Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Driving a 26-Foot UHaul across the State

Nothing will test your resolve like driving a 26-foot U-Haul across the state. That or getting someone’s name tattooed to your backside. And believe me, if I could have tattooed the word U-Haul to my booty in 26-point font to avoid actually driving the thing, I would have. Here’s how it all went down.

After the near brain implosion I mentioned in my last column, I was able to pull myself together long enough to pack the majority of our belongings and schedule a U-Haul. My BFF volunteered to follow me through the whole ordeal, to literally trail behind the UHaul in my minivan. And anyone who has ever seen my bumperless, rear view mirror-less, sour-milk smelling Dodge Caravan, knows there’s no truer act of friendship than that.

Together we picked up the behemoth moving van that’s about as long as two fireworks stands stacked end to end. The 26-footer is apparently the largest vehicle you can drive without a CDL which means that it’s the biggest vehicle they’ll allow any old fool (aka me) to drive unaccompanied on public roads.

Before we go any further, let me remind you that my nickname is Worst-Case Scenario Mama for a reason. If something can go wrong, I can imagine at least 14 alternate scenarios in which it does. So when the nice U-Haul man handed me the keys, the first thing I imagined was a cartoon-like sequence in which the big moving van (did I mention it was big?) skids around a corner, skips three times and lands flat on its side. I nearly hyperventilated at the U-Haul transit office.

First, I drove the U-Haul to my house. When I wasn’t thinking about how impossible it seemed for the truck to actually fit inside a lane, it was quite an empowering experience, for all of 5 minutes. Then I realized that each bump and pothole felt as if it was launching the UHaul about 2 and a half feet from the road.

We loaded the van in a number of hours and were ready to hit the road. Let me just say that apparently the universal advice people give those driving big moving vans is this: “Take corners wide.” Really? That’s all you got? There should be a book, or at least a pamphlet, loaded with helpful advice—accompanied, perhaps, by a CD with soothing nature sounds.

It would take too long, really, to detail the 10 -hour drive in that UHaul. Worth mentioning, however, is a 50-mile stretch of road work between here and Boise that made me feel like the UHaul was doing the Rock Lobster. There were also over 200 miles of winding roads with steep drop-offs into churning white water that we won’t discuss. And finally, there was that time that I nearly destroyed my relationship with my BFF because I couldn’t her calling my cell, begging for a potty break. In my defense, I was singing along with Beyonce and all the single ladies (take corners wide? No, turn the radio way up! That’s my first piece of advice).

Finally, after two long days, a bag of Cajun trail mix and 96 ounces of Diet Coke, we arrived to unload the UHaul and head back in my minivan. Never before have I been so happy to walk away from a vehicle. That, my friends, is freedom. Sweet freedom. Now would anyone care to tattoo that to my backside?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where are we going? Crazy, for now...

You know when you’re trying to pack all your personal effects to move across the state with three kids under foot while also preparing to put your house on the market? And amidst all this you have conversations with your former real-estate agent father in which you’re told to fast-forward to a short-sell because the market’s so bad. Then your daughter looks at you with dewy eyes and asks, “Why don’t you take very good care of our yard?” so you cry hard enough to hiccup yourself to sleep. I hate it when that happens.

I am so stressed that I think my brain might implode. Really. Astral projection, spontaneous combustion, brain implosion. I’m sure they’re all in the same book on the supernatural published by Time Magazine and found on my grandmother’s bookshelf right in between the book on Nostradamus and the novel Futility.

As I move into this precarious state called Limbo, where I’m between destinations and completely unsettled, I realize how ridiculous it is to manage a meticulous household with three young kids. My children, I’ve discovered, are drawn to the cleanest parts of my home like I’m drawn to the super nacho. My Facebook friends tell me it’s something called Unchartered Territory Syndrome (UTS) and that no child is immune.

To prove my point, Sis decided to water the bushes adjacent to the newly squeegeed windows while Spunk spray painted packing boxes in our garage and Sport, in a fit of self-sufficiency never before witnessed, decided to rinse his muddy t-shirt in the bathroom sink, leaving enough forensic evidence to choke an entire CSI unit. And that was just yesterday.

Please tell me why we like to look at clean houses anyway? Who I am I kidding to see a Heloise-inspired residence and feel at home? Sellers would be better off marketing to my demographic by tossing a few happy-meal toys on the floor amidst candy wrappers and Wii remotes. Now that’s an environment to which I can relate.

But, of course, I can’t think about looking for houses until I’ve actually sold this one. And I’d be lying if I said that’s not a thought that keeps me up at night. In fact, I’ve taken to carrying a paper bag in my back pocket so that when people begin sharing their real estate nightmares, and everyone seems to have one, I can take it out and do some deep breathing exercises so that I don’t hyperventilate. Although, hyperventilation is preferable to brain implosion, right?

For the record, I’m completely above using my blog to shamelessly promote the sale of my home. However, I would welcome any of my three readers to call my agent for more information (her name begins with Nina and ends with Baldwin). That, or you could look for the house on the numbered streets with the crazy woman chasing her kids around the yard with a squeegee.

Until then, I will continue to blog from the convenience of this strait-jacket, thank you very much.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


I started this blog six years ago. I was married with three young children in American Fork, Utah.

Now, I'm single, still with three children, but on the cusp of huge changes. I’ve been divorced for two and a half years, and we’ve lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho for nearly four. Now me and the chicklets are moving back to Washington to be closer to my family. I’m currently in the middle of packing up our house while my ex begins his summer visitation.

I’m excited about this new chapter, and I thought it only appropriate that I celebrate with a new-ish blog. While this one still has all my old posts, it also has a new name and address. It’s called “FYI, Sometimes There’s No Grass,” and below, I’ve pasted the post that inspired it all. I hope someone out there enjoys it.

Okay, so maybe I jumped the fence thinking that things would be better over here.  That not only would the grass be greener, but that there just might be a single parent amusement park with a secret spa in the back.  That, like Ann Romano, I would skip through single motherhood with grace and resolve, sporting a flashy ensemble and perfectly coifed hair with my three well-behaved children in tow.  But the truth is that sometimes I wear my pajamas in public, get fruit snacks stuck in my hair and untangle my brawling children at the public library. FYI, Sometimes There’s No Grass. 

This may be news to people, but being a single mother is not as glamorous as some may think.   Not that it’s excruciating either.  Some days it’s like a musical montage to “Sunshine on My Shoulder.”  Other days are as pleasant as exfoliating a sunburn with 60-grit sandpaper.  

And that has nothing to do with my kids, mind you.  They’re in the 98th percentile of awesomeness (yes, that has been scientifically proven and documented).  It just means that as one woman with three kids, I have a short list of priorities, and they go something like this: 1. parent, 2. make money, 3. parent some more. 4. drink lots of diet soda.  

Of course that’s not all single moms do.  There’s chauffeuring children from school to ballet to soccer to the doctor to the orthodontist to the library and to the drive-thru for Happy-Hour slushies and two for one corndogs.  And then there’s managing the mortgage, miscellaneous bills, co-pays, daycare costs, extracurricular activity fees, and if you’re me, a running tab for overdue library books. There’s worrying about whether the bed-wetting and sibling rivalry are acceptable age-appropriate developmental issues or the result of deep-rooted divorce-related trauma.  And don’t even get me started on homework, housework, budgeting, disciplining, psychoanalyzing, and conflict management with the ex (although those last two might be synonymous).  All this, remember, on a streamlined schedule that includes a full-time paying job.

So as for a personal life, I have none.  Well, unless you count dreaming about that greener pasture and the man who will not only mow it for me but also build an entire playland (bare-chested, of course), install a sprinkler system, and add me to his retirement account.

Aside from my dreams, I don’t get out much.  And when and if I do meet people, it’s in a natural setting like the elementary school, the othodontist’s office or, say, second-hand stores.  

First of all, let me just say that Goodwill Industries is a fine establishment for parents wishing to purchase clothing for children growing at breakneck speeds.  Second of all, I’m a single mom—do I really need a second of all?

So I had been divorced for nearly two years when someone hit on me in a second-hand store.  The symbolism is not lost on me.

But first allow me to set the scene.  We were both in paperbacks when our eyes met, the world stopped and I could barely hear the John Tesh Radio Show being broadcast over the loudspeakers.  And then he asked, “Are you single?”  I answered, “Yes,” following which transpired the most awkward conversation of my life.  Mostly because I’m a little rusty, and I was wearing my fuzzy pink slippers.  I can’t make this stuff up, people.

When I noted the event on Facebook (because I really am shameless that way), my friend responded by telling me that when picking anyone up at Goodwill you have to be sure to wash it, at least twice.  You should also check that it doesn’t have any rips or tears.  Or lice.  Because while it may look like a good deal at first, it could be totally broken, and Goodwill has a No Return policy.  Maybe that warning should be posted on my collar.

So for those of you wistfully imagining what it might be like to be single again or for those beginning that new chapter in your life full of optimism and hope, consider this a public service announcement.  Not only is the grass not greener on the other side, sometimes there’s no grass.  And sometimes there’s just a second-hand guy with a Speak & Spell he plans to sell on eBay.  

Or a lady in the paperback section wearing fuzzy pink slippers.

Welcome to my life as a single mom.