The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

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.

How to Buy a House Without Getting a Divorce

Buying a house can put pressure on many things: your bank account, your sanity, your liver, and possibly your marriage. Like pretty much anything about sharing your day-in/day-out life with a single other flawed person, who has a unique make-up of opinions, quirks, bodily functions, pet peeves, and irritating habits, the biggest purchase of your life can make you want to throttle your spouse. And I mean literally wrap your fingers around his neck and squeeze until he passes out or he agrees to let you have a walk-in pantry in the kitchen, whichever comes first.

It’s a scenario I’ve seen time and time again. A happy couple hires me to find them a house. At the first meeting it’s all smiles, hope, and cocktails. By the time we’ve seen 30 houses it’s clear they are actually shopping for two separate and distinct houses. Their Venn diagram doesn’t overlap. After 75 houses and 6 months the husband is pantomiming a hanging noose when we pull up to every listing and if the wife could roll her eyes any harder they would fall out of her head. They aren’t holding hands anymore. Their posture is defeated. All hope has drained out of their faces. Cocktails are merely to dull the misery.

The point is, being hauled away to county lock-up for suspected murder, or filing for divorce while you’re in escrow, could potentially hamper your home-buying dreams. Additionally, if you successfully make it to the escrow finish line and receive your keys, but in the process come to loathe and resent everything about your spouse, it will make living in the house you worked so hard to buy sort of awkward. 

In order to avoid the awkwardness of murder and divorce in this complicated situation, I’ve put together a list of tips on how to navigate the difficulties of a real estate transaction while avoiding pitfalls that could lead to lots of nights on the couch watching Skinemax alone.

1. Keep carbs and sugar on hand.

Seeing 8 houses in one day is both mentally and physically exhausting, but sometimes necessary. Low blood sugar in addition to exhaustion is basically a recipe for hating everyone and everything you’ve ever loved. At 1pm, after 6 houses in July, if I haven’t had lunch, I could be married to Ryan Gosling and I’d want to knee him in the junk if he suggested I could maybe live without a gas stove because he really needs an RV gate. It’s not rocket science, people: Granola bars save marriages.


2. Carefully monitor your tone of voice.

Imagine saying, “You like that?” while looking at a beautiful flower. Now imagine saying, “You like that?” while looking at a terrifyingly large spider. Now imagine saying it the second way while looking at hardwood floors you’re not in love with, but it turns out your husband thinks are really cool. And now he’s never having a decor opinion again because you hurt his man-feelings. Don’t you feel like a jerk? Inflection matters, yo.

3. Try to see things from your partner’s perspective.

At some point, it’s pretty likely you’ll come to an impasse (whether it be small, or large) where everyone starts losing his and her collective shit. She is adamant on living in a particular area, and he is adamant the prices are too high in there. She’s starting to wonder how she never noticed he’s such a cheap, insensitive prick. He’s questioning when she turned into such a snotty, uncompromising bitch.

Woah, WOAH, guys. Take a deep breath and think about your spouse’s motives. Is she really just wanting to live the high life outside of your means? Is he seriously trying to control you by pulling the ‘I make more money’ card? Or is her long-ass commute killing her hour by hour, in long lines of creeping traffic while she gets an ulcer with worry it will be the day she doesn’t get to daycare on time to pick up the kids, and this other neighborhood would shorten her commute enough to make life worth living again? And is he feeling the stress of being the one who looks at your finances more often and down deep is utterly terrified of becoming house-poor and unable to pay the Total Wine credit card when it comes due?

In a household, everyone has different responsibilities. Sometimes it helps to remember the ones your spouse has been taking care of for you, and how it affects his or her life and needs… even if you’re pretty sure he’s kind of being a baby about it and needs to get over it.

4. Make a Pros and Cons list.

I feel strongly a Pros and Cons list can really help to distill why a house is going to work or not for your family. Here’s how I recommend going about it:

Step 1 – Go to your favorite happy hour spot (Joyride Taco works for me). Order a cocktail and appetizers. Do not move on to step 2 until the food and drinks have arrived.

Step 2 – Get out two pieces of paper. Each take one and separately, without sharing info, list the pros and cons of the house in question. Drink entire first cocktail.

Step 3 – Order another cocktail and while you’re waiting for it to come, go over your lists together. On a third piece of paper make a combined list of the pros and cons. Before you start the second cocktail (when math starts to get a little hairy), assign each of the items a number value based on how important they are. Like, a pro of, ‘in a cul-de-sac’ might be moderately important, so it gets a 4, but the pro ‘best yard we’ve seen’ could get an 11 because yard is something you’ve determined is high on your equal list of priorities.

Step 4 – Add up the column totals, have three more cocktails each and call an uber to take you home while it gradually becomes clear why you should or should not buy the house in question and that you still super love her because she’s such an adorable nerd when she’s drunk, and she totally still finds you super sexy.

5. Realize the process isn’t about beating the seller.

Contract negotiations are often competitive and can bring out the need to win in certain personality types. If you’re one of these, it’s good to remind yourself in 10 years no one will remember you got the seller to throw in the old ratty patio furniture he wanted to take, but your husband might never forgive you if you lose the house completely over shit you don’t really want anyway. Which brings us to #6…

6. Ask yourself if this particular house/feature/neighborhood is worth having your spouse hold it against you for the rest of your marriage.

You know there are things you’ve done your spouse will never forget. Things your spouse feels like crossed the line, and if you could go back and undo it, you ABSOLUTELY WOULD JUST TO SHUT HER UP ABOUT IT FOR CHRISSAKES, IT’S BEEN 11 YEARS. That time he refused to stand up to his mother for her… When she bought a car without even consulting him, shit like that.

At some point, you may feel like you are so desperate for a particular house or feature, and so convinced your spouse will eventually agree you were right to want it, you decide to use all of your spousal weight to wear him or her down, rather than making the decision mutually. I’m not saying this is never the right way to go. It’s possible you really do know your husband, and he just needed you to make that extra push in the right direction. But I’d caution, before doing this, to ask yourself if it’s worth it to have him hold it against you forever if he’s not happy. It’s one thing to make a bad decision together, it’s quite another to be left holding the bag alone when it goes wrong. It’s how the kind of resentment that will ruin a relationship is born.

7. Sit down and write out a budget. 

Like a Pros and Cons list, writing a budget together (probably over fewer cocktails because math) can help both clarify and relieve fears. Often one partner has a better idea, going in, of what the money situation looks like. Getting everyone on the same page, and agreeing together what concessions can be made as a household to allow for more expenses, is a great way to relieve tension, pressure, and resentment.

8. Have sex.

I always like to end all relationship advice with this one. It’s not particularly related to buying a house, but I’m pretty sure it cheers almost everyone up, and as your Realtor, I like cheerful clients.

So there you go! Go forth and happily buy houses!


New Years Resolutions 2015

I know it’s already January 8th, but I really want to be a better person this year, so I’ve been working hard on my list of resolutions and they were taking me a long time. Five is my lucky number, so 2015 is definitely when I’ll achieve all of my hopes and dreams… or maybe it should have already happened 10 years ago. Shit. Regardless, I’m totally committed to being stronger, smarter, cooler, nicer, thinner, curvier, more accomplished, more flexible, less messy, more engaged in the world around me, less worried about things I can’t control, prettier, younger, and a completely different person that I’ve always been. I’m sure if I just put my mind to it, I can do it.

This year, I resolve to:

  • Will my hair to stop growing grey.
  • Maintain an all-gluten diet.
  • Read less time-wasting crap on the internet.
  • Write more time-wasting crap for the internet.
  • Give back to the community by setting up a school to teach the mentally challenged quail in our neighborhood how to cross the street without being murdered.
  • Dye my hair purple to see if it looks cooler.
  • Write a book of erotic short stories, based on what I overhear on the microphone I will smuggle into my neighbor’s house.
  • Watch all 562 episodes of The Simpsons.
  • Start a cult.
  • Learn to touch my feet to my head in cobra.
  • Visit every Chipotle within 100 miles and rank their margarita making skills from Best to Worst on Yelp (also giving back to the community).
  • Write a How-to ebook called 18 Steps to the Perfect Eyebrows.
  • Learn how to do my eyebrows good.
  • Stop procrastinating. Unless there’s something really important on TV or I’m super tired or uninspired.
  • Only write in green ink.
  • Be happy all the time. Even when I’m not at all and it’s an inappropriate time to be happy because something really sad or unfair has happened.

Starting… right now! After I drive through Chick-fil-a one last time.

Do these eyebrows look normal? How does one tell if her eyebrows look right? Should I just start asking strangers? Also my hair is still growing in grey even though I've been meditating on it being brown, using essential oils and going to a life coach who specializes in brown hair. Maybe I should dye it one more time and see if it catches on?

Do these eyebrows look normal? How does one tell if her eyebrows look right? Should I just start asking strangers? Also my hair is still growing in grey even though I’ve been meditating on it being brown, using essential oils, and going to a life coach who specializes in brown hair. Maybe I should dye it one more time and see if it catches on?

The Great SF Midlife Crisis Circus Adventure – Things I Learned

It’s been three and a half weeks since I got back. My girlfriend who went with me, Rebekah, loved our trip so much she decided to sublet a place in San Francisco for a month and take as many classes as she can. She works from home and doesn’t have kids or a spouse, so she has the freedom to just pick up and go. She leaves in 5 days. I would tell you my insides aren’t boiling with envy, but it would be a filthy, unsustainable lie.

It’s ok, though. My kids went to Dallas to visit their Fairy Grandma Linda (she has a mansion stocked with nerf guns and video games and she lets them stay up until midnight… they never wanted to come home, either) over the holiday break and they were gone so long I actually missed their obnoxious faces. Sleeping in feels so lazy when there’s no one coming in every 10 minutes asking when you’re coming to come down and make breakfast. It’s practically boring when you can get through a work phone call without having to simultaneously mentally review the AZ RE contract, use sign language to communicate to a son that he CANNOT go to Joshua’s house because it’s dark outside, and make dinner. I would be lonely and unchallenged without all my worldly burdens.

Though I can’t abandon my Arizona existence and go back immediately, the lessons I learned on the SF trip continue to greatly affect my life. I returned home forever altered, enriched, and worldly. It would be impossible to package all of the epiphanies I experienced into one brief blog post, but I’ll do my best to summarize the most important, life changing and enriching discoveries I made on my travels:

1. They serve delicious canned wine on Frontier flights.

wine in a can


It’s adorable, a little bubbly, and perfect. Obviously I was aware quality wine can come in a box, but WHO KNEW it came in a can with pithy sayings? The world is just so big and amazing, right?

2. Hostels aren’t only for murders.

It turns out hostels can also be adorable and perfect. Sure, ours was in a moderately terrifying neighborhood, and you couldn’t stay in one with a family or anything, but for our purposes, it was completely excellent. It was $30/night for a bunkbed in a room with 4 beds, lockers and a bathroom. When I left for SF, Jonas asked me where I was staying and I explained the basic concept of the hostel. He made me promise I’d sleep on the top bunk for him. Luckily, Rebekah was worried she’d have to fight me for the bottom bunk, so we were happy bunkmates.

The room and facilities were clean and creatively decorated. The staff and all the patrons we encountered were polite (although it’s possible I was the oldest person there). They had a hairdryer I could check out in the morning by leaving my driver’s license at the front desk.  There was a tiny bar in the lobby that served cheap beer and wine until midnight. When I accidentally left my necklace on the high shelf next to my bunkbed and didn’t remember until we’d left for the day, it was gone when we got back that night. But I went down to the front desk figuring there was little to no chance someone had turned it in and there it was.

Our hostel experience was an A+ and I’d do it again.

3. Umbrellas are not just for wasting space in my glove compartment and my kids to invite bad luck into our house.

It turns out they’re legitimately useful when you’re stuck using public transportation in an apocalyptic rainstorm. There are also varying degrees of robustness in umbrella manufacture. Not all umbrellas are created equal. The ones sold in AZ are apparently only useful for one trip from your car to Target in a freak 10 minute downpour. Anything more aggressive than that will render them sad and lifeless.


4. I cannot do the splits.

Sure, I can do this:

dancer split


But Elena, the tiny, Russian, badass circus teacher, disabused me of the notion this was a true split during the stretching portion of her conditioning class. It turns out it’s a cheaty dancer split, because my hips are not square at all.

Sadly, this is what my true split looks like:

true split

I’ve always thought I was generally naturally flexible. I’ve come to realize, however, that some parts of me are super flexible, while others are miserably tight. For instance, my hip joints are ridiculously loose, but my hip flexors are rigid like an old lady’s. Also I feel super flexible about cleaning schedules in our house, but I’m absolutely unwavering regarding the necessity of cocktails with dinner.

Now that I know I’ve always been a giant cheatery cheaterpants, I’ve put into place a stretching system so I can work toward getting my true splits. I also want to be able to touch my feet to my head:

feet to head Jan 4 - 2015


It’s going to be a long process.

5. I can totally hang.

SF handstand


I wasn’t one of the young ones. I can’t do the splits. I can’t do 10 handstand pushups. My butt is too soft. My umbrella can’t resist the weather. But… I could keep up. I was never the weakest. I have potential. My body is strong and resilient. My outfits are awesome. I fit in at circus school.

People I Met on The Great San Francisco Midlife Crisis Circus Adventure

So… I went to San Francisco, took 6 classes at the Circus Center in two days during the apocalyptic Storm of the Decade, had an amazing, life-affirming experience and decided to move there, quit real estate and never come home.

Well, except for the last part. I did, however, develop a serious love of both the city and the Circus Center, despite the uncooperative weather.

I’ve been mulling how to describe my experience here and I’ve decided the only way to really convey a sense of the awesomely weird, difficult and joyful of what I went through last week is to break it into two posts: People I Met, and Things I Learned. So without further ado, these are the people of note I met in the 63ish hours I ran away to the circus in San Francisco:

1. Kelli – Mid-late 20s? Works the front desk at the Circus Center. We exchanged approximately 23 emails with her preceding the trip in order to get prerequisites to take some of the upper-level classes. We expected her to hate us but she was super nice and helpful. When we told her we were staying at a hostel in the Tenderloin neighborhood, she told us to watch we don’t step in human feces on the sidewalk on our way home.

2. Elena – Late-40s-ish, immaculate, tiny blond Russian. Elena was a gold-medal winning aerialist in the 80s in Russia and revolutionized the swinging trapeze (not to be confused with the static or flying trapeze). She’s performed all over the world and has been teaching at SFCC for 10 years. We took Static Trapeze 1, Hoop 1 and Aerial Conditioning from her. In static trap, while I was hanging upside down by one knee, she took a long stick and poked my butt cheek not once, but several times while admonishing me, Too soft! in a thick Russian accent. In the spinning hoop class she was fond of shouting, Nipples to the ceiling! (pronounced “neepols”). An hour and a half into the two hour, torturous conditioning class, she demanded I attempt a straddle climb on the rope (legs held in a straddle position, you climb with only your arms). When I told her I couldn’t do that, that I’d never done it before, she said, You haven’t done it because no one has told you to do it before. You will do it now. I want to be her when I grow up.

sfcc 1

3. Kalani – 19, tall, gorgeous brunette from Hawaii. Moved to San Francisco a month ago to become a professional aerialist/circus performer. I took Hoop and Acro with her. She had just finished taking the One-Month Intensive deal at the center that allows you to take an unlimited amount of classes in 30 days for $990. She took 61 classes. I overheard her telling someone she’d tried an aerial straps class, but the instructor said she would never be really good at it because her butt is too big. I wish my butt was too big like her butt is too big.

4. Lizette – 50s?, small, thin, with white-blonde hair. Lizette was working on her spinning hoop routine for a student show they were having during our hoop class. Every inch of her looked 25 years old except her face. I think she might bathe in the blood of infants at night.

5. David – 40s, Kalani’s dad. He told us he was visiting her from Hawaii and she’d made him take a flying trapeze class with her. I’m doing it again tonight and I can’t wait, he said. It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. 

6. Herdlyn – Mid-late 20s?, Jamaican, flying trapeze and trampoline instructor. He taught us trampoline basics like, The First Rule of Trampoline is not to fall off. Friday night we watched from the bleachers as he did a run-through of an amazing duo-trap act while wearing fantastic gold pants. He’s pretty.

sfcc 2

7. Adam – 30sish. Adam took trampoline with us. He said he’d been doing it for about 6 months and had started because his wife took aerial classes at the Circus Center. I’m kind of a circus unicorn, he told us. I’m the husband who got just as addicted to this stuff as my wife. If I knew him better I’d make him a shirt that said Circus Unicorn.

8. Marijuana guy – As far as we can tell, the same guy stands at Stanyan and Haight every day asking everyone who passes if they want to buy marijuana and making it known he has the best marijuana on Haight. He’s a hard worker. He didn’t even close up shop during the torrential downpour.

9. Leo – 50s? But for his greying goatee, Leo could have been 30. He took Aerial Conditioning with us Friday morning. He brought his dog to class and leashed her upstairs in the bleachers with her dog bed. He told us he was a retired SF Firefighter and training to be a professional aerialist performer. He did the straddle climb without bitching.

sfcc 3

10. Xiaohung – 49, super nice Chinese dude who taught Acrobatics 1. I only know how old Xiaohung is because he was telling stories about his 20-something year old son and I turned to the girl next to me and said, Did he have him when he was FIVE? She laughed and said, I know, right? He says he’s 49, but I’m pretty sure he’s ageless. He told us he trained as a gymnast in China in the 70s when there was no heat in the winter or air-conditioning in the summer. He had us hold handstands for what seemed like hours and do elevated handstand push-ups down past the negative point and all the way up. The middle portion of the class involved him stretching us until we cried (ok, I was the only one who actually cried), but then he gave us each an intense 5-minute back massage and I forgave him. During the final third of class he called me out on all of the cheating I usually do to get through my front and back walkovers. He just seemed so sure I could push a little harder when I was giving him every ounce of strength and flexibility I had in my body. I felt bad for letting him down.

11. Annie – 17, spunky teenage girl with a long ponytail and no makeup. Annie was in my acro class. When she walked in, she announced she’d just gotten into Georgetown and was so excited. She referred to me (and everyone else) as “Bro” or “Man”. As in, I like your hair, Bro. (All teenagers like my hair.) She told me she’s not interested in being a professional circus performer because she’s going to major in International Public Health and work for the CDC, but she intends to be the captain of the cheer squad at Georgetown. Both her parents are attorneys. She could do 10 handstand push-ups past negative almost totally unassisted. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be just like Annie.

12. Dave – 60, seemingly normal grandpa-ish dude with white hair. Who could do 10 handstand push-ups. When he found out I’m a mom he told me I must be the ‘cool mom’ and that I was an inspiration. I told him he was confused about which of us was inspiring.

13. Klonopin guy – Looked weirdly normal. Tried to sell us Klonopin for $1 a pill as we walked from our hostel to the train on Saturday morning. Sounded like a deal?

14. Heather – 31, pretty brunette with great bangs (the flight attendant was obsessed with her bangs, to the point of coming over more than once and asking to touch them because she planned on duplicating them later that night). I sat next to Heather on the plane home. She’s a family and child therapist in the bay area. She recently broke up with her boyfriend of 6 years (who she was living with) because she decided she just wasn’t that into him, primarily because she’s actually interested in women. Shortly thereafter she met her current girlfriend. She’s trying to take it slow, but she’s also decided recently she wants to have children. She was fascinating.

I already miss them all.

Sometimes a Battle is Lost

Me: It’s going to be a good run today, I can tell. Let’s pick up the pace a little bit.

Also Me: Um, the music’s not working. What’s wrong with Pandora? Why isn’t the music playing?

Me: Verizon hasn’t figured out how to get a cell tower to reach out to the barren wilderness of NorthEast Mesa. It’s ok, we can run without music. We’ll just think about stuff.

Also Me: Like what?

Me: Like… Christmas. The cards might be delivered today. We could start stuffing them tonight.

Also Me: Oh the cards you had to reorder because you’re a dumbass and didn’t realized they’d be too small to fit the calendars you also send?

Me: Yes, it’s completely my fault.

Also Me: Hey, I wanted to skip cards altogether this year.

Me: Because you’re lazy. Let’s not think about cards.

Also Me: OK, do you want to think about the gifts you decided to make instead of buy this year, of which you’ve only completed HALF OF ONE and it took you most of last weekend?

Me: But the one I’ve made is so pretty!

Also Me: HALF of one. When do you plan to find the time to make six and a half more before Christmas?

Me: I don’t want to think about this anymore.

MapMyRunGirl: Distance, 1 mile. Time, 10 minutes, 11 seconds. Split pace, 10 minutes, 11 seconds.

Also Me: WHAT THE FUCK???! We’ve been running super hard and we’re going that fucking slow? This is bullshit. This hurts and there’s no music and I don’t want to talk to you anymore and we still have three more slow fucking miles left. I don’t want to do this today!

Me: You think I like talking to you? You’re the goddamn worst! You can’t even maintain a positive attitude for a 40 minute run that you know as well as I do we’ll just feel better about life and ourselves and everything after we complete! All you do is bitch and moan. Just put your head down and keep going, for chrissake.

Also Me: *silence*

Me: Oh now you’re not speaking to me? Good. Fuck you.

Pandora: *I love you like a love song, baby*

Me: The music is back! See, it’s going to be fine. We just need to keep going, even if it’s slow-


Me: God, it’s almost worse that it just came back for 30 seconds. What a fucking tease Pandora is.

Also Me: FUCK THIS. I can’t do it today. We’re walking. WE’RE WALKING.

Me: Seriously? After a mile and a half we’re walking? What?

Also Me: You’re not in charge today. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I refuse to run 4 miles today.

Me: This is pathetic. I hate you so much.

Also Me: I… I’m sorry. No really. I know this ruined your day, but I just, really really really didn’t want to.

Me: Like really, who even are we that we can’t get through four slow miles when it’s 61 degrees out? We’re worthless. This is so humiliating I’ll have to turn off the auto-post to Facebook on MapMyRun.

Also Me: You’re going to tell it not to post? Isn’t it kind of inauthentic to only post when you have a good run? Are you going to start pausing the app at stoplights, too?

Me: Oh now you have ethics?

Also Me: I’m just saying.

Also Me: We can do pull-ups when we get home if you want…

Me: Whatever. We’ll probably do two and you’ll start bitching about them too.

Also Me: Uh, well, I mean… if you don’t want to, we don’t have to. We can save our strength for San Francisco. Taking all those circus classes in just a few days is going to be extremely taxing. We should probably be tapering anyway.

Me: You’re ridiculous. I give up.

Also Me: You do? Because I really think we need new sunglasses for the trip. And also new star tights. They probably have them at that store over in Tempe. We could get a burger from Five Guys on the way.

Me: Why the fuck not?

Also Me: Can we eat marshmallows for breakfast and then take a bubble bath?

Me: Sounds good.

The Dream: An RV Circus Food Truck

Even though the rest of my life is kind of a mess, my plans for world domination via circus are steadily moving forward. Sure, I’m still a 36 year old lady in tie-dye tights and a leo, dying her hair blue to cover the grey, but now I’m that weirdo who can do stuff like this:

This was a class a few weeks ago where we took a silks performance we found online and, with the help of our instructor, broke it into pieces and learned the first half of it. My phone ran out of memory and cut off the last drop, but it was probably for the best because by that point I was exhausted and mostly just trying not to let go and accidentally hang myself.

Also, one of the circus schools I go to recently acquired a set of hand-balancing canes. I was surprised to learn I can do this:

Cool, right? Although that hand-balancing shit takes a certifiably insane amount of time, effort and strength to turn into any kind of a routine, so it’s possible my party trick in that arena will max out at 7 seconds.

Just this week I started taking a lyra class (the big metal hoop). It’s not something I’ve had much experience on over the last 15 months, but so far I’m entertained. Last night at class there was a lengthy discussion over whether it is socially insensitive to describe leg position as ‘swastika-ing’ and/or politically incorrect to name a move ‘The Spinning Budda’. I’m not sure a consensus was achieved, but there was learning, and that’s the most important thing.

Gray decided when I run away to join the circus he wants to come with. I told him he needs to have a skill he can perform, so this is what he’s been practicing (I apologize for the vertical video. It works way better for the silks and handstands, but then I get used to it and forget to use it properly in other situations):

So here’s what I’ve decided is the new plan of action:

Step 1: Teach Jonas to tame lions* and Ben to be a fire eater (shouldn’t be that hard, he’s a teenage boy, he’ll eat anything).

Step 2: Sell the house and all our stuff.

Step 3: Buy an RV that doubles as a food truck.

Step 4: Travel around the country performing while Jason sells gourmet tacos and coffee out of the back of our living quarters.

Shouldn’t be that hard.

Next week, I’m off on a random trip to the Circus Center of San Francisco with a circus friend. We’re flying in Wednesday evening, staying in a hostel, and taking classes for 3 days. Because life is short and my knees aren’t getting any younger. I’ll surely post all the details here eventually, but if you’d like to experience the adventure in real time, you’ll probably want to follow my Instagram, @ecnewlin. I’m gonna hashtag it #theSFcircusadventure.

After that I’ll totally start talking about real estate again. Probably.

This is aerialist Barbie. I stole her off pinterest.

This is aerialist Barbie. I stole her off pinterest. It’s what I felt like last weekend when I went to an Orange Theory class with Jason and had to lift weights while standing in front of a mirror. 


*By “teach Jonas to tame lions” I mean “rescue and rehabilitate injured domesticated species and allow them to perform only if they enjoy it and feel emotionally fulfilled by the experience,” obviously.