Thursday, October 31, 2013

Huff and puff all you want

I told a couple of my students yesterday that I wouldn't be at school today. I had to miss school to close on my condo.

"Why won't you be here, Ms. Heathen?" my favorite little seven-year-old queried.

"I won't be here because I'm moving to a new house," I explained.

"What color is it?" she asked.

"It's brick," I replied, surprised that this was her first question (I wasn't surprised by her second question: "Will you live there with your sister and her baby?" She's a little bit obsessed with my sister and her baby these days.)

"Oh, that's good," she responded with no hesitation, "Brick houses are strong. They won't fall down. It's much better than having a straw house."

"That's true," I said. "If the big bad wolf came, he wouldn't be able to blow down my new house. I hadn't thought of that."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming of age

During the past couple of months, I seem to have made an unexpected and rapid transition to adulthood. Adulthood, it turns out, is not as hard as it seems -- mostly it just involves spending a lot of money that you don't have. I've discovered that I have quite a knack for it.

So, this week, I will be giving a check worth several tens of thousands of dollars that aren't mine to a lawyer in exchange for an apartment. And my new least favorite person in the world, Banker Bob, will be giving me a mortgage to pay worth several hundred thousand more dollars to pay for the rest of it.

All of this has been made possible by my financial planner. I ask her a question like, "Do you think I could maybe someday buy an apartment?" fully expecting her to reply, "Are you crazy?? You're a teacher. Maybe when you're 50 you can think about it." But instead she looks at my budget and runs some calculations, and shows me a few tables showing what my finances look like now compared with if I had several different types of mortgages, and becomes increasingly excited as she talks about all the deducting that will happen after I have an apartment. Then she tries to think of a pottery metaphor to explain what she's gone over, since I don't understand her sports metaphors, but her pottery metaphor doesn't really make sense and involves a lot of time spent correcting her false assumptions about pottery ["No, we don't paint our pottery. It gets dipped in glaze."]. Then she says, "Do you understand everything I've explained to you?" and I nod my head yes, even though I've actually been spacing out for the past fifteen minutes and thinking about what might happen in the last season of Mad Men.  But what I *do* understand is that not only would I be a fool not to buy a house, I'd also be a huge disappointment to my financial planner. And six months or so later, I find myself writing checks for sums so astronomical I never thought I'd see the day. She's really quite something.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Raspberry season

My roommate is a bit squeamish. I try to protect her from anything that I think will bother her; for instance, when we catch a mouse in one of our traps, I tell her to close her eyes while I dispose of the mouse and then hop around the kitchen, wringing my hands. I make sure to take the garbage out immediately so she won't accidentally catch a glimpse of a bloody little tail peeking out. I once found a moth in our ten-pound bag of flour, and disposed of the moth, sifted through the bag to check for other moths, and put the bag in the freezer without breathing a word of it to my roommate, knowing she'd want to toss the whole bag if she knew the truth.

Last week, though, I slipped up when she asked me if I wash the raspberries we get in our farm share.

"Want to hear something gross about the raspberries?" I asked, thinking that if I prefaced my story with that question I was giving her an out. But of course no one ever replies no to a question like that.

"Tell me," she replied.

"If you look at them really closely, you can see there are tiny little white worms on them."

"GROSS," she replied. "So, you're saying that yes, you do wash them?"

"No," I replied honestly, "I eat them with the worms."

"Next time you ask if I want to hear something gross, I'm going to say no," she answered.

Somehow ever since then, I've been the only one eating the raspberries in our fridge. They're delicious. And they've got extra protein.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A bird in the hand

I have a very promising bird in my hand. Well, in my case, I actually have two birds in my hand, one literal (my pet lovebird, who spends much of his free time ignoring my polite requests that he stop humping my hand) and the other one metaphorical; but let's stick to the metaphorical bird for the time being. This bird is handsome, smart, funny and interesting. He wants the same things I want, and has called me at least twice a week since we started dating two and a half months ago. He likes live music, and has a membership to the Institute of Contemporary Art. He's an excellent planner -- he buys tickets ahead of time, and gets places early so he can save us a spot in line and I can arrive whenever, and packs a waterproof bag when we go kayaking (not that he's perfect -- I'm not sure if my sister will ever be able to move on from the fact that he forgot to pack water when we went hiking). He's made me dinner, and brought me to the theater, and we always have a great time together. And it's not just that he's great on paper: I actually really like him and feel connected to him.

But there are also a lot of very interesting birds in the bush. And while I completely see the wisdom of valuing the bird in my hand more than the ones in the bush, I can't help but feel very compelled by the ones in the bush as well. One of these bush-birds brought me a bouquet of flowers he grew in his garden recently. Another is bringing his brand new 8-week-old puppy to visit me at my craft fair on Sunday -- and who can resist a puppy! Another made an adorable collection of tiny stones and seaglass that fit snugly into a shell for me. These birds are filled with uncertainty; I have no idea what they want in life, or if there's any real possibility our lives could work together. But I'm really enjoying them and I'd hate to give them up.

If only there were a way for me to have my own little flock with *lots* of birds in it.