Monday, March 21, 2011

A trip to the serious side...

Does it ever seem like when you are feeling at your lowest, somehow the weather manages to conspire against you so that even if you were to witness some joy-inspiring miracle, still a glance out the window would send your emotions plummeting once again to the depths of despair? This pretty much sums up the whole month of March for me. As we are on day 20 of the month, I keep expecting that my emotions will have to bottom out one of these days and start their bounce back. And in fairness, the last week has been better, the snow piles are shrinking to mounds of filthy ice and I even had some pleasant, sunshine-infused walks with the dog. But today has been encased in a gray, damp mist that could be part falling rain and part evaporating snow, suspended and confused a few feet from the ground. It seems like a good time to start reading some depressing poetry and contemplating the futility of it all. The grayness weighs on me and I can feel the frown lines on my forehead getting deeper. If I step back and look at my life, I can say that I’m actually incredibly fortunate; I have a thousand things to be thankful for. But it’s not really about me, this heaviness.

Yesterday I was thinking about the tsunami waves washing over all those millions of lives last week. The ocean freaks me out anyway, even on a normal day. Waves make me feel so powerless with water crashing over me then tugging at my ankles as it rolls back out again. I know it probably won’t drag me away but I don’t really know where that power comes from or what keeps it from tugging just a little bit harder. Mostly I think about this when I’m in the ocean with my daughter. I grasp her little hand in mine but still I am aware how easily broken our connection could be. While it would be devastating to see the water sweep your home and possessions away, so many physical objects that seem to connect us to our lives, it is even more horrifying to think about losing a person you love. It is too painful to contemplate all the sadness in Japan. Even more painful is the way their sadness is so familiar, just like what we see all around the world over and over again.

It seemed like a good day to take on the mind-numbing closet-cleaning project. The closet in my daughter’s bedroom is a finished space under the eaves of our 1 ½ story house so it’s spacious but not spacious like the walk-in closets on HGTV shows with room to lay back on your chaise lounge while selecting an outfit. You can “walk in” to our closet, but in two steps your forehead will connect with the slope of the roof. There is, however, plenty of low space to pack away boxes of things that I rarely look at but cannot bear to part with. I am not one who lets go of anything easily. I spent hours going through piles of girls’ clothing, toys, my own clothes and the occasional object that I no longer want but can’t decide on the most responsible way to remove from my home. This is not an uplifting job because it reminds me of so much time passed. I wonder if I spent that time wisely, did I appreciate it. When my daughter fit into this size 6 swimsuit, did I take her swimming often enough? When I look at the toys I can remember purchasing almost every one and I remember how happily I anticipated Martha’s enjoyment and then I remember the reality of how she was actually afraid of the toy and kept hiding it in various spots around the house. So many objects come into my life and then eventually need to go back out again. There seems to be energy and emotion invested into every one and where does that energy go once I let go of the object?

Maybe it hangs in the air, suspended and confused. There’s really no cheerful conclusion to any of these thoughts because, obviously, that’s just the way life is. Eventually the sun will do away with the gray mist outside, but what about all of that human emotion all over the world? My dog is so lucky. I’m pretty sure he never thinks about this stuff.

Friday, March 18, 2011

me me me so dumbfounded by the unadulterated sucky-ness of this song

World news got you down? Still feeling the pinch of the recent economic downturn? Attic overrun by raccoons? Well, despair no more for I have got the cure for your blues. Do you know what today is? It’s Friday! Yes, dear readers, today is that special day of the week when we can all let our hair down and celebrate, ‘cause now we are going to party! Still not convinced? I think what you need is a little Rebecca Black singing about Friday to get you in the mood. And if you don’t stop to watch this high quality music video, there’s really no point in reading further.

You so excited yet? I hope so. Now, I understand if you couldn’t really make it through the whole video because, yes, you are correct and that is truly the most horrifying piece of music ever recorded. Until, of course, we find the next most horrifying piece of music and I have a feeling that discovery could be just around the corner. But for now, let’s just go with Rebecca’s little ditty as number one musical mega-wreck. It did have one redeeming quality, I thought. For the individual who needs a little practice memorizing the days of the week, particular the latter half of it, Becky’s barf-tacular tune might be just the thing you are looking for: Thursday was Thursday (no duh) and to-day it is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterward. Yes! That's excellent!

Ok, so maybe Rebecca Black just isn’t your cup of tea. Maybe her pop song is just a little too… poppy for you (that’s poppy, not poopy, although arguably, it could be deemed poopy, as well). Do you prefer music that is just a little more subdued, a little more soulful? Something that sounds like it’s really from the heart and not just something my dog could have written? Well then, again, I have just what you are looking for! How about the brilliant lyrics of “Friday” as sung by Bob Dylan? Huh? Does it get any better than that? Does it? I think not.

However you are partyin’, partyin’ this weekend, you have my sincerest wish that it is something you really enjoy, something that renews your spirit. Don’t worry about which seat you take, kickin’ in the front seat or sittin’ in the back seat. Just relax and have fun! Fun. Fun. Fun.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to outsmart your not-very-smart dog

cute little devil/bat/dog thing
Is your dog being disobedient and refusing to come when you call him? Is he in the backyard sniffing out a delicious rodent-like smell behind the compost bin and gearing up to dig his way into a frozen heap of decaying veggie goulash? Try this clever strategy to gently lure him back to the house:

Feel around in your coat pocket. Do you feel that strawberry dum dum lollipop that your kid got from Great Clips last week after her haircut? Pull that out and tear off the wrapper. Hold it out to your dog and call his name in your most friendly and inviting tone. When he sees you are holding an object in your hand which may or may not be food but should probably be investigated, let him get close and get one tiny lick. Just a taste! Careful, you do not want him to devour the whole thing in one gulp. You’ve seen him do it before, you know he’s capable. Good, now he is definitely interested and is eagerly following you back towards the house, leaping at your hand and circling your feet and circling and leaping so that it is really quite difficult to make any forward progress without tripping over the dog or your own feet.

Now that you are mere steps from the door and can smell the sweet success of doggie deception (or is that the aroma of the cheez-its that you were forced to abandon when the dog started whining?) hold the sucker out to the dog once more for just a wee, tiny taste of sweet, sugary, strawberry goodness so that he is indeed enticed to follow you over the threshold. Easy… that’s right, let him get that germy little black nose nice and close and… Doh!

Son of a bi—he just ripped that whole thing from your hand and now he’s running across the yard with the paper stick jutting out from between his teeth. Dammit, now who’s the idiot chasing a lollipop all around the yard? Christ… wait a minute! He chomped down on it and it popped out of his mouth. Get it! Hah! It’s underfoot! You have containment. Now scoop up the dog with your coat pulled down over your hands so he is unable to plunge his blood-thirsty fangs into your radial artery when he starts snarling and snapping at you like a feral animal. Aha! Victory.

Don’t forget to bring the dirty sucker in the house and throw it away, otherwise he’ll just find it again next time you’re outside. And once you make it back to the kitchen and your delicious box of salty, fake-cheesy heaven, you know, you really ought to give him a dog biscuit or something. You kind of owe him after that totally lame yet totally warranted scam. Good dog!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Soap scum abatement

Here is a picture of my newly-scrubbed bathtub. In my opinion, it does not look nearly clean enough for the amount of sweat and elbow grease that I just put into it. In the last week I have been to spin class twice, ran two 5-mile runs and swam 2500 yards but let me tell you, I’m pretty sure the most vigorous work-out all week was the bathtub cleaning I just did. What is that foulness that builds up on the tub? And why the hell is so hard to get off? And lest anyone think that I am some super-powered housecleaner, I should add that I only do this on maybe a bi-annual basis. My husband does some cursory cleaning and disinfecting in between so we are not total pigs. But it takes me at least six months to gear up for this job. It requires a lot of pent-up anger and determination.

When I was a kid, I was a little weird about cleaning. As in, I really liked to clean my room and I did it quite often. I even remember a time when I went home with a friend after school “to play,” and do you want to know what we did for fun? We cleaned her room. It was my idea. I would so love to know how exactly I posed that suggestion to her, but for whatever reason, she agreed to it and we did this really excellent job and her mom was all happy about it. Odd, but I don’t recall that she ever invited me over after school again after that. Hmm… that’s interesting.

At my own house, around age 10 or so, I instituted a strict cleaning regimen in my room. Every other week, I would clear off the desks and dressers and wipe the dust off with a wet rag. I had two of each piece of furniture because my sister and I had once shared the bedroom but she had ditched me a while back for her own closet-sized room and left me with all the beautiful, matching furniture that my mom had so painstakingly chosen for us. Maybe I was too clean for her. Anyway, I’d also scrub any pen or pencil marks off the desk, change my sheets and put the dirty ones in the wash, and even fold them and put them away when they were dry. I might even vacuum. It was an all-day kind of project but I was very dedicated. Or compulsive.

I must have burned myself out at some point because the older I get, the less motivation I seem to have for the cleaning. I insist on a clean kitchen every night and scrubbing a toilet doesn’t really take that much time or effort and if I can’t clean that much, then I really am disgusting. Other things, though, I let go a bit. Dust and cobwebs have to reach out and grab me before I rid the house of them. When the dusty-hairballs rolling around on the floor start to threaten the dog I do a little vacuuming. Once a year I may clean a window or two, but never all of them, that’s unheard of. There’s a philosophical part of cleaning that really wears me down. I see the dirt and I think how I should do something about it and then I rapidly follow up with the question “what’s the point?” No one’s going to see it. It’s not like I live in a garbage house. I’m not guilty of hoarding (yet). There are no signs of vermin, unless you count the dog. We’re all healthy. Yes, my house could look a LOT better and sometimes it does. But I feel very strongly about not cleaning something until it feels truly significant to me. Martha Stewart would likely have a problem with my reasoning. I know my mom does. She’s always trying to convince me that I will “feel a lot better” if things get done. Eh… maybe I would. But what if I clean and it turns out to be an empty gesture, wouldn’t I feel a lot better if I had just spent that time doing something more meaningful? Yes, yes I would.

So for a few days, I will really enjoy this clean bathtub and I will savor the peace and serenity its sparkling white surface brings me. I should probably call my mom and tell her the tub is clean. Oh and don’t worry, if you ever come to my house, I promise you will have clean sheets and towels. And don’t worry either about inviting me over to your house. I promise I won’t suggest we tidy up a bit. I am way more fun than that now.