This week we saw grass for the first time in months. Snow mold spotted our yard like bits of fur or feathers from a hawk attack. I’ve got that bird on my mind since I walked around the front of the house last week to see him sitting on our brick walkway. We stared at each other for a moment, this hawk and I – a moment longer than felt comfortable – before he flew up to perch on the street light. He stayed there while I chopped at the ice, made a path for the draining snow, and thought about the grass underneath.

Last night seven inches of snow buried all that work. All that grass and mold and possibility. Minneapolis, yet again, is covered. Even this lovely new sculpture by physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae, has been engulfed:

Spannungsfeld-MN

No one in my office is talking about snow. Usually, as good Midwesterners should, we like to talk about the weather. It shapes our lives, our thoughts, our concept of reality. This winter has sapped that desire to discuss and dissect. Snow is no longer interesting or beautiful or festive. Snow is oppressive. There is nothing more to say.

We’ll talk about the next kind of weather when it arrives. Just wait for that first thunderstorm, that first clap of thunder. You won’t be able to shut us up. God that sounds nice.

We are on the threshold of spring, the edge of that conversation. I hope.

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Louie CK hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend. His comedy has always had a spiritual, compassionate lean. He pokes at the deepest parts of our psyche, at the darkest bits of humanity. By poking us there and getting us to laugh he plants these thoughts in our head. Maybe I should give a damn about other humans? Maybe I do take myself too seriously? Do yourself a favor and watch the monologue. You’ll be a better person for it:

Do yourself a favor and watch the monologue. You’ll be a better person for it:

Louie CK Monologue

There. You’re a better person. Boom.

Anyways, what I’m really here to talk about is the Kate Mckinnon and Aidy Bryant skit:

DykeandFats

These ladies have quickly risen to their rightful status as two of the brightest stars on SNL. Maybe some of the best they’ve had in years. One of their strengths, as writers and sketch actors, is knowing who they are and who they represent. Instead of fighting their labels, claiming they are not the token lesbian and token average girl in the cast, they own it.

Watch and giggle:Dyke and Fats

Like Louie’s humor this touches on something that makes us a little uncomfortable. We’re not quite sure if we can laugh at the title. You can’t say that. You can’t call her that. Yet the punch line hinges on love not humiliation. They use this derogatory language because it’s a recognition of their shared suffering. (Maybe it’s more of a shared tolerance in this case.) This is the best kind of humor. The most human kind of humor. We’re in the on the joke. Labels and overgeneralizations hit that itchy kind of soft spot where we must laugh because laughing keeps us from crying.

This brand of humor allows me to make fun of my brother for looking so damn dapper in his suit jacket. I know he doesn’t like to dress up. I know it embarrasses him to hear he’s turned from a cute little freckled baby into a handsome freckle-faced freshman. I know so I tease. He may disagree how kind this actually is but he’s wrong. It’s love.

The moment caught mid-mockery:

NolanWeddingSuit

Sibling tolerance at its purest.

If you have half a negative thought about this kid, I’ll kick your ass.

An article about an eight year-old girl not being feminine enough is making the rounds of the internet this morning. Give the masses a little time to get outraged and we’ll see if it actually “goes viral”. Here’s a link to Huffington Post’s coverage if you haven’t seen it.

My first thought wasn’t, “how dare they”. Rather, I thought, “hey, that little tomboy looks me at that age”. She might have been my sister or cousin or tomboy best friend. The resemblance is uncanny:

tomboys

Left: Me circa 1992. Right: Sunnie rockin’ a sweet Steeler t-shirt today.

As an eight year old I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin – a little chubby, a little nerdy – but I was not yet burdened by the paralyzing self-consciousness of adolescence. Dressing however I wanted eased that awkwardness. A haircut from the boy’s section of the stylist’s handbook. A favorite pair of stonewashed overalls rocked least once a week – despite a distinct lack of farm work. Spandex shorts and Mickey Mouse t-shirts worn with abandon. I was one comfortable kid.

To add to the similarities between Sunnie and I, all of this happened at a parochial school.

Even those uptight Catholic school administrators back in the day knew a tomboy was just a tomboy. They didn’t read into it. I wish this southern Christian school could do the same. Don’t make this girl’s haircut and clothing choices something more than they are. It’s hard enough being a kid. Navigating social landmines of the playground, learning to multiply, studying geography, deciding if you really like the Steelers or you just like that t-shirt. This kid doesn’t need a group of adults telling her that she is doing it all wrong.

Let’s try having a little goddamn compassion.

This little girl could grow up to be a doctor, a lawyer, a businesswoman, a soldier, a fashion designer, a professional poker player. She could be gay or straight or trans. We don’t know. I doubt she knows. Maybe in twenty years this little girl will look like a larger version of her current self – a short haired, sports lovin’ lady. Maybe she’ll be a goddamn swimsuit model. Maybe she’ll be both.

Right now, she is just a kid.

My tomboy phase never really ended but finding comfort there allowed me to become who I am today. I am most comfortable in jeans and a hoodie with my hair pulled back. This utilitarian style just make sense to me. On the other hand, I’ve also grown to enjoy getting gussied up:

glamgirls

Playing dress up isn’t just for kids.

In this day we can take what we want from each gender’s stereotype and make it our own. A dress today. Jeans tomorrow. Awesomeness forever. Even if some people are still catching up to this idea it sounds like Sunnie’s grandparents are already telling her this.

Hopefully their (our?) positivity can outweigh the school’s bigotry. Hopefully.

My current job involves being in an office for the most of my workday. Six out of eight hours most days. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Compared to many of my coworkers who spend their six hours in cubicles, I got lucky. This office has a door that I can close and a window where my sweet little plants can get some sun.

Even on a snowy March day like today:

Office Plants

Plants to improve my day, my experience of the workplace. HuffPo agrees.

I am content in my job. The hours aren’t bad. The pay is reasonable. Sometimes I get to help people with problems that seem big in their lives. The aforementioned plants seem happy here. But I’m not entirely fulfilled. This is not my dream job. I have not become what I wanted to be when I grew up (which was actually a comedian – that’s a story for another post).

Maybe that’s okay.

Instead of actively looking for a new job, I’m considering how much I need to be fulfilled by my job. Perhaps my fulfillment doesn’t lie with my career but rather with my family and my writing and my garden and my life outside of this not-too-bad office. Maybe contentment is exactly the level of fulfillment I need.

Then again making a little more money would be nice for all those other life events…

Daily Post

A group of people I’ve known for more than a year make up a majority of my crossfit classes. Like me their dedication waxes and wanes. We agree that crossfit delivers us what we need most out of a fitness routine – variety, intensity, camaraderie, and someone telling us what to do – but we also occasional chose a nice cold beer over a good workout. They’re a good group:

crossfit gym

In these classes an interloper or two invariably shows up for a short stretch. One such gentleman has taken up residence in my regular classes recently, let’s call him Georgie.

At the only class I attended this week, Georgie showed up too. Georgie is an oddly shaped man in his late thirties. A little round about the waist with skinny legs and a small, child-sized butt. To make matters worse, the man exclusively wears skintight clothing – running tights and an under-armor top this week. Why hasn’t someone told him running tights go UNDER running shorts? WHY?!? Even when we started the WOD I couldn’t stop judging him. You should see how this man abuses a rowing machine. Don’t even get me started on his power snatch….

Then I had a realization; I am only this critical when I feel unsure of myself.

During those warm days of summer when I could run a few miles with ease and found myself improving on every lift, I thought the whole class was wonderful. A bunch of inspirational all-stars, even the interlopers. But now, when I don’t feel particularly strong or fit or worthy, my mind jumps to distraction. What is he doing? Why isn’t he using better form? Oh shut up, brain.

Perhaps this should have been obvious but it wasn’t. Hopefully I can take this minor epiphany and learn to have some compassion for Georgie and myself. At least we made it to the gym. Good on us for trying. Hell, good for him for having the confidence to rock that body shoved in a hotdog casing look. Okay, no.

I could still do without the running tights.

With students away on spring break the campus where I work is blissfully still. Halls quiet. Bathrooms clean. No line at the coffee shop. No need to dodge the ear-budded crowd who can’t look up from their phones and iPods even for a moment.

This also meant Woodstock the therapy chicken had some free time:

therapy-chicken

Yes, we have a therapy chicken. Woodstock is a part of the University’s “Pet Away Worry and Stress” (PAWS) program. She and a room full of patient dogs (who are mostly plotting ways to eat the aforementioned chicken) hangout here on campus for a few hours every Wednesday afternoon. The concept of this program melts my heart. Student who rarely look up at the world around them need this connection, a sweet, calm chicken and some lovelorn pups. A moment to step outside themselves.

The wife and I dutifully listened as Woodstock’s lookalike handler explained all things therapy chicken:

therapychicken2

I’m listening in that picture, really, but I’m also wondering if the twinsies look is intentional. Did the lady choose the chicken because they have the same hair color? Did the chicken choose the lady? Is her hair permed to match Woodstock’s glorious fluff? Maybe it’s all natural. Maybe their pairing is fate. I pet Woodstock like I’m told, gently and down her back. We don’t know each other well enough for a head-rub. Then we’re on our way.

Not a bad way to end the work day.

The wife and I have been watching the Lindsay Lohan docu-series on Own:

Lindsey

Guilty pleasure, sure, but we’re not ashamed. This is what celebrity culture/fascination should be – a look inside her life, with her permission. All of that in a decent package. Lots of single camera shots, a question or two from the camera wielding producer, some planned meals (read: multi-camera shots) with her family and life coaches and assistants. A wise word or two from Oprah herself.

This is exactly what I need in these last cruel throes of winter.

We get the sense, as viewers, that we are getting an inside look. A peek into the mysterious celebrity life. Lindsay knows we’re watching but she’s relaxed enough to give us a little. More, at least, than the annoyed but pleased look she gives the paparazzi-hoard as she leaves a restaurant:

lindsey4

My real complaint with the show comes at the commercial break. We start with some plugs for the channel – Oprah interviews and Oprah specials. Fine, that’s fair. Then we get a little sales pitch for the Malibu rehab facility where Lindsay stayed. Ok, a little tacky, but whatever. Then we start slipping. A do it yourself legal kit. What looks like a hometown used car add? That can’t be right. A legal settlement announcement for transvaginal mesh ruptures. What the hell, Oprah?!

Can Oprah’s still fledgling OWN network really be struggling this much? Is she (are they) this money hungry that they’ll take on any advertiser? Whatever the reason, I don’t think they understand how much these adds flavor how we watch the show. If I didn’t already feel a little sleazy watching this voyeuristic celeb-drama, hearing the word transvaginal half a dozen times took me over that edge. Thanks, Oprah.

Not that I’m going to stop watching, not yet.

The wife and I made the Wall Street Journal’s Life and Culture section today. Seriously. Featured image and everything. Here’s the link:

Jewelers Woo Engaged Same-Sex Couples – WSJ

andrea_elizabeth_00424

Our story opens the article:

wsjquote

Close enough.

As far as I can recall, this is the first time I’ve been quoted. Mentioned maybe but never quoted. It’s an odd feeling. The words attributed to me don’t ring false but I can’t help raising an eyebrow. Is that exactly what I said? Does this story, this little blurb of my life, really represent me? Does it accurately represent my marriage? Not really.

This article doesn’t show much about us. Barely a glimpse really. You can’t see the grit that makes up our daily life: the mortgage and walking the dog and making dinner and shoveling snow at six in the morning. These few sentences don’t show the love that drew us together, the marriage that’s simply awesome.

But that’s ok.

In this anecdote, we’re an example of the new normal. We sit on that fence between normal and unknown. Like any engaged couple we needed to buy wedding rings. Unlike that other couple (that straight couple), we also needed to explain ourselves. Fine. Hopefully what we did in that store, and with this article, is have that mildly uncomfortable conversation for other couples. Hopefully we took one for the team.

That’s love.

Although I don’t really do live music, I saw Ingrid Michaelson in Des Moines some years ago. I shouldn’t be allowed at concerts. That many people in such a small space makes me anxious. I end up drinking too much and taking pictures I’ll regret.

Like this:

ingrid1

And this:

ingrid2

Oh the coping skills of youth..

Anyways, her new video for the song Girls Chase Boys is amazing. It’s visually (and beautifully) an homage to Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible. If you haven’t seen it, go do that now. I’ll wait:

Amazing right?

Ingrid’s interpretation/remake says as much about music’s double standards as it does about the public’s expectations of fame. While the dancers wear heavy stage makeup and form fitting tank tops, Ingrid’s looks is subtler (other than that cleavage). She has the power here. Above all that, it’s a damn catchy song.

Atta girl.

The first phase of spring arrived in Minneapolis last week. Not the kind of spring most of the country would recognize. We won’t see tulips and patio beers and open window Saturdays for months. This part of spring is kind of gross.

Our layers of snow and ice have begun to melt. Lakes of brown slush form at each intersection and in potholes big enough to separate a tire from your car. Mountains of snow relinquish the odd objects they’ve swallowed throughout the winter: hubcaps, bits of trash, tree branches, a single shoe.

With this melt, our sweet poodle could finally get a long overdue haircut. The first in three months. We waited so long (too long) because we couldn’t bear to remove those curls. We couldn’t bear to see her tiny body shiver before we’ve walked even halfway around the block. She needed those curls to keep her warm through this hellish winter.

I give you the poodle, before and after:

Haircut

Our fluffy lion turns into a delicate deer.

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