Thursday, December 29, 2011

Help me love Bags update

Bags' puppy, Dooley, is still missing. If you know anyone that lives in Reno, please share this flyer with them! If you want a printable version, email me (grettawhalen at gmail dot com) and I'll send it to you.

Check for updates! And thank you to those who have donated. You are Earth angels!

Can you help me love Bags?

This morning, one of my oldest most favorite friends called me from her home in Australia. She filled me in on a horrible tragedy that's crushed the life of one of our other dearest friends, Heather Bagley (or Bags to those who love her). I don't usually beg you to read my posts because they're so silly and trivial, but this one is different. Please keep reading, and if you don't mind, unlock your hearts. I'm asking for a post-Christmas miracle.

Heather's parents and their two dogbabies were driving home to Salt Lake on I-80 when they got into a terrible car accident. One of the dogs died at the scene, the other is nowhere to be found, and the humans are in critical condition at a hospital in Reno, NV. Heather's older sister is too pregnant to travel, and her younger brother spent the last 24 hours combing the freeway for their other puppy. Meanwhile, Heather has been keeping vigil at her parents bedsides, sleeping 2-4 hours a night at the hospital's Inn.

This is Heather. Isn't she lovely?

My dear friend Lindsay has set up a blog where you can gather more details about Heather's situation and donate a few dollars to help lighten the financial burden on the family. (Her parents owned a car wash in Sugarhouse, but since her stepdad was diagnosed with colon cancer, they haven't been able to keep the business afloat.) Click on this link visit the site and donate what you can. If you can't spare any cash, we're also asking for prayers and good thoughts.

Please link, re-post, tell your friends, spread the word. This family is in the direst of straits and those of us who love Bags are trying to drum up all the assistance we can.

Thank you for helping my friend.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Who loves free music?

If the answer is not you, then I am sorry but you're a weirdo. But if you're normal and you're into free ear candy, you can download a song that Rob and I threw together a couple of days ago.

Now, you might be like, who would want that? And then I would be like, I know, dude, I'm with you. But in case you're interested or even morbidly fascinated, go to this link and download for your Christmas listening pleasure. It's got last year's songs up there, too. So...there's that.

Someday, we'll have a few more dollars in the jar on top of the fridge. That's when we'll give you dear people gifts that you'll actually want. Until then, we'll give you free downloads of our silly jam sessions. Thanks for being cool about it.

In the meantime, here's a meme my little sister generated for me.

Never mind the fact that we'll be there from the 26th through New Year's Day. That's at least one holiday by my watch, Millie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas, like math, is hard.

Oh, hey! I didn't see you there. I was just walking by this dusty old blog and thought I'd just settle in for a  good old fashioned rambling. Care to join me? Honestly, what else could you possibly have to do this week?

Things are speeding up for the Whalens. You know when you steal your brother's longboard, and you start skating around like you know what you're doing, but you don't? And then you're going down a hill and it's fine at first but then holy crap you're really speeding up and how are you going to stop and maybe it's time to start thinking about tucking and rolling on that patch of grass up there? That's what Christmas feels like. The funny thing is that before I get on the longboard (now this is a metaphor...try to keep up) I picture myself skating down the hill with impressive pro-ness. It almost never happens like that. And by almost, I mean always. It always never happens like that.

That is Christmas for the Whalens, my friends. We are tucking and rolling. Please keep your expectations low.

Here's what I did manage to do instead of, like, buy my parents an anniversary present or clean the bathroom. (Also, I like this collage because it looks like boobs and/or a face with a mustache.)

That's three things. And Rob did one of them. But who cares?! Decorations are the best! (None of these ideas are original. Not one. What I'm saying is, you should resist the urge to feel impressed.)

Here's what I meant to do, but didn't:

  • Send clever Christmas cards featuring handsome and stylish pictures of me, Rob, and Fritz the dogbaby.
  • Handcraft something fancy for my lady friends.
  • The dishes.
  • Bake something trendy and fabulous for my neighbors and co-worshipers.
  • Sculpt tiny fruits and veggies out of marzipan.
  • Laundry.
  • Not grow out of all my jeans.
And so on. 

Hopefully I'm not the only one who gets totally steamrolled by this holiday. 

P.S. What are the chances that my future kids don't expect more from Christmas then styrofoam crafts, Dominos pizza, and watching Pee Wee's Christmas special (in 5 parts) on the youtube? Fingers are crossed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving: Young, Married & Childless

When you don't have kids, or in-town family, or time to attempt cooking and possibly destroying a Thanksgiving dinner (and very likely your microscopic kitchen, as well), you just go out on holidays. Even if you already ate out three days that week. Whatever. You don't care. You stuff your dog into the crate for his third night alone in three days, fully anticipating his awful behavior when you let him out in a few hours (even though he gets to eat his weight in Skippy whenever you leave, the ingrate). You put on your outside pants and you go have a traditional Thanksgiving in a restaurant, by yourselves, with about a hundred strangers. Yes!

Don't feel bad for us, dudes. Eating out on holidays is actually my favorite thing. Little known the fact: the Parkinsons have often hit up the iHop (that's how it's written now) on Christmas Day and watched a happy server see a big, juicy tip on the bottom of the receipt through the windows. You should totally try it sometime.

Rob, as he said, was also "totally all about it." 

"I mean, after ten years, I might want a home-cooked meal," he says. "But right now, going out is pretty much the best thing."

Meant for each other, guys. We are.

Staying in L.A. means no packing, no taking work off, no cursing like a maniac at the ungodly traffic clustercluck on the 210. Going out means no store, no prep, no clean-up. You tell me now, what's not to love about this scenario? (Except for you, family. I know what you're going to say. Just chill out, OK? It's not always about you guys. Geez. )

(Just kidding. It really is all about you guys. I didn't mean any of that, I swear. 
Sometimes I just get so scared...).

So after a long day of writing about diasporic themes and ... *snooze* ... you head downtown to The Pantry, which is this famous L.A. diner that hasn't closed once since it opened in 1924. It's like Denny's, only you don't have to be embarrassed to admit you like it. Win!

First, you pay ten smackers to park in a pay lot because, duh, L.A. is the worst place in the world. But then you wait in line with a bunch of like-minded, probably also dishwasher-less, Angelenos who had the same bright idea as you. That's cool. You're wearing your new coat that you wanted people to freaking see, anyway, am I right? Plus you get to hear this dialogic interchange between a mom and her two-year-old son:

"Honey, you smell like doggy."

"You smell like poop, mommy!"

That's a burn.

Then you get inside, you give your table to the mom and the two-year-old behind you because, duh, babies gotta eat. Then you sit down, order a DC, and scarf. First you scarf on slaw, then you scarf on turkey (or steak if you're a rebel like me). And you love it.

After dinner, you walk through the deserted ghost town that is downtown L.A. Since you never go down there, you wonder, is it like this because it's Thanksgiving? or because it's, you know, downtown L.A. 

Next stop: L.A. Auto Show. Rob got free tickets, so while he checked out all the cool automobiles we'll never have, I scoped out the rad floors. Here's one:

Rob says this thing is a mo-tor. Makes the cars go. Here's what would happen if I ever had to figure one of those things out: I would collapse on the floor in a heap and weep myself into oblivion. 

What is this thing? There are people on the planet who understand this thing? Why am I not one of those people? Is anybody listening to me?

Finally, you shuffle to the car because your husband doesn't love you enough to carry you there. When you get home, you dissolve into the couch with your hat and scarf still on, listen to the end of "Horton Hears a Who," and start feeling super thankful that you don't have to do any dishes.

And that's how you do Thanksgiving when you're young, married, and childless.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fritz turns 1!

Yesterday, my dogbaby turned one. 

Would you care for some milestones? Of course you would.

He knows sit, stay, shake, up, off, soft, and kennel up. He does not know quiet, drop it, stop doing that awful thing you're doing, pee in the toilet, or  don't cry like a woman . When do most dogs learn those ones?

He loves dog food, my food, candy wrappers, toilet water, and dirty underwears.

He hates waiting, eye drops, thermometers in his bum, being patient, and watching people leave.

He had his first sleepover at Wagville in Glasell Park. They gave him a report card that looks like this:

We are so proud.

Happy birthday, dummy.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Phoning it In — or how I got brave and murdered everyone at the Halloween party

I don't feel so good.

I think it's because I socialized this week. I try not to socialize. It works me all up and then I get tired and cranky. This endearing trait is brought to you by stress and sleep deprivation. I share it with toddlers everywhere. Isn't my husband so lucky?

Even though I wanted to spend my weekend curled up on the futon obsessing about school work and school teaching and other such things, I submitted to my husband like all good wives do. On both Friday and Saturday night, I put on pants, went outside my house, and talked to other people. You're welcome. Now where's my prize?

Now, before you say who is this crazy broad and why should I give her a prize just for wearing pants? let me remind you that I wore pants two nights in a row and, more importantly, this was Halloween weekend. That means Halloween parties. And that means Halloween costumes. Costumes are not exactly a Rob and Gretta forte. We're all talk with no follow through. And even though Halloween comes at the same time every year, it always sneaks up on us. Like a zombie: slow, steady, and in your face, but somehow, you're still surprised when it takes a bite out of your brain.

We threw together our costumes on Saturday morning before I left for work. Originally it was going to be the low-key lumberjack/mime combo. Rob got ambitious and switched it to the sock monkey/bearded baby with a sippy cup combo at the last minute. People were charmed once we explained it to them. You'd be surprised how many people don't recognize a sock monkey hat when they see it. (You'd also be surprised by how many people have a problem with the concept of a bearded baby.)

It was a good party. Caramel apple bites, spider-topped cupcakes, brain-eating demon babies...this party had everything you'd ever want from a Halloween soiree. But then the games began.

If you know me, you know I'm not into games. Party-wise, I'm more into snacks. The hostess handed us each a slip of paper that informed us that OHNOHOLYCRAP! There's a murderer at this party! I read a little further, expecting to find instructions on how to avoid the pretend killer and blah blah blah and wait.... What? The killer is me? You mean I have to *gasp* talk to people I don't already know!?

Okay. I had a couple of choices. I could switch papers with Rob and make him do the dirty work. Or I could man up and start winking at strangers. I manned up. I winked at Rob and Toni first, making sure to do it with my right eye so they couldn't tell how bad I am at winking with my left eye. Then I ran to the bathroom cause I really had to go. At first, I tried the normal party schmoozing followed by a wink. But that got lame fast. So then I just started walking up to people and winking them to death without any of the pleasantries. The guy in the Jesus costume was on to me (all-knowing being that he is), but I got him eventually. He ended up being fine, though.

I killed the crap out of everyone at that party. And I made my husband proud! He didn't think I would go through with it. Of course, he didn't know about any of it til after he was dead...ha! ;)

The prize was the best part. Check this out:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I know what I want for my birthday.

I only want one thing and I just realized tonight what it is. I want a Puppy Party.

Don't tell me I can't have it. I saw it on Parks and Rec tonight, so I know it's a thing. Don't tell me it's not a thing.

Here's what I need: 10 puppies. 10 kittens. All varieties. No more than 8 weeks old. I'll take up to 10 weeks in a pinch, but it's best if they're tiny, obviously. I want them in boxes. One for the boys and one for the girls. Obviously. Actually, not boxes. Wooden crates with old timey printing on the side. Lined with cotton candy.


Or I could use some new shoes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

They've got something up their sleeves...

Hey, invisible blog friends. I know I've been neglecting you. It's been madness at Chez Whalen, which is what I call my house now. It's ironic, too, because it makes it seem like my house is French and fancy. I assure you, it is neither.

But chezs (chez's? chezes?) and fanciness is not what I swung by this dusty blog to talk to you about. 

What I'd actually like to bring your attention to is rabbit masks and blow darts and Rob in a newsboy cap.

This is Shotgun Honeymoon's new video for "Up to Something". You might be saying, "What's Shotgun Honeymoon?" And then I might be saying, "You never listen when I talk to you!" (It's alright, though. I can cut you a break. It's been a super long time since I brought it up. Like Squints from The Sandlot, I've had a lot of things on my mind.) Shotgun Honeymoon is the band Rob collaborates with and plays drums for and now produces. Not to brag, but he's pretty much a multitalented genius. And of course he is because I would never marry a dummy. I mean...I might get close, but I would never actually go through with it.

Invisible blog friends: do me a favor, will you? Will you watch this video a few (hundred) times? Will you post it to your facespace walls? Will you tell your friends? And will you fondly anticipate the release of the mythical "EP" that Rob and Eric keep talking about? Ah, you guys are the best.

Stay tuned for more incredible music after the break!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My irrational fears: Teaching Edition

Back in the earliest years of this new Millenium—those of you who can remember back that far know what a magical time it was ... a time when Friends was a "must-see" and pomade was a "must-have" ... a time when there was no such thing as "subtle highlights" and when Angelina Jolie was still totally wacky—way back in the post-Hotmail/pre-Facebook Fall of 2001 when I walked into my first class of my first semester of my first year of college, I never would have dreamed that my fresh-faced writing professor might be embarking on some terrifying firsts of her own. Now that I know how universities work, I know that my young, soft-spoken, surprisingly optimistic, slightly liberal freshman writing teacher (Hon P 200, anyone?) was most likely a student herself. An older, married, pregnant student of the graduate variety, but a student nonetheless. And she was probably—no wait...she was definitely—way more nervous, self-conscious, and pants-crappingly terrified than I was.

I haven't thought of this woman or the things she taught me for ten years. I can't, for the life of me, remember her name. But I remember what she looked and sounded like. I remember that we couldn't really tell if she was pregnant until around Thanksgiving, and before that it was an awkward is she or isn't she guessing-type game. I remember that she wanted us to write about our feelings and our favorite songs and Tuesdays with Morrie. I remember thinking I knew more about King Lear than she did (I didn't) and that she cried too much (she did). What I don't remember, though, is anything I learned. Not one thing. You see, there was a douchey, sideburned dreamboat who sat next to me in that class (you'll recall that douchey guys were the style in those days). I was distracted. To him, I was invisible (as was my style in those days). His name and the facts that he liked surfing and Jack Johnson are all I can remember about my writing class that semester. My seventeen-year-old self was an idiot.

The universe is a jerk and I'll tell you why. Now I'm going to be a freshman writing teacher and I have no idea what I'm doing. None. If I had been assigned the task of shuttling a pack of wild preschoolers across a tightrope, I couldn't be any more horrified. Because:

What if they can see right through me?
I've heard eighteen year olds can smell fear and insecurity. They'll catch one whiff of me and they will run with the knowledge that I'm teetering on the edge confidence. One little vocal quiver on my part will be all they need to start launching spitballs at my face.

What if they scrutinize me the way I scrutinized my teachers?
They'll notice everything. My haircut, my clothes, my shoes and how often I wear them. They'll pay more attention to the stains on my shirts than the due dates in the syllabus. They'll catch me with my fly down or my finger in my nose and then that will be it. Tenuous grasp of authority—gone. Forever.

What if they don't learn anything?
What if I teach and teach and they don't learn. In ten years, will they remember their crush on Sideburns McDarlingface better than the readings? During their peer reviews, will they ignore their theses and focus instead on my fluctuating weight?

At times like these, I wish I could be as invisible as I was when I was 17.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pity, Party of One

Yesterday, I ate two and a half donuts and one fudgesicle.

Naturally, I rewarded my responsible dietary choices with a healthy dose of self-loathing.

Between trying to calculate the number of calories in all the sugar consumed, I went down all those dark, dangerous, dusty mind roads you're never supposed to go down. It was hot, my dog was asleep, and my global diaspora book was boring. Not even my subversive stitching could keep my demons at bay. Those little buggers came out guns ablazin'. So I caved and dove into that deceptively cool, refreshing pool of self-pity for a good old fashioned wallowing.

I was in there for a while before my fingers got all pruney and the satisfaction of feeling sorry for myself wore off. But the effects of my pity party lasted long into the evening and even rubbed off onto my poor innocent Rob who woke up at the butt crack of dawn to teach seminary and sure as hell doesn't deserve to put up with any of my nonsense. I know, right? With a guy like that coming home to me every night, how can I ever feel bad about myself? I'll tell you. Crippling anxiety and genetically low self-esteem, that's how. (Uh-oh...this just got real, didn't it? Sorry about that.)

Dr. Rob diagnosed a comparing problem; I compare the very worst of myself to the very best of everyone else. His prescription is that I lay off the damn Internet for once in my life already. That way I won't be able to see pictures of all the beautiful homes and children and clothes and hair and lives of my impossibly gorgeous, talented, and well-off Internet friends. It's a bad habit, he says, to sit on one's crumb-covered futon, trouserless and greasy-haired, and admire the visually stunning facebook/blog/instagram posts of my cyber friends. They have fancy cameras, he says. Their husbands make living wages, he says. But I know better.

Here's the truth: you, my friends, are exceptionally beautiful people. Your wardrobes are exquisite, your homes are stylish, your children are attractive, your hobbies are lucrative, and your grass! Your grass so green! It glows in the night like a neon liquor store sign! I don't even have grass. I have concrete and a tree stump that I share with my upstairs neighbor. Unlike, I don't doubt the veracity of your shiny lives because I know where the other half lives. The unwashed, unorganized, childless, fast-food loving, sailor mouth-having, no pants-wearing half. My house. Which is actually an apartment, and about a fraction of the size of what I assume is your palatial personal Versailleses. Am I right? Of course I'm right.

I guess what this means is, I need a break. For a day or two...or until I get bored. Not from you, per se. Just from the Internet yous. I need to close up shop and take a thorough inventory of my blessings and all (which I won't tell you about just in case there's another me out there, sitting in her underwear atop a pile of crumbs on an even smaller, more unwieldy futon). And I'm not coming back until I feel sorry for everyone who isn't me.

So, yeah. what I would say to you if you weren't all such nauseatingly awesome winners.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It Goes, "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick..."

"You will go far."

Or at least around the reservoir.

Thanks for the wisdom, Ted.

Now, if we could just get him to speak softly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pillow Talk

Picture this:

The time is bedtime. Rob gives Fritz his evening Greenie and locks his the crate for the night. Certain dogs still can't be trusted to roam the house after the sun goes down. I am already in bed—comfortable, cuddly, soft. Rob joins me under the covers...slips in without a word. I snuggle up to him, as I am wont to do, and whisper, "Good night, Rob. I love you." To which he replies, "Good boy."



Silence. He's dead asleep.

"Okay, Robby," I giggle nervously. "Sleep pretty."

(It's a thing we say).

"Good boy, Fritz. Good boy."

Alright, dude. Whatever. The girls are so hearing about this tomorrow at Yolk.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dog Discipline: Using Your Words

We love our little dogtard. We really do. But he can be kind of a snot. Every so often—usually in the mornings/afternoons/evenings, etc.—Fritz turns into the most obstinate of creatures. It's like his brain gets swapped out for a JV cheerleader' know the type: all sass, no class, and so on. He doesn't smell good enough to get away with it, either. Instead of smelling like Pearberry or the inside of Hollister, he smells like beef jerky and indomitability.

My poor husband. He tries to be patient, he really does. But sometimes, he loses it just a little bit. When he does, you can usually tell by the way his vocabulary expands from "sit," "no," and "off" to language that's just slightly more complicated.

Here are some of the actual phrases Rob has used while disciplining Fritz:
  • Do you understand now why what you did was so bad?
  • You're getting really brave, son.
  • Nuh-uh, buddy. I win!
  • Are you serious? You're too lazy to turn your body around?
  • Don't be stingy with your love, buddy
I'm sure there are more, but right now I can't remember I'm too busy weeping like a crazy person because I saw this on the Internet. See, people who don't have dogs? This is why we invite these disgusting creatures into our lives. It's because they are the best.

    Friday, August 19, 2011


    I started this project yesterday. I was watching the dog-tyrant at the same time, so I was a bit distracted.
    But, honestly, I don't think you can tell.

    It speaks for itself, I think.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Confessions of a New Dog Mom

    One Easter, Rob's sister brought her wee bairn to our tiny house for a visit. While the rest of us were distracted by a wild and crazy game of Mario Kart, Sister-in-law busted out the baby supplies and started changing the niece's turd-filled diaper on the new duvet cover. Immediately, Rob and I objected. "Woman! There's poop in there! Where exactly is your head at?"

    "It's just poop" she replied, continuing her nasty and dangerous task.

    "Exactly," we said. "Poop is poop! And poop is disgusting! Beds are not changing tables! Top sheets are not toilet paper!"

    "You'll feel differently when it's your kid," she said, unphased, while we looked on in horror.

    You'll feel differently when it's your kid. About poop? won't be gross? It will smell like roses? How will I ever feel differently about something so stinky and stain-y? No. I will always think gross things are gross.

    Well, now I have a dog.

    You may not know this about dogs: they have very efficient digestive systems, or something like that. Meaning they poop quite a bit—often and in large quantities. And I pick this poop up. I put my hand in a little orange bag laced with baby powder, and I scoop up the poop, tie the bag in a knot and throw it in the nearest garbage receptacle. Dog poop isn't the only nasty thing I handle now that I'm a dog mom. I've also dealt with dog vomit, dog snot, dog pee, dog eye-boogers, and dog penis-fur snarls. I smell dog breath, kiss dog lips, and I often leave my house covered in dog hair. My life, my clothes, my home used to be clean and sanitary. Now, at any given time, everything I am and everything I own is covered with a solid layer of kanine saliva and millions of invisible germs.

    And guess what? It's still disgusting.

    You're right. My dog is not my child. I did not birth this furry beast. But I do love, feed, nurture, and care for this furry beast. I touch all his nastiness and smellables because someone's gotta do it. But it grosses me out every time. And you know what? It should. You know why? Because it's gross.

    The takeaway message is this: we deal with all the disgustingness of small helpless creatures because someone has to. My dog doesn't have the mobility to poop in the toilet. And he can't pick up his own turds. Well...he could pick them up in his mouth and I'm sure he would if I let him, but that's not the point. We have these dogs and these babies because we want to love them and take care of them. Poop is part of the package. I don't like it, but I can tolerate it.

    Not on my bed, though. Not. On my. Bed.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Gretta's Lazy Book Reviews: Summer Reading Edition

    If you know me—and I assume that you do if you're reading my blog, because this drivel is way too totally uninteresting for strangers— then you know that I have roughly 7,000 hobbies that I simultaneously adore and neglect. In my short life, I have picked up and put down a whole buttload of amusements because I keep running out of time and money. I promise myself that as soon as I get an extra $100 bucks a month or as soon as I'm done with grad school, I'll pick them right back up. And that's a lie. I mean, I hope it's not a lie, but come on, guys...the only thing I really do consistently is read, like, a ton. Also, I'm always eating gummy bears, as is evidenced by these bloody persistent saddle bags.

    Reading is fun, free (sort of), and required (for me, anyway), so right now I do it constantly. You might be surprised to know all the things I get done while reading. I read while I'm walking the dog, watching TV, waiting at red lights, baking, laundering my underwears, sitting in church,'s true. (I guess you'll be thinking twice before you borrow one of my books.) It's the ultimate multi-tasking task. So I've made this little list of some of the books I've devoured this summer, complete with reviews. Really short ones, though. What, do you think I'm made of extra time? There are important episodes of Master Chef I need to catch up on.

    Listen. I know the title of this post makes it sound like this is something I've done, like, more than once. It's not. So could you just ignore that please? Thanks, guys. You're the best.

    The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America, Dr. Drew Pinsky
    Oh, Dr. Drew. So wise. So very swoonable. And so right about the damaging effects of celebrity narcissism on all of us. I dare you to read this and not start pinpointing narcissistic traits in everyone you have ever known, ever. Everyone who hopes to raise a child successfully in this Reality TV era should read this book. Plus, gaining a little bit of sympathy and understanding for the fame-obsessed around us is helpful. Especially when you live in a toilet like Hollywood.

    Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
    The people who haven't heard of this book are the same under-rock dwellers who haven't heard that Geico can save them a bunch of money on car insurance. I mean, this thing is everywhere. So I picked it up to learn what all the cool kids are talking about and let me tell ya, I have mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong, I am fascinated by Gladwell's findings. But I gotta say, I'm a tad discouraged. For example, the whole "perfect timing is imperative for success" thing? Doesn't that mean we Millennials are all pretty well screwed, much like those who got married and entered the work force during the Great Depression? Also, have any of us really spent 10,000 hours—the amount of time necessary to truly master something—doing anything? I mean, other than watching Saved by the Bell?

    The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Stephen Adly Guirgis
    This play was recommended to me by my theater professor friend. He mentioned it as a must-read one Sunday after my church lesson on the Crucifixion, and being the type of person who appreciates semi-sacrilicious, biblically-based fiction, I took his advice and read the crap out of it. It is truly one of the most honest and provocative accounts of Judas I've come across. And it's beautiful. The final scene is wood-burned into my memory planks. I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.

    Lives on the Boundary, Mike Rose
    When I first started pursuing this Master's degree, I would get all panicky and defensive when people would ask me if I planned on teaching. Do I have to? I mean, can't I just read and talk about what I've read with other people who like to read? Like, you know, a pro book club or something? Fast-forward to six weeks from now when I'm teaching my own college writing classes. Holy...I think I just pooped my pants a little. Rose's account of his experiences in the public education trenches has taken me from "Why would I ever want to teach?" to "What kind of monster wouldn't want to be a teacher?" The fact is, for every Gretta Ruth Parkinson Whalen whose parents nagged her about homework and helped her study for Spanish and dropped her off at Jane Hinckley's for math tutoring, there are about a hundred kids who are struggling to stay afloat in school. Mike Rose knows who these kids are, what they're like, and how we can help them.

    Guys, have you read these books? What did you think? I'm itching to discuss them and Rob has read exactly none of them. He has, however, read roughly 1,000 pages worth of The Walking Dead, which gives me comfort since we probably won't be having book club during the Zombie Apocalypse, will we?

    But if we do, I'll happily lead the discussion on The Mirror Effect.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    It should be uterME, not uterus.

    Friends. Family. I love you. But please, kindly back away from my womb.

    Do not misunderstand. I'm more than happy to discuss my reproductive future with my loved ones. Ask me if we plan to have kids. Ask me how many. Ask me how I feel about crib bumpers and prenatal yoga and breastfeeding. I have fascinating opinions about all of these things. If you have time for a little bit of a discussion, you can even ask me when and under what circumstances I'd like to birth said babies. (The time requirement is a result of my personal confusion regarding when and under what circumstances I'd like to give birth. Confusion = long answers = a time commitment from you, you understand.) But if you could do me a favor and just not pressure me, that would be fantastic.

    I totally get that culturally, Rob and I are a little behind the curve. We've been married for more than three years now and heaven knows we're not getting any younger. I've been made aware that my prime childbearing years have come and gone while I've selfishly chased useless degrees and pursued a lucrative and rewarding retail career. Meanwhile, my ovaries are slowly shriveling like raisins in the sun after so many years of neglect. These things I know.

    Additionally, I've tricked you. I've gained weight for reasons like "laziness" and "depression" rather than baby farming. Then instead of letting those extra pounds grow into a nice round baby bump, I've turned around and lost them (and gained them and lost them, etc.). I've complained of nausea and heartburn that turned out to be just heartburn and nausea. I've worn billowy tops and tunics just because I like them. And every once in a while, I eat for two despite there being only one of me.

    Here's the truth: the Whalens want to have children! If one were to grace our home in the next 9-10 months, we would be elated! And terrified! And eager and anxious. We would make any and all necessary arrangements. We would laugh and freak out and giggle and melt down with horror and glee. But this is not a race, my friends! Rob and I are growing our brood at a nice Whalen pace. I promise you, we're doing it thoughtfully and prayerfully. We're not waiting for the "right time" because, as you all well know, there is no such thing. And we're not waiting until we have the money, because we never will. (Despite my many fervent prayers, babies still don't come wrapped in hundred dollar bills. Unfortunately.)

    Of course, there are things to think about. I'm smack dab in the middle of a graduate program that is both wonderful and stressful. And the two of us are just about as poor as welfare church mice. But that's what makes this all so exciting! There are many bridges in our future, and we'll cross them when we reach them.

    But in the meantime, remember: good things come to those who wait for Baby Whalens. And a Baby Whalen? Now that's a good thing.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    How to Set Fires in the Workplace: A step-by-step guide for morons like me

    Just to clarify, this isn't necessarily a step-by-step guide for crazies. I mean, crazies can definitely consult this guide find it useful. My suggestions are definitely effective. It's just that they're specifically tailored for absent-minded dummies, such as myself. If you're a crazy, don't end your fire-starting research here. The Internet is a magical place. I'm sure you can find an appropriate guide for lunatics and arsonists. Probably not on this blog, though.

    Moving on, then.

    1. Set the stage: allow for maximum distraction. If you can, stop by the animal shelter on your way to work and pick up some sort of wild creature. Make sure the creature is larger than you can handle, riddled with worry, and reeking of urine. (This last point will come into play later).

    2. Embrace your anxiety. Trust me—nervousness and self-consciousness are friends of yours if what you're trying to do is torch your place of business. Make sure your mind is anywhere other than the present place and time.

    3. Take advantage of the scented candle testers. If you've successfully picked out a wild creature that is urine-soaked and then, appropriately, taken him to the (dog-friendly) boutique that is your workplace, you'll want to mask the eau de pound for customers who don't appreciate the smell of animal butts interrupting their shopping experience.

    4. Carefully place the candle next to flammable items. A wrapping station complete with tissue, packing materials, and wrapping paper is ideal.

    5. Begin packing a shipping order. At this point, it's best if you forget about the lit candle on the wrap station. And don't scrimp on the packing materials. Jam 'em in that box like you're stuffing hundred dollar bills into a duffel bag for one of George Clooney's casino robberies. Go ahead and waft the tissue directly over the candle while you're packing. It's the best way for it know...burst into flames.

    6. Panic. Freeze. Watch the paper ignite as if life suddenly switched to slow motion. Try to blow it out. Watch the flames expand and rise. Scream. Throw the flaming tissue on the floor and try to stomp it out with your Saltwater sandals. Realize you're wearing sandals. Stop. Watch—like an idiot—as a brave regular customer runs to your rescue and smothers the burning paper on the floor with the shipping box you were about to fill with valuable merchandise.

    7. Try to disappear. You're going to want to hide from the inevitable shame of your jackassery. Remember the rule of infants: if you can't see people, people can't see you. Go ahead and just close your eyes. Trust me. You're invisible now. But before you evaporate into thin air, thank your hero, Julian. (Thank you Julian!)

    Good luck! And happy blazing!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Meet Fritz

    You may have heard of Fritz. He's a dog. Some people say he's a fox terrier and he weighs 30 lbs. Do not believe these people. His breed is Terrius Mysterius and he weighs a big fat 39 lbs. His full name is F. Scott Fritzgerald (not to be confused with the great American novelist of a similar name). He has a big, black, beautiful nose and scabby elbows. He is a giant crybaby. He is difficult to catch when slippery and covered with dog shampoo bubbles. 

    Would you like to know more?

    Of course you would.

    His favorite foods are grass, dog food, garbage, elk horns, fingers, string cheese, and wine corks that look suspiciously like dog turds. He also enjoys the corners of coffee tables. 

    His hobbies include nibbling, whining, tail-wagging, lunging at cats, and trying to peek into extremely hot ovens. 

    He has an ear infection, giardia, and a jacked-up tooth. 

    His favorite toys are garbage, fingers, and Yolk store merchandise (gifted, luckily, by Auntie Maria).

    Upon coming home, his first order of business was to find the bathtub and pee in it.

    His tongue is the size of a surfboard. But it is soft and slippery and sweet.

    His best friend is Rob.

    His biggest fan is me.

    If you meet him on the street, pat him on his melon and tell him he's handsome. Unless he starts to get a big head from all the attention. Then you can tell him his owners are handsome. Because they are, after all. And maybe they're just getting tired of playing second fiddle to adorable, slobbery furballs? 

    Just a thought.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Sometimes, on a Wednesday morning, you adopt a puppy.

    I should know. I did it last Wednesday. Like a crazy person.

    Somehow, we thought we could go to the pound in South Central LA and come home without a dog. We promised each other we would walk away if none of them were right for us. As we left the house at 8 am, Rob even said, "I am totally prepared to leave the shelter without getting a dog." I didn't say it at the time, but in my head I said, Baby. It's a good thing you're so cute, because you are not so smart. I'm so desperate for an animal that I've thought long and hard about catching one of our neighborhood coyotes and forcing domestication on it. We are so coming home with a dog.

    We heard about Fritz from two different people and on paper, he was all sorts of wrong for us. Too big, first of all. Thirty pounds. And at 8 months, a little too old. But we're suckers with bleeding, oozing,  bloody hearts, so we had to give the mutt a chance. Even as we drove to the shelter, Rob had a lady with another, smaller, younger puppy prospect on the phone. He explained to her that there was a sad sack at the pound we just had to see first.

    Fast forward to right now. I'm sitting on the futon, resting my feet on a wire-haired mound. We're both exhausted (both me and the mound) since we've been walking for at least two hours every damn day this week. Rob and I now wake up earlier than the people who go through our garbage can for recyclables. We pick. up. feces. It's bizarre.

    But in all seriousity, could you say no to this face?

    Either of these faces?

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    When you buy your stuff downtown...

    You sometimes end up with super awkward instructions.

    I have my theories as to what this cryptic nonsense is trying to say. But whosoever comes up with the best translation (meaning a translation back into useful English) will get a prize. Cliff, our Costco is out of Hichew for now, but that doesn't mean I won't come through for you surprise-wise. I guess what I'm saying is, I want you to amuse me. OK, Ready? Go!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    How to Grift Your Way to a Happy 4th of July

    I'm not a summer holiday person. I think I used to be, but I would just get way too excited for things that ended up being lame. For example, in high school someone would usually throw a Memorial/Labor/Independence Day party. I'd get it in my head that I'd look uncharacteristically hot that day, get a sweet tan, and fall in love with a super sexy dude from some other high school. None of these things would happen. Instead, I'd just try to stay out of the boys' way while they attempted to tear each others' boardshorts off, the way I assume all normal, heterosexual, teenage males do. Inevitably, I'd spend the rest of the night nursing my sunburn and swearing I didn't see Chris VanWagoner's penis.

    This disappointment must have followed me into adulthood, because on Monday morning, the most exciting thing I could think of to do was sleep until 3pm. Which I totally did. I didn't even get out of bed to take off my sweaty jammies. I just kept sleeping in them, despite the fact that it was a balmy 94 degrees inside my house and my clothes were sticking to me.  Rob must have almost seen some guy's weiner in high school, too, because he was 100% OK with not doing anything for the 4th of July. Apparently, sleeping and sweating is what we Whalens do best!

    As anyone who has ever tried to sleep all day knows, you have to wake up for a few hours if you want to be able to go back to sleep. So Rob and I decided to tackle the mountain of junk mail that we'd amassed during a week of being out of town. Somewhere in the stack, Rob found a mailer from the downtown Nissan dealership advertising free movie tickets for anyone who came down to take a test drive over the holiday weekend. Wait...what?! Free movie tickets? Done. I don't care if I have to change a hobo's dirty diaper. There is almost nothing I won't do for free movie tickets.

    So down to the dealership we drove. The car looked exceptionally disgusting, too, which I figured could only make the situation look more authentic. A young couple, looking dirty and disheveled, arriving in a car that appears to be cobbled together with bird excrement...there is no way these people aren't driving out of here in a new Maxima!

    Twenty minutes later, we were back on the 110, free movie tickets in hand, speeding away like bandits. We were like Bonnie and Clyde in there—a well-oiled machine—asking questions and engaging as if we could actually afford to buy a new car. It was my spontaneous stroke of genius that got us out of there smoothly. "We just haven't decided if we're going to go with another sedan or if we're going to buckle and get a minivan. Right, honey?"

    After a quick stop at the dollar store for delicious contraband, we were in the theater enjoying Super 8. Cheapest movie date ever. All it cost was about $6 for candy and all of our integrity. But the way I see it, our forefathers fought for my right to swindle a car dealership into giving me free stuff instead of watching fireworks. Thank you, forefathers. And thank you, America!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Grandpa Doc Dialogues: A Father's Day Post

    Returning a call that he made to today me at "Fifteen fifteen".

    Me: Hi, Grandpa Doc! Happy Father's day!

    GD: Thanks, honey. Listen. I wanna give you guys a couple of guns.

    Me: Oh...that's nice...!

    GD: Yeah. I want you to go down to the police station, and tell the Lieutenant there that your Grandpa's an old soldier, and he's got a couple of hand guns he wants you to have. They're old, but they're in really good shape. You tell them that, too. Tell them your Grandpa's an old doctor in Palm Desert and he has a whole lot of guns.

    Me: OK, Grandpa. That sounds good. Um. Which police station should I go to?

    GD: Oh, any police station. There are a lot of them in Los Angeles. Listen, there's a lot of red tape. If you were in Nevada or Utah, there wouldn't be so much red tape. But I gotta tell you something—make sure you don't let the government know where any of your stuff is.

    Me: Gotcha.

    GD: Because they'll come and find it and they'll take it.

    Me: Right.

    GD: And especially make sure you don't put anything in the bank.

    Me: Of Course.

    GD: You've gotta put all of your money into silver and gold so it's safe. Do that.

    Me: I will.

    GD: Listen. Owning a gun is like getting married. You don't want to make a commitment until you've held it in your hands.

    Me: Right.

    GD: So I want you guys to come to the desert and take a look at these guns.

    Me: Definitely. We'll give you a call. I know Rob is really excited about getting his hands on some firearms.

    GD: Good, cause I've got a lot of guns. Love you, honey!

    Me: Love you, too, Grandpa!

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Finals Week

    Every ten weeks or so, I palm my face repeatedly and wonder, why oh why in the name of David Foster Wallace do I do this to myself? Graduate school was supposed to make me smarter, but it is literally the dumbest thing I've ever done. Dumber than ditching school at Crossroads mall, the stomping ground of many a bored truancy officer. Dumber than gardening in a sports bra with no sunscreen.

    I came across this video last night. It has all the answers. See if you can guess which kind of grad student I am.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Blogging is dumb.

    I quit. I quit blogging and I quit everything else. That means I quit grad school and I quit my third round of P90X. Boom. Done. Over it.

    Jamie doesn't quit. Jamie finishes med school and graduates and moves to Wichita to catch Kansas babies.

    But I'm here, at my house, in PJs, not graduating, not eating donuts, not doing anything I want.

    So I'm going to quit and start over. Because I'm petulant. That's what Rob says anyway. And I'm going to pretend that's a good thing because I also quit looking up words in the dictionary. Bam. You're welcome.

    Clarifying Update:
    I'm not really quitting grad school. Or the dictionary. I looked up like 5 words today.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Stray Cat Slut

    What do you do when a cat (who used to wear a tag that said "Charlie," but has, for several weeks, been going commando) adopts you?

    And makes of your welcome mat a hairy, messy cat's nest?

    And cries at your door both day and night?

    And rubs up against the legs of you, your husband, and all of your visitors, leaving behind a trail of sneezy, yellow fur?

    And murders the innocent birds in your lemon tree?

    And looks stupidly adorable when he stretches out in the sun after he's lapped up Rob's leftover cereal milk?

    And then, let's say, that both you and your husband are allergic to this cute, slutty cat; that your husband is a cruel dictator who will not, under any circumstances, allow even the most homeless of cats refuge in your teeny apartment; and that your neighborhood is riddled with blood-thirsty, carnivorous raccoons and coyotes.

    Then what?

    Happy yEASTERday. Sorry I'm late.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    The Mighty Pacific: She Giveth and She Taketh Away

    But mostly she taketh. Like a sneaky little street urchin.

    I've lost two precious lives to the depths of Poseidon's realm. Nearly three. The nearly one was Rob. Next time you see him, ask him about the time he almost drowned in Morro Bay. It makes him seem like such a bad ass. Except that it was all for vanity! Learned that lesson the hard way, didn't you honey? (J/K HAGS, Robby! Don't ever change!!!!!)

    The first real casualty wasn't actually the Pacific. But who cares? Aren't oceans really all the same ginormous body of water? I mean, if you pee off the coast of Southern California, doesn't it just stand to reason that some unassuming Australian is going to have to wade in your urine at some point? You should think about that next time you have to wee to the beach.

    Anyway...casualties. It was my pugga. That was how I tried to say "plug", which is what my parents called the pacifier, which I'm assuming was inserted into my face to shut me the hell up. Apparently, I was a very loquacious toddler. (Surprised?) But I was nearing the age of three and it was time to move on to other silencing techniques (read: duct tape). When I lost that pugga to the greedy Gulf of Mexico, it would be my last. I don't remember this really at all. I just have the vague recollection of standing and on the shore, screaming, panic-stricken, and feeling an acute sense of loss. Years later, I was filled in on the details. (Note to parents: tragic loss of a pacifier leads to thumb-sucking, which leads to nail-biting, which somehow leads to perfect teeth. I don't get it either).

    Last weekend, I lost another of my dearest treasures: iPhone the Second. We were standing on the sands of Laguna Beach, gingerly dipping our toes in the surf, when a huge rogue wave attacked without warning. Rob and Sarah saw it in time and, being the nimble creatures that they are, jumped back with only a few droplets on their pant legs. George was not so lucky. He freaked, spun, and fell, spraining his wrist and soaking his trousers. But I, being the only one with my back to the sun, and consequently the silent-but-deadly-ninja wave also, was soaked from head to toe. Where was my phone? My back pants pocket. What about the contents of my purse? Bone dry. Yep. Had the phone been inside the purse, it would have survived. But fate had other plans for iPhone II. Plans of death and dismemberment.

    You'd think my pale skin and jiggly butt would keep me far from the coast. I'm definitely an inland creature by nature. But don't worry, Pacific. I've learned my lesson. You're clever, I'll give you that. But you'll eat no more treasures on account of my mistakes. Because now, you're my nemesis.

    This. means. war.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Bloglovin': What is it?

    I don't know, but in an effort to try new things (oysters, mopping, etc.) I'm giving it a shot.

    Follow my blog with bloglovin


    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Embracing Pet-o-phelia and Other Recent Adventures

    Before we get into the somewhat off-putting though delightfully punny subject matter the title of this post hints at, I'd like to talk for a moment about what a colossal pain the ass I am. Please, join me in marveling at my own childishness:

    I've spent the last two hours on the couch, slowly deciding not to start on my homework before the quarter officially starts (tomorrow) because that's just too crazy. I've exhausted all of my go-to procrastination websites, and it's come to the point where what I'd really like to do is snuggle up under a blanket with my husband and watch re-runs of Criminal Minds and really, is that so much to ask? Problem is, the husband is hard at work in the studio on some short deadline project. He keeps running out here between guitar riffs and bass lines with his head phones on, shouting, "Did you say something?" It's so cute. He has no idea how loud he's talking. I think he keeps checking on me because he's worried I might feel neglected. And he should. Because I would prefer that he bracket this project for just a minute and be just as lazy and unproductive as I am for once.

    So when he runs out here and asks me if I'm OK, I've started telling him that I would be better if he would please come sit down by me and watch some TV like a normal person.

    "Is this going to be like that night with the donuts?" he asks. "Only this time, I'm the donut?"

    Alright. It's now time for the sexually suggestive post I know you've all been waiting for....

    Pet-o-phelia...a term introduced to me, if not coined, by my dear old roommate, Holly. It is at once hilarious and accurately descriptive of my unnaturally strong attachment to other people's pets. Problem is, when Rob moved into our Silver Lake hovel he unwittingly signed a blood oath that niether he nor his animal-loving spouse of the future would ever bring a cat or dog under its roof. Now, after all these years without an animal of my own, I'm like freaking Elmyra Duff, loving and squeezing and hugging all of these poor animals that don't belong to me. Like Charlie, the strange cat who hangs around our house a few times a week, drinks our milk, and shows me he loves me by swatting at my hand whenever I scratch too close to his tail (or what my friend Brighton calls his "no-no" spot). Also there's Lily's Australian Cattle Dog, Kora, who can do no wrong in my eyes; Holly's energetic and vastly destructive puggle, Sadie; Jake and Rosie, who belong to Maria; the Gaslin's neurotic and adorable mutt, Sketch; Sadie the Shady Lady of Farnsworth fame, not to mention all the dogs in Silver Lake that frequent my store and the dog park across the street, etc. and so on, you get the picture, don't you?

    Is this creeping you out? I have to admit, I'm starting to get creeped out by my own self. Somebody get this girl a pet!

    OK! So I admit it! I'm a pet-o-phile! But is that so wrong? I just have so much love to share. So many ears to scratch. So much people food to sneak under the table.

    So, I guess I need to register somewhere now, or something?

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Hooray for a new blog banner!

    Two parts doodling, one part scanning, a generous heaping tablespoon of photoshop, a dash of cursing...and voila! My very own bloggy banner. Lucky for one of us, Rob is a much better photo-shopper than I am, otherwise...well...the whole thing would have looked pret-ty jank-y, if you know what I mean.

    Now, that I've successfully wasted two-thirds of my waking daytime, I think I'll get out of bed. 

    Wow. I'm actually looking forward to school starting again. Left to my own devices, I'm like a geriatric over here. I'm eating pudding cups and everything. Gross.

    This blog is under construction.

    Because I'm between quarters and I have too much time on my hands.
    Thank you for your patience.
    And if you check this in Google Reader, then nevermind.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Show & Tell: My First Commission!

    My neurosis lends itself very well to this freaky, consistently neat hand-writing. So lately, I've been getting brave trying my hand (ha!) at this hand-lettering business. Mostly, I just do the signage for Yolk which is oh-so-fun and un-intimidating, but I've been meaning to branch out. Problem is, I keep getting in my own way vis a vis my insecurity and shyness. That's why it's so cool that my friend/singer-songwriter extraordinaire, Lily Wilson, asked me to do the hand lettering for her album cover. Check, check it.

    You like? I'd like to do more of this kind of stuff, but I'm still in the process of building a portfolio of sorts. Or something. (Fun fact: I have no idea what I'm doing!)

    In the meantimes, you should buy some of Lily's fabulous music here.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Consider the little purple flowers.

    Rob forced me on a walk yesterday, I think to try to keep my brain from popping like a zit under the pressure of turning in my last paper for the quarter. (Take that, uncanny appearance of the monstrous feminine in Chicano literature! Ugh. I just bored myself.) The sheer intensity of my very verbal protests may have caused damage to my larynx. But in the end even my impressive execution of the especially childish and nasally type of whining (or as I like to call it, the "big guns") was no match for his desire to get out of the damn house, and he managed to get me into outside pants long enough for a stroll through our pretty little neighborhood.

    Our Silver Lake walks are the daydreamiest of times. We love to point out the streets we like and the houses we'd like to live in, the way we feel about glass bricks and zero-scaping, and basically imagine what it would be like to have a little more money. Rob describes the studio he'll build in the yard or garage. I talk about all of my neo-hippie urban farming-type plans. (Chickens! Beehives! A goat! Okay, maybe not a goat. And maybe not bees, either. This plan is still in its infant stages.) I think it's the most fun two poor people can have without a cardboard box.

    And, this time of year, we get to see a whole bunch of these:

    I like it here.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Marital exercises in gluttonous bliss.

    It goes something like this.

    "Rob, what do you want for dinner?" Please say donuts.
    "Pizza." Damn!
    "Cheap pizza or good pizza?"
    "Good pizza."

    I suppose I can get down with that.

    Good pizza means Tomato Pie. Let's talk about the reasons I love this place: Closeness, bottomless fountain beverage-ness, smallness but not such smallness as to lead to uncomfortability, and booths! I can't possibly be alone in my love of restaurant booths. A good booth can really make or break a dining experience, no? Is anyone else still lame enough to sit on the same side of the booth as their spouse? Nope? Moving right along....

    Since I'd already eaten a turkey sandwich the size of a small cat earlier in the day, I opted for a salad tonight. A salad of such startling deliciousness that I only had two bites of Rob's scrumptious slice of Syracuse. (Rob has started demanding that I let him know if I'm going to want to taste his food before he orders so he can make sure he gets more. He says he's going to punch my dad in the face for teaching me that "one bite" somehow translates to "half the damn pizza.")

    Dinner in the neighborhood means that we can get it done with ample time to run home and watch Modern Family. This is a cause for a jubilant celebration unless, of course, Modern Family turns out to be a re-run. Like tonight, for example. But with bellies full of cheesey, doughy, chicken-y goodness, the Whalens will happily settle for back-to-back episodes of SVU, tax preparation, and a futon snuggle session.

    Another successful date night, I'd say.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    What am I doing?

    It happens every 10 weeks or so.

    It's happening now.

    I'm talking about the part where I'm looking at these books and these highlighters and these stacks of index cards and I'm thinking, what am I doing?

    Just what in the name of Lord Alfred Douglas am I trying to accomplish here?

    People ask me all the time about my master plan. Enquiring minds wanna know...why did you decide to get a master's degree? Why Literature? Why now?

    My answer: Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Do you want to teach? Not particularly. Do you want to be a writer? Meh. So what are you going to do when you're done?


    Truth is, I like learning. I love it. I love it better than new clothes and IKEA and taco bell. I love a good pen and some paper and a professor who knows what she's talking about. I love that homework requires a blanket, a highlighter, a good book, and NO pants. Anything I can do sans trou, you know what I mean?

    Problem is, I hate school. I hate worrying about final papers and exams. I hate being assessed. I hate the prospect of getting a *gasp* A minus. It's like the academic equivalent of a Juno Award. You know, nothing to be ashamed of but still not particularly impressive.

    So right about now, in the middle of "writing" a paper that in a few days I'll hand to a professor who will then decide whether or not my weeks of toil measure up, I ask myself, why oh why do I do this to me? Is it because I have no master plan? no ambition? no babies? no better things to do?

    Probably, a little.

    But is it so bad not to have a plan? I mean, I have wishes. Someday I'd like to have a dishwasher and cable. A laundry room. You see, I'm incapable of looking too far into the future without inadvertently inducing a mild panic attack. I'm talking uncontrollable weepiness, irrational instant messages to my spouse, foot stamping, and such. Like Paula Abdul, kind of. It's ugly. So I take it one quarter at a time. It's safer that way and much more flattering, I can assure you.

    Ask me what my plans are for the next 10-12 weeks. Now that's a question I can answer.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    In which I chronicle the things people say that are rude, hilarious, or hilariously rude.

    Inspired by my lack of inspiration this week, I've decided to compile a list of the funniest, crappiest things people have said to me. That I can remember. A lot of them I've repressed because they weren't funny enough, but don't worry. They resurface in random outbursts periodically. Usually sometime near my period. (See what I did there?)

    Here are the ones that make me laugh (so I don't cry):
    • "How did you get married?"
    • "Oh, you're the new Sunday School teacher? Why?"
    • "I see you're wearing a sweater and a pea coat today. You're looking very ... English Department."
    • "I like riding your bike because it makes me appreciate mine."
    • "You're boring. And it's not just because you don't drink."
    And the back-handed compliment bonus round:
    • "If I didn't think you had potential, I'd have fired you by now."
    • "If I didn't think you had potential, I'd have dumped you by now."
    • "If I was just married and starting out, didn't need a lot of space or anything, I'd like to live in a place like yours." (Spoken by a girl much younger than I am.)
    • "You've lost so much weight, you look like you've lost a person!"
    • "If you got your nose fixed you'd be, like, a ten!"
    • "I think you'd be a fantastic career assistant." (After a discussion on how I'd like to move on from being an assistant.)
    Now, you might be saying to yourselves, this is depressing as hell! And you're half right. When I heard these things the first time, I was pretty devastated. Well, not all of them. Some made me laugh immediately. Right in the face of the dummies who said them and then probably immediately regretted saying them.

    In each of these instances, I realized—sometimes immediately, sometimes much later—that these comments were much more of a reflection on the speakers than on me. For example, the girl who asked me how I managed to get married? She doesn't know she's crazy. And she really wants to know because she's a know...desperate. The guy who can't figure out why they asked me to teach? He's got a smidgen of the misogyny, that's all. And the guy who thinks I'm boring? He's an alcoholic misogynist. (One of the more common breeds of both, I've found).

    Basically, I'm not really worried about it. I'm so not worried about it, that I'm immortalizing these people on my blog and maybe someday on my "This American Life" type NPR show after I'm randomly discovered by someone who thinks I have a great face for radio. Because it's funny. And it reminds to be careful of what I say to other people. I'd hate to be driving to the grocery store, listening to a brilliant humorist on public radio, only to recognize myself as the jackass in one of her stories. That would be so embarrassing.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    In which I swindle my husband into buying me donuts at 11pm

    It was an under-the-weather type of weekend. Complete with headaches, sore throats, bitching, and rain. Oh! And foot-stamping! I stamped my feet. I stamped! My feet! As does a bratty housewife whislt demanding an increase in her feathered headband allowance from her ever so patient and hard-working husband. I should be so much more humiliated than I am.

    So yesterday my husband (who is both hard working and endlessly patient) puts my whiny ass down for a nap like the ill-mannered child that I am. But first he asks me what I'd like to eat.

    "Nothing," I whimper, helplessly. "Unless we have white pasta with some sort of cream sauce. Or donuts."


    Minutes later he comes back carrying a plate of cinnamon toast.

    "Oh, honey," I croak. "That's lovely!" "Are we out of donuts?"


    So for the rest of the day, I pepper our conversations with such gems as these:

    "These frozen Chimichangas are pretty good, but they taste nothing like donuts."
    "Hey, Rob? What happened to those donuts we had? You say they're still at the store? Hmm..."
    "Will you pass me that donut? Oh, that's a remote? That's cool. I need that, too."

    At the stroke of 10:30, a clang rings out as I strike the bottom of Rob's barrel of good will. He puts on some jeans and I put on my most fetching drive-thru ensemble: fleece snowflake hammer pants pajamas, black wool socks, plaid moccasins, and a gray pea coat. Fun fact...I'm wearing this outfit with the full intention of getting out of the car and entering a place of business. Rob is the only one with enough wits about him to know how shameful that is. He will not, under any circumstances, allow me out of the car.

    Half an hour later, we're back on the futon watching Hot Fuzz, me gripping a bottle of chocolate milk and clutching half a dozen Krispy Kremes to my chest like I'm hiding them from the Gestapo. My husband next to me, shaking his head with what I can only assume is a mind-boggling sense of adoration mixed with physical attraction.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Kickers and Diggers.

    Rob and I went skiing/riding in Utard this weekend, which was awesome. Especially the part where I took a really benign fall, then proceeded to slide down the mountain for about 25 yards, laughing all the way, ha-ha-ha. Now I'm about to get on an airplane with both ass cheeks still a-throbbing.

    Also, Happy Valentines Day from the Raccoon who ate your cat and routinely gets into your garbage!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    An IM conversation in which Rob helps me with my homework.

    This is only funny if you know 1) anything about Winnemucca and 2) that Rob is from there.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    What can I say? Something about me just screams serial killer.

    Last night in my Gothic Literature Seminar, we discussed Alejandra Pizarnik's fragment "The Bloody Countess." It's an icky-poo, true-ish story about this ... shall we say troubled? ... Hungarian Countess who killed hundreds of adolescent girls in really creative, effed up, Law & Order SVU types of ways. Go ahead and look her up if you're crazy. You'll notice I linked to her wikipedia page for your perverted convenience.

    I made the mistake of submitting a discussion question that had to do with the story. At the beginning of class, I asked the professor what made this story Gothic Literature and not just historical writing. We seriously spent two minutes talking about this before moving on to other subjects. And let me make this clear, I was not the only student to ask a Bloody Countess-related question. Just one of several people, in fact. And my question was the simplest and least monstrous, if I do say so myself. Other people were like, "What is the significance of the teenage virgin blood baths?" and, "What, then, are the moral implications of forcible lesbian cannibalism?" But here's what happened:

    Every time someone mentioned the Bloody Countess for the rest of the night — that's the next FOUR hours — they pointed, or gestured, or shot a glance at yours truly.

    And so, dear Internet homies, I ask you. What. The hell. Is wrong with my face? Why did my classmates want to use me as a stand-in for a sadistic, psychopathic murderess? Is it because I was drinking Clamato? (Note: I wasn't.) Maybe it's the vampire connection and they just used me as the visual on account of my skin is a bright shade of migraine-inducing ├╝ber-white? Other than that, I got nothing.

    Unless it's the Mormon/Vampire connection. In which case, I blame Stephenie Meyer. For this and every other bad thing that has ever happened to me. Yeah. That seems fair.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    I'll take one case of the Mondays, please.

    It is is now noon-and-a-half, and here I am under the covers.

    I took a short break to grab the 'puter and eat a balanced breakfast of leftover rice crispy treats and Goofy fruit sours. It was a Disney weekend, you see. And I was the lucky girl who got to eat a corn dog AND watch Chadwick perform seemingly effortless body rolls in front of California Screamin' ON THE SAME DAY! Thus, I declare this weekend victorious.

    But today, the thought of rolling out of my bed and reading the ramblings of Gothic literary critics is infinitely less appealing than staying in said bed and watching Hulu clips.

    I'm sure the thought of me lying around, eating candy, and watching TV on the Internet is making my friends with kids puke up their healthy breakfasts. But just remember, friends with kids, Monday is the shopgirl's Saturday. Also, this particular shopgirl happens to be both a) lazy and b) procrastinating any number of looming tasks.

    Some days I think a trade would be nice. The grass on the "Mom" side of the street appears lush and luminescent at times. But it only seems that way because I'm not the one watering it.

    That's why I want to give a shout out to my friend Laura. She crossed over her own little person to take care of now.

    Way to go, mom-ladies! Some day I'll join your little club. But right now I've got an episode of Supernanny and another handful of fruit sours to attend to. Duty calls!

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    A day in the life...

    This conversation just happened over IM.

    whalerobber: drove to school w/ the parking break on?

    grettapwhalen: uh...that may have happened...yes.
    grettapwhalen: some parking break, emirate?
    grettapwhalen: ha! that's supposed to say am i right, but all close together.

    whalerobber: so was it all the way on? or just a little bit on?

    grettapwhalen: it's hard to say

    whalerobber: i might need to get that looked at.

    Reality Bites.

    Handsome Rob and I pretty much have the same taste in everything. We both crush on Jason Statham, high-cholesterol food, impromptu in-house dance parties, stuff like that. We're one of the only couples I know that has serious discussions about zombies, real vampires, and how we'd like to be in a biker gang. Actually, just Rob would be in the gang. I'd play the coveted role of his old lady. That way I don't have to implicate myself in the murders and drug runnings and such. It makes for a fun marriage, though. An unproductive marriage at times, but still fun.

    Our one major disagreement has to do with this extramarital affair I'm having with trashy reality TV. I love it. Especially the really vile MTV/VH1 stuff. Teen Mom makes me emotional. So does Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Also, I'm ashamed to admit that I have a morbid fascination with Jersey Shore. (I dare you to watch one episode and not fall in love with JWOWW. I don't personally care for the Snooki.) My favorite, though, is the Supernanny. I'll have a baby if Nanny Jo moves in with us. Hell, I'll even take the futon and she and Rob can have the bed.

    That sounds like a lot of TV. And it doesn't even include all the shows Rob and I watch together. Don't worry. I usually watch it while I'm doing P90X. I put Tony Horton on mute because he's insufferable. That way I can feel emotions other than irrational anger while doing my wacky jacks.

    So now you know. Hi. My name is Gretta. And I'm a grown-ass woman who likes to watch teenagers, children, addicts, and offensive Italian-American stereotypes be belligerent and obnoxious. Help me exploit this shameful habit and turn it into something productive. I'm thinking...reality show reviews for public radio? I'll keep you posted.