Sunday, November 08, 2009

What I've Learned After 6 Days (And Counting!) Of Having The Flu

(taken by Aa during Day 5)

-Didn't realize how often Aa and I yell from one room to another to communicate. Then the flu took my voice and I have had to remain silent while Aa yelled some question at me. I don't think this is some grand lesson about speaking more gently and softly. I just want my fucking voice again so I can yell back.

-My dog normally hangs close to me when I'm in the house. But I've had a fever for 6 days now, which means I'm warmer than usual. Zack loves this. He has abandoned his usual cold-weather spot next to the heating vent to stretch out, stuck to my side like glue when I'm lying on the couch or in bed (that is, all the time). He is currently lying right up against my right thigh, with his head on my leg. I used to think I'd never get tired of Zack cuddling up next to me. Wrong! I cannot wait until my body temperature returns to normal and my dog stops treating me like his own personal space heater.

-I will never get sick of macaroni and cheese or miso soup. Never, ever, ever.

-Coffee has tasted like shit since I got sick. Don't think I'm not mad about this.

-I am deeply, deeply grateful for buying a house 20 feet away from a video store. Also, big thanks to Peter Jackson for making like a 28 hour version of The Lord Of The Rings, and for making it both awesome and kind of easy to make fun of. It has made this weekend kind of enjoyable.

-Generally, movie series are good moves when sick for several days. The Bourne movies? Good, good, and good. The Ocean movies? Good, good, and phoned in. I know the X Men movies would also be good but Aa reminds me I rented those after that relay race I did in July and he needs a few more months before getting into that world again. Maybe we can watch the Terminator movies next.

-If we owned Arrested Development we probably would have saved a lot of money in DVD rental fees this week.

-Aa has been less sick than me this whole time - no fever, no crazy ass sore throat. So he's done pretty much all the work around the house to make it livable and not Convalescence / Scary Transient / Stinky, Fetid Garbage Collection Central. He's also taken care of me, and been very kind, gentle, patient, and funny. This is a lesson re-learned: I am so super lucky.

-Plain, full fat yogurt is the best thing ever on a sore throat. For real. It beats ice cream even.

-When your neighbor sees you coming back from the doctor and she asks if you're sick and you tell her you have the flu and then she recoils and makes a cross with her arms even though you're ten feet away, it's incredibly tempting to walk up to her and blow your flu breath in her face. Totally a mean thing to do. But incredibly tempting nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things I've been thinking about since my grandma died, in random order

A week and a half ago, my grandmother Genevieve Yandel passed away in her sleep at home. She was going to be 103 this December. As deaths go, hers was a good one. As lives go, I think overall hers was pretty rich. Since she passed, I've had just a mess of thoughts, memories, and realizations bouncing around in through my head. I list them here, in no particular order.

-I think I believed she'd always be around. Every time she celebrated another birthday, it lent some credence to that belief.

-My grandma made this amazing date-nut bread every year for Christmas. Only the adults received the bread as a Christmas gift. It was coveted, and it was delicious. I can remember my dad savoring that bread on Christmas morning, and my uncles partly-jokingly taking small loaves of bread away from each other every year at the family Christmas party. She baked the bread in soup cans. A couple of years into my relationship with Aa, grandma gave us a few loaves of date-nut bread as a Christmas gift. It was the first time she'd ever given me some of that bread. It felt like a huge rite of passage for me, and a recognition of my relationship with Aa. We weren't married, and several of my relatives focused on that when they saw us at Christmas. My Grandma Yandel never asked me why we weren't married yet. She just gave us date-nut bread.

-She had ten kids and 39 grandkids. My cousin Chris and his wife are expecting great-grandchild number 50. That's 99 direct descendants, so far.

-Her oldest son, my Uncle George, was apparently a bit of a tough guy back in the day. He would bring home boxes of shirts and once he brought home a bumper pool table. He actually told his younger siblings those things fell off the back of a truck.

-My grandfather, also named George, died more than 30 years ago. But he was once on a sports game show, called Around The Bases. It was all about baseball. He came in second to a young blind man whose final answer was actually incorrect, but my grandpa didn't want to point that out. He won a big ironing machine.

-All ten kids and both parents had to share one bathroom. One. Bathroom.

-There are many strangely-named businesses in the south suburbs of Chicago and the south side. These include a bar called Deja Brew, a superstore of some kind called Hobo, and two deeply depressing Chinese places: Panda Hut, and Asia China Buffet.

-I think the legacy my grandparents left is fucking amazing. Their ten kids - my dad and my aunts and uncles - are ten of the most decent people I know. I am really, really proud to be a Yandel.

-My grandma was 14 years old when the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was added to the US Constitution.

-I wish I'd asked her a ton more questions.

-Because of a piece I'm doing at work and the annual ghost stories show for AGTV, I have been thinking about ghosts and hauntings a lot. She would be just a totally delightful ghost to have around.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Year Ago

Aaron's Vows
I vow to listen to you and really, really hear you
I vow to admit I'm wrong...sometimes
I vow to make you tea or coffee in the mornings (ADDED LATER: at least 3x per week)
I vow to help you in any way I can
I vow to always speak the truth to you, and to sometimes shut my mouth too
I vow to challenge you, and to accept your challenges in return
I vow to trust you, when I feel I can trust no one
I vow to walk the dog more than I do now, but probably less than you want
***BONUS SPONTANEOUS VOW!!!*** I vow to cook you more vegetarian food
I already love you, so I can't vow that, but I do want to tell you I love you very much, and you're my best friend too.

Jeannie's Vows
I vow to be less grumpy in the mornings, and to let it go when you're grumpy in the mornings
I vow to challenge you, even when you don't want to be challenged, and to accept your challenges
I vow to keep trying to make you laugh, and to laugh a lot with you
I vow to keep being your girlfriend
I vow to really, honestly try to like olives
I vow not to take my crappy mood out on you
I vow to always, always have your back
I love you very, very much. You're my best friend in the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Farmers' Market Transactions That Felt More Like Drug Deals

1. I'm at my sister's farmers' market with her in Lincoln. It's a Sunday afternoon and we're looking for eggs. The nice man at the health food store told us to look for a guy named Mark. "He's got a blond ponytail, a red cap, and a light t-shirt on". My sister and I walk to the end of the market and only see one guy who sort of matches that description. He's standing at a stall with two young women. His eyes are shielded by reflective sunglasses. His arms are crossed across his chest, and he's watching people walk by. His red cap has NASCAR across the front. We approach the stall.

ME AND SISTER: "Hi, do you guys sell eggs?"
GIRLS: "Uh, no. Sorry!"
ME AND SISTER (glancing over at NASCAR ponytail): "Ok. Thanks!"
[awkward pause, where neither my sister nor me makes a move to leave]
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "I sell eggs."
ME AND SISTER: "Oh, great!"
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "Follow me". (takes us to a second location across the market) "I don't advertise. Sometimes I have one dozen. Other times I have two dozen. Usually I sell out. But I never put a sign up."
SISTER (glancing at me): "OK. Um, how much for a dozen?"
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "Two-fifty. I don't always have them this late. I usually sell out. But I don't put a sign up."
SISTER (shifting Wondernephew Max to me so she can grab the eggs): "Alright. Well, thanks!"

2. I'm at a Wednesday farmers market in Seattle. Aa has asked me to pick up some raw butter from a stall where he usually buys it at a different market on Sunday. I see the stall and approach the dude behind the counter, who is not the dude we buy from on Sundays.

ME: "Hi! Do you have any butter?"
DUDE: "Uh...we're not really allowed to sell it openly. We usually call it dog food."
ME: "Oh."
ME: "Um, do you have any dog food?"
DUDE (looking at me with a combination of annoyance and pity): "No. I don't. We don't usually have it at this market."
ME: "Oh, OK."
DUDE: "And you can seriously just call it butter."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Question: What causes you to lose any sense of shame?

Answer: Hanging out with an incredibly cute baby. I'm currently in Lincoln, NE, visiting my sister Mary Kate (aka The Funniest Person On The Planet), my brother in law Josh (aka The Nicest Guy Ever), and my nephew Max (aka Maximillian Wondernephew). Here's a video of us playing in the pool. I don't do anything too silly in this one, but really my takeaway from this visit is I'll do anything to make this kid laugh. Doesn't matter where we are or how dumb I look in the process either. That's not even an issue.

ALSO: Not much happens in this video. You don't see the kid crack up or anything. It's mainly posted here so I can watch it whenever I want and be reminded of how incredibly fun it was to push a baby in an innertube around a pool with my sister. Max actually started laughing hysterically after his dad turned the camera off. Max, your timing is not great. But you are only 7 months old so I will overlook it. One day soon you will realize that you can manipulate adults just by looking at them and laughing. That is the day your campaign for world domination truly begins.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Text Messages I Sent Aa On Friday Night As I Was Giddily Leaving Work To Meet Him Downtown


-Work sucked ass that day.

-I was going to meet Aa to see a free show his station put together, which includes one of my favorite local music acts.

-I had only decided on this plan of action moments beforehand – my Friday nights usually consist of my couch, my dog, and a book or a movie. This spontaneous plan felt incredibly exciting and daring.

6:47 pm I am getting on a bus in mere moments! There is a man at the bus stop who smells like Stouffers lasagna!

6:53 pm I am on the bus! I am on the way! There appears to be a couple that met at a NAMBLA meet-up just across the aisle from me!

6:55 pm Oh wait that little boy is just a very slight lady! What a relief!

6:56 pm The stouffers man did not get on the bus with me! What a shame! Instead there is a man wearing no less than three bandanas on his person!

6:56 pm One is a do-rag!

6:57 pm One is billowing oddly out of his pants pocket!

6:58 pm The third is wound around part of his belt!

6:58 pm He also has a laptop and a black leather fanny pack!

7:02 pm (after a call from Aa) You just called me! Your call has thrown me off my game!

7:04 pm I want to eat fried pickles this evening! Or possibly fries!

7:04 pm Or BOTH!

7:05 People give me dirty looks when I talk on my phone on the bus! Perhaps it is because I speak loudly!

7:08 pm I have two pieces of fruit in my bag that I did not have time to eat today!

7:10 Also I have my running stuff with me! I did not have time to run either! This saddens me!

7:13 Whoa! A fat version of Sammy Hagar circa OU812 just got on the bus!

7:17 ….aaaand he’s off the bus! That was fast, Fat Sammy Hagar!

7:17 (from Aa) Hurry up!! I am in the beer area. Enter on west side.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Boo. I haven't posted for a while. Turns out this has been the Best Summer Ever, so I kind of haven't had time. The Northwest is an amazing, amazing place in summertime. I am one happy lady these days.

Today, I am also one sore and sleepy lady. On Friday and Saturday I ran in a 24-hour relay race from Blaine (on the border w/ Canada) to Langley (on Whidbey Island, the San Juan Island you don't have to take a ferry to). Teams of 12 runners cover about 185 miles altogether, running from Friday morning through the night into Saturday afternoon. Each runner takes 3 legs, and gets about 8 hrs off between each run, during which time you try to find a place to stretch, change out of your nasty running clothes, and maybe sleep for an hour or so. My friend D asked me to participate a few months ago; at that time I briefly checked out the site for the race and agreed, without really thinking about it. I managed to get what I thought would be one of the easier legs of the race, stepped up my running a bit to prepare, and kind of didn't think about it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I checked out my running assignments and realized something was different. I thought my toughest leg was going to be my first one - a 6.3 mile run that the organizers classified as "hard". But the race organizers had made some changes. My toughest leg was now going to be my final leg - 6.9 "very hard" miles. A mothereffer of a slow uphill, followed by a fast, steep downhill, which is even harder and more painful to run. I'd likely be making this run around noon, in really hot sunny weather. I'd be lucky if I got any sleep at all beforehand - my second leg began around 2:30 am and was an easy, flat, quiet 2.7 miles through residential Anacortes. I got through legs 1 & 2 just fine, and even ran a faster pace than I'd expected to. But damn - I was freaked out about that final leg. I only had a couple weeks to try to get ready for a considerably harder final run. I did a few longish runs, topping out at an 8.5 mile trail run. Then I took this past week off to rest up. My first two legs went great - I passed some folks at the end of my first leg, which is exactly when you should pass people. My friend C came out and biked alongside me and the other night runners on our team. I passed out in my sleeping bag for nearly 3 hours after my night leg. Saturday morning dawned sunny and got hot almost immediately.

And it turns out I was right to be freaked out about that last leg. IT. SUCKED. It was totally beautiful - I ran near the water, there were mountains in the distance and I was running down a long, windy forest road. It was hot as hell and we were on pavement the whole time. I moved slowly enough that I probably got passed by a half-dozen other runners. (Screw you guys, btw.) And I kept passing dead animals on the road. A bird. A snake. And then, finally, a baby deer, off on the side of the road in the dry grass. He lay on his side and he looked like he could be asleep except that his legs were stiff and straight and his eyes were wide open. This is embarrassing now but I remember thinking all those dead animals were some kind of bad omen for me. And that's when I realized I didn't have to finish if I didn't want to.

Right then, my teammates showed up on the side of the road. They dumped water on me and gave me some to drink. One of them handed me a cold slice of cantaloupe. That gave me a little burst of energy, so I kept going. A few minutes later, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. There was a doe bouncing through the forest maybe 6 feet away from me. She stayed with me for a minute and disappeared into the woods. I finished my final leg maybe a half hour later, after forcing myself to walk most of the crazy downhill near the end of the race. I am certain the two guys who barrelled past me on that downhill are in a ton of pain today. You just can't do stuff like that to your knees. My team was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill, cheering. I passed off the baton to D, and stopped fucking running. My teammates handed me a homemade peanut butter bar and an ice-cold beer. Later, they told me they all felt terrible for me after driving my final leg to meet me at the end. My teammate K very succinctly said, "Whoever changed that last leg just straight up fucked you."

I kind of can't believe I did this race. If I'd thought about it more when D first asked me, I probably would've said no. But holy crap, overall I had so so much fun. The course was beautiful and everyone on my team (mainly folks I'd never met) were great and hilarious and sarcastic. And for the first time in my whole entire life I feel like an athlete. I feel like most of my adult life has been about undoing the ridiculous amount of embarrassment and shame and anger I felt about my body in adolescence. And today I have this amazing feeling of respect for my body and what it can do. At 35, I am finally feeling proud of my physical self. I've never felt like this before. I did not realize finishing this race would be such a big deal for me. But it was. It is. And I would totally do it again next year.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

He Once Solved A Rubik's Cube In 43 Minutes

A guy is in his front yard, barefoot, shirtless, in cutoffs, working on a painting. There are several other paintings, presumably his, nearby. Zack and I walk by.

Painter: Hey! Wanna buy a painting?
Me: Sorry, I don't have any money with me.
Painter: Wow! What kind of dog is that?
Me: Oh, he's a basenji. His name is Zack. They're African. Funny little dogs.
Painter: You know what kind of dog he looks like?
Me: Um, some people think he looks like a shiba inu...
Painter: No, no! He looks like a dog in a movie! You know?
Me: Well...
Painter: You know what I'm talking about? The kind of dog you'd see in a movie!
Me: You mean like Benji or something?
Painter (clearly exasperated): No! No! You know, like the kind of dog that solves a riddle? He solves puzzles, man! And he gets the bad guys! And he talks to other animals, like wolves. That dog! That's what your dog looks like. That's what he looks like to me.
Me: ...
Painter: Hey, do you want to buy a painting?
Me: Uh, no thanks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You Can't Win

Michael Jackson was pretty creepy as he got older. But when it came out, Thriller was one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me when I was a kid. I loved that album so, so much. (I think I got it as a birthday present at a sleepover, which was THE birthday party to have in 4th - 6th grades.) The only album I'd really loved before then was Olivia Newton-John's Physical (this because I so admired her performance in Grease). Also, Thriller was one of the first pieces of music I loved on my own - I had a Doobie Brothers tape, but that was a gift from my folks that came with the tape recorder I got for my birthday in third grade. (I do remember walking around my neighborhood, blasting that tape as loud as I could. Probably many people were not expecting a little girl to be rocking Michael McDonald on a tape deck.)

Anyway, back to Thriller. It was the first record that I loved just for itself - for the music. Not because I knew the singer from a movie or somewhere else. I wouldn't discover The Wiz or The Jackson 5 for a couple of years - but learning more about Michael Jackson at that point was nothing but an utter pleasure. He was an attention-hungry kid's dream idol. He was relentlessly talented, he'd been in showbiz pretty much since conception, and it seemed like EVERYONE loved him. The whole entire world loved Michael Jackson. I was deeply envious.

Then, the Thriller video happened. I was very fond of television as a kid, but I'm telling you, that video was the most mind-blowing thing I'd ever seen on TV. I watched it as many times as I could - and of course MTV was playing it constantly. I can't remember what happened or why this decision was made, but one night at dinner my dad announced that my sister and I were forbidden to watch MTV because the video for Thriller was too scary. I remember being stunned. How was I supposed to go about my life as though everything were normal, when I'd actually never be allowed to watch that amazing thing again? What I didn't know then, of course, was in a few months the ban would be lifted, and the video's immense popularity meant I'd be able to watch it, and, later, the making of it, pretty much whenever I wanted until I got my fill.

I will admit that after a year or so Thriller lost its hold on me. I moved on to...whatever I moved onto when I was 10 turning 11. Drawing horses obsessively, maybe? But then my folks introduced me to The Wiz, and that's really when Michael Jackson earned a permanent place in my psyche. I have always loved The Wizard of Oz, but The Wiz felt like an incredibly exciting adult version of that story. As a kid, there were jokes I didn't get at all in The Wiz. (Why do all the cabs refuse to pick Dorothy up? Didn't figure that out till I was probably in college.) But over the years, I've watched it again and again, and Michael Jackson's performance as the Scarecrow is still fantastic. I found it to be a good point in his past to focus on - which I think many fans did, focus on Jackson's past - as his present and future got increasingly disturbing.

Anyway. I watched The Wiz again last night and was once again struck by Jackson's performance as the Scarecrow. (Ray Bolger, respect, but he kind of kicked your butt on this.) Jackson's big song, especially, I think is amazing. The Wiz, btw, was made in 1978. So Jackson was 19 or 20 when that movie was filmed. Here's his big song.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lost Dog!

She wandered up to us at 73rd and 13 Ave NW. Sweet, young, playful, followed us home. She misses her people! Do you know her? The Humane Society likely won't be able to come get her till tomorrow.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Weather / Perspective

So, it's supposed to hit 90 degrees here in Seattle today. It's hot for this neck of the woods. And at work, the AC is cranking. So I've been cold all day. And, I'll be honest, I've also been a little cranky about that and some other stuff. So a little while ago, I stepped outside to get a cup of coffee at my favorite near-work coffee place. One of my favorite baristas was working.

BARISTA: (hair blowing back from the fan she has trained right on her): Hi, what can I get you?
ME: Tall Americano to go, please.
BARISTA: You want that iced?
ME: No, hot.
BARISTA (in disbelief): Hot? Really?
ME: Hot. Really.
BARISTA: Um, are you crazy?
ME: No! My work is freaking freezing. One of my co-workers is actually walking around in her soccer knee-socks right now, because she wore shorts and didn't think about the AC. I've been wearing a sweater and drinking tea to warm up. It sucks.
BARISTA (staring at me, wiping sweat from her forehead): "Oh, the AC is so hiiiigh at my awesome public radio job! My husband is so great*! He made me an ice cream cake**! My dog is so cute***! My hair is just so full and wavy****!"
ME: ...
BARISTA: You need cream with your coffee?

I didn't realize I needed to be mocked in public, but I guess I did. Totally snapped me out of my crappy mood, and had me laughing all the way back to work.

*Barista and I shoot the shit a lot, and I talk frequently about how fantastic I think Aa is.

** True! He made me an ice cream cake for my birthday. See? Fantastic.

***Yes, I also talk about my dog a lot. This can't be even remotely surprising to anyone who reads this blog.

****No idea where this one came from.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Me And Dates And Craziness

Over Memorial Day weekend, Aa and I had our 9th anniversary of being-togetherness. It's the one anniversary date I always remember. At this point, we have three:

-the getting-togetherversary (which we placed, after some discussion, on Memorial Day)
-the anniversary of our actual legal marriage (the date of which is under frequent discussion; currently, Aa thinks that date's in late August, and I think it's in early October. There is a marriage license in our house that can settle this discussion, but I rather enjoy how we can never seem to remember exactly what day it was)
-the anniversary of our wedding, which is September 25th and is also my parents' wedding anniversary (which I of course did not realize because I suck at remembering dates)

It is this inability to remember dates that I've been thinking about this week. Here are some of the dates I've messed up in recent memory:

-my dad's birthday (like two years in a row)
-my mom's birthday (it is the same week as Thanksgiving. That's all I got.)
-the day I got legally married
-Zack's Gotcha Day (in fact I didn't even realize this was a thing till like a year ago)
-Zack's birthday (again, didn't realize it was a thing till I went to a couple of dog birthday parties - which are just excuses for a barbecue or whatever but with more dogs and fancier dog treats)

I probably shouldn't list my parents' birthdays in with a couple of basically made-up celebrations for a creature who couldn't care less. And really, it's not hard to set up a reminder so I never screw up my folks' birthdays again (sorry, guys).

But it does occur to me that I've been carrying around some weird guilt for not remembering, like, the date we decided to keep Zack. That it somehow means I'm not a good dog owner. Because my brain is slow, it just this past week occurred to me that I don't have to feel anything about this. People can celebrate whatever they want to with and for their pets. I'm already anthropomorphizing my dog plenty. We dress the same. He does not care if he has a birthday party. This means I don't have to care either. So I am absolving myself of this goofy-ass guilt that I have been carrying around.

And I am setting up some Google calendar reminders for the birthdays of the humans in my life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


That's what the Department of Fish and Wildlife is calling a small, 2-yr old black bear that's been wandering around North Seattle and Shoreline since late Sunday night / early Monday morning. He was first spotted in Ballard, probably a dozen blocks from our house. Nevertheless, once I learned that there was a bear in the neighborhood, I was utterly convinced that he and Zack would somehow get into some kind of terrifying but then suddenly cuddly confrontation. Of course, I was wrong about both the confrontation and, yes, fine, the idea that suddenly an adolescent bear and my dog would somehow recognize the latent potential friendship in the other and express that recognition by snuggling.

Anyway, so the bear (URBAN PHANTOM) has been winding his way up from my neighborhood into Shoreline, immediately north of the Seattle city limits. News coverage has died off somewhat. But that Monday, day 1 of URBAN PHANTOM WATCH, was pretty fun. All 5 of the televisions in the newsroom were on local news stations. All day I got to watch our local television newscasters do their own version of Brian Fantana from Anchorman.

And here is an example of how the Internet has broken my heart today because the Internet does not have any video of Brian Fantana's excellent reportage on the pregnant panda at the San Diego Zoo. So, here is a transcription of some of that reporting:

Ron Burgundy: Let's go to Brian Fantana who's live on the scene with a Channel 4 News exclusive. Brian?
Brian Fantana: Panda Watch. The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I uh... Ching... King is inside right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's a live bear, he will literally rip your face off.
[to the Panda]
Brian Fantana: Hey, you're making me look stupid. Get out here, Panda Jerk.
Ron Burgundy: Great story. Compelling, and rich.

And, just because I love the two of you who still read this (hello, Mary Kate and Josh!), here is weatherman Brick Tamlan killing someone with a trident during a News Team street fight (Brian is briefly featured here).

Back to URBAN PHANTOM. At this point, the authorities have suspended their search because URBAN PHANTOM has proven to be pretty harmless. Which, duh, because all he wanted to do is cuddle with my dog. Except he keeps moving further away from my house. He's making me look stupid. Black Bear Jerk.

Also, just allow me to add that I know I have been spotty about posting. Kind of lost interest for a while there, and there was some other stuff too. (Ah, the other stuff. Always the other stuff!) But I'm working my way back. To you, babe. With a...well, not a burning love inside. More like a...higher level of commitment to posting regularly. Inside. Dooh dooh, dooh duh dooh!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Becoming what I hate most

OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Instead, let's say I've become the kind of person I used to find mild-to-medium annoying. (If we were ordering Thai food, I'd say 1 to 2 stars annoying.) I've become the kind of person who will blow off an actual, live, person-to-person conversation to futz around on my neato G1. And since much of my free time is spent with Aa, it means I'm kind of blowing off conversations with him.

But allow me to give some context here! For a few years now, Aa's had some kind of smart phone. It'd allow him to check email / text / whatevs pretty much anytime. While we were out at dinner. First thing in the morning, in bed. While driving. Meanwhile, before the G1, I had the same phone for like 4 years - one that could barely handle text messaging. And now, for the first time, I don't have a phone. I have a smart phone too. HA! So those years of sitting forlornly across the table from Aa while he types away on his impossibly tiny keyboard are over. Because NOW I CAN DO IT RIGHT BACK. It's resentment tech. Vengeance tech. Yeah.

Look, I'm not saying it's nice to do this to your partner - or anyone else, for that matter. I know it's not nice. I know it's rude and annoying. And I know I've done it to many people since I got this stupid phone. (Wait! no no! I meant smart phone.) I just need to get through the honeymoon stage with this phone and I'll be all good again. Attentive and present (as much as I ever was before, anyway). Any day now. I promise.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creative Swearing

With visual aides!

Monkeyfighting snakes

Motherfather Chinese Dentist

Dirty Fratter Rabbleflabbing Frabber Trap

Saturday, March 28, 2009


So, we have rats in our basement.

Aa noticed this a little less than a week ago when he was down in the garage doing some cleaning. Apparently, there was a box filled with those corn-based packing peanuts. And Aa discovered the little peanuts scattered around the garage, half-eaten, and a huge hole in the box itself. Also, droppings. I am reporting all this second-hand, see, because THERE IS NO EFFING WAY I AM GOING DOWN THERE UNTIL THE RATTIES ARE GONE.

Over the past few days, Aa has observed that the rats have clawed at the door separating the garage and the basement proper. At least one of the ratties successfully got through that door, because there are now droppings in our basement. Of course, we are having exterminators come. They come this afternoon (I will thankfully be at work when this happens). But just the idea that the rats are clawing through the garage door and are slowly invading our living space freaks me out, but I'm not freaking out as badly as I thought I would.

There are a few reasons I'm not totally losing my shit about the ratties. One, I know rats show up around here. We kind of live in a high-rat traffic area. There's a gas station right next to our backyard, with a huge dumpster a couple of feet from our back fence. And more than once, I've seen one of those little disease-carriers running across our back fence at dusk. But in 2. years, they've never come into our backyard (that I've seen) and they've never, ever come into our house (till now). None of our neighbors report frequent or recurring rat problems. So it seems like there's a truce of some kind between the vermin and the human residents of this block. At least, imagining this makes me feel better.

Two, I don't want to turn this into another thing about the Midwest versus the Pacific NW, but the rats here are fucking tiny. They look like mice with really long tails. The rats I saw running along the subway tracks in Chicago (or, one morning, running down Dearborn as a bunch of us office drones sleepily made our way to our cublicles) are like twice the size of these little guys. They looked like the rat in Lady and the Tramp - you know, that big fucker with the glowy red eyes that wanted to eat that baby? That's how big the rats I saw in Chicago were. Big, baby-eating size. I thought all rats were that big. Now, I know these littler rats are still capable of carrying disease around and they're obviously still able to claw and poop everyplace. That makes me shudder, but it doesn't make me want to run screaming from my own house.

Three, my dog isn't freaking out. See, my dog was bred in part to hunt big rats in Africa. And we had a rat in our old apartment once. I was, praise Jeebus, out of town. But Aa describes how Zack went after that little ratty. Aa says the rat was first spotted in the kitchen, running across our countertop. Aa was holding Zack. Zack spotted the rat and apparently leapt straight out of Aa's arms onto the counter to catch the rat. He chased it away, but later that night he awoke from a dead sleep - the rat was now in the bedroom, and Zack was determined to catch it. Aa said he'd never seen Zack like that before. Probably our poor dog was having the time of his life. I explain all this because for the last few days, Zack hasn't been acting any differently. He's not shown any awareness of other animals in our house, especially ones he was bred to hunt and kill. So either my dog has become significantly more domesticated and stupid in the last two years, or the rats aren't coming anywhere near us humans. Because if they were, my dog would be reacting. This last bit of knowledge is pretty much what lets me go to sleep at night unconcerned about the ratties breaching the upstairs.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

That crazy bitch makes a good oatmeal cookie

I think Martha Stewart is insane. This is hardly an earth-shattering or a particularly unique admission. I think my hatred of all things Martha started with a couple of friends in college who were really into her domestic goddess-ness. And it drove me batty. I'll admit here that part of my reaction in college was because I was pretty certain I wanted no part of marriage and the gender roles that I thought went along with it. But aside from that, I have always been a deeply lazy individual. I just did not understand why anyone would work so hard on purpose in order to throw a party. When you're 20, a party requires three things - some substance that allows you to be progressively challenged by communicating and walking in a straight line, other people, and a place where you can ingest said substance and be around said people for a few hours. What a party did not require back then was a votive holder carved out of a radish.

Anywho. So I had a problem with Martha Stewart back then. And now, as part of a married couple that loves throwing parties, I admit there's some benefit to making things kind of nice for the folks who come over. HOWEVER! Martha's whole deal is still annoying. Her nonsense about how anyone can live graciously if they follow her lead, leaving aside her independent wealth, staff, and copious free time. And, not to belabor the point, but she seems nucking futs.

A couple of weeks ago, though, our friends M and K had us over for dinner. And K made the most amazing oatmeal cookies ever for dessert. They were delicious. Perfect. And, I was disappointed to learn, a Martha Stewart recipe.

Tonight, Aa asked me to make some oatmeal cookies. (Yeah, hi, remember that little diatribe about gender roles above? I know.) I've been thinking about those cookies K made since I ate them. So I found the recipe. And tonight, I made them. And despite not having a standing mixer like Martha specifies in the recipe, they turned out really really great. They're the best oatmeal cookies I've ever had.

And Martha Stewart is still crazy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things that are embarrassing, OR, How I sometimes miss the painfully obvious

So, a while back, I got Zack a little fleecy jacket. I'm not gonna go over my reasons again for buying my dog clothes. But anyway. I get him in his little coat and we head out for a walk. People stop and stare at my dog all the time. He's cute, he prances like a tiny horse, and he has that weird cinnamon roll tail sitting on his butt. I can't count the number of times people have stopped me during a walk to ask about him and pet him.

On this particular walk, lots of people were stopping and staring, but nobody was looking to talk to me about Zack. In fact, I'm not gonna lie to you, there were some smirks. Some chuckles. Maybe, dear reader, a person or two pointed at us. I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on.

Then I got home and looked in the mirror.

(photo taken by the lovely SW, who owns the normal, non-clothes-needing dog in the shot.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Me, My Mom, Summer Camp, and Satan

I told this mostly-true story last month at the storytelling series I produce w/ some friends. Some of it was changed to make a better narrative.


When I was 10 years old, I got sent to a summer camp for a week. It turns out, this camp was a super-Christian camp. The week was spent doing camp things like making lanyards and grabbing your swim buddy's hand when your counselor blew the whistle. But it was also spent trying to get non-super Christians to testify, to ask Jesus into our hearts. I was a non-super Christian. My family was more culturally Catholic than anything – we really only went to church on Christmas and Easter.

My week at camp culminated with me and several other campers being put in a dark room on a sunny afternoon with a big guy who scared us with stories about Hell and Satan. At the end of that afternoon, I was ready to testify. I did that night at the bonfire. Everyone cheered. I loved being Christian! Two days later we left – me with a bunch of pamphlets, nominally about Jesus, but in reality about Hell and Satan. There was even a drawing on the front of one of some poor sucker falling down a crevice in the earth into the fires of Hades.

Pretty much as soon as I got home, I tried to save my little sister using those pamphlets. It didn't work. My mom found out and she sat me down and told me I was making her nervous. She actually compared me to this evil character named Mitch Laurence on this soap, One Life To Live, who was using Christianity to like build up a harem of unsuspecting virgins and I think rob a bank or something. Anyway. But I managed to convince her this summer camp was the greatest thing ever, so the next year she sent me back.

In the year that I'd not been at camp, I'd secretly kept my fervor for Christianity alive. I prayed almost every night in the way I'd been taught at camp. But the thing that really kept me going was my fascination with Hell. With Satan and demons and demonic energy. I'd spent a lot of that year repeatedly reading the creepier parts of Revelations, and I really enjoyed learning about saints who'd had direct contact with Satan. I was in a Catholic school so I had regular access to the Bible and all kinds of creepy, violent saint stories. So by the time I got back to my Jesus camp, I was really excited to talk about the Devil. I quickly befriended one of my camp counselors, Miss Shelly, with my religious zeal. It was like a matter of hours before I was telling her all about my "research" into Hell and Satan and all things demonic. But Miss Shelly was horrified. She told me that she understood my fascination – she too was fascinated with the same things. But I needed to be disciplined and strong and not give in to my fascination. Because that was how Satan got in, see. You opened your mind to him and he just got in there. He did it in all kinds of ways – from movies like the Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby to games like ouija boards. Shelly told me Satan was very crafty and would use my non-Christian friends and family to try to weasel his way into my brain and heart and take over. I needed, in short, to be constantly vigilant.

Being vigilant at camp was easy. Every night at bonfire we talked about how great Jesus was. One night I even told one of my more skeptical camper friends that I knew Jesus was in my heart because I wasn't getting bitten by mosquitoes that night – it was Jesus' love protecting me. But when the week was coming to an end, I started getting nervous. How was I going to stay strong and not look up things on Hell and the Devil at school? There was a nearly limitless resource at my disposal – a library stocked with books by an ancient nun named Sr. Cortona who liked nothing better than to scare the crap out of us kids. I shared my concerns with Miss Shelly, and she promised to help me. She said we could be pen pals and every time I felt tempted to research Satan, I could write her instead and she'd write back telling me to stay strong. So we did just that for months. And it mostly helped.

As Halloween approached, I got more and more letters of warning from Shelly. But I was feeling stronger than ever. Then, as Christmas approached, Miss Shelly warned me about some of the gifts I might receive that could be portals to Satan. The book series Flowers in the Attic was one I needed to watch out for. I think she was worried about Judy Blume books too. But top of her list was the ouijia board.

Meanwhile, my mom was getting really excited about Christmas – she did every year. And she started dropping hints about gifts she got me. For the first time ever, I was not excited about Christmas. I was actually fucking terrified. I had no idea which gift might knock me off the wagon and send me frantically re-reading our home encyclopedia's entry on Satan again. But Miss Shelly kept telling me to stay strong.

Christmas morning came, and opening presents under the tree proved to be much less stressful than I'd feared. I'd begun to relax as my mom handed me a rectangular box. She had a big smile on her face. "I had one of these when I was a kid!!" she said. "I just thought it was so fun!!" I opened it. It was a ouija board. I don't know what the look on my face was like, and I knew I had to act like I liked it. But my mind was reeling. MY MOTHER WAS CLEARLY AN AGENT OF SATAN.

Later that day, I started trying to write Miss Shelly a letter about what had happened. But I couldn't finish it. I couldn't tell her my mother was an agent of the devil. I didn't know what the consequences of admitting that would be. She might have been a foot soldier for Satan, but she was still my mom. I tried a bunch of times to write Miss Shelly about it, but I could just never do it. And I stopped answering her letters too soon after. My heart wasn't in it anymore. Then I stopped praying every night, and kind of stopped caring about Satan and demons in general. I got into horses and I joined my school's basketball team. And I stopped trying to get my sister to testify to Jesus. So, I don't know if that means that Satan won or what. But there's just no way I was OK with my mom being a servant of the Dark Lord.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"He screams and then he eats his hands and then he screams some more."

This is how my sister described my wondernephew Max last week, 4 days after his birth. He's chilled out on the screaming, but he still likes to eat his hands.

I'm currently in Nebraska, hanging out with my sister, brother-and-law, and mom, and my wondernephew. From what I can tell, his two favorite things in the world to do are sleep and snuggle. This is heartbreaking it is so cute. The picture you see here conveys about 1/100th of his insane adorableness.

(Image borrowed from MK and J's blog about Max)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Babies and Facebook

First things first.

Maxwell Brent Gulick, also known as my nephew, also known as the most amazing child the world has ever known, was born this morning in Lincoln, NE, to my excellent sister and brother in law. I am so excited about this kid. Holy crap am I excited.

More details (and hopefully pictures of my wondernephew) here.


I found out about Max's birth this AM because Aa checked FB before I checked my voicemail. My sister had been updating to let her FB friends know she was in labor and had delivered a boy. This was the second time in the last three days I found out about a birth b/c the new mom (or someone close to her) was updating her status on Facebook to reflect what was happening. The other was my amazing friend W, who had twin boys Saturday afternoon.

I'm definitely not judging or anything here - I think it's kind of cool that both my sister and Wendy kept upating their FB status to inform folks. I loved reading everyone's notes of congratulations and comments to each other. In both cases, it kept the excitement and joy going longer than a phone call would, and it probably meant many fewer phone calls for both my sister and W to immediately worry about.

Although I will say that none of the FB updates from either my sister or W got me quite as emotional as the voicemail my sister left early this morning. She sounded a little hoarse, really sleepy, and incredibly happy. I burst into tears as I listened to her. I then played the voicemail for Aa, who also teared up. Then we sat at our kitchen table, over our oatmeal, hugging and teary-eyed and grinning at each other and laughing.

Zack, for the record, totally doesn't care about any of this.