Monday, September 29, 2014

The Great Amnesia Incident of 2014 ...

When you are a regular blogger, the bloggable moments really jump out at you. Every day. You're like: "Holy Crap. Is that an old man using his fingers as a scoop to eat Top the Tator in the corner of Subway? I can't wait to tell tens of people about this." But when you don't blog regularly for a spell, large chunks of fodder fail to form a cohesive narrative. It's just not there, you know? You could go to your 20 year high school class reunion and have just half-formed sentences about the two day Eagle fest.

Blerg. Rusty writer.

So we had our class reunion. On Friday, we drank beer out of yellow Solo cups in the parking lot before the homecoming football game. On life's cool scale, this probably exists somewhere between: Age 25, wearing a high school letter jacket and watching the big game from behind a fence so you don't have to pay admission and Age 25, attending high school prom with a senior. (I've done neither of these, but I bet people do).

I had to imagine that at least one high school student was like: Hey, I didn't know you could drink beer in the parking lot before the game ...

Chuck's response to that: "You can do whatever you want if you don't give a shit." He said that as we walked back to the Space Shuttle to steal the bug spray out of our baby's diaper bag, so, punk rock, yo.

Then we went to an old friend's new digs on land on the outskirts of town. We toured a haunted silo and ate S'mores and I took Chuck in a Best-of-Three ping pong series. We got home at 1:30 a.m. like some kind of wild maniacs.

So composed beforehand. Who could've predicted a shit show?
As for Saturday night, we had drinks and apps at a downtown restaurant and then I caught amnesia. An entire 60-person street brawl was just ramping up as we were whisked away by cab (I'm told). I think it shows great maturity that I don't have an iPhone full of photographs of the various players involved in the skirmish and, more importantly, that the white woman arrested at the scene was not me.

This night wasn't all bad, apparently. Chuck said he looked at me at one point and my face was so slack that I looked 10 years younger. Boozy muscle relaxers. Now I'll never drink again forever I guess.

From what I remember, it was good fun and I had a lot of chuckles with my old friend Griff and I did not take the bait to a) leave the party in search of a long lost ex-boyfriend -- which I would categorize as something akin to visiting a zoo, and b) I did not dance, see also: zoo.

Wheels still on at this point. 
Slept a lot yesterday, but not enough. Traded in the promise of grilled meat in favor of Papa Murphy's. After the bodily healing began, the social shame took over.

In other news, Pa Pista pushed a spicy snack pack in our direction and now I'm gaga for Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos.

The bigger news, though, is that The Girl has officially become A Walker. She could walk before and she would do it briefly here and there, reluctantly, like a musical phenom who hates that she has this pesky talent and is constantly asked to perform "I Dreamed a Dream" during her parents' dinner parties. So we'd play the walking game from me to Chuck to the corner of the couch. A few rounds of that and she'd be like "Oh, look, there's my stuffed Elmo" and she'd crawl away.

But here. Here she has really mastered the art. She can walk anywhere, she can stand up unassisted and she can fake out two grown adults who thought she was doing laps around the couch. She'd actually made a break for it. She was found on the third step, where she'd made off with one of her rainbow shoes.


Also, she loves Made Rites and taught herself how to use a spoon so she could get the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard into her face faster.

The end.

Loose meat.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vacation-ish Day 1: Missed the boat ...

Chuck is on vacation, but I'm not yet. This is pretty confusing for me because I'm no match for his mental forcefield. So if his brain is in leisure mode, if he's set his work shoes aside with a declarative "I WILL NOT PUT MY FEET INTO THESE FOR TWO WEEKS, SO HELP ME ...," then all of a sudden I find myself holding a grudge against any situation that requires more effort than sweatpants.

So I guess I'm on Vacation-ish. Or Vacation Lite. Or Pre-Vacation.

Yesterday we went to Fall Fest and the PBG hi-fived everyone on the bus on the way to Chester Bowl. We entered in a frantic Ergo Carrier, unnecessary sweatshirts, sunscreen, where's-my-purse swirl and didn't have our recommended $2 donation at the ready. "Have a nice time," a volunteer seemed to sneer. We lunched on gyros and cheese curds. I swiped at JCrew's face with her brand new mittens. The PBG touched a dog's nose and then hi-fived everyone on the bus away from Chester Bowl.

We went to a used bookstore and all I could see in my head was a tower of mass market mysteries toppling with a single King Kong-ian swipe by The Girl.

The PBG fell asleep in her stroller as we walked toward the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Bayfront so just inches from the gate we veered left. It seemed pointless to enter if she was going to miss it. We wound around the back of the entertainment center, knocked on the side of a beached art installation that failed to float. It was a gorgeous day and we looked at the water before hiking back toward the car we'd ditched about 3 miles away.

Only later, in the Papa Murphy's parking lot, did we learn that we'd missed this. A massive freighter missed a turn and damn near took out Bayfront. It had been a mere parks-length away from where we shrugged, disinterested, and opted out of the festival. I hate missing cool shit. So we raced to one of the highest points of West Duluth and peered East but couldn't see a lick of it. Blerg.

Then we watched a half-dozen episodes of "Californication" -- the Rick Springfield season.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maid of Honoring in 28 Easy Steps ...

Two Friday's ago I stood on the uneven square of acreage on farmland outside of Minneapolis and looked at the spot beneath my phantom bouquet. A black cat. He'd wandered in from somewhere, a field probably, winding his way through the feet of the wedding party as we rehearsed. The 5-year-old next to me gave a little shriek, she didn't know this snaky creature was on the loose until the fur brushed her ankle. Now he'd moved on to terrorize me.

We went eyeball to eyeball.
I knew that cat's look.
I braced myself.
"No," I said mostly to myself, but also to him.
And he leapt up on my body (did he think I'd catch and cradle him?) and sunk his claws into the Ralph Lauren dress that had been discounted down to damn-near nada.
I screamed and bucked him off; He moved on to the next victim.

And that's how we kicked off my favorite friend Fannie's wedding weekend. Here is a list of other things that happened:

1. The rehearsal dinner was at Kieran's in Minneapolis and included drink tickets and a table of appetizers with fare ranging from celery to the richest of rich fish-something-yum-stomach ache-ouch-ate-too-many and pot roast sliders.

Princess Linda, Fannie, Me, Phantom Summer Sausage
2. At one point the happy couple collapsed into a super-intense private conversation that included a lot of nodding and eye contact. We imagined he was revealing the painful details of a super-secret second family he is keeping in Japan. Fannie seemed to take the news extraordinarily well. In actuality, someone forgot the gifts for the parents.

3. We drank, we mingled and complete strangers harassed me about my decision to cover my dress with a hooded sweatshirt (Forever 21, $17). Listen. I like layers upon layers. I'm working on it. I've recently showed toe in public. About a month ago I wore shorts and a tank top to the grocery store and said to Chuck, "Can you believe I'm just, like, wearing shorts and a tank top to the grocery store?"

4. Every time I burped, which was happening involuntarily, I'd blow a gust that smelled like Summer Sausage, though I'd eaten nothing Summer Sausage-like. Chuck would get a whiff and raise his eyebrows and mouth "Was that you?" and I'd nod sadly. Finally I went outside to let the wind take it away. As I deflated, I watched buskers drum on buckets for Twins' fans leaving Target Field.

5. We moved the party and closed down the hotel bar. Fannie ditched the future Mister and was like a freaking celebrity and we all cooed and cackled.

6. Chuck and I crept back to our hotel room where The Girl was asleep in a Pack 'n' Play, a successful night routine completed in a Doubletree by her grandparents, who were asleep in the adjoining room. Though there had been a text message earlier that hinted the Young Little Missy has a few "character flaws" -- strong words from a Grammy. "I bet that means she threw her bottle," Chuck predicted.

7. Chuck struggled with sleep. Our bed was the size of a Barbie Hammock. Every time he twisted, I felt like I was training for "American Ninja Warrior." Plus, we were keenly aware that we were a single cough or toilet flush from summoning the tot. None of this made for quality shut eye.

8. Chuck left for Duluth in the morning. He had to work. The Girl was given to the Parents Pista, who I'm assuming dressed her like a pilgrim and enrolled her at Benilde St. Margaret's.

Sweatshirt by Forever 21, $17
9. Hair was updid. Eyes were lined. Mimosas were drank. Underwear or no underwear convos were had. The bride expressed a quick regret about forgetting to put her breasts into her dress in a certain way -- but she quickly moved on to the next thing.

10. Saturday was gorg. Perfect weather, perfect kind of light, perfect everything. The kind of day that falls on someone who firmly believes in a religion called The Luck O' The Irish.

11. Fannie was so so so lovely and calm and collected and never once shrieked, sulked or sweated. And every time she asked her personal attendant to fetch or fix something, she did it with an amused smile -- like she was still getting used to this whole bride-as-co-boss-of-the-day thing. Later she'd get the same look when she realized she could ask the server for a bottle of wine for the head table. It was all very What Would Princess Di Do.

12. The photographer was a fellow long and triple jumper and I believe he anchored the LHS boys' 4x400 relay. I can picture him taking a handoff and cruising along the backstretch all those years ago. "I wasn't any good," he said when I told him this. "We just didn't have enough boys on the team."

13. I scratched notes for my toast on pieces of hotel stationery, sucking the pen cap and using my phone for a hard surface. "You look like a reporter," the triple jumper told me.

14. The bride's brother was the officiant and he talked about the examples of love who were sitting in the audience. Things got a little teary. The bride and the groom held hands and he kept breaking into huge grins. They vowed and kissed and then they were married. They reversed back up the aisle triumphantly. Did she raise her bouquet and shake it? I think so.

I have a daughter. Her face is just the best. 
15. I lazed in the grass with the Parents Pista and my shell-shocked child and drank a few G&Ts.

The Bride and Groom made a grand entry to the reception. 
16. Dinner was salmon and salad and wine-wine-wine.

17. I gave a toast, Maid of Honor and all that, and achieved all of my goals: One laugh per three sentences. No longer than 2 minutes. No drunken and overly sentimental gibberish filled with inside jokes. The speech had to be about the couple and not about the time my friend and I lit out for Santa Fe with a 1990s cell phone, a $20/day budget and NO FEAR when it came to strangers in strange places. Unfortunately I spilled a glass of white wine down the front of my dress while adjusting the microphone, conveying to the leader of the bluegrass band that I was far more hamboned than I actually was -- albeit less than I would ultimately be.

18. I spent probably an hour, more, talking to Princess Linda's mom and aunt, one of the funniest conversations I've been a part of for years. Eventually I was so cold that I had to go get a sweatshirt (Forever 21, $17). Those women need a podcast. Also, this was time I didn't spend drinking, which might have saved me from getting extra drunker.

19. I don't think I danced. I did try to book the band in Duluth and used "Hey, do you guys know Trampled By Turtles?" as my very agent-y opening line.

I think I read a super spooky short story about something like this
20. I crammed into a bus seat with Princess Linda and Z and we spent the 20 mile drive back to Minneapolis shouting out Duluth landmarks. "GRANDMA'S SPORTS GAR-DEN!" "MILLER HILL MAH-AL." "YOUNK-ERS!" "PROACTIVE KIOSK!"

21. Back at the hotel I changed into sensible shoes and traded out my contact lenses for glasses. Then we hit the streets.

22. Z paid for us all to get into Toby Keith's bar, though I'm not sure why. Then he slipped out the back door and went to bed. Duped.

My fashion sense was questioned. "But I live in Duluth" didn't seem to matter to anyone. 
23. Dong wanted to go to Jetset, but it seemed weird to leave the vicinity of the bride. Still, I found myself lifting Princess Linda into the back of an Uber and we were whisked away.

Dong and Princess Linda went to Homecoming, etc. together. 
24. Things get foggy.

25. Back at the hotel in a strange room with the bride and groom and friends and a kindly woman is heating up burritos, one at a time, in a portable microwave while we all stand around drinking beer and hearing tales of how great these burritos are going to be. I will say they were a success.

26. Crashed at 3:30 a.m.; Baby woke at 7 a.m. I lifted her from the crib, knocked on the adjoining door, handed her to her grandmother and returned to bed without ever opening my eyes. They took her to church while I performed the ritual cleansing required to make a 39 year old body not feel like asscakes after drinking for a double-digits amount of consecutive hours. Maid of Honor, and all that.


27. Fannie sent me nightly photos from her French honeymoon.

28. The next week I missed my high school friends so much that I didn't quite know what to do with myself.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Uniform ...

"What are you going to do when you have to change out of that," he asked me Monday morning, nodding at my TribLoons T and wind pants ensemble. "Probably just stand it up in the corner so it's ready for you when you get home?"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How we live now (a tale of four days) ...

Ace pterodactyl caller
On Friday I was part of a competition that involved Team T's and a raw baked bean eating contest. I filled in for a guy who probably would've taken the Loon Call title. JCrew, meanwhile, eschewed the loon call in favor of her signature pterodactyl call -- and managed to avoid last place in the process. As is, I held my own in the Portage Race, swinging two backpacks behind me as I passed my own teammates saying:

"Did that guy look like Philip Seymour Hoffman?" and "Move over, Princess" respectively.

By the time we got to the baked beans, there was no way Team Tribloons was going to win. I stared down Greener, who was on an opposing team, til she choked on stone cold bean juice.

Eat up, Greener
Later that night we had JCrew and Sea Dawg over for a cocktail party. We drank Negronis, ate cheese and said awful things. It was great fun.

On Saturday I took The Girl to Pride Fest where she knew instinctively when to clap during a set by a local singer-songwriter. I had to work extremely hard to keep her from coating herself in a layer of horse shit left behind by the Horse Cops that live in the park.

Cousin Mel found the right word to describe The Girl's hair,
which has Qs in back and nothing in front. "It's a mullet," she said. 
After that we had dinner with the Brother Pista Family. The Girl got all blotto on sugar, came home and rip-roared her way around the living room. She bounced from cushion to cushion and buried her face in my back.

Her eyes tell the tale:

Portrait of a Tot with Ice Cream Eyes
Sunday was my birthday, so we ate cake and opened presents and then Chuck went to work. The Girl and I went to Target and the mall and at both stops I looked at people and thought "Would you believe that today is my birthday? I'm 39."

We went to a bubble festival at the children's museum, but we'd totally missed out on the free T-shirt so we really half-assed the rest of the visit.

Chuck says she looks like the MC and I look like her Hype Man.
I decided that she and I would go out for Indian food, but the restaurant was closed. I decided that maybe instead we would go to a sort of fancy place.

"There's never anyone there," I reasoned aloud to myself. "And, 'sides, it's my birthday."

The bartender pshawed my question. Of course I could bring a baby into the restaurant.

"The white table cloths just make us seem fancy," he said.

This is probably true. One night Chuck and I ate our dinner with a view of a man wearing a robe who was checking his Gmail in the hotel lobby.

The Girl was fine through the cheese plate. She was really getting a fever for the flavor of Havarti. She might have caught a small bone in the white fish and I think she flicked the caper.

I caught the plate just as she was about to fling it across the room.

She grabbed a ring of onion off the top of my salad and seemed to put a lot of muscle into ripping it apart. She pointed at my olives. She shook her head at the tomatoes. She almost ate a piece of chicken, but squirreled it away in the corner of her mouth.

I quickly had the server bring the check and a box.

When we tried to leave it was pouring rain.

I put her to bed and ate the salad straight out of the carton while watching "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" on Hulu. It was actually fun.

Neither of us had a daily obligation on Monday, so we went for a walk and ended up at something that is oddly referred to as The Mom Beach. We buried The Girl's feet in the sand and swung her out over the water and then lazily headed back civilization.

We ate dinner at Endion Station and just barely got back to the car before it got dark.

Later, summer.