did I meet a murderer?

I went to a friend’s house for dinner tonight, and one woman was explaining why she decided to reconnect the cord and sign back up for cable (namely because it was a bundled deal that would make internet + cable TV cheaper than internet + streaming services).

A man then went on to explain he would refuse to ever do that because of a long-standing beef against the cable company, in which he was slapped with an $800 debt that belonged not to him, but to a different man with the same name in the same apartment complex. His name is uncommon enough that it would be seem that would be incredibly unlucky for him – his last name isn’t as common as Smith or Jones – but not so unique that you’d be completely able to dismiss that as completely impossible. So he moved in only to find the cable company had mailed him a notice that the $800 debt had been handed over to a collections agency, it ended up on his credit report, and was a huge pain in the ass.

But here’s the thing. After all of that, it turns out that’s not even close to the worst case of mistaken identity he’s been through.

A few years later, it turns out that the police called upon him to come in for questioning. He had no idea what that could be about, but it turns out that there is another man with the exact same name wanted for murder. He explained how insane it was that there were these (very unfortunate) coincidences. His name, year of birth, and even where he lived in California before Arizona, all the same. He was able to explain it all away and obviously the police have given up on him being a murderer, but how many (ahem, white) people does this happen to??

I turned to My Better Half and whispered: “Alternate theory: the guy sitting next to us, he is the murderer guy they’re looking for.”

Let’s Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We? (Part 2)

When last I wrote about figuring out how to get Dawdler Preschooler into a preschool, as in a “real” preschool, not the “preschool” room at her daycare, which is where she currently is, we were practically driven to drink by demystifying all the horribly disorganized information provided by the district. We have finally made a *little* progress, so an update. Spoiler: it’s still nearly impossible to get through the red tape of getting information.

Whenever we call to ask a question about something that’s unclear from the crazy disorganized and inconsistent information that is scattered across the district website, individual school websites, and the state department of education website, we get asked “Have you checked the website?”UGH.

We have narrowed it down to 3 preschools that have certified early childhood education teachers AND an after-school program. Y’know, for those of us who don’t consider 7:40-11:40 a HALF DAY and have to keep working past 11:40. But when we try to schedule tours of each, we were told “Since the curriculum is the same at every district preschool, you have to choose one to tour.” Uh, so entirely dismissing the critical point that the individual teachers and their levels of experience and commitment making all the difference in the world? Eh, any teacher will do as long as they follow the provided curriculum and lesson plans, I guess. (Sarcasm, in case that’s not crystal clear).

Even better though: one of those 3 options gives families a choice between a “traditional” preschool and a Montessori environment. So, maybe we should schedule our one and only tour at that one? “Okay, that’s fine. You’ll schedule your preschool tour with us, and then let me give you the number of this ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEPARTMENT to schedule a SEPARATE TOUR of the Montessori class environment.” Oh, lovely. Two different people to call. And they can’t coordinate tours on the same day because WHY WOULD YOU?

But wait. So once we schedule our SEPARATE tours of the preschool and Montessori at the same school and want to talk with and observe the after- or before-school care (depending on if she goes to morning or afternoon preschool), that is scheduled, can you guess? By a third, entirely distinct department, here let me give you the number to schedule a tour with OMG, just STOP.

We’ll just save ourselves a crap load of time and headache and logistical nightmares and decide here and now to unschool? Let’s just roll with that. I might as well put all this time & energy of tracking district contacts down and returning messages and waiting on people to schedule tours into planning out her K-12 curriculum.

Kidding!

Sort of.

 

duct taping it all together

Here it is just after Labor Day and I have no idea where summer went. Oh, wait, I live in PHX so for all intents & purposes, it’s still here, sticking its ugly thumb in my eye until at least Halloween. But the “fall” semester descended upon us a couple of weeks ago, and it is the. last. fall. semester. ever.

Or it was supposed to be.

My Better Half™ was supposed to graduate in December. Now that’s up in the air. His committee needs time to read the thousand pages he’s written or some sh*t like that. Can’t they just nod and go to their happy place like I do and sign something that says “yeah, whatever, sounds good, nice work!”? The point is that the patience that I had allocated to get me through one last semester of nonstop thinking anxiety about what the job market will hold for him and him stressing 24/7 about final edits and graphics and keeping up with all the department and graduation paperwork, and Oh yeah that whole what the F*CK to do after graduation needs to be spread out even more. Our idea that we would be able to reclaim more work-life balance and spend more time together as a family doing fun stuff has been pushed out to an even more distant horizon.

I’ve been doing my best to deal with that. Deep down I’m pissed. But deep, DEEP down, I’m still pissed but also part of me is the tiniest bit relieved that he won’t graduate until May because 1) it will look less bad to not have a job a year from now when you’ve only been unemployed since May (on paper anyway) and 2) the job market BLOWS so who cares? What’s the rush? The past couple of years, the academic job market has been great solidly not sucky in his field. If you’re a bioarchaeologist. (He’s not). This year it seems to be decent marginally not sucky if you’re a cultural anthropologist. (He’s not). But it doesn’t stop my brain from leaping ahead and connecting the dots unnecessarily. When the job alerts that we’re subscribed to come in, I find myself going “would I even entertain living THERE? what about our house, what about our kids, what about my job?” before I even get to “Desired Qualifications: Active research agenda in race and ethnicity, sociolinguistics, and award winning publications in the economic exchange systems of Sons of Anarchy.” I mean, come ON! Now if it were just Game of Thrones Beheadings he’d stand a chance… But at least the piecing together consulting + adjuncting work here is the devil we know, the job market is a complete unknown.

What’s made all that harder even still to deal with has been just a lot of adjustments in my personal life. This time around, I’m really feeling the isolating effects of having a baby. Part of it is I have very little energy left over after a long workday & two kiddos 3 and under, so I can’t summon the energy to think about what there is to go do, nevermind go do it. I’m just tired. All. The. Time. Also, just the timing of where our kids are at socially. Baby is at the peak of separation anxiety and requires being held at all of the times. So it’s just not all that fun to go out with them – I have to hold him. And when we do go out, Dawdler Toddler Preschooler stands frozen in place, clinging to my legs because she’s around “strangers” (i.e., anyone she doesn’t live with), so I can maybe get in 90 seconds of adult conversation at a time. And we almost never, EVER get to go out without them – it’s just too much money for a sitter when you’re only one full-time income and have 2 kids in daycare and no family nearby to dump the kids off with. I think we’ve been out once without the kids since Baby was born. Which will be a year ago in 3 weeks. (Or should I also count the time we used a sitter for us to have a date night the night I was IN THE HOSPITAL GIVING BIRTH? So twice then?)

Part of it is just the rhythm of life with a baby (not just particular to our current financial & geographical circumstances). You find yourself housebound when the baby’s asleep. In other words during the very same block of time you could be getting something done, you’re stranded inside your home seeing as Child Protective Services doesn’t look too kindly on leaving the little ones at home alone while you run errands. Thank God for the interwebz…but there’s only so much shopping and reading and movie watching you can get done online. Amazon’s not all that convenient when it’s milk you need FOR YOUR COFFEE or library books to return. And when you can venture forth, you’re got a little person (or in my case, two) attached at the hip, so heading to that new movie you’re dying to see or out with friends for a beer is not in the cards. And even if you can get out every once in awhile, social things can just be such a pain in the ass when you have to lug around a diaper bag stuffed with diapers, changes of clothes, hats, sunscreen…I’m cranky just typing a list never mind hauling it all around. As a result, all my “free” time becomes the spare moments I have for errands + gym + fun. In other words: no time left for fun 99% of the time.

And do I even need to mention life in Arizona during the summer? It might be fall where you are, but here it’s still 109 out there. Or so I hear, since I am too scared to peek out through the blackout curtains. People hole up indoors and/or take a bunch of time off to get the hell away from the Death Star. It should go without saying that I’ve been avoiding Face-stagram all summer because I’m seething with jealousy at all my friends’ trips to California, Hawaii, the beach, hikes in Flagstaff, and everywhere else that isn’t 109. So between the isolation of being at home with Baby and being indoors while it seems like the ENTIRE rest of the world is out having a blast has taken its toll. I guess while much of the rest of you get seasonal affective disorder from gray wintry days, I get it here from all the sun. I like a nice sunny day here & there. But it’s hard to appreciate when you’re living on the surface of the sun. It is relentless – brandishing a hole in my retinas and a deep resentment in my skin expressed by eleventeen million new freckles every month. I need weather. I need seasons. I could more easily accommodate living here if I ever got to escape and experience weather that would make me more appreciative of what I’d be coming back to. But since we’re still living the grad school life, there are no funds to get us out of here from time to time. Since I’m long winded today, I’ll also save you the details of our car troubles, too. As in: much of the summer spent WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING in our one and only functioning vehicle. Bottom line: it’s hard to get out of the house, which feels really isolating.

You know what else feels isolating? Not being in sync with your friends. Our closest friends have all moved in the last 2 years. Every. Last. One. And now I’m struggling with knowing where to find our kind of peeps. We find ourselves gravitating more and more towards hanging out with the parents of our Dawdler Toddler Preschooler’s friends because if nothing else, they get the whole kids thing. The whole there is a naptime and a bedtime, and it’s tough to get out during those times and no, we can’t wait til 11-ish on a Sunday at a hip restaurant for an hour to have breakfast because we’d all be dying from our kids’ whining us to death from low blood sugar. I’ve been trying to make new friends at work. And, uh. Yeah, see? That’s about the only place I go besides the gym. But, it’s slow and hard, and y’know, just takes time even when you do make a work friend. Which I haven’t really yet.

So I’ve been holding it all together. Trying to just make my way from work to the gym to daycare. Repeat. It’s been going o-kaaayyyyy, I guess, but not great. I think that all of these things will get better soon. But I just don’t know when “soon” is.

Let’s Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We?

A conversation in our house this morning:

Me: “…so the bottom line is, yes, Dawdler Toddler can start preschool next month, & there’s still availability, we just have to decide which of the 10 preschools in the district we want her to go to.”

My Better Half™: “why not just the one in walking distance to which we are zoned?”

Me: “No preschool there.”

My Better Half™: “So just send her to the closest one in our district that has a preschool.”

Me: “oh, sure. You’d think it would be that easy. But here’s the tricky part: preschool in our district is 4 days a week…no school on Wednesdays…and you choose the morning half day, which ends at 11:20 OR the afternoon half day that ends at 3:20…”

My Better Half™: “…can’t you just do both to get a full day that’s 8:20-3:20? Even though that’s NOT A FULL DAY at anybody’s work?!”

Me: “…no, because it’s exactly the same school day, just repeated twice.”

My Better Half™: “…so what are we supposed to do with her after the morning or before the afternoon? And ALL DAY EVERY Wednesday?”

Me: “…that’s an even bigger question. So there’s a before/after school program for those of us who, I dunno, work and stuff? But it’s only offered at some of the 10 preschools. There is one full-day option – it’s a Montessori multi-age classroom, but that’s only at 1 of the 10 preschools… and we’d be committing to the Montessori track…which I’m not sure I’m on board with…and anyway we would have had to registered forever ago because there’s a waitlist for that.”

My Better Half™: “…okay, so I guess we do the preschool that’s closest to us AND has one of these before/after school programs.”

Me: “…agreed. So now we get to the next question. Of the preschools that also have the before/after school programs, which of those do we want her to go to Kindergarten at?”

My Better Half™: “…okay, now you’re just talking crazy. She’s only 3!”

Me: “…yeah, I know. But here’s the thing: Since our elementary school, the one in walking distance, doesn’t have a preschool, she can either go to preschool wherever we choose and then switch at kindergarten to where we’re zoned OR continue on to kindergarten wherever we send her to preschool. There’s this thing where if your elementary school doesn’t have a preschool, and as a result you send your kid to a district preschool somewhere else, you can choose to continue on at that school where she started for kindergarten & elementary – y’know, so your kid doesn’t have to make all new friends at a new school all over again. So it’s really a question of where do we want her to ultimately go to kindergarten & elementary school.”

Both of us: <banging head on counter>

Me: “…and there’s actually kinda significant differences in curriculum & in quality in the different district elementary schools that also have preschools so…”

—-

Is it absolutely bonkers that we’re talking about WHERE TO SEND OUR JUST-TURNED-3-YEAR-OLD to kindergarten?! Is this INSANE or normal these days? Hard to tell…

Vacation recap

Yesterday was my last day of vacation staycation off. I just don’t know what to call it. It’s probably no secret that a vacation with two kids 3 and under is hardly restful, so while calling it a vacation is wrong, even the “-cation” part of staycation just rubs me the wrong way. Here are some handy reminders that I may need to review when planning our next trip to ensure sanity next time around:

  • If at all possible, avoid making the first day of your time off a 19 hour day of packing, travel with the two kids 3 & under, trying to coax the two kids to sleep in unfamiliar beds and surroundings, and picking up all members of the party.
  • When hiking, make sure none of the children goes too far ahead, potentially selecting the wrong trailhead. You know, that one that goes 600 miles to the Mexican border? Avoid that happening.
  • Keep in mind that all sightseeing road trips are for everyone else. You will be spending every stop feeding a child, calming a child, or helping a child use the bathroom.
  • But fear not! You will have plenty of time to sightsee blue skies and trees from inside while you man your station at the kitchen sink, where you will be stranded doing dishes for 9 people, 4 of whom graze throughout the day, requiring an endless supply of clean dishes.
  • Be sure and eat out as much as possible at restaurants you’ve been dying to try. Because restaurants are tons of fun with kids 3 & under, am I right?! You may not get to eat the food you ordered your Better Half selects for you (because you’re not given the chance to read a menu nor are you around when orders are taken) until hours later but you’ll be sure to enjoy the ambiance of the potties, on account of the parade of children who decide one after another, but never simultaneously, that a trip to the potty is necessary.
  • Bring a bottomless supply of coffee because you will get no naps. None.
  • And/Or bring benadryl for the children.
  • And/Or BYOB. So you can doctor up your coffee so you can prevent yourself from becoming a total witch to your family. You won’t be going anywhere most days anyway.
  • The day your time off ends, you will get to go to bed at 6:00 p.m., though and sleep a glorious 11 hours. And it will not be enough.

Smells like bacon

Me: I hate these spray sunscreens. I just don’t think they protect at all. I feel like I’m just sizzling. Like they just seem like cooking oil or something, they’re so oily.

My Better Half™: So do you think they just repackage Spam & throw a sunscreen label on the bottle?

Me: Pam. Not spam. Not an aerosolized pork product.

Yup, this one’s about the weather

Today is a nearly-May miracle. It’s been only 72 and it’s rainy-ish.

Let me repeat that. Seventy two degrees.

Look, I get how perfect that might sound to you, Dear Readers, who may still be mired in winter. In fact, some of our friends came in town this weekend *because* they couldn’t stand yet another snowstorm and so decided at the last second to come here. They’ve invited us over to their hotel to hang by and in the pool all weekend. Here’s how that conversation went:

But it’s freezing!

“What are you talking about, it’s 70 degrees today and supposed to be almost 90 tomorrow!”

Like I said, freezing.

Maybe unless you’ve lived in a climate like this, it’s hard to relate to loving rainy, gray days as a byproduct of hating so much sunshine & warmth. But I do. (And I’m not alone.)

So while they’re hanging in shorts & swimsuits, I’ll be inside, curled up on the couch under a blanket, sipping hot coffee, and watching a movie with the Dawdler.

(un)lucky day

Today is my lucky day. I came thiiiiiiiis close to somebody T-boning me on my way to work. I had just pulled out of my driveway and started driving to work past my neighbors’ and was just starting to look for something to listen to when

WHOA!

HEY!

OHMYGOD!

This car comes backing out (at great speed, mind you) with no regard whatsoever to me being RIGHT. THERE. Like RIGHT THERE. I was so busy swerving that I didn’t have time to react and find the horn.

Whew!

Wait a minute.

You mean I came thiiiiiiiis close to getting my car totaled? My piece of shit car that I have come to despise and pray for it to die peacefully in its sleep (as opposed to violently on the side of the interstate)? And it would have happened in an accident that would’ve left me completely unharmed and been 100% somebody else’s fault? And I would’ve gotten an insurance check (cha-ching!) for someone to take the piece of shit* off my hands?

Goddamnit!

This is not my lucky day.

—-

* Full disclosure: I realize that in the grand scheme of things this would not actually have solved any problems. a) My car is not entirely a piece of shit. It has, after all, loyally and unquestioningly given me 13 solid years, 177,000+ miles, and at least two epic cross-country road trips from AZ to TN & back. But it passed its prime long ago for sure. It has been overheating daily for at least three weeks. It is too small to hold the Toddler’s Dawdler’s carseat because the power seat, long ago broken, will not move forward enough to accommodate it. In fact it *barely* accommodates Baby’s carseat. And then there’s cosmetic issues, not the least of which is that its coat, once a lustrous jet black, is now speckled gray metal molting tiny threads of black paint that get stripped off daily thanks to 13 years in Arizona. Basically it looks like it walked off the set of Mad Max. In 1980.

But also b) then I would have no car as we cannot afford a new one. Where new = new to me only. Especially because insurance writes you a check for the value of the car as it is today, not the price of a new (even new to me) car. Which in my case is about $1400, give or take. In other words, I could buy a sweet ass bike for that! Which would be delightful in 120 degrees. Between daycare for two children under the age of 3 and My Better Half™’s being chronically underemployed and woefully underpaid…there’s just no way.

So I’ll reluctantly call it a lucky day.

Unfiltered Thoughts: Halloween Costume edition

I like to say that I suck at coming up with Halloween costumes. And I do, but every once in awhile I have a good idea. It’s just that it comes at the wrong time. In this case, either 6 months too late or 6 months too soon, depending on how you look at it.

What is it? We take the top off the bike trailer, thus transforming it into a convertible. Whoever is the cyclist (me or My Better Half™) dresses like a horse, and the Toddler stands in it as a Roman Gladiator. Or, I suppose Katniss Everdeen, if you want a more contemporary analogy.

Probably unsafe. But you gotta admit, it’s a good one! Remind me of this in about 4 months, would you?

 

 

 

Election Day

Today is election day, and I am thrilled. Not that we get to exercise our right to vote – although it is heartwarming to see the lengths that folks are going to in the wake of Sandy to exercise that right. But back to me, what I’m excited about is the end to an endless campaign. I’m over the robocalls, the mailbox full of campaign junk, the emails, and the ads. Dear God, the ads. I’ve forgone tv entirely for netflix for at least a month. Ever watch an entire TV series in one weekend? Cuz I have! (You totally should, by the way).

When the Republican primaries started, Baby wasn’t even born. Now, look at her:

toddler-running-halloween

She walks, she runs, she eats with a spoon. She’s even uttered at least 3 sentences (“Hi Kitties!”, “Me up please!” and “Me and Daddy!”). Pretty self-centered, isn’t she?

But back to the election. Every time election year YEARS roll around I lose my mind thinking about all of the money that gets poured into an election. If you want to hurl, click here to see the 2012 numbers. Actually, I’ll save you the math: Billions. Much of it inevitably wasted on the losing candidate. Imagine what could happen if those billions were spent not on nasty slurs and negative ads but on positive change. And I’m not talking Obama here. I’m talking about the potential impact that kind of money would make on the lives of individuals, families, and in communities if it were directed as charitable contributions to nonprofits intsead…