27 December 2007

And the winner is....

So I took the comments from post #100 in the order they were received, then added Kathleen as #8 (see post #102). The Random Integer Generator, which hasn't let me down yet, has spoken.

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2007-12-28 03:22:10 UTC

This means Emily, Scott, and August are the winners of the contest! Whee! Before the end of the year, I'll be sending a special surprise package. In fact, since Emily's mom will be around this weekend, I'll probably send it home with her (if that's okay with you guys. I never promised I wouldn't try to skimp on postage). Then I'll post pictures, so the seven of you who didn't win will know why you're crying in your beer.

This was very exciting for me! I was nervous, I really wanted everyone to win...I guess it's a good thing I haven't been nominated for an Oscar or a Nobel Prize or anything.

Congratulations to our Esteemed Winners. Rock and Roll.

24 December 2007

Last minute gift ideas

I know most of you come here for shopping advice, so here you are. My comprehensive list of gifts that will not generally annoy or upset the recipient. You may need to use your own judgement, at times, of course: #8 would be lousy for your recently on-the-wagon friend, and #6 won't do for that gambling addict you're hoping to get a date with. But otherwise, hurry up and shop. Time's awastin'.

9. Beta fish with food and water treatment stuff. Not for the petaphobic or those who lack the ability to really care for themselves. But they're pretty.

8. Pennsylvania Dutch Eggnog

7. New socks. Everybody loves new socks, even if they're cheap ones.

6. $20 in scratch-off tickets, all different denominations/varieties

5. Free childcare for those with children, or free pet-sitting for those with pets. Be specific, so that they are more likely to take you up on this. Instead of "One free night of childcare" offer "One free night of childcare any Friday in Jaunary or February with at least 48 hours notice". See the difference? If you don't, send me an e-mail and I will explain.

4. Pudding. Everyone loves pudding.

3. A good unscented lotion, like Aveeno. Don't give scented things like candles or lotion to people who may be either A. too sensitive to them, or B. Unable to smell them. If you're unsure, go unscented, or with #4, 2, or 6. A is worse than B in terms of offensiveness, but if I couldn't smell and someone gave me lemon verbena lotion, I would question their motives. But maybe that's just me.

2. A funny picture of yourself in a very nice frame. Make sure and point out that they are welcome to reuse the frame for a picture of their choice: not everyone's home decor remains dorm-like, so they may not want a photo of you in your floppy plaid cowgirl hat on display.

1. A lovely magazine (just one issue, if you like) in their area of interest that you're pretty sure they don't already subscribe to. This falls under the "indulgence" quality I discussed in my last post. For example, for my newly engaged friends, I might buy them one of those ridiculously ad-packed bridal magazines. It's not practical, and most of my friends wouldn't spend $8 on such frivolity, but it's also really fun to look at if that's what your mind is on. Check out Shinder's if you're in Minneapolis or any sizeable bookstore for a dizzying array of options.

There. Don't you wish I had posted this earlier? Me too. But now I can just link here for next year. See how I plan ahead?

Consider also: pomegranite juice, expensive apples, help in next spring's garden planting.

Avoid: bingo palace gift certificates, lead-based paint, and shopping while angry at recipient.

23 December 2007

Holiday Shenanigans Part I

First, let me congratulate everyone who's commented so far on the last post. You're all winners in my heart (though there can still be only one "real" winner. Otherwise it wouldn't be a contest). And let me also remind all of you who are still on the fence that it is a random drawing, so you have as much of a chance as anyone (and right now it looks like about a 20% chance), and I promise the prize will make you laugh, feel shiny and new, and maybe confuse you and those you love. So please, if you haven't commented yet, do so (unless you're in Moscow bringing home your new son, because that's the only real excuse to not comment).

In other news, G a n y o Christmas round 1 just ended. So many presents, so much taco dip...here are just a few of many highlights.

V's noisiest present so far: Squawkers McCaw. We can rename him/her, according to the adoption certificate, so feel free to offer suggestions. I tend to gravitate toward names like "Hank." Discuss amongst yourselves.

Like V, Squawkers loves to dance and repeat back whatever people say. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain to V that we didn't have the internet when I was growing up. How will I tell her that I didn't own a robot? Ever?

In related news, have lots of theories on presents, but let me summarize by saying it is always a pleasure to exchange gifts with people who know you well, people who like you and want you to be happy, and for whom you feel the same. I got some amazing (and shimmery) lotion, some hand-dyed wool yarn, and a very fancy multi-colored pages journal. I mean, those are all things I just adore, really, and am way too cheap to buy myself. Is that what Christmas is all about? Kinda.

Last night we rocked out with Fat Daddys, Uncle Bill's kick-ass band. Um, hello, but I really think the guitar player needs to live in our basement and make me breakfast on weekends. He is just the sweetest cutest boy in America. Next to Shaun, of course. Anyway, we went to the Park Rapids Eagles Club, paid our $3 cover, and enjoyed music and family time all in the company of the Park Rapids locals. Sometimes my anthropologic side flares up and I just enjoy watching people, how they interact with each other, and how this all changes over the course of several $6 Bud light pitchers. I feel so removed from the bar scene (not that I was ever all that into it...) that it's a lot like seeing a whole different species interact.

After the show, I went back to the in-laws and had some delicious Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog, and watched late-night cable. If you like sweet and creamy liquor, I would recommend this eggnog, but only if you chill it well first. Few things are yuckier than warm eggnog.

Ew. I just made myself gag.

Ah, liebchens, I must go rest up for Christmas Round II. I wish I hadn't left the eggnog in Park Rapids (though I hope Aunt Joy gets to drink the rest of it), but perhaps I can stop at the Bottle Barn on our way to Hendrum tomorrow. If you have other liquor suggestions, or would like me to bring you anything if you'll be in Hendrum tomorrow, too, just let me know. It's no trouble. Really.

May your holidays be pleasurable, your lights sparkly, and your eggnog cold. I'll be back with Round II updates and reflections on the whole sordid thing in a couple of days. In the meantime, why not leave a comment?

PS: Hey, Dave, is this a better font? You're my first official complaint. Congratulations. Let me know what you think.

18 December 2007

It is finished. And this is post #100!

I just hit "submit" on the last of my grades. Instead of writing this, I should be hightailing it out of here in case any of my soon-to-be unhappy students are nearby and come looking for me. Though I've done this more than 20 times, each time I submit grades I am amazed at the weight I feel lifted from me. I know, too, that in less than 3 weeks, the weight will certainly return...but for now, oh, glorious now, I am free! Free, you hear me! Free! Where's the Southern Comfort?

Also, though, I'm done early for once, so I should probably pipe down, lest my colleagues join the mob of students looking for me. I intend for V and I to wander by here tomorrow with treats and humble good wishes, because it is so rare for me to finish before the deadline, and so many others have not. Shaun is the one to be congratulated on this semester's triumphant wrap-up: he encouraged me to grade night after night after night these last three weeks. Sometimes I would bring him home a cheeseburger, or breakfast from the Fryn Pan, but often I brought nothing, came home crabby at 10:30 or 11, and went to bed soon after. Marrying an English instructor is more work than he realized, methinks. It's more work being an English instructor than I realized, too, for that matter.

So this is what a 100th post feels like, eh? Kinda manic and rambling...yeah, that seems about right. I know when TV shows do their 100th episode, they get a big sheet cake. Maybe I should go get us a cake. Mmm. Cake.

Oh, one more thing before I go home to my much-neglected family: since many of you are new visitors thanks to some shameless self-promotion on the Ganyo holiday card, and since this is post #100, for crying out loud, I want to encourage/ask/beg/demand that each of you reading please comment. Shaun truly believes he and I are the only readers, though I keep telling him otherwise. Let's rally and show him just how many brave Languishing readers are out there. You can chose to be anonymous, if you like, or link to your own blog/website/pyramid scheme. Follw the prompts, take your time (for those of you new to the world of comments) and only hit "submit" once. I will use the Random Number Generator to chose one of you to receive a very exciting prize. Probably involving corduroy in some way, and maybe a book-like thing, but that's all I'll reveal right now. C'mon! You know you can't win if you don't comment, and you can't comment if you don't read this, so...erm...C'mon!

To help you understand, I have an elaborate analogy! Each post is sort of a performance (often mediocre, granted) and if no one comments, it's like being at a concert and not applauding. Even if the band's a little off key, or they're playing a song you don't particularly like, you still applaud, don't you? Don't you? Well then, comment. I need to hear a little applause now and then, too. And if you don't want to applaud but would rather boo, at least I'll know you're out there.

If you are one of those people who doesn't applaud if they don't feel like it, go ahead and don't comment. I wouldn't want you to win my special prize anyway.

Commenters, you have until December 26th at midnight, after which time I will close comments and chose a winner! If you suspect I don't have your current mailing address make sure I can track you down via e-mail in case you win the super special prize.

Stay classy, San Diego.

16 December 2007

Handmaid's tale

The child, she learns quickly. I don't think she even knew the word "finger" until September 28; but she learned it right quick.

And almost as quickly, she healed. Not quite, I suppose, but the fact that her finger looks this good relieves me beyond belief. What? You can't tell for sure which finger it was? Exactly. Hence my relief.

I didn't mention in the original post that another thing that kept me awake at night was a deep sorrow of potential loss: I kept thinking "She'll never be a hand model!" as if that was what I had always hoped she would be. And those corny wedding photos with the couple's hands showing the wedding rings? Ruined. I smushed her wedding ring finger. And don't even get me started on my panic over her piano and guitar careers...though my friend Crystal cheered me up when she said Jerry Garcia was missing that very finger.

I still feel awful, by the way. Every time we go through a door together I hold my breath and peer at each of her appendages to make certain she's clear. But at least, if she wants, she'll probably be able to have that corny wedding photo after all.

I really must learn to enunciate.

Location: In bed
Time: Just waking up this morning, 15 minutes before the child wakes. I throw an arm over my beloved and try to act casual.

Me: Mornin' sweetie.

Shaun: Mm.

Me: You know, I had an erotic dream about you last night.

Shaun: So? All your dreams are neurotic.

13 December 2007

I Like You Too, Amy Sedaris

So Amy Sedaris has stolen my book idea. Seriously. Well, maybe she just wrote the book I wish I had written. Anyway, it was my first Christmas gift this year and I've already read it. All 304 pages. And a lot of it is a cookbook. Who reads a cookbook? Me, I guess. I found her humor exquisite, the photographs glorious, and she made me crave some serious cheeseball.

I highly recommend this book, but it is not for the prudish (she explains some interesting hygiene tips) or the people who honestly aspire to be Martha Stewart (she cares for googly eyes a great deal). Look at the photo above: do you find this kinda pretty, kinda silly, and does it kinda makes you wonder where you put your kohl eyeshadow and your strappy heels? Then this might be the book for you. It's certainly the book for me: I swear she is my long lost big sister. It was a wonderful, exhilarating 304 pages, and I'm gonna read it again, probably before Christmas. After that, you can borrow it if you like. But I am gonna need it back for that cheeseball recipe.

Holiday Photo

Since Shaun likes for us to all be in the picture, (because when we get photos of our friends' kids, he growls and says "I'm not friends with their KID!") we generally have to find outsiders to take a shot of all of us. Last year(left) it was done during Thanksgiving at Myra's.

This year we begged and pleaded until Dan and Tenessa agreed to help. Here are some of what we had to pick from (this is clearly more of a reflection on us than it is on them, by the way).

Do you think we're in a rut for poses? Me too. I'm actually not even including the one we did choose: some of you will get one in the mail shortly, and I'd hate to totally spoil the surprise. If you DON'T get one in the mail shortly, it means one of three things: 1. I don't have your current address and have a stack of mail here for you that keeps coming back to me, 2. I don't know who you are, or 3. I no longer care for you. Of course, it's possible that the mail carrier lost it, too, and if that makes you feel better, go for that.

We almost went with this one, because I think it would be reallly funny. (that's V with Dan and Tenessa, for those of you just joining us). Maybe next year. Or when she hits puberty.

When Shaun and I first started dating I found his insistence on making stupid faces endearing. This quickly moved to annoying. He did act nice for the wedding pictures, and soon after I came to understand that he was otherwise physically unable to look like a normal human in photos.

It still infuriates my mother.

11 December 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel: Santa?

This is my last week of classes. Next week is finals (I have just one, and it's for handing in a take-home exam), then I grade until my eyes bleed and try to have everything in by the 21st. Grades aren't due until the 26th, but lemme tell you, nothing ruins a perfectly good holiday like grading.

Except maybe the stomach flu.

This year, like other years, will be a mix of in-laws and Hendrum and here at home. V is so close to knowing, really knowing, about how exciting this all is, but not quite. I wanted to do an advent calendar, like these (scroll down) or this, but it will have to wait until next year. By the time I found all my good wool felt, it was already December 4 (it was in the attic in a box marked "Christmas: fragile." Of course). So no advent joy (the anticipation, it is killing me) this year.

The other day, V and I were talking about Santa Claus. Let me say, before I go further, that it was really hard for me to decide to go the Santa route. I just really, really, really didn't want to ever be untruthful to my child. But I remember how breathlessly magical Christmas morning was for me during those first years, and I don't want to deny her of that. Still, it feels an awful lot like a bald-faced lie, and that's what makes it difficult. (Those of you rolling your eyes at this can stick it in your ear. These choices are hard for me!). At any rate, it felt less like lying when she was littler, and couldn't ask any questions. But the other day, when V and I were talking about Santa, it became clear she doesn't know much about him. She recognizes his picture and knows that he brings presents, but that's about it. I said something like, "And then on Christmas Eve, Santa will come. And what will he bring for you?"

"Prezants!" she said, beaming at knowing the answer.

"That's right," I smiled calmly, patting her on the head. I decided long ago to leave out the part about being good because of a horrible story I read once where this little girl who was from a poor family got only one measley doll and her neighbor got the Barbie Dreamhouse and limo and a chia pet and her own monkey and the little girl cried because she figured the neighbor girl must have been much more good to get so many fancy presents.

"Grandma bring Santa?" she said. Again, more sing-songy: "Grandma and Santa."


"Grandma bring Santa."

"Erm, no. Grandma won't be bringing Santa. See, Santa has his own sleigh, see, with 8 magic reindeer, and sometimes Rudolph if it's foggy, and he flies down from the North Pole to bring toys to all the...girls and boys who...believe in him. And he comes down the chimney, or, ah, through the window....erm...He has elves who help him make toys and other things that he brings to you and lots of other children."

"And Grandma."

I couldn't bear to tell her the whole filthy elaborate societal lie again. So in our house, I guess Santa gets a ride with Grandma. They can compare notes, I suppose, on who's been bad or good...I don't think the reindeer would fit in the Ford Focus, though, so they're on their own.

10 December 2007

Terrible Twos

I need ten more posts to have as many this year as last year, so just sit back and enjoy how verbose I can be if I let myself.

V's other new thing, aside from KISS, is screaming. All-out, full-body, top-of-my-lungs, help-me-you-idiots screaming. I imagine I probably did this as a child, too, as I am known throughout Hendrum for my temper. (I exaggerate. Or rather, my mother does). But I was suprised to see the Johnson rage rear its ugly head so early with my offspring. We are managing, through a three-pronged approach of ignoring, distracting, and drinking heavily, to weather this storm. Now normally, Jess and I can compare notes when the kids hit a certain stage. Teething? Walking? Will went first. Talking? V's arena. Sweet-tempered Will, however, has not inherited the Johnson rage, apparently, but instead his father's observant tendencies. In their carseats in cold December sunlight, this makes for a lovely contrast.

Love changes everything

Our dear dear friends came up for the weekend. The theme was mostly "Hey remember before we had kids when we could have a grown up conversation and the only one screaming was Jen?" We miss those days.

They live in The Big City 230 miles away, and despite continuous promises/threats to one another that we will again live in the same location (or at least less than 230 miles apart), I'm slowly coming to realize that this is unlikely. They both have good jobs where they are, and I love my job, and we both own houses and .... you know how it goes. For a long time this idea of not ever living in the same city again made me so terribly sad. It still does, sometimes (like last night after they left to go home...), but I try to remember that throughout my life, my mom has kept in touch with her best friend from college, and they travel together every summer and see each other often throughout the year, and they live 260 miles apart. My sister and I love Kathy's children still (and we're all grown up, now, even the baby Mark), and our mothers met over 40 years ago. And Myra and Kathy didn't have blogs or cell phones for most of those 40 years. Why, with free minutes alone we should be able to know a lot more of what's going on in each others lives.

In other, non-related news, have I mentioned V's love for KISS? It's quite upsetting, actually. I put in a DVD of the Muppet Show a few months ago (she was just barely two). I love the Muppet Show and hope she will, too, one day. As I sat back down to enjoy it with her and her father, V started screaming, "No, KISS! KISS!" I glared at Shaun, because he's the one in the KISS army, not me. "I didn't do anything!" he swore, but then added "Except tell her they're the best band ever." Still, for a two year old to remember that and demand to see them instead of Muppets strikes me as remarkable.

Because we are easy to persuade, we took the screaming to heart and put in a KISS concert from the late 70s. Now before ya'll call child services, we fast-forwarded through the blood-spitting parts. And she danced and danced and sang and danced.

Now she knows every member of the original band's name, what they play (her little toddler voice saying "Peter Criss, drums!" just kills me), and has an inordinate fondness for Gene Simmons. In fact, last week, we were talking about her favorite TV shows, and I asked her which she liked better, Dora or Blue? "Gene Simmons," she said.

Next time you see her, ask her what Gene Simmons does. I promise you won't be disappointed (unless you're child services).

01 December 2007

Happy December Fool's Day

We had big plans of spending our Saturday with Auntie Jess and cousin Will. We were going to have homemade pizza for lunch, dance around to Christmas records, and try to do a photo shoot for Grandma Myra's holiday card. But then winter showed up.

For years I commuted 72 miles each way to work. In five years, I missed perhaps 3 days due to weather: a remarkable feat, considering how close we are to Canada and therefore the artic circle (please don't correct my geography. I'm writing for effect, not accuracy). Sometimes I had to hold my breath and hope the road was under me; once, a semi jacknifed right in front of me, crossing into my lane before slamming into the ditch.

I was proud of this driving record: I could drive in anything, and I told my students as much repeatedly. As a college with 75% of the population living on-campus, this school NEVER closed for weather, and I didn't want them to get out of class because I chose to live far away. But in 72 miles, I had to drive through three counties, each of which viewed plowing differently (the middle one felt it was completely optional. All season). For a time, when I had a sweet Honda CRX, the floor had rusted through, so the only thing between me and the elements was a thin piece of carpet, which quickly soaked through and froze to my pantsleg during the winter drive. Every day was an adventure, and I had no cell phone, either. I imagine these are the stories I'll use to convince V she has it easy in about 12 years.

The daughter changed all that, of course. I'm no longer willing to take risks like I did when it was just me, and not much seems worth venturing away from our cave-like home. We have the luxury, of course, of not having to use outside childcare, though this means it can sometimes be days before V goes outside at all. This winter, I'm working to fix that, with big plans of boots and snowpeople and just plain winter shenanigans.

But today, our first big storm of the year, at most we'll venture to the backyard. Pizza with the Auntie and cousin will wait, while we adjust to our transformed landscape and snuggle up in front of the tree.

Any normal blogger would now post a lovely wintery photo to show you the aforementioned landscape, but I haven't gotten that far yet today, so instead you get this: proof that we encourage all kinds of bad habits. Right after this photo, she had a whiskey sour and a cigar while cursing the 18 year old age limit on casino gambling.

Stay warm, dear friends, and may all your scratch-offs be winners.