Friday, January 10, 2014

Theory 28: Don’t blog about brother-husbands or women doing all the work. You’ll tempt fate.

Christmas break was not a break for me. 

Two parts of the day scream “vacation” to me. The first is early morning, when I open my eyes and start mentally checking off my working mother to-do list, and realize that I—Yee Haw!—don’t have to go to work that day. I actually get up early on those mornings to extend my vacation. The second is late evening (for me 9:00 p.m.), when I start my person to person, bag to bag, ready for school-daycare-work tomorrow inventory and realize that I—Yee Haw!—don’t have to go to work tomorrow.  I missed such morning and evening relief this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, teachers get lots of time off. When I whine a little about my job (teachers are superb, detailed, colorful complainers), I often hear “Well, at least you get summers off and lots of breaks.” Well, we need them! It just cracks me up how parents who say that are the same ones who post Facebook messages saying “Please tell me that schools aren’t closed tomorrow” or “I am so ready for my children to go back to school!” If parents are tired of their own two children after a couple of weeks, they should certainly reasonably understand that teachers like me, who monitor, educate, and protect TWO HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN students every school day, need respite. So, yes, I am busy and tired, and I was really looking forward to a nice long break where I could read to Gnome, watch Sharky’s basketball games, entertain family, and eat and drink at will. But, as my not-so “Tender Tennessee Christmas” unfolded, I learned a big lesson: Don’t blog about brother-husbands or women doing all the work. You’ll tempt fate.

Boy, did I tempt fate. In two ways.

In Theory 19, I wrote:
I’ve tried to beat myself home before so I could welcome me to a clean house and supper on the stove, but even Big Red can’t drive that fast.

Where’s my heavy duty help? Sometimes I want to be nurtured, to point and delegate, to get in the “luge” position and watch Bravo. Well, one uterus seems to equal no dice. I need another uterus to help me. Or maybe uteri? Can I get an “amen” from the sisterhood?

but I’m not sure I could live with a bunch of women. I think I’d rather have brother husbands. I could assign them domestic regions of responsibility and choose them according to skill! I’d marry one plumber, one electrician, one handyman, one pediatrician, one academic, one party boy, one financial expert, and one family man.”

Basically, I complained that men don’t do enough and women have to do too much and questioned that perhaps I need an additional man. Well, it turns out I have one. I tempted fate and found a mate!

I would like to introduce ya’ll to my second husband. No, wait, Tall Child and I are still married, so let me rephrase. I’d like to introduce ya’ll to Tall Child’s brother husband, Joe L. I met Joe back in July. My CPA— let’s nickname him “Fair(way) Tax” because he’s a golf-fanatic and conservative accountant—called me at school to tell me that my and Tall Child’s joint tax returns for 2011 and 2012, which we’d filed electronically, were rejected by the IRS. Fair(way) Tax asked me, “Do you know a guy named Joe L.?”

I said, “No, why?”

Fair(way) Tax said, “Well, the IRS says ya’ll are married.”

That dog won’t hunt!  I cussed a blue streak. For several minutes. I cussed Obama, the IRS, the tax code, humanity, Tall Child (though he had nothing to do with this), and men in general. Hey, even Jimmy Buffet admitted “it’s [his] own da[ng] fault.” Once the fatherly Fair(way) Tax talked me off the ledge(r), I did what all working mothers do. I didn’t cry. I didn’t pout. I started taking care of business.

I paid Sharky $20 to brothersit Gnome as I waited for, then spoke to, an IRS agent on the phone for 2 hours. Somehow, Joe L. got my Social Security number and my 2011 W-2 from Knox County Schools.

Needless to say, that my and Joe L.’s marital relationship has birthed a baby notebook full of correspondence between our clergy (the IRS) and me. FYI to the IRS – I spent five minutes on the internet and found a Mississippi address and phone number for my man Joe L.

In my letter to the IRS, I wrote:
            I included screen printouts of what I found. I hope that helps you solve this mystery. I do have a question: Should I file a police report? I hesitated to do so initially, hoping that the mix-up was clerical, not criminal. Also, am I accruing tax penalties? If so, will they be waived once this situation is cleared up? And, is the IRS investigating this fraud and will you file charges against Mr. Joe? Please advise.

The IRS responded with a whopping, “We received your correspondence” correspondence letter. No answers. No results. It’s 2014. Really? My and Joe L’s book baby is growing and getting so chubby! In November, the IRS sent me a sweet little note saying an Identify Theft Fraud Alert had been placed on my account. That didn’t stop them for giving MY money away! Just before Christmas break, I opened another letter from the IRS stating that thousands of dollars (my 2012 tax refund) was direct deposited. Somewhere out there. The letter asked, “Did you get this refund? If not, complete the enclosed forms.” Yay me. Down went one hour on the phone and an afternoon compiling more evidence of my honesty.

One letter I haven’t written is a love letter to my brother husband Joe L. Hmmm….

Dear Joe L.,
            I miss you baby! Even more, I miss my money that you stole! But, I take my vows seriously and I suppose this is one of the “worse” times. I’m sure we’ll work it out. So, what’s up down there? It’s cold here in Tennessee. How are you spending the tax refund? Building a deck? Buying a boat? Paying for your niece’s meth rehab?
            Enough chit chat. We need to sync our calendars. I need you. This long distance relationship is killing me. Mississippi is just too far away. Tall Child has to work this weekend and Sharky has 7 basketball games, so you need to wash his uniforms and make sure he’s at the gym thirty minutes before game time. Gnome and I will meet you there. Don’t forget his PowerAde! Also, Sharky’s buddy is spending the night Saturday night. You are staying up late with them because Gnome and I are lights out at 9:00 p.m. Speaking of, please get me some Pinot Grigio on your way home. A magnum. Ooh, and, Tall Child’s car is in the shop. Unless you know how to fix a water pump, we need you to at least take OUR tax refund that YOU deposited and pay for the repairs.
            If only you were closer, baby,….…..I could hit you in the face with a skillet.

                                                                                 The wife you've never met in Tennessee

Basically, I complained, again, that men don’t do enough and women have to do too much. I tempted fate and overloaded my plate.

Throughout December, I procrastinated (learned the art from Tall Child) every grown-up thing I needed to do, including the IRS romance stuff, until my big Christmas break—a two week span in which time would crawl and I would efficiently get stuff done and get ahead. I made a giant to-do list for The Eye of Adoption, Theories: Size 12, magazine articles, guest blog posts, holiday fun, bills, entertaining, gift-buying, you name it! Yay. Break. NOT.

Sharky and I got out of school Friday, December 20. We went straight to Wal-Mart to gobble up lots of cheap, thoughtful gifts for friends and family. We hit the grocery Check! We went to a party that night. Check! Off to a great red and green start! Saturday, Sharky played in four basketball games and I went back to Wal-Mart (this time with Delicious) so we could sneak presents for Sharky and Gnome. And we went to Hobby Lobby. I survived. She thrived. Check. Sunday, more basketball games. Monday, Sharky, Gnome and I headed out around 10:30 a.m. to buy groceries and run final errands. When we got home at 2:30 p.m., I walked into the kitchen to see my little jewelry box turned over on the kitchen table and the sliding glass door handle on the ground outside. GULP. I grabbed Gnome and yelled for Sharky to go back to the car immediately! I said, “We’ve been robbed and he may still be here. Hurry! Get out!” We rushed into Big Red. I cranked her up and backed her around so we were facing out of the driveway. My hope was that the robber would run across the driveway and I could hit him. With my car. Seriously. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead. Whatever. I was calm and ready to put pedal to medal and thief to pavement. I called 911 and waited for the po-po. I called Tall Child who asked, immediately, “Did they get the TV?” Panic time. Jesus and bowl games are the reasons for the season in the SEC.

The robber took, as they always do, things that mean nothing material and everything sentimental, particularly my peace of mind. I told Tall Child that the robber took my grandmother’s engagement bracelet, my grandfather’s Navy bracelet, and other heirloom costume jewelry. I cried a little. A seemingly unflustered Tall Child said, “Well, Bug, it’s only jewelry. I'm just thankful that you and the boys didn’t walk in on him.” I marveled at his calm response. Too soon. About an hour later I heard Tall Child scream, “That [expletive] [expletive] took my leaf blower!” Then, when he sat down to watch TV, I heard him say, what the [expletive] is wrong with the Comcast?” I explained, “The robber cut wires to our internet, cable, and old alarm system.” Tall Child yelled, “Doesn’t that [expletive] know it’s bowl season?”

Looooong story short, I spent the rest of my Christmas break (except for sweet visits with relatives) in increments of 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 pm or 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with service workers from AT&T, Comcast, Champion Window and Door, Knox Co. Sheriff’s deputies, forensics, and a detective, and, finally ADT. Then AT&T again, then the insurance company, then Champion again. Ugh.

Who says students don't need to master informational text? This was my holiday reading material!

My valuables are likely gone forever. As far as Tall Child’s leaf blower goes, well, maybe Joe L. can buy us a new one. He can certainly afford it. Maybe I’ll hook up with him online.

Love, men, crime, and the internet are all mysterious. They bring equal thrill and possible pain, which brings me to Theory 29: There are dos and don’ts to online dating.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...