Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rain is a Four Letter Word

On day three of non-stop rain, I sat curled up on the couch, shivering and damp with my hair soaked and matted down to my head, watching the news coverage and finally feeling the true impact of what was happening around me. Up north, people were dead, roads were crumbling and completely washed away, buildings were collapsing, entire towns were underwater, thousands of homes were destroyed and even more thousands of people were evacuated from their neighborhoods even in Denver. I teared up as I watched a man being rescued from his overturned car floating in a roadway under a collapsed bridge. He wasn’t my person, but he was somebody’s and that was enough for me.

While I was no where near amused (although surprisingly calm) when we personally got a spiteful, bully-like poke from Mother Nature, I am thankful and feel lucky that we weren’t a part of the full on wrath to the north. I am also thankful to have gotten a little comic relief in the midst of it all. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I tend to find and document the funny in otherwise shit situations. It’s a full on coping mechanism combined with my uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…or the right place at the right time depending on how you want to look at it. It’s that realist optimist in me; that “this sucks, but it’s hilarious, so we might as well laugh,” mentality.

I am deeply disturbed by what has happened in the wake of this “historic weather event” and I’m doing my part to help those that been through and lost so much – please donate if you are able: http://www.coloradofloodrelief.com/.

The following story is not meant to make light of the horrendous events of last week that continue to cause problems for many people. It’s simply my account of the Colorado Floods of 2013 from our little blip on the map. Now that the freak storms seemed to have passed, things are drying out and people are picking up the pieces, it’s only appropriate to “cope” in the best way I know how. Enjoy.


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I heard the rain long before my body was conscious enough to comprehend what it actually was…and it sounded like the shower inside the house was on. It was one of those torrential downpours that came down in sheets and tended to be much quieter than the few fat drops of a typical sprinkle that slam into the roof.

I was soothed until the phone rang and jolted me awake.  My eyes, perpetually dry in the Colorado morning, creaked open to peer at the phone. I had slept in longer than I wanted to – a pattern that causes later evenings at work and one I’m trying desperately to break with no avail. My existing insomnia coupled with my significant other’s nocturnal buzz saw breathing has made sleep this precious commodity that I steal any chance I can get. It’s a source of constant frustration.

It was the future hubs calling from Texas, asking about the weather and trying to coax me out of bed to check the basement windows for any leaks. That’s the thing about rain. For most city dwelling people, it’s simply an annoyance. It makes commutes longer, hair frizzy and attitudes pissy. We tend to forget the amount of damage and how quickly it can cause it in large quantities. It was the third day in a row of rain like this and once I shook myself fully awake I realized that the bearded one had a very good point. It was the first major weather since settling into our new house and neither one of us had any idea how the cracks and seams tended to behave in anything, but normal conditions.

Keeping him on the phone, I wandered through the hallway and down the stairs into our fully finished basement with the furry children underfoot as always. Everything seemed normal – two window wells checked, airtight and dry…then I heard a faint trickling sound and turned on the light in one of the bedrooms...





Mother. Fucker.






Water spewed out the bottom of the window in a large steady stream, spread out along the wall, over an electrical outlet and splashed onto the carpet below. I would use the words babbling brook to describe the sound of it, but that would imply pleasantries and there’s nothing pleasant about a goddamn river running along your drywall.

“Ummm, OK, there’s water, lots of water, what do I do?” I asked.
“You’re just going to have to bail out the window well,” he said.

It was one of those feelings where I didn’t really know where to start. I stutter stepped around for a few seconds before I snapped out of it. I checked the other windows to make sure I knew what I was dealing with – all leak-free, gathered every towel in the house, then got some instructions on where to find bailing supplies before I hung up and began hunting down water proof clothing.

A few minutes later I was slopping through the backyard pond to retrieve a bucket in the shed in my snow boots, ski pants and one of Pat’s oversized rain jackets that hung well past my knees with my pajamas on underneath. I double-checked all the window wells, found the culprit shimmering with water all the way to the top in the front yard, then contemplated my next move. I had never bailed out a window well before, so I wasn’t sure there was a technique. All I could think to do was flop down on my stomach, hang the upper portion of my body into the hole and get to work.

I quickly realized I was in my own personal hell:  Laying in a muddy puddle while cold rain pounded me, my head and shoulders stuck in a filthy, cobwebby window well with a giant spider four inches from my face…But, then I thought about my Dad wading through sewage muck in the basement of my childhood home when the system had backed up years ago with the more than occasional used feminine hygiene product floating past him. A father’s duties are never done, especially those with teenaged daughters. Then, I thought of my sister a few years back, just barely pregnant with her first babe, sick as all hell, vomiting and near hysterics as we tried to salvage the completely saturated carpets in the basement bedrooms after a water heater/weather mishap. A homeowner’s duties are never done and this could be so much worse, I thought, as the spider crept closer to my cheek.

Plus, this was MY damn house; MY prized possession. A goal the two of us had set together and achieved together. A pipe dream that suddenly came true for me. It’s that kind of fierce, almost human-like kinship and sense of pride I imagine many people feel about their first home and one that I know I may never feel about any other dwelling I choose to call home in the future. I would do just about anything to protect it.

I took a small break after hauling several buckets to the curb and dumping them into the already raging river of a street gutter, looked up at the sky, my hair hanging in wet strings across my eyes and pondered a little thought…water - you can’t live with it or without it. It’s truly our lifeblood and our demise all at the same time.

Just as I was starting to make some progress, an odd sight across the street caught my eye. Although it was not, in fact, Noah’s Ark floating by as I had half expected, it was just as disturbing.

Our neighbors across the street are odd to say the least. The future hubs and I have dubbed them the “Amish Farmers” for their out of place, old school choice of fashion. Besides the fact that they frequently stand around, surveying their yard donning straw hats and turn of the century, pioneer-like clothing, they have this hard to describe, strange demeanor.

Here’s a scenario for description purposes:  Pat and I pulled out of our driveway in his truck one day and turned around in the cul-de-sac passing the Amish Farmers. The lady calls out, stone faced and serious, “Are you from the Denver Water Department?” Nope, we sure aren’t…we’re your neighbors…we’ve met…you see this truck parked across the street EVERY. DAY…you just watched us pull out of our driveway…

They are “simple,” or “not all there,” I guess. Let’s just put it that way.

The man is thin and seems laid back, but the woman is this short, plump shriek-y thing with a voice that carries and a distinct lack of modesty…or the awareness of it anyway. She reminds me of a cringe worthy neighbor I had growing up named Marge, so even though I’m fully aware of this woman’s real name, I choose to refer to her as Marge. Their two grown sons that live with them make only rare appearances.

This time, ‘ole Marge was gallivanting around the front yard doing nothing in particular to help, screeching and squawking in a night gown reminiscent of the flowered muumuus worn by “Mama” in the movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” A white nightgown…in the pouring rain…with no bra in sight. This woman is not small, nor is she young, so the impromptu, single contestant wet t-shirt contest was not appreciated by anybody who was accidently in attendance.

“You guys having problems, too?” She called out from across the street while I shielded my eyes seemingly from the rain, but really from the blinding sight of clingy, see-through cotton over portly, middle-aged lady nipples.

“For shits sake lady, I can see your boobs! Why are you in a nightgown? Put some clothes on!”  “Yeah,” I called back.

Shaking my head, I continued my work, dipping the bucket in, carrying it to the curb, dumping it in the street and back again. The rest of Marge’s family had taken the liberty of putting raincoats on and had fashioned some sort of hose system to suck the water out of the window well and into the street – pretty clever. It seemed as though their progress was much faster and less exhausting than mine. I glanced over to see Marge peering over the edge into the window well completely oblivious to the show she was giving the entire neighborhood.

The water level in my window well had gone down significantly, so I decided to head back inside to assess and mop up the situation inside. As I was crossing the yard to the gate, I heard a distinct *thuwump* sound followed by the even more distinct screeching of Mrs. Amish Farmer.

“Waaaaah, squeeee, eeeeeek!” She screamed like a soaking wet, pissed off cat with a strange tinge of echo in her voice. I looked across the street and saw two legs sticking out of the window well, flailing about in the air like a cartoon character…Large Marge had fallen headfirst into the window well.

The brilliant and astonishingly accurate artist rendition below has been included to help recreate the scene:








Aw, what the hell are you doing, lady? Are you freaking kidding me? I thought. My first instinct was to run over there and help, but I froze in mid stride as I watched both of her sons and Mr. Amish Farmer rush to her aid. With three men in the mix, I wasn’t sure how my scrawny ass could be of any assistance. What could I do? Grab an ankle and try to pry her from the wicked jaws of the evil window well? Ridiculous. I’d probably just be in the way – too many cooks in the kitchen, if you will.

Before you chastise me for being a bad citizen, because I did feel bad after hearing the rest of the story…although my theory still stands…think of it this way:  How the hell anybody falls into a window well past the age of 6 is beyond me, let alone gets stuck in one. While it is not pleasant to have your torso submerged in one, speaking from experience, the wells on the houses in our neighborhood are quite shallow. If an adult happens to fall in one, you'd just put your hands down and push yourself out of it, even if there’s water in it…or you swing your legs into it and crawl out. Ta-dah! She was in no danger and clearly there is something not quite right with this lady. Why she was even outside to begin with is a mystery. It was far more of a circus sideshow than any sort of emergency.

Shaking my head yet again, I decided to mind my own business and start the interior clean up. I worked from home, monitoring the window well and bailing it out every hour or so until the future hubs finally made his way home from the airport in the midst of washed out streets, standing water and closed highways to help.

But, as I mentioned before, that wasn’t the end of Marge and company’s saga. After talking to another neighbor, Pat relayed the rest of the train wreck later that evening:

Apparently, when Mr. tried to help her out of the well, he slipped and put his hand through the window prompting an actual trip to the emergency room. Our neighbor saw him sitting on the porch later that night, hand bandaged and raised, smoking a pipe full of Colorado’s best medicine and wearing none other than one of Marge’s famous nightgowns.



What. The. Hell.




When neighbor asked, “Dude, what are you wearing?!” Mr. replied matter-of-factly, “My gout’s actin’ up and I can’t bend over to put on my pants.”

Well, at least Marge’s collection of muumuus is getting put to good use.




Since then, our basement has dried out without any signs of permanent damage as of yet and I’ve seen our quirky neighbors, surveying their yard and acting like their normal, yet bizarre Amish Farmer selves. Everything has seemingly gone back to normal as though somebody was not “stuck” in a window well just a few days prior. That’s what’s funny about life – we all have our fair share of problems – small, large, disastrous, waterlogged, freakish and maybe even kinda funny – but somehow we figure out how to keep going. Humans are one of the most resilient creatures on the planet and even after being put through the ringer, we continue to survive, regroup, rebuild and make everything OK again.

So, yes, everything will be fine and the Colorado flood survivors will figure out a way to be OK, but they could still really use some help right now. Here is another website with a list of reputable agencies that would appreciate a donation: http://www.helpcoloradonow.com/index.php/responding-agencies

I’m sure Marge and her transparent nightgown would approve.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To Pee, Or Not To Pee


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***WARNING:  While the following story is a great combination of embarrassing and disgusting at my expense, which probably makes it quite entertaining for you, after telling this story to my mom over the phone, she laughed hysterically…then gagged so hard she puked….Read at your own risk!***



Talking about pee is usually reserved for mothers, the very drunk, medical professionals and old men with their ever-increasing prostates, but since this necessary and seemingly mundane bodily function has caused such me such angst the past two weeks, I guess I’ll go ahead and throw myself into the category, too.

Have you ever had an “if it’s yellow, let it mellow,” rule with your husband? Well, I have and he’s not even my husband quite yet. And, this rule only applied because we had no other choice. We moved into our house and four seconds later the city decided to rip up the street and replace the water lines, which inherently involves a bunch of dudes in hardhats and orange vests, not actually working, wandering around, scratching their asses and being in my way….and of course turning off our water several times a week for several hours at a time. The City of “taking it’s sweet time” and I are in a fight. It’s the only time I’ve ever wished for an outhouse, but we’ve been dealing with it relatively well. First world problems, ya know.

The second pee encounter came when I went to Colorado Springs for work last week and I just happened to be driving back to Denver when a fatal cement truck accident closed down the entire highway. After two hours of creeping along a sparsely populated stretch of I-25 at 3 mph, then being diverted onto a dirt frontage road, I found myself glancing longingly at an empty bottle in my cup holder and cursing my female anatomy. An hour later, I made it to an appropriate pit stop without testing my, “well, maybe it would work” stuck in traffic pee theory.

Now, if you haven’t heard enough about pee so far, it’s about to get so much worse because my third encounter is by far the most disturbing. My visual flashbacks and the thoughts of, “if only my body would have done what it was supposed to do, I could have avoided the entire situation” have haunted my brain for several days and many more to come I’m sure.

It started when I decided I needed to get a physical exam. I have put it off for so long with the usual I-don’t-have-time excuses, but with my 30th birthday behind me, a friend lost at far too young an age and a strong family history of some really horrendous ailments, it was time to squeeze it into the routine.

I made my appointment and the admin instructed me to come into the office a few weeks before the appointment between such and such a time to get my blood drawn for analysis. My stomach immediately dropped, not because I wasn’t expecting it, but because it was real now.

I have the most annoying, debilitating fear of needles – perhaps another reason I was putting off the physical. It’s so incredibly stupid and obviously I know that, but I cannot for the life of me get over it.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t actually cry while in the midst of the anticipation leading up to it…now the sheer terror just rages on the inside. I decided to just get it over with and go into the office as soon as possible.

Throughout my struggles with needle phobia, I’ve developed the theory that phlebologists are actually sadists. There is just something wrong with somebody who wants to jab needles in people and suck out their blood for a living. It’s a necessary occupation that I just don’t understand. It’s not like nurses who want to help people or doctors who are interested in the study of medicine. Phlebologists are fascinated with blood and veins. They’re like the medical equivalent of vampires. Of course, the fact that most of them have as much compassion as a box of rocks – at least the ones I’ve encountered – probably greatly contributes to this theory. If one exists that completely debunks this theory, I would appreciate a shout…it would make me feel better about the world.

I know I’m going to get woozy, maybe a little shock-y and sometimes see those little floaty gray dots in my line of vision when I have to have a blood draw. If it gets really bad, I sweat profusely, hyperventilate and pass out. Naturally, and for the sake of everybody involved, I always ask to lie down when I must be assaulted by needles in order to prevent the latter. I don’t want or expect anybody to baby me and say oh poor wooby wooby. I just want to lay down, talk about rainbows and unicorns while it’s happening, not see any of it or talk about it, then leave as quickly as possible.

While all phlebologists oblige this simple request, most of them accompany it with a little snide flair, such as an eye roll, a sigh or a comment such as, “Oh, I hope you don’t have to do this very often,” as if they’ve never encountered a patient with needle phobia. My favorite was when a guy bullied me like I was his little sister then continued to talk about veins and sucking blood out of them in gory detail while it was happening. Dumbass. I almost puked on his stupid face. How evil can you be? You’d think I’d get a little appreciation for preventing them from having to schlep my limp, unconscious body with a bleeding head wound off the tile floor, but instead they make fun of me. All I have to say is, I’m doing the best I can, I’m really trying, this feeling is about the worst one ever in the world and it’s far worse for me than it is for you, so kindly go fuck yourself.

Anyway, as soon as this woman came to the doorway and huskily announced my name, I knew I had a giant bitch tough little cookie on my hands. Great, not another one. She was a blond Amazonian and not in a good way. We’re talking pro wrestler type warrior woman with a shitty little attitude to match. She was barking orders at me and brandishing a needle before I even had the chance to request a bed. I felt like a circus animal or one of the many occupants of a cattle car that she was extremely annoyed to be in charge of. I slouched down in the chair tried to make believe I was lying down.

“A little panic attack stick,” she said.

I quietly turned my head all the way around like the Exorcist to avoid any sort of corner-of-the-eye glimpse of what was happening while my heart pounded in my throat, but inside my head I was screaming, “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, it’s in my ARRRRM! I can feel iiiiiit and I DON’T like IIIIIIITTTT!”

About 400 years later, it was over without any reassuring rainbows and unicorns talk and just as I was about to celebrate my most successful blood draw ever, she informed me that she needed a urine sample. Say what?

I should have known, but I was so distracted and worked up over the blood draw that it never crossed my mind. I was not prepared in that I had made a pit stop as soon as I entered the building a few minutes earlier, but no big deal. Produce pee? Any moron can do that, literally. Easy.

Yeah, not so easy. I paced around the tiny office bathroom with the faucet on and my properly marked paper cup in hand for 15 minutes before I accepted defeat and realized that I would not be performing like a good little monkey anytime soon.

A short, slightly uncomfortable conversation with Amazon later, I found myself gulping water in the waiting room with my arm still wrapped from the needle attack. The iPhone kept me about 30 percent occupied while the waiting room began to fill up to the brim with patients one of, which was an older man with a cane, another woman and an accompanying nurse.

A few minutes later, old man jumps out of his seat and hauls ass out of the waiting room with his entourage yelling after him. I watched with one eye still glued to the iPhone trying to figure out what was going on, but not really caring one way or the other. Then, a few seconds later they usher everybody back through the waiting room and into the back office area with sounds of “you have to do it in here” and “We’ve been waiting for this for three days” floating behind them.

Waiting three days for what?” I wondered with a fleeting thought, then went back to water gulping and iPhone perusing.

About 10 minutes later I felt like I was ready to complete the now daunting task at hand…or I just really wanted to get out of there. I slipped into the back office area, headed into the bathroom and just as I was shutting the door I answered my “three days for what?” question:




POOP.




And, not just poop…really gross, adult poop hanging out in some sort of catching device.


A sling of shit.


A poop hammock, if you will, draped over the toilet bowl. 


I practically ran out of there screaming and right as I was tearing out into the hallway with the horrid smell following me, a man about my age was making his way to the bathroom.

“NOOO!” I yelled. “I don’t think you want to go in there.”

He looked at me like I had not just seen an old man’s bowel movement swinging delicately above the toilet like it was relaxing on a sunny, Sunday afternoon and continued to close in on the bathroom.

“No, seriously dude, you do NOT want to go in there!”

After standing wide eyed, bewildered and on the brink of hysterical in the tiny office hallway with this strange man (that probably now thought that I had done something sinfully horrific in the bathroom) for an awkward eternity, a nurse finally came to my rescue, handed me a sample pee cup and sent me to another bathroom.

This, of course, involved me parading through the now full waiting room with a little paper cup marked in bold capital letters, URINE SAMPLE. I might as well of just thrust the cup into the air and sang, “UUUUURINE SAMPLE! I’m going to go whiiiiiiz in this cuuuuup!”

On my way to the other non poop hammock bathroom, the questions started popping up in my head:  Why was that just left sitting there?! Why didn’t they just close the damn door?! Why didn’t the nurse guard the fucking door?! It’s not a big deal to them because they deal with it everyday. I do not, nor do I ever want to. This is just one of the many reasons I didn’t go into medicine. I don’t want to deal with other people’s shit, EVER. I thought there would be a little more discrepancy in a doctor’s office. Forgive me for wanting a little privacy.

Another 20 minutes passed with nothing. Apparently there was no way I was going to perform after that traumatic event. Finally, I said screw it, tossed the empty cup in the trash and pretty much dove into the elevator to make my escape. I would have rather gotten my blood drawn again than stay there another second to pee in that damn cup…or walked on the sun…or been chased by a pack of rabid hyenas.

And, now, after days of flashbacks, violent gagging and retelling the story because I have to laugh in order to override the post traumatic stress disorder I developed after this incident, I get to return to the exact scene of the poop hammock and try again…TOMORROW.

Peeing may never be the same again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Big, White Fluffy Nightmare


Day two of holding down the new couch is coming to an end and in between staring blankly at the romantic comedies I’ve seen 600 times on the movie channels and gazing out the window, I’m plucking a tissue and letting out a loud honk with voluminous results. I’m always amazed at the amount of snot one human head can hold. I blame the airplane…and the late nights mixed with early mornings…and the shaking of more than half a dozen strangers' hands…and the stress of non-stop on the go. Wedding planning is in full swing and after four full days in Kansas City, a full-blown cold and a future husband that has left me alone for basically two weeks for work, I’m ready to throw all this shit out the window and elope.

While I usually bask in my time alone, the pride of buying our first house split 50/50 between the two of us – something I never thought I’d be able to do (go grad school and busting ass) – turns into “Oh-shit-what-was-that-noise” when night falls. The newness of the new house gets the best of me with all those not yet familiar settling creaks and cracks and I usually spend the majority of the night staring bug eyed at the ceiling when Pat’s gone. However, I’ll most likely use my sickness to thoroughly drug myself this time. My snot filled sinuses and my frayed nerves will rejoice.

One thing I will not be doing for a least a few days is pulling my wedding planning supplies out of my backpack, which have been sitting there since our last meeting on Saturday morning. They consist of my notebook, which I lovingly adorned with images from the movie Bridesmaids and anti Bridezilla messages, along with a giant wedding book that I bought early on. Online reviews called it “The Wedding Bible.” I call it “The Big Book of How to Boss People Around for Bridezillas.” I imagine the author is a pointy, middle-of-the-summer-cardigan-wearing, Southern lady with overly Aqua Netted, cotton candy hair, that would offer me sweet tea, gasp and “teehee” at my behavior, then talk about me behind my back. It wasn’t a total waste of money, it’s just so full of stuffy etiquette and things I would never do that I find myself skipping through most of it. “The Quick and Dirty Wedding Guide” is surprisingly more my style despite my hyper organization. Organization does not a bridezilla make. In fact, I’m very content with telling the professionals the gist of what I (and we) like, then leaving the rest of it up to them.

Besides a handful of vendors never bothering to call me back, the only other thing I’m having trouble with are all those decisions. Oh, the horror of first world problems. Wouldn’t it be nice to be rich enough to hire somebody to not only set up the tables, cook the food, pour the drinks, but also make all the decisions for you, too? Yeah, not really. I just wish that all of them were as easy as others.

My dress was probably the most interesting of all the decisions. After ignoring my impulse to go straight to the Internet because of the usual worries of the "what if I hate it and can’t return it" kind, I endured the bridal industry norm of dressing room attendants and ill fitting, sample size dresses. I remember standing in the tiny dressing room trying to make small talk with a large woman that spelled her name with a “y” where there clearly should have been an “i” while wearing nothing but a thong and a dumpy, borrowed girdle. This was followed up with dresses made of cheap material in huge sizes that hung on me like burlap sacks. Y obsessed dressing room lady didn’t even bother to bust out those clamp thingys that look more like they belong in a mechanic’s garage than in a bridal shop to which my friend replied when I told her, “what a whore!” I must agree since it’s just the perfect formula for making a soon-to-be bride feel ever so lovely in the “most beautiful dress she’s ever seen” for the “best day of her life.” Nothing says bea-u-ti-ful like your grandma's underpants and a tent for a garment. Dresses do weird things to your body anyway, then throw in all that other nonsense and it’s disastrous. I remember staring into the mirror, the giant, nasty bra doing nothing for me as it was showing in all of the dresses, while my bony sternum stared back at me. I immediately flashed back to my 11-year-old self reading “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” and willing myself to grow boobs. Of course, at 30-years-old, my boobs are fine, just not in a shitty dress paired with even shittier undergarments. You’d think the bridal industry would get a fucking clue.

After seeing enough crunchy tulle monstrosities, another complaint of mine since, you know, not everybody wants to look like a snow beast a la My Big, Fat Greek Wedding (which consisted of about two dress stores), I found a simple, silk vintage-inspired dress – exactly what I wanted - online with free shipping and free returns. Throw in the fact that there was only one left in my size and it was several hundred dollars under budget and I took it as a sign then bought it immediately. It’s perfect, of course, and the easiest decision I ever made difficult on myself.

I guess with all the other decisions that need to be made, I just have to look for a sign – one that reveals the best deal, while also being the easiest for me. Too bad I can’t pick a caterer based on how good they make my boobs look…or can I?

And, now my head weighs roughly 45 pounds, mostly snot, and I must go to bed, but in other news this exists:









My love of turtles stems from the pet turtle I had growing up named Myrtle. This gives me a strong urge to find another Myrtle and take up knitting.

Annnnd, that’s the drugs kicking in. Goodnight.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Inner Workings of a Functional Dumbass

-->After a jarring flight through a thunderstorm and the non-stop screaming of a 2-year-old reincarnation of Satan (let’s face it, there’s a big difference between just being a baby and being a gigantic, insufferable brat), I hauled my typically overstuffed suitcase up the cheese grater staircase of our complex. After retrieving the loose key from under the mat – an old school solution in case my flight was delayed and we needed a quick dog check in from a friend – I was greeted by two out of their mind excited pups, a clean apartment and an extremely noticeable lack of the future husband’s signature bear hug. Of course I started to feel the absence long before – as I got off the plane, throughout my ride from the airport, then as I struggled up the stairs with that ridiculous bag. See, I usually not only have help, but a particular welcoming presence that calms my high-strung mind, as well. After my extraordinary journey through dipshitville, I am the last person to take that for granted. It makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up in warm fuzzy gratitude. A recent pick up in work travel made our trips overlap with a week in between. Now, standing in the doorway with a Jack Russell leaping up to my chest and a Lab head butting my knees, I felt it heaviest of all mixed with the exhaustion from the bachelorette weekend in Nashville behind me. I missed my person something fierce.

Dragging my suitcase through the mob of dogs, I flung the key on the table, gathered myself a bit, then asked the question I always know the answer to… “Do you want to go outside?” Little doggie minds exploded as I leashed them up, slipped the key into the pocket of my sweatshirt and headed back outside.

These dogs are my children and I love them, but they drive me insane. Twelve-hour cabin fever along with the chill of a spring storm full of snow and tornados on its way still didn’t make them pick a spot to pee any faster. Finally drained, we headed back home. I slipped the key into the lock and wiggled it back and forth. It wouldn’t turn. The doorknob can be rather pissy, so I tried it again before my stomach lurched up into my throat in realization…I had grabbed the wrong key. The loose key from the house we just bought (a topic for a whole other post) had also been sitting on the table dulled with age compared to the shiny, less-than-a-year-old apartment key. You’d think I would have noticed a difference before I closed the door, but depression, a weekend of partying and my uncanny ability to do the stupidest shit will do that to a girl.

“Shit…fuck! Oh my gaaaaawwd…FUUUUCK!” I yelled out loud once the reality of the situation had caught up with me. I was locked out of my apartment at 10 o’clock on a chilly Sunday night, with both dogs and no phone with the future husband in Texas. Goddammit. Just as my eyes welled up with tears and I was about to drop to my knees in an overly dramatic, adult hissy fit – my typical reaction the split second after a dumbass moment has occurred - I snapped out of it, as I usually do, and said, no, I’m just going to see if one of the neighbors can help.

Scanning windows for signs of light and skipping the units with children who were surely already snoozing – the last thing I needed was to come face-to-face with a pissed off mother after waking up her baby with my dumbassery – I knocked on the door of a young couple with a dog downstairs. The woman was up late studying and very nicely handed over her phone, invited me and the obnoxious furry duo in after kenneling her dog, then helped me look up a locksmith.

I was so grateful that somebody was not only up, but answered the door, then was actually kind to me. As a Midwestern girl, being nice is a given. I hold doors for people, always say please and thank you, say hello to complete strangers and help others out when I can. It’s the right thing to do and I do it automatically without thinking. I only began noticing it when I would travel to other places. Expecting that kindness in return is a different story. Living in Denver, full of transplants from all over the world, you never know what you’re going to get. Generally, people are nice enough, but I just happened to knock on the door of a fellow Midwesterner that night, so I got really lucky.

After a few minutes, the dogs grew so agitated and annoying, with Maggie whining loudly and even barking once acting almost as badly as the demon toddler from the plane, that I decided to run them around the park for bit. Just as I was walking out the door, the phone rang. Within 15 minutes, a bald Hispanic guy named Alfredo armed with a headlamp and a toolbox showed up and got to work. When the traditional picking of the lock wouldn’t budge it, he basically broke into the apartment by popping open the door with a crowbar looking thing. I, of course, cheered and thanked him profusely. Then, when he wanted the last of my cash, which consisted of a $20 bill instead of the previous charge of $75 that I would have to pay by check, I thanked him profusely again and sent him on his way.

My phone was already flashing a missed call and text when I picked it up out of my purse. I called Pat back and said, “Guess what I did immediately after coming home?” Funny, he didn’t seem too surprised.

I’m what I like to call a functional dumbass:  A well-educated person with a common sense approach to life that can take care of herself in all areas, hold a great, meaningful conversation and would not be classified as an airhead, but is ultimately cursed with a clumsy demeanor and the ability to fall into the most idiotic of situations. I could get 40 master’s degrees and still do the dumbest, most absent-minded shit, whether its falling down in front of a crowd of people, hurting myself while performing the most mundane tasks or locking myself out of my apartment at 10 p.m. I used to be a ballerina and without the stage and the spandex, you’d never be able to tell. However, another element of that “functional” part is that I’m always able to dig my way out of those situations and in this case, I did it all for the low, low price of $20 cash. That is one functional dumbass if I do say so myself.

Add that to Urban Dictionary...wait, it's already there.

Monday, February 18, 2013

That House I'm Dating

First comes love, then comes marriage…except with us you squeeze buying a house in between there somewhere just to make yourself absolutely insane. I can’t really compare house hunting to apartment hunting because there hasn’t been any crying or tantrum throwing yet, but house hunting does strangely resemble my pre-Pat dating life…good on paper, shitty in person; great in so many ways except one glaring, deal breaker exception; it’s me, not you…except it’s 98 percent you; asking the same question over and over again in an incredulous tone, “why would you DO that? Disappointment after disappointment. Sigh.

At 35 houses in, like 35 homes we have physically walked, I’m a glazed over, bug eyed zombie. Each of the four tours with our realtor since January 31st (and three open houses on our own) began with a stack of papers featuring the home and all the exclamation point riddled realtor comments you can handle like, “Magnificent ranch!” “Newer, amazing teared deck (yes, spelled incorrectly)!” “Totally remodeled!” and my favorite, “This is the one!” Pat and I came to find out that these actually translate to, “Turd ridden rathole!” “Smaller than the first apartment you ever lived in!” “Cheap, shitty flip!” and “Go fuck yourself, sucka!” Our realtor is great and warned us, but wouldn’t it be nice to live in a perfect world where realtors were honest with each other?

After a jaunt through each house, Pat and I have been making notes on the corresponding homes’ sheet of paper to keep track of what we've seen that say things like, “Dirty,” and “Nice kitchen/living, but basement smells like butthole.” Mind you that when we say “butthole,” we really mean sewage, which translates into, “Hell no, we’re not buying this house.”

This experience has made me wonder about people’s mental state. It’s like accidently peeking into people’s fucked up personal lives when all you want to do is find a place to live. We’ve seen some of the most ghetto fabulous, jerry-rigged atrocities and structural horrors ever known to man like, what exactly is this half built room you’ve tried to construct off the back of your original house, sun porch FAIL. Or, I’m getting vertigo walking around in your slanty, funhouse of a home. Or, perhaps you should remove the broken, therapeutic walk in tub for geriatrics and put in a shower before you sell your house. Or, maybe you should find a tub that fits into the bathroom instead of slicing a notch into the wooden vanity next to it to make it fit. Or, why are there seven different kinds of filthy carpet in this 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom house? Or, update your goddamn home so we don’t flash back to 1958 when we walk into it! And, the list goes on.

Of course, those were just the giant projects we’re not willing nor can afford to take on right now.  Staging is now this huge, proven-to-help-you-sell, industry that you’d think people would pay attention to somewhat. I’d be willing to redo a bathroom, put some paint on the walls or even rip 1970s wooden paneling down if I could just look past things like this:




Oh, can we pleeeease write this into the contract? I’m not leaving this house until this terrifying, clown-like monkey creature is mine. Holy shit, why does this thing exist? Remember how I used to like monkeys before this horrid thing began haunting my dreams and now I fear they will all hack off my face in the middle of the night with banana shaped knives? I really just hope this person was trying to be funny and has that twisted sense of humor only people like me can appreciate, but I doubt it. Good thing we didn’t like that house anyway.

Of course, the monkey gave me only a fraction of the heebie jeebies that the next house gave me. I’m not religious, but I understand that those who are find it quite important and might like to place little nods to that religion around their home. I think a small, tasteful cross above the door or something is just fine. However, when I walked into this house, the first thing I saw was an enormous crucifix hanging above the couch in the living room. Like, the giant kind that hang above the altar in Catholic churches. Like, so huge that if you were sitting on the couch watching TV and it decided to wiggle off its flimsy nail, you would die immediately of blunt force trauma to the head…or just disintegrate into a pile of dust all together. It is Jesus, after all.  Smite, smite, yo.

Then, I turned around to see these on the wall:




Is it a little strange to have large photos of the last two Popes prominently displayed on your living room wall ever, let alone when you’re trying to sell your house, or am I just being a dick?

The theme continued throughout the house – Jesus, Mary and Joseph figurines in every lighted alcove in the basement and this odd laser Jesus that greeted us at the top of the stairs…and in literally EVERY other room of the house. Plastered everywhere…watching you.


BEHOLD LASER JESUS!

It was worse than going to your boyfriend’s parents’ house, walking into the room that you two were supposed to inhabit for the weekend and finding twin beds with a larger than life likeness of Jesus watching over the very clearly separated sleeping arrangements (true story, but not associated with my future husband). I felt like I was in one of those Catholic-laced exorcism horror movies and I was so deeply disturbed that I almost had a panic attack. I understand that these items would not come with the house and this wasn't the house for us anyway, but that first feeling you get when you walk into a house is a bitch – for buyer and seller. Staging people…perhaps slide the Pope in a drawer for a few weeks. He won’t mind.

Maybe the only thing more frightening than the houses we’ve seen is the Denver housing market. It’s batshit crazy. First of all, our budget buys us a modest sized home in the suburbs with the aforementioned crap attached, while it would buy a beautiful McMansion bigger than my parents’ house in Kansas City. Finding one that doesn’t require major work, but with enough space for us to live is like a needle in a haystack. One of the notes we put on a house said, “Chubby,” so obviously we liked that one. But, after talking about it, we realized we were just mesmerized by all the high end finishes. It was way out west and we’d be so isolated, but more importantly, there wasn’t enough space. That’s what happened to us with our apartment and we’re pissy about being on top of each other. We’re not making that mistake again. Another house we liked was beautiful and spacious, but was the most expensive house on the block smack in the middle of a neighborhood full of shitty little used car lots and pawn shops. Life wouldn’t be great there and neither would resale.

Second and third of all, people aren’t selling and when they do, houses are being snatched up the DAY they’re put on the market. There is no such thing as paying below asking price right now and some areas are so cutthroat with bitter bidding wars that the inventory is gone before we even see that it’s for sale. It’s difficult to be at the mercy of three different people’s schedules in this kind of situation and the raging insomnia coupled with bitten down nubs for nails is evidence that it’s all wearing on me.

The urgency is there as our apartment lease is up on April 30th and factoring in the time it takes to close as well as our week vacation at the end of March gives us about three weeks to find a place to live. In fact it’s such a priority that on our last tour, which consisted of 14 houses on a Saturday morning, I battled through a migraine instead of staying in bed, crying in the fetal position like usual. The nausea eventually overwhelmed me and I christened the toilet of a stranger in their shitty, 80s-tastic house. We joked that it was a “sign” - yeah, a sign to get the hell out of that crappy house.

I think part of the uneasy feeling is that we’re just so close. In fact, we’re looking at a house tomorrow morning that has what we like in a great neighborhood that already has an offer on it. Somehow our realtor talked the other agent into letting us see it for a counter offer if we want. I’m prepared to take the ghetto hoops out of my ears, rip off my gold, sparkly Lee Press-ons and throw down if need be. But, hell, who knows? Maybe the basement smells like butthole and we won't want it anyway.

Like with all huge, life altering decisions in your life, people feel the need to chime in with advice as if every market, personality, need, want and experience is exactly the same across the board. Walk a mile in these threadbare, Denver house-hunting shoes and ye would sing a different tune. The one piece of advice that I really liked was from Pat’s dad, “Get what you want and don’t settle because if you do, you’ll regret it.” I threw up my hands and yelled, “THANK YOU!” Finally somebody sees it my way. We’re spending way too much money and time to settle. I never do anyway.

Our updated dream house of right now, sans killer monkey and laser Jesus, is out there, but just like dating, when you’re house hunting, you have to go through a bunch of duds before you find marriage material.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happily Ever Old Balls

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I know what I want, I want what I want, and I want it now.

It's a phrase that's usually shortened to "I want what I want!" and yelled mockingly at my poor fiancee as he shields his head and ducks into the furthest corner of the room. It was pinpointed several months ago and we've been laughing about it ever since.

This is me summed up into one of the most condensed synopses I've ever heard and I've been like this to some degree since I came out of the womb. At a young age, my dad would smile and say things to me like, "You've got your own sense of style, kid," and a friend at high school graduation said in a letter, "I admire you because you never settle." These are things that I hold close and refer to when the thoughts race and I become my own worst enemy.

It's a personal philosophy. The decisions that affect my own future - career, family, health, big events, etc. - are ones that are made and moved towards (or away from) in this straightforward, tenacious way. Don't force it, but don't settle either. It's life a la carte.

Marriage is definitely one of those kinds of decisions. I always knew I’d be an “older” bride because my to do list is long and marriage has always been at the bottom of that list. I want my own life first – to be fully formed as a human being – before sharing it with somebody else…and the person had to be just right AND it would only happen if it was for the right reasons. It’s a laundry list that so many choose to ignore.

If you've read this blog back a few years, you'll see that I've had a couple shitload of bad dates. Like A LOT of BAAAAD dates. If it just faded away because of lack of interest or the thousand other mundane reasons people decide not to continue seeing each other and didn't end in some weird fiery fiasco, I felt relatively unscathed. Of course, then there was no hilarious story to tell at my (or his) expense on this blog. But, despite the dating disasters, I have had a handful of serious relationships and at least three of them where marriage became a hot topic. Now, I'm not saying, "I'm so awesome and desirable because three dudes wanted to marry me...beating them off with a stick and what not," because here's the deal:  They didn't want ME, they wanted marriage...or at least they thought they did. I was just a warm body with the right anatomy suited for a heterosexual male.

Marriage has become this "thing" instead of the feeling that it's supposed to be. It's beat into us from day one of our existence by society and "The Evil Wedding Industry." We "get married" on the playground with dandelions and tissue paper veils and everybody is in such a goddamn hurry to "begin their lives" that they never actually think about what they really want or take a look at who they're doing it with. It's just the thing you do and the settle factor is huge…why do you think divorce rates are so high? Get married and get married at all costs...mindlessly...just hurry up. And, if you don't, prepare to face the wrath of pity looks and whispers of "spinster" and "crazy cat lady."

It's all just so ridiculous and dangerous and I knew that early on. Instead of housewife, I played hotel mogul as a child and wanted to beat the boys at everything from spelling bees to tug of war instead of marry them by the swings. I might have responded fairly harshly to the trio that bombarded me with marriage, marriage, marriage at different points of my life with something like, "I want to go to college, I want a career, I want to have fun and run free, I WANT what I WANT, now get the hell out of my way!" It was basically borderline offensive to me that they would even bring up the subject. Instead, I could have just said, "No thank you, I'd rather be married to just me right now...and you just don't get it." But, you know, that's not really how I roll...plus it's hard to get through to a person hypnotized by the act of marriage without some force.

Let's just say I fought for my 20s. Those years are mine and mine alone. That's when you change and grow and have fun and run around wild being a dumbass and have bad dates and make decisions just for you and love every second of it. That's exactly what I wanted to do and that's exactly what I did. My life began a long time ago and it wasn't marked by marriage. I took that precious time just for me that so many people miss because they're in such a hurry. The way I looked at it, if I was going to get married, it was going to be when I was older and wiser...not in my 20s, not because of perceived pressure caused by onlookers or urgency presented by a ticking biological clock and not because I was dating some guy for an allotted amount of time like so many others do.

I was busy and happy with my lovely life when Pat showed up...extremely busy, in fact, working and going to graduate school in a brand new city. That combined with a touch of jaded from all those bad dates made me very nonchalant about the whole thing. I wasn't prepared for the easygoing, effortless relationship that came out of it. There were no grand gestures or phony bullshit - I liked him because he was a genuine person, he laughed at my quirks instead of shooting me scared looks and was open about who he was and what he thought. I knew I wanted to marry him…someday…after two weeks and when we decided to be exclusive, I laid it out on the table:  This relationship was going to be honest and mature - we were not going to lie to each other and we were going to treat each other with respect. There were no unrealistic "please-don't-break-my-heart" ultimatums, strangleholds or taming involved. Don't force it, just let it happen and along the way, let's be nice to each other. If not, I didn't want any part of it. Instead of being taken aback by my honesty, he gave a reassuring, "OK, that's how I want it to be, too." He just got it like nobody else ever did.

I like that we're two different people with different thoughts and interests that come together at just the right areas and moments to complement each other. He stands by my side, not smothering, but not distant and just lets me be me. He’s a calming source for my light-a-fire-under-your-ass mentality and I provide another way of looking at things for him. I created my own life; Pat enriches it and that's exactly the way I always wanted it to be.

And, now, after living together and a surprise engagement just shy of our two-year anniversary, we’re planning our wedding…or what will be something of the sort. It's been several weeks of traditional meets unconventional. Me reminding him that we don't have to conform to this meaningless mold placed in front of us and him saying that we don't need to be different for the sake of being different (Eh, call me entrepreneurial). But, what we do agree on is that we want it to be about us. Him, me and us. I'm sick of bouquet tosses and sweatshirts bedazzled with "BRIDE." I hate church pews and folding chairs lined up in neat little rows. I can't stand crunchy white tulle or "unity" anythings and all bridal gowns make me want to barf. Religion and the same old, same old can stay out of it and the unsolicited advice flying at my face from all corners of the world is obnoxious because it doesn't apply. It all means nothing to me and I'm not buying in to all that wedding industry or guilt-me-into-it crap. Maybe I'm missing some sort of bride gene, but I've always done things my own way and the only opinions I care about in this situation are the ones of the two people involved. We’re doing it our way.

So, on April 5, 2014, a few weeks before my 31st birthday and a few months after Pat's 37th birthday we'll be getting married in Kansas City in a ceremony that resembles a wedding, but will actually be meaningful to the both of us with every word and tiny detail a subtle to raging nod at who we are individually and together. We're a geriatric bride and groom, eating our dinner of prunes at 4:30 p.m. sharp, compared to the vast majority of couples at this stage and I love that. This is what the right reasons and not settling look like.

What can I say? I want what I want.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What a Proposal

I might have been bitchy and on the road to completely high as a kite when my boyfriend proposed to me on Christmas Eve. It’s so typically me. I spill red beverages on white clothing, fall up the stairs (and down them for that matter) and continue to wear ridiculous heels even though I roll my ankle in them on a regular basis. Of course my marriage proposal story would be silly. Why would it be romantic? Eh, I still love it though.

My body tends to go insane under extreme stress and the blow Pat and I and many others took right before Christmas with the death of our friend was anything but an exception. That, along with the dry, cold Colorado air made my face fall off in chunks, mainly my lips. I was like one of those disgusting little children with a flaming, peeling ring around their mouth – a more permanent and awful form of the fruit punch ‘stache. I had resorted to smearing baby butt cream on my face…yes on my face…and sleeping in awkward positions to get it to stay on…anything to make my face stop falling off. Of course then that made my neck twist into unbearable contortions, which provides the basis of our story.

On Christmas Eve at my parents’ house in Kansas City, I had taken a handful of ibuprofen with no neck relief in sight. In between whining and bitching about the possibility of my neck giving way and my head rolling to the floor, my parents, Pat and I moved furniture, cooked and generally prepared the house for the mass chaos that is Christmas as our house. Tired of hearing the bitching, my Mom remembered she had two muscle relaxers left over from months old back spasms and dug them out much to my relief. I popped one and continued my bitching while waiting for it to kick in.

I stood clutching my neck looking around for the next task when Pat walked up to me, put his arms around me and I retaliated by brushing him off, rolling my eyes and making one of those irritating, incoherent noises that women make when they want you to leave them alone. He persisted, locking me in a bear hug and saying, “you know I love you…” I reluctantly gave in and said, “yeah” while burying my face in his chest, still thinking about my neck.

“And recent events have brought us closer,” he said, backing me into the middle of the living room.

The next thing I know, he’s stepping back, pulling a ring out of his pocket – the exact one I picked out three and a half months ago – getting on one knee in the middle of my parents’ living room and saying something very formal like, “I’d like to ask for your hands in marriage.” I said, “Of course” and held out a shaky hand. I didn’t actually realize what had happened or that my parents witnessed the whole thing from opposite sides of the room until Pat stood up and gave one of his signature, all encompassing hugs – the best in the world – then I bawled. Holy shit. So, THAT just happened. He completely took me by surprise, which is no easy task.

On his way home from the gym that morning, Pat had picked up a couple of bottles of champagne, so we popped those, then I took a sip and was immediately hammered. Ah, yes, the muscle relaxer I had taken 10 minutes earlier.

“How does your neck feel now?” Pat asked.

“What neck?” I slurred.

The first person to notice when the family crew starting piling into the house a few hours later was my cousin Aaron, who said the ring blinded him from across the room. The rest of the night my head floated above my body partially because of the engagement and partially because I was cracked out on neck relieving drugs. For the first time, the children screamed, tackled each other and dove head first down the stairs and I didn’t care at all.

The wedding planning has already started, but that – along with my missing traditional bride gene - are for another post…or several. This should be a fun year for us all. 




 

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