About Tricia Lott Williford

I am a writer, a teacher, mom of two boys, victorious widow, and happily married again. I could survive on coffee and diet Pepsi. I collect words, books, and bracelets. I often snort when I laugh, talk in my sleep, and cry without warning. Please visit The Thoughts and Writings of Tricia Lott Williford, at tricialottwilliford.com.

Odd Jobs to Fund a Girlfriend

So, there’s this sweet kid in my neighborhood.  He’s tall and skinny, a string bean of a kid with a great heart, and he likes to shoot hoops in my driveway. He knocked on my door on Monday night.
“Um, how do I put this… I need to make some money.”
“Oh, well sure!  Come on in.  Let’s talk about what you need.”
He came in and sat at my dining table.  “Well, basically, I’ll do anything you need.”
“What kind of things do you have in mind?”
“Anything.  Really anything.  Like, I can scoop poop in your backyard or whatever.”
“That’s a great start and that would be so helpful.  Okay, so how about if I make a list of things I’d like for you to do, and I’ll get in touch with you?”
“When do you think you’ll get in touch with me?”
“Well, we can work around your school schedule, so maybe later this week after school or maybe this weekend.”
“Cause, like, I’m available tonight.”
Well, it’s nearly 8:00.  This isn’t exactly prime hours for tasking around here, even for hired help.  I didn’t say that.  I just kind of looked quizzical, I’m pretty sure.
“I have a girlfriend.  I just need to make some money.”
 I said, “She must be a pretty great girl.”
Insert bashful downward glance, toe drawing a line on the floor, blushing smile.  “Yeah, she is.”
Well, say no more.  There’s a soft place in my heart for a boy who’s trying to learn to woo a girl. He scooped poop and folded three loads of laundry, and he took home some cash.
So he knocked on my door the next night.  I told him he could organize my garage if he wanted to, but Gabrielle was coming over and I was leaving, so that night wasn’t a great night for entrepreneurial agreements.
He came over three times last night.  Three. Times.  Dude.  I’m not sure I can afford the frequency of this arrangement.  And I think the girlfriend might need you to find more resources than just this one.
The doorbell rang last night in the middle of pajamas and homework and “Mommy!  What’s 26-9?”  and “It’s your homework, not mine, so I’m not giving you the answers.  Think of a way to solve that problem,” and “I forgot my reading log,” and “I forgot the book she asked me to read,” and “Let’s figure out how you’re going to be responsible.”
Doorbell. Neighborhood kiddo looking to make some money.  Or maybe just have some.
And suddenly I was painfully aware that I am no spring chicken, gone are my days of starting anything past 8:00 at night, and it makes me laugh that there was a whole season in college when the goal was to be in bed by 1:00 AM.  And we rarely met that goal.  I’m just not that girl anymore.
“Here’s the deal, bud.  It’s too late to start anything tonight.”
“Oh, is that because it’s like almost 8:00?”
“Yes.  Really, anything after 7:00 is off the table around here.”
“Oh. Okay.  Cool.”
“Yeah, so we’ll just keep that in mind.  Have a good night.”
And suddenly, anxiety hit me like a truck.  all the classic symptoms of my pulse racing, my body tense, short breaths, but somehow also accompanied by me being so crazy-stupid-hot all of a sudden that I had to take a pill and then sit on the front porch in 14 degree weather.  That doesn’t usually happen, that part there.
Meanwhile, the homework questions continued.  Even while I was outside.  I’m all about teaching and helping.  But I am NOT going to do this for you.  I already did first and second grade.  Quite proficiently, actually.  Except for the note on my report card that said, “Tricia is a little bit too social with her classmates.”  At any rate, do it your own self.
Bedtime finally came.  And I settled in with a warm heating pad (the ultimate nourishment for a single girl at the end of a day, I’m convinced) and three episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network.  And then I went to sleep and it was somehow morning before I could even believe it.
I was supposed to take my car in for a checkup today.  I cancelled.  Because that’s just not what I’m doing on this day. Unless the neighborhood boy wanted to take my car in for me.  But then he would need a permit and then a license and insurance and a job, and that likely all comes back to me.
So, no.

There are dog owners, and then there are Pet Parents.

Murphy (the pooping puppy formerly known as Max) stayed at a Pet Hotel recently while I traveled to a place where even the best dogs cannot go.

Well, maybe the best dogs do get to go. Maybe the question is about the decency of said pet’s owner. Oh, I’m sorry: Pet Parent. I keep forgetting that some people think Murphy and I are blood-related.

This is the PawGress Report I received when I picked up Murphy, from his ‘suite’ in room 302.

Food:
a. Gobbled it Down.
b. There were some leftovers.
c. Eager for a meal at home.

Snacks:
a. Chowed Down
b. Enjoyed a bit.
c. Too full to eat.

Fun:
a. Party Animal.
b. Getting to know new friends.
c. Not feeling sociable.

Bed:
a. Lights out, sweet dreams.
b. Rested comfortably.
c. A little restless.

Potty:
a. Took care of business.
b. Took a little coaxing.
c. Make sure things get back to normal at home.

Overall:
a. Carefree, calm and comfy.
b. Had a pleasant stay.
c. Missed you.

“Murphy loves to watch people go by, and he loves snuggles! He’s very friendly and loves to run around the playroom on walks!”

Well… great! So glad my party animal had sweet dreams and took care of business! Way to go, MurphyPurphy!

And, so, we’re all clear on this one thing, though, right?

He’s a Dog.

Neither Pam Beasley nor Queen Latifah

I came to terms with the fact that I needed to hire an assistant. And that sentence still feels so strange in my head and at the tips of my fingers.

An assistant? What kind of assistant? Are we talking Pam Beasley from The Office? Or more like Queen Latifah from Stranger Than Fiction? And who am I to think I need an assistant?

Well, if you’ve been recently waiting for me to fulfill some seemingly small request, then you might be a person to wildly wave your arms and say, “I do. I do, Tricia. I am one to think you need an assistant.”

I realized that having an assistant isn’t a matter of pride, but rather a matter of humility. It isn’t about tossing around the words “have your people call my people” and making sure someone in the world knows how I like my coffee, at what temperature, time, and color.

No, it’s actually about coming to terms with the honest truth: this endeavor has become bigger than me. Administrative tasks and appointments, contacts and contracts, hotel reservations and airlines tickets – these and many of their cousins are piling up all around me.

This, in itself, is altogether awesome because there’s a strong admin streak in me that loves to make a list, cross things off, connect the dots, and make the details come together flawlessly.

(Please don’t laugh. It’s true. I used to make a living at this. Until I abandoned it all to teach America’s future how to read.)

The problem right now, though, is that administrative tasks are not my job – writing is my job. And I haven’t been able to do the things only I can do because I’ve been distracted and overloaded doing the things that I can hire someone else to do.

This morning, I interviewed my leading candidate, and while she and I talked shop at my dining table, Tucker offered himself as our (shirtless) barista, making Keurig coffee for each of us, serving cream on the side, muffins with forks, and randomly a jar of chocolate almonds. He called us “you girls.” As in, “Would you girls care for anything else this morning?”

I didn’t ask him to step into this role as server/barista/butler, but I have perhaps never found him more charming.

Ashley was charmed as well: I offered her the job, and she said y-e-s. And with those three letters, that one simple word, I’m already breathing easier. Someone else is thinking with me.

“Let me run these details past my assistant.”
“I’ll forward this email to my assistant.”
“My assistant knows all about that – she’s running that event.”

(I’m practicing.)

Because, my friends, Ashley is on. the. job.

Science Fair, O Science Fair. I’d Rather Write You a Sonnet.

Robb and I had this foolproof plan. With our collective energies and varied interests, with his left brain and my right, with his love for the periodic table and my affection for the dictionary, our kids’ school projects would be a snap.

And we planned for our kids to benefit greatly from our unified expertise. I would help them with english and literature assignments, and he would help them with math equations and science experiments.

2013-02-06-LeftBrainRightBrain21

Then Robb went to heaven, taking all his science expertise, logical preferences, and the left side of our brain with him.  And now it’s time for the early-elementary science fair.

(Do you hear that slow and methodical click-click-click that’s getting louder and faster? It’s my anxiety. Inching up the first hill of the Magnum.)

(A shout-out to Cedar Point and all of you in northeast Ohio, America’s RollerCoast.)

I pretended not to notice the paperwork about the science fair, since – after all – it is optional until fourth grade. And then my children came home all hyped up about the science fair, optional or not, as if it’s just a matter of mixing together egg yolks and mustard and leaving the bowl out overnight.

“We are not doing the science fair.” I put myself to sleep with this mantra every night.

And so, guess what though? We’re doing the science fair. Scientific Question, Hypothesis, Recorded Method, and a tri-fold display and all.

Because every once in a while I get a glimpse down the road, a decade or two, and I can’t handle the fallout from this seemingly small and insignificant decision. My children could become riddled with their own science anxiety, haters of learning, all because their mother said no when she could have say yes, so long ago when it was all so much easier, involving celery and food coloring or a jar that has been cracked with the fascinating expansion of water in the freezer.

But no. She said no. And so now, they don’t know anything and they’ve become afraid to ask why.

I nixxed the celery and the food coloring, though I encourage you to give it a try if you’d like to know how chlorophyll or photosynthesis or pollenization or food coloring works. Something like that.

Anyway, we’re turning the ol’ volcano experiment on its head by asking: Will a balloon explode from the chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar?

Stay tuned, folks. Stay tuned.

(Google says yes. And they promise me an easy cleanup.)