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Flying solo

Pelican taking off

(Sorry about that big copyright on the image above. I had to put it on there to post it somewhere else where there was a high liklihood that someone would steal the image, and I’m too lazy to find the original image to post here. So it’s copyright, bitches! Every single photo on this blog is copyright Wendy Bix photos, actually. I just don’t like to rub it in, but apparently sometimes people need to be reminded.)

For almost a year, I’ve been my own boss.

So that’s weird.

In case you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, I can tell you that they only way you’ll be successful at it is if your boss is kind of boss that you never want to work for. Like, your boss has to be unwilling to hear excuses for why you can’t make a deadline, and your boss makes you work late and on weekends (even holiday weekends) when you had other much more fun plans. Yup, my boss is the biggest asshole.

When you’re your own boss, it’s weird to take a vacation day, because if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. As such, I went from having four weeks of vacation a year to maybe taking a week of vacation. I also have to remind myself that no one is going to yell at me if I’m not at my desk at precisely 8 am. A year later, and I’m still afraid of looking like a slacker to my coworkers (Joke’s on me, my coworkers are a pug and a French bulldog).

Bad boss aside, I’m pretty happy as things have turned out. I always suspected that I’d be okay at being a freelancer and if my In Box is any indication, no one has caught onto the fact that I’m a big faking faker. (Yes, I super suffer from imposter syndrome).

As such, when people ask me if I’m available in the middle of the week, I always have to remind myself that I don’t have to request off or ask permission. I can just DO whatever it is, as long as I don’t have a conflict. It’s all good.

A few months ago, Poppy asked me if I wanted to go see Vampire Weekend with her, only it wasn’t on a Weekend, but in fact, in the middle of a Week.

After getting over my working class guilt, I agreed. Then I had angst over it. It felt irresponsible! It felt weird! Also, how pissed would my asshole boss be if I missed a deadline because I was at a Vampire Weekend concert?! Super mad!

I sucked it all up and totally went to Milwaukee in the middle of the week ON A SCHOOL NIGHT to see a hipster band with my friends.

And it was freaking awesome.

And it wasn’t even a big deal either! I don’t know what I was freaking out about. I finished up my work for the day, made a hotel reservation (because I really didn’t want to deal with driving back from the hours of midnight to 2 am) at a cheapish business hotel with free parking, enjoyed the hell out of concert, slept an extra hour (thanks to no 6 am dog wake up call) and still made it back to Coldington in plenty of time before my first meeting of the day. And I even had time to hit Whole Foods to stock up on some N.O. Brew Storyville Mocha coffee concentrate for my summer iced coffee habit.

I still feel like I’m getting away with the biggest heist ever.


Short circuit



“I miss online journals.”

I hear that a lot. I miss them too.

I promised Bex that I’d write an old-fashioned blog post this month. It’s still this month, right?

I’m resisting starting this with “It’s been a year since our lives were basically rebooted.” It has, but let’s not turn this into a sappy weird thing, okay? You’re with me on this? Cool.


After what was basically the world’s worst winter and most wintery spring, we appear to have plunged headlong into summer. Solid slap your ass summer.

I like summer, but I have officially broken up with capri pants.

Why? Because there are exactly three body shapes that look good in capri pants – six-year-old girls who are just hitting that one growth spurt where their legs are way longer than their bodies; eighty-four-year-old women who usually wear elaborate printed capris paired with sleeveless button-down shirts, allowing their fabulous underarm wings to give a tremendous “Fuck you, buster” to the entire patriarchy; and finally, Audrey Hepburn. Well, and women who are proportioned like Audrey Hepburn.

Do you doubt me? People, for the love of god, look at Mario Batali. Now take away the beard and the Crocs and basically that’s what I look like in capris. My big ass makes an inverted triangle with the tiny-cropped hemline. And if that weren’t bad enough, the entire thing cuts eight inches or more off your legs visually, so if you’ve got a proportionately long torso (like I do) then you’re looking at an end game with no win in sight. Just stubby ridiculous legs and an inverted pyramid shape that shines a giant spotlight on your big ass.

To be clear, my big ass and I are friends, for the most part, which is why I protect it from its frenemy, capri pants.

(Can I vent a minute? I loved watching What Not To Wear when it first started, because I was like “Oh yes! HELLS to the yes! Sing it about the bras, sista!” but then they took a lady who was pretty curvy and put her into a Lane Bryant capri Garanimal situation and explained why it made her look more petite, and it was SO many shades of wrong. Like, they were showing the before and after and she CLEARLY looked better in the boot cut jeans! And I felt like everyone on the show had lost their ever-loving minds. Or maybe I was the crazy one? But no, I just think Lane Bryant sponsored the show and Clinton and Stacey were trying to justify what they were told to spin by the producers. Total man-behind-the-curtain moment and I never looked back.)

Now, shorts are another matter. I will tell you this thing: I was regularly ridiculed as a child for my appearance in shorts. It was so bad that I would wear jeans on 100 degree days, and then stay at my grandmothers’ houses, who each had air conditioning, where I’d have to listen to constant reminders that I’d feel better if I took off the jeans and put on shorts. I own probably four pairs of shorts and I can’t bring myself to wear them out in public (they are, however, fabulous to sleep in). Clearly, I have other issues at play, but suffice to say, shorts? Shorts are my trigger warning.

Also, what am I going to wear, short shorts? Bermuda shorts? There is no final strategy for shorts.

So that leaves one thing: Dresses.

I’m a fan of the dress. We’ve discussed this before, in fact. I always wear them whenever I go to Vegas, because it’s actually cooler than wearing shorts (less bunching of fabric around the waistline) and you can go out to dinner at a nice restaurant without feeling like a hobo.

But? I feel weird going to the farmer’s market in dresses. All it takes is one ill-timed gust of wind or one overly aggressive hornet and you’re resenting the entire dress industry for the rest of your life. Also, I have a hard time working outside in a dress, because when you bend over to pull a dandelion out of the flowerbeds my friend This Fat Ass likes to peek out and say “Hallo!”

So, I’m back to the entire short pants oeuvre. My favorites are actually shitty Avenue yoga pants that shrank in the dryer. They still fit everywhere else, but they just start shrinking upward. Eventually, they shrink so much that they transform from “high waters” to “cropped yoga pants”, in theory hitting at the perfect spot on the calf (instead of higher up at the widest part of the calf, which is just basically a loose capri and causes me to faint.) Of course, I could probably expedite this process by whipping out my sewing machine and actually hemming a pair of pants, but then I’d be freaking Donna Reed and THEN this blog post would be about finding the right gauge pearls to go with my shirtdresses.

By the way? I love a good shirtdress.

So, there’s an exception for the larger lady with the shorter pants, but it only works if you have a single color so that you make a long line that’s uninterrupted.

(Melissa McCarthy and I are very similarly proportioned (although she’s probably a size 16-18, whereas I’m a 26 and have a good six to eight inches of height on her). She’s kind of rocking the cropped pants here but she only gets away with that inverted triangle by making it into a very elongated shape. Here, she’s wearing almost the same pants, but visually it’s an entirely different story.)

I’m about thisclose to buying a skort, by the way. For some reason, in my head, skorts are okay but shorts are not. I…. I don’t understand why that is and yet it is so. It’s kind of like how it’s obscene to walk around outside in just a bra and panties, but it’s totally okay to wear even less fabric and covering on the beach in a bikini. Or how we get to see Amy Adams boobs in movies but I still haven’t seen Hugh Jackman’s junk. Not even once.

Okay, I’ll make you a deal: Hugh Jackman shows off his junk in a movie, I’ll reconsider my stand on the capri issue. Deal? No take backsies.

So tell me, ladies of That’s My Bix! land. What are your summer fashion strategies? How do you deal with the heat while still looking like the fresh fashionistas that you are? Or how do you NOT deal with it because life is too short to eschew comfort for style? Sound out in the comments! I need your coping strategies!

The IGIGI Neve wrap and Nencia cocktail dresses — And a free giveaway!


bix reviews neve wrap dress

So, you voted on which dress I should wear to Weetacon 2014 and IGIGI listened — boy, did IGIGI listen!

They sent two dresses! Oh my lord. Two dresses! Happiest girl ever!

Full disclosure: IGIGI sent me two dresses in exchange for writing this honest review. It is, in essence, a sponsored post, but IGIGI does not have any discretion about what I write and has encouraged each Weetacon participant to be very honest in their descriptions of their review garments. So, now you know.


When you guys voted on your choices for garments, the one that I loved the most (the Neve wrap dress in Abtruse Dot) was actually in last place, but it was the one that I wanted the most. Poppy was right in that I DO have several black and white IGIGI dresses in my closet — that’s because I’m a black and white print ADDICT. For real, if I could live in black and white for the rest of my days, I’d be happy. So I was thrilled to open the IGIGI Weetacon 2014 shipment and see the Neve with my name on it (well, two Neves with my name on it, as my fellow Wendy  reviewed the Neve in Abtruse Dot too!). Plus, this black and white print is a WRAP — a true wrap dress in fact. I heart me some IGIGI wraps! I can never have enough of them! I have a really small waist that gets lost in all this hourglass, so anything to help with the definition is a good thing. I tend to tie them up higher, though, creating more of an empire waist wrap, because it seems like it suits me better. Also, if I were to tie it at my natural waist, it would fall open and my bosoms would fall out.

One nice thing about being a frequent IGIGI shopper is that I know which of their designs work and which do NOT. The Neve wrap dress works for my hourglass shape. It’s incredibly comfortable and I can basically wear them on a coast-to-coast flight and be absolutely comfortable. The material is soft and at least twice in my life, I’ve gotten upgraded because I checked in wearing a nice outfit. Take that, people who fly in pajamas!

The Neve dress is fully lined and has two very long ties that weave through openings under the arm (ala a vintage DVF wrap). The ties are more than long enough to wrap around yourself at least once, twice if you wanted to avoid long ties. I kind of like the long tie, so I tend to leave it wrapped once and then let it hang a few inches above the hemline. Both dresses I reviewed are size 26/28.


Esteban was so kind to take these photos for me on a very windy day. I braved the Wisconsin “spring” without tights or leggings and just paired it with my trusty Tieks (I wish I could say that I was wearing a pair of white tights but no… alas, that is my real actual Victorian pallor). At Weetacon’s cocktail party two weeks ago, it was considerably colder and I chose to wear a long-sleeve v-neck shirt under it (when it’s negative 10 degrees outside, you must pair fashion with common sense) that was barely visible under the neckline and I also wore a pair of purple leggings with a pair of black leather riding boots (You can get an idea in the background of the beautiful Shae’s photo). 

This is one of IGIGI’s classic wrap dresses that I already know is going to be in my closet for a decade in heavy rotation. How can I predict the future? Because the first four IGIGI wrap dresses I bought are now more than ten years old and I still wear each of those bad girls to death. IGIGI has some kind of magic fabric for their wrap dresses that seems to never age, shrink or fade, plus you can wade it into a ball in your suitcase and it comes out looking flawless.

Also, I got a random compliment from a college girl in a gas station on my IGIGI Neve dress in Abtruse Dot.

Keeper. Total keeper.

bix reviews IGIGI's nencia cocktail dressThe other dress I received was the Nencia lace cocktail dress in flamingo. Annette liked the combo of the teal and the pink — and I have to admit, I like how fashion forward it is. So many plus sized designers kick out safe stuff — and as someone who basically would be happy in black and white for the rest of my life, the Nencia was decidedly outside of my comfort zone. To move from the Neve to the Nencia is like the scene in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy throws open the door and finds herself in technicolor.

Goingloopy said that the Nencia was on her “drool list” while Kris said that the Nencia was “probably a tiny bit, um, “optimistic” for March in Wisconsin.” Holla, Kris, it was definitely chilly taking these photos in March, despite finally having a day above freezing for the first time since October! I had been concerned about the arm situation but the sleeves were definitely not an issue. Lots of coverage to quell my arm self-doubt.

But I did really like how it looked when I wore it with a black cashmere cardigan (also, it was warmer… do I look cold here? It was very cold.) I’d probably steal a page from Kelley, who also reviewed the Nencia, and throw a wide belt over the cardigan next time I wear this.

The lace is surprisingly soft — and I have to say, this is my third or fourth lace dress from IGIGI and they’re really good about using non-scratchy STRETCHY lace. I really like the pop of color on the lining showing through the teal lace. However, you should note that the lining is basically a tank dress under the see-through lace. It’s pretty bra-friendly and you can see that you get plenty of length (I’m 5’9″) so you don’t have to worry about showing too much thigh but the sheerness along the shoulders is a pop of sexy that probably wouldn’t be doable in most office settings.

Unfortunately, unlike the Neve wrap dress, the Nencia lace cocktail dress is not one of the kinds that you could just wear out of the overnight bag — it came out of the packing bag wrinkled, but steamed out very easily. The other thing that I wanted to mention was the static. Part of the clinging that you can see in this photo is that it was very windy and we took this photo on a bluff above the Bay, but I did notice some static while wearing the dress around the house and getting in and out of cars — to the point that I was actually looking for some static spray. I think it wouldn’t be an issue in the summer when you’d be wearing this dress, but for a very chilly March day in Wisconsin, it was definitely an issue.

In the future, I’ll probably find a pair of flatter shoes to wear with this because the shoes I wore for the photos look cute, but I forgot how much I hate them. I super hate them. Looks like a good excuse to buy another pair of Tieks (alas, my teal Tieks don’t quite match the teal of the Nencia dress). Does anyone want a pair of size 12 Steve Madden platform peeptoe slingbacks?

This feels like a more formal dress somehow than the wraps. Maybe I’m just so accustomed to integrating wrap dresses into my lifestyle, but this definitely felt like a dress you’d wear to a spring wedding or fancy occasion, whereas the wrap dress is something I’d probably wear to the office or just out and about on a weekend (but then, I’m oddly formal sometimes). I think the cocktail dress screams for more jewelry, whereas the wrap dress seems okay without it (I actually forgot to put on the necklace I wanted to wear in the above photos in the excitement of taking photos and trying to stop the wind from blowing the dress up ala Seven Year Itch).

My favorite look for this dress is paired with a pair of funky shoes, a cardigan (again, needs a belt), and some kind of statement jewelry. I used my great grandmother’s necklace and her wedding earrings, plus a vintage beaded bag, kind of riffing off the little old lady vibe that I tend to get off of lace dresses (Do not be confused — there is nothing whatsoever matronly about this dress).


By the way, my IGIGI drool list is growing. I totally want the third dress on my list — the Neve in Creme de la Violette. And after seeing the other ladies of Weetacon in their garments, I’m also lusting after the Isadora dress (check it out on LisaMarie) and the freshly released Deora dress (yup, another black and white print — surprise surprise).

Now it’s your turn.

Do you have an IGIGI drool list too? You’re about to get the #IGIGIWeetacon hookup!

First, go to the IGIGI website and pick out your ideal dress for a special occasion, important business meeting, date night or supreme court swearing in ceremony. Then leave a comment on this page, telling us which garment YOU want and where you plan on wearing it. That it’s. One of you will get a free $50 gift certificate to shop for your own fashion montage at

But wait! That’s not all!

You can increase your chances of winning IGIGI gift certificates by leaving comments on each of the other Weetacon IGIGI reviews at this page.Comments must be received by April 20 at midnight PST. Winners will be notified and announced on this page and the IGIGI at Weetacon 2014 page by April 25th.

Go! Go! Go! Dream pretty! Then come back here and share your ideas with the class. Don’t forget to leave a valid email — I can’t tell you that you won if you don’t.

And the winner is Jerri! Congratulations! IGIGI will be in contact with you shortly with your $50 gift certificate!

Wendy Bix IGIGI 2014 random winner

Help me pick out my IGIGI outfit for Weetacon 2014!

Weetacon 2014 IGIGI event which dress

As you might know, I throw a little shindig every year called Weetacon. Weetacon 2014 will in fact, be the tenth year we’ve been doing this. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we’d manage to attract people to the wilds of Green Bay in March every year, but it seems to sell out every year just the same. Amazing.

A lot of cool things happen at Weetacon — basically it’s like I force 50 of my closest friends to do a bunch of things that I think are fun. You should throw your own ‘Con, you guys, because it’s basically like having Oprah’s Favorite Things show, only around your own little psyche. Private karaoke show? Check. Sappy tributes at the end of the weekend? Check. Pineapple fluff? CHECK CHECK CHECK.

And my very favorite thing is that each year, my favorite plus-size fashion designer, Yuliya Raquel, turns to the plus-size ladies of Weetacon and lets us play dress up. AMAZING, no? She gives us basically our very own trunk show in exchange for reviewing the garments and hosting IGIGI giveaways (Yup, that means more gift certificates will be coming your way next month.) We’ll each be wearing our garments during the evening events at Weetacon — specifically the cocktail party reception on the arrival night, the karaoke party after the sleigh ride and the group dinner on Saturday night.

But… here’s the killer part. This year, IGIGI wants YOU to pick our garments for us.

Okay, we get to suggest our top three choices to you, but our blog commenters have the option to go to the IGIGI website and “go off book” so to speak. Before you mount a campaign for one of the arm-baring evening gowns, I have opted for designs that I know already work really well with my body type. Or, as Kate Harding told me at a wedding, “Does IGIGI just design DIRECTLY for you now or what?” I WISH! But by following their shape guides and through more than a decade of patronizing Yuliya (can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t), I know what works for me. When you find a style that works for you, you rock it, baby.

You probably won’t be surprised to notice that I picked not one but two IGIGI wrap dresses. Why? Because I wear IGIGI wrap dresses all the time. They are super comfortable, but transition from business to evening wear in a heartbeat. My collection of IGIGI wrap dresses are the go-to staples of my wardrobe. It is no coincidence that I wore an IGIGI wrap dress to the very first Weetacon ten years ago! And of course, my wrap collection has made their debuts at several subsequent events. The IGIGI wrap is as timeless as a Diane von Furstenburg, plus they last forEVER.

The first dress is the black and white Neve Abstruse Dot wrap dress. Every season, IGIGI manages to have one dress that looks into my soul and screams “Take me, I belong to you.” This is that dress. I love black and white so much, and combine that with a wrap dress? Be still my heart. It’s no surprise that many of the Weetacon 2014 ladies have this particular dress on their IGIGI wishlist.

The Nencia dress is the teal lace with the flamingo pink sheath under it. I like the fact that it has sleeves to address my body issues with my upper arms, but you still show a little skin. Honestly, this one is pushing me a little out of my comfort zone. I really love lace, but I almost never wear it (because of issues deeper than we can discuss on this blog). I especially love mixing hues (one of my favorite scenarios is to wear a baby pink dress with a pair of Tiffany blue Tieks), but I play it pretty safe most of the time. This one combines my two favorite colors and is really fashion-forward. Love this for spring parties! I really could see this becoming one of my favorite dresses because it’s unlike anything else in my closet. 

The last dress on my wish list is another version of the Neve dress, only this one is in Creme de Violette. This is girly and springy and of course, another wrap so I love it with all my heart. I’m a big fan of pinks and purples — let’s face it, when you’re a pale winter, you learn to rock the jewel tones. This is one of those garments that I can see having for twenty years and it will always be in style.

So, friends and family of That’s My Bix! now I need your help: Which one of these should I wear to Weetacon 2014? Vote in the comments. OR, should I have gone with something else entirely? Am I playing it too safe with the wrap dresses, since I already have probably a dozen wrap dresses hanging in my closet? Unleash your fashion advice in the comments! Channel your inner Tim Gunn and help me make it work!

Oh! You’ll be able to see the garments in real time over Weetacon 2014 weekend via social media, on Facebook, and Twitter by following #IGIGIweetacon hashtag. In case you want more ideas, here’s what some of the ladies have on their wishlists!


Don’t spare the fashion advice, gentle reader. My dress is in your hands!

Espresso vortex


Our Chalet Bix espresso machine just celebrated its third birthday.

It’s been three years since I worked in an actual corporate office, which is kind of awesome in itself. When I made the jump to working 100% from my home office, we realized that it was just silly going out and driving to Starbucks to get our preferred espresso drinks, then driving back home to drink them. Plus, it was expensive. And it also made us feel like super assholes.

But the problem is that I don’t actually like regular coffee. I like espresso drinks. I like mochas. I like lattes. Basically, if it has a bunch of steamed milk and syrup, I’m your girl.

We bit the bullet and had the grand Home Espresso Machine Experiment, and $800 gamble on trying to save money and time and — let’s face it — actual fossil fuels wasted driving back and forth to Starbucks for no good reason.

As it turns out, the DeLonghi Magnifica was a good gamble. Our old habit of two Sbux espresso drinks per day was about $10 per day, or approximately $300 per month (more really, because we tip the baristas). We don’t shun Starbucks even a little, but about 80% of the coffee we drink now comes from our own house. The Bix DeLonghi paid for itself in well under four months (even when you consider the cost of coffee, milk, syrups, and the stuff to clean it). That means that we’ve saved about $7000 in three years by making our own lattes. Plus, that’s not considering the fact that I now usually have a second latte mid-morning, which I never did before (because it’s one thing to have a five dollar a day personal coffee habit, but it’s another when it becomes a $10 a day habit — Christ, what an asshole!) and also requires you to get up off your arse and go to Starbucks to face Laura the barista who will say “AGAIN!?” and I’d have to make up a lie about spilling my first latte.


But one of the biggest things about having our own espresso bar is that we haven’t had to go outside, except for quick two minute bursts to let the dogs make yellow snow. You might not have heard, but it’s been cold in the Midwest. Ridiculously, science-fictiony, cold. It’s the kind of cold that gives you an ice cream headache after two minutes exposure — and you’re not even eating ice cream. In fact, you don’t even have your mouth open. The ice cream headache is just drilling into your skull from your exposed forehead. It’s so cold that when it was negative 20 with the negative 45 windchill, I’d walk outside and my hair actually turned white instantly (it goes away as soon as you get back inside).

It’s so cold that Zuzu sometimes forgets what she’s doing outside and just runs around, worried that she’s freezing to death. Avi just cowers and gives me looks like I’m beating her with invisible ice fists.

The other notable milestone passed this week is that it’s Avi’s fifth birthday! It’s also Zuzu’s one year anniversary of coming to live with us. For an entire year, we’ve been medicating this dog twice daily, holding her through seizures and trying to get her to connect with people. She now looks at us and craves attention, which is just the sweetest thing ever. Mission Bulldog has been deemed a success. Now if only she’d stop pooping in the house. Baby steps, I guess. At least she’s gotten the idea of using piddle pads down.

As for me, I’m still working from home, although in a different manner than what I assumed when we bought the espresso machine. We decided that until I find just the right full time position, it makes sense for me to pursue my own consultancy. Now I have clients and have to manage my own time and also, send out invoices. It’s weird, this being responsible thing, but it’s been super fun. Also, I get to play with making charts again.

It turns out that my super powers involve Excel pivot tables and writing a search engine-optimized headline that feels natural. Lamest superhero ever.





Tinsel Snowbottom, at your service

Retro Xmas lights

I wasn’t planning on doing an annual Holiday Card Exchange this year. Even though I’ve been coordinating one since forever (oh look, since 2002. Holy crap.) And as the month of November flew by, no one mentioned it, and I shrugged and started to wonder if maybe I was the only one who really loved the Holiday Card Exchange and maybe everyone was just looking for ways to cut back this year, with the economy being kind of a downer and everyone being so busy and insert the very good reason of your choice here.

Then Jayran asked me about it. And someone else asked about it, doing that careful skirting thing you do when you don’t want to make someone feel guilty by disappointing you, so you act like something isn’t a big deal when in fact, it’s a little bit of a deal.

Today, we have snow here in Coldington. Big giant It’s a Wonderful Life-sized snowflakes. The kind that really do stay on your nose and eyelashes. And I find myself pining for LED lights to wrap around the tree trunks in our yard (so many tree trunks though… oy) and enough net lights to do all of our landscaping. Our old house had but five tiny boxwood bushes that only took three net lights, but now I need probably ten times as many lights to handle the bush situation we’ve got all up in here. I researched curtains of lights last night, because of course the fake candle in every window that was good enough for my grandparents is just too twee for me and I have to go all RuPaul’s Drag Race up in here. Have to give our neighborhood full of retirees and dark snowbird homes a little pizazz or something.

Alas, I don’t have the disposable income to buy $5000 of LED lights to trim out our new ginormous yard, and I doubt Esteban would appreciate feeling like a Las Vegas showgirl every time he walks through the dining room windows (although you have to admit that a 20-foot-long wall of lights would really be something).

But I do have a couple of books of stamps. And I have a fireplace and mulled wine and two dogs who love it when I sit on the couch with them and do projects. And I have a lot of people who like to get holiday cards.

If you’d like to join our annual Holiday Card Exchange, sign up here. Also, here’s the FAQ on the Holiday Card Exchange, although we won’t be doing the little questionnaire, since we have such a shortened timeframe. The deadline for participation is THIS FRIDAY, December 6th, and the list will go out to everyone before Sunday, December 8th. Yup, there’s not a lot of time. There’s never enough time, though. Isn’t that always the way?

PS. Only the people who’ve been reading this blog for a very long time will get the reference in the title, but I don’t care. If you get the reference, you win!



They say “What the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies.”

This past January, I was planning a trip to Chicago with my brother – a reward for his making the Dean’s List the previous semester at college – when Esteban was off picking up our pug from doggie daycare. When he came back, he had a horrified expression on his face and said “Oh my god, I may have just totally fucked up our lives and I’m so sorry.”

Did he crash the car? Did he quit his job? My brain went to a million dark places, but instead, he said “There was a puppy at daycare. Someone surrendered her and they handed her to me and then I said ‘We’ll take her.’ And I’m so sorry. I told them I had to talk to you first. She has epilepsy and that’s why the people didn’t want her. We don’t have to take her. We really don’t. I won’t be upset.”

“What kind of puppy?” I said, my eyes narrowing.

“A French bulldog.” He made a helpless face. “They didn’t tell me she was homeless until they handed her to me. I shouldn’t have picked her up. It’s my fault. She’s ridiculously cute. Like… it’s a super power or something.” He sat down on the couch and cradled his head in his hands.

I ended up not going to Chicago that weekend because suddenly? We had a seven-month old French bulldog.

Zuzu's first night with us

We discovered that her former owners had kept her in her crate for extended periods of time, so she was not potty-trained, not socialized and had actually been untrained not to foul her own bed. Also, she had seizures. And apparently wheat and corn allergies — which the former owners never really understood, thus exacerbating the diarrhea problems that led to messing up her crate. Said diarrhea led to the former owners using toxic cleansers in her crate that they thought might have caused the seizures, thus they were afraid to bring the dog into the vet to get treatment for the seizures.


We named her Zuzu.

Zuzu didn’t understand that going potty was done outside. She didn’t look at people. She wasn’t treat motivated. She just wanted to play and sleep and pee on the floor two minutes after coming back inside.

We made great progress with Zuzu through the winter. She got a little older, which helped a great deal with the bladder control, and we had the bonus facet of a pug who is amazingly well trained. Zuzu loves Avi more than she’ll probably ever love Esteban or myself. When Avi does something, Zuzu does it too. She figured out that we pee outside and poop outside and hanging out with the peoples is pretty okay too. We got her seizures under control, bringing them from 6-12 per day to about one breakthrough episode every thirty to forty days, which the vet feels is totally manageable.Inspecting the undercarriage

Then, unfortunately, Esteban got sick. That meant Zuzu and Avi went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. For Avi, that was awesome! She loves Grandma’s house! She gets to do whatever she wants and bark at those fucking dachshunds next door. For Zuzu, though, this was yet another place that she’d been shipped to, with more new people that she didn’t really know and a new routine that she didn’t understand and who didn’t make her sit before eating and wait for the humans before going into doorways. It was, in essence, her fifth home that we knew of in her little short life. She regressed. Then we came back and rerooted her again – and she regressed again.  Then we moved to a new house.

Zuzu hopes that you won’t feel bad for her. Zuzu doesn’t feel bad for her. Zuzu thinks that she’s awesome. Avi is awesome. Peanut butter is awesome. Barking is awesome. Also, bulldogs are awesome.

We found that it made more sense to have her medication compounded into a liquid form by a pharmacy in Milwaukee. This made it easier to give her two daily doses because she tended to hide the pills in her substantial inner cheek flaps. Of course, in the process, this transformed a very cheap medication into a suddenly super expensive medication that needed to be refrigerated, but ah well, the things we do for the pets we love.

The side-effects of the medication aren’t minor – she is more lethargic and more difficult to train on the Pheno Barb. After her dose kicks, she basically takes a two hour nap, but it keeps the seizures at bay and we have the ability to be more patient than the drugged bulldog is stubborn.

Zuzu the French Bulldog poses

Earlier this week, she seemed particularly playful. We chalked it up to her feeling more comfortable in the house – that maybe she had really never felt right since before Esteban’s illness and was finally feeling like this was home. Esteban even remarked a few times “Are you sure you gave her the Pheno?” when she’d be springing around, acting like a damned fool (a mode we call “Stinky Boing Boing”) and in general, totally charming and also, hilarious. During one such episode, she was boing boinging around so fast that she actually ran into my foot with her mouth, effectively biting my toe and giving me a nasty contusion. Because bulldog!

Then on Thursday, she had a seizure. We were glad that we had decided to stay home on Thanksgiving, gave her a rescue remedy and hoped that would take care of it. Then she had another one that knocked her flat on the floor where I found her, sprawled and unable to stand. I held her for hours, soothing her, gave another rescue remedy and figured that there’d probably be another small one.

On Friday, there were two more seizures. We started to suspect that the latest refill of the compounded medication wasn’t up to par, given that her new energy coincided with the new bottle, so we called our vet and got the same medication in pill form. Unfortunately, her seizure medication takes a while to build up in the system before it really works.

On Saturday, I gave a preemptive rescue remedy, as with multiple seizures, we want her to go 24 hours without having one before we stop. Unfortunately, she had two seizures in short order, and then another two. We had friends over and we all took turns holding her to try to calm her down enough to administer the rescue remedy but she just was stuck in postictal tremors and panting. Then she finally seemed to calm down but before we could dose her, she had three seizures in rapid succession.

Then things went downhill quickly.

I was worried that having people in the house was upsetting her, so I put her in her crate (which is actually what we’re supposed to do, according to the vet, but since she has crate anxiety from puppyhood, I tend to hold her instead, which seems to calm her). Ten minutes later, she was wheezing and struggling for breath. I ran to the crate and saw that she was clearly asphyxiating.

Zuzu the French Bulldog

You know how when you’re in an insane hurry to get somewhere, everyone drives like a fucking moron? They hesitate at green lights and text and smoke and talk on their cell phones and seem to have no sense of urgency whatsoever? And it’s enfuriating? Imagine holding a dog in your lap, a dog whose tongue is actually turning purple because she can’t get a breath and the fucking emergency vet is a 20-minute car ride away. Then you’re going to be trying to give mouth-to-mouth to a dog while serially hate-staring every idiot who had the bad idea to be joy riding on a Saturday afternoon while wishing you had a rocket launcher to encourage them to fucking move when the light turns green already.

Every minute of that car ride, it felt like Zuzu was about three seconds away from shuddering and going still. Thankfully, we made it to the emergency vet, where they were already waiting outside and holding the outside door open, thanks to Esteban’s quick thinking to call ahead while we were driving.

As they took her from my arms, they asked if they had permission to do whatever was necessary to save her life, including intubating and resuscitation. I nodded, because I couldn’t talk for fear of crying, but when the vet’s assistant’s second comment was “Even if you understand that resuscitation starts at $500, will you be able to pay that today?” I couldn’t stay strong anymore. After the vet’s assistant disappeared with Zuzu behind the ER door, I went to the counter to fill out paperwork and then basically lost it at the reception desk. I kept thinking about the people would have to actually stop and think about whether they could afford to save their pet’s life in such a situation, and about how I remember being in such a position twenty years ago myself, how you hope and pray your pet is just the kind of sick that needs medication and not the kind of sick that needs needles and overnight stays and surgery, because then you’ll have to own up to the fact that you don’t make enough money to keep your animal alive.

They were able to save Zuzu’s life. They didn’t need to intubate, as she was responding to supplemental oxygen and a sedative, but just the same, they wanted to keep her overnight. We visited her in her crate, where she would be monitored all night long, went off to get her some food, and then went back out to get her some specific new seizure medication at a people pharmacy. Then we went home and basically were upset all night, certain that we were going to lose Zuzu.

At 7:30 the next morning, the phone rang and announced that the call was from the emergency vet. My heart sank as I leapt for the phone. The vet introduced herself and started off with “Zuzu’s condition improved throughout the night. She was up and eating without a problem.” Vet’s don’t call at 7:30 in the morning for a status update… especially since they had told us that she’d be there for 24 hours of observation. It was bad news, it had to be. I held my breath, waiting for the “But…”

Except I could hear a familiar “Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!” in the background.

Zuzu strikes a pose

The vet continued, “Then around 4 this morning, we had another patient come in, which woke Zuzu up. Normally we like to keep them for 24 hours, but she’s definitely feeling better.”

“Is that her barking?”

The vet laughed. “It is! I was just thinking that if you’re going to be home today and can keep an eye on her, she can come home as soon as you can come and get her.”

The unspoken Midwestern translation: Lady, please come and get your annoying but insufferably adorable dog. She’s upsetting the other patients.

(I’m not making this up: I just now had to go into the living room where a certain bulldog had decided to go mountain goating on the tables to check out the remote controls – and had knocked an entire table over. She knows that you’re reading this and would like to say “Bulldog!”)

We’re getting her blood from Saturday tested to see what her levels of Pheno Barb were, and if they are low, then we’ll definitely be letting the compounding pharmacy know that they sent us insufficient medication. I doubt that they’ll cover the emergency vet bill — which was way more than $500 by the way, but honestly, it’s a small price to pay for this face.

Adorable French Bulldog blog

Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose who we fall in love with. Not even when they are an incontinent, ill-mannered but ridiculously charming and sweet little basket case.

Þakka þér fyrir


Iceland Lone Viking rock sculpture watches over the North Atlantic

Two months ago, I was invited to a press junket. In Iceland. Like, no kidding, the country Iceland.

We would be wined and dined and wined again and meet titans of industry and also, government officials who are much more attractive than any government official has a right to be.

I would be stupid to pass that up, right?

I am not stupid. At least sometimes I’m not.

Iceland's route 1

It was a very short trip, which seems odd, because you think of Iceland as being practically the North Pole, but in reality, the flight was less than six hours from Minneapolis, smack in the middle of the US, and even less on my way back when I came in through JFK. Kind of crazy to be able to go to Europe in such a short jump, but it really was all about readjusting my perceptions. I think nothing of the flight to Las Vegas and that’s well over 4 hours from the Midwest, and when you land, you’re just in stupid old Las Vegas. If I had only ever realized that I could land in a place where you can get pear-flavored Skyr and beautiful wool and angora sweaters for pennies on the Kronur for the very same amount of time spent in a coach seat!

Iceland water fall

I landed at 6 am and was greeted in the Keflavik airport by my driver, Oli, who had to have been 7 feet tall. I seriously felt like I was eight years old again, standing next to him. Then he folded himself up into a Mercedes Benz sports car and we drove off through a foggy magical landscape to get to Reyjavik about forty miles away. Oh, there’s the Atlantic Ocean, and people are just like “Yeah, that’s always been there.” And oh, there’s steam vents from where the volcanic activity is just kind of busting through the ground, and yup, there you go.

I started thinking that Oli was just taking me on the pretty route to the city, but even later that day when I took another route through the countryside to find the black sand beaches of Vik, it’s all beautiful. It’s all amazing. Your brain just can’t soak up enough to comprehend how every single brain snapshot is a freaking tourist postcard.

This photo? I took it from inside of a bus, going 75 mph down a highway. Everything is just that freaking picturesque.

Iceland from the highway

It turns out that a lot of movies are shot in Iceland. That’s somewhat because there are so few people and so many huge vistas of open space that it’s easy to pretend that you’re in Westeros or Asgard but also I have come to understand it’s also because everyone looks a million times more attractive in Iceland. Seriously. I couldn’t take  a bad picture there. Even the day I arrived when I ventured out on little sleep and serious jet lag and zero makeup to hide my rosacea shame, the photos are all either the best I’ve ever looked in my entire life or filed under “Actually not bad considering that I felt like someone had hit me in the face with a sledgehammer”.



Also, everyone in Iceland is very tall. So very tall. Or, conversely, not tall at all and very fine boned and wee. I’ve never felt so petite and also, like a giantess at the very same time. It was very conflicting and also, awesome because everything was made for tall peoples! Lots of leg room! Super high shower heads! Long beds! I want to live there very much.

As for traveling in Iceland, it was pretty easy to do. You drive on the right side of the road and everyone speaks English fluently. What’s more, they are pretty good at assessing whether you’re going to be able to speak Icelandic or not just by looking at you, because it’s a fairly isolated island so the natives tend to stereotype foreigners and default to English on sight.

About thirty five US dollars in Icelandic Kronur

Oddly, I only learned thing about the stereotyping foreigners by accident after my fellow journalists remarked that they had heard not one single person speak Icelandic in their presence and they were beginning to suspect that it was dying out, like Gaelic. I was so confused, because I’d lost count of the many awkward exchanges in which I said “Hello” and the native Icelander would default to Icelandic. Basically, if I didn’t start the conversation in English with a very specific and flat Midwestern-accented “Good morning”, they assumed that I was a native.



Of the other journalists at the junket, only two guys and I were being treated like locals, and those two guys were both over 6’5”. I’m not THAT tall (although I’m taller than the average American woman). Later, a waiter explained that my pale skin and eyes combined with my dark hair and particularly my hooded brows are a fairly distinct Icelandic feature.

In fact, I never

IMG_1532really thought it was that unique until I started noticing that about a quarter of the women had exactly my look going on.  I looked more closely at my genealogy and I definitely inherited my browline from my paternal grandmother, whose father was Norwegian (which is basically what the Icelandic people are, genetically). Science!

When I wasn’t working, I was falling in love with Iceland. It’s hard not to, as it’s incredibly pretty. Also, they value sweaters. I’m a sweater girl, myself, so I appreciate the enthusiasm for lopapeysa and angora socks. (I should have bought more socks while I was there. I’m kind of kicking myself, honestly.)

Also, you don’t sweat there. And Skyr? Skyr is a freaking miracle. Basically I don’t know why Icelandic food gets a bum rap because they have Skyr, and why would you eat anything else if there was Skyr available? It is a mystery.


It was a pretty glorious break in the year. It was a reminder of the person I am when I travel.

Some people think I’m brave because I’ll just go exploring on my own.

Honestly, it’s the most cowardly thing imaginable.

I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone and out into the world for a selfish reason —


— because I’m afraid of what I might miss.



The logic of optimism


This has been a crazy year.

And not in a “oh ho ho, cray cray!” head-shaking thing that you do over missed appointments or weird coincidences. I almost can’t talk about every that has happened because it’s almost like words themselves don’t carry enough meaning, like I should reduce everything down to interpretive dance followed by firmly grasping of your forearm and perhaps a strong look complete with massive eyebrow movements and then some gutteral sounds followed by wordless keening that lasts approximately 14 hours.

I’ve been told that I sound optimistic when I talk about things to come. I suppose I do. I seriously have to believe that things are going to continue to improve. Esteban is now up and walking around. He’s still tragically unable to get adequate or even anorexic nutrition on his own. He’s undergone several more procedures over the summer to improve his ability to swallow something as negligible as mashed potatoes – including a procedure late last week, which won’t be the last – and is losing weight at a striking rate.

Interjection: It’s always such an odd moment when people remark upon his weight loss. Our culture has been conditioned to understand that being fat is evil, that all fat people are absolutely trying to lose weight through whatever means necessary. They don’t understand that his visible bones and decreasing waistline is evidence of his ongoing starvation due to what happened to him in May. I know that they earnestly think they are paying him a compliment and have no idea that all we can think is “Would you understand that this is not even slightly okay and wipe that fucking grin off your face?”

But I’m optimistic. He’s alive and able to laugh and sleep in a bed and he no longer has tubing sticking out of him anywhere. We should be able to financially support ourselves despite the fact that I no longer had a stable income a few days after Esteban got out of the hospital. We’re making it work.

Things really are so much better than what they were even last month. Already we’re seeing improvement with Esteban’s condition and have hope that another procedure or two will make this situation markedly better for him.

And we moved into a new house! It’s really really big! And now, really filled with boxes. We have deer that visit our backyard every day and somewhere on our street, there is a band of roving turkeys. Apparently our yard is deer territory, though, as I haven’t been able to coax the turkeys back here, but I have a turkey decoy that I’m going to put in the woods so hopefully some desperate turkey will ba-cock over here and try to make sweet sweet love to this hunk of foam and then realize, hey, there’s a pretty sweet deal here behind the Bix Chalet and maybe stick around. Because pretty much all I want to see are turkeys and deer and bald eagles and maybe a great white shark in my backyard. Is that so much to ask?

One thing that has come out of this crazy year, however, has been a really impressive perspective. I feel like this perspective is what you normally get around year 70, and if so, I’m really grateful to have a glimpse of it a few decades early. It’s the kind of perspective that allows you to be happy sitting in a rocking chair, holding hands, and knowing that you are loved. It’s the kind of understanding that this is the only chance we got so make it count. It’s the kind of realization that the only thing we know for sure is today – and even that isn’t guaranteed. So you start doing it – whatever your “it” is – and don’t even stop for a moment to question it because the moment is going to be gone. All we have is now. So when a friend invites you to visit or you have a choice between a snuggle on the couch or checking email, you need to figure out what’s going to still be there tomorrow and choose accordingly.

I’m still trying to figure out what really matters, but I think I’ve got it in my sights.


Course correction

Home again home again

So, the month of June was a series of ups and downs.

After 42 days in the hospital, Esteban was finally released. That was pretty awesome. Then I was bitten by a large dog the following week (which necessitated a trip to the urgent care, a bunch of gauze, pain and a whole lot of strangers staring at my nether parts) and then four days after that, I found out that I was no longer employed.

(By the way, whatever you’re thinking after you read that last bit, you’re probably spot on, but talking about it on the internet is messy, so I can’t really comment.)

So, punch to the crotch, both literal and figurative? Check.

Clearly the universe needed a course correction. So next day, we put in an offer on a new house.

Apparently, when you have a life-endangering event, you just don’t really give a shit anymore. All of the old fears and trepidations about change and uncertainty? Really not important any longer. Oh, it’s not like they’re gone — I’m still having panic attacks about my lack of steady income — but in the whole scheme of things, are we in the ICU right now? Is someone with a needle trying their best to screw up a routine procedure and put us in danger of a cardiac episode? Can we do something as simple as take a fucking drink of water?

Or, as Esteban put it much more succinctly, “You know, I almost died last month so I really don’t think this is a big deal.”

Yeah. We’ve got this. The second half of 2013 is going to be awesome.





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