On Maternal Bondage

on 31 July 2009

When I was pregnant, I worried a great deal about "bonding." I wanted the Boy to bond to me. I wanted to bond with him. I wanted us to BOND. And so I fretted about childbirth, and I breastfed as long as I could. I read to him and rocked him and cuddled him and sang to him. I nursed him in bed and napped with him. I walked miles with him.

I have days, particularly when he's teething--which, he's still teething, cutting those two on the top that have lain just under the surface of his gums, painting them purple but not breaking the surface for a MONTH now--and it's the teething that will make you all run and cry, "SAVE YOURSELVES!!!" But I have these days where I fantasize. About a PhD, an office, with a door I can close. Bookshelves lining the walls, filled with books. People who ask what I think and then listen to what I have to say. The pervasive quiet that allows you to hear the air conditioner and the hum of a computer. The ability to read at a desk without a solid head knock knock knocking against the bottom side of the desk, sturdy hands griping fistfuls of my pants to pull himself up on my knees, his expectant little face peering up at me as if to say, "But Mama, but Mama, I am HERE."

A tiny seed of guilt forms in my heart when I have these fantasies, and I shed that guilt and drop it into a little jar that I keep in a drawer in my mind. ping ping ping go the seeds. One day when the Boy is grown, I will plant a garden with those seeds and guilt flowers will bloom to be pollinated by butterflies.

And then, at night, when the house is quiet and dark--just the whirring of the fans--I think over the day in my mind. The things accomplished, others left undone, the books read and read and read again, the games played, the ringing of his laugh in my head, his expressions of puzzlement and delight. And as tired as I am, I smile and want to hold him. Some days are just like that. I want to put a stopper in time and say, "Nope. No progress for you today. Today is mine, to keep him small and funny."

I worried about bonding with him. How little I knew the ties that would bind me. I look at his little body. He is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh--my body made his body, fed it, nurtured it, protected it. I am bound with living ties, in blood and nerves.

I wonder sometimes about those mothers who adopt...how much stronger their ties must be. I had forty weeks. They have been searching and working for that child for years.

He will grow up. Oh he will, time is fickle and I cannot stop him. He will go out into the world and live. And that is what I want. I want him to live. I want him to experience life, even though I know that it means that he will be hurt. That is what it means to live, and I would not have him remain a child forever knock knock knocking to be let in to the world of adulthood. But I am curious. I wonder what he will see with his eyes that I have not seen with mine. I wonder what he will hear, that I chose not to hear because I so loved the quiet. I wonder who he will love and lose and what he will learn from those experiences.

I know. I know that that time is coming. But today? Today is mine.

Summer

on 29 July 2009

He smells like sunscreen and salty water. His skin is golden except in the creases around his wrists and elbows where it's white. His lashes are dark and spikey from the water and his eyes are a bit pink from all of the salt.

He loves to splash and play, he doesn't particularly care if he falls face first into the water, he purposefully places his chubby little hand over the fountain so that he's sprayed with the water. He'll kick his legs in the water while you tow him around the pool.

We come home. He's stripped out of swim trunks and swim diaper and dressed again. We eat lunch--he likes to show me his food before he crams it in his mouth. We snooze under fans, and we wake up groggy.

Inevitably, this is what summer time does to our hair.


Interview Schminterpiew

on 27 July 2009

So...

I had a job interview last week.

On Thursday.

I had to get a rental car to get there. Needless to say, we're going car shopping, and soon.

I think I may have also met a friend. Chris and I had chatted with her and her husband at church, they're our age and have a little girl just 6 months older than the Boy. They're very cool. I called her to ask if she would be willing to sit with the Boy and she said sure. I told her I had very low expectations, I really just wanted him to be alive when I got home. She laughed and said, "Well, I haven't lost one yet!" At which point I cracked up laughing and said, maybe we should put THAT on our resumes. She's thoroughly awesome and we chatted books and our eccentric children for a bit after the interview.

What's that? You want to hear more about the interview? Oh, fine.

Initial impression: Chaos. Abject chaos.

First, I didn't interview with Dr. H the way that I was SCHEDULED to, she had decided to go to St. Augustine that day so she wasn't there. Not that anyone CALLED me because they didn't. I called them to ask which building I was supposed to be in because I was the tiniest bit lost, and that's when they told me. Instead, I interviewed with a woman named RW. Her office was PILES of crap. Old text books, new text books, files and files and files and stacks of paper work just piled here, there and everywhere. And I can understand a little chaos, but then she proceeds to tell me how they just moved to four year degrees and they want an enrollment of 3000 students by next year, and they want to build residential communities and they're facing accreditation stuff this year, THIS YEAR and they've done NOTHING for it. She glances at my cover letter (didn't look at my resume AT ALL) and asks me what classes have I taught, and before I can say, she soldiers on with "oh, yeah, Asian American and Western World lit 1, we have that one..."

She then looks at me and smiles and says, "How do you feel about teaching composition?"

Secondary Impression: Who are these people? What have they been DOING all summer long?

I told her that I had a teaching portfolio if she wanted to look at it and she said, "Oh, no, that's not necessary." And so I said, "Well, I've never taught composition, I'm a literature teacher." And she smiles and says, "Well, the only way to become a composition teacher is to TEACH it!"

At which point I resisted the urge to run screaming from the building.

So I nod and ask politely how they're defining part-time because everyone defines that differently. And she says, "Well, we don't write it down, but we generally assign 4 classes (per semester, 8 classes per year)." My jaw dropped and I said, "FOUR?" And she said, "Well, yes...but in your case...it would probably...just...be...two?" And I said, "Ok, what's the typical enrollment in these classes?" And she, again with the smiling, says, "30." So I nod and then tell her that I can only teach in the evenings or at night because I have a little boy. And she said, "Oh. I didn't know that. Well...we have one 102 class on Wednesday nights, will you take one of the 101 classes to go with it?" And I said, "Well, I need to talk with my husband about his schedule first, I can't do anything until I talk with him." So she said, "Ok, well, you can have the 102 if you'll take one 101 too. There's one Monday nights, so that would put you teaching Monday and Wednesday 6-9pm." And then she looks at me like I'm a little spoiled and says, "Everyone wants to teach at night because those are the non-traditional students, they work harder." So I asked her if this arrangement was just this semester because I had heard a rumor that the job was only temporary coverage for someone on family leave. And she said, "well, yes, but we really need to add additional part-time teachers."

At this point I'm thinking, "No. You REALLY need some FULL TIME teachers." But I didn't say anything. I was just trying to make it out alive.

Tertiary Impressions: What.Was.That?

My reservations are grounded on several points. 1) Why are they hiring part time instructors when they clearly NEED full time instructors? Because they can't get anyone full time or because they don't want to PAY for full time instructors with salary and benefits? 2) The Chaos. Oh, my heavens the chaos. I understand a degree of chaos but it should be CONTROLLED chaos, not this. This was unprofessional, desperate, bordering on hysterical. 3) $NOT MUCH/semester for teaching 2 (TWO!) composition courses when I've never taught composition before IN MY LIFE. I don't mean to be all Ebeneezer, but composition is the HARDEST thing to teach, the HARDEST to grade and the biggest hassle and they only want to pay me $NOT MUCH/credit hour? 4) the "interview" was 15 minutes long and she asked me NOTHING about my educational background or professional experience. NOTHING. I could be an axe murderer. Or illiterate! And they wouldn't know because they didn't ASK. 5) her attitude was just off. I know that doesn't help all of you but she acted like a) I had already accepted the position--without any knowledge of salary compensation and b) like I was a little too big for my proverbial britches for inquiring about such particulars as class size and compensation.

And then she starts telling me that she hates to rush me but she has grading to do and her students are already whining about getting the papers back and I remember. All at once, I REMEMBER the whining. First it's the whining about what the assignment is and then it's the whining that the assignment is so hard and then it's the whining to get the damn thing BACK so that they can proceed to whine about their GRADE.

So, all in all, I'm thinking, NO THANK YOU.

But then the idealistic side of my brain kicks in and thinks, "But everyone was nice. And it might be good to teach writing, it might make me a better writer. And the money would be enough for a car payment and insurance. And it would get me out of the house."

But at this point, I'd rather not. She wanted me to have classes ready to go by August 13th. I get NO SAY in my text books--she's already ordered that! I don't even get to design the course how I want it, I have to teach from someone else's syllabus. I'm looking down the barrel of 2 classes, 30 students per class, 4-7 writing assignments per class which works out to be 210 papers to grade PER class, 420 for the semester. FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY papers to grade. All for the grand total of $Not As Much As I Made As a Grad Student per month, plus the cost of my SANITY. And that's to say nothing of the TIME. The time to grade 420 papers, the time that by rights should be The Boy's. Or CHRIS'. Or, heaven forbid! MINE.

Anyway. I told the woman I would look at the syllabi, talk to my husband, and get back to her by the next day. And I did. I didn't just write it off because it's composition, not much money and way too much time. I thought about it.

And then I went and had a long tickle session with the Boy. I returned the rental car, I met Chris, we made dinner, bathed the Boy and talked about it.

And decided we'd really rather not.

Fun Fridays

on 24 July 2009

Chris started work last Monday. Not the Monday we just had but the one before that one. I had panic attacks. I'm so far out of my schedule/routine/semblance of NORMALITY that I had panic attacks.

These panic attacks caused me to do some significant redesign of my schedule/routine/semblance of NORMALITY. See, previously, I had been doing laundry and housework on Fridays. Reserving days early in the week for baking (bread/cookies/breakfast items for the freezer) and the middle of the week for naps and the end of the week for more work. But Saturdays were for fun with Chris.

But the Boy, he's much more fun than he has previously been. Well, he's been a bit of a pill lately, but normally he's pretty fun. So I was thinking about it...

think think think

And I'm just dorky enough to appreciate the alliteration with Work for Wednesdays and Fun for Fridays. So, that's what I've set out to do. I've moved laundry and housework to Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are pool days for ye old Boy and I, we'll keep Saturdays for fun with Chris, and Fridays are now...

FUN FRIDAYS!

I'm going to try to do something creative, totally out of the routine, and FUN for me and the Boy on Fridays. And in the spirit of Fun Fridays--here are some pics from last week's Fun Friday (AKA the first weekly Fun Friday)

It was FORT DAY!

The Boy is not quite sure about Ft. Burnstopia



I brought his favorite books, blanket,
Monte, some toys and snacks into the fort with us,
but all he really wanted was the Going to Bed Book.

And again...

And again...

I, personally, do not understand it. The plot isn't complex, there's no character development to speak of, there's no symbolism, metaphor, or allusion, and the title gives away the end. They ALL go to BED. But it's his favorite, and it was Fun Friday, so I read that book about 4,730 times. In a ROW.


All in all, I'd say it was a success.

The Solace of Leaving Early

on 22 July 2009

Do you ever feel like you're home? Because I never have that feeling, which led me to wonder about place, the pull of a particular geography or lifestyle, do you know what I mean? There must be a million people, maybe a few million people right this minute, living in cities, or in those wretched suburbs, who dream of a place like this, these streets and alleys, the way we wander around so freely and know each other and can get from place to place without a car. And the country fair--the parade--all that, the fresh produce and honey all summer. They think they would love to live in this town.

And? But?

But. But you can't ever live in the place you dream about, the town you long for. You can't go there, and I don't mean like Thomas Wolfe or whatever, I mean the moment you become conscious of your desire, and then fulfill it, it evaporates.

  • Haven Kimmel

Masterpiece Theater

on 19 July 2009


Anyone who reads this blog with any degree of regularity is well acquainted with the many levels of my dorkiness. And so I feel at liberty to talk with impassioned fervor about my love of BBC classics and Masterpiece Theater.

I just finished watching Jane Eyre, and all I could say when I finished it was, "I LOVE Masterpiece Theater."

Let me forewarn you, these adaptations are NOT necessarily true to the novel as it was written. Translating a novel to film is like translating it from one language to another. What you are getting is someone else's interpretation of that novel. You're getting their reading of it, the themes, images and ideas that were prominent to the director and screen-writer. If you want the author's text, then read the novel. Don't go to any kind of adaptation for it, because you won't get it.

I don't watch these adaptations for the literature, I watch them for someone else's reading of a text that is already well-known to me. I watch them to see the text differently the next time I read it, but mostly, I watch them to be entertained.

And while I'm writing about my love of Masterpiece Theater, let me just say, I'm not one of those women who loves to see actors and actresses all dolled up in fancy clothes and poofy hair. I don't watch them for the fashion parade. I find it interesting how these adapations are able to show that kind of life, while still criticizing it.

And returning to Jane Eyre, yes, they play up the love story between Jane and Rochester--that's how the novel is READ. But they're also looking at how lonely and isolating the life of a governess was at the time. They're looking at how limited the choices were for women if they were poor and had the necessity of providing for themselves. They're looking at the worth of family more than the worth of money. And they don't breeze over the value of someone's character rather than the worth of their property.

I love that they didn't pick a pretty-pretty actress to play Jane, a notoriously plain heroine. They picked someone who isn't tradiationally pretty and just let her look odd. And in spite of what she knew to be her failings, she remains, as she does in the novel, certain of who she is and unwilling to pretend to be other than who she is. She is unabashedly Jane Eyre.


Since Chris is working so much right now, I've taken over the neflix queue, and I'm excited that I've got a new adapation of Little Dorrit coming, along with Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist and the Old Curiousity Shop.

The New Digs

on 17 July 2009

So a couple of you have asked for pictures of the new location of Burnstopia. Here you go.

Living room

Sunroom/officey area

From the office towards the kitchen/dining room

Book shelves.

Funny story about those bookshelves. Want to hear it? No? Too bad. It's my blog. So, I bought the two on the outside at Home Depot many years ago and we wanted to buy a third one just like them, but they don't make them anymore. Guess how many Home Depots we went to? A bunch, and then Lowes, and then Office Depot and Office Max and Target and WalMart and Costco and then we finally gave up and decided that driving down to Orlando to go to Ikea seemed like a REALLY good idea, so one day a couple of weeks ago we drove down. I didn't measure because I LOOKED at them ONLINE and they LOOKED exactly the same. So we went, we found, we purchased, we returned home. Chris had the joy of putting them together and when they were together and UP, behold! They are NOT the same. All I could say when Chris looked at me was, "What?! I LOOKED at them! They LOOKED the same." Note for the future. They are NOT the same.

Pile of pictures that I still have to hang up...
ignore the dusty frames, that's NC dust.

The Boy's room (otherwise known as the Tolkien Room)

I am such a dork.

I have let the Action Figures! out of the box. They're on the loose now.

RIDERS OF ROHAN!!!
WHAT NEWS FROM THE MARK!?!?
(oh, how the mighty have fallen)

Fine. We'll resume the happy walking tour of Burnstopia, the Coastal Edition.

Bed Sweet Bed. Try to ignore the clothes pins holding up our curtains.
I can't bring myself to deal with the curtain rod issue.
I have the Tolkien room to play in.

Ok, I'm done now. The bathrooms are bathrooms, the swimming stuff is hanging up in the Boy's shower. The kitchen is a kitchen, the laundry room houses the washer and dryer and there's nothing interesting happening in there. Actually, this post is proof that there's nothing interesting happening in Burnstopia at the moment.

A Harry Potter Conversation

on 15 July 2009

I've been rereading Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince because I don't know what I want to read.

(I'm also reading John Rosemond's Parent Power, but that's not the point of this post.)

Chris was home last Friday and we had lunch together, put the Boy down for a nap and then he and I stole away to Bed Sweet Bed for a very RARE afternoon snooze. Well, Chris snoozed and I read and then got up to work on the Boy's room some more (pictures to follow when I finish it).

The Boy woke up and I went in to get him out of bed and get Chris up as well, and as we all flopped over in Bed Sweet Bed we had the following conversation...

The Boy (attempting to crawl over me and get to the books on my nightstand): OHOHOHOHO!

M: Oh, you want to read Harry Potter, we can read Harry Potter.

The Boy (still attempting to crawl over me to get his hands on Harry Potter 6): OHOHOHOHO!

M: Really, you should have your daddy read it to you because he has the best read aloud voice for Harry Potter.

Chris: Dumbledore dies. Now can I go back to sleep?



And that's where I cracked up laughing and the Boy looked at us like we were crazy and then tried to stick his fingers up our noses and in Agnes' ears.

The End

The Anti-Climax

on 13 July 2009

Huh.

I was washing up the dishes last night and I said to Chris, "I think I had too high expectations for today. Much like this time last year!" And he laughed.

We didn't do a big party as I previously mentioned. I couldn't bring myself to do a cake proper. The Boy hasn't had that much sugar and I really didn't want to send him in to sugar shock. I made some banana muffins and some lemon-blueberry muffins and the Boy snarffed up the banana but was less interested in the blueberry. He was VERY interested in bath and bed.

We bought him his first Tonka truck. It's the walk-behind, ride-on kind of toy and he LOVES it. I have discovered that my boy is a cautious one, he would stand up and hold on and push and the Tonka would roll forward and as soon as it was time for him to step he would sit down. He was very skeptical of the whole Hold-On-And-Walk-Behind concept, even when his mama showed him how it was done.

And now for pictures!

Doesn't quite know what to do with the toy, but DOES know what to do with the camera.

Huh.

Dinner?






All in all, the Boy didn't seem to get what the big deal was all about.

I was telling my mom the other day that he's been a bit odd lately. Just clingy and fussy, well, fussier than usual...and it's been a bit worrisome and then I just sort of lobbed that out the window and thought, "Oh well. I get to cuddle my baby a bit longer before he ditches me for the far more exciting toddler world." Is that selfish of me? Yes? Hmmm. I don't care. I thought that I might, but it turns out that I don't.


The Passage of Time

on 12 July 2009

We've been thinking a lot about time around here. It started back in June...I kept thinking, "Wow, it was this time last year that..." and realizing how much has changed in the past year.

People keep asking me if I can believe that I have a one year old and the answer is invariably, no. Not because it doesn't feel like it's been a year, it doesn't. It feels like it was just yesterday, but also a lifetime ago.

I know that it's not fashionable, but we're not having a big party for him. This time last year, it was just the three of us, Chris, me and the Boy--rolling and shifting and trying so hard to come into the world. I like the idea of this first year being the three of us again. We've all struggled this past year, trying to learn each other all over again and it somehow seems fitting that this anniversary would be about our family as much as it's about the Boy.

And speaking of the Birthday Boy, I've compiled some of my favorite moments from this past year. Pardon the poor photography--there's a metaphor there, about how his coming to us has unfocused us, drooled over and disrupted our lives, but you'd be hard-pressed to argue that we would have it any other way.

The Boy's First Year from M on Vimeo.

North and South

on 10 July 2009

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote in North and South:

"Margaret felt how great and long had been the pressure on her time and spirits. It was astonishing, almost stunning, to feel herself so much at liberty; no one depending on her for cheering care, if not for positive happiness; no invalid to plan and think for; she might be idle, and silent, and forgetful, --and what seemed worth more than all the other privileges--she might be unhappy if she liked."

Other People's Words

Whimsy and I have long traded favorite quotes with each other. I find a tremendous amount of comfort in words written by smarter people than myself. And I take childish delight in finding an un-articulated thought or feeling perfectly articulated by someone else.

And since I'm having difficulty coming up with the appropriate words to express my current state, I'm starting a new series here at Burnstopia. For those days when I can't be funny on my own, when I can't get the words out, when everything that I say is wrong. I'm going to give you Other People's Words.

Interpret them how you will, but always at your own peril.

Hot Fruit Eaters--How wrong you are.

on 08 July 2009

Ok, so I promised this post to Whimsy quite some time ago and here it is at last. I can't promise that it will be witty or funny or anything other than a rant against any and all forms of hot fruit out there, so readers, ye be warned.

I've always had some food issues. I can't take time to explain them all, I need a shower. But I can give you the run down on one big one and a small subset issue regarding FRUIT. And since it's summer time, it seems appropriate.

I love fruit. I love fruit, fresh and in it's season. Eat peaches in the summer and only in the summer. And likewise, fall is the best and really only time for apples. Chris and I went to Costco and stocked up on fresh produce, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and cherries. Mostly we eat them fresh, room temperature in the case of the peaches, or COLD. Cold otherwise known as The Only Proper Way to eat FRUIT.

Chris just came in and saw what I was doing and demanded that I allow the exception for Pie. Pie can be eaten hot or cold in his opinion. I will allow the motion to carry but only for certain kinds of Pie. Namely, Peach Pie or, in very occasional circumstances, Blueberry Pie. All other pie should be served room temperature! All in favor, say Aye.

What really grosses me out are the fruit compotes. Or. OR! The people who insist on pairing HOT fruit with things like MEAT. UGH! Oh, gag. Am feeling nauseous just thinking about it. My favorite BIL likes hot cherry sauce on his HAM. HAM! UGH. I love Jeff, but MAN, that's revolting.

I've never really stopped to analyze why I hate the Hot Fruit so much. I think because it's so FAR from normal. Fruit ceases to be hot as soon as it is plucked from the ripening sun and brought inside to be consumed. From there on, it's all over with the hotness and it should be consumed as nature intended it--room temperature. But then! Then! Man went and invented the refrigerator and discovered how beautiful cold fruit can be, and thus, the modern age was born. Once strawberries went into the refrigerator, they not only lasted longer, but they TASTED better!

And refrigerator is a really hard word to spell. Moving on!

I think my love of cold fruit is why I also think that smoothies are the most perfect thing ever. It's fruit--COLD. Blended with yogurt and protein powder and therefore it can be consumed with a STRAW requiring no hands or dishes. It's brilliant! Chris says it's not real food. He's very hobbitish in his beliefs about eating--proper meals involve chewing.

I will allow that a slice of peach pie, warm from the oven and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that melts into all the soft folds of the peaches, is a thing of beauty. And I have upon occasion sampled Chris' blueberry pie, likewise warm from the oven and melting into a purple swirl with vanilla ice cream, is also occasionally pleasant. But stray too far from that pie path and all goes WRONG.

I don't like apple pie, I never eat it. Someday I'll post a list on this blog of the other ways in which I am unamerican, but that's not really for today. Cook an apple and you ruin it. Apples should be crisp and crunchy and nothing else.

Cherry pie is awesome, particularly when made with sour cherries, but it's best at room temperature. Strawberry pie is best with fresh NOT cooked strawberries and therefore eaten COLD.

And that bring us to the end of M's happy walking tour through the world of Pie. I can't begin to comprehend what on earth people would want with any other form of hot fruit. I see recipes for compotes but I have NO idea what they would be used for because anything and everything seems WRONG with a compote. And we shall not, shall NOT I say, go near the idea of Mincemeat.

CAUTION: Manatee Area

on 06 July 2009


If you drive south on I-95, past Savannah; you will begin to encounter these signs.

They aren't part of the highway, obviously, they're posted down on the various rivers so that people in motor boats will slow down and be cautious. I have no idea if it actually works.

But I like this. Partly because I really like Manatees. They're slow and fat and peaceful creatures. They basically swim around and eat all day. They aren't flashy like sharks, they're not trying to win the world over like dolphins. They're just content to swim around and eat all day and prefer to be left alone.

I'm starting to think it would be nice to have a CAUTION: M Area outside my door. Just as a warning to people that I'm really better left alone right now. I'm not flashy, friendly or funtastic. I have very little to contribute to any kind of activity or gathering right now. Please don't ask for my involvement in any kind of organization. I will not be attending your pool party.

I woke up with the Boy at 5:30 this morning. He went to bed way past his bedtime last night, so I made him a bottle and sat in his darkened room with him while he slurped it down. I was thinking about Broken for You again and the inevitability of how broken we all are. How we are repeatedly broken by various circumstances, but how we usually reserve the piecing of our lives back together for private.

I have been feeling like my duct tape is showing. I haven't really had enough time for glue, so I've just sort of taped the pieces of my life back together, and I feel like that tape is showing through. In spite of all my best efforts to hide it, to put on a smile and attempt optimism, I can feel it slipping.

I just want to float. To hide out in deep water for a while, quietly eat my veg and be left in peace. Unfortunately, I have nothing in my history that gives me hope of actually having a peaceful time to recoup. I can almost feel it coming, more change, more involvement, more more more expected of me.

Maybe it's this time of year. After all, this time last summer I was approximately the size and shape of a manatee. I was also hiding out. Freaking out. Feeling more and more change coming my way in the size and shape of the Boy. Maybe that's all it is. But maybe not.

The Madness of The Move

on 03 July 2009

Ok. So, we're here. And how we got here requires quite the story, so just settle in. Go to the bathroom. Get a beverage, a snack and a pillow, because, y'all. It's been crazy.

Thursday: Loading the Truck Day

I felt quite certain that we would have NO help in loading the truck. For I am a hardened cynic who imagines the worst of every situation.

My mom was going to be in Grandma-mode with the Boy all day so that we could load the truck without dropping any of the thousands of heavy boxes on his head. And she did FABULOUS--many thanks, mom!

I dropped off Chris at the truck rental place and headed home to get started with the PILES everywhere. My sister and her daughter (my rockin' 15 year old niece) came down and worked their tails off for the hour that they had to spare and just after they left, lo, choirs of angels descended and HELP showed up! In the form of some friends of ours from church. And let me just say that those three men are going to Heaven for SURE. We all worked ourselves to a sweaty mess and the truck was loaded in 3.5 hours. My dad was the AWESOME loadmaster--that man can load absolutely anything.

Chris and I obtained pizza and our child and returned home bone tired. But the apartment was empty and clean (he and I took turns cleaning) and it was nice to see all the floor again. The Boy fell asleep in the car and unlike usual he didn't wake up when I pulled him out of his carseat, but instead, curled up into my body like he hasn't done since he was very small. I reveled in the feel of his sturdy little body heavy against mine in our home this last time. We put him to bed and showered and crashed on the floor for one last night.

My friend Mona sent me this amazing email and since she reads this blog but NEVER comments--you all don't know how wise she is--I'm going to quote her. She wrote, "I just wanted to say that I hope you and Chris enjoy your last night in your apartment and in NC. I know it’s a bit bittersweet for you, but take it all in. In response to your blog from last night, I’m totally a keeper of things that have special memory of a place or time in my life and I’ve always appreciated when I took a moment at the last night in a place to reflect and see not just who you were when you got there compared to where you are now, but the life that happened in between all of that."

I think that's why it hurt so much to leave. The Boy happened in that apartment--from the very beginning.

Friday: Moving Day

I cried as I picked him up that morning and took that last, long walk down the stairs--all I could think of was, "This was the walk I took when I was in labor. And this is where I had to stop for a minute because of a contraction. And these were the stairs I took one at a time when we brought him home. And I would take this walk around the building when he was new and loved to walk outside. And...And...And..."

We climbed into the van, shook hands with our favorite maintenance men, hugged each other and drove away.

I need to take a moment to share with you all the awesomeness of my parents. My parents volunteered to drive down with me so that I wouldn't have to drive for 8 hours in the van, ALONE with an 11 month old child. My mom rode in the van with me and my dad followed behind us in case anything happened. My mom continuously entertained the Boy and she and I shed some tears as we left North Carolina.

The Arrival: HATE

We got here right on time. It was sweltering. All three of us sauntered in to the rental office to find Chris there, signing the lease. We handed over large sums of money. I signed the bazillion forms as well. We picked up keys and card passes and set up entry codes and then trotted off to our new home.

And what did we find? A cool, clean, inviting open space for the Boy to crawl around in? NO. Not a bit of it.

When we looked at the apartment it had construction debris all through it, but the woman who sold us the lease assured us that it would be cleaned prior to our moving in.

Yeah. Not so much.

To say that I was LIVID with RAGE is an understatement. And since I've run out of adjectives to describe the experience, here's a bit from the letter that I've since submitted to the property manager:

Upon our arrival on June 26th, and after having paid all of our fees and prorated rent, we entered the apartment and found, to our great displeasure, that it had NOT been cleaned. I returned to the leasing office and spoke with the assistant manager about the situation. She informed me, that though she was very sorry, that she "had three move-ins that day and was unable to do anything" at all to rectify the situation. Though, how having "three move-ins that day" somehow justifies the other 18 days notice she had prior to our arrival, I have yet to understand.

Since our arrival included the aforementioned 11 month old child, I proceeded to clean the apartment myself. The debris is what one would expect from new construction. There were bits of stripped wires on the floor, there was dirt, grim and filth; there was the chalky dust of sheetrock cover all surfaces--vertical and horizontal; there were urine stains and mildew in both toilets and rust stains in the bath tubs; there were globs of sealant in both bath tubs and cardboard in the drains; there was sawdust in the cabinets, random remnant screws where the appliances had been installed; there were paint splatters on the carbet, which when pulled can come up and be eaten by a teething 11 month old child; all of the laminate floors were scuffed, and there was some sort of moldy growth around the windows. Over the period of two hours, my husband and I cleaned the apartment to the point where we felt that our child could crawl on the floor without detriment to his well-being, though he was still filthy when I bathed him for the night. It was only after eight hours of driving and two hours of combined cleaning that we were abel to begin to unload our moving truck.


Yeah. I'm STILL MAD. The property manager came by, once when we were out and left a note, and then again on Monday. She was VERY apologetic and has offered us generous recompense, but STILL. 2 HOURS of cleaning! The place was knee deep in FILTH. I have never been so angry in my life. (I know that I should be grateful. We do have a great place, it's new, it's quiet, it's big and open and spacious and there are plenty of people in this world who have no home. And now that it's CLEAN, I'm starting to be grateful for it, but man, I was MAD. And HOT. And TIRED. I'm working on it...)

Then, THEN! My mom took the Boy into his bedroom to play while me and Chris and my DAD (my awesome dad) began to slowly, slow-ly unload the truck. And people, the HEAT, oh, it was hot. And then, THEN! My awesome Father-in-law and Brother-in-law (who heard part of my RAGE with Chris whilst on the phone) showed up and took over the work of unloading the truck while me and my dad took a break. They were FAST. And AWESOME. And brought a big ol' furniture mover thing for Chris' cedar chest (which was loaded with all his Civil War stuff, and it was HEAVY--all caps).

My parents went to stay in a hotel and Chris and I worked at shifting furniture and boxes until our apartment began to resemble an apartment rather than a storage unit. We went to bed around midnight, after a swim in our giant bath tub.

Saturday: Please, someone deliver me from this MADNESS

My parents joined us again. My dad has a bunch of stuff from my Grandma's days on Guam (this particular Saturday is was Japanes blown-glass fish floats--pictures to follow) and he was going to try to sell some of them on Jekyll Island (which is fairly close to us), so off he went. My dad is ALWAYS up for an adventure. Anyway, Mom stayed and helped me to gather my courage to face My Kitchen. My mom has unpacked 2 of my kitchens. She's great at it and I hate it...I love having my kitchen neat and organized, but I HATE the thought of doing it from scratch. So she and I worked in the kitchen while Chris did other stuff. We put together the Boy's room, we set up our office, and sorted out all of my book boxes. We did MORE cleaning. We started some laundry. But with my mom's help, we managed to get the kitchen set up.

My parents left on Saturday. The Boy and I walked them out. It's hard to be left behind. The Boy cried most of the rest of the day. His gums are purple on both sides of his front teeth and his Grandparents are his favorite playmates. He ran a low-grade fever and I put him to bed early.

Chris went to a Vietnamese restaurant not far from our apartment and obtained some fairly awesome Vietnamese food for dinner. I went to SchmallMart and schlepped up and down the aisles to acquire things we had not seen fit to move and to finally buy some groceries.

Again we stumbled into bed around 11 and fell into fitfull sleep. The apartment is quiet but bright, even at night. I've put up some curtains and that's helped, but it's still hard to sleep in a new place.

We've been to Jacksonville to try to find Costoc, unsuccessfully. But that might warrant it's own post. But then maybe not. An hour down there, and hour lost looking for the place, and an hour home. All with a teething child. FUNTASTIC does not begin to describe it.

I haven't begun to process my actual feelings about the move or being in this new place. I'm vaguely grateful that my parents made me do hard things. I have this bit of hardness about me that enables me to put my head down and go to work and NOT think about anything else but the task immediately before me. I'm grateful for that bit of hardness now. If I can't be happy, I can at least be productive.

An Open Love Letter to North Carolina

on 01 July 2009

When I was in high school my best friend was K. He was a foot taller than me and had the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen. He was a very restful friend for me, I could be myself in silence, without explanation, and it was enough. He had a typing class my junior year and when done with his work for the class he would type out song lyrics to various songs that he had memorized and I had to guess the artists. It's harder than it sounds people, he listened to groups like Def Leopard and Red Hot Chili Peppers (my appreciate for RHCP came later in life), I was listening to Depeche Mode, U2 and the Cure.

Anyway. I'm not sure how I got off on that embarrassing tangent...

In honor of my affectionate memory of that time, I give you my open love letter to North Carolina. I listened to it as I drove from my former apartment to my parent's house out in the country. I have not the words to adequately describe how I have loved my time there. I hope that in a year, I shall return and call it my more permanent home.



Dear North Carolina,

Fare thee well
My own true love
Farewell for a while
I’m going away
But I’ll be back
Though I go 10,000 miles

10,000 miles
My own true love
10,000 miles or more
The rocks may melt
And the seas may burn
If I should not return

Oh don’t you see
That lonesome dove
Sitting on an ivy tree
She’s weeping for
Her own true love
As I shall weep for mine

Oh come ye back
My own true love
And stay a while with me
If I had a friend
All on this earth
You’ve been a friend to me.*



Love and Affection,

M


*10,000 Miles by Mary Chapin Carpenter