The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Back At It

I took some time off writing the blog to focus on working on a book I decided I want to write. The concept is a tell-all exposé about parenting and marriage, in which I expound upon some of my favorite metaphors (Having kids is like smelling your own farts) and generate some new ones (Getting a pedicure is like putting on your own oxygen mask first when the plane is crashing). Of course, in the last 3 weeks I’ve managed to put together 655 words, so I’ve mostly just felt guilty both about not writing the blog and not writing the book.

That said, if I wasn’t failing at large portions of my life at any given time, I wouldn’t recognize the surroundings and the shock would probably trigger a stroke. So… cheers to familiar territory.

Don’t worry, though. The fact that I’m updating the blog doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the book. It just means I’m conceding that the idea of “devoting time I would usually spend writing the blog, writing the book instead” was a failed experiment and my mental block against long form still exists. My efforts need redoubling. My pep needs a good talking-to. My motivation needs a goddamn slap on the mouth. I’m working on it.

In the meantime, here I am, back to telling you about the ridiculous things in my life twice a week while I try to overcome my own laziness and self-doubt on the side.

In other depressing news, I’ve gained all of my pneumonia-weight-loss back, though I’ve managed to maintain a nagging cough.

And since I’m clearly whining, I feel comfortable telling you: Real Estate is bumming me out. (Oh you thought I didn’t do that anymore because I hardly ever talk about it? Nope. I’m still deep in the trenches.) I spent most of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 so busy closing deals I got to the point where getting a new client who wanted to buy or sell a house just made me worry I would have to miss circus class. I became a complacent and ungrateful Realtor. I thought there was no way the flood of business would stop. I told myself I’d just reached the next level in my business and I wouldn’t need to worry about having months where I didn’t close a deal anymore. I thought my biggest future problem would be how much I should be setting aside for my stupidly large tax bill.

But the flow began to ebb, as it always does in this biz. Suddenly I’m nearly 10 years in real estate (February 2015 is my decadiversary) and at the tail end of a slump year. Which probably hasn’t been helped by my lack of blogging or discussing real estate at all in social media. I told people for years that even though it didn’t really look like it, blogging and social media were my marketing bread and butter. Sure, I made jokes, talked about my kids and used the f-word for the most part, but I made sure to pepper in enough real estate references to remind people it’s what I do and I do it well. But apparently I didn’t even believe my own spiel until now, after I’d all but quit marketing myself and am sitting next to a silent phone with a cleared calendar for the week.

Me: *SIGH*

Also Me: Waaaaaaa. Enough of the pity-party.

Me: Wallowing helps me process.

Also Me: Oh stop it. How many of your clients have you told recently real estate gets quiet between Thanksgiving and New Years?

Me: All of them.

Also Me: So why does it surprise you when it’s between Thanksgiving and New Years and all of a sudden your schedule opens up a little?

Me: Because even I don’t believe my own bullshit, obviously. Haven’t we already established that?

Also Me: You should probably work on that. And dude, you’ve written two new build contracts in the last week and have a listing closing this week. That’s not exactly a barren real estate landscape.

Me: I guess. It was just SO EASY last year.

Also Me: Oh cry everyone a river. You have to actually sell yourself again. Suck it up, sister.

Me: It’s my least favorite part of this job.

Also Me: Well you could always quit and go back to editing technical manuals in Northwest Phoenix.

Me: SUCKING IT UP. Right now. Sucking it up.

Also Me: Or you could actually write the book you’re always talking about writing but not actually writing.

Me: Now you’re bumming me out again.

Also Me: That’s life, lady. That’s life.


Smoke Detectors: A Government Conspiracy

So, guys… I’ve uncovered a US government conspiracy to systematically identify and eliminate the weaklings in our society in order to strengthen our position as a global super power.

No, I have! Really, just hear me out:

What’s the core value of being American? Like the one thing that really makes us who we are, and different from any other nation in the world? That’s right: The fervent and universally held opinion that we are THE BEST at everything important. We’re the strongest and the militariest and the coolest and the BBQiest and if not the smartest, well then certainly the craftiest and smuggest. And don’t you try to tell us differently.

Certain secret government agencies, in their quest to protect our national identity of WINNERS OF STUFF, have noticed some disturbing cultural trends that indicate we could be slipping:

  • Reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Slednecks.
  • McRib sandwiches with meat pressed into the shape of pretend bones.
  • Formal sweatpants.

Just to name a few.

These government agencies eventually decided the indicators had reached a level of concern that needed to be addressed if we are going to maintain our status of Country Everyone Else Wishes They Were. Something needed to be done to cull the herd, to select out the individuals who weren’t up to par. So they hatched a plan to infiltrate American homes and secretly institute a barrage of physical, emotional and intelligence tests to filter out the weakest of us, cut the fat and keep us at our societal fighting weight.

I know what you’re wondering: What are these tests and how do I know about them?

Well I’ll tell you. Smoke Detectors. That’s how they do it. And I know, because this week my family was subjected to this brutal and barbaric round of testing. They thought they were smarter than us. They thought we wouldn’t figure it out. But I’m here to tell you right now that what we went through could only have been part of a government conspiracy to break us down, reveal our weaknesses and ultimately eliminate those who couldn’t handle it. There’s just no other explanation. Here’s how it goes:

Monday morning at 3:17, I was dreaming that Scott Folley showed up at my door with a bacon blue cheese burger and a bottle of Zinfandel. When he spoke, he sounded like Louis CK, and he told me he wanted to take me to a deserted island and help me write my novel. Just as he looked into my eyes and leaned forward (he smelled like beef and cheese), alarms started going off, Barack Obama and Portia DeRossi with her terrible hair burst in to take him away and I woke up, only to realize the alarms weren’t in my dream. They were all the smoke detectors in our house going off.

By the time we’d checked to make sure there wasn’t a fire (let’s be honest, I stayed in bed while Jason checked) and calmed the kids down, the alarms inexplicably stopped. Everyone went back to bed and laid awake trying to calm our heart rates while wondering if our house was haunted, and trying to remember if our alarms only detected smoke or if they were some kind of carbon monoxide thing, too, and sniffing to see if we could smell gas.

About 10 minutes after we’d all finally settled down and drifted back off to sleep, at 4:45, they all went off again. This time they stayed on for a good solid 10 minutes. The kids and cat huddled on our bed with me and their hands over their ears, while Jason stumbled around the house in the dark yelling profanities and our neighbors updated their list of Reasons to Evict The Newlins* to present at the next HOA meeting.

At 5:15 the alarms went off for the third time and continued to blare until Jason ripped them all off the ceiling one by one and removed the batteries.

This is Phase I of testing. It targets anyone emotionally unstable, depressed, or suicidal. Sleep deprivation plus non-stop ear-piercing alarms, combined with the terror of potentially seeing your family cooked to death is an extremely quick and effective way to whittle you down to your core where you’re just a bundle of raw nerves. Sometimes it even causes loved ones to turn on each other. I was actually a little surprised we survived this stage. When Jason broke down and began angrily berating the smoke detectors themselves while Jonas begged me to make it stop because it was hurting his ears and the cat shivered in my lap, I had a moment where I wondered if the sweet release of death wasn’t preferable.

After Jason and the kids shuffled blearily out the door to school and work, I was determined to figure out and solve WHATEVER THE FUCK was going on with the smoke detectors so that we could get a decent night’s sleep the next night. I began by calling the manufacturer of the smoke detectors. I was routed through a phone system and forced to leave a voicemail for a customer service rep.

Next, I turned to the internet. A quick Google revealed sometimes dust caused smoke detectors to malfunction. Vacuuming them out could remedy the problem. I came up with a plan to vacuum each out, replace the batteries (just in case) and put them up one by one. The first one seemed fine. The second seemed fine. The third croaked quietly when I tested the alarm, despite the new battery. The fourth also seemed not as loud as the first two. The fifth, as soon as I put the battery in the little motherfucker, caused all of the alarms in the house to immediately begin sounding. And, of course, when I tried to take the goddamn battery out, the little battery door was stuck and I had to run around the house like a lunatic trying to find a screwdriver to wrench it open while all of the alarms sounded for the fourth time that morning. I consider that one yet another victory for not throwing myself in front of a bus.

Clearly, I thought, I had three bad smoke detectors. Two sad ones with insufficient alarms, and one angry one causing all of the rest to go off. I took a sharpie and marked two of them with an “S” and one with an “A”, so I wouldn’t forget which were which, and headed to Home Depot to buy replacements.

At Home Depot, I was told by Wilford Brimley and Don Knotts that they don’t sell the brand of smoke detectors I have in my house, because they’re only sold to contractors and home builders.

Me: OK, so… I have to replace them ALL??

Wilford: No, you can buy this brand we have here. But see how yours have a yellow wire and these have a red wire?

Me: Yeah…

Wilford: You’re going to have to strip the wire and pigtail the red and the yellow together when you install them so they still talk to each other.

Me: Um… I think this might be above my pay grade.

Wilford: Oh I don’t doubt that, ma’am, but it’s not rocket science.

Don: Heh, heh. You just need to pigtail that sucker. But make sure you turn off the main breaker. It’s not that difficult.

Me: Pigtail. Main breaker. Ok.

When I got to my car with three new smoke detectors I would have to ‘pigtail’, I looked at my phone and realized that I didn’t have a missed called because the cell service is so spotty in Home Depot, but I did have a new voicemail. From the manufacturing company. That said, “Please call me back at this number”, and when I did, I got the same voicemail message I had before.

This was clearly Phase II of the testing. It was designed to evaluate intelligence. Someone not bright enough to find a solution and then immediately subjected to taunting by elderly hardware store employees would likely crack from frustration and humiliation, retrieve a semi-automatic weapon from their car and spray the inside of the Home Depot with bullets and body parts. I also nearly failed this round.

Phase III of the testing is the government’s crown glory achievement. It targets their biggest concern and the problem they’ve found is most prevalent in dragging America down off its pedestal of Awesome: laziness. Phase III is rather brilliant, I have to admit. In Phase III, all of the people who were thwarted by one or all of the roadblocks to fixing the smoke alarms:

  • Step ladder is too short to reach tall ceilings
  • No access to the correct brand
  • Lack of electrical knowledge
  • Unwillingness to pay an electrician $100/smoke alarm to replace them
  • Would rather watch bad reality TV

will give up and simply live without smoke detectors. Eventually, they’ll forget to unplug their straightening iron, light the ant traps in their bathroom on fire and burn their house down with them in it, thus, naturally selecting themselves from the planet.

Currently, there’s still a strong possibility we’ll fall victim to Phase III.



*They write their names on our property in permanent marker. They wander around asking to play in our yards. They accidentally murder indigenous creatures. They let their smoke alarms go off for no reason at all hours of the night.

How to Catch the Halloween Spirit

Halloween is a pain in the ass. Pumpkin carving is messy and time-consuming and mostly just reminds you you’re terrible at arts and crafts. Your kids really only want to dress up as whatever costume comes with the biggest and most dangerous looking weapon. A trip to the Spirit store makes you feel like you’ve just exposed your children to the most degenerate elements of humanity: stripper slut from Sons of Anarchy costume around one corner and realistic looking human organs covered in red slime around the next. Sure, this is where you go to get the TMNT costume your five year old has been begging for, but it’s right next to a chainsaw dripping with blood. Also, watch where you step. You don’t want to accidentally activate the enormous animatronic spider that will jump out and kick off a lifetime of arachnophobia in your 3 year old. Add to all that the fact that brainstorming a costume for yourself that’s fun, not offensive and doesn’t have the word ‘sexy’ in the name seems futile. Oh, and finding candy wrappers in the laundry for weeks after you thought you eradicated the candy supply makes you want to strangle someone.

Yep, Halloween is kind of the worst. Except: it’s also totally the best. Don’t worry, it’s ok if you’ve gotten bogged down in the minutia and lost the Halloween spirit. It happens to the best of us. I’m here to help.

Five steps to remembering why you LOVE Halloween:

Step 1: Buy your favorite Halloween candy JUST FOR YOU. 

Remember when you were a kid and you had to just hope someone in your neighborhood wasn’t a cheap ass and would be handing out full Butterfingers? Well now you’re an adult and you can buy your own goddamn Butterfingers! And this time of year it’s seasonally acceptable to just have a bag of your favorites in your drawer at work. You’re not a fatty, you’re in training for the big day.

Step 2: Dig out pictures from Halloweens past and post them on social media.

This year is a particularly special Halloween because it falls on a Friday (which I read in a Meme only happens once every 777 years). So not only do we not have to worry about being hungover at work the next day, but the day before is Throwback Thursday! We can spend all day posting pictures like this:

Halloween TBT slutty WWW


And remembering when it was age-appropriate to dress like a slutty Wicked Witch of the West.

Step 3: Bust out the weird gothy accessories you occasionally randomly purchase.

Spiderweb fishnets you have no idea where you got?

spiderweb fishnets


This is the week to wear them!

Awesome skull scarf you once considered wearing to a funeral but then decided you’d be the only one who would think it was funny?

skull scarf


It’s totally not weird the week of Halloween!

(Don’t wear them together, though. Then you just look like you put on your slutty pirate costume a day early:

slutty pirate


It’s not ok.)

Step 4: Watch a marathon of Roseanne Halloween episodes on the TVLand channel.

This is one of the more important steps to regaining the Halloween spirit and is not to be missed. If you can watch three episodes of Roseanne, Dan, Jackie and the kids dressing up fantastically and elaborately and being assholes to each other and everyone around them in sadistically hilarious ways without feeling moved by the Halloween spirit to share it with everyone around you… well then you’re dead inside (and not in the cool, zombie way) and I can’t help you.

Step 5: Last, but not least, read this entire thread of scary stories.

I read half of them yesterday and the other half today while I was home alone. I had to take breaks because it started to be terrifying to go into the garage or upstairs by myself. It seemed clear there were like 80 ghosts hiding in both of those places. Even though we’re the original owners of this house.

Some of the stories are lame and some are horrifying. I think it makes them all so much more fascinating that they’re all told by people who believe what they’re telling implicitly (but I’m also kind of a voyeur).

I’m a fairly firm skeptic, so I don’t really have any spooky stories, but I do have in my possession the Ouija Board we used when we were 16 to contact the spirits in my BFF’s house. It’s possible we got in touch with River Phoenix once, after he ODed. I swear it wasn’t me pushing the pointer thing, despite the fact everyone suspected me. I think it might have been Amanda, though. I also one time did Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board at the 9th grade cheer sleepover and I was the person being lifted. I had my eyes closed the whole time as they chanted and felt them lift me off the ground. After a few minutes of the feverishly whispered chanting, I peeked, saw the ceiling inches from my face, screamed bloody murder and they dropped me. But I think that was physics, not poltergeists.

Those are my only paranormal experiences. But if you have any good ones, feel free to leave them in the comments. Even though I’ll be sure there was a logical explanation, I assure you they’ll make me check behind the shower curtain in the bathroom before I pee.

That should do it: Go forth and spread the Halloween cheer!!

So Many (First World) Probelms

UGH, this week. Fuck this week. This week has been the worst.

To begin with, I got into it with a friend, and the whole thing left me feeling wretched, questioning myself and shame spiraling, as almost everything does. What could I have done to avoid the whole mess? Kept my mouth shut more often? Had fewer opinions? Having fewer opinions would certainly solve quite a few of my life problems, I thought to myself. Maybe that’s the key to all my happiness and a completely drama-free existence: LIVE AN OPINION-LESS LIFE.

I pondered how this would work practically. I guessed I would simply give fewer shits. Contemplate fewer issues. Take no stands. Carpet around the toilet in a listing I’m showing? I’m not offended. I’m not visualizing the horror show a UV light would reveal. It’s fine! Some people prefer it! Arizona rooms? Could be cute! Pleated pants? Why not? Watching sporting events? Count me in!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how very opinionated I am. I’m filled with opinions. My entire molecular structure is composed of opinions. My opinions have opinions. If I jettison my opinions I’m pretty sure I’d end up like Renee Zellweger, 2014. I’d show up at events and people would be all:

Who’s that? She looks sort of familiar…

Oh, that’s Elizabeth Newlin, you remember her.

NO IT IS NOT. You’re kidding, right? 

No, I’m totally not. She seems different, right?

She’s totally unrecognizable. I don’t even believe you that it’s her. It’s not that she looks bad… but that’s totally not her at all.

Oh but it is. She just did… something. I’m not sure what. But yeah, she definitely doesn’t seem the same.


Yeah. Or at the very least, weird. 

So apparently I just have to get used to drama.

Then, on Tuesday I had an appointment to get my hair colored, and I was all excited to freshen the blue or possibly even go with purple instead, but my hair girl’s grandfather died, and because it’s apparently all about her, she had to reschedule. I mean, couldn’t he have held on until the day AFTER I got my hair done? It just like really ruined my day.

Also, Real Estate is not my goddamn friend this week. One of my buyers made not one, not two, but THREE OFFERS on the same house and we managed to get beat out every time. I feel like there may be a voodoo doll involved on this one. I maybe need to be cleansed with a burning bundle of sage to chase away the bad spirits. And I got the call yesterday that a listing I have under contract is falling out because the buyer is selfish and went and lost her job, so she can’t get the loan. WHY DOES EVERYTHING ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME, GOD??? First the hair appointment and now this??! One person can only take so much.

Plus, we have ants. In our master bathroom. On the second floor. Tiny little ants milling around my makeup and jewelry, where there is no food or anything even remotely food related. I can only assume they’re ants who ride the special bus.

About a week ago I bought one of those sets of ‘ant bait’ things. This is how the box says it’s supposed to work:


Which, at this point, I’m finding very convenient… for the ant bait company.

So let me get this straight: The little guys crawl in to the ant bait thing and take the food back to wherever their home is to die, right? So I won’t actually see any dead ants, because it’s not a trap or anything? I should just see ‘fewer ants within a few days’, right? Meaning it’s completely impossible to prove or disprove the efficacy of the ant killing of this product?

Awesome. Because it’s been a week and I’m not seeing ‘fewer ants’. I’m seeing exactly the same amount of ants, which is like 8 more at any given time than I’ve seen wandering around on my counter previously. Also? I’m pretty sure they could not possibly care less about the little flower shaped ‘ant bait’. See?

ant giving no fucks


If there’s something in there they want to eat, shouldn’t there be like an organized line of them heading in and trooping out? I saw A Bug’s Life; those motherfuckers are militarily trained. They find the food, they gather the food. These dudes in my bathroom are on Rumspringa or something, wandering around, seeing the sights. No one’s going back to the hive (hill? I guess I should have paid more attention during that movie) to tell them where to get the good stuff. I call bullshit. I’m pretty sure they’re selling weird little empty flower shaped pieces of plastic in packs of four for $6, and I got scammed.

And to top it all off? I went to put away towels in the bathroom the boys all share this morning and found this:

dried TP blob


Yep, that’s a wad of toilet paper someone dunked in the toilet and threw at someone else, which apparently got stuck too high up for them to reach and dried there. Because I live in a frat house. With low-IQ, vacationing ants. And my hair isn’t cute. And I’m failing at my job and mired in drama.

So, fuck you, this week.

Mic Check

*Testing 1, 2, 3, testing*

Sorry, I wasn’t sure this thing still worked. It was just kind of sitting in the corner getting dusty. Every time I walked past it I felt a little guilty because it seemed kind of lonely. And eventually, abandoned blogs get that creepy, sort of stale and haunted vibe. Eventually they start to smell.

But don’t worry. This is no abandoned blog. It’s just a slightly neglected, malnourished one. It needs a hug and a good meal. It needs a shower and a shave and then it will be all fixed up. We’re working on it. We’re sending it to rehab, but that’s a process, you know. Sometimes it doesn’t take the first time.

Anyway, content has been sparse (sorry, non-existent) because I’ve been super busy dying for like a really long time. Dying sucks all my will to do anything but watch Bravo, sleep and weigh myself (Look, I lost another pound! I wonder if I’ll ever like food again?). I don’t think it was Ebola, because my eyes weren’t bleeding, but I guess it’s possible, because I have been to Texas, and I hear that’s how you get it.

After almost two weeks of misery and a cough that was making me mentally ill, I went to the doctor. She said she thought it was bronchitis or maybe pneumonia. I like to tell people it’s pneumonia because they make that face like they’re horrified to be standing near me and then immediately try to contort it into sympathy for my condition and hope I don’t notice. But the truth is, the doctor did a chest xray for pneumonia and treated me with the antibiotics and inhaler for pneumonia, but never actually called back with the results, and it seems like if it actually was pneumonia she would have told me.*

The point is, I’m feeling better now. I’ve even been eating the last few days. I told myself I’m using this as a spring board to a healthy diet and I’m totally going to maintain my new svelte figure. I even bought new jeans (which is the logical thing to do right after you’ve been sick). But then I ate waffle fries dipped in Nutella for lunch, so I guess we’ll see.

I’m heading to circus class tonight for the first time in a long time and I’m afraid it’s going to be a painful and pathetic showing. Everything from my appetite, to my ability to stay away during daylight hours, to my alcohol tolerance seems to have atrophied, so I can only imagine my circus muscles have as well. My goal is not to puke.

I am, however, determined to get all of my necessary functions back up to speed. I just need to take a deep breath and jump back in to climbing, inverting, running, drinking wine and writing until I’m back to normal. Please forgive my pathetic lack of direction and competence in all areas until then.

While you wait patiently for me to regain my composure, can we please contemplate, together, the skill with which my son’s school photographer captured his hair?

Ben freshman pic


I mean… it’s almost sculptural. It’s like she caught him precisely mid-flip. The entire left side of his face is gently caressed by a rolling wave of hair. I’m surprised there isn’t a tiny surfer riding the curl down to his nose. Bravo, Photographer. This gem will inspire family fun for decades, I can already tell.


*The doctor’s office called A WEEK AFTER the chest xray to tell me it was positive for pneumonia and ask me if I’m feeling better. I told them if this was 1843 I’d be dead.

Near Death Experience

This was supposed to be my catch-up week. Last week Jason was out of town and Gray was home sick and we had family visiting from out of town so I got a little behind on stuff I would totally normally be doing like dusting, tracking my milage for my taxes and saving for retirement. This week I was going to catch up on all of the things I’ve just been too busy lately to take care of. I was going to wash the outsides of my windows! I was going to eat organically! I was going to fold the socks in the single sock pillowcase in the laundry room! I was going to try on all of my clothes and actually get rid of all of the shirts that make me look fat even when I don’t feel fat at all. I was going to get so much done this week.

But then I got sick. In the middle of the night Sunday I woke up in that weird state of freezing but also on fire. Like if I could take off my skin and use it as a heating blanket I would be perfect. Of course, after going downstairs to get flu meds and extra blankets I woke Jason up and asked him to feel me so he could witness my misery. Yep, you’re sick, he said.

It’s a brutal flu. No stomach sick, but the standard aches, fever, chills and general inability to cope with the world that accompanies. And it’s lasted FOREVER. I’m on day four and I’m still layering meds to survive. First I take Aleve Cold and Flu that’s supposed to last 12 hours. But by hour 6 or 7 I’m starting to shiver and feel achey, so I take a Dayquil, because it’s acetaminophen and Aleve is aspirin and I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere you can do that without fucking up your liver (don’t tell me if that’s not true because I’ve already been doing it all week and then I’ll just be paranoid my liver is going to explode any second). For awhile I was alternating the Aleve and a Tylenol severe cold and flu I found in our junk drawer of medicine, but then I realized the Tylenol stuff expired in 2013 and ever since someone showed me this video:

I’ve felt really nervous about taking expired meds. Because it’s one thing to die, but it’s completely another to die for a reason depicted in the song, Dumb Ways to Die. So Dayquil it is.

The point is, I was probably going to write my award winning novel this week and finish that baby quilt for my nephew who’s almost 2.5 that I started before they found out they were having a boy, but instead, I’ve spent most of the week in bed, watching Beverly Hills 90210 and Gilmore Girls on Netflix (did you hear I’m famous now because of my tweet about Gilmore Girls? Yep, Stephen Colbert invited me over so we could celebrate our tweets making the NYT, but I couldn’t go because I was sick) and suffering bitterly.

Today I got up, DETERMINED to feel better. I mean, it’s been FOUR DAYS of this bullshit. I haven’t worked out since last Saturday. I can feel my muscles atrophying. My kids are over their mom being a lump on the couch and even Jason stopped calling or texting from work days ago to see if I was feeling any better (there’s only so many times one man can hear, “NO. I’M DYING.” before he’s done asking). So I showered and brushed my teeth and put on makeup and resolved to eat actual meals and cook dinner for my family, if nothing else. I came downstairs to handle some work emails and read some internet for a bit before heading to the grocery store.

The longer I sat, the crappier I felt. I’d taken the 12 hour Aleve at 6am, but by 11 I felt horrible. I had a raging headache and just wanted to go back upstairs and sleep for a week. But, like I said, I was determined to shake this off once and for all, so I gathered my stuff and went to the store to get food for dinner. I gave myself a little, you can do this, suck it up, pep talk in the car, took a deep breath and entered public life once again. Once I’d been in the store a few minutes and was up and walking around, I actually felt a little better. My headache disappeared and I wasn’t as sleepy as I’d been. I decided I was probably being a hypochondriac and I should suck it up and I would feel totally better by tomorrow morning.

I got home feeling almost cheerful and walked in the house carrying my groceries. As soon as I stepped through the threshold, the smell of gas hit me in the face. I went over to the stove and found one of the burners fully on (just gas, no flame). Apparently I’d been sitting all morning in a house slowly filling with gas. Which could possibly account for the headache and sleepiness.

I’m not sure how it happened (it’s possible Jason decided he’d had enough of a wife who did nothing but ask him to feel her head to see if she still had a fever and decided this would be quicker than divorce), but I TOTALLY ALMOST DIED, right?* Like Sylvia Plath, practically. Except hers was intentional and motivated by deep emotional turmoil, and mine was just normal dumbassery. Maybe they should add this one to the song.


*I did some reading and it takes a LONG time to kill you with the gas coming out of your stove these days. Mostly it just smells horrible. So it’s possible my headache and sleepiness was from the smell I didn’t realize I was smelling.

A Lesson Learned is an iPhone Earned

Our eldest, the 14 year old boy genius, the one we’ve planned to live off of in our old age because he’ll have discovered a sub-sub-atomic particle or written a novel more beloved by condescending hipsters than Infinite Jest, jumped in the wave pool at Big Surf with his iPhone in his pocket a couple of weeks ago. He was at a friend’s birthday party and was dropped off back at home after while we were still out. When we got home, he was in bed and the phone was on the kitchen counter in a ziplock bag with no more than 25 grains of rice placed carefully on top of the screen.

It’s possible we should revise our retirement plan.

But the point is, he’s now without a phone. We’ve decided it’s not in his best interest, as a developing human, for us to simply purchase him another phone. Yes, it was an accident, but even accidents have consequences, we wanted him to learn. Of course, we’ve learned they mostly have consequences for us, as we now get texts from random numbers that say things like, I left my guitar and history project in the backseat of your car, can you drop them off at the office for me? And it’s not like I can call him and yell at him, because I’ll just get some random kid who’ll have to relay the Your mom’s totally pissed at you message, likely the next day when he sees him, and by the time Ben gets home I’ve forgotten I wanted to yell at him for being irresponsible.

So, in order to facilitate the process of getting him a new phone without just bailing him out, I put together a list of additional chores he can do to earn extra money to save up for a new phone. I figured if I can have him do things that will save me time and things he will eventually benefit from learning anyway, it will be a win for all. Thus, we’re currently paying him $1 to take out the trash, $2 to do the dishes at night, $5 to cook dinner, and $2 to ride the school bus that picks him up in our neighborhood a full hour and 40 minutes before school starts in the morning, even though we live 4 miles from the school.

I’m not going to lie: teaching a 14 year old how to cook his favorite meals has not made my life less stressful. If he’d focus less on his standup routine and more on not cutting his goddamn hand off, I maybe wouldn’t have to drink an entire bottle of wine while I sit at the counter and spend 2 hours talking him through Sesame Chicken Noodles. So far, though, that’s where we’re at.

That said, I feel like this plan is really starting to work out for both of us. Two nights ago, Jason was at the gym and I was home alone with the kids. I went into the downstairs bathroom to pee and spotted an enormous spider in the crack between the door jam and the wall, behind the door. I mean this thing might have been related to the dog spider in that video. Because I’m a really good parent, I determined it was an excellent learning opportunity for Ben. When he’s a grown man with a girlfriend or wife with a paralyzing fear of arachnids, it will be vital for him to know how to handle this variety of situation. No time but the present to learn.

So I, as you do, when you’re teaching your child valuable lessons, climbed up on the counter in the bathroom, as far as I could get from the spider while still keeping it locked in place with my eyes (if you let them out of your sight, they run and hide in your bed under your pillow) and yelled to Ben in the living room, “BENNETT! IF YOU COME IN HERE RIGHT NOW AND KILL THIS SPIDER I WILL PAY YOU $5.”

He came in, assessed the situation and agreed to the deal while I explained the terms and conditions. “You have to actually kill the spider and dispose of it’s remains to earn the $5,” I told him. “If you try to smash it and miss, and it gets away, I will deduct $5 from your new phone fund.”

“OK, but what if I just don’t try to kill it at all?” he asked.

“You get nothing, but I won’t take money away from your fund. I’m just saying it makes them madder if you try to kill them and fail, and then they won’t rest until they wake you up by crawling on your face at night, so YOU BETTER NOT MISS. OK?”

He agreed.

Then I explained the Newlin Family Super Secret and Highly Technical Way of Dealing With Creatures We’re Afraid Will Jump On Our Faces If We Get Too Close. I’m not going to go into great detail here about just exactly what the method entails (because it’s super secret), but without giving away too much, I will say it involves a tape ball and a long stick.

Once he had assembled the proper equipment, Ben readied himself for battle. By this point, his middle brother had joined the audience, standing on the toilet behind him. I remained standing on the counter*, because someone had to be the grown-up in charge.

Ben took a deep breath, pointed the tape ball on the stick end of the broom at the gargantuan spider, and rammed the beast. Unfortunately, the end of the stick was bigger than the crack the spider was in and the tape wasn’t rigid enough to squeeze in there and kill it. Instead, the spider got a little bit mashed and ran down the wall onto the floor.

At this point, because I felt like it was important for Ben to have the experience of keeping a cool head while dealing with someone who is hysterically unhelpful, I screamed bloody murder. Luckily, I’d prepared him for the vengeful wrath of an injured spider (and his own monetary deficit), so rather than dropping his weapon and running, Ben flipped the broom around to the brush side and beat the monster until the broom literally fell to pieces and the spider was clearly no longer of this world.

It was a really successful parent/child experience, I think. I’m probably going to write a parenting how-to book.

kill spider chart

Yep, that’s my handwriting on the end. It’s hard to write sideways when you’re flushed with terror-adrenaline.


*Don’t, worry, I cleaned the counter of all of my foot germs after all of this was over.**

**No. I totally didn’t.