Along with boxes and furniture, moving means paperwork…

J signed his first-ever lease agreement last night.  I wish I’d taken pictures!  I explained that he needed to sign papers to agree to live in the new house, and that this explained his rights and obligations as a tenant.  I showed him that we ALL would be signing them, and we then went around the table signing our names on the assigned spaces.  I explained that our signatures had to be done several times because there was the agreement with the pool rules, the agreement for the cats being with us, the agreement for parking, etc. etc.

This morning we walked down to the office to take the papers and to have J’s ID photocopied so it can go in our collective file.  He thought this meant he could have some pieces of chocolate.  To his mind, I’m sure, that’s part of agreeing to live here…the candy bowl in the office.

The packing is going along at a nice clip.  As we pack, sort and decide, we clean.  We’ve made a list of which things require more attention than others, and I’ve made a list of the arrangements I have to make before we move: cable, phone, internet, water, gas, electric, mail.  The address for the school records can be changed when they send the registration packet on the first day.  The bus picks J up on the same spot as it does now because we’re moving across the street and that doesn’t change.

J’s room will transform on the way to the new house.  His bedside table has been refurbished with a lovely coat of paint, and we’ve been looking at new posters for his walls.  Katy Perry figures prominently in the short-list of possibles.  We’ve also concluded that J would enjoy having a full-length mirror in his room for when he gets dressed in the mornings, and that he would benefit from a better arrangement for his clothes.

The TV room downstairs is nearly fully planned out.  The coffee table’s top was painted with chalkboard paint today, and later this week I will have J start assembling the 6-cube units for the base.  Next week, with less time to go until we move, we’ll put together the extra 9-cube unit we need for the library, and we’ll start numbering the cubes for when we put the books away in the new house.  All these tasks are designed to help ME, of course, but they also are a way to keep J engaged and give him a sense of pride.

Like Hermit Crab in his book, J is going around gathering things that make his home, well, homier…prettier.  Together we look at magazines, and then we look at what we have, at what’s on sale, and at what we can do to make do with what we have, but with flair!  And we’ll need a lot of flair…the cable bill just went up to nearly $200 a month (with fees and surcharges that are unspecified and mysteriously murky enough to scare me.)  Thank goodness J enjoys working on all sorts of projects, and isn’t against going to the thrift store, garage sales and then getting busy with paint.

In between packing boxes and taking down pictures I read to J, or we go for walks.  When we take down pictures I explain to him the completely abstract relationship he has to those he lovingly wipes clean before storing in boxes: this is Dada with HIS Dada; these are Dada’s brothers; this is Dada’s mama (a word he uses for anyone’s mama but his own;) this is my great-grandmother with her cat, and so forth…  The invisible threads that travel through time and space to build a family are lost on him, but he knows these people are important enough to us to assail the walls with Command Strips to hang their photos.

[By the way, Command Strips are tremendously convenient, but the whole ‘no damage’ thing hinges completely on an exactitude of pulling, force, angle and such that is just beyond my abilities.  I’ve had a fairly good rate of success, but I have had to patch quite a few spots…which I find mortifying.]

We got two new books today.  J seems to be enjoying our reading time more and more now.  The books have found their way from that forgotten shelf in his room to the living room in the basement, and we curl up to look at them, and we point at pictures, and sign as we tell the story.  Some J finds so funny that he starts laughing as soon as I open the cover…Froggy books do this to him.  Others he listens to intently, and then runs his fingers over the illustrations.  Others he goes back to over and over again, and he interjects his own sounds and reactions as we go along.

Today’s titles: Possum Come  A-Knockin’ by Nancy Van Laan (illustrated by George Booth) and The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (illustrated by Stephen Gammell.)  Both these books are throwbacks to the days when J and TGG would sit in front of the TV, a bowl of Froot Loops for a snack, and watch Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton.  Both books elicited from both (and I mean TODAY) the little conspiratorial smiles of those who remember something tremendously pleasant while trying to act more sophisticated than they feel.  TGG mentioned, with a mouth full of chicken and pasta that he was scarfing down before class, that it’s a pity Reading Rainbow has gone the way of the dodo bird.  “And the other one too…the one with Kino…Storytime!

Here I am packing all these books, sitting with my kids (yes, both of them) and making sure they don’t forget books and stories in the middle of all the iPads, iPhones, cable TV, and I ask myself (as I open yet another flyer from Barnes and Noble offering me 10% OFF on any NOOK!!!!) if people bother to read to their kids anymore.  I mean: is it relevant to other families???

I have a lot of paperwork to sort through for this move.  I have the utilities, the lease, the change of address for the Post Office…and nearly a thousand books (between ours, TGG’s, and J’s) to convey from point A to point B.  It would be easier with a NOOK, right?  You can still curl up with a NOOK, right?  But is it anywhere near as much fun as with an actual book?  J and I have boxed up several cubes’ worth of books, and he likes to run his fingers over the spines, place them in the boxes…with almost as much affection as he shows for the family pictures.

The weird thing is that I think he understands the books better than he does the long-gone, or distant people…



HOW many days ’til I go back to school????????

It happened this morning.  J didn’t get up as early as he usually does on Saturdays and this seems to have had the effect of making him cranky.  I had set up the schedule for today with chores and hang-out time at home because Dada had to go to the office (a break in the routine that is irritating everyone in the household) and the weather forecast screams “it’s going to rain all day!!!!”  When J finally emerged, he was complaining about his beloved box fan; it seems that -due to its crucial role in J’s everyday life- this piece of machinery had to conk out and contribute to the already iffy mood…

While he was bemoaning his fate at the foot of the stairs and I was frothing milk for our coffee, J looked at the board and decided he wanted the BUS up on it.  Gently, because I didn’t want to stir the pot more than was necessary at this point, I reminded my beloved son (he of the stormy visage and grumpy attitude) that summer school is FINISHED and we are on vacation (HA!) until the fifteenth of August.

If I had told him that we were going to a formal gala and he had to wear a tux and walk like a penguin, J wouldn’t have been more livid about the news.  WHAT?????????????????????  And immediately we went into hitting our head and wailing.  Immediately.  No building up to it, just wham! wham! wham! and I don’t mean like George Michael and Andrew whathisname…this was full on “I cannot friggin’ BELIEVE that there’s no school.”

And we’d not yet had a drop of coffee…

I took the BUS and BACKPACK PECS away, and J demanded that I return them.  I said NO.  Wham!  Wham!  Wham! AH-AAAAAH!  SCHOOL?

J, I explained yesterday that there is no more school for the summer.  AH-AAAAAH!  Wham!  Wham!  Wham!

(OH, caffeine, come to ME!!!!)

This went on for a full minute until I said, quite loudly, HEY!!!!!

J’s mouth formed and O, and his hands stopped in mid-movement.  SCHOOL?

Let’s count, I said.  Dada, who was looking at me with hope in his eyes, put his hand up…all together now:  one…two…three… (as my finger moved over the days in the big kitchen calendar, J counted reluctantly) …four…five…six… (I was going slowly, very slowly, giving J time to calm down as he counted…HOPING he would count down as he counted) …seven…eight…nine…ten…eleven…twelve… (I saw J’s eyes shift towards the drawer where I’d put the PECS, so I stood in front of it) thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…sixteen…seventeen…eighteen… (my index finger tapped the fourteenth of August for emphasis and then I signed and said) eighteen days of vacation until school starts again.  

The AH-AAAAAH was much calmer now, a sound of disappointment rather than a sound of anger.

The storm passed.  J simply got his snack box and, with Dada in tow, made his way to the basement-level pantry while I moved the PECS once more and finished frothing milk for our much-needed coffee.

Later on we filled the weekly schedule with other activities, and I reminded him of how we need to pack the rest of the house up because he goes back to school and we move into our new home.  He seems to be OK with this plan.  He’s not over-the-moon happy about the 18 day lull between now and the start of the regular school year, but he’s prepared for it now.

Yesterday I bought him Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab, and we intend to read it so that he can see that outgrowing a house is something that happens, and that you can make a house beautiful, but that doesn’t mean you won’t outgrow that one, too.  I hope this will help with the transition…

That’s Saturday.  Well, that’s what has been of Saturday, but there will be more to come as we’ve packed some more things, and are fixing up whatever we find that needs tending to when we take down pictures.  J likes working around here and seeing the spackling change from pink to white when it’s finally dry.  We have been going from room to room, dusting pictures, checking for dings on the walls, covering those.  Will it be exciting?  Not really, but it WILL be time-consuming.

We have 18 days to consume…in the immortal words of Maurice Sendak “let the wild rumpus start!”

Wait! Wait! I don’t want to look!!!! (Even if I eventually HAVE to)

Today J had a chance to go into our new home while the workers were still in there plugging away at the trim and the kitchen.  To say that he dug his heels right outside the door is to put it mildly.  He not only refused (with a huge smile on his face,) but he VOCALLY refused (with a huge smile on his face.)  Like a child given the chance to peek at all the surprises being hoarded for Christmas morning, he opted for the full surprise.  No half-measures.  He wants to see the whole thing, not the bones and sinews of it…

I don’t blame him.  To J this is probably the equivalent of seeing the ingredients of a cake on top of the counter and being unable to imagine what the end result will be like.  He’d rather just have the cake.  He’d rather not know what goes into it, and waits for the deliciousness of that first bite and all successive ones.

Today, the first day of J’s second summer vacation, we went out for our errands.  Once more he repeated the name of the store a zillion times from the moment I mentioned that we were going out to the moment when he realized TGG had turned onto the street that leads us there.  At the store we bought the mini-blinds for their bedrooms because, facing the afternoon sun day in-day out, they will really need them.  With J’s seating arrangement for the TV room resolved (and not a moment too soon, if you ask me) with the purchase of his mondo-sized beanbag, now it’s TGG’s turn to find something to sit on…

And here we come to next part of my story, which is bittersweet.

You know how you’re always telling your kids that life and time pass by quite quickly on their own without us insisting on rushing it?  You know how I’ve told you that on every birthday I remind them to live “this age because it’s the only time you WILL BE this age, and there are no do-overs?”  Well, adulthood has fallen on TGG like an anvil falls on Wile E. Coyote in all those Roadrunner cartoons…

TGG works (as he has been for nearly two years now) at the same hospital where Dada works.  TGG also goes to school four nights a week to earn his Medical Assistant Certification in hopes of improving his earning power and, possibly, launching a career in the Healthcare field (because it’s the only one, as we all know, that seems to be booming aside from that of asinine reality TV stars.)  Last evening, between one activity and the other (that is, between 4:15 when he gets home and 5:00 when he leaves for his class,) TGG sat down and told me he feels like he works only to pay bills.  He looked defeated and overwhelmed.  He looked nothing like the kid who used to lark about rolling his eyes whenever we told him that this day would come.  He looked…like a younger version of the adults WE have become over the course of years.

Forget about the birds and the bees (and the Viennese, like Blossom Dearie sings in Down With Love,) THIS is the the most shocking realization a kid can have.  Yeah, yeah, the sex thing is a real eye-opener, but that conversation you have once when they’re young enough to realize that there are things that shouldn’t be allowed to others, and then again when they’re old enough to make a stupid decision, and farther down the road when you have to remind them that kids are a lifelong commitment and you don’t want to have one until you can care for the child’s needs with as much abandon as you want to fulfill your “wants.”

The “you’ll have time to grow up so enjoy not being a grown-up yet” conversation (or “speech,” as TGG always referred to it) has been repeated ad nauseam.  It has also been ignored ad nauseam.  Yesterday’s admission that, much to his horror, we had been right all along was a bitter pill for TGG to chew on, and I have to confess that I was far from enjoying seeing him squirm.  By the time he got back from class he felt better, but he was much humbled by his new understanding of what we’ve been going through all along.

“How do you guys manage?,” he asked.  I had to confess that we don’t always “manage.”  At times we escape with our feathers singed and our pride neatly tucked between our legs like tails.  Suddenly, the realization that his trip to NYC after high school graduation was more of a sacrifice financially than we’d be willing to do for ourselves came upon him.  Suddenly, he understood all those times when we said “well, we’re sorry but you’re going to have to get the pants that are not fashionable…you’ll live.”  Our many affronts to his dignity (all of them hyperbolized by a teenaged mind) suddenly seemed banal…  “But we always have food!  But we live in a decent place!,” he said woefully, and we replied “because we think you guys need to be well cared for, and we want to live where we are safe and comfortable…not fancy, but safe and comfortable.”

Dear Abby came to mind.  You know her, right?  Abigail Van Buren, the woman to whom a generation turned in search of advice from her column in the newspapers.  I remember reading this a long time ago, and when I saw someone post it on Facebook I immediately “shared” it on my wall though I think the most important thing is that I’ve tried to do precisely what she advised: If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.

I think yesterday we got a little closer to seeing this come to fruition.  TGG’s slightly bruised and rumpled by adulthood, and sooner than he wanted to be, but better now than when his responsibilities extend to a wife (or girlfriend or whoever he eventually chooses to partner up with) and children.

In the end, we all want to see “it” when it’s ready.  We’re afraid of how it’s put together at one moment, and fascinated by its inner workings the next.  But, ultimately, whatever IT is, we will get there and, hopefully, things will work out…eventually.

Baby, now you’re packing way too fast…

J has decided to help with packing.  Actually, J has taken the lead packing.  If I’m not careful, J will have us completely ready to move by the end of next week, and -quite honestly- there’s a certain degree of creature comfort that will go a long way to keep us from succumbing to pre-moving jitters.

Whatever doubts or nerves J had about us packing have obviously disappeared.  Yesterday afternoon he got more boxes, assembled them, filled them and then proceeded to label them.  Of course, the boxes are labeled in a very “J” way…CRAFT STUFT, say three of them…CRAFT AEOT says the fourth.  Another box from the dining area reads FRAGILE…HEAGILE (he smooshed together FRAGILE and HEAVY…it might become a trend in packing, I’m sure.)

Today, as we all know, was the last day of summer school.  I have told J that the next few weeks will be spent getting ready for the move, going to the pool and relaxing.  I think J has chosen to pick up on “getting ready for the move” over any of the other things.  I will have my work cut out for me until it’s time for school to start again.  We’ve worked on taking Queequeg out with some trash, worked on TWO sets of flash cards and had a disagreement regarding whether there’s more to pack RIGHT THIS MINUTE or not.

Tomorrow, thank goodness, TGG has a day off, and there are a couple of things we’ll be doing: go to the pool and go to town to see if we can find a second-hand dresser for TGG’s room.  If that doesn’t provide sufficient entertainment for a certain someone, then we’ll come home and pack glasses that are not in heavy rotation.  If all else fails, we’ll clean the deck.  (Memo to me: buy more cleaner, duct tape for the packing-meister, Tiger Balm…just in case my glucosamine supplement decides it’s not in the mood to stop the squeaking in my knees.)

None of this is new.  It’s yet another transition that we must face and work through, and I think -in spite of the occasional hiccups- we’ve done quite well with reducing the Risperidone and adjusting to the upcoming changes and all they signify to the here and now.  The moments that have been iffy (with dogs, hats, moods and tempers) have been manageable…or am I wearing rose-colored glasses with a hindsight is 20/20 prescription?

We’re going back to the “talking” doctor (as J refers to him) on the 2nd (Christ!  That’s next week, isn’t it??????)  This weekend I intend to take a moment to review my notes and discuss with Dada and TGG if we’re staying at .75 mg a day or if we’re feeling bold and want to go down another .25 mg.  Of course, this is the kind of decision that we need to discuss very candidly, and we can’t just say “yeah, I’m fine with it” without taking into consideration everything else we have going on.

In other news, our future next-door neighbors are all teachers.  Young women.  They have a very small dog (rumor has it it weighs only 3 lbs.) and they all share a space the same size as the one we’ll be occupying.  One of them, happy coincidence, is a Special Ed teacher.  A friend told me about her, and I have made note of it.  This, of course, will squarely place them in the position of being slightly more understanding about J’s quirks, anxieties and his mother’s abrupt manner.  I hope.  I really, really hope.

Now it’s time to, once more, man the roll of duct tape (what’s left of it) and assemble some boxes for J to prepare.  There are several shelving units we’re trying to empty so they can be sent to someone who needs or wants them.  We’ve had them for fourteen years, and if we disassemble them, they might die and never be revived again.  They are the kind of furniture that served its purpose to the fullest, lived with us in every home we’ve ever occupied, accepted cats sharpening their claws on them, a slapdash coat of stain to spruce them up, and were worth every penny we paid for them (less than 3o dollars per unit) and then some.  In keeping with our “we’re too old to live like kids” mentality, we are surrendering them to the student population that moves in and out of this town with every semester.

OK, then.

To the Batcave, Robin…  There’s work to do and there’s someone who REALLY wants to do it…my job is to slow him down.  Maybe if I tie anvils to his wrists and ankles?  Nah, not J…he’d take that as a challenge and he’d end up being even stronger…




Eureka!!!! No…wait…yes, EUREKA!!!! And they’re gone again…

Remember the flash cards J hid a while back?  They’ve been found, and hidden, and found, and hidden…again.  The first hiding place was -although we never actually SAW them there- the pantry;  J’s insistence on following us into the pantry and anxiously lingering while we did any work in there; more than ten minutes sorting laundry, starting the washer or emptying and reloading the dryer would inspire J to shoo me out the door, taking over whatever I was doing and banishing me to other tasks.  He must’ve assessed the location of the cards as high-risk for them being found because, out of the blue, I was once more allowed in the pantry/laundry room, and I could work at my leisure.

Last night, though, I didn’t head for the pantry.  Last night I assembled some cardboard boxes and started working on the under-the-stairs closet while J was upstairs helping Dada with the kitchen clean-up.  When he walked down the stairs and realized I was hard at work in that closet, he sat on the couch looking pale and disbelieving…  If he had ticker tape coming out of his ears to let his thoughts be known, I’m sure the message would’ve been “UH-OH!!!!!”

J sat glumly on the couch, watching me pack away all sorts of crafts and learning materials.  I would announce every category as I stored it in boxes: “look!  Your plastic canvas is going to the other house!!!,”  “hey, J, we’re putting your construction paper, glue and scissors in the walk-in closet in the room where your TV will be!,” “and let’s not forget the soap-making!,” and so forth.

And then I got to “that” basket…

I said nothing.  I simply turned around and grinned as widely and brightly as I could, and J rolled his eyes, covered his face with his hand and said GOOD EVENING!!!!!!!!!

This morning he saw the pack of cards on top of the dining table and pointed at them, asking me to hand them over.  I told him to simply NOT bury them so deep I’ll never, ever, ever find them again, and I just saw them in the same box with all the other learning material I packed (but didn’t seal) last night.

As I’d been searching for the cards I wondered why J would feel compelled to hide them.  The cards are seemingly harmless, depicting all sorts of people who work in the community: police officer, Emergency Medical Technician, firefighter, mail carrier, nurse, dentist, doctor…  The logic behind J’s desire to hide the cards dawned on me quite slowly, but it dawned alright.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you seven year-old me facing the hardcover edition of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer, and slowly backing away from the dustcover that displayed a black swastika in a white field over a black background.  I was terrified of this book.  I know it sounds completely silly, but I was deathly afraid of the sight of that swastika, and the book (which I’ve yet to read, and which is on my reading list for this year) was moved to a shelf where I couldn’t easily encounter it when I hunted for things to read in my great-uncle’s well-populated library.

Those cards are J’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  As I developed an aversion to the swastika and a fear for what might be between those covers based on very general knowledge of what had happened during WWII, J prefers to maintain the cards out of sight because he knows what doctors, dentists, etc. do.  When I was young and I went to visit my parents, I’d sit with my dad to watch Rat Patrol, Combat!, Hogan’s Heroes and any number of WWII movies that might be airing on local TV.  I’d ask what the war had been about, and my dad would explain in as general a way as he could because I was, after all, very young.  That we watched the 1959 version of The Diary of Anne Frank didn’t help matters.  Shirer’s book, to my young mind, was full of things that scared me.  Forty-one years later, I am no longer scared of a book, but the experience has helped me understand why J wouldn’t want those particular cards around.

When Dada and I decided to assemble each of us into this bigger US that is our family, my advice about relating to the kids was simple “NO is harder to say, but more necessary than YES” (boy, have we put THAT to the test!!!,) and “never forget what you were like when you were their age.  Don’t gloss over your experience, and talk to them in a way that would have been acceptable to you at whatever age you’re dealing with at the time.”

This morning we didn’t have time for our energetic and happy sing-along of Five Little Monkeys, and J was trying to get it going as he climbed the steps into the bus.  This afternoon I intend to welcome him with the monkeys, and I intend to sit him down and explain that I understand about his hesitation to keep these cards handy.  I will also explain that I would like him to learn the names and tools of each trade so that he is familiar with them should he encounter any of them some day.  I will, in fact, give him a little wooden box with a hinged top to put the cards in when we’re not studying them.  If I expect him to face his fear (or hesitation,) I will move the book up on the reading list and let it follow in the heels of Angels & Insects.

Forty-eight year-old me needs a yogurt.  Between packing, ordering J’s beanbag, trying to figure out WHAT I have on this desk, and making the solemn vow to deal with the cards and finish reading my current book so I can move on to the next one, the morning has flown by…

And another day is quickly progressing toward to one-less-day in the countdown calendar.


This is the part where I make a mess…

I love our garden.  We get food out of it.  Granted, we are not self-sustaining, but we’re self-augmenting…if that’s even a term.  We have herbs all winter, veggies and salad all summer.  What more is there to ask for?  Well, eggs from our own chickens would be nice, but we do live 2.5 miles from town in a planned neighborhood so…we take what we can get.  The parts we can’t provide for ourselves we get at the Farmers’ Market, and that helps the economy…someone’s economy, anyway.

I have reached the point in packing our home for the move where making a mess is not only inevitable, it is almost mandatory.  Areas of the house that were beyond livable and well into the “nests of comfort and solace” are now stripped down to their bare bones, and we have a garage that is slowly filling up with boxes, packages, labels that warn people “if this box falls and its contents break, I will be hard-pressed to not cry.”  The outermost layers of our onion have been peeled, and we’re getting to the nitty-gritty.

J is taking this in his stride.  The crew that is working on our new home has kindly agreed to greet him with encouragement about his new house, and his big room and how soon we’re moving.  Whatever anxiety and weepiness J had been experiencing about the packing process has been alleviated by these little kindnesses that come his way.  We can tell that great progress is being made, and now we’re feeling the crunch of time heading our way.

Every day I made sure that we all remind J we’re packing to only move across the way.  I reassure him of this because I know he loves it here, and I know that every time we pack our things and move far from wherever he’s spent a significant amount of time, it weighs on him.  The fact that he now understands Queequeg (pronounced Chick-a-POW!) is one of the ways we’re taking things from here to there is a great comfort.  He knows the distance is short, and he knows that the distance is familiar.  That the street is one straight shot to the entrance to our neighborhood is comforting to my knees.  I dread climbing that steep slope next to the dumpster, especially when humidity and colder temperatures turn me into a pretty close facsimile to The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

I will be truthful: this is a little too easy.  I keep looking around and finding that most of the things that I think require actual packing are done already, and I foolishly feel comforted by the notion of “the worst thing to pack will be the kitchen.”  My temporary amnesia about previous moving experiences has prevented me from remembering how much trouble the huge desk in the basement really is, and how much toiling was required to get the couch into our current home.  I am sure this will be dealt with in due course, and we will (once more) swear that they will rip our cold, dead hands from the door frame before we move again.  Can you say “famous last words???”

My greatest problem I’ve been running into throughout the whole packing process, and I’m sure you’ll all recognize it: catch-all containers, drawers, corners…  You know those plastic cups that hold safety pins, matchbooks, screws, extra buttons from garments you no longer own (but Heaven forbid you should toss the buttons…just in case,) and so forth.  There are also the things that look simple-enough to pack, but that will prove daunting when the moment comes (what do you mean you completely forgot about the food processor, the blender, the extra crock pot, the cookie cutters, the CDs that live in a box in the basement???)  J’s room looks easy now, but I’m sure I will discover some Lego concoction that has been hidden elsewhere in the house (maybe with those “community helpers” flash cards I’ve been hunting for high and low since last week?) and that will require opening a box that has been already labeled and taped shut.

Because our aim is always to get J set up before the rest of the household is settled comfortably, I am concentrating on that particular purpose and taking a more casual approach to everything else.  It has come to our attention that TGG’s work schedule has him “free” the weekend previous to our move and completely booked the weekend of…which is most inconvenient and which he’s trying to solve by trading schedules with someone.  Easier said than done at that time of year, of course.  Dada is working his full schedule and then some at work, and spending a couple of hours working from the computer at home to make sure he doesn’t have anything terribly important dangling from his calendar when the time comes to move.

J…well…J is being a teenager.  He is dreading the end of the summer program, wanting to be lazy about helping me, complaining when I ask him to get off his butt and come for a walk.  As long as the medication isn’t wreaking havoc on his moods, I’m perfectly fine with all the quirks of adolescence.  As long as I can manage the very light melancholy that seeps into his demeanor when he realizes we ARE packing and things ARE slowly disappearing from his line of sight, I’m okay with that, too.

What I’m not OK with is the mess.  I find myself putting off doing dishes (a task I defer to J in exchange for a few hours of undisturbed organizing, arranging and cleaning) and wishing I could take a nap; I have realized that I will not really get a break until we are moved and this placed has been turned over to the carpet cleaners, the landlord and the next tenants.  I am in full un-nesting and re-nesting mode…

But as long as it’s all for the better, and J is happy…I’m cool with the mess…


A fool’s errand…and shake it off!

Oh, we found a LOVELY loveseat.  It was gorgeous, and the price wasn’t bad…but…

Here we go again with the measuring, the maneuvering, the LOGISTICS of the whole thing.

Four to six weeks, they tell us, maybe two, but we can’t count on that.  And we won’t.  The risk is too great.  Let me explain…

You have an autistic kid at home, right?  So you KNOW that it’s got to be just right and done in a way that the kid will accept, that won’t offend his/her mysterious sensibilities.  We stood there looking at the lovely loveseat that will comfortably house J’s butt and girth, and it’s quite attractive and we can get it in either the butter yellow or the sea foam green.  It has two throw pillows which, if he doesn’t like them, can be repurposed elsewhere.  It’s ON SALE!!!!  Everything in the store is on sale!  Twenty-percent off!!!!  I try to do the math on the number but start hyperventilating because it’s just how my brain is wired.  But it comes to less than 500 dollars!!!!

(Are you breaking into a cold sweat yet?  I broke into a cold sweat.  I tried to look cool, but less than 500 dollars is still a lot of money…A…LOT…OF…MONEY!)

There’s an ugly purple couch (eggplant, really) and it’s 50% off, which makes it less than 400 dollars.  LESS THAN FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!!  That’s a lot of money still, but this ugly eggplant THING is ready for the taking.  It’s cash and carry…but where would we park it until we move????

Ok…let’s talk this over…

We’ll sleep on it…

The kids are out on an errand and we’re off to grab some Thai food for dinner.  We found a parking spot, and walked to the Thai place.  Let’s order the duck pad thai and the duck emerald curry…  The place is packed.  We haven’t seen the Thai restaurant this packed since the last time we went to pick food up during a football game.  We text the kids and let them know there’s a bit of a wait…and we discuss the couches…

1)  What if we buy the pretty butter yellow or sea foam green one and it’s longer than the four to six weeks for it to get delivered?

Pause.  Silence.  Well…you can hear wheels in mental gear boxes creaking and squeaking.

2)  If we buy the cheaper eggplant, where do we park it until we move???

Pause.  Silence.  The squeak and creak get louder.

“The garage?,” Dada says with half-hope and half-trepidation.  “The Kraken…you’d put the new couch in the garage for The Kraken to destroy it when we’re not looking,” I say, half hoping and half dreading he’ll say “who cares!!!!”

3)  Delivery is not free.

No, it isn’t.  I think that added about $100 dollars to the last time we bought something from them.  Check the website when we get home???  Sure.  HEY!  Maybe we can rent a pick-up truck and pick it up ourselves!  YEAH!!!!  (We’re excited about this prospect.)

4)  Plus the sales tax.  What’s the sales tax on the couches?  I mean: 20% of $469 plus the sales tax, plus delivery…how much is that????  And what about the eggplant one?  It’s 50% off but add the tax and the delivery…

A collective brain cramp seizes us as we try to do math while watching Guy Fieri consuming something he clearly wants us to be excited about but which is not in the least appealing, not even with the sound turned down.

“Your food is special order,” the waiter says, “it will take a little longer with this crowd.  Sorry.”

No problem, we say, we’re cool with that.  It’s DUCK!!!!  (I even say a soft quack, quack that elicits a weird look from the waiter.)

5)  We can always put the big couch in J’s TV room until the new couch arrives.

“A) Would it FIT through the door?,” I ask.  Dada shrugs and says “maybe” in the same tone he uses when I ask him if he thinks the economy will improve during our lifetime.  “B)  What if J decides that’s THE COUCH for the entertainment room and we NEVER get our couch back?,” I say, imagining my lovely couch in a small room with no windows, surrounded by J’s things and J, very much like like Alice’s Caterpillar, comfortably ensconced on top of it and treating me like I don’t deserve to be near his furniture.  “We simply tell him it’s NOT happening and he can’t have the couch!,” Dada says, trying to sound more authoritative than he’s feeling.

More people pour into the restaurant and the head waitress tells us she’s checking the status of our order.  A minute later, she comes up to us with the bag, thanks us for our patience, we tell her we’re just glad their business is doing well, and with a hearty “thank you!” we are on our way home.

I check the receipt on our way to the car and, yes, there are our appetizers (we had THINKING to do…that requires calamari, people!,) our entrees, and here comes the rain…

We wend our way home, occasionally making random comments about the furniture, and when we finally are home and safe and comfortable, we realize half our order (the rice, the curry) are left behind at the restaurant…

“It’s a sign,” Dada says, and he means it.  “Not only was it a special order…it took longer than it had to because there were A LOT OF PEOPLE there, and it’s incomplete…”

I sigh and try to reassure him that we can totally swing this.  After dinner (we share the pad thai and overload on duck,) we come to the basement to look at the delivery or pick-up options.  Delivery is NOT free, of course, but we knew that…so we can pick it up from the distribution center…an hour’s drive away.

We look at each other.  We start laughing, and we recount all the times something has gone completely awry when we’ve REALLY needed it to be timely and just plain right…

A few hours later, I step in the shower and Dada is sitting on the floor talking to me…the list of all that goes awry goes on and on and on, and gets more colorful: the time the Mexican restaurant accidentally charged us $357.43 for two entrees; the time Dada got a traffic ticket because the cop set him up for it; the time we didn’t get to the airport on time, and my ex-husband and his family missed the plane and we had them stay with us for four days more…all seven of us in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment, and on the list went…

I stuck my head around the shower curtain and said: look, I’ll take any difficulty in finding something for J to sit on in that room in exchange for how shitty the year started for his teeth and how smoothly we resolved it in spite of his anxiety and fears…

We’re getting a beanbag…