Category Archives: TJ + Phil

Crotch Gate Gate.

Yesterday I mentioned that my post was going to be in three parts, and there ended up being only two parts, for two reasons. The first reason was that I kind of got carried away talking about how I was going to talk about The Wet Brush, which is kind of the problem here – it’s never what I want to talk about that ends up being so many words, but me talking about what I’m going to talk about, and the lead in to what I’m going to talk about, and the things I think about that are kind of related to what I’m going to talk about that add so much bulk on to what could be an average size blog post. What does an average size post weigh in at these days, anyway? What are all the kids doing? 1200 words? 1500? I don’t know. Probably somewhere in there, right?

And then the second reason that I had to abandon part three was that there was a whole other development to the story when Phil came home for lunch. I was initially already planning to write this little bit up, like I usually do, “Hey, listen to this ridiculous thing my husband does,” and wrap it up with something like, “So, at what point does he cross the line from thoughtless knob into total inconsiderate ass captain?” BUT THEN. He came home for lunch. And not only was he wearing the team uniform of the New Mexico Inconsiderate Ass Captains, he proceeded to break one of our number one marriage rules or possibly THE NUMBER ONE rule of our marriage, thus DOUBLE SEALING his place on the losing side of this situation, which is pretty much my favorite kind of thing to have happen.

We have this really big expandable baby gate that we bought when we were still living in Arizona and had this weird half wall situation around the den that we used as an office. We had tried several different gates and sent them back because we needed to find one that was the right combination of wide enough to stretch across the very big opening, but also short enough of go up against the very low wall we were dealing with on one side. We ended up with this Safety 1st Wide Doorways Fabric Gate. It’s 27″ high and expands up to 60″ across and it can be a little tedious to install, since you have to twist these little knob thingers on the top and bottom on one side to pressure mount it to the wall firmly. That worked for us, though, since we were renting and didn’t want to install anything permanently.

We kept it across the opening to the office area for awhile, but eventually moved it to separate the two halves of the split floor plan house, mounting it in the normal-sized doorway between the kitchen and the playroom. This effectively divided the house into a dog side and a Penelope side, with the kitchen, back living room and our bedroom for the dogs and the big playroom, two other bedrooms, and office area for Penelope. As an aside, I will tell you that that is not how this new house is laid out and the dogs are not pleased with the new development. (“Stop. Stop. STOP. HE IS RUNNING AWAY BECAUSE HE DOESN’T LIKE YOU.“) We kept it up almost constantly, because it served the dual purpose of keeping Penelope out of the kitchen and keeping the dogs out of the playroom (Brinkley is a toy-eater). Sometimes, though, we let it down, because we have a toddler, and we have dogs, and toddlers and dogs just go together, most notably when you don’t feel like getting out the vacuum, so you just let the cleaning crew rumble through.

Phil was usually the one to let the gate down, in the evenings, after Penelope had gone to bed (which means after I had also gone to bed, because I go to bed when Penelope goes to bed, no exceptions). In the mornings, I’d wake up and the gate would be back in place. Or it would look like it was back in place. If you’ll recall, I mentioned that the gate is 27″ high – convenient for the space we were looking to fill at the time, and I guess a convenient height for dogs and toddlers. Now, pardon me if I’m about to be crude, but it’s also the exact height of my crotch. I can’t just step comfortably over the gate. It touches. I can’t physically get over the gate without brushing it. With my business. It’s not that I’m very short – I mean, I’m short, but just regular short. You might meet me some day and note that I’m not particularly tall but it’s not shocking. You wouldn’t have to make a mental note to yourself to not stare or anything. I’m just regular not tall. I know that bringing up lack of height on the Internet is dangerous because it can quickly turn into a faux-humility pissing contest over who is the most petite and what you can’t reach on the shelves and whose crotch touches what but I will tell you now I don’t consider height or lack of height to be anything. And that is not a partial sentence, I meant to stop right there. I’m just stating a fact for this story, I am a regular short person. It’s not a thing I wish to bond over.

The problems would arise when I would step over the gate I assumed was placed correctly only to find that, no, in fact, it was not. It was placed BY PHIL. So in a perfect world, gate placed correctly, I’d step one foot over, brush, and place my other foot over. In the real world, gate placed BY PHIL, I’d step one foot over, brush, the act of brushing would DISLODGE the gate that was only half-assedly twisted against the wall, knocking it into the leg that was already over, usually taking me to the ground with it.

The first time? Weird. The second time? Weird. The third time? I’D CAUGHT ON, PHIL.

“Dude. If you take the gate down, you’ve got to put it back on tightly.”
“I do.”
“Uh, no, because it comes down and knocks me over.”
“Okay.”

Fourth time. Fifth time.

“Phil. Seriously. The gate.”
“I do put it back on tightly.”
“I was carrying her lunch. I threw it all over the playroom.”
“Sorry, but I put it back on this time.”
“No, THIS is putting it back on.”
“Okay. Okay.”

Six. Seven. Eight.

“PHIL. COME ON.”
“I get it. Okay. Sorry.”

And then we moved to New Mexico. Before we moved here, we talked a bit about the layout of the new place and where we were going to put the gate, and if we wanted to get a permanently installed gate, since the new place has stairs. Also, Penelope can just force this gate down now, no matter who screws it in, but she knows she’s supposed to leave it up when it’s up. It’s more of a symbolic gate where she’s concerned, but it does still keep the dogs where we want them. For now, we’ve decided to keep it at the bottom of the stairs, in front of the bottom step. We keep the dogs downstairs during the day, to keep Brinkley from running up and down the steps. In addition to his current injury, he’s also almost 10 and does have arthritis. We initially even considered keeping them downstairs entirely and went with that for a few days, but I thought they were lonely and we started letting them sleep upstairs at night pretty quickly. In the morning, Phil takes the dogs and usually Penny, if she’s awake, downstairs to eat breakfast and he replaces the gate. I leave it up for the rest of the day and it comes back down at night when everyone comes up.

CROTCHGATE

Incredibly boring picture of the scene of the crime.

Yesterday, I came downstairs with Penelope and went to step over the gate, as I do – you know, step, brush, step – only to enjoy my first New Mexico ass-over-tea kettling courtesy of the crotch gate. Step, brush, CRASH. It was not even half-assedly pressure twisted to the wall. I don’t even know if it was leaning against the wall. I swear, it was hovering there. Just balanced. Like he spent time and effort achieving some miracle of physics specifically to screw with me, so I’d end up with my face in the carpet. Why? Why, Phil? We haven’t even been here long enough for you to set up any hidden cameras. Why? Why do you do this?

I immediately started composing part three of yesterday’s post in my mind. What I was thinking was something along the lines of what I said about – when does someone cross the line from thoughtless knob to inconsiderate ass captain when it comes to something you’re asking them to do for you? See, I know that Phil really seems to think he tightens the gate enough. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t at all. When I put the gate up, I can safely step over it without it budging at all. It takes effort – I have to get down on my hands and knees to tighten the knob on the bottom or the lower half of the gate will swing freely, which loosens the top half. That’s why it’s not tight when Phil puts it up – he tightens the top knob, but he doesn’t bother with the lower one. Because it’s a pain in the ass. I know it is.

The first couple of times I fell, I brought it up to him nicely. Please tighten the gate properly, because I don’t know if you know this, but my crotch. It touches.

The next few times, I was annoyed, but I still brought it up pretty kindly. Dude. I ride low to the ground. You’ve got to tighten that gate.

The gate was still loose and still causing issues. Is he not getting it? Phil. I am physically being knocked to the ground. My body. My person. It is hitting the floor. Please. The gate.

And that’s where I was at lunchtime yesterday. I was going to pose that question to you yesterday. Has Phil crossed the line yet? Is his refusal to take an extra admittedly pain in the ass step to do something properly for my benefit alone (I assume his business makes no contact) over the line into inconsiderate ass captain territory yet?

BUT THEN.

HE CAME HOME FOR LUNCH.

I was making Penelope a quesadilla and I couldn’t find my piranha pizza cutter, also known as the best pizza cutter I have ever owned (I’ve owned three, which I think is enough). It was nowhere, so I was furious, because Phil has a habit of just putting things wherever, which he promised he wouldn’t do in this new place. I know that if I give a shit about where things go, putting them away should be my job, but still. There’s a line. And that line is put my piranha pizza cutter somewhere where I can find it when I need to cut a quesadilla, especially when I’m already pissed at you. (Side note: It turns out Phil doesn’t know where it is, either, which is a nightmare.)

He came into the kitchen, and I was stomping around, slamming drawers, and immediately started bitching about the pizza cutter. When he said he didn’t know where it was, either, I calmed down a bit, but I was already worked into a good huff, so I wheeled around and said, “THE GATE. I FELL. AGAIN. INTO THE LIVING ROOM. YOU NEED TO TIGHTEN THE GATE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.”

And that’s when it happened. The biggest crime you can commit in our marriage, the number one rule, the thing we Do Not Do, the ultimate in unfairness: Retaliatory Anger.

“I DO TIGHTEN IT.”
“Obviously not.”
“I TIGHTEN IT PLENTY ENOUGH FOR ME!”
“Plenty enough for you? The fact that I’m still falling over it means there’s obviously a problem with your method.”
“WELL I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO.”
“What do you suggest I do, Phil? GET A VAGINA LIFT?”

At that point I went upstairs and I know it probably looked like I was storming away angrily, but I wasn’t, because I already knew I had double won. I didn’t need to be convinced I was in the right about the gate, because I am. I just am. He’s wrong. On top of that, I know I’m in the right about the gate, I brought it up to him, and he came back at me aggressively and angrily in response. Oh hell no. Not in our marriage. We may be weird and we may keep score and we may be locked in a lifelong battle to the death for superiority, but there is no retaliatory anger allowed. If I get mad at him, or he gets mad at me, if one of us has a legitimate beef with the other one, it is absolutely forbidden to get angry in response. No. Nope. You cannot get mad at me because I am mad at you for something you did. Is that a reaction that people do have? Sure is. That’s a thing that happens. That’s a thing that used to happen a lot in this relationship. That is also a thing We Do Not Do Anymore. So if you’re counting, that’s a Double Win for me.

Before he left, he came back upstairs in a much more docile mood, clearly having the experience to know it’s best to give in quickly and completely and let me beat my win out of you rather than holding on to pride, heading back to work, and letting me simmer on some kind of revenge for the rest of the day.

“Hey.”
“Hello.”
“I will try to tighten the gate from now on.”
“Thank you. You know, it’s not my fault I have a low crotch.”
“I know.”
“And I did approach you very kindly the first four thousand times.”
“I know.”
It’s not like when you used to leave the shower head pointed so it hit me in the face every time I turned it on. That was just annoying. I keep falling down.”
“I know.”
“So it’s understandable that I would come at you aggressively after reminding you so many times and you seemingly not caring enough to make an effort.”
“It really is.”
“I’m not an asshole for that.”
“You’re not.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for not making an effort and letting your wife fall over and over, really.”
“I am.”
“And then, when I finally get angry about it, which you agree is understandable, it’s not really fair of you to get angry back.”
“It’s not.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for that.”
“I am.”
“So you’re kind of a double asshole.”
“I am.”
“And I’m not one at all.”
“No, I am the asshole.”
“Good talk.”

Anyway, it turned out I actually didn’t need you at all yesterday, Internet.

Disclaimer: You will never find a serious marital issue or argument discussed on this website.

Item in drawers: a tale of husbandly betrayal, vanity progress, and the Anastasia Contour Kit-ish.

Before we got married – actually, before we moved in together – ACTUALLY, before we were even officially dating, I told Phil that I don’t move. I mean, I physically move, like my limbs and stuff, if I have to. I meant that I don’t move my belongings from place to place. I’ll pack boxes and I’ll clean the place I’m leaving behind, but I don’t lift them and I don’t load trucks and I certainly don’t lift furniture out of one door and into another door. I just don’t do it. I don’t. And it’s fine if you want to consider this a glaring character flaw on my part, we all have them, but what’s important is that I informed Phil of this flaw BEFORE WE WERE EVEN ACTUALLY TOGETHER. I laid it out there like, here it is. Your call, dude. I would like it known for the record that he didn’t start up with the puns until I was already in Arizona and had closed my only credit card, so I ask you, who is the actual asshole?

Anyway, knowing that fact, he still chose to pursue a relationship with me, and I moved (he moved my stuff) from Maryland to Arizona, and then we moved (he moved our stuff) from one place in Arizona to another, and then we moved again (he hired some guys for most of it) to another place in Arizona, and then we had to move to New Mexico courtesy of the military. He decided to take advantage of the full benefits of a military move and arranged to have the whole deal where people come in and not only load everything onto a truck, but also pack it all up as well. I wonder why.

The day the packers came, I took Penelope to the indoor park one more time, because there’s not really anything like that around the new place, not nearly as convenient, at least, and of course to keep her out of the hair of the guys packing up all of our possessions. The night before, we’d gone grocery shopping for enough convenience food, snacks, paper plates, and cups for the rest of the week, as well as put all of the clothes, toiletries, medications and whatnot that we’d need in the spare bedroom. Since the packers will pack everything that isn’t nailed down, what you have to do is mark off a room that basically won’t be touched at all and put everything you’re going to need in there and you best not forget anything. We took the mattress off of our spare bed and left that in the room as well, since we decided to get rid of it. We were able to kind of eke out a little extra comfort in this way by sleeping on the mattress for a couple of nights before we arranged for a bulk trash pick up to come and get it, then we had to sleep on the floor.

Pen and I left the house just shortly before the movers were supposed to arrive, but they ended up being hours late, so when her energy for playing started to flag, we had to kill time at the mall. Twist my arm. I stopped by Sephora and did kind of a double take when I saw that they had a whole pile of Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour kits which, at the time, had been selling out as soon as they came available online, so it was a surprise to see so many piled up right in the store. I went back and forth about grabbing one, because I’m pretty fair skinned and there are six colors in the kit, so the chances of being able to use all of them are pretty slim. One of my initial reluctancies (I see you, red squiggle) to pick up the contour kit was that I’d use up two or three colors and be left with three useless ones. Plus, uh, I actually don’t know how to contour well at all. However, there’d been a lot of talk about Anastasia coming out with refills in other colors for the kit, and I actually don’t own as much makeup as I do because I’m particularly talented. It’s because I like playing around with it. When I look at pictures of what I could do with makeup at this time last year or two years ago, there’s a world of difference, and it’s only because I’ve spent the time sitting on the bathroom counter working at it. Plus, I can be honest with myself, I’m kind of a hoarder/collector, and I just wanted to have it. So I grabbed it, and SPEAKING OF, this came up on the Anastasia Instagram two days ago.

ABHCKNC
Click through to ABH Instagram.

So these are all the refills that are going to be available for the contour kit. The six original colors, plus all of these new ones. There’s a lot of information available on the Instagram post, but to sum up: the refills/pans are going to be sold individually for $14 each, but if you buy six, it’s $40 and comes with a palette, so it’s the same cost as the original contour kit. So you can basically put together an entirely custom kit. Some of the shades can be used as correctors like for under eye circles and whatnot, which I think is pretty handy when creating a custom kit because you’ll pretty quickly figure out which couple contour shades and highlight shades you like the best and can pop a couple correctors into the other spots. It also says that these new pans will only be available on the Anastasia site for now. So that’s something.

I bought my Contour Kit while the movers were packing up our stuff, but until now, it’s stayed completely untouched and unopened, because all my stuff was packed, which includes my lighted mirror and my Happiness Hippo and all of my makeup. Don’t worry – when I say all of my makeup was packed, I mean packed by hand, by me, into two enormous boxes and placed into the spare bedroom where it wouldn’t be handled by anyone but me. But still, completely packed and not really usable. And it stayed that way (well, I kind of unloaded it into sinks and a bathtub recently) while I waited for my vanity to be ready for use. I did break into my older stuff, but a lot of recent purchases, swaps, and other acquirements have sat waiting for me to get moving on getting my makeup room slash okay FINE IT’S JUST MY BEDROOM assembled and ready to go. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that last night, the final piece to my desk was finally installed and I’ve moved my stuff out of the bathtub.

mvennui

Unfortunately, I only made it so far before I was stricken with ennui.

Also, I realized that there are still a couple of boxes completely illogically missing due to some weird packing, which include my lighted mirror and my Happiness Hippo and my More Than Just a Pretty Face note that Ulta sent me, all of which can be seen in this picture here, and how am I supposed to do my makeup without any of that stuff? Why did I move everything out of the bathtub? What’s the point of it? What’s the point of anything? Oh, I’m thinking about putting a big mirror on that blank wall there, not a decorative one, but one of those big, blank, flat, bathroom slab style ones, what do you think?

SPEAKING OF ILLOGICAL PACKING, YOU GUYS, OH MY LANDS, LET ME GET BACK TO THE MALL.

So we’re at the mall and I’m wasting as much of Penelope’s time and energy as I can, okay? Look:

LASTMALLING

Blissfully unaware there are no malls where she’s going.

MISSINGBRIBE

Ineffective good behavior bribe number eight of undetermined.

When we got home, the packers still weren’t done, of course, since they’d arrived late. Penny and I went back into the guest room where there was no chance in hell of her taking any kind of nap, and Phil and I switched off sitting with her and sitting in the living room awkwardly supervising the dudes putting everything we own into boxes. Eventually, late in the afternoon, they left for the day. They weren’t done and were going to have to return the next day, Tuesday, which was a huge pain in the ass. The estimate was that the whole thing – packing and loading – would take two days, which was why, as I mentioned yesterday, our dogs were boarded Monday/Tuesday. Instead, they were going to be packing alone on Monday/Tuesday and then loading on Wednesday. Ugh. But with moving and stuff like that, all these kinds of things end up having you over a barrel. What are you even going to do about it?

They cleared out for the day and I walked over to the kitchen counter to grab a granola bar. Granola bar. Granola… bar? HUNGRY. PHIL. WHERE GRANOLA. Well. See. The thing is. You know how he had had to stay behind to supervise the packing while I hauled Penelope around all day to keep her out of the way? He actually wasn’t really watching that closely and they packed all the food. All the food we just bought the day before, the food and the paper plates and cups and such that we were going to live on for the rest of the week. All of it. That we just bought. The night before. Gone. At this point, we’d already been eating out quite a bit, and while it wasn’t exactly gourmet stuff we were talking about, it was FOOD THAT COULD BE PREPARED AND CONSUMED IN OUR HOUSE and NO, I did NOT want to order more pizza, everyone put your shoes on, WE ARE GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE. Mama has a ramen habit.

I was slightly – okay, entirely – mollified when Phil had to hike up his pants through the entire store because under his watchful eye, the movers packed his only belt.

We got home and got Penny settled down in her room on the air mattress for the rest of the evening and I came out into the kitchen for my first time to really catch up with Phil in what seemed like days. We’d known we were moving for a long time and things went really slow for a while as we were kind of jerked around by the process, but then everything went SUPER fast, and we just kind of passed each other back and forth for a bit there, with no real chance to even exchange any information, like “Hey, protect our food.”

He came in from the office area and said, “These guys are really thorough, they even packed the stuff in the drawers.”

“What do you mean.”
“You know, those white and orange cabinets in the office, they packed the stuff in the drawers.”
“Do you mean ALL THE DRAWERS?”
“I don’t know, I guess?”
“PHILLIP GENE, YOU PROMISED.”

Now, here I need to back up and tell you a little bit more about what I told you before. If you don’t want something packed, like things you’re going to need during the move – medication, clothing, phone chargers – you need to put it in a “Do Not Pack” area. The movers never came into our spare bedroom because that was our designated area. I don’t own a lot of underpants, so I also put all my underpants in there. Because, you know. My underpants. Also, I don’t own a lot of underpants. I needed them all.

But on top of that, Phil told me that when they move dressers and stuff, they just wrap the whole thing, wholesale, in plastic. Just the whole thing, drawers and contents and all, and move it just like that. So I took something of mine – something of mine – and I put it in Phil’s sock drawer. You know. His sock drawer. Where there were already some other things any way. Some other things.

I took something of mine.

And I put it in the sock drawer. The sock drawer.

With the other things.

Back to our screaming at Phil program.

HE PROMISED ME.

I went running into the bedroom which was FILLED with packed and sealed boxes.

I flung open the sock drawer.

EMPTY.

I looked at the boxes.

ITEM. IT SAYS ITEM. WHY.

ITEM.

You guys. I took my turn sitting on the couch while a man packed up our bedroom. I sat on the couch and smiled at him whenever he walked by.

I was told there would be plastic wrap.

And? AND? The same guy, the bedroom packing one, was the one who came back alone to finish up the next day.

You know what, though? By the time we got to New Mexico, we’d been through so much other stuff with the car rental saga, and our dog, and the ridiculous unpackers on the other end that it all seemed kind of faded. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. How bad could it be, right? I mean, sock drawer. There were socks. How meticulous are strangers with other people’s stuff, anyway? You just dump a dresser drawer and then move on to the next one. End of the day, getting tired and hungry, want to go home. I mean, he didn’t even have time to add an “s” on to “item in drawers.” Clearly not detail oriented. It’s fine. It’s fine.

wemeetagain

We meet again.

Item hand wrapped in packing paper. That’s all I have to say about that.

And I said, SO THERE WAS A FOUR NEWTON CHALLENGE.

I came thumping in the door after a church neighborhood group meeting (it’s a thing I just don’t have time to explain right now or maybe ever because so I don’t know why I didn’t just say that I was someplace that I go once a week, like Zumba) with Penelope with me, even though I don’t usually take her to Zumba, but I took her this week because Phil has been doing a lot of stuff for me recently in the thankless supportive kind of category, though it’s more just supportive, not thankless, because I do thank him a lot of times, but I kind of cancel it out with bitching and then apologizing about the bitching, and apologizing doesn’t cancel out bitching as much as bitching erases thanking right out of the heads of the people you thanked, making them feel like what they’ve done is thankless, even if it’s not technically so, but “technically thankless and supportive” required way too much explanation, which is why I just went with “thankless and supportive” as a descriptor for the kinds of things he’s been doing lately that lead me to take Penelope along to my Zumba class to give him a little time to himself, even if it wasn’t a lot of time, because if you have a small child who isn’t yet in any kind of school, maybe you get time to yourself at work, and maybe you get time to yourself when you run some errands here and there, but time to yourself IN YOUR OWN HOUSE is a thing that is suddenly no longer a thing that YOU DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE YOU MISSED until you recognized that one, it’s a thing, and two, you’re no longer getting it, and once you realize you’re not having any of that and haven’t for a VERY long time, it becomes a really excellent kind of gift to give or receive if you’re doing or are the receiver of behaviors that fall into the category of thankless and supportive, or maybe technically thankless and supportive, which really might as well be the same thing for all intents and purposes.

And it’s not that Penelope was bad at Zumba, it’s just that I don’t usually take her there, so she doesn’t really get what she’s supposed to be doing, so she needed a lot more attention than one might usually want to give to one’s child when trying to focus on the head of Zum, and there was also a situation that necessitated an outfit change, and I hadn’t slept except for two hours last night, and I only slept those two hours because Phil kept watch to make sure I didn’t die in the night, which is a whole other thing that I’m not getting into but might shed some light on an earlier conversation on Twitter about whether or not it’s appropriate to dial the emergency number to report a dead person who has clearly been dead for quiet some time, like maybe died in the night and is certainly not exactly going to benefit from any sort of emergency medical services or anyone really rushing over, and I will tell you right now that while you’re free, of course, to venture on over to Twitter and check out that  conversation for yourself, the Internet did not exactly find in my favor which put me in a pretty bad mood, pre-Zumba, especially since the topic of… Zumba-ing… centered a bit around pride and how it comes in to play in disagreements with spouses and admitting when one may be wrong and as a couple that generally agrees to go with the popular opinion of the Internet, it really gives me the red ass when the Internet turns out to be a bunch of PHILLIPS about a particular topic, so I won’t be continuing that discussion in the comments here, especially since so much good stuff has already been said on Twitter, the best stuff, of course, being the stuff that got where I was coming from and the essential correctness of my logicitude, and you can feel free to jump in there if you want to add any experience on that.

So that’s how, wronged by the Internet and totally Zumba’d out, running on two hours of sleep that I was pretty sure – AT THE TIME – might, possibly, end in death but turned out not to (I was actually woken up this morning by with the words, “Hey, you’re not dead,” so that was nice), I came home and wanted to just crash directly into my bed.

I’M SO TIRED.

“So go to bed.”

I CAN’T, I HAVE TO DO A POST. WILL YOU DO ONE FOR ME?

“No.”

COME ON. COME OOOOOON. I’M SO TIRED.

“Just post a picture and go to bed.”

OKAY.

IMG_4806

 

You know who is great? This guy.

P&PPG

I know that tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and if I’m going to be talking about how great Phil is, I should probably frame it somehow in terms of his military service, and it’s not that I’m not appreciative of his service and the service of the people he works with and all the men and women before him, but he just really doesn’t bring it home all that much. Well, except for some things that are up in the air right now, but that’s a whole different thing for a whole different day I’m probably not going to get around to because I don’t feel like trying to get Phil to explain it to me, because Phil is SO GOOD at SO MANY THINGS, but the guy is absolute crap at explaining things. I mean, just garbage at it. He starts talking like we’ve been in the middle of a conversation for half an hour, only my half has been going on in his head, so I’m just actually dropped in the middle with no clue what I’m supposed to have picked up in the previous half hour. Or like I’ve been working right along side him in the Air Force, with all the attendant knowledge, for the last sixteen or so years. Not only have I never been in the Air Force, but 16 years ago, I was 15. So, no, Phillip. No.

I only hope he doesn’t explain things to his coworkers as if they’ve been married for three years.

BUT WAIT, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PHIL’S GREATNESS.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate him on Veteran’s Day, I do. It’s just that before I knew Phil, it was easier to appreciate veterans because they were abstract kind of people who had served in the military, and that was their defining feature to me, and that was a pretty fine defining feature, if you’re going to have one, right? But I know Phil, and he has served in the military, and continues to do so, but we’ve also been together for five years now, and we drove all the way across the country together without killing each other, and we live together, and we’re married, and we have a kid. So he’s a guy in the military, but he’s also my husband, and he’s Penelope’s father, and the guy who does the dishes, and the guy who, even if I do the dishes which hardly ever happens, will start up the dishwasher for me because I don’t like to touch the dishwasher soap chunk thingies because they feel gross. He does a lot of things.

I’m not campaigning for a better appreciate a Veteran’s Day, or saying that we need to all TAKE A MINUTE and recognize that these men and women have done MORE and ARE MORE than just people who have served in the military. Of course they are. Duh. Everyone knows that. It’s just that this is a holiday set aside to recognize a particularly large thing that they have done. Incomprehensibly large, in some cases. WHAT I’M SAYING IS, that when I sat down to put up a picture of my husband with a caption that said, “Woo! Veteran’s Day! Woo!,” for me, about THIS PARTICULAR ONE SINGLE GUY that I am writing about in this post, I felt like I also wanted to put in SOME MORE STUFF.

(“Oh, you were writing a post and found that you wanted to include more stuff? How shoooocking,” you say.)

I’ve had about enough of you.

Let me start over.

Hey, did you know that tomorrow, possibly today if you are not reading this in the middle of the night, is Veteran’s Day? Did you know that my husband is currently in the Air Force? Did you also know that in addition to his military service, he is awesome in several other ways? Did you also know that this is my blog, and that after failing to justify combining Veteran’s Day with My Husband is Also An All Right Guy in Many Other Ways Day, I’m just going to do it anyway?

I’m in a bad mood now. I just don’t want to talk about heavy stuff, but I still want to, you know, acknowledge. I don’t want to offend anyone by not doing it correctly or taking it lightly, and it’s not that I think of the holiday lightly. I don’t at all. I just want to point out that I know it’s happening, and I know what my husband does, and I know that what he does is a thing, and he knows what he does is a thing, and actually, I know it more than he knows it, sometimes, I think. He’s been in the military long enough that he’s completely out of touch with how civilians view the military.

Well, that’s not true. I think he’s aware of some of the weird fringe that absolutely hate anyone in the military. But he’s genuinely boggled whenever anyone thanks him, which happens when he’s out in public in uniform. He feels awkward and doesn’t know how to respond, and I really think he doesn’t understand why people come up to him out of the blue to SAY SOMETHING to him. And I think I gave up a couple of years ago – I don’t know how many more ways I can say to him that that’s how people FEEL. People – real people – civilian people, of which he apparently is no longer one. Obviously. But he’s been in the military since he was 21. It’s just who and what he is, and it’s not that he doesn’t get the concept that people are appreciative, but he can’t seem to internalize it. Today we were at church, and it’s a big church, even with five services every weekend it’s still packed, so lots and lots of people, and the veterans were asked to stand and be recognized, and there was applause and appreciation and I didn’t even have to turn my head to know he hadn’t stood up.

And don’t even for one second suggest that he’s ashamed or embarrassed of what he does, because he’s not. It’s just that, I guess, to him, he’s a guy who does his job. He’s been doing it for so long, and surrounded by other guys who have been doing it for so long, and day to day, it is just a job – he works in an office and he comes home every evening right now, though of course there’s no guarantee it stays that way for any set length of time. And they don’t sit around in their offices congratulating each other on what a job they’ve taken on, and I truly think he’s fallen out of touch with how much other people truly don’t want to do it. How much other people don’t want to have to do it. Or how much other people don’t want their children to have to do it. How in other countries, everyone does it, and people know that. People know that a country has got to form a military, and if it’s not by volunteers, it’s by voluntolds, and it’s only as long as there are people volunteering to take on that job that other people’s children aren’t being told they have to do it.

I don’t think any of that goes through his head when someone comes up to say thank you, or when someone at the front of a room or auditorium or stadium or what have you asks all the veterans to stand up and be recognized for what they did or what they do. I gave up on explaining the civilian view of the military to him a long time ago, I think. I don’t really remember when. Maybe when I started appreciating him way more for all of the other awesome stuff he is.

Also, I got sick of going around with him about insurance after a few times explaining why I couldn’t go to the doctor before we met.

“Why didn’t you just make an appointment and go?”
“Because I had no time to take off work.”
“YOU HAD TO TAKE VACATION TIME TO SEE A DOCTOR?”

“Why didn’t just make the follow up appointment and go?”
“I couldn’t afford it.”
“But you had insurance.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t covered.”
“But you had INSURANCE.”
“WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT HOW REAL PEOPLE INSURANCE WORKS.”

I’d ask Liz to back me up, but I’ll just have a stroke and she’d probably go right into labor. Oh yeah, big thumbs up to her husband, too. Non-insurance-grasping vets. Nab one for yourself!

Anyway. My husband. He’s great. In several ways. You will probably just be able to appreciate him as a veteran, and also because most of these pictures of him also feature Penelope.

P&PSB

Okay, several also feature food.

philstare

I get this a lot.
It means he loves me.

toddlerscience

TRYING SCIENCE.

airport2

Totally outstanding at moving airport reunions.
I was moved. I was totally moved.
I was moving away very quickly because six weeeeeeks.

P&PINO

Takes the responsibility of teaching Penelope about her West Coast heritage VERY seriously.

HOWCANYOUEVENSTANDIT

I give him credit for at least 35% of how adorable this family is.

And all her old noses… had grown back!

As one of the most average people on the entire planet, I’m not naturally very good at anything in particular (I’m not giving you the special nod, nor, if you’ll recall, have I even demonstrated the nod for you, so I assure you, this is still not that time). I’m not saying that there’s nothing that I’m good at at all. I’m just saying that I didn’t come into this world loaded up with natural talents. I’m not a singer or a dancer or a musician of any kind. I took all kinds of lessons and classes in all kinds of things growing up, and I could certainly be taught, to an extent, but there was always a point where the teaching of the basics ended and skill and desire to improve had to pick up and take it from there and, yeah… no. I was a fairly well rounded high school student who then settled happily into the nice and flat college student and adult you know from a sort of distance today.

No, but seriously, I wasn’t good at any of those things, especially since I was forced to continue to engage in them long past the time when my interest for them ran out and I still can’t really figure out the parental motivation behind that. I can definitely see sticking with dance or a sport or whatever through a season or a year that had already started, but to be signed up again and again to the point that I was showing up for classes dressed in jeans and apathy? And for my entire high school career, my electives were filled with music and language, which is fine, for college and all, but my school offered a ridiculous amount of other more interesting electives, which caused me to double up my schedule as a senior for absolutely no reason other than FUNSIES (it didn’t end well), and on top of that, I was terrible at my selected instrument and I took five years of Russian. Ask me how much conversational Russian I’m speaking these days. This is where I’d say “none” in Russian, except I don’t know how. (Telling me how in the comments won’t go over well. I do know how. That’s not the POINT.)

The point is, not everyone is born good at things, or even one thing, or just gets good at whatever they end up doing, but that doesn’t doom you to a life of not being good at anything, ever. There was that lady on YouTube, that one who decided she wanted to learn how to dance, except she couldn’t dance? (Oh, casual dancing, that’s another thing I can’t do. Well, I can. I can totally dance. I dance party around my house at LEAST once a weekday. Minimum. So it’s not a matter of not being able to dance. It’s a matter of, if some other people were to observe me doing it, would they also call what I was doing dancing? MAKES YOU THINK. Hope you wore your waders because I am getting DEEP.)

Anyway, she couldn’t dance at all, but she wanted to be a person who knew how to dance. So she decided to just learn. And she videoed herself over the course of a year as she taught herself a dance routine, and at the end of the time, she did the whole routine, and there she was. Dancing. She wanted to learn to do it, so she learned, and then she could do it.

 

When Phil and I first moved in together, I couldn’t cook. I mean, at all. I never really thought of myself as a person who didn’t know how to cook, because I’d always been pretty reasonably successful in following a recipe, but baking some cakes, making scrambled eggs, and Kraft mac & cheese a bunch of times while you’re in college is not the same thing as being faced with cooking entire meals for two people the majority of the evenings every single week. And when faced with that, hey, guess what, no. No, I could not do that. Like, at all. The first night I cooked dinner for us when we moved in together, through a weird set of circumstances, we had my sister’s boyfriend visiting from Pennsylvania for a job interview, and I made baked ziti and frozen garlic bread and it was good, and I think Phil got his hopes up, or at least, kept his hopes where they were. But I soon slapped his hopes ALL AROUND.

Holy crap. I tried. I tried so hard. I don’t know why it was so hard. I don’t know why I didn’t know how to do things I kind of just assumed I would know how to do. I didn’t know how to bake potatoes. I didn’t know how to make rice without my rice maker (WHICH GOT UNPACKED WITH HASTE). I didn’t know how to make any eggs other than scrambled. At least every second or third meal I cooked went straight into the trash. We ate take out and fast food and frozen meals a lot to SAVE money because of how much food I ruined. But I could make baked ziti, so I would. And then I’d try three other things, and one would be okay, one would be edible-ish, and one would go in the trash. And then I’d make baked ziti again, and Phil would make burgers. And I’d try another round of new recipes. And soon I had two things I could cook – baked ziti and fried rice. We ate those a lot between things I tried and the things that were less successful didn’t go into the trash as much as they got eaten and then we said, “maybe we don’t have that one ever again.” And then I learned how to make Deeleeshoos Noodles! And over the course of years – YEARS – because Phil and I have lived together since March of 2009, I’ve gotten to where I have maybe 8 or so TOTAL recipes that I know I can make for absolute sure. There are other things I can do okay, or I am still fussing with. And over that time, there are more types of recipes and foods that I’m willing to throw into the meal plan and give a shot. And it’s been a while since an entire dinner went right into the trash.

Well, last week, all the fish went into the trash, but that’s because I forgot it was defrosting. I forget a lot of things lately. It’s not my fault.

In 2009, I could definitely not cook. I am not saying I developed a deep love for and interest in cooking, so I decided to learn how, but I did have a need to learn how to cook, so I just kept cooking and cooking and cooking and I guess I kind of know how now. I’m not very good at it. (It’s still not that time.) I make a few things that, as a family (that’s Phil and I, Penelope only eats carbs), we really enjoy. I feel like Penny is probably going to grow up having a few weirdo favorites that “mom made” or “the way mom made” that won’t really match with the way the rest of the world eats things (you know, well) that will be a kind of comfort food sort of thing, or requested recipe, maybe, not because it’s any good objectively, but because we eat it often and it’s just the way I make it. I don’t think that eight things is an especially large rotation of recipes, but it’s not my whole rotation. Every grocery shopping trip, I usually plan 7 – 9 dinners. At least 2 or 3 will be totally new and Phil will be WELL WARNED that any potential failure is on the recipe. A couple more might be ones we’ve only tried once or twice. Others we’ve had a few times or are Phil requests. Even those we’ve had a bunch of times are not immune to my standard kitchen “… whoops. EVERYTHING’S FINE!”

This is the key to my best cooking that took me about two years to figure out: NEVER tell Phil what went wrong. When I tell him, he can taste it, and dinner is ruined. If I don’t tell him what I did wrong, or what I think I did wrong, or what might taste off, or what steps from the recipe I changed, he never has any idea.

Even though I’ve been working on this for a long time, and even though I have come very far and the starting line is barely a dot waaaaay back there, I look at the dinners some of my friends post regularly – just weeknight dinners – and I’m just, whoa. Whoa. So beyond me. But I’m not discouraged or anything. For one, we’re all just feeding our families some food. For two, I’ve been working on my cooking skills and plodding along and making notable improvement over time, so if I want it to, there’s no reason that can’t continue. If I want to cook dinners as nice as the ones I see online, then I can keep working at my own skills. Someone being naturally talented or, for whatever reason or through whatever method, already talented, doesn’t crowd out my ability to develop a similar skill set if I’d like to dedicate the time to doing so. Unless it’s for, maybe, singing or something. I don’t think I could dedicate enough time, ever.

THE POINT OF THIS IS, I’m not very good at doing makeup, but I want to be. I don’t feel like this is a singing/dancing/instrument skill, but more of a that lady who taught herself to dance/teaching yourself to cook/I didn’t write a third example skill. So I do my makeup a lot. Sometimes if I’m just going to the bathroom, I stop at the mirror to do my eyebrows, even if I’m not wearing any other makeup and not going anywhere that day. I read a lot of makeup blogs. I look up video tutorials on specific products I have or specific looks/skills I want to work on. I wear a full face of makeup to Target.

Sometimes I practice eyebrows after I take my sleeping medicine but before I fall asleep and hope I remember to wash my face before I pass out, so as not to surprise myself into an sudden pants-pee in the morning if I don’t happen to remember how angry and eyebrow-vengeful I got trying to make them match the night before.

eyebrows

Eyebrow? Why one so good, one so sad, eyebrow?

Just like with cooking, I’m getting better. I really am. It’s noticeable to me and sometimes people have even mentioned my makeup to me, which obviously makes me happy, just like compliments on anything else someone had put so much time into would. Don’t compliment me on that sentence, I didn’t put any time into it, and it would mean nothing to me.

I don’t mean this whole screed as a long setup about how makeup is for everyone, and how even if you feel intimidated by it, you too can can become a total pro. Take it from Boldbrow McHalfsies up there. No, I am not saying that at all. Not that it’s not true, I don’t know what you’re capable of doing if you set your mind to it. Honestly, it keeps me up at night and I don’t want to think about it any more.

No, actually, it was all about this.

Before I got in bed tonight (I’m typing this in bed, post-sleeping pills, pre-sleep, standard eyebrows), I washed my face, removing all my makeup from the day, and walked into the playroom where Phil had his back to me, playing a video game.

I said, “I can always tell these days when I feel like my makeup is on point, because not only am I in a better mood in general, but after I wash my face, I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Waaauuugghghhh!'”

He nods distractedly with his back still to me.

“No, Buddy*, look at me.”

So he turns around, kind of impatiently, and he looks at me and involuntarily goes, “Waauughh!”**

*****

*We both call our husbands Buddy, so when we all hang out in person, it’s like “Buddy? Bud– oh, sorry. My Buddy?

I’m ready to give up so I’ll just do some of the stuff I gave up on before.

What’s this, what even day is this? I know that’s not a properly formed sentence. This is another day where I’ve already been in bed for four hours at 8:30pm, before I even got around to opening the laptop, so I was like, “Whew, it’s also a good thing November is over, right? Because all that posting. Whoa. What a month.”

Anyway, I have some ideas for posts like one of the things that people do, lots of people, that I really hate, and you’ve probably done it, so you’re going to feel all uncomfortable, like I’m speaking to you directly, even though I’ve never seen you personally do it, and even if you’ve done it right in front of my face, I don’t remember, but it’s not like I’ll ever convince you that I’m not talking about you, so maybe I shouldn’t even go ahead with the post if you’re going to get so wound up about it, but look, I can’t let my worries about your feelings run my life and ruin NaBloPoMo for everyone, and also, a story about some papers. So it’s not like I’m out of ideas. I’m just out of that thing that makes me say, “I’m just going to write something real quick about this one really concise and small idea I have with absolutely no tangents” and then get up an hour and a half and six tangents and four thousand words (you only ever see about two thousand of them) later. I don’t have that right now. So I thought I would go back through some of my comments to see if there were any questions I ignored, not on purpose, but kind of on purpose, in that I didn’t get to them right then, but totally intended to answer them later or maybe in a blog post, but ha, I don’t blog that much, so even I knew I was lying to me. But it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything so the questions might be kind of old.

In August of 2012 (what? Sue me.), Crossy asked, “When reviewing Private, you said you wanted to re-read the Caitlin books. What are these?”

I used to go to this in home daycare – okay, see, this is how I get roped into the 4000 words that I have to turn into 2000. I got this box of books from the woman who ran the in home daycare I went to when I was a baby/toddler. They were her daughter’s books. The Caitlin series is a trilogy about a rich girl who goes to a private boarding school and is a terrible snot, but then she does something terrible, but no one knows about it, and she spends a long time trying to make up for it in secret and becomes a better person.  They’re by Francine Pascal, same as the Sweet Valley High books. There were also some Sweet Valley High books in that box, and a ton of other awesome books, like my favorite book of all time that I do not currently own a copy of because I lent it to a girl who never gave it back even though I told her I really needed it back because I reread it all the time. ANYWAY – The Wizard Children of Finn. I really should buy a copy, but if I do, and it’s terrible, I will be so bummed.

In June of 2012, MegglesP asked, “Where did all that curly hair come from?”

Phillip. Phillip has curly hair. I never want to see it. I’m not anti-curly hair. I’m just anti-long hair on guys. Actually, no, that’s not true. Guys can go ahead and have long hair. I’m not anti-long hair on guys in the same way I’m anti… like… war. Or homophobia. I am strongly, strongly anti both of those things. Could not be more anti. Guys with long hair and homophobia are nowhere near each other on the scale of things I’m against. At all. I wouldn’t even put them on the same scale. It’s a completely different set of scales. I wish I’d gone with something other than war and homophobia. It’s just that, if a guy has long hair, I’m not going to protest him or be stressed out over his existence or tell him he’s a terrible, shitty person who can’t come around my child with his awful values. He can just, you know, have long hair. That’s fine. I’m not anti-that. Phillip cannot have long hair. I’m against that. I’m anti-that. And again, understand I’m anti-that on the separate set of scales we’re using for things, separate from my regretful choices of examples of war and homophobia. Which I am, you know, just… super ironcladdily anti. But I also don’t want to make it sound like Phillip growing his hair out until it shows the curl is negotiable. Because, no. It is not. At all. I feel like I need to back out of this but before I do you should know that when he was younger and his hair was longer than his military cut it had some volume around his head and I saw pictures of him at his aunt’s wedding and he looked SO familiar and I was like, “who… who… who… COREY FELDMAN,” and he responded SO INSTANTLY with “I do NOT look like COREY FELDMAN” that you KNOW he had heard it before so I was NOT WRONG.

So. Not negotiable. And baby Feldman gets her hair from Phillip.

In January of 2012, Diane asked, “He [Phil] NEVER played with a parachute in gym class? BUT THAT WAS THE ONLY FUN THING THAT EVER HAPPENED IN GYM CLASS.”

Never did. Not one time. Didn’t even understand why I thought I was the most badass, best parent ever to order Penelope her own parachute for her first Christmas. “So, what? We… shake it? Uh, okay.” Not only did he NEVER play with one, he can’t even IMAGINE THE MAGIC.

In August of 2011, Linnea asked, “Do you Doctor Who?”

No… YES! /Butabi joke

And then I answered everything for a really long time, if we’re going backward in time, which I was, in a weird skipping fashion, because I was on bed rest, which is the other time I post a lot. The first seven days of NaBloPoMo, and during dangerous pregnancy. So if you’re enjoying this and you also hate me, you could always hope that happens again!

Speaking of all the soap, here’s three dozen of another thing.

You know what’s just appalling? The state of our environment due to the overproduction and slow landfill decay of single use products and on top of that, holy shit, have you seen how much decent paper towels cost? I am not even kidding you, I will not purchase them. I won’t. I won’t buy them, but I have no alternate solution. I just don’t buy them, and I wipe my hands on my pants or on my shirt or I conveniently drag my boobs across a spill on the counter because that’s how tall I am and I don’t even like that shirt anyway. And then Phil buys some.

Yes, I lay out dishcloths, we have some, and we use them to dry dishes until they’re TOO WET to dry any more dishes, and then they have to sit and dry, or go in the wash. Or there’s one nearby when there is a spill, and we went on this long streak – this INCREDIBLY LONG STREAK, most of it happening while Phil was away for six weeks – where every towel in the house was called into action at the same moment. Like, beef juice ocean, and dish soap in the carpet, and why is water coming out of that pipe, and NO, TOILET, NO. Things that it’s good that you have towels for. Things that you don’t use PAPER towels for. Well, maybe you try to use a paper towel. Like, one time I dropped an entire gallon of milk, it just fell right out of my hands, and I looked all around the kitchen, going, “shit! shit! shit!” I actually say that for real, a lot. It’s unfortunate, but true, but (another but), I’m a person who encounters a lot of shit-appropriate situations.

Anyway, I dropped the milk, and I had my hands THROWN UP IN THE AIR. Like, my body actually reacted in the second least helpful way possible, the first least helpful probably being collapsing into a heap in the spreading pile of milk, and you know what, actually reverse THAT to second least helpful, because at least my clothes would have soaked some up. And I had my hands THROWN in the air, and I’m going, “shit! shit! shit!,” and I grabbed the roll of paper towels! EXCEPT IT WAS JUST ONE PAPER TOWEL! So I FLUNG IT! I FLUNG IT DOWN! And it floated slowly and landed on the puddle of milk, and soaked up, like, one one thousandth of all the milk in the world that was spread thinly over all of the kitchen. That’s why you have DISH towels handy in your kitchen, you know? And that’s why maybe I shouldn’t have been such an ass candle about picking up paper towels once in a while, but I swear on my husband’s poor taste in snack food, have you seen what the hell those things COST?

You can tell me about different brands of paper towels that are cheaper, but I will tell you two things: they’re all too expensive, and I know this, because I have looked at them in the stores with my eyes, so I know that they are all two expensive. Second thing? SHMAZORS. I have made the mistake of trying out a less expensive product when I know that I prefer the more expensive brand, and it is a mistake. You’ve never had a shmazors experience? What about Hunt’s ketchup? NO ONE LIKES THAT. The whole reason that those cute yellow and red picnic style condiment bottles exist is so that unsuspecting people will have Hunt’s or some other LESSER BRAND OF KETCHUP foisted upon their unwilling and innocent food. Or toilet paper. We like the kind in the purple package with the puppy. We have tried other things, and sales may be alluring, but it’s purple puppy all the way, because you don’t want to compromise on price only to find yourself SHMAZORED in your time of GREAT NEED. No, I don’t like how expensive paper towels are, it makes me SHAKE WITH GREAT RAGE, or at least kind of roll my eyes at Phil every time he refreshes the supply I refuse to consider whenever I do the rest of the grocery shopping, but can you imagine just HOW MANY WORDS I would have to say if not only did he bring an objectionably expensive product into my house, but it was also terrible and couldn’t even do its ONE JOB PROPERLY?

Probably at least 2500. Maybe even 3500. It would be a lot.

So I don’t want paper towels in my house. Well, I’m fine with them being in my house, because that part about the environment up there – I’m aware of it, for sure, but… (Let’s just pretend I trailed off and then kind of did like a little thing with my mouth, then maybe looked over your shoulder a bit to see who else was here, maybe some other people had arrived by now, rocked on my heels a bit, noticed my drink was empty, and then kind of just ambled away.)

I don’t want to buy paper towels. I no longer want to participate in acquiring paper towels, because they get used one time and thrown away (“WHICH IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!,” you bellow from across the room, but I’m already involved in conversation with these other people and I wave you off with, frankly, a kind of rude hand flap sort of thing and when I reflect on it later, I probably would realize I can’t really hold it against you if you hold it against me) which only necessitates buying MORE, which is the part I just HATE. The buying. I just HATE it. I need to put a stop to the buying. I want to do no more buying. It is too much money on something I don’t get to use for my own personal happiness. Before you go thinking, “WELL, that’s exactly the kind of person I imagine you to be after the way you treated me at that thing that time,” I get some kind of peripheral happiness from the happiness of others, which counts, sort of, but no one gets happiness from the purchase of paper towels for my house, except for maybe Phillip, and that doesn’t count, because if you asked him if buying paper towels made him happy, he’d say yes, but only because the well has already been poisoned, and he knows that saying that would get under my skin, and we’re due a conversation about the fact that we’re on the SAME TEAM, PHILLIP.

Thus, a solution for paper towels is needed. I asked on Twitter who could link me to an Etsy store or the like for Unpaper Towels – it’s a thing – and a couple people mentioned that they just use dishcloths, or bar mops, or various other types of towels, and I get that those solutions work for a lot of people. And that towels for the kitchen already exist, thus me asking for something that sounds weird and invented for no reason might sound a little crazy. But I’ve tried dishtowels, and I’ve tried cloth napkins, and I’ve tried thick towels and thin towels and wash cloths and old prefold diapers, and while we do our best, they just don’t work for us as a replacement for paper towels. A dish cloth can be used a lot of times, but then it is manky and damp and no one wants to use it and it gets thrown in the wash and maybe it is replaced or maybe it isn’t. Or ALL the dishcloths get thrown into BEEF JUICE OCEAN one day. Also? If you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post about ALL THE SOAP?

excitedswanson

We really like to wash our hands. A lot of times. Many times. Many, many, many times a day. My hands don’t feel especially clean after I wash them and then dry them on a damp dishcloth that’s been sitting by/in/around the sink in the kitchen all day. I can’t pat chicken dry with a dishcloth. Or dry potatoes I just scrubbed off. Well, I can. I can do all those things with a dishcloth. But in the course of cooking one meal, we’re talking about a mountain of dishcloths piling up. Not to mention the fact that we usually use paper towels as napkins with dinner.

Okay, I know in reading that it just sounds like a bunch of excuses a habits that need to be changed in order to do things your way (the general, dishcloth-using you), but we tried using dishcloths A LOT OF TIMES, and it just never took. For whatever reason, dishcloths did not fill the many roles that paper towels filled in our house. We made several attempts at it, and I’d know when it failed because Phil would buy some paper towels. So back to the fact that I decided to try something else, and asked for recommendations for unpaper towel vendors.

In general, unpaper towels are exactly what they sound like – cloth paper towels. Which… okay, I see now why they’re called unpaper towels. Because cloth paper sounds ridiculous. I looked at a lot of different vendors and saw several different options. Some offered flannel in colors or patterns. A popular option seems to be a kind that has a pattern on one side and the towels snap together on the ends so that they can actually be rolled around a holder, like standard paper towels. The most common option, though, seems to be birds eye cotton, somewhere between 10×10 inches and 11×12 inches (preshrunk or not depending on the store), serged around the edges in solid or varigated thread.

I looked at a lot of different shops and eventually went with the shop LoveForEarth, one of several recommended to me on Twitter. I liked the positive rec, plus the fact that it’s a popular shop with a lot of sales and a ton of good feedback. There are a lot of other eco friendly products offered in the shop. I ordered three separate dozens of the reusable napkins/unpaper towels (they seem to be called something different in every listing) in grape, papaya, and rainbow. The shipping took a while, but the lead time was listed in the shop note, so it wasn’t a big deal. Not really. Well. It was within the window, that’s what I’ll say. As far as quality, the serging is nice with no loopiness and all the towels were bright white (not that they stayed that way), and were really nicely packaged. Each dozen was actually thirteen, which was a pleasant surprise. There was some huge variations in sizing, which was strange, considering they’re described as washed and pre-shrunk before sewing even begins, but I got over it, mostly because I talked myself into feeling petty about it.

As for use! We haven’t bought any paper towels! By we I mean Phil. Because I wasn’t going to anyway. I can’t believe how successful they’ve been, but it turns out that the key is that they are actually as close to paper towels as possible. They do this because they are single use, just like a paper towel. We keep them in a basket near the sink, and once used, they go in a laundry bag on the other side of the sink. We need a better solution for that right now, but I’m afraid of the dogs running off with the bag. They don’t sit around all damp, waiting to be used again, though they CAN be rinsed out and laid over the faucet to dry – it doesn’t take long. We use them to dry hands, to wipe spills, to WIPE PENNY FACES!!, as dinner napkins, as cooking towels, as potato dryers, as everything. They are everything.

For washing, when the bag is full, they go in the wash with whatever’s being washed. They came with some washing instructions, but I can’t be bothered to be precious with them. I do remove the dryer bar from the dryer when I dry them, because fabric softener lessens absorbency like with any other towels, but other than that, they just get washed. Obviously they’re stained, we don’t care. And I know that by not following the washing instructions (which weren’t CRAZY or anything, I just knew from the start they were being laundered with clothes, end of), if they fall apart sooner than I feel they should, I’ll technically be to blame, but that won’t stop me from being annoyed. In seriousness, they’re pretty hardy little cloths. I don’t expect them to fall apart. I don’t expect them to do anything but keep wiping stuff.

In fact, we actually need more. I bought three dozen initially, but I don’t know if you heard, we really like to wash our hands. We often have an empty basket and a wet dishcloth on the counter, and now I hate dishcloths, too. I’m going to order a few dozen more – for the three of us, multiplied by freakish handwashing, I think I’d probably like to have six dozen or so. Maybe another set dedicated to cleaning, but I DO actually use old prefolds for that. When I order more, I’m considering Athena Creates, Gnome Clothes, and Man In the Moon Herbs for my next sets, so if anyone has any first hand experience there, I’d love to hear it.

ALSO, in case I described the snap together type poorly, here’s a store where that kind is offered.

ALSO, CHURCH WAS SO GREAT TODAY. I’ll save that for another day!