A Walk In The Clouds

We took a lovely little walk today along the neighborhood in the sun-drenched evening. Peter Pan's ears bobbed and Barnaby MacDuff's bottom bounced. I hummed sum bars from The Music Man.

Near a friend's house we endured an intense debate regarding whether we should drop by for a visit. Knocking on the door, poking our heads in, saying hello and good evening and nice weather we're having, and carrying on. Doesn't it seem like nobody pops in anymore to sit in Salons and enjoy a nice treat? But it's dinner time! I pointed out, But we're in the neighborhood!

At a neighborly standstill, we slowed along a border of lava rocks. Undeterred, Barnaby trudged straight through, while Peter Pan, being of a daintier sort, tip-toed around errant rocks dotting the sidewalk and made a special, roundabout path of his own, safely removed from any textural unpleasantness. This caused the secure train of thought in the Holbs's mind to detour as well.

Isn't Barnaby funny? The Holbs asked, tugging on Barney's leash after he decided randomly to lay in the grass. He runs into walls, knocks into tables. He's impulsive. And then there's Peter . . .

The Holbs trailed off and we looked at Peter Pan, who was carefully stepping between sticks and twigs on the sidewalk, looking slightly traumatized by their presence.

The Holbs bent to pull the giant leaf out of Barnaby's beard that he'd been carrying for three blocks and we continued on in silence.

I have this idea that's been brewing, I said after humming a few bars of Seventy-Six Trombones.

It might be controversial, I added.

The Holbs seemed interested and so I carried on, letting Petey's leash slap against my legs.

Well, who do you think our dogs most resemble . . . personality wise?

The Holbs cocked his head to the side and pondered.

I mean, you like Barnaby best, I continued, and Barnaby is a total spaz. And Peter Pan is all complicated and serious and stuff, and, I mean, I like Peter best. And you like Barney best . . . and, have you ever noticed that . . .

. . . that Barnaby's more like you and I'm more like Peter Pan? The Holbs finished.

I looked down at Barney, the stupid dog, and gulped.


Yeah, I've noticed that too, The Holbs said thoughtfully. And then he watched a leaf as it fell dizzily from a nearby tree branch.

I thought for a minute about the synchronicity of such things in my life, enjoying the quiet way our preferences gently reinforce.

Then he hummed a few more bars, and we waved to a neighbor in a red minivan.



On Monday against my better judgement I let my husband take me to Wingers. Just typing it and my fingers bloat up!
The Wingers in Moscow was burned to the ground last year in a fiery furnace of months old frying oil and we didn't honestly think we'd live to see the day those saucy doors would reopen. But miracles do happen and those wings, they're just as bad for you as they used to be, friends.
I don't know what got into The Holbs's head to request Wingers but it was his birthday and I am nothing if not the bearer of all of The Holbs's dreams come true, so it was Wingers, and I smiled in the car all the way there.
I ordered a veggie burger and a swapped the fries for a side salad no bacon/no cheese and
dressing on the side, please Heavens!
I took the fun right out of that place, I know.
Partway through our transfatty meal the fire alarm went off.
I am so not cheesing you.
The fire alarm went off and the waitress nearest us shouted, her eyes as large as saucepans,
Sure as shootin, a bit of air blew in our direction bearing the wondrous scent of burnt popcorn.
 The Holbs and I exchanged incredulous looks.
"What are the odds,
(I could tell he was communicating to me via eyeball)
that we would be here as the Wingers burned down again,
after it burned down the first time,
and on my birthday too?"
I could tell his eyeballs were saying this to me. Six years practice, folks.
My eyeballs were clearly shouting,
We might get free dessert!
Waitresses dodged to and fro. Petrified customers, convinced they had eaten of their last meal (and what a way to go!) blinked at each other in a panic. Then there was a mass exodus; college girls with teased-up hair and old men in WSU sweats and middle-aged women in cotton separates all stood up with their belongings and jackets and shuffled down the aisles to the front exit and certain freedom.
I looked my brave spouse straight in the eye and asked, heroism thick in my voice,
"How's your chicken wrap?"
But only with the screeching fire alarm it really went like this:
"How's SCREECH chicken SCREECH-ap?"
The Holbs hollered backatcha,
I offered him half my boring no-fun veggie patty using elementary sign language. Gesture to plate, shrug up shoulders, eyebrows cocked.
Then I looked around the now empty dining establishment and watched the football game for a minute while waitresses dashed about looking stressed about.
"SHOULD WE BE EVACUATING?" I asked the skinny blonde one.
"It's Just The Popcorn Machine" was about to be etched on my tombstone.
 (Only but I wish to be cremated.)
(And maybe I am to get my wish this evening, all for free and stuff?)
But then as mysteriously as it started, the screeching stopped. My ears buzzed at the silence.
"Do you want dessert?" The Holbs asked me as restaurant patrons slowly shuffled back into the restaurant and towards their tables.
I wondered if it would be hard to locate your table after having been outside, as it sometimes is for me after using el baƱo fantastico. You know how that happens?
"Is this my plate of greasy fried chicken wings? Or is that my plate of greasy fried chicken wings?"
When we got home The Holbs buried me under a mountainous crag of blankets and then went to the gym to sweat it out.
I thought about how nice it is to have a Holbs of my very own, to fetch blankets when I am cold and glasses of water when I am parched and escort me to nice places such as the Wingers on birthday celebration nights. I thought about other girls who don't have a Holbs, I mean, what do they do with themselves?
I sure am glad the Holbsmama thought to feed him all those years and take him to get his yearly vaccinations and what.
Here's to you, Holbsmama. You're all right by me.


It Has Finally Happened, Or, How The Stubborn Spirit Of A Spunky Twenty Something Is Trampled To Death And Spat On And How She Got Her Groove Back

It all happened because I woke up on Sunday morning wanting a diet coke. If it weren't for that lousy diet coke . . .

My boobs were sore for a whole week but I was ignoring it. I've had every pregnancy symptom and then some. I think the pregnancy symptoms like to come every now and then to test my reflexes, see if I'm paying attention.
I've gotten pretty good at identifying pregnancy symptoms. That one time I turned around too fast and hit my elbow on the door frame and then endured days of bruising? Pregnancy.
That one time I ate too many M&Ms and felt sick for hours afterwards? Totally morning sickness. And here I was with the throbbing boobs again. And all I wanted was a diet coke.

Usually if I want a diet coke I just drink one, not having been prompted to the testimony of a soda-free life I tend to enjoy my diet cokes the way I enjoy a good prayer meeting, with holiness a clear conscience and an opening hymn.
But only if you are pregnant then you don't drink diet cokes. Written in stone, that one.
And I, I had these sore boobs and all.

I thought about it as I lay in bed Sunday morning letting the cool air slowly drift me awake. Sundays are hard on me. Three hours of sitting on uncomfortable chairs and being a good example and trying to get my husband to tickle my back, it's exhausting. That diet coke was going to start me off right I could just feel it. Only after a whole week of the throb throb throb, I thought that maybe I out to reconsider that diet coke, just this once.
I ran through my mental checklist. On the one hand was my sore boobs, my late penchant for weepiness. The other hand (the stupid hand) a PMS pimple right above my right eye, and also those 16 years of never-missed-a-period-why-start-now.
Then I recalled my other other hand, my Clear Blue Digital hand, leftover from when I recently decided that waiting for a period to surprise me was only bringing about pain and mental anguish and frustration and far too much suspense. And I could just use it while I brushed my teeth . . .

That's how it started.
Here's how it ended:
Tears in Sacrament meeting
Tears in Sunday school
A lot of chocolate in Mutual
Grumpiness on the couch after church
An email from my cousin Sarah

It turns out that what I hate the very most about this life of pious infertility is when people who are pregnant get it into their heads that they have to apologize or tip-toe around us or even worse, not tell us.
Look out! She's infertile! She's going to hate you and curse you and stick pins into her voodoo dolls and cry for the rest of her life and then HATE YOU.
What, didn't I tell you? I haven't gotten pregnant yet, therefore nobody on this planet can until I do. I mean, COME ON. What was you going to do, friend? Pretend you are just "fat?" Have the baby and then it is invisible?
"Who this? Oh, I'm just babysitting and . . . ???"

You who can get pregnant, allow me to spell it out for you, all helpful like:
We are happy for you! LET US be happy for you!

And this is how I came to the conclusion that I am over it.
I am done with it, the tip-toeing and the tears. I'm finished with the eyes misting up when sitting in church behind a large family, all the girls with their matching shoulders. I'm done with it. I'm done with praying and asking and hoping and expecting.

I am over it.


In the late afternoon sun I watched my cute husband eat a turkey sandwich on my red adirondack chair. I announced my news.
"I am over it" I breathed in relief.
"Good!" he said.
He turned his face to the sky and shouted.
"Do you hear that, Heaven? We don't want any babies down here!"
"NOT US!" I yelled.
"Don't you even send us any!" Holbs hollered. "We won't take them!"
"Just you keep them to yourselves!" I agreed. It felt good.

As I shouted to the eternities I thought I could just see those Heavenly angels attending to me. I imagined their understanding smiles and the way they flew off to direct our message.


What Dreams May Come

One night a few months ago I dreamed a dream in which I visited a cyberfriend. Our husbands who have never met sat around her coffee table in her cozy living room and talked like old friends while I nursed a baby girl. (In my dreams these days I am always nursing a baby girl.) My cyberfriend was nowhere to be seen, off in another bedroom, or in the kitchen, and I nursed happily on, absentmindedly following the conversation but also lost in thought. I was thinking of my cyberfriend, and of her brand new pregnancy. So new she had not disclosed it yet, but somehow or other I knew. It was whispered to me from the cosmos. I was so happy for us, me and my nursing girl, she and her little secret.

But I woke up conflicted. I know about my dreams. I know to take them seriously. But I was tired of dreaming about this subject.

I was tired of the unreciprocated.

I debated what to do with the information I had been given. (And from where? And for why?) I imagined an email. What would it look like? I pondered the dream. Why did I need to know this? Was it a proof of our friendship, mine with this cyberfriend? Did she need something from me? What had I to offer? What?

And like I said, I was tired of the unreciprocated.

Days went by and the dream had turned into a hard rock in the pit of my stomach. It began to make me angry.

I emailed her to tell her I was thinking of her. It was the only way to preserve my pride while still following through on the mysterious orders I seemed to be receiving.

In due time the news came out. And though I already knew I felt my heart sink straight through the floor. For days I moped. Why not me? And, why? And also, WHY. But mostly, why?

And where is my baby girl to nurse? I am tired of having these dreams for other people! When will this dream finally be for me?

I am so tired of the unreciprocated.

It happened because she gave up, she says.

And I'm tired too of hearing that story and all its versions.

Because as hard as I try to, I just can't seem to give up.
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I Have A Job, I'm A Kid Walker

I used to walk dogs for a living. I had a few dogs (mostly golden retrievers) who let me clip them to my leash and together we would go exploring for thirty minutes at a time, five days a week. On their owners' occasional weekends away we would bunker down together and watch movies and share popcorn and then snuggle in for the night. Those weekend sleepovers made me a rich woman, but even better, they were a chance for me to play make believe that I had a dog of my very own.

I think about that different lifetime with fondness now but at the time it was all anxiety, all anticipation, all get-to-the-next-phase-in-a-hurry. I think about that time now because as much as I've grown and changed and as much as life has handed me a bushel of lemons with which I've made delicious lemonade (and I have two dogs now), I find myself once again in a similar engagement.

Today I am out in my walker clothes. Chucks, jeans, striped sweater, wind blown hair. I walk up the way and across the street to the elementary school on F and then I wait.

Maggie arrives, backpack stuffed and face flushed from a full day's learning. She waves at me with excitement and I feel myself grinning. She lets me take her hand and we walk to her after-school daycare, a half a mile away.

We talk about her school and her friends and her cats and her trip to Taiwan in May, where she got to pick up a baby sister and where the spaghetti looked like regular spaghetti but didn't taste at all like regular spaghetti. We dodge older kids on bicycles and look both ways at the crosswalks while she goes on about all of the tricks she learned in gymnastics and I am suddenly aware that once again I am floating far away into the sparkly playground of Let's Pretend.

Let's Pretend she is my eight-year-old.

Let's Pretend I can take her home.

Let's Pretend I can make her dinner, help her with homework, read her stories before bed.

I drop her off and wave at those in charge and then make my way home. I watch the track team warm up and wonder whether my eight-year-old will be into music like me or into sports like the husband. I wonder who she looks like, and will she let me do her hair or will she stubbornly refuse a brush in the morning? I'm pretty sure already, sight unseen, that I like her a whole lot.

But, you know, time, and all that.

Until then, I will walk her to school, and I will pretend with my whole heart.


Alive Or Dead?

There is this little game I like to play with Barnaby MacDuff. It is called "Alive Or Dead?"

Basically you see Barnaby lying on the floor and you have to guess whether he is alive or dead.

Sometimes it is harder to tell than you'd think!

Barnaby gets terribly carsick and so when the boys and I made the seventeen hour drive from San Jose to Moscow I was armed with plenty of Benadryl. You know how Benadryl somehow quiets the neurons that are in charge of thinking clearly about things? Those neurons also apparently control the inner ear, and in Barnaby's case, drool. You give Barnaby a half a Benadryl and suddenly his nose is pressed up against his crate door, drool oozing slowly to the floor. You can see in his eyes that he is on some crazy acid trip through space. He gets a taste for the metallic and sloppily licks the metal crate door and pushes his teeth through the grates like a deranged mental patient. It's hysterical. This dog of mine is ridiculously lovely.

Things were going swimmingly and I was starting to feel really pretty smug about life and my abilities to tend to living things when I realized I hadn't heard a stitch from Barney the whole Sac to Grants Pass leg of the trip. So one minute I was driving along passing semis and making good time and the next minute I became worried that Barnaby was passed out dead in his crate, belly up, his tongue lolling out of his head, one eye open and one eye shut.

He looked for all intents and purposes, dead as a doornail.

"Baaaarney!" I called to him.


"BAAAAARNEY" I said a little more urgently, but still sweetly and filled with love and sugary fairy sounds.

Then I smacked the top of his crate for good measure.

Still nothing.

Curious, I twisted my arm around and stuck a few fingers in between the metal of his crate door to see if he was breathing. My fingers found his nose and I counted to ten.


Suddenly, there in the blue mountain range, I was a driver with a dead dog in the back seat. I wondered how it happened! I wondered if I'd finish the drive to Moscow or just stay in Grants Pass forever to grieve my dog? I wondered if I'd be able to make it to Grants Pass at all, and how was I going to tell The Holbs! And then I was pulling over to the side of the road going "Oh no oh no oh no" because seriously!

My car was heavy with luggage and shoes and bikes and computers and sewing machines and all those things you need to survive away from home, and swerving to the side of the road was no easy feat. Finally stopped, I took a deep breath and turned around. There was Barnaby, sleepily licking his crate door and drooling massive puddles of drool down his beard looking at me like "huuuuhhh???"

So, Alive. That time.

Sometimes it is harder to tell than you'd think.

Barney, sigh.


Bloggie Birthday

So, my blog just turned four. We needed to celebrate this.

It just so happened that I had a stash of Vanilla Creme Peep Hearts saved from that one Valentine's day when I hoarded them all and hid them in my desk drawers. Once marshmallow hearts were on the menu, I saw it all, glorious and sparkly, a tea party! With the dignified cast of characters that make up my little blog.

I selected my favorite couture doggie costumes to lend an air of sophistication.

I set up a nice little tea party in the middle of the spare bedroom.

We sat down for some pink lemonade tea and marshmallow hearts, and that's when it all sort of fell apart. That room is a wreck. I have clothes hanging everywhere, and a giant teetering stack of onesies to finish for an order, and it is really really hot in there after 4 p.m., and my guests were less than dignified.

Three minutes in and Barnaby had helped himself to all of the marshmallow hearts.

Peter Pan drank all of the pink lemonade.

Holbs The Photographer was in a hurry.

Barnaby's hat would not stay on.

I started to sweat.

I don't think I'll do this ever again.

Happy Birthday, Dear Blog.
Here's to however much longer I can keep this up.

And now,
Nat The Fat Rat
The Cliffs Notes version
I live in New York City.
I regale you with tales of subways and weather and going to the atm and things.
We get Peter Pan.
The Holbs decides to go to law school, we leave New York and move to Idaho, ushering in the Nerd Era.
I start to really really want a baby. We don't have much success, but I still have hope.
I decide to turn over a new leaf.
I will always hate game nights.
My candidate wins (jury still out.)
We don't make it to Hawaii for Christmas.
I finally quit my soul-sucking job.
Peter Pan almost dies but lives to pee another day.
We go to San Jose for the summer.

The End.


My Blog Is A Toddler

Nat The Rat, a Bagel, 2005

So. I was sitting on my bum the other day, thinking of interesting things I could blog about, and I thought, hey, when is my blog birthday or whatever? How many years have I been doing this anyway? And my computer sat blinking at me right there on my lap but I was too lazy to click back into my archives to find out, and also I figured it was probably sometime in August anyway, so instead I ate a Cinnamon Bear and decided whether or not I would go running that night. (I decided YES!) (I took Peter Pan with me and that turned out to be a dumb idea!)

Then tonight I was sitting up in bed debating imaginary Etsy necklaces, and then I was all, hey, let's edit the tags on my blog! I figured my tags were all pretty useless anyway but they may as well be coherent and things.

And it turned out that my tags were in a sad state of disarray so I fixed them up, and then since I was in there I went, huh, when did I start this blog?

Turns out I started it tomorrow, four years ago.

And now that I know this, it's all up to me to do something about it, isn't it.

Do I make myself a Blog Birthday Cake and take pictures? Do I host a grand giveaway? (I have nothing!) Do I... I mean, what? Now what am I going to do?

(I think this is why I didn't bother to find out in the first place, because, shoot.)


This was my first post ever.

It is, appropriately and not surprisingly, about Target.

I went back and read it and then I read some more posts around it and then I realized I was a heck of a lot more interesting back then.

But the plus side is, this blogging at 12 a.m. thing is pretty entertaining! (At least for me!) Wooo!