The story behind the name:

One evening, at the Old Broadway Grill in Fargo, North Dakota, my brother caught the end of a Mountain Dew commercial. In the commercial, a Mountain Dew drinker was riding a shark in the ocean. My brother exclaimed in surprise, not realizing that it was a commercial. When I told him he declared "All I saw was a guy coming out of the shower with a shark." Of course, he meant water, but the idea of showering with sharks has been with me ever since.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Best. Gift. EVER.

Harper will be three in April. This will be her third Christmas. For the last two Christmases, we didn't really buy her any presents. She got a ton of presents from other family members and we figured, "Hey, she's not gonna remember who these gifts are from anyway." This year, however, is different. This year, Harper totally gets and has completely embraced the whole Christmas deal... especially presents and Santa Claus. Because of this, we have to get her BOTH Christmas Eve gifts and Christmas Day gifts from Santa. For whatever reason, this totally escaped me until... yesterday afternoon (Dec. 22).

I thought: Crap, I have to go to Target.

SO, I brave the insanity that is Target two days before Christmas and decide upon one gift. I thought that I'd better go home and discuss the whole gift thing with Mark.

Mark was sitting on the couch playing Age of Empires on his Gameboy Advance while we were having this conversation. I should have known this was a bad sign. Mark cannot multi-task. I learned long ago to never try to have a conversation with him while he is watching television or playing Playstation. I don't know why I didn't remember that. Also, Mark has been working at Target on a seasonal basis which means he is very tired. Anyway, we had a discussion about gifts.

This morning, I asked him if he bought Harper anything last night at Target. He said no. He looked confused.

"We need to buy her presents?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, "We talked about it last night."

"I don't remember," he said. "My brain is only working at about 60 percent."

Awhile later we were driving to Target. Well, we were driving toward a Target, trying to figure if we were going to go to the Target on highway 100 or at Ridgedale.

Mark said, "I thought we go south... south on... on..."

Me, "100?"

Mark, "Yeah."

"It's good that you can't remember the name of the road we take, oh, every day."

"Hey," said Mark, "60 percent. 60 percent. I TOLD you my brain was only at 60 percent."

I laughed. "I can't wait to spend time with you today."

"You only have 60 percent of a husband today," he said. "So, Merry Christmas."

60 percent of a husband. Best. Gift. Ever.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wicked Witches and Watches

Harper loves fairy tales. We have a big book of fairy tales that Mark's parents bought her a long time ago that she calls "The Giant Book." We've read it so much that the cover has fallen off. The Giant Book contains many well known stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs, and Hansel and Gretel. People who know the original Grimm Fairy Tales know that many of these stories actually have pretty gruesome endings. Well, The Giant Book reinterprets the endings of these stories and most of them end with the bad guy (Big Bad Wolf, Wicked Witch, Troll, what-have-you) "NEVER SEEN AGAIN." What this means is that, for Harper, every time a bad guy is vanquished - in stories, movies, tv shows, imagination - they are "NEVER SEEN AGAIN."

Yesterday, Harper, Jared (my brother), Annie (his wife), Mark, and I were all sitting around in the living room watching Tangled with Harper. At some point, Harper decided she wanted to try on my watch. So, not really paying attention, I took it off and and put it on Harper's wrist.

Me, to Harper: "Now, don't lose Mommy's watch."

Harper: "Okay."

Toward the end of the movie, I realized that I never got my watch back. Harper and been up off the couch several times.

Me: "Harper, where's my watch?"

Harper: "I hid it."

Me: "Where?"

Harper: "I don't know."

I wasn't terribly worried at this point. Harper often says that she has hidden things but it doesn't really mean much. I moved some blankets around on the couch looking for my watching.

Meanwhile, Tangled was ending with the demise of the "naughty" Mother Gothel.

Harper: "And Wicked Witch was NEVER SEEN AGAIN!"

Jared: "Just like your watch."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cheer is Overrated

Yesterday morning Mark and I were listening to a story on NPR about cars that run on ethanol or other non-traditional fuels.

Mark: "I want to drive a car that runs on cheer."

Mark, after a moment: "But I wouldn't get very far."

Me: "No. Especially not if you had to rely on your own cheer."

Mark: "I'd have to suck the cheer from others to drive."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

For those of you who do not already know, we are expecting our second child in May. We have been talking to Harper about the baby and getting her ready for the idea that she is going to be the big sister. This has led to a array of hilarious comments having to do with how she is growing up and how she is a big girl. My favorite so far:

"I growing. Next year, I bigger. Next year, I a GIANT."

Anyway, this whole "I'm a big girl/I'm a baby" dichotomy leads to some interesting conversations that tend to include the importance of potty training. Harper likes to talk the big talk about potty training, but so far the actions do not match the hype. This morning the conversation started in Harper's bedroom as she was getting dressed and continued all the way to daycare.

Harper, early: "I a baby."

Mark: "Well, when the new baby is born, you are going to have to be a big girl. 'Cause you'll be the big sister. Are you going to help take care of the baby?"

Harper: "YEAH!"

Other morning ritual stuff ensues.

Later, in the car: "I a BIG girl."

Me: "You sure are."

Harper: "Mommy. You a big girl?"

Me: "I am."

Harper: "Daddy a big girl?"

Me, laughing: "Daddy is a big BOY."

Mark: "Daddy wears big girl... uh... big boy underpants."

Harper: "Mommy, you potty trained?"

Me: "Yep. I'm potty trained."

Harper: "Daddy potty trained?"

Me: "Yes, Daddy is potty trained, too."

Harper: "I want potty trained."

Me: "Oh really? Because I have seen no evidence that you want to learn to go potty in the toilet." I am referring to this past Sunday, when I put her in underpants only to have her pee in them TWICE only minutes after I asked her if she had to go potty.

Me: "You can't go pee in your pants if you are potty trained. You like to pee in your pants, don't you."

Harper, definitively: "No. I don't like it."

Ok. She told me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 13th Floor

A few days ago Mark and were once again carpooling to Augsburg. We were behind a car with a license plate that started with 666.

"Oh, that's unfortunate," I said. "That license plate starts with 666."

Mark: "Something slipped by the license plate copy editor."

Me: "Yeah. You wouldn't think they'd let that go. It's kinda like the whole 13th floor thing in hotels."

I was recently at a conference in New Orleans. The hotel I stayed at, like, oh, all hotels, doesn't have a 13th floor. Well, I mean, it DOES have a 13th floor. They just call it 14. It's not like they just DON'T have that floor.

Me: "I think it's kinda dumb that hotels don't label the 13th floor."

Mark: "If you had a hotel, would you have a 13th floor."

Me: "No, I guess I wouldn't. A lot of people wouldn't want to stay on it, I guess."

I pause for a moment.

Me: "OR, maybe I WOULD have a 13th floor. I'd market it to all those people who like to stay in haunted hotels in hopes that they'll see a ghost. I could say that some horrible accident befell one of the construction workers building the hotel on that floor."


Me: "It was terrible!"

Mark: "There was blood EVERYWHERE!"

Me: "Like... 6 drops... on the floor... in the HALLWAY!"

Mark (quiet and tragic): "He needed a bandaid..."

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Want to Eat What?

Harper is going to be a bat for Halloween. She is very excited. She decided she was going to be a bat all by herself. Everyone in my family knows she is going to be a bat. My Dad, who wholly embraces Halloween, has been looking for stuff with bats on it for Harper. This past weekend we were in Fargo and my parents gave her a lidded cup with a straw in a Halloween theme. It has ghosts and pumpkins and, of course, bats.

On the way back to my in-laws' house Harper was talking about her new cup.

"There's ghosts on the cup. And pumpkins on the cup. And bats on the cup."

"Yep, honey, there sure is," I say.

"I scared," Harper says suddenly. "I scared of bats."

"Oh, honey," I say, "you don't have to be scared of bats. Bats are good. Bats are good for the environment. They eat lots of other bugs, like mosquitoes." I want Harper to realize that just because some things are different-looking that doesn't mean they are bad or scary.

Mark and I start up a whole bat conversation with Harper intended to educate.

"Do you know bats eat?" asks Mark.

Harper is quiet, thinking.

"Do they eat fruit?" Mark says.

"Noooo!" says Harper.

"Yes," I say (I'm so knowledgeable) "Some bats eat fruit."

Mark again: "Do they eat insects?"

Harper: "NO! They eat BUGS!"

Me: "That's right! Bats do eat bugs."

Harper, after some thought: "I wanna eat bugs."

Me, in my head: "Oh, shit."

Me, outloud: "Well, you can PRETEND to eat bugs. But you should really eat them. They are gross. Yucky. Just... don't eat bugs."

Me, trying again: "You could be a fruit bat! Would you like to be a fruit bat and eat yummy fruit?"

Harper: "I wanna eat bugs."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where the F%$K is the Dish Soap?

We bought a GIANT container of dish soap from Costco. It must weigh 50 lbs. We use it to refill the normal sized container of dish soap that sits on the sink in the kitchen. One day several weeks ago I couldn't find the normal-sized bottle. So, I reached under the sink, heaved out the giant container, and used a tiny amount for dishwater. The next day, same problem, same solution. The third day I was tired of heaving that stupid giant container around so I went to Target and bought another normal-sized bottle. The NEXT day the old normal-sized bottle was back on the sink right next to the new bottle. WTF?????!!!!!!

Crazy life got in the way. I meant to ask Mark about the disappearing and reappearing dish soap, but I didn't. Then...

Last night in the car:

Me: "Oh, and we're almost out of dish-washing stuff."

Mark: "Oh, I don't think so."

Mark: "Wait, do you mean DISHWASHER fluid?"

Me: "Yeah. I know we have dish soap. But the dishwasher soap is gone."

Me: "I had to buy another dish soap when the other one disappeared."

Mark: "I know."

Me: "Yeah, where was the other one anyway?"

Mark: "On the deck stairs."

Me: "OH. OF COURSE. Duh. I can't imagine why I didn't look there. Stupid of me."

Mark: "Yeah, stupid." I look at him. "What? I'm just agreeing with you. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"

Mark the Primitive

Mark doesn't hunt. He has never shown any interest in that past time. I have to say that I love that about him. But, despite that fact, he sometimes gets a little primitive. Maybe that urge to prove himself superior to his environment and the animals in it is buried, but it is still there.

If you've been reading past blogs, you know we have something of a small animal problem at our house. First was the mouse. I don't know if Mark has caught any other mice after that first one. I don't ask and he doesn't tell. This policy work well for us (even though I am firmly against it in a military setting). We are also having some chipmunk issues. Have you ever noticed how noisy chipmunks are? They are SUPER annoying. Seriously. Also, they've been digging burrows in our yard. One of these burrows was taken over by bumblebees. So, not only do we have chipmunks, but also bees. In addition, the chipmunks have been leaving corn from our neighbors bird feeders all over our lawn. Corn grows really fast and does not die no matter how many times you mow it. I've had to go out several times and pull little cornlings from the lawn. Over 50 cornlings at least.

So, Mark decided that live traps were the answer to our chipmunk problem. I'm sure he's live trapping at least in part because of me. The chipmunks are annoying, but I don't want them dead. Anyway, his first one was in the trap yesterday morning. (See previous blog post). After we brought Harper back home from daycare he took the chipmunk away and set it free in an undisclosed location. After he got back he set the trap again. When he had caught a second chipmunk 45 minutes later he was ecstatic! He took THAT chipmunk away, came home, and reset the trap.

After releasing chipmunk number two, he informed with a great deal of satisfaction that he had already taken care of one half to 2/3 of our chipmunk problem. He was well on his way to mastering his environment!

No more chipmunks that night but imagine Mark's pleasure when he had caught a third chipmunk by the morning! He released this one (he called it Simon, after Alvin and the Chipmunks. Get it, he'd already caught Alvin and Theodore) before we left for work this morning.

So, now Mark has caught and removed three chipmunks from our yard. Because he had been so successful, I don't think he was ready for the taunt that came as we were finally leaving for work this morning. He opened the door after loading some stuff in the car and said:

"There was a chipmunk sitting right in the garage when I came out just now!"

"I was probably taunting you," I said as we loaded Harper into the Mazda.

"I'm going to have to move the trap around some. I want to catch the really noise one that lives on the other side of the house."

"Yeah." I said as we pulled out of the driveway. "You have to keep fighting the good fight."

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mark + Traps =

Mark, last night: "Can I run and get some live traps?"

Crap, I think. More mice?

"Uh... Why?" I say.

"I want to trap the chipmunks."

We have a chipmunk problem. Our neighbors have several bird feeders. The chipmunks steal the food from the bird feeders and then come into our yard to make burrows and what not. We have several stalks of corn growing in our yard because of this little bird feeder to chipmunk transfer. The chipmunks are very brave. The come in the garage and into our cold storage under our house. Ballsy.

"What are you going to do with them once you catch them?" I am skeptical.

"Oh, you know," says Mark. "Take 'em out to the country and beat the snot out of 'em.

Follow up: Mark did indeed get the live trap and he was supremely proud this morning when he found a chipmunk in there. I guess that chipmunk is in for a nice trip and beating this evening.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Mouse in the House

I didn't see it coming. At all.

Last night I came out of the bedroom to see Mark putting on his tennis shoes.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"Home Depot."

"Oh!" I'm excited. I love Home Depot. LOVE IT. "What are you getting?"

"Uhh..." Mark has a look on his face. I've learned that this look means that he is about to impart what he considers to be bad or distressing news. "A mousetrap."

I look at him.

I'm not afraid of mice. In fact, I think they are pretty cute. My friend Carly has pet rats and they are cute as well. However, I'm not looking to set up a nice cozy place for mice to live. I don't want them in my house. Unless they are pets, like Carly's. In which case they live in a box.

"I walked into the laundry room and there was this mouse. Sitting there. In the middle of the room. Looking at me."

"Really?" I say. "We have TWO cats living here."

"I know," says Mark. "Worthless."

"Oookay," I say. "Are you going to get humane traps?"

"I'm going to get traps..." he begins, then he sort of places his hands side by side and the snaps them together.

"NOT killing traps? Right?" I don't want those dead mice on my conscience.

Mark makes a sort of non-committal grunt. Then he's off to Home Depot.

When he returns, Harper is sitting on my lap. Mark takes his purchase into the kitchen and starts opening the traps. Harper notices what he is doing. Apparently, she associates package opening in the kitchen with treats, because she turns to me and says "I want treat."

I look at her. "Oh honey. That's not a treat. That's a..." (running into the frequent problem of how to explain something to a two-year old) "killing thing." Ok. No. I did not explain mouse traps well.

"Oh!" Harper is excited. She hops off my lap and heads to the kitchen. "I want killing thing... killing thing..." Oh great. I'm an awesome mom.

Mark eventually takes the trap downstairs. Awhile later, I've practically forgotten about the mouse. Mark is chasing Harper around the house. It's funny. She's running and screaming and he's growling. Big fun. She runs into the kitchen and he's right on her tail. I don't think she has a shirt on. Mark is fully dressed.

All of a sudden...

"Harper," Mark says, all fun and growling gone. "Come out of there."

"I hiding!" says Harper. (I learned later that she had crawled under the desk in the kitchen, walking right past the mouse without noticing it).

"Hey. Come... Come out..."

Mark comes out of the kitchen carrying Harper. He puts her on the couch and throws her pajama shirt at her.

"A mouse, in the kitchen," he tells me.

Mark grabs a shoebox (I recently bought new Privos! They are purple and awesome). He opens it, clearly intending it for a mouse-receptacle. He holds it up. "Awesome. It's a shoebox, with a hole in it." He puts it down and heads for the garage. I'm standing there in that oh-so-helpful it's-a-crisis-what-do-I-do? stasis.

I look to the left. Zelda is under the chair in the dining room. She's... playing... with something small. It has a tail. She picks it up in her mouth and it dangles.

"Zelda has the mouse! Zelda has the mouse!" Zelda is our cat. It's like she heard Mark's early comment on her worth as a mouser and decided that she would show him, by God.

"Oh!" I unfreeze, pick up Harper, and say to her "Let's go to your room!" We go. Stuff happens in the dining room. I don't know what. Mark eventually shouts, "The mouse situation has been dealt with!"

Upon my return to the living room he says "I had to get it away from the cat!"

"I know," I say. "I have to admit, I'm awful glad you were hear to take care of that. I'm confident that I could trap a live mouse myself. Or get rid of a dead one if I had to... But taking a dead mouse away from the cat..." I shudder.

"Oh," Mark says, "It wasn't dead."

Huh. Somehow I'm not sure if that is better or worse.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's Not Witty

So, I was reminded by one of my friends on Facebook that I hadn't posted any Mark witticisms in a long time. I responded it was because he hadn't been very witty, but that's not true. He is, after all, 20 percent, 100 percent of the time. What IS true is that I haven't been in a position to blog about him immediately after said witticisms take place and then, sadly, with the passage of time I forget them. Well, today, I have a story. It's not going to be funny in the traditional way... but you MIGHT think it's funny if the thought of Mark suffering makes you laugh (as it does me).

Let's begin at the beginning: 11:00 p.m. last night.

Mark: "You know Harper's going to be in here at 5:00 a.m."

Me: "God, she better not be. She didn't even nap today. She better sleep until at least 7:00."

We fall asleep and several hours pass...

When Harper gets up before us you hear the little sounds first. The noise she makes when she sucks on her nuk... The sound of her blankets rustling... Little feet on hardwood... Then, the sound of the shoe rack on her door thumping softly as she opens her door. Only after she gets to the side of the bed (Mark's is closest to the door, so that's where she heads first) does she start to whisper "daddy."

Most of the time when she gets to the side of the bed one of us will pick her up and try to get her to go back to sleep. Especially when it's 5 a.m. It was 5 a.m. when she came into the room this morning. Sometimes Mark is scarily prophetic.

I was vaguely aware of Mark putting her in bed with us and then, after a while, saying "Should we try your bed again?" Then he was gone for a bit and then back again. After a VERY short amount of time I heard it again... the nuk, the blankets, feet, the shoe rack, ... "COGO!" (Cogo is the name of the cat we are currently keeping for my sister-in-law, who is trying to sell her house. The cat's name is actually Pogo, but Harper can't say that so she calls him Cogo or, when prompted CO. GO.)

Anyway, the quiet whispering that usually follows this sequence of noises was preempted by her sighting of the cat, who she loves devotedly even though Pogo runs like the devil whenever she approaches him.

"COGO! I love you a lot!" Yells Harper.

It is very clear at this point that she will not be going back to bed. I discovered later (after sleeping in without Mark until 7:50 a.m.) that this occurred just before 5:30 a.m.

So, Mark's day technically began at 5 a.m. Do I feel guilty about sleeping in for another almost three hours? Yes. But I also feel well-rested.

When I got up Harper was watching Strawberry Shortcake episodes on Netflix and Mark was on the computer.

"We've been watching this since she got up. That's... 9 episodes since 5:30 a.m. Pretty good."

Yes... good... Anyone who has ever been forced to sit and watch multiple episodes of childrens shows knows how "good" that feels.

I stayed silent out of guilt and drowsiness.

Mark lays down on the couch. After a few minutes he says "Should get coffee or take a nap?"

Duh. Stupid question. If ever I am asked a question where coffee is a possible answer, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS say coffee. ALWAYS.


"Coffee THEN nap," I respond. See, I sometimes take Mark's needs into account.

"Actually," I amend, "BAGELS and coffee." I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. We live right next to an Einstein Bros, a Starbucks, a Dunn Bros, and a McDonalds, so it wasn't like I was asking him to go out of his way for a bagel.

So Mark, being the exceptional husband that he is, pulled on some clothes and headed out to hunt and gather.

In the middle of an episode of Diego it briefly crossed my mind that it was taking him a long time, but I quickly went back to browsing the internet.

When he finally returned Harper yelled "Daddy!" Mark appeared with a cup of coffee and a harried look on his face.

"Well, that was a CF (translation, cluster-fuck)," he groused.

"Why? What happened?"

I was already pouring milk into my coffee. I was so preoccupied I didn't even notice the coffee wasn't from Einstein, which is where my bagel was from.

"It's was insane-busy. And they only had one guy working... you know, the old guy?"


"Well, he kept dropping change and stuff. Then, they ran out of coffee so I was like 'screw this' and I went to Dunn Bros." Mark sounds SUPER disgusted. I finally check the paper coffee cup and notice it's from Dunn Bros.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I say. And I am, but that first drink of coffee tastes soooooooo goooooooood.

So, Mark's day so far has consisted of a early wake-up call, a Strawberry Shortcake marathon, a CF at Einstein, and a side-trip to Dunn Bros. And, as I blog this, it's only 10:13 a.m.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ghosts and Ghostbusters

What follows is the contextualization and then the actual email conversation as it happened:

Mark posted a video of Harper climbing at the park. You can check it out on Mark's facebook page if you wish. She is saying stuff during the video as she climbs. Over lunch, Ali tells me that she watched the video but that she was wondering what Harper had been saying. Upon returning to my office after lunch, I check out the video again and do a little interpreting.

Email #1: From Me

Just watched the Harper slide video again. I'm pretty sure she is say "away" and at one point "Harper got away!" Also, when she gets to the bottom of the slide she says "slippery".

Email #2: Ali Response

"Harper got away!" is definitely my new favorite. Who was Harper running from?

Email #3: From Me

Who knows. I think they probably play chasing games at daycare. Also, ghosts.

Email #4: Ali again

Isn't there a movie about a kid that gets followed by ghosts? Ghostbusters, maybe?

Email #5: Me educating Ali on a topic where her knowledge is clearly lacking

Uh, you're thinking of the Sixth Sense. You know... "I see dead people." In Ghostbusters is four grown men. And they follow the ghosts, not the other way around. Sheesh.

Email #6: Ali, trying desperately to regain ground

Yeah yeah yeah, but I think in the second Ghostbusters, one of the Ghostbusters has a kid, and that kid attracts ghosts or something. I dunno, it's been, like, fifteen years since I've seen the second one.

Email #7: Me, in wise-teacher mode

Sigh. Ok. Here is your Ghostbuster 2 education. There is a baby named Oscar. He does not attract ghosts. The evil dude Vigo who lives in a scary painting sends ghosts (and Peter MacNicol) after him so that Vigo can be reborn into Oscar's body. The Ghostbuster's save him by using positively charged (by music) pink slime to animate the Statue of Liberty. They pop Vigo back into the painting and douse Peter MacNicol with happy to snap him out of Vigo's possession. They also have to slime Ray, who was also briefly possessed by Vigo. Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Peter MacNicol express friendly love for each other and everyone lives happily ever after.

Email #8: Ali, clearly knowing that she has been outclassed


Email #9: Me

Ha ha ha. I totally just blogged this.

And I did.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Family With a Mission

This conversation took place right after I left a voicemail message for a friend of ours.

"I am a better voicemail-message-leaver than you are," I say to Mark after disconnecting the call.

"Yes," he nods, "you are. You are a better speaker than me in general."

"I am," I say. Then I feel like I should say something nice about him. "But you're a better designer."

He nods again. I don't think he's really paying attention to the conversation. He's driving and I suppose it's good that he's concentrating on that. But then I feel like he might think I only said he was a better designer because I said I was a better speaker. Then I realize that he wouldn't think that anyway. I know, I know. Convoluted.

"Not that you need me to tell you that you are better than me at some things..." I ramble. "Because, I know you are secure enough and confident in your own abilities." Yes. I sometimes ramble.

Mark finally engages. "Well, it wouldn't be good if we just had the same skills. We need to be diversified."

I laugh. "I think that's how we should refer to our family unit from now on. Diversified Chamberlain."

"But does that really reflect our Mission Statement?"

"Hmm... No, I guess it doesn't," I say. "I'm not sure what our mission statement is."

"We'll have to take some time this summer to hammer out the details," Mark says thoughtfully. "Operationalize our definintions..."

Indeed. As if my summer weren't going to be busy enough...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rude Behavior

Sitting in my office:

Me: Whatcha' doin'?

Ali: On Facebook.

As was I.

Ali: Oh, should work on my movie list!

Me: The movies you want to watch over the summer?

Ali: Yeah! Although I guess most of them will probably just come from my Netflix queue.

Ali: Do you have a piece of paper?

Me, looking around my paper-cluttered office: Yea. What size paper do you want?

I pick up a notebook.

Ali: Yeah!

I hand it to her.

Ali: Can I have a pen?

Me: God you're needy today.


Me: Now shut up, I have to play scrabble.

A Brief Departure

So, I usually like to stick to funny posts here, but today I have to take a brief departure from the norm and tell a troubling story.

My office is in what I like to call "film land." What this means is that my office exists in a suite of offices that is connected to the film studio, the film editing suite, and one of the film faculty offices. There are lots of film students outside my office all day, almost every day. Usually this doesn't bother me. I typically let the buzz of conversation flow past without paying it much mind. But, occasionally, I hear something disturbing.

Today, as I sat grading papers, I picked up on a conversation that two film students were having in the common area outside my office. It started with a question:

"Did you see Sucker Punch?" (the movie)

and ended with

"She was the only one in the movie that was bangable."

The student who made this comment was talking about Amy Adams in the the movie The Fighter. Not that that matters, although I'm sure Amy Adams would love to hear that of all the female characters in that critically-acclaimed movie, she managed to present a character that was the single "bangable" female in the entire film.

I'm currently disturbed on many levels by this conversation. Of course, the first is the whole "bangable" comment. The second is the fact that I, a faculty member, am basically forced into eavesdropping on inappropriate conversations being held directly outside my OPEN office door. Why don't people seem to understand that there are appropriate times and places for different kinds of communication? Am I supposed to forget that I heard this student, who, yes, I can identify by only his voice, refer to another woman as "bangable" as if that were her only redeeming factor? Is it unreasonable for me to expect that people would reign in their questionable conversation topics in front of a varied audience? Or does the fact that I don't currently have this student in class make me obsolete and unimportant?

Sigh. Or maybe it's the end of the semester talking?

Regardless, I'd love to hear your feedback on this one. Do I make this an issue to the students outside my office door? Or do I crank up the music and try harder to ignore it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Harper Has a Drinking Problem

Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting in the recliner. Mark is in the kitchen. Harper is sitting at the table. Singing. Gibberish.

Mark looks at Harper as she sways in the chair and sings.

"Are you drunk?"

It's funny. She does sound quite a bit like she is drunk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spaghetti Junction and Cornbread

A couple good stories from the commute this morning...

Preface: I'm a bit concerned about Harper. She delights in her father's driving. Now, for any of you who have driven with Mark, you know this is a scary thing. The crazier he gets, the more she shouts "Wheeeeeee!!" This can't bode well for our future.

On the west side of downtown there is place called Spaghetti Junction where 394 and 94 come together in a tangle of curving asphalt lanes of varying elevations. The name is intended to be descriptive. Traffic slows down at Spaghetti Junction as 394 funnels all eastbound traffic that wants to merge onto southbound 94 from 3 lanes into one. We avoid this whenever possible by taking the commuter late which allows to bypass the 394 traffic jam.

(Not the actual Minneapolis Spaghetti Junction, but similar)

This morning as we drove over the mess below us on the elevated commuter lane Mark sends the van in a wide arc around the curve, punctuated by a verbal "Whoosh!"

I look at him. He knows how I feel about his crazy driving.

"Sometimes I like to try to add to the drama," he says in response.

"Mark," I say, "Your driving is dramatic enough without you having to try."

"Hey," he says, "Harper likes it."

"Harper's a toddler. Hardly qualified to make good judgments about things like driving."

"She's very advanced for her age," Mark says with an air of superiority.

I look at him, skeptical. "She also sometimes tries to eat leaves."

Moments later we merge with traffic on southbound 94.

"Mississippi," Mark says.


He motions toward the car in front of us with his head. It has a Mississippi plate.

"Ah," I say, "Miss-uh-si-puh." I have a very good Southern accent.

"What?" Mark laughs.

"You know, Miss-uh-si-puh. That's how people in the South talk." Now I am the superior one.

"Right," Mark laughs some more. "I think you better rub some cornbread on that accent."

"What!?!? Rub CORNBREAD on it!!" I am appalled. As I said before, I have a GOOD Southern accent. "This from the man who makes every accent he tries sound Scottish," I scoff.

It's true. Every time Mark attempts and accent it sounds like a really bad Scottish accent.

"You shouldn't throw stones," I huff.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ah Poot

So, Harper is in the bathroom and Mark is watching her from the hallway. I am sitting in a chair in the living room.

Harper: "Ah pooed... Ah pooed... Ah pooed..."

Mark: "She's in the bathtub."

We did not put her in the tub. It is not bath night. She climbed in there herself.

Harper: "Ah poot... Ah poot... Ah poot..."

Mark: "She's sitting on the toilet. Not her toilet. The big toilet."

Harper: "Ah poot... butt..."

Mark: "I think she pooped."

Harper: "I pooped. I pooped. I pooped."

Me: "Did she really? Or is she just saying that because she was on the potty?"

Mark: "No, it smells..."

Harper: "BUTT."

Mark disappears into the bathroom.

Mark, from inside the bathroom: "NO!! DON'T CLIMB IN THERE!!!"

Mark reappears in the hallway. "She tried to climb into the toilet." Mark mimes climbing in the toilet. He goes back into the bathroom, presumably to grab Harper so he can change her diaper.

Harper: "butt..."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm Busy... Really...

So, for those of you who have somehow managed to avoid my bitch about my crazy busy semester, here it goes:

I'm teaching five and a half classes right now. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday I have class at 9:10, 11:00, 1:20, and 2:30. I'm co-teaching the 2:30 class - that's my half. On Tuesday I have class at 3:10 and on Thursday I have class at 3:10 and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at a different location off-campus. The good news is that my night class is done after next week. Anyway, the point is that I'm pretty busy this semester and I'm especially busy MWF.

So, here I am, sitting in my office on Monday just after finishing my 1:20 class. This morning I got an email from a student of mine asking which was more important in my small group class: the chapter notes or the group project. This is not a simple question. I need to think of how to answer it because it could so easily go awry. For example:

Student: What's more important, the group work or the chapters?

Me: The chapters.

Student: (after flunking group project) But you SAID that the group project wasn't important.

Me: No, I did not.

Student: Yes you did.

Me: Do you still have the email I sent you.

Student: No. But I know what it said.

Me: Well, I DO still have it. I can show it to you.

Student: Nevermind. (all the while thinking "I'll get her on her evals")

Anyway, I got this email and fully intended to respond to it but my day started and things go busy. I'm sitting in my office when this student drops in to ask if I got the email and to remind me that I need to respond to her.

I start to say "Yes, I got it. I'm very busy on Wednesdays and I just haven't had a chance to respond yet."

Then I realize that I am currently watching a stupid video that my Dad sent to me about a cat and a crow that are friends with each other.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pigeons, Fruit, and Muffins

This morning just as we hit the Lowry Tunnel a news story came on the radio about how St. Paul is attempting to control its pigeon problem. The story reported that bird feed containing birth control for the pigeons has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the population of pigeons.

"Huh," I said. "Interesting."

Mark, "I guess the Catholic solution wasn't working."

I laughed. "Well, we tried to teach them natural family planning..."


A few minutes later Mark says to the woman in the green Honda Civic with Wisconsin plates attempting to merge into our lane:

"C'Mon. You eatin' your blueberry muffin, drivin' your Wisconsin-born Honda."


Also, earlier this morning in the McDonald's drive through Mark called the person driving the car in front of us a "fruit knuckle."

Me: "What? What did you just say?"

"I called him a fruit knuckle."

"WHY?" I'm laughing. "Is that an insult?"