Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Day in the Life

Once again, I'm posting in an effort to expunge frustration. Today was tough. At least one day a week of the two weeks we've been here have kicked our ass. Here's today's sampling of what it can be like to move to a new state:

7:30 a.m. Jack wakes up. Fine. He's been sleeping great. I, on the other hand, am not. Spending far too much energy on trying NOT to freak out about teaching four preps or the fact that I've only produced one syllabus (no planning yet, mind you) and my school "stuff" is still in boxes (waiting new shelves) has kept me from sleeping well at all. I woke up to Jack's chattering, blurry and puffy eyed. Bearable? Definitely.

8:45 a.m. Ed gathers Jack up to take to day care up the street. I'm expecting a visit from two health insurance agents, one at 9:ish, the other at 10:30ish. Jack and I have no insurance as of September 1st (Thursday), so time to get on that (nevermind that we don't have the $200+ dollars a month it would take to get us insured. Details, details.

9:15 a.m. Ed calls from the road; the day care wanted the check for September. Oops. Our new checks from Bank of America haven't arrived, and besides, we don't have the money in the bank to cover it (just yet). I called the angel woman at daycare and let her know we'd put the check in this afternoon.

9:20 a.m. I start calling around to car insurance places. Apparently, State Farm isn't in MA and the one quote we have is for $280/month - for ONE car (that's about $120 more a month than we pay now). While I'm on the phone, the first health insurance lady has left me four messages, claiming that she can't find our house. By the third message she's saying things like, "okay, I'm in the yard of someone's house, but it isn't your number. It's raining out and I'm soaked. Please call." Well, I had given her the wrong address; I transposed the first two numbers. I called back at 9:40 to give her the correct address (she's rightfully annoyed, saying that she'll need to use the bathroom to soak up all the rain- by the way, MA was on flood watch last night. She was caught in the rain that keep the flood watch on). Feeling terrible, I turn on the teapot (on medium heat), get out my favorite coffee mug- the sturdy one with the English garden that Ed's parents got me for my birthday a few years back -- and lay out all the tea in the hopes of warming up an insurance agent who I'm probably not going to buy from today.

9:45 a.m. Ed calls back; he's lost. After dropping off Jack at daycare, he headed towards BU to buy an area rug from a guy who posted on craigslist. Ed thought he'd try a new, apparently quicker (not today) way. Once he gets there, the guy has to meet him. Ed's going to be late picking up Jack (today was another one hour adjustment/get to know you day). I call day care and our angel lady is a bit stressed; she needs me to get Jack by 10:00 so she can put down the six month old for a nap. As a mom who COMPLETELY understands the sensitivity of sleep windows, I tell her I'll be there as soon as I can. Besides, I don't want to piss this woman off; we already owe her a check and I don't want to lose our spot.

9:50 a.m. I call the insurance lady to cancel - I need to walk six blocks in the rain to pick up my son. She's probably releaved that she doesn't have to deal with me again. We end the call with a curt, "we'll talk," meaning, "we're done."

9:55 a.m. I grab a coat for Jack, head towards the angel lady's house (thank goodness she literally lives about a five minute walk away). Half way there, I realize that I left the stove on. Once I get to the house, I wonder if I should bother he to call our landlords --who live upstairs-- to go down and turn the stove off (with the nice blue natural gas flame overheating my teapot). Putting pride ahead of practicality, I just hope everything will be fine. Jack is picked up, locked into his wet stroller, sucks on his blanket quietly while I look for an exploding house in the near distance.

Next few hours- "normal." Lunch goes fine for Jack- Ed & I opt to not eat, since there's no food (unless you count frozen peas).

12:00 p.m. Ed calls his health insurance company and we can put Jack on his policy for a mere $1400 dollars (all up front, mind you). We've gotten a few quotes from car insurance and the cheapest is about $2100 - about $500 more than we pay now, and they need about $600 up front. (what's with the "up front" crap- do you have to have thousands in the bank to live in MA?).

12:15 p.m. We sit down, figure out what our bills are, what needs paid, and when, and how much we have to draw on from our handy MBNA account to survive this next month (while we wait for our $2000 deposit from our landlord in Seattle who is apparently in Hungary for a month-long family reunion). Meanwhile, I'm dog tired, trying hard not to think about the three syllabi I need to type up or the seven hour workshop I agreed to attend on Wednesday at one of the colleges I"m teaching at.

1:00 p.m. As we mull over our expenses, I open my contract from the other college- oh! I only get paid three times this quarter and the first check doesn't come until October 13. I call the workshop college-which I'm thinking I won't be attending despite the $150 stipend which I probably won't get until next year since they only pay me TWICE in four months- once at the end of October and once at the end of December. Basically, this means that the main income here (mine) is delayed until mid-October. Ed writes an MBNA check to cover the basics (welcome to middle-class America, folks, where to move your way up in the world and follow your dreams, you forego a savings account in favor of outstanding debt just to survive).

1:45 p.m. After getting off the phone with our dentist in Seattle (we still owe around $400 despite insurance), Ed walks in the door - way too early, since he was going to the bank, the car insurance place, and grocery shopping. Apparently, at Bank of America, out of state checks are put on hold for five days to insure funds. Bottom line, we have no bottom line until next Tuesday-- when school and the real hectic life begins. Mom to the rescue; she works on wiring us just enough to cover our daycare check so we can live on the few hundred we have left in the bank.

3:00 p.m. grocery shopping while providing routing numbers to my mom on the cell phone. Jack grabs a green plum off the produce box and proceeds to walk around the store, nawing and talking to the world.

5:00 p.m. Jack grubs on mac-n-cheese, olives, and carrots, while Ed prepares an amazing Bobby Flay cuban burger recipe, complete with roasted garlic mayonnaise. Yum. We watch the news (no cable, but good antenna reception), listening to Brian Williams try and relay Katarina's devestation in New Orleans. All I can think about is if you have nothing, you have nothing to worry about. The bitterness is becoming second nature now. I try to count my blessings and realize I have many, but would rather soak in the stress.

7:30 p.m. After playing with Jack, talking with the landlords to explain that our rent check won't clear until next week (they are very understanding), giving Jack a bath and getting him into bed, I head to the computer to write one of my syllabi. I start to think about how I need to decide if I need to go to that workshop tomorrow, about all the new hire paperwork I need to fill out, and my eyes begin to blur. What I need is a bath (no matter how humid) and some rest.

8:30 p.m. I've just finished blogging, sending my (our) bad day off into cyberspace and am turning on the jets in our jacuzzi tub (remember those blessings...). Screw the syllabi for now. I'm not getting paid for another six weeks anyway. Hello Vogue and lavendar scented bath.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Too Good To Be True... Unless It's True

We're here. It's only taken about a month (well, about 30 years and a month if you believe that each decision leads us to where we are- of course). We love the town we're in. We really like our house. But, enough about the good stuff (for now). Let's get the crap out of the way.

Let's see: We drove to a futon place in Brighton to buy a new futon frame to replace the one that the movers trashed (and I mean trashed- complete with staples and tape to try and hold together the torn wood), stop by Target to pick up a shelf and computer desk to replace the old ones (pause for sadness; I put our IKEA desk together in Bellingham right before grad school; that desk has served us well). Got home to open up our futon frame and realized they gave us the wrong color. Oh, well.

So, we've been spending some of the night unpacking, taking (A LOT) of photos of all of our damaged goods (bed frame, mattress, dresser, TV, table and chairs- all still usable but banged up) that will be sent in with the claims forms so that we can collect our wopping .60 per pound. Yeah, that works out right. For future reference, avoid A&G Vanlines out of California. They suck.

I just finished entering grades for my summer course (oops- a day late) and Ed is currently checking out NCAA 2006 College Football on Playstation. I appreciate that we need a break, so I'm blogging. We're trying to let go of our "stuff"- reminding ourselves that it is just that- stuff- and all replacable (at a nice interest rate- we really should just change our last names to debtson). I do feel a bit like I've been robbed; those people didn't give a shit about our stuff; they just threw it around like it meant nothing. Ultimately, it doesn't. But, now, well, maybe the throw-away society attitude thrives in the moving company world's mentality.

But, back to good. Tuesday started off terrible (the good's coming). We woke up and drove to BU so I could stand at a pay phone for 30 minutes on hold with Verizon since our phone had yet to be hooked up and we hadn't received our internet installation kit (apparently that ended up in Pennsylvania). Jack, rightly so, was cranky and easily sick of touring the foyer. After checking email in the library, and receiving no response from the potential nannys I was going to interview, I realized that I had less than two weeks to find competent, loving, part-time child care. HA. Like the woman from BU's family services told me on the phone (3 times), "you'll be lucky to find anything."

We got Jack home to take a (late) nap (by the way, he's sleeping like a rock star). I drove BACK to BU to post a panicked call for childcare on Craigslist. Within about 10 minutes of posting, Ed called to tell me that a woman in our area- who I had called earlier- called and had one opening for her day care. I called her immediately to find out that, 1) she takes part-time kids (hard to come by in the day care world); 2) the hours we need her work find with her schedule; 3) she charges practically nothing; apparently she has just kept the rates for the same for the last 20+ years she's had a daycare; 4) when we visited, we found her in this old, amazing home that is immaculately clean; 5)Jack warmed up to her right away; 6)she has five other kids, all under age 4 - perfect for Jack; 7) she provides meals, and is tight with everyone in the community, including the firemen and policemen who she often has visit in their cars for the kids. I asked her if she was an angel.

Honestly, when I was on the phone with one of the parent references, I felt a wave of gratitude upon realizing that this was a good thing-- the real deal; I knew it right away (a kind of opposite feeling I had about our moving company). Later, a bit paranoid, I explained to Ed that it seemed to good to be true. And he just said, "yeah, unless it's true."

So, even though we've lost some of our possessions and had to pull out the plastic more times than we would have liked this first week in our new town, what matters is good. Jack is adjusting wonderfully, our amazing gracious friends gave us the key to their place in Boston so we could crash for a few days waiting for our furniture, and we have the perfect childcare situation. That's enough for now. We'll think about school/work in a few days- after the unpacking.

Next post will be more about Boston- the town(s), the driving (!!@#@!), the people (quite friendly) and the weather (eek).

Good night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Almost There

Greetings from Syracuse, New York. Got in yesterday in time to go see a Syracuse Skychiefs game (AAA baseball). Really nice ballpark for such a small team. I love going to different sporting events in different parts of the country. I think I end up watching the fans more than the game. What do they cheer at? How do they watch the game? No dancing grounds crew here. I'm afraid that's a Seattle phenomenon. Just a good AAA game, complete with corny contests between innings.

On to Boston today. Sheez. Cool thing is I feel a little like Red at the end of Shawshank Redemption. Part nervous, part anxious, but almost giddy with excitement. Ok, ok, I'm not being melodramatic here, but I feel like I've spent most of the past 6 months dreading this moment. What a bunch of crap. I feel like kicking myself for cowering at the thought of today. Live and learn.

See you in Boston.

Monday, August 15, 2005

From the road

Currently writing from Indiana, where my friend, Jay, and I are staying with my brother. It's been a long, fun, sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-raking journey so far.

Friday -- Seattle to Bozeman. The first leg of the trip. Lots of excitement, lots of chatter from both of us. Washington and Idaho seemed to fly by our window. In Montana, drove through a stretch of freeway that had just seen a forest fire. Dense smoke filled the valley we drove through and the sky was dark from the smoke. Kind of spooky and cool at the same time. Got flipped off by someone with a vanity plate that read "6 Boyz" for not going fast enough, which apparently was 95 mph+. Didn't notice if all 6 boys were in the mini-van.

Saturday -- Bozeman to Fargo. 745 miles. Long day. Realized I forgot my pillow in Bozeman about 2 hours after leaving the hotel. Crap. I don't know about the quality of North Dakota schools, but North Dakota reststop restrooms are top notch! No really, I'm serious, these bathrooms were nice. Get into Fargo and finally find the hotel. The great thing about hotels with far doors is that it's easy to smuggle in the cat. More on that later.

Sunday -- Fargo to Chicago. Another long day. Probably because it was the third day of driving all day. First encounter with a toll road. What is this crap? Pay....to use the freeway? We make the rookie mistake of leaving the toll road, which I'm told, I have to get use to calling them. Go to get back on the toll road and discover we have to pay AGAIN to get back on! Get into Chicago. Very excited to get to hotel because we got Cubs tickets and we've never been to Wrigley Field. Frontdesk at Days Inn tells us they don't allow pets. Crap, no far door to sneak through. So we go to get the car from vallet. I'm standing on a busy road in Chicago, trying to convince two guys named Jesus and Lazer to allow us to Max back in the car. See, the vallet won't allow pets in the cars. Luckily, Lazer owns a cat, so he'll allow us to park the car in front of the hotel and put Max back in the car with food and water and windows partially rolled down. We walk to the game. Wrigley Field was a really cool ballpark. No Diamond Vision. No dancing grounds crew. No Hat Trick. You'd better come to Wrigley Field wanting to watch a baseball game. It seemed like the ground was dipped in a giant tub of History. Very cool. Game ends. Go back to hotel. It's pretty humid. So I decide to try to sneak Max into the hotel. There's been a shift change so we sense our chance. Jay runs interference with the front desk and I put Max in a duffle bag and casually stroll into the lobby and up the stairs. Mission successful.

Monday -- Chicago to South Bend. Except in the morning, Max doesn't want to go back into the bag for the trip down to the car. One unhappy cat later, we make a break for it and get the heck out of Dodge. Make to South Bend and are able to get some rest at my brother's house. Car gets washed. We regret to inform you that approximately 5000 bugs met their end of the front grill of my car. It was Men in Black on the front of my car, you know, all that goo when they blow up an alien... My brother has been a great host and this will hopefully recharge us for the next two days.

That's it for now. Syracuse NY tomorrow. The movers from A & G Vanlines are on crack (that's NOT an endorsement). Our house will probably be empty for 3 to 4 days before our stuff arrives because they're late with our stuff. I miss Laura and Jack something fierce and I'm looking forward to seeing them again. My friend Jay has been totally awesome. I realize it can't be easy to be cooped up me, confined to car with me for about 50 hours in less than a week (apparently, Laura has told me I can get grumpy when I get tired or hungry or both). I'm really grateful he came along.

Moving Pains

The great thing about a blog is that it is like a letter- you can write something and send it off. I'd really like to send off the last few days of moving "stuff." So, in the spirit of letting it all go, here's what's been going on:

Last night I stayed up until at least 1:00 a.m. trying to decide which, if not all classes that I should teach. I've been offered five different courses at three different community colleges. While I am more than grateful that I've been able to choose from this many, the reality is that I probably need to teach all five in otfer to pay our bills (that is with Ed's assistanship). The other reality is that I've only EVER taught three classes at the most, two of which were the same prep, and at never more than two colleges. Plus, here in Washington State, I get paid at least $1000 more per class spread out over three months; in Boston, that $1000 less a class is spread over four months. So, basically, I'd be working nearly double to make barely as much. In the end, I decided to take three courses at Middlesex Community College and one at MassBay CC. We're still short a few hundred a month, but this way, I'll be more likely to keep my sanity (no promises) and be able to be with Jack most of the day Tuesday and Thursday, thus saving some (not much) on childcare.

Speaking of Jack, he's decided to forego day sleeping. Once a solid two-nap a day kind of kid, Jack is now barely taking one nap. Could he be feeling my stress? Maybe he's just growing out of his two day nap stage. That's fine. I'm more worried about the fact that the house we are moving to (the first floor of a duplex- the owners with their four girls, age newborn to early teens I think, live on the second flood) is basically under some construction. Apparently, they had intended on having the vinyl siding replaced by now, but the contractor skipped town. So, once we move, Jack will have to try and fall asleep to consistent hammering. Right now he wakes up when he hears a familiar voice talking - usually me on the phone trying to line up a class or find a decent nanny.

As if the hammering weren't bad enough; we talked with our moving company today and we'll be lucky if we see our furniture and stuff by the 22nd. It's guaranteed by the 25th (whatever "guarantee" means) - nearly a full week after Jack and I arrive in Boston. I'm glad we packed the pack-in-play in the car; now we just need to buy one of those aero beds and a bean bag or two so that we can wait in some comfort for all our stuff to arrive.

I spent much of the morning and early afternoon today mentally bucking up. After talking with Ed, who has successfully stayed on schedule and arrived at his brother's in South Bend, IN (despite smuggling our cat, Max, into a Days Inn last night), I tried to focus on the positive: all of the moving pains actually make my cross country flight with Mia (our other cat) and Jack seem somewhat relaxing; my mom will be able to get a special pass to help me with Mia, Jack, car seat, and carry on onto the plane (what a comedy of errors that could have been); I am having to turn away jobs at this point rather than try and find work; and I realized that all of this "Stuff" is part of the sacrifice of working towards what feels right- not what is comfortable, but what is significantly soulful (at least that's the idea right now anyway). Oh, and Ed & I are still together, our devotion established and our love steady and real and Jack has two parents who are committed to reinforcing their love for him.

Last night I read some quote about how all our basic needs-love, food, security-inform one another. So, the quote said, if we are hungry, we also want some love (aha! comfort food). All I could think of was how Ed, Jack , and I are frazzled because we are missing the security part. That is, if you count "security" as having a home, which I, and I imagine, most others do. I had to rethink my definition of security a bit. Maybe it's better to have a homebase- not necesarily a familiar bed, toys, and material surroundings, but a emotional homebase. I feel like I'm moving towards clicheville, but I'm living the reality of having to rely ONLY on the love and support of family and my faith to feel secure - a security that in only a few days will be basically me, Ed, Jack, an aero bed and a pack-in-play. Oh, and our two cats. Maybe it's a good thing; we'll appreciate getting settled (whatever that means) more- and maybe won't need as much to feel "settled." I just keep thinking we aren't the only ones to have gone through all of this- and I'm sure otheres have suffered worse moving pains than ours. While I am still attempting to live in the present, I've got my eyes firmly looking towards Christmas. If we can get to the holiday without raking up a ton of debt or having too many transition breakdowns, I 'm sure we'll be fine. Maybe my standards are too high; I'd be happy to just wake up Christmas morning with Jack and Ed and a small tree.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

On your mark......get set....

It's finally arrived. D-Day. Departure Day...at least for me. I leave tomorrow morning for Boston.

Now that it's here, I find myself still nervous, but getting very excited about what we're doing. I think Laura and I have both felt the excitement of going to a new place at different times this past year. And today is no different.

Me: Let'd DO this! It'll work itself out...no worries. Money? We'll find a way. Daycare? Jack'll be fine!

Laura: [disapproving nod and a stressed sigh]

There is still some specifics to work out: schedules, bills, paycheck amounts. But right now, I'm filled with a faith that comes from knowing the Train is leaving the station, so it's time to start looking forward (thanks Trish.) Everything's going to be alright.

Our time at my parents has been busy, but very good. We've both been able to visit our folks, see some friends, Laura's Dad even let us buy him lunch, and say some see-you-laters. Now that I think of it, saying good-bye has been pretty draining. I've come to loath thinking about this is the last time of this or the last time we'll do that, or the last time we'll see them. Laura's right, it has been tough facing the prospect of losing some of our friends to distance or conveinience. And no one likes the hideously awkward "catch-up" converstation with poeple who used to be friends, but are now some distant relic from a world you can barely remember.

So I guess I've wondered off into some Worlds-Collide line-of-thinking. Not that George from Seinfeld was right, I actually think worlds can come together sometimes. What I mean is, if we were to come back to the PNW in a few years, we'd still be recognizable to are friends and family. Boston Ed & Laura is not going to kill PNW Ed & Laura [hat tip to all Seinfeld fans out there] If we're still close with some or all of those we consider friends now, I think that'll be pretty sweet.

Was going to leave with a list of what I'll miss, but read through our posts. It'll be pretty obvious.

Boston awaits. I want to post from the road if I can, but we'll see. Bozeman tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Pondering in Parkland

I've got about fifteen minutes to kill before I teach class and while I should be searching for reputable childcare in Boston, I thought I would touch base with our blog. Seems the blog is one of our constancies- strange to consider something from the etheral internet a constant.

We are staying with Ed's parents in Parkland- the place we both suffered adolesence and endured, for lack of a better phrase, Parkland pride. We walked to our high school the other day, discussing the role of our friends in our lives now that we are about to move 3000+ miles away. Ed and I have had an ongoing conversation about the role of friends in our lives- are we close to people because of proximity? Shared experiences? Common ideas/interests? Obviously it isn't just one of these things and each informs the other. I guess most of the friends I've made (and kept) are people I met in my late teens and twenties; as I get older I realize that promixity is important, but if I can meet with someone after months or years or still fall into that warm, supportive, enjoyable atmosphere with them, I know I have a -- and am-- a true friend. There are a few people I've seen and am planning on seeing where this is just the case- and I realize just how lucky I am to know such phenomenal people. At the same time, we're also realizing (somewhat painfully) that there are those cherished friends whose role may or may not stand the test of distance. Walking around our high school grounds reminded me of those friends I held dear above all else in my life (as is high school and college, no?) -- as did Ed. I hate feeling sad about things/people that I haven't had to deal with and being "home" makes it all so tough0 particularly when we're about to leave. The richness of adolensce experience (from high school to college years when we still return home for breaks and summers) is such a thick presence here in Parkland. I really don't want to be reminded of who I was; I rather focus on who I am and who I am becoming. I suppose, though, that acknowledging my family and friends' pivotal role in who it is that is Me, is bound to result in a bevy of complex emotion.

Class starts in 10 minutes. I'm sure I'll look back on this and realize how dramatic it was. But, isn't processing change dramatic? I crave the mundane.