Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome to Seattle, Here’s Your Pick-Axe and Hemp Milk

Thank god!

I’m sitting in my car in the garage of a certain famous Seattle recreational equipment store, parked between a silver Subaru and a maroon one, trying to talk myself out of a panic attack.

“They won’t know you’re an imposter just by looking at you.”

“No one is going to make you try on those weird, monsterous rubber shoes with the separate toes.”

“It’s just a store for chrissake. Go in and buy the fucking clogs already.”

As I’ve mentioned, I'm not a sporty person. I do not play games that require catching, throwing, hitting, running, or kicking, nor do I engage in activities that require paddles, helmets, ice picks, carabineers, or freeze-dried food. I’ll go camping with you, but I’ll insist you carry both the tent and the bottle of wine as I complain that my backpack full of marshmallows is chafing. It’s a miracle my husband ever consented to marrying me.

I’ve lived in Seattle for over a decade and have never set foot in the monolith of cord and webbing and Nalgene. But I’ve become a reluctant convert to clogs in my old age, and they have the pair I want inside those doors with the handles made of fiberglass-encased pick-axes.

Am I crazy for panicking that people working or shopping at an outdoor gear store will look at me funny or laugh at my non-nylon purse or non-zip-off pants or make me feel inadequate by their mere comfortable-in-their-own-athletic-abilities existence? Maybe. But you know what’s more crazy? Feeling judged not just by the people who buy and sell crampons but by the crampons themselves. Dangling all self-importantly, menacingly daring you to try them on, to be woman enough to SCALE A WALL OF ICE, motherfucker.

No. I’d prefer to keep company with gear that allows me to feel superior to the average American. To stand in the aisles of K-Mart saying No thank you to the shelves of toxin-leaching plastic food containers or landfill-bound party favors packaged by tiny Chinese children.

I’ve always been more comfortable being the woman at Safeway with a cart full of organic produce from the hard-to-find “natural” food section than the woman at the local food co-op with a cart full of pre-packaged (but organic!) macaroni and cheese. Because I’m an asshole. It’s one of the many annoying things about me—I’m constantly judging and expecting everyone else to do the same. It’s like my psyche never recovered from junior high or something—which in a way I suppose it hasn’t.

A friend sent a text assuring me it wouldn’t be that bad.

Unfortunately she was wrong. It was that bad. It was worse. I got lost, I nearly cried, I couldn’t find a salesperson to help me, and I got sweat stains under my armpits because my lame-o shirt Does. Not. Wick.

True, nobody made me try on toe-separating shoes, but when that's the highlight of a shopping trip, is that really a win?

I ducked into my favorite coffee shop afterward and learned that they now carry hemp milk, and I wondered if maybe the Republicans are right? Have Seattleites gone too far?

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Dead Birds Here!

Yesterday found me with my head stuck in the oven, but not to fear—my oven is electric and the stank of years of baked-on funk is enough to keep anyone from lingering in there very long anyway.

The baked-on funk stank is, in fact, the reason I had my head in the oven. I was trying—heroically—to clean it without using toxic chemicals or the “self-cleaning” function, which I remember from browsing through the manual that came with the brand-new oven at my previous dwelling (I’d picked up the booklet to learn what the oh-so-intriguing “Sabbath” button on the control panel was for) is also a toxic endeavor—so much so that the instructions specifically warned to remove all pet birds from the building as the fumes would kill them, canary-in-the-coal-mine style. There was a picture of a bird lying dead at the bottom of its cage illustrating this point in the booklet—how could I forget the lesson? And if it’s not safe for pet birds, how can it possibly be safe for kids or cats?

The last time I’d tried to use the oven, it smoked me and the kids and the cat out of the room (thanks, dear husband, for the blackberry pie! It was as delicious as it was drippy in the making!), so “clean the oven” moved up the to-do list from “Should Do But Realistically Never Will” to “Do Today, No Matter How Unappealing and Disheartening.”

I found instructions from numerous women online who are better homemakers than I (I own a vacuum, but I seldom can motivate myself to use a vacuum) and got in there with a box of baking soda and a spray-bottle of water and some rags and an attitude of forced optimism. This task is gratifying! The oven will gleam! It’s honest, purposeful work! My husband and small children and cat will totally notice and appreciate this!

It took me literally all day—from 7am to 7pm—what with the baby crying every time I put her down—not an “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” cry but an “I’ll be damned if you’re going to give that oven more attention than me” cry—and all the other tasks associated with living with a toddler and a newborn, few of which are conducive to simultaneously cleaning an oven. Why can’t they just invent an oven that cleans itself with the touch of a button while everyone’s doing more interesting things?

Twelve hours and numerous permanently blackened wash rags later, the oven looks…exactly the same as it did before! Okay, not exactly. The funk is less topographically significant—and the oven no longer smokes—but it’s not like the oven looks clean or new or anything. Oh well. No one's really going to go looking in there anyway.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Really Big Brown Bag

My identity got stolen last week. Someone called my credit card company impersonating me and told them “I” had a new address and phone number and was about to embark on some travel. They also changed my online username to something with a bunch of random numbers tacked on at the end, which, hello? I would never do. So clunky, that.

“I” then bought $600 worth of stuff from Bloomingdale’s—were they aware of my preference for brown leather boots, long flowy cardigans, and colorful, vaguely bohemian purses? When Bloomingdales called me to check up on the situation (apparently it’s unusual for first-time shoppers to drop $600 at Bloomies or something—or maybe it’s unusual for Nigerian princes to shop there?) it didn’t even occur to me to ask what my thief bought because, hello, that would be personal! What if they bought, like, a bunch of prosthetic post-mastectomy bras or something? Not that those should be embarrassing—just, you know, personal.

photo courtesy nacu, morgueFile

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Like a Toothpick

Not my cat—who could forget this cat?!
Clearly, a month in between blog posts is unacceptable. UNacceptable, people. I get this. I feel this. And I do not care. I do not care about a lot of things lately, including but not limited to local primary politics, the Kardashians, Egypt (sorry—I’m sure it’s bad there), soccer, panna cotta, or Paul Ryan’s career path.

I do not feel depressed, post-partum or otherwise, nor do I feel super exhausted or busy or overwhelmed or all the other things I’m supposed to feel as a mom of a toddler and a newborn. It’s more like I feel, um, narrowed. Not in silhouette (if only!), but in focus and energy and attention. I care about my kids and my husband and our kids’ babysitter and my students and…um…the cat? When I remember to remember she exists?

I am not a very interesting conversationalist these days, least of all to myself, and what is blogging if not a form of conversing? I am a great listener (and reader), however, so talk on.

photo courtesy alvimann, morgueFile