The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

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.)

 

 

My Inaugural Aerial Performance

Last weekend at Circus class:

Rachel (officially circusy owner/instructor) – Hey guys, the circus school is going to be out at The Tempe Festival of Arts next weekend and will have a rig set up for student demos. Instead of next weekend’s class, do you maybe want to come down and do a little informal student performing?

Me and Rebekah (the other newish, unperformance-seasoned chick in our class) – PERFORMING???!!! LIKE WE’RE SORT OF REALLY IN THE CIRCUS??!! Are you being serious right now or just kidding? Because if this is a joke, it’s not funny.

Rachel – Um, I’m not kidding.

Me and Rebekah – Just tell us where to be. We’ll go ahead and sleep there, in costumes and makeup until it’s time.

Rachel – But that’s probably not necessary. Or legal. And these are just super casual student-demos.

Me and Rebekah – We don’t care what’s legal, we’re circus folk!!!

Rachel – …Ok, then.

Me and Rebekah –  weekend-update

Thursday night Rebekah and I met at the school to practice some of the basic routines we know to be ready to perform. We’ve learned a bunch of tricks, but we haven’t done any kind of perfecting or really much in the way of sequencing them together. We started with the silks, and by the time we’d gone through our repertoire, we were too exhausted to do much of anything on the trapeze.

I thought it would probably be ok because um, hello, I was born to be in the circus. Clearly I would get up in front of the crowd and a giant ray of sunlight would appear from heaven like a spotlight. I would step up to the apparatus and instantly become light as air and able to touch my foot to my head again like when I was 12. My teeth would reflect like diamonds and I would sweat glitter. If I had to fart, it would be soundless, odorless and appear as a rainbow. Because it was meant to be.

Apparently, though, I am not the (magical, glowing, rainbow-farting) Chosen One of circusing, even though I really thought it was going to be me. *sad face*

Also, I forgot to take into account I am inflicted with the particular brand of stage-fright that means my mind goes blank when I’m in front of a crowd and I’m unable to think or feel anything except my own terror and the growing discomfort on the faces of each of the individual audience members in response to my obvious terror. If I haven’t practiced whatever I’m doing in front of the crowd so many times my body can take over on auto-pilot while my mind freaks THE FUCK out, I just stand there, a sweating, shaking shell of a person, while everyone feels sorry for me and I feel sorry for myself. It’s not that circusy. I’m pretty sure this specific form also comes with a weird amnesia that makes me completely forget it’s going to happen until the second I’m in front of the crowd. Every. Time.

Friday at the festival, things were not awesome, but they weren’t terrible, either. The crowd watching was pretty small and it was really just me, and a few other people demoing, so I felt, at the very least, useful. I did the few tricks I had completely memorized several times as the crowd rotated through. No one I knew showed up, so I was only humiliating myself in front of strangers. Plus, Rebekah took some cool pictures of me and since they were still,  you couldn’t even see the shaking, sweating and general lack of confidence I really exuded in person.

This is The Unicorn. You can't even see that I couldn't remember which way to twist to get up into it and had to ask for help while I was struggling to get into it.

This is The Unicorn. You can’t even see that I couldn’t remember which way to twist to get up into it and had to ask for help while I was flailing around on the trapeze.

This is called Rain and I think it's actually supposed to look like this!

This is called Rain and I think it’s actually supposed to look like this!

Saturday I brought my husband, children and mother with me so they could witness the spectacle. One of my oldest and dearest and her hubby showed up. Of course this ratcheted up the pressure and my nervousness, but to be fair, most of those people had watched me give birth or emerged from my body, and those who hadn’t (minus my BFF’s husband) had attended high school dances with me and still love me despite my ensemble choices, so it felt like sort of a Safe Place.

I managed a few tricks without crying and received the obligatory familial praise (Well, honestly I probably would have been more impressed if you hadn’t already made me watch like 30 video clips of you doing this stuff.*).

This is called a Falling Star. (And those are called my Rainbow Tights.)

This is called a Falling Star. (And those are called My Rainbow Tights.)

The Fly. (Minus Jeff Goldblum.)

The Fly. (Minus Jeff Goldblum.)

Sunday morning I was a mess. My arms ached from too many consecutive days of aerial and I was moderately belligerent at the idea of returning to the scene of my torture, and paying $10 to park AGAIN. But I’d told my classmates I’d be there, so I choked down a handful of Aleve and bucket of caffeine and shuffled back to Tempe.

Things started downhill as soon as I arrived:

1. The crowd watching had tripled.

2. All of the really bendy, young, fantastic students had arrived to demo (making me wish I’d worn a shirt that said, “I’m a 35 year old mother of 3, please don’t measure me in comparison to HER ->”).

3. Several of my sweet and supportive friends had showed up to watch me (humiliate and potentially injure myself).

I shakily struggled through a demo of the Fly routine and slid too far down the silks to finish with the Rain trick (sliding south is a symptom of sucking on the silks). By that point my ego was so crumpled and bruised I could do nothing but disentangle myself from the silks and run back under the tent. I didn’t even bow (which was possibly my worst error. At least if you act like you’re doing it right the people who aren’t paying too close attention won’t realize you fucked it all up).

I was ready to give up, go home and drink until I couldn’t see the sympathetic looks on the faces of the crowd in my head anymore, when my 3 year old nephew, Colby, tapped me on the arm and said, “Aunt Mini, where are my cousins?” Because, of course, my sister and brother-in-law had taken their only days off insanely busy work week schedules, packed their young sons into the car and paid $10 to park to come out and support me.

I probably should have lied and told them I was sorry, but I’d used up all of my demoing time and they’d have to just imagine my head on someone else’s body. I could have said I’d broken my arm on the last trick. I might have yelled, “Oh my god, a guy over there is being captured by pterodactyl!” and run away when they turned to look.

But I didn’t.

Instead, even though the silks had been traded out for the trapeze, and I actually don’t know any cohesive routines on trapeze, even though a 22 year old who weighs 98 pounds and can twist herself into a pretzel had just performed before me, and even though I had mindfucked myself into an almost epileptic state of nervousness over the whole thing, I tackled one more demo on the trapeze.

This is really all you need to know about that performance:

I attempted the Level One sequence, which I haven’t done in a few months. When it came to doing the fourth trick in the sequence, the Half Angel (which I always have trouble remembering just how to do even when I’m low to the ground in the gym and not in front of anyone) my mind went absolutely blank with respect to which foot was supposed to go where and which hand was supposed to let go. So instead of stopping and asking for help, or doing something I did know how to complete, I took a guess and ended up hanging from my ankle and the wrong hand, swinging around haphazardly in a trick that IS NOT A TRICK.

I’m sure it would have actually been more humiliating if I’d lost my grip right there (because what I was doing was completely unsafe) and gone crashing to the mat, but all I could think was that all of the other students and teachers watching were distinctly aware what I was doing was not a real thing. It was kind of like if Will Ferrell had been allowed to pretend he was a circus aerialist. If you can imagine Blades of Glory, but with aerialists, that’s what I was doing right there.

Luckily, there’s no video or photographic evidence of this incident that I know of. I made it to the ground without grievously injuring myself and immediately hightailed it to the bar where I drank enough margaritas I only sort of hated myself.

So… none of the Cirque talent scouts have called me yet. I haven’t been whisked off to Vegas to live out my dreams of sparkly costumes and fame. I’m still just a 35 year old mother of three with performance anxiety. But I’m not giving up. I need to work harder at being less of a spaz, for sure, but it was a learning experience. Also, even though I love (LOVE) those of you who showed up, next time I’m not announcing my performance on Facebook. Ya’ll don’t need to be put through that.

This is from Sunday. If you look close, you can see the terror in my eyes.

This is from Sunday. If you look close, you can see the terror in my eyes.

 

*He’s going to be super pissy that I quoted him, so I’m not even going to tell you who said that.

Your Wife is Like Your iPhone

WARNING: This is one of those that’s going to fall under the umbrella of “Super Sexist and Assuming But Sometimes True,” so if you’re going to be a baby about that you should probably skip it.

You know how sometimes you’re driving down the freeway, mind wandering from topic to topic (If peacocks mated with flamingos, their spawn would be the fashion models of birds, right? Just how many calories are in a spoonful of Nutella mixed with a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter? Is Neil Patrick Harris a total waste of a spot on my list of celebs I’m allowed to sleep with or is there a chance he’s bi?) and you’re struck by a brilliant lightning bolt of inspiration that can only be explained by a muse, The Hand of God or LSD?

Well it happened to me the other day. It was a brilliant epiphany, similar to when I figured out being a parent is like smelling your own farts. Only this time it was about the secret to a blissful marriage.

So without further ado, here it is:

Dear Men, Your wife is just like your iPhone. Treat her accordingly. 

See how simple and beautiful that is?? I know. Go forth and have a perfect marriage.

Oh. You need more details? Hmm. I thought it was kind of self-explanatory.

OK, so menfolk. You have your iPhone. At this point it’s like another arm. It has your email, your texts, your Twitter, your Words With Friends, that weird Secret app you can’t decide if it’s going to get cool or not, it pays your bills, it tells you how to get places, it takes your pictures, wakes you up and records your workouts. Occasionally people call you on it. It does your shit, right? You can’t function without it.

Your iPhone can do a really lot of things, but it has limitations. Specifically: its battery life. It carries with it a finite amount of power and you are constantly aware of this. When you turn it on to do anything, your eyes automatically flit up to the bar in the top right that tells you just how much juice you have left. When it starts to dip down into the 70% range, you get a little nervous. At 50% you mentally calculate how long until you’ll have access to a charger and start to cut back on your social media usage. If it ever gets down to 20% you consider asking strangers if they have a spare charger on them.

You know if your iPhone dies, you’ll be stuck. You’ll be cut off from all the things you’ve grown to depend on it for. And beyond that, when your iPhone gets low on battery, it starts to get a little janky. The maps function gets slow. Sometimes texts don’t want to go through. You can’t tell if your comment on Facebook actually posted, so you end up posting it three times in a row, which makes you look like a fucking weirdo who doesn’t really ‘get it’.

To keep all of this at bay, you keep a charger in your car and a cord at work. When you’re home, you keep it plugged in if possible. When you’re traveling, you keep a charger on you at all times, and when you’re killing time, waiting to get on a plane, you find a seat at the bar near an outlet so you can keep your iPhone charged while you have a beer. You want that baby to run at optimal performance at all times, so you keep it happy.

Now let’s talk about your wife. If you’ve been married more than a handful of years, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a little comfortable about things. Maybe you still make an effort to poop in the upstairs bathroom if you know your wife is hanging out downstairs, but beyond that life is stressful and complicated, and being nice takes effort. Some days you feel like you’re just doing the best you can to get through work and fight traffic to get home and pass out on the couch. Add in kids and/or working out and who has time for anything else? Occasionally you don’t even put a smile on your face and act happy to see her when you walk in the door.

So here’s the deal*, your wife has her own ‘feeling loved’ battery. (OK, you do, too.) Obviously, you depend on her for lots of things (companionship, shared household duties, childcare, comfort, sex, entertainment, etc) and if she gets completely empty, and stays that way for long enough, things get super fucked up. You’re definitely not getting laid, and you’re probably looking at a divorce or an affair-type situation that’s messy and awkward for everyone involved.

But it’s also possible you keep her consistently at about 20%. You’re just nice enough, or you make a grand gesture every once in awhile to keep her from getting completely empty, but she’s generally not functioning at optimal levels regarding you. She’s isn’t super motivated to make your favorite dinner. She’s cranky and distant. She buys that toilet paper she knows you hate just because it’s cheaper.

Plus, keeping her low runs the risk of something outside of your control depleting her final stash and her shutting completely down on you. As with technology, of course this always happens at the most inopportune moment. You get stuck in a meeting at work and are late meeting her to a dinner with friends. She’s pissed because she feels like you did it on purpose because you don’t really care about her, so you have an awkward, We’re not fighting, but really we are, conversation in front of everyone before going home to a blowout and ultimately, porn on your iPad (which is probably charged) and the couch.

Imagine, instead, you’d kept her at 100%. She would have only been mildly irritated, instead of taking it personally (dropping her down to 80%) and possibly even sympathetic to your long day at work. She might have ordered you your favorite cocktail so it was waiting when you got there and watched porn with you when you got home. At which point, you’d have a full enough ‘love battery’ because of how kind and understanding she’d been, to reciprocate and she’d bump right back up to 100%.

See, that’s the thing. If you’ve kept her on the low side, it probably will take some effort to get your wife fully charged (and it might even take some research on what sort of actions recharge her), but not only will keeping her charged be in your own best interest, but it will likely be much easier than you expected. Being nice sort of feeds on itself.

So, the point is, figure out what keeps your wife’s battery charged. Is it sitting next to her on the couch at night? Texting her during the day to say hi? Washing the bottles at night before going to bed so when she gets up in the morning they’re clean? Taking her car to get washed once a week? Planning a date once a month? Grabbing her ass in her yoga pants and telling her she looks hot? We’re all different, but it shouldn’t be that tough to figure out.

And then, keep her plugged in, and reap the rewards of a wife at optimal performance.

(OK, OK, this totally could have been gender neutral and women are just as culpable of not keeping their spouse plugged in. But I thought men would appreciate the technology angle! Or maybe it’s just my husband who’s OCD about plugging in his iPhone. And I’m super sexist. Sorry.)

*Full disclosure: Like the only relationship book I’ve ever read was that Love Languages one and I kind of totally buy into that shit. Part of this mentality comes from that. You should read it. It was good.

The Solution to Emoji Confusion

We can all agree that emojis are terrible, right? I mean, except, of course, for my sister and sister-in-law, who are ridiculous human beings:

emoji 0

Emojis beyond the standard happy face, sad face and winky face are twee and pointless (is that a ski gondola above?), but even the basic ones are cryptic to interpret. Was the smiley face supposed to mean she thought my joke was funny or she’s laughing at the fact that I’m kind of a mess? I’m always asking myself. Was that wink like a friendly thing because he’s kind of a winker or is he totally being a creeper? 

That said, it seems they’ve entered the cultural lexicon and are here to stay. I’ve found myself unable to function in polite society without them, despite my general distaste. So here’s what I propose: In order to clarify the situation and make things a whole lot less awkward for over-thinkers like me, everyone should have their own set of specifically defined emojis for use, and a key that can be easily referenced for clarification.

I put together my own personal set for example and to kick off what I’m sure will be a world-wide phenomenon.

Elizabeth’s Emojis

1.

emoji 2

Definition: I’m not sure I know you well enough to make that joke without any kind of an indication I’m not serious (interchangeable with: I worry you don’t have a sense of humor).

2.

emoji 3

 

Definition: I feel like what I just wrote sounded unnaturally formal or harsh so I’m hoping this happy face will convey that I’m not trying to be a dick here.

3.

emoji 1

 

Definition: Sorry I had too many cocktails last night and thought it would be funny to grab your boobs.

4.

emoji 6

 

Definition: Oh, are we still having a message conversation? I totally thought it was over.

5.

emoji 8

Definition: I can’t tell if you’re being creepy or just nice.

6.

emoji 10

 

Definition: I just actually snorted at my computer.

7.

emoji 4

 

Definition: I’m not really LOLing, but I can tell you’re trying to be funny and I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

8.

emoji 13

 

Definition: Your story is a bummer.

9.

emoji 11

 

Definition: Your story is a super bummer.

10.

emoji 12

 

Definition: No, really, you have to stop telling me this story because it’s super terrible and I’m feeling completely awful for you.

11.

emoji 7

 

Definition: Hubahuba.

12.

emoji 9

 

Definition: You just complimented me and I’m usually super sarcastic, but I want to sincerely thank you and that’s weird for me, so I’m using this happy face nonironically. I feel incredibly uncomfortable about this entire exchange. Can we stop having it?

13.

emoji 5

 

Definition: In case it’s unclear, I totally meant that the dirty way.

14.

emoji 14

 

Definition: You’re one of those people who uses a lot of emojis, so I reciprocate because it seems polite and now I’m locked in a habit where it feels like if I don’t use one I come off angry or super serious and I don’t want you to think that’s what’s happening here.

15.

emoji 15

 

Definition: You sent me an emoji and I’ve just spent the last 17 minutes trying to determine exactly what you mean by it, but now I’ve given up. Your thumbs-up guy with the heart eyes who is wearing a fez and petting a cat will forever remain a mystery.

16.

emoji 16

 

Definition: Oh you’re the worst. STFU.

***

See? It totally solves the emoji problem. You’re welcome. Go forth and create your own.

(It’s like really hard to draw on your own fingernail.)

 

 

 

A Mysterious Illness Everyone Is Tired Of Hearing About

I’ve been waiting to write about my mysterious illness until I had a definitive conclusion to the story, but the stupid lab results are taking FORFUCKINGEVER. So here’s Part II:

Friday night the rash got all super leprosy-ish

leprosy rash

and the joint pain and swelling got worse. I became convinced I was totally being murdered by red dots and hurty joints. Saturday I woke up and my elbow hurt too much to put my own hair in a ponytail. I had to have Jason do it and when he was finished I declared, That’s enough! One person should not have to cope with this much misery! Disgusting legs AND super terrible husband ponytail hair? It’s just too much burden for a single human to bear!

Luckily, I was able to get an appointment with my mother’s doctor and the lab results from the blood they took at Urgent Care Thursday came back in time to bring them along. That doctor took a look at my rash and was all, Yeesh. You’re gross. But then he told me all of my blood work came back normal! I didn’t have wacky white blood cells, or an elevated SED rate. My liver function was normal (who would have guessed that?! It’s clearly because I exercise it a really lot. I have a super strong liver). I wasn’t showing a positive result for Rheumatoid Arthritis or anything like that.

After 834 questions about the rash and pain, the doctor decided I have… (insert half-hearted drumroll)… Parvo! That’s right, obviously the problem is I’ve been a Pomeranian this whole time and I just never realized it. He said it’s a virus people totally don’t get from making out with dogs (I mean…not that I was worried that’s how I got it) and in adults it can have rash and joint pain as symptoms. There aren’t anti-virals for it, it just runs its course.

He put me on a round of steroids to get rid of the rash and the joint pain and took more blood to test for the Parvo and a few other things just to make sure. He said I’d be feeling much better soon and I could go back to my normal workouts whenever I was.

By 24 hours into the steroids my knees were pain-free and I could totally do my own hair again (WHEW). The rash was no longer doubling in size daily and parts were definitely fading. On Monday I felt good enough to attempt circus class, which went well. I felt strong and capable and nothing hurt that shouldn’t. It was clear if I could just keep taking the steroids forever I could totally join Cirque in no time! And then I punched something for no reason and the poignant background music of a Very Special Episode from 1985 started playing.

Of course, when I got home and got ready for bed, the soundtrack played The Price Is Right’s Whomp, whaaaa…, because I had a brand new hideous deformity around the back of my thigh:

Yes, I had to crop it like this so it doesn't look super porny. This is an important scientific, medical post!

Yes, I had to crop it like this so it wasn’t just a picture of my ass. This is an important scientific, medical post!

So back to the doctor I went on Tuesday. This time I saw a different lady who also kind of thought I was a gnarly looking freak, but she thought my circus class workout sounded super awesome, so I totally gave her the details. She said she thought maybe the bondagey looking mark on the back of my thigh was a result of the silks (we had learned this trick, Monday night) and my skin reacting to a combination of whatever virus I had (she seemed less convinced it was Parvo) and the steroid. She wasn’t super sure, though and kind of made that, ‘I’m real sorry you’re a freak’ face.

Now it’s Thursday and they still don’t have the stupid blood work back. It’s apparently a long test. My rash looks way better and the ligature mark (I’ve been binge-watching True Detective) on my leg is starting to fade. I do, however, have a handful of new red dots. Although it’s really hard to tell what it old, what is new, what is a freckle and what is red wine I just accidentally dripped on myself.

I’ve been vacillating wildly back and forth between I’m all better, Mom! Stop bossing me about how I work out too much and I’m tiring my body out! and The rash is clearly coming back and pretty soon will start eating my face so I should just eat a Magnum bar for lunch and feel sorry for myself. I’m pretty sure the solution is to use a Sharpie to circle all of my current red dots so I know for sure if I get any new ones.

OR, the effing doctor could just call me back and tell me it’s Parvo for sure and I could stop worrying that I have a mystery illness that’s really an alien life form inhabiting my body so it can learn the secrets of our culture and eventually use my brain as nourishment.

 

A Mysterious Illness and a Neurotic Walk Into a Bar…

Monday night Jason was working on some stupid work project and didn’t have time to pay attention to me, so I fell asleep on the couch watching TV by myself. When I woke up to go to bed, my knees were broken. They didn’t hurt when I fell asleep, but somehow, an hour later (15+ hours after I’d done any kind of physical activity), they felt like someone had taken a mallet to my kneecaps. I hobbled to bed and hoped it was a weirdly realistic bad dream.

In the morning they still hurt. Because I hadn’t fallen or injured them during any kind of activity I could think of, I could only assume I had bursitis from loneliness and the fact that Jason didn’t want my help with his project. It seemed like this should pass fairly quickly if I pretended it didn’t exist. I proceeded to bend my knees as often as possible throughout the day and tell myself, That doesn’t hurt, you dopey girl. Those are your pretty muscles just telling you your knees are looking super great today.

Later, I went to a workout class that’s designed to make every part of your body cry tears made of bacon grease and wine (or at least that’s what my body’s tears are made of). My knees hurt during the class, but um, hello, working out is inherently painful. I just assumed that meant I was doing it really well. By the time I got home, my knees had stiffened and swelled and I could barely get up the stairs to go to bed. That night I had trouble sleeping because bending them at all woke me up.

The next morning, in addition to the swollen, miserable knees, I had what looked like red sharpie dots on my legs and around my eyes.

rash post 1

First I tried washing them off in case Jonas had gotten more creative with his graffiti. Then I decided we had bedbugs, which would require burning down the house, of course. After 10 minutes of standing next to our bed staring intently at the sheets and then Googling, Are bed bugs visible to the naked eye? (the answer is yes), I put away the lighter fluid and the novelty bass* lighter we keep handy for such situations.

You thought I was being hyperbolic, didn't you? Obviously you should take me more seriously.

You thought I was being hyperbolic, didn’t you? Obviously you should take me more seriously.

At this point, it seemed the only logical conclusion for the soreness and rash was that I’m approaching 36 but still acting like a 16 year old, so my body is decaying at an increased rate. Obviously I would, at any moment, fall into a decrepit pile of inflamed cartilage and leprosy on the bathroom tile.

When I broke this unfortunate news to Jason, he was understandably distraught, but assured me in the event of my impending putrefaction, he would go on living and find someone new and young to keep him happy in my absence, as he knew I would want him to. Then he told me I should probably make an appointment to see a doctor because rashes are weird.

I considered this approach, but eventually decided it would either get better on its own and I wouldn’t need to go or get like a whole bunch worse, and it’s really a lot more satisfying to walk into a doctor’s office with a super horrifyingly visible malady that makes the doctor flinch than one you have to point to and say, No, right here… do you see it? And there’s another one right here- oh wait, that was lint. So I decided to give it another day.

Wednesday night Jason went to his workout class (designed to make his body cry tears of steak sauce and gin) and I made chicken enchiladas for the kids and me. When I sat down to eat, I tapped my left ankle on my chair and winced in pain. I looked down to find it had joined the club of Elizabeth’s Joints Who Think It’s Funny To Freak Her Shit Out.

I think it's not supposed to look like that.

I think it’s not supposed to look like that.

Of course I immediately texted Jason pictures of my swollen ankle, because if there’s anything you can do while working out 25 miles from home, it’s make your wife’s swollen ankle better. When he got home we conferred and concluded a doctor visit was in order, despite the fact that the rash hadn’t really reached the shock factor I was holding out for. After that I spent the requisite 2 hours Googling rash images to see just how strong my stomach really was (turns out, not very) and rash + swollen joints so I could spend the rest of the night lying awake in bed, wondering how I had managed to pick up a rare form of Malaria only found in Yugoslavia, back when it was called Yugoslavia.

And that’s how I ended up at Urgent Care yesterday morning, being seen by a very nice nurse practitioner who took blood and advised me to make an appointment with a ‘normal doctor’ to review the results, but refused to speculate on what could possibly be causing this.

Nice NP: It could be a lot of things.

Me: OK… but like for instance what?

Nice NP: Well there’s just a really long list of possibilities. We need to do some tests.

Me: So, but what are just one or two of the possibilities? You don’t have to tell me all of them.

Nice NP: There are just so many. I wouldn’t want to guess.

Me: Not even like one tiny guess? Like any random guess at all? What if I guess and you blink twice when you think I’m getting warm. Are we talking infected hangnail or terminal Sarcoidosis? This is about all the wine and Diet Coke I drink, isn’t it? I mean my blood must be at least 70% composed of wine and Diet Coke at this point and you’re totally going to see that when you do your test, so I might as well admit it right now-

Nice NP: We’ll call you with the results. Probably Saturday. This is weird. I’m not saying it’s not weird.

Me: If you’re making an attempt to impress some kind of gravity of the situation on me here, you’re going to need to use different language. I hear that about my life choices every day.

Nice NP: I have to see some other patients now.

Me: OK.

He did, however, recommend I use heat on my sore joints. Obviously his intent was to write me a prescription for this:

rash post 4

I always follow doctor’s orders.

*I’ve been informed it’s actually a novelty trout lighter.

How To Have The Perfect Body

Yesterday I drove with a friend to circus class and we discussed eating healthy, working out and how the scale generally fucks with our heads. Like most people on this planet, I’ve spent an excessive amount of time wondering how to achieve The Perfect Body. I’ve tried diets, embraced various forms of exercise, considered plastic surgery. So far I have been unsuccessful (and too chicken to go under the knife). But, I did some serious thinking about all of this and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the whole thing figured out. I mean, really, it’s not that complicated to have The Perfect Body once you boil it down.

8 Steps to The Perfect Body –

  1. Hire someone to follow you around and hand you organic apple slices or cucumbers with lime juice and sea salt whenever you have a twinge of hunger. If this is prohibitively expensive, cancel your health insurance to pay for it. Having The Perfect Body is obviously an assurance of health. Same diff.
  2. Never clean your house. That shit takes time that could be spent perfecting your abs. You need to ask yourself if you’d rather look amazing in a swimsuit the 3 or 4 times a year you wear one, or walk down your hallway in the middle of the night without stepping on a Lego or in a damp spot of unknown origin. If the answer isn’t obvious, you’re not committed enough to the goal of The Perfect Body.
  3. Don’t engage with media depicting the human form. Don’t read fashion magazines, watch TV or visit The Chive. Having The Perfect Body is impossible to achieve or maintain, when you have access to pictures of other, Perfecter Bodies. Comparison is the enemy of the The Perfect Body. Live in a vacuum.
  4. Have your taste buds lasered off.  Don’t worry, it’s not weirder or more invasive than having silicone injected into your lips, and it won’t make you look like a duck. Late night ice cream is far easier to resist when it stops tasting like heaven, comfort and the feeling of being loved and starts tasting like snow.
  5. Only be friends and surround yourself with people who could accurately be described as ‘fluffy’. If any of them are smart and/or funny, you’re not going to have The Perfect Personality, but that’s not what we’re going for here.
  6. Be a vampire. Not having a reflection or appearing in photographs makes it nearly impossible to be aware of any impediments to The Perfect Body.
  7. Don’t have any kind of subjective pre-existing notions of beauty or physical perfection. How can you possibly have The Perfect Body if you grow up thinking it’s perfect to have flawlessly spherical kneecaps, when in fact yours are actually more oval? Duh, you can’t. You have to start with a clean slate. Ideally, be raised by wolves.
  8. Never (NEVER) look down when you’re at the beach in a bikini and you hunch over to eat a bite of an amazing beach chilidog with cheese. Just keep your eyes closed while enjoying your lunch. It’s literally impossible for your midsection to maintain perfection in a situation like this.

Or, failing all of that:

Eat real food. Veggies and lean meats, shit like that. Do your best to shop at the ends of the grocery store (where they keep the actual food) and stay mostly out of the middle. Sometimes (but only when it’s really worth it) eat delicious things that are horrible for you, like tater tots, hollandaise sauce and bacon blue cheese burgers.

Find a few things that involve movement and make your soul joyful. Hockey, rock climbing, long nature walks, strip teases – whatever they are, do them regularly. Train your body to do them better because it makes you feel awesome and strong.

Look in the mirror and be proud of your muscles, bones, blood and skin and what they can do. Be amazed they can lift you up and perform beautiful actions. Continue to feed your body things that will make it strong, happy and able to support you. Realize you do have The Perfect Body.

 

Ragnar 2014

I survived my third Ragnar! A week ago right now, I was trying not to drop my phone into the depths of a porta-potty while hovering for a final pee before my first run.

As of now, my aches and pains have mostly healed, although I do still have a fist-sized bruise on my right ass-cheek from when we were driving somewhere in North Phoenix in the middle of the night and went over a giant, unexpected dip in the road. My head hit the roof of the SUV and I came down on the seatbelt. That counts as a running injury, right? I’ll refrain from posting a picture here, but you can send me a message if you want to be added to my distribution list of people who I regularly text such things. You probably want to consider the commitment carefully, though. Just ask my sister, husband and girlfriends. There are things you can’t unsee.

Ragnar 2014 went as it tends to for me: I’m a little nervous the first run, by the second I’ve settled firmly into ‘Why the fuck am I doing this again?’, and by the third I hate everyone and every thing right until about halfway through when I LOVE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. It’s always an abrupt and euphoric shift. This year my final run was right at sunrise, which (I cannot stress this enough) is the motherfucking best. I ran East, downhill and got to watch the sun peek up from behind Four Peaks:

Yes, I stopped to take this picture. I'm totally that girl.

Yes, I stopped to take this picture while I was running. I’m totally that girl.

I’m not sure life gets better than that. Like I think it goes:

3. Bottomless mimosas

2. Ryan Gosling in that scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love where he recreates the Dirty Dancing lift

1. This run

It was really nice to end on a positive note, because my second run was really brutal. Let’s recount the unpleasantness, shall we?

#1: It was at 10:30 p.m. and I fell asleep in the van for 20 minutes right before I had to run. So when my teammates woke me up to get out and head to the transition area, I wasn’t even sure where I was or who they were. They handed me a head lamp and I put it on backwards.

#2: I was so out of it, I didn’t realize I had to pee until we got to the transition area, within about 45 seconds of the runner before me coming in. I asked where the porta-potties were set up and the volunteer just pointed the exact opposite direction about a quarter mile down the road.

#3: Instead of sucking my pee back up into my body and using it as hydration like my sister suggested, I bailed into the porta-potty like a minute and a half into my run. My team probably would have won if I hadn’t done that.

#4: About a mile into the run I got passed. Normally I don’t care that much when people pass me because, whatever, I’m slower than some and faster than some and it is what it is. But the team I was on this year ended up being FAST. So… on our team I wasn’t slower than some and faster than some, I was just slower than all. And they kept talking about ‘kills’, which is apparently what you call it when you pass someone (I’m so slow no one even ever explained to me this was a thing before). So by that point all I could think about when I got passed was how much murdered I was being. And then there was the fact that this guy had one leg and was running with a blade. I got killed, by a guy with one leg.

#5: As I was finishing mile four, the course turned on to a desert trail. There was a big light and an old dude wearing a reflective vest who looked angry and exhausted. He just pointed up.

This is a daytime shot of the hill the old guy was pointing to.

This is a daytime shot of the hill the old guy was pointing to.

#6: By halfway up this hill I had caught back up to the guy with one leg and when we crested the top and started to run down, I was ready to pass him. But I had to have this internal debate with myself first:

Me: Ew, is it super dickish to pass a guy who is clearly having more trouble with the rocky, downhill terrain than I am because he’s wearing a blade and has one leg?

Also Me: It’s probably more dickish and condescending to not pass him because you feel bad for the fact that he has one leg.

Me: Ugh, that’s true. And I’m breathing down his neck right now.

Also Me: And there was that guy in the Olympics who had two blades! He’s way faster than you!

Me: And then he killed his girlfriend.

Also Me: I wonder if this guy feels like that guy gives amputee runners a bad name.

Me: Maybe I should ask him.

Also Me: Or just pass him already and get on with his miserable run. He’s probably going to pass you later again anyway. You can ask him then.

#7: After about a mile of running through the darkness on a rocky path in the middle of the desert, I passed a girl wearing a schoolgirl skirt and crying. She said, “We have less than two miles left! How will we get back to the road?” to me despondently as I passed.

#8: When the end of the run (and the lighted street) was finally in sight and I started to think I maybe wouldn’t die out in the desert alone and eaten by coyotes, the one-legged guy passed me again. I was too tired and depressed to ask him about his feelings on Oscar Pistorius.

I did make it to the end, though and I got to have that glorious final run. It was a fun Ragnar and a really fantastic team. Go Team Hair of the Jog:

I posted this picture on Facebook and one of my friends emailed me, "Did you really win Ragnar??" and I was like, "No... noo, no. That was an ironic 'we're #1!' we were doing there... get it?" and then I got really worried people actually thought we won Ragnar but I didn't want to comment, 'GUYS. WE TOTALLY DIDN'T WIN.' because that seemed kind of rude to my teammates.

I posted this picture on Facebook and one of my friends emailed me, “Did you really win Ragnar??” and I was like, “No… noo, no. That was an ironic We’re #1! we were doing there… get it?” and then I got really worried people actually thought we won Ragnar but I didn’t want to comment, ‘GUYS. WE TOTALLY DIDN’T WIN.’ because that seemed kind of rude to my teammates. We did get 19th in our division, though.

I’ll prolly do it again next year.