Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Head Trauma Barbie

It seems that during the waning days of summer, the Demigoddsses have been filling their time playing a little game called "Barbie Modeling School."

As I understand the story, one of the Barbies who attends the modeling school recently got mad at another of the Barbie students over some kind of fashion faux-pas. A Barbie girl-fight ensued, during which one Barbie was knocked into a wall, breaking an ankle and causing a severe head injury.

But the injured Barbie, she is bravely on the road to recovery.

Do I not have the coolest kids ever?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Farewell to Mr Badger

It appears that Mr. Badger’s year-long battle with cancer ended yesterday. My heartfelt condolences go out to Mrs. Badger and her son. I can only imagine the depths of their grief.

The American healthcare system has left Mrs. Badger without her husband, lover, and best friend. It has left her 12-year-old son without his dad. It has also left them both with an enormous debt load from medical bills.

Donations to the Badger Fund made it possible for the family to afford hospice care, which allowed Mr. Badger to spend his last days at home with his family. Contributions to the fund will continue to be gratefully accepted.

Academic Coach has also volunteered to forward sympathy cards to the Badgers.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Doggie Karma

Karma (Sanskrit: from the root kri, "to do", meaning deed) or Kamma (Pali: meaning action, effect, destiny). In Hinduism and, later, Buddhism, it is the sum of a person's actions, regarded as determining that person's future states of existence.

Yesterday afternoon I was in the Cub Foods parking lot, loading groceries into my car, when my cell phone rang. It was Demigoddess the Younger, and she was most upset.

“There’s a dog in our yard and it got in a fight with Emmylou and she’s bleeding!”

“Bring her inside,” I said.

“We CAN’T, the dog is on the deck and he keeps trying to come inside! Lou is in the bushes and she’s whining! What should we do?”

“I don’t know. Don’t do anything. I’ll be home in a minute.”

Adrenaline overload makes following the rules of the road a real challenge. I had visions of a crazed, rabid cur mutilating my dog and then trying to eat my children. (WHY do there have to be so damn many people out driving around on Sunday afternoons??)

When I arrived home a few minutes later, I left the groceries in the car and ran to the backyard. My dog was still on her tie-out, which was tangled in the bushes, so she couldn’t go anywhere. She was bleeding from one small scrape on her shoulder, but didn’t seem to be damaged too badly.

The attacker was still on our deck. He was the thickest, meatiest example of a dog I have ever seen in my life. Set low and nothing but muscle, with cropped ears and yellowish eyes, I’m quite sure he was at least part pit bull. He looked like he had been hacked from a slab of granite, with a head like a cinder block. He sat there and looked at me, grinning a mouthful of scary-ass teeth and wagging his tail. The Demigoddesses were sitting on either side of him.

“He’s actually really nice!” Demi the Younger chirped.

The dog continued wagging as I checked his tag, wrote down the number listed on it, tied him up and then called the owners. A few minutes later an enormous guy in a red Mustang pulled up. I told him that his dog and mine had gotten into a little bit of a scrap, and confirmed that beefy dog had had all of his shots, which he had, because, apparently, beefy dog escapes a LOT. Then the guy leaned over the dog, put his arms under the its forelegs and hoisted the animal into the air from behind. He toted him to the car like that, threw him in, and drove away.

I guess I could have given the guy an earful. I probably should have. But as I was writing down the man’s name and phone number, just in case I should need it later, I couldn’t help but remember our little poodle incident from last month.

I guess it just goes to show that, just when you think you’re a real badass, there’s always a bigger dog not far down the road who’ll be happy to show you otherwise.

Poodle lady never did call me, and I guess maybe that’s why I couldn’t bring myself to give Mustang guy a hard time.

Karma, you know.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Not Exactly Ward Cleaver, But I'll Take It

Yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, the ex called for the Demigoddesses, just to say hi and chat a little.

It's a small thing, but it's something.

Friday, August 26, 2005

And So it Begins

School starts in six days and I am already having anxiety.

Monday night I attended a parents’ meeting for Demigoddess the Elder’s debate team. Wednesday and Thursday nights were “back-to-school” nights at the junior high for the seventh and eighth grades, respectively. Next Tuesday Demigoddess the Younger will be attending orientation in the morning, and school starts for real on Thursday. Girl Scouts will fire up soon after that.

Right. Got it. Fine… except that I can’t seem to remember ANYTHING.

Last weekend when my mom asked me to pick her up from the airport on Wednesday night, I said “Sure! No problem!” Then, the next morning (after she had already left for New York), I remembered that, after a considerable amount of wrangling and running around, My Ho had acquired tickets to Wednesday night’s baseball game. I managed to work everything out, but not without the usual share of teeth-gnashing and garment-rending.

After three months of relatively unstructured summer days, I had somehow forgotten that perpetual gnawing twinge in the pit of my stomach, the one that says I think I’m supposed to be somewhere very soon, but I can’t remember exactly where, and I can’t remember exactly when, and I can’t remember how much it’s going to cost me or whose children I’m supposed to pick up on the way.

It’s all coming back to me now.

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to be one of those giant four-color wall calendar moms. I live in the suburbs, yes, but I’ve managed to get this far without a minivan or involving the children in soccer of any kind. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those.) Call it a last, desperate attempt at coolness, call me an adrenaline junkie who is addicted to life on the edge, call it a case of tiny-kitchen-itis (there’s nowhere to hang one anyway)… I just can’t do the jumbo-sized calendar and colored-pen-for-each-member-of-the-family thing.

So at Target last night, I saw the Franklin (gack) Covey planners on sale and, with a sigh, threw one in the cart. Somewhere between there and the school supplies (inexplicably, after six trips through three different Targets, we still needed a binder and some folders), it occurred to me that I ALREADY HAVE a Franklin Covey planner.

I vaguely remembered receiving it through work last fall, and getting as far as the “inspiring, thought-provoking quotes from past and present leaders,” which were kindly included on EVERY FREAKING PAGE, before the nausea forced me to put the thing away… somewhere.

I unearthed it without too much trouble, but a quick thumb through made it clear that there was going to have to be some thinning.

I removed the calendar pages through the end of August, since, you know, I won’t be needing those any more.

I removed the “Roles” page (Who are four people who are important to you? Um… Ben & Jerry, Ron Gardenhire, and whoever invented Costco?).

I removed the “Renewal” page (Call each member of your family during the month. Read a book. Attend religious services of your choice. Good morning, I’m not all that into God or anything, but my Franklin Covey Planner told me to come, so here I am!).

I removed the 2009 and 2010 "Future Planning" pages (are you kidding me?).

What I have left is an oversized, faux-leather bound daily planner that, while not the four-color wall calendar, still feels like something of a defeat.

“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.”--Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I SO Deserve a Raise

Last weekend on PBS I caught a little bit of one of those motivational speakers they sometimes show during pledge week. This one featured a woman speaking to an auditorium full of people on the subject of improving their time management skills.

She said that when we are working and the phone rings, if we stop to answer it, deal with whatever issue the caller has, and then go back to work, the whole process takes an average of about 11 minutes (I can’t remember the exact number, but it was something like that).

She also said that, when the phone rings while we are working, if we let the call go to voicemail, finish what we’re doing before listening to the caller’s message, and then call the person back to deal with whatever issue they were calling about, the whole process takes an average of 8 minutes.

So all this time I have been ignoring the ringing phone on my desk, I thought it was out of laziness and a borderline anti-social personality. But now it seems that I have been being an INCREDIBLY EFFICIENT employee all along!

Yay for ME!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pushing Rocks Uphill

Since Monday, I’ve been involved in an ongoing e-mail exchange with my ex. I use the word “exchange” loosely, it’s really somewhere in the neighborhood of an argument/lecture/airing of grievances that started with one simple question:

“Are you planning to have the kids for Labor Day weekend?”

His response, of course, was “no.”

He has lots of reasons for saying no, which he has outlined for me in a number of subsequent e-mails. Somehow, though, they all sound like very convenient rationalizations to me.

He says he thinks the kids understand his "conscious decision" to leave his "old life" behind and start a new one that doesn’t appear to include them. I think he’s very, very wrong about that.

And the thing of it is, I suspect that the only reason he keeps responding to my e-mails is that, deep down, he's not really buying any of his bullshit, either.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Badger Update

Last week I found this and was moved to make a contribution.

Dr. Academic has kindly posted an update.

I have seen firsthand what cancer can do to a family, and I know what it’s like to try and take care of kids when you don’t know where the grocery money is going to come from. The Badgers have been in my heart ever since I read their story.

I’ll continue posting links to the updates.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In-Laws Faux Pas

Yesterday was my niece Maggie’s first birthday, and my sister Meghan put together a lovely party in her backyard. There was food, there was cake, there were relations from both sides of the family, and piles of gifts.

One of the gifts was an electronic toy that had a screen with a little car inside, and there was a big plastic steering wheel below the screen to steer the little car back and forth as it drove along a curvy pretend road, which had pictures of buildings and trees along each side. I watched one of my sister’s in-laws steer the little car off the road, over the pictures of the buildings and trees, back onto the road, then off again and over the buildings and trees on the other side.

I said, “You know what that is? That’s baby Grand Theft Auto! Look! She just ran over a cop! And there’s the little hooker you can pick up!”

I thought it was funny. My sisters thought it was funny. Meghan’s religious conservative in-laws? Mmmmm, not so much.

Their lips weren't moving, but I'm pretty sure I could hear them praying for me in their heads.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thanks! I Needed That!

Every once in a while, the fates will dole out a little dope slap.

A former neighbor, whom I hadn’t seen in two years, appeared out of the blue a few days ago (there seems to be a lot of that happening lately...). Her daughter and my girls had been good friends, and had spent a lot of time together before their family moved to another suburb. We kept in touch for a while after their move, but my last interaction with this woman had been a little bit tense. So I was mildly surprised when she seemed very, very glad to see me. She gave me a great big hug, even.

After the initial, “So good to see you! How have you been!” intro round, she cut quickly to the chase. She confided that her husband has finally agreed to go to AA, and he will be attending his first meeting this week.

Having lived with an active alcoholic for five years, followed by another five with the same one sober, I know a little bit about alcoholism and twelve-step programs. Long before they moved away, I became pretty sure that this woman’s husband was a candidate for the Bill W. club. Years ago, I had given her some of my Al-anon literature to read and invited her to a meeting, but she didn’t seem particularly interested at the time. I didn’t press the issue.

When people who need help finally find the courage to ask for it, it always seems like a joyous miracle. But at the same time, I know very well that the journey to that point is almost always long and almost always deeply painful. So her unexpected revelation brought a flood of mixed feelings.

“What happened?” I gasped, although I could imagine.

“It got so much worse,” she said. “What went on when we were living here, that was nothing.”

I nodded. I didn’t need the details. I knew exactly what she was talking about.

The dope slap part of all of this is that just last weekend I told My Ho that I wanted to get back into the routine of attending my weekly Al-anon meetings. Between the second job, him, the Demigoddesses, Friday night baseball games, and life in general, over the past year I have progressed from spotty attendance at meetings to, for the past couple of months, none at all.

For a while there, I was even mulling over the possibility that maybe I was done with Al-anon. Maybe I was tired of going over and over all the old ugliness again and again and again. Maybe I was through defining myself and my life according to the alcoholics I have known. Perhaps it was time to let it go and move on.

But I gave my notice at Old Navy last week (!!!), which means my weekends are mine again. And the reason I brought it up with My Ho was to let him know that my Friday night priority might be changing back to Al-anon meetings, partly to see if he would be cool with that. Of course, he was very supportive.

He asked me why, after almost nine years of meetings, I still felt the need to attend. What I heard myself say was this:

At this point, I know the steps, I know the slogans, I know the literature. I have the tools I’ve learned and I've become pretty good at using them, without even having to think about it much any more. But regular meetings help keep it all fresh and functioning so that I don’t slip back into trouble. And besides that, a very important part of 12-step programs is being there for other people. I have stockpiled a wealth of life experience, hope, and wisdom that I can share with newcomers who need it. But I need to be at meetings for that to happen.

Hello, former neighbor. Thank you for the smack upside the head. (Seriously.)

I invited her to my meeting tonight, and she said she might check it out. She said she has been to a few in her area, but hasn’t found one yet that feels like a good fit. “That’s really great,” I encouraged. “Try a few. You’ll find one.”

I’ll be there tonight, either way.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


While I know a little bit about how it feels to be in financial trouble, my well-documented woes are nothing compared to a story I just read.

I admit, I can be as naive as they come, so if it's a scam, then I've been scammed. But I just made a small contribution to this.

Happy Birthday!

Eleven years ago today, on her very first birthday, Demigoddess the Younger looked like this:

Even then, she was a tiny slave to her emotions. Little could I have imagined what I would be in for when she learned to speak.

Thankfully, in addition to an exhausting flair for the dramatic, the younger Demi was also blessed with a highly-developed sense of humor, so that, just at the point when I’m ready to sell her to the circus, she will say or do something totally unexpected and charming.

The child can just plain crack me up. And her laugh is the most infectious thing I have ever heard.

These days, Ms. Younger looks like this:

That's her getting Johan Santana's Autograph at Twins Fest a few months ago. Not only can she speak, but in this photo (which appeared on the front page of the sports section in our local paper), she's speaking to a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher in his own native SPANISH.

To the best accessorized girl in the soon-to-be seventh grade, who draws such amazing pictures, takes such loving care of the dog, and who certainly does NOT hate taking baths, I say,

I love you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Almost, But Not Quite, the Meanest Mom Ever

Last night I got involved in yet another tussle with Demigoddess the Younger regarding bathing. It was late. She needed a bath. She said she’d take one tomorrow. I noted that she had said the same thing the night before, and hadn’t managed to take one yet. I also observed that she had become a little… aromatic.

I didn’t say it in a shaming way. I was very nice about it. I said it like you’d tell someone they had spinach in their teeth, or the tag was hanging out the back of their shirt. I was trying to save her from possible future embarrassment.

Still, she got defensive.

“You act like I NEVER take a bath,” she said.

“Well, you don’t, unless I bug you about it.”

“You act like I HATE taking baths!”

“If you enjoyed bathing so much, I wouldn’t have to point out the fact that your armpits are a little stinky.”


Then she went and got a towel and some pajamas and stomped toward the bathroom because she was going to SHOW ME.

Through the door I could hear her in there, sighing and splashing and stomping her feet. Stomping her feet in the tub.

I am so mean that I actually make her bathe when she smells bad. Call child protective services. Clearly, I am unfit.

So I turned out the light in my bedroom and tried to be asleep by the time she got out of the tub, because I didn’t particularly want to discuss the issue any more (not to mention the fact that I was weary because I had spent three hours that evening shopping for HER BIRTHDAY PRESENTS). I was not quite there yet when I heard her come out of the bathroom. She paused outside my door. Then the door opened slowly, and, after a moment, in a perfect stage whisper, I heard through the darkness...


(And she isn’t even a teenager yet. I weep for my future with this child.)

Ten minutes later the door opened again. I rolled over as she was taping a piece of paper to the headboard of my bed.

"What is that?" I asked.

"A note."

"Well, let me see."

Written with fruity-scented ink was this.

Apparently I had been forgiven.

“Come here and let me smell you,” I said. So she sat down on the bed, and I pulled her close and loudly sniffed her wet hair.

She smelled like cucumber melon body wash.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Authenticity Guaranteed

The handbag I bought on Ebay arrived while I was in Seattle.

Whenever one buys anything on Ebay, there is a certain element of risk. I understand this. And the seller of this particular item was clear about the fact that it was used merchandise. The listing included several decent photos and a good description, but even so, you never know exactly what you’re getting until you get it. So, when I opened the Priority Mail package, I was hopeful, but prepared for the worst. What I found inside fell somewhere in between.

I probably had set an unrealistic standard by stopping in to the mother of all Nordstrom’s during my Seattle trip, to peruse and admire the items in their handbag department, which included shiny, perfect, brand-new versions of the black Sam bag that I knew would be waiting for me when I got home. The one I unwrapped had clearly been around the block a few times.

Further inspection revealed that, although the inside lining was a little loose, the bag was in good shape overall. It smelled kinda funny, though. And while I’m 90% sure that it is an authentic Kate Spade bag, that pesky 10% of uncertainty nagged at me, even after a treatment with Febreeze had worked its magic.

If it is a fake, I reasoned, it is a good one. I bought it for a third of what they sell for new, so how picky was I really going to be? But still. The not being sure, it bugged me.

Yesterday I had the new (to me) bag with me as I was running a few errands, and it proved to be the perfect size to hold all my necessary items. The straps are just the right length, and it’s easy to carry. So I was warming up to it.

Because it was on the way, I stopped at a grocery store that I don’t normally shop at to pick up a few things, and as I was on my way in, I came face-to-face with one of the more unpleasant episodes from my past, my first post-divorce boyfriend. You know, the one who seems normal at first, but turns out to be a crazy lying alcoholic semi-stalker bastard?

Come on ladies, admit it. All you divorced gals have one of these.

He was pushing a cart full of groceries out of the store, and his gaze was fixed on the cart. I kept my eyes on his face, silently daring him to look up, but he didn’t.

I thought at first that he didn’t recognize me. I haven’t seen him in four years, and since then I’ve lost a lot of weight and changed my hair. I was also wearing sunglasses. But then I remembered that, in addition to being a coward, he was a remarkably good actor, and I ultimately decided that he had seen me after all. He had seen me and understood on sight that I have become a powerful Goddess who could crush him with a look. A Goddess with a Kate Spade handbag. And he was forced to avert his eyes for fear of an agonizing death in the Cub Foods parking lot.

I have chosen to believe in a lot of very self-destructive things in my life, and that guy is one of them. I like to think I have learned to choose better since I had his calls blocked from my home phone.

My new handbag, on the other hand, had my back yesterday. I’m sure I would have been able to shrivel him with a glance even without it, but having Kate Spade under my arm definitely reinforced what was already there. And that felt very real to me.

I think it’s proved its true worth. So I’ve decided to go ahead and believe that this particular handbag is 100% genuine.

Right after one more Febreeze treatment.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Careful. The Mini Bar is Watching.

Somehow, My Ho managed to further cement his status as the Best Boyfriend EVER by booking our Seattle stay in a hotel that can only be described as glorious.

This is where I would like to live for the rest of my life:

And if you can’t find me there, please have my mail forwarded here:

Oh, yeah. That’s marble. I never imagined I was capable of feeling so much love for a bathroom.

In addition to the gorgeous bathroom (which was bigger than my kitchen at home, BTW), our room also had a view of Lake Union, a feather bed that was like sleeping on a cloud, and a silk throw pillow. The mother of all Nordstrom’s was half a block away, and we were within walking distance of Pike Place market and all manner of public transportation to every corner of the city.

The single weird bit about our hotel was the mini bar. The fact that drinking a can of Coke from it would cost $3.75 was scary enough, but even more frightening was the sign hanging on the front of the mini bar, notifying us that there would be a $15 charge if items were removed from the refrigerator for storage of personal items. That’s right. $15 if you take out one of their bottles of Fiji water so that you can try and chill the 79¢ bottle of water you bought at Walgreen’s.

Of course, we discovered this sign AFTER the Walgreen’s water had already been placed in the refrigerator. And when I, in a vain attempt to save ourselves the $15 fee, tried to quick remove our water and replace the Fiji water before anyone noticed, the mini-bar had mysteriously locked itself.

My Ho called down to the front desk and got everything straightened out, and the desk clerk actually sent a mini refrigerator up to our room for us to use during our stay, which was awfully handy. By some black magic, the clerk unlocked the mini bar from the front desk—20 floors below us—but we never touched the thing again. I felt like tiptoeing every time I walked past it.

How did it know? Lasers? Hidden cameras? What?? Can it hear what I’m thinking? Can it see me NAKED??

Anyway, the best part was that our hotel turned out to be the very one in which my beloved Minnesota Twins were also staying. ALL of them. We saw several in the lobby and rode the elevator with Juan Rincon (see numbers 6 and 7 below). My Ho insists that I did not embarrass myself, which, if true, I must credit to the fact that I went all deer-in-the-headlights every time I saw one of their adorable, hunky faces. On Wednesday afternoon, I mustered every ounce of courage and managed to utter to Kyle Lohse in the lobby, “Good luck tonight.” He thanked me very politely on his way out. Then I remembered that he wasn’t even going to be playing that night, further cementing my status as a complete and total DORK.

The best bit of all, though, was another little something I learned in Seattle…

If you’re having a late dinner in the hotel restaurant/bar, and if Mr. Ron Gardenhire happens to come into the very same hotel restaurant/bar after a second straight loss to the freakin’ Mariners, and if he happens to be seated nearby with an entourage of friends… if you ask your server to please bring Mr. Gardenhire another of whatever he is drinking and put it on your bill, the ever gracious Mr. Gardenhire will return the kindness and buy you a drink right back.

Thanks, Gardy!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Things I Learned During My Trip To Seattle

1. Seattle is BEAUTIFUL.

2. The people there are SO NICE!

3. You can get fresh blackberries at Pike Place Market for $4.00 a pint. Yes, I said FOUR freakin' dollars a pint! And Ranier cherries, too! And peaches as big as your head!

4. Mmmmmmmmmmm... Safeco...

5. My Ho and I, we make damn good travel companions.

6. In his regular clothes and in person, Juan "Booberry" Rincon is a very, very pretty human being. He has skin like an angel. And he's much taller than I thought he was.

7. I am physically incapable of speech when I run into professional baseball players in hotel elevators.

8. Mariners fans, they love them some Ichiro. And Kettle Corn.

9. Mainers fans don't like Bret Boone, either.

10. My cousin Tiffany rocks. (But really, I knew that already.) I will never again bug her about moving back to Minneapolis, because I totally get it now.

11. I (heart) halibut.

12. Old Navy stores in Seattle sell exactly the same stuff as the Old Navy stores in Minneapolis.

13. It is possible to spend five days in Seattle without swallowing a single drop of Starbuck's coffee, although it isn't easy.

14. It took a thousand miles and fourteen innings, but my Radke jersey is no longer cursed.

15. Turns out that you can bring knitting needles on a plane if they're plastic.

16. Airplane seats suck.

To be continued...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Westward, Ho!

I keep waiting for the big, horrible, unexpected complication to appear and cause trouble before my Ho and I leave for Seattle on Sunday. So far, it isn’t happening. Weird.

It may well be unprecedented, but I really believe that I. Have. Thought. Of. EVERYTHING.

The bills that need paying have been paid. The mail has been stopped for the week. The health examinations and corresponding forms for the children and the dog have been completed and sent to the camp and the kennel, respectively. Directions and a map to camp have been delivered to the ex-mother-in-law. Work duties have been temporarily reassigned. The laundry is mostly done, and the Demigoddesses have begun packing. Emergency phone numbers have been distributed. I just went to the bank and withdrew more cash than I have seen in one place in a long, long time. The Demis and I will do one last trip to Target today to purchase all the last-minute necessary stuff, and after that we’ll be good to go--them to camp and me to the West Coast. I even gave myself a fresh pedicure last night.

Going on vacation is exhausting.

I’m still trying to figure out what to pack. More specifically, which shoes? The cute ones for going out at night, or the comfortable ones for walking all over during the day? Everyone knows that when it comes to shoes, cute and comfortable are mutually exclusive.

And… the Radke jersey--which is clearly cursed, but will look good on TV when Bert circles us during the games on Monday and Wednesday nights--or the “Lew Ford is My Boyfriend” T-shirt--which I love, but which will be impossible to read on camera?

(Note: I wanted to buy a new jersey for the occasion, but then there was that purse, and sometimes being a grownup is all about making hard choices.)

If I get out there and find that I chose wrong and left something that I want, or packed something I don't… well, I’ll probably just die a painful death, wracked with shame and blistered ugly feet.

At least the knitting needles question has been settled for me. No needles allowed on the airplane. Apparently handicrafts are a serious threat to western civilization as we know it.

(I’m just gonna go ahead and not think about terrorists any more, thanks…)

Take care. I’ll be back.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Reasons I Am All Wobbly and Excited Today

Reason #1: My cousin Tiffany, who lives in Seattle, e-mailed me a list of things that my Ho and I must do and see while we are out there next week. It was a two-page list, including Chinatown and Pike Place Market, ferry rides and buttercream-frosted cupcakes, and sipping sangria in a former brothel. I want to do every one of them.

No... I want to roll around in and gobble up every one of them.

What to pack? I don’t travel, except to our cabin. Packing for that I can do in my sleep, but I don’t think extra batteries and Benadryl antihistamine cream are going to help me on this one. What shoes? Can I bring knitting needles on the plane?

Reason #2: After seven straight losses, my beloved Minnesota Twins brilliantly won against one of Oakland’s better pitchers last night, and my Ho and I were there in person to see it happen. As always, he was keeping score, and I admit that I’m a geek, but it is SO HOT when he does that, especially when we’re mid-conversation and he marks the plays down on the score sheet without even pausing to look at what he’s doing. Yeah. He’s that good.

Reason #3: After doing a little research, I found a very nice used black Kate Spade Sam bag (the standard Kate Spade “starter” bag) on Ebay that I’m pretty sure is not a fake, so I placed a bid that I could almost even afford, and I got it! It will be waiting for me when I get home from Seattle!

My first Kate Spade. I can hardly breathe just thinking about it.

Reason #4: I had a lovely conversation with my ex-mother-in-law last night, during which she disclosed that all of her other children (the four that I didn’t used to be married to) call the universally-hated step-psycho “meat face.” So you see, that “universally-hated” bit is not just me being the spiteful ex-wife. She really is that awful.

Reason #5: Demigoddess the Elder has been kinda sweet on a particular boy since early last year. This is exactly the sort of thing I have been dreading since the day she was born, but (thankya Jeebus) I enthusiastically approve of this one. He’s smart (advanced math), likes baseball, and he’s cute (very clean!). All this week she’s been attending a mini-camp for the school debate team, which she competed on last year. Yesterday, she and Cute Boy had a little one-on-one time preparing arguments together. He held the door for her!

Vicarious wobbly excitement totally counts!

Reason #6: MizzJenny just sent me an e-mail.

How can I be expected to work when I am such a ROCK STAR?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I Tried to Give Him an Out

I said, “Why play against each other? We’d be invincible if we worked as a team.” His sports and politics combined with my movies and pop music would make us a Trivioke force to be reckoned with. We could be unbeatable.

But he declined. Perhaps he thought I was offering because I was afraid I’d lose.

Our rematch at Buffalo Wild Wings went down on Sunday night. I didn’t need any questions about the Little House on the Prairie TV show after all.

Maybe next time my Ho will recognize a generous offer when he sees it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Kate Spade: Demon Temptress

I have horribly ugly feet. All three of my sisters do, too. Although my sister Meghan is willing to endure intense physical pain in return for being fashionable, I, being the sensible oldest sister, am not. This means that my options when it comes to footwear are sorely limited. I long to wear sassy, strappy, pointy-toed high heels, but I’m forced by nature and genetics (thanks, Dad) to stick with shoes that are more about concealment than personal style.

Sadly, I still love shoes. Love them. I’m quite sure that I’d have a Carrie Bradshaw-esque shoe fetish if only I had been born with size six feet, tiny toes, and dainty ankles. But circumstances being what they are, my accessory affection has been forced to find another object, and that object, it seems, is purses.

The problem, of course, is that (being a discriminating Goddess) the purses I pine for are ridiculously expensive. Even if I had the money, I’d have a hard time (also being the sensible oldest sister) shelling out $1,500 for a Prada handbag, no matter how exquisite the craftsmanship, or how buttery the leather. And don’t even get me started on the Birkin bag. Until I told him so, my Ho had no idea that there was such a purse in the world that could cost thousands of dollars and have Oprah herself on a waiting list. A purse that could have it’s very own episode of "Sex and the City." The holy grail of handbags.

My part-time retail job brings me face-to-face with lots of purses. Some are horrifying, most are totally forgettable. But the store where I work happens to be located in one of the more affluent suburbs of Minneapolis, so occasionally someone comes through my checkout line with a bag that causes a painful longing in my soul.

Last week brought one such handbag to my register. I could only see the back of it—a wicker basket bag, rectangular, with a flat black leather top and leather strap handles—but I could see that it was beautiful. I was in love at first sight. I complimented the customer on it, and even though I was dying to know where it had come from, I resisted the urge to ask. I didn’t want to seem gauche and uncouth as I rang up her two-for-$15 rib-knit tanks.

That bag stayed in my mind all weekend, until a little online research revealed that it was none other than a Kate Spade Venice Basket. A bargain compared to the Birkin, but still well out of my price range. And, lucky for my budget, from her 2002 collection, which means I can’t just pop over to Nordstrom’s and pick one up, anyway. Not that I didn’t find some other tempting lovelies online.

How in the name of all that is good and just in the world can a purse cost $395? It’s just cruel to tease me with such beauty, and then hold it out of my reach. These days, I’m still getting a novel thrill from being able to pay my bills and have money left over for groceries each month (hoo!). Demigoddess the Elder needs braces, my refrigerator keeps creating puddles on the kitchen floor, and I haven’t even seen a bill from my lawyer yet. Even at Ebay prices, a Kate Spade bag is not in the same Federal Reserve district as my budget.

And yet, they haunt me, those bags. They whisper to me in my dreams… “You work hard,” they softly sing, “You deserve it. And you will be so very happy, so fulfilled as a human being, if only you had one of us in your life every day. $395 is not so much money. The children will find food somewhere…”

Monday, August 01, 2005

Hope Goes Down Hard

One of the few redeeming bright spots of my dismal 2004 was baseball. The Twins were young and cute and full of character, and they were good. I mourned the loss of Doug Mientkiewicz (maybe a little too much), but then the team went and ran away with the AL Central, and then I met Batgirl in person, and she introduced me to my Ho, and then the Twins went to the playoffs, Johan Santana won the American League Cy Young award, and it was all good.

After three disappointing trips to the postseason in three years, 2005 was going to be THE YEAR. My own 2005 started out so great in so many ways that by the time the baseball season started in April, I was convinced that the Twins were going all the way. There was no other way it could be. On the day of the home opener, I was even quoted by the StarTribune saying as much. The only question marks were whether Joe Mauer’s knee would hold out, and who would be playing second base.

Oh, innocent times.

Part of the problem is that I am a person who will give the benefit of the doubt, who will cling to any shred of hope, for far longer than is reasonable. It’s the reason I stayed in a ten-year marriage for nine years too many. It’s the reason I will wander around Cub Foods for 30 minutes after the manager has told me that this particular store does not carry the bag of licorice I want, because I am sure that if I search long and hard enough, I can will it to appear. Somewhere.

Even when, deep down in my heart, I know what the reality is, on some level I sincerely believe that somehow, if I just hope hard enough, reality will fall in line. A miracle will happen. And every once in a while, it does.

But mostly, it doesn’t. And those moments when I finally understand that it’s over are brilliant examples of genuine human misery.

This was one of those moments:

Torii Hunter’s face expresses all the heartbreak that was happening on my couch on Friday night, as I sat watching my last fading ember of hope being driven out of Fenway Park on the back of a cart.

Oh, yes.

There was weeping.