Friday, June 29, 2007

This little light of mine.

One pop-cultural thing that is bumming me out: the re-voicing-over of the Clear Blue Easy commercial. It now says "the most sophisticated piece of technology you'll ever...ahem...you know" instead of "the most sophisticated piece of technology you'll ever pee on." Did someone really object to the idea of peeing on things? Or was it the dangling preposition? Either way, I'm far less interested in the product than I used to be. I mean I guess it still sounds and looks like a men's razor commercial instead of a soft-focus pastel joyride, but still. Copping out on "pee on"? Come on.

One physiological thing that is bumming me out: kidney pain. Yeah, my fuckin kidneys. Remember how I told you to seek medical attention if you have kidney pain? I followed my own awesome advice even though the nurses I talked to on the phone were unimpressed by my description of dull ache combined with my lack of: fever, burny pee, vomiting etc. Sooooo I'm on antibiotics again. I still believe in the d-mannose regimen. If I'd started it properly right away, I probably could've avoided the visit to urgent care, where it was cold and I sat in the exam room for 35 minutes thinking about how gross it was to be filing my nails in an exam room. Also, the doctor who spent thirty seconds with me instructed me to get a big jug of cranberry juice and drink it all.

One culinary thing that bummed me out yesterday: tempeh. I did my usual fry/braise thing with a package of tempeh, cubed, and then I sat in bed and ate the cubes absentmindedly while looking at the internets. Eventually I realized that I'd eaten all of it. And then I felt very, very bad, in ways upon which I will not elaborate, until it resolved itself, in a way that ditto.

Also, and this is not bumming me out: my boyfriend up and bought a Mustang (which I plan to refer to exclusively as "the Staaaaang"). He called me from the dealership last night as he was about to trade in his giant Chrysler, and then suddenly offered it to me instead. So I am going to buy a Concorde. Can you see me driving a large gold car (named, in fact, "Golden Large"?). Me neither, but let's get used to it together because he's cutting me an awesome deal. Do you think it's because I sleep with him sometimes?

Now I just have to figure out what to do with Fatty. Oh Fatty. She's been through a lot with me. If she were in better condition, she would still command a price of $3500. In her current condition? Maybe a buck 380.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are you some kind of hypnotist?

Here's some follow-up UTI information on why cranberry is probably doing you wrong. I do dig information and it primarily makes me feel good, but it also makes me mad. I would like a refund from every practitioner who has ever told me to drink cranberry juice to ameliorate my bladder situation. I would also like money back from the practitioner who blithely prescribed birth control pills to me in 1994 without suggesting that they might make me fat, depressed, and uninterested in sex (all of which turned out to be the case).

It's true that you need to be your own health advocate, people.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Music loud and women warm, I been kicked around since I was born.

You probably know that I'm kind of a hippie, right? I am. So it will come as no surprise to you that the reappearance of my UTI from a few weeks ago has inspired an herbal onslaught, though last night all I could think about was getting some gotdamn antibiotics. Why, you wonder, am I telling you any of this, when I could be regaling you with hilarious nephew tales and rants about sexism and advertising and housekeeping (never fear; those things will come later). Oversharing is what blogging is all about, my friends, and also I want to tell you what I have learned, because I know most of you are women, which means most of you will get a UTI at some point in your life.

When that day comes, you will find that you would almost rather die than pee because your peehole is on fire. But you have to pee SO BAD and then when you go 5 PALTRY DRIPS come out. If you are lucky like me this feeling will come on close to bedtime so that you cannot get medical attention without paying emergency room/urgent care fees, and you have a huge deductible anyway so nothing will be covered.

If you DO seek medical attention, you will be told things you already know, such as:
1. Drink lots of water.
2. Pee after sex.
3. Wipe front to back.
4. Wash your junk, but not with soap, and don't use "feminine products" that are a crock anyway.

If you are LUCKY, your medical professional will also tell you:
1. Avoid spermicides, which irritate basically everything.
2. If you're using a diaphragm, you may want to try a different BC method. Diaphragms can press against the urethra and prevent the bladder from emptying completely, thereby providing an idea breeding ground for bacteria.
(I must stress that no one ever told me this stuff; I had to find out for myself, the hard way.)

This is all sound advice. Here is some more.
1. You may be advised to drink cranberry juice. Do not. The stuff that's easiest to get is full of sugar, and bacteria just love that.

2. You can also take cranberry pills, which is preferable to drinking a bunch of natural cranberry juice anyway. Anecdotal evidence, and I am not going to cite any although I will give you some of my own, suggests that cranberry supplements are good for prevention but not perhaps for treatment.

The anecdote for my evidence goes like this: when I started feeling the ominous UTI feeling, both a few weeks ago and last night, I took a handful of cranberry pills and drank a pile of water. Shortly thereafter, my pee became so acidic that my urethra melted and I peed it out. Not really, but what I'm trying to tell you is that things suddenly got much, much worse, even in conjunction with phenazopyridine hydrochloride, the OTC analgesic that's always prescribed with antibiotics for UTIs. I do believe the cranberry pills f-ed me the f up.

3. In light of this discovery, and annoyed that the antibiotics probably hadn't gotten rid of my UTI in the first place, I read a bunch of things on the interwebs and decided to give myself another day of hippie self-care before going to the clinic, and today is that day. Self-care items include:
-Baking soda.
-Water, and lots of it.
-D-Mannose.
-Uva Ursi.
-Marshmallow infusion.
-General immune boosters (garlic, echinacea/goldenseal, good food).

4. I decided to alkalinize my system. I've had three cups of water with a half teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it. This beverage tastes about as bad as you might expect, but the peehole burning has ceased, so huzzah. I've also been eating too much sugar lately, and generally being lazy about food prep, so I bought some kale and some asparagus (both allegedly good for the bladder) and other stuff and now I am wallowing in whole food delights.

5. I also read a bunch of stuff--even digging into university online science indexes and shit--about D-Mannose, a simple sugar that binds to the sticky-fingered bacteria in your bladder, enabling you to pee them out. Ta-DAAAAA! It's sold as a supplement now and though the websites selling it often look like quacky informercials, the evidence supporting its efficacy seems legit.

6. Uva ursi (or bearberry) is also endorsed fairly universally for treating bladder complaints--but if your pee is too acidic, the herb will not be effective in getting rid of bacteria. Can I get another huzzah for baking soda?

7. Marshmallow is supposed to soothe the urinary tract. I'm doing a cold infusion (a wad in cold water over 8-12 hours), so it's not ready yet, but I'm sure it will be gross.

I mean marsh mallow the herb, not marshmallow the sugary gelatin pillow.

8. I am very grateful to live in a big metro area where these things are all readily available. I spent 50 friggin American on supplements (including some I was just replenishing--I don't know where all my damn vitamins are) today at Whole Paycheck, but it turns out I could've gone to any of my local co-ops and gotten the same supplements. I took the D-Mannose. I took the Uva ursi. I'm finna drank the marshmallow. I feel a tad listless, but that's probably because it was 87 degrees today. I feel miles better than I did last night.

9. I am not suggesting that you avoid medical attention. Burny pee ain't no joke. Your local Planned Parenthood, Minute Clinic, or other clinic can diagnose and treat a UTI very quickly. Make sure you get your urine cultured (you know, high class) so that you are diagnosed properly, and GO TO THE DOCTOR if you have kidney pain or a high fever or barfing.

10. Alls I'm saying is, antibiotics kill all the friendly bacteria in your body, sometimes leading to secondary infections like the yeasty beastie, and antibiotics may not knock out the infection you have (see above re: my peehole). I will keep you posted on my hippie remedies.

So there you have it. More public service for the ladies.

Another piece of public service: two year old boys are inappropriate. From his apparently restrictive yet arousing carseat, on the way home from church no less, Jude wailed "My penis is hard and I need to touch it NOWWWWWW."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Upper echelon-ing it.

Before you chastise me for my ten day silence, I must stress to you that I had no idea how much time had passed. Why is summer--and I know this is its first official day--always so speedy, even during its hottest, draggiest days?

I've been procrastinating on hulaseventy's handmade postcard swap, which I agreed to do eons ago. Not surprisingly, even with all the lead time, I have spent only today and yesterday coated with glue. The postcards were supposed to go out today, the first official day of summer, the longest day of the year. But tomorrow's going to be a pretty long day too, and equally good for sending mail.

My workroom looks appalling. Teeny paper squares everywhere.

I started a hip-hop (AKA "jazz/funk") dance class last night. I have a small amount of game in this department, but it became clear to me last night that I need to forge some new neural pathways in order to coordinate some of these movements. It was pretty hilariously fun, and not just because my sister Mol is teaching it and my other sister is taking it with me and even my friend LA showed up, despite an inner ear infection that is giving her not-fucking-around vertigo. I recommend taking a class where the teacher will tell you in perfect seriousness to "freak right, then freak left." You will also likely have to percolate.

I listed some vulgar gauze pantsuits on ebay and someone promptly bid on both of them. Also in ebay news this week: a buyer in Spain tried to file a paypal claim against me, even though I had already refunded her money and she had already accepted the payment. Frivolous bitch. Spanish ebayers are dead to me.

Man, will someone PLEASE take the coco-roos away from me? They actually gave me a headache TWICE recently, yet I continue to eat them.

Did you know that modeling is hard? It is. I had to do a publicity shoot this evening for an opera, which involved putting on a costume and standing on a train and looking alternately wistful, disgruntled, empowered, etc. My hair, newly cut into a pseudo-mod, pseudo Victoria Beckham cap, was all wrong for the era. We slapped a big hat on it and wrapped me in tulle and turned on the wind machine and then the photographer attempted to get me to emote. I will point you to the shots if any of them turn out. In the meantime I will point you to the Minnesota Transportation Museum, an arm of which--the Jackson Street Roundhouse--functioned as our location for the shoot. I had no idea this place existed, and it is rad. Train geek heaven.

Apropos of nothing except my own ongoing quest: have you ever read this article about time management? Dude sounds crazy, but he makes lots of good points that seem to be extra germane at this point in my life. For example: "Most people wallow way too long in the state of 'I don't know what to do.' They wait for some external force to provide them with clarity, never realizing that clarity is self-created. The universe is waiting on you, not the other way around, and it's going to keep waiting until you finally make up your mind." And also: "having a clear goal is far more important than having a clear plan."

I think I need to go write some things down.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If you set your mind free, baby, maybe you'll understand.

Great blue herons are dogging me. There are at least two on the lake near the Brit's, but for the last year or more we've been acting like there's only one and calling him "Brother Heron" or "The Sentinel" or "Brother, the Sentinel." We had some shtick, on one lake walk, about how the Brit was meting out urban justice and the Sentinel was his sidekick, scoping out lakeside crimes-in-progress. Like most of our lake-walking shticks, the urban justice riff was short-lived, but at least we got some good monikers out of it.

You can tell a gawky flying bird is a heron and not a crane because herons crank their necks back into a sort of S shape when they fly. I saw a giant one sailing over the St Croix yesterday, as we snoozed on warm rocks high above the water. I saw another flying over the highway today. Synchronicity again, or am I just in the mood to notice birds? I took some exceedingly crappy pictures of a bald eagle yesterday, too, but really, when an eagle swoops down toward your riverboat you better just watch it instead of trying to frame it for later.

I snapped a lot of other pictures, too, less crappy ones.

It was a good day, though the sun took a lot out of me and I was also rocking my first UTI (and first antibiotics) in ten years. The short female urethra is a serious design flaw if you ask me. Anyway. We went to Taylor's Falls, site of the world's largest logjam (in 1883. It took 57 days to break it up. There was enough lumber in the logjam for 20,000 houses.), among other things. We took the riverboat tour. It was so splendid and hot that I had almost no energy for hiking afterward, but that was okay. It was beautiful and I had many moments of perfect serene contentment and really, what more can anyone ask for?

Well, maybe Coco Roos. That's the generic equivalent of Coco Puffs and yes, it's true, I bought a big ass bag of them and have a dreggy bowl next to me. Cereal seems to be my junk food of the moment and it's pretty much TV's fault. I've seen a lot of Life commercials on TV lately, and therefore have had to fill the Brit in on the iconic "He likes it! Hey Mikey" bit and also on how delicious Life is. The power of my own suggestion was so strong that I then had to buy some.

Today I gave a recital and as with all performances, I'm left with the endorphin rush tempered by good old "what now?" Since it's too late to contemplate that question for reals, I am going to tell you a kid story. Henry lately declined to go to the park with his dad and Jude because he wanted to wear his tuxedo. "Fine," said his mother, "but if you stay home you have to go to the grocery store with me." He agreed.

So he got his bowler hat and his cane and all his accoutrements and then went to the bathroom, where his mom was getting ready to go. "Mom," he said seriously, "when we're at the grocery store, I really want to sing for money."

I'm not sure where he got this idea, but does it matter? "You can sing," Mol told him, "but not for money." He grumped about this but acquiesced.

And sing he did. What did he sing? "Stayin Alive." People were stopping my sister: "Is he singing...Stayin Alive? I don't even know all the words to that song."

I mean a kid in a tuxedo, singing Bee Gees in the grocery store. What a wonderful world. Have I mentioned that my sister is pregnant again?

Friday, June 08, 2007

She always stood at the back of the line, a smile beneath her nose.

One more thing: I'm in Tricia Royal's journal this week as one of the Wardrobe_Remixers o' the week.

Famous among dozens, I tell you.

All of us were ordinary, compared to Cynthia Rose.

I'm having that synchronicity thing a lot lately. Internet synchronicity probably shouldn't count, but LOLCATS finally exploded into my consciousness over the weekend, due to some very disparate blogs mentioning them simultaneously and not even overtly. You already know that I think cats are hilarious all by themselves, but I spent a good chunk of last Saturday morning actually crying about I Can Has Cheezburger? It's the cumulative effect of looking at so many of them that killed me so hard. Further explanation of the phenomenon here.

But the really good synchronicity went like this. I started reading Bird by Bird over the weekend, finally, and I think Anne Lamott might be my patron saint of the moment. I'm sure this sensation is not uncommon among her readers, but let's pretend that my experience is breathtakingly unique. At the beginning of the book she quotes E.L. Doctorow, who said "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." Naturally you can extend this image to encompass all of living and that is of course what I did immediately, because how often is your entire landscape illuminated?

So there was that. Then at my church gig over the weekend there was a little anecdote in the sermon about some clergyperson or writer who, after praying for guidance, would find that a new spotlight was shining right in front of her, and she would step into it. You know: a bit at a time.

Yesterday I was cruising on the highway and flipped on the MPR talk station, which I don't usually do during the day, and there was an interview on, and a woman was talking about her history of disordered eating, and being very funny and self-deprecating and interesting about dealing with her fuckups with an embarrassing amount of self-love and care, and then within less than a minute she dropped that E.L. Doctorow quote and I think I said out loud "OKAY I GET IT, and also what the hell?"

The interview snippet ended and the pledge driving started up again and the insufferable people asking for money said "Oh Anne Lamott, she's such a great interview isn't she, and you know what else, E.L. Doctorow was in the studio that day too and they got to meet, and that's the kind of thing that just happens on public radio, give us some money." I'm already giving you money, dudes, but if I weren't I would probably pledge just so I could bore you with my tales of radio synchronicity.

In other words, recent events have granted me a small pool of light in which it has been revealed to me that this small pool of light is all I get for the time being and it is probably sufficient.

Here's another one: after going back and forth interminably with a very kind and patient someone in Spain who bought a dress from me off Ebay in March and never received it in the mail, I refunded her money on Wednesday. Guess what got sent back to me on Thursday? Thaaaat's right. I won't be shipping anything else to Europe.

And you can't fail to have noticed that I have been quoting Prince in every blog entry recently, and two days ago "Starfish and Coffee" came up on my pod while I was running at the gym. I got to smile for two or three laps and then it was back to grimacing. Yesterday was Prince's birthday. It was also the Brit's. We went out for Japanese food and I made a trifle, one of the sickest desserts ever invented. It remains to be seen whether any meaningful coincidence will emerge from the trifle.

I wish I had some of it right now, but that's no coincidence.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Butterscotch clouds, tangerines, a side order of ham.

It's June now, which means that my Wardrobe Refashion pledge is over. I didn't buy anything retail, but neither did I refashion any clothes, despite my good intentions. Partly I had zero time and infinite other things to think about, and partly I was just kind of turned off by the projects people were posting on the blog. I realize that people's projects were not conceived and executed for my own personal delectation, but I was hoping to get a little inspired by other people's efforts and that just didn't happen. There were only a few projects I liked, and then like billions of pajama pants posted. (Hey, I ain't mad at you, pajama pants.)

It was really good to have an extra reason not to buy anything new (though I still shopped plenty, mostly for ye olde ebay inventory). It's got me thinking that my next project is going to be to keep track of what I actually spend, each tiny expenditure, for a week or a month or whatever, to see how my outgo actually stacks up against my income. I'm good at this stuff intuitively, but I think the hard data will still be interesting or maybe appalling. A first item for my expense tracking: new running shoes. After trying on 20 pair I ended up with almost the same shoes I now have, which are probably too chunky for all the indoor running I'm doing, but which give me the option of "trail running." And I bought them a half-size larger, per the very good running shoe fit guide at sierratradingpost.com. It's going to be a whole new world, yo.

I feel boring today, which I know I'm not supposed to tell you in a blog post, because you will be able to tell anyway.

I have discovered that I would like all scented household products to smell like grapefruit. Is that too much to ask? Why is it so hard to find grapefruit-scented room spray? I am so desperate for this particular citrus that I spent $10 on a fucking candle yesterday. It stinks so good. I have also been wielding my drill a lot, which makes me feel like all that is woman. Do have something you want me to drill? I can drill it.

I accidentally had a very visually exciting weekend, first because I sang at a memorial service at the chapel at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. (I'd send you to the cemetery website, but you have to click through a bunch of shit to get to the chapel page, and the page doesn't have its own link. Stupid java.) The chapel, which I sadly failed to photograph, is modeled on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and the inside is mosaic-licious. It is apparently the most perfect example of Byzantine mosaic art in the US, made of 10 million tessellae. It was a fabulous thing to contemplate.

Second on my visual excitement tour of Mpls was the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which we wandered around for a few hours on Sunday. The Brit and I have both been there countless times, but can always lose ourselves there. My favorite thing of the day was a 1906 living room by John S. Bradstreet, from a mansion in Duluth--which, if you don't know, is the MN gateway to Lake Superior. Bradstreet was an interior designer and I am now his fan. The room, which you can't see at all in the above link because it is a link to an armchair, is note-perfect (I mean if you like Prairie School and Art Nouveau and Asian stuff), and the idea that you could be chilling in such a room with two spectacular views of Lake Superior--well, that is a very pleasing idea to me. I just found another link about it, so click and pretend you're in grade school.

That's all I got, internets. Time to take my apron-wearing ass out the house.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam.

I think things are under control over here, except that I woke up at 6:30, prompted only by a dream in which the violin teacher from last night's recital was on a trip with my boyfriend and she'd packed a skirt I haven't even worn yet. It is a rad skirt, FYI, a black sweater-knit maxi a-line with a patterned hemline. So very me, so very out of season. I was really steamed about the skirt, in my dream. As I may have mentioned once or twenty times, I don't really get up at the sweaty crack, so if I'm wakeful and the sun's up and I check the time and it's not even 7, I'm likely to groan or mutter "bullllshiiiit."

But I don't mind it once I'm up. Even though the apartment has relatively few windows, they are placed such that this joint gets a lot of light. I'm on a busy commuter street and I like the white noise hum of polite Minnesotan traffic in the morning. I also have a door out to the fire escape that gives the illusion of balcony/access to the great outdoors. Then there's a skylight that provides easy inroads for insects and possibly bats, but it also supplies the cross-breeze that no one else in this building gets. I'm the only one up here on the third floor, you see.

The rest of the house is sort of busted and college-y in that nobody seems to be responsible for vacuuming the hallway and there is a potent stank cocktail of weed and air fresheners in all of the common areas. But up here in the garret/penthouse, I don't smell it.

I have a bed now, thanks to a comedy of errors that I will not describe, other than to say that when I move out I will be flinging the boxspring over the fire escape and doing a good deal of wall patching on my staircase. I also have a Staedtler drafting table that I found on the street. It did not specifically have a "free" sign on it, but if your stuff is near the curb it is fair game. I heaved it into my station wagon, as I have heaved so many free pieces of furniture before. (It is hard to imagine not having a station wagon, once you've had one.)

I have other assorted pieces of furniture but have yet to configure my rooms or my storage solutions. In a few minutes, however, I am going to attack the wack closet/crawl space situation with my drill and ingenuity. I have to admit that I like the fixer-upper challenge posed by moderate dilapidation. There is something hands-on-hips spunky about all of it. You're forced to see different possibilities and innovate (since simply pulling down lumpy, excessively patched walls and hanging new drywall is not an option).

I would like to know, though, how much my landlord is paying her painters, because unless they are indentured servants she is getting ripped off.

Here is a disgusting link to the wiki article about Rat Kings. Seriously, it's one of those things I probably didn't need to know about. Thanks to Em for grossing me out. And also to interested parties, here is a junebug. They really used to freak me out as a kid, and I can't say I've fallen in love with them since then. But then I'm not really a bug girl.

Uttered at dinner the other night, by Henry, to Jude: "Gimme back that stick, you mugger." Later H conducted us in a chorus of "Get Up Offa That Thing." I have a recording of him singing it on my cell phone, along with "Raspberry Beret." I'll balance the kid stories by telling you that Jude recently suggested that they use this weird little endangered species rescue toy vehicle to capture aliens. When asked what aliens were: "Aliens are somebody we don't know," he replied. "And they have a frisbee with a little door."

Also: running is not improving the state of my wee bunion. But then neither is wearing wood-soled 70s shoes.