Archived Story

Dancing the new normal lifestyle

Published 6:34am Sunday, September 23, 2012

Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster

The problem with writing a column about your life is that you have to write a column about your life.

At the beginning of every week I hope that something worth writing about happens and that I don’t have to try to make 700 words out of how I recently I discovered I was the only person in the country, perhaps the world, who hadn’t heard the song “Call Me Maybe.” When I told my husband, Graham, about this even he quoted, ‘Hey, I just met you/and this is crazy/But here’s my number/so call me, maybe?”

“How do you know that?” I asked him.

“That song is everywhere.”

“It’s nowhere where I am. And anyway, I don’t get it. Is her name maybe or is she just indecisive? Is it call me comma maybe or no comma?”

He pondered that for a moment, but before he could crack the code a baby cried and we forgot all about it.

Sometimes your life does not a column make.

Friends, I have to pull out the grade-school Latin and give you the old caveat lector warning because there might not be a lot of columns that are too far removed from the caring and feeding of Gertie Gumdrop and Clara Ducky Doll as they’re called around these parts. I no longer have any idea what’s going on in the culture, be it pop or political, but I do know it’s getting harder to tell one from the other.

My new culture consists of two bassinets, a changing table and a bed that I occasionally fall into and frequently fall out of. Mama’s got a brand new bag, and it’s full of Pampers, Desitin, cold beer and night crawlers. Sometimes I get my Playmate fishing cooler mixed up with my diaper bag, but that’s only because they smell so much alike.

So far, the strangest thing about this new life is the strategic challenges. Figuring out how to function day-to-day while keeping track of two real live human beings is a conundrum of a dance set to music called, The New Normal, which we are learning minute by minute, step by step, and beat by beat. Most of the time we manage not to dance in circles and trample each others’ toes, but some situations do tend to resemble Fred and Ginger doing “Who’s on first” with two left feet.

Since we brought the twins home we’ve kept a written log of every feeding and bodily function they’ve had. At any time of the day or night we can consult the log and know what end of the baby needs our attention, but occasionally we have a moment like this.

“Who needs a bath tonight?” I ask.

“Who did we dip last?” Graham replies.

“I think the one that I was calling Gertie for five minutes before I realized she was Clara.”

“Are you sure she didn’t actually turn out to be Gertie?”

“Might’ve been.”

“So who gets the bath? The one we thought was Gertie but was Clara or the one who we didn’t think was Gertie but who really was, uh, is?”

“Who’s the cruddiest?”


“He’s a dog.”

“Yet he is the cruddiest.”

“Person. The cruddiest of the people who live in this house. And don’t you dare say me.”

“Well, Clara’s storing a half gallon of milk between her many many chins.”

“Hand her over. And we better write this down.”

“Should I write down that Gertie gets the next bath or that Clara had the last one?”

“You better write down everything just to be safe.”

So, friends, that’s the way it is around here for now. Someday I’m confident I’ll write about a play I saw at the Guthrie, a restaurant I discovered in Minneapolis, or a new book I just read, but I’m not eager to rush it. You know why? I’ll tell you if you’ll allow me to crib and paraphrase a few lines from one of my favorite Fred and Ginger songs. Heaven, I’m in Heaven, And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak; And I seem to find the happiness I seek, When I’m dancing with my family cheek to cheek.


Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at, and her blog is at