Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Netflix: A Love Story

I've been doing a ton of yoga and house cleaning lately, and by yoga and house cleaning, I mean Netflix.

The other day I was going to go to power yoga (I swear. Really. I seriously thought about it so hard.) and I went to the mailbox first and found this: 

I mean, really? It's as if Netflix personally laid out my pajamas, turned down my sheets, and made a little snuggle nest out of my pillows while handing me the remote. Like they were stroking my hair and saying, "Shhh, Ashley, you don't need to work on your inner, outer, or house self tonight. You need to relax. Of course you don't need to fold the laundry while we watch this, my pretty, pretty princess who is also so fun and funny." 

I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious between us. 

I've been watching a lot of Hotel Impossible, and consider myself a professional in resort management now. My husband and I extensively critique every hotel we visit and discuss what changes Anthony and Blanche might make. We also get super pissy if any decorator other than Blanche is featured on the show. I have no idea why this show appeals to me so much but I've watched 26 episodes. I am not necessarily proud of that.

We also got super sucked into Bloodline. It was slightly cheesy at times but the storyline and execution were compelling and kept us hooked until the end. I love the original programming by Netflix, and I'm not just saying that because we're best friends. 

As part of my ongoing commitment to discover things once everyone else is already over it, I also started watching Portlandia. I was amused and confused. The first time I watched, I thought I might have had more to drink that night than I originally thought. The second time I watched, I realized it's just like that. It's completely absurd and I love that about it.

Oh, and I almost forgot but one day I was sick and watched the entire World Without End miniseries at once! It was a glorious day. This was one of the few times in the history of the universe that I thought the screen adaptation was as enjoyable as the book. I moved on to The Borgias and was into that until Orange is the New Black returned. 

I also have plans to start watching Grace and Frankie. It's one of the most pressing goals I have set for myself; as you can see, I've been very busy and just haven't gotten around to it yet. 

I am retiring to Belize some day with Netflix and a house full of cats. I am also a member of the Netflix Stream Team. But I really did watch that much television since the last Netflix-related post, and all opinions above are my own. If you don't find Portlandia confusing or you like hotel decorators who aren't Blanche, you are totally 100% wrong but that's me saying so and not Netflix. (But I'm sure they'd secretly agree with me due to our special connection.) 

Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to my queue and be sure to watch OITNB so we can discuss! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lessons from Max

Max has lived with us for one year now. 

I am not really a dog person. I don't like dog smell, I don't like dog hair, I don't like dog slobber, I don't like dog noises. 

Like babies, in a general sense I think they are awesome, and I probably think yours is cute, but I don't want more of my own and spend a lot of time wishing people wouldn't bring them to grocery stores.

I am, however, a Max person. I loved that face the moment I saw it and he loves me with a level of devotion that is both enlightening and exasperating. 

He started school two weeks ago because he barks menacingly at children, visitors, waitresses, people in my space, bigger dogs at the dog park, and generally doesn't listen when it doesn't suit him. Now that he knows there is no chance of becoming a street dog again, he feels comfortable enough to act like a jerk. 

That face though!

The first week went...okay. He couldn't move past the thought that a gathering of dogs should have been a puppy playdate and he was unmotivated by treats. He was mildly obsessed with a Labradoodle and would alternate between trying to play and barking aggressively about not playing. He had to be separated from the group a few times. The trainer had a little girl try to feed him a piece of bacon and he was not having it, not even for bacon. 

I was pretty impressed at the few things he did manage, though, and felt like the first week is rarely better than okay. We left hopeful.

The second week went...less okay. He pooped on a sidewalk. He decided he didn't like the new dog in the group. He did very few of the tasks because he was busy expressing his interest/anger over the new dog (a Doberman that could have eaten him in two bites). He had to be separated from the group. He did accept a piece of bacon from one child but when the child from last week offered him some on the second round, he barked at her and refused to take it. 

He is the star of the show and not in a good way. 

At the end, his trainer (who is very knowledgable, positive and encouraging) made a comment like, "After all, they say your dog is only as screwed up as you are." (I may be misquoting her -- I was hot, covered in bacon grease, and holding a bag of poop.)

Thanks, Max. 

We have two weeks left and I'm not all that hopeful. 

As we got into the car, I was thirsty, regretting the money I'd spent, and annoyed that I was the one taking this project on. 

And then I looked over and saw this: 

He was so happy to be trying something new. He looked so proud of himself and full of joy and gratitude for the opportunity. He did not care whether or not he looked like an idiot in front of the others. Then he drank all of the water from my cup with his impossibly long tongue. 

We should all be so lucky. 

My dog is as screwed up as I am and I'm in good company because of it.

Maybe we'll improve and maybe we won't but we will try to have fun trying. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Missing My Me

Lately I feel like my creativity is dying a long, drawn-out, choking for air, slowly suffocating kind of death.

I'd love to blame the kids since they are easy and distracting scapegoats, but let's face it, they're also my biggest inspiration. I was in a physical funk of feeling constantly sick for about a month, but I'm over that now too -- clean lab work, a round of steroids, and the threat of an MRI fixed me right up. I'm tempted to blame the decline of blogging industry-wide but what we have done here has always been more for me than anyone or anything else. I'd say I have nothing to write about, but the crazy disjointed text messages of conversational snippets I send to myself proves that is a lie.

I feel busy but not in a good way; the other day a good friend pointed out that, much like a hamster on a wheel, I'm constantly running to get to a place that might not even exist and that what I'm trying to have may not even be what I actually want. I need to get back to doing the things that make me happy and let the rest fall into place around that. 

I feel like my "me" is fading.

I feel like keeping my "me" bright and shiny is so hard as a mom, wife, worker and grown-up but maybe it's hard for everyone everywhere and those are just the things I blame. 

I feel like less "me" gets through life easier and then wonder why that is.

I feel like creating an editorial calendar or a blog re-design or a weekly schedule of topics or broadening the subjects I write on -- but, really, I just need to write whatever I want to write. 

And then I'm all, "Don't promise them that you'll write because what if your me doesn't want to?" but my me needs to do things she doesn't want to do. Also, I'm not promising you anything.

And I'm all, "Don't tell them that we're in search of our me! Tell them something amusing about the kids. Make a Kardashian joke. Bring the drawbridge up and fortify ourselves with funny while we figure this out!" but I think that's part of the problem. We've always been about me trying to figure out my me, and hoping it brings some amusement/familiarity/understanding to your you along the way, and lately I've been hiding my me.

I sat down to write a vacation wrap-up post and this is the most awkward and confusing vacation wrap-up post in the world, so we'll try that again later. While we're looking for me. And it won't always be pretty and it won't always be perfect and it won't always be funny and it won't always come out right, and that's exactly how it should be. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

First Week of Summer

I survived the end of the school year. It was dicey there at the end. I skipped out on an end of the year teacher gift and went with a handwritten note from little kid instead -- I feel bad because she was great but my doctor advised me to skip all extra stress once I explained my out of fucks to give dilemma.

I am my own doctor, by the way.

Mr. Ashley's work was sending him away for some job training, so we hitched a ride with him, crashed in his hotel room and are making it a vacation. I bet he's thrilled. I would have sworn there was strict company policy against it and rolled around in the hotel bed ALONE, so GLORIOUSLY alone, but he's nicer than me, I guess.

Or not as smart.

So the boys and I are exploring Jacksonville and St. Augustine for the next few days, all by ourselves. Wish us luck -- and by us, I mean me, because I'm outnumbered, out of my element, and naps will be tricky to pull off here.

In a few weeks, I'll probably have to go out of town for work which means I'll book the cheapest local hotel I can find, lie, and hide from them all while doing no work at all.

But so far so good.