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They’re Just Numbers

Things I can do like a boss: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Oh, but you throw a decimal in there, and all bets are off. The following is from 2009 but not much has changed. Since tomorrow I plan on writing about how math is happening in our house in 2017, I thought it’d be a good idea to give you a Herndon numbers primer/history lesson first.


Karen’s rabbit has 7 babies every year and every year she and her 7 babies have 7 babies. How many babies are possible to have been born the third year? I have news for you…my kids are never even gonna own rabbits because of the potential for them to be cooked alive by a jilted lover. So Karen and her mama on whatever farm they live can count their rabbit babies and clean those nasty cages without involving me or my calculating brain cells. I need those to figure out how much change I’m due on the liquor they just made me buy.

Word problems are my nemesis (well, one of them at least. There’s also fractions, decimals, all matter of algebra, and my brain bleeds internally at the mention of trigonometry). Exaggerating, you think? No. No, I’m not. Example: fourth grader has homework consisting of the above word problem. The numbers on the page all started dancing around to form a maniacal happy face. A happy face that laughed at me for even touching the paper. It whispered, “you know better.” I did know better. I retreated to the kitchen, proclaiming that dinner was burning. “Do you have something else you can start in the meantime?” And then I silently prayed that daddy would be back soon while I held back the tears and pretended to be very, very busy.

In our house, daddy does math. Mommy does reading/English. This is not to say that daddy can’t be his usual awesome self and pull a math/English combo. He can. The same cannot be said about mommy. Aside from the occasional synonym or spelling question for me, daddy has it if he’s alone and there’s English homework. If I’m alone, though, and there’s math…daddy’s worried. Initially, I never wanted the kids to know that there was a distinct separation of homework duties. I wanted them to believe that both of us could help with whatever they brought home. Until now, (the time fondly referred to as Fourth Grade Math Hell), I’ve stupidly let them believe I know what’s going on. {whispering frantically: I don’t know what’s going on!} Girls can do math just as well as boys, yes, I know. But this girl? This one here? Nope. Uh uh. I am literally excited at the prospect of diagramming sentences, writing a story, finding the main idea. But I am equally distraught and in need of Imodium when presented with fourth grade math. (Note I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to say the same for fifth grade on up). I’ve tried going online to brush up on what she’s being taught. In my old age, however, I have come to realize that I simply don’t have an affinity for math. I get flustered in situations where I have to come up with an amount off the top of my head. I use my iPhone to determine sales tax or discounts based on percentages.

It sounds as though I’ve simply given up. Not exactly. I’ve given in to the fact that I’d rather they know I am mathematically challenged but that that doesn’t have to be the same for them. Wait, how the hell will I do that? How will I be able to be that cheerleader for computation if I don’t know whether their answer is correct? Even daddy’s starting to look at me like WTF this page is basic. You don’t know how to do this? Ummmmmmmm…just a sec, dinner’s burning.

I Can’t Stop Scratching

I have the heebie jeebies. My house is infested. Growing up, we had roaches. It was do or die in there sometimes, because there was a point in the middle of the night where you simply couldn’t go into the kitchen if you wanted to walk a straight line without stepping on a bug, I don’t care how strategically you walked. A friend and I tried an experiment once. Because the roaches pretty much came out when it got dark, we tried to stay up all night and leave the kitchen light on. We were in eighth grade, maybe. It was a Friday. We lasted until about 3:00 a.m. before we both fell asleep at the table. When we woke up there weren’t that many, just a few, far away. The light must have made a difference, so yes I’ve been a scientist since I was 12.

(It amazes me sometimes that we coexisted with those bugs. We’d fumigate every few months and have a couple of weeks bug-free, but they’d come back. I remember the exterminator once saying it was harder with apartment buildings or attached houses like ours was. If the house affixed to ours wasn’t exterminating at the same time it’d be a ridiculous cycle. It was a ridiculous cycle. And let me just say this: it had zero to do with cleanliness. Zero. No matter how much we scrubbed, disposed of trash, and exterminated regularly, they always came back. I marvel sometimes that I live without them because I can remember being a child imagining that would never happen.)

We had a mouse once, a few years ago. I wrote about it to process it, but I still feel ill at ease. I am serious when I say I still can’t go into my own kitchen in the middle of the night. Until now, I’d never put together how this feels like that time in eighth grade.

So when I tell you we have an infestation, I need you to take me seriously. They’re everywhere. The ladybugs.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ladybugs are pretty and good luck. And I’m thinking sure, they are, but they belong outside. Every winter, they come into the house and crawl on my walls and ceilings and fly half centimeters as though that’s a distance. Sometimes I put them outside but how am I to know if the one I put outside at 2:00 isn’t the same one in a group of four I see later that night at 8:00? How do I know I didn’t put him out and he didn’t fly back to wherever they’re coming in from, knocked, and got let back in by Johnny?

I know they come in because it’s getting cold out and I don’t necessarily mind. But when they’re on my lampshade beside the bed, I can’t help but imagine they’ve been ON the bed. When they hover above the bed trying to make it back to the ceiling or light bulb (they want to be on the bulbs) it’s hard to believe they haven’t been landing and crawling all over my pillow.

I won’t kill them. But it’s clear that relocating is a temporary fix. I have to go now, there’s one crawling on my shoe. I have to get it and put it outside before I try to take a nap and dream it crawled into my ear.

Taking Stock: November 2017 – Pt 2

Part one is here.

Following: I have no money for overseas travel, but I’ve recently become addicted to following airplane ticket prices/sales to destinations out of the U.S. We could go to Jamaica for $790 round trip in mid-December. Even if we could scrounge up $790 we probably wouldn’t be able to eat when we got there. We are so spoiled.

Noticing: There’s one flower outside that refuses to die from coldnessness.



Knowing: I may not have made it to anyone’s 30 Under 30 or 40 Under 40 list, but there’s still time for 50 Under 50. Also? I don’t really care about lists. I could still finish my novel at 46. And I hate the suggestion that accomplishments past 30 or 40 aren’t worth being noticed for. Uh-oh, you’re 41, too late.

Thinking: These clothes have been sitting in the living room, clean, for more than two weeks. No one has a hamper upstairs for newly dirty clothes because they’re all in the living room, still. How long will it take before I empty the contents on folks’ beds?

Admiring: Ava. Everything Ava.

Sorting: I’m sorting through clothes to see what to keep and what needs to go. Who wants to bet what happened with the winter coat last year happens to something else I intended on keeping? Call it.

Getting: My hair braided. I can’t wait. The ease of having short hair really only works for me when it’s warm out. The wash and go is so simple. But wetting it every morning is a chore when it’s cold out. Last week I wore my head wrap to work three days (kept it on for one) and wet my hair there. It’s less professional than you would imagine having one’s head in the sink at the office. Even less so is toweling it dry with a Bratz-themed towel.

Bookmarking: There are so many tabs open on my computer right now. Four of them relate to painting wood furniture because eventually I’ll get to this buffet I’m turning into a bedroom dresser. Turning into = painting it, changing the handles, and moving it from the dining room to the bedroom.


Disliking: Oh, boy. There’s a whole post I could do on this (ooh, look! Ideas!) but historically, it’s gum popping. Immediately, it’s littering. Trash can was right there, bruh.

Opening: I’m convinced our mortgage holder is selling information. I keep getting mail from these “We’ll buy your house” people. There’s never an address, just a phone number (sure, that seems reputable!). It incenses me and I’m not sure why I don’t just throw them away. I feel compelled to contact them to tell them to leave us alone; if we wanted to sell we would and probablydefinitely it wouldn’t be through them. I think it’s the audacity. I don’t believe they’re random. Are the neighbors getting these? I think if you’ve paid late a certain amount of times or if you’re behind, the mortgage company is selling that information. When we first were looking to buy, we absolutely cruised neighborhoods we were interested in and contacted owners of ones that didn’t seem lived in. We heard back from a few who explained that the house had been in the family for years and they were still deciding what to do. But this is different. This feels like predatory communications and I wish there were a way to find out if my suspicion is true.

Giggling: Did you hear about the Italian chef? He pasta-way. How does a barber cut the moon’s hair? Eclipse it. No, no, don’t go! I have so many more!

Feeling: Blah about the holidays while simultaneously shouting in my head HOLIDAYS, YAY.

Snacking: I’m trying to be more mindful about what I eat and drink. Snacking at work is the worst if I don’t bring my own. The only things remotely healthy in our general snack area is popcorn. I’m so sick of popcorn. We were out of popcorn so I bought some more.

Hearing: I’ve been on a Corinne Bailey Rae kick lately. I do not regret this.

Taking Stock: November 2017-Pt 1

I got this idea from Laurie who got it from Meet Me at Mikes (a site I’d never heard of but am visiting now entirely too often because beautiful crafts I’ll never do but will judge myself for not attempting, thanks Laurie).

Making: Christmas lists. I’ve officially bought two things. They’re both for the same person.

Cooking: I’m into ginger everything. It’s replacing the previously unnecessary dashes of paprika. Salmon? Ginger. Stir fry? Ginger. It hasn’t made its way to breakfast foods yet other than smoothies, but give me time.

Drinking: Water. I’m seriously increasing my water intake. I hate that I pee ever 12 minutes and can’t make it comfortably from work to home.

Reading: I just finished Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water. I had it from the library for the typical 21-day allotment. Though I started it immediately, I found myself returning it late in order to finish because I’d lost interest. I’m reading Nicole Blades’ Have You Met Nora at home and Dennis Lehane’s Since We Fell on my commute.

Wanting: An electric blanket. It’s something I’ve always wanted but will never buy for myself. I usually just bypass them in Target, but recently, because I won a gift card at work for being the keeper of relatively obscure movie lyrics (in my head), I actually stopped and caressed them. I read the specs: it’s plush, it’s washable, there’s a timer, and the cord is long enough to not require an extension cord which I’m sure would’ve had my bedmate spouting fire hazard statistics. I still walked away even though I knew I’d be cold later.

Looking: For my slipper. I’ve bought a new pair since one went missing IN THE HOUSE but I haven’t been able to throw away the remaining one because I know full damn well the missing one will go unmissing the minute I trash the one that was too afraid to abandon me.

Playing: Seekers Notes. It’s a hidden item game that I hide out in the bathroom at work and play.

Deciding: How much to put on which bill.

Wishing: The lady in the restroom at the movie theatre tonight rolled her eyes at me in the mirror. She sighed as she walked past Z washing his hands. I can only assume she thought he didn’t belong in the women’s room. Well guess what, Carmen. Until I’m comfortable with him going into the men’s room alone, he comes in the restroom with me. I wish people could offer more grace. At least this time he didn’t do that weird Blair Witch face the wall move.

Enjoying: Teaching. The class truly brings me joy and to see the students realize their anxiety about public speaking is waning never gets old.

Waiting: I can’t wait for next week because it’s a potential four-day weekend.

Liking: The ease of having my hair short.

Wondering: Where my winter coat is. I know I thought last year about Goodwilling it with the assumption I’d get a new one before it got cold this year. I can’t find it but I don’t remember actually donating it, just the thought I’d had about it. It’s been weeks, so I’m going to go ahead and call it. I need a new winter coat.

Loving: How easy it is to get my son to read a book not in his preferred genre.

Pondering: (Doesn’t this mean wondering or considering?)

Considering: What if I stop teaching to concentrate on finishing the novel? I teach twice a week right now 5:30-6:50. With the commute I’m usually home by 8. Next semester I’ve signed up for two classes, Monday through Thursday, 5:30-6:50 for one and 7:00-8:00 for the other. What if I decline one of those and use that time instead to write? I’d probably just nightnap.

Buying: Not this, but a girl can dream.


Watching: I took Z to see Coco tonight. It is such an unexpectedly good movie, filled with humor and color.

Hoping: That DC isn’t selected as Amazon’s next physical store site.

Marvelling: That the human body doesn’t know when a woman no longer needs to have a period. I’m done with what these parts are used for, it’s time to shut it down. Forever.

Cringing: I heard a bump in my eight-year-old’s room the other day, following quickly by an exclamation of, “Oh, shit.” I hollered up the stairs, “Z.” A sheepish yes from him. “Watch your mouth, please.” We talked later about proper words to use when hurt (he’d hit his knee) but I’m not holding out hope that he’ll pick something new. He was probably cussing at me in his head as I talked to him about not cussing. Also? I am partial to dammit.

Needing: Still with the electric blanket. It’s so far beyond want.

Questioning: Everything, from what to wear to the way of the world.

Smelling: Honeysuckle. There’s a bit still left in the front yard even though it’s getting cold. The smell is faint, but it’s there.

Wearing: The cutest wool swing coat I found last year at the thrift store. I never wore it because it was missing a button.

Part two tomorrow or the next day because screw expectations.