Didn’t we fight a war over this?

I cannot believe I have to deal with this in my own country

bathroom 4

So last weekend, when Mr T and I went to Chicago for Open House Chicago and the sewer treatment plant and the concrete factory, we stayed overnight downtown because he had a free hotel night and we thought well why not?

This way, we get both days of OHC plus I get to see my boss from the Peace Corps, who was in town for her new company’s annual meeting (only I didn’t get to see her because there were riots in Chile and she had to figure out how to evacuate the exchange students she is in charge of, but that is not part of this story except to say I was very disappointed to go another year without seeing her and also to say that I AM NOT THE X in a bad relationship with a boss).

So we checked into the hotel, which was a fancy hotel, and discovered we had been upgraded to a fancy room, where they don’t hide the snacks in a fridge but leave them out so you see the M&Ms the second you walk into the room, which is brilliant marketing if you ask me. I mean, if you are a person who can afford $370 a night for a hotel (before taxes), then sure why not pay $8 a pack for M&Ms?

(That is not us, BTW. We do not pay $8 for M&Ms. We go around the corner to Walgreen’s and buy them for $1.50.)

We surveyed the room – s – a living room, a bathroom, a bedroom – three rooms for 13 hours, most of which would be spent sleeping –

Oh. Wait.

I need to interrupt here.

The plan was to spend most of the time in the hotel sleeping.

When I am at home, I don’t get to sleep. Much of it, I admit, is because of hot flashes. (Do hot flashes burn calories? Need to google that.)

But more of it is The Man Keeping Me Down because of Work, which requires that I get up at 5:54 a.m., and The Cats, who even on the weekend, demand to eat. Even if Mr T feeds them, they wake us both up. They are Siamese. They are noisy.

There is no peace in my life.

I was really excited to spend the night in a place where I neither had to work nor to feed cats.

So guess what happened?



And because the company never answered my email, I am going to tell you the brand of the clock so YOU NEVER BUY IT. Don’t buy Soundfreaq. It’s defective. Just. Saying.

(See? I am still traumatized by the experience and can’t even remember what I wrote about a week ago.)

(Also note to self for work trip this week – check alarm clock first thing after checking into hotel.)

Back to the bathroom. Which I now realize you have already seen. But about which I am going to complain again and put in context.

I don’t expect much out of life. I have already surpassed expectations. None of my grandparents went past 8th grade, even though they wanted to. My mom’s mom wanted to study art in Paris. Her dad wanted to travel the world. My dad’s mom was a voracious reader and armchair traveler. I don’t know what my dad’s dad wanted – he died when I was four.

But just by virtue of graduating from college – from high school! – I already had the luxury of a life of the mind that they did not get to have.

And then I got to work indoors at work that was not physically demanding. My income was not dependent on the weather or on the commodity markets.

I have it so, so easy.

So yeah – I don’t expect much – I am happy to have a roof over my head and food on my table and to have it come SO EASILY. My life and work are a piece (pieces?) of cake compared to my grandparents and my parents.

That said.

I have a complaint.

And that complaint is about showers.

When I travel.

To Europe.


I know this is totally a first-world problem.

I know.

Why can’t Europe get its act together with showers?

The technology exists to give users a great shower experience! Is it because the technology was (I guess) invented in the US that the Europeans don’t want to use it? Because I have NEVER had a good shower experience in Europe. Never.

And now they are exporting their Evil Shower Ways to the US.

bath 3

This is what I’m talking about. This shower was in Spain somewhere. (We won’t even get into the location of the toilet paper.)(Or the fact that there is no logical place to put the soap and the shampoo.)

What the heck is up with having only half a door? Why would you not cover the entire shower space? Guess what happens when you do not contain the shower?

Water. Gets. On. The. Floor.

And, more importantly, the user gets cold.

bath 2

And what about this one? At least this shower (also in Spain) has doors that close, but again, nowhere for the soap and shampoo. Nowhere to prop the foot to shave the legs. And so small that every time I turned around, I bumped into the lever, which changed the water temperature and pressure. And if I hit the bar on the left, I burned myself, as it was scalding hot.

I know Spain has great engineers, because I work closely with my company’s Spanish office. Maybe Spain outsources shower design to a country with really bad engineers?

bath 4

A ledge, which is nice, but again with the half-door. Germany! WE HAVE A WAY TO KEEP THE USER WARM AND TO KEEP WATER OFF THE FLOOR!

It’s almost like Europe wants people to be cold and dirty.

I never thought we would adopt those ways. I never thought I would find a European shower in the US.

I mean, I do think Europeans are more sophisticated and advanced than Americans in many ways. I certainly appreciate their approach to holidays and vacation. It’s almost impossible to schedule a meeting with my German co-workers in August. It’s annoying but I get over it pretty quickly in the interests of solidarity.

And it’s the vacation ways I want from Europe, not the shower ways.

But it’s the cold shower that I get, not the vacation. I get a shower with only half a door. A shower with a lot of air space that’s impossible to warm. A shower with the controls far from the source of the water. Fancy hotel with the $8 M&Ms, you are doing it wrong.






When you are smug because you Do Romance Right

I married Mr T because he is H-O-T but also because we agree on what is F-U-N


Last weekend, Mr T and I went to Open House Chicago. If they have this in your city, you should go. It is super interesting and super fun, at least, it is interesting and fun if you are nosy like I am.

I have been to Open House Chicago and to Doors Open Milwaukee and have seen the fancy buildings and done all that. I am ready to move on to the weird. Which is why I was so excited to see the concrete plant, the cat rescue place, the yacht club that lives on an old rail car ferry, and – the wastewater treatment plant on the list.

Still, I was a little concerned.

Me: The Chicago sewer treatment plant is on Open House Chicago!

Mr T: Good!

Me: Except – we already toured the Milwaukee plant.

Mr T: So?

Me: Isn’t that kind of redundant?

Mr T: If you go to a cathedral in Paris, does that mean you don’t ever go to a cathedral in Madrid?

Me: Excellent point.

So we went to the Chicago sewer treatment plant.

People asked questions they should not have been asking and didn’t ask the ones they should have been asking.

Questions you should ask:

  • What are the weirdest things you have ever had to pull out of the filters? (Bicycles, diamonds, cows, TVs)

Questions you should not have to ask because if you have ever watched even one episode of Chicago PD, you KNOW THE ANSWER:

  • If you find a human body caught in the filters, do you have to close down the plant? And then what about the water?

The tour was super cool, although – ahem – it is not as advanced as the Milwaukee plant. Chicago sells the reclaimed materials from the wastewater as fertilizer, but is just now figuring out they should brand it. Ha. Milorganite(R) (Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen) has existed since 1926. I guess Chicago was too busy with gangster wars to think about making money legitimately.

JK. I love Chicago and I leave you with this photo I took from the rail car ferry turned into a yacht club. BTW, this is the kind of yacht club for people who wear shorts and t-shirts and work on their own boats. It – the yacht club – smells like grease and oil. It’s not fancy. The Fancy Yacht Club, where there are People to Do Things for the Rich People Who Own Yachts, is the glass building you see in the middle of the photo.

I love her hat. I love Chicago and the amazing people you see there who say, “You know what? Today I am going to wear my Pretty Hat.”



To sleep

This is not what I thought I would want to do with my nights when I was 16


This weekend, Mr T and I went to Chicago. I was dreaming of one morning – just one – one morning in one week in one month in one year in one life where I did not have to be awakened against my will, either by an alarm clock at 5:54 a.m., an alarm clock summoning me to work for The Man, whose jackboot pressing against my neck is getting more and more oppressive and that’s about all I can say about that here except if you ever thought there was solidarity among women you would be abso-damn-lutely wrong, or by the desperate cry of a cat who has not eaten in 13 hours and is sure that starvation is imminent.

We went to Chicago. We took the train down and our friends picked us up and we saw amazing sights at Open House Chicago, including – we are crazy romantic fun this way, but honest, this is super interesting, the Terrence J. O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant and a concrete factory.

We had dinner and then they dropped us off for our hotel, which Mr T had gotten for free with some credit card deal, so we cannot complain about free – I will never complain about free, and Mr T went for a Chicago beer and I went to bed because I WANTED TO SLEEP and Mr T wanted a beer.

I want to sleep more than I want almost anything else in the world.

A co-worker with a nine-month old lamented how her life has changed.

New mom co-worker: My friends asked if I wanted to go out on Saturday but I would rather sleep than go out!

Two other older co-workers and me: Yeah, we would rather sleep than have sex.


Co-worker with two kids who sits by me after I tell her the story: Amateur. She’ll learn.

bathroom 4
The fancy bathroom in the fancy hotel, which, it turns out, is prettier is as prettier does. It looks great, but nobody user tested it. This is the European model of “Let’s not close the shower!” so cold air gets in. In addition, the controls are on the other side of the water, so you have to walk back and forth to adjust the temperature, with the associated lag time. And did I note all the cold air that comes with?

I went to sleep.

I went to sleep and at some point in the night, Mr T came to bed but I did not hear him because Mr T is very considerate and does not make noise when he comes to bed.

I was sleeping happily (except of course for getting up to pee several times because I had been throwing back the water because I had not wanted to get another migraine – thank you for reappearing in my life, migraines – again, thank you WORK) until THE F***ING ALARM CLOCK WENT OFF AT 5:35 A.M.

You read that properly.

5:35 a.m.

I fumbled and found the clock and touched and pressed until every button I could until the noise stopped.

I fell back asleep.

And guess what happened then?



I had merely hit the snooze button.

What kind of evil was this?

I woke up again.

Mr T woke up.

No he had not woken up the first time.

What is this thing where men can sleep through noise that wakes women up?

So of course he has to talk, which wakes me up even more.

I am not willing to turn on a light to figure out how to turn the alarm off, so I just yanked the cord out of the wall.

But I ask –

  • What kind of evil is that makes someone design an alarm clock for a hotel that is hard to turn off?
  • And what kind of hotel does not have as part of its room-cleaning process a step to ensure that the alarm is turned off?
  • And what kind of evil previous guest does not turn off the alarm?

When I finally got up, not well rested at all, I plugged the clock back in and turned off the alarm, because I am not evil. The snooze button was literally a button, but to turn the alarm off, you have to slide a button over to “off,” which is not something a half-asleep person would figure out in the night.

I hate you, alarm clock company.


“Ma’am” is fine if you can’t think of anything else

Not “Dude.” Do not call me “Dude.”

Laverne says, “I don’t care what you call me. Just don’t call me late to dinner.”

It’s Sunday morning and Mr T and I are listening, as we do every Sunday, to the vintage American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.

Alas, it’s a show from the ’80s, which cannot be as good as a show from the ’70s, and we are being forced to listen to Kenny Rogers’ not-best work, that is, “Lady.”

There are many reasons not to like the song, not the least of which is I know how great Rogers can be, but part of it is just because he is calling this woman, “Lady” and not her name.

I hate that crap.

A former boyfriend would call me “Dollface.” I think he, who was wonderful in almost every other way, thought he was kind of edgy and hip and cool, but I hated it.

I think I told him not to call me that, but maybe I didn’t? Maybe this was long enough ago that I was scared to say what I wanted because what if what I wanted wasn’t what a man wanted and then what would happen?

Screw you, patriarchy. I’m not playing that game anymore.

I had another boyfriend – who was also lovely lovely lovely – who wrote a song for me called “Dama.” He would also call me that.

Again, did I voice my displeasure? I don’t remember. What I do remember is I did not like it.

Why? Why do I hate this so much? Is it just because I think the nicknames themselves are stupid? Mr T will call me “Sweetie,” but I also call him “Sweetie.” I don’t mind that name, but I think “Dollface” and “Dama” are stupid.

Maybe it’s because it’s part of a larger pattern – and this is why I am going toward revolution – of men thinking they get to decide every damn thing in the world, regardless of what women want? That they even get to name everything?

YES I KNOW #NOTALLMEN. I know that. I am married to a wonderful man who is sweet and thoughtful and gentle and kind.

But even Mr T doesn’t know about all the things. I read him a story similar to this one:

A woman’s worst nightmare? That’s pretty easy. Novelist Margaret Atwood writes that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”

I explained that all women think about where we park after dark, whether we go for a walk after dark, what neighborhoods we feel safe in, where we sit on public transit.

He was surprised. These things had never occurred to him and it hadn’t occurred to him that women think about these things.

So yeah – men don’t even know and they think they get to name things and – where was I? I think I am getting off track here.

My point – and I did have one, I am sure – is that I want to decide what I am called. Don’t call me “Dollface.” Don’t call me “Dama.” Don’t call me “Lady.” I decide. Not you.




Contemplating our mortality

Or, at least, trying to get Mr T to Throw Things Away so I don’t have to deal with his crap when he’s gone

This photo represents Life and Death. You see the light, but then the shadow looms and you know Death is coming. Enjoy the beauty while you can.

Me: Tish’s husband died. He was not doing well when she was here.

Mr T: That’s sad.

Me: She told me – and she wrote in her post as well – that he spent his lucid moments making sure everything was in order.

Mr T: Are you trying to tell me something?

Me: That it’s nice when people don’t leave a mess after they’re dead. It’s considerate.

Mr T: But – if I leave a mess for you to clean up, I’ll be dead and you’re the only one who would know.

Me: I would tell everyone.

Mr T: What? You would?

Me: You’re worried about your legacy? Do you really want your legacy to be, “That guy who left everything for his wife to deal with even though he could have gotten his affairs in order?”

Mr T: No. And I don’t want to be like my parents, who left me a huge mess.

Me: You don’t want it to take me years to close the estate because I can’t find things like the car title? And I don’t know if there is a safe deposit box or not because I find some notes referring to a safe deposit box but then no other information and I have to call all the banks where you have accounts to ask? And because I have to shred your sex diary so your nieces and nephews don’t find it? You don’t want that?

Mr T: Nope.

Me: At least you haven’t disinherited me in your will but still made me executor.

Mr T: So it could be a lot worse.


Seriously I am starting a revolution

And it all starts with pockets

What do you see? I see pockets. Plenty of pockets. On men’s clothes.

Mr T and I walked to the farmers market this morning. He was kind of surprised when I disappeared for a second between the olive oil store and the French bistro. Yes, our neighborhood has gotten a bit chi-chi since we moved here. Not complaining, though.

It wasn’t the jazz trio that was driving me away, although that would have been enough (YES! I WILL SAY IT OUT LOUD! I HATE JAZZ!).

It was a bathroom.

Mr T: Where were you?

Me: The bathroom!

Mr T: There’s a bathroom there?

Me: Yes.

Mr T: Do you know where all the bathrooms are?

Me: Yes. Duh.

Mr T: Is that a woman thing?

Me: Yes.

On our way into the library, where he has to re-arrange the tomatoes from the market to find my phone and library card, which are at the bottom of the bag, he teases me, “Why don’t you just put them in your pocket?”

Me, merrily: Hahahahahaha!

I spy a woman wearing painter’s pants.

Me: You have pockets!

Woman: Yes!

Me: Those are great!

Mr T: See? She has pockets.

Me: Be quiet, patriarchy.

Woman: And look! It has a hook for a hammer!

Me: Which is cool!

Woman: They are functional!

Mr T: See? You could have those pants and then you would have pockets!

Me: Hush, Patriarchy.

Woman: Many women, however, would not want a hook like this.

Me: I would. What if I wanted to carry a hammer? I would be able to!

Woman: You know what, though? These are men’s pants.


Women: They were $25. If they designed them for women, they would cost $89.

Me: As well they should. Our bodies are different, after all, and it’s more expensive to design for them.


The daily grind, which isn’t a grind and not just because the coffee at the office is awful

But still, I am doing it pretty much for the health insurance

My original career goals – surgery and designing artificial body parts. I think the surgery part would not have lasted long for someone who passes out with blood. Wait. Wouldn’t that make a great TV show?

I don’t talk about work here and that’s by design – I work because I like to sleep indoors, not as a hobby, but I think I can talk about the gestalt of where I am.

I have been at my current job for over five years.

Before that, I was at a place where – hmmm. How to put this?

The CEO was a tyrannical jerk who screamed at his subordinates in public.

He did not like to be contradicted.

He was cutting, sarcastic, and mean.

I started looking for a new job two days after I started at OldJob and left eight months later.

Nobody wept, I don’t think, the day the board fired him.

(Not for being a jerk, I don’t think, although that should have been enough. I think it’s because he spent tens of thousands of dollars – maybe more, to renovate the Milwaukee office, which was then shut down a few months later.)

But he was not the daily problem.

The daily problem was some of the people I worked with.

In their defense, when you have a jerk CEO, you do have a culture of fear and you don’t know whom you can trust and you never know what’s going to happen.

But I did not find my co-workers to be particularly motivated to do good work. I was also not impressed with the work ethic or the attitude – although yeah, with leadership like that, it’s easy to understand why people aren’t excited. They’re not exactly part of something great.

And I was working with relatively low-skilled labor.

So when I started working in the R&D group of an engineering company, it was a big change.

A few months in, one of the engineers asked me how I was liking it.

Me: I’m the stupidest person in R&D!



Engineer, very carefully: You seem bright enough to me.

Me: Hahahahaha!


Me: Hi work friend from many jobs ago!

Work friend: Hello. How do you like your new job.

Me [story about engineer politely trying to counter my assertion of being the stupidest person in the group]

WF: Hahahahaha! He does not realize you do not have any self-esteem issues!

Me: No I do not!

WF: He didn’t understand that what you were really saying was you are so happy you don’t have to work with stupid people anymore!

Me: YES!