Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vacation Day Everything Else: Poop Cramps, Camels, The Summer of 2016 Black Out ...

Dinner was a disaster. First of all, we didn't even want to be there. After 7 days of vacation that included things like nachos and Bloody Marys al fresco, pizza on a deck in Woodland, co-op picnic food on a rock, tacos and empanadas on a patio in Minneapolis, I had huge plans to season some root veggies with miso and begin Operation Clean Living. Then the power went out on our half of the town, no stove, and here we were back in a restaurant -- this time inside.

"I'm just going to get porridge," I sighed dramatically, so tired of other people's food.
(I didn't.)

One of us, not naming names, had to poop. And when Anonymous has to poop, he/she fights it with the strength of a thousand sphincters. Rather than pooping, like all animals everywhere always, Anonymous succumbs to poop cramps. He/she emits spontaneous screams. Then he/she insists on going to the bathroom. Once Anonymous crosses the threshold of the bathroom, he/she no longer has to go. Until he/she is about four steps away from the bathroom when he/she banshee yelps again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So dinner was a nuisance meal, taken simply so no one's stomach caved in and started eating itself. And the Poop Screams were just ... what. Is it weird to say dessert?

Finally we just had to GTFO. Chuck paid while I took Chacha to the car. When we got there, she refused to get into her carseat because her baby, 0 pounds and 0 ounces of bouncing baby air, was sitting in her car seat. She buckled him (her?) in. So I removed the pretend baby from the carseat and fake-set her on the seat. Chacha made a grab for air baby and tried to buckle her back into the seat and I, once again, removed her. This time I seemingly zipped her into my sweatshirt.

Chacha made a grab for her and there we were in a tug-o-war for air. She was laughing through tears, I was making a maniacal cackle that I'd never heard before.

This is how Chuck found us.
"Your mom's not Stay at Home Mom material," he said to Chach, sliding into the front seat.

I'm making vacation sound more intense than it was. It was mostly on Chach-time, no muss no fuss, so it was pretty fun, slow-paced and relaxing. We took her to the Minnesota Zoo, where she rode a camel. (It went like this: "Do you want to ride a cam-" "YES.")We hit up the YMCA's Kid's Club. We visited a baby. We wandered like tourists through Canal Park.

At one point we were driving to Target and the song "Hello" came on the radio.
"What's Adele's last name?" she asked.
"Good Q," I said.
"Probably Adele Smith," she decided.

She turned her new alarm clock and new nightstand lamp into living, breathing creatures.
"And this is Lamp," she said, patting the shade with both hands. Then, without pausing, in a different voice, she said "Don't hit me."
"I'm sure it was an accident," she pretended the alarm clock said, in yet another different voice.
I died.

The beauty of returning to work, though, was knowing that for 8 straight hours -- at least -- I'd only have myself to wipe.

On my first day back I rammed my car into a pickup truck while trying to parallel park. While trying to remember the etiquette on note-or-no-note where there is no damage to the other vehicle, I failed to noticed that I'd completely scraped and dented my own car. So, goodbye series of luxury items for myself, hello Arrowhead Auto Body.

Also: I took Chach to McDonald's for a Kiddie Cone -- a long story involving her own actual feces landing in a toilet -- and they didn't charge me for it. When they explained at the Pay Window that it was free, I was sheepish. When I got to the pickup window, I was downright apologizing. Like "I'm sorry, sir, that you had to go out of your way to make a tiny 2-inch cone for my daughter so that she will become addicted to your gross product and always, constantly insist that we eat at your food forever and then she'll addict her own kids." And that was silly.

Also, also: I finished the cone and it was amazing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vacation Day 4: Air Intake, Spirit Animals and Ominous Doorbells ...

On the fourth day of vacation, I replaced a busted left front blinker on my 2012 Nissan Rogue with just a flathead screwdriver and YouTube because I'm Jo Freaking Polniaczek. My neighbor had recently had his replaced by a professional blinker repairer and spent $45 on it.

"I'm going to figure out how to fix mine, then I'll do your other one for $40," I told him, barely kidding.

First I watched a very informative vid.
Then I bought a two-pack of bulbs for $5 from a kid at Napa.
Then I popped the lid and went inside the house to scare up some tools.
I showed Chuck a portion of the vid and he handed me a screwdriver.
I tried to remove the air intake, then watched the vid again, then removed the air intake.
I unscrewed the old bulb, unpacked the new bulb and swapped 'em out.
I tested my work by starting the car and triggering the blinker.
I am told I whooped.
It worked.
I replaced the air intake and slammed the hood.

By then Chuck and Chach came out to see My Greatest Victory.
"I did it!" I yelled, a little too loudly or maybe not loudly enough.
I showed them how, when I pushed the blinker down it made the left front blinker blink.
(It wasn't a valve.)
"I'M GOING TO BUILD A CAR!!" I freaked.

Also on Vacation Day 4: I watched "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" on a treadmill at the YMCA. It feels a pretty tacky to gawk at Taylor Armstrong's domestic crisis knowing that her husband is T-minus how many episodes from hanging himself in the garage. But, honestly, Lisa Vanderpump is my spirit animal. She's part Charlie's Angel-Part Queen of England wrapped in a florescent pink bra. Also, any wheels that were on in Season 1 are suddenly off and who are these people.

We had a picnic on a rock.

We finally turned Chach's bed from a crib into a toddler bed, a much-delayed project that didn't seem to matter because she didn't seem to care that she was still sleeping in a crib. Bedtime kind of went like this:

She went into the bathroom, went, grunted her pajamas back into place and walked into the hallway.
"I went potty," she said.
"You didn't wash your hands," I said.
"Aw!" she yelped.

Five minutes later, she came out again.
"What are you doing now?" I asked.
"I'm going potty," she said.
"You don't go potty every 10 minutes," I said.
"Oh," she said, and went back to bed.

Anyway, this went on and on and on.
She didn't fall out of bed, but I did come in to find her on her stomach, legs on the floor and body in bed.

Later I would have an epic nightmare involving a very tall and silent man wearing a brown robe, gunfire in the distance, hungry journalists, ominous door bells and trying to keep a child safe. It. Was. Terrible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vacation Day 3: Kick Moves, Pool Potty and Hot Dogs Sliced the Long Way ...

On the third day of vacation, I decided to get back on the ol' treadie. I've got my sights on a 5-miler that's a month away and I'm not going to get any faster by sitting around reading mass market true crime about handsome serial killers.

I planted Chach at Kid's Club, where there was just one other boy, approximately 8 years old, plowing through foam mats. As I was walking away, he said to her "Let me teach you some fighting moves." The staff quickly interceded and pointed out their age differences and blah blah blah. In the time it took me to leave the room and walk around a corner to a window, Chach was at his elbow seemingly tuned in to a lesson that involved kicking a mat.

I hopped on the treadmill and right before I cranked it up, I wondered if this was a good idea. I feel about 90 percent normal, but I'd imagine there are hidden dangers with immediately launching into another workout schedule three days after a half-marathon. So I Googled and, sure enough, Hal Higdon calls it Week Zero. You do, literally, nothing. So I queued up "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and walked for 30 minutes.

Sure enough: "Want to see my kick move?" Chach asked when I picked her up.

We went to swimming lessons, which is 30 minutes of me pretending that every kid in that pool isn't constantly unleashing a flood of urine. This week we really nailed the Jump From the Ledge of the Pool and Into My Arms, but failed in the Scoop Your Arms and Blow Bubbles at the Same Time. We did not suffer any of the anguish over the swim suit dryer that we encountered last week, when I stood watching a red-faced toddler and wondered if this particular health club employs anyone with the ability to perform an exorcism. I'll call it a victory. I treated her (I mean me) to a grilled cheese sandwich from Toasty's (mine: Ariba Ariba; Her's: Hot dog, sliced the long way, and cheddar) where everyone needs to go eat right now because it's awesome and I try to get there once a week because I don't want it to ever leave. Try the burgers.

Also on Vacation Day 3:
We had a play date with a girl from Chach's class at ECFE. Her toys are far superior to Chach's, so we won. Chach and her friend have a ton in common, disposition-wise, including that they both need to be carried everywhere. We called them The Ladies of Leisure. They dabbled in hugs and hand-holding and it was adorbs.

I set aside Ted Bundy and got out of bed when I remembered that the moon was doing cool things.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Vacation Day 2: 4-Way Stops, Criminal Minds, Baby Joan ...

The second day of vacation was Father's Day, so we presented Chuck with the only gift that could possibly convey our gratitude for another 366 days of kick-ass daddery: A Timex Indiglo. The vintage watch, best remembered for the way its digital screen was visible in the darkest of movie theaters, is exactly like the one he already has, save for the band. We upgraded him from black plastic to silver, which you might recall, can be spun around one's fingers in a way that mimics the movements of a tank's tires. Ah, the 1980s. So rich!

Then, because the weather was being very show-offy, we went to one of the great patios of Duluth. A place with a bacon, lettuce, tomato and egg sandwich that is simply not too shabby. I imagine there must be tastier items on the menu -- Chuck's Korean Beef Taco's were Zow! -- but I keep ordering this sandwich like I'm the character in a sci-fi movie who must always, always order the same thing, even if she's curious about the avocado tacos. It's gotta be the runny egg. I'm pretty obsessed with eggs right now, which always changes as soon as I encounter a bloody yolk. Until then, I'll press on.

Anyway, this place will henceforth be referred to as Our Favorite Norm Core Restaurant.

We hit a 4-way stop on the way home, landing at approximately the same time as the car directly across from us. I went to make a left turn at the same time as the car across from me came charging out of the gate. The driver gestured like a fevered conductor and I rolled down my window so that as we passed I could say, "Oh, geez, calm down lady." She spat some harsh words about using one's blinker and I remembered that, oh yeah, that guy was on the fritz a few weeks ago. Guess it didn't magically heal itself.

(I still think she needs to calm down, though.)

For this vacation, I have an ever-increasing to-do list that ranges from cleaning out entire cupboards to checking out the Ali Wong comedy special on Netflix to painting Chach's nails so they look like ladybugs to returning a dress to Target.

Still a little pained by Vacation Day 1, I hit the to-do list with some mega-cleaning. The Girl helped a bit, enthusiastically at first, less so later. Then it was Toddler Roulette: Will she throw away this dried up ball of Pla-Doh from behind the couch or will she sing NOT YET in her sing-songiest of sing song voices?

I asked her to put away her socks and this is was her artistic interpretation:

1. I found a bunch of Thank You notes that I never sent to people who gave us gifts when Chach was born ... almost 3 years ago.

I guess this is probably the decider.
Q: Is she ill-bred?
A: Affirmative.

2. I found this drawing of the cast of "Criminal Minds" circa 2010 that I never showed anyone. Priceless.

I watched "Ali Wong: Baby Cobra," an hour of standup comedy delivered by a preggo at about what-say seven months. I totally dug it. Very funny, very out there, very real. She twerks. Watch it at an adult slumber party.

In all his excitement over the Timex Indiglo Watch, Chuck forgot to take his wallet to work. This had me clock-watching as it crept toward 11 p.m. and he was still at work.


Turns out he wasn't going to go to Superior, Wisconsin for last-call whisky, I was. As soon as he walked in the door, I slipped into my running shoes and made a break for it.

Reader(s), have you ever been to a liquor store in Superior, Wisconsin at 11:55 p.m. on a Sunday night? About 900 pickup trucks zig-zagging through the parking lot, coming to a dramatic stop and then truly hardcore liquor enthusiasts dang-near sprinting toward the store. Meanwhile, there was either a parking lot fight, or else a bunch of loud-talkers had simply gathered to dish insults. Either way.

By the way: Chacha has named one of her dolls Baby Joan, which is simultaneously hilarious and super-flipping weird. This is just more evidence that she was sent here from the 1950s to do ... something yet to be determined. Also, somehow she knows my mom's maiden name and she keeps talking about Bloody Marys.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Vacation, Day 1: Arm Pits, Omelets and The Biggest Sleep

On the first day of vacation, I ran a half-marathon. I did it the exact opposite of the way I've done it in the past. Reader(s), I trained. Take everything you know about me, about gravity, about the world, and wad it up in a McDonald's wrapper and chuck it from the window of your 1989 Ford sedan. The brown one with three hubcaps. While going 53 MPH on a two-lane highway. Just git the heck rid of it.

Actually, it started last year when I just didn't stop running (or, more often, ellipticalling) after the half-marathon. I decided I liked how running put the kabosh on all the queasiness and nervous brain-chatter that comes with being an adult person. And other reasons, including, mostly, I JUST LIKE RUNNING, OKAY? WHY DOES IT FEEL SO WEIRD TO JUST OWN THAT.

So long story short, I followed a training guide, mostly, with small instances of swapping this for that. On the day I did my 9 miler, it was sunny and, like, 90 degrees in a city that likes to max out in the low 70s. My breathing felt weird and echo-y, and I started to believe that the urban legend Runner Poops Her Pants was about to gain a "It Happened To Me: Munger Trail Edition." I decided to squash the long runs for the next month and focus on speed.

Then, the next weekend it was 53 and misting and all was right with the world so I shelved my ban and went for a 10 miler that was, literally, the best run of my life. The kind where every mile is a little faster and I raise my hands in victory and perform a karate chop at a fictional finish line. The kind where I do that thing I haven't done in eons: spend an entire drive home interviewing myself about my heroic return to running at, gasp, age 40.

Two days before the first day of vacation I woke up super fluttery and nervous. Turns out training for something is investing in it and if you fail, that 12 weeks of fartleks, all the cheese you didn't eat is, like, a total wash. As a person whose preferred state is "half-assin' it," I'd not recently encountered this sort of feeling. Also: I've been reading Ann Rule's book about Ted Bundy. The death count is high and the killer's techniques are quick, brutal and unfortunately clever. So maybe this anxiousness had nothing to do with running at all.

For the first time ever I didn't almost oversleep. For the first time ever I had time for a shot of coffee, a shower and a peanut butter and banana sandwich all at a leisurely morning pace. For the first time ever I barged in front of a bunch of well-behaved people standing in line at the DECC and just boarded the damn bus.

I spent the first three miles mad: At the Porta Potties, at the starting line, at the congestion of runners. I spent a lot of time jut-jogging this way and that. At four miles a gust of hot-hot armpit-like heat blasted me in the face. After that I got into a groove. There was a breeze. Much Beyonce. It's literally the only album on my iPhone. I didn't devil-talk to myself until about Mile 8. A demonic, "Why are you doing this? You can be a person who just runs like 5 miles, you know" echoed in my noggin. Around this time I started Math-ing and realized that, barring face plant, I was going to hit my goal. My knees hurt and so did my hips. I'd moved into "Lemonade: The Movie," which meant poetry and long pauses. But still.

So I finished in 1:59.20, a mere 40 seconds ahead of schedule and about 25 minutes faster than I've ever, ever run a half-marathon ever. I got very fizzy-nosed about it at the Finish.

"Would you have been happy if you'd finished in 2:05?" Pa Pista asked.
Yeah. It would have been close enough. It still would have been faster than ever.
Around mid-day I got all wide-eyed and started wondering if maybe I could run even faster ...

"Careful," a running fiend had said to me at the Y last week, after reminding me 90 times to relax on game-day. He had seen me doing a long run on a treadmill and I can only imagine that my shoulders were stuffed up close to my ears. "You might catch The Bug and want to be good," he said.

Maybe so. That would probably mean lifting weights, stretching, more quinoa, sleep. It might mean admitting that I give a rip.

On the first day of vacation, I also:
Ate an omelet with corned-beef hash and half of Chach's Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake for breakfast;
Drove to Great Lakes! Candy Kitchen in Knife River and found my new happy place (Knife River and Great Lakes! Candy Kitchen);
Wore a romper in public (and was totally cool with it and then later Googled more rompers and better rompers);
Ate Polenta and Pork Shoulder and a cheese plate and drank a glass of wine with Chuck at Northern Waters
Drank a glass of wine at Zeitgeist;
Went to "The Lobster," but couldn't get comfortable or keep my eyes fully open;
Slept the sort of sleep that sleepers dream of sleeping.