Thursday, May 31, 2012

card carrying member

I'd use it, would you?
 I am a card-carrying member of the IBD society, enabling me to freely use any bathroom I need to use, regardless of "for patrons only" or "for staff only" rules.

It's the law, in MN and 11 other states, thanks to the tenacity of a fourteen year old who used a humiliating experience to better IBD community.

Although it is definitely true that if you look like you walk like you belong there, and give a smile and a nod, nobody will say a thing about "that bathroom is for patrons only," especially helpful if you have a 3-year-old to drag along with you, to complete the MAMA MEANS BUSINESS look. I have only once been told NO and that was before I knew about Ally's Law (which does apply in Michigan).

My travels across the Twin Cities and parts of Wisconsin have made me familiar with some of the best bathrooms out there, and I thought I would share with you my observations.

Moste Importente Observation - the condition of the bathroom in any establishment is in direct correlation to how much they value you as a customer! Unless their ambience is overall 'Dive' in which case, you get what you expect. Accept it as a part of the overall experience.

  • Rule Number 1: Coffee shops have fantastic bathrooms mainly because they smell good, and you have an excuse to get a chai after. Coffee Shop Northeast in Minneapolis (NE of course) has the added benefit of being owned by my cousins, so I get to say hi, and don't feel awkward, and they have fun wall art and stickers on the mirror to keep the kids occupied while mama uses the facilities. I think coffee shop owners understand that if you drink a lot of their beverage, you're going to have to use it, so they might as well make their bathroom nice. Caribou is great, too.
    *Tea Source is the best - the bathroom is lovely, with grass-patterned tiles, and a wonderful,  strong tea aroma. Plus the tea-on-tap afterwards. Kids will be entertained by their bathrooms.
  • Rule Number 2: Restaurants are good, too. Specifically Subway (the bathrooms smel like freshly baked bread), Perkins (open 24 hours), and McDonalds in a pinch (there are so many of them!). I'm partial to the Subway on the corner of Lowry and Central in Minneapolis, because you can swing in their mini-parkinglot and sneak in the back door. The bathroom is right there, and I feel rather Jane Bond for being so sneaky.
    **Ritzy restaurants have ritsy bathrooms, but scope out if they have a Maitre'd or hawk-eyed host - walk in with confidence, and don't forget the smile and nod, and you'll be fine. The Lowry in Uptown has lovely bathrooms, just past the fireplaces.
  • Rule Number 3: Gas Stations are almost always a bad idea. I can't figure this out. Do they not clean them? Does the presence of a condom machine make the bathroom fair game for sleaziness and dirt? While some gas station bathrooms do have interesting graffiti, it's not worth it in general unless you have time to go home and take a shower afterwards because you'll feel gross all day.
  • Rule Number 4: Porta-Potties & Outhouses are not as scary as gas station bathrooms. In fact, often they are cleaned more regularly than gas station bathrooms. My most whimsical bathroom experience ever was in a porta potty at the MN Scottish Festival. I am not sure what will ever top the experience of using a porta potty and having a bag pipe band march by, about a foot away.
  • Rule Number 5: When times are tough, and parks become necessary, please be courteous enough to remove yourself far away from the line of the public. I was once horrified to find a hairy man pooping in the middle of a path in a park. Really? REALLY?!? No card-carrying member of the Gotta Go Now club would ever sanction this behavior.  Especially since he was hairy. Gross.

I'll leave you with that.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I read. I read. I read.

I read when I'm happy.
I read to feel happy.
I read because I don't have a choice.

(I like to read real books, I like to read on my iPad, I like to read on my phone, I read in the bathtub, I can't read in the car. I get pukey just thinking about it)

"How do you find time to read?"
I don't know, how do you find time to breathe?
I know how lame that sounds, but I don't care. I'm lame.

When I'm really needing an escape, when nothing on my shelf feels right, I have a few that get me back in the groove. The ones that will stop me from feeling funky and wonky and _ _ _ky. After one or two of them, I'm back in the running for something new.

I fall for the fads, I got swept away by The Hunger Games just like everyone else; but it didn't make The List. This is not my list of Top Books of 2011, or Best Books I've Read Lately. These ar comfort books. Like spaghetti and garlic bread, or a fire on a cold day (or spaghetti, garlic bread, and a fire on a cold day. With a cat.) The books I would take with me to a deserted island (especially if it had a fireplace, cats, and lots of spaghetti and garlic bread).

Just so you know.
These are THE books, the elites. My List. THE LIST.
I read them often, just to stay grounded in who I am.
Just compiling the list is a little like yoga.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (sequel not so good)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Life of Pi by Yahn Martel
Tall Pine Polka by Lorna Landvik
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
The Hobbit by Tolkein
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (hard to choose just one)
Sunshine by Robin McKinley (or maybe Chalice)
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill (a couple Hills are on my B List, but this one's the best)
Bloody Jack by LA Meyer (series, first one is the best)
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney


Monday, May 28, 2012

I had no idea.

First week of kindergarten. SO LITTLE!
I realize now I was overly confident that being a teacher for 10 (!) years had prepared me for life as a parent of a school-aged child.

I had no idea.

I was SO excited for Ox to start kindergarten. I was thrilled at the start of school, started buying the kindergarten wardrobe the spring before, school supplies as soon as the list came out. . .

. . . and I'm pretty sure I suffered post-traumatic-stress-disorder for a month or two after kindergarten actually started. Seriously. I think it was WORSE because I was so used to knowing every detail about a school, from the routine of the woman who vacuumed the library to how the prep schedule was created, that NOT knowing all these details about Ox's day made me crazy.  Poor Mrs. T, she really had to train me in. I promised her I wasn't going to be "THAT parent" but I think I was. For a little bit anyway.

With only 8 days left of kindergarten, I think I'm settling in.

In April. . . King of the World!
I will say this, though, having a child in the schools really made Mastermind and I step up the community involvement. Mastermind just signed up to be Den Leader of Ox's Cub Scout troop (and talked me in to being the Troop 412 Webmaster), and I volunteered to be Secretary of the PTA for the next two years, pending official voting in at the first meeting in September. In my defense, it was out of need (as in, the just-voted-in secretary is moving to Switzerland), not any sort of desire to be in the limelight.

. . . can a PTA secretary be considered "In The Limelight?" I guess a star takes any role offered, especially if it is for the greater benefit of mankind, er, schoolkind.


8 days left of kindergarten. First grade is going to be a breeze.

Who am I kidding? Nothing about being a parent is a breeze. . . if it gets too easy, I'm sure I can ask to switch places with the Treasurer.