The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

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.

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.