Thursday, June 09, 2011

Really Sexy Men Clean House

When I read my friend Rick's post yesterday, [The Best Time to Visit My House] about cleaning his house, my very first thought was, I'm surprise Bridget doesn't attack you. I mean in a good way. Have you read this article from the Washington Post, about what turns women on, Naked Man Parts? Not so sexy? As you can see, it's not naked man parts via Twitter. When I got to the part about putting the soon-to-expire food toward the front of the refrigerator, I was breathing heavily. I mean, talk about titillating. So, imagine my thought process when, the day after I Tweeted this article, my pal Rick writes about how he spends one day a week cleaning his entire house.
After reading all the news about men behaving badly (Weiner, Edwards, Schwarzenegger, to name a few), it's so nice to hear about a man behaving well. But I think I know what you're up to here, Rick old friend. Not very subtle timing either. But it all does makes me wish my husband followed your blog by RSS feed. Oh wait. He does. (That part about cleaning the fridge. I'm not kidding, honey.)

It is absolutely true that if some guy emailed or Twittered me some naked photos of his private body parts, I would totally not find it sexy, intriguing or even interesting. Honestly. On Monday, a co-worker of mine facetiously sent a photo of his (fully-clothed; I was sitting next to him) man-parts to his wife. I told him he'd be better off if he sent her a picture of him taking out the garbage. Because I know if my husband sent me a photo of himself cooking dinner or just picking his dirty drawers up off the floor, ooh, baby. I'm done for.

Bridget Kaempfer and I can count ourselves among the lucky ones. She's got Rick taking care of her house while she's at work and even though my husband works full time too, he runs the whole show while I jet off to Europe. He's even been known to cook the most amazing crockpot dinners on the weekends. (His potato bacon soup is to die for.)

Maybe Bridget and I can see right through your domestic tricks, you two, all the little ploys you're using to get what you really want. I say, so what? Use me, abuse me and fold that load of laundry. Mmmm. I'm all atwitter.

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Toys (or a Ghost) in the Attic?

Our house was built in 1892 and because it's an old Victorian, people will often ask us if it's haunted. Although a poltergeist would be a perfect way to explain away the constant state of mess and chaos that exists between these walls, sadly (?!) it's not. At least, that's what we thought until recently.

The house has a walk-up attic. After we had some work done on the basement several years ago, and learned we needed a brand-new steel I-beam, ($urprise!) the door to the attic never stayed closed anymore. So we put a rock there. Because, you know, why fix the door when you can just put a rock there?
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The rock has been working well for years and outside of one little slumber party where a group of seven screaming girls accused the poor rock of being a rat, we've never really thought much of it.

But lately... Lately, we've been finding the door ajar. A lot. Like almost every day. And we're trying to figure out what's changed. Our first thoughts didn't go to "GHOST!" they went to "CATS!" because we have two and they, like any cats, enjoy mischief; so naturally we blamed them. We started wedging the rock in a little tighter. And still, the door would open. Could our cats really pull on the bottom of the door that hard? And even when it was open, they weren't up in the attic anyway. Since our cats never do anything for the exercise, perhaps it was all just to befuddle us. It was working.

About the same time the door started opening mysteriously, we began thinking it might be nice to finish out the attic, because we have two six-foot tall teenage boys sharing a bunk bed. We thought we could move the office up there, so one of them could take the bedroom it's in now (Because we're the parents and we need an office with a door that closes, that's why.) We brought a few contractors up to the attic to take a look, and a couple of architects, too. And that's when it hit us. Maybe we disturbed the ghost.
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Maybe we had a nice friendly ghost that's been living in the attic all these years and he or she realized we were going to change the attic and this is his or her way of protesting. Maybe the ghost is upset and that's why it keeps tracking mud all over the kitchen floor, too and leaving crumbs on the countertop. No wait. I know that "ghost." That ghost has been active here for years. Regardless, it all put a pretty quick halt to any thoughts of finishing out our attic.

It wasn't until yesterday when I was standing in the hall outside the attic door and saw it move, all on it's own, pushing that rock out a half-inch, then a half-inch more, again and again, that I finally understood what made our ghost tick. Every time my daughter slammed the back door, as she ran out and then back in and then back out, the pressure change inched our attic door open a little further.

With the mystery solved, we may just put an office up in the attic. But we'll have to hope the only unexpected excitement it causes will not be the type that goes bump in the night, but merely the kind that goes cha-ching.

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Extreme Closet Cleaning: or How the Grinch Stole my Wardrobe

Back when acitymom was achaperoning [acitymom chaperones], my daughter and her babysitter took it upon themselves to clean out her closet. Although, before I'd left I had told my daughter a good project for her while I was away would be to go through her summer clothes and set aside anything that didn't fit anymore or that she knew she wouldn't wear again. That way, we could shop for new summer clothes when I got back. So, when I was on that bus with all those kids and received the call telling me the task had been completed without any effort on my part, naturally I was elated.

"Cool," I remember thinking. "Now we can just run out to the store and buy clothes to fill in any gaps of what she needs. I know she could use some more shorts, maybe a bathing suit and some short-sleeved shirts." But at least the herculean and hateful job of closet clearing was done.

I wasn't even suspicious of my good fortune when I came home and saw the three large garbage bags of clothes on the floor of her room, all ready for the Salvation Army. "Fantastic," was all I could think. "I just get to go shopping." And as you know, acitymom loves shopping.

It wasn't until a few days later when I was putting away some laundry that I entered her closet. Perhaps you heard the screaming? It was empty. Nothing but wire hangars and dust bunnies. The Grinch empty.
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I couldn't believe my eyes. Seriously? They seriously thought they could get away with this?  Maybe I should try this one myself, I thought, see if I can get it past my husband. I'll just go into my closet  right now and get rid of all my clothes by stuffing them into large plastic garbage bags and then I can lament to him, "I have nothing to wear!" with a heavy sigh and a boo-boo face pout. I know it will drive him mad, my pout always does. Except in this case I think the kind of mad I would drive him would cause me to have to duck flying objects, several epithets and an admonition that, "Money doesn't grow on trees, you know."

Who wouldn't like to get rid of all their old clothes, except for maybe a few favorite pairs of jeans and a well-worn sweatshirt? Who wouldn't like to head out to the stores for an entire brand new wardrobe? I didn't know what to admire more: my daughter's ability to purge a closet or her hutzpah. And that goes for my babysitter, too.

When she came home from school that day, I told her she had to go back through those garbage bags and put back anything that still fit, or that she thought she could possibly wear again, even if it were to just paint the front porch, because we were not going to go to the store and purchase an entire closet full of clothes. A few days later, she did.

It might have been Grinchy of me. But money doesn't grow on trees, you know.

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Keep your F*&%ing Dog on a Leash!

Running with my dog Wrigley is one of my favorite things in life. Having a large dog to run with also has the added bonus of giving me that false sense of security that bad guys will leave me alone. I like to imagine if you're a bad guy in the park looking for a target you probably won't pick the chick with the big yellow Lab, unless you have Snausages in your pocket. Or maybe just threaten to make eye contact with her and talk in that baby-talk voice, which will have her telling you my Garmin watch is worth a lot of money and that I keep a spare twenty in the key pocket of my running shorts.

In all the years I've been running, I haven't run into much trouble with people. But  other people's dogs. Those off leash dogs. The dogs whose owners let come barreling at us from out of nowhere with perhaps a wave and a shout from fifty yards away, "It's okay! Fluffy is really friendly." Don't get me started

Once on the cement pier at North Avenue Beach, Wrigley and I were cornered by two dogs that came at us with our backs up against the frigid water.  I've asked people nicely to please leash their dog when we've gotten close. I've tried to avoid off leash dogs as best as we can.  And still, I'm the recipient of the annoyed looks.

It's human nature, I suppose, to presume that everyone is like us. And therefore it would be human nature too, to assume that other people's dogs are like ours. My dog, always on a leash, will pass within a hair's breadth of your dog on a leash without so much as even turning her head. Yeah, she's that well trained. And it took a lot of effort on my part to get her there. But when your unleashed dog comes chasing after her, watch out. She will defend herself and there's not too much I can do to stop it if you can't pull your dog off of her. This is the part of running with my dog that I hate. The part that gets my heart rate up in a manner not of my choosing.

When I reply to the, "It's okay! Fluffy is really friendly!" with a fartlek and tug of Wrigley's leash in the opposite direction of their projectile canine and the words,  "Yes, But my dog's not!" (which isn't entirely true, if both dogs were off-leash at a doggy park, they'd get along great) I get the hateful, angry stare, like, How can you bring your unfriendly dog out in public?  It makes me want to scream. And so, sometimes, I do. Depending on the size of the oncoming dog, I will scream, "My dog. Will eat. Your dog." And if that doesn't solicit a reaction, like it didn't last Thursday to the owner of the little yippy Shih tzu that took-on Wrigley, I will sometimes add, "In one bite."

"Okay, okay," came the annoyed reply, in that I'm disgusted with you because I'm breaking the law tone of voice. 

Seriously. Sometimes it all makes me want to scream. And just let my dog eat your dog. In one bite.  

It's National Vegetarian Week: What's a Lapsed Vegetarian to do?

It's National Vegetarian Week! I for one am celebrating because I am no longer a vegetarian, which means I no longer have to spend countless hours defending my vegetarianism. My husband and I were vegetarian for a period of about nine years that ended just over a decade ago. And just to dispel any stereotypes, making the change from omnivore to herbivore was his idea.

During the years we didn't eat meat, I was surprised by how defensively people would respond when we told them. Often they would attack.  "Why do we have canine teeth, then?  There's rennet in cheese, you still eat cheese, don't you?"  Etc., etc. I wish I'd thought of the response one of my vegetarian friends gives now: "Would you eat a dog?" Most people are appropriately abhorred. "So that's where you draw your line when it comes to eating meat," he says. "I draw mine similarly, in that I will eat the cheese, but I stop at the cheeseburger."

Our foray into vegetarianism came about shortly after I had decided to give up red meat. My husband wouldn't even go along with that. But, being an engineer with a scientific mind, he did begin to read up on it. During his studies, he read Peter Singer's book In Defense of Animals. When he finished, he put the book down and announced he was vegetarian. He wouldn't even wear a leather coat. So, curious, I picked up the book to see what could reform a man who previously wouldn't even give-up his pastrami. When I finished, I was vegetarian, too.

People who used to tell me, "I'm mostly vegetarian," or "I'm sort of a vegetarian," used to annoy the crap out of me. (Actually, they still do.)  You have no idea how much meat and animal by-products we consume on a daily basis and until you've stood in the grocery aisle reading the fine print on the labels of everything you put into your cart, you are not even close to being able to say you're "almost vegetarian."  Yoplait yogurt? Gelatin.  Fast food French fries? Beef fat.  Vegetable soup? Chicken or beef stock. And on and on.

We fell off the wagon because of our pediatrician. I waddled into her office six-month pregnant with twins. We told her we were vegetarian and she said, "Oh that's so healthy!" Great, we thought. We've found our doctor.  The vegetarian me gave birth to two six-pound babies.  But when the boys were about one and a half, she insisted we introduce meat. "The kind of meat that grows on trees?" I thought, because that's the only kind we would eat.  Well, long story short (er) I couldn't find a single study, book or bit of empirical evidence to bring back to the doctor. All I found were books written in the seventies that said things like, "Fern was raised vegetarian and see, she turned out okay." Hardly the scientific evidence I was looking for.

Even though I knew in my soul they would be okay without it, I found myself cooking chicken a couple of times a week, because the doctor had told me our "growing boys needed protein so they wouldn't be anemic."  It didn't take too many times standing in the kitchen serving chicken to my sons with drool dribbling down my chin before I caved to the temptation myself.  My husband tumbled shortly thereafter.

It's a shame really. Vegetarianism is probably healthier. It's definitely better for the planet. And I would have to guess the animals like it, too. It's just so damned hard. With three kids and two careers, I'll do whatever it takes to make life easier.

So perhaps instead of eating tofurkey in honor of National Vegetarian Week, I'll just point out, it's National Craft Brew Week this week, too.

iPassed on iRobot Roomba: Whew!

Yesterday I was feeling seriously sorry for myself because I came home to a sick dog that had left me several enormous and stinky presents to clean-up. For the most part she crapped on the hardwood floor but there was some on the rug, too. Nasty. The only way I could deal with the mess was to put peppermint extract on some Kleenex and shove it up my nose--and I still had a couple dry heaves. (It's been a long time since diapers in this house and apparently my endurance is gone.) I complained about it to my husband and he told me the story about a guy he'd heard about from someone, that had had the same trouble--the sick dog, the diarrhea in the living room. Unfortunately for this guy, he also had a Roomba, which methodically and dutifully spread his dog's crap all over the room.

Now that was just the belly laugh I needed.

And I've never been so happy to have chosen to pass on some technology. Ever.

Simplify: More advice from the do-gooder Graffitti artist

If you're a graffiti artist like my Do-Gooder Graffiti artist, I imagine it would be easy to follow your own advice. Simplify.
I mean, what responsibilities could you have if you're a graffiti artist, right? But for fun, let's just say you do have responsibilities Mr. Do-Gooder (or maybe Ms. Do-Gooder!)--a family, a job, maybe a house or an apartment to take care of--and you're only just a graffiti artist on the side. Since you're a person pre-disposed to not follow the rules, how much can you really care about your obligations to all those things you're responsible for? So sure, I suppose it's real easy for you to go around saying things like "Simplify" and "Do Good" and "Love" if all you have to do all day is create graffiti.[Do-Gooder Graffiti?] [Sorry]

Alright, I know the chances of my do-gooder graffiti artist actually being only one person are pretty slim, since I've found all this uplifting defacement widely scattered throughout the city, but I sort of like the idea of one rogue, inspirational marauder canvasing the city with a can of spray paint and a dream. (and a stick for wet cement, too)

I routinely walk past this "Simplify" graffiti on my way to yoga. It's a good message for someone to see on their way to yoga, but it kind of makes me sad because yoga class is about the only time that my life is ever simple. And I wonder about the guitar. Would taking guitar lessons help simplify my life? I don't think so. My son takes guitar lessons, and judging from the looks of his desk, his life is far from simple.

Everyone probably wants to simplify their life in some way. Just look at the success of "Real Simple Magazine." I love their ideas and if I can ever afford to hire a staff, I might try some, but right now I somehow don't think having staff would simplify my life the same way liquidating all my assets and running off to a desert island would.

I want to
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but it's not always that simple.

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"Horizontal Loyalty" This is a BLogger/Writer Must-Read

Ed Yong, writing for Discover online, shared in his May 12th blog Robert Krulwich's speech to the 2011 graduating class from Berkeley's School of Journalism.  "'There are some people who don't wait.' Robert Krulwich on the future of journalism"
One of my mentors shared this blog with me and I feel it is so important, so encouraging and inspirational, I want to share it with you. You should read it if you are a blogger, a journalist, a want-to-be journalist, a novelist, a want-to-be novelist, a film-maker, etc.  Anyone with a dream of having their writing reach an audience.

Let the "Horizontal Loyalty" begin.

A Cubs/Old Style Brew-ha-ha

Because the high temperature today will be in the mid-forties with the wind gusting to thirty off the lake, it means it's my turn to go to the Cubs game this afternoon. Natch.

The only good thing about going to a game on a day like today is the beer stays cold. But acitymom foresees that in the near future she will have a bit of a dilemma in this area. You see, she's such a hard core Cub fan she refuses to drink a St. Louis beer (Budweiser) at Wrigley Field. She will drink Old Style instead, which sometimes causes the husband to sit far, far away from her.

But here's my impending dilemma; if the makers of Old Style move to Los Angeles, Old Style/Pabst HQ to move to LA does this mean acitymom can't drink any beer when the Cubs play the LA Dodgers?