What happens at the mansion...

I am addicted to The Girls Next Door, and I have some questions.

I know, I know, you may revoke my right to ever talk feminist smack again. I deserve that much. What kind of a new millenium woman am I? I'm trying to figure it all out.

The thing is, that show is just so sweet! I love the three women that live in Hef's mansion, and I have to admit that I even find myself liking the old lecherous bag himself. I hate to say it, but it doesn't seem like such a bad deal to be one of Hef's gals. Their accommodations are lovely, they seem genuinely happy, and SO MANY opportunities for personal or even professional growth seem open to them. Hef seems like a nurturing father figure, although I'd never in a gazillion years want to sleep with him so I can only say so much here. But I can say, not knowing the price, that the benefits are outstanding. The girls want to snowboard? No problem - off to Aspen with custom-designed equipment and a lesson from Olympic gold medalist Shawn White. The girls want to go horseback riding? No problem - off to the Hollywood hills for the day. Bridget wants to direct a horror movie? No problem - done. Bridget wants voice-over lessons and her own radio show? Hef's got a contact for that. Kendra wants to direct an exercise video? Done. Kendra needs a new car? Happy shopping, gorgeous.

A whole world is open to these women that they likely wouldn't otherwise have gotten to experience. And Hef's old girlfriends are all doing very well for themselves and still enjoy reconnecting with the big guy when they're presented with the chance. Now in their fifties or sixties, you'd think they'd have turned on him, realizing that he took horrible advantage of their youth and naivete. You'd think they'd rebuke him as a sexist, manipulative, disgusting man. But they don't. So I'm wondering: how bad can Hef be? I want to despise him, but I can't seem to find grounds. Yet it's got to be wishful thinking that he could really be an okay guy, right? I mean, he's built his life around objectifying women. Hasn't he? Or... is he a decent guy who just likes the company of women but also respects them and cares deeply for their wellbeing?

I can't help but notice that the women in the mansion are friends with one another, not competitive enemies. What sort of system has Hugh set up that allows the household to run so smoothly? How has he arranged things so that there aren't the catty, bitter squabbles you'd expect from a bunch of women all vying for the perks of the situation? And the biggest question weighing on my mind: what's the price? What does he expect of these women in return for the lifestyle and opportunities he affords them?

I guess I want to know, what's the catch? It can't be as great as it seems. Although I have to admit: I want it to be. I want Hef to be a good guy. I don't know why I want that, but it'd sure be a fantastic twist to what I'd previously boiled down to an open and shut case of the degradation of women. And I for one would rather be pleasantly surprised by than blindly vilify people based on what society says we're supposed to believe and think about them. I'd prefer the story be filled with gray - I like not being able to sum it all up in one neat and tidy conclusion, wrapped up tight and tied with a big ribbon. It's harder to accept a story with two sides (and much harder to criticize or indulge in moral superiority), but it leaves room for optomism and possibily. Two things it's easy to hastily stamp out, but much harder to maintain faith in.

So, if anyone can clarify for me exactly what these women are required to do, besides take their clothes off, it'd help me figure out where I stand. Is Hef running an upscale prositution ring? Are these women his scantily clad minions, or do they have a voice? Is Hef a doting father figure, a provider of otherwise unattainable opportunity, or is he a corrupt and abusive man who deals in human property? Or is he somewhere in between? Any thoughts?


Un. Lucky.

You know it's been a bad weekend when your husband kisses the top of your head on Sunday night and says, "I think that was the worst two-day span we've been through since we've been married." I'd like to tell you I just nodded my agreement, but sadly I had to think about it and given the past several months, I'd say I could have argued the point. Still, it's definitely in the running...

On Friday I went up to Hubs' college for an event his department hosted, and when we came home it was freezing in the house. I figured I was just extra cold because I was sleep deprived, but after a few hours of me shivering Hubs checked the thermostat and realized it was only 60 degrees in the house. So he went into the boiler room to check on the furnace, and smelled natural gas. Meaning that at about 11pm, we were forced to vacate the house and wait in our car in the driveway, heat cranked high and watching House episodes on Hubs' iPod. Hero was so confused - he paced back and forth in the back seat until we finally let him come up front and he fell asleep on Hubs' lap.

When the gas man arrived, he followed Hubs into the house (given that the gas man had the natural gas "death sniffer" detector in hand, Hubs was kind of hoping he'd go first, but no such luck). After a brief investigation, it was determined our furnace needed a new ignitor switch. So we piled back inside, beat ourselves over the head for not enrolling in the protection plan we'd been meaning to, and signed off on the $200 repair. Early the next morning, we finally fell into bed hoping the house would be warm again when we woke up.

Saturday, down $200 but hoping to end the weekend tally there, we'd planned to have a friend we'd met at the dog park groom Hero. J has a poodle of his own and invested in a grooming table and all the requisite supplies, so when he offered to save us $40 by trimming Hero we figured what's the worst that could go wrong? A bad haircut, and then we'd end up spending the $40 anyway.


Oh, hindsight - you little devil you.

Hero had a lot of mats in his fur, and so we spent hours bathing and combing him out before bringing him to J's house. Needless to say, we weren't his favorite people that day. Which is saying a lot, since we're pretty much his only people. At J's house, he glared at us as J groomed Hero... into a poodle. That's right: we have a poodle. Is there anything about us that says poodle to you? God I hope not. We're not poodle people. It's not just the cone that makes Hero look funny in the picture. It's that fact that his little face, once adorably covered in shaggy fur, is now bald. Yet because of what followed, his body is pretty much left ungroomed. So he's got a shaggy body, and liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle poodle head. If only it had ended there - with J giving us a frou frou dog with a laughable haircut.

While trying to cut a mat out of the hair behind his ear, J clipped Hero with the scissors. His skin just sort of... split. I mean, I felt like I could see his muscles. It was disgusting and horrifying, and while J suggested we just glue him back together with some crazy glue (seriously, he did), I mentally calculated how this was going to play out. Hero wasn't bleeding and hadn't made a noise when he got sliced, but it looked bad. Clearly the crazy glue solution wasn't gonna happen. Hubs and I are smart people - smart enough to know we're not in any way trained as veterinarians. For matters involving anything remotely serious, we call in the experts. This same principle applied to the furnace: we know when we're out of our league. Monkeying around with natural gas is not something Hubs would do; neither, for that matter, is monkeying around with gaping canine flesh wounds.

So we took our bald-faced poodle and got the hell out of there. We don't really blame J - he didn't intend to do that. He was just trying to be helpful. His poodle (yes, obviously the fact that a man with a poodle gave our dog a poodle haircut shouldn't have come as a surprise - that's the one outcome in this whole mess we could have reasonably predicted had we taken the time to think it through) is well cared for and much loved. This man is a good dog owner and truly was sick over hurting Hero. But I was kicking myself the whole ride home for putting Hero through an amature haircut which I could already tell was going to cost us big. How ironic that I was trying to save $40.

We stopped home long enough to eat a quick dinner and look up the address for the emergency pet hospital on the internet. We were at the emergency pet hospital for hours. We had to confess to numerous people that in an effort to save $40 we'd subjected our dog to unnecessary harm. (In our defense, we've spent so much $ on this dog already - we figured the $40 would go to his next vet bill, not to our new shoe fund...)

We left with a dog hopped up on morphine with a cone around his neck, about ten stitches, a course of antibiotics, and a $300 bill.

As Hubs pulled out of the vet hospital, with our weekend tab now running $500 high, we saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror. As it turns out, Hubs had been driving without the lights on. The cop took one look inside our car and must have felt sorry for us: we were bleary-eyed and exhausted and Hero was sedated in my lap looking miserable with the giant cone on his head. He gave us a warning and sent us on our way, despite the fact that Hubs has an outdated license, had made an illegal u-turn, and had the navigation system afixed to the windshield (which is now illegal in MN, don't even get me started on that though, that's a whole other post).

Once again, in the early morning hours we fell into bed and hoped for better things when we woke up. When I did finally wake up, I just pulled the covers back over my head. I literally didn't want to get out of bed. I wanted to crawl under the covers and hide. Instead I crawled out of bed and pasted a smile on my face to go to my MIL's birthday dinner. Hero glared at us for about a day from behind that cone, shooting knives through our already bruised hearts. We felt so guilty. We're supposed to take care of him. We'd finally gotten him to stop biting. He trusted us. Is he traumatized now?

The answer is no, he's not that much the worse for wear. He's incredibly funny looking, and his beady little eyes stare at us accusingly every once in a while when we laugh at our satelite dish dog. But overall he's okay. Me, on the other hand - after our crap upon crap weekend I'm about as beaten down as I can get. If ever there was a gal who needed to catch a break, you're lookin' at her.


Worst. Weekend. Ever.

This picture ought to give you a good idea of where I'm headed, but if not don't worry. I'll tell the whole sordid story soon enough.


On death and dying

Did anyone else watch Private Practice last night? I couldn't watch last week because of the dying kid (and I don't even have a kid - how do parents stand it?) but made the mistake of watching last night's episode today. WTF is with the repetitive emotional bullying? I mean, you'd have to be made of steel not to cry. It's Thursday night primetime, for goodness sake. Do we all really need to be sobbing messes on a Thursday night? So close to the end of the week? If we manage to make it through to the weekend don't we deserve to segway into Friday lightheartedly, without a giant dose of harsh reality and empty tear ducts?

Still, the storyline of the two doctors helping a cancer patient die reminds me of something really powerful, something I know I've said before. I hate death and dying - my mom, a critical care nurse, has always seemed a natural with it: she understands the balance of life and death and it doesn't freak her out - it's the order of the world. In order to live, we must also die. But I struggle to accept death gracefully. I hope that I continue to learn to appreciate it, because I believe that being there with someone, in death, is the most profound gift you can give and receive.

I say this because being with my Grandma in the moments before and as she died is hands down the most important thing I've ever done in my life. And the greatest gift I have from her - and I have so, so many - is that we shared her final journey, just as we shared all our travels in life.


Hot child in the... middle of nowhere

*Warning: Bob, don't read this post*

I love all things hot. Hot showers, boiling baths, fireplaces, heating pads. Crank it up - the warmer the better.

My MIL bought me hand and toe warmers for Christmas. They start heating up once exposed to air and stay hot for about six hours. Since it was -12 degrees yesterday, I used them. Once home, I took the hand warmers and stuck them in my bra.

Why let perfectly good, hot hand warmers go to waste when they'd only clocked an hour and still had about five good hours left in 'em? I needed something tight to put them in so they wouldn't slip. It doesn't make sense to keep my gloves on in the house, they flopped around in my socks, and quite frankly my thong is just too tiny or I wouldn've stuck 'em down there.

Hubs thought this was a little frightening. I don't see why. Well, maybe I do since they gave me a pretty violent case of heat rash. Still, I'd do it again. It's like drinking something warm, and the heat just radiates as it travels down your chest and into your belly. Only in this case, it radiates from your boobs.

Is that weird? Am I weird? Please advise. Here in Minnesota, I seem to have lost all sense of reason when it comes to things temperature-related.


A warning shot fired

Yesterday, Hero and I had a crisis. A genuine crisis. Like, for real. Bad things happened.

What bad things, you ask?

Hero got his ear stuck in the Swivel Sweeper.

If you'd walked through our front door while this was taking place, you'd think an atom bomb had detonated in the kitchen. The noises, the crashing of plastic on floor, the flashes of fur, the squealing in pain (Hero) and screaming in absolute horror (me), the biting, flailing, scratching, PANIC! My heart was hammering and my voice was shrill with fear and adrenaline and Hero was losing. His. Shit. Not literally. But figuratively, shit was lost.

I finally got him to stand still so I could hold him and the Swivel Sweeper at an angle where it wasn't pulling on his ear. He calmed. He stood as still as I've ever seen him stand, and I could feel his little heart beating away through his furry, heaving chest. I can only imagine what he was thinking: What the hell? I always bite that thing. What the hell just happened? What's HAPPENING?! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! My head! It has my head in it's evil teeth! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

"Hero, stay calm. Stay still. It's okay." I finally realized if I didn't keep my cool no one else would do it for me. I needed to be clear headed and figure out how to extract my traumatized dog from this anti-PETA instrument of torture. I reached for the cordless and called Hubs, instructing him to come home immediately. I can only imagine at first he thought I was kidding, when I told him our puppy was stuck in the Swivel Sweeper. It sounds funny enough, until you start to really think about it. But he didn't laugh. Dutiful husband that he is, he just said he would be there in minutes.

So with Hero standing stock still in my arms I began to investigate how exactly the Swivel Sweeper had a hold of his floppy ear. It turns out his ear had gotten sucked into one of the spinny brushes and gotten tangled around and around. It took about five minutes of very careful finagling (because I knew if I pulled on his fur he would freak out and jump out of my arms, dragging both himself and the Swivel Sweeper across the kitchen floor once again in their already rehearsed tango of terror) and then I was finally able to free him. With both ears still intact.

When Hubs got home I was still shaking. I couldn't believe how scary that was - how much of a blur it had been and how quickly everything had gone wrong. So wrong. I blame myself - Hero was trying to bite at the Swivel Sweeper (he's always hated that thing) and I didn't think anything bad would happen. I told him to stop, but I didn't pull him away from it or remove him from the room. It just hadn't occured to me that this was a dangerous situation.

Looking on the bright side, Hubs commented, "At least we know now to keep him in a different room when you vaccuum."

I feel nauseas just imaging how things could have been so much worse.

So I suppose I got off easy. Still, consider yourself warned. Dogs + Swivel Sweeper = big scary bad.


In case you wanted an inside look...

My life, coming to a theater near you.


Home alone horrors

Are you wondering what would be the worst thing to do when your husband has left for Vegas for the weekend and you're home alone with a tendancy to get FREAKED THE HELL OUT? I'll tell you what not to do. Don't take a long hot bath and make the decision to shave your legs while you're in the tub. Don't get out of the tub and start to towel off without checking for nicks or cuts. Don't bleed all over the floor and the rug, so that when you look down all you see around you are bloody pools and streaks EVERYWHERE. Don't let your dog come into the bathroom with you, so that he licks your blood off the floor and then - when you scream in absolute horror about the RED DEATH SMEARED ALL OVER - looks up at you with a face full of bloody fluff!!! DON'T DO THAT - IT'S SERIOUSLY SCARY!


On the plus side, I can tell you one gal who doesn't have any need for anticoagulants.