How does it feel when you’re out on your own?*

September 4, 2009

We interrupt this extended hiatus to bring you…

… Connor’s first day of school. As you can see, he was totally ready:

I, however, was less prepared for the separation. I chose to deal with it by staying awake worrying for the entire night before, leading me to make this face at ass o’clock this morning:

He loved it, of course. Can’t wait ’til Tuesday.

*The GooGoo Dolls


Big Box of Garden!

May 4, 2009

So, that happened. I thought the big box was a lost cause, but my mom totally saved it at the last minute (meaning yesterday) by providing good soil and cow poop to fill it up. I planted this afternoon, and I’ll be adding more tomatoes next week — as well as planting cucumbers in a huge plastic tub, as I did last year. This is going to be awesome; if you want to keep up, this year’s garden album is here, and I seem to write/photograph garden stuff a lot on Twitter.

Damn, I’m excited. Last year’s paltry little container garden went from this to this with a side of this; this year’s garden has 32 cubic feet of high-quality amended soil in which to spread. My goal is to grow a 5-ft tomato plant and/or harvest over 200 tomatoes by summer’s end. Oh, and to spend every single summer morning with dirt under my fingernails. Mmmm.

As an aside, how cool is it that last year’s planting and this year’s planting occurred exactly a year and a day apart? And also, how lame is it that my grass is patchy, my old pots are scattered about, and Connor’s “baby” playset is still lurking dustily about? Sigh. Next step: cleaning up my damn yard.

Making The Effort

April 5, 2009

Making The Effort, originally uploaded by sarawr_again.

I looked like this at a kid’s birthday party last night. It was nice and all, but damn, I remember now why I gave up on all that blowdryer/makeup/jewelry/coordinating outfits crap years ago.

Posted for posterity, so that someday I can look back and think, “I don’t need to brush my hair today, I did it once in 2009.”

No mother-in-law jokes need apply.

September 15, 2008

The past couple of days have been better, really better — not “everything is perfect” better, but “hey I’m sure glad that crappy day is over” better. My in-laws, rather than being shocked and angry at the state of my house (and me) on the horrible day were very nice. They took Connor for a weekend visit, and yesterday my father-in-law brought over a swingset, set it up, and mowed our lawn for us. We had one of Connor’s friends over last night; they had a blast playing on the slide and swings until it was too dark and cold to do anything but sleep, and we’ve already been outside for an hour this morning.

An aside: If you have kids and need a workout? Get a swingset. Half an hour of pushing 40 pounds of kid on five pounds of swing, running under and around the swings, chasing your kid up the slide, and generally being goofy will kick your ass. It’s great.

It’s also great to finally feel like I get along with my in-laws. I don’t know what’s changed — I know I’ve been trying to be less uptight; I have no clue what changed on their end — but it’s such a relief. When we picked Connor up yesterday I caught sight of a framed picture on their living-room cabinet: a picture of Connor, Michael, my mother-in-law… and me. It’s the first time a picture with me in it has been displayed in my in-laws’ house, and it was nice to see. It was also nice to sit down and have an actual conversation with my mother-in-law, which I would never have said (or done) a year ago. We talked about Connor’s potty-training, and gossiped about the recent trend toward shoddy mainstream parenting, and looked through a Christmas catalog, and not once did one of us feel slighted or try to work in a backhanded compliment.

We are, slowly, making a family — one that is not just Michael, me, and Connor, but includes our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. I’ve wanted this for Connor ever since he was born; one of the reasons I didn’t just cut Michael’s parents off completely was that I was determined for Connor to grow up with a full complement of grandparents and extended family. I didn’t think about it then, but you know what? It’s nice for me, too.

Luck of the draw.

September 3, 2008

Some days, I still cannot believe that this is my life now. Things are going right in such unprecedented numbers already — I’ve got a good job, I have a garden, my kid is very cute and sweet, my husband is both genial and handsome — that when even more falls into my lap I wind up slackjawed.

Everywhere I went today, I found a bonus. I signed in to work this morning and discovered that I’d won some money in contests — not a lot, but enough that I can have a couple days off if I want to. We went to McDonald’s (… I know) for lunch and got some very pretty old-style Coke glasses, for free, just for eating crap (… I know). We picked up Michael’s check and found that he’d gotten an unexpected raise. While Connor and I waited in the parking lot for Michael to come back from grabbing his check, Connor said hello through the open windows to a couple of guys who were going in to shop. When they came out of the store a minute or two later, they had lollipops for Connor. “He’s so friendly,” they exclaimed, these 50-year-old obviously childless labor-sweaty fellows. (Connor took all this very serenely. “I am pretty friendly,” he said, “and lots of people give me suckers.” This is, alas for his teeth, true.)

We headed to Wal-Mart for some groceries, ran into our landlord, handed him the rent money right there, and he turned around and gave a five dollar bill to Connor. “You get yourself something fun, tough guy,” was his stern instruction. “I will,” Connor vowed solemnly, and he did, selecting a very nice Transformers action-figure set. As we meandered through the store it seemed like everything in the world was on sale: the fancy-pants ecologically friendly laundry soap with the smell I love? On sale. Egyptian cotton sheets to replace the, um, cheap cotton sheets that are about on their last leg? Sale. Delectable, glistening fresh produce — corn and tangerines and artichokes? SALE! Between the raise and the sales, Michael’s check went farther than it ever has.

As we were coming home, Connor fell asleep in the car, going limp and pudgy-cheeked in a way he hasn’t since he was about a year old. I got the pleasure of one (last?) limp-toddler, carseat-to-bed transfer while he snuggled against my cheek. He’s now in the middle of an epic nap, and I’ve had two hours of uninterrupted reading time in a bedroom that Michael stealth-cleaned right when I was at my breaking point with the mess.

It was chilly and grey this morning, and I’m excited for autumn. I feel like nesting, cleaning out shelves and polishing furniture, laying up stores for winter. I feel like everything is going to be this good for a while, and I can’t wait for fall mornings full of coffee and anticipation. (Lest you think I have gone completely ’round the bend with all this optimism, I find that I can wait — possibly forever — for the inevitable death of my garden. I thought we’d have a second harvest, but the morning chill has sharply disabused me of that notion. Oh, well. Can’t win ’em all.)

What about you? What’s it like for you, going into a new season and looking ahead? Tell me all about it; I’ve got nothing today but coffee and time.

Somebody smack me.

August 26, 2008

Today, I need to be smug. Today it is 84 degrees, sunny, with a gentle cooling breeze. I have completed the first half of my day’s work, and settled in with coffee, a bagel, and a cigarette. I have the rest of my day pleasantly mapped out — it includes picking a couple of gorgeous garden tomatoes, getting some more work done, and ordering some DVDs and books from Amazon.

There are flies in the ointment: My husband is going away in a couple of weeks to take his first-ever paid vacation. Well… that’s not entirely accurate. He has had paid vacations before, but they consisted of sitting at home, bored, because we could not afford to go anywhere or do anything. This year he’s going to a gaming convention in Albuquerque for three days, and it will be awesome for him, and it’ll even be okay for me. (See above, re: buying DVDs and books. I’m prepared and shit.)

Also, I have developed pulsatile tinnitus, and it’s just as irritating as it sounds. (How it sounds: whoosh WHOOSH whoosh WHOOSH whoosh WHOOSHWHOOSHWHOOSHWHOOSH!… Whoosh!) I’ve had it for about a month, but I only thought to Google “whooshing noise in ears” two days ago. I thought it would go away. I was, apparently, wrong. I am going to have to call the clinic, find out how much an appointment is for people on the low end of the sliding scale, and get it checked out. In the meantime, it is driving me batshit insane and I should probably give up caffeine and nicotine very, very annoying, and I hope the doctor finds an easily fixed cause.

So, yes. Flies in the ointment for sure, but the ointment itself is pretty awesome. (That metaphor? Kind of disturbing.) I feel like my life is under control for the first time in forever; I feel regulated. I feel as if it’s finally all right to enjoy things like coffee and bagels on a sunny day, like it’s no longer my duty to be always aware that rent is due! And the electricity bill is too high! And we’ve got to figure out how to get Connor’s fall clothes! And the living room needs new blinds! This stuff has been figured out. I can handle it, now, and I can take breaks — every day! — wherein I just kick back and focus on the good stuff. It makes for a boring blog, this crisis-less state of being, but it also makes for an awesome late summer.

The garden. The advent of fall. Onion bagels. The fancy-pants coffee maker I’ve had for months and barely used. New books. Fully paid, in-no-way-delinquent bills. I am one smug motherfucker right now.

More work stuff, this time by request.

August 15, 2008

Kip asked me to write a little more about what it’s like to work for ChaCha, and I figured that the end of a day like today was the perfect time to do it. See, I worked a total of 12 hours today, and I don’t mean 12 hours straight. I mean 12 hours of work all mixed up with laundry, house stuff, taking care of Connor, running a few errands, and generally living life.

It was a long day, but it was a good one. I made $140 today, which is more than I’ve made in a week at some jobs. (It is also, I know, a crass number to toss about, and if I were not so tired I might be more vague. In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit now that I am also bragging a bit.) I am tired, I am completely wiped out, but it’s a pleasing kind of total exhaustion; it’s the kind of sheer brainfog that makes me sit back and go, “Damn, I did good.” I went through a whole routine a while ago — should I get wine? No, wine will make me sleepy. But wine is nice and relaxing after a long day! But I don’t want to be sleepy yet. But, but, but… wine! Or maybe I’ll just answer a few more questions on ChaCha…

It’s that kind of job. It is the perfect job for me, really: always interesting, always expanding, on when I am and off when I want to rest. The pay is not for everyone, and I know this, but it’s okay for me. It is, realistically, the best pay I’m going to get for sitting here in front of my computer and occasionally wandering off to do something else. It is also tailored specifically to meet and challenge my competitive streak. You see, I’m mildly competitive with others, but I’m constantly, ceaselessly competing with myself, and ChaCha is set up to let me do that. Every day, every minute, I can see how many questions I’ve answered, how much money I’ve earned, how well I’m doing — and every day, I can try to beat my own goal.

Which is not to say, of course, that I’m going to devolve into a blur of typing fingers and maniacal cackles. I’m not planning to do this for 12 hours every day, or anything. Most days, I do three or four or five or maybe six hours, and I call it good. I meet my baseline goal, I get my money, and I get on with life. Every once in a while, though, there are days like today when the whole system just works; these are days when I am tireless and the technical system is running like a dream and every question is awesome and they come thick and fast and I don’t even know four hours have gone by but suddenly Connor is waking up from his nap and I have $60 more dollars in my account.

I love the job for these days, and I love the job for the slower days — the days when I say, “Well, I’ve made thirty bucks, now I will go read a book.” I love that flexibility. I can’t lie: I also love the pay, and I especially love the pay system. You see, ChaCha pays me whenever I want. I can earn twenty bucks and go, hmm, I think I’d like to pick up a movie and some ice cream… and I hit a button, and that twenty bucks is in my account. I can think, gee, I’d like to open a savings account for Connor… and I work for a couple days, hit that button, and there’s my $100 opening deposit. If I run out of cigarettes, if the car’s low on gas, if it’s midnight and I really want a salty snack and a new book, I can do that. The money is there, and if it’s not, I can earn it in an hour or two.

It’s not always frivolous stuff, of course. I’m paying bills, I’m looking at IRA options, I’m really going to open that account for Connor. Still, the sheer freedom of knowing that I’m never broke… to someone who grew up like I did, who went through college like I did, who lived as a new mother and wife in a broke-ass town like I did? That’s a heady feeling. It no-joke boggles my mind to remember that we’re almost out of toilet paper and just go buy some. It utterly flabbergasts me when I’m confronted with my (shamefully classless) list of Things I Want and I realize that I can have these things. It’s not a license to get all spendthrifty, but it is a sense of freedom that I do not recognize.

It’s not all puppies and rainbows. ChaCha’s new pay structure is awkward, at best; their question-answering interface is often glitchy or slow; I am occasionally sick of the ever-running contests for Guides. Still, it is better to work for a company that pays me whenever I want, even if their pay structure is weird; it is better to have the option of walking away from work when it is slow and coming back later than to be tethered to a cash register for nine hours a day; it is better to work for a company that offers some form of fun incentive than to work for one that imposes a flair requirement or, god forbid, necessitates the wearing of suits.

In short, it is okay. I learn things every day (NB: the technical term for castration is “bilateral oophorectomy”), and I set my own schedule down to the minute. I like it, even when it leaves me so fuzzy that I can’t remember if wine is a good thing.