Crazy. Just be cool."

"I think I just billed myself as a reformed party girl," I texted Chuck from the parking lot.
"You are," he responded.

Today I ambushed the neighbors, who have girl a few months older than the PBG. I spoke rapidly and seemed to know things about them that a person shouldn't know. There really wasn't time or space to say "It's called observing, not spying!"

"She's pregnant and I actually said to her 'Way to get back up on the horse,'" I texted Chuck, red-faced and hiding on our deck.