Sunday, August 26, 2012

lessons from a new homeowner

1. Always take a close look at the layout of your windows before deciding you would like to put an offer on a house. Here's a very real conversation we had recently:

After grocery shopping (or some other incredibly exciting activity), we walk up to the house from the garage. I stop short.

Me: I just noticed something about our house that I can't unsee.

Y: What? (Considers house.) The fact that it looks like a crazy robot?

Me: YES. How did we not see this?
Y: (Shrugs.) Can we get a mustache for it?

2. If you discover you have magnetic walls in your bathroom, celebrate. You now have a built in place for your electric toothbrush heads.

3. Be prepared to learn new things about each other. For instance, I learned that Y is a secret fan of chalkboard art.

4. If you and your loved one get into a fight at Ikea (and you will), a really great way to relieve stress is to visit the rug section and battle each other American Gladiator style. Trust me. I felt better and more able to rationally choose between the Hemnes and the Brimnes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Minneapolis residency vacation

Y's vacation is over.

And by vacation, I mean a consult month, a rotation with an 8-5, Monday through Friday schedule. He calls it vacation. The rest of us call it real life. 

Tomato, tomahto.

Today he switched to a more stressful rotation, but honestly, I think it's for the best for both of us. 

For him, it means I will stop making him pose in front of walls. I didn't realize how obnoxious I must have been until I looked back through my pictures.

I will benefit from not having to listen to Y rap/sing anymore. Approximately 2 seconds after we moved to South Minneapolis, Y discovered that "South Minneapolis" and "West Philadelphia" have the same number of syllables. Cue the constant, Minneapolis-themed renditions of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. Even Ike is over it. 

Put a sock in it, plz.

Below, some pictures of our "vacation" adventures:

exploring downtown

Amazing seats for our first Twins game, which was really more of a kettle corn scarfing fiasco. We finished an extra large bag of the stuff in about 20 minutes. I'm not sure what the deal is with kettle corn around here, but I'm not complaining.

"Spoonbridge and Cherry". From what I can tell, this : Minneapolis :: The Bean : Chicago. 

Reading (currently reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett) while Y fished. Unsuccesfully. But more on that later. 

A stop on an 18 mile urban bike ride. We spent all 18 miles marveling at how Dutch the city felt...

...and then we remembered we had tickets to see the Rembrandt exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (which happens to be the largest collection of Rembrandts in the United States). The day, needless to say, was sufficiently Dutch.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars: a sort of review

Here's a tip for my readers: read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Here's another tip for my readers: Don't read The Fault in Our Stars on an airplane, when the person sitting one inch away from you is privy to every emotion you might experience while reading a book. This book is about kids with cancer. Cool, ironic kids, who talk about the C-word in a refreshing way. But no matter how cool, ironic, or refreshing one tries to make cancer, there will be tears. That's a fact. I know a doctor. I know what I'm talking about. 

Here's a tip for anyone who happens to sit next to me on an airplane while I'm reading such a book: When I --- clutching my armrest for dear life every time the plane makes a sudden movement --- mention that I am reading a book about kids with cancer, don't say, in your broken English "I do not like death from cancer. I rather die in plane crash."

And as the plane descends quickly (but not quickly enough... never quickly enough), and I bury my nose back into my book, trying to make the terror of air travel just end already, don't say, loudly "I have not felt plane like this before. Something is wrong with this aircraft!"

But back to you, readers. If you're in the mood to feel, and you like teenagers who speak above their grade level (a la the kids from Dawson's Creek, but less angsty, which is amazing because they have cancer and bigger things to worry about than not getting in to film school), and you enjoy reading about Amsterdam... you will like this book. Just not on a plane next to a Pakistani college kid who doesn't understand plane etiquette.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the target lady teaches a valuable lesson

"What is this?" asks the cashier, holding the strange fruit gingerly, as if it might eat her.

"A kiwi," I reply, wondering how a person gets through 20+ years of life never seeing a kiwi.

She looks at me angrily. Not only am I stumping her with a strange produce item, she now has to find said produce item on her list and match it to a number. I am making the woman working as a Target cashier do actual work and I am going to get a death glare.

The above describes a typical encounter at a Target in Shreveport, Louisiana. The below describes a typical encounter at a Target in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Paper or plastic?" The cashier's smile is so wide I worry her face might split in half. Her pigtails bob up and down as she begins to scan items.

"Paper is fine, thank you," the man replies.

"Okie dokie smokie!" she yells, so loudly I can hear her from four aisles over where I am having a conversation about why some people don't like cilantro with my own cashier. (Sidenote: MY CASHIER KNOWS WHAT CILANTRO IS! What is this magical place?)

The man four aisles over laughs politely. "I say okie dokie smokie too sometimes," he admits. The cashier stops what she is doing. She pumps her fist in the air.

"Okie dokie smokies unite! We should start a club!" She leaves one hand lingering in the air so her customer can give her a high five. Which he does.


Before I moved to the midwest, I appreciated Kristen Wiig's Target Lady sketch abstractly. I thought I got the joke -- I've watched every single one multiple times and cried silent tears of laughter -- but I'm now realizing that I didn't get the joke. Target ladies are a real thing.  Contrary to popular Southern belief, retail employees are not required to shoot laser beams of hatred out of their eyes.

Life is a little different here, and even though these differences manifest themselves randomly and seemingly insignificantly, you can tell.

It's nice to live somewhere different for a little while.

PS. something to give a little PERRRP to my floor length western dress. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

okay, NOW I'm a crazy dog lady.

I've struggled for a long time about my inevitable transition to Crazy Dog Lady. There was the time I tucked Ike in. And then there was the sweater...

But I think it finally happened last week. Some transitions are seamless; so seamless you're not even sure they're happening.  But this...believe me, I knew.

I saw this dog at the vet:

Obviously, I asked its owner if I could take a picture. That's weird enough, right?

Then I got to my car and looked at the picture.

And then I talked to it.

 The general gist of my speech to this picture of a puppy: you're so cute, do you want to meet my dog Ike, you guys would get cutest couple in the puppy yearbook, you know. The usual.

It's like my brain shut off, and any sense of what is and isn't acceptable vanished.

But you know what? IT WAS THE BEST 10 SECONDS OF MY LIFE. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

the BEST thing about residency

This might be a tad premature -- Y is only about 55 days into his residency, after all -- but I'm going to go out on a limb and say I've figured out the very best part of the whole residency thing.

It starts with a little argument about our house that turned into a full blown, silent treatment kind of dispute. I wanted to put shelves up in a certain part of our bathroom to display essentials like the 20 year old bottle of Chanel No 5 I found in my mom's drawer, and the 95 cent bowls I scored at Anthropologie. Things that absolutely need to be on a shelf center stage in our bathroom.

Since my brain turns to mush as soon as it tries to think about tools and drywall anchors and studs, I needed Y to put up these shelves. But when he tried to drill, it was more difficult than he thought due to a piece of metal in the wall. He managed to successfully put up one shelf, but he wasn't willing to do more damage to the wall to put up the second shelf.

I -- because I'm so handy, remember? -- tried to convince him that one tiny hole in the wall wasn't going to affect anything. This is where things got hairy. Apparently, I was "nagging". Psh. 

"Why can't we put them over here?" he asked, pointing across the room.

"That doesn't make any sense!" Why would we have one shelf on this wall, and one halfway across the room? Boys. 

"You literally picked the one spot in the wall where we shouldn't drill. Find a different spot."

Eventually -- it took at least 3 days -- Y realized that I was not going to shut up about the shelf. He successfully hung it, much to his chagrin. So far our house is still standing.


The second part of this story involves the facts that a) these shelves are above the toilet, and b) Y believes that when he "only pees a little", flushing the toilet is not required.

You see where this is going.

When my moisturizer fell into some fresh urine the other night, there was no question: HE was fishing it out. Not only was it his urine, but he has dug around inside a) dead people and b) rectums. And probably c) dead people's rectums. All gross tasks should default to him.

This is where it gets good, fellow naggers. Listen carefully.

As he gingerly placed the bottle in the sink, I shook my head. "Whose idea was it to put those shelves there, anyway?" It was sarcastic; slightly apologetic. I was ready to take the blame.

He looked at me, anger flashing in his eyes. "Where else would we have put them?" he retorted indignantly, as if I had insulted his greatest work of art. 

You guys. Residency makes them forget. The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

carol convention top five

Two weeks ago, my friends and I embarked on our annual trip, which we like to call Carol Convention (read more about it here). We spent the weekend at a cabin in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas which, believe it or not, is actually really, really pretty. Because I like to think my friends and I can be pretty entertaining, I bring you:

5. Inventing peanut butter m&m pancakes. Recipe: throw peanut butter m&m's into Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Source: Just Dandy original. Be on the lookout for my cookbook.

4. Making a music video to Justin Bieber's Boyfriend in the middle of the woods and on the top of a mountain.  I wonder if that will ever see the light of day.

3. Since every year a different one of us plans the trip, at some point we have to figure out who will be in charge of the next one. On previous trips, we've found a "mascot" guy to draw a name out of a hat; at a piano bar in Florida we decided that a guy who looked like Fabio was the most hilarious man we had ever seen, it clearly had to be him. Last year at a dance hall in Texas, I asked a cowboy who had performed earlier that evening to be The One.

This year, we shared our secluded cabin with not a soul -- except for two dogs. The only thing to do was tape three names to the bottom of three bowls and put meat in each one. Whichever bowl the dog went for first contained the name of our next planner.

2. The most ridiculous game of Catchphrase. The scene: We're trying to guess a word based on clues my friend Dana is giving us.

Dana: Okay, if I want to talk to someone I would call them on my....
Us: Cell phone!
Dana: Nope.
Us: Cellular phone!
Dana: No.
Us: Mobile phone!
Dana: No...
Us: MoBILE phone!
Dana: NO.
Us: Cellular device?
Dana: NO!!
Us: Smartphone?
The rest of us are silent.
Dana: TELEphone.

1. Throughout the United States, you might like to joke that those of us who live in The Dirty South are partial to marrying our relatives. Well, in the south, we like to deflect that accusation on one state in particular: Arkansas.

You guys, we were in Arkansas for TWO. DAYS. We listened to local radio for maybe an hour total. Besides hearing Gotye approximately 656 times in that hour, we also heard a segment where the DJ asked people to call in and tell us "how their life is like a soap opera". The first caller:

I am dating a guy whose mother is his sister. 

I am thinking that kind of confession has to happen pretty often for us to have caught one in the short time we were there.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

scenes from my run

When I lived in a place lacking in scenery, I promised myself that if I ever lived somewhere interesting, I would run as often as I could. To be honest, I was picturing myself running along the National Mall, or the Willamette River in Portland --  I never imagined it would be around the lakes of Minnesota.

But here I am. And after almost two months of living here, I... decided to go for a run. Let's be honest, though: it was really more of a 1/4 run, 1/4 walk, 1/4 stop and take pictures, and 1/4 stalkeresquely stop a girl because she was wearing an LSU shirt. There were also several minutes of sitting at the banks of a lake and listening to Andrew Belle.

I like to use the term "run" loosely.

cadavers over dinner

 {phlegm: a love story chronicles Y's finer moments as a true romantic scientist. See the rest of the love story here.}

The girl and the boy sit close to each other in a corner booth. It's their anniversary dinner, and they've chosen a popular new restaurant that specializes in meat and bourbon. The boy has a beer, the girl has a champagne cocktail. They toast to three years of marriage and two months in their new house. 

The waitress sets down a platter of exotic meats. She points to each one. "Pickled heart macella, summer truffle sausage, turkey braunschweiger, wild boar head cheese." Translation: beef heart, sausage, turkey liver pate, and boiled boar head.

The girl gingerly takes a bite of sausage, the one thing that appears safe. The boy takes a bite of pickled heart and nods approvingly. "This is delicious." The girl tentatively pokes at it with her fork, working up the courage to take a bite. 

The boy continues. "This is actually really tender. I would expect heart muscle to be tougher than this, since cutting through a cadaver heart is so difficult. Now the psoas muscle --on an animal, that's where you get a filet, and the human muscle is similar -- you can slice right through that muscle."

The girl vomits.

Just kidding. The girl is used to this. She smiles, nods, and does not eat the pickled heart macella. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

finally, my life is like center stage.

Let’s talk about the most embarrassing moment I’ve had so far in Minneapolis. 

I arrived at a class at my gym called, simply, “barre”.  I had been to a class like this before, one of those trendy new workout classes that basically promise a dancer’s body by doing tiny squats barefoot while touching a ballet barre. I had loved it, despite being unable to walk for two days afterward.

As I took off my shoes, I noticed several people in the room were wearing ballet slippers. I rolled my eyes. These people think they can do tiny squats better than I can because they have legit ballet shoes, I thought. I’ll show them.

The class started with 30 minutes of abs and stretching to classic Al Green. In this room in the basement of my gym, with exposed pipes and a warehouse-esque feel, I felt pretty... urban. Basically, I was feeling very positive about the experience.

And then we were told to stand at the barre.

And then some classical music straight out of Swan Lake or something started playing.

And then everyone started plie-ing. Except me.

Let me back up and tell you about my ballet experience:

1.       This:

2.       Watching this over and over again with my best friend in high school:

When I was a pre-teen, it seemed like all of the girls I knew were dancing, and, more importantly, learning important life skills like how to be graceful and confident and poised.  Here's what I was doing as a pre-teen:

Back in the “barre” class -- which I was quickly learning was actually a “ballet” class – I had somehow ended up at the front of a line of people, so I wasn’t able to watch anyone’s feet  (a trick that’s gotten me through many a zumba/hip hop class). It was... a mess.

After that excruciating minute and a half, Black and Gold by Sam Sparro started to play.


(you have to listen to get the full effect of my description)  

As the first few notes began to play, the entire class seemed to know what to do. It was exactly like this scene in Center Stage: (I'm assuming all of my readers have seen this movie -- after all, if you and I are going to be friends, a deep appreciation of the greatest movie of our time is mandatory. However, just in case you need to brush up on your Cooper Nielsen, here it is:) 

You guys. I did not look like any of the people in that video. When the rest of the class was up, I was down. At one point I stood completely still and pretended like I didn't exist.  It was bad. Case in pointe (ha!): while doing one of my signature completely wrong and out of sync moves, I must have gotten really into the [horrifically awkward] moment. I pushed too hard on the barre -- which was freestanding -- and moved it halfway across the room, leaving the people behind me balancing on thin air. 

From that point on, the person behind me started hissing at me.

"Demi-plie means half bend!"

"Repeat this three times!"

"Jump after this!"

I looked over my shoulder. It was a 60-something man in a leotard (I swear he was not wearing a leotard at the beginning of class. Otherwise I would have gotten the hint). This man, tall and poised, was obviously a professional dancer. 

"How did you know I needed extra help?" I mumbled sarcastically.

He turned away with a snobby smirk on his face. "Some questions, you just don't answer."

We all love a good story about two unexpected souls becoming the best of friends, yes? Usually it's animals. A dog and a cat, a fox and a hound.

 In this case, it's a spaz with two left feet and a 60 year old professional male danseur (I just read that's what you call a man ballerina, although I prefer mancer).He spent the rest of the class genuinely trying to help me, and encouraged me to come to another class. And you know what? It was fun. And so I did. 

And now I'm pretty much a ballerina. 

(In my mind.)