Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Chihuahua In The Coffee Cup Was Added So No One Got Nightmares

I ran the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon the other weekend and it was great! Now, I know what you're thinking, "Ah, criminy, here comes the mind numbing mile by mile recount of how awesome the race was, complete with porta potty stop details. You know, I think I'd rather Google images of chihuahuas in coffee mugs* instead." Don't worry, I'm not going to do that. Really! Because, while, I admit, I'd love to regale people with my awesome running feats along the Straights of Juan de Fuca, I got something totally better!

(gestures for people to lean in closer, clicks flashlight on underneath chin, spookily)


The day before the race?

Mabel and I took Katie and Ellie to this awesome playground and...

found a dead body!

(clicks off flashlight)

But first, come sidebar with me.

We all know that making up stories about finding dead bodies isn't funny. In fact, it's down right inappropriate behavior and frowned upon by all levels of law enforcement and all that.


How about, for the sake of the journalistic integrity of all that's written on the Internets, we just pretend that it's not. 'Kay? Awesome.

(clicks flashlight back on)

All good "I'm a Runner And Found A Dead Body At The Playground" stories have a beginning. And this is mine.

It started at 6:15 am on Saturday morning. We were staying over at Mabel and Clive's house to get a jump on the trip to Port Angeles for the drive to the North Olympic Discovery Marathon's expo that day and we had all been out until 1 am the night before celebrating Belinda's birthday with Japanese food, beer and roller skating. Which, I guess means, technically, my story started the night before while I was drinking beer and roller skating at the local rink during their 21 and over event. Because Belinda is just cool like that.

(Spoiler alert: I didn't actually drink beer while roller skating. Because someone who can't be trusted to skate with her child and not Frogger her to the floor shouldn't be trusted with both an alcoholic substance and wheels on her feet.)

Anyway, because Katie and Ellie were hanging with one of those good babysitters over at Mabel and Clive's that night they had been tucked into their beds at an appropriate hour. Which meant, that by 6:15 the next morning they were well rested. And awake. And talking. And starting to make giggly "we're sleeping on an air mattress" noises. That are loud. So, taking pity on the "I'm still tired" groans that were beginning to ooze out from under Jon's pillow, and the fact that Mabel and Clive were also still slumbering away, the girls and I tip toed out of the house for breakfast at our favorite restaurant with the disco ball in the bathroom and an Unofficial Thermos Museum. Because, even bleary eyed, that place is awesome!

Fast forward ten hours, numerous cups of coffee, more miles in the car with children than my caffeine meter said I should, a small running expo and a Cliff Bar later, to find Katie, Ellie, Mabel and I hanging at the park while Jon and Clive were off tossing anhyzers and tomahawks on the Frisbee golf course. And, after the girl's predictable race for the swings I found it.




So, sit back while I cue up the theme song from Jaws (because it's the only scary movie I've seen, and by seen I mean I watched the first 15 minutes and then hid in the bathroom for the rest of the movie) and sound bite the rest of the story: (And yes, I said that in my best Paul Harvey voice.)

Me: (trailing behind the kids but really heading towards a bench that wraps around the the tree by the swing, because I'm tired (please reference beginning of story above) then, noticing some sort of fabric? Large bag? shoved between the bench and the tree. Slowing, circling...startling when I notice a pony tail. And a head. Quickly walk toward Mabel who's pushing Ellie on the swing. Whispering.) Do you see that?
Mabel: (looks toward tree) Is that...?
Me: (eyes wide) Yeah.
Mabel: Maybe they're just playing hide and seek?
Mabel and Me: (glance around empty playground, the eerily empty playground)
Me: Maybe...? It looks like a really uncomfortable place to hide though.
Mabel: Should we give them five minutes? Then, if they haven't moved...?
Me: Go over and (deep breath) Ok.
Mabel and Me: (set the timers on our phones, continue to push kids on swings, trying to pretend that there's not A DEAD BODY RIGHT OVER THERE!)

Four Minutes Later 

Me: (still whispering, because there's A DEAD BODY RIGHT OVER THERE and, well, I don't want it to hear me) You know how on the news all these runners find dead bodies stashed places and how I've always complained that even though I've been a runner since fifth grade I hadn't found a single one?
Mabel: Yeah.
Me: That was all talk. (looks over shoulder) Seriously all talk.

A Duck Quacks 
(but only because I let Ellie pick my alarm sound)

Two boys: (like 11 and 13 years old, appear out of absolutely nowhere, because they're ninja assassins, race around the corner and head straight for the dead body tree, bellowing) WE FOUND YOU!

And, dudes, I kid you not, the Dead Body rises! It's arms are all akimbo from it's contorted position and it literally unfolds it's body piece by piece. And then? It laughs. Because Dead Body's a mom. Who was playing hide and seek with her kids. Who probably couldn't find her for like an hour. Because SHE LOOKED LIKE A DEAD BODY!

Then, as I thought over how much sleep I had gotten the night before, assessed the amount I was likely to get that night in a hotel room with two children, and mentally traced all 13.1 miles I would physically race the next day, I realized, Dead Body Mom is brilliant. And so much more well rested than I. And that's when I began to day dream about that time in the future when I too could freak out my running competition before the big race by imitating a dead body at the playground.

And, in case you're wondering? Yeah. Dead Body Mom's strategy is totally legit. Because Dead Body Mom crossed the finish line light years ahead of me. Believe me. I checked.

* I don't blame you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Marriage Hints From The Trench We Dug Ourselves Into 14 Years Ago. We've Added Bookshelves, So, It's Quite Cozy.

The flowers are blooming, rain clouds are clearing to wedgewood blue skies, wedding conversations are wafting through coffee shops on caffeine scented breaths, aardvarks are slipping through old zoo gates for clandestine rendezvous in the park.... Ahhhh! Spring is in the air! And, with anniversary #14 coming up this year, I feel I have some advice to dispense to the world.  Well, unless you're an aardvark, because there's no way I'm upsetting that apple cart.

I'll wait for that aardvark reference to sink in.




You know there's a footnote, right? At the bottom of the page?
Don't worry. I'll wait.




I know! There's never a bad time for an obscure aardvark reference!


My Top 10 Advice Bullets Arranged into a Convenient List Format for the Soon to be Married!

1. Get your "How We Met Story" straight:

Now, I use to to start my "How We Met Story" by telling people that Jon and I met in 1st grade.  And then, every time, in mid story mind you, he would call me on it. Apparently, I was exaggerating. A lot. Because, technically, in a chronological time line sort of way, we met in second grade. And to this I would roll my eyes, with love and probably even more exasperation, and say, "Dude. Seriously? You totally just ruined the story arc of this conversation!" So, get it straight. Because being that far off is just embarrassing. Obviously.

2. Allergies, check them first:

When I was a little girl I would imagine my adult life complete with, not a house full of children and a husband, but a house full of cats. Because, well, because they're cute. And they don't talk all the time like children do. But, eventually, like most girls, I grew up and thought, "I can have the best of both worlds!" (cue the unicorns, rainbows and daisies here)

Come to find out? Ya' can't.

Because, no matter how many times your husband-to-be mentions that he's allergic to cats, you will disregard it, because you know he lived with a cat named Weldon from, like, 3rd to 12th grade. And people who live with cats can't be allergic. Duh, Jon. Everyone knows that!

Then, one day, your sister will find an abandoned kitten in her neighborhood. She will think of you and your love for all things kitty. And then, when she hands over the smallest softest ball of cuteness ever, you will fall in love. You will name her Penelope. You will also ask your parents to care for the kitten until you and your new husband find an apartment that will allow pets. They will agree. And, then, with kitten hair clinging to your shirt thicker than 90s dance club glitter, you will tell your husband about your newest dearest love. And he will sneeze. And blow his nose. And his eyes will swell shut. And, your parents will have a new cat. That you, in your haste to hug it and squeeze it and love it forever, bequeathed with the cutest girliest name ever: Penelope. Which, a month or so down the road, will create an awkward situation for your Dad when he takes her to the vet to get spayed. Because, good veterinarians don't spay cats with ding-a-lings. Pee-pees. Wienies. Peeps. Bits and pieces.... If you know what I mean.

And, for the next 13 years, your parents will be the owners of a large male cat that will only answer to the name, Penelope, simply because Jon lied about his allergies. This is not how you win over your in-laws.

3. Anniversaries: Set a Baseline

We set our first baseline on our very first anniversary (because we're overachievers) when Jon was studying for finals and posted a big "Quit Bothering Me: This Means You Martha" sign on the back of his computer chair. Then, in total disregardment for the sign, I had, um, posted myself, because I thought it was funny, and, well, let's face it, a reminder I truly needed because I totally bothered him and made him take me out for an ice cream cone where we talked about behavioral biometrics? Mathematical optimizations? Dot matrixises? Possibly... terabyte uploads to the cache? Heck man, I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention. But, we celebrated our anniversary with double scoops of chocolate and knew that it could only get better from there.

We were so wrong, because:

On our 10th anniversary we celebrated by driving to Fred Meyer to go grocery shopping, putting Katie in their free child watch and then sitting on the display of patio furniture while I nursed Ellie. And? Baseline totally re-set. Lower than it was before. Because there was no ice cream. Because, as everyone knows, ice cream cones raise the bar of any and every situation. Even ones with conversations about kernel sized Unix captcha.

But that's ok, because:

Then, a few years later, when, for the second year in a row, you sign yourself up to run a half marathon on your anniversary and leave Jon to figure out how to entertain both kids at the finish line for at least 4 hours (not because you run an 18:30 pace, but because the line for your post race massages is just that long) it puts that anniversary it in the running for the Top 5 Anniversary Celebrations of All Time! Baseline? Shoot man, it wasn't even visible from where Jon was sitting with whiny children waiting patiently for me to cross that finish line so I could mooch some free bananas and bagels from the post race food tent.

Baselines, they make every anniversary participant feel like a winner!

4. Find Your Standard of Laziness:

Me, circa pre-1st anniversary: I think I'm going to clean the bathroom after work today. (spoiler: I don't really think it needs to be cleaned yet.)
Jon, circa same time frame: OK (leaves for class)
9 hours later
Jon: (walks through door, heads to bathroom, comes back few minutes later) Hey! Bathroom looks good!
Me: (putting down book, thinking about telling him I actually didn't clean the bathroom, decide against it) Thanks, it really wasn't that hard.

Repeat until one of you actually cleans the bathroom.

4a. Bonus Marriage Hint For Free:

This works for every room in the house! But not the lawn. Because, not only did Jon forget to mention being allergic to cats before marriage he neglected mentioning his grass allergy as well. Geesh.

5. Agree on the Little Things:

Before we got married the church made us take this day long marriage class. We got a three ring binder full of papers that talked about... I don't know, stuff? I remember that we participated in "fun games" like standing along a line on the carpet to signify our spending habits! They did, however, totally give us free donuts! (Probably how Jon got me there.) And, we learned all about how, sometimes, it's the little things that can dig away at a marriage relationship. Do you squeeze from the middle or roll from the bottom? Do you load under or over? Then,they sent us outside to talk privately about our toothpaste and toilet paper preferences. And, our conversation went something like this:

Me: Is there toilet paper by the toilet?
Jon: Yep. Then we're good?
Me: Yep.
Jon: Want to go play tether ball?
Me: Yep.

And then, we totally sneaked onto the church's tether ball courts and played for the rest of the designated "private discussion time". Because, even without being married for 14 years, we knew that it isn't how the toilet paper rolls that's important to a marriage, but the actual presence of the toilet paper within reach of the toilet itself.


What's that? You're saying there's only five bullets on this list? No, dude, I sneaked a sixth one in there. And it's something else I learned at that free donut marriage seminar: Never keep score. It's so not worth it. Because, apparently, Jon can play tether ball like nobody's business.

*This is an obscure reference based on a Girl Scout camp song about aardvarks. Don't worry, (gestures over right shoulder) they didn't get it either. I mean, maybe it'd make sense if I sang the song bu- Oh! Well, ok, if you insist!

The Aardvark Song (hem, hem)

There was a large dark aardvark in the park,
They say he's missing from the zoo. (That's me folks!)
The police are searching high and low,
But they have not seen him have you? (Peekaboo!)

Why did he go? Oh! I'll tell you the reason!
(in a whisper) 'Cause, it's, aardvark mating season.

When an aardvark makes a date,
He slips right through that old zoo gate!
So, if you see to two aardvarks necking in the park,
Don't upset their apple cart.
Why not?
Do not be a spy.
You're not the FBI.
And you should never break an aardvark's heart!

P.S. These things totally happen. In real aardvark lives.