Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cleaning Rage

Hooooooo law, ya'll.

Spring is playing hard to get this year, which I don't find the least bit beguiling. I'm right now sitting in the living room in front of a crackling fire. It's crackling because all the wood is wet. Because we didn't cover it when it started raining. Because we didn't think we'd need any fires anymore, it being nearly April and all.

But the good news is the house is sort of clean. I don't know if I mentioned that while Audrey was here, she spring-cleaned our house like the Dickens, from top to bottom. She got all up in all the closets' business and removed the mildewing shoes. She washed the compost bucket by hand in the sink, which I usually do outside with the toilet brush and a hose. She folded every load of laundry that came down the pike. That woman, ya'll--I don't understand why she's not the Emperor of something.

But with the exception of a couple of times (like the time she was cleaning out the compost bucket and turned to me and said "This love I have for you, Jesslyn? It's big. Real big."), Audrey seemed to really like the cleaning. She cleaned our house because she wanted to, because if she lived back in caveman days, she would have swept out her cave every day and laid all her sticks and rocks in a line.

I, on the other hand, would have taken my opportunity as a caveman to let it all hang out. The grizzly remains of the mammoth I killed last month would have rotted into the cave floor before I would have lifted a finger to tidy them.

But unfortunately I'm not a caveman. I'm a woman who lives in the 21st century, who reads things that Martha Stewart has her people write and who is at this moment typing while wearing a green mud mask, the directions to which were in French, so I'm just assuming I put it on correctly. So, my point is, I can't let a mammoth carcass rot on our floor. I just can't--although I'd want to if it happened to find its way here.

Allow me to be completely frank. Cleaning sucks. I love a clean, breezy, fresh smelling house as much as the next girl, but the thing about cleaning is this: it's the worst ever and once it's done, it's so easily undone. So what's the point?

I do this thing when I have to clean. It's an activity I usually begin approximately 2 hours before guests are supposed to come over for dinner, because 2 hours is normally how long it takes me to make our house look like it's inhabited by anyone other than 7 or 8 filthy, meth-addicted squatters. So, I start cleaning, and about 3 minutes in this thing happens to me. It's like I'm not Jesslyn anymore. Have you ever seen Dr. Bruce Banner turn into the Incredible Hulk? That's kind of what it's like. I throw shit, I say unspeakable things to my husband, I yell at my daughter, I've probably cursed even you, Sweet Reader--whoever you are. Honestly, I'm thinking about trying hypnosis. It's that bad.

So, since Audrey left, I've been trying to keep up with the house. I've been folding laundry, making the beds, putting things away after I cook. And it hurts, you guys. But it's way better than a 2 hour cleaning rage. Anything's better than that.

UPDATE: Bryan would like me to tell you about what it's like to watch me in a cleaning rage:
"It's kind of like watching a rabid raccoon. It's sort of cute, but also terrifying because it could bite you or throw all your important stuff away."

And there you have it.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Before Odessa was born, this probably would have driven one of my ovaries off a cliff.

Seriously, that little girl is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life and I've seen a baby otter before. But when someone sent me this video this morning, my first thought was, "Wow, that child is WORKING it."

At this point, I'm pretty familiar with the machinations of the toddler mind. And I'm here to tell you: they are not sophisticated. The way I see it, because toddlers require the services of adults, and because the powers of rational thought and rhetorical nuance are unavailable to them, they have to be adorable little cupcake faces who say crazy stuff that would put normal people in high security mental facilities. And lord love'em, it's effective. In some cases--like the one pictured above--it might even be considered overkill.

I sometimes feel like my cute receptors--which used to be so painfully sensitive before I became a parent--have been filed down with one of those huge iron rasps that farriers use to file horse hooves. Because the cuter Odessa gets (and yes--she's getting even cuter every single day), the more tyrannical she becomes. Which just means that every day, I have to redouble my defenses against toddler chicanery.

And it's tough for people who aren't seasoned. I once came home to find Audrey shaking like a Jello salad over a particularly harrowing snack-time episode in which Odessa wanted something off the kitchen shelf that Audrey either couldn't figure out or wouldn't give her because it was cornstarch or something. My sweet, mushy-faced little picklepants had yelled at Audrey in the cutest way ever for like 15 minutes before I rescued her at the 11th hour. Audrey, who was seriously in need of a cigarette or Oxycontin or something by the time I got home, had this to say:

"She's so adorable, and yet so powerful!"

And I was like, "Survival of the fittest, baby."

Because I have met our Overlords, and they're super short and spray little bits of spittle when they talk.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


There is no rational reason for why I should I love Sweden. I've never been to Sweden, and if you look at the data, it's not a place I should expect to like:
  • It is dark a lot.
  • It is cold a lot.
  • Meatballs and raw fish salad abound.
  • Shit is expensive in Sweden, and I'm super curmudgeonly about paying $15 for a sandwich or $6 for a gallon of gas. I'll totally pay it, but I will complain. I will.
  • I suspect I'm not actually good enough to be Swedish. Scottish? Sure. Or Icelandic even. But the Swedes would probably take one look at me and be like, "Nah."
But whatever: the heart loves what the heart loves.

So why do I like Sweden? Please refer to the bulleted points below:
  • Fjords. I love a good glaciated landscape.
  • Blenda (pictured at top). I can't do her story justice here, so READ THIS. Please. Because I'm going to name my next daughter Blenda and I want you to know why.
  • The feast of St Lucia, wherein a little girl gets to walk around with a crown of lighted candles on her head, handing out candy. I like the devil-may-care attitude they have towards open flame, flaxen locks and children.
  • Although I'd probably make a terrible Socialist (on account of my being so cranky about gas and sandwich prices), I like how the Swedes take care of their folks. Sixteen MONTHS of paid maternity leave. I KNOW!
  • Swedish Music. I've said this before, but there's something so compelling to me about music written by someone who has to live in a place that's freezing cold and dark as the inside of a cow half the year.
For instance, The Tallest Man on Earth:

You guys, he has like 2 pounds of gel in his hair and AN EFFING MUSTACHE, but I could forgive that tiny, growly hipster and his tiny parlor guitar anything. Anything.

And then, to prove I'm totally wasting my time with Kristian Matsson, there's his ladyfriend, who is way awesome:


But then there's really amazing Swedish hip hop too! And then there's First Aid Kit and Peter Bjorn and John and Lykke Li. And Jens Lekman!!

Shutting up now about that.

So, yes. Sweden.

My aunt Gerd is Swedish she and my uncle Jonnie live there half the year (guess which half!). I have over the years used divers stratagems to trick them into inviting me to visit, but Gerd basically always says something like "Nie, Yessie, eet ees too rural. Yoo would not like it. Nie."

Well, I guess that just proves my point that I'm not good enough for Sweden. Can anyone prove me wrong? Anyone?

Okay, I'm going to go kick a can down the street. Night night!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oh! The Sacrifice!

A lot of people are VERY uncomfortable with Jesus. I know several former Catholics who will literally stand up and walk out of a room when his name is mentioned, much like Bryan will vacate a room when an Elton John song comes on. I don't blame people for having a grudge against Jesus--many, many little kids got whumpings in his name for hundreds of years. So, yeah: if I had ever gotten a Jesus spanking, I'd probably hate the guy, too. I'm just observing that he makes a lot of modern people nervous who don't even have a reason to have beef with him. These days Jesus make people all blush-y and cringe-y like sex used to in Victorian England.

But Jesus doesn't really bother me. I was brought up by heathens in an environment that was pretty Jesus-neutral. He wasn't really on anybody's side and he wasn't used as a tool to make anybody feel guilty or inadequate. He was just a super cute, lovable baby who was responsible for all my Christmas presents. And then in middle school when my best friend's older sisters were into going to poetry slams, this King Missile song was on this tape I had:

And so that pretty much sums up what I know about Jesus: he was a smart, nice guy who tried to cut the crap and figure out how to live a worthwhile life. He advised us to love each other and he got lynched by an angry mob for it. He's not the first person this happened to, and he certainly wasn't the last. He's just the most famous.

So, I'm fan of Jesus, just like I'm a fan of Buddha, elephants, Bob Dylan and Eleanor of Aquitaine. And because Jesus was a total bad ass and spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and duking it out with the devil (or you know--maybe duking it out with the devil and maybe just freaking out in his own head, which is considerably more likely, but no less admirable), I observe Lent. Because my old buddy Jesus knew that sometimes you gotta lay off the sauce, whatever the sauce may be.

I am a sort of whimsically habitual person. I have these things I do, and it sort of bothers me when I can't do them--but only sometimes. For instance, a couple of days ago, Audrey came to my office and we walked to the Co-Op together for lunch. We were just walking along and I kept bumping her like a herding dog toward the route I wanted to take. She was like, "where are we going?" and I was like "um, across the Varsity lawn, down the left side of Reese Street and up the right side of Pope." There are about nine different ways to get to the Co-Op from my office, and for some reason, I needed to go that way, even if it meant jaywalking like a lunatic. On our way back, Audrey was like "Which way does Crazypants want to go now?" And I thought about it, and was like, "No preference--I really have no opinion at all." And I didn't.

That story was boring--I know that. But it illustrates my point, which is that I am kind of unpredictable, even to myself, even though I eat at the same restaurant every single damn Friday and paint my fingernails a different color every Sunday and Wednesday. And it's good every once in a while to take a look at the stuff you depend on, the stuff you enjoy, the stuff you feel like you need to keep it together, and just let it go for a while. I think we probably understand ourselves better when we do that.

So for this 40 days in the wilderness (starting yesterday), I'm giving some stuff up:

1) Sweet treats--I have a sweet tooth like you wouldn't believe, and if I asked Jesus' advice on this one, he'd probably say "Jesslyn, chill it on the Dairy Queen."

2) Going out to eat. This one's super hard for me for a number of reasons, but especially because this habit overlaps with my inner border collie that I don't totally understand. And if you're doing something you don't fully understand, I think Jesus would probably advise you to cool it for a while. Maybe I'll learn something valuable! Plus I'll save money! Plus maybe I'll learn to cook some new things!

And here's the good news: according to Wikipedia, "the six Sundays of Lent are not counted because each one represents a "mini-Easter"--a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death." Mini Easter?! Sign me up! So, I guess I'll be hitting the candy and dining out pretty hard for the next six Sundays.


Special Lenten Update: Bryan has added a special proviso to the eating out restriction! We can eat out when it's necessary for the entertainment of out-of-town guests.

Jesus wouldn't want our guests to suffer at his expense--no sir!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Strawberry Nonsense

Pretty much everybody I know has an idea for a band: the name, the musical genera, the first album, the hit single, etc. Lane's hair band, Macho Taco, is going to play strictly butt rock. The name of Macho Taco's first album? Mucho Toucho. Bryan has like a ton of band ideas, but the ones that come to mind at this moment are CrapSpasm and Wet Locations. Bryan's band ideas are usually pretty gross.

Audrey and I are starting a band called Strawberry Nonsense. Our first single will be Autistic Squeeze Machine about how we're trying to get prescribed with a hugging machine for autistic people.

Okay so anyway, what's your band name?