Monday, April 30, 2007

It's for you. It's Mr. Thon.

Last night Mike and I were finishing dinner (squash and corn enchiladas, for anyone who wants to take them for a spin) when the phone rang. Since we were hot and heavy into The Amazing Race, Mike glanced at the caller ID.

"Huh," he said. "Do you know anyone named Thon Phona?"

"Thon?" I repeated. "No, I don't think so."

"Me either. I'm not going to answer it."

"Can I see it?"

He passed me the phone, and that's when I very nearly died laughing.

"What?" Mike asked, mystified, as my body shook and and I struggled to push the words out.

"It's not... Thon... Phona!" I gasped, tears leaking from my eyes. "It says Phona Thon! IT'S A PHONATHON!"

"A telemarketer?" Mike asked. I held the phone out.

"It's for you!" I choked out. "It's... MR. THON!"

"Caller ID usually reverses the first and last names!" Mike huffed. "How was I suppsed to know?"

And I just couldn't help it. I collapsed on the floor, laughing myself silly.

I'm such a tool sometimes.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday I was happy as a pig in a poke because it was finally warm enough to plant annuals. I've already started my herbs, beans, bell peppers, and tomatoes from seed, but buying the annuals and seeing the brightly-colored blooms makes my dizzy with delight. I could spend hours and hours in a nursery, plotting and planning and burying my face in the basil plants.

(Sometimes I think I should have been a horticulturist. Seeing dirt under my fingernails doesn't gross me out; it makes me happy.)

But before the flower-buying extravaganza could take place, there was an errand. It was a fun one, though: Mike and I headed to Dick's to buy new hiking shoes. Then we stopped at a massive Whole Foods for lunch. Do any of you have these jumbo-sized Whole Foods that have almost every kind of prepared food imaginable, complete with wine bar and cafe? We ended up agreeing on three slices of pizza (Caprese, vegetable, and mushroom & shallot), and I managed to sneak a thick wedge of cake with very creamy frosting onto the counter.

Not exactly the lunch of champions, but very satisfying all the same. We just bought new and improved hiking shoes, for God's sake. Of course we'll make up for it.

Then it was onto the nursery, where I happily skipped among the flowers as Mike trailed after me, dutifully pulling the wagon.

All day I was wearing this shirt. I love wearing it because it makes me laugh, and often I hear snorts and chuckles from passers-by, or an occasional exclamation of "I love that shirt!". And really, nothing makes me feel better than making someone laugh.

I do, however, have to remind myself that when you wear a shirt with words plastered across the chest region, you have to expect and accept that people will be staring at your rack.

Sometimes I forget and get all feministically perturbed.


p.s.
By the way, Augusten Burrough's Possible Side Effects is making me laugh as hard as the phone call from Thon Phona. Listen to it on CD (Augusten reads it himself). If you don't bust a gut, we simply cannot be friends anymore.

p.p.s.
I can't remember ever laughing so hard in rush hour traffic.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

With Kibble and Liberty for All

Come on, I posted last Friday and it's now Thursday night. Technically, that's two posts in one week.

Watch out, she's on fire.

You know, I was thinking that it would be much easier to get things done if I didn't have to spend 50 hours per week on work. Maybe I'll quit and move to a farm, where Alex can chase birds to his heart's content and I can read and cook and complete two or even three blog posts per week.

There's just one catch:

I need money for stuff.

And now I interrupt this sporadically updated blog to bring you this message from my dog, Alex, also known as the Grand Boo-Bah of the East Coast:



In the last post my mother humiliated me by telling you that
I left turds in the pack's bed. I want you to know that these
are lies and that I am running away to join an Alaskan sled team.
GOODBYE FOREVER.



What?




Okay. I'll stay, but ONLY BECAUSE SHE
JUST PUT FOOD IN MY BOWL.


Last weekend I had what was probably my most symbolic dream ever:


Mike and I were out on a playground at dusk. We were swinging and talking when suddenly I noticed something funny in the clouds. Closer and closer it came, growing larger against the darkening sky...

Liz: (frowning) Hey, what's that?


Mike: (shrugs) It's probably nothing to worry about.


Liz: I think it's the Statue of Liberty!


Mike: What? No, it can't be.


Liz: Look, she's green and holding a torch!


Mike: Holy Statue of Liberty, Batman!


And we dove into the trees just as the Statue of Liberty collided with the monkey bars and smashed into a million pieces.

Instantly, thousands of people swarmed the playground, biting, kicking, and trampling each other to secure the biggest pieces. Some would hock them on eBay, others were planning to trade them for drugs or sex. Mike and I ran from the rabid crowd, crashing through the trees. When we were alone, deep in the forest, we stopped, panting.

Liz: Look, Mike.

Under my shirt I had the Statue of Liberty's crown. We stood there, clutching it between us. We prayed feverishly that no one would steal it.

Then I woke up.

Apparently my mom doesn't have the
most optimistic view of American society.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

This is the Shit

(Take this post title very literally and don't say I didn't warn you.)


After an alarming number of hours had passed with nary a poop from Alex, I was getting worried. I mean, I don't obsess, but when you handle a creature's poop on a daily basis, you know how many deposits you can reasonably expect within a 24 hour period. ZERO was not reasonable.

(If you want to learn about excrement obsession, read Judy Blume's novel Wifey, in which the husband keeps a chart of the family dog's daily 'sticks' and 'wees'.)

I didn't know what to do except take him out every couple of hours, ignoring the smirking neighbors as I patiently explained to my dog why it was unhealthy to hold it in. Each time, he gamely lifted his trembling leg for a quick pee, but pooping? No thank you, please let's run back to the house as quickly as possible so I can resume my spot behind the washing machine.

Since I'm an amateur canine psychologist, I'll offer my opinion:

I think the poop avoidance has to do with the vulnerability of the squatting position.

Dogs look so pathetic when they're pooping, don't they? All awkward and hunched over, the quivering body balanced on a tight bouquet of paws, just begging to be toppled and devoured by a stealthy enemy. The pee position, on the other hand, doesn't compromise the dog's mobility as much, since the dog has three or four paws flat on the ground.

(Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble near you: What up, Dawg? A Study of Canine Elimination Neuroses.)

SO... eventually the wind storms ceased and we returned to our regularly scheduled pooping (I'm resisting the urge to make a Sticks & Wees chart) (note to self: Sticks & Wees could make an excellent band name) and all seemed well. That is, all seemed well until we once again experienced the strange phenomenon of ...


Yes.

I originally called it The Curious Incident of the Turds in the Night-Time, but then Mark Haddon's book made the bestseller list and he threatened to sue me. Whatever.

So here's what happens with the Mysterious Turds in the Night:

Upon hearing Alex's collar tags jingling, I wake up. I listen groggily, thinking that he's just changing into a more comfortable position. As my head clears I realize that he's upset about something. He's sniffing and turning in worried circles. I reach down with my hand to comfort him, and as I grope the fleece blanket my fingers close around a strange object. It's small and round and has a funny texture and suddenly I am aware that OH GOD, I AM FONDLING A TURD.

In the three or four times that this has happened, I've turned on the light to find two small, dry turds sitting on his blanket. Very easy to clean up; I just pick them up with a Kleenex and flush them down the toilet. But Alex seems to find this extremely upsetting, and I can only guess that it's because he knows he is not supposed to pee or poop inside, and other than the Mysterious Turds in the Night and one very unfortunate bout with diarrhea, he never, ever has accidents in the house.

Following this latest incident, he banished himself to the bed in the spare room.

I'm assuming that the turds somehow escape while he's sleeping. Is it like nocturnal emission, but with poop? Is he dreaming of pooping, and they just, I don't know, squeeze out?

I'd tell you more, but somehow I suspect that I've already said way too much.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Gone with the Wine... er, Wind

We've been having a kick-ass wind storm here in the DC area. I could feel the entire house shuddering as I tried to fall asleep last night. As I drove home today I saw huge patches of shingles missing from roofs, while vinyl siding, tree branches, and other debris lay strewn about the road.

There is a six-foot length of gutter lying in my neighbor's yard. Our yard has so far collected a trash can, several wet, pulpy sections of the Washington Post, and a grill cover.

Needless to say, Alex is most unhappy about this latest meteorological surprise. Today I arrived home early from my latest allergist appointment to find him quaking under two pillows on the couch.

I coaxed him outside and tried not to blow away as I waited for him to poop. He grew more alarmed with each shingle, trash can, and shutter he encountered, as though he knew for sure that this must be the apocalypse and the only way to save himself was to clamp his tail over his bum and NEVER, EVER POOP AGAIN.

Mike called me on the way to band rehearsal to tell me that he checked the back of our house again on the way out and saw a section of shingles that seemed to be considering escape. Sweet! I was wondering how to get rid of a few hundred dollars this week. Providence, my dears. Now I won't have to waste time burning the bills with my lighter.

To combine the efforts of saving money and drowning my sorrows, I'm enjoying a glass of 2005 Honey Moon Viognier. I bought it on a whim at Trader Joe's, mostly because I liked the simple black label and because I'm a Viognier fan, with all it's perfumey deliciousness. Only $5.99, and really wonderful at that price. I went back today during lunch and bought a case. Unfortunately, I ran into a co-worker in the check-out line.

Her: Oh my goodness! Hi, Liz.

Me: Oh, Maria! Hi!

Maria: What IS all that?

(She's holding one container of salad in her hand. I, on the other hand, am out on lunch break with a cart full of wine bottles and not a single morsel of food.)

Me: Do you like Viognier? (I show her a bottle)

Maria: Wow, that's a lot of wine. Are you having a party?

Me: Oh! A party. Yes, we're having a party.

Maria: Is it any good?

Me: (gesturing to mound of bottles) Um, obviously?

Guy standing in line between us: Wow! What do you like about it?

Me: Well, you know, it's a nice, full-bodied white...

Guy: (seems to think I must be a wine expert) Really? I think I'll get one, too. Where did you get it?

Me: The wine aisle?


I am nothing if not specific.

Anyhow, I'd better get back to my budget spreadsheet. After we pay the roofer and my allergist, I'll see how much I have left over to give the vet for surgical removal of my dog's poop. He seems pretty determined to hang onto it forever.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Feelin' tipsy and reflective. Uh oh.

Welcome to Blunky Monday! For those of you who may be new, "blunking" is a combination of "drunk" and "blogging". Geddit? S'much easier t'saystuff whenu combine wordz.

I'm all about efficiency.

Would you like to listen along with me this evening? I am currently obsessed with the soundtrack to The Last Kiss. Sweet Jesus, I cannot stop listening to it. Someone take away my iPod, stat! I am turning into a big, mushy ball of drooling musical ecstasy! If I were religious and I had to give something up for Lent, this album would be the biggest sacrifice I could make.

Either that or wine.

No, wait. It's still wine.

Anyhow. I liked the movie, but it wasn't mind-blowing. Yet as we were watching I heard a song that really haunted me, which turned out to be Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap. And then I found myself super-attuned the rest of the music in the movie, to the point that I had to keep rewinding the DVD so I could hear the songs again.

You can totally tell why Mike loves watching movies with me, right? Between that and me mimicking all the actors, the poor man can't get a moment's peace.

***********

Mike's grandmother passed away just before Thanksgiving last year, and when we were in North Carolina last week we went through boxes of photographs and keepsakes that had been in her house. Seeing pictures of her at my age led to an inevitable reflection on my life and the legacy I will leave behind someday when I die.

You know what? I'm really pretty satisfied with my life. For the past seven years I've felt mostly at peace. It's probably not coincidental that I've been married for seven years, as meeting and marrying Mike is really the best luck I've ever had. But it's also more than that.

I don't want to get all Dr. Phil on you, but I have to explain something:

I'm extremely hard on myself.

Okay. Some of you are now laughing hysterically at the idea that this was an unknown fact, because you sniffed it out long ago. We always think we're more mysterious and opaque than we really are, don't we?

But yes, I'm hard on myself and I think no one can see that. It's a little bit the personality I was born with, and a lot the way I was raised. But it was years and years before I recognized this part of myself, the way I constantly monitor and correct myself, the way I attribute disappointment, pain, and negative experiences to my own personal shortcomings. These thoughts have flowed so freely and for so long that I couldn't even hear them anymore.

Case in point: I recently journaled, "I tend to be guarded with other people, even my own family. I don't like that about myself."

I don't like that about myself.

Not so long ago, I would have said, "So what? If you don't keep an eye on your weaknesses, they'll never change." I saw myself as a jagged figure that I needed to attack, warrior-style, chipping away with my sword until I emerged the perfect, pleasing person that I thought I should be. Sounds like a nice, easy way to go through life, huh?

Then a close friend told me that I needed to learn to accept all the parts of myself, even my flaws. And very predictably, my thought was:

Self: Ridiculous. Why would I want to accept my flaws?

Self: What do you mean, why? Because it's humanly impossible to be perfect, dumbass.

Self: Oh, right. Good call.

Self: You are human, aren't you?

Self: Sometimes I wish I were a dog, but yes.

Amazingly, as I've worked to accept the less-shiny parts of myself, I've found it easier to be in the world. Maybe it's because when you're easier on yourself, your're easier on the rest of the planet.

My favorite people in the world are the loud, big-bosomed women who collect friends like jewels, who don't hesitate to embrace or to laugh uproariously at the slightest inclination, the ones who don't hide anger or tears of disappointment, and the ones you feel like you know right away.

I'm really not like that, but I'm working on it.

And even if I don't completely get there, that's okay.


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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Get Around

We've been in North Carolina visiting with M's dad and his wife for the past few days. His wife is from Ireland and had lots of ideas for our upcoming Ireland trip. She also offered us Guinness as soon as we arrived at their house at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Slainte!

So, do you want to know about the car trip? To be honest, my memory is kind of fuzzy from all the Guinness. But I do have photographic evidence.

Welcome to America, home of heart disease and debt:




M and I shuddered uncontrollably when we saw this sign. Then we walked into the McDonald's across the street and ordered a three-gallon strawberry milkshake that took two hours to consume.

Why are my eyeballs pink?

Um, anyway. Regarding the dinner party last Friday night... it was mostly lots of fun, but also a little uncomfortable for various reasons. The first reason was that we couldn't figure out what the heck to take as a gift.

We usually take a bottle of wine when we're invited somewhere for dinner, but then we discovered that the host of the dinner party is a bit of a wine enthusiast who has an estimated 700 bottles in his collection.

They even have a plan that details how to get the most expensive bottles out of the house should it ever catch fire or come under siege. In other words, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't be impressed by the $25 bottle of local Virginia wine that we'd been planning to take.

Flowers! we decided. We'll take a nice boquet of spring flowers!

Then we found out that the hostess used to be a florist, still gets her blooms wholesale and was already putting the table arrangements together.

Cheese! we concluded. A nice gourmet cheese is just the thing!

Then we found out that there was a cheese course already planned for the dinner, featuring seven cheeses.

Fuck.

In the end, M made zucchini bread and I wrapped it in Press n' Seal and stuck a bow on it. Happy happy, y'all.

The main course of the dinner was indeed pasta and chicken in a tomato cream sauce, but I was able to eat around the chicken. The meal was greatly enhanced by all the various wines we enjoyed, totalling approximately one seventh of the collection.That means that he's down to about 600 bottles. Poor guy. That Boone's Farm isn't looking so bad now, is it?

I wonder which wine best complements fried bologna? I suddenly have a wonderful idea for the next dinner party...

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