Happy Fourt…zzzz

July 5th, 2014

Shit shit shit I am sick again. I have lumps on the back of my neck (swollen lymph nodes) and I am dragging ass. I kind of ignored it for a couple of days but it’s not going away quickly, anyhow, and I am just sleep sleep sleeping, and turning to my usual coping mechanism, cooking. With mixed results.

I keep touching my neck bumps and going YEP STILL HURTS like a dog touching its hotspots. Why does human nature compel us to lick chancres and probe burns? I’m sure there’s a reason. Don’t answer that.

I’ve been pondering how much time I’ve spent in the 19th century, not in a just glue some gears on it sense, but just reading and cooking and thinking about that whole cool syphilitic cobblestoney situation. Now I kind of feel like I’m unraveling, slowly, in fits and starts, but I don’t have a lady’s maid and I have a job and children, so I can’t sit around writing gloomy poetry and sucking on a shisha all day, like some kind of plump overeducated caterpillar, which is probably what I would be doing right now if it was 150 years ago. This too shall pass? Don’t answer that either.

This weekend’s ice cream was chosen by Strudel. It’s fruity miso. The cookbook’s authors recommend using whatever ripe fruit that will mix well with the miso and is in season–pear, apple, or peach. I used two smallish nectarines, which is what I had (it called for two “large” peaches), and augmented with a couple of small red plums.

You caramelize sugar, and then mix the fruits in and cook them down, caramelizing them as well.

This was all well and good until it was time to stir the miso in and then blend everything. BLEH! It really called back to some unfortunate times later in high school when payday meant takeout sweet and sour chicken and a couple of bottles of Boone’s sangria. The flavor part of the ice cream base really reminded me of that–fruity but also kind of sour. I made myself taste the custard once it was all blended together before it went into the fridge to cool and steep and it was…okay. A little vomity, though, really.

I’m not going to say anything to the kid. By the time I was her age I was a professional vomiter (allergies, poor parenting, etc) but I think she’s only technicolor yawned three or four times in her life so far.

Oh hey, look over here! Shiny thing.

I was a plus one at a BBQ yesterday. We didn’t stay too long in part because I got really cold and tired. The weather suddenly turned and I had dressed for sun. I brought this cake, which is a Texas sheet cake, and comes together very quickly. The frosting and part of the batter is boiled. Patriotic sprinkles for the win.

I like to experiment on people at parties, so I also tried a cherry slab cake. My pan was too big and I didn’t like the way it looked, with the juice leaking and and slightly burnt at the edges, so we kept it at home.

Strudel declared that we would have to have black coffee and cherry pie for breakfast, like Agent Cooper. She is getting into character to be him for Halloween. She spent the entire meal exclaiming that she was drinking a DAMN FINE CUP OF COFFEE. I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. I told her I would rent her a small FBI agent’s suit for trick or treating.

I am also getting excited to go back to the Twin Peaks festival this year.

Talk about pussy power

June 29th, 2014

I HATE DANDELIONS! I know, I know, everyone does, unless you’re one of those twee morons who says things like, “But what is a weed, anyway, man?” or you’re an UBERFORAGER and you make underpants out of bark, or, most likely, you’ve never been forced to keep up a rental yard that the owner just won’t up and pave/gravel/whatever. A thing I hate even more than dandelions themselves is a landlord’s dandelions. It is a trial, like hanging out in a whale.

When I was in middle school my mother ran away from home for the third time and we ended up in middle of the city that was adjacent to the village I grew up in. There were actual city things there, like crosswalks and stores, and more than just bar, bar, church, bar.

Right down the street from our temporary robber’s cave was a big, decaying house that served as a media junk shop. It cemented my love of two things: Nixon political memorabilia, and science fiction and fantasy books. I would beg my mother for money or for the chance to do paid chores so I could buy deliciously stinky, shredding pulp novels by CJ Cherryh, Robert Asprin, or Terry Brooks.

I read EVERYTHING. All kinds of trash. Really good stuff that made me cry, like The Golden Apples of the Sun. I was completely non-discriminating in that way that kids are. Mostly I would dive into the sci fi/fantasy section, and pick things by cover and blurb. If I liked something, I would try to buy all of the books there by an author.

One day I picked up a book that had something very weird on the cover. It was a painting of a sexy dandelion, with boobs and feminized humanlike features under where the yellow flower part was. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was called or who wrote it, but I know it involved a time or space traveler who found himself in a world with lower tech and a bunch of political drama that could be solved in two minutes if anyone understood how to make a gun or how pregnancy worked. The part where the traveler was consulting with the sentient, lurid weed seemed tacked on, as if the editor said, “This is okay, but the painting for this book is already done. Your story needs a fuckable giant flower with tigol bitties that issue some kind of mind control sap.”

?? !!

I think this was my first encounter with any kind of interspecies sexytimes (though it was not the last, to both my delight and dismay), but this one broke the seal and made an impression. Every time I am out weeding, I think of this horrible book. I’m actually a little squicked by the larger ones that get away from you with the huge roots…just argh. I cannot knowingly eat any part of them.

That’s kind of generally insulting anyway. “Here, I found this crap at the side of the road that is kind of bitter and annoying and I made you a salad with it.” And yet I like wild mushrooms and berries and drugs I find on the ground. I DUNNO MAN. I am still a mystery to you.

My point being, dear diary, today I weeded my disaster of a front yard because I could not stand to look outside and see dandelions. And I planted sunflowers (acceptable yellow flower). The WORST flowers are ALWAYS yellow. It’s just a fact.

Acceptable yellow flowers: sunflowers, forsythia

Marginally acceptable yellow flowers that are ok but look cheap even if they’re not: lilies, roses, carnations

Unacceptable yellow flowers: marigolds (YUK), dandelions, everything else

IN OTHER NEWS

I love bags that are PSAs:

Here is your Zen riddle for today: if I had common sense, I would not have the contents of this bag. GOOOOOOONG!!! Goodbye.

You can fly

June 27th, 2014

We’re going to start with eggs and end with a BEEYOOTIFUL swan.

Recently I read that double yolkers are the results of first-year hens trying to get their albumens together. I think this must be one of Fruit Loops’s, who is around a year old. The eggs are big this year.

I ordered duck eggs recently, because they were on mega-sale through my CSA, and if you know duck eggs you know they are large.

The duck egg is in the middle and mine are flanking it. The biggest one on the left, which ended up being the double yolker.

Last weekend we popped out and picked up three more pullets, since I recently lost a couple of chickens again. We’re back up to eight again.

These are kind of my garden variety deviled eggs, except with some goddess dressing in place of lots of mayo, and with some beet horseradish and a pickled jalapeno on top. I found the horseradish at some random store called…The Europe Store (?), in Mill Creek, maybe, after an unsuccessful mushroom hunting trip in BFE. I am always sad when stores like that don’t sell what’s in their name. Imagine buckets full of dirt from Belgium or deeds to castles in file cabinets for sale at the Europe Store.

This sinister mess is custard steeping with coffee grounds. Beloved Shan stayed overnight almost a year ago on her way to a vacation elsewhere and she brought a really cool hostess present. I am cooking (ice creaming?) my way through it this summer and the first one is Vietnamese iced coffee ice cream. It is KAPOW. A good start.

It’s a pretty nice here, for June. Cloudy today but it’s been really sunny and the tomatoes are going crazy.

My scented geraniums are going bananas. I have flavors like nutmeg, mimosa, chocolate mint. I am trying to figure out how to overwinter them without bringing them indoors.

I’m also slowly digging up the front yard. This is a weird one, because there’s going to be an egress window from the basement happening in this yard, which will make kind of a big covered pit, so the plantings need to move out from the perimeters of the house.

So other than the quince tree behind the birdbath, and the boxwood hedge, I am not sure what’s going to stay. When we moved in, it was four square raised beds with pebbles between, centered with the birdbath, but the bed frames were rotting and it needs to be shifted. I want something kind of more organic and less formal, but I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I stopped digging it up, because I could feel the bees frowning at me. P. wants to transplant some of the herbs in the fall as well. So I am leaving it bee for now. GET IT BECAUSE “BEES.”

Finally, since it is early summer, they actually let my kid graduate. I got her report card and she mostly recovered from her disaster, EXCEPT her Japanese grade got WORSE. A complete flunk out there!

I have been wondering if she sabotaged her own trip, honestly. She was becoming increasingly anxious about going. I’m still sad, I really wish she would have pulled it off.

She’s been really clinging lately–to childhood, I guess. She’s been mad at me for lots of things, including insisting that she check her email once a week and suggesting that she start a book of faces account to keep track of her middle school friends. I want to hand her a crow feather and say, “Beat it to the mall like a normal kid and come back before dinner, ok.”

Her father, the notorious SeaFed, was there, which was a nice surprise. He was trailed by his three youngest daughters. Two of them look like toilet paper commercial angels and the other one looks like his wife. Strudel met them for the first time.

After graduation we were invited to the cafeteria to have cake and punch, but SeaFed fled to the parking lot, where he waited for Franny to come out so he could take her to ice cream. Franny ran back and forth between the cafeteria and the parking lot until I told her to STOP IT ALREADY, I would just come out and see her off with her father. She was obviously anxious about her worlds colliding and tried to slip off, to just leave, but I kept up.

I offered to take a picture of all of the SeaFederales, and he said, “You might be surprised to learn I remembered my camera.”

There was so much in that single sentence, it was kind of stunning. It was sort of a dig at me, because I used to have to keep on top of him about the tiniest shit (until I stopped and found that the world didn’t end, not even close). It was a dig at himself as well, famously forgetful and on Planet Mars half the time.

“Oh no, I meant all of you together,” I said.

“Oh!” He handed over the camera and I snapped him and his four girls.

Franny left a couple of days later and has not been in touch as usual. I don’t think she knows how to bridge the gap, to stay in touch. Just like her running back and forth between the parking lot and the cafeteria. I should be collecting her from the airport on July 15, but instead I will be meeting her at the ferry terminal as usual.

Here is a taco holding an Abe Lincoln.

A mystery for the ages

June 17th, 2014

A wag is graffiti-ing the alleys in my neighborhood with this stencil.

This book is different from other books

June 10th, 2014

You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story.

There are dangers, choices, adventures, and consequences. YOU must use all of your numerous talents and much of your enormous intelligence. The wrong decision could end in disaster – even death. But, don’t despair. At any time, YOU can go back and make another choice, alter the path of your story, and change its result.

–RA Montgomery

I got an email from Blogher yesterday and it gave me a nightmare that I was there! Spam-induced nightmares! Probably not the first. The last time I was there I had anxiety so bad it was like the sucking chest wound of anxiety. So not me. I’m glad I wrote for the site for a while, I guess it was experience of some kind. At any rate it let me know I wasn’t interested in pursuing freelance internet writing for large media groups. For a long time before that I was chasing that rainbow, writing punchy blurblets and submitting them to gossip sites, which I think were respectable to have on your resume 10 years ago? Anyway.

Presently I’m experiencing parenting choose your own adventure, which I’m sure will culminate in my head being crushed by a giant ant. What I am about to say probably won’t make much sense (par for the course or rare moment of self-awareness, you decide).

Franny has had a rough year. She is So Middle School right now. As I’ve mentioned, I just feel a deep sense of compassion for her since I remember these feelings. I’m impressed how frank she can be about her feelings, without being hurtful or nasty. She thinks everyone is stupid and annoying at times (welcome to life), and has that feeling like she wants to scream and run out of the house, and she does. Currently it’s just within the neighborhood, but I suspect she’s on the verge of becoming a bus rider, to the extent that will be possible here with all the cuts. I don’t want to make excuses for her, but she definitely seems challenged by her hormones.

We were all set to launch her to Japan with part of her class for two weeks, starting at the end of this month. All I had to do was pay the last bit of deposit. At the beginning of the year we made a deal that she would keep her grades at a B or better, and I would consider an occasional C on a case-by-case basis. I didn’t think this was an impossible bar, since she’s been doing this for most of middle school as long as she pays attention and turns in her homework.

Last week I checked her grades again, which were pretty bad around progress report time, and had been pretty bad since xmas. When her progress report came home we had that fight where her nose started bleeding, dramatically, and I kind of blew it by “OH POOR POODLE”-ing her. I told her then that Japan was on chopping block if she couldn’t turn it around this quarter. I had told her she was in danger during third quarter when she turned in her first bad report card, but that I would grant clemency if she finished the year strongly and her semester averages were okay. She knew what to do, what was missing.

This is the nice thing and the sucks thing about electronic grade tracking, in a way. I’m kind of perversely envious of my parents, who had the pleasure of acting really surprised and blowing up once a quarter when grades came home, since what was going on the rest of the year was a complete mystery to them. I am expected to monitor her list of assignments and failed quizzes and nag her about them. I fell down on this when I was sick for a month or so and I noticed the difference. I often ask myself what the difference is between kids who can self-manage and those who cannot. I knew kids in school who never missed an assignment, while I was sometimes surprised when assignments were due because I didn’t remember hearing about them in the first place. Franny seems to be in the latter camp, unless she focuses until she sweats a little, which she can only seem to maintain for a short time.

I have seen her do last minute hail marys with her grades and the lenience of her teachers, who often let her turn work in late or make up tests. I don’t love this practice, because then you have a kid who is doing weeks of assignments at once, in addition to their normal homework load. I don’t really care about the letter grade itself, but it’s obvious she’s learning when she’s doing the homework and passing tests, so it’s a good barometer. She is happy and relieved when she’s up to date on her homework and trying in school, so I know there’s a feeling of reward there.

Unfortunately, last week she finally passed the point of no return with her grades. School is wrapping up. She got a D in Washington State history last quarter, and is pulling an E as of now. I emailed her teacher to see if summer school was on the docket for her and he said that she might be able to pull off a D if she aces a presentation today, which means no summer school but is still pretty bad. I asked her about it on Friday and she said, “What presentation?” Abandon all hope etc.

When she went back to school yesterday her teacher told her I emailed him and asked if he “ruined her weekend.” HA. This teacher also has a countdown chart on the wall that reads ‘Days Until No More Shane.”

“What’s up with Shane?” I asked.

“Oh, none of my teachers like Shane,” she said. It’s just a fact. Poor kid!

So, after a lot of thought and discussion with P., Japan has gone from being on the chopping block to having its severed head in the basket being hooted at by the crowd. I sent the email this morning including my address for the partial refund check.

We’re very sad. I really wanted this for her, and I’m sad that it came to pass that I had to be tested on the grades issue. I really thought she could pull this off. I am trying not to be that dick parent who says “Okay head on up to Olympus and bring down fire, then you can have some ice cream.” I almost feel like it’s bad timing more than anything else, since the hormone dial has just now gone up to 11. But I also feel like this will set the tone for high school and what the expectations will be there.

She was teary over the weekend and asked to be reassigned from the nontraditional arts high school she was accepted to and put in our traditional, neighborhood high school.

“No,” I said. “That’s not possible at this point.” (It probably is, but, NO.)

“I thought you said if it wasn’t working out I could…”

“Yes, that’s true. But you need to try. At this point you haven’t even gone there. If you’re bombing at your school now, going to our neighborhood high school will be the same experience–a traditional assignment schedule, quizzes, regular grading system. That’s not working very well for you now. Why don’t you give something different a try?”

“Okay.” Gloomy.

I feel a lot of angst over this even though I think it’s the right thing. I emailed her grandfather (my former FIL of many years) and told him what was happening and that we would be sending him a check to “refund” the money he had generously contributed to the trip. It was a heartfelt email and I said I hoped he understood. He is a big fan of education and travel, so educational travel was basically chocolate and peanut butter for him. He replied shortly after:

Thanks for letting me know. I know this is a tough decision, but I think you are making the right decision. It reminds me a little bit of almost exactly the same issue with [Franny's aunt] at exactly the same age.

I have heard tales of the terror of the middle school aged Auntie Jaguar. It also made me feel better that I have just a tiny, tiny slice of parenting left in my own life, which is something I have always been running on a deficit on.

Franny and I have had longstanding plans to have dinner alone tonight as “one last hurrah” before school’s out and she’s away at SeaFed’s for long stretches. We are also going to get her a graduation dress for a week from today. She reports that all of her friends are wearing lace and shopping at Papaya, the very hip mall store.

“Want to start at Red Light?” I asked. “Maybe we can find something vintage and unique.” She said yes, but I have a feeling I may end up taking her to Papaya. She is not dysfunctional like I was and wants to fit in with her friends more. I just want her to see there is something outside of Papaya. I guess she can vacation outside of Papaya, but doesn’t have to live there, like I felt I did.

I have told the girls more than once that I don’t enjoy punishing them and that I would like us to all follow the rules (meaning our family compact, of course) so we can go through life skipping and holding hands. And that when we have conflicts I feel more tired, and we all do, and there’s less fun and happiness to go around. They laugh sometimes at this image of us skipping around, but it’s true. I don’t like dropping the parental boom but I am not going to be her pal. I hope some of the gap that I feel between us right now can close a little tonight.

Stick a Cursed Tiki Fork in It

June 1st, 2014

\

Much later, after the plumber problems and the leaks and the inspection hell, I’m finally using this room. This is what I started with. Not bad, not bad.

I hung up my tiki masks today. I think I took a bath that was 1% cocoa butter yesterday. And yes, I decided to go with an orangey red contrast for the green. The water closet is more of a coral. It’s hard to find towels in eye-searing coral. A lot of the stuff in my bathroom is from the junk shop. It’s easy to find 60′s Hawaiian kitsch around. Also, extremely low-light loving plants. I have a couple of seaweed balls (marimo) on the vanity and I find them totally pointless and charming.

I like that if I get bored of this I can style the room with greens, grays, purples, all white, etc. Once I started getting the hang of the 50′s tile thing I realized there’s a lot of choices. I have a couple more angles at the end of my Flickr album. I’m going to tweak a couple more things, like spray paint the inside of the metal window wells outdoors, and add some Gauguin prints to the w.c.

I had a taco today. Whoopie, I know. I was curious if it would make me feel funny at all. But my month of clean eating is over and I feel pretty good. For now I’m going to limit a lot of carb to special nights, like eating out, and stick with a lot of veg at home. Dairy does not seem to be bothering me, which is good, because I am going to crack into some serious kefir now. The dehydrated kefir grains I ordered are up and running, and already multiplying nicely. I love that quick fermented stuff just involves a lot of leaving inappropriate things on the counter in a glass jar and walking off. I can handle that.

Anyway, another extremely boring weekend comes to a close. I’m glad I’m starting to write again. I think it’s a sign I’m really getting over that last little lump that sometimes you need to have one final push over to say you’re better. And it’s good since I have no vacation and no money to take one after being sick. That’s okay, I’m perfectly happy being in bed at eight p.m. some nights. HA!

P.S. Whenever I start typing to bring my admin console up for I, Asshole in Chrome it gives me the tab title in the results. It seems to be stuck on “iasshole.org is not available” from when there were some kind of server problems. I like that and it makes me want to change my banner.

Function is the key

May 31st, 2014

UP BETIMES and writing for an hour. ~860 words. When I am at my peak I can crank out about 1,000 words an hour, preferably to the accompaniment of my 90′s R&B station on Pandora. Bel Biv Devoe really saut├ęs my scallions at 6 a.m., YAKNOWWHATIMEAN? When I was really pushing it I could barf out about 2,500 words a day in addition to working 40 hours and being generally awesome. I am writing under a new pseudonym since this is a new genre I’m writing in. This is how I want you to think of me, up at dawn listening to Color Me Badd and writing terrible fetish porn for money.

I almost feel like this should be my last entry ever ending with that sentence. BUT NO. Sorry. What is the end like? I think it’s death. I should probably do like the NYT and put my obituary in a drawer.

I’m morbid on this beautiful, sunny day. I think it’s because I was sifting through the long ago, trying to sort my way into the future. Now that the bathroom is done, P. is chomping at the bit to demo the other half of the basement.

“Do you have ALL MORNING?” I asked.

“What!” he said, innocently. “We just need to move some furniture.”

False. I knew there was sorting to do, and a Goodwill pile, and more things to go in boxes. It would require THINKING. That’s the worst kind of cleaning, isn’t it?

We spelunked into the file cabinet. Here is the Jacob Marley part, showing you his cobwebby scrabblebag:

Why, it’s my court paperwork! Most of it, anyway. This is all from the first action (divorce). I saved all this because I did not think the bullshit was over. I was right, because then he moved, and then child support, and THEN 2.5 years to settle the parenting plan, and FML. That’s the synopsis.

I had a friend who was considering her own divorce from her husband, about a year after mine was finalized in 2005. I remember pulling this stack out and saying, “Look, this is a physical representation of the shitstorm that’s coming.” Hers was worse than mine in some ways, though I don’t think her husband claimed she was a Satanist. (Hail Vigoda.)

So today all of this went into the recycling bin. Fuck it. It’s done. Things are so nailed down now there’s no reason to refer to this stuff. Any action going forward will be a new action. I think there was a point to keeping it all at one time. How much have I spent on lawyers…maybe $25k in the past ten years? That might be low. My advice is to stay in your house as much as possible and wear your helmet when you go out. There is no birth control like an ever-present helmet, plus safety.

Of course P. had to rip at some of the walls after most of the stuff was moved out.

It turns out the studs are laid flat side down, so there’s no room for modern insulation at a proper thickness. The idea is that the walls, which are just studs and this terrible cheap paneling (a pale shadow of the nice fir stuff that’s on the upstairs walls) will go. The ceiling is panels, but after some research and due diligence none of it seems to be asbestos. I am fond of the lights, but they’re just not very functional in a low-ceilinged space that is meant to be a bedroom. I’m thinking about kicking some of them upstairs to the kitchen to replace the dire boob lights.

The window to the right will become an up to code egress. I am thinking about lightly limewashing the fireplace, since that is reversible, and will lighten up the room. I’m really okay with a dim bedroom, since the living areas of the house are so bright.

He pulled some paneling on the east side of the room, where there is (was) a wall between the living room and the furnace room, but now there’s nothing!

Here’s a view into a finished bathroom. YAHOOEY! The closet will go on this side, and it’s going to have to do double duty as a linen closet for the basement. It should be fine.

I want to hang a couple more things in the bathroom and then I will snap it….probably tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Tall Tan Young Strudelly

May 29th, 2014

So, dig if you will the picture of time traveling back to Mother’s Day. The girls went spelunking into the chicken coop and there: there be dragons.

They found a demon egg. Seriously, that is an egg. Shell on the left, red yolk on the right. Whisky tango foxtrot!!??!!

Naturally we had to dissect it.

Very auspicious.

So last weekend, since my life is not boring enough as it is already, I decided to re-line the bathroom drawers as part of moving into the basement bathroom. Most of my stuff was in the pink Eisenhower bathroom.

I have approximately 4,000 small bottles of beauty snake oil. FUCK. And they are ALL necessary, because you never know when you’re going to have a day that you specifically need a heat protection cream that works for crimping irons. YOU NEVER KNOW.

So here’s what I think is the original contact paper.

It gave up easily and peeled out dignified-like and without a fuss. I was telling a friend the other day that it was strange to have a bathroom with extremely high-quality, unfinished wooden drawers, as opposed to plastic shelves or lined ones. I think I could sell every drawer on ebay for at least $280 dollars. That is how nice the wood is.

Naturally I felt compelled to recover them. Franny has already spilt makeup in one of the drawers of the mocha bathroom, so I covered all those too with a different pattern that I did not snap for some reason. I am capricious.

A “bonus” was that I found an ad from 1987 behind a drawer (hollerrrr d.o.b. Morgan).

GIRL YOU BETTER LEARN HOW TO TAKE A HARD DICKING FROM THE PATRIARCHY I MEAN NICE PANTYHOSE

God I’m so angry. It’s making me tired.

(reverse)

PROTIP: How to prevent wrinkles: kill yourself. Because wrinkles be happening.

Let’s have some boring jive about my digestion.

Franny made beautiful heart-shaped sugar cookies on Monday and I ate three. Big whoop, right? They hung me over! WHAT. I had a headache and brain fog all day on Tuesday. Crap. I am broken, I think.

She frosted them with pink frosting and brought them to her friends at school, though, and someone innocently asked her what the occasion was. Her snappy, perfect best friend patted Franny’s stomach and said, “There’s another little one on the way!” Cookie fell out of the friend’s mouth. MAD PROPS AND GOOD BFF CHOICE FRANNY.

So I am fermenting the shit out of everything. A couple of weeks ago Franny and I hit a simple cheesemaking class in West Seattle and we came away with piima culture and a bunch of recipes. So I’ve been making kefir (not pictured) and piima butter (l.) and fruit kvass (r.).

Let’s talk about the other one, who writes notes to herself.

I found this on the table on Wednesday. Strudel is very close to the children’s librarian at our neighborhood library. This librarian, I am told, has just gotten pregnant, and is considering naming her baby after Strudel. Then there may be two of them in the U.S. We are very pleased.

Finally, it’s me. I wake up with my hair all crazy and I call it good and head off to work.

Born to be a god among salesmen

May 21st, 2014

Hooboy. For those who are not familiar, in the popular video game The Sims 2, there is an item your avatar can use to literally suck the skill out of another Sim. I mean, I’ve definitely sucked the skills out of people before, but it’s usually temporary and they recover with a nap or some therapy. So I guess I am looking at my last post date and feeling like someone has done that to me. Time is flashing by again, and all I’m doing is working, in spite of having a grillion ideas about what to write. I’m going to figure this out, mark my words.

So, check this cray shit: my bathroom, as of Monday, is FINALLY done. I think it’s been more than a month since construction finished. We failed the plumbing inspection three times because the plumber is a cock. It all involved something very boring called a mixing valve, and him installing the wrong one, and then fighting city hall and the League of Inspectors and losing. All of this took time. In the meantime we took a shower a few times, because YAY NEW BATHROOM.

ASIDE: an exchange I just had with Franny.

Me: Are you going to eat those Cheerios dry?

F: I don’t like almond MALK, MOTHER.

Me: Why don’t you just put some cream on that business?

F: I’ll have the shits all day. DO YOU WANT ME TO HAVE THE SHITS ALL DAY?

Me: …Is this a trick question?

That kid yells everything now.

ANYWAY. After taking a shower less than ten times, water started coming out of the wall. So the plumber had to come fix that too. I am kind of afraid to take a bath because I am afraid of water in the wall. I better bite the bullet, though, because this room is only under warranty for year.

The good news is that once the plumber started his cavalcade of shittery, we have not paid for any of it, thanks to our contractor. He told us more than once that he’s not using this plumber again. I looked at his Yelp page and I’m sure his reviews are all fake.

I’d rather just have things done, of course, than have my contractor foot the bill. But now they are…maybe. P. took a wall panel down in the basement last night and nothing was behind it, so now we can see directly into the furnace room. I need to take some pictures. This weekend is going to be moving the furniture out of the basement “living room” so demolition can start properly in that room.

Moving furniture is a sucky thing I can do now, because I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. I’ve been realizing I feel like I had some kind of weird mental reset, and now I super care about stuff I didn’t before and I don’t care about other stuff I did. I’m still trying to sort out what goes in which column. It’s really alarming, in a way that’s completely unapparent to the casual observer. I suspect my reserves were really low in February and I was headed for some kind of crash. It’s not good when your whole family licks food poisoning and you can’t shake it off.

I’m eating well. Kind of a lazy Whole 30. I don’t want to join the food/exercise cultists, I just want to eat and feel okay. I have a work comrade I like to go out to lunch with, and I thought I’d get a Thai beef salad, but the lunch menu was all rice and noodles. I just went with it, but it was really surprising. Other than the curry, I didn’t really enjoy any of it. I guess it’s been about a month now on a lot of hardcore veg and it’s becoming a habit. It’s shifting the steroid weight gain and I’m having very few sugar crashes. Very few headaches. I don’t “need” coffee like I did and I don’t drink it most days. I don’t feel like I’m about 90 and I’m a fucking walking thesaurus on the fly in conversation like in ye olde thymes. I was actually getting quieter around the time I got sick because I was struggling for words or the complete parts of a story I wanted to tell.

Franny’s ramping up to middle school graduation next month, and her trip to Japan. I had to have a talk with her about how she busted her promise to keep her grades up this year as a condition of this trip. I calmly told her she would be fundraising completely on her own to have future opportunities like this one.

She went into a tirade about how the Japan trip was my idea (it wasn’t) and how she didn’t really want to go in the first place (lies). I told her that was all irrelevant once she’d decided to go and agreed to the conditions. Her plan lately is to start yelling and try to blame everything for whatever the problem is rather than take responsibility for her actions. In short, she’s acting like a young human being.

I’ll tell you the truth, though, she’s so histrionic lately it’s hard to keep a straight face. I know she’s really feeling these feelings, but it’s over the top. She had taken a deep breath and was at the start of some fresh tack when her nose started bleeding. Franny has a fair amount of nose bleeds in the spring and summer, much like her father, so I wasn’t super alarmed.

“Oh honey, your nose is bleeding. Have a tissue.” I found myself making schmoopy “poor baby” face at her. I didn’t mean to. She was just so funny with her crazy yelling and then she had hysteric’d herself into a nosebleed.

“WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME ARGH!” STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM.

P. came home shortly thereafter and she had recovered and was yelling some phrase at the table in between our sentences. He told her to pipe down.

“WHY? I’m not INTERRUPTING.” ($PARENT takes ten points of OBNOXIOUS DAMAGE!)

“You know, I’m not exactly thrilled with you and your grades right now, and this is not helping,” he said.

This set off an episode of “EVERYONE HATES ME” that involved more hysterics and us trying to calmly and briefly state that we no one hated her, we were just unhappy with her actions. As if I needed more multitasking during dinner. I am such an asshole–I had to turn around at the sink so she wouldn’t see me smiling. I do not know what my problem was yesterday.

P. even called her out on using “POOR ME AND MY SMOOSHED FEELINGS” as a distraction from what the real problem was, which was the decisions she made. It was pretty awesome. I knew he was going to be a good dad. He was pretty much a grandpa when I met him already.

“Are we DONE?” she asked, when we had, in fact, said our piece.

“Not until you’re 18,” P. said. ZING!

Other than the fact that her general obnoxiousness level has risen significantly in the past few months, which I can pretty much ignore, she’s pretty cool to be around most of the time. It’s obvious she’s just absolutely intoxicated with hormones and barely able to deal most of the time. I feel for her. But I am not going to let her skate, either.

Strudel, on the other hand, is an absolute dream right now. She practices her violin and is polite and wants to play games with us and is doing pretty well at school considering she has an absolutely 5-car pileup of a teacher this year. She’s got some of that nine-year-old spaciness, but I’m going to enjoy the crap out of this now, because when she hits 13 it will be like living with a psychotic corporate lawyer who can beat you at Scrabble.

My SurfBOOWARDT

May 2nd, 2014

Strudel has been talking constantly since I picked her up from school an hour and fifteen minutes ago. That one really has the gift of gab, as they say. She talks until the air is full and my brain is empty even if I say, “I’d like to enjoy this book I am reading” or “I need to concentrate on writing right now.” For a while I would put a pink glitter skull (Martha Stewart for Target ftw) on the table to signal that I was writing and then she would come by and loudly say, “OH I SEE YOU’RE WRITING THERE.” I think she’s probably all set to be a grandpa.

I had her in the car with me because I had to pick Franny up to drop her off at Japan! Camp! which is a practice sleepover at one of the participating middle schools. She was feeling very negative about going because she just started her period. I feel that. Starting my period makes me negative about everything. It’s a SeaFed Friday but I emailed him and offered to drop her off, since it would be kind of silly for him to come out to where school is just to drop her off for an overnight. He can pick her up tomorrow, I figure. He and I are being barely nice to each other, and I am trying to do things I can be generous about and not feel bitter about. This was a small thing. Plus, I had all of her sleepover stuff, like sleeping bag, etc.

Franny wore one of my old thymey flannels to school today because we are watching My So-Called Life together and she is amazed by the flannel and the sheer 90′sness of it all. It is very 90′s. I didn’t see it until I was a so-called adult because when it was airing I was out being busy. I think I am pretty close to exactly Angela Chase’s age. What is Angela Chase doing now? I’m sure she didn’t inherit her parents’ crappy printing business. Like that survived the internet age. I think she has turned into her mother.

I am trying to show her things about high school in hopes that she will feel better about the whole thing. I don’t think she feels bad, per se. I think she’s just nervous. She cried the other night because she was worried. She’s been admitted to a pretty non-standard high school, but I think she’s pretty non-standard (SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE ALERT).

“If I don’t like it, can I go somewhere else?” she asked.

“We’ll talk about it,” I said. “If it’s really bad for you I will certainly consider other options. But remember, you don’t know what a “normal” high school is like either.”

We waited for it to be 4:30 in the car outside of the middle school. Franny whipped out some lipgloss I got her for her birthday.

“LOOK AT THIS SHIT,” she said. I looked, I could see the bottom of the tin. “I found this in my STEPMOTHER’S DRAWER. SHE STOLE IT. And used most of it.”

Franny has a habit of shouting emphatically and dramatically. I DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE GETS THAT FROM. She reminds me of a drama student but she does not have a drama gaylord squad yet like I was part of.

“Maybe you should talk to her and tell her you don’t want her to keep your stuff.”

“She’ll just lie about it and say one of her kids put it in her drawer.”

“Hmm, okay,” I said.

Sometimes it’s just important to vent, I know.

What is happening now: something new. I’m experimenting with my diet. I figure if I spent a couple of weeks not being able to walk well or far due to inflammation, that warrants some experimentation. Plus I felt like absolute crap after the round of Prenisone and my brain fog was worse than usual. I could barely think of focus at work. I started reading about diets for Candida and brain fog, and so forth, and kind of decided on the spot one day that I would eat differently all day long.

I’ve cut out grains, dairy, booze, caffeine, and most sugar for now. I had already gone off my 3+ cup of coffee a day habit when I got sick in February. Maybe it’s easier to say what I am eating: meat, eggs, veg, fruit, and nuts. It’s not too different than I normally eat–I try to eat a lot of “whole foods” anyway. I’m only about a week into it and I feel great. I don’t really want to be one of those assholes who can never eat anything anywhere at any time but I feel so much better already. My guts aren’t puffy and I don’t have bags under my eyes, and my brain fog is lifting. I can recall names quickly and the precise points of conversations I had. Also, my face (rosacea) is much less inflamed. After the month’s up I will add things back one at a time and see what disagrees with me. I am guessing the turd in the pool is going to be gluten, but we’ll see.

Here’s the crazy/best part. For the past five years, dating way back to when I had that nightmare IUD in, I had a headache every single morning, no matter what I did. It lasted for about an hour after I got up and I would chug water to try to put it into remission. If it was really bad I would take a painkiller. This would happen if I drank booze the night before, or if I hadn’t for several days; if I ate before bed or had not eaten for many hours; if I was getting enough sleep or was short, and so on. I tried everything: changing my sleep schedule, getting massages before bed, waking up in the middle of the night and drinking water. Often the headache would wake me up before morning, at 3 a.m. or so.

I really thought I was just getting old and busted. Well, I am, but I think I don’t need to feel terrible. I cannot tell you what a gift it’s been for my mental state to wake up five days in a row well-rested and without a headache. I already feel like a new person. Someone asked me if I was doing a cleanse, which implies something temporary, and I thought about it. I don’t want to feel this good on the temporary, you know what I mean?