Archive | March, 2011

Love is … what I’ve got

19 Mar

I’ve been reminded this last week of the intangibles that make life so rich.

I guess I’m an animal lover, as evidenced by my near-death experience trying to save a mother and her duckling from certain death on I-44 (that’s a post for another day) and the fact that I have an actual flow-chart plan for saving turtles on the highway. But of course my favorite animals are my own, who have spent the last few days spread out with me in our living room, watching basketball with the windows open. The dog is fairly alarmed when I scream at West Virginia to create some offense (they did not) but the cat is pretty unperturbed.

The sun shone and I literally watched spring arrive this week as the neighborhood outside my windows sprung to colorful life: daffodils bloomed their yellow smiley faces, the redbuds began budding tiny and red, and some unnamed bush right outside went from brown to snowy white petals in what seemed like a day. The new leaves are that youthful shade of rich green you only see the first few weeks of spring, and the air even smells better.

There are few better feelings than to slowly take in the arrival of this gorgeous season.

Anyway, I tend to spend a lot of time dwelling on my past actions that put me financially asunder (read: feel stupid/bad/pissed for being broke). While many of my friends can afford new cars and 47″ TVs, I rely on the kindness of my parents and my father in law for my newest things. (Big shout out to Mary and Denny for the b-day TV — I really love it!)

But it’s probably dumb to anguish over that. I continue to live in a safe, clean, lovely home and (usually) pay my bills on time. It’s hard to get up in the mornings and feel kind of paltry in your decor and dress, but I remind myself that I don’t care a whole lot about what other people wear or live, other than the initial “wow” factor. What ends up being more important is how kind, funny and generous of spirit they tend to be.

I also have a bad habit of never slowing down. I feel the need to constantly fill my days, either with work or cleaning or exercise or chores. Getting a TV for my birthday was an odd request, because I rarely watch TV — I consider it a “waste” when I could be “doing” something. That’s a snobby attitude that I’m loathe to print, but it’s true.

I recognize that it’s not fair that I get to enjoy a vacation at home without kids (to be fair, I had kids [Vivi and Gracie] for the first part of the week, and it’s definitely a different vibe when there’s only grownups around). But I highly suggest to all my non-joint custodial parent friends that you take time to shuttle your kids off to grandma’s for a weekend. It’s nice not to worry about them, at least for a few days.

So the last 72 hours have been a challenge, but a good one. I forced myself to sit on the couch and watch basketball (not too hard) while not obsessing over work yet to be done, chores that need to be taken care of, things that could be cleaned (much harder) while leaving the windows opening and forcing myself to really notice the living world around me. But I did it, and by the end of today, I think I’ll be ready to assume my old life back, but I hope to have a healthier attitude about the things I feel I MUST do.

The sweet puppy and kitty and the warm spring have helped to remind me that the most beautiful and important things are priceless.

So how do YOU measure the importance of your to-do list? Does it consist of the things you must accomplish in order not to get fired or have your children removed by child protective services? Or does it center around impressing other people, making yourself “seem” a certain way?

I read some jack-off actor’s profile in Esquire a while back, and he was one of three children who had, as he called her, an incredible mother. She took one hour each day and announced to one child, “This is your hour today. We can do whatever you want.”

And she did it and she meant it. I only have ONE child, and I am hard-pressed to tear myself away from my work or my cleaning or my grown-up world to indulge in hers. My sister is a master of entertaining her kids richly and cheaply. I used to get frustrated at her for her unwillingness to be away from her kids for more than a few minutes at a time, but now I see the foundation she is building toward having a pillar of support and love that will pay benefits for years to come. (Of course, I still want her to put the damn baby down and come out and party with me, haha.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I find it terribly frustrating that I’m never “done.” I might have a clean house, to the detriment of my work or vice versa, or I might get the recycling taken and the books back to the library, but I never made time to create that compost pile I really want to create or even read the damn books!

Worst of all is my tendency to put my child off in favor of chores or work. She’s already 11, and while I’m not a total slouch in the child-rearing department (as evidenced by my recent foray into Ghosts in the Graveyard with the Westpark kids) I could do more to simply be with her and engage with her.

So thank you, spring break, for reminding me what’s important, how to relax, and why I was really put on this earth.

Sorry to get so deep, y’all. 🙂




Why pay bills on time?

3 Mar

I’ll tell you why. Because otherwise your little girl comes home from school and you can’t make the lights work.

“Momma, the light is burned out in the bathroom. And my room. And the kitchen.”

God bless her. No one else’s lights in the neighborhood seem to be out, so I start thinking worst case scenario: It’s not an outage, and I must face city hall.

So I call the city. Voice mail. (Yes, apparently it’s such a small town that there is ONLY ONE PERSON running the emergency-holy-shit-my-electric-is-off-this-hasn’t-happened-to-me-since-college hotline). I leave a message. It’s 3:55 p.m. I clearly have 65 minutes before we’re pulling an Abe Lincoln study session tonight and cooking food over a goddamn candle.

Vivian is supposed to be at tutoring at 4:3o, so I throw all of us into the car — yes, including Baxter — and race to city hall. The two of them wait in the car, further classing up my parenting. Not only do I get my utilities shut off, I use a 30-pound mutt to babysit my child. A meth lab is clearly in my basement’s future.

Welcome to the City of Stillwater, where our main clientele is college students so we stay behind an immense glass wall to protect us from their scabies. Yes, you’ve been cut off. It’s because of nonpayment. Yes, we sent out three different notices. Yes, there’s a reconnection fee. It’s $65. Oh, and you’ll need to also pay another $100 deposit to get it turned back on. Yes, you might have time to go check your bank statement because you’re POSITIVE you paid this bill a month ago. Yes, the electric can still get turned back on if you prove this before 5. Yes, Satan took my heart years ago and replaced it with a maleable lump of tar shaped somewhat like a heart.

So I race to the O’Colly, pull up my bank statement, and no money has gone to the City of Stillwater (home of the Tar-Hearted Municipal Clerks) since January. JANUARY. It’s March 1. Cursing ensues before I get back into the car, race Vivian to tutoring and haul ass back to city hall with my checkbook.

I think about all the righteously indignant people who’ve come before me, who claim they never got a bill or the check got lost in the mail, who probably holler and carry on at the Tar-Hearted Girl (whose defect is now starting to seem more like a self-defense mechanism) and so I vow not to be one of those people.

Instead, I just walk up to the window and look the girl in the eyes and say, “You’re right. I haven’t paid a bill since January. I’d like to get current, please.”

And then she asks for my address and I start weeping.

“Nine … (snff) … nineteen (ugh) .. ten (ssss-sss) West … U (huh uh huh) University (snfff sss huh).”

She informs me that to get current, pay the deposit and the reconnect fee, I will owe her slightly less than the GNP of Uruguay. Luckily, because I’m so financially well-off, as I’ve previously discussed, I was able to simply write her a check, my tears blurring my vision as any hope of ever buying a new pair of shoes evaporated. (That reminds me, I need to see how I get on the list for a pair of TOMS.)

Now, just to set the record straight, I DID pay my bill. I have the statement that I got in the mail (and even the two subsequent notices I threw in my stack of bills thinking, “Oh, I can disregard this because I HAVE paid my bill!”) and even the confirmation number I wrote down when I paid bills through my bank. What I didn’t do, however, was double-check to see that the money I thought I paid the city actually came out of my bank account.

So now I’m going to try to figure out how I’m going to convince the Bank of Oklahoma that they owe me a $65 reconnection fee. My guess is that they’re going to say something along the lines of “Ha ha ha, WE DON’T.”

That said, the Tar-Hearted Woman must have somehow been moved, because she waived the extra $100 deposit I was supposed to pay. God bless her. By the time I got home, the lights were on and no one knew any better about my wild irresponsibility.

Until now. So don’t tell, K?