Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fancy new rug

Hideous old wallpaper border.
I-conquered-Normandy-with-the-Vikings commemorative trunk.

My grandmother braided and stitched these monsters by hand 75 years ago

and they’ve held up insanely well underfoot in multiple rooms in multiple houses in multiple cities since then. But as impressed (and kinda proud) as I am by all of that, they’re about to leave my bedroom and go into storage as part of my Total Mega-Dood Bedroom Makeover.

#SundayShowTunes: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Bodies close together,
Arms and legs all rearranged.
And the sheriff does not close him down.

That's very strange.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Beaver isn't such a new thing. Beaver started long ago.

Flashback Friday: Norwegianness Edition

A handy field guide to the wall o' Norwegianishness from my last Chicago apartment: 
Underneath my trio of Grant Wood spirit animals were the lovingly worn lefse stick hand-made by my great-grandfather, a rosemåled wooden bowl and spoon from The Land Of Norwegian Knickknacks I Stole From My Mother or Possibly My Grandmother, two Norwegian ceramic trivets from Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, a traditional kitchen witch I cross-stitched at Skogfjorden Norwegian language camp when I was in junior high, and some random dime-store-clearance basket I cleverly repurposed to hide the ugly landline phone jack in the middle of my kitchen wall. 

Now everything is randomly stored in some random box in some random location of my storage locker. Which, of course, is cause for a resounding UFF DA.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

10 things I remember about my Grandma Marie

1. She made peach preserves in enormous glass jars every year to share with everyone in the family. Each jar had a cinnamon stick in it, which I thought was weird as a kid because cinnamon of course doesn't go with peaches but that never stopped me from piling indulgent amounts of the preserves on everything I could think of.

2. When her daughter -- a young mother -- lost her husband to cancer, my grandparents renovated their basement to give her and her kids a free, safe place to live so they could care for them until they recovered and got back on their feet.

3. She put up with my dad -- who even by his own accounts was a handful and a seeker of trouble and somebody I probably wouldn't have liked if we'd been peers -- and turned him into the father I love and respect and look up to today.

4. She loved to sing. Oh, how she loved to sing. Her rich contralto filled her church when she sang hymns and filled her home whenever we gathered around her piano or the gorgeous antique pump organ she had that was never in tune and virtually impossible to play but it never mattered because she was so full of joy from singing.

5. Her hair was so gray that it went beyond silver into the realm of misty purple-blue. And she had a wardrobe of purple clip-on earrings that always matched her hair perfectly.

6. She and my grandfather had a little black mutt named Rags, who was sweet and attentive and docile but always kinda smelled like he needed a bath.

7. She loved to make ceramics for people and she actually had a kiln in her basement. She'd paint and glaze each piece, etch her name and the year on the bottom, and fire up beautiful ornaments and decorations that I'm sure still grace the homes of friends and extended family from coast to coast.

8. She had a dishwasher that rolled around the kitchen and connected to the sink faucet with a hose. This really has nothing to do with her as a person, but when you're a kid and your grandmother has a dishwasher that rolls around the kitchen and connects to the sink faucet with a hose, that makes her pretty darn interesting.

9. She was unfortunately enthusiastic about thumping us kids on the head with her finger or some other small weapon -- both as punishment and for her own entertainment. She called herself Granny Great-Thump. We called her Granny Great-Rump.

10. She and my grandfather had an enclosed back porch that ran nearly the entire length of their house, with enough room for a long table and plenty of chairs for feeding a steady parade of family and friends. They even had tiny paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which I always thought made the place extra-festive.

Grandma died 19 years ago today, after living trapped in the aftermath of a stroke for many months. She lived exponentially farther away from me than my other grandmother when I was a kid, so I didn't see her as often and I never really felt like I knew her. But she influenced my dad to be the kind, loving, decent, respected man he is, and I hope to think he's influenced me to be the same. So she lives on in our hearts and in our family and in yet another generation as my niece and nephew carry on the examples of kindness and love and decency that she lived.


This photo appeared with no context in my Facebook memories this morning and I've been thinking about it all day. And not just because I was what looks to be more or less successfully doing that transparently vain hold-something-in-your-hand-and-turn-slightly-to-show-off-your-guns gay photo-posing thing. It's actually -- and admittedly -- because I think this is a really good picture of my sister and me, but more importantly it's because this picture nicely captures the happiness -- the true, grateful-to-have happiness -- we share both as siblings and as members of our larger family. I love my sister. I love all of us. I love the experiences and the milestones and the journeys and the conversations and the jokes and the secrets and the traditions and even the struggles -- actually, especially the struggles because they tend to be more memorable and clearly more defining -- we've shared and are sharing and will continue to share as we grow and evolve and shape what makes our family our family.

I'm in awe of my sister as a mother, as a volunteer, as a community pillar, as a family anchor and sometimes as a secret shopper for a clueless uncle who never knows what to get the kids for Christmas. I'm in awe of my brother-in-law as father, as a clear-headed impartial observer, as an unsentimental and excessively handy neat freak, as an intellect, as an organic member of our family, and as a friend. I'm in awe of my parents as providers, as survivors, as historians, as sentimentalists, as I-still-don't-have-a-full-comprehension-of-how-widely-influential-they-are-in-all-corners-of-Cedar-Rapids role models, and as fierce, loving protectors of all of us no matter what. And I'm especially in awe of my niece and nephew as they continue to emerge as kind, decent, studied, aware, intelligent, interesting, truly funny young adults.

I know I am mountaintop fortunate to belong to such a close, loving, awe-inspiring family. I know that the good and the bad and even the very bad will -- because they already have -- keep drawing us closer. I know my niece and nephew and I can spend a whole evening repeating the same Stewie quote well past the point of exasperating tedium and still laugh and still totally get each other.

I know I am in a good place.

And I know we are happy.

Does the world really need 13” of receipt for a 24” level, Home Depot?

Monday, January 22, 2018

You wanna know what Fire and Fury is about?

I’ll tell you what Fire and Fury is about: It’s about when you’re rehearsing your A Chorus Line medley — which, of course, every singer and dancer and theater person on earth knows instinctively because IT’S A CHORUS LINE — and the choreographer says to take your places for “I Hope I Get It” and all the dancers under 20 ask “Which song is that one again?”

Douchebag gym selfie!

Because it’s been awhile. And I wanna keep my gym-douchebag cred up.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

You know how sometimes when you’re lounging on the unfolded-laundry side of the bed taking helicopter selfies when you should be sleeping?

Me neither.


Road-tripping with the fam to watch my niece kick ass (kick adjectives?) in speech contest in Monticello

Or Manchester. Or Mt. Vernon. Or Manly. Iowa cities have a lot of New England M names. I get mixed up.

It’s been a year

since we lost President Obama and started plummeting from dignified, informed, capable, exemplary leadership to the appalling hourly implosions of integrity and morality that somehow count as adequate ever since. Here’s how I said goodbye:

"Selma to Stonewall."

For nearly a decade and all of an era, my President -- my conscientious, intelligent, egalitarian, accomplished, diplomatic, relentlessly inspiring and unapologetically yes-we-can-ing President -- has brought our nation a mountaintop eight years of dignity and clarity and principled leadership and national apotheosis and -- yes, as promised, as expected, as delivered, as savored day after day after day for two consecutive, exemplary, triumphant administrations -- hope. Calming hope. Inspiring hope. Enduring hope. Presidential hope.

And for the first time in the history of our noble, beautiful, glorious, always-full-of-wonderful-life-changing-promise country, he made me a part of it. A part of the dialogue. A part of the people. A part of the staggeringly hard-fought, always-on-the-front-lines-of-vital-importance equality.

And I am so grateful, Mr. President. So exhilarated. So proud to be a part of your vision. Your promise. Your world.

You have indeed brought us -- all of us, across the country, around the globe -- change we can believe in.

So I thank you. We thank you. You have made us immeasurably, profoundly, everlastingly better.

And though we knew this day would come and you and your family would step down with the grace and respect and dignity that have been the hallmarks of your leadership, it's still overwhelmingly difficult to say goodbye. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

When restraint and common sense completely abandon you in the regret-filled canyons of Target

Pro tip:

If you know where to look, the Internet is practically tuft-upholstered in sumptuously detailed scorched-earth rainbow unicorn paintings starring betophatted cats ensconced gallantly on their noble annihilative steeds.

Flashback Friday: Dearborn Lights Edition

This used to be my wintry after-work walk to the subway. For a block and a half. Then I’d descend the CTA stairs at Dearborn & Monroe, wait up to 20 minutes on the mildew-scented platform for a train I could squeeze into, and then ride another 20 minutes home squished butt-to-butt with 5,000 people congenitally incapable of smiling or even making eye contact. But for one glorious block every night I got to walk under a pretty magical canopy of lights.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bitch Kitty and Dad, the only human who meets her cruelly impossible standards


My dad sold dinnerware door-to-door in college, and he carried tiny, adorable little plate samples with him to show potential customers the available patterns. The tiny, adorable little plate samples somehow just resurfaced in our house, and I can hardly stand how cute they are.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CheckMATE, flat-earthers!

I’m just a Poe boy! Please have him call me!

I’m old enough to have seen the first Star Wars movie in theaters. And while I’ve missed probably the last 729 Star Wars movies, through great, thoughtful, tight storytelling — and probably through unavoidable cultural saturation over the last few decades — I was able to pick up all the backstory I needed to follow this movie ... and IT! WAS! AWESOME!

Plus seeing the movie (with snacks!) on company time was our post-holiday (because it’s all hands on deck through the holidays) company party, I! GET! THE! REST! OF! THE! AFTERNOON! OFF!

I am one with the Force.

Some not-so-quiet conversation 

They're not even pretty blankets

Mom asked me if I wanted her to bring me another blanket for my bed and I said no, I did not want her to bring me another blanket for my bed. So we compromised and she brought me two blankets.

Fun fact: When you’re the only queen in a queen-size bed, you never have to be in a rush to fold and put away your laundry because it can pile up on the side of the bed nobody sleeps on while the crushing, suffocating loneliness piles up on your side.

Other fun fact: I just posted a picture of my underpants on the Internets.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A fond remembrance of our old delicate-fucking-lotus-blossom neighbors

Five years ago right now, my now-ex and I were embroiled in an epic war launched by our downstairs neighbors whose delicate constitutions were incompatible with the deafening pitter-pats of the eight velvety kitten paws touching our floors. The neighbors retaliated by blaring explosion-filled video games on their TV speakers non-stop and filing a noise complaint with our condo board. I responded in kind with a manifesto destroying everything about them so blisteringly that they literally broke their lease and moved out within a month. (I must find that manifesto and post it here in the spirit of lingering pettiness. If I remember correctly, it’s quite a masterpiece of laser-focused vitriol.) 

Plus — in my benevolent due diligence — I bought us this gorgeous new kitten-silencing rug:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

This is my bed. MY BED.

My warm, cozy, comfy, safe, monster-free, nobody-hisses-at-me sanctuary of a bed. MY BED. With delicately pastel powder-blue sheets that my mom insisted on using so shut up. And look who I just encountered holding court on my warm, cozy, comfy, safe, monster-free, now-unquestionably-hiss-infested sanctuary of a bed as I innocently -- but admirably and responsibly! -- brought my I-washed-it-myself clean laundry to my room. It's late so I'll give you a hint who it is: that heinous anus the world knows -- and loathes -- as Bitch Kitty. In MY BED. Glaring and growling and hissing and I wouldn't put it past her to be farting at me in MY BED. Which as I've stated here is my private, sacred, revered sanctuary. Which I never bother to make in the morning but shut up.

And now I feel scared and unwelcome and growled at and shaken in my unwavering certainty that there are no monsters -- and there is no hissing -- in my bed. MY BED.

So ... um ... can I come over?

#SundayShowTunes: Thoroughly Modern Millie

A simple choice, nothing more:
This or that, either or.

Marry well, social whirl, business man ...
Clever girl.

Or pin my future on a green glass love ...
What kind of life am I dreaming of?