Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Salzburg 2 w

We returned from our trip some time ago and man, is re-entry into normal life hard! Also, I have completely fallen out of the blogging habit and need to leap back in. Let’s try to jumpstart things with a little randomosity, yes?

  • On the way to Europe, I was fine. Very little jet-lag that lasted maybe two days. On the way home? TWO WEEKS of waking up at 2:30 every morning, my body insistent that no, in fact, it was 8:30 and I was done sleeping. Didn’t matter if I’d gone to sleep at nine or midnight the night before, and believe me, I tried both. Didn’t matter if I took melatonin. Just wide awake at 2:30.
  • And then I got a monster cold, from all the lack of sleep. Super fun.
  • There were so many things to love about our trip, and I was prepared to return home and pine for the walkable cities and the suffusion of culture and the beautiful mountains. I was not prepared to pine for asparagus.

    Spargel w
    We were in Vienna and Munich during spargel season (spargel being, of course, asparagus) and MAN was fresh Bavarian asapargus delicious. I wouldn’t say I’m a lover of asparagus; I like it fine, and will make it occasionally for dinner, and once in a while I’ll order it at a restaurant. Okay, once in a GREAT while. But during our trip, we had many many bowls of spargelsuppe and I even ate an entrée that was made up of asparagus spears dotted with hollandaise. AND THAT WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MEALS. For this nacho-loving lady, having drooly fantasies about a plate of white asparagus is very off-brand. Anyway, I have been bookmarking recipes for spargelsuppe and eyeing the asparagus in my grocery store. I haven’t bought any yet; it’s just a sad facsimile of the beautiful bounty of fresh white asparagus we saw at farmers’ markets throughout our trip.

  • One thing I do NOT miss about our trip: the toilet paper. UGH. Even my cheapo Target brand toilet paper is like a angel’s kiss compared to the scratchy junk we used in Europe. Even the hotels had terrible toilet paper!!!
  • Since we’re already talking about the bathroom situation, can I tell you about a misconception I had? So, in the cities we visited, there were no free public restrooms. You had to pee, you had to pay. I never had the proper change on me, so anytime I needed to avail myself of the facilities, we’d either hike back to our hotel (which happened once, and only because it was on the way) or stop in at a café for some tea and cake and a bathroom break. I am really enjoying my bathroom-related rhyming in this paragraph. But one morning in Vienna, neither of those options was available, and I had to use a pay toilet in the middle of a market. I was dreading it. DREADING. I waited until the last possible second because I had visions of American rest-stop bathrooms in my head. Well! My half Euro got me into a PRISTINE restroom, with stalls that had been freshly cleaned, each with its own sink. It was a little weird that the attendant to the ladies’ room was a man, but once I got past that, it was a delightful experience. Well, as delightful as a public pee can get, you understand.

    Market 2 w

    Here is a picture from one of the stands in the market; I did not photograph the restroom. I’m sorry slash you’re welcome.

  • I came to the conclusion on our trip that mankind has not yet invented a truly comfortable shoe. Either that or my feet and ANY shoes are the Princess and the Pea of extremities. Sure, we were walking a lot (ten miles a day), but my husband was wearing his years-old loafers and he had ZERO problems. I had to rotate between my new-for-this-trip Sketchers and an old pair of Børn riding boots that I packed at the last minute because the weather was supposed to be so cold and rainy (it was, which didn’t dampen our fun in the least, see what I did there). Even switching between them, my feet were in constant agony. Oh well. I think I kept the whining to a minimum; at least, my husband didn’t murder me for foot-complaint-related-reasons, so I’ll call that a success. And I only got one lonesome blister, from my dressy shoes, which I have had with no issue for years and wore ONE evening only and yet they still ripped open the skin beneath my pinky toe.
  • Shout out to Rick Steves — whom my husband and I affectionately refer to as “Ricky” — whose guides are super helpful and always include easy-to-follow city walks. My husband toted his Fancy Camera all around Bavaria and his camera bag had a pocket just big enough to stow our Ricky selection of the day — Rick Steves Vienna, Salzburg, & Tirol while we were in those places and Rick Steves Germany 2019 when we were in Munich and Nuremberg. While Ricky and I don’t necessarily have the same taste in food, I am very fond of him and his dad-style humor.

    Travel guides.JPG

  • There is a very charming café culture in Vienna. Lots of cafes where you sit and have coffee/tea and cake. We ate a lot of cake. I miss the cake.

  • I also miss the beer. Beer and wine were plentiful and inexpensive AND delicious. Of course, the beer I loved the most does not seem to be exported to the U.S., but I guess that preserves its awesomeness a little more.

  • And the castles. I miss those too.
    Hohenschwangau w

    Hohenschwangau Castle, southwest of Munich

    Fortress Hohensalzburg w

    Fortress Hohensalzburg, which looms over Salzburg in a very intimidating fashion and can be reached by hiking or funicular. 

    Neuschwanstein w

    Neuschwanstein Castle, a stone’s throw away from Hohenschwangau. By the way, this photo was taken from a teeny rickety bridge spanning a crevasse between two craggy mountains. Was I certain the bridge would collapse at any moment? YES. Did it? No, I suppose not. 

  • Well, it was a great trip. Our plane didn’t crash (although the turbulence we experienced on the way to Europe was so severe I didn’t sleep AT ALL) and neither of us suffered any illness or injury. Okay, so I did fall down the stairs of our hotel in Munich, but it was the day before we left, so it didn’t put too much of a damper on things. And I didn’t break any bones, just got an enormous bruise, which, to be honest, is a fairly frequent occurrence anyway. I have skin like a peach.
  • And now we are home, and reintegrated into our lives, and trying to inject little snippets of our European fun into our everyday: we took Carla downtown last weekend and walked around the city (not the same as walking around Vienna or Munich or Salzburg) and meandered through the market hall (SO not the same as the charming markets in Bavaria) and bought some Bavarian beer. I am bemoaning the lack of easily accessible public transportation and charming (if renovated post-war) streets.
    Vienna streetcar w

    Streetcar in Vienna – my favorite mode of transportation

    Nuremburg w

    Adorable street in Nuremberg, which we knew to photograph thanks to the inimitable Rick Steves

  • Now that I am FINALLY sleeping again, I feel like I am getting back in the swing of things: coming up with meals to serve my family, thinking through Carla’s birthday party plans, tidying the house for my in-laws who will be visiting soon… Glad to have traveled, glad to be home.

 

What have you been up to, Internet?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

If you thought that we could return to fret-free normalcy now that the dinner party is over, you were WRONG.

Let’s move right along to the next fretworthy topic, shall we?

My husband and I are going on a trip. Just the two of us. We are not calling it a second honeymoon, although I suppose that’s what it is; it’s our tenth anniversary gift to one another.

We are going to Europe and we are both VERY EXCITED about it.

But.

We are leaving Carla behind.

She will remain in our house in the loving and capable hands of my parents. She will be continuing with her regular routine of school and extracurricular activities. But I am FREAKING OUT about leaving her.

Firstly, the longest I’ve ever been away from her is a week.

Secondly, the longest my husband and I have together been away from her is two days.

Thirdly, I am really worried my husband and I are going to die in a plane crash and leave her an orphan.

Fourthly, I am FREAKING OUT.

So I am hoping you have some advice for me as we prepare to leave our beloved baby behind.

We have mentioned the trip several times, with increasing frequency as we get closer to the trip. So Carla knows it’s coming. I don’t know if this is a good strategy or not; my concern is that we’re making her think/fret about it too much in advance. But I also don’t want to spring it on her. That would be awful and cruel (at least, for my particular kid), to wake up one day and say, “Bye! See you in ten days!”

I have been making a ridiculous number of lists for my parents, so they know everything from the foods she will and might eat to how to walk her into school each morning to what she needs to bring to ballet class.

I have talked things over with her teachers, who seem very unconcerned with the whole thing. (Bless Carla’s teacher: when I told her recently that I thought our being gone would be rough, she immediately said that I can email her or call her ANY TIME. When really I meant that things would be rough on Carla, not on me. She knows me to my CORE, apparently.)

What else can I do?

When my mom went to Russia for a week or two when I was… five? ten? she recorded herself reading Nancy Drew books, so I could play them on cassette tapes at bedtime. What a kind and loving thing for her to do! Maybe I need to do something similar?

When I was in California for a writing conference, and the time difference made phone calls difficult, I made little videos for Carla each morning that my mother-in-law could play for her after school. I think Carla liked those, but it seemed like they may also have made her upset and teary at bedtime? But maybe she would have been upset and teary anyway? I don’t know. I am wondering whether my husband and I should try to Facetime her every day, or if it would make her miss us more?

How else can I make Carla more comfortable about our leaving? How else can I make ME more comfortable about our leaving?

And how are we supposed to say goodbye to her, when she then has to go to school while we prance off to the airport? Do we drop her off and say goodbye in her classroom? That seems awful, but also her teachers would be Right There to distract her. Do we say goodbye at home and let my parents drop her off? DO WE CANCEL THE WHOLE TRIP?

Have you and your spouse ever left your child for a longish time? What were some things you did to prepare yourself/your child? Were there any things you wish you had/hadn’t done?

It’s going to be okay, right? RIGHT?

Read Full Post »

Apps:

Our trip to visit my parents is coming up, and with it four very long flights on an airplane. Carla has a tablet for just this kind of occasion (also for going out to restaurants when her parents cannot stand the thought of cooking/washing dishes), and so I am on the lookout for some new apps. Is it apps? Suddenly that’s making me think of appetizers. Or aps? It’s not apse, I know that. (Although I still couldn’t tell you which is the apse and which is the transept or how they are related except by “church.”)

Carla’s favorite apps include:

Toca Pet Doctor (My husband and I recently got into a nearly-heated discussion about why it’s “pet doctor” instead of “vet.” My husband’s explanation is that the “healing” has nothing whatsoever to do with veterinary medicine. My retort is that nor does it have anything to do with any sort of “doctoring.”)

Toca Pet Doctor.jpg

(Image from Tocaboca.com)

 

Toca Hair Salon

Toca Hair Salon

(Image from appsplayground.com)

 

Sago mini Ocean Swimmer

Sago Ocean Swimmer

(Image from googleplay.com)

 

Sago mini Road Trip

Sago Road Trip

(Image from itunes.com)

 

Dr. Panda Restaurant

DrPanda Restaurant

(Image from smartappsforkids.com)

 

Dr. Panda Airport – I love this one because it requires simple counting and number/letter recognition, as well as understanding of matching concepts. Plus it’s fun.

DrPanda Airport

(Image from topbestappsforkids.com)

 

Sago mini Toolbox

Sago Toolbox

(Image from gabdar.com)

We also have Sago mini Monsters, but I don’t know if she’s ever played it. It seems a little simplistic. And we have Toca Boo, which Carla likes in concept (scaring people while dressed as a ghost), but is a little advanced for her, so she gets bored quickly.And there was a Sago mini Friends app we had on our ancient second-gen iPad, which Carla loved as well.

We are always on the lookout for fun apps for Carla. Especially if they are free or very low-cost. Any apps that your toddler loves?

 

Brushing Teeth

Speaking of apps, I was thinking that it would be SO GREAT if there were an app that was connected digitally to a child’s toothbrush. The image on the screen would be of a mouth with lots of gunk on the teeth. And the child would be able to remove the gunk by brushing his/her own teeth. AND the gunk would come off only after two minutes of brushing. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?

Because brushing teeth is becoming a HUGE power play around here. My husband and I have exhausted our collective creativity on the subject. For a while, Carla liked being A Big Girl and brushing her teeth. For a short while, she liked me or her father to brush her teeth for her. For a short while, she would “compete” with one of us to see who could brush their teeth most quickly. For a shorter while, she accepted the dentist’s recommendation that we be the ones to brush her teeth. There were a few days when she would enthusiastically “teach” her baby doll or one of her stuffed animals to brush their teeth by watching her. Of course, my husband or I had to narrate the entire time. There were a few days when she thought it was hilarious for me to brush her teeth while she had her thumb in her mouth. Then two thumbs. Once in a while, she will brush her teeth to a toothbrushing song or video on YouTube. Lately, I have been allowing her to watch Elmo videos while I brush her teeth.

Every day, it’s something new. You never know whether she’ll be game for whatever stupid game you’ve dreamed up or you’ll end up feeling like a teakettle about to boil over.

It’s a NIGHTMARISH ORDEAL, is what I’m saying.

HOW in the WIDE WIDE WORLD do you get a stubborn, control-enthusiast toddler to brush her teeth?

 

Eating (again)

Last night for dinner, Carla had two tablespoons of peanut butter and 12 slices of pepperoni.

I mean.

She can’t SURVIVE like this, right? How is she surviving?

As usual, I served her a meal that had a variety of things. AND, the variety was things that she LIKES and has eaten with gusto in the past. (Read: no guarantee she will ever eat again.) I gave her fish sticks (with plenty of ketchup), cheesy noodles, and cheesy broccoli. But no. She put a tiny bite of fish stick into her mouth and then spat it out. “I don’t LIKE it,” she said, beseechingly. SIGH.

She asked for rice off of my plate, then didn’t eat it.

We THREATENED. She has presents to open from the party this weekend, and we said she MUST eat three fish sticks in order to open them. Nope. Nothing more than the teeny little taste that came right back out.

So. Peanut butter and pepperoni it is.

She used to be GREAT about yogurt. And I felt fine with giving her a (whole milk, full fat) yogurt anytime, anywhere. But now she is finicky and not interested. Oh! That DOES remind me that she and I made some yogurt “popsicles” that I should try and get her to eat.

Breakfast used to be a fair guarantee that she’d eat: a pancake or two, a French toast stick or two, plus some fruit, plus an applesauce pouch, plus a yogurt pouch. Lately? She’ll eat a handful of berries, a bite of a starch… and some Cheez Its.

This morning she had twelve Frosted Mini Wheats (she’s very into counting things; there were 20 to begin with, and it took about 890 minutes to eat the twelve and then we were late) and about a half cup of blackberries and raspberries. And an applesauce pouch in the car.

And that’s the other thing. Meals drag. On. For. Ever. I wake her up at 7:00, and we’re “eating” by 7:15… but it takes until 8:30 to be done. And even then, it’s only by setting timers and urging her to KEEP EATING FTLOG and then we have to be finished even if she’s not done. Dinner time is a series of ups and downs and “I need water” and “I need a spoon” “no a different spoon” “no a BIG GIRL spoon” and “I have to go potty” until we strap her into her booster seat. And then it’s eating nothing and trying small bites and arguing and wheedling and negotiating until finally I set the timer for bath time. And then she wants something else! That she doesn’t eat! And something else! And something else! Until I am ready to throw in the towel and all the bedsheets and a canopy besides.

I know – I know – that EATING is one of the few ways she can exert control over her universe. But it is driving me mad. MAD.

And also nervous. Because how is she surviving? She eats less than a bird.

Do I just… continue along this path – offering good food, then when she refuses it, give her an alternate option? (And please keep in mind that I asked her what she wanted for dinner – between two options – and she chose fish sticks so it’s not like I haven’t tried THAT tack.) I cannot put her to bed hungry. I know it’s an option, and it’s one that we’ve tried. But it just doesn’t work for us.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

Read Full Post »

Despite your excellent answers – and the good dose of Swisdom – in response to my Baby Name Quandary post, I have yet to stop dithering about what to call the baby here.

I asked my husband what he thought, and he suggested Carla.

So perhaps I should go with that.

Let’s try it out, just for this post, and… if you return to this blog in future days and see that I have begun calling the baby something else entirely, well, just know that is a possibility.

So Carla and I are westward bound. Alone. Together.

My husband has a Medical Conference to attend, and I am, apparently, more apprehensive about spending five days alone at home with Carla than I am about flying with her, alone, on an airplane.

Why are we not flying together with her father? Vacation days, that’s why. I don’t want to use them all up on THIS. We will all fly home together, so that’s good. Especially because I will be, at that point, A Seasoned Flyer-With-Baby-Er, which will certainly impress my husband.

Of course, ever since we booked the flights, I have been in a semi-panic about EVERYTHING.

Not just the flying. Although HOO BOY there is plenty to panic about when it comes to flying!

I have been reading up on flying with a baby, though, so I feel like I have A Plan. Whether it’s A GOOD Plan remains to be seen, but it’s A Plan, and that helps.

First, I am going to check a bag, and carry on just one bag. It will primarily be Carla’s diaper bag, but it will have to contain purse-y type things, too, like my wallet and the phone charger. What will I do with the breast pump? I guess I have to check that, in my luggage? That makes me slightly nervous; that thing has been my near-constant companion for over seven months, and I would hate to lose it. Maybe I can carry that on, as well? I could use the little freezer compartment to hold some frozen milk. Hmmm. Maybe that’s a good idea.

Okay, so my Plan is clearly still taking shape.

One or two carry-ons, plus the baby. She will have her stroller, of course. My husband and I are going back and forth on whether or not to bring a car seat. WAIT A SECOND, before you freak out: Carla will of course travel to the airport in her car seat. And she WILL have a car seat in the Western City we are visiting. We just haven’t decided whether it’s better to rent or bring our own.

The pros to bringing our own:

–          Free

–          Clean

–          Familiar (to us – I doubt Carla cares)

The cons to bringing our own:

–          Just another thing for me to Deal With

–          Possible damage during the gate check process

–          We can’t ALSO bring the base, which reduces the convenience factor about a thousand-fold

So that part of The Plan is still under construction, as are others.

I also plan to bring some little Ziploc baggies with earplugs and a note from Carla inside and maybe some sort of candy. These I will hand out to the passengers in front of us, behind us, and across from us. (What about the people behind and in front of the people across from us?) I have also been panic-thinking about buying a couple of $5 Starbucks gift cards for the people directly around us, juuuuust in case Carla freaks out and spends the whole flight screeching. But a) I doubt my husband would jump on board with that plan and b) it is probably overkill. The baggies with earplugs are probably overkill, I just really really want my fellow passengers to be on my side juuuuust in case.

The Plan involves me bringing a variety of – quiet – and easily washable – toys with me. Several for the diaper bag, that I can switch out as Carla gets bored. And maybe several others that I can pack in my suitcase or in my husband’s suitcase to use on the plane ride home.

It also involves a big package of anti-bacterial wipes that I will use to scour the seat and armrests and tray table and seat belt and my rowmate, if s/he lets me. Carla puts EVERYTHING in her mouth and airplanes are just TEEMING with disgusting things.

It ALSO involves a couple of clothing changes, and probably… five diapers? Is that enough? We aren’t connecting anywhere, thank goodness. And the flight is during the time when she’s getting ready to go to bed, so hopefully she’ll sleep. But I am TERRIFIED that she will have a blow out on the plane, and then I will have to use the on-board lavatory, which I typically avoid at ALL COSTS.

Listen, I can and will change her in an airplane lavatory if necessary. I once had to change her IN A SINK at a restaurant that didn’t have a changing table – it was a complete diaper change and FULL outfit change, and the sink wasn’t exactly a pedestal sink, but the counter wasn’t anything to write home about, and the hand dryer was an automatic jobber that kept leaping to [loud, blow-y] attention every time my elbow passed within five inches of it, and Carla for the most part was stunned into stillness because she was being changed IN A SINK for Pete’s sake, but she did do a little wriggling and maybe licked the faucet, I try not to think about it too hard – and nobody died. But I am totally That Mom who would rather change her baby in the trunk of her car than in a public restroom. So you can imagine that the thought of using the airplane lavatory is giving me the vapors.

Oh, this reminds me of Past Me, who was Not a Fan of kids, and who watched with utter horror and disgust once as a mother changed her baby’s diaper on the seats of the airplane I was flying on. I was just… dumbfounded. And wanted her to be ARRESTED, that instant! for daring to change her grimy little offspring in the very seats where other people rested their delicate rear ends! Oh, Past Me. Pat, pat.

Maybe I will pack ten diapers. Juuuuust in case.

I also plan to bring two bottles. One for takeoff, one for landing. To relieve ear pressure, and also to soothe her to sleep. Listen, I think breastfeeding her would be a better option (and more convenient and less to lug around), but Carla and I have never really mastered the whole nursing-with-a-cover thing. We’ve tried it a couple of times, and she usually reacts by flailing at it the way that you or I might flail at a spiderweb we’d inadvertently walked through.

And even if I were more comfortable about nursing WITHOUT a cover – which I am not, strangely, even though my boobs got a LOT of Public Viewing Time when Carla was wee – the thing is that Carla is extremely nosy. Like to the point that if her own boring old dad walks into the room while she’s nursing, she has to immediately contort her body to be able to see what terribly! fascinating! thing! he is doing. So imagine how distractible she would be in an unfamiliar space with all these cool people walking around and sitting in their seats.

I am going to pack the nursing cover, juuuuust in case, and I will also wear a nursing friendly top, but I am going to bring bottles in hopes that they do the trick.

I have toyed with the idea of bringing the Ergo baby carrier, and trying to wear her on the plane. It has a hood, so presumably she could nurse that way… But I don’t know if it really WORKS while the wearer is sitting… and, even if it does, I’m not sure that I’d be allowed to wear her while we were in the air – or, while taking off and landing. No idea. Plus, it’s a new toy that we haven’t really mastered anyway, so this is probably not the best time to be adding new thing on top of new thing.

So… I think that’s it for the airplane, right?

I’m a little worried about getting through the actual AIRPORT, but I will have the stroller and I’m a seasoned enough traveler that the security stuff doesn’t bug me. I haven’t decided if I will ask to be frisked rather than take Carla through the x-ray machine… Maybe. That doesn’t bug me, to do that – I did it while I was pregnant, so it’s not a big deal.

I better not drink anything the entire day before the flight, right? I mean, how do you use the bathroom with a baby? The toilets in airports aren’t usually built to accommodate a traveler and her carry-on suitcase, let alone a giant stroller, so I don’t have high hopes. I guess I could hold out for a disabled stall? Or use a family restroom? I DON’T KNOW. The best choice is to not have to pee.

Then we get to the part of the trip that has me… I’m not going to say MORE panicked, but… additionally panicked.

The whole Staying in a Hotel With a Baby thing.

I mean, what do you DO with a baby in a hotel? Where am I going to stow her while I take a shower or use the restroom? (Remember, my husband will be at a conference all day.)

I feel about hotels only slightly better than I do about airport lavatories. So I suppose my big package of wipes will come in handy, there, too. I am going to wipe down every surface.

My husband suggested that buying some necessities once we get to Western City is a better idea than transporting them across the country. So I think he will pick up a package of diapers, and some wipes, and some hand soap (I can’t imagine using bar soap for three days, when I wash my hands about 80 times a day, and also need to wash pump parts and bottles). I already ordered, from Amazon, some disposable diaper changing pads, so that I can change her easily in the hotel. Although… where? On the dresser? On one of the beds? (Past Me is gagging the corner, just thinking about it.)

And sleeping. THAT will be interesting.

I am trying, delicately, and without much hope of success, to edge Carla’s sleeping patterns toward waking up later. Because now, she wakes up at six on the dot every morning. Which means that she will wake up at four on the dot every morning in Western City. That sounds… terrible. So if I can coax her into sleeping until seven here… well, we’ll see.

We ordered a little Travel Sleeper that we’ll be taking with us. It’s something that she can use – hopefully – for at least a couple of years (I am now realizing I have no idea what age kids are when they start sleeping in a real bed – two? five?), and it seems simple to pack and use. And easy to clean. But she’ll have to sleep in it on the floor, and I’m not a fan of that.

(By the way, if you are the anxious type, I recommend against researching options for where your baby should sleep while you’re on the road. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are looking into Travel Sleepers or looking into Using the Hotel Pack-and-Play or looking to Co-Sleeping: they are all RIFE with warnings and horror stories and I am in a PANIC about it. I would just as well have Carla sleep between me and my husband, but… HORROR STORIES. Plus, we are planning more trips with her next summer, and we think the travel sleeper we found will be useful multiple times.)

(This is NOT an invitation for you to share ANY horror stories in the comments, please and thank you.)

Should I be packing up her high chair and taking THAT with us? It is really easy to lug around, but… add it to all the other stuff we have to take, and it’s not really something you can just throw in on top of things. But if we don’t take it, where will I put her if we go out to eat? She is MUCH too wriggly for laps. Although that will probably be what happens – we will pass her from lap to lap. And what about feeding her? Carla is just starting to (be forced to) eat purees, and it’s a grueling and messy process (that we try to make delightful, so as not to give her the impression that eating is a grueling and unpleasant experience), and I can’t imagine setting her up on a hotel bed and trying to shove pureed bananas down her throat. Also, I suppose we could buy food there, and maybe bring a spoon and a bowl with us, but it just seems like a lot of trouble, you know? Is it terrible for her to take a break from “solid” food while we’re away?

Likewise, is it terrible for her to take a break from BATHS while we’re away? She still bathes in a little plastic whale-shaped tub that sits inside our bathtub, because she’s just too little. And she is MUCH too slippery to bathe with me, my near heart attack and I can assure you of that. Plus, she’s so small, she doesn’t really get DIRTY. Except for the blowouts. And the pureed food all over her. In any case, I am leaning toward no baths.

And how am I going to keep her entertained in a HOTEL? A lot of my parental survival skills involve moving Carla from Baby Containment Device to Baby Containment Device: she has a swing and a chair and a play gym and a bouncy thing in the kitchen and a bouncy play gym in her bedroom. And then, in desperate times, she has a pack-n-play and a crib, too.

But she’ll have NONE of those things in the hotel. She’ll have her little Baby Sleeper, but that’s not really a place for playing. I can put her on one of the beds, but I can’t leave her there. She’ll fling herself off the edge.

She also spends a lot of time just moving around on the floor. She’ll roll around on her bedroom floor, or the living room floor. I have a towel I set up in the (enclosed) hallway outside my bathroom, so she can roll and crawl around while I get ready in the mornings. But no way am I putting Carla down on the hotel floor. I don’t care WHAT you say about “germs are good for her immune system” – she gets PLENTY of germ exposure at daycare, she doesn’t need to put her face into the yuck that makes up a hotel carpet.

I am happy to stroll her around in the stroller… but I admit, I haven’t really researched this Western City or our location yet, so I’m not sure if there’s anywhere to stroll TO. Plus, if she wakes up at four in the morning? I’m not strolling. I refuse to stroll before seven a.m.

Sure, I’ll have the aforementioned toys. And perhaps I will have to bring a couple of books as well. It’s not like I can bring a LOT of books. Man, it’s going to be a long three days if I have to read Madeline thirty thousand times. Maybe I can read her The Goldfinch.

Why did I agree to do this again?

Perhaps I can cajole my husband into taking Carla with him to the conference. That ought to liven things up for those physicians, right?

Read Full Post »

Woman Traveling Alone

I have mentioned before that I recently bought and read The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker.

The book got good – and interesting – reviews from people I trust; plus, it sounded like it could help me deal with anxiety and fear I have more often than is probably normal healthy.

When I first leafed (there has to be a better, Internet equivalent for this verb) through GOF on Amazon, I was delighted. It promised to give me specific tools I could use to determine if a situation – or person – was actually dangerous, thereby reducing my levels of normal all-day-every-day anxiety and suspicion.

The book was a great read. Very interesting. And De Becker DID give me some tools to help me reduce my fear of being murdered on any given day.

But I’ve had a peculiar encounter and I find myself without my GOF to consult and so I don’t know if what I am feeling now is REAL fear or MANUFACTURED BY MY STUPID BRAIN fear.

(Suggested sales copy for the back of De Becker’s next edition: Don’t leave home without your copy of GOF! You will need it to pick out the Scary Crazies from the Normal/Lack of Boundaries People!)

Of course, as you will know if you have READ GOF, it doesn’t really matter if the fear is Real or Manufactured. If I get kidnapped/murdered, it’s my own fault for not listening to my intuition; if I DON’T get kidnapped, then clearly I wasn’t LISTENING to my intuition RIGHT.

The thing is, Gavin De Becker – for all his important insights into the human psyche – is not a woman. Perhaps he understands women very well. He certainly seems sympathetic in the book – he seems to realize that women are afraid in situations where men are not, and that they are more vulnerable on the whole than men are. (He has multiple statistics about violence done specifically to women. They are not comforting, and did nothing to reduce my anxiety level.) But I don’t think he can really get it unless he has experienced, for himself, that feeling of needing to be on high alert because you are vulnerable and no one is looking out for you.  Maybe that’s unfair, I don’t know. I AM feeling a little petulant because it seems like no matter what I do, fear-wise, I will be Doing It Wrong, so maybe I’m taking my frustration out on Gavin by claiming he can’t possibly know how I feeeeeeeel.

My husband is taking his Step 3 board exams – a two-day test – which means I am stuck in a Hampton Inn by myself. Normally this would be fine. I’ve stayed in many a Hampton Inn. With the exception of one in downtown Pittsburgh, they are usually clean enough, fairly quiet, and perfect for a night or two.

Yesterday morning, I went down to the lobby to get coffee for my husband before I drove him to the test. It was 6:30 in the morning; I was wearing a sweatshirt of my husband’s, a sweatshirt that says the name of our university on the front and our class year on the back.

As I walked back, coffee in hand, toward the elevator, I passed a man coming out of one of the staff-only rooms. I don’t know why he caught my eye.

But as I was just about to round the corner to the elevator, the man called out “Oh three!” and I turned around.

“What’s oh three?” he asked me.

“Oh, it’s my college year,” I said pleasantly. I smiled at him and continued upstairs.

At lunch time, I left the hotel to get lunch at the Chipotle across the street. The man was in the lobby, mopping the floor.

I was halfway to the door before he called out, “Did you go to College Name?” I was wearing a jacket, so he obviously recognized me from nearly six hours earlier… and not only that, but had remembered my sweatshirt.

“Yes, I did,” I said, pausing by the door and smiling at him. Isn’t this a typical response? – politeness? I always try be polite because I assume that people are good and normal and not crazy. That’s probably for the best, considering that most people ARE good and normal and not crazy.

He seemed like a friendly guy, if a little lacking in the Normal Social Boundaries department. He is in his mid to late fifties, I’d guess.

“Is College Name in College State?” he asked.

“Yes, it is,” I responded, still smiling. Patient.

“I have a friend whose son goes to College Name. His name is Phil.”

Pleasant smiling.

“Do you know him?”

“No, I sure don’t,” I said, smiling apologetically. (But seriously? It’s a big school. I attended college more than nine years ago. And he didn’t even give me a last name.) Conversation over, I headed for the door. The automatic doors slid open and I had one foot through them when he said,”Oh three was the year you graduated?”

“Yep!”

“Oh. What do you do for work?”

Even without Gavin De Becker, I know that it’s inappropriate to give too much personal information to a stranger, no matter WHAT situation you’re in. (Remind me to tell you about the airport waiting area conversation I overheard a few weeks ago, where a 17-year-old high school junior told an 18-year-old college freshman ALL about herself, her family, her tumultuous relationship with said family, her slutty ex-best friend’s boyfriend-stealing ways and midriff-baring shirts, etc. “TMI, young lady! This guy could be a murderer!” I wanted to yell at her. [He didn’t SEEM like a murderer. More like a college freshman who wanted to get laid.]) Of course, occupation is a fairly non-risky detail. My standard answer is “writer,” which is true-ish without being overly specific. (Listen, I know I sound suspicious and overly guarded, but just because you ASK me a question doesn’t mean I am OBLIGATED to give you the answer.)

“Oh wow, like a journalist?”

“Nope, not that kind of writing.”

“My daughter’s friend was a journalism major at OSU,” he said. “She got a full ride.”

“How wonderful!”

“She works for one of the papers here in town. Do you know her?”

“No, I sure don’t!”

“Well, I won’t keep you,” he said. And I went to lunch.

This morning, I went down to get coffee for my husband before driving him to his test.

As I got off the elevator, I ran into Hotel Guy as he was coming in to work.

“Hi College Name!” he said, as though we were old friends.

“Good morning!” I said.

“I was thinking… you’re a writer, right?” he said.

“Yes…”

“Well, I have some ideas for you.” He rattled off a few sentences about something political that I didn’t understand.

“I have some papers with me,” he said. “Why don’t you come out to my car and I’ll give them to you? Or what’s your room number?”

It seemed like he instantly knew each of those options was inappropriate, because he quickly followed with, “Or maybe I can show you later down here.”

“Maybe later,” I said. Despite his requests, I didn’t feel FEAR around this guy. I felt like maybe he was a little odd, maybe he didn’t understand what constituted normal boundaries between two strangers, maybe he even had some form of Asperger’s or another social interaction issue.

“We have to be careful,” he said, eyes darting around conspiratorially. “Ken doesn’t like it when I do that.” (Ken, I only know by chance, works at the front desk of this particular Hampton Inn.) “That’s because he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat.”

He looked down the hallway toward, I presume, Ken’s post. “Ken’s kind of a Nazi,” he told me in hushed tones.

Then he rattled off some more details about his political ideas. “You know,” I said when he paused for breath, hoping to put an end to the conversation, “That’s not really the kind of writing I do. I do advertising writing.”

That stymied him for only a second. “Well, I know exactly how you can use this in your advertising,” he said, and talked for a couple minutes more.

Then he told me he needed to punch in and went through the door into the staff-only room. I headed to the coffee station.

As I was stowing sugar packets and little plastic cups of creamer in my pocket (why did I do that? I didn’t do it yesterday – I doctored the coffee right there at the station…) to take upstairs, Hotel Guy came up beside me.

“It’s really funny – my daughter got a master’s in marketing and business administration,” he told me. “She works at Target for $48,000 a year. She got a huge raise this year. She’s really turned it around.”

“How wonderful! That sounds great,” I said, trying to fit lids on the coffee cups.  He walked with me as I headed toward the elevators, talking about his daughter. But he stopped at the staff room and I kept going.

On the ridiculously long elevator ride, I went over our conversation in my head. What kind of man asks a woman he doesn’t know to come out to his car? What kind of hotel staff member asks a stranger for her room number?

Gavin De Becker clearly said that a person who doesn’t wish you harm won’t ask you things like that.

But… I didn’t get any sort of fear response from this guy.

Should I listen to that lack of fear and brush this guy – who is probably a kind, lonely guy who doesn’t have great social skills – out of my mind?

When I got back to the room, I handed my husband his coffee and told him about the guy. “That’s weird, isn’t it?” I said, asking for confirmation that I wasn’t reading too much into the conversation.

“He asked you to come out to his car? Yeah, pretty weird,” he said. But that was the end of the conversation; he was preoccupied with his test. And he’s not a woman – specifically not this woman, who is hyper-aware of potential danger. (After dinner last night, we’d driven around the city in search of ice cream. We ended up on a very cute albeit deserted block in a little suburb. We decided to walk up and down the street, peering in shop windows. At the end of the block we spotted a teenager type who was wearing short sleeves despite the 35 degree weather. I noticed the kid, dismissed him as potential danger, and we kept walking. But I noticed him. And when he seemed to be taking a long time to walk down the block, and then paused in front of us, I noticed him and kept an eye on him.  My husband didn’t.)

(I am also that woman who tries to stay hyper-alert in parking garages. The woman who notes the location and appearance of every man in her proximity, trying to determine his Danger Level. The woman who surreptitiously looks under her car before getting in, who locks her doors at all times, who frets over the fact that alarm system installation guy knows our alarm code.)

After I dropped my husband off this morning, I continued to perseverate on the encounter with Hotel Guy. I seem to remember that GOF listed several warning signs that intuition can send – fear is only one of them. Wasn’t “feeling uncomfortable” on that list? WHY DON’T I KEEP A COPY OF GOF IN MY PURSE?

“Well, I hope he doesn’t kidnap me!” I said out loud to myself as I parked in the hotel parking lot, trying for a joke.

Dark humor is DEFINITELY something Gavin De Becker says to keep an eye on. It can voice a real, justifiable fear that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Back in my hotel, I tried my key in the door and it didn’t work. I headed back downstairs, fretting over whether Hotel Guy would be in the lobby… whether I’d have to tell the desk clerk – in Hotel Guy’s earshot – my name or my room number in order to get a new key. No sign of Hotel Guy – but I still hurried.

Safely back in my hotel room, I turned on the shower. Stepped in. Stepped out and pushed the metal U on the door over the latch (the equivalent of a chain lock – you can open the door slightly without unlocking it), deadbolted the door.

When I got out of the shower, the metal U was in the up position – as though someone had opened the door.

When my heart started beating again, I looked out the peephole. A housekeeping cart was parked across the hall. The housekeeper must have opened the door, thinking – rightly – that I’ll be checking out today. Glad I closed the U latch so she didn’t catch me in my altogether!

Listen, I know that Hotel Guy is probably harmless. He didn’t say or do anything that made me think otherwise. Aside from some inappropriate lacking-boundaries comments, he didn’t try any of the Bad Guy tricks Gavin De Becker lays out: no “forced teaming” where he tries to show we have something in common; no favors that make me feel indebted to him; no light insults that make me want to prove him wrong; no compliments.

I know that I am probably doing exactly what Gavin De Becker warned me against: which is allowing my inner Chihuahua to get into a hysterical frenzy of barking over what is probably a leaf blowing outside and not a stranger approaching the door.

Nonetheless this is one of those situations where I don’t know what to do.

Do I allow the lack of those Warning Signs to soothe me, to convince me that there’s nothing to worry about? If the guy IS harmless, I’m sure Good Ol’ Gavin would say, yes, of course he’s harmless: the tricks I taught you PROVE that!

Or do I give in to the nagging unease I feel? If the guy turns out to be a Psycho Kidnapper, Good Ol’ Gavin would say, yes, of course! Your intuition is TELLING YOU to be wary!

Of course, one choice is correct and the other is not. And if I choose wrong, well, it’s my fault.

I think what I’m going to do is call the front desk before I check out. I’m going to ask to speak to a manager. I’m going to say that an employee has been making me slightly uncomfortable and I would appreciate if the manager escorted me to my car.

Internet, if you think I’m being ridiculous – which, I admit! I probably AM being ridiculous! – I don’t really want to hear it. The fact is, when you are a Woman Traveling Alone, you SHOULD be cautious. Is there a point where you can edge into being TOO cautious? Probably. Especially according to The Gav. But I would rather be a ridiculous, hyper-sensitive, blows-situations-out-of-proportion, edgy-over-nothing girl than a dead, polite one.

Now it’s your turn. I would like to hear about a time when YOU felt afraid, and how you dealt with that. Or a time when you felt silly… and the silliness was justified. Or a time when you felt silly, but you weren’t being silly, you were being smart.

(And if you don’t hear from me in the next two weeks? Well, you know where to direct the cops. And you know which new Cautionary Tale you can recommend to Gavin De Becker for his next book.)

UPDATE: I am fine! I know you are super relieved. Sadly, I chickened out on calling the manager. Instead, I a) went out a different door to put my luggage in the car and b) followed another guest through the lobby to the registration desk to check out.

Read Full Post »

Well, Internet, it is a lovely Monday here in The Land Where Winter Will Never End.

At least the sun is shining!

How about some randomosity to start the week off… randomly?

* Boy do you like to talk about baby production! For which I am VERY thankful, Internet, don’t get me wrong. I hit “publish” on that post and felt immediately and sharply embarrassed… and then a day later I had some of the most thoughtful and kind and useful and empathetic comments EVER. I love you, Internet. Love love love.

Your comments made me feel so… validated and enthusiastic that I went right out and bought a certain book. Just to, you know, get A Better Sense of Things. This led to me standing in front of my husband in the middle of the young adult stacks at a “closing soon” Borders, asking him rather panicked-ly if we were really ready to buy such a book. And his eyes got really wide, like he was maybe ten years old and I’d just accused him of running over the cat in a car that he couldn’t even drive yet, and he said something like, “I don’t know! I’m not the one who wants to buy this book!”

But I bought it and have read a few pages and this doesn’t mean anything specific, just that I am A Serious Planner.

(It definitely feels a little like I am an actor in a play, though, going through the motions of seeking out the book and paying for it and even reading it while my brain is firmly rooted in the land of This Is Not Actually Happening.)

(Also, we were standing in the YA stacks because we’d agreed to buy either Mockingjay or Taking Charge – whichever was more on sale.)

(We bought Mockingjay later that day at another Borders, because the going-out-of-business Borders no longer took store coupons, and we each had a 40% off coupon. So we got Taking Charge at the first stor for 25% off and Mockingjay at the second store for 40% off. It would have been cheaper had we done it the opposite way, but Mockingjay was nowhere to be found in the going-out-of-business Borders.)

(I don’t know why I felt compelled to tell you all of that, as it is Neither Here Nor There.)

* The other thing that has happened as a result of me being Full Steam Ahead on this topic is that I am ready to Plan for Things while my husband is a little bit less… on board. I mean, he’s on board for the important part: he agrees with me that second year of fellowship would be an ideal time for The Appearance of the Offspring. But I think he is concentrating more on the fact that second year of fellowship is two years away. Not on the fact that second year of fellowship is ONLY TWO YEARS AWAY OMG and we don’t have a house and are our savings substantial enough and what if we end up in a Fellowship Location we hate and don’t want to live there forever and what if Biological Things don’t follow The Plan and “hey wife, do you want to buy a special set of headphones that allows us both to watch a movie on the iPad at the same time?”

Which is when I end up blinking at him balefully and asking, “Are you really talking about HEADPHONES when I am thinking of nothing but this Next Life-Changing Phase of Our Lives?”

We didn’t fight about it, or anything. In fact, we discussed the fact that maybe I am a bit more obsessed with the whole thing because I will be more involved, body-wise. It was kind of eye opening. That he doesn’t think about this one topic all the time like I do. And I was able to shut up about it for a whole day.

* And now I will shut up about it for the remainder of this post. Because holy word vomit, Internet, I did not sit down meaning to write 600 words about this topic AGAIN.

* So, last week, my husband and I flew off to visit another Interview Location. I feel so very fortunate that I can go with him on a few of these, even though I get a little hyperventilatory when I think about how much money we are spending. I mean, we might as well be throwing fists full of cash at the heavens.

It helps, a little, to think of All the Spendiness as investments in our future. Or mini-vacations.

For this recent trip, my husband had two interviews, back-to-back, in two cities located just an hour from one another. So we explored City 1 the night before Interview 1, and then explored City 2 the day after Interview 2. (We flew into City 2, rented a car, drove to City 1, stayed there overnight, drove back to City 2, stayed there two nights, and flew home.)

I worked two of the days, but I also found time to read the second and third books in the Hunger Games trilogy (very good, indeed). Plus, my husband and I drove around a lot and played our favorite game of Let’s Pick a Neighborhood and House to Live In.

You will likely not be surprised that the houses we picked were usually waaaaaaay out of our price range. (Not that we actually know what our price range IS, at this point. But I am CERTAIN that $650,000 is not anywhere near it.)

* By the way, I’ve gathered that liking the suburbs is a terribly boring and un-hip position to take. But I can’t help it. From the wide lots to the quiet streets to the pockets of just-built retail establishments to the mailboxes shaped like windmills or rocket ships, I LIKE suburbia.

* We also did a lot of driving through Unsavory Neighborhoods. Because our navigator, Alice, clearly cares more that we reach our destination as quickly as possible than that we reach our destination alive or un-mugged.

We spent a lot of time reassuring each other that it was daylight, and surely sunshine is a deterrent to Scary Muggers… And noting that if there was a young woman walking down the street by herself, the area couldn’t be THAT bad… And checking to make sure that our doors were locked.

I don’t really know how LIKELY it is that a car jacking in the fringe of Interview City would occur, in broad daylight, to two people in a rented RAV-4… But I have watched far too many episodes of The Wire to believe it is impossible.

* One of the fun slash horrible parts of going along on these interviews is that I get to check out lots of hotels. I normally enjoy staying in hotels, mainly for the small shampoos and shower caps that I don’t use but squirrel away for all the guests that we never have… But I am extremely picky about hotels. And the economy has been tough on some of them.

On this trip, we stayed in a Hyatt Place and a Crowne Plaza, both of which were lovely, clean, and very “hip,” whatever that means. I would definitely stay at either chain again.

What seems to be nearly ubiquitous, hotel-wise, no matter which chain you are patronizing… is the smell. My husband and I have become aware that pretty much every hotel ever has the same smell. Not in the lobby or even the hallways, but in the hotel rooms themselves.

It’s a distinct B.O. smell. And it’s kind of barftastic.

But since it’s in – as I said – nearly every hotel EVER, we have come to the conclusion that it must be linked to some sort of hotel-only cleaning solution. Like, instead of Pine-Sol, hotels use B.O.-Sol to wipe down the bathrooms and headboards of their guest rooms.

The alternatives, as I can see them, are:

a)      My husband and I possess a particularly virulent strain of B.O. that we send ahead of us to infect every hotel room we inhabit. (Although it doesn’t seem to infest our own house, cars, or our friends’/families’ homes or cars, which seems like enough evidence to allow us to cross this option off the list.) (Please oh please don’t let us be the source of the B.O. smell.)

b)      We are really sensitive to the smell, so even at very low levels it reaches out and smacks us flat on the nose. (This is possible – my nose is very sensitive to the smell of smoke, so it stands to reason that it would also be sensitive to B.O.)

c)      The smell is not actually cleaning solution, but real live B.O. that’s built up over the course of thousands of bodies staying in that room. (This makes me gag just to think about it.)

d)     The rags or whatever cleaning implements hotel staffers use are not actually clean, and are spreading the smell around. (This one also grosses me out, but seems most likely. Or at least as likely as Option C.)

e)      We have developed some sort of folie à deux in regards to this smell, where it doesn’t exist but we both believe it does. (I heard the term “folie à deux” on CSI: Miami last night and really wanted to use it in a sentence.)

There is really no good way to end this bullet.

* When we walked into the Hyatt Place to check in, we walked straight into an Awkward Situation.

Two desk clerks were manning the registration desk. They both addressed us with bright, friendly words of welcome when we walked in the door. They were both directly in front of us. They BOTH, at the SAME TIME, asked us how they could help us.

So which desk clerk do you go to? They are both RIGHT THERE. Neither is closer to you than the other, which would offer a logical reason to choose one over the other. Neither is looking down or failing to address you. In fact, both are looking at you with their shiny welcoming eyes and broad, toothy smiles. Both are wearing burnt orange shirts that match the orange, brown, and pale green décor.

To complicate matters (possibly only in my mind), one of them is female and the other is male… They are different races – and both a different race from us… And they are different ages… And OMG which person do you choose? And if you choose one, are you automatically making the other person feel bad? Are you silently expressing a preference for one gender or race or age group?

In the end, we went to the person on the right side of the desk. I like to think that’s because we have been trained to enter on the right, adding an air of fully defensible logicality (possibly only in my mind) to our choice.

* Is there anything more off-putting than picking a highly-rated restaurant off of Urban Spoon or whatever, driving to it only to find that it’s one of three small stores in a very shabby-looking strip mall in the middle of a neighborhood of questionable safeness, and gathering your courage to go in anyway, only to find that you are the ONLY patrons even though it is 7:00 on a Saturday night?

(We ate there anyway, and the food was decent, although the wait staff was very gloomy.)

(Also, three other tables filled up after we’d sat down, which made me feel slightly better about the whole endeavor.)

* When we are about to embark on a trip, my husband likes to look at the weather. Herein lies one of our biggest fundamental personality differences.

He really loves the weather, and probably checks it once a day at least. I do not care for the weather – no, that’s not strong enough. I am thoroughly and 100% ambivalent to the weather. If I want to know what the weather is, I will look at a direct reading of the current temperature. Or I will look outside.

But my husband loves to check the weather, days – weeks, sometimes! – before we leave for a different city.

(And he will talk about it like it’s definite: “Oh look, next Saturday it’s going to be 85 and sunny!” And then, three days later, “Looks like Saturday is going to be 60 and rainy! Better bring an umbrella!” And then, on Friday, “Should be a nice day tomorrow – partly cloudy and about 65 degrees.”)

I know he just likes to plan, and I really appreciate a person who plans head. But I do a lot of eye rolling when the weather comes up. Because in my experience, there is about 0% chance of the weatherperson being correct, unless s/he is reporting on weather that is currently happening. And even then it is questionable.

So sometimes, my husband will be looking earnestly at whatever weather website he likes to look at, and he’ll be rattling off expected temperatures and levels of sunniness or cloudiness, and I will be biting back a screech of “I DO NOT CARE PLEASE STOP TALKING FOR THE LOVE OF RAINBOWS.”

But I suppose he must feel the same way when I’m talking about blogs I read or poetry or the other things  I find utterly fascinating that bore him to tears.

Before we left for Interview Location last Thursday, my husband told me sadly that we were going to miss some gorgeous weather here at home.

On Saturday, he was looking at the weather in Interview Location and telling me about what it would be like for the remainder of the weekend… And I said, as calmly as possible, “I have a very hard time caring about the weather predictions because it seems like the predictions are never accurate.”

“But you can actually look at the radar images and see the weather systems,” he explained.

I shot him an I DO NOT CARE death glare, Level of Death-Causingness: 83 skrillion.

He continued, blithely ignoring me, “It’s raining today at home. So we are not missing nice weather there.”

And I said, “Didn’t the weatherman say it was going to be nice and sunny this weekend?”

“Yes…”

“See? NOT ACCURATE.”

Then I was the recipient of my husband’s special brand of Death Glare.

* The instant we woke up to leave for Interview Location last week, I knew I had a cold. It progressed quickly from scratchy throat to sore throat and fluid oozing from all my head-orifices. My ears got clogged. One side of my nose became a faucet. The other side developed its own little barricade against air. The pressure inside my head threatened to pop my brain like a balloon. My eyes started watering for no reason.

I was delightful. My husband must have infinite patience, to deal with all the sniffling and whining. But mainly the sniffling.

Because I don’t know if you’ve had a cold recently… But sniffling is necessary. And annoying. I annoyed MYSELF with the sniffling. Because when one nostril has boarded up the airways, and the other one is only semi-functional, you need to constantly sniffle to make sure that you get the most air possible. (I mean, aside from mouth breathing. Which I HATE. It gives me Mouth Breathing Breath and it also looks like I am incapable of closing my lips.)

Those overhearing the sniffle might wonder WHY OH WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST BLOW HER NOSE? And this is a reasonable question. But sometimes the sniffle is not indicative of Running Nose. It’s simply an attempt to draw in some much-needed oxygen. Therefore, nose blowing at that time might not do any good whatsoever.

* Just in case you were worried, I am Very Careful about washing my hands after each Nose Blow. No way do I want to get anyone else sick. That simply increases my chances of getting my cold AGAIN once that person passes it back to me.

* As a sort of general Rule of Thumb for the Universe: If you operate a tea parlor, and you offer Afternoon Tea on your menu (and website), it might be helpful to your customers if you specified that Afternoon Tea only lasts from 12:00 to 3:00. That way, if a customer – who spent the whole morning reading Mockingjay while her husband was at an interview and didn’t eat anything at all except one tiny (and not very delicious) macaron in anticipation of Afternoon Tea with said husband once he returned from aforementioned interview – arrives at your tea parlor at 3:30 (which is, in her estimation, well within the realm of AFTERNOON) with her stomach rumbling audibly through her winter layers, you won’t have to explain THREE TIMES that Afternoon Tea ended at 3:00 and now you are only serving tea and scones which are aforesaid customer’s least favorite pastry of all time next to rasin cookies and macaroons (not to be confused with macarons, which are delicious almond cookies and not coconut-y disgusto-rama mounds).

* We have a vacation, of sorts, coming up in a few weeks. Like, a real one. Not a mini-interview-related fake one. And I am already fretting about shoes.

You see, I can bring just one suitcase. But we will be gone for two weeks. One week, we’ll be in sunny, warm (hopefully) California. The other week, we’ll be in sunny, cold (hopefully) Montana.

Do you see, Internet, why I am fretting?

Clothes, I’m not worried about. Jeans are appropriate for both places, and tank tops, shorts, and sun dresses do not take up much room.

But shoes!

I want to wear Uggs on the plane, because they are comfortable and easy to slip off and on for security. I also want to bring a pair of heeled boots for the Winter Location, so I don’t have to go to nice restaurants in Uggs.

I also want to bring tennis shoes so I can exercise. And flip flops, for pool-going. And strappy sandals, to go with sundresses. And a pair of comfortable walking sandals to go with jeans.

That’s SIX PAIRS OF SHOES.

My suitcase will not only be full of footwear, it will also be way heavier than the 50 pounds it’s allowed to be.

But I have yet to think of an alternative. My mother-in-law’s suggestion of mailing out some clothes before we leave is a good one, but it’s too expensive. And I also feel stubbornly opposed to being the kind of person who has so much stuff she needs to mail some of it rather than pack it in her suitcase.

* And just to end on a note of total randomness, there is a big truck outside my window that boasts the logo “D00R W0RKS GARAGE D00R SPECIALISTS” on it. I am beginning to doubt that the people who own/operate the truck are specialists or actually know what “works” means, because this is the third time they have come by to “fix” our garage door in as many weeks.

There you have it, Internet.

I hope your week is off to a delightful start!

Read Full Post »

So. I went away for work.

My client paid for my plane tickets. They got me transportation to and from the airport. They put me up in a beautiful hotel. They even paid for my MEALS, y’all.

But the hotel?

No. Free. Internet.

Dubbya Tee Eff.

I am way too cheap to pay $9.95 for 24 hours of Internet connection. (And no way would I ask my client to pay for it, when there’s perfectly good Internet at the office.) Which is my way of saying, sorry I didn’t blog for nearly a week!

Now I am back and it is suddenly time again for another week and I am tired. So all I can muster is some sad, tired, jet-lagged, really?-$9.95-for-Internet-when-the-room-costs-god-knows-how-much? randomosity.

* The socks are still on the couch.

I don’t really know what to do about this, Internet. I do know that there’s a fine line between “reminding” and “nagging,” and an even finer line between “nagging” and “why did I marry you again?” so I haven’t even mentioned the socks.

By the way? They are not alone. They are accompanied by several t-shirts and several pairs of pajama/workout pants.

Were you in my position, socks-wise, what, pray tell, would you do?

 

* I crossed the blog life/real life barrier last night. For the first time ever.

I spoke to Anastasia on the phone!

And guess what? Not only is she a Real, Live Person… She is also super charming and nice and friendly!

But, as she and I discussed, it is a little weird when the neat and tidy little world existing inside your computer crosses over into your real life world. I wonder if this is what Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character feels like every week on the Ghost Whisperer.

 

* Speaking of Anastasia, we have our little Accountability Partner fitness/health/weight-loss website up and running. If you want to join, please let me know and I will “invite” you.

 

* My husband spent the weekend working on his fellowship applications. Which is at once exciting and exhausting. Exciting because we are getting closer! To the end! To the point where he is a real practicing doctor!

Exhausting because oh man alive… The recommendation requests… The CV updates… The application fees… The personal statement… The blah blah blah SNORE.

I spent a lot of the day yesterday “helping” him write emails to people he hopes will write him letters of recommendation.

You know, saying very helpful things like, “You should just write, ‘Hey dude, wasssup? Wanna write me a recommendation? That’d be phat, yo.’”

Surprisingly, he spent a lot of the day yesterday ignoring me.

 

* Let’s just come right out and admit that I am not always super at follow through. I mean, how many weeks ago did I tell you that I was going to have a practice Thanksgiving? Like, three weeks ago? And then maybe last week?

Yeah. So I haven’t done it yet.

BUT.

I bought the turkey and some stuffing ingredients and some cranberries and I spent about 45 minutes in Sur La Table, staring at their meager yet indecipherable collection of roasters with complete and utter incomprehension.

So by the end of the week, I will have either made a Practice Thanksgiving (albeit a partial one – I decided to save the mashed potatoes and yams for another day) or I will have $40 worth of turkey going rancid in my fridge.

Honestly, it could go either way at this point.

 

* Speaking of spending ridiculous amounts of money. I bought a new dress! At White Black House Market! It has a ruffly halter!

Of course, once I had the new dress, I realized I needed to buy new shoes as well. And by “needed” I mean “totally didn’t need but really wanted and ohmigod they look so hot with the dress.”

I also needed the adorable little black wristlet purse with the big satin bow. But I was able to stomp on that need with my new black heels.

 

* Why do I need a new dress? Well, I have a Fancy Work To-Do coming up that requires Fancy Garb. My current collection of Fancy Garb is made up of:

– a party dress that displays more cleave-town than my clients need to see…

– an LBD that I love, but that is a wee bit on the small side (read: back fat overflow)…

– a floor-length Jessica McClintock gown I wore to a college ball years ago, apparently in a time when I sold my soul to the devil because there’s no other way I ever fit into something that size.

So. A new dress it is!

 

* The Fancy Work To-Do means that I need to hop on an airplane again soon. Which is not fun. I mean, does anyone really ENJOY flying these days? Maybe if you are in first class, which I wouldn’t know anything about.

I just know that people need to stop sitting in the window seat when they have the middle seat. I know you don’t WANT the middle seat. But neither do I, and I actually checked in at the plumber butt of dawn in order to ensure I had that seat. So just because you sit in it doesn’t mean I am going to forget about it and be okay with the middle.

Seriously. There is NO EXCUSE for sitting in the wrong seat. Even if you have never been on an airplane in your entire life. Your seat is clearly marked on your ticket. PLUS, you had to board BY ROW NUMBER, so you should automatically know that you are in rows 23-37 rather than in row 10. And if you don’t know what E means? Look at the handy little graphic right above the row that tells you E is a middle seat.

I have a lot of Travel-Related Pet Peeves. But sitting in the wrong seat is in the top 5. Above “Hogging Two Arm Rests” but below “Listening to Your iPod at a Volume Everyone Can Hear.”

 

* For the first time ever, I bought some baby clothes. Not for me, obviously. Or, you know, for the baby that I am NOT PREGNANT with. A friend had a baby a while ago, and I was going to be in her neck of the woods, so I decided to take her a little gift.

I first went to Baby Gap, because that is pretty much the only place I know of that has clothes for Teh Baybays.  And first of all? They should call it Toddler Gap, because there was a teeny tiny section of clothes for actual infants. The rest of the stuff was for kids 24 months and up.

So, going in, I knew that the baby in question was three months old and a boy. That’s it. I mean, I knew his name, but knowing that isn’t going to help me buy him stuff, you know?

Baby Gap had about four things for three-month-old boys. They had plenty of frilly pinkery for three-month-old girls though. Baby boys get screwed in the clothes department, y’all. It’s a wonder that new mothers don’t just give up and buy dresses for their baby boys. I mean, those things are CUTE.

Ahem. Back to Baby Gap. There were approximately ZERO employees in the entire store. So I kind of… stood around… And poked through piles of miniature clothing… And picked up an outfit… And put it back down because do moms really put their babies in miniature button-fly corduroy pants or off-white crocheted onesies?… And gawked at the Super Cute Teensy Weensy Shoes… And didn’t even touch them because three-month-olds don’t wear shoes, right?… And stood around some more.

Finally, I left. I went to Nordstrom, which – much to my great shock – had a baby section. But guess what? They have clothes that don’t fit age ranges, like in Baby Gap. Instead, they have clothes for three-month-old, six-month-old, and nine-month-olds.

Which is REALLY confusing. Because how do you know? Do you buy the three-month-wear and hope that it will fit the kid until six months? Or do you buy the six-month stuff so the kid can grow into it? SO CONFUSING.

And I had to actually ask a salesgirl – who was probably 10 years younger than I am and, while I know she technically could have a couple kids at that age, I am going out on a limb and guessing that she knows exactly as much about kids as I do – for help and she gave me the You Are a Huge Idiot eyebrow.

So I bought a cute little outfit with a guitar on it in the six month size and gave it to my friend and she loved it the end.

Oh! I did remember to ask the cashier if they had any baby legs for boys. I learned about baby legs from Jen, who is awesome, and from whom I probably could have purchased some baby legs if I were capable of planning ahead. The cashier did not, in fact, have baby legs for boys. But I was very impressed with myself for remembering to ask. The end for real.

* Is it just me, or is everyone having babies? I swear, everywhere I look, a high school friend or a college friend or the wife of my husband’s friend or a blog friend or a blogger I stalk is getting  pregnant or popping out a kid.

Some days I wonder if there’s some sort of baby explosion going on. Like the planets are aligned in such a manner that people are getting pregnant out of the blue.

Other days, I think maybe this is the Volvo Phenomenon. You know, where you drive around in your Honda Accord for 10 years without ever seeing a Volvo, but then suddenly you decide your Accord is old and crappy and there’s no iPod dock in it, so you want to upgrade to a Volvo. And as soon as you start lusting after Volvos, they’re EVERYWHERE… In your apartment complex, in your dentist’s parking lot, on The Amazing Race.

This is what happened to me when I wanted my husband to propose to me. I started seeing engaged people everywhere. Everyone was wearing a diamond except me!

So I suspect that this Baby Explosion thing is just the Volvo/Engagement Ring Phenomenon of my late 20s.

 

Well, Internet, now it is your turn to weigh in on these and other weighty topics. I do hope you’ll stop in the comments section and say hello. But even if you choose to navigate away from this nonsense in deep disgust, I wish you a very happy Monday and a lovely week.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »