Monday, March 30, 2015

Things I never thought I'd search on Youtube

Once upon a time, Arizona taught high school math. I have to believe he was very good at it, because he taught me to mountain bike with wonderful positivity. I remember gems such as: "Awesome climb, sweetie! Just keep breathing and you'll be able to feel your face in no time" and "Way to fall! You're getting so much better at tucking in your hands and leading with your helmet." (I jest. But only a little.) Furthermore, I've had the pleasure to getting to know several of his former students as friends, and they're unanimous in his praise. (Which I get to pass along to him because he's allergic to Facebook.) 

Back in the day, another of his students gifted him with a mix CD of cool music, and I must say, the kid had taste beyond his years. Said CD has traveled with Arizona for more than a decade, and the songs now reside on our familial iTunes playlist under said student's name. Which isn't half bad as a legacy goes, don't you think? 

The problem arises, however, when we want to identify the artists and see if we like anything else they've done--it's just not practical to search for '(Insert student's name) Track # 7'. So we tend to pull up Youtube on the TV and search for random lyric snippets. This works better than you'd think, and even when it doesn't work, it's entertaining.

Arizona: Search for 'never going to give you up.'

Me: Because that's not at all generic. (Types it in.) Not Rick Astley. Nope, not that one either. (Scrolls down.) Maybe Butthole Gorillas? The name has the right level of grunge.

Arizona: Try it. (Listens. Winces.) Nope. Okay, let's go back for more lyrics. 

(We do. We type in another line. Up pops the search results.)

In chorus: Linkin Park! Duh. Of course.

I realize there are more sophisticated ways of doing this, like actual lyric search engines and apps that listen to the song for you and pull up reams of information, including the title, artist, date, copyright, and what the songwriter had for breakfast last Tuesday. But we like the Youtube theory, and it's remarkably effective. 

Granted, our Youtube playlist has gotten increasingly random with the addition of Baby Wallaby, who is 10 weeks old today, and loves to rock out to loud music, the more repetitive and the harder the bass, the better. If you had asked Arizona or me a year ago whether we'd ever dance around the house to Katy Perry or that "Geronimo" song, we would've laughed our butts off. 'Nuff said.

While the current hits are easy to find, some of Wallaby's other favorites have required more sophisticated Youtube searches, like "repeated loop of the Sprint narwhal song" (good luck forgetting THAT). And then there was the other day …

Me: (singing randomly to baby)

Arizona: (starts to sing along from the other room, then asks) Is that a real song?

Me: (considers it) I don't have a clue. I guess my mom used to sing it to me. It could be the chorus from something real, I guess.

Arizona: Look and see.

Me: Seriously? You want me to search Youtube for 'ooh eee ooh ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang'? 

Arizona: Why not?

And you know what? It worked, and ... It really is a song, and we've been dancing to it ever since.

Flock of Seagulls hairdo baby approves of this playlist. What's on yours?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Fox, the Goose and the Grain (or, technically, the Kid, the Cat and Me)

It's going to be a busy day. Mind you, I booked the appointments, so any resulting chaos is entirely on me. But somehow I wound up with a 9 a.m. visit to the pediatrician, a 12:30 at the vet's and a 3:40 at the gyno. Sounds like a party going someplace to happen, doesn't it? In an effort to keep it a *good* party, I am going to operate today on the following to-do list:

1. Bring Wallaby to pediatrician for 9 a.m. Fortunately, the office is right around the corner from our Little House In The Trees, and I remembered to give him a bath last night. If I put him in a completely random, non-matching outfit, he will likely refrain from spitting up the instant I have him fully strapped in his car seat (the reverse is also true). While he and I will likely be traumatized by the administration of his baby shots, we can afterwards be soothed by a boob and a chocolate donut, respectively.

2. Back home, hang with Wallaby, read Just-So Stories, dance to his favorites (much to Arizona's concern, he's a fan of Katy Perry), and when he conks out, attempt to write that last scene for the upcoming long novella (STARTING OVER AT MUSTANG RIDGE, available … er … soon-ish). 

3. Make sure Lucy T. Cat (known at the vet's office as Cujo) doesn't get let out past midmorning. Once she's confirmed to be inside, retrieve the Hated Cat Carrier (HCC) and leave it in an appropriate spot. (This is my corgis' old carrier, as Lucy is too big and mean to use Pixel's soft-and-cuddly little kitty carrier. Cujo needs plastic sides and metal bars.)

4. Starting around 11:30, monitor Lucy. When she goes into a room with a door, shut said door.

5. Around noon, hand off Wallaby to his father (thanking the powers that be that we both work from home) wrestle HCC into Room With Cat. Commence Cat Insertion Procedure. Apply Band-Aids as needed.

6. Bring cat-containing HCC to vet. Allow the techs to whisk Cujo and her container into the back, where they do vet stuff, mostly through the bars.

7. Return home and release the pissed-off cat to go sulk under some furniture. Probably discover that Arizona has fed Wallaby all three Daddy Snack bottles that were in the fridge, despite them being marked for different days. Get an hour of good writing done because baby is dead asleep.

8. Look at clock, discover it's 3:15, remember I meant to shower and shave. Curse, put Arizona back in charge of Wallaby, and zoom off to yet another doctor's office.

9. Come home, give self high-five for making it through the list. And maybe a cookie. Probably a cookie. Then write more. Did I mention that I need to finish this novella?

Heck, definitely a cookie.

So how about you? What's on tap for your busy day this week?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Home Depot Date

Back when I had my farm, there were long stretches when it seemed like every penny went to repairs--whether to the property, a piece of equipment, or one of the horses. That new truck the vet was driving? Yeah, pretty sure it should've had my name on the vanity plate. 

So you'd think that the inevitable trips to Home Depot would've been a chore--Except that I lived way out in the country (by New England standards, at any rate) and was in a weird mental place, so sometimes the drive into 'town' was my only outside face-to-face contact for weeks at a time. The ex and I joked about Home Depot dates, and went through the McDonalds drive-thru on the way home to mend fences--physically, at least.

When I called it quits on that lifestyle, I was grateful to hole up in my post-breakup apartment and call my landlady when the plumbing dripped into the basement or a mystery water stain appeared in the corner of the bedroom. And when Arizona came along, I made it clear that I wasn't looking for a fixer-upper on any level.

Now, he's a handy guy, and I've done more than my share of plumbing, wiring and construction projects (see above re: owning a farm), so we could conceivably do most of what needs doing as home owners. But the thing is … we don't have to. We intentionally bought a place that didn't need much work aside from cosmetics, freeing us to use more of our free time for, well, free-time stuff. Fishing. Biking. Kayaking. Watching the entirety of Breaking Bad in a weekend. You know--the important things!

We still have the occasional Home Depot Date, but they're usually because of non-emergency upgrade-type projects around the house. (I sincerely hope I haven't jinxed myself by putting that in writing!) Gaskets and sealant to install a depth finder in the big kayak, lumber to build my floating desk, a storm door to help keep out the cold. 

I wouldn't say I've upgrade my post-HD dining options, as many of Arizona's and my milestones have occurred at Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried. However, those meals are savored as naughty grease-and-sodium-filled exceptions to our diets rather than scarfed as fuel on the run, and we both enjoy these occasional forays into the world of DIY consumerism.

This past weekend, in preparation for the arrival of the Big Brown Couch, we crafted a plan to move the TV and wires and such to a new wall, and dress the old TV wall with two large pictures that Arizona's mother had brought over at her last visit. So we  hied ourselves off to Big Orange with our to-do list in hand. And, as we loaded our cart with the various odds and ends we would require, Arizona pulled out his phone and snapped a picture

and he said, "Look, it's baby's first Home Depot Date!"

Here's to many more. And to you, my ReaderFriends (especially those beginning to emerge from a snowy winter), may your shopping lists be short and your Home Depot Dates non-emergency.

Doc Jess

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Tale of my Manky Old Sofa

Beat up old couch has
Viewed many things good and bad
What will new couch see?

Since his 2001 purchase from Jordans Furniture (a rather strange New England megastore that offers popcorn, daily Mardi Gras parades and an Omni theater), my Big Green couch has been with me through three moves, six housecats (no, autocorrect, I have no housecoats), two corgis, five publishers, fifty novels, three literary agents, a breakup, dating, true love, a wedding, a baby, and approximately two thousand frozen pizzas. 

In the next week or so, he will go on Facebook and Craigslist as "Big old beat to hell sectional couch plus ottoman, free for the taking. Cushions all have newer (3 years) removable slipcovers from Pottery Barn. Fifteen years old, one owner, exposed to cats, dogs, salad dressing and general chaos. L-shaped, 102" per side, very comfortable, especially if you've got your eyes closed. Possibly suitable for Great Danes, teenagers, frat parties, maybe a game room? You decide. Free. Must pick up, and our driveway doubles as a ski jump. You can keep whatever you find under the cushions."

Because, you see, Monster Brown is on the way.

As part of our 'being actual grownups with a budget and sh*t' protocol, Arizona and I each get a set amount of fun money per month. His usually goes to mountain bike parts, while I tend to spend some of mine on clothes and girls' nights out, and set aside the rest for some future purchase. I had planned on splurging on a dude ranch vacation for two this summer or the next, but now that'll be put off a few more years until Wallaby is old enough to enjoy the adventure and I'm relatively sure that he won't start lobbying for a pony. 

Meanwhile, over the past year I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch, what with pregnancy making it far more comfortable to write in the living room than at a desk, and now a little one to feed and entertain while sneaking in some writing. And did I mention that the living room is one of the two rooms we routinely heat, along with Arizona's office, and this winter has been flipping cold? Ergo, I have logged lots of miles on Big Green, and have finally been forced to admit that my once super comfortable friend is less so these days.

Mind you, he's been fugly for a while--stained, clawed-up and smooshed down, with a not very well done replacement cushion on the ottoman and wearing blue slipcovers made of an outdoor fabric that I bought for its durability and stain resistance, not realizing it would have the cuddle factor of sandpaper and produce friction burns at inopportune moments. 

Still, Arizona and I had planned on keeping Big Green another few years, until Wallaby and the puppy-to-be-acquired-at-a-later-date are both housebroken. That is, until the other day, when Arizona joined me to feed Wallaby on the basement pull-out-bed couch for a change of scenery--and even though Downstairs Couch was relatively inexpensive and primarily serves as our guest bed, we both confessed that we found him more comfortable than Big Green. Which, we decided, meant it was time.

Thus on Saturday, after doing the necessary measurements and online research, and assuring my hubby that I really consider buying a new couch *fun* and thus don't mind using my fun money for the purchase, seeing how our house money is currently tied up with hospital bills from Wallaby's arrival (high deductible plan, 'nuff said), the three of us hied off to Bob's Discount Furniture (which lacks the carnival atmosphere of Jordans, but is rather less spendy) to test drive sectionals. And then on Sunday, we rearranged the living room in anticipation of Monster Brown's arrival in a week or so, looking forward to having a new piece of furniture that's all the same color and doesn't have a single claw mark (yet). 

What will Monster Brown see me through? Will we get fourteen years out of him as I did Big Green? How crazy to think of Wallaby as a teenager, Arizona and I in our mid-fifties. Who will we be then? What will I be writing? Will we have made it to Australia yet? How about that dude ranch? I don't know, as that's all crystal ball stuff. But it's fun to think about … and it'll be even funner next Monday, when I'm doing that thinking from my gel-foam chaise at the end of my fun-money sofa.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Tribbles with No Troubles

I don't feel qualified to give an epitaph of Leonard Nimoy when so many have already done it better than I would. I mean, dude got this from the International Space Station: 

So I'll just tell a little story.

After connecting on, Arizona and I did the long-distance thing for more than a month before we met in person--I'm not a phone person (as in, actively phobic; I can count on one hand the people I will voluntarily speak to by phone, and that includes the pizza place), he hates Skype (says it makes his nose look like it needs its own zip code), so we emailed fast and furious leading up to that momentous first date. 

He arrived bearing gifts. Not flowers and chocolate, but a pocket knife and a fur-lined hat to match the one he was wearing, it being December and frigidly cold. Which pretty much sums up his lovely approach to romance: You are mine, and therefore I want to keep you safe and warm. A couple of weeks later, he brought me a Christmas gift in a paper bag--a life jacket, which took it to the next level, not only saying he wanted to keep me safe, but also that he fully intended for us to be together come boating weather, and that he wanted to include me in that part of his life. 

I'm sad to report that I lost that pocket knife to the TSA, having forgotten to unload it from my purse before a flight. I still have the hat, though. In fact, our household is home to six or seven of those fur-edged hats, as Arizona tends to find clothing he likes and buy multiples. (When we were first dating, I thought he only had two shirts and one pair of pants. It turned out that he had three of everything.) 

So there we were one day, in the little apartment we shared part-time back when he was still working in NYC, when I noticed that all but one of our hats had wound up sitting in the corner of our beat-up sectional sofa, mostly fur-side up, looking like a chinchilla den or something.

Me (pointing out the conjunction): Wonder what they're doing?

Arizona (takes his hat off, tosses it into the mix): Tribble orgy. 

It was one of those couple moments that makes you think, 'yes, this is the one.' How could you not love a guy who's mind immediately goes to a Tribble fur pile? I mean, really. 

Indeed, our first few messages back on had invoked red shirts, Vulcan mindsets, and a variety of other geek-isms that proved we had a shared language. Do we share everything? Hell, no. That'd be boring. But the love of good (and bad) sci-fi is a tie that binds. Just like that old saying … Live long, and prosper.