People in Buenos Aires live in little apartments crammed full of collectables handed down from generations. At least, that’s the impression I was left with after a trip to Argentina some time ago. A couple members of our team stayed with a petite, cranky woman who had a spare room in an apartment wherein every square inch of flat space was occupied by vases and candlesticks and clocks and various and sundry other tchotchkes she’d inherited. Almost every home we visited in the city felt the same. Very elegant and perilous at the same time. I remember thinking any sudden move on my part could bring down any number of heirlooms.
I also remember thinking what a pain in the ass dusting must be for the Argentines.
Mike and I have been working on getting rid of crap for the last few months in preparation for a move. Judging by the contents of our cupboards and closets, it’s been a while since we’ve engaged in any kind of purge. I’ve forgotten how much dang storage space we have in this house. We thought the cupboards and built in shelves were cool when we moved in––all this space to store crap! We had more room for stuff than we thought we would ever need.
This is a story about a woman and her
smelly dog. Actually, she’s not too smelly most of the time––the dog, I mean. Not
the woman… um, actually the woman isn’t particularly smelly either, but this is
about the dog.[*]
And it’s a good thing too, that the dog is not normally very smelly, because her baths typically require two able-bodied adults, and involve the shredding of clothing, and the clean-up of long sudsy trails down the hallway.
Since we don’t relish that kind of drama, we last bathed her when it was warm enough to not feel bad about dousing her with the hose outside for a minute and calling it good. When it’s cold we just let her go about smelling like dog. I feel a little guilty about that because once I promised a certain someone she’d be bathed on a regular basis.
I should start by letting you know I’m no sex expert. Sex isn’t even really what this is about, but I think a disclaimer is necessary if I’m going to post anything remotely related, considering how much traffic comes my way since I wrote that thing about pineapples––really just speculation on whether our neighbors were swingers (jury is still out on that)––which was picked up by a porn aggregator site that now regularly steers about a third of my blog traffic this way.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to complain about an
audience, ever. But I think whether you’re here for the pseudo-porn or the
more regular fare of random, inane stories, it might be good to switch up to higher-brow
entertainment once in a while, just sayin’…
Anyway, where was I? …Right. Boffing. Boinking. Bumping
Uglies. The Horizontal Greased-Weasel Tango. Or more specifically, straightforward
conversations with teenagers on the topic.
Five years ago, this
summer, one of our boys made an off-hand comment about homeless people being “scary,”
and I realized our privileged children needed an opportunity to rub shoulders with
some of the more vulnerable members of our community. We started serving dinner
at your shelter on a monthly basis.
As volunteers, we
have served families with young children, older couples, adolescents the same age as
our own boys, and young men and women dressed in work coveralls or collared
shirts. We’ve also served the folks we expected to see when we began, people who
hold signs on street corners, and the gentleman in the stocking hat we pass
each Sunday as he enjoys a cup of coffee in our church lobby.
We’re not demonstrably
religious people, but we tend to find volunteer activities that conform to our values,
which happen to align with the teachings of Christ. He’s the one, you’ll remember,
who directed us to “love one another.” He also said something about “that
which you’ve done to the least of these you’ve done to me.”
supposed to be an “onto” and a “thy” in there, but you get the point.
We’ve received far
more than we’ve given in this effort. I’m almost embarrassed at my satisfaction
in the hearty thank yous and well wishes and wide smiles we get as we pass trays
across the counter.
1: a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by
direct intuition through meditation
2: a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by
intuition rather than by conscious effort
When Colin told me about his English teacher the other morning in the
kitchen, he didn’t get very far into his story before I teared up and had to
As he was telling me about some classroom bullies and the object of
their derision, I had a vision of a second- or third-year teacher, someone
young looking enough that it wasn’t uncommon for other faculty to stop her in
the hall and ask for her pass. Someone who didn’t yet have the chops to stand
up to the jerks in her classroom, snotty adolescents who wore their earbuds
through a lecture and made snide remarks about her under their breath.
She’d had a Zen garden, Colin told me. One of those kitschy palettes with sand and polished stones and a teeny rake I guess people use to do their teeny meditation sessions, stacking stones in teeny piles and raking teeny lines in the sand. One by one the stones went missing, and then the rake. Then one morning, students filed in to find sand scattered on the shelf and the floor below it, the palette overturned.
“I wonder what happened?” one of the snotty teens had the nerve to
Ten things I wish someone would invent to make traveling easier
One of my chic-iest friends posted an Instagram photo of a little, clear plastic clutch she’s going to start using for travel in place of the standard Ziploc the rest of us plebs employ to schlep our lotions and shampoos and other liquid stuffs onto airplanes.
At first, I thought “isn’t that just the coolest thing!” I mean, we’re all just one kitschy plastic tote away from either looking our put-together best or coming across like a crazed hoarder unloading a packed lunch all over the TSA belt. Amiright?
So, I whipped out my credit card and went to the website straightaway, and found out those cute, little totes the size of sandwich bags are a whopping $88 bucks apiece. Which is when I decided I’d stick with my non kitschy ways for a little while until I win the Lotto or something.
… But it made me think about other travel conveniences I’d come up with if I have the extra cash, a really sharp inventor brain, and some free time. Unfortunately, I’m a little short on … well all those things, but I’m going to share my ideas in case there’s an inventor type among you with the corresponding money and spare time.
Because, you know I’m a …. (let’s all say it together, now …)
First, you need to know I have a thing about teeth. My
teeth, specifically. I’m not crazy about how they look and a little insecure
about the big spaces in between them and their coloring and the overbite thing.
Oh, and you could land a Cessna on my gums, they’re so big. I’ve never been the kind of person to smile wide at someone
and ask if I have anything in my teeth. I’m not insecure about much except the
possibility I could scar someone for life with a stray spinach leaf lodged in my
You know, it could happen. Probably not, but maybe.
Warning: This is not a good post for those who have issues with open conversation about private parts, i.e. I’m sorry for all the buttholes
If you’re wanting to be talked out of a tattoo, it’s probably just common sense that a 19-year-old isn’t the best person for the job, right? I mean, not that I expressly wanted to be talked out of a tattoo. I’d been thinking about getting one for a long time.
I had no particular reason why, but lately I’ve been feeling like if I was going to do it, sooner would be better than later, before collagen loss makes it near impossible to find a smooth stretch of skin anywhere on my corpus.
I actually almost got my first tattoo a while ago, at the tail end of a girls’ night out when we all know the best decisions are normally made. At the last minute I bailed on my friend Steph, as she was getting the teensiest of meansiest of little hidden tattoos of all time: a ladybug leaving a little trail of dots behind it.
It was an act of supreme bravado and massive chutzpah on her part – that little ladybug – and I’m sorry for my lack of participation. Still, Steph’s tattooing taught me a few very important things about true friendship:
That you shouldn’t abandon your friend at 2 am in a tattoo parlor if you don’t want to hear about it over and over again for the next ten years, and
Tattooists won’t work very hard to convince a person to not spend good money on a teensy, little ladybug tattoo even if said teensy, little ladybug tattoo is so small it’s going to eventually end up filling itself in and looking like a menacing freckle, and
Doing your homework and making the act of getting a tattoo a little more deliberate than ducking into the nearest ink shop after five hours with your girlfriends at Grainey’s is a good thing, as is not holding people responsible if they end up deciding to bail, Steph.
Anyway, back to my conversation with Jack about the prospect of a tattoo:
“Look, you’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” he said. “It’ll say something that means a lot to you, it’s going to look great and you’ll never regret it.”
I thought those were deep thoughts from someone who had yet to see his twentieth birthday and I told him so.
“Well, you’re a pretty big chicken for someone who’s already hit her fiftieth.”
I figured if I was going to do this thing, I’d do it with him, our resident expert. When Jack was 16 and wanted to get his ears pierced, we knew the tattoo question was right around the corner. We leveraged the piercing thing against the tattoo thing in order to get a little advance notice about any tattoo plans and made him pledge to listen to whatever advice we might have about the design and the placement of said tattoo. … And long story short he now has five tattoos, and I don’t remember being part of a lengthy discussion about any of them.
We scheduled my tattoo session for right after a Rotary meeting and I couldn’t sleep the night before thinking about size and placement and fonts and what would happen if there was a typo and whether laser removal surgery was really as painful as I’ve heard. In the end, I went in and did it and I think it looks great and it only hurt a smidge.
My tattoo artist’s name is Gonzi (I have a tattoo artist now guys!), and he likes women’s butts. I know this because of the illustrations plastered all over his work station area. That’s his flash – what we tattooed folk call the stuff he specializes in. Turns out Gonzi really likes imagining women’s butts in all kinds of situations, clothed and unclothed and with or without flowers.
And while I think Gonzi is a very good artist, he needs a little instruction on anatomy, because even though I haven’t seen very many unclothed derrières from that angle, I can tell we have a little disagreement on where the butthole actually goes.
Gonzi’s business card is a drawing of a woman’s butt with flowers growing out of it. It’s thong-wearing butt, so thankfully no awkward conversation about butthole placement has to happen right up front when he’s making business connections. The flowers are confusing to me, but it’s an art thing, so I don’t need to understand, I guess. Overall, it’s a very nice looking butt for business purposes.
… And this probably constitutes a record for the number of times I’ve used the word butt in one post, a fact I’m sure has earned me another listing on one of those porn aggregators, and I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing because I don’t care to associate with people who search for porn, or an okay thing because I appreciate whatever drives up the ratings.
… And by the way, if you are here for the buttholes, may I just suggest this one post about pineapples which has nothing to do with porn, and very little to do with pineapples either, but neither of those things seems to matter to the porn aggregators, so I must be missing something. My stats show if you come here for the pineapples, chances are you’ll keep reading, which I like to think means that people who search for porn have more depth than I’ve given them credit. Or else they’re just really bored and looking for something to fill the time.
If you’re wondering what I had inked permanently onto my forearm, it’s my family motto: Aut Augere Aut Mori, which is Latin for “either action or death.” It’s kind of morbid, but something I’ve always thought was a good motivator for getting me up off my own butt when I’ve started to feel a little down in the dumps about anything.
A friend of Mike’s asked him why I didn’t have his family motto tattooed on my arm which led Mike to doing some research and coming up with nothing. No motto for the Markley clan. Now he’s telling people his family was probably out doing all the work and fighting all the wars while my family was coming up with the right way to describe all things in catchy, little mottos.
Which is probably a really good way to describe our marriage, now that I think about it.
Jack’s now looking forward to coming home from college for the summer because he said something about getting matching tattoos and I didn’t think to tell him I’m not getting any more. It’s not because the whole butthole flash stuff has turned me off, either, in case you’re wondering. I’m happy to recommend Gonzi.
It’s just if you want a woman’s butthole tattooed anywhere on you, you should be prepared for anatomical imperfection.
I’m not really a lot of help with house projects, which is okay because we don’t do them often.
We’ve always known we’re not “house project people” and are (or …. at least one of us is) entirely comfortable with that. We are the kind of people who would call professionals to change out light bulbs or the batteries in smoke detectors if there were folks who would do that sort of thing (spoiler alert: there aren’t).
Once, our friend Darin asked Mike “what’s your next house project?” And we both just gave him a blank stare. Darin’s the kind of guy who will knock out a wall with a sledgehammer because his wife, Angela, decides she’d like a longer couch and so the wall in question needs to be moved about six inches into the next room.
That’s not to say Mike isn’t handy. He can install a light fixture or strip wallpaper. He comes from that kind of stock. There’s more than one member of his family who could build an entire house or maybe even a space shuttle from scraps they have in the garage.
For Sale: Large, rustic-looking headboard with a story.
Well, not really a story, story, as in: lovingly-hewn-of-ancient-willow-by-handsome-woodsman-for-his-beguiling-bride kind of story. Nothing so dramatic. There is a story, just a tad humbler. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Said headboard is a handmade item, with slight imperfections and irregularities, and I’ll be honest, it’s a bitch to dust. I think it’s willow, or some other bendable kind of wood with the bark left on, although I’m no expert. This is just to say that no ancient árbol actually gave its life for the thing. It’s likely from a perfectly modern tree that’s fairly common and easy to grow back and not in any way extraordinary.
So, you can forget any notion of its being infused with druid spirits or anything.