Archive of ‘Bleah’ category

Flair

There’s this one chick that comes into my Zumba class whenever she freaking feels like it. She immediately starts talking to everyone as if she knows them (she doesn’t) with lots of bravado (“Yeah, right, what’s up girl, we got dis”). When we dance, she practically turns into a stripper, adding all kinds of wiggles and hip thrusts where they just don’t belong. She watches herself in all the mirrors and shouts things like, “OOOOO GIRL!!” when we’re doing a lot of squats or maybe a long verse on our tippy toes while our calves burn.
I don’t care for her.

flair-guy-office-space-sues

I sincerely hope SOMEONE gets this picture’s significance…

It really took me until today to figure out why she was bothering me so much. I don’t like being a person who is bothered.
Lately I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite parenting books, The Conscious Parent. I noticed over the holidays that Abraham started getting on my nerves (more than usual) and I was snapping and losing my cool far too easily. In reading this book again I was reminded how parents can often add drama to a situation. Not only do we get irritated, but we announce how irritated we are and hurumph or roll our eyes or raise our voices or slam doors. We don’t do anything that’s going to scar our children for life; I’m not talking about that kind of drama. Just the little “exclamation points” we add to a situation to really emphasize the emotion we’re feeling so everyone around us, namely our children, know how ANNOYING THEY ARE. Shefali Tsebary (the author of The Conscious Parent) explains that emotions are normal and HEALTHY. It’s the flair we add onto those feelings that is excessive, unhealthy for all involved, and super-dumb. The other day I looked at Abraham and said, “I’m so irritated.” I didn’t allow myself the frills, though. I just stated the fact that I was irritated and when he asked me what that meant, I told him. I allowed myself to be at my wit’s end with my child and I left it at that. No drama. No flair. “I’m just irritated and I need to be left alone.”
How often do we do the opposite? We add flair to our feelings.
Not only am I mad, but I’m going to YELL!
Not only am I confused, but I’m going to tell everyone that this makes no sense!
Not only am I frustrated with how slow the grocery store line is but I’m going to announce to everyone around me, “I ALWAYS CHOOSE THE WRONG LINE!”
It’s like we have to accentuate our own feelings by enhancing their size and thereby (somehow) making them more valid. When, in fact, being frustrated that the line in the grocery store isn’t moving is fine. It’s acting like a big a-hole about it that isn’t. Can ya just be frustrated, acknowledge you’re frustrated TO YOURSELF, and then move on with life?!
Could you possibly just let your feelings be feelings without all the choreography?!

And then it hit me. The choreography. In the middle of a chapter in a book about parenting, I realized why I didn’t care for Zumba girl. The drama. She added flair onto everything. It was attention-grabbing. It was distracting. It even added discomfort to things like long squats because she was adding to the pain by shouting loudly enough for all of us to hear how much pain SHE was in!
I’ve been doing my best to eliminate drama from my life these past few years, and that includes my own dramatic reactions. I have most definitely not been perfect, but in this practice I’ve noticed the theatrical expressions happening around me are so much more obvious! And so much more BOTHERSOME and I could just SCREAM but I won’t because being annoyed is enough all by itself without any added drama and i’m learning from my own blog right now…
(BTW, Could the Zumba girl just be a really expressive dancer? Yes. But let the blog be what it’s about, ok?)

So that’s going to be my focus. I’m going to have all the feels. I’m just not going to express every. single. feel. with so much flair. I’m going to be gentle with myself, honest with myself, and trust that my own emotions are valid all by themselves. Less drama. Less flair.

 

The Let-Go Dance

What’s interesting is that I met Bear within weeks of my divorce. He had 7 years prior to meeting me to complete his Let-Go Dance. When he first suggested I might be in the least bit angry over my divorce, I quickly put him in his place. “I’m not angry. I’m not angry at ALL.”
It wasn’t until I met a group of women that now make up my weekly prayer group that I started considering Bear might be right. Six months ago one of them asked me, “Have you ever gotten angry over your divorce?”
“No. I’m not angry at all.”
“You need to get angry,” another quipped.
I just didn’t see it; but I was open to the suggestion of being angry. And an interesting thing happened. In opening up…
I got mad.
Madder than a hatter.
Madder than a wet hen in a tote sac.
Madder than a donkey chewing on bumblebees.
I wrote letters I’d never send, vented my frustrations at Bear, and even spewed it up to God every now and again. It felt like I was never going to be finished being angry.
And then recently…I’m just not as angry.
I’m sad. Super sad. And I didn’t want to feel sad for the next six months! So I prayed that God would get me through the “sad phase” faster than the mad phase so I could continue on with this Let-Go Dance.
As luck would have it, my ex-husband recently sold the house we lived in together. In doing so, he removed boxes and bags of carefully stacked and labelled baby toys that I’d stored away in hopes of using them again someday. Honestly, I’d forgotten they were in the attic until he called. He offered me the opportunity to go through them after he and his fiance moved out, and before the new homeowners moved in. He gave me a key and everything. I gratefully accepted, and as I pulled in the driveway I was washed with a huge wave of grief.
Wow. I’m saying goodbye to my house. My big empty house. Just the way it was the day we moved in.
I stepped in the front door and the smell was the first thing…the first visceral reaction I had as I stepped carefully through all the memory clouds hovering along the floors. I remembered smelling it the day we moved in, I remembered smelling it when I was pregnant and I thought it “smelled bad” all the time. I remembered smelling it the first time I had to come back after we were divorced and she’d moved in; I saw her dirty laundry in the hallway and sucked my stomach up into my throat.
I walked past Abe’s playroom where I used to keep my desk and my wall of old play scripts. I walked through the kitchen and noticed the baby locks still attached to the oven and pantry. The baby locks I applied when I realized my son would begin getting in to everything soon…
I walked by the chandelier I painted, the piece of twine still tied around the ceiling fan I used to tie up sheets to make a fort on Abe’s second birthday.
12597019_10154503617779829_1261910931_oI walked into our old bedroom. All the pictures gone now, of course, but I could still see them. Inside our bathroom, I remembered the day we had the floor re-tiled. I remembered how annoyed he was that I would slide my mirror across the bathroom countertop and leave marks; and why on Earth did that not bother me, too? But when I turned around and looked at the bathtub…that’s when the tears finally puddled over the edges of my eyes. That tub. Where I sat in the evenings with a full, round belly full of Abe. Where I laid and cried and screamed for hours during my never-ending labor over a long weekend. Where I first began bathing Abraham, first in a little mesh bath bed, then with toys and bath books and bubbles when he could sit up. Days of my life can be attributed to that tub; literally days.
I walked upstairs to Abraham’s room, some bird stickers still on the wall and the numbers stickers still hanging on where I stuck them thinking, “Someday he’ll want to know about numbers.” I sat where our rocker used to sit next to Abe’s crib, the same place I nursed Abe everyday at least 5 times, and I stared in the same direction I always did. The neighbors had new trees, and a new firepit in their back yard. The cars going by and the car wash off in the distance looked the same.
Finally, I came back downstairs to the garage where the pile of Abrahams toys sat stacked against the far wall. I began to sift through them, remembering with my bones the vibrating seat (the only place Abe would poop), the johnny jump up Abe spent hours in everyday, the seat that made him fall asleep staring at the little lights, and the exersaucer I used to leave in the bathroom so that I could put him somewhere while I showered. I leaned on the exersaucer and accidentally pushed the musical worms, and out came the song. I would sing it to you if it had words, but it was just a melody. I had to kneel down next to it and lean on the garage floor while I cried. I cried as many of the tears as I could possibly get out listening to that song…the song Abe and I spent our days listening to in that big house…
I realized in that moment, it wasn’t the house I would miss. It wasn’t the marriage or the toys or the thought of never having another baby. What I missed was the opportunity to have the family I wanted for Abe. I wept for the girl who used all of these toys to entertain her son for hours and hours a day, feeling like a failure at every turn as her marriage fell apart. I cried for Abe, that he didn’t get the mom he deserved because she was unprepared and starting to feel like she was in the wrong place. And that I can never go back to those moments in the bathroom with the exersaucer or the living room with the vibrating chair and do them right. I cried for a long time when I realized that.

I packed my car full of Abe toys and pictures, intent on finding a home for each and every 12443804_10154503618314829_1767504065_oone. A better home. I touched the sticky spot above the doorbell on my way out, the spot I intensely stuck a hand-written sign that read “Don’t Ring the Doorbell!” so the dogs wouldn’t bark and wake Abe up. I walked back to my car and looked back one more time. “Thank you for letting me say goodbye. Goodbye, house. I won’t miss you, but I will remember every moment you gave me.”

And so, my Let-Go dance continues…

How to Close on a House

(Spend 2 months sending every piece of information that identifies you and your financial history to a lender. Send it all again. FREAK OUT when anyone in your household purchases anything other than groceries and gifts for the homeless on credit. Write letters explaining why you’re not liars or criminals or mentally unstable and send to the lender. Get approved.)

Wednesday
Me: So, we all good to close on Tuesday?
Lender: Everything’s good on our end! We will send you the closing disclosure as soon as we get it. We will have it any minute now.
Me: Great!

Thursday (Thanksgiving)

Friday
Me: So, we all good to close on Tuesday?
Realtor: The title company is slammed. We may need to push it back a day or two.
Me: Oh. Ok, no biggie.
Realtor: It’s not if it will close…it’s just when.

Saturday
Me: So, we all good to close on Tuesday?
Lender: As soon as we get the closing disclosure from the title company, we will be good to go.
Me: Is it coming soon? I thought it was coming Wednesday?
Lender: We hope so!

Saturday – 11:00pm
Me: We got the closing disclosure and sent it back signed!
Lender: Awesome! We should be good to go!

Sunday
Me: So, we all good to close on Tuesday?
Realtor: There’s a new law.
Me: A what?
Realtor: A new law.
Me: For what?
Realtor: It went into effect about a month ago. It might slow us down because the title company has to do different paperwork.
Me: So, not Tuesday?
Realtor: Don’t know yet.

Monday
Me: So, we all good to close on Tuesday?
Lender: We think so!
Realtor: Don’t know yet.
Me: Ok, well! Tomorrow is Tuesday! So…

Monday – 9:00pm
Realtor: Tomorrow at 1:00pm, meet me at the lawyer’s office to close.
Me: OK! WE’RE ON!

Tuesday – 1:00pm
Realtor: The lawyer doesn’t have what we need to close.
Me: Wait. What?
Realtor: They don’t have the closing disclosure.
Me: I signed that. I sent that!
Bear: We were told all we needed to bring was a picture ID.
Lawyer: TWO forms of picture ID. (Notice the lawyer didn’t introduce herself as she passed by and snapped at us.)
Me: TWO?
Realtor: TWO? Since when?
Lawyer: It’s new.
(Mad dash to find another form of photo ID in our cars. We gather everything we can find.)
Me: Here you go.
Lawyer: We only need one form of picture ID.
Bear: But you just said…
Lawyer: Your lender only requires one.
Me: Then why did you…
Realtor: Fine. Do we have the closing disclosure yet?
Lawyer: Yes. Just follow me…
(Conference room that looks like The Vatican.)
Lawyer: Here is your loan agreement.
Realtor: This is the first time I’m seeing any of this. Isn’t the new law supposed to ensure we all see this information three days prior to closing?
Lawyer: It took those three days to prepare the paperwork because it’s so new and no one knew how to do it.
Realtor: Then I need to read through and understand what this says before we can proceed…
(30 minutes of him translating the documents to us later…)
Lawyer: Sign here 4,000 times.
Me and Bear: Here you go.
Lawyer: Give me all the money you have saved.
Me and Bear: Here you go.
Lawyer: Ok wait here in this room that looks like The Vatican.
(30 minutes of Realtor, Bear, and I shootin’ the shit.)
Lawyer: Ok, I’m back. Now sign here 2,500 times.
Me and Bear: Here you go.
Lawyer: Ok wait here in this room.
(30 minutes of Realtor, Bear, and I shootin’ the shit, also noticing how hungry we are.)
Lawyer: Ok, I’m back. Now sign here 1,000 times.
Me: Here you go.
Lawyer: Ok, now I have to go wire all the money you have saved and given to me. I’ll be back.
(60 minutes of Realtor, Bear, and I shootin’ the shit, also noticing how hungry we are, and starting to talk about what we would eat if we had food. Someone in another room opens a soda can. It sounds like angels singing.)
Realtor: Ok. I just got the email. You’re funded. Lawyer should be back in a minute.
(30 minutes of Realtor, Bear, and I shootin’ the shit, also noticing how hungry we are, and then beginning to sort through our bags until we come up with a small stale bag of sunflower seeds and a bag of gummy alligators which were a gift for our Realtor but, at this point, the situation is dire and we’ve reached Survivor-Mode. We eat all of it.)
Realtor: I’m going to go see what’s going on.
(10 minutes later.)
Realtor: She didn’t check her email. She sees it now. She’ll be here in a minute.
(10 minutes later.)
Lawyer: I’m here. It funded. Here’s your key.
Me: That’s it?
Lawyer: That’s it.
Bear: Congratulations?
Lawyer: Congratulations.
Me: Let’s get pizza.

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He has the keys in his hand. He doesn’t just hold his fingers up like that for pictures…

So Long, Batty

bat13I’ve been waiting to tell you the end of this rental house/landlord/miniature nightmare until it was officially over so nobody could use my blog in a court of law.
No, seriously.
So, if you haven’t been following, our landlord was crazy. She didn’t fix things in our house and she showed up unannounced and she tried to guilt Bear into paying more rent and then she completely disappeared for 5 months. Last month we sent her our 60-day notice (because she couldn’t be a normal landlord who requested 30) via certified letter (because she doesn’t “have an email address” or “accept notice unless it’s certified” because she’s “difficult”) and she called us to ask if we could move out early. She already had a new tenant lined up for December. She even asked if we could show the rental property to the new tenant ourselves to be sure she liked it. We agreed to all of it because it would mean we would only be paying half of December’s rent AND we’d get our deposit back.
The next day I showed the house to the new tenant. “Have you had any problems with the property?”
Plumbing.
Termites. 
A snake in the kitchen.
The mouse.
Mold.
“No!”
Why did I lie…Well, here’s why: because this woman was actually friends with Batty. And by friends I mean that she rented a smaller property that Batty owned and needed this bigger one. She said Batty had been great about fixing things in the smaller property and so I figured if she had a problem with crappy plumbing or termites or snakes or mice or mold, she would just call Batty. So I left well-enough alone.
“You’ve taken really good care of this house. I can’t wait to move in. I’m going to let Batty know what great tenants you are,” she said to me.
“Awww, thank you!” I said to her as she left and I fist-pumped.
Home rented. Now all I had to do was close on the house and move. (That is a separate story for another blog…)
Cut to last week.
Oh, this is so great.
I sent Batty another certified letter informing her of our move-out date, December 7, and the amount of pro-rated rent we would send her upon our departure. I also let her know about the things we’d pre-arranged to leave there for the next tenant. And finally, I asked that she call one of us to set up a time to do the walk-through so we could get our deposit back.
“She’s never giving us our deposit back, you know that, right?” Bear asked me in bed.
“Well, there’s hope. I mean if we move out early and we save part of December’s rent, then there’s hope that she’ll also give us at least part of our deposit back?”
I was in my prayer group two nights after I sent the letter… My phone rings. It’s a NO CALLER ID call because Batty doesn’t have a traceable phone number, or an email address, and screens her calls in between re-applying tin foil to her windows. I let it go to voicemail because I didn’t want God to have to listen to it either.
I listened in the car.
It was Batty saying that she NEVER asked us to move out early and that she had NO idea we were leaving and she needed December’s rent in it’s entirety because she was COMPLETELY broke.
It was a moment entirely placed in the Twilight Zone.
I started talking out loud to myself in the car.
Why would I have shown the rental property for her in November if the tenants were moving in mid-January? Why would I have agreed to move out early and sent her a letter outlining our agreement if I made it up? Why would I care even a little bit that she’s broke?!
I called Bear.
“Yeah. She called me, too. She told me that she figured you and the new tenant ‘had it handled’ since you had been talking,” he told me.
“What does that even MEAN?!”
“I don’t know. She’s Batty.”
Then, I got a text message. It was from the new tenant suddenly using legalese and a firm tone, telling me she had no intention of moving into the house until the first of the year.
My head was spinning and the entire drive home all I could do was picture burning that house down until I realized Batty would get the insurance money for it and then I couldn’t even enjoy THAT dream.

Long story longer, Bear called Batty the next day. She adamantly swore that he was lying, that she never asked us to move out early, and that she was keeping our entire security deposit. She even threw in this little gem: “I hope you’re a landlord someday so you’ll understand what it’s like.”
Oh, you mean to have tenants who hire their own plumbers and steam clean the carpets and treat the lawn for dollar weed and PAY THE RENT ON TIME EVERY SINGLE MONTH??
But, there’s a silver lining…
Once she decided to keep our security deposit, I decided to keep the rent. In my bank account. ET VIOLA! I have extra money to puts towards the new home we own and we never have to speak of Batty again!
Private message me if you want her mailing address…

At least you’re not Job.

I had a bad day. A really bad day. One filled with anxiety and frustration and a lot of fear of the unknown. What’s to come? What’s will happen? Will everything be OK?! By the end, I was just feeling completely depleted and sad.
When I’m in that place of fear, I reach out to my friends. And I have two kinds of friends (as I think we all do). One kind is the “everything will be ok” kind. They either pray with you or they pray for you or they offer up a practical look at things that prove with actual facts that everything will be ok. They are the ones who bring cupcakes to cheer you up, or a good bottle or wine, or even a crappy bottle of wine. Their positivity is absolutely uplifting. And I like those kinds of friends tremendously.
The other kind of friend is the devil’s advocate friend. If you’re royally pissed off at someone and you call devil’s advocate friend to vent, devil’s advocate friend will tell you why you should consider the other person’s point of view. Devil’s advocate friend might even try to prove you wrong in the situation. Devil’s advocate friend is a very good, well-trusted friend because they hold up a mirror in your life when you need it most and say, “Baby. Snap out of it.” I like these friends a lot, too.

Today, I texted my devil’s advocate friend: Ivy.
I shared with her all the unknown and potentially life-changing issues I face right now. I told her, “Ivy. I’m so sad right now. I just can’t get it together today.”
And do you know what Ivy said to me?
She said, “Well, hey, at least you’re not Job.”

At least you’re not Job.

“At least I’m not JOB?! That’s what I should be grateful for today?!”
“YES! I mean, he went through it all!”
She then sent me a little picture of a dancing minion.

For those of you who don’t know, Job was a good and loyal man who honored God in all that he did. He had lots of kids and farm animals and a lovely wife and life was going really well for Job. He was super appreciative of God.
Then one day, Satan was like, “I’ll bet I can get him to stop believing in God.” So Satan sent these guys down to kill all of Job’s donkeys, all of his sheep, all of his camels, and all of his children. And you know what Job did?
He said, “What came from God goes back to God.” HE KEPT WORSHIPPING GOD! Even in the midst of all this pain and misery and fear and sadness and loss.
I mean, who does that?
So, then of course, in time Job was blessed with exponential riches and a gabillion farm animals and more children and grand children and great-grand children and he lived another 140 years.

In fairness, no one has come to kill my animals nor children. And I kinda wanted to smack Ivy and say, “I’m not Job. I’m not Jesus. I’m a girl with ISSUES.” But I got her devil’s-advocatey point. No one’s dead. No one’s dying. No one’s even got a cold. The ground is shaky but I’ve got both legs. I probably ought to focus on the things for which I’m grateful for even a PERCENTAGE of the amount of time I spend freaking out.
“ERIN I KNOW ON THE OTHER SIDE THERE IS SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT NOW,” she wrote in all caps a few moments later.
“You should stick with being the devil’s advocate,” I told her.
She sent another dancing minion.
She’s a really good friend.

My point is that maybe today you need the devil’s advocate instead of the cupcakes and sweet hugs and the good wine. Maybe you need to stop the madness for even just a MOMENT and say thank you for what’s good, even if all that’s good is that no one has a cold right now. You don’t have to walk around all grateful all the time when things are falling apart. But you might consider a quick, “Thanks for the health.”

 

 

Apparently I’m Lost

For my awesome son’s 5th birthday, my awesome best friend of 20+ years offered to take us all to Disney World. (I should mention that my best friend of 20+ years is not Bill Gates but rather a Disney Employee who gets Guest Passes.)

This is not a heartwarming tale of my gorgeous son and incredible almost-step-son eating their hearts out over the amazing time they both had at Disney with people who love us all like family.

See? FUN!

See? FUN! Not even there yet and FUN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, this is the story of me, finally, once and for all, admitting that I possess 0.0 navigational skills.
For years, I felt as though I was very good at reading a map. Living in Los Angeles for almost 5 years, and before smart phones, I used maps a LOT. It only took me once or twice to memorize a route and then begin to find alternate routes, which was a necessary skill in LA because at least twice a week there was an insignificant wreck that caused a major road to be closed for 400 HOURS and you really needed to be able to drive back through a neighborhood in order to get around said wreck and still make it home by midnight.

But as it turns out, I think I was actually just lost all the time. While I had a map. That I was looking at…
In hindsight, I was pretty much lost for our whole trip to Disney World, too.

During my short drive from Jacksonville to Orlando, I only took one wrong turn. And it only required a single u-turn. So I felt really good about that.
Then I had to meet Bear and his son about 20 minutes from where Abe and I were staying (we drove separately so Bear could participate in a cornhole tournament while the kids and I went to Disney). I made it there without any issues at ALL. Then I turned the wrong way to go home and drove ten minutes in the wrong direction.
Then I stopped at the grocery store to get the kids some lunch and I got lost. In the parking lot. A few times.
Then we went to Disney. After a few hours, my BFF wanted to take her VERY sleepy son home, so she left me in the park.
I stayed for another two hours.
I was lost for the entirety of that two hours inside the Disney parks. I literally just pretended like I knew where I was going and when I found a ride or attraction that looked vaguely familiar, I stopped and announced we’d “arrived”. I had a physical map in my hands and I still asked three people how to get out of the park. OUT. Like EXIT.
I then got lost in the parking lot trying to find our car.
I got lost trying to drive out of the parking lot.
And I got lost again going back to where we were staying because I took a wrong turn out of the parking lot.
I got lost the next day trying to find I-4, and again when trying to get back ON I-4 after we pulled over to a gas station to let the boys use the restroom.
In hindsight, I probably spent 4 hours this past weekend reading or attempting to read a map while I was lost.

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t Bear just drive you? Well, Bear drove his own truck on account of the tournament he wanted to play there in Orlando. But I can ASSURE you. It would not have helped us at all. You see, Bear doesn’t read the map when he’s driving. He either already knows where he’s going or he asks me to read it for him so he can focus on driving. And this is usually what I end up saying out loud while staring at my iPhone map: “The blue dot isn’t on the blue line anymore.”
Can I help him find his way back to the blue line? Not usually…

It’s strange to be 34 years old (well, 34 in a week) and just now realize that I can’t read maps. It makes me wonder what else I can’t do?! At 35 will I find out that I’m a terrible cook? IS NO ONE TELLING ME I’M A TERRIBLE COOK? If you know of something I suck at but I think I’m really good at it, tell me now so I’m not 40 and finding out I’m the worst at organizing cabinets in the world…

Bat S. Crazy (Part 3)

If you haven’t been reading along, read Part 1 and Part 2!

I spent that morning panicking. I cleaned. I organized. I reorganized. (These are things I do when I’m panicked.) And eventually, by 11am when we hadn’t heard from the plumber, I drove to the gym and pretended like everything was completely fine.
About 20 minutes later I texted Bear.
“PLEASE find out if the plumber is still, in fact, coming today because we still had no water and I don’t want to call Batty but I also don’t want 6 gallons of water trailing down our bathtub every hour until we decide we can afford to move…”
“He just called and said he’d be there around 1:00pm.”
“Okay. <deep breath> Okay. Great. Fine. I’ll be there.”
I could have showered at the gym. That would have been sensible. But I was too panicked to think of that. So I came home, sweaty and disgusting, and sat at the dining room table waiting for the plumber to arrive at 1:00pm, which turned out to be 2:15pm but who’s counting EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.

The plumber was a very nice guy about my age, and his partner looked like he was 7 feet tall but only about 12 years old. They first decided it would be best to play with my dogs and tell me stories about their dogs and their houses and theirs lives. I attempted to be REALLY interested without noticeably scooting them towards the bathroom, but eventually my nerves gave in and I just awkwardly shouted, “HEY THE BATHROOM’S OVER HERE!”

This tool is the difference between 20 seconds and NEVER.

This tool is the difference between 20 seconds and NEVER.

“Ok, so this is a new cartridge in here,” he said to himself as he took the shower handle apart. I answered anyway.
“I tried to put that new one in but it wouldn’t go in all the way and now we can’t get it out. Did I get the wrong one?”
“No, this is right one. But you’re right, you can’t get it out. You need a special tool for these kinds of cartridges.”
“THERE’S A SPECIAL TOOL?!?!”
“Yep. That’s why you can’t get it out. And when you took the first one out…actually. Wait. How’d you get the first one out?”
“Oh, um. Yeah. I don’t…I wasn’t…here. I wasn’t here. At the time. That the old cartridge was taken out.” (See, because I don’t want anyone to know that Bear DRILLED the first cartridge out of the pipe.)
“Well, anyway, when you took that one out you probably left a few pieces of rubber back there and that’s why we’re having such a hard time here.”
The Plumber Guy walked out to his truck and the tallest child in the world and I had a lovely conversation about water and hats. When Plumber Guy walked back in with the tool, he got the cartridge out in approximately 20 seconds.
THREE HOURS we’d been trying to get this cartridge out of the pipe by FORCE and he used his handy dandy plumber’s tool and slid it out like it was covered in BUTTER. I tried not to act surprised.
“WOW! THAT’S…cool.”

He proceeded to dig out 5 or 6 bits and pieces of rubber that Bear and I had apparently left in there because we’re not plumbers. He then put in a new cartridge, reattached the shower handle, and viola. No leak. No nothing. Problem solved. In about 25 minutes. For around $80. (That is the exact amount of money I spent on plumbing supplies at our local hardware store, which I then returned because the woman at the returns desk didn’t care about her job at ALL and didn’t bother to look and see that I’d tried using all of it.)

The end of the story looks something like me turning the water in the shower on and off over and over again, because I could, and joyfully leaping through the house, announcing to the plumbers they were both on my prayer list now and forevermore. This made them uncomfortable and I DIDN’T CARE!!!!
We had no crazy encounters with our landlord. We haven’t bought a house, or even finished the home loan process yet. And also, a few days ago, THE DRAIN IN THE BATHTUB SLOWED TO A NEAR STOP. So do any of you know how to unclog a bathtub drain when you don’t want to call in a favor to your friend the plumber twice in the same week just so you don’t have to call your (in my personal dealings and experience) batshit crazy landlord?

Bat S. Crazy (Part 1)

We live in a rental house. When Bear and I were dating, he moved from a neighboring city into this house in an effort to be closer to me and woo me like a studly knight. (Little did he know all he had to do was break my leg…)

This rental house happens to be owned by an individual who rents it out. Let’s call her Bat S. Crazy, because this is a family show. Batty likes to come over any time she feels like it. She likes to check on her plants and talk about her feelings. When I moved in, she INSISTED that she run a credit check and employment history as well as sign a lease, despite the fact that Bear had been living alone and PAYING alone for a year. I obliged. She called me several hours later to inform me I was “approved” and then said she would come over with the lease for me to sign.
That is the last time I have ever spoken to Batty.

Several weeks ago, Batty phoned Bear and told him that she “oops” just realized that the lease has been up for over a month. She asked him if he’d like to sign a new lease, despite the first contract clearly stating that the lease goes month-to-month after one year. “No,” Bear responded. (He’s a talker.)
“Oh, well, ok but I do need you to know that I have to raise the rent. Taxes and fees and all of those things go up, you know?”
“Yeah. I know,” he spouted back. “Mine go up, too.” (He’s also very friendly on the phone.)
“Oh. But, um, I will need to raise the rent on the, uh…”
“I’ll move if you raise it.” (Never. NEVER in my life would I have had the balls to say that to a landlord knowing I had no intention of moving. HE’S SO HOT RIGHT NOW!)
“You? You’ll? Ok, well. I’ll just have to think about it…”
That was the last time he heard from Batty.

Somewhere in the God-part of my brain, though, I felt myself being pushed. Move. Move. MOVE.
Yeah, God, but where do you want me to move?! Into another rental?! Bear HATES moving!
Nope. No, the God-part of my brain said I should BUY a house, which is adorable considering that’s not even a LITTLE bit on the horizon for us. But I kept getting pushed, this feeling that I needed to get the house-buying ball rolling. So I made an appointment with a mortgage specialist. Bear and I went together on a Thursday morning to a bright, blue bank that looked a little bit like a spaceship. I felt like I had NO idea what I was doing there when I shook Linda’s hand.
Mortgage-FormLinda had a distant New Orlean’s accent, which I won’t attempt to reproduce in text-form, and she’d been in the mortgage business for 37 years (the same amount of time she’d been married AND had that haircut). She sat down at the desk and without hesitation all but told us straight to our faces we were probably not going to qualify for a home loan. She was real nice.
I put my head down and started searching the God-part of my brain for some alternative, something I was missing, but nothing popped up while Linda clicked on the keys of her keyboard in the background. Why did I get pushed INTO this?!
“Well, here’s the deal,” Linda suddenly matter-of-factly folded her hands on the table. “Your credit scores are fine but you don’t have enough open lines of credit.”
“Open lines of…”
“Credit cards, car loans, bank loans, store cards…you don’t have enough to warrant a home loan.”
“So, we don’t have enough credit cards to qualify to purchase a home that we have the credit scores and enough income to pay for?”
“Right.”
“Ok, so…so we don’t have enough debt to buy a house?”
“Pretty much.”
“So what you’re saying is…we need more debt. To get a home loan. To buy a house…”

It went on like this for a few minutes…

We were given some other options of other banks that are likely going to accept the PATHETIC amount of debt we have, but it will be a whole, long, awful process as anyone who has ever bought a house with no debt knows. We decided we’ll just try and stay in our month-to-month rental for a few more months…

…until the shower started leaking.

An Albino Mockingbird, A Kiwi, and a PB&J

Y’all. I have written 8 blogs in my head this week and ONE that I’ve actually published. I hate using the word “busy”, but I’ve been busy.

This summer I’ve had my son most of the time, Bear’s son full-time, and Bear’s mom has been with us for five weeks (she has helped me GREATLY with the kids so I could work!). We’ve been out of town every weekend for the past five weeks. We have gone on daytime adventures, Abe’s been in camp some of the time and home some of the time, and I bought a new rug. (The rug part wasn’t stressful or overwhelming. I just love the new rug.)

I’ve also been in physical therapy twice a week. It took me eight sessions, two visits to my primary care physician, and a LOT of hours on the phone to get my insurance to cover it. But just this week, insurance approved the physical therapy. Because occasionally, with enough atta-boys and “You can do it!”s, insurance companies actually insure their clients get healthcare. It’s like the sighting of an albino mockingbird, but it happens.
I told you earlier this summer that I was going to write a blog about how wonderful physical therapy was and blah blah blah… Well, it really was. My hip slowly but surely tilted back into the proper position and, as it did, I learned just how out of whack my muscles have become!! I compensated for the pain in my leg when I broke it by using other body parts, and that caused all my muscles to get confused. One muscle would grab the jelly, another would grab two pieces of bread, and by the end everything would be shoved into the peanut butter jar and served with a fork. We still ate lunch, but it was NOT the way we used to do it.
On the first day of physical therapy my Kiwi Therapist (he was from New Zealand) asked me to lie on my back, tense my transverse abdominal muscles (the ones right behind your hip bones), and lift one knee at a time. I flexed them.
“Go ahead. Flex,” Kiwi said.
“I am.”
“No, right here. Where my fingers are. Flex there,” he repeated.
“I am.”
“Oh. I see. Ok. Change of plans…”
Just that one little “exercise” demonstrated how far behind the curve I was. So, we started with just trying to tense my muscles. I didn’t even get to knee-lifts until week 3.
It’s not that I’m weak. It’s that I’m out-of-order strong. But Kiwi worked with me every week to find the sleepy muscles and wake them up after he gently tried to unjam my hip with his bear hands.

Kiwi is very strong.

Three weeks ago, Kiwi suggested I get a gym membership and continue the simple exercises with heavier and heavier weights in the coming months. I called around and tried a few different methods for getting a gym membership I could afford but I just kept coming up short (on cash). They all required sign-up fees of anywhere from $50 to $100. They had contracts. They cost $30-$100 monthly. Some covered the whole family. Some, just me.
Last week, I finally said this prayer:
God? I would like a gym membership at a gym near my house without a contract. I don’t want to pay a sign-up fee. And I don’t want to have to find the gym. I want you to tell me which one it is. I want it to find ME. 
Guess what?
Last Thursday a representative from a local gym happened to be at a restaurant where I was eating and offered me a week-long free pass out of the blue. I told him I wanted a gym membership with no contract and no sign-up fee. The next morning I got a call from the manager of that gym asking me to come in and get my key-card. The monthly payment is less than the others and includes my whole family.

Bam.

The entire point of this blog is that I’m still surrendering. A lot. It’s the word of the year, in fact. I’m surrendering to being busy. To having a full house. To physical therapy. To insurance companies. To gym memberships. I’m finding that surrender actually requires me to make a very specific request and then REALLY giving up my will and what I wish would happen. It seems counterintuitive, but truth is I don’t have control over anything. Literally letting things happen around me can seem kind of pacifist at times, but I assure you it takes strength and action to remain in life’s flow. Think about being caught in a raging river. You can try to swim against it; huge energy-suck and certain death. Or, you can go with it; still a challenge to survive but far more doable if you can keep your head above water.

IMG_2597I went to the gym this morning. I did the exercise bike and some light weights while I watched the spin class having so much fun…
Surrender, y’all.

I Did Not Burn a Building Down Today

white_flag_surrenderI’m reading Michael Singer’s new book called The Surrender Experiment. In short, he decided to spend a period of time (which ended up being his entire life) COMPLETELY surrendering to whatever life handed him. Instead of protesting, attempting to change things, or improve things, he just said, “Ok. Yes. This is what is happening.” Even the day he came home to find a person building a house on his land. He said, “Ok. Yes. This is what is happening.” (Good thing, too, because the person who moved in ended up being his wife.)
It’s kind of akin to Jim Carrey’s movie “Yes Man”, wherein he had to say yes to everything for an entire year or something like that.
You know that stuff that happens so perfectly, so coincidentally when you aren’t even expecting it? You get a bill for $500 and before you can panic, a $500 check winds up in your mailbox for some old class-action lawsuit or something. You have to be in downtown by noon and your car breaks down at the same time they call to tell you the entire meeting has been rescheduled to your side of town the following week. You stop trying to meet a boyfriend and Mr. Right walks straight into your house to fix your washing machine. It’s those times that you aren’t fighting for something, you aren’t asking for anything, you aren’t working on anything…you’re just living; surrendered to what’s going on because your sweet little brain doesn’t really have an opinion about things at that particular time.
I want to stop listening to the opinions, likes, and dislikes of my brain and just try being surrendered for a while.

It’s awful.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s tough. Little things like this:
I saw a carpet in Target that I really wanted. It was $150. I knew I couldn’t afford it but I felt SO drawn to it, so positive this was the rug I needed that I bought it without too much thought. I didn’t pray for the money or do affirmations. I surrendered to the feeling that I HAD to buy this damn rug.
I tried selling the old rug that it was replacing but it wouldn’t sell. I posted it to craigslist and updated it and added new pictures. Nothing. So again, I surrendered. No praying, no nothing, just…Ok. That’s how it is.
The next day I got a small writing gig for $150.
The day after that, the rug sold for $100. My family was supposed to go out to dinner that night and I knew we were kinda waiting on this week’s payday to have a meal out. When the folks who bought my rug left, Bear looked at me and smiled. “Dinner money. Thanks, old rug.”

My point is that surrender isn’t this long, drawn out, meditative process. It just means saying, “Well, Ok. That’s how it is.” Our egos tell us that this is NOT safe. When the insurance company refuses to pay for something, WE FIGHT ABOUT IT. We highlight documents and contact lawyers and ask for letterhead. But have you ever wondered if just surrendering to what has happened might not only bring you peace but ALSO, everything will work itself out because it always does? Seriously. It always works out. Whether you fight and bitch and torch the building, or whether you accept what is happening and move forward with a full surrender that it will be fine.

I’m not good at it. Because today I wanted to burn a building down.

But I didn’t! And eventually I realized that I was back in that pattern of fighting to get what I needed. I didn’t realize it until a woman from the office I was fighting with called me and casually said that it had all already been taken care of and they only needed the document I would be providing them tomorrow. Had I just surrendered, I would have gotten that call while sipping an afternoon coffee and getting work done instead of driving home a sweaty, angry, flustered mess.

I don’t think it would be human of me to ask you to eliminate ALL of your reactions to the world and what it offers you. I do think we can actively surrender more often than we think we can and that, inevitably when we do, the outcome is often the same or better.
Repeat after me: Well. Ok. That’s how it is.
No matter the INJUSTICE, no matter the problem, no matter how COMPLETELY inappropriate it seems, surrender. Just try it for a day. See what happens.

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