Open

Untitled

Saturday afternoon we had a house full of humans.

We threw a housewarming party, and road-tested the new digs. For the first time in our lives, we have a house big enough to party. A house big enough to hold our larger-than-average families. A house big enough to open.

I couldn’t sleep the night before because hello, of course I couldn’t, so even though the better part of last week was spent spending and shopping, and doing, I woke up at 3:00 AM to try to worry myself into a successful fête. I nudged Eric and told him I was too nervous about the party to sleep and he murmured mmm and promptly rolled over. I had made an Ina-worthy checklist the night before (complete with timetable, you guys) but I was still consumed by my trademark middle of the night anxiety. So I did what any good HSP does, and I got out of bed at 4:00 AM to start cooking.

Actually, nobody tells you this (bakers, maybe?) but 4:00 AM is a nice time to cook. It’s super quiet and nobody is trying to steal anything you make, and you can cook in your PJs without anyone’s judgy eyes on you. I flipped on Downton Abbey and Mrs. Patmore kept me company while I chopped brussels sprouts and dipped things in chocolate. Not for the same dish, no.

I felt a lot of pressure to entertain well–I always do–I come from a line of warm hosts and hostesses, of people who know how to put some cheeses on a plate and make you feel welcome AF. So I had convinced myself I needed to get this right. All week as I was shopping and cleaning and planning, I found myself wondering what my parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents would do, and when it came time to answer the door, I was happy with how that strategy served me. I don’t have it down, yet, but I learned from the best.

I prepped everything I could (which took me until about 8:30 or 9, who can remember?), showered, ran to JoAnn Fabric one more time because I CAN’T PARTY WITHOUT WASHI TAPE FOR LITTLE TOOTHPICK APPETIZER SIGNS, and was home in time to style the craft project that lives on top of my head. Side note: I gave up on dressing/styling myself for school back in about September, when the house crap hit the fan, and that added an extra level of difficulty/awkwardness to Saturday’s dressing, hair curling, and heel-wearing. All was well, but my current girl game is weak. Perhaps I will continue to dress like a male PE coach for the remainder of the year and then style myself like a lady again for the fall of 2016.

Anyway. The party was a smash, and not because of anything I did–it was wonderful because my husband worked his tail off getting the constructiony things done, and I had help doing the kitcheny stuff, and my house was filled with love and friends and people who like us. People who were like damn, that was kind of an ordeal getting into this place, you guys, but hey why don’t you walk me around and point at your rooms? We had neighbors come by, old friends, new friends, family, and friends who are like family. Just the best mix of people.

By 7:30 PM my eyes were too tired to read, and I fell asleep at 8:00 without remembering to eat any dinner.

Sunday I just floated around on my cloud of clichés. I am lucky as all get out to have such a beautiful family, lucky to know so many wonderful people, lucky to have a home to bring everyone together. This feels like our grown-up house, like the space where we get to grow into the life we wanted at 19 (before we had any kind of clue how to get it).

Hemnes, Schmemnes.

After I went to Bacon & Butter on Sunday, and after I took my first of what I hope will be many neighborhood walks with Kitty, Eric decided we were going to Ikea. I didn’t know he even had an interest in Ikea, but I jumped at the chance to go.

Before someone mentions how cheap Ikea furniture is, how sub-par, lemme interject. I know it’s not what you’re going to call “real” furniture. But it’s not awful looking, and I need a coffee table that I can put my feet on and then sell at a garage sale when I get sick of it. I need some bookshelves, man. So we’re going to have cheap furniture in between our “real” furniture and we’re all going to be okay. I’ll leave you to your lathe–we’ll agree to disagree.

Anyway. I’d been making an Ikea list for weeks, so when Eric announced he wanted to go I changed into my comfy shoes and hopped in the car. There’s been so much to buy in the first few weeks of this new house. I am uber-thankful for that weird month between mortgage payments when you buy/sell a house, but we’re nearing the end of that beautiful time and that beautiful (spendable, extra) income. I am going to get myself to Ikea to buy some canisters, $2 toilet brushes, and step stools, dammit, because next month we have to pay the man.

I was kind of tired when we left, and I also didn’t think about it how thorough Eric can be. It’s one of the things I love about him–he is meticulous as all get-out, and as such, he proofreads every single review I write before I send it to an editor. But homeboy’s thoroughness really begins to shine in a museum or box store. He’s not going to miss a single thing. We are going to see the entire place, which means we are going to walk every single aisle and look at every single tag/blurb/display/sign.

So we did that. My body started to give out near the bed frames, and by housewares I was looking for empty end-caps to grab a sneaky sit.

Despite my tiredness, It was fun, and I’m happy that all of this house doing and shopping means the two of us get to spend time together looking at house stuff in a way we really haven’t since before Addie. It’s fun to have a new, empty house that we can fill up with dreams*.

Untitled
*and stuff that gets assembled with an Allen wrench.

Dog Friend and October Things

I am happy as a clam, but I’m nowhere near as happy as Hurley, who has made it his personal mission to follow me around the new house. I suppose this isn’t too different from how he had to be near me in the old house, except the old house was so small that he didn’t have to get up. There are so many new dog places in the new digs. He’s been busy trying to never be more than two feet away from Mom.

The house is good. It doesn’t feel like ours yet, but I’m not complaining. I think this is due to two things: 1) it’s not in my head yet that we deserve something so nice. Yeah, I know that we are paying the mortgage, so I am not being completely ignorant about how it works to qualify for or pay a home loan. But space is so NICE. After you tell yourself for years that where you are and what you have is good enough, I think it just takes a while to adjust.

2) All of our stuff has a place to go. I have never experienced this in my married life, and since my married life is basically the history of my entire adult life, I have never experienced this in my entire adult life. No, all of our stuff is not here. But most of our regular day-to-day stuff is, and it fits in the cabinets. I can tell you that that was something I never imagined happening. Not because we had a crapload of stuff (I think we do okay, Marie Kondo-wise), but because the storage in our previous homes was just so teensy. Eric’s favorite room in the house is the giant pantry under the stairs, and I totally get it. When you can have your extra AppleJacks and your extra TP in the house, you are livin’ right. Thanks, Master’s degree!

UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledDon’t go all OCD on me. Those TV wires are going in the wall, stat.

School is good. October is here and busy as ever with Homecomings and ordinary school doings, but that’s when I’m happiest. Everyone always has something to do, which means there’s less attention on everyone being new and having to prove how awesome they are. And if I manage my work (paper) load wisely,  by October it doesn’t get so out of control that I need to take days off so I can grade. My kids (students) get it–well, I hope, at this point–they get me and they get what The Mrs. Partington show is and is not going to be. It’s routine time, and I thrive on routine time. The monkeys are wrapping up swimming (shh… I can’t wait for a break from sports!) and even though I pretty much hate fall, I am ready for some time inside my new house under 25 blankets.

I haven’t done anything extraordinary lately in terms of reviewing, but I do find that having an office feels like an extravagance. It’s a luxury to leave my stuff out on my desk and to know I can walk in and sit down in a quiet room whenever I need to read or write. I’d been having a rough stretch while we moved from house to house, and now that we’re settled I feel like myself. Reviewing comes with occasional waves of self-doubt and frustration, and I (fingers crossed) think I’m heading out of a bad one. It helps that I have been reading good books–I’ve been excited to work through them on the page. I hope now that I am back working every morning again and since I have a place to “go” to work I can also get back to some serious pitching and planning. It should surprise absolutely nobody that I work better when I have a place and a plan.

So that’s October. I just read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly yesterday because I was having a bout of surgery-related pain (I know, still?) and I decided the cure was a long day in bed with a self-helpish book. I was inspired by everything Brown had to say, but particularly what she says about how we live in a culture that perpetuates the idea of scarcity. (I am not enough, I do not do enough, I’ll never be enough, I’ll never have enough… those tapes we play in our heads.) She says the antidote to the kind of misery and the shame that comes from that kind of thinking (the kind of thing that’s guaranteed to ruin any moment because we’re already thinking about how it can go wrong) is gratitude. Duh. But I mean, she’s right, and it didn’t hurt me to read it. (Brown’s TED talk is pretty good if you’re not the readin’ type.)

Anyhoo. I’m feeling thankful today, and I have so many reasons to be.

Waiting is the Worst

One more day of living out of a suitcase. One more day of not living in our own house. One more day of sharing one sink and one bathroom. One more day until I can UNPACK MY COFFEE MAKER.

Eric says I’m like the cats: if you move my stuff around too much it makes me weird. He’s right.

Real quick: what the hell was I thinking when I put my coffee maker in storage? Okay. We did think we were only going to be living in the temporary house for two weeks–which turned out to be a false assumption–but I seriously underestimated my need for brewed beans. Sure, I said, I can drink instant for a few weeks. Nope nope nope.

Also, why didn’t I realize until a few days ago that I could have just used a French Press while we were here? We have water. I am a moron.

I couldn’t sleep last night. Not that I’ve been sleeping that well in the temporary house anyway (shout out to my Uncle Tom, who I know loves to read about how tired I am…), but I can’t seem to settle even though we’re in our own bed. I hate ceiling fans, and I still miss ours like crazy. The temperature is wrong all the time. Too many things on my mind–a mix of excitement about moving in and fear that this really isn’t going to happen. Where I go, in the wee hours: Maybe I made up the whole house thing, and I’m going to find this all was some kind of mistake, rather than a multi-month, labor- and thought-intensive, expensive process that involved me signing my name on a stack of papers as thick as War and Peace. But then, we don’t have our old home anymore. In the middle of the night it seems possible that we could have left that house and we’d never get this new one and we’d be stuck in uncertain limbo. Cats, frozen between rearranged couches.

This move has to happen this weekend. It has to.

The kids are good. They’re so excited that I really do hope we get to move in. They need a win, at this point. The ins and outs of real estate escape them; all they know is we’ve been saying “not yet” a lot. I’m ready for them each to have their own rooms again and to have some free time to go outside and explore the creek and parks around the new house. I’m glad they get along, but we’ve all been spending too much time in each other’s bubbles.

Untitled

September birthday buds.

Last night for dinner, I cracked crab with two friends who’ve been in my life for 20+ years. It was so much fun. We drank beer and ate cupcakes and just didn’t do anything productive. As I drove home I realized there hasn’t been a lot of fun happening lately, and I really miss it. I’m such a nerdmobile, I almost cried. I was so happy (and tired, natch). Other than a few bright moments when relatives have rescued us, it’s been a long couple of months. In fact, pretty much since my surgery I’ve been holed up in the house or out getting shit done. Not a lot of hanging out or drinking beer with other humans. My body is finally — 4 months after surgery — feeling and acting like my body and finally not hurting. I am thinking it might be nice to join civilization again. Not jury duty civilization, or work civilization, or the driving-kids-back-and-forth-across town civilization, because that’s been happening. But fun. Maybe I could have a conversation with my husband that doesn’t involve a sewer line or a moving truck, and maybe I don’t need to feel guilty about taking two whole hours to eat dinner.

Untitled
Sweet baby Jesus, I can’t wait to have a real cup of coffee in my new kitchen.

Teach Something Besides English

20921140254_e2f8d6b0a9_o

Don’t become an English teacher. Ever. And if you do, don’t choose to also be a writer, because that’s like living in the week before finals with three essays due tomorrow for the rest of your life. You don’t want a stack of papers like this one staring you down all weekend when you need to finish reading a book. And I did it to myself. I have nobody to blame for that stack of writing next to the pumpkin. This is my job for the next 30ish years and it’s never going to not be like this.

Anyway, an update, because I’m avoiding that stack. I haven’t wanted to write much since we were in the throes of a real estate deal that was trouble every step of the way, and I was afraid I would somehow accidentally blow it by saying something wrong. But the house is ours now (in name, at least), and (I realize I am tempting fate by writing this down–) we should get to move in next Saturday when the sellers’ rent-back ends. I am just going with blind faith at this point; I have no actual evidence that this will happen, and based on how everything else has gone, I’d be a fool to count on it. But thinking that it might not happen isn’t going to do much for me except keep me awake at night, and I’ve maxed out my anxiety allowance. The good news is that the house is technically ours, we just don’t live in it yet. So you can decide for yourself how thrilled I should be about that, but I will say September 19 looks a whole lot better than September 5.

So, here’s what happened. We got an offer on our house and they wanted a short escrow. We jumped at it because it was a cash offer and we were contingent on our offer at the other house. We got out of the house in two weeks, and we moved into my grandma’s halfplex which she is not currently using, and where she (and my dad and his siblings) are generously allowing us to stay. Phew. But all things plumbing-related went haywire as soon as we moved in, and when Eric went to fix them, they fell apart in his hands. Within a few days, the sewer line backed up and couldn’t be repaired. So that became a thing.

I’ve been hesitant to write about anything–house, school, health–because there’s a fine line between saying what’s happening if it’s not good, and complaining. We are completely dependent on others right now for a place to live until our house is available, and I am not ungrateful or unappreciative of all the help that’s being given to us. And there are so many people in the world and even in my town who don’t have a secure place to live for a much longer term than this. But the honest truth is that things have been hard. Really damn hard.

When school starts, it always takes a month or two for me to find a groove with my new students–to learn their needs, to figure out their personalities, to adapt my curriculum for whatever new thing I’m teaching. And that’s a normal year when I don’t have a week of jury duty, hysterectomy pain, and no home. At 12 weeks out from my surgery, I was still bleeding and having pain, I couldn’t stand up for a full day yet, our sewer line was spraying the front lawn with disgusting things, and I wasn’t certain that the sale of our house was going to go through (after we’d already left our old one). Again, my home situation is better than it could be. I am not homeless. But not having a place to sit down and relax (or use the toilet, shower, etc) at the end of the night made me kind of batty and tearful.

So where are we now? Things are looking up. The new sewer line is in, the new house finally closed escrow, I’m finally learning my students’ names, and I’m checking things off each day that need to get done.  We should move next weekend. I’m not doing any of this with ease, and that’s making me frustrated, but we’re not going to hit ease until at least mid-October, I think. It was hard to say goodbye to our old house even though we know we’re going somewhere that we really like. Not having that place to move into directly from our old house meant the kids were emotional, too. But we are all here together and that’s what’s making it bearable. I’ve never been so glad for my own bed, my three other Partingtons, or my pets. Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks. Mostly things that I wanted to remember from the old house, but a few happy moments when we caught a break.Untitled

Untitled
UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Hopefully we continue on an upward trend.