My big toe hurts and I need a job.

This morning, Molly stepped on my sparkle blue-painted, hard-workin’ big toe, totally and completely by accident. She was wearing her pink cowboy boots, but the child weighs thirty pounds soaking wet, so it shouldn’t have made me scream like it did. Her mouth pursed into a little perfect “o” of surprise, and then she made rapid-fire conciliatory noises, trying to get Mama to please-be-better-now-please. You see, something has been wrong with this toe for a few days, and the slightest touch sends me into paroxysms. After the agony subsided, I grimace/smiled and made sure she didn’t feel too bad. I loaded her and Zeke in the trailer and peddled to the elementary school, gingerly keeping myself from putting too much pressure on my left fore-hoof.

Afterwards, I speed-cycled home and logged into my work web portal. I’ve been toiling as a comments moderator for the Huffington Post, which is weird, taxing, tedious, and sometimes fun and intriguing from an anthropological perspective. I have always maintained that if I could listen to my own music all the livelong day, that I’d be happy working on a factory line. This job of work tests that theory and mostly finds it accurate. Sadly, though, the pay and available hours aren’t anywhere close to what we need to fill the gap between income and outgo, and I just can’t see where else to cut.

So lately I’ve called in all my favors, tickled every connection I have ever made in my life ever, and combed the job sites for leads. I tweaked my resume (setting my goals lower, downplaying my achievements on the off-chance I might get dismissed as overqualified for menial labor,) and sent these hopeful paper airplanes out to any and every likely option.

I am still so lucky, and I know it. You know the rules these days: if you grumble about your life to friends or on Facebook for example, the more enlightened of your crew will go all Thich Nhat Hanh on your sorry ass, reminding you to be grateful, always grateful. Oh, and there’s the remonstration that perhaps you’re putting out “bad energy” or not “visualizing abundance.” So I qualify everything; it’s like a mantra: we live in paradise. My three kids are healthy. We have an underpriced rental house that is big enough to hold our happy shouts, fairy lights, and colorful ways. I’ve worked out a barter relationship with my local CrossFit gym, which feels like kidney dialysis to me, it’s so essential to my health and well-being.

Oh and MAN, do I have good friends. In real life and in the virtual world, I have a bunch of misfits who love me with no agenda. There are so many who raise me up that I’m going to do something really silly and name-check like some sort of rapper. Ignoring the obvious like husband and kids, here is my suicide prevention team (in no order, and absolutely incomplete): Emily–my doppelgänger, Sunshine, Deb, Dewi, Jason, Gareth and Willie from the webs; Zoya and Zayna (who’s my mini-me,) Robert, Josée, Chris-and-Julie, ex-boyfriends Ward, David, Evan, and Brian, William and the fam; Karen, Cherise, Indigo, etc. Oh and Josh, Steph, Connie, and Adam from the gym. My ex-wife Mimi and her wife Patty, without whom we’d manage to accomplish exactly nothing.

I have the prettiest, sturdiest bike that I think at this point deserves a name. Because I’m a whack-job, I’m thinking something like “Pixie Comet.” Really it’s just the most wonderful bike. When I’m hauling the kids, running errands, and going to freelance writing meetings, I often need to travel a dozen hilly miles in city traffic. Being on that sturdy ride makes me feel invincible. It’s a heavy bike! Fifty pounds to hold me to the earth, and with big fat tires and sit-up-straight cruiser styling. It’s a comfortable ride, but not an easy one. The weight and the fact that it’s only three speeds mean that I’ve got the thigh muscles of an athlete. Needless to say I’ve tricked it out a bit. It would be a hard one to steal, it’s so bedecked with colorful duct tape and silk flowers. It looks like the living room of a grandma with terrible taste. Sometimes someone in a car zooming by will yell out “Burning Man!” at me, and I like, kind of hesitate and then do the Black Power salute because I don’t know.

Looking back at what I have written so far, I realize that my strong heart has tricked me yet again. I’ve reminded myself of some pretty lovely joys in my life. I’ve got glittery blue painted toenails. But one of those toes is hurting something fierce, though you can’t tell my looking at it. Looking at it, it looks great. It sparkles, and it’s blue. But there’s some kind of pain from causes unknown, and it’s deep and frightening and makes my jaw reverberate with the pain that radiates from the bone hidden in my biggest, most solid Lil’ Smokie. I cry from it and sometimes I just cry because I’m scared and feeling desperate about how I’m going to save this family and heal this toe. I think I’m going to have to strip the glitter away and regard the damage; see what needs to be done.

And I really, really need to earn some money.




Corbyn Hightower is living a life of joyful simplicity in the Sacramento suburbs with her three children and her sassy, ill-behaved husband.