Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The long lost arts ...

Hello, Flaming Urethra. Long time, no pee! (This makes no sense, but it's so clever it seems like it make sense.) After more than two years of UTI-free living, it's back. The author comes to you from her bed, where she is propped against an excessive amount of pillows and wrapped in all manner of sweatpant material. Her hood is up.

To her left:
*Water bottle.
*AZO urinary tract relief pain pills.
*"The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides, a reread that was meant to be research for the author's own attempt at a coming-of-age novel, a coming-of-age novel idea that she ditched because she is secretly afraid of vindictive ghosts. So now she is just rereading the book because it is good and she can reach it without twisting too far.
*At least five active games of Words With Friends and a couple matches of Dice with Buddies.

In front of her:
*A Chrome Book that she can use to:
1. Write smart things in her online diary;
2. Watch "Gilmore Girls," her current marathon of choice;
3. Click every link that appears on Facebook;
4. Write a different coming-of-age novel that has nothing to do with her original idea for a coming-of-age novel;
5. Catch up on writing book reviews for Minnesota Reads: "Consumed" by David Cronenberg and "Sister Golden Hair" by Darcey Steinke;
6. Toss aside so that she can nap away the infection.

To her left:
*Plenty of napping acreage.
*Yet another pillow.

The Girl left with her babysitter about 45 minutes ago. They had plans involving nature. The author feels sad and guilty because here is time that she is not at her daily obligation, but she is also not with her wee one.

Fact: Her wee one is exhausting. Her favorite sport is jumping on the couch. Her second favorite sport is orbiting the author like the latter is a May Pole. Her third favorite sport is throwing handfuls of baked squash like it's parade candy. Her fourth favorite sport is pointing at everything in the room and saying "dat.dat.dat.dat.dat." Her fifth favorite sport is ... you get the idea.

Fact Two: The author peed six times between noon and 1 p.m.

Fact Three: The author's doctor told her to start consuming cranberries, putting lemon and lime in her water, going nutso on greens. The doctor told the author to avoid cheese, bread, and chicken. The author just read a bit about getting into The Alkalines and discovered that Victoria Beckham swears by it. Or at least swore by it.

Confession: The author really just wants to zone out and come to consciousness when her urinary tract is again ignorable, but these days she struggles with what was once her greatest skill: The Art of Leisure.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The man in Lane 10 ...

I have a favorite cashier at my local Big Box and it is, like, no contest. I'd guess he's in his 60s, nice face, white hair. He's charming, he's quick and he hasn't bought into that trend where he puts each item in its own separate bag. Also, he doesn't overcompensate for said trend and put everything in a single bag so it feels like I'm carrying a carnival prize to the car. He seems to get a kick out of my kid, so we have a ton in common.

He's the foil to some of the others:

1. The one who complains about back problems when there are heavy purchases to be scanned;
2. The one who is perfectly fine at her job, but always throws me off with skin-tone leggings;
3. The one who uses shame as a sales tactic, re: the store's credit card spiel.

So: Saturday afternoon I'm cruising toward the checkout and see that he's working Lane 10 and just as I'm about to ditch left to get into the line, one of those Greeters/Traffic Cops tells me that Lane 4 is open. But I don't want Aisle 4, I want Lane 10 with the Nice Man. So I speed up and ditch into women's clothing, where I perform a half-assed search for T-shirts.

I give it a minute and double back toward Lane 10 and once again, a beaming 20-something with an official-looking clipboard directs me toward Lane Not-10. I give her a (probably accidentally dismissive) smile and make toward Pet Supplies. There is a huge picture of a dog over there and The Girl likes to point at it and bark. So we made a few passes, she's a good kid, she deserves it.

Attempt 3: A group of like five teens, who probably won't even appreciate the goodness of Lane 10, just kind of lazily end up in front of me and, you guessed it, I'm redirected to another lane.

I sigh and face the facts: It just isn't going to happen with Lane 10. And, frankly, I'm starting to feel a little dumb. Like, I just spent an extra 12 minutes at the Big Box in hopes that I'd get the Varsity Squad cashier.

The new cashier doesn't even look at me. She autopilots her way through my purchases, pausing briefly as she considers whether the diapers are mine. I pay and leave without a single word exchanged. On the way out of the store, I overhear a cashier working the store credit card angle and I think:

"Hm. That girl didn't even try to sell me on the card."

Friday, October 24, 2014

The most boring story in modern history (now with free shipping) ...

I am super loyal to a specific multi-surface disinfectant spray. I like how it works; I like how it smells. Target has stopped carrying it. They carry the brand, but not the kind I like. Our neighborhood grocery store carries it, but the bottles on the shelf are dusty and the labels still make claims about this stuff knocking out H1N1. I don't really sit around and worry about the expiration date on multi-surface disinfectant spray, but truthfully I haven't been to that grocery store in eons.

Amazon carries it. But if you want to purchase it on Amazon, it's part of this service where you get a flat shipping rate and you can put as much kitchen junk in the box as you want. I could order like 30 bottles of this very specific multi-surface disinfectant spray, but I understand this flat-rate box is duping me into buying more. That makes me annoyed.

I was in the car yesterday when I heard on MPR that Target is offering free shipping during the holidays to compete with Amazon. Everything is free shipping, even just a tube of lipstick, it was noted in the story. Starting yesterday. Friends, I am not kidding that my pulse quickened.

I could order my multi-surface disinfectant spray from Target online -- where it is still in stock -- and have it delivered to my house for free. YOU JUST BEAT AMAZON IN THE FIRST BATTLE, TARGET. I went home and ordered three bottles (the limit) ... (and a package of long-sleeved white onesies).  

After I'd completed my order I thought of all the other things I could have bought:

This awesome pumpkin yogurt I stumbled on last week.
Magic Erasers.
Black leggings.

Of course, the rub is that I actually enjoy going to Target. It will be interesting to see which me wins out as we move toward the holidays: The me who enjoys ordering all the creature comforts of Target from my pajamas and being granted the honor of free shipping or the me who lazes her way through the aisles on a Saturday afternoon.

*Sadly, this post is sponsored by no one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Barbie and the Big Red Dog ...

I have had a photo saved in my phone of a naked man's keister with the legs of a Barbie doll sticking out of it. I wasn't proud of it, but there it was among the endless pictures of The Girl on swings and What I had for Lunch.

That's a lie. I was terribly proud of it. It's from a scene in a super stupid movie that seemingly borrowed liberally and poorly in tone and format from the TV show "Scrubs." This was one of the medical situations dealt to the characters in the comedy. We were in some kind of mood when we saw it. I laughed myself turquoise and had Chuck pause the scene so I could capture this image and text it to CHRISSIE!

She never really got into it -- not the first time I sent it, not the 12th time I sent it and none of the times that Chuck sent it to her either. In fact, I have to imagine that she thought it was annoying, this stark hairy butt and those tan little doll legs kicking their way to freedom. Again. Again. And again.

Sometimes it's only important that I think something is funny. Actually, usually.

I realized recently that I didn't have the photo anymore. It had been accidentally deleted. Luckily Chuck had a copy, so he re-sent it to me so I again had it at the ready in case I needed some high comedy.

Tuesday's storytime at the library was a big one. There was an event tie-in, so the place was crawling with toddlers and Clifford the Big Red Dog and Champ, UMD's mascot, made an appearance. This isn't the kind of thing I consider a photo op. I knew The Girl wouldn't stand next to either mascot alone and I didn't want to be all selfie about it. Plus, aesthetically speaking, this just isn't my jam. Fun, yes. Keepsake photo, meh.

Still, every other parent was going cray so I started to feel a little awkward about not caring. I pulled out my phone and when I went to the camera, it said I didn't have any storage left to take a photo. I wasn't surprised. I started deleting indiscriminately. About this time one of the librarians asked if I wanted her to take the picture of The Girl and me with Clifford.

"No," I said deleting faster. "Well, yes."

I was still deleting when she lifted the my phone from my fingertips.

And there, in full glory on my screen, was the photo of the naked butt with the Barbie legs sticking out of it.

The world stopped for at least 3 minutes. I grabbed the phone from her (in slow motion) and shoved it into my purse while stammering:


(One of the other librarians took photos using her phone and emailed them to me. Because they are nice family-friendly people and I am some kind of sicko. Anyway, I deleted the Barbie-butt thing again, though I stand behind it as comic genius. It makes me feel a little better knowing that Chuck still has a copy.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some quick cat fanfic ...

We had been gone a couple hours and when we got home I took The Girl upstairs to change her diaper. I heard soft mewling, like an adorable kitten humbled by a terrible mistake. I turned to see Orin sitting on the changing table and shooed him toward the door.

The shy little cat yelps continued. I followed the sound to the closet, where a box of toys was askew like it had either fallen off a chair or, shrug, had just been left like that. Reader, I freaked. I assumed it had fallen and in that case, I knew that under that pile of Playskool Plastic was a now paraplegic cat.

I backed out of the room and called for Chuck. I can do a lot of things. In fact, right now I'm making squash bread -- a recipe that required ingenuity when it came to finding a substitute for eggs. One thing I cannot do: I cannot be the person to discover that our cat's spine is irreparably damaged because of a Rocktivity Piano.

Chuck thought the cat cries were coming from the linen closet. Hal has been known to hang out among the old pillows and fitted sheets. He wasn't there.

"He's in her closet," I insisted, but I edited out the horrific visual playing in my head.

By then he had stopped in front of her dresser and opened the second drawer to find the cat nestled into a mix of T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. The drawer open, Hal jumped out and scurried out of the room.

How did Hal get into the drawer? Good Q.

Both cats can open drawers. They proved this back when we kept their treats in a drawer in the kitchen.

But how did the drawer then get closed? Also a Good Q.

I like to think that Orin opened the drawer, lured Hal in, then pushed it closed. A demon cat who learned at the elbow of Macaulay Culkin.

"What would have happened if we'd like been on vacation?" Chuck asked.

Ugh. We would get home after 10 days of fun and sun and I'd go upstairs to get a hoodie for The Girl. I'd open her second drawer to find ... I shuddered. The smell alone.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

You are everyone ...

This whole we-have-a-kid thing can feel very special and First Man on the Moon-ish until, like today, you make a spontaneous decision to go a special family-friendly Halloween event at the local zoo, turn on to Grand Avenue and realize that 4,999 other very special astronauts had the same idea.

There are cops directing traffic.
There are nearby residential neighborhoods so packed with cars, that you can barely toss a Slim Jim down the street without nicking a side mirror.
Meanwhile, there are mini princesses and tiny Scooby Doos hiking in from miles away.

"The ... hell?" you might whistle under your breath.

I've never said this sentence: "Oh, The Great Archivist and Geo Girl? They live over there by the zoo!" Still, we ended up parked on their street.

The place was lousy with kids: pirates, super heroes, brown bears, Monster High Dolls and lions.

"There's nothing funnier than a visibly angry child in a butterfly costume," Chuck observed.

Some dude in front of us lost his mind because he had purchased advance tickets, but his sister didn't so now he had to stand in line anyway when he actually could have just slept in an hour later. He punctuated his discontent with sulks and snarls and eventually his friend, who'd only called him over to offer him a line jump, shuffled his feet and responded:

"I'd like you to meet my grandmother and my mother-in-law."

We got in quickly and made for the white skunk before hitting up the monkeys, bears, tigers, etc. We wrangled a cranky puppy who didn't want to sit in her stroller but did want to sit on the path and try to liberate the stones that are embedded in the asphalt. Her shoe fell off like eight times.

Random thought: It's cool for the parents to dress up, but that guy with the scythe kind of seemed like he was at the wrong Halloween party.

Another random thought: Are suckers still dangerous, or did they lose that stigma after kids stopped running and playing?

It's weird to look around at all these people and realize that we never knew this scene existed. It's like a sci-fi movie where a door opens to a parallel universe that has always been there and always will. Old us probably heard the words "Boo at the Zoo" at some point, but could have never guessed that it required a guy in a beret repeating to drivers again and again: "There's no parking ahead; It's just for drop offs. There's no parking ahead; It's just for drop offs. There's no ..."

Old us would still be in bed, I told Chuck. Old us would have blasted way past a single Rusty Nail on Friday night and closed down the evening with an cashed bottle of Drambuie. New us were up at 8:15 a.m. New us had family breakfast, though one of us just gorged herself on hashbrowns and whipped scrambled eggs to the four corners of the room. New us keeps getting our minds blown by this parallel universe.

Anyway, we performed a pretty half-assed tour of the zoo before plopping down in damp grass to feed our kid a Macaroni & Cheese Eggroll. I distracted her with animal crackers so I could have the second-to-last bite.

"Actually I amend that," Chuck said, eating his Southwest Chicken Eggroll. "There is something funnier. A visibly angry adult dressed as a Whoopie Cushion."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bright white blue ...

The Norwegian Wonder regularly sends me a bunch of photos from how the day was spent.
Here's one of my favorites from today at Enger Park. 
I overslept today. Like, majorly overslept. I overslept like a guy with a beard and mustard stains. I overslept like someone who is later seen carrying a cardboard box out of a cubicle. I overslept like beginning of a montage in a rom-com.

We were up late-ish watching "Transparent." We went one episode too far, then I chased it with like 20 pages of the Cronenberg.

I woke up at 7:57 a.m., peed, and decided to snuggle in for one more minute of quality Zzzs before my alarm went off. Then it never went off. I woke because the battery on the baby monitor was beeping -- and hour and a half later.

"Whoa!" I yelled, waking Chuck, who matched my "Whoa!" with his own.
I found The Girl sitting quietly in her crib holding her stuffed dog.


I was scrubbing the bathtub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, thinking about what I'd Tweet if I was more active on Twitter.

Something, something, Magic Eraser, I thought, struggling to find the right declarative words to match my enthusiasm for this product. I mean, this thing is literally magic. The tub was starting to look like I'd just painted it bright whitish blue.

Then I started thinking: What if I was that kind of blogger. Like, the kind who said sassy things about my Magic Eraser like "Seriously, you guys. I'm totally scribbling Mr. Clean all over my Trapper Keeper." Or, "I'm not sure what's in the recipe for a Magic Eraser, but I'd give up margaritas forever for the answer. Just kidding! But kinda not. Just kidding. Maybe. Ish."

And what if I had a blog catch phrase, like, "It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere!"

I'd be a regular guest on "Ellen" and I'd be like "What time is it?" and the audience would say "Wine O'Clock!" and I'd say, "Did you say Wine-Thirty?!" and everyone would laugh and boo. And then finally we'd all say in unison:

"It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere!"

And then Ellen would dance.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The wet fish movement ...

For a while we were feeding them wet food. Hal had a bunch of kidney stones, was probably too nauseated to eat, and we had to get him interested in food again. He was so bony and light that it made it a little harder to hate him every time he butted up against a kitchen cabinet, shook his haunches and unleashed a stream of pee.

The wet food didn't do much -- for him. He would lap up the gravy and leave the chunks for the other cat. Orin gained about 5 pounds and a lazy unwillingness to stalk even the slowest of spiders. Eventually Hal was miraculously cured and returned to dry Iams and we hid the leftover wet food far, far away in the darkest recesses of the cupboards. But wet cat food does something to you, man. It put us off tuna, neither of us could stomach the idea of it. Even eating sushi became a thing that might never happen again.

A certain food pickle has me ripping through my recipe archives to find something to feed an unpredictable dinner companion. Well, there is one sure thing. Consider this story from earlier in the day: Chuck told The Girl it was time to eat lunch, so she crawled under the kitchen table to hide. Then Chuck told her he had made Macaroni & Cheese and she backed out, smiling. Like, "Just kidding, dad. Of course I'll eat. LOL."

Aside from that, she does a thing I call The Zamboni. She uses her teeth to push the offending food off her tongue -- a sort of resurfacing -- and onto her bib. It's fascinating to see what will pass the test. She will eat a noodle. But she will zamboni a noodle slathered in a sauce made from nutritional yeast and mustard, even if the cookbook insists this is a viable substitute for cheese. She will eat peas; She will zamboni broccoli. Oatmeal is for eating; Eggs are new to the zamboni treatment.

I decided to make Tuna Twist. This recipe comes from the heart of the 1970s, a place where every dinner was made possible with the help of Campbell's Cream of Something Soup. (In this case, I used Cream of Celery.) I got the recipe from Ma Pista when I was pregnant and hungry for all manner of nostalgia food. Aside from that, it's tuna, green pepper, onion, cheese, Bisquick, milk, cheese, etc. It's not, what you'd call, gourmet. It's like landlines and pea green hand mixers. It's an apron and a wrench to change channels on the TV. It's a Tab diet and feathered bangs.

I made Tuna Twist because it seemed like something an almost 15-month old would like. There's cheese in it. A bread-like quality. The flavors are muted. The green pepper would count as a vegetable, the tuna as a meat. It seemed like if it was listed in a food group, it would appear alongside Macaroni & Cheese.

This is all just to say that when I opened the tuna cans, the cats pounced. They were, like, feral. They crawled up my pant leg and clawed at the cupboards. At first it was funny. But, frankly, the whole thing freaked me the eff out. It felt like being dropped in a snake pit, the way these things wound around my legs. Wet fish. Wet fish. Wet fish.

So The Girl loved it. But, sorry, we're never eating Wet Fish-based foods ever forever never again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You make me feel like a ...

After two years out of the game, I got my you-know-what yesterday. One minute I was minding my own business, living life, the next minute I was staring at a Pollack'ed item of intimate apparel, confused until I remembered:

"Oh yeah. Periods."

That would explain that uncomfortable sensation in my stomach. It would also explain why I audibly cried three times while accidentally* watching "The Voice" on Monday night. If there was a certain inadvertent sharpness to my tone when I suggested that Chuck manage the tot's 1:40 a.m. rally cry, this, too, could be explained.

Truthfully, I was a little excited. It was like getting a visit from an old friend I'd not really missed. In the past two years, whenever someone complained about cramps or bloodlettings, I just nodded sympathetically and groaned "ugh" before checking myself and thinking "You fraud. These days you wouldn't know a cramp if it twisted your uterus into a pretzel and slapped you across the face."

First I sent Fannie a text:
"I just got my first period in two years!" I said.
"Congrats," she responded. "You're a woman now."
Then I sent a text to Chuck:
"I just got my period!" I said.
"You're a woman now," he responded.
I guess it's unanimous.

I rifled through the nooks and crannies of our bathrooms in search of supplies. I found some of this and that, dusty behind the Mega Pads required to sop up the effects of the pregnancy wound. In the end, I went with one of the Mega Pads. It seemed retro and cool. I could practically hear myself twisting a phone cord and sighing lazily into a landline: "What? Oh nothing. Just sitting around in a pair of sweatpants wearing a pad and crying about 'The Voice.'"

The novelty wore off today when I realized I'd lost my ability to do the math problem that involves absorbency, flow and time.

My last period struck about this time in 2012, while we were inconveniently staying in a hotel in Minneapolis that was accented in such crisp whites. I demolished a pair of yellow jeggings that weekend, if I recall correctly. My last first period hit about 27 years ago while I was running wild at a hockey game with a girl named Gina.

"There's a blood moon," Chuck said when he walked into the house tonight after work.
"For me?" I squealed.

* I don't, like, rush home from my daily obligation to watch "The Voice." My TV just happened to be on and it just happened to be turned to "The Voice" channel and The Powerful Toddler Girl likes songs and then I got distracted by Judge Gwen Stefani. So.

Also: I can't remember if it's weird to write about periods, but I decided that I threw modesty out the window the day that I decided to give a detailed account of what it's like to have a baby.

Also-Also: I was assured by two nurses that it is perfectly reasonable for a Bfeeder to not get her P (slang, yo) while Bfeeding. Bodies, man.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A few things I didn't know about pedicures (until recently) ...

1. Anything. I didn't know anything about getting a pedicure. I know that Ma Pista is some sort of spokeswoman for them and seemed to find my own ambivalence to be a character flaw. What kind of woman doesn't want a pedicure. Shrug. I don't know. Maybe the kind who has figured out how to turn her pajamas into business casual?

2. Where to go. JCrew answered this by revealing a still fresh month-old pedicure and stage-whispering: "Go to (redacted). Seriously. They use a bunch of illegal tools like cheese graters, but they're fantastic." Sold? I said with my eyebrows. "You have to pay cash," she added.

3. That my feet are so grotesque. I guess I knew this. My toenails are thick and yellowed talons strong enough to pop the top of a soda. My heels and the balls of my feet have a matching thick, cracked rind. The pedicurist's stoicism in the face of my feet could mean only one thing: She was a professional, capable of stifling the strongest urge to recoil in horror. Not even a twitch.

"Is this your first pedicure," she asked politely.
We both knew that we both knew.

4. That it would tickle, getting grated and watching it snow parmesan sized flakes of skin into this woman's lap. And it was the kind of ticklish that forced a fake-sounding, cartoon-like, laugh. I literally curling my toes and saying "TEEHEE! TEEHEE! TEEHEEEEE!"

5. That it would hurt, having my nails shaped, wayward skin flaps tugged and clipped and my cuticles tamed. "Virgin feet," I said with each wince. "Careful with the virgin feet."

6. That this isn't just a foot thing, pedicures. This involves everything south of the knees. The threat of that exfoliating mud gumming up my leg hair had me in a brief tizzy until I remembered this would be much more pleasant if I unclenched my calf muscles.

7. That the muted movie playing on a couple different screens in the room would hold my attention so completely. That, at one point, I'd Google "Fresh Prince of Bel Air as matchmaker" and realize I was watching "Hitch." (Confession: And then, days later, I'd stream it again to see how closely my version of the silent film matched director Andy Tennant's one with dialogue.) ((Speaking of Andy Tennant: In this photo he kind of looks like alternate universe Don Johnson. Like, if instead of "Miami Vice," Don Johnson had been shuffled to the "Ernest Goes to Camp" acting track. That's all.))

8. Etiquette involving toenail dryers, disposable flipflops, tipping. I would have wondered how my shoes and purse would get from Point A to Point B, but a sort of Cruella-ish Real Housewife of Hm ... Duluth? (I guess) snapped her fingers at a man who was carrying her shoes and purse to the drying station.

"Young man. Young MAN!" Snap. Snap.
"Those are NOT my shoes," she said.
He smiled, her friend was a kidder and he seemed to think this was an extension of her friend's charming personality. It wasn't.
"I'm SERIOUS," she said, hobbling along, her hot-pink weapons leading the way.

9. That the meaning of $30 would change so drastically in 45 minutes. Pre-peddie me would have said "Hm. That seems like a lot of money for four coats of greenish-grey-black and a go-round with a cheese grater." But watching the pedicurist clean up her station afterward, wondering if my skin and nails had ruined her lunch or maybe even clogged the station's drainage system -- that made me think that $30 is nothing. Nothing at all.