Monthly Archives: May 2014

Big Girl Pants

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m assuming most of us are still reaching for whatever it was we decided all those years ago. I know I haven’t gotten there. If I had, I’d be a high-powered lawyer, dressed head to toe in my own couture during the week and dancing backup for NSYNC on the weekends. Now that I’m somewhat grown, I realize I definitely do not want to be a lawyer. I couldn’t even make my way through an English-Literature degree, let alone Law School. But if I thought my rotund body could manage it, and if they were still a thing, I’d definitely hang on to that whole backup dancer thing.

This could have been me.

This could have been me.

But of course I’m not donning spandex and gyrating dangerously close to Justin Timberlake. I’m sitting on my front porch having just jumped back in fear of a giant raccoon that sidled past on the sidewalk. He seemed pretty sure of his life. No deep existential questions burning in his post-post-post-adolescent raccoon head. Just a confident swagger and top notes of locally sourced, organic garbage in the air. He’s not worried about falling short of expectations for a raccoon his age. Will he ever get married? His child-bearing years are coming to a close. He should get serious about that baby-mama hunt before it’s too late. Should he settle for a she-raccoon he only sort of doesn’t hate spending time with? Or is “the one” out there somewhere? Is he too lazy to find her? He has his own stuff going on. He’s on the garbage trail, after all. Maybe it’s her who should find him. What if she already has baby raccoons? Is he ready to be a step-raccoon? Will that be enough to fulfill his animal-urges to procreate? What if he can’t find enough nutritious garbage to feed an entire raccoon family? What if he wakes up one day and hates them all? What if NSYNC finally reunites and calls him up to be a backup dancer?

He has his shit together. Like a sir.

He has his shit together. Like a sir.

Up until recently, I thought I was on the right path. Even though I’ve basically sat down in the middle of that path, I still have a hard time coming to terms with my failure to reach the end. But then again, maybe I’m at the end. Maybe the end of the path is just terrible. Nobody warns us that being an adult is going to be the worst. Sure, we can set our own bedtimes but if we’re not careful we’ll end up being more of a zombie when we go into the job that we hate where we make too little money.

Oh, money? Sure, you make your own money. But you have to spend that money on dumb stuff like rent, groceries, crappy cars (and subsequently, new parts for those crappy cars), gas, medicine, etc. I’m so old, I’m now spending money on vitamins. VITAMINS. I should stick within my means and buy cheap beer to save money, but my old lady stomach hates cheap alcohol. I get a poor people headache if I drink well vodka. But I have to go out, right? How will I ever meet anyone and “settle down” if I don’t go out and spend the money I barely make? I won’t. I’ll have to hop on Tinder and swipe left all day just to get to the one bearded man who doesn’t look like he just lumbered out of a dense forest. Or even worse, I’ll have to get a lame, non-destructive hobby like – gasp – running. Gross.

Time to put 'em on.

Time to put ’em on.

This entire rambling piece is a result of having to just clean my house. I hate having to do things. I just want to not do things. Unless it’s my idea, in which case I’ll procrastinate for a few weeks and then sort of do that thing. My landlord is feeling the same. She doesn’t want to do the landlord thing anymore so she’s putting the house on the market. Evidently, someone is coming by to look at it tomorrow morning. I found out about an hour ago and whined like a little biatch to my neighbor before dragging myself inside to sweep, vacuum and dust. Because I don’t want to. And I especially don’t want to have to. Anything, really. I don’t want to have to go to work. I don’t want to have to set an alarm clock every day. I don’t want to have to investigate the “Check Engine” light in my new car.

I don’t want to.

But, I’m a big kid. And I guess that means I have to. Which is the opposite of what I thought it would be when I was a small kid. I’m a little mad about it.

So what was my original question? What do I want to be when I grow up? A writer. But also…

Independently Wealthy.

 

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Picking Up Balls

I owed a favor to a friend and she came collecting last night. She teaches at an elementary school in the area and needed help keeping her sanity while running a game at their annual school carnival. My first instinct was to pretend I couldn’t hear her and maybe inch away slowly while humming, but I did owe her. So I agreed. Begrudgingly.

I love kids. Mostly. For small periods of time if they’re on their best behavior and don’t have food items or sticky nose leakage on their faces/hands/clothes. I figured at the very least I could throw my ever-prepared uterus a bone and entertain the thought of bearing children someday while handing out rubber bracelets and temporary tattoos. I’m at a certain age now. An age that no longer allows me to deny the existence of a condescendingly named “biological clock”. Especially since my lady parts do cartwheels every time I see a chunky-monkey baby. I have to physically restrain myself from asking the parents if I can squeeze their baby. Because that would be weird, right? I thought so. I mean…I only considered it for a minute. Usually, after I get my hands on a tiny human for a few minutes it will inevitably cry or poop and I’m sated for another year. Problem solved. Without a lifetime commitment.

This is why I have such great respect for teachers. Just…how do they do it every single day without the authority to actually deal out discipline and somewhere south of zero or north of too much cooperation from the parents? They drink. That’s how. Not on the clock, of course. But on their own time. For hours. And it helps that most of the kids are cute. I was only at the school for 3 hours and I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes downright mean thoughts about the children.

Type "Diversity Children" into google. It's weird.

Type “Diversity Children” into google. It’s weird.

If you weren’t sure, I’m pretty middle class. I’m also white (though I throw around that small percentage of Cherokee like the ethnic street cred card that it is). So when I land in the middle of a low-income school with a beautiful amount of diversity, I’m out of my element. I’m watching it all from my white, middle class glass box. I’m not mentioning this to segue into a caste system lecture, I’m telling you because everything I heard and saw was delightful and hilarious. I actually took notes. I don’t spend a lot of time with children in general, let alone a Reading Rainbow of diversity like I encountered last night. There were little munchkins of every flavor imaginable. I loved it. My friend happens to teach the ELL students, those who are learning English as a second language, so she has a special bond with a lot of the more foreign flavors.

Our job at the loosely named carnival was to man the “Tic Tac Toe” station. It was set up in the classroom of the school’s eccentric teacher. Their resident “Miss Frizzle”. It smelled like 20 pairs of dirty feet and was stiflingly hot. The object of our game was to of course get a tic tac toe. But in order to do that, the kids had to toss hollow plastic balls into the game board from approximately 3 feet away. It was impossible. We found ourselves making up rules on the fly to help these kids have a chance in hell at walking away with a coveted rubber bracelet or temporary tattoo. Our contestants ranged from the overly cocky older children to the overly enthusiastic children of indiscriminate age. Hardly an in between.

The game invented to kill the spirits of all the children.

The game invented to kill the spirits of all the children.

There was one very large kid who wanted very badly to be our helper. I was glad for the help since bending to pick up plastic balls every five seconds nearly killed me before we ever had a winner. The glad gave way to hilarity once I realized that his form of helping was to basically “bounce” the kids if they tried to take a longer turn or cut in line. He started singing for us. High, long notes that I identified as his best attempt at opera. I said to him, “Jumping right to opera is a bold move”, and he replied, “Why? I love Oprah!” I had to leave the room. This same kid started to challenge the authority of my friend, who he knows only as a teacher, and he said, “Whatever, I’m taller than you.” (He is not) My friend just looked at him and he continued, “Well, I’m ‘Bout to be tall!” I died.

Oprah Opera. Get it?

Oprah Opera. Get it?

Between the precocious bouncer, the hyper-active transport from the Balkans, the droves of well-dressed tiny Asian children and the surprisingly competitive toddlers of every creed, we had our hands full. Our hearts were breaking for loser after loser but we had to remain strong. The prizes were so had to come by, in fact, that I witnessed a hush-hush deal in the doorway. A kid of about 10 years old was offering some stolen prize contraband to the bidder with the most tickets to offer. I almost threw my hat in the ring. I did have a whole bucket of game tickets, after all.

The night wasn’t all sweating and picking up balls.  I was able to catch up on some new slang, which was nice. But I’m fairly confident that between my friend and myself, we ruined the word “Beast” for every child at the school. When grownups do it, it becomes instantly uncool and for that, I apologize. But I was beastin’ it.  Even if I’m not ’bout to be tall.