Every morning, when James wakes up, he likes to stand at the top of the stairs and scream some sort of news in my general direction.
Usually it's something like, "MOM! I EM AWAKE! ARE YOU SO HAPPY?!" or "I EM DONE SWEEPING FOR DA NIGHT. ARE YOU SO HAPPY?"
And I think to myself, "Am I happy? Well that goes without saying--because I've been sitting here, just hoping that someone would come into my kitchen and stick their entire fist into my bowl of Special K...and now my wish comes true!"
But really I say, "Of course I'm happy! Come on downstairs, buddy!"
This morning, however, our conversation was completely new and different. James stood at the top of the stairs and yelled, "MOM! MY ROOM ES NASTY!"
Let me stop and point out that when a person who regularly licks the soles of his shoes, takes one bath a week, and earns time-outs for touching the dog's rectum describes something as "nasty," you can very safely assume that you have a major issue on your hands.
"Why is your room nasty," I asked?
"PACUASE I POOPED AW ON DA BED, MOM! DER ES A WOT OF POOP ON DA BED!"
"That's okay, buddy," I calmly replied. "We'll wash it."
"BUT MOM! WE CANNOT FIT DA BED INTO DA WASHEN MACHINE!"
You know what? My three-year-old son was absolutely right--his twin size bed is far too large for the barrel of my Kenmore. Since I was no longer sure how to handle the problem, I tiptoed back into my own bedroom, shook my husband awake and said, "Hey babe...James is asking for you. He only wants you."
Wow, looks like there are some fantastic fantasy job ideas floating around out there.
Now get your head out of the clouds and start those quarterly reports, people! Just kidding, just kidding. I think we should all quit our day jobs and follow our hearts. That would be great--we'd have a world full of party planners, gift basket makers, and cardiac surgeons. And really now, what else would we need?
Since we're on the topic of work and jobs, I'd like to point out how wonderful life has been since Jared opened his office last week. It's true--he's only seen five patients so far, and yes--we're no where close to covering the operating expenses, but damn guys, life is good.
My husband gets up in the morning, takes a shower, eats breakfast, and heads out the door swinging his bagged lunch.
He's all like, "Bye Amy! See you tonight!"
And I'm all, "Have a great day, Jared!"
I know that might not sound exotic or exciting to you, but holy crappers, it bowls me over each and every morning.
You see, we've been married for six years, and during those six years we've never actually functioned as a "normal" family. When we tied the knot back in '02, I was 21 years old and one semester shy of finishing my bachelor's degree. Jared was 23 and only one year into his. He waited tables to pay the bills, and I had a job that paid $8 an hour and left me trekking all over the state of Maine.
We decided to work in a vacation spot one summer, since Jared could make $12 an hour as a restaurant manager and I could pull in $13 as a pirate impersonator. In the course of those three months our combined income came to $10,000 and hoo-boy, we thought we had a thing or two in common with The Donald.
After a few more years of earning silly-small amounts of money in Maine, we sold our house (our $40,000 house), we packed a 6x12 trailer, hooked it to the Blazer, and took off for Dallas, Texas. I was sort of excited, sort of freaking out, and sort of pregnant with James. Six weeks to be exact.
During our time in Texas, we cooperatively earned a master's degree and a doctorate. All the while, my husband worked on and off as a--and I mean this--dog food stacker at a locally owned pet shop. I would have to say that I had the more prestigious job at the time--you know, a babysitter. But for all of the grunt work we did, I'm proud to say that James never stepped a teeny-tiny baby foot into a daycare, Jared made it through school with no major delays, and I somehow managed to keep the impossible ship afloat.
I was sorting through a pile of mail last week, and came across one of those social security statements that we all occasionally receive. This one was addressed to Jared, and it outlined his total salary for each of the last five years. When I read the figures I couldn't help but laugh out loud, but the laughter quickly transitioned into grateful sobs--because somehow, somehow, this family has survived with a hard-working and devoted man who has never earned anywhere close to $20,000 in a year.
How? I honestly don't know. But we've never had an overdue bill.
People have asked us that question over, and over, and over again. Yes we drive an old car. Yes we sold that $40,000 house for a pretty hefty profit. No, our parents have never bankrolled us. And yes, we have some serious student loan debt to show for all of this. But really, when it comes down to the details, they're still an unsolved mystery.
So, yes. It's an amazingly huge deal every single morning when my husband says, "Hey Amy, I'm leaving for the office. Did you make me a lunch?"
And I say, "It's sitting right in front of you on the counter, Jared."
And he says, "Thanks hon. I'll see you at dinnertime."
And I say, "Okay. Good luck today!"
It's a really, really, really big deal.
And then, when he starts earning a paycheck, it will be such a big deal that you're all invited to my house for a party with hot dogs and a slip n' slide.
Mark your calendars, it'll be soon.
Last night I sat in the bathroom with my mother-in-law while James and his cousin played in the tub. All of the sudden, without a split-second of warning, James picked up a rubber fish and used it to shoot a fat stream of soapy water right into my mother-in-law's eye.
Yesterday afternoon I was lying in the grass at our local lakefront park, pondering the meaning of life and watching the clouds roll by. Jared on the other hand, was wedged into a port-a-potty attempting to clean up James's latest mishap without the assistance of running water. Not a bad deal if I do say so myself.
Just as I was trying to decide whether a particular cloud looked more like a pony or a minivan, I was snapped back into reality by a loud and intricate string of serious swear words. I sat up, scanned the horizon for the culprit, and quickly laid eyes upon the guilty party: a teenage ghetto-hick.
In case you're unfamiliar, a ghetto-hick is a country-person who speaks, dresses, and attempts to act like an inner-city gangster. The primary difference lies in the fact that they must take routine breaks from "ballin' with da homies" to feed the goats on their grandma's farm, attend 4H meetings, and scrub their graffiti from the barn doors.
This particular ghetto-hick was about seventeen years old, wore a blingy hat that was perfectly crooked, and from what I could gather, he had just been dumped.
He was all, "Eff her that effing b-word! She's gonna drive me effing insane! I'M EFFING INSANE! Do you see me?! I'm effing losing my effing mind! Eff her. EFF HER!"
After sixty straight seconds of listening to many variations on the eff-word, I had my fill. I took a deep breath, mentally reviewed some key moves from my TaeBoShred video, and walked toward the potty mouth. I was primed to put an end to that speak, because the last thing I need is a three-year-old with an extra-spicy vernacular.
Just as I got to my feet, the perp was all, "I'M EFFING CRAZY, DUDE. SHE EFFING MADE ME EFFING INSANE!" And with that proclamation, he planted one foot on a guard rail, hurled himself into the air, smacked his head on a traffic sign, fell, landed with the guard rail up his schnuts, and rolled into the lake.
One eighth of a second later he emerged, obviously soaking wet. And without missing a beat he emptied out both high top sneakers, crookeded his hat, rung out the front of his shirt, and kept on bobbing down the sidewalk.
And just like that, the swearing stopped.
As promised, here are a few pictures of Jared's new office. Please refrain from commenting that we need more pictures on the walls...we know we do. I'm thinking about ordering some prints of dogs playing poker, Van Gogh's Starry Night, and Pamela Anderson wearing nothing but sticky tape.
But seriously guys, doesn't this place just make you want to throw your back out?
Think about it. If you sustain a musculo-skeletal injury, this 132-pound hottie will actually touch your body. I bet that's enough to make you want to step into oncoming traffic, and that's totally okay.
Here is a picture of the main treatment space. If you're concerned about farting, jiggling, or screaming during a chiropractic adjustment, then you're in luck--there are two private rooms in the back. And yes--if you come for an appointment, James will be there watching Blues Clues on his tiny DVD player. Saves us a boatload on childcare expenses.
I bet these would be the tables Jared would sleep on if I ever decide to kick him out of the house. They're heated, and if you push them together they turn into a queen.
Some people have suggested that this space could use a coffee table with some magazines. I understand the suggestion, but really now, how are people supposed to jump for joy if there's a coffee table in their way?
This is where our front desk lady, Jared Lawson, sits. She looks exactly like my husband, and she doesn't ask us to pay her a cent. Not a bad deal!
So there you have it--the office that will pay off our student loan debt, replace the Blazer (possibly), buy me some jeans, and hopefully send us to Disney World someday.
Wish us luck!
As with any new business, things are slow at Jared's office these days. He's landed one new patient this week and we think that's unbelievably stellar, so please don't tell us otherwise.
This morning, as Jared was getting ready for work, he mentioned that he has no patients on his schedule today. So instead of doing clinical, back-cracking kinds of things, he's planning on doing some man things around the office. You know--painting, drilling, screw-driving.
"Hey Amy," he said. "Since I'm not seeing any patients today, do I have to dress fancy?"
"Uhhhhhmmmm. Probably not," I replied. "But you should still look presentable. You know, in case people walk in to ask you a bunch of questions or something."
"Okay. So like jeans and a t-shirt and a Red Sox hat would be acceptable?"
"No. Nice jeans, and a button-down shirt, brown shoes, a brown belt, and some product in your hair would be acceptable."
Three minutes later my husband walked out of the bedroom wearing blue athletic shorts, brown shoes, and the free orange t-shirt that was previously featured in this post. In Jared's defense I will admit that his hair was very nicely tussled with the perfect amount of spray gel.
After some serious resistance, I finally managed to make Jared look presentable and sent him on his way with a turkey sandwich, a 'go-get-em' slap on the ass, and a clear reminder that he "would be totally lost without me!"
And it's true, he would be lost without me--and that's exactly why I took the liberty of clapping my sandy running shoes over his side of the bed when he had the audacity to mock me yesterday afternoon. Just a little reminder, ya know?
I'd like to thank my sister, the professional life coach, for her creative (and effective!) suggestion to deal with a stressful marital moment.
If you're interested in my sister's professional services, because she really is a life coach, drop me an email and I'll be happy send you the details--when I'm supposed to be working.
I'm the Executive Director of a regional "Buy Local Campaign," and at the risk of sounding stuck-up I'll admit that I get paid pretty well to do it. But what can I say? I'm good.
I've convinced more than a few Mainers to invest in a share of community supported agriculture and buy their grass seed at the Farmer's Union instead of Home Depot. I'm certainly not a sales person by nature, but I completely believe in the "Buy Local" philosophy, and as such, I've had no reservations about shouting my message from the proverbial rooftops--with an occasional break to peruse the handbags at Target, of course.
Based on my professional profile, I should have know better than to walk into a WalMart--but I needed birthday cupcakes, coat hooks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse underpants in size 4T, a letter opener, some WD40, and a folding chair. I also happened to be driving by the WalMart on my way to meet Wally the Green Monster. So really now, at four dollars a gallon, what's a girl to do?
As I stepped through the automatic doors, I felt a little bit sick to my stomach. I'm still not sure if it was the sight of an obese man wearing a too-short concert tee, the Dunkin' Donuts employee licking his gloved fingers, or the fact that I was compromising my values--but either way, the nausea was authentic.
As James and I wove through the isles, I had to consciously dismiss my enthusiasm every time I saw a screaming deal. So instead of thinking: 'Whoa! These towels are only three dollars, I'm buying four of them right this minute!' I would think: 'My word, how many minimum wage workers were exploited to produces these low-quality towels?' as I loaded four of them into my cart.
Aisle by aisle my cartload grew taller and wider and generally more voluminous. And with each item added, my disdain for the catch basin of all things redneck faded a little bit more. In fact, by the time I reached the coat hook isle I was feeling pretty good.
As we navigated the wide variety of hangers and hooks, I quickly realized that this aisle was much thinner than the others. And based on the size of my load I was having a hard time keeping it all together. As I slowly and deliberately pushed, I peeked up over the top of my pile and noticed a woman standing in my way.
I politely glanced around my goods and said, "Excuse me, ma'am." She willingly moved, we exchanged quick smiles, and--bless her heart--she complimented my very dirty toddler.
"Well aren't you handsome," she said to James.
To which he replied, "Move out of da way you cwazy owd wady!"
"What was that, sweetie?" she asked, pretending like she hadn't heard him loud and clear the first time.
"I said....MOVE out of DA WAY you CWAZY OWD WADY!!!"
For a three year old boy, I must admit that he enunciated exceptionally well. And as such, the Crazy Old Lady clearly understood James's toddler speak the second time around. How very fabulous!
As of Saturday, I've renewed my commitment to shop locally. Not because of tax theory or economic principles, only because I don't want to lay eyes upon that lady ever, EVER again.