Wait, what?

October 2017. That was my last post. I didn’t have a single post in 2018. I went to Japan and didn’t write about it. I have intentions, I just don’t follow through. Sad day. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s still January. I can still make this happen for 2019.

Fall

Glorious, pumpkin-infested Fall. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows everywhere I look. Brisk mornings, darker evenings, and daytime weather to make me swoon. School is back in full swing and TV is new again. It’s my favorite season, and somehow the season that seems to disappear faster than any other.

The excitement of the first brisk mornings, the first snow, and the piles of leaves that suddenly appear below the trees prefaces the inevitable Christmas shopping panic that ensues. Every year I say I want to do it earlier, but every year I want to just enjoy the perfection that is Fall. I want to sip my cinnamon tea, savor Oktoberfest beers, experiment with winter squash and soup recipes, dust off my sweaters, and be outside sweat- and frost-free for as long as I can.

Then it happens. Thanksgiving sneaks up. Christmas is around the corner. I stress about shopping, hosting, and gifting. Suddenly Fall is a thing of the past and we’re knee deep in winter. The days are blustery, the roads are icy, and it’s dark at 4:30. The school year is already half over and I have to start thinking about what my kids will do in the summer.

Then we blow through spring, summer is on the horizon, and the cycle repeats itself. Every year. And every year I’m unprepared. But when summer rolls back around, I get to think about Fall again.

Fall, how I love thee…let me savor you while you last!

Ever heard of Google?

I was at the vet yesterday with one of my dogs, when a woman asked if she was an Affenpincer. “A what?” I replied. “She’s some kind of terrier mix. I’m not familiar with an Affenpincer.”

The woman responded that they’re a small, cute breed and very sweet. She thought Izzie looked like one in the face. She left me with, “Next time you’re at the library, look up pictures of an affenpincer.”

Next time I’m at the library? It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone say that. Just google it. That’s the answer to everything. You have a rash on your stomach? Google it. You want to know what kind of plant is growing in your side yard? Google it. You wonder who that actor is you thought you saw in an early episode of Seinfeld? Google it.

I bought a birthday card for someone once that had a picture of “Life before Google.” One person (or animal?) says to the other one, “I just thought of something I’d like to know more about.” The other one says “That’s a damn shame.” My husband and I thought it was so funny, we still say that all the time.
“I wonder how long that building has been there.”
“That’s a damn shame.”

You don’t have to wonder anymore. The days of calling the radio station to ask who sang that last song are long gone. Just google it.

There is a generational gap, to be sure. It would never occur to a teen or even a twenty-something who has never known life without the internet to go to a library to look up pictures in a book. It just got me thinking about how “normal” for me isn’t necessarily “normal” for someone else. Not everyone has a computer, or a smart phone, or the mentality that the library is an archaic source of information when it comes to checking day-to-day information such as, say, a picture of a dog breed. Just because we’ve been living online for 20+ years doesn’t mean everyone has been living their lives behind a screen. Maybe we should go to the library and look up things in paper books! But it’s so much easier to google…

For the record, when I got Izzie into the exam room, I googled affenpincer on my phone. She’s not.

Su-su-summertime

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love summer. Even full-time working parents seem to get away for boating, hiking, beaching adventures, relishing in the long sun-filled days. Weekends are spent basking in the poolside sun, and frolicking barefoot in manicured backyard lawns.

I am not one of these summer lovers. Don’t get me wrong–I like the warm sun on my skin. I like puttering in my garden, dangling my feet in the pool, and the freedom of forgetting which day of the week it is when not fully employed. However, bored kids = miserable parents. On the rare occasion I get it together to find something for my kids to do, they don’t want to do it. The house is often filled with other people’s bored kids, which leads to epic slime-making-induced messes that I have to clean up. Oh, yes, I make my kids clean up their messes. Inevitably though, they miss a patch of glue on my mixing bowl or glitter on the floor and I have to do it anyway.

Mellow me says let them be kids. Let them make messes and memories. Practical, grown-up me says NO MESSES! NO FUN! NO FRIENDS WHO RAID MY PANTRY! Practical, grown-up me gets online for the daily client follow-up and job search, one ear open for a crash, breaking bowl, or even worse–prolonged silence.

Excuse me while I go hose off the spilled glue from the front porch.

Party metaphor for parental control

My daughter recently had a few friends come skating for her 8th birthday. Not a PARTY, per se, but just a few friends and a skating rink, followed by some ice cream. So, kind of a party. I had never met two of the friends’ parents. The kids pretty much planned it—they talked about it at school and told their parents, but since we didn’t have invitations (it was NOT a party!), I wanted to call and talk to the parents. There’s no way I would let my kid go off with someone I had never met if I didn’t even talk to them about what they were doing, so I wouldn’t expect another parent to, either.

When I called one mom, she said they don’t like their daughter riding with other people, so she would drop her off at the skating rink and then pick her up and drive her to the ice cream place. OK, I get that—she doesn’t know us at all. For all she knows, I may keep a beer fridge in my car.  I’m not here to judge. Maybe she had a bad experience.

This got me thinking about how different we are now than how we used to be (really, a lot of things make me think about that). I could go into all sorts of “when I was a kid” comparisons, but when I was a kid living in Tokyo at 10, I would ride the subway all over the city by myself. Seriously. And I wasn’t even allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I was married! Or until I was well beyond 13, anyway. I also remember kids piling into my mom’s minivan for soccer practice, swim team, post-game pizza…whatever it may have been, parents just sort of relied on each other for that type of thing.

I still come across parents who don’t really know what their kids are up to, and who would probably let them go anywhere with anyone. I feel like there are far more who lean the other way, however, and I think there are several factors that contribute to this shift. First, we are bombarded with stories about horrible things that happen to kids. On the news, on the radio, on the internet, in our Facebook feeds, and from other parents. A generation or two ago, there weren’t so many options. Second, we spend so much time in front of our computers that we forget how to interact with each other. We learn to be cautious and forget that people are people. Third, sites like Pinterest make us think we have to be the best at everything, but we lose the ability to ask for help when we need it.

There are now, have always been, and always will be varying levels of parental control and protectiveness. How do we find that middle ground? I am of the opinion that you can’t shelter them forever and sometimes you need to have faith and trust people. Yes, bad things happen, but if we can just take precautions, trust our instincts, and lean on each other, the odds will be ever in our favor.

Why are you ignoring me?

Since I’ve gotten into real estate, I’ve been made painfully aware of how many people flat-out ignore other people. Being on the receiving end of this really kinda sucks. I completely understand if I, as an obnoxious Realtor trying to drum up business, send unsolicited emails or letters that go unanswered. In fact, when I send letters or postcards, I definitely don’t ever expect to hear back from anyone—I do it just on the HOPE, the slim CHANCE that someone will react. I don’t ever send mass marketing emails, but I do send emails to people who I have met and who have provided me with their email address. Sometimes I’ve met them at an open house. Sometimes they’ve registered on my website. I take time to craft emails, sometimes creating reports with information I think they may find useful. I send them and get no response. A week will go by. Maybe two weeks. I’ll send another follow-up email to see if they’ve looked at it or have any questions. If I have a phone number for them, I’ll call. If I have an address, I may even stop by. They don’t answer their phone. They don’t answer their door.

If someone doesn’t want to work with me, that’s fine. There are many, many Realtors. If a person tells me they’re thinking of selling their home though, or thinking of buying soon, they’re going to need real estate services. I offer real estate services. I want to help. I will not give up until told to do so. I will keep pestering until a potential client tells me to go away, and I am not offended by it. I get it—things happen. People change plans, meet new people, or have financial woes. Just tell me so I can stop wasting my time and bugging you!

It’s baffling, really, and it’s not limited to real estate. I do a lot of volunteer work at my kids’ school, and as such, I sometimes have lists of other people who have signed up to volunteer. I have been sending emails to these faceless lists lately, and out of 20 people, I got 2 replies. Two. That means 18 people thought it was appropriate to ignore me, as if I am not a human being giving up my time to do these things for our kids at their school. No “Sorry, I’m too busy to help.” No “I’ll do what I can but no guarantees.” No “I have had a lot of changes since I signed up, and will no longer be able to help.” Not even a “I’m on the list by mistake” or “Screw off.” Nothing.

Nada.

Crickets.

So through all the time I have been ignored, I find myself wondering whether people don’t mind being rude, or whether they think they go unnoticed. Maybe they think I send out so many personalized, tailored reports (which I pay a lot to send) and emails, that it’s OK for them to delete it. Maybe they think I have so many volunteers to deal with that I won’t notice if just one person doesn’t respond. Maybe everyone else is ignored too, and they’re paying it forward.

Or, maybe they just forget.

Middle School on the Horizon

Middle school. In many ways, it was the worst time of my life. With two daughters, I have dreaded the impending-but-still-far-enough-on-the-horizon-that-it-didn’t-seem-real middle school years. As it turns out, my firstborn is almost through fifth grade, so we’re almost there.

If you don’t have kids, you may not know why I dread the middle school years. If you were never a middle school girl, you may not know why I dread the middle school years. Otherwise, you get it. Girls are mean. Boys start to like girls. Hormones go crazy. Classes get harder. Sports get competitive. Kids are learning who they are, and experimenting with things they shouldn’t.

It’s a whole new world. A transition from childhood to adulthood. A gateway to…shudder…the teen years. Shoot me now.

We’ve already been seeing mood swings and attitudes that make me want to curl up in the fetal position and sing nursery rhymes until I forget who I am for a while. We’ve been seeing peer behavior that makes Mean Girls look like a cartoon on Nick Jr. We’ve had the preview, but I don’t think I’m quite prepared for the actual feature presentation.

We have a few more months. Maybe if I build it up in my head, it won’t be so bad. Maybe kids really don’t drink in middle school. Maybe there really is no sex. Maybe they aren’t overloaded with homework and pressure.

Well, at least I won’t be surprised.