This Was Halloween

Late post. Addie has been sick since Sunday, and we’re just now coming up for air.

Untitled Before you ask: Addie was Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Henry was Pizza Steve from Uncle Grandpa.
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I’m not sure how many Halloweens we have left where she will want to dress up. Although, it’s different now. I remember thinking in 8th grade that it wasn’t cool to wear a costume. I think costumes have become much more of a thing. (That, and I am sure that my hyper-sensitivity meant I thought this was not cool because I didn’t think anything was cool.) Addie is already light years ahead of me.

We started the evening off the way we start all Halloweens. We drove over to my grandparents’ house to do a test Trick-or-Treat and our standard photo in front of the fireplace. UntitledUntitledAfter that, we went home. I spent my first Halloween as a mom (yes, the first one in 13 years) staying home to pass out candy. The cousins, aunts and uncles (from both sides) joined us, and they went with Eric out to trick or treat.
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I’m not a Halloween person, but this was the best one I can remember in recent history. It was fun to have all the kids together, and fun that my kids and my sister’s kids are big enough to really go and go and go on Halloween.

We had a great time and life didn’t get real scary until Addie started throwing up on Sunday…

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.

Teach Something Besides English

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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

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Hopefully we continue on an upward trend.

It’s time.

house2Remember that one time when I complained about being bored all summer, and then in the span of a week everything happened?

I’ve been sleeping and binge-watching my way through my break from school, trying to wait it out for August 4, the date on which I am cleared to act like a normal human who does normal human activities again. I’m so close! (And I only get 6 days of glorious full-fledged personhood before I have to go back to work, but so what. I’ve made my peace.) While I was waiting and lamenting how much this summer vacation really blows, we decided to change everything.

We went to an open house because we were bored. And then we went to another one and then we made an appointment to see another house and then we were like well, we’re this far into it and we made an appointment to see one more, and it’s the exact thing we want. And I told Eric we should just go ahead and fill out the loan paperwork so we can see where we stand. And where we stand is actually okay. So as of Wednesday night, we are selling our house.

We bought our current home when Addie was one and a half. The market was good enough that we could sell our starter duplex and move into something bigger–but even then, the something bigger was only going to be for about five years. We knew we wanted more kids, we knew those kids would someday be kind of tall, and we knew our three bedroom wasn’t going to be comfortable for too long. At the time, Eric was finishing college. As he graduated and moved on to law school, we thought for sure we’d be out of this house in no time. Heh.

Then, the market took a dump. Like so many people, we were upside down in our house. Though we tried to refinance under the many versions of HARP, we never quite qualified. And we couldn’t bring ourselves to do anything risky. So even though we’d periodically daydream about something larger (or an office for me!), we always found ourselves gritting our teeth and paying our mortgage, hoping that this wouldn’t be the house we’d have to retire in.

Luckily, in addition to being a smartypants lawyer, Eric is amazingly handy. He built a patio cover that gave us extra space. He upgraded pretty much every surface in our home and wired the entire thing for sound and internet. When we bought this place, it was all original and it was a mess. Now it’s a pretty sweet place to live. The one thing we couldn’t do was make the actual house bigger.

So this week we’re moving forward–doing what we hoped we could do about 6 years ago. It’s scary but it’s wonderful and I am basically a nervous wreck. The idea of trying to sell/buy/move while teaching and reviewing and parenting and trying to keep my shit together seems kind of insane. But it feels like it’s time.

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Now all my ads are for comfy shoes.

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The other night Eric and I went out for crab. I tequila-ed myself up a little and ended up posting some crazy (for me) questions on Facebook like hey you guys should I get bangs? and hey, I am all about that comfy shoe work life, should I buy some clogs? I’ll just let that sink in for a minute: when I get get my buzz on I suddenly have the courage to ask my peeps about my top secret heart-yearnings for a new hairstyle and supportive footwear.

It’s kinda hard bein’ Snoop* D-oh-double-G.

Anyway. I have two weeks left of summer. I am trying hard not to spend them only eating Red Vines and watching The West Wing. But my annoyance with the terrible, no good, very bad dialogue on True Detective this season and the fact that there were only two seasons of creepy/wonderful show The Fall on Netflix (which we gulped down in three days) is making me crave some good ol’ fashioned (if drug-fueled) Aaron Sorkin West Wing walk-and-talk writing. I don’t even care that The West Wing seems in hindsight to present an idealized notion of America, a Bizzaro World to counter our worst summer of news in forever. Nope, I don’t care because it’s my escape. There’s a drought in California and all the plants are dead and about to burn up and everyone is cranky and it’s making me hate everything. The West Wing feels like happy. It can’t be tough feelings around the clock.

I am reading still, a lot. I am trying not to write only about reading, though, since it seems like that’s turned into most of my whole deal. I will briefly mention that I started War and Peace and I am reading it with a pen in my hand to make my brain pay attention, and I am only reading about 20 pages at a time so I don’t get sick of it. It is all kinds of wonderful. It begins in 1805, when Napoleon was stomping around Europe but hadn’t yet decided to march into Russia (which we know ended really great for him). I should not be surprised, but Tolstoy’s writing is just delicious. I love it, and I love that I’m not reading it for anything. Just for me. Bonus points for surrounding myself with a cadre of patient and generous history teacher friends. I called Kitty the other night to ask something about upper-class Russian perceptions of Napoleon in the years before he invaded, and that’s not really something odd for me to do in our relationship.

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The kids are great and about to start 5th (Henry) and 8th (Addie) grades. The other day I stumbled on some pictures from when Addie was about to start 5th, and the moment was so vivid in my mind, it felt like it just happened. It’s true what they say: the days are long but the years are short. The start of school feels a little less scary for our whole family than it did last year–I’m glad Miss Roo will be in the same place and I’m glad she never has to do 7th grade again. Henry is fine and will continue to be fine; he has confidence in spades. For him, now is about figuring out when it’s okay to be funny and when he maybe needs to cool it a little. But this feels like it will be a year of just doing what we know, which sounds, frankly, fantastic. Though I’m not looking forward to living by a bell schedule again in two weeks at work (it’s been so nice to use the restroom whenever I want!), this year will be easier for us as a family because we all know what to expect.

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