Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interviews for Spazoids

I looked like this:

...but a suit jacket was involved, and I was slighly less rumpled, and there were less toothpaste spots hovering in front of me. So really, nothing like this. (I really hope I didn't have this look on my face during.)
It went well. Except for the hyperventilating somewhere in the middle.

Picture trying to steer a Ford Explorer with bad tires down a sloping, ice-covered driveway. Toward traffic. You imagine that at some point, as the sweat pools in all of your crevices, your foot will miscalculate the pressure required for the break pedal, and you will start to slide....

That's about what happens when someone asks that "tell me about yourself" question. I hit a slick patch, and suddenly, I'm hammering down the hill about a mile a minute toward an oncoming Mack truck and Just. Can't. Stop.

Now I need to send my suit to the drycleaners, because it smells like interview fear-today's on top of the reactivated stench leftover from the interview in August. (I only have one suit.)

But back to the "it went well" part...yeah. It went pretty well. I said some smart things. I asked genuine questions. I liked the people, and we had good, natural conversation. Of course, as is my post-interview habit, I rehashed every single word I said all the way home, and it all sounded like crap in retrospect. It was a long drive. I had time to think of many, many better ways to answer those questions. That crazy girl in the runaway Explorer who is yammering eloquently about skill-based assesment activities and state standards and gesticulating very sincerely to her dashboard?
That's me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Hope

We took a drive to New Hope yesterday. It was one of those spontaneous house evacuations that may or may not have a destination in mind…this one spurred by Carl, who demanded that we all go and spend family time together, as a family, because we are a family, damn it. I knew where he had in mind to go-he’d been doing the “I wanna go to New Hope” chant for a couple of weeks.

New Hope is a small artsy town along the Delaware, where Pennsylvanians go to pretend that we are quaint New Englanders. It is far enough north of Philly for it to remain small, but close enough for it to be a tourist trap around holidays. Its great-it has little nooks and alleys where bohemian types grow tiny gardens and maintain art studios. People sit outside stores making jewelry and painting things. They have vintage clothing stores and Grateful Dead galleries and a barn theatre and Thai food (Wildflowers Café, I heart you).

The neighborhood association leaves snippy notes on the residents’ doors:
Dear Artistic Friend,
As you know, Halloween season is upon us, and it is crucial that our community maintains a high-quality picturesque atmosphere for our visiting brothers and sisters with the wallets.
We have noticed that the ivy growing on your stone wall/lattice/picket fence has dropped below the requisite 75% coverage. Please rectify the situation promptly, or you will and face a fine and also be barred from future community drum circles until such a time as the ivy has been restored.
Please know that we are only here to promote the welfare of our enclave for the betterment of all individuals, including yourself. Let us know if you need help cultivating your ivy; we have some sweet organic compost that would perk that shit right up.
~Rainbow Goldberg

I have been here many times. Every time I go, I am simultaneously enchanted and rendered bitter with jealousy. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure the bitter won out. As I enjoyed showing Wendy the ducks and the water and the cat named Morgana that roams around the witch shop, I was meandering around in a haze of displaced confusion. Something about the constant press of economic desperation at our backs makes it kind of difficult to pay $15 for parking and then have a good time window shopping for things you wish you could afford.

It's not all happy in funky town, either. You can tell that the economy has hit these people hard, too. A lot of shops empty, a lot of houses for sale.

I do know that real estate is outrageously priced, or we would ditch the land of “Answering Darwin.com” lawn signs and move there in a heartbeat. Leave behind this world of community Apple Butter Frolics that are actually meant only for specific church members and not really for the community…trade in the entrenched German farmers and Oyster Picnic set for homemade incense and Sweeney Todd at the Playhouse types...

Or not. I can be a sweater-dress wearing eccentric making my art-or my crafts, as Steph recently defined for me-from anywhere. It doesn’t have to be picturesque and covered in ivy. But it would be nice.

Wendy really did dig the witch shop. She pawed through the astrological rocks and poked at the chakkra wind chimes and identified the perfect wizard wand for her. She's cool like that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I Like About You

Dear Carl,

Your birthday is today, and I am broke, so you will probably be getting a few home-made gifts. Like something knitted. And a home-made cake. And a list of thinks I like about you. *Ahem. *

There are several things that I like about you, but here are some of the best ones (that are on my mind this week):

1. You find really creative ways to tell people that you love them. We watched Juno earlier this week, and you really dug that line where the dad says, “you need to find someone who thinks the sun shines out of your ass, good mood, bad mood, whatever.” Ever since, you have been making the angels-in-heaven “ahhhh” sound when I walk by, and muffling it when I sit down.

2. The ridiculous, mismatched, but many-layered outfits in which you swaddle Wendy so she will be warm. Even if it is 70 degrees outside. Also, the way you have charmed her into being your fishing buddy, and how openly touched you are that she wants to dig up worms and hang with you.

3. You don't compromise yourself.

4. You don’t think I should compromise myself. You are even more indignant about the minor injustices of my job(s) on my behalf than I am. When you tell me that I am brilliant and talented and strong, I believe you.

5. We were watching Dirty Jobs, and you kept rewinding the part where the guy bit the lamb's testicles off over and over and over. That was really disturbing. Your maniacal giggling, though? That was cute.

6. You made this chili:

…and it is awesome.

7. We were driving around on Saturday looking at houses we wish we could afford, and when we drove down that unpaved road alongside the creek and rounded the corner, you had the same reaction to the Buddha on the log near the path that led down to the little falls that I did. It went something like: "ooooooohhh…I looooove thiiiiiiiis!" You love things that are truly, naturally beautiful. You can picture us living somewhere like this, together, and happy.

8. I like that you are with me. This shows that you have good judgement. Thank you for being here, and never being anyone but yourself.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

From Above, It Lurks

Our attic does not have ghosts. Our attic has a plague.

You go up there, and somewhere between the molding piles of children’s books from the seventies, the boxes of dry-rotted fabric, and the full set of 1940’s wedding party attire dangling from the ceiling on wire hangers…the plague lurks.

We should have known when we found one of those old metal leg braces from the Tiny Tim Company for Unfortunate Urchins. We should have known then that our attic is no good. When did they last use those, anyway? And who keeps one hanging around for decades? (And who keeps old lace wedding dresses on wire hangers? Joan Crawford, I hear you sister…) Have I ever mentioned that we live in a 200 year old farm house? The front part of it is that old, anyway. From the before-tyme. The long-long-ago. Back when they had yet to invent closets or vaccines.

We’ll often find dead birds at the bottom of the stairs. In addition to leaving the attic full of stuff, the owner of this place at some point chipped all of the plaster from the outer walls and never re-plastered. That means that in the places where there used to be plaster, there are now wide cracks. For example, between the crumbling stone walls and the window frames. Places where I assume that plaster was once useful for keeping the weather and small creatures from finding their way in.

The plague may have something to do with the dead birds. Decades of dead bird dust flying around…plus the mold. How do we get dry rot and mold at the same time?? It seems counter-intuitive.

We discovered the plague back when I was about four months pregnant. Carl and I had been moving things around, trying to get all of the stuff up there that is not ours off to one side, so we could clear the junk out of the spare room for Wendy. (This was when we were still calling her Osbert/Prudence.) We spent a lot of time touching things and opening boxes and poking our faces right into the contents. Oooh, check out this china! Look at this doily! I bet someone made this! Neat! Old! Vintage-y! I know that I’m pregnant, but let me just huff this sick bird dander right off of my hands like an idiot!

We both spent the next week with sore throats and heads full of snot, feverish and half-delirious. The Attic Plague has stricken us both from time to time after that, when we foolishly cast aside all evidence which suggests no living thing should ever go up there again.
Anything that we store in the attic now out of sheer desperation-limited closet space, remember?-goes up in plastic, hopefully plague-proof tubs. I was up yesterday looking for the Halloween bin. I usually try to breathe very shallowly, but I was looking for more than four minutes. I must have actually let the attic air into my lungs. Why taunt the Plague? Well, you see, I just can’t handle this world of jobless recession recovery. It's all becoming too much-too cruel.

I woke up this morning with that tell-tale heaviness in my head…the signature burning behind my eyes. I tried to sigh, but choked over my swollen lymph nodes instead.

Carl is making a giant vat of chili today. Hopefully, the heat of five kinds of peppers will burn out the sick before it takes over my whole body. (Or I'll be stricken by the doom from above, unable to move as the gas of a thousand lower intestinal emissions finishes me off...whatever.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Things That Crawl

...don't always suck.

For example, this:

Wendy and I had a nice date today. We got out of the house, saw the town... The town in this case being Wal-Mart and McDonald's (Hell, thy name is PlayPlace), but still. We had a good time. Full of chicken nuggets and hugs around the neck and "I love you so much, Mommy"s.

Then, at home, on our way up the two steps to our front door, Wendy noticed the fuzzy caterpillar crawling on our mutant squash. I forgot to get a picture of the mutants, I'll have to do that later. We left a few of those weird decorative squash to the left of our steps last year, and a huge vine grew up there this year, and spawned strange lumpy yellow gourds. That's one thing that I love about this place. Nature and all of the beautiful* randomness that we are privy to, just by living out here somewhat surrounded by the PA wilds...

A few years ago, Carl and I rescued a baby deer from a fox. Baby deer make a crying sound not unlike the that of a small child, did you know that? I heard the noise, and Carl jumped the fence. He chased the fox away and was holding the baby and trying to assess the damage, when he was almost run down by the mother deer as she came flying across the field behind our house. I yelled something really intelligent like, "Hey! Look! Look! Hey!" as she barreled down on the place where he was crouched against the other side of the fence. He let the baby go, and the pair ran back to the treeline, leaving us both stunned and kind of glad we weren't about to live through a scene from The Yearling, or something.

This encounter was not that dramatic. Just a bug on our step. But still. You couldn't tell that it wasn't just as thrilling, for all the time we spent examining the bug and naming the bug and talking about the bug and moving the bug to a safe, happy location. Good times. Nature rocks.*

*spiders don't count

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Wendy has had a few in the potty-training area. These setbacks include several puddles of various substances and not one, but three rolls of toilet paper tossed into the toilet water. Whole. So, yeah. My triumphant declaration of victory a few posts ago? Kind of like how the Spanish Navy must have felt right before the waves picked up off the coast of England.

Setback #2: this is an ongoing thing, and for those of you who know me personally, it is our current saga of doom around here. It has to do with our lease running out in May, and banks who are unwilling to give us the same kind of mortgage that they were dolling out in spades three years ago. It has to do with official letters that say so. To us, specifically. They look like this:
Dear plebs,
No. We will not give you money, even though you've been paying the lease and keeping up the property for five years, and have painted trees and flowers on your small child's bedroom walls. No. We don't think so. Take your family and your cats and move into a storage space. We don't care.
Love, Bank

We had to switch from Arm & Hammer kitty litter to Tidy Cat. We have four cats. The stench control-just not as good. Now our house smells more like poop than it used to.

And then there is October. We got the first oil delivery of the season last week. $482. We have yet to actually turn on the heat. I seem to remember this feeling from middle school, when they wouldn't turn on the heat till November. I was totally incredulous about the state's willingness to abuse children in this way. Now, I am both incredulous and party to the inflicting of cold-hand syndrome and freezing feet attacks on others.

Wolf spiders invade our house in October. They come in under the doors and through the cracks under the walls and run across your feet. They also unexpectedly appear in the sink, skittering around the dirty dishes when you turn on the water or move anything. They look like this:

Yes, I did put a dramatic spotlight on the spider from my sink. The invasion is Just. That. Disturbing. Why do I include October and wolf spiders in the list of "setbacks?" Because I take things personally. That's why.

I will lighten up around here soon, y'all. I promise.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Depressed About Your Unemployment?

7 Simple Ways to Crawl Out From Under Your Rock

None of these things will help you get a job. These are things that will help you feel more like a human for a little while. They may seem simple, but they are very important if you want to remember that there is more going in your life than you can see from your current point of view.*

If all of these things seem obvious and silly to you, you do not need to read this, because you do not currently live under a rock. You should go have a Starbucks or buy things on Etsy, or do other happy things. Others, please proceed.

1. Remove the bottle of wine/whiskey/tequila from your bedside table. It's just not healthy.

2. Take a weed whacker to your leg hair and put on a skirt. Alternatively, weed whack that scruff from your chin and put on a clean shirt. Whichever applies to your current situation (maybe both? maybe all?), it will make you feel like a person for a little while. (Seriously dude. You look like a Fraggle. Remember Fraggles?)

3. Respond to emails from friends that are more than two days old. It's not their fault no one will hire you...unless they voted for Bush at any time. In that case, instead of returning their emails, sign those people up for home-delivered "special offers" that you can find on the internet. They will appreciate your thinking of them.

4. No, really. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. They don't think you are a suck-ass useless piece of crap, or they wouldn't keep emailing you and wondering if you died. Call them up even if they haven't emailed or called. Human contact. You need it. Don't be a jerk to them when they tell you about their job woes. You can cry into your pillow later.
(Yes, Steph. If I didn't actually answer your question yet, Friend's Thanksgiving should happen again this year.)

5. Make something. Make something new for dinner. Bake banana bread. Draw a picture. Knit something. Build something. Make something in your house prettier, more efficient, or different in some way. Produce something that you can eat, see, touch or use. Then shake your fist at the sky and yell, "I AM A PRODUCTIVE PERSON, DAMMIT! YOU JERK-BAGS ARE MISSING OUT ON ALL OF THIS! THIS IS YOUR LOSS! YOURS!" (Do the fist-shaking thing. Do It. Then, gesture to yourself suggestively. Freak out the neighbors. What have you got to lose?)

6. Close the computer. You can look for today's phantom job postings tomorrow. Also, doing something on Farmville/Mafia Wars/WOW/Second Life is not the same as doing something.

7. Go outside. Do some yard work. Go for a walk. Take your kid to the park, or go by yourself. Get some Vitamin D. "Pasty and haggard" isn't really a good look for you.

8. Do something you want to do. Even if it costs money. Okay, not too much money-I'm talking about scrounging up enough change from your sofa to get a couple of donuts, not putting a new computer on a charge card. Unless you won't be able to feed yourself this week because of it, get a coffee and sit in the bookstore, or take a bus to the library. Rent a movie. Go to a movie. You don't somehow deserve financial ruin because you treat yourself to something small (small!) once a week.

*My current point of view=under the rock, up my own ass, curled up under the covers with my hands over my ears. Attempting to alleviate the situation...now.

Yeah, I'm using my blog to give myself pep talks. So what??

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Conversation With an Almost-3

Mo: Put the camera down.
Wendy: Is it yours?
Mo: It's Erin's. You didn't ask. Put it down right now.
Wendy: Did she say no?
Mo: You didn't ask. She did not say yes.
Wendy: But, did she say no?
Mo: OHFORTHELOVEOFGOD put it down! Right now!

Wendy: ...But she didn't say no...?

Yes, you vertically challenged little smart-mouth. Technically, she did not say no. Ever hear of "the answer's always no until you ask??" Or, even better, "I'm your mom and I legally own you?"