Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fences Make Good Neighbors

We are having an enormous silver maple tree taken down today. It gives us pretty shade in the hot summer, privacy on our patio, and it's a marker of things in this world that have been around for a lot longer than we have and potentially for a lot longer after we are gone. Silver maples are also very likely to be inhabited by squirrels, who hollow out the inside creating weaknesses that then cause huge branches to fall from great heights. The previous owner was a gardener who worked closely with an arborist on the various trees on the property and had some of the larger branches cabled to make it safer and in the event of a break, to keep them from crashing to the ground. Our neighbor has made several (whiney) comments about the tree, and even though we had a tree guy come out and look at it and give it a clean bill of health, I can understand his concern.

After the freak snowstorm we had here at the end of October, we realized that while there was no damage from this tree on ours or the neighbor's house (of which about 75% of the tree points in that direction) that we would take the tree down this spring. It is costing us $3000. Three. Thousand. Dollars. So being the decent neighbors that we are, we are taking care of it. Legally, we don't have to. If they so desire they can hire someone to come out and trim the branches to the property line. But that would require the use of the same bucket truck that we had to hire and would cost them $3000. (can you tell I am not looking forward to swiping the credit card on this one?) So I don't think he would do it.

So the other day after making small talk with me for a few minutes he asked us if we would also have the ends of another healthy tree that hangs over his driveway (barely) trimmed back. Mother f*cker loves to get things done for free. It is wayyyy up high and extends at most 4 feet over his driveway. By trimming it back to the property line, it would create an uneven balance to the rest of the tree from which hangs our tree swing. That his daughter goes on whenever she pleases. Which is fine. Except now he's in my numbers.

So I do this thing where I completely internalize whatever conversations I have with people and go thru a whole range of emotions rehashing it over and over and over. I see their side. I really do. Our driveway is under my other neighbor's huge pine tree which drops sap sometimes on my car. They also have a row of cypress that drops needles and makes kind of a mess in my yard. Can I ask them to take them down? You bet. Would they want to? Probably not. If we wanted to we could have them trimmed back. So instead I move the car back a few feet in the drive and bust out the leaf blower from time to time. I'm not being a martyr, just kind of rolling with the fact that I chose to live on a street that the houses are all pretty darn close to each other.

I tend to go through life trying to make sure that everyone else's wants are taken care of, and seethe on the inside. So today, after losing sleep over this for a week I spoke to his wife. With a smile on my face and a firmness to my spine I told her we weren't going to do it and why. I stood my ground. With my roots firmly planted. Much like the tree that's about to be cut to the ground, roots intact. I would love to put up a 6 foot privacy fence between our houses. But I can't. Because that would cost, like, three thousand dollars.

Friday, March 16, 2012


So lately, since January I guess, I've been having smallish panic attacks. They come along usually when I have a social event coming up, even something as minor as meeting friends for coffee, or a walk around the reservior. It can be a meeting with teachers, or having to get to the St. Patrick's Day parade. Nothing too great or small to cause the breathing to catch in my chest, my arm muscles to go slack (that's my favorite) and the paralysis of not being able to get organized and go take care of the smallest of tasks. It's obvious right now that my impending start date at work is casting it's shadow and slowing me down. But it's frustrating to have to gear up and power through to go to return our cable box to Comcast, fill out a W-2 form and attend a 40th birthday party tonight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

see saw

I haven't written in so long. This winter since Christmas has had it's ups and downs and as we seem to be heading full speed into spring (thank god) I feel like I should take a breather and get caught up. A breather. Ha. That's funny, because I feel like there are hours and days at a time that I just sit around getting nothing done. Paralyzed by not having a agenda. For example: yesterday I was supposed to go into Meg's art class and volunteer. Completely forgot, because I had nothing else going on. I sat on the couch watching Smash, while the birds chirped outside and the sun shone down on a brilliant 70 degree March day. On the days that I have a list or a plan, I get so much done, and end up facing myself in the mirror without the dread and sometimes self loathing that a lazy day can bring. That all said, I am looking forward to April 2nd when I start my new job. And absolutely dreading losing this freedom I have accumulated by having all three children in school all day. It's the perfect job. A writing tutor, in the public schools a town away. The money is exactly what I'd hoped, the hours are perfect. I will be working in the same school as a good friend, and I can finally put my Masters degree to work. I have the same vacations as my kids, plus the added bonus of extra weeks off when the tutors are not employed. I don't have to deal with lunch duty, morning duty, bus duty, conferences, parent BS, or even arranging for a sub if I have a sick kid at home. Perfect perfect perfect. ((sigh)).

I have been home for ten and a half years. I have not HAD to take a shower on a weekday morning more than a handful of times. I haven't had my professional abilities scrutinized by peers or superiors. I haven't had to answer to anyone in over a decade. Scary stuff.

But I couldn't have scripted it better. I always said that I would go back when the time was right and if the perfect opportunity presented itself. And it did. I interviewed for a math tutor position, and interviewing for that could have earned me and Academy Award, just convincing myself, let alone a principal and math specialist that I had the chops to teach 5th grade math. But things worked out even better when I mentioned in passing that I initially mentioned that I thought the job was to be a writing tutor and I have an English undergrad degree. So all the pieces really did fall into place. So here I sit. After reading several textbooks on what it takes to teach writing, and I realized that the best place to start is here. I hope to get my writing back on track and add some real purpose to my days. Wish me luck.