Friday, when news of the shootings in Sandy Hook broke, I was sitting in a classroom full of children. I had spent the entire morning in various classrooms with various children doing interviews and prepping them for their digital photography entries into The District Science Fair the next morning. I am not a teacher and until I started working with these kids months ago? I had never seen them before in my life, yet I held back my tears and refused to let them see me upset. I refused to let my shock and grief upset their day and their routine because thankfully these kids, at least, didn’t know yet.
My sister teaches in a title one school (as Sprog now attends) but hers has always been one and these kids walk through metal detectors, they go through regular bag checks, they carry mesh or see-through backpacks only and are not allowed lockers. They get lunches for .10 and breakfasts for free. I’ve talked about this all before but in that moment, that moment of fear and grief and sadness, I was overcome with wanting to just DO something. Something good. And more specifically something good for a kid in need. One of these kids.
So while I sat there in that classroom, I got on Amazon on my phone and bought a brand new backpack for a student. He’s a student that is in the foster care system. He has a pink backpack right now and kids make fun of him for it. He tries to play it off, but it’s obvious that it bothers him. He was sitting alone at a desk away from all the other kids while I shopped for him, having no idea that I was doing it, and my heart was just broken for him. It’s even more-so now that I know that he’s in a group foster home situation, not an actual home and that his birth mother just got herself arrested for drugs again. Now that I know that he’s got an IEP and is medicated for certain disorders and the kids think he’s just dumb.
Today the backpack came in and I ran to Target and stocked it for him.
I bought him a new notebook, pens, highlighters, pencils, erasers and then some fun stuff like animal cookies, mamba fruit chews, slim jim, gobstoppers, a tootsie roll bank filled with candy, a slinky, fruit snacks, granola bars and a gatorade.
I know it’s just a small thing, one small gesture, but it’s the gift I’m most excited to give this season. And I don’t know that it’s the right response in light of the tragedy on Friday but in a moment of such unfathomable darkness, I think any light is a good thing.
I think the majority of people my age have grown up with the idea of owning our own homes as part of the “American Dream” it’s something to strive for, it’s something that is a good investment, it’s somewhat of a status symbol. It’s important, plain and simple and it’s a sign that you’ve grown up, become an adult, arrived.
I’ve never been that person. I have always been a renter. I have always wanted the option of getting the hell out of dodge, if I wanted, probably because I am so very miserable here in Houston (WHEN WILL THE ALLERGIES END) but also because I wanted the headaches to be someone else’s. I wanted the $1249 water main break to be someone else’s problem. The replacing of a toilet wax seal because the toilet leaked all over our floor. The replacing of very pricey appliances. The $3500 Pergo floors. The very expensive A/C repair. The future roof replacing. The very near future siding replacing. The ENTIRE FENCE REPLACING. The very expensive tree trimming. The reno of the guest bathroom. The reno of the kitchen. The leaking of the shower into the wall and under our floors. The destruction of baseboards and carpets. The reno of the master bathroom. I want all these things to be coming out of someone else’s pocket and weighing on someone else’s mind.
But for the past 5 or maybe 6? I don’t know now…these problems have been our problems and this house has been our house and we have very diligently paid our dues. We have made smart upgrade choices, trying not to over-upgrade our smallish starter home. We have replaced things that needed replacing. We have fixed things that needed fixing. We have lamented things that our inspection should’ve caught but didn’t. We have maintained our termite warranty. The roses have flourished in my care. The carolina jessamine is already beyond the second set of trellis I added to help support it.
And then this weekend my husband opened a piece of mail that essentially made all that work worthless. One piece of mail that cut $21,000 out from under us. ONE PIECE OF MAIL=$21,000. Just like that we were told that about 30% of the houses in Houston were considered “over market value” and lucky for us, we/our area made that cut…we are now paying on a mortgage for a house that is completely not worth what we pay for it every month. We already were paying more for it than it was worth…so this is just MORE OUT OF THAT BUCKET. And yes, people will say but the market could change. And yes, people will say a house is a long term investment…your money could come back to you. Here is the problem. I WANT OUT OF THIS PLACE. I need to move somewhere that I can BREATHE. I haven’t been able to breathe out of my nose IN YEARS. YEARS.
I have had one sinus surgery already. I take multiple medications daily. I have a headache almost every day of my damn life even with the meds. My son is about to graduate high school in ONE YEAR. I HAD A LIGHT AT THE END OF MY TUNNEL and of course it’s a damn train. Because OF COURSE IT IS.
And beyond that, I can already see this neighborhood is not what it was 10 years ago (I have lived in this subdivision for 15 years almost) there are more apartments, there are more dollar stores, there are more thrift centers and Fallas Parades and all the “high dollar” places and restaurants have moved further down and further away. My son’s school applied for and won Title 1 status from the state (which means a certain percentage of its students are living at or below poverty) I can only see my property values going further down from here. FURTHER DOWN.
This is not my beautiful house.
Sometimes it’s the little things like a favorite old spoon with stars in the handle, a lovely coffee cup from dear friends, hot chai mixed with coffee and coconut milk creamer and getting a project that’s been nagging off of your plate.
Based on this post via Jonniker, I decided to share some of our family’s quirks with you, for lo there are many.
Monday nights are pizza nights. I’m sure some of you are saying but that’s not a quirk, that’s a tradition! Or that’s just a fun thing y’all do! But NO. If I change it up? If we have some other meal Monday night? If we miss HIMYM (How I Met Your Mother) and Pizza? I hear “But MONDAY IS PIZZA NIGHT” and am met with looks of confusion and the world hits a full stop. Monday IS Pizza night.
To sleep I have to have a fan. HAVE TO HAVE A FAN. So I have the Ambiance app on my iPhone for when I am not at home and will sleep with my earphones in my ears in order to have a fan (and not wake my roomies) if it’s just my family? FULL ON SPEAKERS. When my sister and I traveled to Sea World with the kids? SHE BROUGHT A FAN TO THE HOTEL. Yes. We looked like hillbillies carrying a box fan into the freaking OMNI HOTEL and yet? I was so excited for the possibility of a good night’s sleep. It didn’t happen because everyone in the room kept me awake, am lightest sleeper ever.
I also require a “cuddle pillow” and yes we call it that twee of a name. In our queen-sized bed it’s me, my husband and each of us having our own pillows. We are both mainly side sleepers and it’s so much more comfortable to have the pillow to wrap around. We also each have our own sheet and if I had my way? We’d have our own blanket. If I truly had my way we’d have a king-sized sleep number bed, but I digress. My husband is the biggest cover hog that has ever lived. He is also the biggest bed hog that has ever lived and another function of the cuddle pillow is to keep his ass on HIS FUCKING SIDE. My husband’s ritual when he gets into bed makes me nuts. He can’t stand wrinkles in any part of the sheets that touch him so it takes him a good 15 mins (or it just seems that long) while he sorts it all out and if I’m in bed? That time is spent hearing all the sheet cracking and thumping and feeling it pull all over my body or on the really bad days? GETTING ELBOWED IN THE FACE as he works it out over there.
At home? We both sleep naked, be ye warned robbers of America, but at a hotel? PAJAMAS ARE A MUST (aka boxers for the husband) I wish all hotels were the type with duvet comforter situations or just multiple sheets with a blanket sandwiched in between. I get SKEEVED OUT when I see those old fashioned bed covers, you KNOW that shit never gets washed. UGH SO MANY FLUIDS. *shudder* I also rarely am barefoot in hotels unless I am trying to pretend I am not that OCD. When I am at a hotel with family and can let my freak flag fly? Flip flops or slipper socks at all times.
I absolutely can not fall asleep on my back. If I start to? Every part of my body becomes uncomfortable and I have to move. HAVE TO MOVE.
Laundry is sorted into towels, sheets, colors, bleeders (new colors like new jeans and reds that will bleed too bad to be in general population) and lights (whites, tans and pastels). I don’t believe in bleaching laundry unless absolutely necessary. I have no issues with sorting, loading into the washer, loading into the dryer, hanging to dry and heaping the stuff from the dryer into the nearest chair but I HATE FOLDING AND PUTTING AWAY. HATE.
I’m totally fine with a quiet house during the day but if I hear something (a song, the radio in the car, the tv) at some point? Then I have to have noise the rest of the day. Once the silence is broken it must remain so.
I’m sure there are more…but that’s all I can think of for now.