I Thought it Would be the Chickens

We narrowed our choice of schools for first grade down to two – our public school or the up-to-8th-grade Montessori school in town. We’re huge Montessori fans, finding that it provides a beautiful trellis for RR to send her shoots up and wind her roots around. While I’m not deeply knowledgeable about Montessori in the elementary years, I know my child, at least right now, and, for now, the method fits her.

But. I’m a tremendous fan of public schools and public school teachers and, after all, there is no tuition for public school. So off we went for a tour.

Depending on the angle, I could probably list dozens of pros and cons for RR about the public elementary. This is one of those touchy things, right? Like how you choose to diaper and feed an infant. The reasonable folks live and let live (or at least keep their gentle judging to themselves) but the important part is that it’s right for your family. After the tour and a lot of soul searching on our end it just isn’t right. Except the cost. The cost is right. I love my paycheck. I wish we could see each other more often.

Here’s what I think RR will take from continuing in Montessori. She will be able to continuing learning the way she has begun. Her pace will be individual to her. She will work in a garden or feed the chickens as part of her day. She will learn to be a mediator. She will have an art studio and music studio. As she gets older, she and her peers will plan their own field trips related to their work, make their own reservations, arrange their own transportation. She will bake and deliver food to retirement communities, do community service, participate in city council meetings.

I thought it would be the chickens that won me over. It wasn’t. It was the capable children running a store, tending a row, baking bread. It was the first grade classroom learning geometry and building complex paper boxes. It was the little girl who muttered to herself I want to draw now… what will I draw? and then thumbed through a tremendous pile of how to books. It was the Head of School saying we let them learn the hard lessons…we don’t step in to save them. It was the little boy who was having a moment and when the only visible adult briefly removed him to gather his composure it was inconsequential to the rest of the room. No one stopped working. No one paid any attention. No one leaned over to giggle and point with another child.

That’s where I’m sending my paycheck. You know those fairy tales where the price is always your first born child? Well, turns out in a way that’s true. It also turns out it’s a price we’re willing to pay.


Things I Didn’t Expect To Say

Whose pee is that?

And honestly not know.

Because there are multiple culprits.

And I’ve said it more than once today.






This Is Actually About Nothing At All

I’m sure this never happens to you. An utter traffic jam of thoughts, none of which can squeak past any of the others onto the page. Sometimes I manage to jot a note on a sticky pad when I get to work only to find out that I’ve forgotten what it means when it’s time to write. Like the bright pink one that said only “JAM”

Other thoughts get as far as my phone where I tap them out without editing and rarely ever go back to them, usually because they are incoherent or because they are the sorts of things that were better left unsaid to begin with, like this gem:

noteJealousy is super adorable, isn’t it?

And then there are the questions I mean to answer for myself but then decide those thoughts are too self-indulgent, too dark, or too without answers and so I don’t begin. For example:

Why is my co-worker such an asshole?
Why don’t I like to cook anymore?
How do other people manage to go to the gym, have supper with their family, and read stories without getting having to go at 8pm?
Is this just what life is?
Why is the Great British Baking Show so soothing?

I have a running list of cancer items, of course, but I get so tired of sobbing every time I let my mind slide around them and, since we’re friends, I feel like you deserve a break from the oceans of tears. At the top of that list is a post likely titled “WHY THE FUCK DID YOU THINK FRANKINCENSE OIL WOULD CURE A BRAIN TUMOR?” but I’ll probably dial it back to “RESEARCH IS AN ACTUAL THING YOU GUYS!”

I’ve got other things that fall into the category of venting:

My sister’s recent visit. My other sister’s upcoming visit. How I’m totally turning into my mother. I’m incapable of taking care of myself. Work is hard. Life is expensive.

And then there are the things this place is, at least superficially, about, like RR’s parent-teacher conference wherein we all learned that the sum total of RR’s life is Art. I am parts delighted by her dedication to turning out one drawing after another and concerned that all of the drawings are the same. Don’t worry, I have slightly less creepy photographic evidence. Also, asking for advice on teaching her to ride a bike (as in, this child has never agreed to try to pedal anything, not even a tricycle). And updates on the Search for a First Grade which is not as easy as you’d think and involves a fair amount of patience with ones wife* and school administrators. That list item drags behind it a whole host of controversial musings on testing, after school care, taxes, Public School, city practices for special needs children, The Smell, arts funding, and money.

*Me. I suspect that I can only moan “but who is RR, really?” so many more times before my wife simply enrolls her somewhere without telling me.

Misbehaving Neurons

Anxiety is a beast. Some days I feel like I’m standing at the foot of a giant dam and the wall is there, yes, but so is the weight of all that water pressing and pushing and seeking a crack. Some days I don’t notice the dam looming up there. Some days I just go about my business knowing it’s there but that it’s completely safe. Some days, I’m almost out of the flood zone.

elwha-river-damSome days I could give a fuck.

500642501Sometimes I’m the one that’s fucked.

maxresdefaultToday was a looming day. Water sweating from behind concrete. The things that make tiny puddles on the good days (making a phone call, finding a bug in my hair, talking to someone new) turn into lakes around my ankles. People like us have coping mechanisms. In my case it’s a mix of medication, meditation, movement, sleep, my family. When any one of those things slips a little (and it doesn’t even have to GO, just slip a smidge), the others come toppling after. I don’t have any room for slipping. Keeping the water behind the wall is constant vigilance.

I was struck by this video today, particularly the first quote. Also, the little clicking noises of the neurons are pretty cool, too. Especially since I was up half the night alternately being anxious and then anxiously scolding myself for not being able to stop being anxious. I don’t fully know how to rewire my own brain (or I’d have done it by now) but I killed several minutes happily trying to understand.

“So I always used to get anxiety. Then I would get anxiety about getting anxiety. It was anxiety all the way down.”


We get the paper because I like to do the crossword. I read the comics because they sometimes make us laugh. The comics and the crossword bracket Dear Abby and the horoscopes, so I read those too, often out loud, usually because they are funnier than the comics. For three days running, my horoscope (or one of them, depending on whose dates you use) has suggested I update my resume.


What’s worse, my wife has also suggested I update my resume because pretty much all I do each morning is open my eyes, put my foot on the gas, and then white-knuckle it through the day. The litany is long: Promotion, check. More people to supervise, check. Raise? Negative. Things are unpleasant. People are unpleasant. I’m not a helpless person. I always believe there’s another choice and I would be updating that resume. Except I’m pretty sure my family has enough on our plates right now.

Which turns me into this person:

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 9.23.31 PMUpdates: Dad sounded better today. Better. After a blood-clot-in-the-lung scare (I KNOW), they opted to delay their trip (I KNOW!) and stay at home to recover. He now has a recliner that boosts him up so that he can get to his feet on his own and his general quality of life seems a bit improved. We came home today to a dog that is inexplicably not using his front leg and RR had a tick embedded in her back. She screamed so loud for so long the neighbor came out into the street.

Left Eye Lopes (Five Dollar Complaints #6, #7, #8)

Readers, you need either a thank you or apology up front. I realize this place, which I consider to be more of a front porch sit on a hot afternoon with a glass of tea than anything else, has been more of a hospital visit on a cold, sleety, Tuesday in February. Yeah, I don’t want to be there either. I’m glad you still come and visit though, because I sure as hell need to hear my own voice even if I don’t like what’s coming out of my mouth. And you are very, very good listeners. I will bake you cookies.

At dinner on Saturday, my father said three things in my earshot.
“Hi kiddo”
“I love you”And a chuckle when RR told her favorite joke (What do you call a snake on a car? A windshield viper.)

This may have been because he was barely breathing as his cold/pneumonia/something persists nearly three weeks later. My mother says to me, “Well what’s the point of taking him to a doctor. I mean, their job is to make you better and they can’t do that, so what’s the point?” (That’s five dollars for #6, thanks, I’ll just owe you) You know, there IS still a point. You could keep him alive a bit longer. Or, at least, see if you can get him breathing again. Respiratory illnesses actually kill people. This is a known fact. Perhaps this is a good reason not to take a cross-country trip on Tuesday.

They were at our house on Saturday because Debra and I were planning to spend the day on an adventure, leaving RR with them. Come Saturday morning, my mother remembered this as going to see a movie in the late afternoon. “Come at 5”, I said, giving up the struggle. Grouchily, as Debra will tell you. Come at 5. They arrived at 3:45. Long enough for chatting, but not long enough to go anywhere. Given that I had been through a full 4 different plans to celebrate my wife’s birthday, this was just another drop in the bucket (#7).

My mother, who needs someone to talk to because I cannot imagine what it must be like to live her life right now, joined me in the kitchen. I actually can’t imagine it because of the ugly sobbing (mine) that follows. Oh you know, she says, thanks for letting me rest at your house this week. You know, those eye drops really made it hard to see. I inquire. Oh yes, I can’t see out of my left eye anymore, she says covering her right eye for effect. You see, you’re not there at all anymore! Says the woman who is hoping to drive 500 miles a day for the next three days, hauling a beast of an RV behind her (#8).

So, there you have it. Numbers 6-8. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But now I have to figure how to get you to come over to listen to my work problems. Or maybe the ugly sobbing problems. Or my wifely duty problems. I’ll bribe you with pictures of my daughter but I won’t blame you if you have to stay home and wash your hair, instead.

As for those cookies:


A Better Times Bookmark

You know what you should do when every single day feels like a battle? Get this cat. Or that artist. Either will do. Consider fat cat Sol a reminder to write about better times.



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