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thoughts on pulling up stakes: one year later

April 12th, 2011

So, just about a year ago we put our house on the market on a Monday. By Friday, we got an offer and that was that. Sold to a young couple from Oakland who were picky and fussy and kept bitching about this and that. Yeah, that’s precious. Have fun, kids. Maybe you should start a blog? Call it “This Old House is 100 and Fussy as Hell Just Like Us.” Put a bird on it, it’ll be fine.

The decision to sell came after years of… this and that. Go read the archives under “School Politics,” “Pets, Stupid” and “Remodelling” if you’re interested in trippin’ down Wacky Family Memory Lane.

We found a new house, it had just gone on the market that day. Made an offer, snapped it up, off we went. (Now I’m thinking we didn’t move far enough away — working on the next ten-year plan and am thinking out of state, or country, even. Really fucking sick of the rain. But it is sooooooo nice to be closer to Steve’s work.) We moved over Easter weekend and our son’s birthday, and everything for the last year has honestly been one big blur. April to April, and I realize I haven’t written much about what the transition has been like, how things are for us. Geez, I have about four readers now (hi, lovies!) so this is more of a diary entry than a blog entry, ha.

Good, is how things are. Good and good. Yeah, people drive like maniacs on the west side, but it’s “car culture” that is more L.A. than crazy-ass North Portland, so that’s alright. They mostly stop for pedestrians in cross walks. They mostly follow the rules, good enough.

Culture shock? Little to none for Steve and the kids; a whole lot for me. I’ve never really been around middle-class and upper-middle class people in my life, it was lower middle-class and poor people up until now. I have friends from grade school, high school, college, various jobs, The Internet, neighbors… so there is no shortage of socializing, if I want it. I’ve made good friends over the years, I am blessed.

I do miss my old world, but you know? I never fit in with a lot of ’em. A number of our friends had moved away, and even the ones who were still in town? Good luck finding time to see each other, especially with everyone at different schools, with different schedules, different sports teams. None of us on our block and the blocks surrounding us went to the same schools. My daughter had one buddy down the street she went to school with, that was about it.

My son is supposed to be writing an essay for school: “Tell about an experience you had visiting Portland.” I told him to write about the SWAT teams and the sharp-shooters who wouldn’t let us go home cuz there was a bad guy in our driveway, and about the pitbulls and the drunk neighbors who used to play YAHTZEE!!!!!!!!! all night long and… yeah. Portland! Wow! Portland is rilly rilly fun and put a bird on it, why doncha? Right away!

When we went to a birthday party (years ago), and all the grandparents were my age, and were making drug references that ha! ha! they were so sure that the kids weren’t getting. Yeah… that didn’t work for me. Grade school, high school, fights and messes and people burning their houses down for the insurance money and almost killing their kids in the process, and having to learn how to drive when you were 11 or 12 because if your parents were drunk, or the dad you babysat for wanted to drive you home and he was loaded, you did not want those people driving you around, fucking give me the keys and I’ll drive. “I know how! It’s OK, give me the keys. Thanks.” That was my neighborhood, growing up. Put a bird on it!

People bragging about their guns, their fucking stupid dogs and their stupid dog parks (“He is like my child!”), their wildass, tattooed, branded and pierced lifestyles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, how avant garde you are.

Then there’s the truly harsh stuff. The desperation that comes with poverty. The neighbors who don’t look out for each other. The sadness of realizing that no matter how much time and money we threw at the neighborhood public schools, it wasn’t going to help. All of the work we did. All of the money we raised, grants we wrote for playgrounds and everything else. Whatever.

There are a whole lot of well-to-do families in the Portland Public Schools district who count on the “generosity” (ha. a bitter, bitter ha.) of the poor kids to finance their kids’ education. Cuz if you only have so much to spread around, well. They think they deserve it all and they just fucking take it. Take it and run and say mean, crappy things like, Sucks to be you, doesn’t it, poor people? Here is what I say to them: Backstabbers.

It’s different out here, in the suburbs, miles and miles from where I grew up, from where my son spent his first eight years and my daughter spent her first ten.

It’s equitable, for the most part. The schools do their funding differently — the rich parents can’t all get together and “buy” a music teacher (or any other teacher, for that matter) cuz then… you would have the haves and the have-nots, and the rich schools would have all the goodies. Hear that, PDX? So it’s sauce for the goose/sauce for the gander, so to speak.

It’s ethnic (Oregon, overall, is white as hell, so that’s not saying much, in any part of the state), but it is diverse. There are 90 different languages spoken out here. That is a trip to me.

As far as the flora and fauna… It’s nature preserves and greenspaces and rec centers that are clean and up-to-date because people pay their taxes to keep ’em that way. And signs that say NO DOGS and when I see those signs I say, Ah, good.

So to people from that part of town who ask (snotty, always snotty), “Don’t you miss the diversity?” i say, It’s more diverse out here than in my old neighborhood.

“Oh, the ‘burbs, your nice little bubble…” (that’s another comment I hear, from time to time.) It’s not a bubble. You take your demons and your dreams wherever you go, don’t you? My writing, my kids, my lover, my gardening, my nightmares, my fears, my tears and sweat — those are with me for the rest of my life. (“You can run/but you can’t hide.” — anon.)

Radiated Japan, the wars in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq… the embarrassment and shame I feel as an American, knowing that we’re spending billions on bombs and rockets, and cutting billions on education spending and healthcare, food stamps, pre-natal care, Planned Parenthood and… everything. Our priorities are all fucked up in this country.

That goes with me wherever I go, it haunts me. Yeah, maybe Canada, next, if they’ll have us.

My daughter left a school, started a new school, graduated from that school and started middle school. My son left one school and started at a new one. I left the school I was working at, started at a new school, started grad school, quit both. That has been a lot of upheaval and again, harder for me than for the kids.

“Flexibility is a lifeskill!” — anon.

I need to focus on the writing, the kids, Steve. We are liking it. I have my own library now; he and Wacky Girl share a music studio.

The kids both love their new schools (Steve and I do, too), they’re happy. They have music, band, art, friends whose houses they can walk to, bowling, pizza, sushi and the mall, movies and starry, starry nights, choruses of frogs… all kinds of stuff. Lego Robotics and swimming lessons and hikes where we look for mink and beavers and deer — and see them. We’ve seen deer on our street, how crazy is that? (We’re not far from the woods, any direction we go.) My daughter has started skiing and my husband has taken it up again. They love it.

Everyone out here is really, really, really into sports. Maybe it’s cuz Nike has such a big presence, who knows. We’re into hockey, swimming and nature walks, that’s about it. Ducks or Beavers, Ducks or Beavers? We’ve been asked that, I dunno, twenty times a week since we got here.

OK, Beavers it is. My son’s teacher is over the moon about it, YES!!

“It’s a different world/from where you come from…” is the song most likely to be running through my head, on any given day. I miss my friends, I miss my family, but I don’t miss all the bullshit. I don’t miss so-called friends stabbing us in the back and leaving snotty messages on the blogs, on other websites, on e-mail and voicemail. Someone actually left us a message once (the person wanted a favor, was the funny?? part), saying, You seem like the kind of Republicans who would…

Whatever. I mean, WTF? I’m Socialist, do you not get that? Marxist Feminist, thanks. But… whatever.

So. How is it out here?

Walking home from school with my son about a half hour ago, we saw a hawk, swooping and gliding and putting on a show, just for us.

It’s good.

How’s it with you?

i will say, as i say every year, HAPPY VD! CLAP, EVERYBODY, CLAP!

February 13th, 2011

it is my trademark.

also, happy sixth anniversary to my blog, i love you, blog.

you know who’s funny? Bossy, that’s who.

that’s all I can come up with. I’m trying to write (fiction), the kids are asleep (but not for long) and Steve’s banging on the drums like he’s Hitting Birth or something. Completely Grocery or something. (joke! insert “Completely Grocery” joke here. Or check out Nero’s Rome, dressed in bunny suits.)

OK, sometimes I miss Steve playing his saxophone and piano (he’s mostly playing drums and clarinet now) but you know what? They’re loud, too. All music is loud. So I’ll just focus and write, eh? We need some soundproofing, cuz our daughter plays, too. Our son is next…

and i bid you, adieu…


— wm

let’s do a “best of Wacky Mommy,” what say?

November 9th, 2010

My favorite essay I’ve ever written on the subject of chores.

it’s all okay

October 27th, 2010

that’s it.



QOTD: Renard and No One Drowned, It’s OK!

September 27th, 2010

“Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.” — Jules Renard, author (1864-1910)

don’t i know it.

so, we attempted to enjoy a day at the beach yesterday. here’s the thing about the Oregon coast — it is what it is. times 100. so even when you know that it’s going to be blustery and cold, it’s still nice to take a not-too-long drive and get there, just for the sake of breathing the salt air. (from our new place, it’s 71.5 miles to the nearest beach — less than 2 hours by car, and I really do wish the trains still ran to the beach. i’ve heard tales and it sounds so good.)

all i wanted to do, with my one little measly day off, was walk on the beach (we brought our boots and raincoats), breathe in the good, wet air, have a bite of lunch somewhere, do a little window shopping at one of the chi-chi overpriced boutiques (seashell assortment, anyway? fudge? ice cream? Christmas ornaments shaped like ugly little elves?) then drive home.

but Hockey God and Hockey God Jr. had a different plan, namely, horse around in the ocean, get run over by a sneaker wave and almost die.

I like my plan better.

Also, this is where I really, really hate the whole “parenting together” thing. So when my son, soaking wet, sandy, exhilarated because they didn’t die, isn’t that great? told me, “Dad said you were going to punch him in the face for this…” well, OK. Let’s slow this down for a minute.

1) I’m glad they didn’t die and wow, that really is great, sweetheart. However…
2) If they hadn’t been reckless in the first place, this wouldn’t have cussin’ been an issue (see: a) don’t turn your back on the ocean b) stay out of the ocean pretty much Oct-April in Oregon and Washington c) why don’t you ever listen to me? You don’t see sneaker waves getting mommy, do you, now? d) aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargggggggggh)
3) they now have new sweatpants (thank you, overpriced gift shop!) and really awesome matching bright red sweatshirts and T-shirts. Hockey God’s says:

Cannon Beach
Established 1890
Search & Rescue
Mouth to Mouth Certified

(which is hilarious! because he’s not.)

Jr.’s says:

Cannon Beach Oregon
Beach Patrol
Save Yourself

That is more fitting somehow, no? Anyway, I don’t think I really should have rewarded them with a way to commemorate the whole cussin’ thing, but they were both nearly-drowned rats, I had to get them some warm stuff to wear. And no, I didn’t punch Hockey God in the face. On the one hand, I’m glad that he and the kids take some risks, live a little, blah blah blah. But there’s being adventuresome, and then there’s being unnecessarily reckless. I hugged my son, and told him, “You, I care about. Daddy, I don’t.”

My daughter: “Mom! That is not very nice!”
My husband: “You really are the meanest wife.” (looks worried.) “Are you going to punch me now?” (offers up his arm.) “Here! Punch me here! Just get it over with.”

I cried a little, then I calmed down and told my husband that if one of my kids (mine, not his, just mine. Cuz I’m the one who carried them for nine months, nursed them and kept them alive, they’re my babies til the day I die, mine, mine, mine) ends up harmed or worse because of his recklessness, then he had better go ahead and drown himself before he comes home. Cuz I can’t guarantee his safety.

That’s fair, isn’t it?

OK. Deep breaths.

— wm

happy anniversary, Hockey God

September 5th, 2010

it’s birthday and anniversary season over here…

September 4th, 2010

… and if you know the Wacky Family well, you know that means one thing:

Pound Cake.

and a whole lot of fried potatoes.

bon appetit!!!


private note to steve: still love you. xoxoxoxoxo me.

happy father’s day, Steven

June 18th, 2010

steve, don’t go into shock or anything, but to celebrate your big weekend i will…

1) stay off Facebook
2) avoid e-mails
3) um. cook?

yeah, i will try! happy father’s day to one great dad, husband, son and friend.



steve, i love you.

May 21st, 2010

a note from Mrs. Dwight Yoakam

February 8th, 2010

There is very little that bugs me about my husband, Hockey God. (Yes, he claims he’s on sabbatical.) (“There’s no crying in baseball!” — Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own”) (Yeah, whatever, Mr. I’m-So-Busy, Mr. Sabbatical.)

Anyway. He rocks. He’s a great cook, father, lover, husband and gardener. He pretty much always gives me my way, even when I don’t cry. (“There is crying in marriage.” — Wacky Mommy) He watches “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” “North by Northwest,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window” with me, over and over and over. (Is there anything sexier than Grace Kelly telling Jimmy Stewart, “Preview of coming attractions…”? No, there is not.)

He’s buying me a new house because I’ve been ready to go for a long time now.

But one thing about him drives me nuts. OK, two. 1) He can’t stand when I talk during movies, but hello, sometimes I need to ask him what’s happening with the plot, especially if it’s one of those suspense/intrigue type of movies and 2) He thinks he knows the words to Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs” and he just doesn’t. Also he thinks he can sing like Dwight (“He sings like Fozzy Bear, it’s not that hard!”) and he just can’t.

Other than that, he’s perfect.

Happy Valentine’s Day, lover. Here’s to many more.

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