Monday, July 16, 2012

Party People

Two months ago or so, I came to Dylan and said, "Hey, so-and-so is having a party in July, can we go?"

He said, "Where does she live again?"

I said, "Oh, you know, I think it's about as far away as it is from Davis to Disneyland, so it'll be a long drive but you are such a good driver and I think it will be really good for the kids to socialize a little bit. PJ told me she was lonely the other day."

He replied, "I have no reason to doubt your ability to judge space and distance since I didn't hear that story about you building that crappy model of Monticello or anything, and since you've hit me with the ever-so-subtle pairing of vague flattery and parental guilt that I definitely can't see through since it's not like we've been together for more than a decade or anything, I say yes. Let's do it!"

Note: He did not actually say most of that. I believe I waited until he was reading some fascinatingly disgusting tidbit about spiders or something on the Internet to ask him and he mumbled, "Okay, sure." So, of course, I took that opportunity to mark the date of the party down on the calendar and book a hotel immediately so that when I would casually mention to him the week before the party,

"Oh, you remember we're going to that party a gazillion miles away this weekend," and he would reply, "What are you talking about?! I'm not driving that far in a weekend!", I could then say, "But you already said yes! I booked the hotel! It's been on the calendar for ages. Why don't you ever look at the calendar? It's like you don't even care how hard I work to plan everything we do as a family! What would you do without me to tell you what day it is and where you need to be? You'd clearly be living in a van down by the river unable to even remember to show up for your motivational speaking gigs!" And thus, having bludgeoned him with the lethal pairing of absent-minded father guilt and an irresistible reference to one of his favorite SNL sketches, he would cave and we'd go to the party as my devious ass had always known we would.

Note Part 2: The location of the party was not, in fact, "about as far away as it is from Davis to Disneyland". It was about 1 1/2 times as far, or about 600 miles one way. And when we drove from Davis to Disneyland and back, we never did it in a weekend and we also didn't have kids then. So this situation was in no way analogous at all. Luckily Dylan wasn't listening to me anyway.

We left at 7:15 a.m. on Friday morning and Google Maps told us we could expect to arrive at about 5 p.m. if we didn't make any stops. Obviously, Google Maps has no children and an endless supply of catheters. We built an extra hour and a half into our day for bathroom breaks and lunch and figured we would arrive around 6:45 or 7 at the absolute latest. "We can go swimming when we get there!" I said.


Here's a highlight reel of interesting things that occurred on our trip and lessons we've learned from them:

1. Google Maps is a dick. It knows that if you're using it, you either don't have a GPS, or you don't trust technology that KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE (we fall into the latter category...or rather I do and I yell really loudly about conspiracy theories I've picked up from watching sci-fi until Dylan sighs and puts the evil tracking device back in the glove compartment) so you are completely at its mercy and it gets all middle-management power-trippy about that and looks for ways to torture you.

For example, if you are headed northeast from Tennessee it will, of course, take you right through Washington DC and the middle of rush hour...because, in the imaginary world in which you could actually drive the speed limit between Washington DC and Baltimore, you would theoretically arrive at your destination 8 minutes sooner than if you took an alternate route. In the real world, you spend 3 hours alternating between stopping on the freeway and driving 12 mph and curse the giant Starbucks you bought in Roanoke, VA while you get a crick in your neck turning around to throw marshmallows at your screaming children.

Google Maps shall henceforth be my nemesis if I ever become a superhero.

2. It costs a lot of money to drive down roads in the mid-Atlantic region. I am not referring to the cost of gas (which, to my Tennessee-acclimated brain, also seems like highway robbery...get it...hehe). I am referring to tolls. By the time we made it to the last toll booth before our destination, we were paying the tolls with gum-encrusted coins I fished, with much cursing and imploring to the gods of purses, from the bottom of my purse. In Tennessee, no one would dream of charging red-blooded Americans to drive down a road. Of course, the roads we drove down in the mid-Atlantic region were smooth and well laid-out whereas the roads in Tennessee look and feel as if they were laid out by a troop of blind preschoolers 150 years ago. But still, you can drive over them flat-tire inducin' potholes for free, goshdarnit (um...unless you count taxes and whatnot).

3. Dylan's bladder is the size of a walnut and he has an uncanny ability to sense the exact wrong moment to drink a bunch of coffee and guessed it...drink a bunch of coffee. A seemingly innocuous Starbucks stop in Virginia led to the moment in Bethesda, MD when we waded through the bumper-to-bumper traffic to make it to an exit only to discover that freeway signs are in cahoots with that dick, Google Maps, and the promised gas stations and fast food restaurants were nowhere to be found.

I voted we get back on the freeway and Dylan made a facial expression that said, "Woman, my bladder is going to explode and I will die here in this ritzy neighborhood near the NIH and it's all your fault for not knowing how far it is from Davis to Disneyland," so instead we pulled onto a side street and, in full view of the occupants of rather large and beautiful houses with immaculate yards, Dylan peed into a Starbucks cup...three times...and I grabbed it from him to furtively toss the pee out the door into the gutter...three times...and then we sped away before we could get arrested for public urination (um, hello, does it count if you didn't actually urinate directly into the street but rather dumped urine into the street? Yeah it probably does...).

4. Toddlers whose normal diet consists of organic lean meats, veggies, fruits and whole grains are super-adorable with confronted with the salty, fatty goodness of an honest-to-God french fry. So adorable that they pick up the word immediately and point at every fast food restaurant you pass intoning, "Fwy! Fwy!" What is somewhat less adorable is the greasy, malodorous flood of diarrhea they let loose a few hours later that soaks their gurgly little bodies, their only set of road clothes, and their carseats in the middle of Baltimore rush hour traffic. What is even less adorable than that is the stupidity of the parents who feed them the same g.d. thing on the return trip and are somehow surprised at the second greasy, malodorous flood of diarrhea that soaks the entire world as we know it somewhere around Bristol, TN.

5. Rylan is very attached to his bed, which is not actually a bed at all but a futon on the floor. When presented with an actual bed complete with frame and box springs, he finds the entire situation so troublesome that he has to make up for the uncomfortable feelings by staying up until 2 a.m. laughing this creepy maniacal laughter that no one without an industrial sized pair of ear plugs could sleep through...

6....including Pippa, who, as it turns out, is similarly attached to her bed, and thus will NOT sleep in the pack n' play even with her blankie and stuffed kitties, but will, however, accept the paltry substitute of sleeping in bed with Dylan and me as long as she is allowed to nurse aaaaaallll night long, poke Dylan in the back repeatedly at 3 a.m. yelling, "Dada! Dada!", and wake up at least 57 times to vehemently protest our lack of her specific crib at the top of her tiny lungs.

7. All of this madness was completely 100% worth it, because we got to spend Saturday getting to know in real life people I've known on the Internet for 4 years, because our hostess and other guests cooked up a ridiculously delicious assortment of treats, because the other kids at the party were such sweet and lovely playmates for my little demons and because of moments like this:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Righting the Redneckery Part 3

It's been awhile since I've written about our bathroom remodel and that's because our progress has slowed considerably. This is partially due to the fact that the husband is teaching summer school and partially due to the fact that he's ridiculously exhausted from doing all the work on the bathroom himself, and perhaps partially due to the time and energy he's devoted to his new push-up habit. He has begun dropping at random points during the day and breaking into a vigorous and spirited set of push-ups. I'll be talking to him and suddenly hear grunting and look down and see him on the floor merrily counting off reps while the vein in his forehead throbs like his brain is knocking on the front of his head screaming, "Let me out of here, this guy is nuts!"

But, let's face it, it's mostly because I've stopped nagging him. I have cultivated a practice of nagging (yeah, I'm calling it a practice. Suck on that, yoga) so exacting, so laser-focused in its ability to annoy that it rivals such classics as "Are we there yet?" and " 'Stop copying me!' 'Stop copying me!'" Under threat of a verbal form of 300 pairs of fingernails on a chalkboard, Dylan did excellent and speedy work on the bathroom, but since I've let up, he's gone back to the 40,000 other projects he has going (you know like working on his doctoral thesis, writing other scientific papers, teaching college students about ecology and middle schoolers about rat husbandry [yes, he is actually doing this...well sort of...there are rats involved somehow...I don't understand it, ask him], helping me raise two tiny demons...I mean angels...being our general 'round-the-house repairman/bug squisher/what-was-that-noise investigator/Oh-my-God-I-can't-look-at-another-dirty-dish-you-do-them second string dishwasher/domestic glue, brokering peace in the Middle East [just to see if you're actually reading this ridiculously long list] and, you know, doing all those push-ups.

Why have I stopped nagging him, you might ask. Well, other than the fact that the poor guy really doesn't deserve it and I'm beginning to wonder why he sticks around, here's why:

Booyeah! Tile floor, beotches!

Once Dylan got the tile in and it dried or cured or whatever, we were able to move the washer and dryer back (the "we" in this case is an actual "we" as I'm pretty adept at grunt work, even if I come out to do it in my bare feet and Dylan sends me back into the house to put on closed-toe shoes and I come back out in knock-off Ugg slippers two sizes too big for my feet and he just sighs instead of explaining that they won't offer much protection against severed toes if the dryer falls off the dolly onto my foot) and once we did that, I could do laundry again and no longer had to worry about hanging with the crackheads at the laundromat and finding somewhere to get quarters (OMG, guys, it was like a college flashback, I'm telling you, well except they were potheads in Davis, not crackheads) and so I lost the fire that fuels the nagging.

The actual tiling was a pretty smooth process (and by that I mean I was not involved at all and thus have no idea how meticulous and aggravating it was) with only one minor hiccup at the beginning. I was standing in the kitchen trying to simultaneously make jam, homemade graham crackers and lunch for the kids while keeping Pippa from pulling out all utensils I own and running away with them and keeping Ry from falling off the end table he is firmly convinced is some sort of tiny stage for him to dance on. Suddenly, Dylan yelled at me from the bathroom,

"Bring me water!"

Thinking he meant water to drink, I shot back in an irritated voice, "Give me a minute, I'm busy."

"No! Fill the large measuring cup and bring water NOW!"

"Oh heeeeeell no," I thought, and feeling generally put-upon by housewifery that day, I said, "I said I'm busy! I'm trying to cook food for you and your children while keeping them from killing themselves in a thousand spectacular and constantly-changing ways. I just spent the morning washing all the dishes you and your children (because they're always his children when I'm mad, of course) dirtied, picking up all the crap you littered across the house, scrubbing the food I worked so hard to cook for them off the floor where they threw it and --"

He interrupted me with, "Megan! I need water NOW!"

I can count on one hand the number of times the man has interrupted me in the 11 years we've been together. Generally he lets me finish my drawn-out, ever-so-slightly hysterical rants before beginning the painstaking process of reeling me gently back in to reality. So, I knew it probably was actually serious. I also knew I was still pissed because as much as I wanted him to work on the bathroom 24/7 like he'd been doing, it meant that I'd had zero help with the kids for about two weeks running and I was going completely out of my mind. Trying to strike a compromise between fear that he had fallen through the rotten section of the floor (and this would somehow require a large measuring cup full of water) and anger that he was making me drop the minor domestic circus I was performing because he couldn't walk 3 feet to the kitchen to get his own damn water, I stormed into the bathroom.

I found him cursing and wiggling about with his arms firmly stuck up to the elbow in a 5 gallon bucket of mortar. Suddenly the urgent request for water made sense. When your arms are stuck in a bucket of quickly-drying cement and you're faced with the choice of having to life the rest of your life with Han Solo arms or getting your spatially-retarded wife to use your reciprocating saw to cut you out, it makes sense to yell. So, I apologized...after I stopped laughing...and I brought him copious amounts of water, of course. It seems the mortar was too thick for the drill-bit attachment mixer thingy so Dylan decided to chuck it and use his hands instead.

Little home-remodeling tip for you: if you're mixing mortar to lay tile and it's too thick to mix with the drill-bit attachment mixer thingy specifically designed to, you know, mix it, ADD MORE WATER. Do NOT figure that there's something wrong with the drill-bit attachment mixer thingy and dive in there yourself. You will get stuck in mortar. Then you will have to yell at your wife, who will undoubtedly treat you to a litany of everything you've done wrong in the past 10 years before she realizes you're really in trouble, and if you've been an especially bad husband and the list is especially long, you will then be forced to choose between Han Solo arms and no arms.

This is officially the least helpful DIY blog series in the history of blogging. You're welcome.