Sunday, October 19, 2014

i 11

Daisy turned 11 this weekend. This is apparently the birthday when you just hand over the iPhone. Her father and I worked hard to make her think she wasn't getting The Only Thing She Wanted. Then she asked for Just One Other Thing -- an iguana. Well played. She knows she is not allowed to get a 30-year pet under any circumstances, even at dad's.

Shortly after getting the phone, Daisy called out, "Violet! Come here and do a s%@#$ with me!!!"  (Please don't make me use the s-word.)  Violet's good sport smile had slipped as she watched Daisy change her wallpaper 20 times in 5 minutes, but she still cooperated, with forced smile and eyes glaring at the shiny trophy in her older sister's hand. When Daisy looked for that perfect sister s%@#$ to use as her next wallpaper, she wondered out loud, "Violet, why do you look so angry in all your pics?" They tried a few more times, until Daisy decided to use a picture of a unicorn vomiting rainbows instead.

And, by the way, my kids have got their grabbing skills down. Having a quick grab is really going to serve them well whenever they're too impatient to wait for other people to respond.

The plan for Daisy's slumber party took us on a giant lap through the neighborhood - movie, taqueria, swim, sundaes, and staring at screens of all kinds until the early morning. I had given Daisy the option for me to drop her off at a movie with her friends. She declined. I offered to sit away from her and her friends in the theater, and she couldn't quite say it, except for "actually . . . " . I realize that at some point in the not-so-distant future, I won't be allowed in the building, maybe not even on the block. But, this birthday, I got to sit with the cool kids.

And guess what other lucky thing happened? We made friends with a new kitty just after night swim. That was one lucky kitty. Definite highlight before we got back to our screens.

The morning after breakfast was gluten-free pumpkin pancakes with bacon. My daughter's friend offered to cook the pancakes, which she did to perfection, golden brown and slightly crunchy around the edges. Unfortunately, she burned her finger so I took over. The feedback was my pancakes were raw in the middle, so I put them back on for a minute. I noticed no one finished their breakfast before that tattle Violet told me the girls didn't like my pancakes because they were still raw even the second time I served them. So I marched right into the kitchen and burned the hell out of the rest of the batter. Dang it. Those first ones were really good though.

Happy 11.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


The spousal support checks from my ex are running out in months. Since starting the new job, I've been relying on my still fully employed parents to help with my living expenses. They're both turning 66 next month. My peripheral vision currently features a large countdown clock.

I had a stress breakdown a little while back and proceeded to sign up for almost anything. I passed an interview screen for an uber-style company that sets you up to be a personal household shopper. After chatting with the interviewer, I aspired to become a boss of the shoppers, like he was.

Violet, my 8 year old, did not mince words: "It's a stupid job and the people who pay for that are lazy." I'm telling you, the naysayers.

I backed off that idea when I was instructed to create my shopper profile with a mandatory pic. My day job involves local public events. It doesn't make sense to pair that with - and when we're done here, let me do your grocery shopping for you.

But what does make sense in this way mature stage of life? The gift of your 40s is you know stuff, right? I've worked in education for over 20 years now. My current boss has described my resume as having breadth and depth. I have tools.

In general, I feel less stressed than I did this time last year, so I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track, but once in a while, fear overwhelms me or I explode with anger. At different times this morning, each girl threw her backpack on the floor with lunch and water bottle on board. They would never do that with their dad. I'm the one who buys their backpacks, replaces their lost and broken water bottles, and tries really hard to make sure their lunch food is not gross. I erupted into a temper fury after the second thrown backpack - it wasn't pretty. I had angerover for the rest of the morning.

Managing the pressure of the looming changes so I can think clearly about next steps means my absent-minded professor self is in full effect. The other day at work, I exchanged a few pleasantries with a higher up I don't know very well. He asked me about my weekend plans. I told him I was going to take my kids to Open Studios, the October artist receptions. I explained, "It's something we like to do - you know, free food." He looked at me hesitantly and added, "Yeah, and it's a little art . . . a little culture?" I nodded.

A couple hours later I realized I had told someone who has an interest in how I represent myself to the public that I was taking my kids to mooch free food off artists all over the county. It's actually an inside joke I have with my kids - but that guy doesn't know that. The truth is we love seeing the art and talking to people about their creative process. That's why we go. I literally did not enjoy even one taste of free food or wine on Saturday because I was so disgusted with myself. The art was good though.

I have one more confession resulting from my deep-space-nine mindset. I was at Goodwill a few weeks ago, in the middle of putting the house back together post carpet replacement. I felt like I had been moving for days, when I found a little desk that would fit well in my reorganized space. I carried the desk to the car. It was heavier than I thought. As I struggled to fit the desk into my car, sweat pouring down my face, a man pulled up a couple spaces away and offered to help. He tried to maneuver the desk into my car too before asking how close my home was.

My back hurting from hours of moving furniture, the idea of walking the desk back into Goodwill seemed like the less desirable option to accepting a stranger's kindness. And I live so close. The man, who had a ponytail down to his waist that was banded about 10 times saw me thinking about it - and explained that he once was in the same predicament when he had a small car instead of a truck. He was empathetic.

I found myself standing in my driveway, thanking the stranger awkwardly and making it clear I had the desk handled from there. I looked nervously at the upstairs living room window, wondering if my kids were watching when he spoke elegantly and kissed my hand. I don't remember what he said because I was too busy thinking again after my brain had apparently stopped working for the afternoon . . . oh no, what have I done now? I started to tell the man that I wished there was a something I could do to repay him - then interrupted myself when I realized what I was saying and went with: I'll pay your kindness forward.

When I tried to nonchalantly walk into the house after the man left, the kids were ready for me. "Mom, what were you doing outside?" Nothing. I found a desk.

"Mom! Who was that man!?" "What were you DOING?" "Did he give you furniture!?" "Why did you bring him to our house!?"

I'm the worst liar when confronted so I explained what happened and how it was a bad mistake and also really, really awkward.

My almost 11-year-old Daisy's inner parent stepped up, "It's OK. Just promise me you'll never let it happen again." Agreed. He's probably a nice guy who's just a little corny. Still, I was peeking out the curtains for a couple nights after the arrival of the desk.

Despite the slips in judgments and struggles to make headway, I'm optimistic. Things are where they need to be. There are possibilities. Pulling this off will feel amazing.