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happy wiener

That is one seriously happy wiener.

Last night I was clearing the kitchen table so I could put together some favors for an office event. I’m picking up screw drivers and receipts and mail and recently-removed lampshade hats and I’m thinking to myself, “My goodness. We’re just living all over this place.”

What a funny thought. And so perfectly true. We’re living all over the place. Our lives are simple — work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner, work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner, work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner — but we love it that way. There are things we could whine and bitch about, for sure, but we have a good life. We’re in love. We’ve got these two stupid dogs and these two mean cats and a python that thinks we’re just barely too big to eat. We’ve got a huge, wonderful extended family. Mike is in school and I love my job and everything is kind of perfect. We’re living and enjoying our life instead of sloshing through it just to survive. And sometimes that means there are wads of dog hair under the kitchen table and piles of mail on top of it, but my point is: Mess on the kitchen table and all, I wouldn’t change a thing about our life.

Or would I? I’ve been thinking a lot about babies. (Like that’s new.) At first I thought it was just because I was ovulating, but that was weeks ago and I’m still baby crazy. (More than usual.) But then I think about our life now, and how different it would be if there was a baby. And I think about how much work a baby is and I know that I would end up doing most of the work because Mike doesn’t have boobs and how could I balance it with my job? And what if I suck at it? What if I hate it? What if I resent the baby or Mike resents the baby because everything was perfect and then we had a baby and ruined everything? I hear that’s what happens to people. They have a new baby and for the first three months they stare at that screaming thing and wonder what on Earth they did to their life.

I don’t want to feel that way about a baby. I want us to be stupidly, madly, happily in love with our baby. But what if we’re not? THEN WHAT?

This is what keeps me awake at night.

Hiker Geek

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Three cheers for our country’s heroes. Let’s take a minute to reflect on this country of ours and thank the men and women who helped it become what it is. You may say it is  flawed  and I would agree, but it is still a great country and we are lucky to live here. We’d be even luckier if we all had access to health care and jobs, but still.

This post was written on Friday, May 27, 2011. I’m only mentioning it because I think it matters. That sounds kind of weird but I don’t mean it to.

***

Today we got all our vaccines. This was, so far, the most expensive part of our trip. We have been saving up for this trip for a whole year, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still. I hate spending money in large doses.

The good news is we are now vaccinated against yellow fever, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus*, hepatitis A, and after we take the live virus pills in our refrigerator, typhoid fever. Isn’t that reassuring?

I was really nervous about the shots because I hate needles, but I kept it together. I kept it together so well that Michael treated me to lunch afterwards. It was awesome. Then we went shopping!

Only not for seedlings or pots at the Garden Center. Instead we went to R.E.I. for their gigantor anniversary sale and we bought the most expensive clothing I have ever owned in my entire life. Not because we were trying to be fancy, but because everything is meant for the utmost comfort while carrying gear amounting to a third of your bodyweight in a backpack on your back while walking uphill for ten hours a day. I let Mike pick everything out and you guys, he picked the cutest stuff. I mean, it’s as cute as convertible hiking pants, merino wool under layers, and fleece hoodies can be, but it’s super cute. He picked colors that look great on me and every.thing.was.on.sale. Also? It’s all really high quality clothing that will keep me comfortable on the trail, and that’s really what counts. I was going to do a little fashion show and post pictures of all my new outfits and everything, but you’re going to be seeing a lot of these clothes for the next couple of months, so I decided against it. But you guys? I am totally hiker chic.

This Sunday we will hike Mount Wilson. I don’t even know what Mount Wilson is, but Mike had me read a yelp review about it (read the fourth one down – it’s hysterical) and it sounds pretty serious. It’s six miles and will take between five and six hours. And it is almost entirely uphill. This is going to be a six hour walk, friends. Six hours, uphill, in the California heat. But I have a brand new, really cute and unbelievably comfortable outfit to wear (I am so excited about these clothes it is ridiculous) and we’ll be hiking a real trail in a real national park, instead of just the empty lots behind fancy houses we’ve been hiking.

It’s funny that I had that complete melt down last weekend, and now I’m so excited to hike this weekend. It’s just that I finally remembered why I decided to go on this trip. I didn’t want to miss sharing this with my husband. The John Muir Trail was such a hugely positive experience for him and I was really sorry I chose not to go. I didn’t want to miss another one. Besides, I’d rather be miserable in a field of stickery thorny waist-high weeds with him, then miserable in the comfort of our apartment without him.

And now a photo of a hairy wiener:

needsSLR

Mama needs an SLR

*Have you had your tetanus booster? Because it’s really important to. Apparenty you don’t only get tetanus from a rusty nail. Tetanus lives in the soil everywhere in the world, including where you live, and tetanus is a terrible way to die. GET YOUR TETANUS BOOSTER.

I Love Palm Springs

Four Palms

Before last week I never understood why people vacation in Palm Springs, but I totally get it now.

Paradise

In some places people are bundling up to go outside and dig their car out of the snow. But in Palm Springs, in February, you can gaze at palm trees as you roast in the sun.

You guys, I love the sun. If I wasn’t already married, I would totally marry it.

mexican food

A dear friend from college joined us on Wednesday and we all went to dinner at this fantastic Mexican restaurant called Las Casuelas Terraza. It’s been there since 1958 and the food was unreal. It was a Wednesday night but there was a live band playing the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Journey, Chicago, and other such classic rock & roll staples. There was a dance floor and you guys, PEOPLE WERE DANCING. Not the kind of epileptic-type dancing you see the young people doing today, but actual, real, grown-up dancing. I almost died of happiness.

joe

On Thursday Joe flew out from the city of New York to join the party. We picked him up from the airport and headed straight to Ruby’s for the World’s Best Burgers.

best burger ever

I’m not kidding about those burgers. (Nor am I being paid to write that.)

After lunch we hit a matinee performance of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a troup of sixty to seventy-eight year-old ladies who dance like whipper-snappers and look like, well, very attractive and fit older women in pancake make-up and feathers. It was absolutely delightful.

street fair

On our way to dinner that night we discovered a street fair. It was as if all of Palm Springs was gathering to celebrate Adam’s birthday!

AandJ

Dinner was a feast at Wang’s in the Desert. We ordered the catfish which arrived head and tail attached. I tried to get a pictures of Joe and Mike licking the fish’s eyeballs, but I hate and despise my camera so you are getting a photo of Adam and Joe being adorable instead.

I miss them already.

Perfectly Perfect Perfect

When we moved from Hells Kitchen to Harlem I was working eleven hours a week and Mike was unemployed and on Spring break from school. We were able to spend the better part of every day cleaning, unpacking, decorating, nesting, and we were all settled in a matter of weeks. It was fantastic. But this time I’ve been at work every day and Mike’s had to do most of the heavy lifting without me.  Me, who likes to do everything myself because I want everything to be perfectly perfect perfect.

This has been the source of several very high energy moments in the past couple of weeks. Mike is very patient and very laid back, and I am the Tazmanian Devil. We signed our lease on a Monday but by Tuesday I’d spent four days decorating the apartment in my mind and making long lists of everything that needed to be cleaned.

One morning as Mike was driving me to the office, we had a huge fight.  Except it wasn’t really a fight. Calling it a fight implies yelling and screaming, and that’s not our style.  Anyway, immediately after lecturing Michael on how I won’t be able to live in the apartment until the bathrooms have been scrubbed inside and out, I started telling him that I thought it would be fabulous to decorate said bathrooms with all gold vintage decor.  He made a face at me and said he thought that was the most horrible idea I’d ever come up with ever.

Except not really. What he said was, “That will look really tacky,” but what I heard was, “That is the most horrible idea you’ve ever come up with ever. Also, you are fat and ugly.”

When he dropped me at work I was nearly in tears. I was also on my way to being late for work, so I couldn’t sit in the car and talk about how I was feeling. Instead I had to sit in my office and stew about it.  And stew I did, for a nice long while. Then I texted him:

“I love you. I want for this to be a fun and happy time for us.  I want to feel like you accept me and like my ideas. It’s crushing when you think my ideas are stupid. You’re my best friend and when you think my ideas are stupid it’s really painful. So far you’ve hated every idea I have and I’m starting to feel like this is your apartment, not ours.”

Don’t you love how dramatic I am? It’s so awful it’s funny, right? “So far you’ve hated every idea I have…” Straight out of Days of Our Lives, the generic suburban version.

He texted back:

“All I’m doing is cleaning. I understand how you feel. I’m sorry. I don’t want to feel the same – like you want to make this your apartment, and all I do is scrubbing and hauling. The good news is that we are not in a huge hurry. I want us to work together to make a home. I respect your ideas, and I know we can make this work.”

I took a deep breath. Why was I so angry? I mean, seriously. Sixties gold décor in the eighties-era bathroom with the clamshell sink. It wouldn’t have worked at all. So I called my mother and my girlfriends, some of the most brilliant and wonderful women I know. “What should I doooooo?????” I whined. They all three said the same thing. They pointed out that we both had valid points and we’d both expressed a desire to work through the situation.  They said we were ahead of the game. They offered help, advice, encouragement, and comfort.  They made me laugh. And Kim gave me complete instructions for how to wash out my filthy dishwasher, something I otherwise would not, for the life of me, have known how to do.

I wasn’t angry that Mike didn’t like my ideas. I was angry because he was doing it all without me. I felt like I was missing out on everything.  All the cleaning, all the moving, all the furniture-arranging.  He thought he was getting a big chore out of the way, but I felt like I was being cheated of an opportunity to nest – something I’d been aching to do since August. Meanwhile, here he is, spending his days scrubbing and hauling while I yammer on about curtains and throw pillows and give lectures on how to clean the toilet. No wonder he didn’t have the patience to talk about gold vintage décor.

When we finally got another chance to talk, we realized that we were both aiming for the same thing – a fabulous little home we’ll love for the next two to five years, depending on how long it takes us to save up for a house.  Once we figured that out, we were able to talk about all of the things that needed to get done, his priorities and mine, and I realized that moving comes before decorating and maybe my evenings were better spent scrubbing the filthy toilet instead of shopping online. Which, of course, was what I really wanted to be doing anyway.  After all, there is nothing in the world like a freshly scrubbed toilet.

Financial Infidelity

getoffmyproperty

Get yer filthy paws awf my moneys!

The other day I came across an article about “financial infidelity”. Wikipedia defines financial infidelity as “a term used to describe the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other. Adding to the monetary strain commonly associated with financial infidelity in a relationship is a subsequent loss of intimacy and trust in the relationship.”

Basically, according to the Internets, married people are cheating on each other with money.

Dude.

Within a week of our moving in together, Mike had added my name to his checking account and I’d closed mine out and deposited all of my funds into his account. Now, I wouldn’t recommend this to all couples, in some situations that could be a really stupid thing to do. But in our case it made sense. For one thing, I had excellent credit and a knack for data entry, while Mike made lots of money that he never took to the bank. He used to get all his bills in red envelopes, not because he couldn’t afford to pay them but because he never had money in the bank. Instead, all his money was scattered across the kitchen table, shoved into cracks in the walls to keep out drafts, tucked into books like so many bookmarks, and wadded up in the dryer lint catcher. It drove me crazy. So when we agreed to move in together, we agreed to a joint bank account so that I could manage our finances. And manage them I did! Every night when Mike came home from work he would put all his cash in a cigar box we kept next to the bed. Every morning I would deposit his cigar box cash at the bank. I paid all our bills, balanced the checkbook, and watched our budget.  By the time we married we had zero debt and a nice little nest egg. Then we moved to New York and blew it all. Then we paid down our debt again, built another nice little nest egg, and moved back to California.

The value of a man who, without complaint, hands over his paycheck every week, is not lost on me. I know how lucky I am to have a partner who is so careful of his spending, so sincere in his desire to help me build the future we want for ourselves. It’s a blessing to know that we have the same goals in mind and that we’re both doing the best we can to meet them. Which is why the thought of financial infidelity is so absolutely horrifying. Aside from death or actual infidelity, I can’t imagine many things more terrifying than discovering that my husband has secret credit card debt. Or secret gambling debt. Or secret anything.

I thought about this when I read the article, then I googled “financial infidelity” and found 809,000 more articles, and with each word I read I climbed higher and higher on my money-management pedestal. Patted myself on the back and told myself how superior we are because we would never lie to each other about money. We’re better than that. And then I remembered the parking ticket.

If I get a parking ticket and send the check off and don’t say anything to Mike about that $55 – is that financial infidelity? What if I go shopping and tell him I only spent $100, but I actually spent $350? Or like, we each have a budgeted personal allowance of $80 a month and Mike never spends that much, he hardly ever spends more than forty bucks, but I sometimes spend three times my allotted amount and I’ve never told him (until now.) I just let him think I stay within my budget because I don’t want him to get mad and it’s not like he ever looks at our budget sheets, because he totally trusts me to take care of it – so am I cheating on my spouse with money?

AM I A CURRENCY INFIDELITE?

What do you think? About all of this, I mean, not just whether or not I’m cheating on my husband’s bank account. How do you handle money with your partner? Not that that is any of my business, no siree. Oooh, touchy subject, this is. Money! Scary stuff, I know. But I’m curious. What do you think?

Not dead. Just buried.

It feels like it’s been a million years since I posted last. Which seems to have become a theme ever since I moved back to California. Which is funny – funny sad, not funny ha-ha – because I really thought that one of the things that would happen once I was in California was that I would write constantly. CONSTANTLY. I thought I’d move to California and become a mega-writing-machine. Instead I just work all the time. But I’m not complaining, I’m really not, because I enjoy my job and I like the people I work with and thank goodness I have a job, especially a job I like with people I like. Also, that’s really just an excuse, is what that is. I still make time to watch at least two hours of television every night, so I could be writing, I’m just not. Let’s say I’m on a bit of a hiatus. While I adjust. Still. Still adjusting after nearly four months in El Lay. I am. I take a long time to adjust.

Aaand moving on. Guess what? I got a bike! Mike gave me a bike for Christmas! He gave it to me early so I could start riding it now, and I love it, I really do. I am using the bike as my sole form of transportation and I must say, riding a bike is way more fun than driving. It’s true that my round-trip commute has stretched from thirty minutes to an hour-and-a-half, but what does that matter when I spend it with the wind in my (helmet-covered) hair? Also? Cycling nine miles a day is going to do wonders for my physique.

Speaking of Christmas presents, Christmas is in two weeks and I don’t have a single gift for anyone. Not a thing. There are twenty-five people in my immediate family for whom I need to shop and I have no idea what to get any of them. I’m beginning to get nervous. I hope that next year I have a little more foresight and start my shopping in September, instead of waiting until the last minute like I have done every other year for my entire adult life. Why do I wait until the last minute? Because I’m a procrastinator. I really am. It’s terrible. Yesterday my mom took me and my 14-year-old niece shopping so we could pick out our Christmas presents and you guys, I am getting some awesome stuff for Christmas. But what am I giving? I have no idea. I thought it would be fun to use bakers clay to make my traditional dismembered gingerbread people into Christmas ornaments for my loved ones to enjoy year after year, but when I mentioned the idea to my mom she looked at me like I had frogs jumping out of my mouth and said, “But …. why?”

Because, Mom. It’s AWESOME.

What are you giving your loved ones for Christmas? How early do you start your shopping? Do you have any ideas for me? Because I could really use some help here…

Frosty’s Got Her Groove Back (I think.)

Chillin

V-Dog says, “Just chill, man. Just chill.”

Today marks three months since we arrived in Los Angeles and three months of living with my parents and all our animals. I wrote a one-month check-in, but I skipped the two-month because it was a much less pleasant month. First of all, it rained nearly every day. Also, the honeymoon of being home had worn off and I was reminded of all of The Valley’s flaws and did you know that sometimes it rains in Los Angeles? Because I was sure there was no rain here but it has rained at least forty-five of the ninety days we’ve been home.

This last month has seen it’s own trials, don’t get me wrong. But I think I’m starting to get into the swing of it. We’re beginning to get into a bit of a routine, which is great, I am a huge fan of routines. We’ve been spending a lot of time with family and we’re looking forward to the holidays. Also, I’ve gotten over the weather, mostly. I went to New York at the end of October and realized that sixty-degree weather is not cold. Sixty-degrees is lovely, thank you. I will never again complain about sweater weather in November.

As far as work goes, it’s starting to be fun again. For a minute things were really intense, but I’m settling in, learning how to work with the other members of my team, finding my voice. Michael hates his job, loathes and despises it, but as soon as he gets his California EMT card he’ll be moving on, so he’s not letting it get to him. Instead he’s looking forward to school in January. He finally got all his transcripts sorted out and he’s been given a date to register for Spring semester. The admissions office had given him such a hard time about his classes – as if Bio 1 in New York City is somehow sub par to Bio 1 in Los Angeles – it made me crazy. When I found out he’d gotten everything transferred over, it was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal like a child. I am absolutely over the moon.

So things have been looking up. The second month home I felt like moving had been a mistake, something we rushed into, dear god, what did we do to our life? But this month feels good. Like we’re getting our groove back.

It occurred to me today that all of life is like this. That no matter what, there are good days and bad days, sometimes you’re in a groove and sometimes you’re in a ditch. Even when we aren’t making big life changes, things are always changing, and just because we find our way one day doesn’t mean we won’t get lost the next. I think that what I need to focus on is building a life that’s congruent with my goals. Even when things aren’t going the way I plan, if I’m at least moving towards something I want, I feel happy.

What are my goals, you ask? I’d be happy to tell you! In the next six months I’d like to spend more time with friends. I’d like to spend more time writing. I want to visit Florida with Michael so we can spend time with his mother. I want go on weekly dates with my wonderful husband. I want to be living in a little two-bedroom home that we love, that we could be happy in for at least five years. I want health insurance. And I want to be having fun and feeling successful in my career.

Those are pretty reasonable goals, right? Totally manageable. If things change between now and then, if my goals change, it doesn’t matter. After all, people make plans and God laughs at plans. And then people cry and get depressed. Then they make new plans and feel hopeful and there we have the circle of life.

Preparedness

babydoll

We found a house in our price-range. I took this photo inside of it.
What the picture doesn’t convey is the overwhelming scent of decay,
the mushrooms growing in the carpet, and the fallen-in roof
.

Had a super awkward moment at the checkout stand today. I’m buying four bottles of wine and a bottle of pre-natal vitamins. How weird is that? Right? What kind of person buys pre-natal vitamins and booze? I might as well be buying a bottle of Evian and case of laxatives.

“They’re not for me,” I volunteered when I got to the register.

“Pardon?”

“They’re not for me. The vitamins. Just the wine is for me.”

The check-out man stared at me, blinked.

“I’m not, like, a pregnant drunk or anything. Drinking and pregnant, bad idea. I’m not pregnant.”

A long silence passed. I chewed my lip. The lady behind me coughed. The checker looked at the bottle of vitamins in his hand and recognition lit his face. “Oh! Yeah. I guess I didn’t look at the vitamins. I thought, what’s this lady talking about?”

“Right, pre-natal vitamins, ha! My bad.”

Could I be more awkward? Like the checker even cares. Like anyone even reads what’s on the labels of someone else’s groceries. And why do I care? They’re not for me, or they are for me but I’m not pregnant, not even trying to get pregnant, just … hopeful.

(This is where I whine about the problems in my first world life.)

Before we left New York we decided that next year was going to be THE year to try for a baby. Everything was going our way. Mike was almost done with school, we had great jobs, we were putting money in the bank every day. Obviously it would be easy to move across the country and buy a house and get pregnant by next year. Then we moved across the country and it turns out we totally can’t afford a house next year and Mike’s new school is giving him all this drama about transferring his credits and I’m afraid we were a little ambitious when we decided next year was THE year. If we manage to climb out of this hole we dug ourselves into, it will be largely because of the support we’ve gotten from my parents these last few months.

But I was just so damn excited and now I’m so damn disappointed. The thought that this dream was maybe that close to my reach made me so indescribably happy. And then I think about the women who try and try and it doesn’t happen and I’m terrified that that will be me. That I’ll put it off and put it off and then when we finally try it just won’t happen. And then what will I do?

I’ll live, I guess. I’ll figure it out. I’ll have Mike and we’ll be fine, whatever happens happens, we move on, I know. It would be heartbreaking but we would survive. Besides, it could all work out perfectly, so it’s silly to be worrying about it now. So I’m trying to stay positive. We are healthy, we are loved, and we are getting through this slightly uncomfortable transitionary period. And I’m taking some stupid unfortunately-named vitamins. Just in case. Is that so bad?

In the mean time, I will enjoy a glass of wine every evening, thank you very much.

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Afternoon Web

We haven’t had a Sunday afternoon like this in ages. The kind of Sunday when you stay in your jammies with a coffee  and the paper until noon. An afternoon for reading in the shade of a tree, a little dog on your lap. A long, lazy, quiet day of rest.

Usually Mike has to work on Sundays, but he was running in the woods yesterday and tripped over a piece of barbed wire and hurt his hip really badly. He can’t put any weight on his right leg at all, and it’s hard to wait tables standing on one leg. So he’s home resting and I’m resting right alongside him. Or, I’m doing my version of resting, which is to say I’ve given myself a manicure and a pedicure, and washed four loads of laundry. Heaven.

Close Call

my wiener

I was chopping tomatoes at the kitchen counter just before family dinner the other night, when I heard my brother yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?”

The fencing in my parent’s yard is just wide enough that both little dogs can slip through without any effort at all. The first day we were home we found Valentine sniffing around in the front yard of the house across the street and down two. An hour later we caught Theo lapping water out of the next-door neighbor’s pool. As a result, those little dogs are no longer allowed in the backyard unattended.

On this particular evening, I’d spent the entire day working in the yard with the dogs off leash and they hadn’t tried to go through the fence, not once. When I went inside to chop tomatoes, I didn’t think anything of leaving them alone in the yard. They’d done nothing but sleep in the sun all day and I could see them right through the kitchen window. It wasn’t like they were going to slip through the fence while I watched.

But I wasn’t watching the little dogs asleep on the shearling cushion. I was watching the tips of my fingers. So when Ty started yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?” my heart leapt into my throat. Most likely drowned in the neighbor’s pool, I thought, because I am the worst dog-mother in the world. I dropped the knife and ran into the yard.

“Wiener! Wiener! Wiener!” Ty yelled.

I joined in, “Theo! Theo! Theo!”

Nothing. Not a sound.

Usually when I call Theo, the tags on his collar jingle. He doesn’t always come right away, but at least his tail starts wagging, and on that hot dog body of his, a little tail wagging goes a long way. His butt gets going and the movement travels down his long spine and his tags jingle till they sound like church bells to my worried ears. But not that night.

That night we called him and called him and the yard was silent. We ran around the yard, our calls getting louder and more frantic, but he was nowhere. I rounded the side of the house and there he was, safe and sound under the roses, happily eating a pile of shit like it was a fresh london broil. I couldn’t kiss him for a week.