When you’re in deep snow and existential despair

And then you put the dishwash thing in the disposal. While it is running.

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So you guys. Marido and I went on vacation. Which was a mistake. Because Spain was beautiful and we went outside without our coats and we realized there are people who live without winter and how can we become those people? But we can’t because The Man Is Keeping Us Down and because you don’t burn it all down and move to Spain in your mid-50s —


Do you?

No. You can’t. Not when you have two cats whom you are not willing to abandon. Not when your mom thank God is healthy now but those times are coming.

You can’t.

Can you?

Maybe. Man, I want to.

But when you are distracted and thinking about Burning It Down and Moving To Spain, you casually push the orange peels into the disposal with the dishwash thingy and – oops! The head of the thingy comes off IN THE DISPOSAL and in the few seconds it takes you to react, the disposal very efficiently grinds the plastic of the dishwash thingy into tiny little bits.

Which is a metaphor for Life Right Now – Tiny Little Bits of White Nothingness That Are Causing Despair Because The Damn Snow Won’t Stop.

And then you have to get those tiny white bits out of the disposal because – and I am guessing on this, but I suspect I am correct – grinding them into even smaller pieces so they will wash down the drain is probably not a good idea and definitely not good for the fish.

So even though I know better and I know what LOTO is and I have attended safety classes, I stick my hand into the disposal

Don’t worry! Nothing bad happens!

But I kept thinking, “What if something happened and the disposal turned on? My fingers would be shredded! Then how would I use the remote? Or my phone?”

I already have a top-less little finger from the Mandoline Incident of ’13.

Advice: If you fly to Dubai and back in the same week, give yourself a few days after you return before you use sharp objects. It really does take some time to recover from that jet lag.

But I had to stick my hand down the disposal and retrieve all the little plastic bits and it forced me to concentrate and contemplate Winter and Discontent and Despair and The Point of Life and I am ready to leave again.

But I bought new pillows instead.

I will let you know if that solves the problem.


And then my co-worker asked, “What’s ‘bluebonnet?'” and I realized there are People Who Do Not Know

We Must Pray For Them

Field of Texas Bluebonnet

You guys know I was tricked into moving to Wisconsin, right? Marido and I met at our college reunion in Houston. Alas, I was not fortunate enough to be living in Texas at the time, although Memphis, where I was living, is lovely and I have wonderful friends there and a gorgeous 1922 bungalow and a great flowerbed in front of my house. But mostly wonderful friends. Memphis people are nice. And Memphis is beautiful.

I was in Memphis and I was happy there and Marido was in Milwaukee –

and he won.

I left Memphis to move to Milwaukee.

Marido tricked me because he was living in an apartment with an attached, heated garage (trust me this is a big deal) when we met. Up here, the heat is often included in the rent, which means if you are in an apartment, you are warm.

And if you are in an apartment, you are not responsible for shoveling.

Marido and I were both supposed to be out of town for work the last week of January, when we expecting 14″ of snow in one day.

Which we got.

If you are going to be out of town and you own a house and that house has sidewalks, you are responsible for making sure that sidewalk is shoveled. If it is not shoveled by noon of the day following the snowfall, the city will kindly shovel for you and send you a very big bill.

Like I said – tricked. I did not have complete information when I surrendered and agreed to leave Memphis and my wonderful friends and my cute little bungalow and the flowerbeds I had spent years building.

And I came up here.

What was I even talking about?


Wow. I need to get back on topic.

So now I am in Milwaukee and I miss Memphis and I miss Texas.

There is a sales meeting in Dallas at the end of March. My VP asked if I wanted to go.

“Of course!” I said. Of course I want to go to Texas! But I was a little more savvy than to say, “I WANT TO GO TO MY HOMELAND AND SEE MY PEOPLE AND EAT MY FOOD!”

Instead, I said the proper thing, which was, “It would be really great to meet the salespeople in person after all this time of just emailing them.”

She agreed that it is indeed good to meet people in person.

Then I said, because I couldn’t resist, and said, “And the bluebonnets will be blooming!”

The VP, our web guy, and our creative director looked at me and BlessTheirHearts asked, “What’s ‘bluebonnet?'”

How does one even begin to explain Texas and bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush and Lady Bird Johnson to lovely, lovely people who have no frame of reference whatsoever?

I didn’t even try. I just said, “Oh, it’s the state flower and it blooms in the spring and it’s really pretty.”



When you would rather sleep than do almost anything else in the world and that includes you know what

And when romance is not a dozen red roses

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You know what’s sexy and romantic? When your husband washes clothes.

At work today:

Co-worker, female, 30, married, one child: I can’t believe I told my girlfriends I didn’t want to go out on Saturday. I told them it was too late.

Work friend, 40s, married, two kids: Yeah, that happens.

CW-30: But 8:00! I was in bed at 8:00! I can’t believe I have reached the stage of my life where I would rather sleep than go out with my friends.

Me: I would rather sleep than have sex.

CW-30: ….

CW-30: ….

CW-30: ….

CW-30: I – uh. I guess I have not reached that stage yet.

WF-40s: You will.

CW-30 leaves.

WF-40s: Amateur. She’ll learn.

Me: She probably thinks I’m a terrible wife to my husband.

WF-40s: She just doesn’t know yet.

Me: My husband is HOT. I adore him. I think he’s fabulous. He had to fly to Los Angeles for work this morning, but last night, he took the car and put gas in it and put air in the tires. He always takes care of the litter box. He does all the vacuuming and all the laundry. It’s not that I don’t think he’s hot and it’s not like I am pushing him away.

WF-40s: It’s that you are both exhausted. Both of you!

Me: Exactly.

WF-40s: I’m so tired that I would be willing to outsource that.

Me: I told Marido he could have an affair if he just wouldn’t run for public office. Or he could buy a new car. But the affair would have been cheaper.

WF-40s: I just want to sleep. I don’t care about fancy dinners or flowers. Those young women who complain about Valentine’s day?

Me: I know! You know what’s the hottest thing Marido did for me recently? I was watching TV. He walked past me with a rag and a spray bottle and said, “One of the cats just threw up on the rug. I’ll clean it.”

WF-40s: That’s pretty romantic.

Me: I know.

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You know what else is romantic? When my husband spends six hours updating and repairing my mother’s computer.




The Land of Laverne and Shirley (in a good way)

People here bowl, hunt, fish, and drink Old-Fashioneds because it’s fun, not because they are trying to be retro cool


My friend Sharon and I went to a research event that the Wisconsin Historical Society ran as part of the initiative to build a new Wisconsin History Museum.

One of the tasks was to define a sense of place for Milwaukee.

For me, that’s easy – it’s the place where my father was born (in a house 34 blocks east and five blocks north of where I live now) and where my grandmother, who spoke German until she went to kindergarten, which is where she learned English, was born and raised (47 blocks east and two blocks north of my house) and where they use the word “bubbler” for drinking fountain.

It’s the place for beer and sausage and for a statue of Fonzie and for cats named Laverne and Shirley. (That is, our cats.)

[It’s also the most segregated place I have ever lived in my life. They talk a good game up here about it’s The South that’s all racist, but at least in Memphis, black people and white people eat in the same restaurants.

I am going to leave that issue aside because I don’t even know what else to say about it except get off your moral high horse, Milwaukee.]

The good part about Milwaukee is that it’s not hip.

Nobody here is trying to be cool. Nobody here cares if mullets are out of style. Nobody cares if she looks kinda frumpy. People here care about being comfortable and wearing what they like and doing what they like.

Marido and I went to an event at City Hall where groups of people were earnestly engaged in trying to make Milwaukee a better place to work and live – about how to create jobs here so people don’t leave after school.

The young man at our table wanted tech jobs to come here. He said we need to be more like Austin.

Marido and I both said, NO! We do not want to be like Austin! Austin used to be a great place to live and now nobody can afford to live there and the traffic is awful!

I lived in Austin for six years. And – I say this with love, Austin, but – your attitude is sooooo annoying. That whole Hipper Than Thou?

It makes people want to punch you.

Milwaukee is not hip. It’s not cool. It’s not high-tech. It’s a blue-collar town and people are not ashamed of who they are or where they came from. They like church festivals and Friday night fish fry and Summerfest and paczki and Up Nort.

I love Memphis and I love Texas, but in Milwaukee? I never feel guilty for going to the store in my gym clothes.

Don’t get me wrong. I went to the store in my gym clothes (I do not wear fancy gym clothes – I have had some gym shorts for ten years because I am of Milwaukee People And We Do Not Waste) in Memphis and in Texas. But I felt guilty about it because it’s Not Done there.

Here? Nobody cares.

And that’s what I like about this place.

Speaking of the abomination that is Pizza Cut Into Squares

Is it some bizarre protest against FIBs? Because they have great pizza in Chicago – let’s embrace it, not fight it

You guys know this is BS, right? Square pizza and/or pizza cut into squares? Well, I finally found out who’s responsible.

When you think of Milwaukee pizza – that flaky almost cracker-thin crust, on a rectangular pan, cut into squares – you’re thinking of Caradaro pizza, the legacy of which is served to Milwaukee pizza fans at a number of places around the city today.

I guess there are people who like square pizza, but, as with the People Who Like Snow and the People Who Do Not Take Food and the People Who Do Not Write Condolence Notes, they are wrong.

I guess I should back up. I just re-read the previous paragraphs – a draft I wrote a few weeks ago – and realized it might not make sense to those of you outside Wisconsin.

Up here, they cut pizza into squares. This makes sense for pizza baked in a rectangle, as my grandmother did and my mom does (bless their hearts but it is easier than pulling dough into a circle), but for pizza baked in a circle? To still be cut into squares?


Who goes through the trouble of pulling the dough into a circle – which is not easy, I can tell you – I have never achieved Perfect Roundness and I have tried – and then doesn’t even cut the slices properly?

That is, with an even, fair ratio of crust to non-crust AS PLEASETH THE LORD?

I have argued about this issue with the engineers (that is, every other single person except me, the three admins, and the art director) at work.

I maintain that triangular slices are the most fair way to distribute pizza.

They say, But what about the people who don’t like crust?


You would think engineers would be more logical but you would be wrong.

(They have figured out that for a potluck, you pull the table from the wall and run a line down both sides to double throughput, but they still put the silverware and napkins at the beginning of the buffet line, not at the end. I have given up.)

Also – the crust here is a horrible cracker crust. If I wanted crackers, I would sit it on a Ritz. Otherwise, I want a chewy, thick pizza crust.

They are not doing it right.









Why I gave up on dressing up

Because there is no point and trying to dress nicely in this climate just throws me into existential crisis

I hate winter.

Have I mentioned that?

I hate winter.

I hate snow.

It’s not pretty. It’s not nice. It’s not anything but evil.

It’s hard to drive in.

It’s hard to walk in.

It gets your clothes wet. It gets your shoes wet.

It’s dangerous. If untreated, the sidewalk is icy, which means you could slip and break your wrist, as my friend Karen did two days ago.

This injury, BTW, is common enough that it has its own acronym: FOOSH = Fell On OutStretched Hand.

If the sidewalk is treated, that means it has salt on it. Salt is not good for Italian leather shoes.

When I met Marido, I was living in Memphis, which is in The South, where Women Dress Up For Everything Including The Grocery Store.

I didn’t dress up for the grocery store but I felt guilty about it. I did, however, dress up to go out to eat or to the theater.

I persisted in my ways even when I was visiting Marido. I raised my eyebrows at the other women I would see Out – other women wearing jeans and bulky sweaters and clunky boots.

I moved here and persisted. We got a subscription to the theater and I would Dress Up and again, raise my eyebrows at Women In The Theater Wearing Jeans And Sweaters.

Then I noticed something.

I never took my coat off.

Even indoors.

I never took it off at the theater because it was too cold.

(That’s because Milwaukee is German and we don’t waste money on frivolities like heat. In Chicago, AKA Gomorrah, public spaces are heated to such a high temperature that I start taking my clothes off the second I walk into a building so I don’t get soaking wet from sweat.)

Wait. I took off my coat once. The woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Excuse me, but did you know your dress is not zipped all the way?”

I felt behind me and realized that the top half of my back was exposed because indeed my dress was not zipped all the way.

I turned to Marido and asked, “Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because I thought you wanted it that way!” he answered. “It’s that low in the front!”

I looked at the woman and shook my head. She rolled her eyes in sympathy.

Back to always wearing a coat.

And always taking a really long time to walk from the car to the theater because I had to worry about ice and about salt and about protecting my gorgeous Italian shoes.

I. Was. Always. Cold.

Because I never had enough clothes on.

That’s when I understood.

And that’s when I, too, started wearing jeans and boots to the theater.

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I wear snow boots from home to work. Sometimes, I change into nice shoes once I’m there – I keep several pairs at my desk. Sometimes, I don’t bother. Sue me.