I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of real estate, I am what’s known as a fixer-upper. Or, rather, a handy-man’s special. Now, before you interrupt, saying, “No, no. You are what’s known as a woman who’s been ‘well-loved’ and ‘priced to sell’.” Let me just stop you there. This isn’t that kind of post.
House hunting has brought me to a new appreciation of the dating site I am on…which shall…
For your reading pleasure, please link to the appropriate soundtrack to this blog:
The perfect house is out there. Somewhere. Laughing at me. I have seen several that come very close. But, in each case there has been something about it that spelled ‘DOOM’ in big letters. It’s almost as if the universe doesn’t want me to find a home.
[Confutatis Maladictis – when the guilty are confounded]
There was the one house I told you about in October that was so close to a park you could almost spit and hit a baseball diamond. I had no problem walking away from that train wreck and, from what I have heard, it is going to auction. I pity the fool who buys it.
Cue B.A. Baracus:
Then there was the gorgeous Victorian on Greenfield that called to me with its massive bedrooms and walk-in closets. Hardwood floors. Lovingly painted decor. Creaky original windows with actual rope-pulleys to open and shut them. I ached to buy this drafty barn of a building with its ancient furnace and cavernous rooms. I yearned longingly right up until I looked up the sex offender registry and found a pedophile living one block north. NEXT!
[flammis acribus addictis – and doomed to flames of woe]
I was tempted by a nearly pristine ranch located, most appropriately, on Eden Street. Paradise found! With its redone kitchen and the odd passageway between the garage and the house that had been turned into a dining area with crown molding, it was quirky enough to appeal to me. The price was right and the house wasn’t a wreck; but I knew, even before I entered it, I could never buy the place. I had sat out front before the realtor arrived. As I waited, semi trucks barreled past on Byron Center Road heading to nearby 44th Street. It spelled woe to any child who dared to get off a bus there. I tried to convince myself my son would be ‘safe enough’. (This is a child who runs into the street for fun and profit.) Because it was a corner lot, a fence could not be put up. Nothing stood between my child and certain death except wishful thinking. Even as I debated the possibilities, I admired the scampering squirrels who were enjoying the unexpected hiatus from blizzards. Tiny wrens popped from bushes denuded of leaves down to the ground to hunt for seeds. “I could live here. This could work.” I tried telling myself. (Cue the irony.) A hawk from a nearby tree swooped down and snatched up one of the tiny birds, killing it in seconds. (I hope. I really, really hope.) The hawk took its meal and parked itself in the small tree about five feet from my car. I swear the bird stared at me. It was as if nature itself had decided I needed a slap-to-the-face reminder of how quickly life can blink out. I was firmly pushed from Eden. (I’m sure I could come up with a Paradise Lost reference here, if only I had read the book.)
[voca me cum benedictus – call me among the blessed]
This week I found another misfit house to love. It is big enough to hold a rambunctious child and a woman with an inordinate love of books and cooking. The basement isn’t entirely creepy and the roof doesn’t even look as if it is going to cave in. In other words, it is perfect. Except for the pesky rumor of gang activity. No one can come to a consensus on the safety of the given area. Some people say this area is going downhill, there are gangs and crime. The receptionist who mans (?womans?) the desk of the local United Methodist Church tells me, “I’ve lived here forty years and never had a problem.” I asked her whether she was looking for a roommate. She laughed. Apparently she thought I was joking. When I asked the police liaison about the area and whether I should move there… Her answer? “No!” Even so, I am still considering it.
[Ingemisco, tamquam reus: culpa rubet vultus meus–
I moan as one who is guilty: owning my shame with a red face]
Every day on the news we are reminded that safety is an illusion that can be torn away at any moment. And yet, I cannot find the courage to move to a neighborhood that might possibly require safety bars on both sides of the windows. What is a poor house hunter to do? For now, I am prompted to sing, not just a lament for lost and dying souls, but a song that truly speaks to the season and the un-reason of my current desire to run and hide:
Why I should put the damned remote down before child services steps in.
I have a lot of bad habits.* The worst of which is, I suffer temporal dysmorphia—time passes strangely in my presence. I don’t know if this is a real condition but I know that, whenever my son finally goes to bed for the night, I’m deluded into thinking that the clock stops moving and I am no longer bound by the laws of physics. Suddenly, I think I have all the time in the world.
I will happily utilize my Personal Eternity Field™ to cruise the internet, chat with friends in other states, read or, worst of all, channel surf until I develop remote-control finger. (It still twitches in my sleep trying to find something better to dream about on another channel.) But the reckoning comes when I finally do look at a clock and reality strikes twelve…or possibly one, two or three o’clock in the morning. And I have to get up at 6:30a.m. to stumble through the day.
For years I have been guilty of this. I drag myself to work on little to no sleep, drowning in caffeinated beverages until my kidneys complain for all the overtime they are putting in. I tell myself, “I’m fine. I function well enough. I am a productive membrane of sociopathy…wait, what was I saying?” I would also claim that “It’s no big deal. I’m only hurting myself.” Until yesterday.
Yesterday, I drove home from work, changed into comfy workout clothes and set up my computer in a lovely, silent kitchen. It appeared as though grandma had taken Booger (aka the fruit of my womb) somewhere for a treat. So I relax and enjoy the peace of no child running around playing “I Am a Pizza” until my ears bleed. (YouTube it later at your peril.) As the time approached 5:30, I start to question a good thing, “Hmm, I wonder where mom has taken Das Kind off to?”** So I give her a call.
“Mom, where’s Alexei?” I ask.
“I dropped him at music, like usual. Why?” Grandma/Babysitter/Person-Who-is-Questioning-My-Parenting-Skills says.
“Shit. It’s Tuesday. Crap. Gotta go.” I say, running for my coat and the keys to my car.
I was supposed to pick him up at around 5:15. It’s around 5:45 when I finally get there. I am all apologies when I race into the building to get my son. I know we’ve interrupted another student’s lesson because I forgot, for a moment, that I had a child.***
“Don’t worry, this is what interns are for!” Miranda, the saint-like, long-suffering music therapist, says. Is it any wonder the woman’s name means ‘Worthy of Being Admired’?
On that subject, I suspect that somewhere, in a future Baby Name Book, mine will come to mean: Forgetful, Lost in Thought, Probably Shouldn’t Have Children…or Houseplants.
So, I have had a clear and unmistakable warning that the long-term consequences of my tempus hubris could be much more severe than a tendency to be half-asleep at my desk. If I am so tired I am checked out of life, I might actually miss out on being a parent. Parenting is an around-the-clock responsibility. It is not for the faint of heart, nor, apparently, the short of sleep. So, I have added a reminder notice to my phone so that, every evening, it tells me the title of my favorite not-for-children’s story book:
And if somehow the message doesn’t sink in, it might be time for drastic measures. I’ll have to get a tattoo somewhere quite visible that says:
Tempus Fugit: Time Waits for No Man…Or Woman Either…This Means You! Now Seriously, Get Some Sleep. Your Kidneys Will Thank You.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*We’ll save that list for another blog, or ten.
**Das Kind—is German for somebody got down and dirty with a wurst and nine-months later produced a cocktail weenie. (Or Eine Kleine Frankfurterette, if it’s a girl.)
***Approximately ten years ago, to be exact. You’d think it would have sunk in by now.
Now that NaNoWrMo is finished, congratulations to those who WON. I only made it to a little over 34,000 words *sad face*, but I did it with Shingles so I am grading myself on a curve 😛 . As a writer, being delusional is totally acceptable. I’m actually not too far from finishing the novel, so I’m happy I tried.
For those who might be tempted to go back and edit? I recommend stepping AWAY. Work on something different or the odds of you seeing the problems aren’t too great.
Which is why we are shifting gears here on the blog and we’re going to talk about branding and social media. Oh, the cries of despair! Hey, I am here. No worries *hands paper bag*.
Here’s the thing. Nobody has to do social media. I won’t force you. The only writers who need to create a brand and do…