The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Small Talk, Ranked by Awkwardness

13. With your spouse when you’re out to dinner for the first time alone in a really long time, and you can’t remember how to talk about anything not urgent or imperative.

12. With your pest control service when the card on file was declined, after you explain it’s because the card was compromised and reissued and you’re not sure they believe you.

11. With your kid’s teacher in Target, when she’s in yoga pants, and you suspect she thinks your kid is annoying.

10. With your boss when he’s trying to be “one of the guys” and starts talking about the last time he was in Vegas at that one strip club.

9. With that guy you went to high school with you haven’t seen in 18 years and are in a long line behind at the post office, when you’re not wearing any makeup.

8. With your kid’s friend’s mom when you are pretty sure you have nothing in common but that both of your sons are the class lunatics.

7. With the cashier and other people in line at the grocery store when you’re all standing there waiting for a price check on tampons that’s taking forever.

6. With the pharmacist as he’s ringing up the prescription strength laxative you’re trying really hard to be an adult about and not explain is for your son, because you don’t actually have any problems pooping.

5. With your dentist when he’s using the high-pitched scraper thing.

4. With your gyno when he’s adjusting the speculum.

3. With your next door neighbor the morning after you had a big fight with your spouse and you’re pretty sure you left your window open.

2. With your waxer when she’s using the tweezers during a Brazilian.

1. With your cleaning people. Ever.

Living the Dream as a Work at Home Mom

How today was intended to go:

6:15AM – Wake up to the sun streaming in through the windows the birds chirping. Lie in bed reading social media on my phone for half an hour before showering.

7:15AM – Drive happy teenager to school who is grateful he’s getting a ride and didn’t have to get up early to take the bus.

8:30AM – Breakfast at adorable hipster crepes and coffee restaurant with old friend from college and his new baby.

10AM – Show new builds to fun clients I haven’t seen in awhile.

11:30AM-2:30PM – Catch up on paperwork/emails.

2:30PM – Help boys with homework.

4PM – Start dinner.

6-7PM – Take a lyra class in Tempe.

How today has actually gone:

3:13AM – Gray wakes me up. I have a headache from the 3 glasses of rose I drank the night before because real estate makes me want hang myself. He has a 102 fever. I give him the literal very last drops of children’s Advil we have in the house. On the upside, it’s not expired, for once.

6:05AM – My friend from college texts me to say he’s excited for breakfast. I reply that I’m bailing because my kid is sick. He probably just thinks I’m a flake.

7:15AM – I drive the teen to school. He is surly and when his phone buzzes and I ask him who he’s texting he snaps, “NO ONE, MOM! NOT EVERY TIME MY PHONE BUZZES I’M GETTING A TEXT.” I stop at the grocery store on the way home to stock up on children’s pain reliever/fever reducers. While I’m in the utter wasteland of cell phone service that is my grocery store of choice, I get frantic texts from two different clients with two different urgent issues.

7:40AM – I get home and check in on the sick 10 year old. My cell rings with a school prefix number. I answer it, expecting the ‘Your child is absent’ notification. Instead it goes like this:

Me: This is Elizabeth.

Jonas: Mom, I need you to bring me a lunch.

Me: Jonas? What? Why?

Jo: I just need you to bring me a lunch. 

Me: Dude… right now?

Jo: Yes. 

Me: Is this for the field trip you told us was last Friday and then this morning you told your dad was tomorrow? Because we need to have a discussion about being responsible and giving people notice-

Jo: Mom. Make me a ham sandwich and whatever sides you want, I don’t care, and a capri sun and bring it to school. 

Me: Well-

Jo: Just make me a lunch and bring it to school.

Me: OK.

I have the epiphany that although he might be the smallest kid, Jonas is probably The Godfather of the first grade.

7:50AM – While I’m searching the fridge for ham (we don’t have any and I’m nervous this will displease Him) my phone buzzes with a text. It’s my mom’s neighbor. She’s watching my parents’ dog while they are on a cruise in the Bahamas. She needs me to come let the dog out because some clusterfuck with the yard guy has happened and Princess Sophie the spoiled lapdog refuses to go in the backyard while the help is there or something. I text her that I will drive over there in the next couple of hours and let her highness out.

7:57AM – My phone rings with an unfamiliar number.

Me: This is Elizabeth.

Caller: *Garbled*

Me: Hello?

Caller: I’m trying to reach Elizabeth Newlin.

Me (yelling): This IS Elizabeth Newlin! Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

Caller: Yes, is this Elizabeth?

Me: Yes, this is Elizabeth… *longish pause* who is this? Is this Mary Rose? Because I’m going to let the dog out in a little bit, I’m just in the middle of-

Caller: Ah, no. This is Cindy with Cartus Relocation Corporation. I’m calling about the Ramblewood file.

Me: Oh! I’m so sorry for my unprofessional response! It’s chaos here. I thought maybe you were my mother’s neighbor about her dog. Or maybe my super demanding 7 year old. And my house is a total dead zone. Sorry. Yes. The Ramblewood file. What can I do for you?

Caller: *heavy sigh*

8:15AM – I drive a sack lunch up to the school. The secretaries raise a judgmental eyebrow at my obvious lack of preparedness (and bra). I haven’t brushed my teeth yet either.

8:23AM – While I’m driving home the other agent on the Ramblewood file calls me and asks questions I don’t have answers to. I promise him text responses as soon as I get back to my laptop. This is a lie and we both know it.

8:28-9:32AM – I shower, iron a dress, and negotiate a contract with a husband and wife separately, while texting with the listing agent and putting on eyeliner. At one point I answer the phone with toothpaste in my mouth and say, “Hold on, I need to spit.” Because I’m a lady and a professional.

9:35AM – I dash downstairs to give the sick kid more meds. I’m still intending to show new builds at 10AM. Within minutes of drinking the Advil Gray says, “I think I’m going to throw up.” and pukes into the bowl he has in his lap. I walk him to the bathroom (he pukes twice more while I’m holding the bowl. I almost throw up in sympathy.). I text the clients that I won’t be meeting them at new builds and call and beg the sales agent to allow me to represent my clients despite the fact that I won’t be meeting them at the sales office on their first visit as required. He takes pity on me and relents (probably because he can hear the puking in the background). I answer emails, texts, and phone calls while waiting for Gray to feel a little better.

10:30AM – It’s late enough I feel super guilty my parents’ dog is still inside. Gray hasn’t puked in quite awhile and is sleeping on the couch. I decide this is the best time to drive the 23 miles to my parents’ house to let Sophie out.

11:03AM – I get to my parents’ house and unlock the door. Sophie does not come running. I call her name while walking through the house. When I get to the back door, there she is, outside, eagerly wagging her tail, wondering if I will let her in. I shake my head and text the neighbor, “I drove over to let Sophie out and she’s already out.” She texts back, “Oh yeah, John went by earlier.” My head explodes all over the inside of the house. I just drove almost 50 miles, while my kid is home sick alone, my clients are stalking me, and I have at least 300 things I’d rather be doing, FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I wish this woman was standing in front of me right now so I could punch her in the boob. I call my sister and yell at her not because any of this is her fault, but because I need someone to feel my injustice. Then I felt guilty for yelling.

11:30AM – I stop at Paradise Bakery on the way home, and instead of getting a salad, I get a sandwich, chips, and a cookie because I will probably get sick soon seeing as how it’s scientifically impossible to hold a bowl full of a sick person’s vomit without getting sick yourself, and I’ll need calories to keep my strength up.

1:30PM – Gray has a 103 fever and pukes up the Tylenol I give him.

2:35PM – Jonas gets home from school. He doesn’t say thank you for the lunch. He says, “I hate cheese and you shouldn’t have put it on my sandwich.”

It’s a glamorous life.


Keep Your Head Down

Last night I worked out at an aerial studio downtown during an open gym session. I haven’t successfully sweet-talked a gym near my house into letting me hang a silk and work out, or bullied my husband into building me a rig in my backyard, yet, so I’m still working out when I can, where I can, in and around my stupid have-to-act-like-a-grown-up schedule. Lately that’s been more of a challenge because apparently right now I’m pretending to be a “Successful Real Estate Agent” instead of a “Professional Waiter for the Phone to Ring”. The former is exciting and dramatic, but more labor-intensive than the latter.

Last week, my workouts consisted of one aerial fitness class (+1!), one run that wasn’t actually run and more of an exercise in futility (-3), one aerial choreography workshop that was really probably too difficult for me and mostly made me sad about my existence (+.25 for effort), and one actual run (+2!). On the weekend, even though I intended to hike and workout, I did nothing but wait for our new couches to be delivered, eat sourdough toast and blueberry muffins, and work (-∞).

This week I’ve been intent on redoubling my efforts, so I headed to the gym, alone, for my workout. It was only the second time I’d attempted a solitary workout. Usually I take classes or workshops, or meet up with friends to work out together, but I’ve been feeling like I need more solo sessions. I like to learn tricks, but I need to work on them to clean them up. I want to work toward creating an act, or a piece, or something. I’ve now taken classes from probably a dozen different aerialists, and I’ve gotten a strong sense for how they each have their own individual styles. Rain Anya is all about fluidity and stunning transitions that don’t even look like transitions. DeAnna McCandless does everything with a straight arm and specializes in powerful momentum and terrifying open drops. MoNika Ell told me once that he thinks of himself as a paintbrush and the space around him in the air as a canvas, so he stretches and extends his body throughout the space to ‘paint’ as much of the canvas as possible.

I want to have my own style! I want to be an aerial artist. And I feel like to have any hope of expressing myself in that way, I need to spend time on the silks without anyone instructing me or telling me what to do so I can figure out what I’m drawn to. I know, as a dancer, I was into a kind of ‘modern’ style. As a writer, I favor comedic storytelling. Who knows who I am as an aerialist? I want to be someone beautiful and amazing! (Who maybe doesn’t do a ton of bendy back things, because I kind of have an old lady back.)

This is how I ended up on the silks last night, working out alone. It’s also how I ended up heading home after only an hour at the gym, wondering if it all wasn’t really just a futile, waste of time, money, and gas. The workout was a shitshow, is what I’m saying. I ran through my stuff, but it was really hard. My stamina was down from lack of consistent time in the gym, and there were several things I wanted to work on that I couldn’t even remember how to do. I spent 10 full minutes trying (unsuccessfully) to remember a simple crossback from footlocks thing Dakoa taught me once.

At the end, I set a timer, with a goal of staying up on the silks for 10 minutes, to build strength and condition myself to perform ambiance sets. I made it through just under 8 minutes before I considered hanging myself from the silks instead of sliding dejectedly to the ground.

It was horrifying. I’d been watching YouTube videos of gorgeous performers before I got to the gym and I was determined to emulate their grace. I was going to focus on long lines and adding performance elements, posing within tricks. Instead, I spent the set shaking and sweating, trying desperately just to keep my old ass in the air. I wasn’t graceful, I wasn’t pretty. I didn’t know how to even figure out tricks I’d already learned, much less create my own. My hands ached, I felt nauseous and chubby, I just wanted to go home.

In bed, after I’d stripped off my sweaty circus outfit and determined I didn’t deserve my star tights and probably never would, I wondered if I should be spending my time and energy on an activity I was more suited to and less destined to fail at. Maybe my failures lately were a cue that I’d reached the end of my potential in this field and should move on to a new distraction.

But then I remembered Ira Glass (who’s totally on my celebrity hall pass list, so I how could I forget him?) and that thing he said I love so much:

Ira Glass quote

I decided I’m in the gap, drank a glass of wine, and went to sleep. After all, when I watched the video of my 8 minutes in the air, there were moments of beauty. My windmill hipkeys are great. My straddlebacks have always been enviable. For most of it, it doesn’t look like I’m working quite as hard as I am. I’m just not amazing like I want to be. My taste still far exceeds my abilities. And maybe it always will. But I won’t ever know if I give up.

This morning I got up and put on my running gear. I had on the schedule my normal 4 miles. I decided, because I’ve done my easier 4 mile route several times without walking in the last few weeks, that it was time to try the tough route. The tough 4 mile route is more difficult because it has a stretch of almost a mile at the end that is straight and gradually uphill. I can see the full mile when I turn the corner, and I can see the whole elevation change. It’s murder on my psyche, and I’ve given up and walked during that stretch probably as many times as I have made it through it.

This morning, though, I was in a decent mental place to get it done. As I ran the easier, downhill part at the beginning, I mentally prepared myself for the beasty end section. Just focus 3 feet in front of you, I pep-talked. You can make it 3 more feet, and you can certainly do 4 miles. You did 4 miles two days ago. This is not more difficult. Keep your head down, and don’t think about the mile you have left to go. Only think about the next three feet. 

Not terribly surprisingly, I did make it through. It was difficult, but the end section seemed to fly by as I diligently kept my eyes literally three feet in front of me.

As I finished the last half mile (it’s a downhill section back into my neighborhood to my house), I reflected on how this strategy is really what Ira is talking about. Rather than getting caught up in the big picture of how successful I’m being in comparison to everyone else, and my ultimate goals, I need to keep my goddamn head down with respect to my creative goals. I need to focus on the work I’m doing that’s right in front of me. I need to think about being successful in the next three steps, versus worrying about how much I still have left of the long, uphill part.

So this is what it comes down to:

Dear My Creative Pursuits (Writing, Aerial, Whatever Damn Other Ridiculous Thing I Decide I Want to do Next),

I will not give up on you. You are important to me and you make me who I am. I will do the work in front of me. I will recognize sometimes the steps I’m working on are difficult or going badly, but I will move past them and focus only on the next three steps in the journey. I will not get swallowed by The Gap.

All my love,



The Other Side of “Running”

I’ve gotten out of the habit of both running and writing. I’m not trying to make excuses, but work has been intense, I’m pretty sure I have at least 12 kids now, and I’ve been super busy thwarting terrorism, coming up with a solution for world hunger, and staying caught up on Catfish and Teen Mom: OG (Oh, Amber. Get it together, hun.).

I started running again last week because I’m planning to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim again in September, so I need to get my cardio back in shape. Also: Swimsuit season’s imminent approach + The joy I get from eating an entire bag of ranch flavored croutons by myself  = Stress nightmares where I have to submit my tax info before a panel of judges while wearing a super unflatteringly cut mismatched bra and underwear set. The judges first look over my financial information disapprovingly and then circle my fat and stretch marks with a red sharpie. Obviously I really needed to start logging some miles both for my physical and mental stability.

My first couple of runs went surprisingly well. I got through my normal, 4-mile route slowly, but without walking. I was able to keep mostly out of my own head and felt really positive when I was done. I was strong! I was confident! I was killing it!

Of course, for every beautiful, empowering run, there are two that make feel like an emo teen on the downslope of a misery binge. Like, I just shaved my eyebrows off and dyed my hair black because beauty isn’t a thing. Only suffering.

This morning I woke up crabby and unmotivated. I made the mistake of stepping on the scale before I left, and despite the fact that I ate salmon and chicken and goddamn mother-fucking salads yesterday, they apparently didn’t cancel out the Magnum bar, Fig Newtons, and wine from the day before. The scale straight up laughed and gave me the middle finger. Suddenly it was obvious my thighs were billowing from of the bottom of my shorts and my belly was oozing out of the waistband at the top.

You’d think this would spur me to run more miles, wouldn’t you? Redouble my efforts! Burn more calories! Sometimes it goes the other way, though.

By less than a mile in I realized I had forgotten to pee before I left. And it was warmish; like at least 75 degrees. And the breeze was blowing. Right. At. Me. AND I wasn’t even wearing my belt that holds my phone, so I had to hold it in my hand. MY HAND HAD TO HOLD MY PHONE WHILE I WAS RUNNING.

That was it. I could not deal. I’d started out giving maybe two fucks and my supply of fucks had diminished at a rate of at least three per mile. It was inevitable. Demand was far greater than my resources. I was simply out of fucks to give.

I stopped running right then. I vowed not to post this “run” on social media. I took a shortcut and walked the rest of the way home. I strolled, even, except when I wanted to get across the street before the light changed, and for a little while when the path sloped downhill and I was bored with how long it was taking to get home; then I jogged. I JOGGED, I tell you. I didn’t “run”. Running is for the proud. It’s for athletes. It’s for people with willpower and goals. I jogged, like the guy 5 steps away from walking into Starbucks behind you, so you hold the door open for him, and he doesn’t want to be a jerk and have you stand there for too long. SO HE JOGS to grab the door.  I jogged.

Then I got home and had a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter, a tiny bag of Cheetos, and a piece of sourdough toast.

I hate myself.

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Real Estate

Last week I opened two escrows and closed two escrows. It was a fruitful week in real estate for me, which is nice, because it also marked my decadiversary as a Realtor. That’s right, I’ve officially been a Professional Lunatic for 10 years of my short (Ok, medium) life. I was going to announce it online and wear a special sparkly outfit or something to commemorate the occasion, but then I had to go to inspections and signings and deliver keys and before I knew it, the official date had come an gone. No matter, we’ll celebrate now. To mark my 10 years in this nuthouse of a profession, I have for you 10 things real estate has taught me in the last 10 years:

1. Get that shit in writing.

Sure, we’re all gentlemen here. Sure we can shake hands and agree. You can totally trust me. We’re all mature and trustworthy right up until we’re searching for a loophole. It’s never a deal until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.

2. Success is about properly managed expectations.

Buying and selling houses is, generally speaking, an enormous clusterfuck of unknowns, risk, compromise, and paperwork. You will not (WILL NOT) get through a deal without becoming at least slightly irritated about signing your own name. In my experience, the success of the transaction hinges on everyone having his and her expectations firmly within achievable bounds. If a buyer who’s qualified for a loan up to $120k is expecting to get a 2000 square foot house with a pool and granite counters in Chandler, she’s going to be extremely disappointed with the 1200 square foot fixer-up townhouse she can afford. If a seller has the idea he should have multiple full-price offers in the first week his house is on the market, he’s not going to be pleased with 5% under after four weeks.

50% of a real estate agent’s job is to assess the situation and get everyone’s expectations in a place where we can hope to satisfy them, every step of the way. Which is why I regularly tell my clients: This is going to be an enormous pain in your ass for at least the next month. Get used to it. 

3. Real Estate Voodoo is a legit thing.

I’m an atheist and a skeptic to a fault. I don’t believe your grandma’s house was haunted by your uncle who died as a young child. I think your essential oils smell nice, but they aren’t curing your chronic pain disease. I feel confident you and your husband didn’t fall in love at first sight. Just walk away from me with your homeopathic meds, right now.

BUT, if you tell me you calculated your commissions on the three deals you have in escrow and you’re going to spend them getting your kitchen redone, I will cross myself, throw salt over my shoulder, knock on wood and run far from you because you just totally jinxed all your deals. You can’t count your chickens before they hatch! Dude. That is Rule One; what are you thinking?

Real estate is as much about luck and good juju as anything else. A deal that’s ugly from the start is only going to have 87 more abnormal problems with it before it closes. A house that’s sat on the market for two months with no offers will bizarrely have 3 offers come in within 4 hours. I recommend regularly sacrificing a gold jacket on the altar of the real estate gods to keep them happy.

4. How to calculate showing timeframes.

This one won’t matter to 99% of anyone, but I’m pretty proud of my algorithm and maybe some rookie agent will come across this and get some use out of it.

Part of the job of a buyer’s agent is to set up a series of house showings for the buyer. Generally, some of the houses will be occupied. It’s customary to give the sellers a one hour window in which you will show up to view the house, so they don’t have to spend an entire day wondering when you’ll stop by. This can be a challenge to narrow down if  you have, say 12 other houses to show. How can you know how long each house will take to look at? And driving times? They do not teach you this shit in real estate school.

After 10 years, I’ve come up with a pattern that works 90% of the time if I’m showing houses within a 25 miles radius (so it’s not going to be good if you’re showing in both San Tan Valley and Surprise). I’m pretty sure it’s brilliant and I’m a genius. I start by putting the houses in a logical order by area. Then, I give the first two the same one hour window, starting at the time we’re meeting. After that, I bump the window forward one half an hour every two house until we’re done. It looks like this:

  • House 1: 9-10AM
  • House 2: 9-10AM
  • House 3: 9:30-10:30AM
  • House 4: 9:30-10:30AM
  • House 5: 10-11AM
  • House 6: 10-11AM
  • House 7: 10:30-11:30AM
  • House 8: 10:30-11:30AM
  • House 9: 11-12PM

And now that I’ve typed all that out, it’s really dumb and obvious. You’re welcome.

5. It’s not personal.

Some people choose me as their agent because they’ve known me their whole life and they trust me. Some interview me and pick me because they like my information the best. Some come by me because a coworker personally recommended me. Some saw me on the internet and believe that thing about how people who swear are more trustworthy. Some want a front row seat for when I’ll embarrass myself next.

Some people don’t choose me because their mom is a Realtor. Some have a family agent they’ve all been using for years. Some prefer to keep their business separate from their friends. Some don’t like the numbers I gave them. Some think blue hair is unprofessional. Some are over my #circusshit.

The point is, some people will use me, and some won’t. Getting worked up over-analyzing why someone decided not to ask me to represent them is an enormous waste of time and emotional energy. Which is why I Let It Go, Elsa-style.

6. Always carry the keys from the lockbox with you when you’re showing a house.

Because this could happen. Don’t be all, Oh that wouldn’t happen to me. You’re just tempting the real estate gods.

7. Always be ready to apologize and potentially write a check.

Mistakes will be made. Things will be over-looked, or misinterpreted. In my career, so far, I like to think I’ve been careful, and that I’ve made good choices and well-represented my clients. That said, I’ve also gotten really super-duper good at apologizing. Sometimes, I apologize even when nothing is my fault, because it helps to hear someone is sorry for what you’re going through. Real estate is hard.

I have also written my share of checks. In a business with a million moving parts, it would be impossible to never miss something. Just a few months ago I paid for an appraisal out of my own pocket, before close of escrow, because I missed that a very-rarely marked box for the seller to pay for the buyer’s appraisal, was marked, and I hadn’t advised my clients it would be something they’d have to pay for. It was my fault, I paid for it. I remember buying a fridge for a listing back before the contract was clarified and the buyer’s agent and I weren’t on the same page about whether it was to stay or go.

If you can’t admit when you’re wrong, this isn’t the business for you. You’re going to be wrong.

8. People have strong feelings about Arizona Rooms.

I wrote this post more than four years ago about why I think Arizona Rooms (walled-in patios) are generally a terrible idea out here, and I still regularly get comments on it ranging from indignant to furious. Sorry guys, sometimes the truth hurts.

9. Sometimes you’ve done everything you could and it still wasn’t enough.

Real estate isn’t a business where you are always in control. Sometimes there’s an amazing house for clients you really love that you know would be just perfect for them. You were in the door the first day and you put together your strongest offer, but you’re up against two others. Situations like this used to keep me up nights. I felt like the world would end if we didn’t get the house. I stressed over clients who wouldn’t take my advice. I wrung my hands when the market got dry and I was left pacing, waiting for the next client.

It’s possible I’ve become desensitized to the constant stress of unknowns, but in the last few years, I’ve learned that at some point, you take a deep breath and say (out loud, in front of your bathroom mirror after splashing cold water on your face), “I’ve done all I could do.” And then you move on.

10. Don’t take pictures of people’s puppies in their houses you’re showing (regardless of how cute and photogenic they are) and post them on the internet without asking permission from their owners. 

I saved this one for last just so you know I’m always learning new lessons here in the wacky world of real estate.

Here’s what will happen if you do: Even though you only have like 400 Instagram followers and really only ever post pictures of your circus selfies and kids skateboarding, the daughter of the sellers will somehow (curse you, real estate gods!!!) see the picture of their puppy you posted with the hashtag about how you wanted to steal him and be super creeped out by this invasion of privacy. They will call their agent, who will call your broker and ask you to remove the photo. You will be both personally and professionally mortified by your misstep. And, of course, the clients you were showing the house to will want to buy that house, so you’ll need to put all of the skills you’ve learned over the years pertaining to number 7 to use, just so the sellers don’t think you’re a psycho with no personal boundaries and hold it against your clients who couldn’t be nicer.

So, you know, don’t do that.


In Search of a Place to Hang

You: Hey! How’s the illustrious circus career going?

Me: I just looked up that word and I think it doesn’t mean what you think it does.

You: “Illustrious”? Doesn’t it mean fancy and sparkly? Or something with jazz hands?

Me: Apparently it means, “well known, respected, and admired for past achievements.

You: Oh. Well you did have that one gig, right? Everyone was pretty impressed you pulled that shit off.

Me: Yeah, I’m not sure it propelled me to “illustrious” status. Or “career”.

You: Ok. So how’s your *fancy jazz hands* circus hobby going?

Me: Honestly? It’s bumming me out right now.

You: What?? Why

Me: So when I first started, a year and a half ago, I was taking classes at a place way up in North Scottsdale, about 40 minutes in good traffic from my house. I learned a lot. I got much stronger. In the beginning, I would go to class on Sunday midday, and be utterly wrecked for the rest of the day, and sore for two or three more. It took until the next week for my bruises to fade enough to be ready to try again. Gradually, my endurance grew and I could take a circus class twice a week without being unable to function. Now my body can handle a couple of hours of circus training a day, everyday.

You: Woah.

Me: I know. I’m kind of impressed with my body’s capacity for strength, even starting at not a particularly youthful point.

You: *cough* almost 40 *cough*


You: Sorry.

Me: Anyway, I’m at the point, now, where what I really need is practice. I need regular time on an apparatus repeating what I know, over and over, to get it perfect, add performance elements, and to build stamina in the air. I feel like I’ve learned a bunch of tricks and sequences that are now gone from my repertoire because I didn’t ever practice them again and I’ve forgotten them. Or I learned them too early and I wasn’t really strong enough to do them well. I also need to build on my strength doing conditioning so I can learn next level stuff.

You: So what’s the problem?

Me: The problem is, the place I was taking at is too far to go everyday. Once or twice a week was manageable, but dude. I do have a job and a family. I just can’t make it happen more than that. Plus, there isn’t much of a ‘higher level intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ program at that school. They have a policy that you can come in to workout whenever there are classes being taught, but if you want to do that, you run the risk of driving all the way up there and the class is canceled and you didn’t know, or the class is super full and there are no extra apparatuses on which to work out.

You: Yeah, that’s not ok. So why don’t you find somewhere closer to home?

Me: Yeah, that was my initial thought. There is another school that’s sort of closer, but only by about 5 mins. It also has lots of beginner-level classes, but not much for someone like me.

You: And that’s all there is in metro-Phoenix??

Me: There are literally only 4 other studios I’ve found with any aerials at all, and all of them have low ceilings and only one or two classes a week. Apparently Phoenix SUCKS for circus resources. When I was in Denver, I was told by the aerial girls up there that the “Denver aerial market is saturated right now”. There are a bunch of studios everywhere.

You: You’re going to hang silks in your living room, aren’t you?

Me: I want to, damn it! I went for a private lesson in a girl’s house who had two rigging points in her ceiling. She had an aerial studio in her house! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the benefit of two story ceilings when we bought this house. Our tallest ceiling is only 10 feet.

Jason has talked about building me a rig in the backyard, but I feel like that would be stupidly expensive and time-consuming. Plus, in case you haven’t seen our backyard lately, it’s basically a graveyard of abandoned projects and an enormous trampoline.

What I really want to do is buy my own set of silks (with my gig money, burning a hole in my Paypal account) and rig it in a gym somewhere in the East Valley that I can have access to several times a week to do some open gym time. I tried to float this idea at the gym where my kids take skateboarding and parkour lessons, but they weren’t willing to let me install a structurally secure rigging point and said their insurance rider doesn’t cover aerial sports.

You: Really? Dude. I can see why you’re bummed.

Me: I know. I’m going to call every gymnastics, crossfit and rock climbing gym in the area and see if any of them will go for it, but I’m not holding out a ton of hope. It seems like unless I’m willing to open my own East Valley circus gym, (which I’m not), I’m kind of SOL.

You: You should take out an ad on Craigslist.

Me: I totally should.

Bendy gal ISO place to hang from

Looking for a mutually beneficial relationship. I need you to be tall, strong, and close to home. Specifically, 15-20 feet, able to support a dynamic load of 1000+ pounds, and East of the 101. If you’re available late nights, or even for an occasional nooner, that’s even better. I’ll compensate you for your time and bring my own equipment. Call me!

You: That should definitely do it.

Science Camp Adventures

I dropped this guy at school this morning for 5th Grade Science Camp:

Gray 5th grade science camp


They’re going to the same camp I went to back when it was “6th Grade Science Camp,” before kids were more mature and worldly. I’ve been meticulously (nervously) gathering things from the packing list for a week in preparation (NO ankle socks? But ankle socks are in! That’s what they all wear now. That’s all we own! TWO pairs of shoes? What rich-ass Arizona kid owns TWO pairs of non-flipflop shoes? That’s just indulgent!). Of course, when we actually got to school with his carefully packed bag full of labeled, weather-appropriate clothing, and his specifically garbage bag covered bedding, tied and labeled as directed (neither too heavy for him to carry himself) and were getting out of the car we had this conversation:

Gray: Oh that’s Kale right there. He’s in my cabin.

Me: Kale?

Gray: Yeah…

Me: Like-

Gray: Like the salad, yeah.

Me: That’s weird.

Gray: Yeah.

Me: Where is your jacket?

Gray: … oh… um, at home. On the couch.

Me (going nuclear before his eyes): You left your jacket at home? YOU LEFT YOUR JACKET AT HOME?!!

Gray: I’m sorry-


Kale’s mom (as we almost run into her): Wow! These 5th graders sure are wound up today, aren’t they?

Me (frantically, trying to keep my tone of voice from getting shrieky): Yeah. Mine just told me he left his jacket at home. So I really need to get him up there quick so I can run home and grab it.

Gray: I’m sorry, mom.

Kale’s mom (cheerfully): Haha, that sounds like something that would happen at our house!


Me (out loud): Haha, yeah. Kids. Why did I have them?

In the car on the way home, after my brain stopped boiling, I remembered how this exact thing also happened not only to Jonas on our trip to Colorado to meet their new cousin last month, but also to me when I went to run Ragnar in Oregon last fall: jacket set out of the luggage, ready to be carried on the trip until we get to the cold place and need to put it on, forgotten on the couch. I think it’s just sometimes hard for Arizona people to remember about warm clothes and shit like that that rarely ever applies to our normal lives. I could hardly blame him for a flaw he clearly comes by naturally.

When I got back up to the school, jacket in hand, I made sure to apologize to him for being angry and tell him I hoped he had so much fun and that I loved him, if only so the last thing his mother said to him before he left for three days wasn’t, I’m going to murder you.

On the upside, because I was at the school late, right before they were getting ready to leave, I got to snap a picture of his whole cabin together:

Hickory Cabin, Fifth Grade Science Camp, 2015

Hickory Cabin, Fifth Grade Science Camp, 2015

I took four photos and that kid in front is making that face in every one. I’m pretty sure he was fucking with me. They’re going to have a great time. And in 20 years I’m going to post this on his Timeline on Spacetagram or Futurebook or whatever social media they have then that beams content directly into your brain and when that kid in the back, Kale, gets tagged he’ll think, Aw, I remember that day. I totally heard Gray’s mom threaten him with homicide. My mom never let me go over to his house after that.

That Time I Went Undercover as an Aerialist

I’ve been working on an investigative journalism piece about infiltrating the dark world of the circus arts and I had an amazing breakthrough this weekend. Here are my notes:

Last Thursday morning at 6:30 AM – I wake up to a Facebook message from someone I don’t know asking me to call him because they need aerialists for Superbowl Party gigs. I assume this is a Nigerian Prince scam aimed at aspiring aerialists and I will be asked for a bank account number to “deposit my payment into” once I agree to perform. I Google the person and the phone number and come up with a reputable Circus Arts Entertainment booking company. I am intrigued.

8:45 AM – I call the number I was messaged and speak with the owner of the company who explains he’s short aerialists for gigs he’s been booked to do and is looking to use some ‘local talent’ to fill in the gaps. When he says that I look around to see who he’s talking about and realize he’s referring to me. He found me on Facebook because most of my pictures are of me doing #circusshit. I immediately feel obliged to keep his expectations low enough I can live up to them while still making him want to hire me. I tell him I’m “newish” but am “totally an aerialist”. He is confused. But he is also desperate, so he tells me to send him a full body photo, video, and my measurements for any costumes I might need and he’ll get back to me.

10 AM – I take my measurements using a tape measure (it’s sharp) and send him this photo because it seems like the most literal interpretation of the request that I have readily available:



I also talk a girlfriend, Dakoa, who has been performing as an aerialist for about a year, into sending her information. I figure she’s young, hot, and talented enough maybe he’ll be super grateful for me sending her to him that he’ll hire us both.

11 AM – 6 PM – We wait. Gradually, it becomes clear he’s seen through my act and has realized I’m a 36 year old mother of three and not the aerialist he wants to hire to perform at a ‘Celebrity Superbowl Weekend Party’. I am disappointed but not surprised. I resolve to go back to the drawing board and redouble my subterfuge efforts.

10:45 PM – My phone rings. I have underestimated his level of desperation. He is still moderately confused regarding my level of expertise and asks me to talk to his aerialist. She asks me some questions about tricks I can do. I’ve had 2 glasses of wine and am generally bad at remembering the names of things. Plus the same tricks have different names everywhere. I mostly end up telling her: I swear I can totally do 15 minutes of stuff. And I’m really good at straddle-backs. I have very flexible hips. Clearly, every other aerialist within 500 miles is already booked, and they agree to hire me (and Dakoa) for one of the Saturday gigs. I hang up and wonder if I really can do 15 minutes of stuff. I text everyone I know that I’m about to become famous or die of humiliation; one of those, but nothing else. Then I don’t sleep the entire night.

Friday morning – I head to the circus gym and work on being on the silks for 15 minutes. It’s exhausting, but I make it through. I begin to have enough hope I can do this that it immediately ignites a fear he’ll change his mind (after I’ve already told everyone I know) and I won’t be hired after all. Being a professional aerialist is emotionally exhausting.

Friday 8 PM – He calls and confirms Dakoa and I are coming Saturday night. He gives me more details and says he’ll have costumes for us, but that we should bring our own if we have any. He mentions the theme is ‘futuristic glam’. I’m not sure what this means, but I suddenly have the urge to watch The Labyrinth.

Saturday 10 AM- 3 PM – I try on every leotard, fishnet, and lace top I can find in Chandler Mall. I also buy a metric fuckton of glitter to apply in various ways. I consider cementing my agreement with my husband about which celebrities I’m allowed to sleep with if I ever meet them in person (since it is a ‘celebrity party’ after all), but I realize my list consists of Louis CK, Ira Glass, Ben Gibbard, and CT from The Challenge, and I’m probably unlikely to see any of them at a lingerie-themed Superbowl party, so I don’t bother.

4 PM – 4:45 PM – I lay on the floor in our bathroom while my husband attempts to apply fake eyelashes for me. He’s very detail-oriented and has lots of experience with epoxy, so I assume he’ll do a great job. He is strangely uncoordinated at it. He is angry and touching my eyeballs. I make a mental note to find some Youtube tutorials for him to watch so he can do a better job in the future.

6 PM – I arrive at the venue, a gallery in downtown Phoenix. Dakoa and I head inside and find no circus folk. The security team hasn’t heard of us or the company who hired us, but there is a silk rigged from the ceiling, so we unknot it and try it out. It is much lower to the ground than I’ve been practicing on, which immediately eliminates about a third of what I worked on the previous day. One of my fake eyelashes falls halfway off while I’m practicing and I can’t get it to stick back on without redoing the whole thing, so I look like a ‘special needs’ aerialist. I feel like I might throw up.

Leather and Lace 1

6:45 PM – Another set of circus people shows up. They are of the sword-swallowing, glass-walking, hammer-scissors-into-your-sinuses variety. They were told the costume theme is Steampunk. The only male of the group has a large, fresh scar up his back. He says he had a sword swallowing accident in the fall and was in the ICU for a month. I want to tell him to grow up and stop sticking sharp things into his orifices, but I’m afraid he’ll say, You’re not my mom, so I keep quiet.

7 PM – I call our contact and ask when he’s getting there. He says a different guy will be our manager at the party and he’s on his way. He also explains we will each be doing two sets as an ‘aerial bartender’. Dakoa and I have never done this before. He tells me to go to their Facebook page and look at the pictures of the other girls doing it to see what poses they use. I don’t know what to say except, Sure! When I get off the phone we find a silk rig that hangs below a chandelier ringed with vodka bottles that have LED light displays. We practice pouring upside down.

leather and laces 3


7:45 PM – Our manager for the night arrives. He doesn’t have costumes for us and is unaware we were promised them. We are also to do our own hair and makeup. This is a problem for me because I’m not totally aware of the levels of makeup. Before this night, I knew of:

Level 1: No makeup

Level 2: Going to the grocery store makeup

Level 3: Trying to look halfway decent makeup

Level 4: Fancy night makeup where it’s ok to look kind of slutty

Apparently, ‘Aerial performance’ makeup is Level 67. When I have more makeup on than I’ve ever had in my life, Dakoa shakes her head without approval and tells me the girls arriving at the event have more on than I do. I make a mental note to buy a “Learn How to Do Your Own Makeup Groupon”.

8:30 PM – When we are done with hair and makeup we put on costumes we’d brought. I have a leotard and a two piece outfit. Standing in front of the mirror, I look pear-shaped in the leotard, so I go with the high-waisted brief with a lace top and black fishnets. I feel moderately comfortable in my outfit. I have abs. I’m sleek-ish… for my age. Then Dakoa, who is 22 and weighs 7.5 lbs, complains about her muffin top. I realize I am obese and should immediately be put out of my misery.

leather and laces 4

9 PM – We are sharing a dressing area with go-go dancers in black lingerie, 3 storm troopers and two girls in light up cage dresses. I’m not sure how we all go together.

leather and laces 5

9:30 PM – We are marched out onto the Red Carpet of the event in front of photographers. They yell things at us and are not nice. They demand we be interesting. I wasn’t told verbal harassment was part of the gig. I feel sorry for famous people. Sort of.

10 PM – We start the first ‘set’. Dakoa begins it with 15 minutes on the silks. I asked to do the bartending first because I’m nervous and it seems easier. She looks gorgeous and amazing. I’m proud to be her friend, but I hate her a little bit.

leather and laces 6 leather and laces 7

After she’s done, some of the other circusy weirdos do their thing, and then it’s my turn on the aerial bartending rig. I am extremely nervous. I climb the silks, determined to wrap my feet, do a crossback and invert to pour upside down. I climb too high and hit my head on a bottle. I stand back up, slide down and try again. I’m still too high. Everyone is embarrassed for me. I wish I’d hit my head hard enough to knock myself out. I finally get into a position to pour drinks and am handed a bottle. I begin pouring ‘shots’, but as I’ve never been a bartender, much less an aerial bartender, I pour too much and the bottle is gone very quickly. I’m left to awkwardly change poses low to the ground and try to avoid hitting the bottles for the rest of my set. It’s horrifying. My cover is blown. I’m nothing but a late-30s Realtor/mom hanging upside down among beautiful rich people rolling their eyes. I consider hanging myself from the silk as my dramatic finale.

11-11:30 PM – We are on break. It’s far past my bedtime. I nurse a Rockstar and vodka. We’re told there are servers passing sushi on trays, but I’m too humiliated to eat. Dakoa comforts me by saying her first aerial atmosphere performance didn’t go great. I am determined to get through the night and then will abandon this ruse to go back to my suburban life. I’m in over my head.

11:45 PM – We head back out. I am on silks this time. I take a deep breath and start my set. I get through my first few tricks… and feel beautiful! I’m getting through this! People are smiling and taking pictures. I’m strong and competent. I feel good! Then, I invert and I realize my brief bottoms have slipped down below my belly button. Down below the extra skin on my stomach that announces I’ve carried three children to term. My stomach fat is hanging out for all of the beautiful rich people to see. I try to discretely adjust while continuing my routine. A rocker guy in a leather jacket comes to take a picture with me. I try to feel empowered. My body has been through things, but it’s amazing and strong! I halfway succeed. I feel worried there will be pictures of my stretch marks on the internet.

leather and laces 8

When I come down, and we get through the other acts, Dakoa takes a turn at the aerial bartending. She is amazing. People forgo their cups and stand under her with their mouths open to have vodka showered down on them. She obliges and coats dozens of expensive suits and faces with liquor. They don’t mind.

1:00 AM – I’ve changed into a leotard. Suddenly, instead of pear-shaped, I feel sexy and less like I’m living that nightmare where you get to high school and realize you forgot to get dressed. Lesson learned: Dress for being tied up in the air, not for standing in front of the mirror. It’s decided we only have time for one more set. Because Dakoa was fantastic at the bartending and I wasn’t a disaster on the silks, we’re going with that one more time. Dakoa and I take a selfie before going back out.

leather and laces 9

When I get to the silks, the music is dancey and infectious like it is sometimes after midnight. The crowd is drunk. I’m almost done with this insane experience. I begin to climb, and all of my anxiety and fear stays on the ground without me. I’m nothing but a dancer in the air, feeling the music and soaking up the drunk energy of the crowd. I spin and drop and pose like I was born doing this. I feel like a goddamn superstar. I could stay up there for hours. I finish the set flush with adrenaline and ego.  I am an aerialist!!!

1:30 AM – We’re done performing, so we wander the residual party, barefoot, sipping celebratory cocktails. As performers, we have access to all areas. Even at the VIP sections, the black-suited security guards smile and open the red velvet ropes when we approach. Dozens of people stop us to tell us they LOVED our shows, in that way you do when you’re drunk and you feel like someone just isn’t getting how strongly you feel about the statement you’re making. We feel like the celebrities at the party. We see the supermodels briefly, before they leave. They tower over everyone else at the party. Behind a wall, in a section we didn’t know was there, a TRX is set up and a personal trainer is showing lingerie-clad girls how to use it. They are pathetic. We step up and show them how it’s done (or at least how we do it).

leather and lace 10


Everyone is super, drunkenly, impressed.

4 AM – I finally get home. I lie in bed, wide-awake, reliving the spectrum of emotions I experienced in this undercover mission. I am covered in bruises. The sheet of stick-on rhinestones I bought scattered throughout my makeup bag and now I’m so fancy I have rhinestone-studded deodorant. Who knows if I’ll ever get hired again, but even if I don’t, at least I had that last set. I was magical… if only for 15 minutes.

Stuff on My Shitlist Today

All of this can go GFY:

1. My shrinking garage, the asshole – This morning, as I was sleepily backing out to take the teenager to school, after not having driven since we left town to visit my in-laws and new niece in Denver last Thursday, I came to realize my stupid fucking garage shrank while we were gone. I had this epiphany when my driver’s side mirror was crunching angrily against the stucco and shedding pieces of plastic housing down onto my driveway. What kind of a douchebag garage shrinks without even mentioning it?

2. My idiot broken toilet – The stupid fucking flushing handle on the downstairs toilet broke off last week the day before we left, simply to piss me off. This means either I have to go upstairs to pee all day, or I have to take the lid off the tank every time I do and stick my hand in the water to pull up the chain manually to get it to flush. This is a problem because I have no idea where that water comes from. Is it toilet water? Is it water that basically has to switch places with the pee/poop water, which it has to touch to get into there, so it’s pretty much like sticking my hand in pee/poop?? Or is it like running my hand under tap water? Is it unicorn piss? You know what, I don’t want to know what it is. And I can’t seem to remember this is an issue until I’m mid-squat, and by then I’m too lazy to pull up my pants and go all the way upstairs to pee. So fuck you, flimsy toilet handle and mystery toilet tank “water”.

3. Credit card thieves – YOU ARE DICKS. Even though you didn’t actually steal any money from me, just ‘compromised’ my card so the company had to cancel and reissue it, it was super awkward when I had it declined at the gas station and the grocery store and everyone looked at me like, Um, should you really be buying grocery store sushi and wine if you can’t pay your credit card bills? Also, it’s an enormous pain in my ass to try to figure out the password to the kids’ lunch money account that auto-pays off this card. And I don’t totally know how PayPal works or if this means I’ll need to find another way to order my blue hair dye. FUCK YOU SO MUCH.

4. The POS cat

asshole cat


Dude, just because you’re all snuggly because we went out of town and you were lonely, doesn’t mean I’m just going to fucking let you jump up on the counter and eat my grocery store sushi lunch. Just who the fuck do you think you are??

5. My muffin top – You smug, self-satisfied bastard, you. Lounging there, on top of my pants, without a goddamn care in the world. No one likes you, you know. Just because you showed up on vacation and I haven’t gotten rid of you yet, doesn’t mean I’m letting you stick around. You’re the WORST.


I think that’s mostly it right now. But I reserve the right to add other assholes to this list at any time.

Piestewa Peak and the Juvenile Male: An Anthropological Study

Yesterday I hiked Squaw Peak (it’s Piestewa Peak now, right? Because ‘squaw’ is offensive?*)  with 5 male children aged 2-14. I feel like it should be documented for its anthropological relevance on the study of male adolescents and their development as they age. In the interest of science, this is what it’s like to hike with juvenile male humanoids:

Age 2

Though of seemingly sturdy build, and in possession of a hearty amount of caloric reserves that would appear to make him an ideal candidate for long-term survival in the wild, this specimen (we’ll call him “Gus”) was ill-equipped for the rocky terrain. His short limbs and the tall steps were a problematic combination, only exacerbated by his short temper. He was generally the most vocal member of the group and was often carried by elder members of the tribe. Despite his lack of exertion over the journey, he was often in need of ‘snacks’ to keep his strength up. Additionally, he refused to move without Lego Spiderman secure in his chubby fist, which he repeatedly dropped into tiny crevices, possibly on purpose, as a way to test his parents’ love and commitment to him.

squaw peak gus

Age 4

By age 4, the human male juvenile (“Colby”) has developed enough coordination and long enough legs and arms it appears he should be physically capable of completing the hike. His resistance to the activity, however, appeared to eclipse that of all members of the tribe, even his younger, less capable, sibling’s. He didn’t put up a vocal fight, so much as just a total shut out of anyone who tried to engage him and an utter refusal to put one foot in front of the other. He also required alternate transportation of the parental-sherpa variety, and a large quantity of snacks. It’s clear willful resistance depletes energy reserves at a greater rate than we ever could have imagined.

squaw peak colby

Age 7

The 7 year old specimen, “Jonas” appeared the most pleased with the requisite activity; often running ahead of the group and climbing rock outcroppings along the trail. Halfway through the hike he informed the group he was choosing a new spirit name and would from here on out only answer to ‘Ninja’ or ‘Hardcore Parkour’. Strangely enough, early in the hike, his arms developed a peculiar condition that made them too weak and exhausted to carry his own water bottle, but strong and dexterous enough to carry a large, dagger shaped rock and a second large rock, which he used for ‘sharpening’ his shank. He spent much of the hike verbally detailing what he would do and how he would survive if he was trapped out here in the wilderness on this hike overnight. First step in the survival process would be to kill something to eat. Anthropologically speaking, it’s possible he’s been watching too much Dude, You’re Screwed, Naked and Afraid, and Survivorman.

squaw peak jonas

Age 10

At 10, the male human (“Gray”) appears to be a more solitary creature. His hiking skills and abilities are in the high range (although he appeared more fair-skinned than the others and suffered a reaction to the heat commonly known as ‘tomato face’). He often ran ahead and was unseen for long periods of time, only to be found eventually, waiting, perched on a rock, sweaty and complaining of nausea.

squaw peak gray

Age 14

The pre-adult version of the human male, at 14, was possibly the most perplexing of the subjects. “Bennett”, although in possession of excellent physicality, with extremely long limbs that should make short work of the rocks that presented a challenge for the smaller children, was nearly as emotionally adverse to the activity as his 4 year old cousin. He vocally expressed unhappiness, and eventually, outrage, at being “forced” (his words) to attend the outing. He complained of physical ailments, and eventually, because he was too large to be carried, was left behind.

squaw peak bennett

In summation, it’s clear from the data of this field observation that the human male adolescent goes through a cycle of development, that peaks in energy, ability, and lack of bitching, in the 6-10 year old range, and eventually tapers off until he becomes a veritable child again by the time he’s a teenager. It’s unclear if he ever overcomes this in adulthood.


*I just Googled ‘why is squaw offensive’ because I’ve never understood whether it was a racial thing or a feminist thing. I always understood it to refer to a married Native American lady, which seems like it would be comparative to naming a mountain Wife Summit. That wouldn’t be offensive, right? (I’m white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender, and have brown eyes, so I am inherently kind of an asshole who doesn’t always know what is and is not offensive and why. But I am left-handed, so it’s not like my people have never been oppressed.) The articles I read mostly agreed the term ‘squaw’ refers to a female, either young or young and married. They made reference to the fact that ‘some people’ think the term refers to a vagina, and that’s why it’s thought to potentially be derogatory. But, I mean, at most that would be vulgar, not culturally demeaning, right? And none of the articles were even super sure that’s right. It’s only possibly offensive. Maybe. Who really knows. I’m so glad I just spent 10 minutes of my life researching that. Also, now I’m just going to call it The Vagina Hike.