Things That Are Good

Some days it can be hard to remember why we do the things we do. Why we didn't give up our children for adoption or file for disability 12 years ago. Some days it seems like all of the trying and the working and the struggling to Do The Right Thing only ends in one more disaster and another bad day. Some days there is no amount of positive thinking or gratitude to compensate for the mascara that you finally decided to wear and then promptly bawled all over your face. Some days just suck. 

The beauty of sucky days is that we would have no idea how Truly Awful they were if we didn't have the good days in between. The days when those kids we aren't sure we want anymore reached out and reminded us of the loveliness that is buried 10 issues deep inside of them. The good days when you can feel the gorgeousness that is You pouring out from deep within, even when you haven't showered and you realized the sweatpants you're wearing doubled as the dog bed last night. Our crappiest moments stand out because they are in stark contrast to that time when the kid you weren't sure would ever read got the high honor roll. Or the dog that can't be potty trained went for two whole days without pooping anywhere visible to surprise guests. We have days and days of bills paid on time and dinners cooked (however poorly received by ingrate teenagers) and not running out of gas on the way to work. We have those days and it makes the ones when Everything In the World Goes Wrong seem like utter hell. 

It isn't so much about having a half-empty or half-full glass. It's about having a glass. Something to put stuff into that can hold it all, whatever you've got for the time being, whether it's wine or Pepto-Bismol. You've got a container for all of the good, and the bad. And the "impurtities" that you'll skim off the top.  You've got a place to keep it all - a way to know whether it is good or bad for short term or long term or how the hell it fits in at all. You've got a glass called life. And sometimes it's all scuzzed over with dishwasher grime and unidentifiable substances and you can't stand to look at it, but sometimes it's crystal-sparkling clear and you can't remember ever wanting to slam that beautiful thing on the ground and shatter it into a million pieces, even though it was just yesterday. Or an hour ago. Lucky for us the glass changes. The shit filling it changes and the level fluctuates. But as long as there's a glass, we've got something, and if we didn't, where in the world would we put the beer?

I think tomorrow my glass will hold a Bacon Bloody Mary. It's only right. 

Things About Daughters


Things About Making It Better

Some days, everything is wrong. Just everything.

I know all of the routines about putting on gratitude and The Power of Positive Thinking, but some days, everything is wrong.

I know it's just the shadow of hurt and disappointment casting it's heavy darkness over the unforgiving demand of life.

I know that in the morning, or whenever the sun comes out next, everything will seem better.

I know that all of the things that seem MASSIVE and UNFIXABLE right now will resolve themselves somehow. They always do.

I know that no matter how unloved, unlovely and unlovable I feel in this moment, that someone, somewhere loves me, and it matters.

I know that ALL THE THINGS that need to be done and just aren't right are not that big of a deal.

But knowing doesn't make it better. I am not sure what does. I had a bad week. I don't even know where to start pulling it all back together, when the little things seem colossal and the big things seem absolutely insurmountable. Physically, mentally, emotionally I feel like I am sitting underneath a 50,000 pound bag of rocks that were designed specifically to Take Me Out. The only thing I can think to do is to take the rocks out one by one and laugh at them, chuck them over the side of sanity and move on.

Rock #1: (starting small) Dog pee under the table. Again. And who gives two shits if my house smells like dog pee. It could be worse. Like cat pee. Or carpet. Or in my bed. The constantly ready (because I never remember to dump it) mop bucket of pine sol is a temporary fix to an eternal problem - the Untrainable Wiener Dog.

Rock #2: $9.69 in my bank account and the immediate knowledge that the bills are coming in and I lost an entire week of work being gone this week. I know that I have checks coming in to cover it, but then there's next month, and the next, and more bills, and more broken things, and no dog food, and no gas, and not enough work... I can't even breathe. It NEVER STOPS, and it's all up to me to figure out. Every penny. Every light bulb. Every night under a roof and mile in a car. Every nugget of dog food and bottle of pine sol. Just me.  But it always works out. Somehow it does. I haven't even had to cash in the quarters in the jar on my headboard yet. It won't ever stop, but it WILL be OK.

Rock #3: Kids I can't control. They don't go where I want, feel what I need or help with much of anything. They are selfish, disrespectful and immature - and that's what makes them kids. And me the parent, with no idea how to deal with them. The older they get the harder and more painful it is. And that's when it's time for me to step out of the way of the train and they learn about real consequences, not the Wrath of Mom or Demon Mom Voice. But real life, and how much it can suck. I have to let it go, and decide how much support I can give in every different situation. Parenting is the absolute worst job in the world. It's thankless, excruciating and it pays crap. In my next life I am choosing a different career.

Rock #4: An arm I can't use from a shoulder that I can't fix until the next round of doctors approve the next round of treatment through the next round of insurance. At least now I have insurance, and a doctor, and maybe someday, an arm I can use again. The nagging pain I have been in all week is an awesome reminder of how I used to live every day in pain for several years, and now, it's a rare event. So I am thankful. But still, let's fix this.

Rock #6: I am lonely. Someone once said that when you feel the loneliest, that's when you most need to be alone. That statement made me angry until I thought about it. It seems like a good hug from someone or having a shoulder to lean on every night would fix everything, when really, those shoulders and hugs bring their own set of problems. Having a good cry about having nobody isn't much different from having a good cry about having someone hurt you. Maybe I need to be alone until I can appreciate not being alone even more. Like pain all the time... to remind you how good it is to not hurt when it finally stops. I don't believe in being alone, but it definitely believes in me, so I might as well make the best of it and find a new TV show to watch.

There are still so many rocks left in the bag. And I am so tired from carrying it. And I can't tell if I am actually getting rid of them or just labeling them. But I don't know where else to start, but I am thankful for solutions. And I believe that it will get better - as soon as the sun comes out, the pine sol cleans and the paychecks post. Feel good is right around the corner...

Things About Wenatchee

Once upon a time a girl who really couldn't afford it but had all this faith in The Good Things To Come, traveled to a far away land for a class about things she thought she might be good at. So much speculation in that sentence. Story of my life. It's really all about speculation. Wondering if THIS STEP is the Best Good Decision she has ever made or the Worst Mistake of Her Life. Ever unpredictable, the coin lands as it will, with the dashing prince that turns out to be a dud and the lost cause that becomes a best friend. But as the snowboard full of beer sits before me, and with the full knowledge that I will be able to pay at least for this One Last Supper, all is well.

This week I am in Wenatchee. I am learning how to be a Public Information Officer for all-hazard incidents for the federal government, which is to say they are teaching me how to avoid saying anything of traceable importance or litigatable fact to the surging media that appears on any major fire, flood, earthquake, terrorist attack or Black Friday sale. So far the only definite thing that I have learned is that when I am shot on video for an interview, I look exactly like my dad in a really bad wig (no offense dad, but it's a good thing you aren't a woman) #notphotogenic. It's a good thing I am really good at Twitter, and Facebook, and Writing All The Things.

Being in the town of Wenatchee, which is not only geographically, but culturally dead center between Bend, Oregon and Kettle Falls, Washington, I am forced to do what any self respecting single-woman/beer-loving/unpaid-employee would: seek out the breweries and conduct an experiment in awkward drink-alone situations and creative bar-tab justification. It's working, y'all. I am winning. Not only have I succesfully ruled out the chance that I will EVER appear before a video camera again, I have determined that for the dedicated beer drinker, the only true micro-brewery in Wenatchee is Badger Mountain Brewing. While Badger Mountain doesn't offer a full menu, in the Happy-Hour I spent there with 6 of their noteably good beers, the brewer/cook came out and chatted with me, because he's cool. Well worth the visit. Don't even waste your time at Columbia Valley Brewing since apparently their brewing apparatus broke down months ago and they forgot to tell anybody. Their food also leaves something to be desired, namely flavor, and the place smelled like Pine Sol, which is totally cool if you're in a nursing home. Saddle Rock Brewing, on the other hand, while making the most mouth watering calzone I have ever experienced (it is a full-on experience), offers only one SRB beer on tap, calling into question their viability as a "brewery". Let's go with "Awesome taphouse with a brewing hobby" instead. That's better. To be fair, the one beer is decidely good, even for an IPA, which most of you know is not my favorite. But the WVC (Wenatchee Valley College) 4.0 IPA is an easy, not-too-hoppy drinker, so most IPA die-hards will be dismayed. Upon further "research" involving a 12 beer sample flight and a burly, tattooed, red-headed waiter, it appears that SRB releases one brew a month in addition to their 11 guest beers. Turns out their 45 gallon brewing system is truly a platform for brewing experimentation. Potential for better days (and brews) ahead. I don't hate it, especially when the guest taps are from Ninkasi, Deschutes (including Not The Stoic?!?!?) and 21st Amendment, a brewery I had been itching to try.

So even if I don't make a very good camera-ready PIO, I know that I can Tweet the rest of them to shame, and if all else fails: BEER.

Things About Teaching

I have been subbing this whole week, which is good, since that means that I might be able to pay my bills next month, maybe. The cool thing about being a substitute teacher is that there is a  7/12 chance that I will be in one of my kid's or one of my not-kid's classrooms. This is met with any imaginable level of enthusiasm, ranging from "oh noooo (groan)" to high-fives in the doorway. Lucky for my self-esteem it's usually a happy mix of the two. Yesterday I told one of my (not) kids that I would take their test for them if they gave me one of their green chocolate chip cookies. I lied. But I got a cookie, so all-in-all, the breach in trust was worth it. I also recruited them to help write some stories for me, but since it was a English/Language Arts class, it seemed TOTALLY justifiable.

Today I got to teach a weightlifting class, which involved a couple of the "experienced" lifters from the senior class demonstrating their impressive muscles to the newbies. And I did 3 incline sit ups, which means I don't have to work out again, forever. Then in a history class that isn't really history but Current World Problems, we got to research conspiracy theories. The class was evenly divided between I-don't-give-a-crappers and Oh-my-gosh-did-you-know-Obama-is-actually-a-lizardman-alienners. I definitely lean more toward the lizard man side so I chose to ignore the crappers and read all about how Madonna and John Cusack are actually vampires. I am good at teaching this stuff. Also: did you know that Russia made their own Men In Black, but it's a documentary and therefore TOTALLY VERIFIABLE FACT?!?!?!? Aliens are real, y'all, and they are here.

Tomorrow I am back in SPED, and while I am dreading the poop fingers, I am relieved to be escaping the incline sit ups. I am not a fan of teaching any grade level of math, which is suddenly the only thing we do in SPED, apparently. So I am lobbying hard for a reassignment to Middle School, where the cookies are accessible and source-able (this is critical to avoid lethal exposure to all fecally communicated diseases).

The coolest thing about teaching at this school is that I live next door. This makes going home for lunch, a.k.a a nap, or a coke, or a handful of ibuprofen, super doable. It also means that I can look out almost any given window and see my house, and the bad dogs running around in the driveway, or the Mormon Missionaries that are knocking forlornly on my non-responsive door. The latter is unfortunate, since I have some serious raking projects in my yard that I could use some help with... they're always asking if there's anything they can do. I feel bad for never having anything, and then when I do, I am not even there to offer them reprieve from their boredom.

In spite of the obvious perks (?), all of this subbing has really cramped the escapist plans that I have been making since I got off of the prom bus Sunday at 3:27 AM. I was able to rush to town for a meeting last night, with grandiose plans after for green beers and shots of Jameson, but found myself home in bed by 9:30 like a good, responsible teacher. Working has also cut into my writing time, which means that the 37 stories I have to write this month will all be hammered out in about 1.5 days. To my editor (if I had one): I apologize preemptively. To the rest of you, if you want to hang out and drink wine and help me write 37 articles, not necessarily about Jesus or dinosaurs, hit me up. I will be awake all night.

Things About Sickness

I think I have cabin fever. Maybe I have kid fever. Maybe I just have a fever. Either way I am sick. Definitely sick of my "cabin". And several other things that make up the majority of my life. Like small children who stick their fingers in their underpants and then smell them and announce their displeasure therewith. WHY? My friends at work (school, that is) and I debate about which is the lesser of the 3 evils: Elementary, Middle or High School. Give me high school EVERY DAY. At least by then when the kids are (we won't debate if) sticking their hands in their pants they have arrived at the understanding that is socially unacceptable to demonstrate, smell and denounce publicly. Usually. I won't say we don't have some exceptions...

Relying on work as a substitute at the school comes with the knowledge that I am not at liberty to turn down shifts that are offered to me. A) there might not be any other work that month and B) the office might decide you're not reliable, never call you again, and you end up homeless on the street. With as disgusted as I am with my house right now, the second problem seems slightly less disconcerting than usual, except that we got snow up on the mountain yesterday. The mountain right outside my window.  So when they call, I go. Even when there is the distinct possibility that I might have the same stomach virus that kept Aspen puking the day before yesterday, and/or the same one that induced vomiting during the prom on Saturday night by a student on my bus, of course. He wasn't smelling his own puke at least. But he did take half of the high school boys outside to see it, because who doesn't want to test out newly acquired forensic skills by taking bets on what this kid's last meal was. Technicolor yawns never get old, y'all. Lucky for me, or not, I never vomit. Hardly ever. In fact, the only times I remember (<----key word) puking in recent history were emotionally induced. Like that one time that my husband left for reals. Or certain revelations about the activities of teenage daughters. But I win the fight with most viruses and rarely succumb to an intimate encounter with the porcelain throne. Which is good, since that sucker hasn't been cleaned in at least three eons (until today). No puking, so clearly I am fine to work. Even if my back feels like Chuck Norris tap danced across my lower lumbar and reduced all of my vertebrae to crumbs. I am fine to work. Of course. I would love to watch children rediscover the scent of their own butt crack all day. It's my favorite.

So I am sick. The only medicine that seems to be helping is a steady stream of 80s rock alternated with marathons of Criminal Minds. Because watching serial killers murder children makes poop fingers seem bearable - almost. My sanity revolves around the knowledge that I can and will escape the cabin and the poop fingers at some point this week to surface momentarily in the quasi-adult world of meetings, interviews, writing, and most importantly, beer. Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, which means I don't have to come home until all of the green beer is gone. From everywhere.

Hopefully that will make up for the toilet that I just was forced to clean. My favorite child, Noone, presumably with an upset stomach, decimated it. I had just finished reading a great story about a plane that had just taken off from London and was forced to turn around and re-land due to a "liquid fecal excrement" event in the lavatory that was apparently overtaking the entire flight. I feel your pain, airplane people. I want desperately to get off of my poop-laden flight, but there are no maintenance people to call in, and no free hotel nights while they take care of business. I am captain, concierge and liquid fecal excrement scrubber of this voyage to insanity. And supervisory poop finger washer. I wear many hats, y'all.

I am kind of sick of it.

Things About Harrison Ford

If you are a girl my age and you're not in love with Harrison Ford, there is something wrong with you. If you are a girl of any age and you don't know who Harrison Ford is - you poor thing. Here, let me help you:

Since the passing of the Man's Man, The Duke, The Quiet Man: John Wayne, there has not been another hero of the big screen that could exude heroic manliness with a side of rogue quite like Harrison Ford. Somewhere in the midst of all that, Sean Connery was working deftly behind the scenes to add his name to the list, immortalizing James Bond and definitively making a scottish accent HOT, and of course Christian Bale is a sweet boy, but Harrison Ford is without question, the Reigning Quintessential Male of my life. It's the crooked smile - that spark of mischief in his eye, the swagger of a man who knows how to work with his hands but prefers to work with his sharp wit and rampant charm to make stuff happen. It's the deadly combination of kick-your-ass and cuddle-on-the-couch. The keen intellectual crossed with the caveman protector instinct. Hero and Scoundrel, Testosterone and tenderness. It's everything a woman could possibly need.

Princess Leia didn't stand a chance, for all of her protests and feminist rhetoric, she was putty in the hands of the Scruffy Looking Nerfherder. Just enough trouble to activate the unavoidable tractor beam of a bad-boy, Han Solo was the epitome of "I'm gonna kiss you and you're gonna like it," as his predecessor the Duke was, leaving a trail of breathless, swooning girls behind him.

Semi-intellectual college girls everywhere were weak in the knees when Indiana Jones introduced the world to a messy-geek-heartthrob and dictated the outcome of my whole life. I was less than 12 years old when I resolved to find the Arc of The Covenant, which we all know was a clever guise for my pursuit of the dashing Doctor Jones. I don't remember when I accidentally saw The Raiders Of The Lost Ark for the first time, but it was with my not-homeschooled cousins in Walla Walla in my granparent's upstairs and my mom and dad would NOT have been happy. All that face-melting business was a bit traumatic for my G rated movie experience level, but the swashbuckling and brilliant Harrison Ford defined forever what a man should be for me.

Maybe Harrison Ford is the reason that I am single today. Still searching for my Han Solo/Indiana Jones/Jack Ryan superhero with genius intellect and a heart of gold. Maybe nothing else will do. And why should it? If there are Harrison Fords out there flying vintage WWII airplanes into the ground at 72, why would I settle for anything less?

Things About Clothes, Part II

I finally managed to get some laundry detergent and after minimal procrastinating, got all of my laundry caught up. And by caught up I mean washed, mostly dried and piled so high in the one empty basket in the laundry room that I couldn't successfully relocate it without making 18 trips. "Catching up" laundry has absolutely nothing to do with folding it, I realized about 16 years ago when I had two small children and finding something that had been washed was nothing short of a miracle: folding and putting away be damned. Since the kids were almost as excited as I was to have detergent, their "caught up" laundry started to encroach upon mine, so I was forced to move the mountain to the next most logical place: my bed. Dirty clothes go on the floor, clean on the bed. This is a well established ritual in the life of Single Girl Liv. I like to sleep next to the pile and imagine it's a large man cuddling with me. A large, cold and unaffectionate man made up of jeans and t-shirts and socks. Someone once suggested that I put my clothes away where they "actually" go, and after a few moments of confusion when I finally figured out that they weren't talking about the floor, I told them how lonely my bed would be without my clean laundry on it. And if I didn't keep my dirty clothes on the floor, there would be nowhere for the wiener dogs to build a fort to sleep in. This is how I adult.

But after the other day and a ruthless conversation with my closet,  I have this pile of clothes that I want to get rid of. In the past I have done quite well selling my old clothes on eBay or the classifieds or wherever, but lately I have spent so much time judging the crappy clothes that other people sell in such a manner, that I am terrified to list my junk for the same public ridicule. And I am so busy hating all of my clothes that I am fairly certain everyone else will too. So the pile stares at me from a corner of my room and lures the wiener dogs into it's depths. And the longer it sits, the greater the chance that I will remember that one sweater that I put in there, and dig it out for an outfit. First world problems, you guys. I need to just swallow my materialistic pride and get rid of this crap, yo.

More importantly, and speaking of materialistic - my new boots showed up. This means the beginning of a whole new Liv, the cultivation of the Bohemian Tomboy, the end of black hoodies and Uggs - or at least the occasional reprieve. Right off the bat my daughter and a couple friends were jealous, so I will take that as a win for Liv's Fashion Sensibility. I wore them around the house for awhile and they definitely made me feel cooler. Which is saying a lot since cool has not been my middle name lately. But who doesn't feel awesome wearing Frye Boots and making chicken enchiladas for dinner? Best of all - they are SUPER comfortable - I can't wait to try them out for an entire day and see how my back does. I am sure these are the cure all I have been looking for. Now that I have clean clothes to wear them with I am golden.

Things About Having A Cold

I kept telling people that I was sick. Everybody else was, and it seemed silly that I wouldn't be coming down with it, especially when Aiden was dying of the plague and drank out of my cherry pepsi at the movie - or when Andrea pulled that one giant booger out of Calvin's nose and we aren't sure where it ended up. There is no way to avoid exposure, and hence, succumbing to the various and assorted community diseases going around. But for all of the times I have said: "yep, this is it. I am finally going down!" so far this year I haven't fallen prey to anything.

Yesterday I started to really feel it. I woke up with that thick stuff in the back of my throat and the sense of impending doom. But, having cried wolf often enough this year I decided to keep it to myself. Plus I had consumed enough beer the night before and danced for A Very Long Time, and it was hard to tell where those aches and pains stopped and the viral ones began. But this morning the telltale drip onto my pillow of an unstoppable nose sealed the deal. This time for reals, I am going down. It's almost a relief. Like giving into an inevitable death that has just taken it's sweet frakking time.

The thing about a good old fashioned head cold is that it makes you notice All of The Bad Things In Your Life that you didn't notice before. Suddenly the daily suffering you do is highlighted by an accompanying misery. Like the entirely long walk from my bed to the couch. It's insufferable. I thought I would never get here. And how cold the tap water is. It's like the water nymphs of Northport are trying to kill me with brain freeze. Or how flipping heavy a bag of pellets is. Brutal. Life is especially hard when you have a cold. The tap-tap-tapping of my keyboard keys and the snoring of an old hound dog are like machine gun fire raining down from a 747 about ten feet over my head. Why are you all so loud? And since when? My legs muscles and butt muscles and those little tiny muscles just above my hips that I had no idea existed are screaming at me about the folly of a dance marathon on the night before Viral Invasion.

Soon, Aspen will be home from school to practice her violin. My eyes and ears are already bleeding in anticipation. And thank goodness there are two weeks worth of leftovers for dinner because cooking would be unthinkable. I was able to get the rest of my stories written with only a few tears this morning, but I did quit an entire job because it just seemed like WAY TOO MUCH now that I have a cold. (Don't worry, it wasn't lucrative) Even my sweatpants are offensive today. They either squeeze my ankles or they aren't soft enough. I managed to put a bra on to go to the post office and remember why life in the outside world just isn't worth living. One more push today to deliver a check next door and then I am out. It's all about top ramen and Criminal Minds and probably some saltines if they aren't too crunchy - and since those are pretty much my favorite things in the whole world, it turns out that I don't actually mind having a cold after all. :)

if you need me I'll be right here, with Truck. 

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