Spill Post #1: Goodbye employment.

by Janelle Hanchett


Goodbye employment. Hello homeless encampment.

Okay so we probably won’t end up homeless, but yesterday I quit my job. I QUIT MY JOB. On purpose. I quit my job on purpose.

Sorry. It still shocks me a little.

Why did I do such a thing?

Because I’m returning to graduate school.

Because I can’t return to graduate school and work and see my kids (at all, ever, even a little).

Because I’m effing INSANE.

I mean who does that? Abandons security, comfort, regular income to pursue a degree in English Literature, a virtually useless degree, a degree that promises no particular job at all – and if it results in ANY job it will surely be a low-paying one?


Well, I do. I guess.

But I had no choice. I stood at a crossroads. I kept writing posts like this one and this one, registering discontent and a feeling of lack – a sense of being unfulfilled. Something had to change. Something wasn’t right.

You know how sometimes you go through life and there’s this quiet suspicion in the back of your mind that maybe you should do something else? Like a low hum it buzzes constantly “Maybe you should go back to school, Janelle. Maybe you should quit work…” but it remains just an annoyance…background noise…until all the sudden it surfaces completely…rings like a crisp clear bell and YOU KNOW. You know what to do. Suddenly the path materializes in front of you and you just know “Oh. Right. I need to go this way now.”

Maybe I am insane. Maybe I am.

But despite my best efforts to come at it from a new angle, rework it, reinterpret it, it became undeniable that it was time for a change. The path had materialized and I just couldn’t go anywhere else. I tried to rig it – figure out how to do both work and school, but I found that was impossible. There are not enough hours. Something had to give.

It got down to a simple question: do I stay where it’s safe or risk everything to pursue what I love?

We chose to risk everything. And I say “we” because my husband – my heart, my rock, my truest and best friend (and staunchest supporter) – has told me in no uncertain terms that he’ll work 3 jobs to keep us alive, while I sit in a classroom discussing postcolonial theory with a bunch of skeptical sleep-deprived grad students.

I often feel that the universe gave me a kiss on the head when it sent me Mac. It’s like it said “Hey, you. Take this. Have this gift. You’ll be fine.”

And with him by my side, we will be fine.

[Wait. Hold on. I’m still a little flushed from that whole postcolonial theory thing. It’s so hot I’m struggling a little to find my words.]

Whew. That’s better.

Anyway, to answer your questions: No, we really can’t afford for me not to work. No, we don’t have a back-up plan. Yes, we may end up under a bridge.

But whatever, bridges are cool.

“Leap, and the net will appear.”

I’m learning to trust. I’m learning to be okay with the uncertainty. Sometimes you just have to LIVE, and worry about it later.

Right. I’m brave. I’m not scared. I laugh in the face of worry. I am a fearless spirit, trudging my way along the path of destiny.

[Oh shit. Did I really do this? Hold me.]

What I learned this week…another camping trip kicks my ass

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. Just returned from camping in Lake Tahoe. Apparently, I will not, ever, learn.
  2. We have some great friends. Great ones. Some of these friends came camping with us. This fact made #1 more okay than one would expect. However, it was still about as relaxing as, oh, whatever, I don’t know…something not relaxing – and I currently, once again, need a vacation from our “vacation.”
  3. I’m not sure, but I THINK that if I were a millionaire I would probably never, ever camp again. [Why do I say these things out loud? WHY?] I would rent one of those 2,000 square feet “cabins” and just hang out outside, as if we were camping.
  4. Okay FINE. We’d probably still camp, but not as often. For SURE not as often.
  5. I love Lake Tahoe in the summer. I just freaking love it. I love the trees and the clear blue water and the snow-peaked mountains and the way the sun burns you more readily cause of the altitude and the mountain towns and the rocks. I love all of it.
  6. Well maybe not all of it. I don’t love the way everybody drives on ONE ROAD around the lake, often after consuming seventeen beers on the beach, all of it causing extreme traffic fun. I don’t love the drunk 12-year-olds. Okay maybe they’re slightly older, but they look 12, so whatever. I don’t cherish drum-circling hippies in small campgrounds who play until 3am. Not very “love the one your with,” bro.
  7. Toby Keith really should take it down a notch. I mean is a “boot in your ass” really the American way? Sounds a little extreme in my opinion. Besides, we more prefer bombing people than kicking. Don’t we?
  8. Speaking of Toby Keith, I would like to know how the hell he got on my Ipod.
  9. I’m afraid of 5th grade girls. I learned this when I saw the 5th-grade girls in my daughter’s class (she’s in a 4th/5th split class next year). They look kinda like real preteen girls. They bounce around almost like actual teen girls. They look about 10 years more “mature” than my daughter and I don’t like it. Stay where you are, Ava. Stay.
  10. I’m on the brink of a lot of changes. I’m going to tell you all about them this week. There’s a lot going on, my friends. The Zen proverb “Leap, and the net will appear” keeps coming to mind.
  11. There’s a reason I’m not a Zen master: because I’m leaping, but I’m fucking afraid and I often convince myself in no uncertain terms that there is no net and there never will be a net and we’re going to end up in a pile at the bottom of a ravine, after jumping like idiots from our position of safety. Really, quite terrified. I’m “trusting” that the net will appear only because the alternative – of staying where I am – is impossible. Impossible.

I realize I’m being cryptic and annoyingly vague. Sorry – I’ll spill it soon – first Spill Post tomorrow. Have a great week, all.

5 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | July 24, 2011

10 things that confuse the hell out of me

by Janelle Hanchett

There are a few things that confuse me, a lot, even though I see them, um, a lot. Almost daily in fact. I don’t expect to ever understand them, but I’m becoming secure with confusion and uncertainty. They’re like old friends to me. You know. Old reliables. Good buddies. BFFs. Yeah. Okay. Enough of that.

So here’s ten. There are more.

  1. Feeding babies & toddlers soda – WHY? They’re too young to even know soda exists, unless their parents introduce that crap to them. SO WHY DO IT? Why not just feed them healthy crap? The time will come soon enough when they start asking for crap food and crap drinks no matter how hard you tried to shield them from it, so why not take advantage of the brief interval of total control over their diets, without the whining complaints?! Not to mention, it’s a prime opportunity to look like a good parent without trying very hard. Psssht.
  2. Giving kids caffeine – um, aren’t they annoying enough without the addition of stimulants?
  3. Why female bathrooms don’t have more stalls than male ones – obviously, we need more. just look at the damn lines. Worried about equality? Whatever. Hundreds of years of a male-dominated society and you can’t do us this ONE TINY FAVOR?
  4. License plate frames that say the make of the car they are attached to – Dude. We know you’re driving a Lexus. We can see the Lexus sign right next to the license plate frame. It’s actually JUST ABOVE IT. You’re kinda just being redundant, yo. No need to repeat oneself.
  5. Leaving the stickers & tags on baseball caps – While I for one feel better knowing your Giants cap is indeed authentic, you look like a fucking asshat with that shiny sticker under your bill.
  6. Baby stickers on car windows – okay so I understand how they get there. Kids stick them on the windows. What I don’t understand is why parents let their kids have stickers while they’re sitting in their car seats, judging from the number of people driving around with 1500 Dora the Explorer stickers on their rear windows. I mean what are they thinking? “It ain’t gonna happen to me?” – “My kid’s different?” And furthermore, why don’t they take the stickers off? Haven’t they heard of “Goo gone?”
  7. Ed Hardy. In any form. We’ve been over this.
  8. Leaf blowers – the name alone confuses me…”Leaf Blower.” Blowing leaves. Forcing air through a tube to move shit around. Not removing it. Not even cleaning it. Just blowing it around to a new location. And they are loud and they involve standing outside, usually in the sun, holding a loud roaring machine, pissing off every single neighbor in the vicinity…and for WHAT? Plus, who the fuck cares if there are leaves on your driveway? WHO? Oh right. People with neat houses and manicured landscaped yards.
  9. How to fold fitted sheets – really, is there a way to not just wad them up in a vaguely rectangular shape? Is there?
  10. Styrofoam plates – It’s a “plate,” and yet it melts when you put hot food on it. It MELTS WHEN YOU PUT HOT FOOD ON IT. Do you see a problem there?

Plus, they kill sea turtles.

And now we see, even fucking geniuses get confused sometimes.

or confused.


15 Comments | Posted in nothing to do with parenting. | July 19, 2011

what I learned this week…tans, messes and mariachi

by Janelle Hanchett

What I learned this week…


  1. I love the look of sun-kissed tan kid faces. I love the shiny gold streaks the sun brushes across their hair. I love the freckles and the tan lines. It all says “summer” to me. It reminds me of being young and free all day and sunburned, with that perfect exhaustion, that in-the-sun-all-day glow, calm and serenity.
  2. My kids have those sun-kissed faces right now. [Yes, I know the sun causes cancer.  No, I do not make a habit of it. But damn it’s sweet for a while.]
  3. I no longer have insomnia. I now have wanttosleepallday-ia. It’s nice to have things back to normal. I think.
  4. Speaking of normal, you know what’s NOT normal? The sleep habits of mothers. Check it out. All freaking week I’m exhausted. I mean my head hits the pillow at 10:30pm and my eyes are aching my body is like lead and my attitude is really not that nice. I wake up with the baby at 5 or 6am questioning suicide. So this morning I have a chance to sleep as late as I want. As LATE AS I WANT – I could catch up on all that sleep. And what do I do? Wake up at 9am. Can’t sleep more. WHY? WHY? WHY?
  5. Do not talk about ghosts (not even nice ones) ever ever ever around 5-year-olds. If you do, they will suddenly be “scared.” Every night. Even though they’ve been camped on your floor for, oh, I don’t know, FOREVER, they will bump their neediness up a notch, demanding lights on and an adult presence in the room while they fade gently into safe peaceful non-ghost slumber. Fuck me I’m an idiot.
  6. I mean seriously who the hell talks about ghosts around their 5-year-old?!?
  7. My son will not pick up his messes without being asked. EVER. If you ask him, he will do one of three things: 1.) Ignore you; 2.) Fall on the ground in agony, struck suddenly immobile by a horrible stomach or head ache; 3.) Move to the area of the mess in question and roll around in it, half playing with it, half moving it around toward where it’s supposed to be.
  8. I have no idea what to do about #7. None. I usually just end up yelling or beating my forehead with a meat tenderizer. [That was a joke.] Suggestions welcome.
  9. I really want to send my kids to summer camp one week this summer, so they get to experience something cool at least once. But good god almighty it’s expensive. Shiiittt. Why do things seem so different than when I was a kid? Am I that old? We had no money, and I went to summer camp. I don’t get it.
  10. Next weekend we’re going camping in Lake Tahoe with some of our favorite people in the world, which I’m hoping will balance the fact that camping with an 11-month old is freaking miserable. I do not learn. I don’t.
  11. I don’t love mariachi music. From my house we hear it pretty much all day during weekends (our neighbors, evidently, love it). I hear it right now in fact. And no matter how long I listen to it, I don’t really dig it. Live it’s okay. Of course being forced to hear any music all freaking day long is pretty damn annoying.  Oh well. More proof I belong in a nice quiet yurt in Borneo.

Have a great week.

You can't really tell how tan they are from this picture, but they are. And it's lovely.

13 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | July 17, 2011

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe

by Janelle Hanchett


Yes. That was me.

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe.

If I knew we were about to do it, I would recite the little rhyme in my head, mentally jumping from person to person to figure out where the last word would land…then I would strategically place myself in the optimum position based on my objectives. And when I “won,” I would act surprised.

Maybe all kids act like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve always looked out for number 1, first and foremost. From the beginning, if there was a way for me to win, “come out on top” or get my way, I’d do pretty much everything in my power to make that happen.

It never really occurred to me to think of you.

It never crossed my mind that perhaps I should yield a bit for the benefit of others, even sometimes.

I figured “well, if I’m able to get what I want, why not do it? If you really wanted what you want, you’d try harder.”

I was not mean. In fact, I used to give all my toys away to my friends. I was deeply sensitive and loved hard. It’s just that I thought I knew the best way to do everything. Always. And I never questioned myself. I had a terminal case of Captain Justice syndrome – I knew the right, fair, smartest way to do it, damnit, and IT MUST BE DONE THE RIGHT WAY.

The consequence? I was bossy. Really, really bossy. Not a bully physically, but a verbal bully. I was a yeller. I was a shithead. I simply had to have my way.

This behavior pretty much continued until, well, I’d rather not talk about it. But I’ll give you a hint: I was over 29 and under 31. Yeah. I’m a slow learner.

As a result, I never had too many friends growing up. I had my one best friend in the whole wide world, Claire, who I met in 2nd grade and have loved like a sister ever since. We also moved a lot, which made longstanding relationships difficult. But mainly it was my personality. I probably wouldn’t have liked me either.

And the other day my little Ava was talking about her new school and she said something like “This is the year I’m going to make some real, close friends. This is the year when I’m going to get a BEST friend like you and Claire.”

And I realized the child is just.like.her.mother.


She’s bossy. She wants her way. She gets pissed when others don’t comply and just can’t figure out why they won’t just do it her way because her way is obviously the smartest and the best and the brightest and the quickest. Isn’t it clear to you people? This is the ONLY WAY. It’s right damnit. Justice must be done!!

Unlike The Seal Incident, which rendered me speechless, I feel semi-confident in my ability to give a little guidance on this particular situation, since I lived the exact same thing and have learned some very tough lessons in the department of extreme self-centeredness.

So I suggest she take it easy on others – that even if she sees her solution as the only plausible one, perhaps she use her friend’s idea just for the hell of it, to give her some room, some respect. Some space to just be.

And maybe her way is indeed the right way and the smartest, but does it really matter?

In 20 years are you going to care what happens right now on the playground? Is the friendship more important than who gets to be the queen or the princess?

I tell her that just because she has a stronger personality than the other kids, just because she’s outgoing and quick and super confident, that doesn’t mean she has to USE her power ALL THE TIME, just because she can.

Maybe she can CHILL sometimes, let the other girl win.

I wish I could just implant in her what took me 30 years to learn…that I am not the center of the entire fucking universe…that my identity is not wrapped up in the outcome of every single situation that comes my way…that it ain’t all my problem and it ain’t all my concern…and that most of the time (and this is a big one folks), when I think I am dead-on, 100% totally and completely RIGHT, I’m 100% dead-on totally and completely wrong.

I want to teach her that there’s freedom in forgiving. In letting shit slide. In letting something else or somebody else or even nothing at all handle some of the big shit. Captain Justice can take a nap.

What a tough gig, huh? Trying to protect another human from themselves. Trying to shield another from walking down the EXACT SAME ROAD that nearly killed you. Trying to help her be somebody, anybody other than me.

Or perhaps I should just forgive. Myself. For being me.

And her. For being me.

Chill. Let it slide. Let us both just be.

Cause I’ve never really been equipped to handle the big shit anyway.


"I may be a princess, but I'll kick your ass." P.S. this kid does not lack confidence.