Friday, April 7, 2017

Pre-Trip Tips and Tricks

It's not a big secret that the Hubs and I are preparing to embark on our first trip away from the kids since SecondKid™ was two years old. Today that kid is in Canada hitting the ice in big-boy hockeylandia in a size youth large warm up jacket.

These drinks are long overdue.


I.KNOW.

So naturally, every Goddamn thing on the planet has to happen all at once and I'm preparing the best way I can: going day by day and flying by the seat of my pants, and remembering to make note of no more than three things at a time that I dutifully load in the notes app on my phone so I can strategically mark them off as complete.

Let me pass along a couple tips from today's to-do list that will help you prepare for your next vacation.

To-do item #1: Replace the Battery in that Smoke Detector that won't STFU


This item is a "bonus" item as you didn't really plan it, but it showed up anyway. Wonder why the batteries only seem to go dead when Hubs is away. Wonder which one of those sonsabitches it is because it really sounded like it was that one last time but now you're not sure. Make FirstKid™ and ThirdKid™ sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor under each one until they can tell you where the chirping is coming from. Cry when they successfully locate it in one of the rooms that has ceilings taller than the boost the bar stool will give you.

Locate the shorter of the two ladders in the shop. Do this after you retrieve the garbage can, basketball, cushion storage box, smoker, and related accessories from around your yard and your neighbor's flowerbeds. Stupid wind storm.

Try not to break your neck or put any holes in the wall. Decide Hubs is getting a 6-foot ladder for his birthday.

To-do item #2: Spray Tan


Decide that you want one last even-ing out of your skin before you stuff your carcass into a swimsuit because tan fat looks better than pale fat and also because you have a hard time keeping all of your jiggly bits contained in any amount of lycra, and your travel mate SUCKS at telling you when one of your tits has escaped. Decide to do it Friday because that's when the tanning place has a discount on spray tans. Realize you're unsure whether it's for a quick spray in the automatic booth or a human shooting a hose at you. Decide you better wear underwear just in case.

When you arrive, realize it is for the automatic booth. Decide against putting the underwear back on after the spray because you'd rather not get spray tan on them, even though earlier you were fully prepared to sacrifice them in the spirit of sparing another human's eyes from witnessing your entire lady garden. Put them in your purse.

To-do item #3: Replacement Razor Blades


Try to remember the last time you bought replacement blades for your razor and come up short. Realize this may be the reason your current blade sucks. Realize you will probably be shaving your legs more in the next 10 days than you have in the last 10 years. Proceed to Walgreens.

Be thankful they still make replacement blades for your antique razor. Proceed to the checkout. Flounder with the machine where you input your phone number and be silently disgusted to realize you only have 7,000,000 loyalty points to go until you will get a $5 coupon. Attempt to retrieve your debit card, and slowly watch as your card holder catches your sunglasses which catch on your previously unneeded underwear and launch them into the air. Listen to the 100-year-old man cashier tell you to wait until the light appears to swipe your card. Walk your bra-less and brown speckled body to the car while dying a thousand deaths even though you know you are not even close to being the weirdest thing at Walgreens.

To-do item #4: Free Up Space on your Phone for Vacation Pictures


Think back to the last time you tried to take a picture of your adorable kids and your phone said "not enough storage to take picture," or other nonsense things like "this phone has not been backed up in 86 weeks". Plug your phone into the computer to transfer pictures. Complete this with only mild difficulty. Watch as iTunes hijacks your process and attempts to sync your phone. Notice while waiting for it to restart that iTunes has automatically logged into your husband's account. Don't think much of it because he is the one in charge of all things tech and entertainment. Notice it syncing a lot of apps you don't have. Like, holy shit that's a lot of apps but ok I'm sure it will be fine.

Delete most of your emails, including the 2,600 unread ones while you're waiting via a secondary access point. Hockey season is over and you don't really need to keep those 829 notifications of when every practice was.

Walk your phone through the restart welcome screen. Be slightly confused when it tells you that you have entered the wrong appleID and password. Notice that the screen on your phone looks exactly like your husband's phone screen. Realize you just turned your phone into your husband's phone.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Text your husband who is currently in ANOTHER COUNTRY from your kid's iPod and hope to Hell you didn't just screw up his phone. Realize you did not. Read his 80,000,000 texts asking you why you have done such a dumbfuck thing, respond that you don't know.

Because you really don't know. That is why he is in charge of all things tech and entertainment.

Attempt to recover an older version. Pick from the following list of options to locate your phone:

iPhone
iPhone (2)
Jason's phone
Jason's phone (2)
Jason's iPhone
Jason's iPhone (2)
Phone
Phone (2)
iPad
iPod
iPod (2)
Jason's iPod
Jason's iPod (2)

Wonder why those assholes at Verizon didn't just name ONE of those things something like, oh I dunno..."HEATHER'S GODDAMN PHONE".

Remember your two flights sitting next to DoucheBag McGhee and know exactly why they don't have any common sense at all.

Watch the progress bar hit the end of the third attempt just as the power goes out because of the Godforsaken wind today.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Explain to your kid just like you do every time the power goes out that no, you do not know what time it will be back on and that no, you doubt the xbox will work even for games that don't take wifi, and that yes, you can still flush the toilet so calm down with your nervous poops.

Try again when power is restored and still have no luck. Revert to factory settings. Feel super accomplished because you now have almost ALL your storage space free. You might have zero contacts, you might have zero evidence of texts or proof that you told your kid's teacher the plan for next week, but you now have plenty of space for pictures.

I love getting my to-do list done.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Review! Going Green by Heather S. Ransom




You guys. I have tried for like a week to do this book review and I'm too stupid. It's obvious I'll never write a book. Not like Heather Ransom, anyway.

So, disclaimer. Heather is, to start, a Heather - so I am biased.

She is also my sister-in-law's sister-in-law. So I got a super sneak-peak advanced copy, but, you know - it was electronic.

And you know how I am with the electronical things. So here we go.

Heather Ransom managed to tackle a slew of issues in one YA fiction that's just begging for a sequel. Tech. Environmental issues. Weird new ear buds. Politics. Young love. Changing yourself for others. Popularity. Privilege. Racism. Elitism. Media manipulation. Government and police corruption.

She takes us through the first brown-then-green eyes of Calyssa Brentwood, who is 18 and has chosen to "Go Green", something that was a no-brainer, since her father's in charge at the sprawling secretive complex where they're perfecting humans since a virus hit the plants. They've decided to take out the middle man, and the most efficient people only need sunlight, water, and nutrient shakes.

She doesn't have much worry in her protected life until Spring Break takes her out of her element to a farm, leaving her exposed to danger. Who are the rebels who visit the farm with guns? Are they there to protect her friends? Or are they really behind the terrorist attacks in the news?

Ransom has been working on this story for a long time, telling and retelling, refining with the help of her students. She teaches in Oregon. Who knew that fiction so long in the making would be so relevant today?

It's like a bonus episode of Black Mirror. It's a great book with a strong, smart female lead.

I loved it.

You can preorder on Amazon here. It goes on sale March 21st. I'm hoping to snag a signed copy to give away. If I can, leave a comment here or on the Fakebooks (if we're friends) or the Instantgrams (if we're not) to say GREEN IS GREAT to be entered. I'll draw on my birthday for a winner.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bag Lady


Can we talk purses for a minute?






I cleaned mine out today, and I'm trying to establish whether:

  1. I may make other women (or men - no judgment) feel normal
  2. Other women (or men - no judgment) may make me feel like I'm normal
My purse - that giant grey bag that looks like it might have been made from an entire elephant's worth of skin, except that it's probably "vegan leather" or something. It's Nine West, and I can't remember but very likely got it at TJ Maxx for no more than 40 bucks. I'm not a purse snob, and I'll never have anything by Coach or that is otherwise covered in logos like LV or anything else of significant value. My main criteria for a purse is that it has to look semi-professional for business travel, fit a book, and be booger-proof and wipeable with baby wipes, those miracle cloths that get shit off your kid and any literal thing else off of any other literal thing you don't want that whatever it is to be on anymore.

A friend recently did a clean-out and copped to her apparent addiction to Chap Stick. So I thought I'd gut mine and take a good hard look at the absurdities, all in one place. Here's a rundown of the contents, most of which admittedly found their way back into that black hole, because, it turns out, I actually need most of this shit all the time.

  • Three smaller purses. Yes. Inside my purse are other purses. This is the only way I can keep things straight. I sort of categorize things in the smaller purses so they don't get lost in that cavernous space. One is designated for ID and money and whatnot so that I can grab it out to not pack that monstrosity into places where it would be a pain to drag, or where there's a "bag inspection" line so other participants don't glare at me like I'm packing a shotgun in there or otherwise holding up the line for no apparent reason.
  • One each of a black glove from two different pairs. They're both black so it's ok.
  • Card holders. Credit/Debit cards, ID, store cards, business cards. Every card except the Queen of Hearts.
  • Two packages of tooth floss
  • One each lip balm, chap stick, and lipstick
  • Ear plugs
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion from our last hotel stay. One of our hockey moms collects these items for crisis kits for kids and families from her school. I've been meaning to give them to her for a week.
  • Ten bandaids because last time I cut Hubs' hair I butchered my knuckle and that sonofabitch would NOT stop bleeding.
  • Ten different options for periods, because my uterus likes to surprise me.
  • One normal size hairbrush with one hair tie
  • One tiny hairbrush with one hair tie
  • Two teabags - one mint and one peach
  • Three packages of magnesium powder
  • One honey bear
  • A fork
  • Pill crusher - which I use for crushing chicken bullion cubes because I'm too impatient to wait for them to dissolve.
  • 79 cents. The only real cash in there.
  • Lemon gum, which I have no idea why I even buy because chewing gum makes my jaw hurt and gives me a headache, and the artificial sweeteners give me a headache and tear up my guts.
  • Gonzaga ticket from the game against San Fran that put them at 27-0 for the season (thanks to a very generous brother-in-law - THANKS ERICK!!)
  • Sunglasses case
  • Eye glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Backup sunglasses
  • One Cars PullUp with the side panel torn out in a panic to wipe a snotty nose
  • Miscellaneous unused napkins in case someone wants to wipe their nose with not-a-PullUp
  • One Army guy
  • A rubber bracelet
  • One bouncy ball
  • Two colors of post-it notes
  • Ten pens and markers
  • Five cough drops
  • Enough Dramamine to choke a donkey
  • Methylated vitamin B because my stupid cells won't absorb regular vitamin B
  • Purse hanger that I lost in my in-laws' driveway once but then my FIL plowed snow with the tractor and found it
And that's it. Very little of this didn't go right back in. I plan to get rid of the travel-size Bath and Body Works items TODAY, but in reality I will likely forget and continue schlepping those around for another month. Maybe the person I need to give them to will read this and remind me because - obviously I am either prepared for EVERYTHING or I am a hoarder.

What about you? What's in your purse? More than this? Less than this? What's the weirdest thing that you're willing to admit that you've been packing around in public this way?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cheese Touch Update

Caution: "Super happy sharks" ahead, in case that kind of thing offends you.

Esten did that thing he said he was going to do, and I asked him for the lowdown.

He had gotten up in front of the class and declared:

"You guys. We HAVE to get our act together. We are in the SIXTH GRADE. We should know better than to bully other kids by now. The little kids are watching us for how to act. We're better than this."


The teacher agreed. So naturally at recess five minutes later, he received feedback from one of his peers, thusly:

"That Sharks hoodie is so GAY, just like YOUR'E GAY, Esten."


Not gay.

Maybe a little gay.



Because of course this is how the kid that probably needed to listen to Esten's advice the most would react to this, right?

And just like that, my kid finally realized that it doesn't matter how much you shame someone for their shitty behavior. Assholes abound.

(Who'da thunk it? He should see my Facebook feed.)

Of course, when Esten relayed this followup to me he never said the word gay. Instead, he said the kid had said "that other word for super happy" in both instances.

As in:

"That Sharks hoodie is so "that other word for super happy that's not super happy", just like YOUR'E "that other word for super happy that's not super happy", Esten."


And he did it with air quotes, which I ADORE and which Esten does a LOT when he's telling me how his day went and especially when I can tell he has been holding it in all day and trying VERY hard not to be a retaliatory little butthole to others and also because he knows he would get his mouth washed out with soap for talking like that, generally.

Like the day he said P.E. sucked because Little Johnny "acts like it's the Olympics all the time".

We still have things to work on. I know it's hard seeing others act out without consequence, and this year he's testing some new limits. And occasionally my patience. This though, this made me proud that he was brave enough to speak his mind. He knew the backlash would come and he did it anyway.

I know there are kids in his class that said nothing. They didn't and haven't reacted. But they know that Esten is on their side. And THAT will leave a bigger, more lasting impression on them than his silence.

Today he is still my favorite.


PS: Another kid informed my children that they are "trash" because they do not currently wear Nike brand shoes. I'd like it noted now that when they're due for new shoes (which is always so any day now, really) I WILL get them Nikes, but only because of their CEO's recent statement, which you can read here. Mark Parker is my second favorite.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ethics Covered My Ass - Then and Now

Today is a big day.

Maybe.

If Esten's plan goes to plan, anyway. And things could go either way, really.

Maybe.

It took me over an hour of prying between his sobs and snotty tears last night to pull it out of him. He finally managed, "Tomorrow I'm going to do something that will either make you proud or really mad."

Oh shit.

What happened? I wondered. There have been....things....going on this year. He was vaguebooking me and it was pissing me off.

It's the moments as a parent that suspend time, when all of the bad things flash through your brain, what could it be??

And then, he finally spit it out.

A girl at school is being picked on for the way she dresses. He feels bad because this has happened to him this year and also because he had participated in the picking once. His classmates who are standing by her in line will cover their noses with their shirts and move to the back of the line, saying they'd rather be last than have her germs on them.

Cheese Touch, you guys. This is a Cheese Touch situation.



His plan, which he had already discussed with his teacher and expected that she would have emailed me about (she did not) was to apologize either face to face or in writing to the girl for his actions, and to take five minutes out of the classroom time to do a presentation to the rest of the class about why they all needed to stop acting like a bunch of little assholes. And he planned on wearing a super shitty outfit to do it.

Which, to be honest, was about par for what he usually wears. Navy v-neck dress sweater that's just about too small and he rotates through usually on PE day, gray sweatpants that are also just about too small with the right knee blown out, and snow boots.

He left today on a mission, his jaw set, his eyes filled with resolve (and only a little tiny bit of tears), and tummy full of the eggs I promised him last night if he would stop crying and go to bed.

And all I could offer by way of advice was this:

Talk to your teacher. Partner with her to solve this problem. Don't further disrupt her classroom. Don't further embarrass the target of the bullies. Stand by her in line. Find other friends to stand with you standing with her in line. Be prepared for others to make fun of you for doing it. Know that there are a million reasons WHY others might act like assholes, and none of those reasons are probably okay. Maybe they don't get breakfast or attention or sleep or love at home. Maybe they're hearing or seeing the way the adults in their life treat others and they think it's okay. Maybe they think Trump's awesome. Maybe they think they're bigtime tough shit now that they're in the SIXTH GRADE and it's their turn to distribute the shenanigans.

I've been there, but it was junior high for me. And it was jeans. Ethics jeans. Remember those? Other girls had them and I wanted SO BAD to be cool like them and also they were super stretchy and fit me when others didn't because I had a waist/hip ratio that has been described as "the most junk in the trunk I've ever seen on a white girl" by not-a-white-girl, to my face and not in an offensive way. I think.

They were expensive and my mom would NEVER let me have them.

Luckily I waited until she was sick and managed to talk my dad into taking me shopping at the Big V - where they had Ethics jeans and also the giant Levi's wall. And by giant I mean they had the pair of preemie infant Levi's nailed to the wall next to the over-sized giant pair of 60x50s or whatever they were. It was a ridiculous way of acknowledging that boys and men come in all different sizes and they were the go-to place to accommodate and cover them all. But women? You get like...four choices, and if you can't fit into one of them, there is obviously something wrong with you.

So I located these popular pants, and since my dad was generous Mr. Moneybags who kept his "small bills" like twenties and under in his front pockets so his wallet wouldn't put his hips off-kilter, I bought two pairs. I made sure they were identical so my mom would only think I had ONE pair.

I was a manipulative, genius, mastermind little underage ball of hormonal assholery.

I rotated those pants between my body and the washer until one day in the halls at school some dickhole announced that I had "worn the same pair of pants for two weeks straight" and thus was a "dirty disgusting ho bag".

Time stood still. Kids stared. They were flipping back through their memories to validate his claim.

Cheese Touch.

Of course, all these years later I can look back and laugh and forgive him for his off-the-cuff comment.

Just kidding. All these years later I still think that fucker is a fucking fucker and he can rot in hell and I haven't seen or spoken to him since school but if I did the only thing I would tell him is FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCK.

My point is, especially during this week when so many kids and adults are unsure and on edge, I am overwhelmingly proud that my kid is willing to admit through big fat sloppy tears that he was unkind and take steps to fix that, and to demand that the leaders in his school start setting a better example for others in their class, and for others in lower grades. Knowing this world has another human - a BOY human - who is willing to stand up for others - for GIRL humans - makes me happy.

Today he is my favorite.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year's Evolution




My social media feeds are overflowing with new recipes, exercises, and handy tricks to remember to drink four gallons of water a day.

You guys are gonna kill it this year. I just know it. Many of you are ALREADY recovered from your NYE hangovers and we're only three days in.

Maybe that's because I saw a recipe for homemade Gatorade, indicated as perfect for hangovers (and no chemicals!!) with only 6 ingredients that you can easily source from a health food store or grow yourself and seems very easy to measure and combine and whip up when you feel like you've been hit by a truck and you barely remember your own name and you have no idea where your pants are currently.

Anyway.

As for me...I have a different kind of list this year. I hope it's no less transformative than everyone else's goals. It's just that I'm rounding out to 40 and I've had an especially reflective 12 months, which maybe I'll post about on its own.

Here are the things I want to nail down in 2017, in no particular order:


  • Learn how to make salsa
  • Learn how to salsa
  • Find a great cinnamon roll recipe
  • Not fuck up the cinnamon roll recipe
    • (completed this one yesterday!)
  • Make new recipes that my family doesn't bitch about having to eat
  • Post recipes here to share that my family doesn't bitch about having to eat
  • Post recipes here that my family bitches about eating but screw them I like it
  • Nail a great red lip
  • Nail a great nude lip
  • Start drinking french press coffee
  • Knit myself a hat because everything itches
  • Find a migraine expert
  • Set rules for my email to disappear all the shit I don't want to see
  • Unsubscribe from retail emails
  • Stretch
  • Figure out my hair
  • Figure out the remote and the stereo and the blue-ray player
  • Figure out once and for all who did it because I figured out in 2016 that Steven Avery didn't
  • More Netflixing documentaries
  • Go for walks - to the Little Free Library
  • Tell others like the shorties' teachers and like two coworkers how awesome they are on the regular
  • Bring my office mug home to bleach and run through the dishwasher on the regular
  • Remember to take my vitamins
  • Remember to take my regular meds
  • Remember to pack my meds when we go out of town
  • Get new contacts
  • Craft more
  • Find out what all the hubbub is about Snapchat
  • Find out what all the hubbub is about Twitter
  • Write more - in general and here on the DLF
  • Consider posting a "dirtbag of the day" series just like WCW but different (thoughts?)
  • Update the DLF, in layout or migration to another platform
Stand by, Fixers. I'm hoping to drag you along on this boring-for-you and self-centered for me endeavor. I'd tell you to subscribe for updates, but I'm still too dumb to figure out how. (For now). It's going to be a great year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fictional Frustrations

It's been a while, I know.

I blame a combination of mojo drain and that I've been stretching my writing muscles elsewhere. I've been working on a mix of true things that might meet with disapproval (something I'm no stranger to but I'm just not in the mood for anyone's bullshit opinions at this stage in my life), a little poetry, and something I feel like I suck at: fiction.

Someone I know is on the downhill slide finishing up edits on a young adult fiction novel. Two bloggers I follow who are heavy on real-life writing are taking the plunge. One talks about structured writing theories and disciplined writing schedules. These are things that I just can't do. The thought of deadlines and editors and others getting involved gives me a rash.

I tend to just write what I write, and if someone likes it, great. Last year a quote from my little insignificant blog was printed in a glorious book with fantastic photography on every page. As a contributor, I was in good company with writers from around the globe.

I'm still hesitant to call myself a writer.

So I'm glad the Fix offspring are learning to be confident fiction writers, thanks to an amazing teacher who breaks down very complicated theories and drives them to love writing-and reading.

I was cleaning out some clutter to feel like I'm accomplishing something in this new year and found Esten's folder from parent teacher conferences (my life is set about two months slow all the time) and found a sample of his writing. I'm going to share it here, mainly because I'm sure this paper will get tossed at some point and I can save it for all of eternity this way. I give you:

Winter Warfare
The wind on my face felt like A.C. in the summer. The heavy snow was on me like rain on a window. I put one arm up to help block it. I looked at the ground and saw footprints - snow boot footprints.

I took a further investigation. They lead down the hill. "Gather some snowballs," I said. "I'll gather some powder," my teammate Hannah told me, "lots of powder."

She got it done relatively fast. We got on our blue sleds, wielding snowballs. We were following the tracks until..."STOP!" Hannah yelled at me. I looked back at Hannah and before I could ask why, I was in mid-air.

It felt like flying, for three seconds. I landed on the semi-icy, very bumpy road. The worst part was that I was still backward. The ice spun me 180 degrees and I went face first into a pile of plowed snow.

I was too weak to get out. It was just me and the cold, and also the dark. After a minute I saw light. Hannah got me out.

"Esten, you might want to take a look at this!" I looked and saw the same footprints as before. "Let's go," I said. And we walked off into the fog and snow...

To be continued...