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I’m Pretty Sure Sloths Can Morph Into Turtles If They Save Enough Cash.

Yesterday I did not paint the trim in our bedroom.

Nor did I scrub the baseboards or putty the holes around the windows.

In fact, all I did was shop vac the popcorn remnants before hitting the showers so I could hang out with an old friend who’s back in town for a few days.  We sat at a wine bar for the afternoon and talked about girly things.

It was all kinds of wonderful.

Of course, after regaling her with harrowing tales of my adventures into the design world and my big plans for the master bedroom, the talk inevitably turned to travel, as it usually does with me, and we exchanged stories about places we’ve been and where we’d one day like to be.

And I realized.

It doesn’t matter how many light fixtures or curtains or duvet covers I buy — it will never be enough to keep me grounded.  To keep me from wanting to island hop through the South Pacific; to explore the Dalmatian coast of Croatia; to swim with the jellyfish in Palau.

So.

Since I’m not in a position to travel right now and I’d like to stall a little while longer before painting baseboards, I’m going to start with a travel basic for you — the backpack.

Those of you used to taking a grand vacation to a single destination without the slightest intention of removing your belongings from the comfort of your hotel room for the duration of your stay may not be aware of the benefits that come from backpack travel.  You probably think backpacks are for beatniks and bums — the aimless Dean Moriartys of the world and white people with dreadlocks.  Or maybe you think it’s more like an exclusive club — one where you have to know how to play acoustic guitar or roll a superior joint before you’re allowed to become a member.

Well that’s simply not true!  Backpacking is a club, but the pack itself is your membership card — your elite access to some of the most interesting, well-traveled, well-read, and well-rounded people in the world.  If you’re out in the Great Unknown and see that unmistakable sign of a fellow traveler, you know it’s likely a fleeting friendship can bloom over smiles, tip exchanges, and any number of language barriers.

A backpack means freedom — freedom from the hindrance of staying in one place, freedom from the worry that someone might scratch one of your Louis Vuittons, and freedom to navigate city streets and cramped public transportation without getting tiny wheels stuck in sidewalk cracks and bags tipped in gutters.  Two free hands.  Your life strapped to your back.

The turtles, I think, might be on to something here.

If I could, I’d take a refurbished 1920’s Craftsman Bungalow and strap it to my back.

But I can’t.

So when I went to Costa Rica, I took these 2 bags:

Travel Bags

Two months of my life packed snugly inside the homes I’d carefully selected for the trip.

Of course, a nomadic pro could probably condense to one, but I don’t think I did too shabby for a noobie.

The black pack, The Lowepro Primus Minimus (I know, like a Gladiator!) was my carry-on, and completely necessary because it safely held my giant bulk of a DSLR camera, 2 lenses, memory cards, cleaning supplies, and power cords in the base compartment; plane ride paraphernalia including novels, guidebooks, MP3 player, headphones, and spare underwear in the top compartment; and my minuscule Netbook in the outside compartment.  An entire office in a single bag.  What’s more, it served as an excellent weekend bag, with camera in the bottom and plenty of room for some rolled-up dresses, undergarments, swimsuits, and toiletries in the top.

The green pack, which I checked on the plane, required a bit more research since I knew nothing about travel packs and the difference between various structures, breathability, and designs intended for campers, photographers, hikers, mountaineers, or just general travel.  Not to mention the fact that some packs are built specifically for a woman’s frame, which can make all the difference in the world when you find yourself carrying, like the most cumbersome tortoise, all of the things you want with you at a moment’s notice.

Think about that for a second.

Because when you strap that puppy to your back, no matter how well the bag is designed to distribute the weight where it’s easiest for your body to carry it, heavy is heavy.  And there is no better shock therapy for trimming the fat from your life — or your luggage — than by shoving it all into a backpack.  Or two.  Then strapping one to your back and the other to your front, so now you don’t only look like a tortoise, but a pregnant tortoise, with visions of tipping headfirst with the weight of yourself and not caring a bit because you know you’ll just bounce — and that, I think, is unbridled freedom.

The one I ultimately settled on was a Gregory brand Jade 60, a woman’s pack designed to carry 60 Liters.  However, since I ordered the size small to fit my frame, I believe that took it down to 55 Liters.  Fifty-five Liters, it turns out, is enough room to carry a life.

A small life of materials, but one filled to capacity with experience.

Was that cheesy?

Yeah, that was cheesy.  Even for me.  But a girl can’t help but get mushy when it comes to talk of love.

And that’s what this is, albeit unrequited.  I feel like a horse at the starting gate — held back for some lame league rule decipherable only by those who make them up — just itching for my chance to run.

My pack is too clean.  Too new.  Too green.

But that’s okay.  For now.  We’re just biding our time for a second run.

Many people, especially families I hear, feel the need for a vacation after a vacation.  I think I know why that is and what we can do to fix it.

And the first step, my friends, is a decent backpack.

Would you consider traveling with a pack, or do you think you’ll always stick to basic luggage?  Do you like the comfort of sticking to one place when you travel, or do you like the freedom to explore.  I’m curious.  There’s no RIGHT way to travel.  What’s yours?

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My Indecision is Final.

Last night I slept 35 inches off of the ground.

I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, so I’m going to give you a minute to go and grab your trusty tape measure (if you’re like me, you keep it in the laundry room because it makes perfect sense, according to people like me and not people like Justin, to keep oft-used tools in the laundry room) to see how high you sleep every night.

It’s okay — I’ll wait.

…..waiting……

………….waiting………….

…waiting……….

Okay, I’m bored.  If you didn’t go and measure, I’m happy to inform you that it’s likely you slept closer to 24 inches off of the ground than 35 inches.  Unless you sleep in one of those crazy expensive grown-up beds that you need a step stool to get into, in which case I’m not even sure why you’re reading this blog.

But I’m glad you’re here.  It makes me feel less alone.

Anyway.

If you still sleep in the second-hand bed frame you bought from friends who were moving to Hawaii and didn’t want to take their guest bedroom furniture overseas, and that bed frame happens to position you a comfortable 24 inches off the ground with a box spring, mattress, and cushy foam mattress pad, then that extra 11 inches feels like the difference between Base Camp and the summit of Everest.

Seriously.

I needed climbing ropes and a pick axe to get up there.

And once there, I was petrified of even moving because — well, we all know now that I’m prone to falling out.

Which really explains a lot, if you know me.

But the reason, my friends — the reason I was sleeping in thinner oxygen last night is intriguing because I’ve finally gotten over my fear of commitment when it comes to certain design and decor decisions around the house.  And no, it’s not because I bought a super tall bed.  But it is because we’re finally — finally — doing something with the one and only room in this 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 kitchen, 1 living room, 1 hallway home that has literally remained untouched since we moved in 4 1/2 years ago: Our Bedroom.

That’s right — we’ve completely remodeled the kitchen, gotten well on our way to finishing the living room, polished off the hallway bathroom, have a guest bedroom I’ve never told you about, and are slowly wading our way through office progress, but we’ve never done anything with the room where we spend probably the majority of our time at home.

How… sad.

So.  Even though the smart thing to do would be to let funds replenish and then… I don’t know… take a trip to the Philippines, instead we’re spending money on bedroom stuff.  Call me crazy, but it may be nice to create a bit of a sanctuary — albeit a thrifty one — before we move from this house.

And as you can see, a sanctuary it was not:

Hand-me-down furniture and thrifted, mismatched nightstands.

Decrepit vertical blinds and a television that was probably made in the early ’90’s just screams romance, does it not?

I seriously can’t believe I’m showing you this.

But despite the mild embarrassment, it has to be done.

Like shock therapy for the decorating-impaired.

Must. Look. Away.

Okay, had enough?  Yep, me too.  We’ve been sleeping in blandness for the past 4 1/2 years.

College dorm rooms have more character than this.

Andy Dufresne’s prison cell had more character than this.

So yesterday we cleared out the room.  Apparently the thing about decorating is you can’t just get right into the good stuff.  There’s a certain amount of prep work involved if you want it to look right in the end.  Since new carpeting isn’t really in the budget right now, we’re going to pretend the floors look fantastic and move right on up to the ceiling.  Yep.  Popcorn.  Just like every other room in this house, it had to come down.

But of course, there’s prep work for the prep work:

Trees!

I wasn’t sad to see these go.

Knowing this whole room decorating thing would be a bit of a process (c’mon, it’s us we’re talking about), we moved many of our worldly possessions — including the entire contents of our closet since that had popcorn too — to other locale’s around the house.  And the guest bed, which isn’t designed to hold a box spring, got topped with our big ol’ box spring, plus our mattress, plus the foam pad, to form a veritable throne of a bed.

Hey.  We live in 1,600 square feet.  Compromises need to be made, and I can only tolerate one mattress (the old guest mattress) resting on the living room wall at a time, thankyouverymuch.

Then Justin got to work.

It’s a messy job, but somebody has to do it.  Fortunately, that someone isn’t me.  And no, I don’t know why the builders only partially vaulted our ceiling.  Just one of our home’s many unintelligible quirks.

While Justin was on popcorn duty, I was assigned decor duty.  The good news is that I was able to stay relatively focused because I knew I had a limited amount of time since we don’t want to be living in our guest room for the next 2 years.

That’s right, apparently I need boundaries in order to be functional.

First, I finally committed to a paint color.  Sort-of.  See, I was tired of having 8-million paint chips collecting dust on my dresser, so I finally just picked one, threw some splotches of it up on the walls, and said f*-it.  Let’s get this puppy painted.

Of course, while Justin was off buying the full-size gallons the day before, I realized I didn’t care how my samples took on a taupey tone in the sunlight and would’ve switched something even more definitively gray, but the deed was already done and paint ain’t exactly cheap.  I mean, when people talk about “liquid assets,” I’m pretty sure they’re not referring to Valspar’s Mountain Smoke in an Eggshell finish.

So he bought the paint.

And we didn’t stop there.

Kids, I bought a light.

Like… I got online, did some research, kind of stayed on topic (with minute segues into the realms of  curtains and comforters), and bought a light.

That’s right — I committed to something.  Two things.  Talk about progress from the last time I tried to decorate.

And.  Well.  The fact is, I’m tired of purchasing everything for this house with resale in mind.  Sometimes, you just have to get what you like, you know?  And if there’s anywhere we’re doing that, it’s our bedroom.  So.  The light might not be everyone’s cup o’ tea, but it might just be the cup o’ Tanqueray and tonic with a splash of lime you’ve been looking for.

But it’s not here yet, so you’ll just have to wait and see.

Don’t you just loooove surprises?  If not, have yourself another gin ‘n juice and learn to like them.

Because baby, I’m pretty sure surprises are the key to longevity.

So this is where we are right now:

Exciting stuff, huh?  Today I will be painting the baseboards and trim, as well as puttying any holes in the walls to get ready for the Mountain Smoke.

At this rate, we should have a functioning bedroom again in… oh… 4-6 months.

Hah.

But the good news is that I’m making decisions.  Me.  The girl who takes a half hour to choose something from a restaurant menu.

Watch out, kids — this girl’s on a roll.

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem.

Lately, I’ve been playing a crapload of mental tug-of-war.

Seriously.  Both sides of my brain must be like… amazingly buff right now.  In fact, if I could figure out a way to box and market this game, I’d probably be a bajillionaire.  And if I were a bajillionaire, I wouldn’t be playing mental tug-of-war.  At least not this particular game.

The thing is, I’m sure I’m not unique when it comes to what, exactly, is gnawing on both sides of my mind.  It’s money.

There, I said it.

Do you feel dirty now?

For some reason it seems like talking about money (without offering up a this-is-the-plan-that-will-get-you-out-of-debt-for-GOOD solution) is a huge faux pas.  It makes people uncomfortable.  They feel inadequate if they have little and guilty if they have a lot.

There is no doubt in my mind that you need money to be happy.  Tiny Tim was a perfectly delightful, high-spirited little boy, but he would have died if it weren’t for Scrooge’s money, and then he definitely wouldn’t have been happy.  Not one little bit.

I’m not saying you need a lot of money — just enough to provide your basic needs, a sense of security, and possibly for indulging in a passion.  And it’s that passion in particular that brings the happiness.

And please.  Don’t confuse “passion” for “stuff.”

So this tug-of-war game I’ve been playing goes like this:  I know I’ve been wanting to make travel — regular travel — a major part of my life.  The problem is, even though nearly every dream and drive I’ve had since childhood has pointed me in that direction with everything short of flashing neon arrows, it didn’t even really occur to me to try to do something about it until 2 years ago.

So I did what any rational, level-headed, Type A person would do:  I quit my job and did a work exchange in Costa Rica for 2 months.

(Needless to say, I am not level-headed or Type A.  And rational?  Try rash.)

Okay, in retrospect I see the problem.  This type of highly emotional quarter-life crisis decision-making was not sustainable in the least.  And worse, it whet my wanderlust with a fierceness.  While I wouldn’t trade the experience or the friends I made for anything, it’s fair to say that I now wish I’d thought beyond the trip.  That I’d made a plan.  And, most important, that I’d taken the time to save a significant amount of cash from my previous job before kissing that paycheck goodbye.

The thing is, when you hear those amazing stories about people who make a dramatic life change and their lives suddenly turn out all joyous and magical and completely figured out, they don’t tell you how much planning and preparation were involved before the deed was done.  Or, how much money.  All I heard was, “Go for it!  Live your dream!  Everything will fall into place!”

Well.  Those people probably weren’t making $800 per month student loan payments.

And now my mind’s at it again.

There’s the dreamer side that says spread your wings and FLY.  OPTIMISM will carry you through.  Who needs food when you have NAIVETY on your side?

And of course, the practical side that says I should do boring things like plan and calculate and save money.

Hence, the tug-of-war.  Not to mention the fact that the quickest way for me to save money right now would be to get a second job, likely as a waitress once again, which would take me away from Justin and the pups.  Just so I can… travel away from Justin and the pups?  No, thank you.  I will have my cake and eat it too, if you please.

So.  Which do you think is right?

a) Hard work and discipline is the best and most effective way to get what you want in this world.  Stay strong, make a plan, have patience, and eventually you will reach your goals!

b) There are no guarantees when it comes to Tomorrow, and nothing can stop you when it comes to the Power of Positive Thinking. Send good vibes into the Universe and keep plowing ahead, and roadblocks will tumble as you go!

I know which one I want to believe.

But, in reality, I’m guessing we need a whole lot of both.

Lucias Art on Etsy (first saw on CentsationalGirl.com)

 

Top O’ The Muffin to You!

This weekend was dreary.  The kind of dreary that makes daily personal hygiene tasks like flossing my hair, combing my teeth, showering, and getting dressed seem entirely optional.  The kind of weekend where the sun doesn’t shine, not one little bit, and a certain amount of comfort food is required to get you through.

After all, would winter be winter without muffin tops?

Wait, not that kind.

I’m talking about the kind of muffin top you get in a bakery — the kind that inspired Elaine and her boss on Seinfeld to open a bakery that sells only the tops.  The kind with the glorious dome that spills out of the cups and spreads out across the surface of the pan, rising up with puffy, cake-like perfection, and comes fully adorned with a sugary dusting of streusel crumbles.

Okay, so maybe the first kind of muffin top still applies.

Damn.

But we can’t be good all of the time — that would be inhuman.  And if we have the secret to creating muffins with proper tops right at home, we can’t very well let that go to waste on a sunless weekend.

The secret, it turns out, is an extra thick batter.

I know.  That’s probably been keeping you up at nights.  I feel your pain.

But there’s no denying that there’s something about those tops.  Something delicious.  Decadent.  An added pouf of awesomeness that the muffin stump just can’t provide.

I know it.  Elaine knew it.  And now you’ll know it, too.

This recipe provides the key.  I did make some suggested changes based on the comments, particularly with the streusel topping, but I love how mine turned out.

To make them like I did, you will need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cups milk (or less)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
For the topping, you will need:
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

*This makes 12 BIG muffins.  Seriously.  These muffins are BIG.  Cut this recipe in half if you know what’s good for you.  Of course, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t be making these at all.  So I’ll just stop talking now.

**Okay, I lied.  I’m still talking.  Because I also need to tell you to IGNORE the crappy photographs.  I haven’t been posting many recipes as of late because it’s too dark to get any decent pictures.  I thought, by making muffins in the morning, that I’d actually  have some light, but like I said.  Dreary weekend.  Total bummer.

Now.  This is a bit difficult, so pay attention.  (It’s really not difficult at all.)

1)  Preheat your oven to 400-degrees F and spray your muffin tin liberally with cooking spray.  Actually, go ahead and grease that puppy the old-fashioned way, because mine still stuck somewhat.  Even if you use those paper muffin cup thingies, still grease the top of the pan.

2)  Mix your dry ingredients — the flour, white sugar, salt, and baking powder, together in a bowl.

3)  Pour 1/3 cup of vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add the egg to that same measuring cup (I beat mine slightly with a fork first), and then fill the cup to the top with milk.

4)  Pour the wet ingredients into your bowl of dry ingredients, and — this is EXTREMELY important — DO NOT OVER-MIX.

Yep.  Just mix it gently until the batter is barely moist. You might even have a few chunks of flour left, and that is okay.

Everything will be okay.

As long as you don’t over mix.

Then gently fold in your blueberries.

5)  Mix the streusel topping ingredients together with a fork.

You should get a crumbly topping.

6)  Fill each muffin cup to the brim with your batter.  There should be just enough.  Then, sprinkle with streusel topping (I had extra) and bake for 20-25 minutes until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.

I was going to take another photo of the finished product this morning, when it was hopefully going to be light, and bright, and sunny, but no.  It’s like yesterday.  Only… danker.

Because that’s a word, right?

Good thing I have bad photos of muffin tops to cheer me up.

Oh, and the actual muffin tops don’t hurt.

Yep. I Did That. And I’m Pretty Sure You Should Do It Too.

When I was a kid, my favorite thing in the world to do was to build forts.

Of course, “the world” consisted of my house, my neighborhood, and some woods behind my best friend’s house, so I didn’t know how many other non-fort related fun things there were to do in the world, the bigger world, the one beyond the realm of my own imagination.

So, forts it was.

Outside, the forts were limited to the selection of supplies the woods could provide and the ones my friend and I were brave enough to snake from our homes and stockpile among the branches and leaves and dirt.  We had no hammers or nails, so our structures often consisted of precariously leaning logs and bent branches held to the ground with rocks and sometimes, just a maze of pathways and rooms raked through the leaves with nothing but imaginary doorways and walls.  But it was enough.

Inside, we ran rampant.  Huge blankets and sheets draped across furniture and lamps, tied to curtain rods and doorknobs, pinched tight inside closed drawers, and weighed down with books — massive behemoths that would fill entire rooms and sometimes stairwells, completely filled with pillows and stuffed animals and toy dishes and secret passages and all of the things necessary for a play house or a restaurant or a barber shop.

My friends always liked to get the fort built and get on with the game, because the set-up was just set-up, after all –not the fun part.

But for me, the creation was the fun part.  I loved discovering that rubber bands could hold blankets to door knobs just fine and that curtains can actually be pulled away from the walls to create more coverage and that couch cushions made the sturdiest doorways.  I loved convincing parents who thought they couldn’t get up the stairs that they could, in fact, crawl through the fort and experience for themselves the sheer awesomeness that can come with self-imposed confined spaces.  I loved knowing which rooms were best for creating the most extensive structures, and I loved discovering new places to build and new ways to build them.

And sometimes now, as an adult, and even though I have an entire house to play with, I just want to grab a big blanket, drape it across my computer desk and office chair, and crawl inside.

Grown-up Fort

I’m pretty sure it would make a fantastic fort.  I could bring in a lamp and maybe some christmas lights, a glass of wine and a good book.

Inside Grown-up Fort

Then, when Justin comes into the room to tell me it’s time to do grown-up things like submit queries or pay bills, I’ll pretend he can’t find me because I’m inside my fort, and forts pretty much make you invisible.

fort for adults

Maybe a fort would stir my imagination again, like it did as a kid, and all of the stagnant bits that have drifted and settled at the base of my skull would float to the surface in a jostled frenzy of inspiration and creativity.

The pressure of time wouldn’t exist.

Just like when we were kids.

Is Life Not A Thousand Times Too Short For Us To Bore Ourselves (By Going On Strike)?

Nietzsche said that.  The fist part, about life and boring ourselves.  Not the second part, about going on strike.  I added that to make a point.

So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I guess the internet is joining up in protest today to go on strike.

You heard me.

The internet is going on strike.

This would’ve been a great thing to know… I don’t know… yesterday, like before I got up at 6:30 this morning so I could write a blog post before heading off to my job that actually pays.  I mean, the sponsors aren’t exactly banging down my door over here.  I don’t know why companies wouldn’t want to attach their names to my drinkin’, swearin’, sex-obsessed self.  It’s mind-boggling, to say the least.

So.  I’m up.  I’m here.  And I won’t get paid for several hours.  In light of that fact and in the spirit of adventure capitalism, I think I’ll take advantage of all of the downed sites and hopefully benefit from the fact that apparently I’m the only site online right now.

That’s right.

You’re stuck with me.

It’s not that I don’t back the cause, ’cause I do.  It’s just that if I only have but a short time left to express my uncensored thoughts and opinions to the world, I kind of want to take advantage of them, you know?  Plus, I didn’t buy gas on that one day they said we shouldn’t buy gas a couple of years ago, and we all know how that turned out.  Oil companies still turned record profits, and I never bought that Prius.

Moving on.

Lately I’ve been distracted.  Like, crazy distracted, soaking up someone’s blog like it’s a Harry Potter novel, only even better because the adventures are real.  Her name is Brenna, and I’ve been working my way back from the very beginning of her blog, This Battered Suitcase, like some crazy internet stalker obsessed with setting up shop in someone else’s life.  Vicariously, of course.

For someone like me, it’s hard to not envy the nomadic life she’s made for herself, and she’s only in her mid-20’s.  Of course, on the flip-side, true wanderers occasionally get lonely and ache for the type of companionship and comfort that only comes with homesteading for a while, but if this is one of those “grass is always greener” situations, the other grass is the seasonal stuff that turns brown in winter climates, while her grass is like a golf course in southern California — that bitch (the golf course, not Brenna) ain’t ever gettin’ brown.  She’s alluded to as much in one of her short, photo-filled, thought-provoking posts — she wouldn’t trade the life she sometimes thinks she might envy a little on occasion for the world she knows she loves to experience.

I have to be careful here, because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  I love my husband.  I love my pups.  I love my friends, and my house, and the little niche we’ve created for ourselves in this place I’m far from calling home.

But.

Do any of you ever get the feeling that you’re still not doing what you’re supposed to be doing?  That, somehow, there’s more to be done, and you just need to figure out what it is and how to get there?  I’ve talked before about trying to live life in the moment and not wasting time looking for the next thing on the horizon that’s going to “complete” you, but this is different.  I’m talking about a sense of purpose.  Of making a difference.  At least to yourself, if no one else.

I read a quote by Mark Twain, who supposedly said,

Mark Twain Quote

Photo by Blunt Delivery.  I think.  At least, I found it on her Pinterest and it said it was uploaded by her, so it’s hers until I hear otherwise.

I don’t know how to make this travel bug blend with the life I’ve already created for myself.  But I also know that it’s not going away.  Once infected, the symptoms are life-long, my friends, and it’s a little bit torturous if you don’t give it the drug that it needs to subside.  Unfortunately, that drug can be expensive — not just monetarily, but also when it comes to time and relationships.  Current jobs and responsibilities.  This grind of debt and home ownership and 9-5’s we call The American Dream.  Some of those things I care about deeply.  But others, not so much.

If I’m going to be honest, and you know I’m never anything but, I have a current lack of stimulation that’s not filled from showing people houses or watching How I Met Your Mother.  And I know, if I have time to think on my bed of death, that I won’t be wondering who the mother really is or whether the writers of that show ever plan on telling us.  I will be wondering if I experienced enough — if I met enough people, heard enough stories, tasted enough food, read enough books, loved enough worlds.

Am I the only one who feels like this?

They tell us, as writers, to write what we know.  And all I know is, I need to know more.  What the food tastes like in Myanmar.  How the locals dress in Laos.  How difficult it is to buy camera batteries in Croatia.

I’m pretty sure I can make this happen, and that I can make it blend with what I already have.

Now.

Does anyone want to send me some money?

 

 

Why Baby Mamas Should Love Me and How I Came This Close To My Million Dollar Idea.

The interesting thing about my house, I’ve realized, is that while no children actually live here (except those of the crazy, mangy mutt and the 29-to-30-something-I-don’t-wanna-grow-up varieties), it’s shockingly child-friendly.

I mean, okay.  Kids have to stay out of my office.  Period.  There are dangerous things like books on shelves and a fancy new computer and god forbid anyone but me spills red wine on my spankin’ white desks, and yes, there’s a good chance if you bring your kid here, he might accidentally find himself with a sippy cupful of wine or I mean grape juice with a splash of wine, and that’s only if he’s being a pain in the ass.

And that’s what we’d call a Sippy-cup ‘Tini.

Not that I would ever do that.

Ever.

But sometimes when I see a screaming kid at the grocery store, I’d think of how much easier Mom’s life would be if she carried a flask.  For many reasons.

Don’t look at me like that.

In the early 1900’s, we used to give kids cocaine for toothaches.  And really, I’m not sure why we don’t anymore, because they’d all probably be a lot more fun and grow up to epitomize groundbreaking music genres and write thought-invoking lyrics and die before their time.

Wait, maybe that was heroine.  Which actually used to be sold as a cough suppressant.

And probably not such a good thing.

Except the music.  You can’t really argue that Come As You Are wasn’t a good thing.  A very good thing.

Right, Martha?

Anyway.  As I was saying, as long as the mangy mutts are locked in one bedroom and the office door remains closed and the so-called “grown-up” inhabitants of the casa refrain from giving alcohol to minors, what’s left is approximately 1,300 square feet of veritable playground for the age-impaired.  Well, maybe 1,200 square feet.  Because I’m pretty sure kids shouldn’t play in bathrooms.  Or the fireplace hearth.  So let’s make it an even 1,197 square feet of pure fun.  Which, I think, would more than suffice.

Most of the flooring in that remaining square footage is laminate, which, despite its solid-state appearance, is actually quite kid-friendly cushy as well.  Many a child has stumbled across its slick surface, been told to “brush it off,” and survived to play another day.

Also, it’s quite easy to clean.  Which was exceptionally put to the test this past weekend when my friend’s crazy adorable baby went all Exorcist on us and projectile-vomited everywhere.  Which was awesome and scary all at the same time.  And it made me really, really happy we chose laminate as our primary walking/vomiting surface.  (**Update: I spoke with my friend. She knows I love her. AND her baby. Like… I would throw myself in front of a biscuit-tube throwing Sponge Bob for that baby. So no, she knows I was not speaking ill of her baby while writing those last sentences. Her baby was ill, but I was not speaking ill. Got it? Thank you.)

So.  While situations in which friends with babies are hanging out with friends without babies usually leads to apologies from the friends with babies and feelings of inadequacy from the friends without babies, I want all of my friends with babies to know that it’s okay to take them to my house.  And that, while I’m not positive I want any of my own, I don’t want you to feel weird about exposing yours to me and my childless home.  Because I have laminate.  And microfiber.  And sippy-cup ‘tinis if you’re feeling especially distraught.

For you, not your kid.

Which is why I should be your favorite childless person.

But you’ll have to provide the sippy cups, because I don’t have those, for obvious reasons.  Although maybe I should, because I’ve been known to spill a lovely glass of red all over my new rug, and — oh, wow.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Sippy-cup wine glasses.  For grown-ups who aren’t quite grown up.  They’re sippy-cups with stems, people.  Don’t steal that.  It’s MINE.

Anyway.  I think what I’ve been trying to say is that I’d like to bridge this gap that inevitably forms when some friends from a group choose to have kids and others stubbornly remain child-free.  Just because kids don’t get me doesn’t mean we can’t hang.  And while I might try to talk to them about politics or religion or why Desperate Housewives is so insanely idiotic yet I still watch it, I think this is a good thing when it comes to expanding young minds.  I might ask them about the books they’re reading and then tell them about the books I’m reading, and then after I’ve bored them into a zombie-like stupor, all of us “grown-ups” can pour ourselves some sippy-tinis and call this a parenting job well-done.

It’s like I was made for this sort of thing.

Plus, I know the human head weighs 8 pounds.  Yep.  I’ve watched Jerry Maguire.  I know how this works.

P.S. I’m too late.

P.P.S. If anyone wants to buy me one of these if I ever find myself on the “with-child” side of the family spectrum, I can’t say I wouldn’t love it:

I Can Tell, Because It Doesn’t Feel Like I’m Trying to Push My Face Through A Brick Wall, that Today Will Be A Good Day.

For the most part, I consider myself a fairly healthy person.

I quite frequently joke around that when it comes to my jaded little family, my sister may have gotten the Barbie-like good looks, but I got the health.  Wow-ee.  As a teenager, given the choice, I would’ve taken the looks.  Hands-down.  But now?  I’m starting to realize that health really isn’t something to joke about.  And, if we know what’s good for us (hardy-har-har), we shouldn’t take it for granted when we have it.

My sister was always missing days from school.  Sure, I figured most of the time she was playing up her ailments — electively passing on a trying day of book learnin’ and real-life social networking (back before the days of Facebook, when you really had to work for it), for a restful day of hot soup, soap operas, and sleep.  But me?  I took pride in my neat little nearly perfect attendance record.  Home was bo-ring.

Eventually, however, the person I had pegged for a hypochondriac started showing real signs of body betrayals.  Where my mother suffers from chronic back pain and other ailments, my sister has had to have knee surgery, ankle surgery, a pituitary tumor removed (remind me to tell you about that sometime), and she has a hilarious-in-retrospect-but-so-not-funny-at-the-time habit of cracking her head open.

And yes, that’s what I call it when my body does things that I don’t get — a betrayal.  Like when I come down with a horrible cold or my left knee decides to get extra rickety or my jaw clenches tightly all night of its own accord.  These things slow me down — slow us down — and I don’t understand why my body would do that to us.  So after I mention it to someone else and fail to get any sympathy, I move on and pretend it’s not happening.  And really, this method of denial has worked for us so far, like refusing to back down to a petulant child, and eventually my body and I come to an understanding.  Our agreement is that if I give her some fruits and veggies, exercise occasionally, and don’t skimp on the red wine, dark chocolate, and good cheese indulgences, she won’t cause me any trouble and all will be right with the world.

So it still comes to a shock when something bad happens.  When something, no matter how temporary I know it will be, can absolutely not be ignored.

And last night, I received a tell-tale sign of impending torture.

I’d gotten home from a productive day of getting things done at work, and I was feeling motivated.  Really motivated.  I worked out, showered, preheated the oven for dinner, poured myself a small glass of red (still practicing moderation here, folks), and sat down at the computer to catch up on a few favorite blogs.  Only.  I couldn’t read them.

I squinted at the screen, where I could see the type trailing across the page — see lots of letters where letters should make words, but I couldn’t read any of them.  There were holes.  White spots where letters should be, and letters where white spots should be.  Like a crack in the glass lens of my vision, because I certainly wasn’t wearing my glasses, and oh my god I remember the last time this happened.

I had been just a kid — maybe 5th or 6th grade, the last time this happened.

And I knew what was coming.

It was a migraine, my friends.  And no.  Not just a bad headache that you might call a migraine.  This was a full-on, nauseous, punch-you-in-the-face, can’t-open-your-eyes-because-any-form-of-light-makes-you-want-to-scoop-them-out-with-a-spoon kind of headache.  Like the worst frozen ice cream headache, times 100, that doesn’t ease up for several hours.  And that light — that weird light from the crack in my vision — was my warning.

Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel… is just a freight train comin’ your waaaaayyyyy…..

As Metallica would say.

I tried to ignore it.  To pretend it wasn’t happening.  Because, you see, this was our deal.  We had a deal, my body and me, and it wasn’t supposed to do shit like this.  I couldn’t read, because I couldn’t see, so I turned on the television and tried to watch, although it turns out you kind of need vision for that as well.  You know — television.  And the light from the screen was a little strong, like someone had adjusted the brightness to an annoying level, so I sat on the sofa with my eyes closed, pretending that if I sat there long enough, everything would just go back to normal.

It didn’t.

I called Justin on his way home to warn him that I would need to be heavily medicated upon his arrival, and please hurry, and then proceeded to curl up in a ball in the dark cave of our bedroom and ride it out.  I only threw up once.  He came home with some kind of pill — a magic pill — that eventually quieted the searing pain to warm embers, and finally I could think.

And I could thank.

Because.  As horrible as it is to feel helpless and out of control of your own body, sometimes we need these not-so-gentle reminders of how good it is to feel good.

So thank you, body, for feeling good most of the time.

And don’t ever f*cking do that to me again.

Better Run, Better Run, Outrun My Gun

My coworker has a gun.

She just acquired her license to carry one, ironically in part because I signed her form as a reference, but I only did it because I thought she might shoot me if I didn’t.

Just kidding.

I think.

But she giddily informed me yesterday that her paperwork was approved and she was amazed at how simple the actual gun purchasing process was — that it seemed strange you could just go into a store, present your paperwork, and leave with a gun.  “Don’t you think there should be a waiting period?” she asked.  “You know… so that anyone who might be buying a gun because she’s angry at someone has time to cool down before the gun is actually in her hands?”

No, I thought.  Premeditated murder is pretty much premeditated murder, regardless of whether you did it right after driving to a store to purchase a gun for the job or stopped on your way to the victim’s house to have a cocktail and “cool down.”

But I didn’t say that.  I wasn’t sure if she was carrying the gun.

“And they’re a lot harder to work than you’d think,” she went on.  “You know how in the movies they make cocking the gun look so easy… like cha-ching a simple hand gesture and it’s done?  Well with my gun, it takes some muscle.  Like… I’d have to ask someone to hold still for a minute before I could shoot him if he was breaking into my house.”

“Well, let’s just hope that never happens.”  Pleasedon’tshootmePleasedon’tshootmePleasedon’tshootme.

“Yeah…” she said, almost wistfully.  “Well, I really got it so I could carry it to work.”

Excuse me?

“So that I can take it for protection when I go meet with potential clients and stuff.”

Whew.

“The bullets I bought aren’t the kind you normally think of when you think of a bullet.  They don’t have a pointy tip,” she explained, without provocation.

“No?”

“Yeah… the tip’s all concave — it’s called a ‘hollow point’ bullet, so that when it hits someone, all of the pieces just sort of expand outward to tear him up.  You know… because if you shoot someone, you don’t want to just put a hole in him.  You want to cause some real damage.”

I do?

“Yep… I’m learning a lot.  It’s pretty cool!  You should get one and we could go shooting together!”

I honestly don’t know how I feel about guns.  I’m pretty sure I know how I feel about my coworker having one in the office, and that’s nervous.  Whatever happened to the good ol’ days of bonding over cocktails?  Maybe learning guitar?  Starting a book club?  You know, things that don’t involve training me to tear someone up with a shiny piece of metal.

And this is just another check in the “I don’t really belong here” column.  I’d rather be my feeble-minded Northern city self, depending solely on shots of espresso and my own wit for self-protection.

Guns?  Aren’t those little blue and green plastic toys that we fill with water or soft darts and hand to our kids and tell ‘em to go nuts?  Don’t they only kill people with those in the movies?

Of course, then I remember my relationship with the military.  I’m married to it, for crying out loud.  I used to work for it.  I hear guns almost every week.  But the closest I’ve ever come to shooting one was in the virtual training lab on base, where they handed me and 4 other women reconfigured M-16’s, told us to lay on the ground facing a screen and to use our instincts.  On the screen, an arm reached out to knock on a door.  We were answering a domestic disturbance call, and before long a young woman with a black eye answered.  She was quickly shoved to the side by a gruff-looking 20-something who was obviously intoxicated.  He slurred some words to us and sat down on the sofa.  There were empty beer and liquor bottles strewn across the coffee table.  “Yo — I said, what the hell are you doing here?”  We’d already identified ourselves and our purpose, but the man was becoming irate.  Then, before we knew what was happening, he was on his feet, pulled a gun out of the back of his pants, and aimed it straight at us.  Five guns went off simultaneously, each sending out 2 or 3 shots before we were cut off.  Guns 1, 3, 4, and 5 were non-kill shots, but they all hit their mark — the man’s groin.  Gun #2, my gun, had the only 2 kill shots.  Straight to the head.

Now.

I feel a little better when I tell myself that I was aiming for the groin.

But I’m not positive that’s true.

And so guns scare me a little.  What they’re capable of doing, in the heat of a moment, when a moment is all you have to make a decision.  I’m pretty sure it’s not like the movies.  Not at all.

In the end, I suppose guns are like spouses or houses or jobs — there are times people didn’t have one but wish they did, and times people had one but, almost definitely, wish they didn’t.

All I know is that I’m going to be really, really nice to my coworker from here on out.

Something You Should Probably Know…

I’m one of those lucky people who has someone who has my back.

It’s easy, when you have it, to take it for granted.  But I have it.  And I’m not trying to rub it in, but I think you should know.  It’s kind of important if you want to know me.

I’m not going to lie and say we always understand each other.

I’m not going to lie and say we’re always on the same page or even, sometimes, in the same book.

But I’m also not going to lie and say he’s not one of the good ones — the kind who calls when he says he’ll call.  The kind who stays sober so you have a safe ride home.  The kind who cooks you dinner and rubs your back and somehow manages to turn you into a hugger when hugging used to make you feel all awkward and gangly and boob-pressy.

Sometimes I think I don’t know who he really is, and that scares me.

But it also keeps things interesting.

He’s my rock and my hard place.

Infuriating sometimes, because he can’t read my mind and I don’t know why.

All I do know is that 31 years ago, the world was graced with this:

Tile Buddy

(This side isn’t so bad, either):

And those of us who get to experience him, no matter how brief or how long, should consider ourselves pretty damn lucky, indeed.

Happy birthday, Justin!