Bittersweet symphony

Brain, tapping conductor stick: All right, everyone. Places! Let’s practice this piece one more time.

Legs: Um…were we always this long, or did these pants shrink?

Ankles: Yeah, we’re not used to being seen by the public.

Eyes, snorting: Yeah, those white socks look smokin’ with those jeans.

Brain: Quiet! Let’s take it from the top. Creativity, you come in hard and heavy and Sense of Humor, you enter three measures later, but keep it pianissimo, OK?

Sense of Humor: Got it.

Brain: 2, 3, 4…

[general music/life functions]

Stomach: [growls loudly]

Brain: Stop, stop, stop. Stomach – what the hell, man?

Stomach: I’m hungry. And I lost count because the cramps came in waaay too early.

Uterus: Sorry.

Brain: Let’s try this again. Stomach, you actually don’t have a part in this. Basically, you have a 4-hour rest.

Stomach: Look, the last time I checked, we don’t have a lot of songs that feature stomach growls.

Feet: Thank god. You’re always out of tune anyway.

Stomach: I think I would be doing this orchestra a disservice if I didn’t play the hell out of this.

Brain: Look, just go get some leftover rice-a-roni and shut it.

Stomach: [sulks]

Uterus: What about me?

Brain: You can’t keep the beat. Go hang out with Aleve and Bruce Dickinson next door.

Love list

Inspired by She Likes Purple, a list of things I love (her only rule is that you can’t list your significant other, kids or pets):

I love waking up to realize I can still sleep for another three hours. I love wearing my spring coat for the first time in six months. I love mowing the lawn and then sitting outside on the steps with a cold can of pop to survey my handiwork and compare it to our neighbors. I love throwing on my robe on a chilly morning. I love figuring out which spot to pet on a cat to make it purr. I love cracking open a new book. I love grabbing an oversized blanket for a nap on the couch. I love opening a new jar of peanut butter and inhaling deeply, and then using a knife to draw a heart into its creamy, unblemished surface. I love giving the rabbits in our yard human names like Carl and Harold, and seeing how close I can get to them before they bolt back underneath our deck. I love rifling through my bird book to identify our backyard visitors. I love new ultra-fine Sharpies. I love knowing that I have three birthday presents already sitting on my dresser, waiting to be opened, and that I finally, at age 33, have the willpower to wait until my actual birthday to open them. I LOVE spicy garlic buffalo wings and potato slices with melted cheddar cheese, dipped in sour cream. I love the hopefulness I feel during the first frame of bowling. I love a hot, steaming bowl of clam chowder. I love watching my lava lamp at work send up its first red bubbles. I love surfing Etsy for unique rings with green stones. I love looking at Caspar David Friedrich’s art. I love daydreaming about the no-kill animal shelter I would open when I win the lottery. I love shopping by myself, with all the time in the world, heading into the dressing room with an armload of items. I love sitting in a quiet room where I can hear the clock ticking. I love browsing through thrift stores for funky lamps and tin signs and necklaces. I love keeping score at baseball games. I love reading about interesting forensic cases. I love Marlene Dietrich movies and how black and white film and the right lighting makes everything glamorous. I love looking through my magazines for images to put up on my “inspiration board.” I love mini-donuts, and become giddy like a child when I see a stand at a fair or ball game or street festival. I love having a steady hand when I give myself a pedicure. I love taking pictures of my flowers, especially daisies and the scraggly rosebush that is 90% dead, yet still produces magnificent flowers. I love planning my outfit for the day around a single color in a ring. I love the moment when I put my car into park in an automatic car wash. I love swapping my winter clothes for summer clothes. I love going camping and sleeping under the stars and hearing other campfires crackle softly while the crickets chirp under the moonlight. I love walking to the farmers’ market on my lunch hour, picking out fresh-cut flowers. I love having the time to cook an honest-to-god home-cooked meal. I love curling up on the couch with a bowl of buttery popcorn and an unopened can of Mt. Dew. I love treating myself to Twinkies, Oreos and 3 Musketeers bars. I love planting my spring flowers, using the money we collected from our spare change throughout the year. I love getting email notifications that my online order has shipped. I love plain yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I love to eat vanilla pudding pops while I’m outside on our bench watching the squirrels bury things into our flower barrels. I love watching birds drink out of the puddles left by our sprinkler as they hop to avoid the spray. I love lighting candles that smell just like they claim. I love that moment camping when the tent is pitched, the fire is going, and I’ve got zero responsibility for the next two days. I love closing my eyes and listening to the sound of the surf, and how the wind rustling through the trees sounds the same way.

EDITED TO ADD: And bacon. Oh my god, how did I forget bacon?!? I LOVE BACON!

Your online blog entry has shipped

I’m not much of an online shopper, but this week I’ve spent $1,730 on online purchases. (Can you tell I received my tax refund?) Anyway, after mail-in rebates and reimbursement of my work-related purchases, the total will only be $1,400. That’s SO MUCH better.

What did I buy? Well, Sharpies. Yep, I bought markers. In 24 colors. Why? Well, for scrapbooking and for work because people keep STEALING them. I think it should be a rule that only the editor can use red markers to edit something; I hate getting something that the account manager has already marked up in red, because then I’m forced to edit in another color, which is great, but since everyone STEALS my markers, I’m usually forced to use pastel pink or mustard yellow because of the STEALERS. Now I’m going to be forced to lick all of my pens before I set them out on my desk.

I also had to buy the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style for work. My boss (the one I confront on a monthly basis) suggested we use that for our internal guidelines rather than continuing to use the AP Stylebook that we’ve used for the past 28 years. (I totally prefer the AP Stylebook over the CMS – begone, stupid serial comma!) Plus, my boss only suggested the CMS after the president and I said we both preferred the AP Stylebook. Control freak. So I spent $207 on six copies, five of which will never be used.

And then I also bought an iMac and a printer. And I am not obsessed with them arriving at all. (The printer is in Pennsylvania and the computer is in California, and I have tomorrow and Monday off, and it’s totally reasonable to want to drive out to meet the FedEx truck halfway, right?)


Hey, hey, TMJ, how many jaws have you popped today?

Jason has an appointment at the Facial Pain Center (there’s some descriptive business naming right there) for his jaw-popping problem, and we’ve been on the phone with our insurance company numerous times to make sure the $400 consultation will be covered. Every time, we get vaguely the same information, only with pertinent details omitted: “Yep, you only have a $30 copay and everything is covered.” “Are there any exclusions?” “Nope.” “How about dental appliances?” “Oh, yeah, those aren’t covered at all.” “COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE MENTIONED THAT WHEN I ASKED ABOUT EXCLUSIONS?”

Jeez. I’ve called 3 times already, and I’m still paranoid enough about their false information that I plan on calling again tomorrow.

Anyway, today I called to get the name of the dentist Jason was meeting with to see if they were in our network. The receptionist was gargling with marbles, so I wrote down the name as “Dr. Cod [Last name].” And then I hung up without verifying, and tried to find Dr. Cod online. No luck. And then a little 10-watt light bulb shattered in my brain and I Googled “Dr. Todd [Last name].”

Yep, it was Dr. Todd. Not Dr. Cod.

That’s too bad.

Windy city

Minor, petty thing #34 I wonder about:

Why is it when walking through the wind tunnel that is downtown Minneapolis, my hair never gets blown gracefully across my face, but instead, is wind-whipped violently into my mouth or nose or eyes, and I can never do that graceful headshake to loosen it, so that I appear to the general public to be vehemently disagreeing with the voices in my head?

Language barrier

I have an intense urge to speak in German today, if for no other reason than to express my annoyance with people in the form of guttural questions like, “Was diese scheise
ist?”
which in my mind translates roughly to: “What is this shit?” Because, as everyone knows, you need to use a harsh-sounding language when you’re annoyed. Such as German. Or Russian. Of which my vocabulary includes only a single phrase that means “Go screw your mother.”

Unfortunately, the only German phrases I’ve retained from my mandatory two years of high school language study are “Wo ist Monica?” (”Where is Monica?”) “Im boot.” (“In the boat.”) Which does not lend itself to everyday conversations, especially since 1) I do not know anyone named Monica and 2) I do not own a boat.

Anyway, in a city the size of Minneapolis, it’s not very often that you’ll run into someone you know. It’s even less likely that you’ll find yourself behind the same vehicle two days in a row. Especially considering all the factors that had to happen for this coincidence to occur: freeway lane choice, traffic volume, departure times, vehicle speed, stoplight length, etc.

And yet, that’s what happened to me this week. At the same stoplight in downtown Minneapolis, I found myself behind the same vehicle two days in a row. The only reason I knew was because of the bumper stickers. One proclaimed:

“Vaginas are Cool!”

Yes.

And the other featured what appeared to be a flamingo, but upon closer inspection turned out to be a woman with her head between her knees and her butt in the air. All very anatomically detailed.

To which I said, “Was diese scheise ist?”

This entry encapsulates TWO YEARS

The snow last week? It would’ve been pretty if it had been lightly caressing my cheek instead of smacking me in the face. It was less “snowy butterfly kisses” and more “big messy French kiss,” like a meteorological f-you from a drunk and sloppy Mother Nature.

As an added bonus, I attempted to blow some of the snow with our new snowblower as a surprise to Jason when he came home from work. After professionally starting it up on the first try, I managed to blow a solitary, somewhat straight line (if looking at it with one eye closed while drunk) before the snowblower died a dramatic death from suffocation due to the tightly packed snow in its mechanical esophagus.

Despite clearing the snow, it refused to start again. Well, great. That left shoveling and the requisite whining that goes with it, because shoveling wet heavy snow? Really sucks. It’s like trying to shovel up a pile of dead bodies. If the bodies are wet and attached to cinder blocks. And shellacked to the pavement.

After 20 heart attack-inducing minutes of shoveling, Jason came home and fixed the snowblower, so I could finish the driveway the way nature intended. With a machine.

Traffic stops

Have you ever been in a lane behind someone, traveling along at a good clip (cops of Minneapolis: “good clip” = “speed limit”), with everything going fine, and everyone happy with the car length ratio between themselves and fellow travelers? When suddenly, the car in front of you inexplicably slows down, to the point that you’re tailgating them? And you don’t want to slow down because there’s no reason to, so you back off the accelerator and hope they’ll speed back up? But they don’t, so you’re forced to pass them? Well, it’s always kind of bittersweet for me when that moment happens; it’s like I’m breaking up with them, my highway partner. I feel like I need to roll down my window to explain: “Look, it’s not you, it’s me. I mean, everything started out so fast and it was great, but now that we’ve slowed down, I’ve decided…I guess I’m trying to say…I don’t want to be…behind you anymore.”

Or how about when you’re traveling and going around people who believe 45 mph is adequate for a 60 mph limit, and you want to speed a bit (Note to cops: this is entirely fiction), but you don’t want to get caught? And then you see in your rearview mirror someone merging from lane to lane, going around people and they’re going the speed you would like to go? And then you get all excited as they pass you, and maybe you even hum the theme song to “Smokey and the Bandit” in your head? And it’s great, because now you’ve got a runner who will get pulled over before you, especially if they’re driving a red TransAm and you’re in a green Chevy Cav. So you both speed along on your merry way, until it’s time for them to exit, and as you pass, you give them that little nod, the one that says, “Thanks, man. Thanks for being my wingman.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

Why I need to work from home

Signs it is a Monday after a nice long holiday weekend:

The cat wakes you up at 4:23 a.m. by sneezing directly into your face.

You hit the snooze alarm *six* times before scraping yourself out of bed, which you have thoughtfully provided with new flannel sheets and a freshly washed comforter for maximum “I don’t want to leave – ever” appeal.

You hit every.single.red.light on the way to work. This is a record.

Your boyfriend cracks his hard-boiled egg open for lunch to discover that it was not, in fact, a hard-boiled egg.

Adults only

This weekend featured an odyssey into full-blown adulthood. After getting our new mattress, which Jason and I were unhealthily excited about, we made a trek to Target to donate our weekly $80. Our shopping list did not consist of a single cool item: furnace filters, shower curtain liners, kitchen sponges, and cough syrup. Seriously. In a fit of rebellion, I purchased a bottle of Mt. Dew just to prevent myself from aging another 30 years.

***
During our weekly weekend Game Night, where we blast loud music in the basement and play foosball and darts, we discovered that I can actually beat Jason at darts. (But only if the Beastie Boys are playing.) I won by hitting a triple 15, which is amazing considering the fact that I always aim at a bullseye and never hit anything but the right side of the board. Actually, what usually happens is that I hit the wall, and my dart caroms wildly to stick in the carpet like a menacing syringe, inches away from the cats, who do not comprehend the danger they are in. So my amazingly bad play is always compounded by the fact that I am nervous about hitting a feline’s major organ.

***
To further demonstrate our adultness, Jason and I then had a very serious discussion, in which we tried to pinpoint the exact moment Nick Nolte and Gary Busey became indistinguishable. Conclusion: sometime after Blue Chips.

Survey says

Hi, we’re with Nocturnal Activities Prevention (NAP), and we’d like to ask you some questions about your pets to help us determine the reasons for their behavior, and also how we can prevent such behavior so you no longer have to consider selling your pets at the next garage sale.

1. How many hours of sleep per night do you pets allow you to have?
a. 8+
b. 6-7
c. 4-5
d. 3 or less
e. Zombies don’t need sleep

2. In what manner do you pets wake you?
a. Incessant whining/pawing at blanket
b. Armpit licking
c. Claw from back paw into ear canal
d. Demanding to be let into unrealistic space; e.g., refrigerator
e. Sitting directly on bladder

3. What would make your pets stop waking you?
a. Seventy kilos of catnip/Beggin’ strips
b. Straitjackets
c. Water mister/air horn
d. Rabid wolf sentinels
e. My death

4. What behavior is saving your pets from the garage sale “Free” bin?
a. Giving great head butts
b. Ability to make own ham sandwiches
c. Excellent Billy Idol impersonation
d. Routinely sporting Hitler moustache after digging into dusty crevices for bugs
e. Sleeping up to 20 hours per day, allowing for RETALIATION