Fall Break

This past weekend was our school’s Fall Break, which means we’re now more than halfway through the semester. And, um, apparently I’ve only posted three times to the blog during that time. It seems I am out of the habit! Well, friends, I’m going to try to dust this thing off and see what happens.

Professor Umbridge! Dun dun DUNNNNNN.

I am in the midst of my great Harry Potter reread, which I began some time in the summer shortly after CW and I had re-watched all but the first two movie versions. I was really plowing through the books until I started the fifth one, which I’m still currently reading. I think once work got really busy, my reading time correspondingly diminished. I’ve got to finish, though, because 1) I always finish things, and 2) I have some good books just waiting for me on my Kindle app, including the new Tana French! So I shall soldier on. (Not that I’m not enjoying it.) I have gotten to the part where the kids start holding Dumbledore’s Army meetings, so things are definitely happening, but I usually can’t read more than 2-3 pages each night before I fall asleep.

Having the last weekend off was absolutely wonderful, I must add. We haven’t had a Fall Break here during the time I’ve been teaching — this year was the first. I am so, so pleased the school made it happen. It’s right at that point in the semester where students are exhausted from midterms and faculty are drowning in grading and usually, without the break, the light at the end of the tunnel (aka Thanksgiving break) is still so far away. Having a long weekend right in the middle of October is the perfect little breather.

[284/365] Terrapin Pumpkinfest

I got to spend time with my husband; I got to hang out with friends; I drank some pumpkin beers; I went to a bowling birthday party; I went on a couple of great runs; and CW and I got some much needed work done in our front yard. Lovely, perfect fall weekend. Speaking of our yard, I know I’ve written here before about how the lawn service provided by our rental agency had become so unreliable and sporadic — when our grass kept growing longer and longer and more embarrassing, I was half serious about putting a sign in the yard proclaiming “Landscaping by [Redacted] Properties.” I did not do that. Instead, CW just went out and bought a lawnmower and things improved immediately.

[291/365] Gardening Gloves

Well, we assumed the service would still come by and trim the hedges and whatnot, even if they didn’t need to mow the lawn any longer, but they never did. Pretty soon, the bushes in our front garden bed were absolutely OUT OF CONTROL. After I came in from a long run Saturday morning, I casually asked CW if we had any kind of hedge trimmers. This led to an impromptu trip to the hardware store and a couple of hours of trimming and weeding the entire front garden. It had gotten so bad that we had some legitimate questions about what was supposed to be there and what had simply started growing on its own. I uprooted a LOT of tiny maple trees. (Sorry, John Denver.) It was amazing what a difference it made! I should have taken some before and after pics, but it didn’t occur to me in time. I think we are going to get some mulch or pine straw this weekend, so maybe I’ll take a photo once that’s done. For the moment, you’ll have to imagine a very normal-looking yard that seems like it has been maintained by a couple of responsible adults. That’s the look we’re going for. Responsible.

At any rate, we are quite pleased with ourselves. Now that we basically know we cannot count on the lawn service do either mow OR prune/weed/trim, we can just take control of the situation ourselves. The only loose end at this point is to contact the rental company and make some official complaint. I…do not look forward to this. I am very non-confrontational and I hate to complain. I would much rather be passive aggressive — case in point, my hypothetical “Landscaping by…” sign. However, I do think they need to know that the work that someone is paying for (us? or the homeowner?) is not being done.

(Advice or Suggestions???)

The House, the Lawn, the Blazer, and the Body

Because I miss writing here and still have lots of little things on my mind, I’m really feeling the desire to just get some of it out. I have somewhat unstructured time in my office today (and hence, time at my desk/computer), so I am going to attempt another post filled with a mix of random small items. If I get a moment here or there to add to it, I will. I’ll post whatever I have when it’s time to pack up.

Thing One (file under “Not-So-Awesome Day of Domesticity,” also “Let Us Never Speak of This in Person; Seriously, If You Bring It Up I Will Pretend I Don’t Know What You Are Talking About”): Pantry Bugs. Oh yeah, that’s right. We had pantry bugs. On an otherwise idyllic Sunday morning (sleep in late, stay in bed a while, make a big pot of coffee, start making eggs for breakfast), we found a whole disgusting host of tiny little speck-like bugs had invaded our pantry and were having themselves a bountiful feast made up of all our dry goods. Just-purchased bag of flour and canister of oatmeal, we hardly knew ye.

So, we spent the entire morning and afternoon cleaning everything out and re-organizing. We wound up with a very neat and clean pantry and we didn’t lose anything we were too heartbroken about — with the exception, of course, of our lazy, cozy, idyllic Sunday morning. We’ll never get that back.

Thing Two (file under “A Not-So-Awesome Thing We Turned around and Made Awesome”): We’ve been living in our rental house since last July, shortly after we got engaged. For the most part, it has been lovely and we are really happy here (although we are both looking forward to buying a house in the hopefully near future). The one real issue we’ve had with the place is the landscaping. When we leased the house, we were under the impression that we would be in charge of all the lawn and garden maintenance, but our company told us they actually provided lawn mowing, etc., included in our rent. Which would be fine, except they hardly ever actually do these things. We thought it was supposed to happen every two weeks, but this summer it’s been more like every three weeks. The grass gets SO LONG, y’all. It’s embarrassing. (See post header photo.)

When we had friends over for a BBQ last spring, we found ourselves self-consciously apologizing for the super-high, itchy grass. When CW’s parents came to stay with us this summer, we were wishing and hoping (and finally calling on the phone to beg) for the lawn guy to come mow before our family could see how horrible the yard looked. (They did — the lawn got mowed just hours before my in-laws’ arrival.) Every time the grass starts to get really long, we dither back and forth for a couple of days, starting with “Should we call and complain again?” and leading to “Should we just buy a lawnmower and do it ourselves?” and eventually stopping at “Well, they should be here tomorrow, they said, so let’s see.” Finally, we managed to stop the cycle at “Should we buy a lawmower,” at which point we decided that yes, we should, so we did, and my husband is SO HAPPY. The man loves his new lawnmower and the lawn is mowed and WE are in control of our own destiny and the birds are singing and we aren’t hiding from our neighbors in shame anymore.

Thing Three (file under “I Was an Idiot and Now I’m Sad”): I bought a few new pieces of clothing at Gap before school, started and I wound up with $50 worth of “Gap cash” to spend during a specific range of dates this month. I knew exactly what I was going to use it on (a blazer like this one, but which I can’t find on the site). In between then and now, I wound up having to buy a car all of a sudden and I decided that my new resulting budget did not have room for any more clothing purchases this fall, and I was fine with that. A self-imposed shopping freeze is often a good thing for me. I would not buy any more new clothes. I did not need any more new clothes. Except maybe that blazer, which I really wanted, and for which I had basically a $50 coupon. Maybe I would buy that. So I bided my time and waited for the date when I could use the Gap cash and I went to the Gap and guess what? I had read the stupid date wrong and my cash had expired and I couldn’t even bring myself to go inside the store without it because I wasn’t even supposed to be buying clothes in the first place. Womp wommmmmp.

Thing Four (file under “Getting Older Stinks Sometimes”): I registered for that 5K I mentioned, which should be awesome and fun and way too hot on that morning to really race it, which is OK because it will be fun and my friends are doing it with me and yay, 5K. Except on Tuesday as I was doing some speed intervals through my neighborhood and I got all spun up at my goal race pace, I got a weird, unidentifiable pain in the back of my knee that just would not shake out. It wasn’t like a pulled muscle or any kind of impact pain. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it sucked. I had to cut the run short and now I haven’t worked out all week. The pain never came back, so I’m hoping it won’t show its face again during Saturday’s race. Stupid knee, you are on my list (keeping company with my hip, skin, hair, gums, reproductive system, and flora). Aging. Ain’t it grand.

Adjustments

By the middle of next month CW and I will have been living together for a full year. I love our home and especially love that he is here with me. I love the fact that we get to come home to each other and go to sleep together and wake up side by side every single day. It absolutely hasn’t gotten old to me yet.

 

The flipside of that coin, though, is that — as it hasn’t gotten old to me yet — there are still things I haven’t quite adjusted to yet. Napping, for example. I used to be a champion napper: on the couch, with the dog, under a blanket, television droning quietly in the background, passed slap out. How I miss those naps. I have had probably fewer than five really good naps since CW and I have been sharing a house.

I don’t know what the problem is, but I tend to sleep a lot more lightly now. So lightly that any movement or noise he might make — even if he is in another room, even a noise as slight as his opening a can of soda or the clicking in his ankle when he takes he first few steps after sitting for a long time — is enough to wake me from my sleep. I don’t just wake up, though. I EXPLODE into consciousness, heart pounding, blood pressure through the roof, every muscle at complete attention. Because my husband stood up and took a couple of quiet, barefoot steps on a carpeted floor.

I can hardly blame the man. What, should he hold perfectly still and stop breathing while I take a nap? Of course not. But I also would be lying if I said that his own ability to nap — deeply, for long stretches of time, while I unload the dishwasher and cook an entire meal, for example, in a room twelve feet from the couch — makes me so envious I could shoot lasers out of my eyes in his (peacefully snoozing) direction.

See also: the incredible ability to sleep through his own beeping alarm clock, which is set for 30 minutes before I want to get up. How can he possibly sleep through those beeps so soundly, when they’re waking me up like a blast from a cannon? I am so jealous.

I think my nap failures stem from the fact that some part of me hasn’t internalized the idea that I don’t live alone anymore. Simply put: there’s another person here. I know that, of course, but my sleeping brain doesn’t expect to hear those sounds, so — even though they’re quiet, quieter than the pets are — they startle me.

Napping (or, more accurately, the loss of napping) isn’t the only new thing I’ve been adjusting to. So many little aspects of life are just different now.

[It occurs to me that these thoughts are pretty original, aren’t they? You’ve probably never heard anything like this before. “Oh, gosh, cohabitation and marriage take adjustments? SHOCKING.” Well, simmer down. I feel like talking about it for a bit, so just humor me, please.]

Daily life at home can become the source of so many odd debates. We have two very different philosophies about how to load a dishwasher, when to unload a dishwasher, how many water glasses should be left around various rooms of the house, what temperature the thermostat should be set to, and what to do with laundry fresh out of the dryer.  The most serious philosophical questions of our time, people! They’re being debated right here in my very own home! No conclusive answers yet, however. I’ll update you if we ever resolve the question of whether bowls should go on the top rack of the dishwasher*.

Of course, I’m not the only one who has had to adjust to living with another person after many years of flying solo. CW has had to face the fact that he basically cannot leave a drinking glass unattended for more than five seconds before it gets disappeared into the dishwasher. He also has had to adjust to always eating with a wife who likes to photograph her food. Carefully. With, like, lighting and shit. He now lives with a woman who can’t watch an entire movie without checking her phone, who likes to have as many lights on as possible, who hates fans, and who routinely leaves the kitchen cabinet doors wide open. He has never been anything but gracious about these things, but I know they’re adjustments for him as well.

(And how many of you are thinking right now that I would be very annoying to live with?!)

I lived on my own for 13 years after college, so I’ve had quite a long time for my single-living routines to become deeply entrenched. Adjusting them is hard. Worth it, of course, to contribute to a happy home for both of us. I wonder, though, how long does it take before these aspects of daily life are no longer conscious adjustments, but simply the way we do things? How long before we settle on a temperature? Or before my brain can tune out the sound of another human being around and just let me nap without waking me up in a state of adrenal alarm? I really do miss those naps.

People who’ve been cohabitating for a while — what are your thoughts?

*They should absolutely not; are you crazy?

An Unwelcome Visitor

Not twelve hours after I posted last week about how tired I was (eliciting, I’m sure, more than a few eye rolls from my friends who are parents — sorry!), I figured out the reason I felt so fatigued.

Yep. It was yet another of those incidents where, if I’d only been paying better attention to the calendar, I could have easily understood why I felt so tired, irritable, hungry, weepy, and/or in need of chocolate. Sigh.

And this time around, I really should have known better: I was paying attention to the calendar. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that the arrival of that particular Special Visitor was an unwelcome surprise. I’d been hoping she wouldn’t show up. For a while —  if you know what I mean (and I think that you do). In my wishful and hopeful thinking,  I probably convinced myself I wouldn’t see her, but then all of a sudden there she was, the very morning after I wrote that post. DAMMIT. WHY. GO AWAY.

So anyway, these things have been on my mind these days — occupying plenty of my brainspace, against my will — and I both do and don’t want to articulate my thoughts here. I want to talk about it enough that I am writing this post, but I don’t want to talk about it enough that I refuse to spell out what it is I’m so ambivalent about saying. I mean, I DO want to talk about it, I guess, but here’s the thing: if you know me in person we are not talking about this in person, okay? What I say here stays here. I declare that to be the rule and this is my space and therefore I am the boss. Accept it.

Right, so. A little whippersnapper. We would like one. No luck yet, but we’ll keep working on it. In the meanwhile, I am going to drink a big, cold glass of white wine and eat some candy and try to think of as many ways as possible to say things without actually saying them, because, really, how fun is that. 

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Friends, I feel like I have had so many frantic, ridiculous, frustrating, and funny stories to share with you all in the last couple of weeks, and I just, well, haven’t. The new semester and a still new-ish home routine have combined to create a life in which my formerly normal blogging windows are now missing. But no one wants to read about why someone hasn’t been blogging, so I’ll change the subject.

Ahem.

Here’s one of my stories.

Last week we had the most stressful and infuriating night over here. How bad was it? It was so bad that I channeled George Costanza’s dad, all “SERENITY NOW!,” and then announced I would be stress-eating an ice-cream bar (Magnum Gold bar mini — recommended). And I ate it and it was good. I ate it with full knowledge that I was stress eating regular dairy ice cream — the kind that makes me ill. And I did not care, because HOT DAMN, I needed it. Bourbon may also have been involved.

(So, okay, now that I have typed that, it doesn’t sound like my behavior was that bad. Maybe I need to channel my stress and rage into more dramatic and destructive outbursts? For the purpose of exciting blog posts? Regardless, it was bad enough that I should have, like, punched a wall, or something. Instead I yelled and ate dairy. I’ll express myself better next time. LET’S GET BACK TO THE STORY, OKAY?)

I’m going to sound like the biggest, whiniest baby in all the land when I tell you what happened, but this is it: it was the smoke detectors. Two of them started doing that low-battery chirp thing, you know?

Wait. Let me back up. Two days earlier, one of the smoke detectors had been doing its low-battery chirp and the dog was going absolutely insane. Something about the pitch at which it chirps must trigger a sense of alarm in dogs, or something, because Dude was not having it. I headed out to the nearest purveyor of 9-volt batteries, bought a pack, and we got that shit squared away.

Fast forward two days and then picture me and CW standing in the hallway, him on a step ladder, both of us staring up in utter bafflement as the renewed chirping continued above our heads. Nothing seemed to help: not the new battery, not a reset procedure we found online (that involved turning off the power to the entire house via the circuit breaker), not long strings of curse words, and certainly not the panicked yelping of the poor, terrifed, trembling, dachshund.

It seemed as if the smoke detector was possessed. I mean, for one thing, it had a brand new battery! It should not have been chirping. What the HELL, am I right? Not only that, the demon spirit possessing the one detector was now also influencing the other smoke detector in the house. At one point, CW was standing in the front hallway and I was in the back, both of us shouting at each other, “I think the noise is coming from YOURS!” It soon became clear that both detectors were malfunctioning. They seemed to continue chirping even with no batteries, with the house electricity cut off, and the units completely unplugged. Was the sound coming from somewhere up inside the ceiling, where all those dangling wires were? What even WAS this madness?

We tried the reset-via-circuit-breaker a few times and after the last time, when we plugged the smoke detectors back into their housings, they both just started sounding the regular alarm. Not the chirping; it was the your-shit’s-on-fire alarm. Full on, siren-wailing EMERGENCY! ALARM! PANIC! MODE! By that point, I think we were both ready to join the anxious hound dog cowering with his blankie in the back bathroom.

I made a call to our landlord and we placed the offending detector units in the garage to try to just get the evil things farther away from us and the house seemed, for a moment, blissfully quiet.

And then there it was. Again. The chirp. The unholy, insane-making, brain-splintering CHIRP.

CHIRP.

Shit.

CHIRP.

[sounds of muffled rage]

CHIRP.

goddamnedmotherfuckingwhattheHELL???

Oh, okay, maybe it’s quiet now? I think it stoppe—

CHIRP.

HONEY, I THINK THE CHIRPING IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Oh yeah. The chirping was indeed coming from inside the house. Not from the garage, where we’d dumped the offending units. Not from the hole in the ceiling with the dangling wires. No.

Reader, have you guessed whence the chirping?

If you have, you are smarter than we are. That’s right, we are too dumb to notice that we have more than two smoke detectors. The chirping was coming from another unit inside CW’s office, just on the other side of the door from the original smoke detector — the one whose batteries we’d changed two days before. The chirping was sounding just two feet away from the smoke detector we had thought was possessed. It was chirping within arm’s reach of where we were standing in bafflement staring up at the hole in the ceiling and cursing. It was just. Right. There.

We replaced the battery. The chirping stopped.

Meanwhile, the two smoke detectors we thought were broken now really are broken. We can’t plug them back in without the alarm sounding. They’re being replaced. And there may be no more ice cream bars left but at least it’s fucking quiet in here now.

On the Pleasures of Cohabitation

For the first time in thirteen years, I live with another human being. This is very different from living alone or with one or two pets. For one thing, pets cannot help with the dishes. I am loving the change, actually.

CW and I have always liked cooking together, but now we get to do it a lot more often. We’re also both making an effort to have good food around the house (instead of junk food) and our fridge is stocked with tons of healthy things. The best part, though, is that we’ve got a schedule going on where one of us will do the cooking on days when the other one was in the classroom all day. Today, I’m in the classroom and meetings all day, so tonight he’ll be cooking dinner for me. Yesterday, it was the opposite. I LOVE this system. Coming home at the end of a long work day to find someone making your dinner? So, so nice.

This rooster's name is Little Jerry.Table

In general, I think it’s so lovely just to have another person around so that when something needs to be done, I’m not always the one who does it. In thirteen years of living alone, I got very used to doing absolutely everything for myself. I mean, I suppose that goes without saying. And it goes without complaint, too. I never minded doing everything for myself because, well, why would I mind? It was just a fact of life that simply existed without the need for commentary or even much thought. Sometimes you just do things, as Scott Jurek would say. I did, however, occasionally have these pangs of longing for someone else to be there — so that I could have someone else take out the trash or lift the heavy things or empty the cat box. I was fond of joking, during my happily single years, that what I really wanted in life was not a boyfriend but a butler. I’m sure that sounds terrible. Of course, falling in love with someone changed my mind about that; having a partner is significantly better than having a butler would (I imagine) be. For one thing, he’s not there to get paid. And, bonus: I no longer do everything around the house myself anymore. I do about half of the things and he does about half of the things. Now if only we could agree on whether bowls go on the top or bottom rack of the dishwasher. Heh.

Sharing these things takes away some of our individual burdens, but adds a layer of responsibility, too. It’s not just my own space I’m neglecting if I feel too lazy to keep it neat; it’s also someone else’s space. Or our space, really. There’s a lessening of some kinds of weight, balanced by the (happy) shouldering of other new commitments.

In a sort of unexpected change, I now find, too, that there is so much more music in my life. For someone who sees herself as a Music Person, it’s odd how rarely I actually used to put music on at home to listen to. For the past several years, my primary music-listening times have been in the car, on a run, or walking from the parking deck to my office building and back every day. That’s not a lot of time for the tens of thousands of songs I have in my iTunes library. But CW, on the other hand, puts music on all the time. When we’re cooking or hanging out or having a cocktail at the end of the day, we’re usually listening to music. Good music. And then there’s his guitar — every now and then, guitar notes will drift in from another room and I’ll find myself treated to lovely live music in my own home. And he’s often amenable to requests, such as the Friday night we came home late and I requested a fairly silly song and he obliged me and I thought to myself: I am very lucky.

 

A Very Very Very Fine House

Why hello, and welcome to my home. (As Brenda Dickson would say.) We are here! We have moved in! Most things are put away and functional and settled. I love it. It took us a while to get things completely unpacked, partly because until recently I was finishing teaching my summer course and couldn’t do much to help around the house. This weekend, though, we finally had a few friends stop by and even hosted a couple of folks for dinner, so we had a little extra incentive to get things done. Oh, what’s that you say? Friends coming over? I guess I’d better move my underwear collection to a location other than the couch. 

I thought I’d share a few photos from around the house for those of you who get a thrill looking into other people’s homes (and really, who among us doesn’t?). Don’t worry, no one’s underwear collection is featured. Unless that’s what you came here looking for, in which case, sorry to disappoint you, ya weirdo.

As you might predict, get two English faculty types together and you’re going to have a lot of books. We’ve got them in every room. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. How many books do we have? If this tells you anything, we even decided to make what’s supposed to be a dining room into a reading atrium. A room for books and the reading of books. Oh yeah. Our front room, with it’s high ceilings, tons of natural light, and pretty arches, is now one of my favorite spaces. A futon, a comfy chair, a shelf of my favorite books, and a beautiful collection of succulents. Who needs a formal dining room?

Succulents

Soilless Growth

Arches.Shelf of Favorites

Reading Chair

Buddha, etc.

In the living area, we’ve got books over here…

Books and Chair and Guitar

Books over there…

Books

And, in what was kind of a serendipitous little joke that seems to have stuck, we even have a whole shelf for just John Irving.

Devil's Tongue by the Window

The living room is big enough to fit our sofa/TV area plus a dining table, so we’ve just made it into a living/dining combination space. We tried several different arrangements, trying in particular to find a good spot for the couch, but in the end we wound up putting it back in almost the exact same spot it landed when we unloaded the truck. Oh well! When the weather gets cold (for approximately three weeks in January) and we want to use the fireplace, we may adjust it a bit.

Couch, Dining Area

Fireplace.Table

Ukulele.The Square Shelf

Daisies

We have tons of space to be cozy and read or watch movies in here, and I feel like over all, it’s just this great wealth of space: do I want to read in the reading atrium, or the living room? Or my workspace in the guest room?

Oh, right, we have a guest room, too. (ATTENTION: GUESTS! It is a lovely guest room! Please come stay in it!) I tried snapping some photos in there, but the light was too dim by that time, so I’ll have to share that later. Also not pictured: the bedroom, CW’s office, and the kitchen. Those rooms all shaped up very nicely, too, so maybe I’ll do a second installment of this house tour soon, if you’d like to see more.

In the meanwhile, I am busy enjoying the new space and relaxing. This weekend was the first opportunity I’ve had since my summer class started to spend a weekend here in town, not traveling, not moving, and not packing or unpacking. It was downright delightful! School will be starting before we know it, and this week we are heading out of town on a short getaway to visit some of CW’s college BFFs/teammates for a few days. We leave in the morning, and I fully intend to spend every minute of the trip as relaxed as possible. When we get back, school prep mode officially begins. I’ll steel myself and see you then!

Seven Quick Takes: Summer School Edition

I am in my office before class and I have two dilemmas: 1) I have barely any prep work to do to get ready for today’s class, and 2) I have two dozen oatmeal-cranberry-almond cookies sitting here on my desk and I baked them for my students so I don’t want to eat any before class but they are so good and they’re RIGHT HERE.

Hence, I shall distract myself from the cookies by writing a blog post. I have a bunch of small updates and minor observations, so let’s go list form with seven quick takes:

1. In our workplace bathroom, we have toilet paper dispensers that have two rolls side by side, so they don’t need to be replaced as often. The problem: one of the rolls has been stuck all summer and won’t turn. Thus, the other roll gets used up twice as fast and replaced twice as often, while the stuck roll always stays full and therefore never gets any attention from the staff. The careful observer, however, may notice the increasingly frantic claw marks on the top layer of paper where people keep trying to get the roll to turn. It’s been this way all summer; I’m wondering how long the situation can go on.

2. I just wrote an entire list item about a stuck toilet paper roll in my bathroom at work. Never say I didn’t give you anything.

3. I got a migraine aura in Target the other day while CW and I were looking at rugs and dish towels. It was just one of the sparkly, psychedelic, kaleidoscope auras that makes it hard to look directly at anything, but then dissipates in 20-30 minutes. It was followed only by a dull shadow of pain in my temple, not a full-on pounding migraine headache. I thought I escaped mostly unscathed. Two days later (yesterday), I woke up with a mild headache that got progressively worse throughout the workday until I finally went home after class with a head-splitting, eye-watering, nauseating, full-on migraine. So that was fun. The nausea is gone this morning but my head still hurts. It feels bruised, like someone kicked me in the temple. What the hell is this, a week-long, multi-stage migraine? I do not accept this. JE REFUSE.

Earlier, in the hammock..Towels
Another great moment from the trip: sneaking off and watching the sunset over the lake with my guy.

4. I never got around to posting a recap of our trip up to Illinois for CW’s family reunion / Fourth of July extravaganza — oops! Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful time and his family is delightful. I got to meet a lot of his relatives for the first time and they were all very sweet and welcoming to me. It’s so nice to think of the fact that soon I will be officially joining the family! We spent the entire weekend hanging around at the pool and lake, eating, drinking, and playing various games. I am not much of a gamer, but I tried my hand at a little cornhole and then mostly just hung around and chatted. The entire time, I barely thought about work, moving, or any other stressful topics. It was lovely.

5. Speaking of family, we have decided to make our wedding a very small one — immediate family and close friends, and that’s about it. Fielding questions and comments from relatives we aren’t planning to invite, well, there’s a fun aspect of wedding planning I did not anticipate. Can I hire a planner-type person who does not actually plan the wedding, but whose job it is simply to deal with these inquiries? We can call him/her the Nonvitation Coordinator? The Official Rejection Administrator? The Not-Even-B-List Notifier? (Any of you looking for a part-time job?) Here I am just joking about this on my stupid blog and even here I suddenly feel like I have to explain/apologize for the size of the wedding and the limitations of the small guest list. Oof.

6. It’s Friday, and not only that, but it’s also the LAST day of my summer class! I have had a really nice teaching experience this summer and it has flown right by. It feels like the class just started, but early next week I’ll receive final papers and turn in final grades, then I’m out of school until fall semester starts on August 21st. I’ll have a lot of prep, planning, and meetings before then, but I’ll also have a little down time. I’m looking forward to it.

7. This weekend I think CW and I are finally going to get the rest of our things unpacked and organized. I am ready to be done with boxes! It’s been hard for me to get much done this week because I’ve been so tired after work every day, but right now I feel the fever: I want my dressers organized and my books shelved and my art hung up. Let’s do this thing! But not today. Tomorrow.

Moving, Cheese

I am writing this post from my my new-to-me couch in my newly rented house. Wait, make that our couch and our house. My fiancé is in the next room right now, working, because he lives here, too. It is grand, I tell you! In spite of a few hurdles along the way, we successfully made the move and we’re partly settled in, with many things still left to unpack and organize.

On moving day, we had the help of a small crew of friends who wound up becoming absolute life savers after our U-Haul truck broke down. Can you believe we had to get the fully loaded truck towed from my old apartment to the new house, just over a mile away? It was quite an experience. There was… some unladylike language.

We had loaded every last item onto the truck after stopping first at CW’s place and then at mine (with a detour along the way to get B’s old couch which she gave to us). It felt like such a relief to see that everything fit perfectly — we had chosen just the right size truck and packed it exactly right. And then we had to call U-Haul to send out a repair guy. The parking brake seemed to be stuck on, unable to be released. An ear-splitting alarm sounded when we tried to put the truck in drive (meant, I’m sure, to prevent drivers from pulling out with the parking brake still engaged) and it smelled like burning plastic.

Not a great picture.

The repair guy couldn’t do anything to fix the truck. We were so afraid we’d have to unload everything and reload it onto a second truck — and we were so close to being done! But then U-Haul sent out a tow truck. He found he couldn’t tow it in the normal way (front wheels up, back wheels down) because the back wheels were completely locked up and wouldn’t turn. No problem. He re-attached to the back end of the truck instead and towed it in backwards. From realizing the truck was broken down to actually getting it in motion again, I think it took 2-3 hours.

Attempt Two: circumnavigating the stuck back wheels.

If you ever want to make a grand entrance into your new neighborhood — something for the new neighbors to really notice and remember — may I recommend pulling up with a giant tow truck towing an even bigger U-Haul truck, backwards, in front of your new house? It’s a really good way to announce your presence with authority.

We were stressed out and exhausted, but our friends B. and M. came through and helped us get every last piece of furniture off that truck and into our new house. This included, but was not limited to: two beds, four dressers, a couch, two futons, a dining table, several bookcases, several small tables, and a washer and dryer. My fitbit tells me I walked almost 8 miles worth of steps that day. most of these steps took place in driveways. We were exhausted. Luckily, there was beer.

Sweet sweet reward.

Now we are working on setting up and settling in. The pets are getting adjusted and pieces of furniture are slowly but surely finding their new spots. For me, it still feels a little like a vacation instead of a permanent move. I’m all, “This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!” But it is. I think I will feel really at home once we finally have all our books on the shelves, our desks set up, and our dressers organized. Soon, soon. I’ll share some more pictures down the line, but for now, here are some views of the empty spaces:

Spaces

I love our new house. It’s interesting, too, the little negotiations and adjustments we have to make now that we live together. I haven’t lived with anyone else since my college roommate Mel, from 1996-2000. We had our own rhythm going after four years of living together, for sure, but even then there were still little moments. You ate my cheese? That I was SAVING?! OMG, I was SAVING that CHEESE. Everyone who has ever had a roommate knows this routine, I’m sure. But 13 years after we finished college (13 years?! HOW have 13 years gone by??), we are still friends, and in fact she is going to be in my wedding. She can have all the cheese she wants; I will even save her some. So everything obviously worked out well.

Today, I still don’t like for anyone to eat the last of my proverbial cheese, but CW knows that. Ask him sometime to describe the flaming daggers that shot out of my eyes the time I was saving a peanut butter cup and he ate it. In his defense, he 1) didn’t know I was saving it, and 2) is a normal human without any disordered food issues, so had no way of knowing this would be A Thing. I think I almost set him on fire with my eyes, the poor guy. Anyway, I think as long as I remember to turn out the lights I’m not using, and he doesn’t freeze me out with the air conditioner, we are going to be just fine.

You Have Got to be Kidding Me, People.

Moving week is here! Well, except that it isn’t here at all, in fact, and no one has seen it. WHERE IS MOVING WEEK? We were supposed to pick up our keys to the new house today, only when CW went by the office to do so, he found out that the family living there hadn’t dropped the keys off yet. It’s unclear whether they’re still in the house or not. They were supposed to move out on the 9th (nearly a week ago). Um, WHAT?!

Apparently the rental company folks don’t really know what’s going on, and it seems to have escaped their notice that the family hadn’t turned the keys in. We’re supposed to check back tomorrow and see what’s up. Sure. I find it not at all comforting that one of the people in the office reportedly told CW that “maybe they could get us in there by Wednesday,” and the other said “maybe by Friday.”

1) WHICH IS IT?
2) WHY DON’T YOU KNOW? And
3) OUR MOVING TRUCK IS SET FOR SATURDAY, SO “MAYBE BY FRIDAY” AIN’T GONNA CUT IT.

So anyway, this afternoon was supposed to be spent checking out the new place and taking over a carload of smaller items. I even had the happy and lighthearted idea to bring over some beer and wine and snacks so we could celebrate (and stock the fridge for the next few hot afternoons of hauling boxes). Instead, I spent my afternoon fretting and continuing to pack. Only one of those activities was useful.

A Crappy Day Present from @BindsTheTuna and a gin and club soda with lots of lime have somewhat eased my pain, I suppose.

But, I mean, you guys, what is GOING ON? Why haven’t these people moved out? Or, did they move out and forget to hand back the keys? When they DO move out, if such a thing can be imposed upon them (PLEASE), how long will the between-tenant cleaning and painting take? What if we miss our scheduled moving-truck day on Saturday? We have to be out of our apartments by the following Tuesday and I have to work! I cannot take a day off for make-up moving day! And I cannot overstay my current lease!* CUE ANXIETY AND IMPOTENT ANGER.

*See, I cannot overstay my current lease, because I am not an inconsiderate douchenozzle. I would not DO THAT. That is not just a THING that someone DOES.

Well, thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I would’ve tweeted the whole damn story, complete with accompanying panicked questions and rants, but I am under a self-imposed constraint today requiring that I exclude the letter E from all my tweets. (Why? Because I taught this book in class today and wanted to try something like it myself, for the sheer love of linguistic gamesmanship. I have only messed up once so far.) When a person is stressed and angry, composing 140-character bursts while excluding the English language’s most commonly used letter is not soothing; it is infuriating. For example:

“I can’t get obtain the keys “unlocking things” for the our new house habitat today because as the old tenants renters residents dwellers inhabitants are late tardy moving out. Damned Damn lipogram for fuck’s sake sack!”