......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

28 February 2012

21 February 2012

Packing Up the Personality

So now we are relocating.   Again.   And the topic that then descends upon my rapid-fire OCD brain is selling my house;   the house that I’ve spent the last 18 months revamping from an unfriendly box with wallpaper that makes your eyes bleed into a bright, happy, twee wallpaper-free home.   The good thing is that the time spent revamping was really time spent getting it ready to sell.   If you had bought this house with the intention of flipping it,  it would have taken exactly 18 months.   And now I have a product that’s ready for the market.   

The bad thing is that much of the personality I so painstakingly infused into this box will now have to be extracted.   I look around at my split pea and emu walls,  the surfboard on the wall,  the chalkboard paint in the kitchen,  the Eames plastic rocker and the vintage chrome chair in the living room -  and I wonder if it will be refreshingly different or frighteningly different to a New England buyer. 

So I go online and check out the competition.   And what I find indicates that we will either surge to the front of the pack………or that we’re in deep doo doo.   Because 100% of the homes listed   -   100%!!   -   validate my fear that there is only one acceptable style in this area:   I call it  “Faux Antique Heinous.”   It could also be called   “This is What I’m Supposed to Have So I Have It.”   Or  “This is What My Mom and My Grandma Have So I Have It.”    Or  “This Is the Only Acceptable Form of D├ęcor For People Who Matter and If I Don’t Have It I Will Not Be Accepted By the Proper People.”   Or,  and I don’t say this mockingly because it actually makes me really sad,  “I’ve Never Seen Anything Else.”    And that’s the most troubling for me.   Think about it,  if you’ve never seen an Eames plastic rocker it would just look silly.   It’s plastic for chrissake.

I once worked with a designer in Minneapolis who refused to talk ceiling colors with me.   Why would you even discuss it?   Ceilings are white.   But to me,  a ceiling is another wall just begging to express itself.  What if you painted it the palest of blues?  How happy would that make you?   Or a bright citrus color in a room with no sun?   She finally cut me off at the knees by emailing the following message:   “White is the accepted ceiling color in our area.”    

She was not from my area.  And I painted my ceiling a color called Sweet Pear.

And what is it about paint that needs to be accepted, anyway?   Will I get reported?   Will it go on my permanent record?   Maybe I’ll get shunned from the paint store (ok, that would really hurt me, actually).

But my realtor is mildly concerned about our lack of traditionalism, too.   He suggests that we call a professional stager.   And when the business card he hands me has a man’s name on it,  my prejudiced mind immediately conjures up a picture of Tim Gunn.   Mike and I start calling him Tim Gunn.   What day is Tim Gunn coming?   Are you going to ask Tim Gunn about the art in the hallway?  Do you think Tim Gunn has a partner?

When Tim Gunn arrives,  he appears…….just like Tim Gunn.   Damn you, stereotypes!  Why must you be so true?!   He is impeccably dressed and when he asks if he should remove his shoes, I struggle to say yes.   The shoes!   So well chosen!  Removing them will totally ruin the outfit!   And can you picture Tim Gunn in socks?   It’s ludicrous.   Humiliating.   Robbing him of all dignity.

We learn that Tim Gunn is no longer living in this area as he has recently purchased a reno project in Provincetown.   

He is most certainly gay.   But he is New England Gay which means he is chronically annoyed and unimpressed.   So now Tim Gunn has a new name:

New England Gay Stager from P-town.

New England Gay Stager from P-town would look at something, stare at it silently with his fingers to his lips,  and you could never tell if he was loving it or mocking it.   Mike and I would stand there and wait for his precious verdict while he stood in judgement of us.  Loving?  Mocking?   Which is it??!

When he got to the Eames plastic rocker with the sheepskin casually flung over the arm,  he paused,  fingers to lips and he said,   “They won’t get it.”   This became his mantra.

They won’t get it.

And so now I have to strip down the essence that makes this house livable for us so that I can pass it on to the next family.   Find a new place for the rocker, pack away my record collection (No!),  and hide the chrome vintage chair behind an end table.

It’ll be pretty.

But it won’t say anything.

17 February 2012

A Stunning Announcement

We moved to New Hampshire for shoes.   My husband is a shoe man.   A shoe salesman,  a shoemaker,  an executive cobbler.   We moved here 18 months ago because New England is the shoemaking capital of the world.   Timberland,  New Balance,  Reebok,  Converse........with the exception of a few in Oregon and the west coast,   many of the shoes in your closet were designed , produced and marketed from an office in New England.

Before we moved,  Mike had been commuting from Minnesota to New Hampshire every week,  Monday through Friday,  until New Hampshire finally called his bluff.    Plus,  we missed Daddy.   I mean that man that visited on the weekends.   So we left our home and decided to give New England a try........

There's only one shoe company in Minnesota.

And one day recently,  they called.

RING!  RING!   "Hello,  Mike?   This is the only shoe company in Minnesota.   Would you like to come work for us?"


What the what?!   (look right.   look left)

I would love to but I have this blog........this blog where I go on and on about being a Midwesterner in New England.   And no one will read a blog about Midwesterners adjusting to life in the Midwest......

Just kidding.   I'm just going to grab my toothbrush and then I'll lock the door.

But, seriously,  if that doesn't mess with your head, I don't know what will.   Let's just say that this is the ultimate lesson in the fact that everything will be ok.  No matter what,  it will all be ok.   Just relax and know that everything is as it should be,  even if it pisses you off occasionally.  I've spent a year and a half adjusting and learning and painting and renovating and worrying and missing and exploring and discovering  and driving and driving and driving and driving and now I will spend the next 6 months preparing to leave. 

I will be simultaneously adjusting and leaving.  

But what to do about this blog.......hmmmm.

14 February 2012

Fanny Be Tender.........on Valentine's Day

I just like to say that.   Fanny be tender.   Seriously,  who came up with that?   Was it Barry?   Was it Maurice?   It wasn't Robin because he doesn't even play an instrument.   Either way,   I can't get enough.   Happy Valentine's Day.

10 February 2012

What is Soccer About, Anyway?

The theme this week is soccer.   It is an actual theme......unlike the declaration by my former boss that the theme of the library Christmas party was silver.   I would say,  "Yes,  I know you want the colors at the party to be silver, but that is not your theme.  Your theme is supposed to be topical.   Like "A Dickensian Christmas"  or  "Glamor and Glitz at the Library!"   She hated me with a silver heat.   Who's going to go to a library Christmas party, anyway?   You can't even have food and drink in there.   She also corrected me whenever I pronounced the "th" sound at the end of the words twelfth and fifth;   I guess in Nort Dakota, it's  just a hard "t" sound.   Like  "twelft."   And  "fift."   I decided to let that one go.

Anyway,  the theme this week is soccer.   I've learned a lot about my child watching him play soccer.   I've learned a lot about why I want him to play soccer.   I didn't give a fat rat about soccer before, and truthfully, I still don't......not in the way most people think.   What happens on the field has a completely different meaning for me now.   I no longer worry that he's not good.   I no longer worry that he doesn't know where to go and that he doesn't know how to dribble and that he doesn't understand all the directions shouted at him from the sidelines and that he kicks the ball into his own goal.   He looks like a string bean in comparison to all these mini powerhouses whose short legs move like bike wheels;   they move with the speed and agility of adults but they still watch cartoons.   It's weird.   Any one of them could beat me in a race around the block  (or cul-de-sac, as it were).

But none of that worries me anymore.   Because when a teammate gets knocked to the ground and starts to cry,   Liam abandons his post (post?  position?  whatever.) and runs over to help the boy.   He puts his hand on his back and talks to him quietly.   Coaches and teammates are yelling at him to get back to his place but he doesn't hear them.   Instead, he gently helps the boy up and walks him over to the coaches,  his arm cradling the boy's back.

And in that moment,  I don't care if he's doing it wrong.   He's so obviously caring for his teammate, who isn't even a friend of his, when every other boy is completely oblivious.   They are only 9 and the ball is in play so we can't expect much more of them;   it would be like telling your husband that you really need to share some feelings with him during the Superbowl. 

But my kid wasn't oblivious.   And I feel more proud about that single event, and what it means,  than if he had won the Olympics.  

After the game,  I tell I am proud of him.   I'm proud of how he knew someone was hurting and that he dropped everything to help and how he was so gentle and provided so much comfort........and I can't even finish without my voice cracking.  

Screw soccer.   I just saw the future.

07 February 2012

I'm Not a Very Good Soccer Mom

Soccer games are a strange place for me.   We're new to team sports   -   I mean where they actually play games against strangers from other towns and keep score   -   and I feel like I'm the sole noncompetitive  person on the planet.   Like everyone is out for blood except me.  And every time they cheer for their kids, it feels like they're cheering AGAINST our kids.   And I'm like  "Really?   Should we really be making enemies of each other at this age?   Doesn't that come later?   Like at the state championship?  Certainly we don't do that in 3rd grade.   Do we?"   The other parents from other towns cheer and yell and call out directions to their kids.   And everything sounds so angry.   The words coming out of their mouths may be good or even helpful but when it's shouted so loudly it just sounds hostile.   A mom will yell  "That-a-way, Luke!   Get in there!   Kick it off the wall!"   And my knee-jerk reaction is to say  "HEY!   These are children!   Your job is to be SUPPORTIVE!   Not to make them ATTACK  each other!   Geez Louise!   What is wrong with you people?" 

Then I sit down when I realize that it actually was kind of supportive.   It was just loud.   Oops.

I'm learning to listen to the words and not just the delivery.   And I'm learning to get over myself.   But I still don't like it.

It occurs to me as I write this that I had an arts-only childhood;   no team sports.   No sports at all.   And no one ever stands up at a ballet recital and screams  "Double pirhouette coming!  Get it! Get it!  Yeah!  (fist pump)  Double!  That's what I'm talkin' about!"   or    "Extension!   Extension!   What is that?!   Your toes weren't even pointed!  (eye roll)  That's ok.....shake it off!   Shake it off!"  
So I have no experience with this kind of talk   -   maybe I just need a translator.

One thing that helps pass the time in the bleachers  (besides reflecting on the bloodthirsty nature of childhood sports)  is eavesdropping on the moms from other teams.   The bleachers at a soccer game are a petrie dish of parenting culture;   these little snippets of conversation tell me how these people live their lives and how they approach their world.   And how they raise their kids.

And I am the observer.   Writing it all down using the keypad on my iPhone.   They think I'm furiously texting something about the last goal or where to pick up little Parker or Hunter or Braxton Hicks after tae kwon do but I'm actually typing in everything they say.   Because it just sounds so dumb when you're not actually participating.   The chatter is deafening.   Like hens complaining about the roosters.   Here's a literal dictation of what I heard one night:

"I dunno, between tae kwon do and indoor soccer and Lego club I think he's covered.   And we've got skiing coming up so we're fine."

"No sir!   I got ten dollars off fifty once!   And two pizzas for the price of one!   I have go get a dozen at Dunkin.   Sure,  I go there all the damn time."

"He does it through the rec depahtment but he quit cuz he broke his ahm."

"They've won every game but one and that was to the best team in the state.  Do you have my cahd?   I need my cahd back."

"Who was it?  Tanner?   That kid is wicked good.   Damn."

I don't know these people.   And I'm sure they're fine and good.   But between the inane chatter and indirectly attacking my child via encouraging their own children,  I'm a little pissy.   And I wonder to myself,   would it be wrong to say the other team is ugly?

Because they were.

03 February 2012

I'm Prettier in Mexico

 Again, with the picture?  Enough already!

Remember when you were a kid and you read books about people having to move to Florida or Bermuda or New Mexico  "for their health?"  Maybe it was an old person or maybe it was a sickly child with a mystery disease.   Maybe it was Sally's brother in  "Starring Sally J. Freedman....."  by Judy Blume or  maybe it was poor Collin in "The Secret Garden."   And I could never figure out what Florida had to do with  "health."   What did Florida have to offer poor Sally's brother that New Jersey could not?   What was this mystery illness and how was it cured by location?

After spending some time in Mexico near the Yucatan Peninsula and the Riviera Maya,  I returned to New Hampshire with some insight on this matter.   I looked at myself in the mirror while I was there,  at my dewy, pink skin and my bright eyes and I thought:

"I look 10 years younger in Mexico."

When I got home,  I took my hair down from its perch on top of my head and it tumbled down  -  I'm not kidding,   it tumbled  -  in luscious waves.  It was LUSCIOUS.   And it smelled sweet and clean.   Like flowers.   And lemons.

I wondered,  if I wash my hair,  will the Mexico hair go away?   Will I be left with New Hampshire hair?   Like a collection of drab, broken sticks on my head?   For months now,  I've been lamenting the changes in my hair and my skin,  thinking that growing older was actually a thing that was happening to me.   A deflated, ruddy facade sagging slowly off its foundation.   And then there are the broken sticks......

But now I know!   It's not me!   It's them!   Them being New Hampshire!   This is such a relief to me!   I did not want to get ugly!   I told Mike on the phone,   "I'm much prettier in Mexico.   You should see me."   And we started talking about a certain look we've always identified as a New England look:   I think it looks like people wash their faces too hard.   I think it looks like they eschew moisturizer.   Mike thinks it looks like everyone needs a better haircut.   And an appointment with a colorist.   I used to think that playing with your hair color was not an acceptable New England activity   -   I used to shout out my car window,   "WOMEN OF NEW ENGLAND!   PLEASE COLOR YOUR HAIR!!"

But now I am one of those people and I know that I don't wash my face too hard and I know that I use copious amounts of moisturizer.   And I have a great haircut  (thank you, Patrick) and plenty of play with my hair color  (thank you again, Patrick).   But the elements must be wreaking havoc on my appearance and I think they're aging me rapidly.   Maybe even the elements that I sit in every day and admire from the frozen beach.   So it's not their fault!   New Englanders just have some serious conditions to survive!   And maybe they're annoyed because they're skin is so dry!  

I know,  right now you're thinking,  "But Kristin,  you're from Minnesota,  an incredibly harsh climate.   Shouldn't people suffer from these same conditions there?"   Yeah,  that's a good question.   Maybe Minnesotans have dry skin, too, but you don't notice because they're smiling.  And offering you baked goods.   And maybe fresh water isn't as harsh as salt water?   And the color palette veers toward the Nordic so it doesn't look quite as drab  (notice I said "quite."  Once you get past the age of 12,  many people have to pay for that Nordic color). 

It did occur to me at one point that New Hampshire may just suffer from bad lighting.  I've been pretty this whole time  -  I'm just poorly lit.   What do you think?   I'm in the process right now of analyzing my bathroom lighting situation to see if that could help my self-esteem.   If it works, you can be sure I'll be on QVC tout suite because that could make me a kazillionaire.

You know what else changed in Mexico?   My chronic 2012 hangnail problem.   This winter my nails have been splitting and peeling and snagging and just being gross in general.   I've actually started biting my nails,  something I haven't done since 5th grade when I quit cold turkey.  I'm like a dirty 7th grade boy with my ugly, bitten, bloody fingers.   But in Mexico,  all signs of my ugly fingers disappeared.   I was only there for 5 days;   how does skin mend itself so completely in such a short period of time?   And now I sit at my computer in New Hampshire,  peeling away at the snaggy skin around my cuticles.........it returned just as quickly as it went away.

The sea, salt and sand of the northeastern United States have their benefits but beauty may not be one of them.   Cold, salty, windy, gritty   -   our Atlantic Ocean never warms up enough to swim in comfortably.   I love it but it is what it is.   In the Caribbean, on the other hand,  I sat in the turquoise water up to my waist for hours at a time like it was my own personal bathtub.   A massage therapist recently told me that sitting in water has the same detoxifying effects of massage;   the water ripples over the skin, moving toxins through the body so they can be eliminated through the pores.   Add salt to the water and the level of detoxification increases.

And as I manage the detoxification that goes with Lyme Disease treatment,  this is something I think about.  My neck and shoulders have been sore and achey on these winter evenings, a typical Lyme symptom.   I put Liam to bed,  put my buckwheat  "warmies"  in the microwave and curl up on the couch under a big faux fur blanket,  the warmies soothing the soreness that I assumed was Lyme Disease.

But on my first night back in New Hampshire,  while I was warming my warmies for my neck,  it occurred to me that hey! I didn't have any neck pain in Mexico!   There were no nighttime neck warmies in Mexico!   And then it dawned on me:



And I need to be clear about the fact that I do not hate winter.   I love snow.   One look at my closet and you'll see how much I love jackets.  I'm a fantastic winter driver and I'm gifted in the art of freeing cars stuck in the snow.   But perhaps there are some actual  "health"  benefits to escaping to a  "healthier"  climate.   And now I'm not as worried about the changes in my hair and my skin.   And I'll be less judgey of all the ruddy skin and straight, brown hair I see.   And even though I love a real winter,  perhaps I will now be more committed to the annual ritual of a winter getaway.

You know, for my "health."