Life on the Inside

You guys! Remember when I used to have a blog about how four of us lived in a tiny apartment and tried not to go crazy and stomp all over each other?

Yeah, I thought those days were over, too.

Instead, we are having to call on several skill sets learned during that extended hostage situation.

You see, we used to live in the Fun Apartment. Now the Fun Apartment lives in us. We have trained for this. We already know how to be close and a little apart. We are experts in the snuggle. We know how to go crazy and then come back. We know how to put legs on something and make it walk. We know how to keep it fun. Step aside, people: this is our moment.

How we spent the weekend.

However, joyously, marvelously, fortunately, we no longer have to live in that barrel of monkeys! Now we live in a perfectly reasonable–palatial even!–amount of space! There is a second bedroom, a second bathroom, closets, and even a mystery room full of junk, broken dreams, and our winter duvet. We might as well have a royal presence chamber, a dungeon, turrets, and a moat! And we live across the street (moat) from a giant park with miles and miles of actual untamed forest in which to social distance! Take that, Barbarian hordes! You’ll never know which 1 train stop to get off at!


So, how is lockdown in New York City? Well, to be honest, right now, it’s not so bad. Three of us are elbow-deep in home-school. The Mister is on half-hour calls that last all day. And then there’s recess. Twice a day. For an hour. It’s like we decided that we go to school in Finland, or another one of those socialist paradise-type places that does everything better and everyone’s tall and thin, even in their winter coats.

Working from home is tricky, though. I wouldn’t have thought that teaching kindergarten was a job one could do remotely, but I stand (unshowered and in my pajamas!) corrected. This new virtual gig definitely has invigorating challenges. It also has lonely moments, but I do still have my, umm, coworkers here to help with that. And I must say that my classroom management skills are totally lit, because during teaching videos, no one talks while I talk! Still, I’m desperate to go back to work, even without that “mute all” option. After all, I had just six months at an amazing school and then we all got sent home. And it’s closing. You might have heard.

Home schooling my own kids isn’t going too badly, though. One of my new “pupils,” who has always had a somewhat complicated relationship to school and it’s required behaviors, told me that I was his second favorite teacher because of my amazing teaching innovation: the bingo card. He trembled at the thought of crossing off the squares in ANY ORDER HE WANTED. That’s right, people. %$&*ing Teacher of the Year. BINGO.


We get most groceries we need at our local stores and no fights have broken out (yet). The shelves remain somewhat stocked and the wine store is still open, so I’m liking our chances. Mostly, we have what we need–although knowing that there is a new Hilary Mantel book out and not being able to read it might be what eventually breaks me. (But my money’s on Cromwell to survive.)

And despite it all, spring is coming. Walking up the glacial land formations for afternoon recess shows me different miracles every day. Trees are still growing leaves. Flowers are still bursting out. Cherry trees are still dusted with pink. The tide in the estuary goes in and out. And my kids social distance with their friends by chasing each other in a game of virus tag. No one wins, because they aren’t allowed to touch each other. All of this is critical to our wellbeing.

And after recess, we return to our apartment for more schoolwork. BINGO!

And after all that digital ink spilled about our blog’s place of origin, what do we call our new apartment? Mostly we just call it home.

Come visit, when all this is over. We’ll feed you!


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Filed under The outside world

Long Live the Fun Apartment

Given the amount of digital ink I have spilled on its flaws, one would be forgiven for  thinking that I would be ready to put the F.U. in the Fun Apartment.

After all, its shortcomings were well-publicized (here): There was the bathroom. There was the size. There was the bedtime. There was the laundry. There was the size. There was the stove with no temperature knob. There was the impossible nap. There was the size. There were the bedbugs. There was the plumbing. There were not enough shelves. There was the size. There were the couches. There was the cat. There were the stairs. There was the clutter. There was the sea monkey invasion. There was more clutter. And all the other clutter.

But no. Despite all those smallcomings, I was not ready. But that ultimately did not matter, because . . .

Did you guys all feel the planet wobble slightly on its axis last week? I know I did–because as of Thursday, the Fun Apartment belongs to SOMEONE ELSE.

(For those of you keeping track of blog post scheduling, this–and my fear of jinxing–will explain a lot.)

You probably won’t even recognize me now! After more than six months in our new apartment, I am almost like a regular person, who lives in a regular-sized home with doors and rooms! My elaborate demands are all (almost!) met!

One legacy of living in the Fun Apartment: the Man of My Dreams and I find it impossible to speak above a whisper after bedtime. I even keep the lights low, just in case it shines through the door to wake up the kids.

And for nearly eight months, we were real estate barons! We owned not one but TWO apartments! After this shocking news, I will offer those familiar with New York City housing a moment to revive themselves with oxygen. We had one palatial home to live in, and then we also had a bathroom in Chelsea! I could have sold tickets! Heady times. But I did begin to wonder how real estate tycoons get their reputation for wealth, because we were pretty broke sitting on those two apartments.

But that whole baronetcy thing must have taken hold to some degree, because we grabbed the cash from across the closing table and immediately invested in a second domicile that sleeps four comfortably!

But handing over keys to the Fun Apartment has not been emotionally uncomplicated. Putting it on the market was tricky, as we had to find realtors prepared to use a “cosy nest full of light and charm” approach, rather than a “get ready to renovate this dump” approach. We lucked out–our valiant realtors staged it so well that when I viewed the listing, I thought they must have sent the wrong link, because I certainly didn’t recognize the wonder palace in the photos. When all of us visited one evening, Little ran in gasping “Wow! Could we live here??”

And it worked! The Fun Apartment’s siren song has lured in yet another lost soul. The poor sucker lovely young woman who is now its proud owner wrote us a love letter to express her profound feeling of connection with the place.

Maybe she will start a blog. Indeed, I am not sure if I should still have one. Without the constraints and warm embrace of the Fun Apartment, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I doubt I would have started a blog without it. I definitely would not have told you guys about it. We had our fifteen minutes of fame. Now, I’m not sure there’s enough schadenfreude involved in watching a mediocre parent doggedly elbowing her way through life with her family of bozos in a perfectly reasonable space with a view of the park. Let me know what you think.

I freely admit: I was unprepared for this part of un-owning the Fun Apartment: I miss it on a visceral level. I texted the Mr. on the way to the closing, begging him to scuttle the deal. (Wisely, for the first time ever, he chose to ignore my advice.)

But, what some people (my mom) failed to grasp about living in the Fun Apartment, was that it was like living inside a tiny cathedral. Every nook was unique, every corner held a secret, every shadow had character, every square foot had a story.

Every time I felt unsettled, unsafe, I would wildly scan the warm brick walls, the sturdy wood trim and think, here, here we can be ok. This is our home. Inside this jewel box, I am safe and I can hear my loved ones breathing.

And like all flawed things, it was perfect.


Filed under Living Small, Mistakes I have made

Moving on up

Big news!! Really big news!! I mean nearly-three-times-bigger-than-the-Fun-Apartment-news! That’s right: We are moving out of this clown car and into a TWO!! BEDROOM!! APARTMENT!!

I will type that again, because it brings me such joy: TWO!! BEDROOM!!

I hadn’t wanted to let any news squeak out before now, because I am a big believer in jinxing myself. And by that I mean that I completely believe in my own ability to jinx myself by wanting it to happen.

I don’t limit my jinxing to myself. I can also jinx figure skaters and football teams, just by watching and you know, wanting them to do well.

So, it was in the interest of not jinxing myself that I have maintained radio silence for nearly six months on the question of whether or not we are moving.

But now I can answer that question in the affirmative: Yes! We are (finally!) moving! Next week!

The process, Mr. Fun Apartment’s grand scheme, has crawled forward with so many potential obstacles that it didn’t seem possible that we would ever reach something so definitive as “Yes. After you sign stacks and stacks of papers, we will give you the keys on Wednesday.” But with the diligence that is his hallmark, Mr. Fun Apartment got everyone to agree to his crazy scheme. Even me.

And now, after months of slow-motion, we find ourselves in fast-forward. We have to pack up all the fun around here by Friday. And it’s A LOT of fun. Heavy, awkward-shaped fun–some of it breakable.

I had started packing already–in fact, I’ve had to walk sideways to get into bed for a month. But since I didn’t want to jinx things, I didn’t really commit myself. Except the sweaters. Those I packed ages ago, blithely thinking “Of course we’ll be moved long before sweater weather!” Guess who has been shivering in triple layers of t-shirts for weeks?

But now I can THROW myself into this. As one of the household males pointed out today “Mommy packed more boxes today than all three of us together!” (The kid can count.)

New Box City

And Friday, the More Funner Apartment will actually be a real place! Where we will live! Imagine! All that space! I will lose the kids in there! The two bedrooms! With doors! The bathrooms! The laundry! At the same address!

But not the dishwasher. Apparently it doesn’t work. And it’s too late to slash our offer by a third.

Ah well, as my five-year-old niece crowed today upon hearing that we will be moving to a bigger  apartment “Now you’ll be able to have even more fun!”

Damn right we will. And maybe new towels.


Filed under Living Small, The outside world

Location, Location . . . something.

As we contemplate leaving the Fun Apartment for a newer, Funner Apartment, The Mister and I have begun to prepare for a transplant. We have responded in different ways to this impending event. He has made a lot of complicated spreadsheets. I have started work on several craft projects. Hey, these dinosaurs aren’t going to knit themselves!

I have also had to resign myself to contact with the world of people who care about real estate. This is not a natural fit for me, despite the fact that this entire blog is dedicated to small space living and other mistakes I have made. Yes, I do know rather a lot about ONE apartment, but this experience, hopefully, will not translate, as our next apartment, I’m certain, will be nothing short of palatial.

However, did you know? It turns out that moving involves shopping around for a new place to live. Apparently, one has to go out to places and actually examine them to see if they could possibly contain all the fun you are planning to put into them!

For some people, this is pure bliss. People who care about real estate, bless you if you are one of them, seem to constitute rather a large percent of the population if HGTV’s popularity is any indicator. For me, it is nothing short of bloodsport. Looking at, shopping for, flipping, renovating or otherwise changing a home is torturous enough when it’s you doing it–watching other people do it seems like pure sadism. But people are into it.

You see, as far as apartments go, I’m really not that picky. As proven by our seven years living inside this Faberge Egg, I can be happy literally anywhere. So I’m not fussed about the details, beyond my list of demands. Would you like to know my must-haves for the Funner apartment? They are simple but they are not negotiable.

  1. TWO Bedrooms. With doors that close properly. And without a giant window negating the purpose of having a wall.
  2. A dishwasher.
  3. Laundry that happens at the same address as the apartment.

Beyond those items, I honestly don’t care about anything else inside.

But I still have to go look at places anyway. And so do the kids. We’ve begun a search for a neighborhood that might suit us. There are many to choose from, but we’ve polled the natives to narrow it down. Results are as follows:

  • Inwood: 2
  • Green Bay: 1
  • Weirdo Face Town: 1
  • Chicago: 148

While we are still waiting for election officials to certify these results, my best friend from high school is appalled by your suspicions that he may have abused the super delegate system to swing the election his way. However, questions of frequency and residency requirements remain unanswered as of press time.

Neighborhood aside, we had always assumed that in order to sell our beloved Fun Apartment, at least three of us would need to move out of it, and it would have to be the right three. I can assure you that NO ONE would walk in here now and express their fervent wish to overpay for this place.

So Plan A has always been to move out, rent some apartment somewhere, sell the Fun Apartment, count our money, and go shopping for the Funner Apartment.

So the search for an apartment to rent began. It involved outright bribery of the children. They complained loudly at the thought of another viewing. But, despite the protests, they are actually fairly good at it. Upon entering, they tear through a carefully-staged home by opening every door they can find, flopping down on any flat surface, and demanding to use the bathroom. Then, they declare each apartment to be the home of their dreams and immediately lay claim to the master bedroom. They are positively colonial. These decisive lads are very put out when we suggest we might look at another apartment and I can’t much blame them. After all, they’ve already found the dishwasher and counted the bedrooms. What more would one need, after one has seen the onsite laundry room? They are not interested in apartments that get great light. Light is free, people.

But Mr. Fun Apartment is an architect. This is really all in his wheelhouse and once my demands are met, he can bother with all the other business like closets, load-bearing walls, and mysterious things called risers.

This division of labor is not infallible, however. Recently Mr. Fun Apartment fell hard for a combined apartment 200 blocks north of all the current fun. Unfortunately he failed to notice that the floor sloped dramatically. If we end up living there, all of our stuff will ultimately end up piled against the eastern wall.

I do not begrudge him an apartment crush. This is not his first. One time his flirtation with a Russian Church almost cost us our marriage. But I learned to avert my eyes with the skill of an English Queen, and go off to find a bar to wait for him in. And I have my vices, too. I have had a thing for Enyclopedia Brown since grade school and the Mister hardly ever teases me about it.

Slope aside, the Mister is so enamored of this place that he wants to try subverting the dominant paradigm by buying first, selling later. His plan B is borrow a lot of money, buy his mistress apartment, move into it, sell the Fun Apartment, and pay back the money. It’s a little unexpected–he’s not usually the rebellious type, but it has been surprisingly easy to convince banks to go along with this wild scheme.

He’s working on convincing me. After all, his apartment crush does tick all (three of) the boxes. It as a dishwasher, a laundry room and TWO bedrooms with TWO doors. It will fit all our current amounts of fun plus a little extra. It is next door to a football field. What more do we need?

I try not to raise my hopes. After all, I’m told this process is not quite as fast as HGTV would have us believe. Apparently it can take somewhat longer than one fast-forward montage with uptempo music. Ah well, we will be patient.

But we will not be on Househunters.


Filed under Living Small, The outside world

Ready to Throw in the Towel

Every time I climb out of the shower I curse my own indecisiveness. Then I apologize to the towels.

Once, our towels were new. I got them when we moved into our home in Philadelphia, roughly the size of the Palace of Versailles. I remember thinking “Look how much money I just spent on towels! I must be a real grown up now!”

But now, those towels, much like my illusive adulthood, are ragged and worn. They are stripping off at the sides. Drying oneself off with them leaves you covered in scraps orange string. These once plush towels even jump off their hooks by themselves as if trying to end their own agony. “Just a little longer,” I urge them.

Why don’t I just go and buy new towels, you ask? The reason is this: I am not buying new towels for an old apartment. We need to buy a new apartment—not new towels. Until we can organize ourselves to tackle this momentous task, we are not entitled to new towels.

The Man of My Dreams, it seems, is having a similar moment. A few weeks ago, a nearby fancy furniture store was closing, promising slashed prices on their inventory. “Ooh, we could do with a new couch,” I thought dreamily. Our previous couch, is starting to sag in an uncomfortable and noticeable way. We’re practically sitting in the lego trays. (To be fair, we dragged it over from our neighbors’ apartment after they decided they were done with it, so it is not the couch’s fault it didn’t have the longevity of, say, our old bed. It met us late in life. But it was great for reading.)

No, insisted Mr. Fun Apartment. No new couch. No even going to look at and sit on new couches. He was very firm on this.

It seems that somewhere, somehow, we crossed a line. From this day forward, we are not investing in anything that would make our lives somehow easier or more comfortable. New towels and a new couch would make us too comfortable here on Easter Island. And if we are too comfortable, we will never leave. And leave we must, because adolescence is looming. It is looming too large to fit in the Fun Apartment.

I’ll be honest, my experience with adolescent boys is extremely limited. But from what I understand from my panel of former adolescent boys, they need truckloads of food, delivered hourly, and they need bedrooms with doors so that they can engage in–I am reliably informed–silent prayer before going to sleep.

Also, a mother of adolescent boys will need a bedroom without a great bloody window into the rest of the apartment so she can change her clothes without hiding into the closet. I know it brings light to the rest of the apartment, and doubles as a goalpost, but people, enough is enough.

After all, this was only meant to be a two year experiment. We are now seven years into that two year experiment. Soon, we might be ready to publish our results.

A preliminary look at the data: As Big said this morning. “The Fun Apartment is basically a hallway.”

Another data point: A friend of Little’s, who attended our birthday extravaganza in the crystal palace/vacant apartment across the hall, remarked, “Your apartment has that small room with all the toys.” Alas, that small room with all the toys is our apartment.

Thus far, the data also supports my promise to myself that this will be the only time I make a major life decision for a reason as flimsy as tax purposes.

Fun Apartment Floor Plan


Don’t get me wrong, we still believe in micro apartments. We still believe in living small–it’s New York City, after all. For a kindergarten teacher and an architect, there is no living large. But there is living in two bedrooms. With doors. And new towels. And, maybe a new couch. We can take all this fun with us. It will fit.


Filed under Living Small

Drowning in a Sea of Love

Once, Valentine’s Day was something to celebrate. Then it turned into something to mess up. Now it is something to dread. Truly. Dread.

And this time, it’s not my fault for coming up with intensely complicated Valentine’s project. I’m no dummy–It only took me three years (Count them: one, two, three) to just go to Party City and buy a box of fun size* bags of Skittles with heart stickers. I learn from my mistakes, eventually.

Nope, not my fault. This year, I blame the Cub Scouts.

You see, they are the ones who schedule complicated yet compelling activities on what would otherwise just be a night spent raiding the kids’ candy bags for those white conversation hearts. Once we pledged our banners** to this band of brothers, we also lost our Wednesdays. And pretty much every other Saturday. And the tips of my fingers  from sewing on all these participation badges.

To be fair, the scouts’ worst sin is this: They’re on the East Side. And the Fun Apartment and all its inhabitants are on the West side. Non New Yorkers are now wondering “Hey, how bad could that be? You live on a skinny island, after all.” New Yorkers, meanwhile, are shuddering in sympathy with me. Yes, there are ways to move across the island skinny-ways, but none of them are fast, convenient, cheap, or user-friendly.

And so, on this day for celebrating all the loves of your life, the Cub Scouts scheduled their swimming event. In three shifts. And we were the first, and the third. And they needed me, who gets really cold, really quickly, to get in the pool with the first shift. And the Man of My Dreams needed to work late. Ah, romance! Really, what woman wouldn’t choose to spend Valentine’s Day shivering in a pool with 45 boys under 10?

All of this means that there was a race to collect the children and leap onto a bus that crawled across town to a location so far east that I began to wonder if they’d be swimming in the river. Then two of us splashed into the pool. As chaperone, I did not have very much to do besides stand in chest deep water, try not to get kicked and wonder how far one’s body temperature has to plunge before hypothermia sets in. By the free time portion, I was slurring my words.

And it went on like this until 9:30, including a lot of splashing, polo (water and Marco), a  dinner of Z Bars and my standing outside a locker room hollering the kids’ names with one hand covering my eyes (The Cub Scouts, after all, have a reputation to uphold. . .) and assuring them when they came out shrugging that yes, they had in fact come wearing pants.

But these kids? These kids had FUN. To them, this was an ideal school night activity. It could not have been a more perfect day. Even racing after a bus pulling away without us was all part of the general hi-jinks of the thing.

“Well, that was love,” I told myself, as I finally sat down, my knuckles white around the wine glass and box of conversation hearts, my circulation finally restored. “And this is how I show these yahoos that I love them. Through my %$#@ing actions.”

And love it is. The exhausting kind. But also the important kind.


*Skittles and I differ greatly on what constitutes a “fun” size.

**Once you start reading Game of Thrones, you don’t stop, apparently.

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Filed under Mistakes I have made, Not cool, Mommy

Ready for some football

Once, we lived in a castle at the top of a beanstalk. Another time, we were overrun by dinosaurs. We were slaves to Pixar in the “World above Cars.” We drifted in and out of staterooms on the Titanic, miles below the surface. We built a place on the outskirts of Lego City. We lived long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.  You see, at the Fun Apartment, we don’t just like things. We LIVE them. These kids drill down deep.

And now, we live at Lambeau Field.

The latest Fun Apartment obsession is Green Bay Packers football. (Really, is there any other kind? I’ve not heard of it.)

That’s right, these boys bred in our tiny matchbox live, eat, breathe, and (occasionally) sleep a sport that requires 120  yards to play it properly.

To be fair, I opened the door to this by letting them watch Packer games with me and teaching them what I could about the game. But it didn’t take long before my admittedly casual knowledge was outstripped and they were explaining things to me. Really, how was I to know about the “no forward passing past the line of scrimmage” rule?

And this new love of football incorporates other favorite activities: wrestling! and tackling! And because we live in New York City and it is winter, most of these games happen indoors. Happily, being knocked to the ground can only improve most of our possessions. Or we play in short spurts in our neighborhood playground. That was where I earned my five game suspension for chop blocking. (I did feel very badly about the fat lip. But it went away in a few days.)

It’s changed our discipline game around here, as well. Now transgressions like using our bodies to hurt or not being a kind brother earn the accused received a ten yard penalty and it’s an automatic first down for the injured party. Oddly, this is way more effective than the traditional time out in the bathroom. I just have to carry around a yellow flag.

That’s right folks, it is football all the time around here. They are never off the field. Many games occur on the sidewalks of 8th avenue—which is way better than those corporate dome stadiums. And the beer is cheaper.

Because we never bothered with cable or any other complicated TV business, we often end up watching the game in our local watering hole around the corner, where these guys have become regulars. Once a Buccaneers fan offered to watch them while I ran across the street to switch the laundry. It takes a village, people.

When it’s not game on, it’s still go time. Yesterday I caught the Quarterback standing in the middle of the living room, well middle of the whole apartment, really, with one arm raised in the air. “Umm, what are you doing?” I asked. “Practicing holding the Vince Lombardi trophy,” he answered as if it were the most obvious of answers. Such thoroughness is to be admired.

Another favorite part of these games: instant replay. That is when they decide that something about the play has gone wrong, so they must play it out again. So they do it again. r . . e . . a . . l . . l . . y     s . .l . . o . . w . . l . . y. This is how they do it in the NFL, right?

There is also commentary, which, though influenced by game announcers is still very kid-like: “Here’s the snap and pass is caught by my brother in the most best play ever!”

One side effect of watching too much football is that these kids can now pretty much recite ads for trucks they are too young to drive, insurance they don’t need, food they won’t eat, beer they can’t drink, shows they aren’t allowed to watch and internet service that they don’t understand. Way to hit the demographic sweet spot, advertisers. Money well spent, I’m sure.

There’s an awful lot more testosterone around here, too. I mean I know I’m surrounded, but it hasn’t been quite so locker room-like before. Now, when these yahoos celebrate anything, say correctly identifying their own socks, they throw out their skinny chests and thump them.

However, this was not the ideal year to embrace fandom. Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone stunned us all. And the meager offerings the rest of the season gave some insight into what being a Packer Fan in the 1980s must have been like. Still, the future quarterback and wide receiver remain undaunted. And the weekly requests to relocate to Titletown persist.

(Hey, I bet we could get a huge place there. After the Fun Apartment, any average-sized Wisconsin home would feel like Lambeau Field to us.)

What’s funny about this latest obsession is that our entire apartment, including all the fun, would fit inside the area on a field between the zero and one yard line. And yet, this has not affected the scope or scale of these kids’ ambitions. To them, every pass is a hail mary, every run is 80 yards, every kick is into the wind, and every game is the super bowl.

You are all welcome to join us at the Fun Apartment’s Super Bowl party. But you have to sit on our bed to watch the game. And our tv screen is a whopping 14 inches wide.

And after the game is over, we won’t be mourning the end of the season. We’re still playing. There’s no offseason at the Fun Apartment.


Filed under Living Small, The outside world

Anything but 2017

In the past, I have shared some New Year’s insights and resolutions. The first one I made was to start this blog about what it’s like for a family of four to live in an Altoids tin. The second one was to tell you all about it, a year later. If you’ve noticed the six month gap between posts, you know I like to keep things fresh.

But this year, no musings. No insights. It’s just a one-fingered wave to this dumpster fire of a year. So long, 2017. Hope the door hits you on the back of your pants on the way out! No need to write or stay in touch.

I don’t like to dwell on the negative (bedbugs) in any situation (dental surgery). Instead, I really want (Lyme disease) next year to be (school closing, need new job) filled with joy and (“Your child needs an IEP, didn’t you notice?”) peace. Let’s (head lice) try to keep things (torn meniscus) on an upward swing (lunatic in the White House) by not letting (I swear this apartment is shrinking) the little things (bedbugs again) get us down, ok? Let’s just (grandma died) draw a black line (quarterback broke his collarbone, out for the season) under 2017. Then let’s sprint away from it as it burns.


White sand=White Christmas.


Meet me in 2018, people. I’ll bring the champagne.


Follow this Golden Unicorn to 2018!

And hey, maybe I’ll blog more.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Survival of the Funnest

You may well be wondering “Hey, did you guys survive the bedbugs? Or have you been carried off by the invading swarm?”

Well, both, in a way.

We came through it. We walked Bloodsucker valley and lived to tell. We’re still moving around the city, and we’re not scratching persistent itchy bites. We pass through the nights unmolested. Ten years from now, I might be cautiously optimistic that the process has worked. But we also seem to have been carried off, replaced by new, stronger more bad-ass people. We were made new through bedbugs. And even the Fun Apartment was made new. Even though it’s pretty much still the same.

It was 26 days living with the bags. Twenty. Six. March of 2017 is now just a charred piece of paper on the family calendar.

It was only supposed to be 24 days, but the exterminator decided–twice!–to rearrange his schedule.

And perhaps I should thank him, because it was those extra two days that did it. Those were the days that showed me that things couldn’t be the old way anymore. I knew on those two days that we were–or at least I was–going to be different people at the end of those two days. Those were the days I said all the swear words.

Happily, at the end of those two days, Mr. Fun Apartment and I were different people still married to each other, so that’s a plus. And I was a new person who just did whatever felt good. And didn’t feel bad about feeling good. I dyed a pink streak in my hair. I threw out at least a third of our stuff, but decided that we really couldn’t live without a giant squid costume.


Eyeballs the size of dinner plates!

I went to a fancy party–on a Monday night–and drank ALL the champagne! I made cereal and called it dinner–to great applause! We started watching Looney Tunes! The Mr. bought some shorts! (Well, he’s got the legs for it.)


Push the Sky Away.

I got interested in a band* and then actually went to see them play–like an actual real person does! We went camping and ate ice cream sandwiches for lunch! At this point, I fully expect the boys to come home with tattoos. I’m cool with that, as long as they are anchors with the word “Mom” over them.

So now, apparently, I’m a person who says “Yes, why the hell not?” to almost any proposition I get. But I warn you to use your power over me wisely: I’m very susceptible to suggestion. Yes! The answer is yes! Unless you’re the PTA, in which case the answer is “Umm . . . maybe next year?”

So does all this newness mean that I’m ramping up for a big blog-name-changing announcement? No. Not yet.

But we’re asking ourselves a lot of questions that begin with “When?” and “Where?” I think we’re pretty set on “Who?” I’m afraid that “How?” will just have to sort itself out later. I’m too busy saying yes to things.

So, for my mom and the realtor she’s been secretly emailing, we’re not packing up yet. But we’re opening the lens wide. We’re putting on shoes, but no pants.

Why the hell not?


*One of the in-house music critics insists on referring to the band as Nick Cave and the Bad Nuts. Hey, I’m pretty sure Nick would say “Bring it on.”




Filed under Living Small, Not cool, Mommy, The outside world

Grand, indeed.

Remember when my super awesome Grandma ran off with my title of “Smallest Dwelling Space in the Family”? In one down-sizing move, she moved into her own assisted living Fun Apartment complete with bingo and a meal plan. Well, she’s been cut down in the prime of her youth. At age 100, she passed away two weeks ago.

So, it is with a heavy heart that I write my second obituary ever. When your grandma is 100, you kind of assume that she must have some key to eternal life, because she keeps still being there. Five or six years ago, I used to get weepy when I said goodbye to her. But recently, her staying power seemed so great that I’d give her a hug and wave “See you at Christmas!” on our way out of town. Ah well.

People, let me tell you: having a 100 year old grandma was awesome. She was spunky, feisty, and utterly devoted to her long-awaited great grandchildren.


Oldest, youngest, and one in the middle.

And for a good portion of those 100 years, she was remarkably lucid. In recent conversations when I thought perhaps she was confused, inevitably it was I who had lost the plot, not her. To be fair, how could I be expected to remember that my husband got a new job, just because Grandma did?

Another awesome thing about a 100 year old grandma: I got to go to a birthday party at her assisted living facility where there were a lot of guests who weren’t quite sure who they were celebrating. There was a bouquet of 100 roses and a very large cake. And wouldn’t you know it? Grandma, who had had her hair done at a salon that morning, was working the room, thanking everyone for coming and asking if they had enough cake.

But having a 100 year old grandma was also very hard. She became less herself each time I saw her. As her eyesight left, it took her favorite activities with it. She couldn’t read, watch classic movies on tv, or sew. Her vocabulary evaporated rapidly. Conversations with her were more retrograde than linear and she became increasingly confused. Toward the end, she was genuinely suffering in a body that no longer obeyed her and a brain that stopped trying to follow conversations around her.


But at her essence, Grandma was a pretty fantastic lady. She had very high standards. My sister and I saw this in her reactions to the various boyfriends we paraded in front of her. My college boyfriend was met with a sniff. Later she told me “You must think I just fell off the turnip truck.” I’m still not sure what she meant by that, actually. But whatever her meaning, that guy isn’t around anymore, so she must have been right. A boyfriend of my sister’s was very well-received until he mentioned he didn’t want to have any children. After that, he might as well have been an end table for all Grandma regarded him. When I brought the future Mr. Fun Apartment around, she brought out the good china for dinner and told him “We’re putting on the dog!” Grandma knew what she was about.


That necklace grabber is now 8 years old.

She was an inveterate letter writer. Wherever I lived, she sent a steady stream of envelopes to my mailbox. These envelopes were often stuffed with things she cut out of her newspaper–comics, articles, whatever struck her fancy. As her eyesight failed, the handwriting got worse and the newspaper clippings began to include panels from several different comics. I began to wonder when she would just post me the whole edition of the Grand Rapids Press inside an envelope and have done with it. But thanks to the strength of her pen, I have stacks and stacks of her letters to read through when I feel lonely for her. I even have most of the clippings.

She could be a very sweet lady, although not to everyone at every moment, especially toward the end. She also had a unrivaled  ability to carry grudges long past their sell-by date. Mention her name to my dad, nearly forty years after my parents’ divorce, and he still looks somewhat uncomfortable.

Do you want to know the secret to her long life? Let me tell you: ice cream. I’m pretty sure she ate ice cream every day of her life. She had a bowl every night while she watched old movies on tv. At least, she did until she couldn’t figure out how to work her tv anymore. Then she just ate the ice cream.

(Maybe I’ll just pitch this health conscious, clean-eating business out the window.)

Two things I inherited from Grandma: a love of craft projects–especially secret projects–and her sewing machine. In her later years, she made enough quilts to cover an entire sleeping village. As her eyesight went, though, the quilting fell to my inexperienced hands (quilt count: 4, if you count one that Grandma made and I hand-quilted and passed off as my own to my nephew.) But during her last, title-snatching move, we found a quilt (Dresden Plates, I am reliably informed) she had started, but will never finish. It came to the Fun Apartment, so Grandma and I are still working together on a secret project.

I’m taking my time on it. I don’t really want it to end.


Filed under The outside world