Yesterday I got home from work and my lawn was mowed.
Obviously, I didn’t mow it. That’s not my job.
And Justin didn’t mow it, since I’m pretty sure his superiors in Afghanistan would consider that an excessively long lunch break.
So it must have been the scrawny, bronze tanned stoner kid I hired to do it but was fairly convinced would forget, what with all of the bong-hitting hours between the time I hired him and the time he was scheduled to mow.
What he did forget, apparently, is the fact that I showed him, told him, and texted him to be careful about not cutting the dogs’ electric fence.
Yes, I electrocute my own dogs.
But it’s only because I love them.
Wouldn’t you love faces like these?
So I came home yesterday to fresh-cut grass and the incessant beep of the dog detainment system, indicating a cut wire.
Also, I can’t find where the wire is apparently cut, since most of it is buried.
Also not surprising.
So now I feel like the helpless girl who can’t figure out how to fix a damn fence.
This is surprising.
Because normally, given enough time, I can figure things out. I can get ‘er done. But this time, I’m stumped. And frustrated. And for someone who owns canines whose progressive learning capabilities closely resemble those of the Jurassic Park velociraptors, we could be in trouble when they realize their collars no longer beep.
As satisfying as it is to do things on my own, to get my hands a little dirty, to experience the stiffness and stench after a day of manual labor, I realize.
Sometimes I just want someone to do it for me.
I think I could be happy if my hands and my office always looked like this. As long as someone else is mowing my lawn.
I know they say that money can’t buy you happiness, but I think having enough money to pay people to do stuff for me would, in fact, make me very happy indeed.
At least in the sense of immediate gratification.
And there’s nothing, as far as I can tell, wrong with immediate gratification. Like a handful of Reece’s Pieces and an angst-filled episode of Dawson’s Creek. Or a cool glass of Riesling and a book on the back deck. Or a morning jaunt with some literotica and my vibrator.
Just seeing if you’re still paying attention.
My point is that satisfaction earned is not necessarily better than satisfaction bought. That, in this life, some ventures are worth our time and others are not.
It’s a first-world privilege, and I’m willing to accept it.
For lack of a simple response, let’s just say I’ve been elbows-deep in plumbing fixtures, wood stain, boxed pasta meals, and the funk of my own melancholy.
I realize, as a semi-serious blogger, that I’m supposed to be meticulously recording my daily actions, organizing the resulting mixed media, and assembling it all into some witty and coherent piece of informative evidence here on this blog.
And I have been. Recording it, that is. It’s just that whole organizing and writing part that seems to petrify me into paralysis these days.
Instead, I distract myself by taking photos of my dogs, my wine, or my food (when it doesn’t happen to involve shell shaped pasta or processed cheese) and posting them on Facebook or Instagram in the vain attempt to gain some kind of social media validation that the way I’m living my life these days is, in fact, worth while.
Suffice to say, I haven’t exactly embraced the pseudo-single life.
Though it has, despite my best intentions, managed to embrace me. In a crazy, cyclic carousel of ups and downs. Motivation and melancholy. Like the San Andreas Fault, I appear to lie dormant for a time, building up my energy, storing up my drive, and then I release it all at once in this impressive display of calamitous frenzy.
Frankly, it’s exhausting.
Both physically and emotionally.
But I do have ideas.
Lots of ideas.
They’re scattered about on yellow sticky notes and inside notebooks and on pieces of scrap paper everywhere. The key, I’ve discovered, is going to be learning how to write at night, when I have the most time. When I don’t have to be to work in 45 minutes. When, unfortunately, my flow of motivational steam has been fully depressurized by the soul-sucking realities of spending my days as an almost-30-year-old assistant.
But I’ll get there.
All I ask is that you stick with me.
It’s a process, you know.
But we’ll get through it together.
In the meantime, just take a gander at how I currently spend my evenings.
I think you’ll find that a little time spent on… I don’t know… intellectual pursuits wouldn’t hurt me.
Did you know that the song, “Build Me Up, Buttercup” always puts me in a good mood?
It doesn’t matter that my allergies have practically crudded my contact lenses to my eyelids and my husband’s in Afghanistan and the dogs have been waking me up at 5:30 every morning so they can drag me 2 miles around the neighborhood.
Ultimately, it’s The Foundations — not the sunrise over the lake or the smell of my morning coffee or any amount of caffeine — who put the spring back in my step.
Which only further proves that I was born in the wrong generation.
Technology makes me nervous, and I’m pretty sure that a poppy-seed from my bagel just got stuck inside my keyboard.
That wouldn’t have happened with a typewriter.
Of course, then this whole blog thing wouldn’t be happening either, and I’d probably be haphazardly wandering the streets of Fayetteville talking to anyone who will listen about the merits of Poo-Pourri while shoving photos of family vacations in their faces.
But instead, I get to shove them in your faces, which is much more gratifying.
(Can I just say for a second how much I love public transportation? Seriously. My dream is to live in a city with clean, efficient public transportation — where I can jet from one place to the next without worrying where to park my car, how much it’s going to cost, or whether I might lose the drag race I just accepted with a 60-year-old man. True story.
Just one of many modes of Denver mass transit.
Our first stop in the Mile High city was for food.
You know my priorities.
Justin, always the advocate for anything highlighted on the Food or Travel networks, opted for Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs. We were searching for their street cart at the specified location, but ended up walking several city blocks to the actual restaurant when we learned it was an off-day for the food cart. Turns out this was a wise decision, since I’m pretty sure they don’t sell beer from the food cart.
But I’ve been wrong before.
The decor is minimal and industrial, but their main food is hot dogs. What do you expect?
An interesting juxtaposition of good ol’ “Amurcan” cuisine, gourmet ingredients, and several oddities you’d be more likely to find dead on the side of the road than in Manhattan’s finest establishments make up the simple menu.
Tip: The larger the selection of food on a restaurant’s menu, the crappier it will likely be. Smaller, more selective menus are generally where you’ll find the best food.
I ordered the Weiner Wellington — an insanely delicious rib eye steak brat with mushroom duxelle and grainy Dijon cream wrapped in puff pastry and drizzled with Bordelaise. I don’t know what most of that is, but I do know this: It tasted like heaven wrapped in fluffy clouds dipped in gravy.
Now. I honestly can’t remember what Justin and Ed ordered. It may have been the southwest buffalo. It may have been the Wild Boar. Maybe the smoked bacon Bat Dog, with avocado puree, tomato cream cheese, caramelized onion, and bacon bits. And I know the idea of the rattlesnake and pheasant dogs were at least discussed.
And try not to spit out your coffee when I tell you.
I’m actually making progress on two of those…
Valspar’s “Gypsy Teal”
Click photo for curtain panel source.
Click above photo for duvet cover source.
DIY Chalk Paint Dresser (tutorial coming soon)
Click above photo for reading lamp source.
Click above photo for more information about light fixture.
Closet and bedroom.
Also, I baked cookies. And I only ate like six. Or seven. The rest of these puppies are going to Afghanistan. Click photo for recipe.
Yep. That’s right. You only get the crappy Instagrammed sneak peek. Because between the painting and the decorating and the domesticating and the cold I’ve somehow managed to develop, I’m too tired and full of cookie dough to give you more.
Also, I still have some finishing touches I need to complete.
By the way — those of you all caught up in these various body cleansing diets that are currently all the rage, here’s a tip: Consuming exorbitant amounts of raw cookie dough will also do the trick.
I wouldn’t say I’m a beer snob, but if you stick a can of Coors Light in front of me, I’m not going to lie — I’ll ask you to bring me a glass of water instead because it tastes the same and has far fewer calories.
Unless it’s a hot summer day and I’m craving a cold light beer to get me through a project or a giant, juicy hamburger, I’m usually going to pick a darker, heavier beer.
So when Justin said he wanted to tour the Coors Brewery while we were in Colorado, I was intrigued because I hadn’t been since before I was of legal drinking age, but also secretly wishing we could have gone to some other brewery.
Turns out, though, that this one was worth the trip.
We arrived at the complex in Golden, Colorado, parked, and waited in line for about 20 minutes before getting on a tour bus. The folks at Coors run a smooth — and free — operation. My only complaint is that the outdoor waiting area wasn’t covered, hence my first high-altitude sunburn of the trip. Our tour guide was hilarious, taking us on a quick run through downtown Golden before dropping us off outside of the brewery.
Hey, red shirt guy. Get out of my shot.
Since the last time I was there, they turned the brewery part into a self-guided tour. The nice thing was that we could meander as we pleased, listening to our little self-guided tour speakers. Coors also had stations set up throughout the walk where employees could answer any questions we might have.
Of course, I don’t remember anything I heard through the speaker, so let’s just look at the pictures, shall we?
I have no idea who this woman is. But she wouldn’t move, so I took the picture anyway. She happens to be pointing to the label of what I’ve since discovered is a very awesome beer.
The infamous copper kettles. All I remember is that there were a lot of them, and you could determine the various purposes of each by looking at the size of the shaft. (Ha!) Also, the big red signs.
We’ll call this Mission Control. I’m pretty sure that guy was watching football. Or porn. Or both.
Hmm… how does one test the quality of beer?
By drinking it, I imagine.
About halfway through the tour we came upon the Fresh Beer Room, where we were able to sample exceedingly fresh Coors or Coors Light, straight from the source.
I’ll admit it was tasty, fresh as it was, but it was still just Coors.
One of the coolest parts was the packaging room. The maze of conveyor belts, gears, and complicated looking machinery had us mesmerized for several minutes. Waaaay up high in the back, we could see cans coming in. Then stuff would happen and suddenly they’d be in boxes.
By this point we were getting antsy and ready for the final stop of the tour — the bar.
The coolest part about the entire experience, aside from seeing that it’s actual people — not elves — who are responsible for putting beer in my fridge, was the fact that everything was free. Including 3 pints each of our choice at the end of the tour.
The Colorado Native was good, but the Batch 19 was phenomenal.
Couple of Batch 19s.
I asked the bartender how they manage to keep the locals from stopping in every day for some free beers, and he said that they don’t! Guests are limited to one visit per day, and he said there are students from the Colorado School of Mines who show up daily.
I started this first post-deployment week off with the best of intentions. I had plans, you know. I was going to get things done.
But then I learned that Dawson’s Creek is now available for streaming on Netflix and spent the weekend — yes, the entire weekend — drinking wine, eating cheesy pasta from a box, and realizing that my high school crush on Pacey Witter has, in fact, not diminished over the last fourteen years.
Because these are the things I had available to me without leaving the house.
Long before Bella went batshit for Edward and Jacob, teens of the 90’s were fatefully divided between Team Pacey and Team Dawson. And even though their names were ridiculous and they had the vocabulary of tenured english professors, the adorability factor was undeniable.
I’m fighting demons. And they don’t stop with Pacey fantasies.
My allergies have turned my nose into a faucet, my ears into pressure valves, and my chest into a lead weight. Also, I smell.
And also, my neighbor invited me to a wine drinking ladies’ social event last night (or so I’d been told), but it was really a jewelry selling party where I only felt slightly out-of-place among the perfectly kept housewives to the point where I may have overindulged in the boxed wine that they swore was delicious because the box, after all, was black and fancy, but let me just go ahead and tell you that it was not. That said, I still managed to have a nice time because, lo and behold, they were great women. Fun, witty, and very content with their lives. There was even a former Miss USA title winner in the bunch who kept everyone laughing with her running man talent.
Needless to say, I’m not feeling 100% this morning.
And I’m tempted — oh-so-tempted — to turn on the Dawson and sink into mindlessness.
But I won’t.
I’m thinking the best way to battle my lethargy is to work on a reward-based system. If I get something done, I earn an episode of Dawson’s Creek.
Primer is up? Great! Watch as Jen falls back into her bad girl ways.
What? You painted that first coat? Awesome! Find out who Joey loses her virginity to.
You hung the organizing system, de-cluttered the garage, stained your shelves, pressure washed the house, cancelled Justin’s phone service, wrote your post for Apartment Therapy, and finished decorating your bedroom? Congratulations, friend — you just earned yourself a full day Creek-a-thon of brainless nostalgia.
Obviously, I’m still working out the details. But I’m thinking I’ll train myself the way I train the dogs. With positive reinforcement.
And since my dogs are so well-behaved, I know this will work.
Storm clouds were rolling in fast, and every so often a bright streak of lightning left me wondering if inside a metal box with metal wheels on metal tracks was the safest place to be sitting.
My mom fretted over the fact that we’d left Lexie outside, while Ed reassured her that the huge porch roof and open sun room left plenty of places for the small pup to take shelter.
Get there get there get there, I thought.
Justin squeezed my leg.
Outside, the rail yards looked gloomy and foreboding. Like the set of a scary movie. I heard warning bells and saw an intersection quickly approaching — protective red-and-white striped arms lowering to block passage. My heart raced as we didn’t slow down — we’re going to zoom right through!
We are the train.
Of course we wouldn’t stop for the train warning.
I laughed out loud, and the other three looked at me quizzically.
“It’s nothing –” I stammered. “I just panicked for a second when I thought we weren’t stopping for the train.”
“But then I realized… you know… that we’re on the train.”
I heard the lady who’d been sitting with her husband and young child across the aisle snicker.
They laughed. Banter ensued. Somehow, as seems to be usual for conversations with my mother these days, the talk turned to kids. When are you having some? I want to be a grandmother. You’re not getting any younger, you know.
Yes. I know.
“I just don’t know if I can handle it! Especially while Justin’s in the military. Having kids takes work. And brains. And I’m sorry, but it just seems like the longer I’m married, the dumber I get.”
“It’s true!” I said. “I don’t need to think as much, now that I’m married. Stuff just gets done. Why would I want to screw all that up with a kid?”
The woman across the aisle actually gave me a knowing nod and a wink.
And yes, while the whole idea seems ludicrous to say out loud, there’s some merit here.
You see, it has been over 85 hours since Justin has vacated the premises, and already I’ve had to get my man on no less than 3 times.
No, that’s not as inappropriate as it sounds.
What I mean is that I’ve had to do tasks that are deemed “man territory” in most heterosexual relationships — tasks that men (and single and/or apparently more self-sufficient women) manage to handle with the ease that comes with long-term established expertise but that I, through some glitchy wire that has progressively made me less self-sufficient since the moment I said, “I do,” never bothered to learn.
Take, for example, the vacuum cleaner.
While the task of vacuuming has usually befallen to me via some unspoken marital code, (the same code that keeps Justin up to his elbows in soggy gutter leaves, moldy refrigerator leftovers, and drain hair goo), Justin is usually the one who cleans the vacuum itself. Dog dander, carpet fuzz, and dead skin cells just aren’t my thang, so I never bothered with it.
That is, after all, why we get married, isn’t it?
So we can legally bind ourselves to someone who will do the tasks we like the least?
Okay, and maybe for love and commitment and stanky morning breath and all that jazz too.
But an unspoken bonus is the division of labor. And while a couple may never actually sit down to discuss how said labor gets divided, it is my understanding that the roles generally evolve over time. Which is how I’ve become the vacuumer, but Justin is the vacuumer of the vacuum.
So when I set about my task of vacuuming yesterday, I reached an impasse upon completion. I could, as usual, put the vacuum back in the closet where it magically gets emptied and cleaned before its next use, or I could clean it myself. I was pretty sure the more desirable of the 2 options — the one where I do no work at all — wouldn’t be effective this time since the vacuum fairy is currently wielding military camouflage in some far off land, so I was stuck with Option 2. Figure it out myself.
I emptied the bin with no trouble at all (I already knew how to do that — I just didn’t have to do that since it fell on the other side of the Division of Labor line). But then I noticed an unhealthy buildup of lint and who-knows-what-else around this grid suction thingie inside the bin.
And I couldn’t get to it.
So I tried this latch thing, and that didn’t work.
Then I tried this other latch thing, and that didn’t work.
Then I tried a combination of latch things and, you guessed it, I still could not penetrate the plastic force field of frustration.
I thought about pulling out the screwdriver set or just banging it on the ground, but then I remembered how well that solution didn’t work out when I used it on my printer, so I dusted off the one tool I haven’t had to use in the past 6 years — the reason I’ve gotten progressively dumber since my nuptials — which is the other half of my noggin.
And a bottle of beer. (I may or may not have had to use a jar-opening tool to unscrew the cap.)
And all of the modern-day research tools I have at my disposal to solve a problem.
And there was my solution. It was painfully simple. I should have felt incredibly stupid. But I didn’t. Instead, I felt a bit of that swelling pride that comes when you figure something out on your own. When you get your hands dirty. When you can’t just call for the vacuum fairy to come do it for you.
I will be the first to admit that marriage, in a way, has made me lazy. It’s made it far too easy for me to whine for help when I can’t figure something out in less than 12 seconds. Which, it turns out, is an excellent way to regress.
And that’s not really what this whole living thing is all about.
It’s easy to become dependent on another person — especially when you happen to live with that person, and especially when you happen to sleep with that person. And, while it’s always nice to have a crutch on-hand if you really need one, isn’t it better to strengthen your legs and learn how to walk on your own?
In the clarity that comes when calling your significant other is no longer an option — that, aside from helpful friends and neighbors who love you but not enough to come over and remove the spider from your bathroom at 3 a.m. — I’m learning that eliminating the need in a relationship does not eliminate romance. In fact, clearing away all that mucky dependency leaves room for something much more interesting — true intimacy. Encouragement. Maybe even admiration.
Maybe you’re the type who already does everything on your own, and now you have a headache from rolling your eyes throughout the duration of reading this post.
But maybe you’re not.
Maybe you’re like me. You have a short attention span. You ask for help before even thinking about whether the task at hand is something you can achieve on your own.
If so, I want you to try something. Try not asking for help. At least not until you really need it.
But then I also had to say goodbye to my other childhood dog, Lexie. (I lost the first just last year, remember?)
Affectionately known as Lexie-Bear and Booger-Butt, she would nibble my hair by way of greeting.
She was the first of the litter to run to me, all fuzzy fur and fluffiness and everything wonderful about a puppy. And, as she grew, she made it impossible to argue that dogs don’t have personality.
Sometimes I think she thought she was a cat.
But she was a dog. One of the best dogs. And I will miss her dearly.
So. After spending the evening sitting in a puddle of my own snot and tears, I had a moment. A moment when I realized, Hey. Of the three of us, meaning Lexie, Justin and Myself, two of us are in the least desirable situations.
And I’m not one of them.
Which means, my friends, that I had an epiphany. I could wallow and bemoan my current lonely lot in life, or I could peel my Domestiphobic self off of my unswept laminate floors and make the most of this situation. Use the alone time to evaluate myself, progress my career, and catch up on missed episodes of The Bachelorette.
I know from experience that the next several months will be full of ups and downs — moments of clarity and moments of wallows. But if I can remember that this time is also a gift, maybe I’ll learn not to waste it.
Today IS another day.
I have lots to share with you, so stay tuned. Just have to get my photos together.
I’m home, Justin’s home, the pups are home, and finally, besides the fact that it feels like I’m waking up at 5 when I’m really waking up at 7, all feels right with the world.
I have a lot to catch you up on, I know, but I have less than 48 hours of quality time left with that guy who stuck a ring on my finger back when I was like 9 (which, incidentally, makes me only 16 years old, which is all kinds of awesome) before he leaves for Afghanistan, so I figure I should spend it not on the computer.
I will have plenty of time for this, and you, in the coming months.
And trust me — I have a lot to share.
So for now, lets just start with the biggest news:
I took a fashion hint from this dog and decided to get bangs.
Probably right about the time Hollywood’s fashionistas have once again declared them unfashionable.
Not because I’m the type who likes to roll against the grain, but because I’m the type who takes so long to make a decision that trends are over before I have a chance to jump on the wagon. Either that, or I’ve been on the wagon for so damn long that trends come back in style before I knew they were obsolete.
Unless you follow my Facebook page, in which case you know we hopped a plane to Denver a couple of days ago and haven’t been seen or heard from since.
Unless you frequent the Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado, which case you probably came to know me and my high altitude sunburn and my affinity for Batch 19, a pre-prohibition style lager quite well.
The trip wasn’t exactly spur-of-the-moment. But for some reason, it seemed really far away for a very long time, and then suddenly it was here, and I was throwing the majority of my clothes into a suitcase on the morning we left while Justin impatiently tapped his foot in the kitchen and gently reminded me that we still had an hour drive to the airport and would I please hurry up because it’s raining and we still have to go through security and GOOD GOD, WOMAN there’s no way this suitcase weighs less than 50 pounds.
And then we got to the airport, where our combined suitcase weighed exactly 49.5 pounds thankyouverymuch, and anyway it was free because he’s active duty military and oh, also our flight was delayed for 2 hours due to inclement weather between Raleigh and Dallas so sit back, relax, and have another cup of very expensive java.
These things always have a way of working themselves out.
Justin just doesn’t understand how I roll.
So now we’re here, in Colorado, partaking in the consumption of beer and mountain scenery and beer.
When we finally arrived after many delays and plane-sittings and plane farters and children who kick seats, I entered what can only be described as Mecca, otherwise known as the Denver Airport Ladies’ Restroom.
Obviously, I had a hard time capturing the true beauty with my iPhone. And I was a little nervous that the cleaning lady, who was already staring at me with bemused curiosity, might call security if I pulled out my DSLR.
It’s only the second time we’ve visited my mother in the 6 years she and Ed have lived here, so it’s amazing how we fall into a routine, like we only live a few hours away and do this every weekend. Wake up, fix coffee, stare at the display of distant mountains to see what kind of view they care to give today: mysterious haze, sharp lines and saturated contrasts, shimmering mirage. Always something new, sometimes slapped rolling and haphazard across the horizon with careless impressionist watercolor abandon — and other times sketched carefully with such detail and accented with dark oils that they actually look real.
Soon, Justin’s family will come wheeling into town (a couple of his aunts already live here, which is just sheer good fortune), and we’ll spend that overwhelming chaotic time together eating and laughing and drinking and my mom will feel, for the first time in a long time, what it’s like to have lots of family around at once.
We all want to spend some time with Justin before he goes to Afghanistan, and I suppose I’ve learned that I have to share.
It doesn’t hurt that his family is awesome.
But here’s the thing, in case you were wondering.
I know I’m domestiphobic.
I know this so well that I made up this whole word to describe my aversion to all things domestic and I think, on some level, that most of you can relate.
At least a little.
But that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss my husband.
All it means, in the end, is that I won’t miss his laundry.