Years ago when I watched The Killing (season one only, because fool me twice, shame on me) I found the rainy scenes, i.e. ALL the scenes, highly irritating. Like, yes the Pacific Northwest can for sure be overcast and broody but the constant torrential downpour on that show is a straight-up alternative weather fact, aggressively depicted via Hollywood rain machine. It’s not nearly that flood-alertingly wet and depressing, living here! — except for the last couple weeks or so, which, my GOD.

gump

:::

Let me tell you something about a carpet that has been peed on by a cat, like say for instance by a pansy-assed cat who didn’t want to go outside and get her fur wet: it will never be the same. No, that fancy enzyme spray cleaner doesn’t work. Not that one either. Ditto baking soda, vinegar, a professional cleaning, and fervent prayer.

:::

Podcasts! I am a fan of My Favorite Murder, Pod Save America, StartUp, The Dirtbag Diaries, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, This American Life, and the just-launched Missing Richard Simmons. What else should I be listening to?

:::

I did not realize there would come a time when I would actively miss having LEGOs littering every surface of my house, but here we are, firmly entrenched in a new stage that’s even more annoying: Nerf. It’s not the darts I dislike, although I do get tired of finding little tampon-looking foam cylinders all over the place, it’s the weaponry. Nerf guns, at least the guns my kids are obsessed with, are enormous hunks of brightly-colored plastic, so it’s basically like reverting to the tasteful minimalist decor of the toddler days only instead of a Fisher-Price Lights N’ Blat taking up half the living room it’s the Doominatrix Modington Killinator FastGrunt Kerblooey.

:::

We live close to two different middle schools. One is our neighborhood school, the one the boys are zoned to attend, the other is slightly further away but still nearby. Eugene has a school choice policy which allows any district child to request to transfer to any school, so we’ve been dithering over whether Riley (and eventually Dylan) should attend school A or school B. Factors I have been considering: where Riley’s friends seem to be going, school scuttlebutt from other parents, test scores, ratings on school-grading websites. Nothing has led me to feel overwhelmingly in favor of either option. School tours are this week, and applications need to happen by the end of the month.

One is newer and much fancier-looking. The other has a few more electives. One has a strong technology focus. The other is all about high school readiness and reading. One would be easier for a kid to walk to. The other is on the way to our elementary school, so drop offs could at least be streamlined.

All in all: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Hopefully this is one of those decisions that doesn’t really matter because it will be fine either way, but, you know, what if it’s actually a SUPER HUGE LIFE-IMPACTING DEAL? What if this is one of those Choose Your Own Adventure pages where one choice is happiness and scholastic success and the other is MISERY and WOE?

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Mandy
Mandy
7 years ago

It’s middle school, there will be misery and woe no matter what. (We are also in the throes of middle school decision making here. Ugh.)

Danielle
Danielle
7 years ago

Listen to The Dollop. You will not regret it, unless you die of laughter.

Jennifer I. Walker
Jennifer I. Walker
7 years ago

yup, as a former middle school teacher — now a high school teacher — it will be full of misery and woe no matter your choice. :) It is just is. Remember middle school for yourself? At least for me, it was all misery and woe.
But I say, go on the tour and get a feel for the place, you know? Like how is the energy? Do the adults seem to actually like kids? Do the kids seem relatively happy? (remember this is middle school so complete happiness is suspect, too.
And if everything else is equal, pick your home school and support the shit out of it! Even when your kid tells you not to, even when the school doesn’t ask, even when no one else is.
That’s my 2 cents — even though you didn’t ask. :)
And either way, you’ll make the right choice.

Jennifer I. Walker
Jennifer I. Walker
7 years ago

* now I’m editing it…gugh. That’s what I get for trying to post between classes!
Please ignore all my grammatical errors. They are all mine and not at all the product of my middle school.

Gretchen in HB
Gretchen in HB
7 years ago

Interdistrict transfer requests just opened here, too. I am doing the same pro/con, flip/flop, mish/mash, commit/no commit, and we are only in 1st and 4th grade. Lord, help me, come middle school choices.

Good luck! Whatever you decide, it’s going to suck, so go with your gut!

Sian
Sian
7 years ago

Nothing a cat peed on will ever be the same. Ever. And you might convince yourself for a hot minute that you cracked the code but then it gets humid and damp and yep…the smell is back.

Melodee
7 years ago

I listen to very few podcasts–and none of the ones you mention–so this may be wildly off-base. But I like The Smartest Person in the Room and also–as someone who never missed an original episode of Beverly Hills90210 (blush), Again With This: Beverly Hills 90210. Its hilarious to me!

Roseann
Roseann
7 years ago

iIsten to the The Liturgists. It’s science explaining away religion and vice versa. It’s fascinating in so many ways.
I’ve always used Natures Miracle, the one specifically for cats, and have had decent results.

Katie
Katie
7 years ago

There are some great podcasts out there! A few that I listen to are Note to Self, Only Human, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Criminal, The Sporkful, and Little Gold Men.I actually love the NPR Politics Podcast but its, you know, politics. There was one called Mystery Show a couple of years ago that was terrific. She doesn’t do new episodes but the ones that are out there, I loved! Also, Radiolab did one called More Perfect last spring/summer that was a series on the Supreme Court which was great. Loving the Missing Richard Simmons Podcast!

Mary
Mary
7 years ago

I am currently listening to Call Your Girlfriend and really like it. I also love Stuff You Missed in History Class.

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

Podcasts have been my favorite form of entertainment lately (and this from a certified TV addict). Marc Maron’s WTF (although he’s been REALLY bummed since the election, he gets amazing guests), Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast (whose ad readings are funnier than most comedians’ entire acts), the Joe Rogan Experience and Quit Your Day Job have all been on constant rotation for me lately.
And I stuck with The Killing for Joel Kinnaman and Joel Kinnaman alone. No regrets.

Jessica
7 years ago

I don’t have a cat, so I only have one real experience with this, but I bought a used couch once that had been sprayed by a cat. I soaked that sucker with Borax diluted in water and the smell went away for good.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

I’ve just started listening to LitUp, it’s author interviews, so far it’s only been women interviewed, like Ayelet Waldman, Roxane Gay and Ann Patchett, very enjoyable. Also love Stuff You Should Know

Heidi
Heidi
7 years ago

My parents went through the same cat pee fiasco and finally had to cut out the offending chunk of carpet and insert a new piece. A different color, but Dad made it look arty. However they did discover that the pee had soaked down into the base flooring underneath, so yeah, cat pee is the devil.

Jody
Jody
7 years ago

I LOVE Pod Save America. Pod Save the World is also really good. I also love The Moth. The stories are so compelling. (I recently went to a live storytelling “Grand Slam” Moth show in LA and it was great.). Gilmore Guys is a fun podcast if you liked the original run of Gilmore Girls.

Shawna
Shawna
7 years ago

Hm, I have to look up some of these podcasts too! The only one I listen to, and only sporadically, is the Tim Ferriss Show.

Discopitbull
Discopitbull
7 years ago

I have a 2-hour/each way commute, so I listen to The Moth and StoryCorps and weep openly. I also listen to Myths and Legends (a podcast your boys may groove on as well!), Radiolab, Ted Radio Hour/Ted Talks, Stuff you Missed in History Class, Stuff you Should Know, Brain Stuff, HowStuffWorks NOW, Star Talk Radio, Sawbones, Lexicon Valley, Serial, Reveal, 2 Dope Queens, Code Switch, Politically Reactive, Civics 101, Intercepted and Revisionist History. I’m going to look up the ones you listed to possibly add to my list, with 4 hours a day in the car AND gardening season coming up, I’m going to need all the ear to brain love I can get.

Caroline
Caroline
7 years ago

Check out Criminal and Strangers.

Discopitbull
Discopitbull
7 years ago

PS cat pee is the devil. If you have wood floors under the carpet you may want to consider tearing the carpet out, fixing the wood and either sticking with wood flooring or getting that supposedly impermeable carpeting/padding for future pee-soaking use. I had a cat who used to hang over the litter box even though he had 3 all to himself. I’d say “thank God for rentals” except I then went on to buy one, and, well…cat pee. Karma

Em
Em
7 years ago

I hear you on the school choice thing. I am in the same boat, except with Elementary School. So much agonizing.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago

We’re in the same situation with school choosing. We have a traditional calendar option, a year round option and sort of a choice to transfer by being grandfathered through siblings. I have the feeling that there is a lot of drama in my kid’s current classroom and she is ready to just leave everyone behind and go to a new school. I’m impressed with her courage to find her own way.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago

Ditto and ditto on “More Perfect” and “Revisionist History.” “Making Oprah” was a short series from WBEZ Chicago and sooo good. I didn’t even watch Oprah much and I loved it. “Hidden Brain,” because social science is rad and Shankar Vedantam, the host, has the most charming voice.

sooboo
sooboo
7 years ago

I like Last Podcast on the Left (kind of the guy version of My Favorite Murder). If you like true crime the more serious shows that I like are Sword and Scale and Generation Why, a little dark though. I also listen to The Daily (NY Times news and the New Yorker fiction podcast. I think it’s called the Writer’s Voice.

It sounds like the cat pee soaked through to the carpet pad and needs to be torn out. I had that happen once and we ended up ripping out the carpet and scrubbing the cement underneath to get rid of the smell. Bummer.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

Have you tried the Dear Sugar podcast? I feel like I got the recommendation to read “Tiny Beautiful Things” from your blog, and it’s Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. Pretty good. I love the podcast recommendations and discussion. Thanks.

Carla Hinkle
Carla Hinkle
7 years ago

I fretted over middle school choice for two full years prior. Two great choices; in the end I went with the more convenient, which has proved to be fantastic. So I guess I lean towards whichever one seems to make the family life overall easier. :-)

Samantha
7 years ago

Podcasts: Terrible, Thanks for Asking and In the Dark

Melinda
Melinda
7 years ago

Another Note to Self podcast recommendation here. I am also enjoying Young House Love has a Podcast, Magic Lessons, On Being with Krista Tippet.

And the rain has indeed been that hilariously over blown Hollywood rain. Sleepless in Seattle rain.

Kathy
Kathy
7 years ago

How did I ever slog through laundry and cleaning in the days before podcasts? I love so many of the ones mentioned here, but always my go-to favorite is Judge John Hodgman. Mystery Show and Heavyweight are also high on the list (you’ll probably recognize the voices from This American Life).

Danielle
Danielle
7 years ago

My son is finishing up his first year in middle school. My advice is to pick the one that gives your kids the most opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Our 1970’s retrofitted, outdated school offers classes like Woodshop. The fancy new school’s don’t incorporate those types of electives. I didn’t let technology drive my choices because he can pick that up in high school (or on his own, because it’s alluring).

Corinne
Corinne
7 years ago

This is timely. It seems like my favorite podcasts are all dying, so I need some new ones. Some recent favorites have been Homecoming, Undone, Heavyweight, Hidden Brain, Radiolab, More Perfect, Embedded, Reply All, Invisibilia, and of course TAL. The Mystery Show has ended but it was so awesome. I really hope Starlee finds a way to continue it somewhere else. And I absolutely love How To Do Everything, and although they just ended too, they have a ton of back episodes. Give it a few episodes to get a feel for it. It will grow on you.

Corinne
Corinne
7 years ago

Oh. And from someone who does use school choice, I would recommend not doing it unless you have a strong preference for the other school. Transportation is just killing us. I would pay a LOT of money to have school-provided busing, but being out of the district, we don’t have the option. Perhaps you are able to use school transport in some way, and in that case disregard.

willikat
7 years ago

Dear Sugar
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
In the Dark (some of the best journalism ever, ever, ever.)
Call Your Girlfriend can be good
Death Sex and Money
Magic Lessons
Song Exploder
99% Invisible
Invisibilia

There are so many! SO many. I’m gonna have to check out this Missing Richard Simmons…

charlene
charlene
7 years ago

Talk to Riley about where his friends are going, the electives and what the schools offer after you do the tours. Make a decision after said discussion and stick with it. Sometimes they surprise you with what they want.

Again, middle school is the time to be awkward, test those boundaries and make mistakes.

Grace
7 years ago

Dog pee too! My word.

Schools: We moved to this area a couple of years ago and our kids’ school is a bomb shelter. The gorgeous new school had me kicking myself we didn’t consider housing in those boundaries more strongly. As it turns out, my husband works for the district and has commented several times how we lucked out landing in our school boundaries, as it happens to be the more progressive one with more opportunities (as far as elementary “opportunities” go), etc. Huh!

“Doominatrix Modington Killinator FastGrunt Kerblooey” Ha ha haaaaa!! Oh, that’s awesome and EXACTLY how it is!

Amanda Brown
7 years ago

I liked the podcast Homecoming. It’s fiction, and was really well done. I also love the Robcast with Rob Bell. Really thought-provoking and cool. This one might resonate with you; it was recorded right after the presidential election: http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-126-wisdom-part-9-standing-firm-with-pete-rollins/

TinaNZ
TinaNZ
7 years ago

My boys went to a very nice small country school, but I always somewhat regretted not sending them to the nearer school, where they would have made nearer friends. I think they missed a lot by always having to be driven if they wanted to play at the weekends.

‘Doominatrix Modington Killinator FastGrunt Kerblooey’: if that’s not an actual product, it certainly should be.

Abby
Abby
7 years ago

Podcasts:

The Mortified Podcast
The Bugle (John Oliver!)
The Hilarious World of Depression
Criminal
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Stranglers

nonsoccermom
7 years ago

The school choice agony huuuuuuuuurghhhhhhh. My son starts high school (!) in the fall and it’s a lottery system in our district. We did the tours and studied the pamphlets and talked to other parents before filling out our application and ranking the choices. And now we have to wait for months before finding out if we even get the school we want. Gah.

And cat pee is the actual worst. The smell is horrific.

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
7 years ago

Thanks for the podcast recommendations! I drive a ton and this expands my podcast list a lot. Yea, cat pee.. I have a very sweet, nervous cat in my house who likes to pee on rugs. Mostly its the bath mats she squats on(?) but she hit up a favorite living room rug. That smell did not come out despite my best efforts. So infuriating.

Darci
Darci
7 years ago

Podcasts recs, basically all storytelling or true crime:

Risk! (definitely NSFW, but so so so good)
The Moth
Criminal
Strangers
In the Dark
Found
Someone Knows Something

Kirsten
Kirsten
7 years ago

“Home” podcast – 2 amazing women discuss issues related to recovery in such an incredible way. As a person in recovery, I love it.

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
7 years ago

I’ll put a plug in for the Nerdette podcast – two women (and their guests, mainly women) talking about things they nerd-out about across the spectrum: science, books, theater, history, typewriters (who know Tom Hanks is a typewriter buff?), etc

Amber
7 years ago

Did you give Within the Wires a whirl? I loved that one. Such creative storytelling — the kind I didn’t realize I was craving until I heard it. I’m very curious about how they’ll handle Season 2!

Maggie
7 years ago

Friggin cat pee. I’ve thrown out three pairs of sneakers, at least two bathmats, and one rather nice work out bag because one (both?) of our cats went on a peeing tear awhile back and no matter what I did, those things NEVER smelled right again.

Our district split our elementary school two years ago and gave the kids a choice between two middle schools. I (and tons of other parents) spent ages agonizing only to find that my kid had a pretty strong preference based on electives offered at one school and not the other. Turns out most of the kids had their own choices for various reasons and they’ve all ended up fine (or as fine as MS is going to be) so I guess my suggestion is to ask Riley if he has preference. If he does, and the schools are mostly equal, I’d go with his choice.

misguidedmommy
7 years ago

My idiot dog keeps marking the BRAND NEW CARPET in my kids rooms. I’m so fucking mad about it. he’s been doing it for two years. He’s even figured out how to get past the gate we erected to keep him away.

Nerf bullets also suck because the same stupid idiot dog won’t stop chewing the ends off them and then leaving half eaten bullets all over the house. I’m sooo tired of nerf bullets in my vacuum hose too. RAGE

Canuck Gal
Canuck Gal
7 years ago

Podcast/Radioplay Recommendations
Limetown
We’re Alive
The Vinyl Cafe
My Dad Wrote a Porno
Lore

Shawna
Shawna
7 years ago

I just erased a rant about how I wish I’d had the chance to attend a school other than the sucky one I went to. It’s been 25 years since high school and it’s time to let go and move on…

I agree with the others: if Riley has strong interests and good friends with whom you don’t mind him continuing to interact with, maybe give him the choice. BUT maybe give Dylan a voice here too, since you won’t want them going to different schools, right? Or will you be in the situation we’ll be in in a couple of years, where the 2-year span of junior high means that there will never be a time when both our kids (2 years apart) will be there at the same time?

Shawna
Shawna
7 years ago

Augh! I put a double “with”!

Amy
Amy
7 years ago

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION!

After years of failing to update my blog on a regular basis, my hilarious friend Paula and I started a podcast called We Are Still Hungry. We discuss: fat phobia, racism, sexism, feminism, make up and celebrities.

Y’all should listen!

Mimi
Mimi
7 years ago

Podcast suggestions:

http://www.younghouselove.com/podcast-introduction/ — I’ve followed their blog/Instagram/FB for so long and getting to hear them interact via podcast is just awesome for me. I love how they laugh at/with each other.

https://www.acast.com/mydadwroteaporno — I’ve had to be careful about listening to this at work (with earbuds!!!) because I’ve started crying-laughing so often.

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/grownups-read-things-they-wrote-as-kids — I didn’t think I’d love this, but 90% of the readers are just wonderful and the podcast makes me glad I don’t have any of my old diaries!