Notes about life here…

The love affair with Raleigh continues.  Whether it loves us back, or not, is up for debate.  We continue to be comfortable (although the humidity level does wreak havoc on my aches and pains), and happy in spite of the everyday challenges being new to a place poses.

We still get lost driving around (not as much as we used to), and have figured out that a lot of the places that seemed oh-so-far-away are really down the street and we’ve been putting off going there for no good reason.

A few days ago J and I were at Michael’s (again…), and we ran into a group of developmentally-disabled adults on an outing.  We see these often, but we’ve yet to figure out a good placement for J.  I’m sure this will take time because, with J, these things take time.  Anyway…as we were walking towards the register a young man from the group turned around and said, rather loudly and enthusiastically, “HI!!!!!!”  The rest of the group turned around to look at us (with varying degrees of interest and comfort), and J -much to my surprise- stopped and looked at his interlocutor before responding with a spontaneous, if not as enthusiastic, HELLO.  It gave me hope that we will soon find a group of peers where he will feel comfortable…

We have also made progress with the whole “let’s go outside and feed the fish, shall we?” request.  Initially J was fascinated but scared, and now he’s fascinated, hesitant, and vigilant of any flying creatures (this includes, regrettably, leaves that fall in a spin from the trees in our backyard), but he does go out there and throw food at the fish.  Once he’s done I have to go out and brush the flakes and sticks into the water, and the fish give me weird looks, but we have made tiny strides in this department.

If Dada is grilling, J now likes to sit on his rocking chair in the patio.  This has made us very happy.  He doesn’t want to walk into the landscaped areas yet (and we really don’t mind because he needs heavy boots in this area where copperheads might appear out of nowhere…don’t go on Google to look for this information…you might freak out like we have), but he is happier with our slice of the great outdoors than we had seen him in previous weeks.

J’s TV room is coming along.  His Lego and train track village is up and running, but we’ve only unpacked about sixty-percent of the Legos he brought assembled from WV.  The trick is to try to keep them in one piece, and that is almost like an archaeological dig…we take one out, go back to the assembly manual, and clean it as we go along making repairs.

We painted the garage for J to have a friendlier space for his treadmill and other exercise.  The ceiling is taking a little longer because we are not Michelangelo.  By this I don’t mean it’s a complex paint job, but rather that we don’t have the ability to do this comfortably.  Next summer, with the benefit of less rain and longer days, we will paint the garage floor.  The handyman will come when he’s available to mount the TV on the wall so J doesn’t have to strain to watch his movies while he “walks.”

As we watch the leaves turn and we complete all the little detail work involved in being fully comfortable in our home (the crafts closet is done, thank goodness!), we continue to figure out what works best for us.  Whereas J used to like his TV room door closed in the townhouse, here he keeps it open and we can go in and out to check on him, or work with him, or just hang out with him.  He is not as territorial of that space in this house as he was in WV.  His bedroom is a lot more comfortable.  He likes the walk-in closet and the windows that give him a view of the backyard.  He likes that there is a small separation between the door and his actual sleeping area…

Yesterday we finally went to the library, and J loved it in spite of their not having videos for borrowing.  We thought for sure that would turn him off, but he liked the way the light streamed in through the tall windows.  Everything was on the same level, and you could look out and see the parking lot surrounded by trees.  A lady was giving a painting demonstration, and while J didn’t want to sit down for it, he was observing from a distance and smiling.  We then walked to a wall where some of her works were being displayed and he identified everything she had painted.  He especially liked a painting that depicted some piglets, and another with a chimp.

We have encountered several dogs in the neighborhood, and J has managed to keep his cool.  The presence of leashes is always encouraging to him, and there has only been one instance of someone’s dog running out as we drive by that unnerved him.  We handled it well, though.  He goes for short walks with me, and when we see someone walking a dog, he feels comfortable just crossing the street to avoid them.

In the last piece of news: J has been on .75 mg of Risperdal for a week.  He has been mildly anxious, a little more persistent about certain things, but we think this med reduction will work for now.  Of course, we have to make sure that we continue to engage him frequently and proactively, and that we address any concerns he might have during the course of the day, but we feel confident that this was the right time to drop that .25 mg from his dosage.

So…there you go…

We are holding up just fine.

 

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There’s paperwork involved…

Life goes on, and we either follow the stream or the stream drags us.  We are, once more, filing a petition for guardianship of J, and spent the morning signing our names, answering questions, going through metal detectors.  Not in that order, of course…

J was game for the whole outing.  Today being Wednesday, it is PIZZA DAY…and that is enough motivation for him.  Not much fuss is made by the guards once we explain he is wearing a wrist brace, and J has no issue relinquishing Slinky to the x-ray machine.  He will even stand there, a modified version of the Vitruvian Man, letting the detector wand sweep around him in search of something that will “whoop!” and require more thorough searching.

People in North Carolina are helpful, and kind.  We’ve also noticed they are more cheerful and welcoming than in other places.  We suspect it’s partly the Southern Charm thing, but we think they are just generally happy.  The very few not-quite beaming faces are easily forgotten in the face of all the kindness and understanding that J has encountered here.  At this particular point we are wondering why we ever considered moving anywhere else…fate pointed us to Raleigh, and in Raleigh we are.

Of course, we are vigilant of the copperheads we’ve been told can be found in the backyard.  We have always been leery of black widow spiders, and brown recluses.  We are familiar with the mosquitoes (not through any desire to be closely acquainted with them…but they DO love Dada, and it seems they’ve discovered ME, too), and with the weather alerts that might send us scrambling to the closet under the stairs.  Every place has a not-so-bright side, and we are pleased to report that the not-so-bright side here is vigorously outshone by the good stuff…

J, our resident weatherman, likes his new digs.  He likes the grocery stores, the farmers’ market.  He loves his new psych.  He is absolutely enamored with the idea that he can freely walk to the mailbox without encountering dogs, and he has grown accustomed to the many birds that visit our backyard.

J is happy.  J is home.

All this makes us happy.  All this gives us peace.

And then we watch the news reports from back home and we wonder how people are going to make it to tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  Aid is flowing in…but in a very measured way.  Things are not improving as much as some would have us believe.  We hear many reports of people standing in hours-long lines to get gas for their cars.  We hear of store shelves completely stripped of anything that people could eat.  We hear of the difficulties involved in navigating life without power, water, or any degree of comfort.  I’ve been there with J, but it was so long ago (and there wasn’t the pervasive presence of the cell phone, Instagram, Facebook to remind us of the misery) that it has actually made me feel like it was all a dream.

Back on the island there is a crisis.  I know that many mothers with kids who face the same challenges J faces are struggling right now.  I think of the elderly and their challenges.  I think of those who have chronic illnesses and cannot get the regular medical attention they require.  I argued with an idiot online who kept rationalizing why the debt PR has matters more than the current situation.  I decided to just drop it…it’s not worth it…

But the people back home ARE worth it.  And the mail is running in very limited areas, but that will -hopefully- spread to the rest of the island little by little.  It has to get better…

In the meantime, our happiness and peace feel a little uncomfortable, and so we fill boxes, make lists, and get ready to go to the P.O.  It’s all we can do…for now.

Home is where we are…

It has been a while since we moved into our new home.  We are fully settled in; we know the neighborhood; we know the quirks of the house and backyard; we are used to the sounds we hear; we watch the birds come and go from the feeders, their numbers slowly dwindling as the season progresses.

J is happy.

In the meantime, lots has happened.  My mother passed away, our island was badly battered by a hurricane, we have loved ones and acquaintances we have not yet heard of, and we are doing our best to help, even at this distance.  We have made friends, and we have met our neighbors.  We have found a place for everything, and put everything in its place.  We have acquired paint chips, and will be painting things here and there…

J is happy.

Life, as you can see, keeps happening around us and away from us, and we experience it in the ways that are available to us.  My mother’s passing was not a surprise; she had been declining for a very long time, and this last illness was brief.  I hope she is at peace, but the concern lurks that, with things as they are in Puerto Rico, her cremation might not have happened yet.  This is waking me up at night as I wonder how long they can reasonably keep bodies in the morgues of an island that is so sorely in need of repairs to its power grid.

My mother and I were not close.  I don’t think we were meant to be.  I never quite understood her, but I did learn from her.  I learned what I wanted for my children, and what I would like to do to make sure they had it.  Grief is a strange creature as a rule, but this time it is wearing so many layers of strangeness that I find myself struggling with it some days…  I keep going back to Sting’s 1991 song Why Should I Cry for You? and that line that goes: “mountains of endless falling for all my days remaining.”  It does feel like that…I am mourning a person I didn’t really know in the context that I should have, and she is -in many ways- the greatest cypher in my life.  J comes a close second, but J seems to want to get closer…sometimes.

On that note: we recently watched The A Word.  It was heart-wrenching at times.   I found myself sobbing at very small moments that wouldn’t quite hit the average viewer who doesn’t have a J in their life.  I am a fan of Lee Ingleby, and I was expecting to like the show, but we were truly moved by the portrayal of a family coping (and occasionally failing) with a diagnosis of Autism.  If you have a chance (and Amazon Prime) do watch it…

As for the island…the poor island.  I have been making sure that I remind everyone, far and wide, that yes, we are U.S. citizens, and yes, we have a massive debt…but that the debt was generated and accrued by the government.  The people that are sitting in the dark, waiting for help, risking massive outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses and other illnesses that will spread like wildfire under the conditions prevailing…those people need help.

I don’t know if Amazon has a fund.  I don’t know if you’re into charitable giving.  I don’t know if mercy is a thing when it’s not for a third-world country…but these people need charitable giving, and they need mercy now.

There are areas of the island that are still pretty much isolated from the rest of the world due to the damage sustained there.  There are areas that will never truly recover.  Puerto Rico is, as I know it, Paradise, but as it is now…well, it will take a long time for people there to go back to “how it used to be”, and -sadly- how it used to be a few days before Irma skirted the island (a miracle!  Saved again by Yokahu!!!!) and then Maria slammed it…that wasn’t so great, at least not for a while.

So if you are into humanitarian endeavors: people down there will be very grateful in the middle of their bone-deep emotional shock if you give a little, or a lot.  I’ve been a post-hurricane island-dweller with two small children, no water, no electricity, no food…and it was horrible, and that is one of the reasons I left the island.  My heart, however, flies back often, and I’m doing my best (fractured though it is) to help in any way I can…

That’s it…try to help if you can, and if you can’t but you’re still inclined to help…pray.

We emerge on the other side of the move…sort of unscathed…

In case I haven’t said this fervently, convincingly, emphatically enough before: NEVER MOVING AGAIN.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Regardless of how much money I’m offered.  We have the very firm intention (so firm it’s actually inflexible) of being like Mr. Fredericksen in Up.  Build around us…we’re not moving.

First: it would kill us.  We’re too old for this crap.  Seriously.  We are tired, sore, achy, fatigued, exhausted, exasperated, irritated…happy to have bought this house…madly in love with it…but NEVER MOVING AGAIN.

I would relate to you the saga that has been moving from Morgantown, WV to Raleigh, NC, but I feel you would think I’m hyperbolizing for dramatic effect.  Suffice it to say that we closed on the house on a Tuesday, and our belongings didn’t arrive until the following Monday.  This, sadly, after we’d been told they’d be here on the Saturday at the latest…and then on the Sunday…and, finally, on the Monday.  That our moving boxes were sitting in a warehouse in Pennsylvania since the second of August is beside the point (no, it’s not), or that they were apparently transferred (without much attempt at delicacy) from one truck to another is also beside the point (to quote Brick Heck from The Middle…”I’m lying”).  What is very much to the point is that our move salesman and our move coordinator had said (and they deny it with such vehemence that it’s breathtaking to think neither has ever been nominated for a major acting award) that our things would be here between the 9th and the 12th, and that it was likely that we would see them in the early portion of the delivery window.  Since this was a verbal estimate we can’t prove it was said (if an estimate is made in the forest, and there’s no one there but the person who needs their stuff delivered…was it estimated at all????).  So after calling us, basically, liars and having no reasonable explanation for why our move was not scheduled on the Friday after it was picked up (this didn’t get scheduled until the Friday AFTER it was picked up) we were pretty much ready to be done…

We are done.  We have unpacked everything.  We have disposed of the broken items (which, by the way, we would have had to KEEP until they sent an adjuster to verify that our claims -“we regret that you have broken items YOU associate with your move”- were legit), removed the boxes to the recycling center, and the fat lady is ready to sing her swan song by hanging pictures on walls, and calling this last (and most monumental) of moves DONE…officially and unequivocally.

Because we didn’t get our stuff when promised (did you know that you basically get a $100 discount for each day the move is late?  That’s it…$100!), we had to go out and buy air mattresses (our backs will never be the same), towels, sheets, some pots and pans (because we were -and this will sound totally crazy- SICK of eating out…never mind how costly it was), and other items that ensured our sanity in light of being in an empty house with good ol’ J.

J.  Darling, patient, adaptable J.  J who loves Target and yet was utterly sick of going there to get yet another thing we needed to “rough it” in the empty house.  J who met his new psych with a big smile on his face, and hasn’t asked for Five Guys yet.  J who has the two most comfortable, set-up in style, “this room is done” rooms in the entire house.  Bless his sweet heart, and his willingness to put up with all this madness.

Now that the garage has ceased to look like a cardboard jungle, J can go back to his exercise routine.  He has a new treadmill.  He is waiting for his Wii and his TV to be set up so he can “run”…he has seen more dragonflies in the garden than he’s comfortable with, but every day he tries a little harder to sit out there and experience the glory that is his new, fenced, landscaped backyard.  J has been a champ.  J has smiled a little more widely and a little more brightly with each passing day as the boxes start revealing his things emerging from their storage.  J has helped load the recyclables in the truck we rented, and giggled with joy as he sees the garage becoming a garage once more.

We put his new peel-and-stick tree in his new bathroom.  We put glow-in-the-dark stars on his bedroom walls, and his bevy of pin-up girls is present and in full force.  He has his lava lamp, his fairy lights, his butterflies, and a view of the garden that is pleasant and relaxing.  J is very much at home…

We sit around the dinner table and look out the window at the birds that visit the feeders; we go outside to feed the fish in the pond; we take the trash out to the curb, and J is in charge of checking the mail.  A short walk, but a happy one…just a few yards down the driveway and I can see him smiling all the way there and back.  He has also learned that he puts the flag up if we are sending mail out…

Our expeditions to learn about town have been fun.  We’ve found a grocery store we love, a shopping center where they have all the stores J likes to frequent, and a donut shop that is a huge treat because their donuts are simple and ridiculously delicious.

Tomorrow we will sally forth to the DMV to get our IDs, licenses, car registration.  On Saturday we hope to work in the yard.

We are settling in…

We are hanging pictures…

We are NEVER MOVING AGAIN…EVER…

We are at the “bare walls” stage…

We have been in a packing frenzy.  Our walls are bare (for the most part…I’d say there are four things we need to address to be completely naked in that department), and our cupboards are starting to look like it’s time to buy plastic cups.  There are more things in boxes than there are out of boxes…

J is enjoying the process.  This is surprising.  The only thing he has objected to is seeing his TV room throw pillows put in a box.  His train/Lego village is disassembled, and only the Legos remain on shelves waiting to be packed.

We are well on our way to being done.  We are also exhausted, achy, and ready for this to be over.  We have pared down to the things we really want and need.  We have made sure that TGG and his family get all the other stuff that no longer fits our three-person household.  I’ve packed and sorted through all of TGG’s childhood photos and given them to his wife.  I know he probably thinks we’re erasing him (we’re not…there are so many mementos of TGG, photos, school projects…all over the place), but the fact is that I have very few pictures and things from my childhood, and I’ve always wished I had them around.  Once in a while a relative or classmate would post old photos on Facebook, and I would copy them so I could show my beloved Dada “look, that’s me when I was a kid.”  Dada has an unending stream of family photos that chronicle his life from then to now, and I have snippets here and there.  I want TGG to be able to show “hey, this was me…and this was me with so-and-so, and when I went here, or there…”

I have copies of everything.  He is in multiple frames, on shelves, boards…he’s everywhere.  I want his kids to see that he had a life before them, and that his parents were proud and happy to document it.

So we are slowly reaching the end of the preparation to move on…and we are ready to move on.  There isn’t any bittersweetness…it’s all sweet.  We are looking forward to it all.  J is too…he is happy.  He is enthused.  He is excited.  He won’t yet relinquish his pillows, but he will by next Tuesday.  It’ll all be good by then.

Just a little more Tiger Balm, a little more Tylenol Arthritis, and we’ll be golden…

 

There MUST be an end to the packing…

Right?????

It feels like we have been packing for weeks, and we have made something of a dent on the many things we have to pack, but…

Why is it that it never seems like one owns THAT MUCH STUFF until one has to pack THAT MUCH STUFF???

I tried the Higitus Figitus…it looked NOTHING like this:

It looked more like this: images

We’ll figure it out…I think.  We have to…basically.  J is happy in the TV room watching the pile of boxes with red tape (his TV room’s assigned color) growing with each passing day.

As for us, well, we are almost on a first-name basis with the good people at the local Lowe’s.  “Still packing????”  “Whatcha packing now???”  “Aren’t you guys done yet????”

The house no longer looks like home.  It looks like it was, and it’s slowly being dismantled to be conveyed elsewhere.

And that’s fine…

And it’s good…

And we’re excited…

And feel harried…

And it’s going to be alright…

Right?

🙂

It’s almost like that last scene in Raiders here…

We are pretty sure that the boxes are humming at us.  Not just ONE box…all of them.  Either that, or we have this ringing in our ears that is interfering with everything.  It comes from the house slowly being disassembled, packed, and lined up for the movers to take away.

We are currently at the stage where we pack, and discover we’ve left a mess in our wake.  From that we gather those things that are still viable for packing, and then we are left with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam that is, basically, of the “what IS this?  Why do we HAVE this?  Oh, this was from THIS, and we don’t have that anymore!” variety.

The one good thing about moving is that you discover that there are things you no longer need, want, care about, have a use for, and you send them along to a more productive life elsewhere, or you discard those things that cannot possibly be of any use because they are broken, spent, outdated…

The moving company we decided to go with came today for the estimate.  (Long story short, the other company dithered to the degree where the dates got really murky, and we cannot do murky.)  The bulk of our move is books, and J’s stuff.  He has calmly and happily allowed me to cull some of his belongings to pass on to his nephews and nieces, and that is lightening the load somewhat, but there remains the question (not a trivial one either) of how to pack up all the train tracks, the Legos that go in his village, and all the “vegetation” that grows in the wilderness bordering the village.  The balls from the ball pit have been taken care of, and his craft closet is almost entirely packed.  There remain the boxes of extra Lego pieces sorted by color, and -because Wednesdays are Lego Days – those will remain as they are until the day before the movers come.

J’s room will be the last thing packed and loaded on the truck, and he is seeing the house slowly being disassembled but feels safe in his cocoon because we remind him every single day that he will “lose” his stuff last, and “get it back” first.

All the administrative layers of complexity involved in this relocation are being addressed in stages.  The utilities will be last, of course, because the house is still being occupied by the seller.  The first appointment with a new psychiatrist has been scheduled, and I’ve had a conversation with the court regarding transferring guardianship from one state to another.

And therein is the sticking point, my friends…

I have read the laws regarding guardianship in our state, and I’ve contacted the court.  I’ve contacted the court in our new location, and they’ve told me how the process works.  The problem is that our current state doesn’t have provisions for transferring the guardianship even though there is reciprocity between this state and the one we’re moving to…you read right: the law say nothing about transferring guardianship between states.  There are no forms, no lists, no contacts, no FAQ, nothing.  Tomorrow I am calling the court in our soon-to-be new state and asking them about the viability of starting the process all over again from scratch over there.

SO…word to the wise, if you’re planning on relocating across state lines, don’t just take “reciprocity” at face value.  Dig a little deeper, and try to figure out how the issue works in one state and another.  For all intents and purposes, our current state seems to operate under the premise that a family who has guardianship of a disabled adult will never want to leave here…

Yeah…

That’s the scoop for this evening.  Now I’m off to make tomorrow’s to-do list, fill out some paper for the new psych, and ponder the alternatives we have for dealing with this guardianship transfer issue…