The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

“Rescued”

Reason #8,512,294 I never get anything productive done:

Jonas: Mom.

Me: Yes?

Jonas: Can you come outside? I want to show you something.

Me: Um, I’m right in the middle of something. What is it you want to show me?

Jonas: Well… when I was just riding my bike over to Joshua and Eli’s to see if they could come play, I found a baby bird and I brought it back to our house.

Me: What?! No you didn’t. Are you serious?

Jonas: Yes. It was alone! I rescued it!

Me: Did you touch it? The mom won’t take it back if you touched it.

Jonas: I didn’t touch it! I put it in the cup holder on my bike. And there wasn’t a mom. It was in a box.

Me: Oh for chrissakes. Where is it?

*He takes me out to the garage.*

rescued bird 1

 

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a little box and feed him.

Me: Jo, you don’t even know what he eats.

Jonas: I do! All birds eat worms. I know LOTS about birds. Way more than you do.

Me: I’m not saying you don’t. I’m just saying I don’t think you know enough to keep him alive. Or happy. Would you be happy in a tiny little box where you couldn’t move?

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a bigger box. And I can definitely keep him alive. I’ll give him water and food every day. I’ll catch a worm every day for him.

Me: What about when he gets big and needs to learn to fly? You can’t teach him to fly.

Jonas: I could! I could definitely teach him how to fly. I’m sure of it.

Me: Oh good lord. I seriously don’t even know what to do. You need to show me exactly where you found it.

Jonas: OK, but it’s kind of far. And through one of the other gated neighborhoods, so you can’t drive.

*After a 20 minute walk through several neighborhoods and a wash behind some houses.*

Jonas: See that box right there? He was in that box.

Me: So you were riding your bike and you saw the box 20 feet off the path in the wash and you got off your bike to go look inside it?

Jonas: Yes.

Me: Why?

Jonas: I like boxes.

Me: Right. So then how did you get it from the box into your cup holder if you didn’t touch it?

Jonas: I picked up the box and carried it over to my bike and tipped it into the cup holder.

Me: Got it. I don’t see a nest anywhere nearby…

Jonas: Look, Mom!! *Points to the carcass of an identical baby bird  covered in ants about 5 feet further down the wash.*

Me: Get away from that! Don’t touch it!! Come over here right now! I’m calling your father!

Jonas: See! I rescued him! That’s what would have happened to him!

Me (on the phone to Jason): So your youngest, my favorite-

Jason: Uh oh…

Me: Brought home a live baby bird (I explain the story in detail). I don’t see a nest anywhere. And I think it’s not ok. It’s moving its wing and chirping, but not its legs. I seriously don’t know what to do with it.

Jason: Take it home and put it in the big green container in the backyard that we had the lizard in Jonas caught a couple of days ago. Give it some water in that little dish I had in there. I’ll take a look at it when I get home and do something about it.

Me: Oh for the love… fine. I have neither the time nor the emotional energy to feel responsible for the entirety of the health, safety, hopes and dreams of yet another creature in our home! Do you have any idea what kind of a burden it is to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the general happiness and emotional security of everyone who lives under our roof? Even the ones who can’t communicate their own happiness to me?

Jason: …no?

Me: IT’S EXHAUSTING. This is why I drink.

Jason: I thought real estate was why you drink. And the boys fighting. And spiders in the washing machine.

Me: All those things too. It’s why I have to drink so much. I blame you for this, you know. I never brought home creatures for my parents to deal with when I was a kid.

Jason: I know.

rescued bird 2

 

*Updated to add the rest of the story*

So it turns out the little guy is a baby quail. After I posted this blog, my sweet friend, Shar, pointed me to a website run by local people who help sick and injured wildlife. I followed their instructions to email a picture of the bird to them and in less than 10 minutes someone had replied with the name and phone number of a woman in Apache Junction who takes in and rehabilitates sick and injured birds (or baby birds without their mothers).

I called Barb, The Wildlife Rehabilitator, specializing in quail, dove and bunnies (so it sez on her biz card) and she gave me her address and told me to bring the bird right over to her. Of course, at this point the kids had to be at the skateboarding school I signed them up for classes at this summer in 20 minutes, so there wasn’t time to take the bird to her before dropping them off. Additionally, I had planned to go to circus school after the skateboarding classes (Jason was meeting me there to receive the kids). I intended to throw something on over top of my circusy workout outfit to make it slightly less weird, but because of all of the bird clusterfuckery, I didn’t have time to figure anything reasonable out and ended up running out the door just in that. I also didn’t have much time to find something appropriately sized to transport the bird in the car, so I grabbed the first thing I saw that would work.

This is how I came to meet the other moms of the kids in Jonas’s new skateboarding class while wearing a black fitted tank top and these tights:

galaxy tights

 

And carrying a plastic novelty movie popcorn bucket with a tiny injured baby quail inside. Oh and with blue hair, of course.

Luckily, it’s skateboarding class, so dude, these moms don’t judge. (I <3 skateboarding class.)

After securing the kids in their classes, I hopped back into the car (realizing I was super low on gas) and headed 17 miles East into the wilds of Apache Junction to find the wacky lady who takes in tiny injured birds. When I got to her house, she immediately picked him up (it also turns out the whole ‘don’t touch a baby bird because then its mom won’t take it back’  or because it’s definitely covered in germs that will immediately kill you, is all super old-wives-taley) and said something is definitely wrong with his legs and she doesn’t know if he’ll make it, but she’ll work with him and do her best.

Then she thanked me and told me to tell Jonas he’d done the right thing (who knew that was possible) and asked me if I could possibly deliver another bird to one of her rescuer friends on my way back West.

How do you say no to a woman who takes in injured baby birds as a hobby?

Which is how I ended up speeding down the 60 toward a church parking lot to meet a woman I’d never met, freaking out I was going to either be late to pick up the kids or run completely out of gas (or both) with this guy in my car:

rescued bird 3

Luckily, I found ‘Gennie’ (the other nutty bird lady), handed off this fellow and made it back to the skateboard gym without running out of gas exactly as the kids were being released from their classes.

I haven’t heard anything from Barb yet today as to whether our quail made it through the night, but I’m going to check in with her later and will definitely keep you updated. I feel better that at least we did everything we could.

(We also rescued a prairie dog from the neighborhood pool on Tuesday this week:

drowning prairie dog

 

So if this is the universe’s way of testing us to see if we’re terrible people, I would just like to know if we’ve passed or if we should expect a family of homeless coyote to show up at our doorstep seeking shelter next.)

36: Pros vs. Cons

I had a birthday over the weekend. It was a good time, but I’m feeling conflicted about the whole ‘turning 36′ thing. Certain parts of the process are categorically offensive and should be outlawed as inhumane. For instance:

1. When your girlfriend points to you and says to the waiter, “We’re celebrating her 30th!” and he chuckles because he can tell she must be kidding.

2. When your mother gives you a tankini swimsuit for your birthday because, “You’re always complaining about your stretch marks! I thought you’d like to be more covered!”

3. When the cashier at Smashburger asks to see your ID after you order a beer, but as  you’re having trouble extricating it from your new wallet he says, “Oh, it’s OK, you don’t need to pull it out. I’m just supposed to ask!”

4. When bitches in their mid-20s complain about how “old” they’re getting and it’s not legal to punch them in the face (you bitches know who you are).

5. When an acquaintance mentions her “kid in high school” and for a second you wonder if she’s super old or was a teenage mom… until you remember your kid starts high school in 3 months… and you weren’t a teenage mom.

6. When your husband begins to steadily ascend on the Comparative-Attractiveness Scale (because: Men + Age  = Distinguished) while you spend most of your free time (and half your income) fighting tooth and nail just not to lose ground (because: Women + Age = An Entire Aisle in the Grocery Store Devoted to Pleasegodmakethisstop).

No one should have to deal with that shit.

But, there are things about 36 that possibly make up for the horror-show above. Like:

1. Realizing dark lipstick no longer makes you look like a teenage prostitute and you can totally pull it off.

2. Knowing you’re in the strongest physical condition you’ve ever been in your life because you finally have the time, determination and cash flow to make it happen.

3. Still being that bitch who complains about getting “old” to all your friends in their mid-40s.

4. Not giving any fucks about your stretch marks anymore and still wearing your smallest goddamn bikini because you worked hard for those ab muscles, even if they’re covered by a few battle scars.

5. Giving way fewer fucks in general about what anyone else thinks about you, your weird hobbies, habits or outfits.

6. Getting to have a Trophy Husband without even getting divorced and remarried.

7. Having kids you are proud of, who no longer require you to handle their feces on a regular basis and who occasionally even let you go to dinner without them.

So… I think at the very least, it’s a wash. But possibly things are tipping in the direction of 36 not being THE WORST. I’ll let you know in a year.

 

The Emotional Spectrum of a Text

The requisite thought process when you* get a text from a number you don’t recognize:

Me: Yay, a text!

mysterytext

Also Me: Uh… who is this?

Me: This is awkward. This person is nice enough to send me a text asking how the handstand workshop I went to last night went and I don’t even know who it is! I’m such an asshole.

Also Me: Maybe it’s Rebekah or Sean.

Me: I have them both saved in my phone… and they were both at the workshop.

Also Me: Right. It could be Tatiana. We talked about this workshop at class a few weeks ago and she said she thought she was going to go, but then she didn’t show last night.

Me: She’s never texted me before and it doesn’t seem like something she would just randomly do. She would FB message me, or text Rebekah if she wanted to know if it was a cool workshop. It’s not her.

Also Me: OK, so it’s someone who I know well enough they want to know if I enjoyed my class, but not well enough I have him or her saved in my contacts or have ever texted with them before…

Me: This is stupid. I should just text them back, “Who is this?” It’s a reasonable question! Whenever I text someone I haven’t texted before I always sign it. That’s common courtesy.

Also Me: It just seems so confrontational. This person is just trying to be nice! And what if it’s a weird phone thing and it is someone I know really well and my phone is just being a dick and lost the contact? That shit happens. And if I’m weird about it I could totally alienate someone who I really like. Then they’ll never text me asking about my random hobbies again. Or, what if it’s a friend I talk to online all the time who just decided to text me instead of messaging me because it was easier from her phone?

Me: Well this can’t be that hard to figure out. I just need to reason through it. Who knew I was going to a handstand workshop last night and has my phone number?

Also Me: Well, I ‘checked in’, announcing I was attending a handstand workshop, on my completely open Facebook account last night.

Me: And my cell number is both on my super-unprotected-in-any-way Facebook account and in bold at the top of my website, plus on signs in front of all of my listings and on every email I send out.

Also Me: So… the entire Internet and most of Arizona.

Me: Right.

Also Me: OK, OK. Maybe just text them back, “It was great!” and see what they reply back. That could give me some clues to help figure out who exactly it is.

Me: Not a bad idea. But what if it’s a stalker?

Also Me: You mean like a fan? Of my blog?

Me: Well, a ‘fan’ writes comments on the blog. Or possibly messages you through the website or Facebook to say they like your writing or think you’re funny. A ‘stalker’ goes to the trouble of texting your cell about your personal activities.

Also Me: You think I could really have a stalker/fan?? That could be kind of awesome. Only the really good, popular blogs have stalkers. And if this person is a stalker, they seem like a really considerate one. I think I might enjoy having a stalker who texts me to ask me how my day is going and how I’m feeling every once in awhile.

Me: Remember that time early on in real estate when I did an open house and the next day got those emails from some guy who said he’d come through to tour the house? They started out super friendly and complimentary and rapidly turned to creepily describing my outfit and my legs the day before.

Also Me: That still gives me the chills. I was alone in an enormous house with that guy. Ugh. OK, better to figure out who this is before responding in a friendly and inviting manner.

Me: I’ll just have to wait and try Googling the number when I’m not driving.

Later…

Me: AHA! It’s Rachel, the owner of the Circus School! I guess she wanted feedback on how the class went because she wasn’t there.

Also Me: So it wasn’t a friend who cared enough to ask about the class.

Me: Or even a stalker/fan.

Also Me: Like 33 people read the blog. It’s probably not shocking there’s no stalker/fan.

Me: *Sigh*

 

Updated (because I love that you guys take time out of your busy days to fuck with me) to add:

mystery text 2

 

*And by ‘you’, I mean ‘me’.

Residually Problematic

Yesterday evening when I got home from the Mother’s Day staycation I went on with my mom and sister I was jumping on the trampoline in back when I noticed something florescent green attached to the side of our house about 10 feet up. It was on the stucco that runs along the bottom of the balcony off the master bedroom. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was one of those sticky hands you get out of a vending machine for a quarter that only have three practical applications:

1. Collecting cat fur and bacteria.

2. Slapping your brother in the face and saying, “It’s not my fault, I can’t control it!” when he cries.

3. Sneaking up behind your older brother when he’s doing his homework and using it to grab his papers off his desk so he gets really pissed off and locks you out of his room.

I went inside to find Jonas to resolve the issue.

Me: Hey Jo…

Jonas: Yeah?

Me: Is that your sticky hand on the house?

Jonas: Where?!! 

Me: Right under the balcony.

Jonas (runs outside and back in excitedly): Yep, that’s mine! I thought it had landed on the neighbor’s roof. 

Me: Well, I need you to get it off the house.

Jonas (in a full sprint upstairs): OK!!

10 minutes later as he retreats down the stairs…

Jonas: I can’t reach it. I need to construct something to get it down.

Me: Construct away, I have faith in you. I just want it off my house. 

3 minutes later…

*Splat*

Jonas (running down the stairs and out the back door to retrieve his prize): I got it!

Jason: Alright, hand it over.

Jonas (furiously): No! I just want to play with it for 10 minutes!

Me: It’s fine, he can play with it for a few minutes before he needs to get ready for bed, can’t he?

Jason: Do you see those greasy marks on the ceiling over there? 

sticky hand story 1

 

Me: Huh, yeah. I didn’t notice them.

Jason: They’re from the sticky hands Jo and Gray got out of the machines at Barro’s on Friday. This is why I took the rest of them away.

Me: Oh… right. I thought you were just being cranky. 

Jonas: We didn’t know that was going to happen! We just thought they’d stick and fall down.

Me: I get it. But now it looks like an octopus barfed on our ceiling, so you can’t play with them any more. 

Jonas (angrily stomping up the stairs): It’s not fair!

20 minutes later (I’m watching TV and don’t look up when Jonas comes down in his jammies).

Jonas: Mom, we could paint the ceiling, couldn’t we? Then it wouldn’t look bad.

Me: Yes, dear. We’ll probably do that eventually. In 20 years when we go to sell it. 

Jonas (comes over to my chair and nudges me with something in his hand): Here. I have white. 

sticky hand story 2

 

Jonas: It has some green in it, but I think if we use a really really small brush we can get the paint around the edges. Or Dad has a sponge. We could use that to get the green off and then paint the ceiling. See? It’s fine. 

Me: … Yes.

Jonas: So I can have the sticky hand back? 

The Headbox War

Spoiler Alert: They don’t love me.

Me: Now listen, you guys! You’re just screwing around up there, but someone needs to find the headbox! It has not just disappeared. It exists uptairs somewhere and you need to find it. In fact, I’m going to put 10 minutes on the timer and if you haven’t found the headbox by then, I’m going to start by grounding you from your electronic devices for two days and go from there!

Gray from upstairs: Jonas had the headbox last!

Jonas from upstairs: No I didn’t! Mom, what did you do with the headbox last time you were using it for your pictures on your website?

Me: I put it upstairs where it belongs. You guys have done something with it. All of the heads can’t just be gone!

Jonas: I think it’s up here but it’s empty.

Me: Why is it empty?! There were like 50 Lego heads in there!

Gray: I think we dumped all the heads in with the other Legos in one of the big boxes.

Me: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? Do you have any idea how long I spent digging through the Legos to filter all the heads out? I feel like what you’re saying right now is Happy Mother’s Day, we don’t really love you.

Jonas (coming down the stairs): What are you eating?

Me: Nutella.

Jonas: Why am I not allowed to eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon?

Me: Because it’s made of hazelnuts and Dad and I are too lazy to Google it and figure out if hazelnuts are really in the nut family and you’re allergic to them or if they’re like pinenuts and only nut in name. Plus you’re not practically 36 with terrible kids who don’t appreciate all of your hard Lego-organizing work. When you’re 36 and you have terrible kids you can eat as much Nutella out of the jar with a spoon as you want… unless we find out hazelnuts are actually nuts.

Jonas: Oh.

Me: You only have 7 minutes left on the timer to find as many heads as you can in the big Lego box, so you better get working. I’m going to ground you if you don’t find enough.

Gray: How many is enough?

Me: If you love me you’ll find them all.

Can everyone stop rolling their eyes at me?

Things I feel like you should know right now:

1. Mysterious Illness Update #∞ – As of like three days ago I seem to be completely rash-free. Almost exactly three months after the first onset I no longer have any unexplained red dots and I haven’t used the steroid creme in more than two weeks. After hours of time wasted in doctors’ offices and hundreds of dollars in copays I learned doctors rely pretty heavily on both Web-MD and the ‘wait-and-see’ diagnosis. So basically they’re useless. Also I’m pretty sure when they interview for receptionists they look for extensive training in Being a Bitch, with an emphasis in Eye-Rolling and Interrupting Your Story.

The point is, none of the tests they ran ever came back positive. They never determined any kind of a diagnosis beyond We’re pretty sure it’s a virus and nothing that’s gonna kill you. Which is not just a little irritating and unsatisfying. But at least I don’t look like I have leprosy any longer.

2. Unfortunately, due to my new found disrespect for all medical professionals, I waited to take Gray to the doctor last week until he was four days into a fever and stomachache I assumed was ‘a virus’ (Doctor speak for, What the eff do I know? That’ll be $40.). Of course he actually had strep throat, a legitimately easy to diagnose and treat infection that generally doesn’t just get better on its own very quickly. So now he’s missed 4 days of school and 12-16 meals, and has only just started sleeping non-vampire hours again. So I suck.

3. The washing machine and I are ‘on a break’.

Yesterday when I was putting in a load of dirty clothes, I noticed a pair of Ben’s underwear had fallen between the wall and the machine, so I reached into the crevice, snagged the undies and threw them on the top of the load. When they landed in the machine, A SPIDER THE SIZE OF MY HEAD (practically) emerged and ran down inside the folds of the dirty clothes. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that I screamed like someone was trying to murder me (because clearly that spider was thinking murderous thoughts). Jason came running (ish… he ambled upstairs with rolly eyes*) and ultimately decided the way to handle this was to run the washing machine with the spider in it.

After the load had finished washing, Jason removed each piece of laundry individually and checked it for spiders (because that’s why you get married, so you don’t have to do shit like that yourself). He didn’t find anything. I’m pretty sure he thinks I made the whole thing up, but he says the spider probably got washed out of the machine and down the drain. I find that unlikely seeing as how our machine usually doesn’t even get the playground sand out of Jonas’s pockets, but I’m not sure what to do about it. Currently I’m avoiding both the laundry room and the load of now clean and dry laundry the spider was originally in. I figure if he made it through the wash employing some sort of arachnid-James-Bondery, this will give him time to either vacate the premise or  to invite all his friends to this new fun place he’s discovered. In the case of the latter we’ll obviously have an epic showdown only one of us will survive. Imma choose flame-thrower as my weapon because it worked in Arachnophobia.

4. Ignite Phoenix #16 wrapped up last Friday night. It was an awesome show and I was proud to be on the committee. (I also had a small MC duty in the middle of the show just to remind myself that I’m kind of terrible at public speaking.) I feel strongly that it’s an important event to Phoenix culture and the people who put it together (minus me) are insanely hardworking and creative. That said, I feel like I just don’t have the time to commit to the project it needs and I generally feel sick-to-my-stomach-guilty throughout the process for not attending meetings or reading all the emails like I should. In order to devote more time (like the rest of the committee does), I feel like I’d have to give up working out, hire a chauffeur and chef and stop showing property on Saturday mornings. The first I could get away with (although I don’t want to), but the other two are just not an option in my life right now.

But, OF COURSE, the next Ignite event on the books is the long awaited Ignite Phoenix After Hours, the vulgar, sexy, R-rated version of Ignite they only put on every couple of years because it’s a logistic (and potentially literal) clusterfuck. Obviously I don’t want to miss out on this shit.

So probably, instead of trying to recognize my own limitations and scale back on my activities, I’m going to redouble my efforts through the fall so I can be a part of this event. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right? Or possibly, since we’ve already established I’m a failure as a parent up in number 2, when I’m supposed to be helping my kids with their homework.

That’s mostly it here right now.

 

*WHY DOES EVERYONE ROLL THEIR EYES AT ME? GAWD.

Why Circus Class Is Better Than Your Dumb Workout Class

I feel like right now you’re sitting at your computer, thinking to yourself, I wonder just why it is Elizabeth Newlin loves circus class so much… Am I right? Is that what was just happening? I knew it. I’m kind of psychic like that. 

Well you’re in luck. My stupid pulled ab muscle is healing and I was able to actually attend class yesterday, so here for a little Monday quickie (because who doesn’t love a Monday quickie), I put together a list of the reasons I love (LOVE) circus class.

My Favorite Things About Circus Class

1. There’s no such thing as ‘too old’, ‘too young’, ‘too fat’ or ‘too weird’ in circus class.

It would probably be insulting for me to detail out examples of old, young, fat, and weird in my classes, so let’s just go with this: I’m mostly middle of the road in all areas. My blue hair and almost 36-ness barely ping the ‘old-weirdo’ scale. Regardless of our ages and size, we’re all there together, squeezing into lycra and trying to climb a rope.

2. There’s a general ‘suck it up’ mentality about pain.

Two weeks ago in trapeze class, our instructor, Lauren, told us to put the middle of our forearms on the bar and try to balance our weight on them. “It’s a good idea to work on your pain tolerance in this area,” she explained. Don’t worry, that will hurt a lot less when you kill the nerves in right there and Once you toughen your skin up you won’t get as many bruises are things we’re often told. Because, Dude, if you can’t be a badass, what circus will want you? And hey, being a badass is an important life skill.

3. It’s assumed you can fucking do it if you just try harder.

During one of the classes in my first few months, my beginning level teacher, Ximena, told me to start class with a climb to the top of the silks. At this point, climbing 20+ feet up in the air was an incredibly physically (and let’s face it, emotionally) depleting task that I hadn’t actually managed to complete before. That day, though, I dug deep and made it to the very top of the silks, before shakily and gracelessly sliding down, hand-under hand. At the bottom, Ximena turned around (she’d been helping someone else) and said, “I told you to climb to the top.” Dripping sweat and near tears, I replied, “I just did it! Didn’t you see?” To which she said, “Well do it again, then!” That day I nearly punched her, but I did manage to get halfway back up again. Now I can probably do it three times in a row before I’m so tired I need to punch anyone. It turns out it helps to have someone push you past your own imagined limits.

4. Muscles are a thing everyone is proud and envious of.

Yesterday in class, a friend, Rebekah, who’s been in my class since I started turned to me and said, “Every single person here has a ripped back. Have you noticed that? Even that 16 year old girl over there who just started this session has new definition in her back and shoulders.” I looked around and she was right. You don’t go to circus class as a ‘fitness class’. You go to learn awesome tricks and feel like a superstar. A rock hard body is apparently just an unavoidable byproduct.

5. The What are you doing… Can I try?-culture.

Because the people who come to circus class are there because they want to learn cool tricks, everyone is constantly teaching everyone else new things they figured out or learned. Yesterday after class I got to try out the globe:

circus globe

 

Now I just need a high-waisted sequin bikini, right?

Which brings me to number 6…

6. It’s all about the outfits.

This one doesn’t even need explanation, right?

star tights

 

OK, so now do you want to come to class with me???

Overcoming the Family Legacy – My Dream For Ben

Dear My Nearly-Highschooler Son,

It’s not that I don’t get it. I do. I know what you’re going through all too well:

You take a seat in class, determined this will be the day you turn over a new leaf. You’re going to listen and absorb new material. You’re going to pay attention and take notes. You reach into your bag and pull out a notebook. It’s halfway through the semester and the only pages with writing are from the ‘Classroom Rules’ you were required to copy down the first day of class. You have a sinking feeling it doesn’t matter if you start today because you’ve kind of already ruined this class. You wonder if maybe you should start fresh next semester.

No, you tell yourself. Any day can be the start of new, positive habits. You can pull this class up at least a little bit. It’s worth trying.

You reach into your bag for a pen to take notes and find 3 broken pencils, a yellow highlighter, a pen you know doesn’t work and a crumbling pack of gum, among the wads of paper. Floating near the top is the form to buy a yearbook they handed out weeks ago. Looks like it’s due tomorrow. Remember to tell mom to write a check, remember to tell mom to write a check, you meditate.

The teacher begins speaking. You still haven’t found a viable writing utensil. You could ask the girl in front of you if she has one for you to borrow. She always seems well prepared. Or you could take one of the broken pencils to the sharpener really quick. Either seems like it would be disruptive to the class. And what if the teacher rolls his eyes and says, Really? Now you’re taking notes? What could possibly be the point now? That’s what you’d say to you.

No, you decide, instead, to sit quietly and pay extremely close attention to what he’s saying so you can soak it all in, and as soon as there’s a break, you’ll grab a pen and write down everything you learned before you forget it.

By this point the teacher is a few sentences into his lecture. He started with a joke and now he’s reviewing some stuff you already know. He’s giving some background info that’s clearly not going to be on any kind of a test. Where is the meat? The learning? What exactly are you supposed to be getting out of this right now? Couldn’t he just cut to the chase already?

Your mind starts to drift. You think about the novel you’re halfway through reading. You hope something interesting happens at lunch with your friends. You wonder if you should try to speak to your girlfriend in public today or if it will just embarrass her because she’s so shy. You brush your hair out of your eyes and try to remember if you washed it today in the shower or forgot and that’s why it looks so greasy.

Twenty minutes later the teacher wants you to break into small groups to work on a project and you realize you didn’t hear a single word he said. It was probably all in the text, though, you console yourself.

Homework feels like pointless busy-work. You always seem to miss when the teachers give due dates. You constantly worry you’re supposed to be working on something, so rather than face your assignments, you lose yourself in a book or your friends. You can make it up on the test, anyway, you tell yourself.

Does that sound right? I remember being that student. I remember feeling primarily unmotivated and bored. I remember being completely off-track and behind so quick into the school year that it felt pointless to even try to catch up. Sure, I was underperforming, but that was kind of part of my charm.

I know you hear the stories about me (and your grandpa) and it feels like a family legacy you can’t overcome. You’re not even really sure you want to. Neither of us twirls a sign on a corner days and works the Arby’s drive-thru nights just to make ends meet because we failed 8th grade social studies, after all. It’s in your blood to be a little bit of a half-ass when it comes to school. You’re a third-generation under-achiever!

The thing I wish I could convey to you without just sounding like Your Mom, is, if I could, I would do it all over exactly opposite. Your grandpa and I tell stories and laugh about how we didn’t even go to most of our classes in college, but when it comes down to it, I really regret all the things I missed out on because I was screwing around.

Looking back, I feel certain I could have put a relatively minimal amount of work into generally paying attention during class and completing homework tasks without largely diminishing my social life. I’ve come to realize pretty little follow through with my classes likely would have been enough to keep my grades within a range I wouldn’t have had to constantly worry about my parents being pissed at me. I actually could have probably gotten away with a lot more shenanigans in high school than I did if I’d just done my homework and stayed off their radar a little bit more. If I’d read the books assigned in my English classes (instead of rereading horror novels I’d already practically memorized), not only would I likely have enjoyed them, but I’m confident I’d now understand 50% more of the references on The Simpsons.

If I’d kept attending that dance class I registered for in college, instead of dropping it the second week because it was all the way across campus and I was too busy eating 4 meals a day at the cafeteria, I might have continued dancing instead of taking almost a decade off. If I’d put some effort into the assignments for my creative writing classes rather than literally using my roommate’s fridge poetry kit 20 minutes before class to write my poem, I might have actually learned something and be further along in my writing dreams than 35 years old with a blog and mere aspirations of a novel.

It’s hard to see it at the time, but high school and college are this crazy fertile ground of opportunities and creative energy. They’re both places full of people who only want to help you learn and do awesome things. Once you get to real life, those opportunities are still there, but you have to look really hard for them and only after you’re exhausted from horribly boring things like supporting yourself and doing laundry.

It took me a long time to see where I went wrong on all of this. Like a really long time. I just wish for you (sofa king much) that you could know this truth a little bit sooner than I did; soon enough to take advantage of your giant brain and some of the opportunities it can afford you if you simply teach it a tiny bit of discipline.

It’s really all I want for you.

Love you much (even though you’re an enormous pain in my ass),

Mom

My 7 Excuses For Failing at Last Week

I pretty much accomplished nothing last week. I was unproductive in almost every way. Emails and phone calls went unanswered, I didn’t work out, I didn’t blog, I occasionally didn’t even bathe. I’m not saying Gray wore the same outfit three days in a row before I noticed, but I’m not saying he didn’t either. It’s possible Jonas used the cat to dry his hair off on after a shower because we were out of clean towels. Beyond very basically sustaining life in this house by breathing, eating, and drinking wine, I managed very little, is what I’m saying.

I feel like you’re judging me right now. That’s what’s happening over there in your head, isn’t it? I can see it in your narrowed eyes and furrowed brow. You think I’m lazy, don’t you? You think I’m sad and lazy and old and I’ve given up.

Well it’s hard to be happy, motivated, young and engaged all the time! But in my defense, last week was stupid and I have a really lot of super valid excuses for my behavior (and lack thereof).

My 7 Excuses For Doing Nothing Last Week:

1. Jonas spilled a glass of water into my laptop.

I’m fully aware this is the ‘my dog ate my homework’ of being a grownup. I’m also willing to admit the first day after it happened, I may have taken the opportunity to ignore my responsibilities and daydrink a little bit. It’s not like we ever get snow days here in the desert, so I’m not going to look a gift reason-to-screw-around in the mouth, if you know what I mean.

That said, after four days of sharing a computer with my 13 year old and feeling panicky that none of my data would be recovered (and moderately awkward to learn that Google Chrome remembers my browser history if I log into Google+ on other computers), I was willing to pay almost anything just to have my own laptop back and working again. Of course, The Universe sensed this willingness and obliged with a bill of $900 to have the shorted out logic doohickey and top thingster replaced.

Now, since I’ve proven I can’t be trusted to have my beverage on the table next to me, I have to keep it on a special stool with a large enough gap to protect my electronics.

excuses 1 copy

2. I had a cold. 

Ben gave it to me. It was probably from sharing his computer. I knew I shouldn’t have clicked that link. (Get it? Computer virus? It’s funny, stop rolling your eyes.)

3. I had to pay my tax bill.

Yes, I should have paid quarterly. Yes, it’s a first world problem to have a large tax bill. Yes, I’m still complaining and yes, I still needed a day off to feel sorry for myself, because no, I’ve never actually written a check that large before in my life. (And yes, I paid my first quarter estimate for 2014 because I learned my lesson.)

4. I had to get my hair done. 

It’s been six months since I first had my hairs bleached and dyed blue, so it was time to go back and have it all freshened and cut. I’m happy with the result:

I've graduated from exaggeratedly cheerful selfies to dramatically lit, pensive self-portraits. I feel like they showcase my hair better.

I’ve graduated from exaggeratedly cheerful selfies to dramatically lit, pensive self-portraits. I feel like they showcase my hair better.

But the entire process took MORE THAN THREE HOURS and tipped me into a shame spiral regarding just how goddamn high maintenance I’ve become in my elderly years. What happened to the days when I wouldn’t wash my face before bed? When I didn’t even put lotion on my legs? When I would cut my hair short once a year and simply let it grow and grow and grow until it was long enough to be annoying and chop it off once more? (I realize this makes me sound less ‘low maintenance’ and more ‘like a wildebeest’ but I was a happy, free, wildebeest.)

Now I have appointments for waxes and colors and cuts. I have stupidly expensive face soaps and lotions. Before I go to bed I basically have to strip off the top layer of veneer over my entire body and coat it in protective cream so I can reapply veneer all over again the next morning. I used to attend weddings with nothing but lip gloss an a tiny bit of eyeliner, now I have to put on full makeup to go to the grocery store so I don’t startle myself when walking past reflective surfaces.

It’s upsetting, is the point. And being overly-dramatic is time consuming.

5. I hurt my side. 

Thursday night I dragged my poor, shame-spiraling, lazy ass to circus class in an attempt to work up some endorphins and stem the tide of self-hatred. We’d learned a new drop called Candy Cane the previous Saturday that looks like this:

This is Lauren, my instructor.

Of course, I managed to completely jack-up my left oblique doing it. And I’m an idiot and don’t at all understand the line between ‘not being a pussy when something hurts a little’ and ‘making a legitimate injury worse’, so I pushed forward and continued working out until I could barely stand because the entire left, middle side of my body was on fire. (I often err on the other side of that line and tell myself it’s ok to stop running and eat a donut because it seems like my pinky toe might be a little sore from the blister that could be forming. I need special tutoring on how to find this line.)

I was going to try to continue to ignore the injury, but on Friday one of my friends mentioned it could be a hernia and I got all super hypochondria-y and went to the doctor (confession: my only knowledge of hernias is that one episode of Friends where Joey has one but doesn’t have health insurance and it seemed really painful, but it wasn’t a ‘very special episode’ where he almost died or anything, so I guess they’re not really that big of a deal, right?). The doc said I effed it up and I should ice it and not do anything ab-ish for a week or two.

Yesterday I went running. Turns out running is ab-ish. Ow. I will never learn.

6. The teachers never work.

My kids had both a ‘super early release’ and a ‘stay home and annoy Mom all day because of a religious holiday they aren’t calling a religious holiday’ day last week. TEACHERS ARE SO LAZY.*

7. There’s a large, dead fly in my outside fridge and I don’t know how to make it stop being there without touching it.

I mean how can I be expected to be productive in any way when this is happening?

I mean how can I be expected to be productive in any way when this is happening?

So the point of all this is: It’s not my fault I accomplished nothing last week. In fact, I sort of need a week off to recover from last week. Right?

*OMG put down the pitchfork, I’m kidding. I love love love my kids’ teachers for not expelling or institutionalizing my children. Jonas swore today is what’s called his ‘King Day’ and it means he’s allowed to bring an unlimited amount of his favorite toys to school to show everyone, which sounds nothing short of completely invented by a 6 year old’s brain, and yet I allowed it and it’s 11 a.m. and his teacher hasn’t even called me yet. How can I not simply worship her?

Stuff and Life

I wanted to make a Youtube Video with my 9 year old on How to Make an Origami Hummingbird from this book we have that looks like a children’s book, but is actually for adult engineers with IQs of 150+. It was going to have a lot of weeping and smashing things and eventually us going to the store and buying a model of a hummingbird. But then work got really busy and I’ve had to actually show houses and write contracts and LAME.

So instead, imagine a video where Gray and I are huddled over a stack of origami paper and I’m crying and asking him, “Why, Gray? Why? I just don’t know what a ‘squash fold’ is and I think it’s too early to drink… is it too early to drink? It’s not to early to drink, right?”

Also here’s a general life update to tide you over until I get a chance to put together a fully-formed attempt to entertain:

1. Jonas has been sleeping in a tent in the backyard off and on for the last couple of weeks. It started over spring break, but then last Thursday he was all, I’m going to sleep outside again tonight, OK? And I couldn’t really think of a decent reason why he shouldn’t if he wanted to, so he did. And the night after that, and the night after that, and the night after that. (Saturday night he tried to tell me he was going to take the tent into the greenbelt behind our house and sleep out there, but it seemed like he’d have trouble climbing the back fence with his tent and bedding, so I vetoed it.)

Last night I started to get worried there was something about this I wasn’t taking into account and told him he had to sleep inside for a night. I was worried it wasn’t good for his allergies, or the birds outside wake him up too early and he wasn’t able to get a decent night’s sleep, or it’s not good for a six year old’s back to sleep on the ground every night. Or that he had joined an international drug smuggling ring run by children and was sneaking out of the yard at night to get trained for the eventual operation.

This morning I asked him if he slept well and he said, “No. The tent’s better.”

So, now I’m not even sure what to do with him. Built him a platform out back he can pitch his tent on permanently and rename the backyard ‘Jonas’s Room’? Hire coyotes to raise him in the desert out front of our house? Get him his own reality show where he invites other kindergartners over, forces them to sleep in the yard and votes them out one by one in tribal councils?

2. My Mysterious Illness has culminated in the least satisfying, most anticlimactic story ever.

The Parvo test came back negative. As did the Valley Fever test. In fact, none of the three rounds of blood they’ve taken have shown anything abnormal. Also the biopsy they did three weeks ago (that still hasn’t healed) just showed it’s a ‘vasculitis type rash’. Which apparently means: It’s a rash.

So what I’ve learned is:

I have a rash.

There is blood in my body.

I don’t have leukemia or anything icky like that.

It’s not ringworm or bedbugs (so everyone can stop assuming that, thanks).

The regular doc I went to was all: Yeah… so… yeah… But you’re not dying. I mean I’m pretty sure about that. And the oral steroids we gave you made it better for awhile, so… I mean, I think if the rash comes back you should go to a dermatologist. Because they’re good at like rashes and stuff. 

The dermatologist I went to when the rash came back was all: Um… I don’t really do joint pain, so I’m going to pretend that’s not a symptom. The rash is weird, we should biopsy it. And you should put more steroids on it. Steroids are awesome. Not that I do them recreationally or anything. WATCHMERIPMYSHIRTINHALFRAWR!!!!

One of my friends who’s not a doctor of anything but Internet Googling (she has a PHD in IG) found a virusy rash type thing that sounded right and I called my doctor to ask if that was a possibility. She’d never heard of it (and I asked myself why, WHY, we have doctors when all we really need are friends and The Internet), but ran more blood and said she thought that wasn’t it either.

In other strangeness, my sister also has the rash. But only on one leg. And she’s pretending it’s not a thing because denial is her favorite medicine. Since she and I don’t even get to spend that much time together anymore because she has this terrible Assistant Principal of a High School job that results in awesome stories but a fairly hideous life (did you know that ‘clapping in someone’s face’ is a super harsh insult to The Kids now?) I’m not sure how I gave it to her but not my children or my husband who sleeps in my bed. I shared my steroid creme with her, but I haven’t heard if it helped because she’s too busy dealing with delinquents and developing PTSD.

So at this point, I have a rash that goes away when I’m taking steroids or putting steroid creme on it, but comes back when I stop and migrating joint pain that’s not nearly as bad as it was that first week (this week it’s my elbows) and could be just from working out too much? Both have been going on for 5 weeks.

Neither, however, are making my life miserable (except when I try to wear shorts or a swimsuit, which is annoying because I have abs for the first time ever, now that I’m taking circus class). So at this point I’m just going to use all the refills on the steroid creme and hope by the time they run out this has worked itself out of my system.

(Most boring conclusion ever.)