Long time reader, first time correspondent. I have read many of your books – five in fact, which is a lot when you think about how many authors and books there are out there. I know for sure I’ve read at least five of Ernest Hemmingway’s books, but you know he’s Hemmingway.
I really wanted to reach out to you and tell you that the last book I read Let’s Explore Owl’s with Diabetes was really great, I enjoyed hearing about your 50th birthday and your colonoscopy, your Parisian dentist and your randomly close relationship with a telecommuting sales rep. But I must be honest with you and your essay about the turtles – WTF David (May I call you David?) that is some fucked up shit. And I get it, I do, we all do some crazy stuff when we are kids. Once I…well, I certainly didn’t starve five loggerhead turtles in an aquarium in my bedroom. Or maybe I did, but you know what? I wouldn’t write about it. I mean, maybe I starved dozens of endangered sea creatures in a large open air pit in my back yard, but good god no one will ever know. This is the kind of stuff you only talk about after one too many glasses of wine to the wife of one of your husband’s coworkers that you barely know and then wake up the next morning with a tightness in your chest and realize that you can never go to one of his work parties again.
This is just some friendly advise for your future books – I love you and I honestly hope someone somewhere sometimes utters the phrase, “Have you Read Becca’s book – she’s like a female David Sedaris.”
But I didn’t open up this new email window to compare you to Hemmingway, I wanted to say – David, WTF with the turtles?
On the eve of the election I have been surprised by many things but one of the most surprising is how everyone on the internet seems to be writing a political post on their personal blogs. Seriously, I read two* this morning alone. Posts from people that don’t work for news organizations and write mostly about the novels they are in the middle of or their cats.
This got me thinking – OMG am I supposed to be writing my own political statement here at Sticky Jam Hands? It hardly seems the right platform but ALL. THIS. PEER. PREASSURE!
A girl can only take so much – but because I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about anything and we are so super emotionally charged about all of this and because it has basically ruined TV and Radio for the past nine months I’m going to use this opportunity to list a few things that would be worse to endure for three quarters of a year than political elections. This way I can check the box next to –Political blogging and you can all breathe a sigh of relief that we aren’t dealing with these things instead.
In no particular order, my list of 9 things worse than the election:
Stabbing myself in the eye (for nine months)
Battling a yeast infection (for nine months)
Watching Gilbert Godfry talking (for nine months)
Having that dream where all of your teeth fall out (repeatedly for nine months)
Attempting to call an IT support line to explain a problem you only just barely understand (for nine months)
Trying to fill out a home mortgage request application (for nine months)
Contracting a horrible flesh eating disease (every day for nine months)
Being hungover on an airplane (for nine months)
Child Birth (for nine months)
Feel free to add your own list item in the comments below. Happy voting everyone!
*Clearly an accurate representation of the internet as a whole
Not long after completing my “Lost Years “series I hosted an out of town guest who was present during several of my lost years. While in my house he remarked that it was sad “Velvet Elvis” wasn’t featured in any of my entries. Velvet Elvis, for those of you not in the know is a classic art – Elvis painted on velvet (big surprise there); Elvis has hung in every house/apartment/condo that I have lived in since I was a teenager.
I agreed it seemed a terrible omission and promised that I would write Velvet Elvis’s story in his own featured blogpost.
Velvet Elvis came to me because my Mother is crazy*, and being crazy she has unusual relationships with other crazy people that for a period of time in the late 1980’s involved purchasing cheap gag gifts to give out periodically. My Mother bought Velvet Elvis on the corner of Rt 302 and 115 out of the back of some guys van for less than $5.00, for a few years it was passed from hand to hand during staff parties and birthdays. For some reason my 13 year old self fell in love with Velvet Elvis and was unnaturally overjoyed when my Mother received him back as a re-gifted gift a few years after her initial purchase.
When he returned to us, I put my foot down and begged my Mom not to get rid of him; I hung him instead in my bedroom next to my celebrity posters that I had carefully cut from the pages of 16 and Bop magazines. It remained there, a veritable ‘Where’s Waldo’ of incongruous items until I was 18 and my parents decided to hold a garage sale while I was out of town. I returned to find all of my childhood toys gone, many treasures lost and Velvet Elvis missing.
I frantically ran around asking everyone at the sale or that had attended the sale what befell my beloved fine art. I discovered that it had been purchase by our paperboy, Aaron who lived down the road from us for some ridiculous amount like a quarter.
The thought of my beloved Elvis in the hands of this non appreciating pre-teen was too much for me, I marched directly to his house and asked under no certain terms how much it would cost to buy Elvis back – since he was a reasonable and sensible kid he asked me for $10 – which I gladly gave him fully accepting the fact that I had been ripped off.
When I moved out of my parents’ house, the day after high school graduation, Velvet Elvis was securely packed in the trunk of my car, when I moved into my Freshman Dorm room he was the first thing that I hung up and even when I lived in a dilapidated crack house** in Vineland NJ after my first year of college and had most of my possessions stolen Velvet Elvis survived and made his way back to me.
The day I boarded the Sunset Limited to move to CA I showed up at Amtrak’s 30th street station with two steamer trunks and a suitcase only to be informed that I could have a maximum of one bag with me – I quickly repacked, taking only my favorite summertime clothes and of course… Velvet Elvis.
When I finally did arrive in San Diego I immediately hung him up next to futon mattress on the floor that served as my bed and knew that everything was going to be okay. Over the next seven years as I moved around the San Diego area I lost and gained many possessions but Velvet Elvis always had a spot of prominence wherever I found myself to be.
When I moved back east he lived for a while in and around Rittenhouse Square and then when my future husband and I moved in together I hung him directly opposite our front door, I did this because Elvis deserved a good view, but also to see if I had made the right decision to move in with my then very new boyfriend. To his credit Jason never batted an eye at Elvis being front and center and he even made a point to hang him prominently in our first house we bought together.
Today, Velvet Elvis resides in our vastly underutilized family room. But I have big plans to take this room back from the dog who has had free range of it for OVER A YEAR now and redecorate using Elvis as the main focal point. If only I could contact someone at HGTV to help me figure out how to do this.
*It’s okay, my Mom knows I love her, and she also knows that she’s crazy.
Aw snap… you thought I was done, but this horse isn’t dead yet. Call this story “the lost years part 6 and a half”:
Do you ever find yourself doing unspeakably crazy things? Like you are watching yourself from afar and you are powerless to stop it? I can think of three distinct times in my adult life that I have gone bat shit crazy and as much as I wanted to stop myself I was unable to – this is one of those times.
It was the end of the 90’s – probably sometime mid 1999ish, who knows? I was living alone in my one bedroom on University Ave and decided one day that even though I loved my apartment and my solitude I was 24ish and maybe I should think about being around people my own age, in a setting that was somewhat less responsible than the one I had created for myself. I decided to find a roommate and move closer to the beach.
I put an ad in the Pennysaver, something along the lines of “want to find the perfect apartment, with the perfect roommate? Call me!’ I was bound to find someone good, right? I got hundreds of calls – I got calls from a lot of scary sounding people. I got a call from an entire platoon of marines looking for somewhere to ‘live’ when not on deployment, I got a call from a man I’m pretty sure wanted to pimp me out and offered to get me any place I wanted – I got so many calls that I eventually pulled the ad and stopped answering my phone.
But I got one call from a reasonable sounding girl who was also in her mid 20’s who lived in Ocean Beach but had recently found an available two-bedroom townhouse seven blocks from the ocean that she could not afford on her own – it sounded perfect, it sounded too perfect. I immediately went to meet this person whom we will call Samantha. She was living in a tiny one bedroom ‘cottage’ that was tastefully decorated, she seemed like someone I could get along with, she had a small dog that after a trial meet and greet was tolerated by Ruka.
We toured the two-bedroom townhouse that was big and bright and just a little bit 70’s mod to be fun – we picked bedrooms, I filled out an application – in my head I was already blending our living room furniture and determining how the new commute would fit into my work and school schedule.
I was on my way out the door with my landlord’s notice in hand when I decided to call her to confirm move-in dates and that’s when she tells me that she thought I should know she was still interviewing other potential roommates. WHAT? THE? HELL? I had already filled out the application and paid the application fee, I had already taken boxes from work – I had already created a new life in my head. I was beyond pissed off.
Without stopping to think about what I was doing I immediately grabbed my keys and drove to Ocean Beach ready to confront her in person, I thought maybe I could still be reasonable and talk this thing through. I called her from a pay phone around the corner from her place and told her I’d like to meet with her – she got so outraged that I had come ‘into her neighborhood’ that she basically hung up on me.
At that point what I should have done was turned my car around and head home, cut my loses and be glad I dodged a bullet, but fuck Samanatha, you know? She called me, she asked me to see this apartment she found, she asked me to fill out an application. I nearly gave notice and lost the last affordable, rent controlled apartment within easy biking distance of my office. OMG – I WAS MAD!
Instead of going home I stopped at a dollar store bought a pad of paper and a pen, made my way to a corner bar, ordered the cheapest thing they served and proceeded to write Samanatha a letter.
I was in that bar for hours, the first couple pages went smoothly but by the time I was on page 4 or 5 I knew I was out of control – I remember seeing myself scribbling injustices to this girl that I barely knew and realized I had crossed a line. Whatever inhibitors that should have fired in my brain telling me to stop where asleep or deeply zoned out because I wrote Samantha a 16-page letter basically telling her how awful she was – like I said up front I was powerless to stop myself.
I stormed out of the corner bar and put my manifesto under her windshield wiper of her car and headed home.
She called me after work the next day to tell me that I was insane and that she never wanted to see or hear from me again, and I said something clever like, “yeah, well tell your new landlord to rip up my application – I already stopped payment on the check I gave you, bitch.”
And that my friends is how I almost lived Ocean Beach.
Here we are at the end of my apartment tales, by far this place one was my favorite although all of them had their own charm and challenges…
Around the time I was passively aggressively ending a three-year relationship I was also, once again apartment hunting. I managed to find a fabulously affordable one bedroom on a busy street right outside of San Diego proper. Sure none of my neighbors spoke English, but my apartment faced a different direction than theirs and truth be told I hardly ever saw them.
Ruka and I moved into our new Bachelorette pad which was a good size one bedroom. I managed to furnish it with the help of my new coworkers and some well times garage sales.
I was sad to leave my 2-minute commute but this new place was no more than three miles from the office, once I got a bike (also thanks to my new awesome coworkers) I even started biking to work – so you know, it couldn’t have been that far.
There was an initial period of exhilaration when I realized I didn’t need to compromise on style or decor and I did go a little nuts with stencils and tapestries, I went to Tijuana (the only place I could afford to shop) and for a little while my new apartment was a cross between a Mexican brothel and a homeless surfer shack, but soon after the thrill of decorating subsided I was faced with the truth that I was alone. I was alone a lot and although I grew to really love that in the beginning it was hard, on the weekends after leaving work I would spend the next 48 hours sitting in the window of my living room waiting for someone to walk by, however being California no one ever walked by. Twice in four years someone came to my door who wasn’t delivering food or previously invited, once was my boss out walking her dog (clearly an excuse to check up on me, I was WAY out of her ‘walk zone’) and once was a girl that was being followed by a sinister looking stranger – I let her in to use the phone and she left although I invited her to stay – probably a little too aggressively, I think she was more scared when she was leaving than when she got there.
For a long period of time I saw a lot of movies, I felt better being among people even if I wasn’t with them and I also found myself driving to the beach many nights after work to watch the sun set on a long day rather than face the prospect of an empty apartment. Sometimes I would walk to 7-11 (2 blocks away) just to interact with the store clerk (and buy cheap Paul Mason wine).
But at one point and I can’t say exactly when it happened I started preferring to be alone – I would rush home from work, dead bolt myself inside and finally be able to take a deep breath as I stripped down to my underwear and flopped on the couch, I even started making excuses for why I couldn’t go out or meet people. Because it was Southern CA the most convincing lie I could tell people was that I was at the gym, “Met you for brunch? oh no, I can’t I’m going to the gym.” “What did I do all weekend? – I was at the gym” people would nod knowingly having themselves ACTUALLY spent entire weekends at the gym.
Once I even broke down and got a gym membership – but I was poor and I was only allowed into the gym something ridiculous like Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 – 4:30, but it didn’t matter I could flash that gym card or accidently (on purpose) let it slip out of my wallet while on a date in preparation of future excuses. In San Diego, the gym membership is akin to a toddler with a fever, they can get you out of just about anything.
Living alone made me a slob – not that I wasn’t already… untidy. When I lived with Shane and Malcolm I felt that I need to try and set a better example – raise the bar if you will, being alone all bets were off. Five seconds after coming home there would be a trail of bags, pants, shoes leading from the front door to the sofa and because I had to do my laundry at the laundromat I would wait until every single piece of clothing I owned was dirty before lugging it in there and filling 5 washing machines full of everything I had. I remember one mid-week night when I finally bit the bullet, and loaded the back of my car with all the clothes I owned (including the one pair of sheets I had for my bed) and set off to do laundry – I got them in the dryer and then left in order to avoid sitting in those uncomfortable plastic chairs. I returned 20 minutes before closing time to pick everything up only to face a locked door and a dark interior. I guess they thought it was cool to close up early since I wasn’t there to supervise my clothes – this resulted in some rather unpleasant phone calls from the pay phone out front. Needless to say I never left my clothes unattended after that. Laundry became a giant time suck I would avoid at all costs.
I started house sitting to a.) make a little extra money and b.) be able to do my laundry while watching something other than mexican soap operas, sometimes I even got to go swimming which was an added bonus.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows living by myself though, there were a few downsides, bugs for example. San Diego is home to the giant flying palmetto bug and once I came home to find one so big at first I thought it was a mouse – I abruptly turned around and left the apartment, I didn’t go home for two days. Sometimes Ruka would bring me half dead animals – once a lizard nearly as long as she was, once a mole and twice mice that were more alive than dead, this is when a roommate would have really come in handy.
Also, there was that time that I nearly burned the place down because I decided to try my hand at bar-b-quing. I bought a little portable grill, placed it on my porch and set it afire with A LOT of lighter fluid, the flames were so high and hot that it set my railing on fire (my porch was old wood, OLD dry wood), fortunately I kept my head and poured an entire bag of kitty litter on top of it to smother it before the entire building became a late night news article. I have not touched a grill since that day.
I lived on University Avenue for four years and the good definitely outweighed the bad, the day I left to head back east was terribly bittersweet and I still long sometimes for the solitude and the freedom of that apartment gave me. I love my family and the life that I have created for myself but if ever I could time travel the first place I would go would be back to San Diego circa 1997.
And… we’re back. It’s 1997 I’m about to (kinda, almost) start getting my shit together.
In order to leave Adelaide and still be able to afford a decent place we needed a roommate and a after much disagreement discussion Shane and I moved back in with Malcolm into a really sweet 1920’s apartment located at the back of a quiet, sleepy complex just barely off El Cajon Blvd. The place was great, with beautiful hard woods, built-ins everywhere, a vintage stove you could fuel with firewood (if you wanted), it was small but adorable. I knew moving back in with the two of them was a bad idea but at the time I had no job, no money and few other options.
Shane and Malcolm spent most of their time playing video games and hypodermically injecting watermelons with hard alcohol to serve at parties we would throw every few weeks when a new ‘punch’ concoction was ready. Malcolm had also started a very sucsessful hydroponics “garden” in his closet. Because the apartment was small I spent my time watching them play video games or wondering how long it would be before SDG&E starting questioning why a 700 Sq foot apartment was running a $300 monthly electric bill. In order to get away from my living situation and the ever pervasive smell of Hindu kush I started frequenting the pub at the corner – Kelly’s. Kelly’s was my first regular hang out bar, it was a quiet Irish Pub that only served beer, just beer. I didn’t particularly like beer then but I enjoyed the dim, smokey air conditioned atmosphere of the pub (a love that has withstood the test of time).
Very shortly after moving I interviewed for a job in the office building that separated my apartment from the Boulevard, it was a job less than a 2-minute walk from my front door, and I got it. It was my first real 40 hour, 9:00-5:00 job that didn’t involve a cash register or require me to wear a name tag. Ironically this job that was in sneezing distance to my back door did required me to have a car, so I did what anyone desperate for a job would do – I lied and said mine was currently in the ‘shop’.
I lied, but I scraped, and borrowed and cajoled some money together. I paid my friend Heather $200 of the $500 she was asking for her 1988 Pontiac Grand Am and then promptly never spoke to her again. Sure, I felt bad that I had ripped her off but in my defense the car was a piece of shit and really not worth $500. It was white with a red junk yard hood, it had front end damage from hitting a deer full speed on the freeway. It came to me with outdated Michigan registration, it would never pass California Emissions tests and therefore never be legal in the state. I decided to forgo insurance as an unnecessary expense and this began years of owning crappy, illegal, uninsured cars (that’s probably another six-part blog series “Shitty cars I bought off lien sale volumes 1 through 14”). I drove with one eye on the road and one on the lookout for the CA highway patrol – I only ever got caught once but it was Christmas night and I managed to embarrassingly half cry/flirt my way out of it.
I started working and everyday got to drive loads of mail to the back entrance of the post office where I would wait to be let in while looking at my old townhouse on Seminole Dr. It was like I had come full circle – sort of.
The apartment on Chocktaw Dr. was surrounded by thousands of little lizards, Ruka took it upon herself to terrorize them – everyday I would come home to anywhere between 10 to 20 tails on the doorstep, she’d bite the tails off them, present them to me as trophies and the lizards would scurry home to grow another one.
Also around this time Ruka stopped eating dinner, I was worried about her for several weeks before I discovered that one of my neighbors, a blind older woman was using her Social Security checks to buy my little cat fresh chicken livers and feed them to her while I was at work. This was fine until we moved again and Ruka became indignant at the idea of canned cat food.
So, I was working full time and taking evening courses at school, Shane was still, well, Shane. Feeling empowered by my new job and awesome coworkers I decided it was time to stop thinking that I could change people and start thinking about my own future with out him. I put on my big girl pants and broke up with him – in a letter – that I left for him when knew I wouldn’t be around.
Welcome to part 4 – its still 1996. I’m 21 and I keep losing my licence…
We stayed in the townhouse six months, long enough to run out our lease. By this time I had become very close with a coworker of mine (Kim) she and I had bonded over our mutual hatred of our shared boss and we decided to get a place together, I was done living with boys and I was looking forward to only supporting myself. Of course, 5 days before we were set to move I changed my mind and asked Shane to come with me – how could I possibly live without him? (Can you say codependent much?).
The three of us found another inexpensive apartment but this one had just been completely rehabbed – we even got the first choice of units, we left the dark dirty townhouse and moved in to a spacious two bedroom with brand new carpet, new paint – a huge livingroom and a pool – A POOL!
Ironically right after moving in both Kim and I quit our jobs, we turned our boss in to the California Labor Bureau and they got him to pay us back wages that we were owed (I bet he knows my name now!).
So once again I was living with my unemployed boyfriend, making excellent life decisions. The one saving grace about the apartment on Adelaide is that it was walking distance (still carless!*) to a very inexpensive Mexican market where we could get 3 artichokes for a dollar and a 5 pound bag of potatos for the same – they also sold fresh homemade salsa for pennies. For the next several months I lived on a consistent diet of steamed artichokes and baked potatoes stuffed with salsa.
For the first few weeks it was ideal, we had a great place, plenty of time to sit by the pool while we dreamed up new ways to cook potatoes, but all the serenity ended abruptly when our new neighbor moved in – a bi polar alcoholic with anger management issues – she took an instant disliking to us and suddenly our sunny little courtyard became a war zone. She yelled obscenities at us at all times of the day, threatened our lives and sometimes laid in wait for us to come through the front gate to throw trash at us. We could still retreat to the pool though, she never bothered us there and that became our sanctuary until the school year started and kids from the elementary school would wait for us, pounding on the chain link fence demanding to be let in and allowed to swim. We never let them in, but they managed to get revenge by one day climbing over the fence and throwing the glass patio table in to the deep end – thus ruining pool time for everyone.
So, we retreated back inside our apartment where we put up with the verbal threats from our neighbor mostly because her son also lived with her, her son was nice and reasonable and just trying to get through college, every day he would beg us not to call the cops on his Mom. I think we only ever had the cops there 1 or 2 times, which is a testament to how much we liked this kid, his Mom was a real bitch.
I spent my days taking long walks, sometimes to the El Pollo Loco for a $.99 BRC (bean, rice and cheese burritos) which were a total splurge and telling Shane that I would get a job when he got a job… the entire time we lived there we were unemployed.
Eventually though, Kim got a new job an hour up the coast, our lease came up for renewal and we had used up all of our patience dealing with our neighbor we decided to bid adieu to Adelaide street. Also – I had finally been accepted into college and I needed to find employment and transportation so that I could actually attend school.
*Sidenote: I just want to explain to you how very very hard it is to be carless in the San Diego. San Diego is a commuter’s city – it is HUGE and no one walks. No one. Ever. I used to joke after I got a car that even when I was going the same places with my friends we would all take our own cars, no one would carpool – no one wanted to be without the ability to get somewhere (see no one walked – ever). It’s probably a little easier now that they have an established trolley system, but when I was there, there was virtually no ‘mass transit’ just a collection of old city buses that mostly went from the boarder to different point around town, to try and navigate from say the college area to downtown San Diego was almost impossible and would take you anywhere from 2 – 5 hours of traveling time (A journey that could be done in 20 minutes in a car). One of the reasons I didn’t look very hard for work because I couldn’t justify the return on investment in so much travel for whatever minimum wage job that I was then qualified for.
If you don’t know what’s going on by now… pay attention! I’m about to turn 21 and making excellent decisions. Read here & here.
I thought I was being really grown up when I decided to move in with my boyfriend and his best friend, whom for the purpose of this narrative I will refer to as Shane and Malcolm. I thought having my own kitchen and leaving the “real world” culture of Alice street was the mature thing to do… hindsight, my friends, hindsight…
Shane didn’t have a job or any tangible means of supporting himself and Malcolm worked part time at the college arcade and part time selling dime bags to the college kids that hung out at the arcade, because I was just scraping by selling dusty souvenirs to lost tourists the only place we could get was a dark roach infested townhouse that was mostly inhabited by section 8 families, living on subsidies and spending their days shouting to each other through the thin walls of the complex.
This was also the first time I lived with boys in close proximity and it was a real eye opener, one time I remember Shane got so drunk that I woke up to find him peeing on my computer (a classic Apple2 E circa 1986)… We had a powder room with a stackable washer/dryer next to the front door and it was so full of dirty clothes ALL.THE.TIME. that no one ever used it as a bathroom.
But above and beyond the grooming habits of 21-year-old boys the most annoying thing about the townhouse was that it was located directly behind the post office. I could literally long jump to the back door and I don’t jump very far. But despite this I never got my mail correctly – I got a lot of other people’s mail but hardly anything of mine, this was super inconvenient because it was about this time that I decided I needed to go back to college and I was applying to school – through the mail because it was 1996 and that’s what you did.
Not all was bad though – it was in this filthy townhouse that Ruka entered my life, walking in through our back patio and staying with me for the next 19 years. By the way the back patio sounds nice but I could never go out there because my roommates had filled it with furniture they found on the side of the road or fished out of dumpsters – furniture like old lazy-boys that were never meant to be outside – it was like a bulky waste dump that was home to a number of wild animals.
While living there I finally left the crappy gift store at the mall and got a job at a hair salon that I could walk to – this not only gave me slightly more money but also eliminated an hour long bus ride everyday (still carless!) I could be at the salon in 5 minutes – on foot. Of course the salon would eventually go down in history as the worst job I ever had because I worked for a misogynist a-hole who never learned my name and only referred to me as “girl”, but at the time I was thrilled to get out of the mall and help pay my boyfriends bills. Like I said… hindsight.
If yo are just joining us – the year is 1995, the place in San Diego CA and you should probably read this first.
I left the valley and moved up the hill to the College area, what I really wanted was less of a ‘roommate’ situation while still reaping the benefit of cheap shared housing, what I found was a big old Spanish house with 5 extra-large bedrooms rented separately – the price was right and I practically skipped out of Christina’s two bedroom while she pretended to wait for her nonexistent brother to arrive. The house itself was cool with large terracotta tiles on the floor and a fireplace in the living room was big enough to walk into, not that anyone ever hung out in the living room. Our rooms were our sanctuary where we all lived as though they were small studio apartments (exiting only to forage in the kitchen). I started on Alice street with one of the ‘smaller’ bedrooms (still bigger than any master I’ve ever had) but eventually upgraded to the actual master-master which was triangular in shape and sported two huge walk in closet and its own bathroom with original art deco tile. As luck would have it very shortly after moving there an old friend of mine from high school reentered my life and by the time I had upgraded to the master she moved in with me full time – the room was big enough for my king size bed, her double bed and all the various crap that two 20 year old girl have (mostly sandals, sundresses and taco wrappers).
One of the great things about this house was its proximity to a coffee shop called the Livingroom. The Livingroom was awesome and completely changed my world. Up until that point, I had drank coffee but mostly for medicinal purposes – to get through an exam or wake up after a cheap red eye flight, the Livingroom taught me that there was coffee and there was good coffee and good coffee was great. They served GOOD coffee in giant mugs the size of my head. The Livingroom became like an extension of my own living room. I went there every day despite the fact that I had to sell souvenirs for an hour to afford one cup of their milky way latté. I budgeted the shit out of every penny I earned.
Residents of the house came and went but for one perfect bubble in time there were seven of us there that all got along and generally liked each other, it was a comradery not often found in nature. We set up Wednesday night ‘family night’ where we all took turns making dinner for everyone and staying up late waxing poetic about… everything. We began leaving the sanctuary of our own rooms and actually socializing with each other. It was a perfect situation like the ‘real world’ but without all the cameras and social commentary – but as these things do our group eventually fell apart. Aaron the cute blond engineering student moved out and Kenny the Japanese exchange student moved in – Kenny didn’t speak any English but he played the electric guitar and he played it LOUD at all times of the day and night. Several times we had to call the cops to come inside our own home to get him to be quiet enough that we could sleep.
Kenny pretty much ruined our mojo and right around that time I started seriously dating someone. I started thinking in might be time to leave – in addition to Kenny and his guitar there were some major drawbacks to the big house, food in the kitchen often went missing even when obviously labeled, no one ever remembered to lock the front door and sometimes I would come down in the morning to find it ajar and stray animals nesting in our papasan chair. Also there was our landlord, Alex who came and went as if he owned the place (see what I did there?), he would walk in unannounced and trying to keep up the pretense that my high school friend was really my lesbian girlfriend and not actually living there was getting harder and harder as our boyfriends started hanging around more and more.
Last spring when I was out of work and sponging off my husband I managed to talk him into green lighting a trip back west, to the city of my misspent youth. San Diego shaped me in many ways, in the 1990‘s it was a great place to start adulating, there was no internet, no feeling of constant social injustice – just a free spiritedness that bordered on hippy but was years away from its counterpart in San Francisco. At the time it was a sleepy seaside town not yet the sought after destination that has raised housing prices astronomically and clogged up the freeways – my first apartment cost me $200 a month in rent.
I thank my shitty teenage work ethic and bad follow-through that allowed me to walk away from a somewhat promising college education and throw caution to the wind – to sink the last of my pizza slinging money into a carton of Marlboro reds and board a slow train to the west coast.
While I was out there this spring reconnecting with some amazing friends and swigging back cocktails like I was 20 years younger I did manage to stay sober long enough to go on a mini tour of all of my various residences I inhabited in America’s finest city. Here for your enjoyment is a rundown of 7 years’ worth of late rent checks and unpaid security deposits.
A little background:
In 1994 I started my second year at West Chester University – this should have made me a sophomore but since I only passed three classes my freshman year (thanks beer!) I was really a third semester freshman – a title that did not sit well with me. Also, my second freshman year I got a new roommate – gone was my first year roomie who had taught me the wonders of rap music, how to chug colt 45 like a pro and how to feel comfortable in situations I was until then unaccustomed to. My first year roommate was awesome and even though we may have been each other’s mutual downfalls, we had great fun doing it.
My second year at school I was paired with Chrissy – Chrissy was great, she came from an unbroken family that got together every Friday night to hang out with each other, she had a long standing boyfriend who her Mother loved and a younger brother who was captain of his football team. Chrissy was WHOLESOME. I wasn’t really sure what to do with Chrissy, she was… off-putting. That’s not to say that we didn’t get along, we did, we just never clicked and it was really nice that she was gone every weekend.
The day I decided that I wanted to drop out of school and move to Southern California, Chrissy, instead of trying to talk me out of it immediately offered to drive me to the train station! Either she was trying to be really supportive or just really excited to get rid of me (probably the later). She helped me pack and even stood in line with me at the registrar’s office while I dropped all of my classes and walked away without hearing the part that I had missed the add/drop period by 2 days (several years later while trying to get back in to college I would realize my mistake and be presented with a large bill from a collection agency who had been trying to track me down for a long time). At the time though – who cared!
I had $227 to my name – I bought a one-way ticket on Amtrack’s Sunset Limited line, a carton of cigarettes and a 12 pack of Mountain Dew, I had $6 leftover when all was said and done. Most people would have been worried that $6 wouldn’t feed them for 4 days on the train, but if I’m being honest the thought never even once crossed my mind – I was 19 and my head was already on the beaches of San Diego.
The ride out there was truly an adventure – and yes for most of it I was starving but I was also delirious from a lack of sleep and the chain smoking helped. At one point I had become close with a group of 20 something’s that were on their way to work on fishing boats in Alaska – they were transferring trains in Los Angeles and heading North to make their fortunes, they offered to bring me with them and I have to tell you I seriously considered it. Up until we actually arrived in LA a large part of me was saying “come on, you’ve come this far – how amazing would Alaska be?” Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I had decided to take them up on their offer. But alas I did not; I was 19 and sure that many other wild opportunities would make their way to me. I took that train two more times across country in the ensuing years and never again was offered such an opportunity.
My first six months in San Diego was something of a mixed bag, I fell in love instantly with the wide palm-tree-lined streets and the cheap taquerias on every corner, I got a job selling $600 Mont Blanc pens to people that would one-day star on the real housewives of San Diego (is that a show? I have no idea…) I lived for a while above my half-brother’s garage, a situation that did not end well and doesn’t bear retelling.
My first actual apartment was a small two bedroom in Mission Valley that I found by responding to an ad in the paper (yes, the paper – this was long before Apartments.com was invented). I had seen a bunch of places at that point and even with my super low requirements (had to be by a bus line, had to have laundry) the list of options in my price range (dirt cheap) were mostly unacceptable. The last place I visited was a lovely Spanish style two bedroom rented by a man named Craig, Craig was creepy in a maybe-he’s-a-child-molester sotra way and clearly stoned out of his mind when I got there, but after touring the place I realized that even living with creepy stoner Craig would be infinitely better than any of the other places I had seen. I think, however, that Craig felt my hesitation and mentioned at the end of our meeting that his ex-girlfriend Christina was also looking for a roommate, I didn’t stop to think what kind of girl would date a man like Craig, but she was female and lived in the same neighborhood as the mall I was working in – I agreed to live with her sight unseen.
Christina was horrible, in a way that privileged young Californian’s who have no depth or worldly experience can be – she worked at a tanning salon and spent all of her money on expensive skin creams. Her best friend’s name was Pilar, Pilar carried her dog around her in purse and was an au pair to a family in La Jolla – this was back before au pairs where a thing, she learned that was what she was because this family took her to Paris and because she had been to Paris, she knew everything, Seriously, PILAR KNEW EVERYTHING, she was insufferable, also she was over a lot. It became clear right away that Christine and I could only get along if we were under the influence of well… anything. I wasn’t a big drinker back then but– hell I would have huffed paint if it meant that we could just have a pleasant evening together.
Because at the time I was making $6.50 an hour working at a defunct gift store at the mall, didn’t have a car and was dating a guy whom I was pretty sure was dating a host of other people I was home a lot. The situation went from bad to very bad to intolerable and the day that I came home and found a note that read “I have news, good for me bad for you – my brother’s coming to live with me”* (did I mention Christina was a real asshole?) I nearly shouted for joy.
Hello and welcome to autumn – today I paid for another year of Sticky Jam Hands to exist so I’m here to write my annual ‘I don’t really have anything to say but I need to get my money’s worth’ post.
Lucy started gymnastics class on Tuesday and she really liked it – in fact she loved it (she corrected me emphatically on that point). Being a new gym Mom I did a couple things wrong, like I didn’t pull her hair back tight enough and by the end of class it was all in her face. Also I told her she needed to wear underwear under her leotard. You are not supposed to wear underwear under your leotard – apparently. But at one point during class her friend Emily (who is in the know and going commando) asked Lucy why she had on underwear to which Lucy replied” You HAVE to wear underwear Emily, otherwise everyone can see your VAGINA!”
This last weekend we had our monthly craft night – it was the only craft night I’ve been to in four months because apparently I go away every third weekend of the month. We made pickles and you can read about it here: https://artistryinalcohol.wordpress.com (a girl can’t have too many blogs, you know).
I was recently given a column to write in my company’s weekly newsletter and I was really excited about it until I submitted my first article to my boss and she sent it back with 90% of the funny red lined out and the comment, “do you think we have a sense of humor? Cause we don’t” and I wanted to write back to her and say “but we should! That’s why I’m here!” but instead I made the edits she suggested and a small part of me died inside. I’m a little less excited about this now.
This list is not by all means all inclusive – who has time to list ALL of my failures, even the most recent ones? No, this list is for the twelve of you – my loyal readers who think that I am just sitting back somewhere drinking Mai Tais and ignoring Sticky Jam Hands completely. This is not true – I think about it ALL the time it’s like the 2nd child that I’ll never have, I want to nurture it and fill it with only the best quality stuff, I don’t want it to get all fat and bloated with shitty writing that springs forward from me even when I try to squash it.
The list below encompasses all of the entries that I have started and wisely deleted before anyone else except Pinky could see them (Pinky is the name of my laptop – she is pink – I am very clever):
“If I Were in Charge” This was a post based on what would happen if all of your dream came true and I was suddenly in charge and could makeup all of the rules. I thought it would be funny – certainly the first paragraph was really good but then the entire thing devolved into ways that we need to help the environment. I mean I know I have some strong feelings on the way we misspend our resources but come on – get off your soap box you know? I eventually deleted this post and saved some of the good parts in a word document – I feel like its material I can use if I ever go back to undergraduate school and I need to stay up late lecturing my fellow co-eds on how we can save the world.
“With no Benefit” this was a post I wrote in my head on Sunday night as I was throwing up over the side of my bed thanks to a stomach bug that Lucy picked up somewhere and selflessly shared with me – the entire thing was about how vomiting was completely unfair if not preceded with a night of black out drunk drinking – it was also a reflection of the strength of willpower that people must have to be bulimic*. Anyway – this entire thing was pretty funny but was not set down in paper so when I finally did manage to stop dry heaving and pass out the entire thing was deleted from my mental cashe file. This sadly, is what happens to a lot of my writing – it’s not really written anywhere and thus can be lost as soon as something shiny enters my field of vision.
“Dear David” This was an open letter to David Sedaris after I read his book Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – this book was fucking funny as was my letter to him telling him so – but then I thought ‘I don’t really wasn’t to pigeon hole myself here’ – next thing you know Sticky Jam Hands just becomes an entire website devoted to letters to Authors that never read them – maybe I’ll still finish this but wait 3 or 4 months to post it – maybe I’ll completely forget and move on, Maybe I’ll decide to write to Laurie Notaro because I just finished her latest book – it’s a nail biter my friends, stay tuned!
“Down With Facebook” – I’ve been working on this post for like 2 months now ever since I decided to delete the app from my phone – it’s kinds like a follow up to Facebook is An Asshole and in it I ranted on and on about inappropriate postings (starving dogs and children that die in frighteningly bizarre and terrible ways) there are things in this world I would rather just not be aware of – you know? This post went on and on and for the majority of the time I was writing it I was only occasionally going in to Facebook on the sly – you know to see what my memories for the day are – but then a friend of mine from High School was about to have a baby – a good friend who is my age and whom I’m terribly jealous of and I started checking first thing every morning to see if he was born yet (he was born yesterday) and now I feel like I have no choice but to reinstall the app so that I can keep up with baby pictures – oh and also all of the obligatory ‘back to school photos’ oh and so I can post about how yesterday on the train I sat next to a girl dressed in leggings, a long sleeve flannel shirt and over the knee boots – I so wanted to take a picture of her with the caption “Too Soon!” and post that shit – I mean come on it was 86 degrees outside!
So there is it – at least four unpostable entries that I won’t subject you to. Please feel free to send me subject topics that you would like me to go on and on about!
*I’m in no way condoning eating disorders – I am sure they are really really bad – I’m just saying that I have always admired people’s willpower to stick with something that makes you feel so terrible.
I just finished your second book Why Not Me and I wanted to write and tell you how much I admire you as a creative person. Since I’m not really sure how to send “fan mail” to anyone anymore (the last time I wrote to someone famous it was to Kirk Cameron when he was on Growing Pains and I wanted him to know how much I loved him – but not in a stalker way, in a very serious way wherein I was sure we had a bright future together). Anyway, I digress. And since I wasn’t sure where to send it I thought I would just post it here and tweet about it until you were bored enough to click on my link.
To be honest, I haven’t watched the Mindy Project since you left Fox – not that I didn’t love your show and would totally still watch it except that I’m not entirely sure what Hulu is or how to access it – I know that makes me sound old and lame and maybe I am – but I’m young enough to be PRE-pre-menopausal and I do know how to use the Twitter! Anyway, I thought you were great both on and off the office, in the Mindy project and I even saw that episode that you did of Yo Gabba Gabba (Yo Gabba Gabba is cutting edge – yo).
I read your first book which saved me once on a red eye flight across the country – I somehow found myself going through security at the Philadelphia Airport without a book in my possession (if you knew me you’d know this was unheard of) I quickly raced to Hudson News and there you were front and center a huge stack of your books sitting in a kiosk out in the hallway – I grabbed one and ran (just kidding, I totally paid for it first). I had it read before we touched down in San Diego, so thanks for that.
I’m so glad that I’m writing to you (this is where I get all self-congratulatory for a minute) I always think about doing these things but I don’t. For instance before I read your book I finished Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book – man she can write and I thought about telling her that and then I thought ‘meh, she probably already knows she’s great. She’s probably having tea right now with Margaret Atwood and they are complaining about dusting all of their writing awards…’ I don’t know, somehow I don’t feel old enough to write to Barbara Kingsolver – also I’m pretty sure she isn’t on Twitter and I know for a fact that you are – cause you said so – in your book – like at least eight times.
Anywho, I just wanted to say kudos to you and the work that you are doing – keep it up. And thanks for the tip about never being photographed with my arms down – I hate my arms and they look a lot less fat when I have my hand on my hip – I don’t care if you learned that from Kim Kardashian (I only have a vague sense of who she is) I credit it to you.
Today Lucy turned 6.I am so proud of what an amazing little girl she is and what an amazing job I’ve done raising her so far. Right now she loves swimming swimming swimming which should seem pretty clear from the video below:
Happy Birthday to my favorite sassy little munchkin:
I feel like I live somewhere in the middle of our socio economical society, in that sweet spot where we can afford to take a family vacations but still only buy shoes if they are on sale. Rarely do I feel either extreme end of the spectrum – completely entitled or abjectly downtrodden. I feel lucky this way, I really do and this last week I got to experience both sides in a most unexpected way:
I am a firm believer that going to the doctors is a anxiety filled, administrative heavy task that should only be undertaken if a bone is protruding or you can’t alone stop your rapid blood loss. Because of this it’s been over 3 years since my last physical and more years than that since any kind of specialist check up. But because I notice that there are parts of my body that are starting to show signs of wear and tear and because my ultimate goal is to live forever I recently decided to find a primary care physician and a dermatologist (I will wait while you all gasp in surprise).
So, I did things the 21st century way I found a local family Doctor who took my insurance and I could book on-line (you know without the added hassle of having to actually talk to a fellow human being) as well as a dermatology practice that met the same stringent criteria.
The primary care physical was scheduled for Monday, the doctors name was something Chinese that I had all but forgotten by the time I drove myself (and Lucy) to her office, figuring that since nearly all the doctors anymore where Chinese I’d be in good hands.
I realized my mistake as soon as I got off the elevator and noticed that the only writing on her office suite was in Chinese characters, I walked in and the entire population of the waiting room did a collective double take. Lucy and I were the only westerners in sight, the magazines and newspapers on the coffee table were all Chinese publications. Not only was the receptionist surprised to see me but equally surprised that I had insurance. I wondered briefly if I had just shown up with a live chicken if that would also have gained me admission (the office had that feel like a chicken would totally have worked).
The appointment itself was also somewhat of a disaster, as a patient who only has a tenuous grasp (at most) on details of my pasts medical history I came prepared with copies of old surgical reports and follow up visit summaries, none if which were asked for, Dr. Li really skimmed right over medical history actually excluding it all together as part of my visit. I was handed paperwork to go get a full blood work up after being scolded harshly in very broken English by the nurse for not fasting that morning (if only they would have put that reminder online when I made the appointment!), given some herbal anti-inflammatory cream for my ailing joints and ushered out the door.
On Wednesday after a quick stop at Quest diagnostics while Lucy looked on in horror as they withdrew 6 vials of blood from my arm and then literally yelled at me to “just do it already Mom!” When I had difficulty peeing into the collection cup, we headed to a dermatologist office located smack dab in the middle of the mainline. I knew it was going to be nice when I pulled in to their private parking lot behind their stand alone Art Deco building (no 6th floor suite in a dingy medical complex for these people!) Lucy and I were offered an array of cool beverages while we perused the posters for cool sculpting treatments and a special they were running on Botox injections. After completing several medical history forms on the office iPad we settled into some very uncomfortable mid century modern chairs and waited.
When my turn finally arrived I was given a very thorough exam, a strict talking to about my sporadic doctors visits I was diagnosed with a rare skin condition, biopsied, bandaged up, photographed and scheduled for a follow up visit while I received a brochure on laser treatments to make me young again.
I was at the dermatologist 10 times longer than the PCP and seriously wondered what I could do to make them my primary care office.
It wasn’t just the free beverages and promise of eternal youth, the mainline office had actual medical equipment and resources visibly lacking in the first office I visited.
I feel like all I can do now is hope that my blood work comes back normal so I can continue to ignore my health once again while I figure out how to bundle these experiences into a real world lesson for Lucy on the unfairness of life in general.
You were always my least favorite appliance that came with our current house and that’s really saying something because the electric range is a pain in the ass to clean and the door to the front loading dryer always hits me in the head when I’m using it no matter how many times I try and adjust it’s feet.
You were loud, like LOUD for a dishwasher manufactured in the past ten years and no mater what setting we ran you on you always left the spilled coffee and wine on the inside on the door – how can you run an entire cycle and not get the door wet?
Speaking of the door, it always stuck closed when I wanted it open and wouldn’t close all the way when I didn’t. It’s been a long time coming this death of yours, you had trouble turning on for months now, but I found that if I yelled at you enough and mashed your buttons down hard enough you would eventually respond.
Last night when you died with a full load of really dirty dishes inside you I wasn’t sad but just disappointed in a long line of ways that you have disappointed me for the past three years.
For the record, I am a little sorry for all of the times that Lucy tried to sit on your door while it was open and it probably wasn’t that pleasant all of the times that Marley tried to climb inside you to lick food off the dirty dishes but all in all I would say you were the bigger let-down in this scenario.
Tonight we ordered your replacement a higher-end Bosch that the guys at Sears promised would be better, quieter and more efficient that you.
I work with a lot of really smart people, people that seem to know a lot of things about a lot of things, and recently after desperately trying to understand an article I was cataloging I asked one of our economists about it, he looked at me and said “oh, I have no idea, that’s microeconomics and I study macro”.
Huh, isn’t that nice to be able to segregate your focus on one smaller portion of something- kinda like going to the hair dresser and being told, “oh you want bangs, you gotta talk to the front of the head girl – I only handle what’s in the back.”
Anyway, this entire exchange made me start thinking about micro vs macro parenting (go with me on this). I’m constantly struggling between trying to be a good disciplinarian and trying to compensate extra love for the relative cruelty of the world at large.
Micro parenting looks at the day to day – did you eat your vegetables? Did you clean your room? Should you be allowed to go to the pool if you talk back to your mom?
The microparent operates like parents from generations past, no lip, no excuses – direct punishment, direct reward. Do something wrong and there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Macro parenting looks at the bigger picture – how can we forgo an afternoon of fun when terrible things could happen at any moment? Why say no to going to the beach when the climate crises tells us there won’t be a beach there for much longer? Why am I worried about your room being clean when Donald Trump might be our next president!
Macroparents watch a lot of news and can’t help but see the world around them in future terms, they may also read a lot of post apocalyptic literature. Macro parents weigh the severity of their children’s wrongdoing against societies wrongdoings.
Which approach is better, who knows? Can we achieve a balance and not completely screw yo our kids, who knows? What’s the point of this post, who knows? Where do I work – at a shoe store.
Lucy finished kindergarten this week. Right now she is obsessed with Barbies, her favorite game to play with them is ‘wedding’. She has one Ken doll and one wedding dress and she rotates between the Barbie dolls that get to marry him – the rest of them dress up and solemnly attend the ceremony. Her favorite name right now is ‘Emily’ and all of her Barbies are named Emily- as are most of her stuffed animals, it gets really confusing sometimes.
She constantly asks me to tell her all of the stories that I remember from my childhood, we talk about them over and over, she knows them so well that sometimes I ask her to tell me stories from my childhood. When I refuse to keep telling these same tales over and over again she peppers me with details about my wedding.
She is super particular about the clothes that she wears, so much so that we have screaming arguments about it. As I write this she is wearing her dance leotard, just the leotard. She didn’t like dance class but man, she really loves that leotard.
Another one of her favorite games is playing dog – we pretend that she is a little puppy (named Emily – of course) stuck at a pet store run by an evil man and I come along and rescue her, she is too expensive for me to buy so I steal her and take her home with me (to my apartment where I have neither a husband nor any children) and I become her mother and love her endlessly. She can play this game for hours. We usually play it when we are taking a shower together in the evening – I get her to let me wash her hair by telling her that if I get her fur really clean the mean pet store owner won’t recognize her.
Her best school friends this year are Gracie, Milayna & Josie. Her favorite non-school friends are Angelina, Lizzy & Norah. She is in love with babies and dotes over her ‘little cousins’ – Charlie, Nora & Ellie Bea.
Lucy has gotten really good at reading and can read entire books that are first grade level – but she still prefers for me to read to her. At night we are in the middle of a ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ which she really likes – her other favorite is Beverly Cleary, anything with Ramona in it.
She is a terrible eater and somedays I’m not even sure how she stays alive, breakfast is a constant struggle unless I give her pancakes, but I limit those to 2-3 days a week which means 4-5 days a week I threaten her to choke down one hardboiled egg – on average one bite of food during breakfast takes about 12 minutes. Breakfast can last for a REALLY long time. For lunch her Dad packs her a well-rounded lunch with fresh fruit, a sandwich, cheese, some kind of fun snack (popcorn or pirate booty) and yogurt. She generally come home with 98% of what he’s packed her, sometimes there is a bite taken out of the sandwich – sometimes it doesn’t look like she opened her lunch bag at all. Dinner is pretty much a repeat of breakfast. Both her Dad and I try to be patient but it doesn’t always work – she’s still alive though so sometimes I wonder if we should just stop worrying about it so much, I do make sure she gets a multivitamin every day.
Lucy is in love with Marley and Spalding (most of the time) and they love her too, the second her door opens in the morning both of them (who just seconds before could have been in a deep sleep) will jump up and run upstairs to greet her, she usually rewards them by picking Spalding up by his neck and jumping on to Marley’s back. We have the most patient animals I have ever met.
Lucy also really likes being a good helper and few things make her happier than letting her help me in the kitchen – last week we made two dozen cupcakes for a school party, I let her ice all of them and by the time she was done she had giggled so hard that she had icing all over her face and half way to her elbow, it took an hour to clean up the kitchen after but it was well worth it.
She is very devoted to her stuffed animals, her ‘stuffies’ she cannot go to sleep unless they are all in bed with her – this means that 45 stuffed animals take up about 75% of the full size bed that she has and she curls up around them in the remaining 25%.
Lucy is very sensitive and gets very upset when she gets in trouble, sometimes when she does something wrong, even before I say anything to her she will hang her head and go up to her room to cry, sometimes I have to stop myself from apologizing to her when she breaks a rule.
She has no concept of money and will gladly give it all away if someone asks for it -we haven’t started giving her an allowance but it will be coming shortly and once that starts she will need to start using her own money if she wants something.
She loves riding her bike and wearing red lipstick – when she grows up she wants to be a teacher and play the violin.
I love nature and being outside, I grew up largely unsupervised in the safety of a giant backyard – I climbed trees and harvested caterpillars. I never wore shoes and threw temper tantrums if anyone tried to take a brush to my hair.
I think I always assumed this was a kid thing – that all children responded the same way to the freedom of the outdoors, I found out just recently that I was wrong.
A few days ago I decided to take Lucy to a remote arboretum for a lunchtime picnic. I packed a nice spread, a blanket, plenty of lemonade and headed out close to noon. We were the only car in the parking lot and as soon as Lucy realized we were alone she clung to me like the entire place was crawling with hidden serial killers. I could barely walk with her hanging on to me but I directed her in to the woods and assured her that we were safe and there was no cause for worry. Nothing I could say would relieve her anxiety. We didn’t go far into the woods, when I suggested that we find a nice shady spot to put down our blanket, I got her to sit down…reluctantly.
The space we had chosen was under a maple tree across a ravine from a giant rhododendron. A rhododendron that was home to several birds. Birds that kept making noise. It was 20 minutes of “what was that?!?” “Did you hear that?!?” “Mom! What’s out there!?!” The answer to all of which was, “That was a bird Lucy”. She was clearly not enjoying herself and at one point told me “Nature makes me nervous – I don’t think I’m an outside sort of person Mom” Huh. Okay.
After she was ‘done’ eating she told me she had to use the bathroom and I decided it was time that she learned to squat under a maple tree like God intended – I mean how did she get to be five and never pee outside? I feel like I failed as a parent.
After she successfully relieved herself she was insistent that we get back to ‘civilization’ I offered her a bag of Doritos (Lucy will do anything for Doritos!) to stay a little while longer and explore, but she looked at me with big round teary eyes and said “Please, please Mom I can’t take this anymore.”
I took pity on her and we left, and headed to the mall where according to her she felt the “most safe”.
There was a time in my life when I was always the last to leave a party, you know in my early twenties when I habitually woke up the next morning wondering if I needed to make new friends or if it was okay to check my voicemail. It wasn’t irresponsibility but a need to live every day like it was my last. I had some existential crises when I was a freshman in college wherein this became my mantra and I took it literally – why go to Psychology? If this really is my last day I’ll be so pissed that I went to class… This literal reasoning was a large part of my withdrawal from college, subsequent move to the west coast and well pretty much the next seven years.
And there ensued almost a decade of poor decision making and short term goals whose failure was easily justified away.
I’m not saying that everything that happened in my twenties was bad or unscrupulous but I sure am glad that the internet wasn’t widespread in the 90’s and that Facebook didn’t exist, there was good and there was bad and there were a lot of parties wherein I was the last to leave.
In my thirties I unintentionally became responsible and started making a concerted effort to NOT be the last person at the party. In my forties I spend most of my evenings in yoga pants, preferring to spend my free time with my family and close friends, I enjoy afternoon wine and being in bed by 11:00. Maybe I’m old but I’m past the point of trying to impress anyone and I have to get up early in the morning.
Last weekend I was invited to a ‘swanky cocktail party’ and I hesitated slightly about even going when I found out it started at 7:00. Started at 7:00, also it was at my gym, my gym where people see me nearly every day sweaty in a sports bra. I’m okay spending the morning without make up, sweaty with these people because the only way they exist in my world is inside this gym. I wasn’t thrilled integrating any of these people into my world as people and not just ‘gym people’. But I figured it was fine because I’m not 20 anymore and the plan was to have a drink or two, be home by 9:00 continuing to keep my ‘life’ and my ‘gym life’ separate.
The best laid plans and all that…
There were two problems with this plan 1.) Stacy and 2.) my inability to make small talk with people I don’t really know without 750ml of wine inside me. The evening began slow and at some point got WAY out of control. Stacy whom I love dearly is much more the devil on my shoulder than the angel on the other side, she is… an instigator. When I suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t be the last to leave the party she just laughed at me and suggested that I start sobering up by drinking a light beer. I drank like 6 light beers before we were finally ushered out and the lights were shut off behind us.
At this point it was clearly not the end of the evening but the start of round two – we headed to a local dive bar where I had on good authority heard you could get drafts of Yeungling for $2.00.
So the evening digressed into a messy, incoherent haze of stale beer and cigarette smoke. But that’s not the point of this post. Is there a point? Why yes there is!
The point is that after a rough Sunday where I nearly threw up at a 6 years olds birthday party I had to show up Monday morning and face the ‘gym people’ as people who now knew whatever the hell I decided to divulge after a box of wine and a twelve pack of miller lite – it’s been two days and I haven’t managed to make eye contact with any of them.
I’ve written before about my struggles with being a grown up. Lord knows I certainly do not feel like one, I drop Lucy off at Kindergarten and I half expect to get yelled at as I’m leaving the school for ducking out of class.
This post will mark the end of my couchside chats- I officially got “the call” yesterday and will be starting a new career next Tuesday. Ugh, I’m not really sure I’m ready to go back to work – I’ve gotten quite used to being at home, making sure that we don’t all drown in dog hair and we don’t eat popcorn for dinner. I’m going to have to open my side of the closet for the first time in 3 months and put on something office-worthy.
I am still working out and now that I’m being held accountable to what I eat and how much I drink I found there is a direct correlation between the amount of wine I imbibe and how often I write these posts – I was doing a lot of writing (and drinking!) prior to my initiation into fit tribe, now that I spend my days sober I fell less inclined to be creative, once the other day I found myself doing push-ups on the stairs. Push-ups in the middle of the day with no one towering over me threatening me with heavy blunt force objects. WTF is happening to me? I need to figure out how to channel my inner Hemmingway without doing it through booze and general poor decision making.
There’s been a lot of adult-ish family drama going on, nothing makes you feel more mature than fighting with your siblings about important things. It seemed so much easier to settle disputes when we were younger and could just pin each other to the floor until someone yelled uncle or cried so loud that our Mother stepped in.
And that my friends is how I’m playing the grown up this week – not drinking, going to work and dealing with situations that I’m ill equipped to handle. Someone pass the wine…
I’m still waiting for a start date for the job I supposedly landed. I say supposedly because they called me some time ago and said, “Hi, we’d like to offer you a job” and I said, “Great!” and then they said, “Ok, we’ll be in touch, don’t call us we’ll call you…” and now it’s been about two and a half weeks. I hope they call soon; I bought new shoes so I need an office to wear them to.
In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how can fit “going into work” in my surprisingly busy unemployed schedule. Seriously, I have learned to fill up my days without wasting time watching TV or napping. Sure there is the occasional afternoon where I enjoy a cocktail at 3:00pm but for the most part I’m pretty productive.
I have continued to work out every morning and I’ve even managed to do a burpee or two but I still hate them, oh how I hate them. I’ve even lost a couple pounds but in the true spirit of self-destructiveness I am planning a weekend getaway this weekend where I’ll probably undue almost all of the work that I have made. Do what you know, you know?
I’ve learned how to make quinoa, I’m pretty sure this means I’m a hipster now. I should probably look into getting new frames for my glasses.
Six days ago I decided to sign up for a 14-day trial at a local fit tribe center, not a gym but one of those places where they only have group classes closely monitored by personal trainers, the kind of gym where it’s impossible to phone it in. Unlike the last time I joined a gym and I just spent my lunch hours watching Sex and the City while I walked on the tread mill for 30 minutes, barely ever breaking a sweat. No, this place makes me sweaty and doesn’t allow me to sit down when I get tired.
It’s the perfect kick in the ass I need to get myself back into my jeans, not my skinny jeans, I mean back in my jeans period. Apparently two months of sitting at my kitchen table sending out resumes has made me even more flabby and out of shape that I normally am, and quite frankly that’s really saying something.
So, I went every day this past week. Every day! Two mornings I was even awake and dressed at 5:30 to attend the 6:00 class. Anyone who knows me knows that this is unusual behavior. Usually the only time I’m up that early is to either go to the airport or because I drank too much the night before and forgot to take water to bed with me.
So I really feel like I’ve thrown myself into this whole exercise thing and the problem is that I haven’t lost any weight. Sure there was the day that I came home from the class so hungry that I ate an entire bag of Cadbury mini eggs while I waited for the cheese on my sandwich to melt but come on a pound or two would be super motivational now. You know?
For this reason, I’ve gotten pretty discouraged, honestly just getting up at 5:30 let alone doing anything I think deserves a reward in itself. But I did feel somewhat vindicated yesterday while we were cooling down in class I was able to do a push up. This might not seem remarkable but the last time I remember being able to do a push up I’m pretty sure I was in junior high. And not only that, I did the first one so successfully that I tried it again – I did four more before it was time to move on to burpees, which I can’t do – burpees are ridiculous.
By next Friday I better be able to do a burpee – or five.
Yesterday I scheduled a mammogram, for myself (not as a favor to my grandmother or anything), it’s weird to be this old. Last night I had dinner with someone 30 years older than I am, she told me I didn’t know anything, that I was just a baby. I sure hope she’s right – in 30 years I hope to know a whole lot more than I know now. Also, I suppose I’ll have 30 more mammograms under my belt, or boobs I guess. I don’t know a lot about what’s involved but I’m pretty sure it focuses on the boobs.
Also, yesterday I may or may not have received a job offer, I got an email that seems very positive but I won’t get excited about anything until I have an offer letter in my hand, signed by somebody with a real pen and everything. If anyone is still hoping to offer me large sums of money to stay at home and continue my couchside updates – now is the time to contact me.
Today I attempted to change our beds over from winter to summer mode (duvets replaced by freshly laundered bed spreads). I spent 4 hours this morning tearing the house apart for the sheets for Lucy’s bed – you know the requisite white ones with the tiny pink roses on them. How can I lose an entire set of sheets? It’s not like I take them out for drives or anything, I’m pretty sure I never left them at chick fil a. I finally gave up and went out and bought new sheets (spending money like I really did get the job… seems like an excellent way to jinx myself)*. I have the new sheets in the washer right now and I’m just sitting here waiting for the old ones to surface – I feel like this should happen before the sun sets tonight.
It was supposed to rain today, like rain rain – I sent Lucy to school this morning in rain boots, a raincoat, carrying an umbrella… The sun has been out since lunch time and not a single drop has fallen – I’m going to start dressing her like this everyday!
Spring is sprung-ing all over the place up in here. There are crocuses in the yard and buds on the trees and it’s not even the ides of March yet. I am thrilled and I’m thrilled that daylight savings time is back and once again the clock in my bathroom is set to the correct time. I know a lot of people moan and groan about losing an hour of sleep, but I say to those people, “shut the hell up, it’s going to be light until after 7:00 tonight!” And besides you aren’t really losing an hour, your just finally giving it back for the extra hour you got back in November.
I took a new pair of jeans I bought last week to the cleaners to get hemmed today, I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it kind of is. I’ve never ‘altered’ a pair of pants. I mean generally speaking I don’t usually spend more than $19.99 on any one item of clothing, doesn’t seem worth it to have them tailored just for me. I went and just got them measured feeling incredibly decadent and frivolous and after getting my slip I discovered it only cost $14.00. Fourteen dollars! not have to walk on the hems of my pants! Holy shit, I should have been doing his for years…
This past weekend I threw myself a birthday party which was (as the kids say) off the hook (do kids say that?) and with it came birthday cake. I don’t actually have any recollection of eating the cake at my party- it was served late at night after a copious amount of alcohol, but photographic evidence shows that I did indeed try it. This morning I had a piece for breakfast – is there anything better than birthday cake and coffee first thing in the morning? I don’t think so; it also aligns perfectly with my ‘getting-in-shape-for-spring-break’ initiative that I keep talking about. Honestly I don’t know how anyone is supposed to slim down when there is so much cake in the world.
As a parent I can’t help but wonder how much I am screwing up my kid. I think the art of child raising is a lot like the old time travel conundrum* you know where you have to decide if going back to change the outcome of an event makes it better or something else worse.
When I first got laid off I thought ‘oh, I’ll save so much money and just pull her out of aftercare’ and then I thought, ‘ooh, I don’t know – is that going to be better or worse for her?’ Not often, are the kids in daycare buying her ice cream just because she sat still during an eye exam, not often do they let her pick out something from the Disney store because she managed to not wonder off in Target while they were shopping. They don’t scoop her up from every scratch and bruise and kiss it and tell her everything is ok – they punch her in the arm and tell her to suck it up.
Sometimes I think she really should be punched in the arm and told to suck it up, you know because life is hard and because she is my daughter she’s probably going to fall down a lot. But I can’t be the one to do that, it’s just not in my DNA, I have a crazy strong maternal instinct to protect her and assure her that everything is going to be okay.
Maybe I’m really doing her a favor by not subjecting her to too much of me – everyone knows I’m better in small doses.
Not today though, today I’m picking her up from school and letting her pick out a new shower curtain, you know, because she was tired of the old one…
I have been spending a considerable amount of time watching the election coverage on TV, much more than the FDA would recommend (I’m guessing). Probably more than some professional political analysts have been. It has turned me into the person that yells at their television. I’m not proud of this, I’m just telling you that if you happen to walk by my house in the middle of the day and hear yelling just keep walking.
I’m starting to lose hope that HGTV is going to call and offer my the 2016 HGTV dream home, I wonder if I should write some sort of essay to them “Why I would like the HGTV dream home” in 500 words or less. I’m sure they would appreciate getting mail from me, I mean – who wouldn’t?
Wednesday I went sandal shopping for Lucy because its nearly springtime, and today it snowed and I guess it’s my fault. Sorry y’all. (I just said y’all).
Spring break is quickly approaching and that means bathing suit time. Bathing suit time in March seems UNFAIR. My soft Pillsbury dough body isn’t ready for this, in order to do something about it I’ve been sitting around thinking about how I should do something about.
Yesterday was my first post-layoff job interview. The email confirmation I received from them gave me the time and address of the meeting as well as reminder that it is a ‘casual office’.
Hm, this means I can’t wear a suit. But how casual is casual? I assumed that they would be in jeans, but I can’t wear jeans. Maybe black pants? Ok, except that my black pants need to be ironed and I don’t do that very well.
Ok, so a dress, but which one? A ‘casual’ dress? Those make me look like I’m headed to a party or out for date night. A business dress? It’s practically the same as a suit but without the jacket.
Ugh! Why are you messing with my head! I tried on 7 dresses and one skirt, two different colored tights and three pair of shoes.
In the end I had about 2 and a half minutes to get out of the house and grabbed the first dress I had tried on, threw on my coat and tried not to obsess over it.
My meeting was with two women both in jeans, I confessed that I had changed about 5 times to be casual but not too casual and they also confessed that they were pretty dressed up, but they didn’t want to dress up too much because they had told me they were casual.
If I get this job, I’m pretty sure it will be because of our shared fixation on fashion. This seems like as a good a reason to hire me as any, right?
Footnote to this story: Last night I had a dream that I got this job and showed up this first day in a t-shirt, just a t-shirt, no pants, no underwear. It was not a long t-shirt. No one seemed to notice.
Remember when Facebook was a fun and entertaining place where you could log in and see pictures of your high school classmates, find out who just had a baby or who didn’t and spent their Christmas break in Hawaii?
Yeah I remember that Facebook, before I had a smart phone and I would log in one time a day and oh and ah over baby and/or puppy pictures and feel pretty good that even in my most introverted moods I was still connecting with humanity and hadn’t yet completely fallen off the grid.
Slowey and with what seems like ever increasing frequency my feed has become a virtual marketplace. Honestly, if RoseGal offers to send me a seemingly beautiful ball gown made out of 14 carat gold for $1.75 in USD one more time I’m going to scream. This shit drives me crazy, I don’t go on to Facebook to shop, I go on it to stalk old boyfriends and research potential dog walkers.
But the sponsored ads are just a small part of the problem, inspirational quotes and inspiring message also drive me nuts. Honestly WordPorn mostly just makes me feel like my relationships aren’t deep enough or spiritual enough. Instead of making me feel better most often these quotes just make me feel more shallow and superficial. Thanks to Facebook I now know that I am not living up to my potential. Awesome.
But what I hate more than anything else that happens on the internet (yes, that’s the ENTIRE internet) is when photos/ articles of sick and dying children pop up and I’m told that if I don’t repost or like it than I’m a terrible person. Yesterday I was happily scrolling through ads for Wayfair.com and Oil of Olay and I came across a picture of a girl about Lucy’s age with a giant tumor in her chest and under it is large letters were “IF YOU SCROLL PAST THIS YOU ARE HEARTLESS”. OMG – Facebook? Why? First of all, I can’t possibly read articles about sick children, I don’t think any Mother can. Things like this ruin my entire day – just seeing headlines of things like this ruin my whole day.
So here’s the deal Facebook – I can’t save every starving animal, I can’t cure all of the sick children out there. Not sharing all of these stories, doesn’t make me heartless it makes me aware that my friends also don’t want to feel your passive aggressive guilt trip. We ALL know that terrible things are happening in the world, but there are terrible things happening in our own lives and our own communities and I think we all try very hard to help solve the problems we can and help the people we know, but to make us feel bad about things we can’t help makes you heartless not me and not my friends.
Despite all of this I still log in about 14,867 times a day (don’t judge me, I don’t have a job) its my link to the world outside my living room. If only I had enough technical skills to create some kind of anti-facebook where there would be rules about this sort of thing.