Category Archives: Life Lessons

Six-Year-Old Logic

Yesterday I was driving Lucy home from theater camp and we had this conversation in the car:

Driving by a construction site close to our house

Lucy: “Wow, I just want to go climb that giant mountain of dirt:

Me: “I know you do sweetie”

Lucy: “Don’t you?”

Me: “Not in these pants”

Lucy: “You should change when you get home”

Me: “I’m going to, I’m going to take off my good work pants and probably just throw a dress on”

Lucy: “Don’t put on a dress, wear shorts and T-shirt like me. Do you even own shorts?”

Me: “Sure, somewhere but I think when it’s this hot a dress is the coolest thing that you can wear”

Lucy: “But you shouldn’t wear a dress, or a skirt because then someone could see your underwear”

Me: “Aw sweetie, it’s ok. I don’t plan on showing my underwear off, besides we’re going to go home and hang out with our friends”

Lucy: “Yah, but you can’t show your underwear to our friends, the rule is only family, or people that are living with us”

Me: “That’s a rule?”

Lucy: “Yeah, if your friends see your underwear than they’ll know how big they are and then they could buy some for you”

Me: “Okay, let me get this straight. You don’t want me to wear a dress today because Stacy might see my underwear and buy me some?”

Lucy: “Yes, and there is nothing more boring than someone buying you underwear!”

Me: “okay, so I should go home and wear shorts to save Stacy from being bored by buying me underwear?”

Lucy: “Yes!”

For the record I did end up putting on jeans when I got home – I most definitely don’t want to be blamed for anything that might happen if I wore said dress.

That One Time in Vineland NJ

I was TERRIBLY remiss in my last post about my employment history in that I forgot to highlight the absolute worst job I ever had. Maybe I did this subconsciously because I knew it deserved its own post or maybe I have finally repressed this memory far enough into the back of my addled mind that it no longer springs forward without some prompting (thanks Mom!).

The summer between my first and second freshman years of college I was in a tough spot not having anywhere to go for summer break. I had tried desperately to stay at school over the summer and continue to work at the pizza shop, but it was made clear to me that only foreign students could stay on campus. So, I did the next logical thing, I rented a damp basement bedroom in a house in Vineland NJ. Back in the early 90’s Vineland was a pretty rough town (I haven’t been there in 23 years so I hope it’s improved) but at the time it was not a nice place to be. The room was cheap and right down the road from a very bad decision I was dating named Shawn.

I moved in with exactly enough rent money for one week – I was desperate to find a job as was my landlady’s drug dealing son (Chris) who needed a cover for all of the cash he regularly had laying around. Chris and his hoodlum friends and I decided to carpool to a local temp agency the day after I moved in.

Whether it was because of the company I was with or because I looked like I had little potential but the only job the temp agency offered us was shift work at a local plastics plant. Desperate for anything I immediately agreed and I was told to report there at 11:00pm that very night. That very night? I had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before. I was already tired and it was only 3:00pm. I went home, got changed, tried unsuccessfully to take a nap and drove with Chris and his friends to the plant for our 8 hour shift.

The first thing that hit me was the smell, walking in to the front door I was overwhelmed by the smell of burning plastic. I was told by the guy who did my new hire paperwork that I’d get used to it – that was not the only lie he told me.

I was given a very brief “safety” lesson and then taken out on the “floor” where they were making a number of different items from flower pots to dust bins to mops. I was started on the least popular machine the mop-head-put-er-on-er (probably not the official name). My job was the stand there all night and as the preshrunk sponges came down the line, I had to pick it up, melt a piece of plastic on the back (very hot!) and manually attach it to the base part of the mop head that would eventually get attached to a handle.

As simple as that sounds it was not easy, for one thing everything was hot hot hot, the sponges came at me with surprising speed and the process to attach them took amazing hand strength to get right. I was immediately overwhelmed but as I looked around the hot, smelly warehouse I realized that not only was it too loud to ask for help or guidance but I was also the only one not speaking Spanish.

How I got through that first night I do not know, never had 8 hours felt so long. My feet hurt, my back hurt, my hands were so sore I could barely stand it and I was TIRED. I was so tired that when I was give my 30 minute ‘dinner’ break (around 3:00 am) I sat down in a hard plastic chair in the breakroom and fell asleep sitting upright.

By the time I got out of there at 7:00 the next morning and limped to the car, I found a note from Chris telling me he and his friends had decided to go to Wildwood sometime in the middle of the night (clearly physical labor was not their cup of tea). I sat down behind the wheel but my hands were burned and blistered and I could not grab a hold of the steering wheel.

I managed to get myself home although at one point I did pull off the road because I was literally falling asleep at the wheel. I took a brief nap and managed to make it home without hurting anyone.

The next night was somewhat easier because at least I knew what to expect and I had slept the entire 12 hours between shifts and I brought food. I was once again on the mop machine but I made a game of it and with practice got fast enough that I had to wait for the next sponge to get to me.

The third night I worked another machine which I forget the particulars of but it was easier than the dreaded mop head. It was still a painfully long night and I remember I was positioned so that I watched the guys working the flower pots all night. Flower pots was by far the easiest job there; the pots were molded by a machine that dumped them into a giant cardboard box and the guys working it simply had to grab them before the box overflowed and stack them on a pallet next to their station, sure their hands still got burned but after a few days it got easier. A few lucky people had gloves, but they were personal property and not company issued –  I was much to poor too buy gloves and I looked at them as enviously as I looked at people who ate real meals during break time.

My 5th day there was payday, I cashed my check and had just enough money to pay my landlady for the week and buy a bus ticket to Maine. A friend had invited me to come visit for the weekend but once I got there I realized I couldn’t go back. I broke up with Shawn on a postcard and spent the rest of the summer rotating the 3 outfits I had packed while sharing a room with my friends younger sister, Meanwhile Chris and his druggie friends pilfered all of my worldly belongings – presumably to buy more crack.

And this is why you need to make sure your kids stay in school.

Would You Like Some Fries With That?

I recently finished reading a book written by a highly successful person (no spoilers, but I’m sure you’ll figure out who it was in my year end book review) who devoted a whole chapter to the jobs she suffered through before she became a highly successful person and I thought ‘hey, I’m a highly successful person (practically a household name) whose suffered a lot I should do the same.’ So, without further ado here you go (I’m going to link to this page for any potential future employers):

My first job was as a very glamorous chamber maid at a very run down motel by my house in Raymond Maine. At the time I was 14 and limited to working at places I could walk to – it was either the motel or a candle pin bowling alley – man I wanted to work at that bowling alley! The job was terrible, the motel was un-airconditioned, mildewy and run by a creepy old pervert. And because I was only 14 I was scrubbing toilets for student wages which at the time was just about $2.00 an hour. I was paid under the table but my creepy old boss still deducted taxes from what I earned. I worked there one season, left when the motel closed in September and never went back. The last time I drove by it, it had been completely renovated, expanded and gotten a pool. There definitely was no pool when I worked there, it was the kind of place you only stayed in if your car broke down on the way to somewhere better and you had no other options (it was not unlike the Bates motel). My boss used to open up the guest rooms before I got there in the morning and pocket all of the tip money people would leave for me. I really hated that guy.

 

That year I turned 15 and got my first car, I promptly drove it to the local McDonald’s (I needed $ for car insurance) and was hired immediately. I worked primarily the early morning breakfast shift up front behind the registers. It wasn’t a terrible job – I never once had to clean a toilet, scrub a 30-year-old shower curtain clean or get groped from behind. But it was HOT, it was excruciatingly HOT in there, I doubt it was air conditioned and if it was it probably wouldn’t have mattered since I was always given the register right next to the fryer. I was also greasy ALL the time. My biggest take away from this job was that my boss, who was a young and relatively attractive woman had a colostomy bag. I remember learning that and trying hard to stop myself from complaining about stupid things. My feet always hurt.

 

I spent the next summer at McDonald’s but once school started again I decided I needed a change. I left McDonald’s and upgraded to the high class world of Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin smelled a lot better than McDonald’s, didn’t leave me nearly as greasy and allowed me to eat all the free munchkins I wanted. The one big downside to DD was that my boss was a dick, a total old school asshole who didn’t like the way I filled 2 jelly donuts with one hand and complained that I wasn’t pouring coffee the right way (is there a wrong way to pour coffee? Apparently there is…). One day, without ceremony he fired me for eating a munchkin behind the counter (this was a big no-no we had to go into the back room to eat on the clock). This is the one and only job I have ever been fired from – it was totally worth it even though I don’t have any recollection of eating anything on camera, I as happy to get out of there.

 

In order not to lose my car and insurance the day after I left Dunkin Donuts I went right back to McDonald’s, they welcomed me back with open arms (who else was willing to be there at 5:00am on a Saturday?) as far as I recall I worked there the rest of the way through high school.

 

I had a few other gigs, that weren’t real long-term jobs. I spent a few days every year taking inventory at a local hardware store, I have vivid memories of sitting on an overturned bucket counting loose screws until I thought my head would explode. I spent a few months shelving children’s book at my local public library (by far the best job I have EVER had). I spent a month one summer living outside Los Angeles CA and working in the HR department of a fortune 500 company – I was so out of my element there I remember not being able to figure out which was the copy machine and which was the fax machine, but I liked that job I worked at a desk and got a paid lunch hour – HOUR. And occasionally I babysit, but I was terrible at it, I couldn’t relate to children, I didn’t know the first thing about caring for babies and I was super irresponsible – actually I’d like to publicly apologize to anyone I might have babysat for, I hope I did not emotionally scar your children too bad and I’m sorry for making long distance calls and eating all of your frosting.

 

When I got to college I wasn’t planning on working  but beer isn’t free and I found that pocket-money comes in very handy when you are a freshman making poor lifestyle choices. I presented myself to the on-campus pizza place and was hired right away. I was given a name tag and a register front and center. I liked that job, I actually liked it better than most of my classes and my attendance there was better than in most of the lecture halls. I met a lot of friends there probably because I was always grossly under-charging my fellow students. I have no idea how much money I lost that place through my shenanigans but for a brief period of time I was a big hit in a small circle of people. I remember when one day when I was tasked with scooping cream cheese in to small containers to wrap up with the bagels – the cream cheese came in a 5 gallon tub and after an hour of handling it I was so disgusted that it was years before I would eat it again. That place had the best curly fries.

 

After I left school and moved to California I spent my first Christmas season there working for a high-end luggage/gift shop upstairs next to Neiman Marcus in the fashion valley mall. I was hired strictly as their cashier which was perfect because the store sold $5,000 briefcases and Mont Blanc pens that would retail for twice that. I was WAY out of my comfort zone and I remember having some culture shock at the ridiculous things  rich people spent their money on.

 

My next full-time gig was at a low-end gift shop (Coach House gifts?) if the Christmas job had been the Sakes of the gift world my new job was somewhere between a DollarTree and a poorly stocked hallmark store. We sold cheap plastic and resin bobbles and knick-knacks that nobody wanted and nobody needed. The job was easy because hardly anyone ever went in there. the majority of my work day I spent giving my socially awkward boss dating and fashion advice. Fortunately for me he thought I was valuable enough that when I threatened to quit because it took me two buses and almost 2 hours to get to the mall (I only lived 3 miles away) he started driving me to and from work – looking back now I realize he may have been doing that for other reasons…

 

I eventually left the gift store and spent some time doing odd jobs – I worked for a few weeks telemarketing (selling pens and promotional items over the phone) I was terrible at that job. I spent exactly one day working for Boston market (sill waiting to get paid) and I spent a few weeks working for a small business out of someones garage. I was making cold calls selling… something? I don’t remember, I do remember that my ‘desk’ was an ironing board and I was paid in cash – there is a good possibility that that was not a legitimate business.

 

Eventually I was hired to work the sales counter at a local hair salon, once again I was inside and had a steady schedule. My boss, who was a real asshole never called me by my name, he referred to me as ‘girl’. As in “Girl – go restock the bathroom. Girl – order some more Paul Mitchell!” it was humiliating but at the time he was paying me more than his competitors would, the salon was a 2 minute walk from my apartment and for the first time in a long time my hair looked rally good, I was willing to put up with a lot of crap.

 

when I couldn’t take the salon anymore, I turned my boss in to the CA labor bureau for back overtime he never paid me and with the money that I got from that settlement I was able to spend an entire summer doing nothing but sitting by the pool and reading cheap sci fi novels. I guess I should be grateful that I won in the end.

 

after my settlement money was all gone I decided it was time to buckle down and try to find a real job. I bought a nice dress, and heavy resume paper (it was the 90’s I was still sending resumes through the mail). I managed to land a job at a small lien sale office, I started in the mailroom, posting and dragging (literally) 1000’s of letters to the post office everyday. I learned patience standing in long post office line (before there were smart phones to keep you entertained). Thanks to an incident of embezzlement and a dramatic mid-day arrest I was quickly promoted ‘up front’ to work data entry. I felt like I had finally made it – I got to SIT down at mt OWN desk, I had a telephone and health insurance and a 401K, it was amazing. It was a real job but it was also a double-edged sword, I worked with awesome people and had a regular schedule but I routinely got yelled at by angry and upset customers and at one point we had to install a buzzer on the door because of numerous death threats. It was at this time that I decided I needed to go back to college.

 

I worked at that little office for four years while I got my associates degree and then part of my bachelors degree in the evenings. The day I left was both a huge relief (no more angry customers!) but also incredibly sad –  I worked with my two best friends and I wasn’t leaving them for another job but to move 2,600 miles away.

 

I relocated to Philadelphia and quickly got hired at a full service brokerage firm which was surprising to me because I thought I was interviewing at a temp office. I walked into that job knowing nothing of investing or money management or anything financial (I hadn’t had a savings account since before I started driving). I quickly discovered hat no one cared, I was just a pretty face to answer the phone and fetch coffee – I did that for six years.

 

While answering the phone at the firm I also got a part-time job at Barnes and Nobel, mostly to support my book addiction but also to get cheap coffee  and because it was 3 blocks from my apartment and I spent most of my time there anyway. All the money I made at the bookstore went directly back to the bookstore (I was a great investment for that place). I rally loved working there and working two jobs wasn’t a big deal when I was single and had plenty of time on my hands but eventually I met my future husband and a started missing shifts. We moved in together and I realized that being a secretary and a part-time bookseller was unsustainable. I had been studying for my series 7 (brokers exam) and I had serious plans to take over my bosses portfolio when he retired but a very brutal and honest conversation with senior management one day reminded me  that I would only ever be a pretty face to them and nothing more. I quit my job the next day.

 

I decided to go back to school and get my masters degree so that I would never have to work two jobs again; I managed to score a job at the University I planned on attending to eliminate that pesky tuition burden.

 

And that is where I’m leaving you my friends – the rest is BORING and very adult and due to litigation concerns I can’t talk about much of it. Let’s just say I ended  up where I wanted to start out – surrounded by books.

Why My Current Job is Better Than my Last One

There are a number of reasons why my current job is better than my last one, many of them involve the absence of spreadsheets and budget preperation. My new job surrounds me with books and let’s me write and publish articles about things I’m only vaguely familiar with. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be managing an audit and I am only required to attend one meeting a month – a meeting which is more often than not cancelled.

Yes, there are many reasons to like my new job more but I think the best thing so far has to be the Christmas party (obviously the most important factor regarding any employment opportunities). Last year, despite working at a non profit, we spent a relatively large amount of money renting out a karaoke bar. This might seem fun to some of you but to me it was akin to he 7th level of hell. First of all the space was too small for our group, making forced social interactions unavoidable, alcohol was limited to one drink a person and we ran out of food before I could make it through the buffet line. Last year I huddled on a corner stool at the end of the bar and spent the afternoon worrying how to factor the expense in to my year-end budget.

This year my employer is hosting a ‘holiday luncheon’ that you can attend (or not) and that you can bring your family to (or not) it’s located in a large area with lots of food and when you are done eating and being antisocial you can leave for the day. And the best part about it? I already scheduled that day off. Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ to your coworkers like taking vacation time away from them!

7 Things She’ll Talk About To Her Therapist

I have a lot of Mom friends who are constantly worried that they aren’t ‘doing it right’ that they are screwing up their kids in vast and various ways.  I, too, often wonder how many years of psychotherapy Lucy will need to be able to get past her childhood. I am sure every parent out there has the same fear, but today I am here to make you all feel better about yourselves and superior to me in every way.

Today I’m giving you a list of the ways that  KNOW I’m fucking up my kid, things I do that simply aren’t right – I know they aren’t right and yet I continue to do them. Please feel free to comment with your own unique parenting downfalls.

In the meantime, here they are in no particular order:

  1. I laugh when she falls down. I know, I know… I simply cant help myself. (Sidenote: this really upsets her, no parent should do this, ever).
  2. On the weekend I’m pretty laxed about brushing her teeth or giving her vitamin pills. Seriously, it’s like a slumber party up in here on the weekends – normal rules do not apply.
  3. I bribe her with candy to be good – sometimes its the only way that ever happens.
  4. I watch her sleep – I’m super creepy Mom at night time, someday I’m afraid she’s going to wake up and find me sitting next to her, drinking a glass of wine just watching her sleep for minutes at a time.
  5. I put parmesean cheese on all her vegetables – I know this is going to ruin her as an adult when she’s out on a date and complaining bout plain broccoli.
  6. I steal quarters out of her piggy bank ( mostly for parking) sometimes I take dollars when I really need them. I don’t think I’ve ever replaced anything.
  7. I hide in the bathroom to text my friends so that I don’t have to play barbies with her.

You are welcome internet – you are welcome.

Bonus Track

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.

NOT the same place
NOT the same place

 

The Lost Years, Part VI

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…

UNIVERSITY AVE

Since updates with metal railings
Since updated with metal railings

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.

The Lost Years, Part V

And… we’re back. It’s 1997 I’m about to (kinda, almost) start getting my shit together.

CHOCKTAW DRIVE

Ours was the last apartment all the way back, on the bottom floor.
Lizard capital of the world.

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.

to be continued…

The Lost Years – Part III

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.

SEMINOLE DRIVE

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I was literally standing at the back door of the post office while I took this picture

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.

to be continued…

The Lost Years, Part II

If yo are just joining us – the year is 1995, the place in San Diego CA and you should probably read this first.

ALICE STREET

this is a Alice street circa 1995 - I took this picture with a disposable Kodak camera.
this is a Alice street circa 1995 – I took this picture with a disposable Kodak camera. The picture I took in April shows the ensuing years have not been kind.

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.

to be continued…

The Lost Years – in six parts

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.

LAURETTA AVE

When I lived here the entire building was covered in old, molsy cedar shingles  that gave it a much more run down, crack house look
When I lived here the entire building was covered in old, moldy cedar shingles that gave it a much more run down, crack house look

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.

to be continued…

*Christina didn’t have a brother.

The other 2/3rds

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.

Next stop, teeth cleaning!

Where Did I Go Wrong?

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”.

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The Ven Diagram of my Life Just Got a Little Bit Closer

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.

Updates From the Couchside – Final Edition

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…

 

 

Wherein I talk about exercise. Yes, exercise.

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.

excerise

What’s that sound? Oh, The cookie crumbling…

So… I lost my job on Friday. Well maybe not lost – I know where it is, it’s just not mine anymore. This is the second time I’ve been laid off and I have to tell you it doesn’t do anything good for one’s self esteem. But I get it, really I do, I might not be a CPA but even I know if you have more debits than you have credits than you are in the red and it’s hard to pay people when you’re in the red.

To answer all of your burning questions regarding this situation here’s a mock interview I just conducted with myself:

Interviewer: So you just lost your job, how do you feel?

Me: Meh, I think working is over rated. Sure it gives you money to buy thigs like food and wine and stuff but as a concept working is total bullshit.

Interviewer: What are you plans now?

Me: Well, without the daily pressure of going to a job I’ll probably just hang out – you know, do things I’ve been meaning to do like wash the inside of the refrigerator – those glass shelves get really dirty!

Interviewer: Do you have a long term plan?

Me: I don’t understand that last question.

Interviewer (getting frustrated): Let’s switch topics do you have anything that you would like to say to the people/person that laid you off.

Me: Oh yes – I do! So glad you asked this question. I have three pieces of advice for woman the who just canned me – 1.) Next time if you know you are going to let someone go don’t harass them to complete their yearly self-evaluation form that you know you are never going to read. 2.) If the person you are letting go takes the train home try and coordinate the firing with their train schedule, otherwise that poor person is just sitting underground for over an hour trying to text all of her friends with a really weak cell phone signal. And finally don’t try to hug that person as they are leaving the office, no one wants your hugs.

Interviewer: Anything else to add?

Me: Nope that about sums it up.

Interviewer:  Can we get serious about where you want to go from here?

Me: Well, it’s 5:30 am Sunday morning, where do I want to from here? Mostly I’m going to head to the kitchen and heat up some of yesterday’s coffee.

Interviewer: You are very exasperating.

Me: Is that a question?

Interviewer: Can you share with me one of your goals now that you have all of his free time.

Me: I can share one with you. Are you asking me if I will share one with you? Sorry, honestly I don’t know why I’m being so hostile you seem like a very nice person. But truthfully I don’t know, I think that spending more time with my child and husband is certainly a goal – but at some point that’s going to get old for all of us. So I’ll probably have to like get a job or something.

Interviewer: What kind of job do you see yourself getting?

Me: I don’t really know – I seem to be pretty good at this interviewing thing. Maybe I can just pretend to interview people from around the world and write a book about it. You know something like “fake interviews about real things”

Interviewer: Huh. I’m not really sure what to say.

Me: Say you’ll buy a copy.

The interview really went downhill from there.

As usual I have no good way to end this post. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ll be around if anyone needs a reliable daytime drinking buddy.

I Really Hope I’m Not the Only One

This week I am learning all about depreciation schedules and vacation accruals and so many accounting things that make me want to run my hands through my hair and put my head down on my desk. I don’t think there’s anything that makes you feel more adult than trying to manage an audit (Maybe performing surgery, I imagine doctors feel very adult all the time, but as anyone who has seen me handle a butter knife before knows I was never cut out to be a doctor) Also, I’m not really good at adulting either (about as good as I am with knives). I have a tenuous grasp (at best) on what I’m supposed to know as it relates to my professional career. And as a Mom I just fake that I know what I’m doing and stay grateful that Lucy is still too young to have caught on.

I am a giant faker, but I don’t think this comes as much of a surprise to those close to me. I don’t think anyone has ever uttered the words “Let’s go ask Becca, she really has her shit together.” And you know what, I am totally okay with that. There are people that are expected to know things and be in charge and then there are those of us whose parents are just glad that our decisions in our early 20’s didn’t land us in some sex trafficking fiasco.

Sometimes I get home from work at night so bewildered by what is going on that I have trouble processing Lucy’s Kindergarten homework, “if you have three friends on the playground and two more show up how many friends do you have to play with” whoa, back up a minute how did you get to the playground?

This makes me wonder how many of us just wonder around all day, going through the motions of adulting hoping that no one calls on us to explain the reasoning for what we are doing. In my dealings with humanity in general, I imagine that this is most of us – glassy eyed, questioning how we got so far in life without falling down a well or accidently ingesting something that poisons us.

It makes me a little sad that our civilization has evolved in to a place where most of us are too scared, anxious or reticent to be the silly, light hearted, playful people really want to be, at least until we get home at night and change into our sweat pants and allow the real us to come out.

Maybe instead of adding rules to the handbook of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles we should use our collective efforts to build some kind of giant adult size bouncy house where we can spend our days having fun and connecting with each other the right way.

We only live once people, go forth and build that bouncy house.

 

 

How to Fix the World with Kittens and Beer

The fact is there is nothing good to read on the internet. Seriously, I scroll though blog after blog on wordpress and you know what I find? A lot of political ranting, some uber feminist babbling followed by more political ranting. Sometimes there is a side note in there about environmental ruin and the destruction of life on earth as we know it.

This makes me feel personally responsible for bringing joy and light to my fellow human beings, which is hard because I’m not really full of joy and light, mostly because so many things piss me off.

Also, why do we need so many blog posts about politics and the environment? Seriously, if you have been alive for… (I’m guessing) 20 years and have paid attention to anything than you already know that we, as a species, are ruining everything and that we cannot collectively elect a leader that makes anyone happy. I don’t really see the point in belaboring these facts by blogging about them. That is what the news is for. Want to see how terrible everything is? Turn on CNN.

I know I’m coming across and trite and glib but fo’ real – in a world of mass shootings and terror extremists what we really need to do it shut the fuck up and stop feeding in to it. We need more pictures of kittens, we need more stories of families and communities coming together for something good (like beer).

We should all go out right now and buy some random person a beer and hear their story and if we all did that everyday than we’d all be happier and probably 15 pounds heavier and have lost our job because I’m writing this at 8:42 in the morning. But honestly people, if your job doesn’t support you buying strangers beer before breakfast than you need to rethink your job.

I have no proper ending to this post; here is a picture of a cute kitten:

kitten

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Weeknight Dinners

I was on the train yesterday and witnessed a heated discussion between what I believe to be a Jehovah’s Witness and some seemingly random Christian fellow, their conversation went like this:

JW: “Well, what do you think Jesus’s role was?”

SRCF: “He was a great teacher”

JW: “Teacher huh? TEACHER? Not the SON OF GOD? Or the MESSIAH?”

SRCF: “Why are you getting so upset?

JW:” Because you don’t know ANYTHING! Teacher my ass!”

At which point it was time for me to get off the train. I seriously considered staying on to see how this played out, but it was the end of the day and the 30 minute walk it would have taken to get home from the next stop simply didn’t seem worth it.

Does anyone else find this puzzling the sheer vehemence of the Jehovah’s Witness and the comparison between Jesus being a good teacher and her ass? I have known several Jehovah’s Witnesses in my lifetime and I have always found them to be rather calm and soothing people

I guess sometimes you’ve just got to spend a lot of time on a crowded suburban rail line to find out what’s what – yo.

~

I don’t cook a lot, a few years ago my husband simply took over the duty as house chef (I pretend to think that this was more to give me a break rather than to not have to eat my cooking any longer). But sometimes I still manage to throw a meal together, a meal that doesn’t consist of hot dogs and tater tots.

Usually when I do this I try to prepare the entire meal in as few dishes as possible. If doable I only use one dish, I just throw many things into a skillet; add some wine for it to cook in and viola. I do this not because I am lazy but to make clean up easier for my husband, cause I’m a giver.

When I make these ‘skillet’ concoctions Lucy always wants to know what it is so I name them all “Mommy’s dinner surprise”.

These dinners come in many different forms with many different flavors; it’s like a little food surprise after a long day at school or work.

Last night I got a text from my husband before I even left work telling me to not worry about dinner because he was going to take care of it.

I said, “are you sure? I could make another surprise?” His response, “Oh sweetie, we don’t have enough hot sauce left to get through another dinner surprise…”

And that, my friends, is how you get out of cooking dinner for your family.

skillet meal

 

Apparently it’s called Solipsism

Oh look – I have a blog! I’d like to say that I haven’t been around because I’ve been diligently and single mindedly focused on my soon to be published book, but this would be a giant lie. The reason I haven’t been around is due entirely to laziness and procrastination, two areas I excel in above most others… Couple this with the fact that I can’t get to this website through my new employers firewall and it spells disaster for getting anything done.

So… how are you?

I’m good. I recently I attended a professional baseball game something I enjoy going to every five to seven years mostly to sit in the sun and drink ridiculously overpriced  beer, but also to keep me humble. Let me back up…. You see I have always imagined that despite physics and science in general that the universe and most everything in it has pretty much revolved around me. Well, that makes me sound like an asshole, let me start over – as a kid I assumed that everything that went on around me was somewhat holographic and since I was the only thing I knew to be 100% without-a-doubt real than I must exist in the center of my own universe. (I was a very philosophical preschooler). Unaware that Descartes formulated this same thought in the 15th century* I thought I was remarkably ahead of my time.

For most of the time this theory holds true – how do I know that people and events actually exist when I’m not there to observe them? I’ve always been present at everything I’ve witnessed. This isn’t a ruling manifesto of my life – it’s just something that helps especially in face of tragic events, I can somehow deal with thousands of people dying in earthquakes half a world away from me because there is a part of me that doesn’t really believe that they exist at all.

But my theory gets pretty debunked when I’m at baseball games. My baseball game attention span is approximately 3 minutes 17 seconds long. After that I have to scan the crowd for people I know, post selfies on facebook or go find the ladies room to make way for more ridiculously overpriced beer. But you know what’s amazing? When I’m in line for the ladies room and out of sight of the game, it still continues to play, people still cheer and boo and points are scored or not scored as the case may be. It amazes me every time that the players know how to keep going even when my mind isn’t focused on them.

Baseball games remind me of the time I was (probably) about 12 or 13 and home sick from school and I turned on the TV only to see Sesame street and I thought, “how is this still on, I stopped watching this years ago…” huh.

So, if you random internet reader, are anything like me (the master of your own unique universe) I would highly recommend an outing to an event that are not that interested in (this works well for all professional sports, as well as parades or Operas) to keep yourself in perspective.

You’re welcome.

*I actually just learned that this is true, thanks Internets for no longer making me feel alone. 

40 on 40

Today I turn 40. 40!

Below are 40 lessons I’ve learned . Honestly most everything I know that is worthwhile I picked up in the past 5 years. For the first 30-35 years I was kind of an idiot. So in a way 40’s not so bad, by the time I’m 80 I’ll be a genius…

 I’ve learned that if you want to make really good mashed potatoes don’t use cold milk straight from the fridge, warm it up first

 

I’ve learned that you should never let your gas tank get much below a quarter of a tank

 

I’ve learned that anything more than 3 martinis in a single evening is too many martinis

 

I’ve learned that we are our own worst critic and if you ever compare how you look to Danny DeVito when he dressed up like the penguin in Batman Returns it’s probably not that bad

 

I’ve learned that cats are not always going to get along with other cats

 

I’ve learned that you should not buy cheap make-up

 

I’ve learned that really good friends are like precious gems – rare and valuable

 

I’ve learned that being happy is way more important than having money

 

I’ve learned that what I really want to be when I grow up is a good mom and a good friend, everything else is secondary.

 

I’ve learned that you should never brush your hair when it’s wet

 

I’ve learned that you should pay attention in math class; you really will use it all later

 

I’ve learned that you cannot take anything for granted

 

I’ve learned that jeans will always stretch

 

I’ve learned that if you need to get things done in the afternoon don’t eat a giant cheeseburger for lunch

 

I’ve learned that dental hygiene is paramount

 

I’ve learned that being quiet and listening is more advantageous than talking

 

I’ve learned that family is everything

 

I’ve learned that confidence will get you farther than actually knowing what you are doing

 

I’ve learned that you should have a little time alone by yourself everyday

 

I’ve learned that you cannot truly understand worry and fear until you become a parent

 

I’ve learned not to give a shit what anyone else thinks about me

 

I’ve learned that too much coffee will make you less productive, not more

 

I’ve learned to never pick a fight when I’m tired


I’ve learned that putting a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the top of a bloody mary makes it perfect

 

I’ve learned that if you clean and pick up your house on Thursday night than it will be clean and weekend ready when you get home from work on Friday.

 

I’ve learned that you should never compare yourself to other people

 

I’ve learned that to have a good marriage you have to be yourself – as clumsy and foolish and exasperating as that can be at times

 

I’ve learned that both frogs and marshmallows will expand in the microwave

 

I’ve learned that making lists and checking things off of it is more gratifying than you would think

 

I’ve learned that no matter how old I get I will never feel like a grown up

 

I’ve learned that people don’t really change and you either need to accept them or move on

 

I’ve learned that it’s okay to agree to disagree

 

I’ve learned that everyone has their own personal handicaps

 

I’ve learned youth is fleeting and you should enjoy it while it lasts, but that you never will because you won’t truly understand how precious it was until its gone

 

I’ve learned that you can never know what forever means until someone you care about dies

 

I’ve learned that there really is no place like home

 

I’ve learned that there are not many things better than: a good book, hugs from your kids, ice cream on a hot day, freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning and quiet time outside

 

I’ve learned that in order to be successful you really need to put in the time and work hard. Hand outs are rare and should never be counted on

 

I’ve learned you should try never to be beholden to anyone

 

I’ve learned that if you tell your 4 year old daughter that you are going for a ride on a ferryboat – you need to be real clear before you step on to that boat that ferry and fairy are two different things

From the mouths of babes…

My Mom tends to overuse words. In high school everything was a ‘struggle’ until one day in a shining moment of self-assertiveness I asked her to please stop using that word. I believe my request left her speechless for approximately three minutes until she ran through her mental thesaurus and came up with something equally as annoying.

I love you Mom.

Since she’s gotten old she’s starting making up words – she uses the word ‘Chockablock’ like it’s her job – as in “I don’t know if we can get the leftover turkey in the fridge that thing is chockablock full.” This drives me crazy; it (spoiler alert) drives everybody crazy.

Recently I instituted a rule where the word in banned in our house – this (of course) forces my husband to run around the house yelling at me “chockablock, chockablock, chockablock!” It’s very reminiscent of Miracle Max and his hatred of Prince Humperdinck.

Lucy, of course, thinks this is great and sometimes also gets in to the action and also runs around yelling chockablock for no apparent reason. And all of this is good and harmless except that I forgot to tell her it’s a game we only play with Mommy and Daddy.

Fast forward to last week when my parents were visiting and Nana says to Lucy “Your room is chockablock full of toys” and Lucy looks at her wide eyed and says “No Nana we aren’t allowed to say that in this house!”

Whops.

How do you explain to your Mom that her idiosyncrasies have become fodder for family fun time? With wine – that’s how.

It was either this or marriage counseling

This past week my husband and I took a long hard look at all of the social engagements and family obligations we have coming up over the next few months and we correlated that with the seating options in our house and we came to the not-so-startling conclusion that only 3 and a half people can  sit comfortably in our living room. On a day to day basis this is just fine, but there comes a point in adulthood where you shouldn’t have to drag folding chairs in to your main living space or make your in-laws sit on the floor if you want to all hang out together.

Thus began a round of furniture shopping. Now I love my husband dearly, he is by and large an excellent human being but he has a taste level I find…. Atrocious…difficult to deal with…Differs greatly from my own.

My husband’s idea of ultimate comfort and style involves anything from the lazy boy 80’s collection. New furniture that looks old. OLD. And the more recliners and drink holders involved the better. Corduroy and tweed did not seem out of the realm of possibility either and at all of this I drew the line. I am a reasonable person, but only up to a point, you know?

Furniture shopping is terrible; there is no joy in walking around large warehouses, being accosted by pushy and desperate sales people. Add to this a rambunctious four year old who only wants to pretend that she’s a cat and it makes it 600 times worse. Plus we had the added pressure of waiting until two days before our first round of guests were to arrive before we made it out to the store. Nothing like opposing design aesthetics, a hyperactive preschooler and an unreasonable time crunch to really bring out the best in people.

We began at 5:00 on Friday night and essentially shopped all weekend until mid-morning Sunday in a delirium we pulled the trigger and bought something neither of us expected. It is a weird amalgam of sleek and modern, overstuffed and comfy. Made of microfiber without a single cup holder.

It wasn’t until we made up our minds, arranged for transportation, and finally felt freed from the pressure to make a decision that we realized  our new lovely sofa and love seat combination matches nothing (nothing) in our house, in a sea of taupes and creams and browns we are going to introduce a large dark, slate gray monstrosity.

I would worry about this – but at this point I feel like it is simply easier to repaint our house and replace our carpet than go back to the furniture store.

Maybe we could just sell our house and move in to something that better matches our new furniture.

Uncultured swine (Vacation Part I)

Last week I took a vacation – a grown up vacation that did not include visiting grandparents or a single episode of Dora the Explorer. Crazy – I know.

It was necessary though because one half of my brain resides inside someone else’s brain – but that person lives really far away (in California) and every so often we have to get together so for a little while we can feel like a whole person – its like a mental health check.

I would say 96% of the time our thoughts/interests/ideas of superiority are perfectly simpatico but not always – he watches “Mad Men” while I’m all about “Game of Thrones.” (Idiot)

Part of this mental health check involves cocktails (many many cocktails) lots of sarcasm and often times trips to places we have never been before – to broaden our common mind. Last week we boarded an early morning bus and made our way to the Big Apple to buy souvenir t-shirts and search for the cash cab. I was all about taking avant guard photos of outside cafes and sweaty tourists but my BFF had a crazy notion that we should do more than walk around aimlessly searching for the most expensive bloody Mary in Manhattan – he convinced me we should check out the Museum of Modern Art. I took a great deal of time to explain to him that I would be happy to go but that I am not a good museum goer and have about a 40 minute window before I pool into a puddle of four-year-old crankiness. I was clear about this.

So, our second day in the city, after a wholesome croissant filled breakfast we took our fully charged cameras and descended upon MoMA and I was good… for awhile….

You see I like art and I want really hard to be able to appreciate it and when I first enter a museum I am at peace with the quiet and the hoards of slow gawkers standing around. MoMA is six stories tall and the first three floors are all ‘instillation’ art… I don’t get it but I can deal with it – I can deal with it until I end up watching a movie of a street performer tying a towel over the head of a monkey and making it dance until it dies of suffixation. At that point I was ready to leave, but we were still on the first floor and my BFF was going on and on about all the cool stuff that was ahead of us upstairs. I followed along wishing that I had been allowed to bring my back pack in with me so that at least I could have some water… or something.

We walked through two more floors of art that I imagined I could recreate if I was in prison and only had access to homemade ink, cheap muslin, heartache and rage.  By the time we finally ascended to the permanent exhibit I had gone through the twelve complete stages of internal melt down, suddenly I HATED everyone in that museum with the passion of a giant super nova. I couldn’t breathe, I could hardly contain my rage at being stuck in this seemingly endless white tunnel of quiet contemplation (my mind works in mysterious ways). I heard faintly through the pounding inside my own head my BFF remark in awe “look this is the Warhol room and over there is Picasso!” I  shrugged him off with a vague ‘yeah yeah’ as a pushed people out of my way to find the closest exit…. I tried really hard not to start screaming out loud while he stopped to photograph Van Gough and discuss how he never really liked Pollack’s color pallet… Finally, almost in tears I offered him the entire contents of my savings account if we could please exit this art filled purgatory and go get something to drink.

Because he is a good friend he didn’t argue (although he did stop to use the bathroom) and we proceeded out the closest exit and made our way to the nearest french bistro where I spent $30 for two glasses of Chardonnay and bad service.

It was the best $30 I ever spent.

About the time I started ripping my own hair out...
About the time I started ripping my own hair out…

 

Things I learned on Mother’s Day

First, I have to begin this post with perhaps the biggest Mother’s Day lesson of all and that is if you plan on having a wonderful family filled day outside for Mother’s day then you should not (should not) spend Saturday randomly texting co-works and neighbors to come over and experiment with different sangria recipes. You should not (not) make it your goal to get rid of (i.e. drink) the two boxes of really bad wine that you inadvertently purchased for your house warming party. Two boxes of wine for those who have not been to my house recently equates to 8 bottles of wine. Eight bottles. In one afternoon. The day before mother’s day.

 

This really just sets a bad scene Sunday morning when your over-eager three year old runs into your room wishing you a wonderful mother’s day and giving you homemade presents wrapped with enough tape to stop a black bear. Lucy likes to wrap up trash (backs of old stickers, grocery store receipts, etc) in construction paper with rolls of tape to keep them closed. It’s cute but hard to deal with when she is sitting on top of me and I have to pee so badly that the only thing more pressing at that moment is getting some water, water to lubricate my mouth enough to talk and to swallow the four extra strength Tylenol I know I’m

 going to need just to make it to the breakfast table.

 

Being hung over on Mother’s day is a lot like being hung over on Christmas – totally inadvisable.

 

Being the consummate professional that I am I did manage to rally and make it not only downstairs, but through 3 cups of coffee and a potato and bacon omelet. I was almost feeling normal when I opened the present that Lucy made me at preschool – it was her hand prints, a really cute poem someone vaguely famous wrote about motherhood and included on the back where questions that Lucy answered:

 

    • I love my Mom because: She buys me nice things oh no – first I rarely buy her nice things, I rely on her grandmother to do that… but I’m not very enthusiastic about this being her line of thinking. And while I’m on the subject I’m also not real enthusiastic that while reading her a  bed time story last night she says to me “you know what I really love? Daddy, I can’t wait until Father’s day…” (and people wonder why I drink so much)

 

    • My Mom loves me because: I make her smile – aw that one was really sweet, of course I would love her if she makes me smile or doesn’t – on some days there is very little smiling…

 

  • My Mom is good at: Doing Work. Ugh… really? not giving hugs, or fixing her boo boos or playing school with her of brushing her hair or making sure every baby doll in the house is safely bedded down for the night, or reading to her sometimes for 4 or 5 hours at a time. Nope – I’m good at working. Awesome.

 

Next year I’m going to a spa.

 

 

 

 

Death to a three year old

Last Saturday we buried Ruka in her favorite trivial pursuit box on the side of the house under some unidentified tree/bush that may or may not be a rhododendron or a forsythia or lavender… come April it will be a surprise to all of us.

I did a lot of research before telling Lucy about Ruka dying and everyone seemed to agree to be straight, honest and brief and let her come up with her own questions. Here is a smattering of what I’ve gotten so far:

  • Now that the cat’s gone, can we get a dog? (this was the FIRST thing out of her mouth)
  • Can she come visit? Well, if she can’t visit can we talk about her? Can we also talk about the dog that we are going to get now that Ruka is gone?
  • If we are going to bury her in the ground will she roll around and play with the worms?
  •  Can we just plant her in a flower pot instead? We could plant her and grow growberries on top of her. (I have no idea what a growberry is)
  • How did she die? Did her heart stop bleating?
  • “Mommy, before we bury her are you going to take her legs?” “No, why?” “But how will she run?”

I miss my sweet little kitty but I have a feeling we are all going to be just fine.

Shit happened… Happy new year

Due to circumstances beyond my control the mailing of Christmas cards will be severely postponed. I would suggest keeping an eye out around Seward’s day (it’s a thing – look it up).  I cannot find cards, stamps or my address book (not to mention my slippers, my gloves, wrapping paper, scotch tape, moisturizer, BBQ tongs and so many other things that were shoved last minute in a box that seemingly ceased to exist somewhere between Philadelphia and Delaware county).

After some serious prodding, cajoling and bribing I managed to wake Ruka up long enough for her to dictate the the following letter chocked full of holiday cheer:

“Feliz navidad, this year some shit happened – the little one got bigger, it was warm and then it was cold and then for two terrifying hours of my life I shivered alone in an unfamiliar basement  and now I am in a new place and constantly confused and looking for things. I’m tired  – happy new year”

I thought it would be silly to go purchase more stamps simply to send you a card that said ‘this year some shit happened’ I mean you all probably could have figured that out on your own.

So just in case I never find my address book – or I get really drunk and forget:

We had a great year this year. I managed to get a new job that is hands down better than my old job – which really speaks to something as my current job is certainly not all unicorns and roses.

This year I did not learn how not to complain or how to feel grateful for the little things. I still continue to be a pain in the ass that is annoyed when people talk too slow – can’t do simple math correctly or put too much syrup in my vanilla latte…

My husband had a good year – he works at a place and that is good. He has worked there a long time and he does something. His hair got shaggy at one point and I cut it. he started flossing his teeth more often.

Lucy turned 3. Three – where instant gratification is NOT FAST ENOUGH. Nothing is pink enough or princessy enough. She  hopes that one day her hair is long enough that she can sit on it.

I think that really sums up the year nicely.

Here is a picture of our new house covered in a bunch of snow:

home sweet home
home sweet home

And here is our obligatory family photo:

Family 2013

Number Fifteen

In my adult life I have moved a total of fourteen times.

Fourteen including two bi-coastal, cross country treks. I am an expert at driving a car with one hand while holding on to a mattress inadequately tied to the roof. I have shoved an entire studio apartment into two steamer trucks that I single handedly ferried and boarded onto an overbooked Amtrak train. One of which I sat on for twelve hours, half blocking the mens room door.

I once moved two city blocks with only a small handcart in the middle of a Philadelphia heat wave, but never ever have I gone through anything that is going on right now. Things that I have learned in the past two weeks:

  • We own approximately 4,685,330,129,902 hair bands
  • A three year old can unpack a box much faster than you can load it especially if she believes that she can fit inside it.
  • Box forts. Enough said.
  • There is, apparently, such a thing as too many books
  • A twenty year old cat that screams shrilly when not actively sitting on your lap DOES NOT LIKE any of this

Two more days and then we get to do it all in reverse. I’m going to start throwing out some hairbands.

Thanksgiving and the end of an era… Oh and did I mention we are moving?

This year we did anti-Thanksgiving. We cleaned out the refrigerator and made chili and didn’t go anywhere or have anyone over. Right now the house is in shambles – six days to moving day and it looks like its six days to moving day… Today (black-Friday) I took Lucy out to run some errands with me and she was so excited that there are Christmas decorations up and Christmas displays out and about and she wanted to look at, touch and to buy everything… I had to keep reminding her that Christmas would be at her grandmothers this year – there will be no time to decorate at the new house. I feel terrible about all of this – what if this is the first holiday season she remembers and I totally phoned it in? She had white fish and macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving diner – made up only slightly by the store-bought pumpkin pie I got to keep one small modicum of tradition. I totally suck as a parent.

I’ve been struggling recently with Lucy’s monthly newsletter – she’s becoming so grown up I know at some point I need to respect her privacy and not splay all of her adventures and heartache and misadventures all of the Internets. I justify doing this up until now because this site it only really accessed by close friends and family but not always… today I checked the site stats and there were 20 hits from Germany last Friday – 20 pictures clicked on and what? Downloaded where? I have nothing protected I have nothing encrypted. I think it might be time to discontinue these public forums of her sprouting into adulthood. Those who know me well can see her anytime and her grandmothers get nearly daily pictures via text message.

I’m not going to shut the site down but I am going to protect her. A new chapter is beginning in our lives and I think this needs to be one of the changes that has to happen. I will still continue to rant and blaspheme as much as I can, when I can. I have a feeling that life in the suburbs might spark more angst and material than I am currently used to.  We have already been dragged into some weird neighborhood politics and we haven’t even moved yet. I’m really looking forward to this….