An “All I Do Is Win” Kind of Day

Yesterday I won a writing competition where I thought I had absolutely no shot. Today I won a travel grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tomorrow’s my birthday. THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD WEEK.

After school today I came home, changed into jeans and a sweatshirt, and then blasted “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled. I danced around my kitchen with my dog because no one else was home to celebrate with me. The beagle and I brought down the house, y’all. I even danced with a treat in my hand so that he would jump around with me until the song was over. When the lyrics would say “Everybody’s hands go up! And they stay there,” I held the treat right over his head so his paws would – you guessed it – go up and then stay there. He’s got some mad skills in the choreography department. We should go on tour.

I tried to find a picture of a dancing beagle to put with this post, maybe something like this…

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But then I found this “dancing beagle sculpture” and you’re getting this picture too because, um, because LOOK AT IT:

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Life is a roller coaster of wins and losses, but it’s worth cherishing a win (or two) when you get it. Find a win today, and take a second to celebrate it. Dance with your dog/cat/goldfish/invisible friend. Here’s your soundtrack if you need it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGXzlRoNtHU

The Amazing Toilet Shower Combo (This Is Not as Gross as It Sounds)

To my European readers, and to those who have been to Europe – have you ever used the toilet while simultaneously showering?  Because I haven’t done this, but I’m wondering if it’s a thing.

I was at a very nice hotel last weekend for a work conference. The hotel is described on its website as having “a very European feel.”  The reviews on the hotel confirmed this, with multiple people claiming that, “Yes, it feels very European.”  I’m wondering if these people haven’t actually been to Europe, or if my travels to European countries have simply not prepared me for what “Europe” is actually like.

Side note: Last time I was in Europe was in Germany, and I got bags of Haribo gummy bears on my pillow every day.  This was awesome.  I hoped for gummy bears at this very European hotel, but no dice.  What I got instead of gummy bears was a piece of plywood and a freaky shower.

Our room seemed pretty standard until my friend went into the bathroom and said, “Whoa. What the…?!  What is that?” Obviously that means, “Something awesome and potentially blogworthy is lurking in the bathroom.”

I walked into the smallest hotel bathroom I’ve ever seen.  My friend and I couldn’t both stand in there without being vaguely snuggly, but we crunched in to look at the “shower.”  A shower head snaked out of the ceiling, but there were no walls.  There was an optional curtain that, when closed, took up most of the bathroom. I texted my husband and said, “Ummm…I’m going to have to shower in this.”

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He texted back, “I’m confused…you’re going to shower in the toilet??”

I said no and told him to look at the top of the picture.  Then he said that technically, I could shower while on the toilet if I wanted to because they’re practically on top of each other.  Also, the shower head can spray in whatever direction I’d like.

He’s right.  It made me wonder if time-strapped business people have ever done both at once in a gross multi-tasking initiative.  “Raise productivity, team!  Don’t take time to use the bathroom and a separate time to shower!  That’s archaic!”  Now if only phones were waterproof so they could check e-mails while also showering and pooping…ultimate productivity.

As if the shower wasn’t weird enough, a piece of wood was sticking out by the side of the sink.  I pulled it out and asked my friend if she knew what it was for.  She didn’t know.  We conjectured that possibly it was a handicap seat for the shower, but we couldn’t find anywhere to affix it.

So then I was standing there holding a wooden board in the bathroom/shower, and I couldn’t help but wonder what about this is “very European”?

Eventually we found a little white card (laminated so that it won’t get wet).  It said that the “wooden mat” is provided so that we can put it down by the sink after a shower and stand on it.  That way our feet won’t get wet on the tile.

I would have loved to be at the board meeting where someone said, “Yes, the soaking of the entire bathroom is an issue… I know!  We’ll give the guests wooden planks to stand on!  Problem solved.” I have to imagine that was at the end of the meeting, and everyone approved the idea just so they could go home at the end of a long day (and then shower in their normal showers).

This is the nicest hotel in town, and I had to put down a piece of wood by the sink in order to dry my hair? That doesn’t feel European to me. That feels…I have no idea what continent that feels like.  Possibly Antarctica, because I’ve never been there and I feel like their floors are probably really cold.  “Hey Joe, did you bring that mat with us?  I want to put it on the floor in here so my toes don’t freeze to the tile.”  Yes, that’s logical.

I’m going to leave a review on the hotel’s website that says, “My stay was very nice, but I found the decor and amenities to be more Antarctic than European.”

Maybe I’m not sophisticated enough to appreciate the chic shower.  I guess I’m more of a good ol’ American Holiday Inn type of girl.

Gray

I haven’t seen the sun in weeks.  WEEKS.  I’m like a freaking hibernating bear, except I didn’t gain a bunch of weight before winter and I still have to pee every day.

Well, I did eat a lot of food at Thanksgiving… I might have gotten a little chunkier there… but since I’m still peeing, I’m not hibernating.  That is official.  So, since I’m not hibernating, WHERE IS THE SUN?!

Michigan winters are the worst.  The. worst.  There’s a permacloud that covers this state from November until around April, and at this point in time I am so over it.  There’s no snow right now, there’s no sun…it’s simply gray.  Everything’s gray.  The naked trees are black silhouettes against a dull sky, and spring is nowhere in sight.

This is why seasonal affective disorder is a thing, people.  Humans need the sun.  I distinctly remember the last time we had a somewhat sunny day – it was a couple weeks ago (WEEKS).  The sun peeked out from behind a cloud, and I literally stopped teaching, looked out my window, and said, “Amazing!  It DOES exist!  I had forgotten what it looked like!  It’s so….shiny.”  My class laughed, but I was only 98% joking.

It’s tough to keep my mood up when the weather is like this for weeks on end.  I don’t feel like going outside (it’s freezing and gray), but being inside makes me feel cooped up. I realized lately that I haven’t wanted to write, and that is concerning.  One of the first things that happens when I’m going into depression is that I stop wanting to do all of my favorite things.  I’ve taken naps for the last three days in a row.  I sleep sleep sleep and then wake up and think there’s really no point to getting out of bed anyway.  I noticed that my lesson plan book has started having blank spots again where I forgot to make lessons.  Eeeeeep!  I don’t want to be depressed, but I feel like I’m watching a movie where all of the color slowly fades out of a picture until it’s black and white.

Come back, colors!  I need you in my life!  I guess a black and white picture is still okay, but it’s dangerous because a deep depression is where that black and white picture fades totally to black.  Then I’m in serious trouble.

I keep telling myself it’s the weather.  It’s gotta be the weather, right?  I’ll be fine in spring.  I’ll just live life in black and white for a while.  It matches the landscape.  I’ve always been a fan of matching.

Except you know what?  I don’t LIKE black and white. I want my life to be colorful again.  I want to wake up every morning being happy that I’m alive and feeling like, “Okay, I can do this day!”  I don’t want to simply exist.  As I said, though, it’s like watching the color fade from a picture.  What can you do to get the color back?  It just gets paler and paler and then it’s gone.  I’m not entirely sure how to fight back here.

I wish I was a bear.  Those lucky  dudes get to skip winter altogether.

When Your Celebrities…Aren’t

I’ve covered in other posts like this one that my husband loves grouse hunting, and most people have no idea what that is.

Today he was listening to a podcast about grouse (because that is apparently a real podcast topic, people).  He got super excited and said, “Hazel!  You would not believe who this guy got as a guest speaker on his podcast show!  It’s a huge celebrity!”

I could not for the life of me think of a “huge celebrity” who has ever expressed a modicum of interest in upland bird hunting.  Well, I’m pretty sure the British royal family bird hunts in Scotland or something, but I sincerely doubted the QUEEN was a guest speaker on this dude’s podcast.  So I said, “Who, Andy?  Who’s the huge celebrity?”

His eyes got wide with excitement as he said, “The senior adviser to Dogtra!”

I said, “Wow!  That’s amazing!” because clearly that was the only appropriate response to that revelation.  In my head, however, I said, “Note to self: Google ‘Dogtra.’  Or did he say ‘Dogstra’?  Crap, I already forgot.  Figure this out.”

So then I Googled “dogtra” when he wasn’t looking, and I found pictures like this.  I’m still not sure what the company does.  Is that a shock collar?  Is it a GPS collar?  Is it something else totally different?  MY HUSBAND HAS THE WEIRDEST HOBBY.

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While looking at these pictures, I found myself thinking, “What does this senior adviser even do?  Does he advise on collar design?  Marketing?  Field testing these things on actual dogs?  What is this company, and why is this man a huge celebrity in the grouse hunting world?”

Then eventually I gave up because I think this is one of those things that my husband loves, but try as I might I don’t think I’m ever going to fully get it.  I don’t have to get it to be pumped that my husband heard a great podcast from the senior adviser to Dogrta!  I can probably get you the link if you want it.  This is clearly a big deal.

The Ugly Chair

As I type this, I’m sitting in the ugly chair.  The chair arrived in our living room as a practical joke over a month ago, and we’re going to get rid of it.  Really.  Probably soon.

…but it’s so comfy.

My husband brought it home because his parents were throwing it out (they wanted to get it out of their garage.  It has been living there instead of in their house because it is so very ugly).  He put it in our living room as a joke, and when I got home I did find it very funny.  It doesn’t match our living room furniture at all, and if it was ever in style (which I doubt), it probably peaked in around 1984.  Ha ha, very funny Andy, now get that chair outta here.

Except then I made the horrible mistake of sitting in the chair.

I would show you a picture of this chair, but I can’t do that because I am smart enough to know that the manufacturer probably made more than one.  There is someone on the internet somewhere in the world who has this chair.  Or someone’s very sweet Great-Aunt Nellie has this chair, and they would be offended if I besmirched their Great-Aunt Nellie’s taste.  Therefore, no picture of the chair.

I will tell you, though, that it is a slate blue recliner with brown wooden arms.  There is a weird stitching design on it that is tough to describe, but personally I think it looks like hundreds of hot dogs – little Barbie-sized hot dogs.  The stuffing in the chair is yellow.  I know this because there are a few places where it is peeking out around the hot dogs.

THIS CHAIR IS UGLY (no offense to your Great-Aunt Nellie).

I tried thinking of ways to make it less ugly.  There are so slip covers that would cover this odd shape, and having the chair reupholstered would cost way more than it’s worth.  Finally I decided to buy a throw blanket to try to distract from the chair’s, um, essence.  I thought if I could make it look more normal, maybe it could stay.  My new throw is very comfy and soft, but it didn’t do much for the chair.  It’s like trying to dress up an ostrich.  No matter what you put on it, it’s going to look ridiculous.

Now we’re entering dangerous territory.  We put the chair in a perfect corner of the room “just until we get rid of it.”  We brought over a lamp to give extra light “only until we get rid of it.”  Andy told me he’s bringing up an extra end table to put next to it “so that I can put my coffee there.  You know, just until we get rid of it.”

Y’all, I am seriously concerned that WE MIGHT KEEP THIS CHAIR.

Andy had one of his friends over the other day, and I almost apologized: “I am sorry about the chair in our living room…it was a practical joke that has gone awry.”  Then I thought that possibly the only thing weirder than having an ugly chair is bringing attention to the fact that yes, we know the chair is ugly, we both say we’re getting rid of it, but we both secretly love it.

Eh, it’s not like I was ever going to be in Better Homes and Gardens anyway.  Who cares if my living room looks a little bizarre?  The chair is, uh, a statement piece.  YES – a statement piece.  I’m not sure what the statement is, though…possibly “life was better in the eighties” or  “don’t conform to modern societal trends” or “eat more hot dogs.”  I guess it can be interpreted in a number of ways.  What a deep chair.

The chair can be a boost to my self-esteem, too.  When I look in the mirror and feel ugly, I can think, “Yes, but I’m not as ugly as that horrible chair.”  Then I can walk downstairs, look at the chair, and laugh.  Then I’ll feel better, because everyone knows that laughing is healthy.  This is a medicinal chair.

Have I made enough justifications yet?  Can I keep the chair?  (Better Homes and Gardens editors need not comment).

Excuse me while I take a nap in this comfy thing.

NYE 2017 – Pugsley’s Adventure

It was supposed to be a nineties party.  I was looking forward to dancing to NSync, rocking my scrunchie and body glitter, and using a beanie baby as a socially acceptable accessory. It didn’t quite turn out how I anticipated.

Andy and I were visiting friends in Detroit for New Year’s Eve.  They suggested this party at a local social hall.  I didn’t even know social halls were still a thing, and I was picturing the 1950’s dance halls where people are all, “May I have this dance?” and then they sock hop and drink fizzies.  Except it was a nineties party, so I amended my view to replace Elvis with Britney and replaced the poodle skirts with polyester windbreakers.

My friends and I got pretty dressed up for this.  I had a high pony tail on top of my head, denim like whoa, and a dog beanie baby peeking out of my wallet.  Andy wore a windbreaker jacket and a backwards baseball cap.  We were ready to party like it was 1999.

WELL.  When we walked in, I saw men in tuxedos and realized, “Okay, this is not what I was expecting.”  We’d already paid the cover to get in, so it wasn’t like we were going to leave.  We couldn’t go, but we looked ridiculous staying.  Lots of the guys were super dressed up, and many of the girls were…not wearing much.  Honestly.  I’ve been in Victoria’s Secret dressing rooms where people had more on.  Lest you think I’m simply a girl who’s never been to a real party, let’s please take a moment to remember that I LIVED IN LAS VEGAS.  I have seen my fair share of sexy.  At one point I saw a girl, turned to my friend, and said, “I literally don’t understand the physics of that top.  How are her boobs staying in the fabric?”  It was low cut, wide cut, all the cut.  I have to believe her boobs made a break for freedom by the end of the night, but if they did then I missed it.

Let’s review: I was wearing “denim like whoa,” a sky high ponytail, and my husband was in a windbreaker and a baseball cap.  Our friends were dressed like us.  The four of us stuck out like the Fresh Prince when he got to Bel Air.  I guess it wasn’t a dress-up party.

Also, there was no dancing.  NONE.  We stood there awkwardly for a minute before my friend said, “Oh my gosh you guys, I am so sorry…should we leave?  We look ridiculous.”  The thing is that I am very cheap, so I didn’t want to leave when we’d already paid.  I said, “No way!  This is cool. We’ll rock these outfits and…um…find something to do.”

The star of the night was Pugsley the beanie baby, who gave us lots of photo ops and took us on an adventure.  Now I get to share that adventure with you.  Happy New Year, y’all.

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This is how it all started.  I put Pugsley on a railing and said, “Look, Pugsley’s having a great time.  He hasn’t been out in decades.”  Then we decided to let him really live it up.

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This is Pugsley waiting outside of a bathroom.  Despite the writing on the wall behind him, he got no action.  Bummer.

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This is Pugsley being the ref for our table hockey game.  For the record, Andy and I won.  We did have the ref (literally) in our back pocket, so that might have helped.

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This is Pugsley keeping guard in a creepy stairwell so that we didn’t run into any rapists or serial killers.  That would have been a sucky way to start the new year.

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In this bathroom, I said to the girl on the right, “Oh my word, I love your top.  Is it a bra or a shirt?”  Because I honestly could not tell.  Her jacket is covering it up in this picture.  The funniest part was when she responded, “I have no idea…it could really be either one.  I just thought, ‘this is cute!  I’m wearing it!'”  Pugsley had to get a picture with them.  The girls are now major Pugsley fans.

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We decided to head downtown to watch the ball drop.  Pugsley hailed us a cab.

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It was almost midnight, so we had to hurry up.

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Pugsley finally found something from the nineties! Time to party like we’re installing this storm drain…

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Downtown, Pugsley fell in with a rough crowd and picked up a bad habit…  Don’t worry, he swears 2017 will be the year he quits.

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He found his way back to us and perched on Andy’s shoulder to watch the ball drop.  Happy New Year!

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When we got back to the apartment, Pugsley told his friends all about his adventure (the friends were going to go with my friends but got left behind).  The dog was clearly appalled – look at his face! – but I think the sheep has been around the block once or twice.  He looks bored.  I guess maybe he’ll show us how to party next year.

It’s 2016 – Why Am I Being Stuffed in a Pringle Can?

Last week I had an MRI to check on my brain tumor.  I’ve recently named my tumor “Bob the Brian Blob,” because we’ve been together for a few years now and I feel like the little dude deserves a name.  Plus, it’s easier to channel my anger when I’m mad about it.  Debilitating headache? “Damn it, Bob! Cut it out!”  More pills to take? “Let’s raise a glass to you, Bob.”  I really think Bob and I should break up because our relationship isn’t very healthy, but he’s one of those guys who’s very difficult to ghost.  We’re pretty deeply attached.

Anyway, the doctor wanted some pictures of Bob, so I went in for this MRI.  I hate MRIs.  “Wait,” I hear my mother saying. “Hate is such a strong word.”

You’re right, Mom.  *ahem* I HAAAAAAAAAAAAATE MRIs!! HATE HATE HATE HATE.”  For real.

What I would like to know is why, in the year 2016, we have not found an easier way to take pictures of my brain.  When I get an MRI, it feels like I’m being stuffed in a Pringle can.  My head is locked into a cage that feels like a strange football helmet, and then they slide me into this skinny slot in a machine that surrounds my body on all sides.  It makes me wonder if I would be able to escape if the building started burning down and the technicians ran away and forgot about me.  Probably yes, but you never really know.  Look at this thing:

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DO YOU SEE THE OBVIOUS RESEMBLANCE?  I’M A FREAKIN CHIP.

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I feel like Apple really should have made an app for this by now.  There are apps for almost everything.  Don’t believe me?  There’s an app called “Carrr Matey” that helps you navigate to your lost car by giving you directions in a pirate voice.  There’s an app called “Run and Pee” that tells you all of the most boring parts in movies so that you know when to take a bathroom break.  Humanity has teams developing apps for those things, but none for pictures of brains?

Okay actually, forget apps.  There should be a snapchat filter for this.  No thanks on the dog tongue or the face swap – let’s use an x-ray filter that lets me see inside my body.  Smile, Bob!  Time for a selfie!

Basically, this is my official complaint to the technological masterminds of America.  I don’t care if I miss an exciting part in a movie – maybe I shouldn’t have ordered the large slushie.  I can find my own car. I don’t need to swap faces.  Please just find a way to take pictures of Bob without forcing people to pop me in a Pringle can for an hour.  I don’t like it.

It’s Christmas Eve – You Still Have Time To Go Get a Dog

Everyone should have a dog.  When you’re sitting and crying, your dog can jump up, put paws on both of your shoulders, and give you a look that says, “Suck it up.  It’s Christmas Eve.  You shouldn’t cry on Christmas Eve.”  If you’re wondering, a beagle is the perfect sized dog for such comforting.

If you’re wondering why I was sitting on my kitchen floor crying, I’ll tell you.  That’s not really the point though.  The point is that it’s Christmas EVE, so it’s not too late to go buy yourself/a loved one/your boss/the mayor/random homeless person a dog for Christmas.  I highly recommend it.

I was sitting on my kitchen floor crying because, even with all of my family in town, I felt very alone.  My husband is working today.  My sister hasn’t replied to my texts all week, even though I know she’s home on break at my parents’ house (ten minutes away), and she could come over if she wanted to.  She’s been very weird around me ever since my bipolar diagnosis last year.  I asked her about it once, and she said, “I just don’t know what to say…I figure if you ever need help you’ll tell me.”  Maybe I don’t need help…I simply need a friend. I tried telling her that, but here we are months later and she still doesn’t talk to me unless she needs a paper proofread.

My brother used to be another one of my best friends, but he found a witch of a girlfriend a few months ago, and she immediately cut off his contact with all of his friends (I kid you not.  A month or two after they started dating I asked why he dropped off the face of the map and doesn’t respond to my texts/calls anymore, and he said, “Oh yeah, about that…I’m not allowed to talk to you or a lot of my friends because Courtney doesn’t like it.  Could you actually stop texting me please?  She checks my phone, and I get in trouble if I was talking to you.”).  Oooookay.  Four months after they met, he proposed.  So now said witch is going to be my sister-in-law, and she’s going to be at all of our family events this Christmas.  Also, looks like I lost one of my best friends for…the foreseeable future?  Forever?  Around an hour ago he texted something like, “I love you!  Merry Christmas!” and I thought, “Whoa!  He texted me!”  But a text quickly followed that said, “Uhh…wrong person, sorry.”  Oh.

Last, my husband’s sister is in town from Boston.  She used to be Andy’s best friend.  In high school, you didn’t invite one somewhere without the other.  Once she went away to college (she’s one year older than him), she kind of decided family was “so last year,” and has never been close to anyone in his family again, despite everyone’s attempts to stay in touch.  We went out for dinner with her this week, but everything was so….shallow and awkward.  It sucks.  A long time ago, I was the one she called when she broke up with her boyfriend so I could be there with chocolate and chick flicks.  She was in my wedding.  Now she’s practically a stranger.

And I guess that’s why I was sitting on my kitchen floor crying – because family members are supposed to be your best friends, and mine simply…aren’t anymore.  I know Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of year, but for everyone out there struggling with Christmas cheer for one reason or another – know that it’s okay.  You’re not alone in that.

Also, you should probably get a dog.  One concerned beagle look and a couple of face licks later, I was feeling much better.  Now I’ve gotta get back in there and make the rest of the food for our Christmas Eve potluck tonight.

Merry Christmas, everyone – especially to you blog folks who have showed me so much support that you’ve practically become family this year.  I don’t know where I’d be without you.  Thank you so, so much.

Oops…An Accidentally Profane E-mail to My Boss

It wasn’t that profane.  It was ONE WORD profane, and it was an accidental word.  But when I work at arguably the most conservative Christian school in the country…it was kind of embarrassing.

I didn’t even notice it, and I always preach to my students about the importance of proofreading.  I remembered to proofread the e-mail itself, but clearly I forgot to proofread the greeting.  Therefore I sent it, and my e-mail started like this:

“Hell Tom,”

I didn’t even notice it until I got a one line e-mail back that said, “Hey!  Watch your language!!!!”  It also included an angry emoji.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

People – I can’t even wear nail polish at this school.  I have to wear skirts everyday.  None of my students have televisions at home.  I can’t say, “Oh my goodness” because that is too profane.  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  And, in that community, I just started an e-mail to my boss with the line “Hell Tom.”

I’m pretty sure a past version of me would have immediately freaked out that I was going to be fired and that this mistake was the end of the world, but the current version of me started laughing.  That’s such a duuuummmmb mistake, but clearly I meant “hello.”  I can’t get in trouble for anything other than being a poor proofreader (in which case, guilty as charged).  I also figured the fact that he included an emoji in his response meant that his e-mail was joking (and it was).  I don’t think my boss has ever used emojis, ever.  Or swear words, come to think of it.  I sent back a quick apology and moved on.

Honestly, I would love to use this as an example of the importance of proofreading to my students, but that would include the word “hell” and would probably get me fired.  Alas.  For my readers who are teachers, go ahead and steal that example if your school isn’t as conservative as mine.

Words I will make sure to proofread very closely from now on:

Hello

Shot

Funk

Ask

Botch

Phewf!  Lesson learned (the hard way).  Proofread your e-mails, folks.

A Poem About What’s Wrong With Society

I think I’m finally in love

It’s just how they described

It’s what I have been dreaming of

For my entire life

 

I can’t take my eyes off his face

He’s beautiful and bright

My life before had a slower pace

So self-contained, finite

 

I can’t keep my hands off of him

And every time he speaks

I cater to his every whim

Even if I have to sneak

 

Some say this seems controlling

They say my love won’t be enough

But he needs me; I’m consoling

To help recharge when days are rough

 

What a love that money can buy!

I know I’ll never be alone

He is the apple of my eye

My wonderful iphone