Saturday, January 06, 2018

Ending 2017, Beginning 2018

Christmas came and went. New Years came and went. And here we are the night before my son turns 21.  Long time readers, all three of you, can think back to when I started the blog in 2001, and realize this has been an ongoing journey of weirdness and wonder. And that's okay.  Each year I say I'll write a little more, that's my new year's resolution. But I never stick with it. Instead, I think I'll resolve to just be honest with myself. It's far easier that way.

We didn't do anything interesting or spectacular for the holidays. Doug does not get any vacation time  until end of March, his 6 month anniversary with the new company. Actually, I don't know if he is given vacation time off the bat, or starts to earn that vacation time. There is a distinction... so I should find that out. He'd like to go on vacation or something at that point. So would I.

Right now if he takes time off, he does so with no pay. He took one day off so far, to go to my Aunt's funeral in New York. He didn't get the day after Thanksgiving off, and didn't take it unpaid,  but if he had we would have gone to Pennsylvania to his uncle's big open house where all the family for generations comes to gather. This was the last year it'll happen there, since the house and the land/farm are being sold. So we missed out on that.

Jess flew down to be with us for Christmas, and we had a wonderful visit. She had just picked up her new used car, she was getting it inspected the day she went home. So much adulting.

The weather here in the DC area was very cold around Christmas but right now 20 degrees sounds delightful, as it was 6 this morning when I got up. 4 when I came home from the train last night.

Jess and I were both very disinclined to go out and do anything, and Doug didn't want to do the things I wanted to do, like go visit the Waredaca brewery and hospitality barn. He thought it was too far to go. So we pretty much sat around and did nothing. We hosted his aunt and cousin, who live over in Reston VA, and had a great dinner and nice fellowship with them.

New Year's Eve was pretty much the same. Incredibly cold, neither of us wanted to go out or do anything. Geoff was dog sitting for the neighbor so he was over there for the night. We got snacks and beer and some tropical stuff to mix with something in the cabinets, so we could imagine it being warm and wonderful. He and I settled into Netflix and Snore mode.

I was reading my Facebook feed, and noted that my friend Noah (former intern at our Boston office) was stranded in the Baltimore Airport due to his flight being canceled. He was hoping for a rescue in the form of a hotel paid for by the airlines but there was no progress on that front. I figured he was going to be stuck there and hating it, and I'm only 30 minutes away...

So Doug and went out and rescued him. A more thankful soul you've probably never known.

It was delightful to have him, and know that his fate otherwise was either a sketchy motel someplace or a night on the carpet in the corner. We had snacks and drank Dark & Stormys and didn't even notice that the midnight hour had come and was 10 minutes past us.

At 1am he noted that the airline had told him they'd call when they had a hotel for him, and here we were without a phonecall, text, or any other communication from them. We laughed and headed to bed.

It was a lovely time. And a nice way to end and begin a year. For a landmark date, in a new place, with too cold weather to go have a good time someplace, it was kind, and it was weird, and it was kind of weird. But this was a good thing to do, and I wouldn't trade it for a night out on the town.

Speaking of big night on the town...

Tonight is my husband's office holiday party. They always hold it after the new year since everyone is always too busy before the holidays (and it is super expensive to do something) so here we are, tonight tonight tonight.

The great news is he likes his job, a lot.  He likes his boss a lot. He likes what he's doing and likes his coworkers. It's a real blessing. He was kind of, shall we say, miserable in the last place of employment for a lot of reasons. None of which are my story to tell really. But it is nice to have a very happy Doug in my life.

They take parties seriously at this company, he says. The holiday party usually has door prizes for best dress up for the theme. Last year was the Great Gatsby, the year before was a night on the Nile.  And one of the door prizes was a 60 inch flat screen TV.

This year is Casino Royale, at a big beautiful hotel in Baltimore, complete with table games and roulette and all kinds of mock-gambling shenanigans.

 Doug thought about renting a tux and being "Fat James Bond" but he is sticking with a suit, and got a cool tie with poker hands of cards on them. Campy, and totally "dad" style. I like it.

He told me I needed to dress up too, not just wear slacks and a blouse with a pretty scarf (my idea of dressing for a party)... Now, I have a hard enough time putting on decent clothes. Nothing I own fits me, and I hate going to buy new clothes because I hate everything.

I pulled out the dress I wore to Aaron's wedding rather than buy something new. Thankful that I didn't drop it off at one of the many Savers runs I made before leaving Massachusetts. I figured what would I use this for again? Well here ya go.  My "work wife" found a lot of really nice things for me to wear online...  but I just figured this would be easier and I knew the dress fit me. Then, she and I started buying accessories.

I bought two different clutch purses in case I hated the first one, which was a good idea since one still hasn't shown up.... Picked up two pairs of shoes, in case I hated one pair (and I did). RCJ found me a beautiful wedding shawl, fake fur but feels like rabbit. Super Score. She found a really cute silver leaf headband that would have made me look like Legolas' fat elven aunt. Unfortunately, it was sold out. So I got hair pins that are shaped like the suits in cards and will put 2 on either side of my head.

With his tie, and my hairpins, it screams Vegas, baby.

Doubtful we'll win any door prizes for our get-ups, but we'll at least look snooty snifter style. Kind of bummed that it isn't a Gatsby theme, because my sister went to a Gatsby themed party a few months ago and found all kinds of good dresses, hair things, and RCJ knows how to wig shop, so I totally would have been hooked up for some fun with that.

I posted this picture on Facebook of the gathering of items on my bed, and my friends all chimed in on how cute everything is. I'm inwardly groaning but totally love their enthusiasm for me about the occasion. Demands of selfies and pictures of me and Doug done up nice. They're so cute.

And I also love that they know me enough to know this is a kind of big deal for me to pull all this together and make the effort.

I just wish it wasn't 15 degrees out. Jesus. So cold, too cold to go out in a dress. The good news is we're staying at the hotel where the party is, so my plan is to get dressed at the hotel, and come down the stairs, and go back up the stairs, without ever freezing my feet and ass right off.

And then I can jump right back into yoga pants and a Guster T-shirt. Whew.

Here's to starting off the new year ... glamorously?

And then tomorrow. Geoff's birthday. We asked him to pick the restaurant he wants to go to for his birthday. He's been making a list of the places he's eaten, been to, so far. And I've got a few ideas. Like maybe we'll go up to Frederick or the Waredaca brewery, like I wanted to during Christmas week.

I'm kind of sad that we're not up north for this, because he has a couple friends I'm sure would take him out for his 21st, instead of having to go out with mom and dad. We were out at dinner the other night and the girl tried to take an order for a beer for him and he told her he wasn't yet 21. He looks super lumbersexual right now. Flannel and long blonde hair and a cute little beard thing. His father's son for sure.

He still hasn't found his footing here. He has a part time job, but hasn't made any friends in his age group, is still thinking about applying to the community college and missed the application deadline to start classes this semester upcoming. We'll see about getting him a little more progressed here.

And that's the 2018 update so far. Hoping all my friends in the Boston area are doing alright after that blizzard, the Bomb Cyclone, the flooding on the seaport and many of the coastal down-towns. It was weird to watch from afar, I'll tell you that.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How did we get here?

People have asked how my mom is doing. She's keeping up with her PT, has a visiting nurse, and has graduated to walking with a cane when she gets out into the world, which is good. My husband told her that it would take 8-10 weeks before she felt "normal," and I think she's on track for the further end of that prediction. If not even further beyond that. She tells me she is in pain a lot. I keep encouraging her to keep moving, keep moving, and keep talking to her osteopath.

So this is good news.


My dad ended up in the hospital. Over the summer he developed a cough, and it persisted and worsened. When I came to visit during mom's hospitalization, it was obvious he needed medical help but he pooh poohed us when we suggested.

Coughing fits were common, and would turn into inability to breathe. He was winded after very short walks, like from the car to the postal drop at the community office, or the car to the restaurant. Talking was an issue, because breathing and talking go hand in hand so he opted to just be quiet, or expressive with his eyes and gestures.

Mom called me on a Tuesday afternoon to let me know that he'd woken up, had a coughing fit, and then coughed up blood.

He said "I think it is time for an ambulance." So she called one.

Diagnosis at this point is pneumonia, and an abscess in his upper node on one of his lungs. The doctor put him on antibiotics to clear the infection, and after the course is run he wants a CT scan to see if anything is "still there." Meaning a mass, tumor, whatever. Mid January is when he'll have the next round of tests to see what's happening, but the "mass" is getting smaller, and hopefully will be gone by the end of the antibiotic run later this week.

The doctor didn't want dad to have a needle biopsy, didn't want to "put him through that yet," if all it is is an infection. But he'll need follow up care for sure.

Our good friend Chris Kelly, columnist at the Scranton Times Tribune, recently wrote about his mom, and some medical scares she's gone through.

The assessment in the article is "how did we get here?" His point is more along the lines of "we didn't plan for this" is how we got here. But when I mentioned it to my mom she was more metaphysical about it. "How did we get here to this point in our lives." Chris even intimated that to me saying we were supposed to be long dead before we had to deal with all this grown up stuff.

My mom's sister is having all kinds of issues with her memory, and will soon have an MRI to look for dementia. Her husband, my uncle Ken, has stage 4 liver cancer.

My mom said to her sister the other day "we don't have a lot of time left, Bea." And sadly this is true. And for whatever time there is left - we can only hope it is fairly calm, or goes quickly without suffering and incident.

You know? Let there be mercy.

On November 11th, my aunt Esther passed away. She was 84. She was active, and driving, and getting around and doing all kinds of things before she passed. In fact, she was sitting in her chair, with her iPad, on Facebook, when she died.

Auntie loved to stalk us kids (kidding, she wasn't a stalker) on Facebook. She'd put comments on all our posts, and get in the middle of the ribbing/arguing/joking throwing in her two cents, and always some little "sticker" of an animal with big eye hearts or jumping up and down, or rolling around laughing.

Those drove me nuts. "Oh, here goes Auntie with her heart eyed doggie and her praise of my beautiful niece! so lovely and funny!" kinds of comments.  She would comment all the time on pictures I posted.

I didn't realize how deeply sad I'd be not seeing those. And here a month and a half out, after Christmas, looking at all my cousins' posts on Facebook of how they miss their mom, I'm sure they are asking themselves "how did we get here?"

I kind of have a feeling that I know where I'm getting in this next year, and I will be amazed if I am sitting here this time next year with both parents still breathing. It is a sad feeling. But I'm feeling more prepared, maybe.


Saturday, November 04, 2017

When the expected unexpected thing happens

I got a phone call on a Monday.

"I fell and broke my hip," says mom.

Great. Of course you did.

When we were deliberating whether or not we should take the offer to move, as you, dear reader may recall, worrying about my parents and their health and safety was at the top of my list.

What if they get sick, what if something happens to my mom and my dad doesn't know how to manage his medications. What if something happens to my dad and my mom is despondent and inconsolable.

I was in Maryland for a little over two weeks when I got this call. I wondered if I jinxed us by worrying at all in the first place, or if it was just statistically inevitable at this point.

Both of my parents have had relatively good luck health wise. My dad only recently started getting sick and having issues, and my mom has really only had bronchitis which landed her in the hospital. All told, they don't get out much, don't do much, don't behave in a risky manner. Aside from decades of smoking and my dad's drinking. I have to admit I've always been surprised a little that they've made it into their 70s.

But on that fateful Monday, the trash barrel started to roll away down the slope to the road and my mom chased it, instead of just letting it go and landing wherever it decided to land. And in chasing, she took the spill, landing on her left hip.

She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where X-rays and examinations revealed the break, up high on her pelvic bone. She said repeatedly "If you're gonna break your hip, that's the place to do it!"  And I guess it is true because your hip joint isn't involved, so no joint issues or leg issues.

Surgery was on that Wednesday, and the doctors told my sister it went very well. Linda drove up on Wednesday afternoon, I flew in on Friday. I picked up Jess and we were able to have good fellowship with my sister and my dad. We visited with a friend of mine from college who lives literally around the corner from my parents, and adores them. She has offered to do them many tasks and duties - and I didn't get to see her before we left for our move so it was great to connect. And I knew she'd be a good neighbor to have.

My parents frequent a bar/restaurant in their town and due to my mom's chatty-Cathyness, they've made a lot of friends. I began getting notifications from strangers saying that they were bringing my dad to visit her, or they were taking food to my dad. People were making sure that everything was operating as well as can be expected.

When I was in the hospital, we had all the church ladies and friends stepping up to offer help for Doug (who basically refused things because he's pretty capable. He can grocery shop, cook, and clean... but my dad is a whole different person). We had that community, and initially, I thought it was weird that "strangers" from a bar would be my parents' equivalents of that kind of fellowship. It began to sink in that this is where they "worship" as it were. A few times a week, dad plays Keno, mom chats with everyone and sings "Born to be Wild" at the bartender named Shorty (her real name is Cheryl).

They have their community. It's a little different than what I have had, but it is no less powerful, loving, and responsible a fellowship. So I'm incredibly thankful for that back-up safety net of people. One of the waitresses told me on the phone that "these aren't our patrons, they're our friends." And that made me happy.

Mom is doing well and the PT says she is kicking ass. She's a motivated-to-go-home person, very unlike a lot of people who end up in PT at age 73. She says she is sore all the time because she's working so hard at this, but I told her that's to be expected when all you've done for about 40 years is drive a car, smoke cigarettes, and sit at your computer. No offense intended. But if you're not even carrying groceries into the house you're not getting much of a workout, so yeah... you're gonna be sore.

And especially when your legs need you to use your upper body strength to get around, by wheeling your own wheelchair or pushing your walker around, welcome to that reality.

They are planning to send her home next week, which is good for her. And soon she'll be back at their bar, welcomed like a returning hero from the fray.

I was hoping to fly back up after she got sprung from the hoosegow, but I'm not sure we can afford it. We're suddenly very low on money here, and it is a little nervewracking. First, Doug bought Geoff a really nice, really really nice bed. I mean, Wow. He needed a new bed, and the temporary air mattress he was using sprung a leak. But I didn't expect that my husband would go to the store and buy a bed for him as expensive as this is. "It has a 20 year warranty!" he says to me. "He'll be 40 when this bed is worn out! Think about that!"

I don't really want to think about Geoff being 40, and me being 70. Thank you.

Expensive beds said,e we have to replace both of our cars because they won't pass inspection in Maryland (long story) but they probably would in Massachusetts (go figure). One of them sooner than the other. Geoff had a small accident this week with one of the cars - resulting in both side mirrors getting whacked off.

Picture this, if you will: He went to change lanes to the left, and someone clipped him, knocking out the driver's side mirror. He then over compensated and bonked the bus next to him (which he was trying to pass in the first place) and knocked the passenger's side mirror off. Bus left, other driver left, and Geoff was confused about what to do. So he just went to the gym and worked out hard because he was angry, and was sure we were going to kill him.

We weren't going to kill him. After all, the car was not going to pass inspection any who. I am just disappointed it wasn't the other car, the one with no heat and defroster.

Doug went and bought a new used car from a dealer, put a down payment on it and the dealer is replacing the windshield and doing the inspection.

And get this - in Maryland, you only need to get the car inspected once. And you never have to again. Never. It's kind of a stupid thing, they inspect 100 things, and can fail you on dumb things - but you never have to get it inspected ever again as long as you own it.

We can pick the car up when we can pay for it in full, which hopefully will be this week, once we (finally) get our security deposit back from our Landlord.

We had hoped to get a futon for the guest room and start building out the "office" that we'll have in there, and get bookshelves that are uniform and match (I gave away our old bookshelves to our church so the women's fellowship could use them for their quarterly yard sale out of one of the ladies' barns.

Oh, the freaking drama.

Aside from the Shirley hip excitement, and car disasters, things are going relatively well. I'm still not in love with being here, but my little house is cute and slowly slowly we are getting our shit together and organized. I realize Thanksgiving is just 3 short weeks away. My birthday is 2 weeks away. No fun trips to Montreal, but maybe a dinner out in DC or something. Or maybe just take out Thai since we can't afford much of anything else at this point. We'll see how that all shakes out.

Monday, October 02, 2017

And Now, I Live In Maryland

17 years on Long Island. Up to Massachusetts in 1984, with little side jaunts to Oregon and Atlanta. Back to Massachusetts in 1992. There ever since.

Until now.

I've told saga of our moving adventures twice before. This time, not as much saga. Having a company move you is a different world. The only problem this time was that I couldn't pre-clean a lot of things that I wanted to, so they got packed and moved, dusty. So now is the unpacking and cleaning portion of events.

Moving truck left on Thursday afternoon. Our initial plan was for me to start driving after the truck left, but I had a box of toys and things to give a friend, and she was to the north. She couldn't come down and get it, and the forecast was for rain - so I couldn't just leave it on the porch or in the garage.

Jess came with me to drive up to New Hampshire to drop off the box, and say goodbye. I took Jess home, and went to Carrie's to spend the night. Happily.

You know you have a good friend who makes you a cocktail and bacon & waffles at 11:30pm because she is worried that you did not eat.

The following morning, I still had a few things back at the old place to swing back and get, because of the stuff that I took to New Hampshire. Carrie came back with me and we did a swing through to gather items and trash to put out on the corner. The girl I hired to clean came to the house so we chatted with her a little while. And then it was time to go.

Except I had a box of bank statements and tax returns and items with our social security numbers on them, that I never got to bonfire one last time. I gave them to my neighbor Beth, and asked her to burn them. She agreed, and then she said ...

"What on earth happened to your eye?" 

My eye? I have no idea. I have showered in the past couple of days but Lord knows I have not looked at myself in a mirror. I got in the car again, and pulled the visor down. My right eye was solid red, pretty much to the whole left side (towards my temple).

The hell?

I tried to figure out what could have happened. I literally could not remember hitting myself or getting anything big in there. I know I got a little dust in there and rubbed my eye, but seriously - in 50 plus years I've never done anything like that. There was no pain, no obstruction to vision... but I had to go to my family doctor because what if... what if something was seriously wrong.

I drove the 1/2 hour to Jess' house - she was coming with me on the ride, thankfully. I've learned I just do not see well in the dark, and it is good to have a co-pilot. We called the doctor and they said they could squeeze me in at the beginning of the lunch hour - someone would take a look. So 40 minutes to the South East to my doctor, and luckily when your doctor has been your doctor since you were 19, he has a special affinity for you.

He looked and tested - put a drop in my eye to see if there was an abrasion. He told me that it is basically a bruise. I either must have bumped my eye, or that tiny bit of dust - rubbed my eye too hard to try and dislodge it. The blood thinners probably played a factor in this, but I'm uninjured. Just weird looking.

He said that it would probably take a week or two to clear up.

Great to hear - no damage. And now we are two hours behind schedule. But that's okay. That's alright, that's okay.

Hopped back in the car and drove like mad. Got down to the NY/Connecticut line just in time for rush hour. Waze told me to get off the highway and cut through Yonkers. Having never done that in my entire life, it was a little nerve-wracking. But we avoided a lot of traffic, and got down to Riverside Drive and onto the George Washington Bridge quickly. Traffic was a little heavy on the Jersey side - we sat by Met Life Stadium yelling about my machine being stuck in the mud way down in the swamps of Jersey.

After a while though, the rest of the trip flowed quickly. Philly - boom. Gone. Delaware bridge - zip. Done. Hello Maryland. Hello.

We got here around 11 pm. I was so exhausted. I didn't sleep well because we were on an air mattress (thankful for it, since floors are hard) and my dog spent the night pacing.

Jess was in the guest room which we flipped back and forth calling it "Jess' Room" and the "Guest Room" or the "office" so it turned into the Jest Room.

Movers arrived on Saturday morning - and unpacked all the boxes from the truck. And that's it. Done. Here. Maryland with my dog, my family, and my boxes.

Jess was helpful, Geoff has been more than helpful, and Doug built our bed, which hasn't been built for a couple of years. We've kept the mattress and boxspring on the floor for years, but now... Hello Bed. Hello.

Notes from this move:

  1. For the first time in many years, I actually felt somewhat in control and organized. Doug thought that was funny, because he isn't seeing it that way. But screw that, I literally think I know where everything is. 
  2. Except the Roku, the remote for the TV and the emergency back-up DVD player. 
  3. I said it before and now it is official - never moving myself again. Paying for someone to do it forever. Happy my company picked up the tab for this. But next time, I'm happily footing the bill.
  4. I should have cleaned a lot more stuff in advance of the move... Things are dusty and dingy in this bright white clean space. The moving company told me not to unload stuff from the cabinets, and I listened. I should have cleaned, and I should have washed every last thing. 
  5. The cleaning girl I hired to clean our place did a great job (with the material she had to work with. Our place was a dingy old mess). My landlord was so impressed he wanted her to clean the other half of the house on Saturday before the new tenants moved in there on Sunday. I don't think that worked out though. 
  6. I am hiring a once a month cleaner.
  7. Still purging things. 
  8. Not unpacking books at this time. Usually that is the first thing I unpack but I think now, they're in the basement in storage and I'm okay with that.
  9. My kitchen is too small. We have way too much kitchen stuff. We need shelving. 
  10. We left behind one piece of furniture which right now I wish to hell I had not. Geoff had a palate style bookcase that we got years ago - and it would be the absolute perfect height and depth and width to go next to our fridge. Doh. 
  11. My dishwasher is noisy.
  12. My washing machine is tiny! I'm so sad about that fact... 
  13. It is very quiet here - much quieter than my "country" house, even though we are in the city.
Doug discovered a little bar where they make the crispiest chicken wings, and toss them in Old Bay. And yes - everything. Every. Single. Thing. Here in Maryland has Old Bay on it. I really want some right now. 

People have asked about the house. It is a corner lot, and street parking. The one thing we wanted that this house didn't have was a driveway. We can live with that. A lot of the neighborhoods in the area have houses that are very close to one another, and this neighborhood is spread out nicely, without everyone having huge yards or anything. So parking is not an issue, and it is nice to know my son does not have to try and parallel park in a snowstorm.  

When you walk in the front door, to your left is a nice living room with a fire place, and to the right are two bedrooms (one bigger than the other) and a rather small bathroom. There is a linen closet by the second bedroom, and the living room has a spacious coat closet. We will be using the second bedroom for guests and an office. 

Walking further into the house, there is a nice sized dining room, and when you turn left you are in the kitchen. I wish it was open format - the kitchen feels way too small. The kitchen itself has all brand new, labels still on, IKEA cabinetry and a new fridge. The gas stove is a little older and was well used in the past. Turning right out of the kitchen, you go down a few steps to the left to a three-season porch, where we will probably put out some party furniture and lights, and enjoy that space. 

If you turn right, instead of going out onto the porch, you go down to the large, finished basement. There is a bedroom, tons of storage (closets for days) and a 3/4 bath. This is Geoff's domain. He has everything he'd need down there except a kitchen, so he feels completely independent and happy with the space of his own. The washer and dryer are down there, and everything is nice... it isn't a scary, gross basement like our last house. A proper, honest living space. 

Oh and speaking of Doug, he likes his job, his commute isn't too hellish, he says. He's home from work, and he is ready to find some dinner. Perhaps some wings with Old Bay on them. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Go Tits Up

We had a little adventure last night.

Phase 1 was complete, we got Doug down to Maryland and he enjoyed his first week in the new house and the new job. The plan was for him to fly home here on Friday (last night) and come to my office to pick me up after what would probably be a fun/bittersweet/sad night of saying goodbye to my people.

Text at about 6pm says his flight is delayed at least 2 hours, meaning he wouldn't land until after 10pm. I knew there was no way we'd be hanging out at the office that late so I was about to suggest he take the bus home, and I pick him up there when he told me he was going to jet over to the other counter and try to get the flight to Manchester NH.

Success. But, I had to leave the party to go get him. Thankfully I had only one beer before this transpired.

Co-workers helped me put stuff into my car, and lots of hugs and smell ya laters transpired. Amazingly, I didn't cry.

Got a text from Doug saying "taxing the runway. I'll race you." I told him "It's on."

I arrived in Manchester in time to actually see his flight landing. U2 live concert blaring from the speakers, I pulled into the cel phone lot and texted that I was there waiting for him. He texted back saying he'd call from the curb and I could come pick him up.

I turned the engine off, and waited. U2 still blaring from the speakers.

Ten minutes later, I went to start the car and got nothing but clicks - and then the alarm went off. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Doug called asking where I was.

"Houston, we have a problem," was my reply.

He walked over to my location. I had turned the car all the way off, let it rest, tried again - nothing. I got out, set the alarm, unset it, got in, tried again - nothing. Doug did the same - nothing. We called AAA and the guy tried to jump the battery. He said it was 100% drained - but all my interior lights and the radio were still working. The click click click part of things sounded to me like a starter problem. But he had no way to test that.

After about an hour - we opted to have it towed to our mechanic (Thank you AAA plus) and rented a car to drive home with.

Over the past 30 years, Doug and I have gotten to the point where we don't rattle easy. I know I posted a while back about our little pick up truck, check engine light, and "Born to Run" singing while we gunned it up the highway just hoping to get our asses home one summer night. We take a deep breath - and we just go.

While waiting for AAA we had good conversations about what our new Plan B was going to be, since they (Doug and Geoff) needed this vehicle to drive to Home 2 with. We decided he, the boy, and the dog and a car load of our things would go down. I'd stick around here as I was planning to do, only now I'd drive instead of fly on Friday. Our car is with our mechanic. I have a rental to get through the next couple of days and the list of things I have to do. And I'll head down either Thursday afternoon and break the trip up with a visit to my sister, or, one fell swoop on Friday. We'll see.

This morning, I gave my last tour of our church to an actual Lord and Lady from the British Parliament, so that was kind of neat. They were lovely and funny.  I had considered canceling my being tour guide on this day, giving it to someone else. I'm glad I kept it. It was a wonderful way to end our time here, especially at this church.

Doug just called and said they made it to the house, Geoff is settling in, and they are going to find some food and enjoy their first night at the house. So I'm happy to hear from them, and happy they are safe.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Operation GTFO

We got approved for our rental. Things are going to happen swiftly. Doug got up this morning and he immediately (but first, coffee) started the garage. Our neighbors are moving out also, so they have a dumpster, Doug made use of a bit of that space.

Here's the timeline:
1. He is leaving in the morning on 9/17
2. He starts his job 9/18
3. My office closes Friday 9/22, with shenanigans to follow, or all day, I'm sure
4. He's flying home either 9/22 or 9/23
5. My danish friends are visiting Boston for their annual Pats/Red Sox/etc pilgrimage, so we'll see them that night, and do more cleaning/packing
6. Doug will leave on 9/24 with the other car, Geoff, and the dog
7. Geoff will meet Verizon and utilities that need interior readings on 9/25

Now, here's where it is still fluid
1. Initially, I told our landlord the moving truck comes on 9/27 but he asked us to move the date to 9/25. Begrudgingly, I contacted the moving company to see if they can accommodate that request. His poor planning on when to make the apartment available is not my problem. I told him we were paying through the 30th, and he should make the apartment available for 10/15 but... he listed it for 10/1 Because I'm a nice person, and my husband, son, and dog will be in Maryland, I'm okay with moving up. Otherwise I'd say suck it.
2. Jess has her driving test on 9/28 and I kind of wanted to be here to hug her either way, pass or fail. But hopefully pass. Really, really hopefully pass. But she told me that I don't need to be here. My mom wasn't there when I got my road test so... Go, ma. Go. So ... I'll go. But if the movers come on the 27th, I'll stick around until after the road test to hug her, like it or not.

So that's the next couple of weeks. Shit got real, yo. And as my friend Rob sings "hush my mouth, I'm going south. Point me to the door."

Sunday, September 03, 2017

This Blog and Being Nice

Up early and firing on all cylinders. Sitting in a hotel somewhere in Maryland, in my Guster Happy Frappé T-shirt and yoga pants, sucking down a giant 7-11 coffee, filling out online application forms.

We found a place that we're applying to (so many forms) and so I need dates.

Dates. So many dates.

How long have you worked here? How long did you work there? What dates did you live there here and anywhere? How old is your dog?

I am so incredibly thankful for this blog.

Without the blog, where I kept records of things, I would never have the move in date when we moved into the 1774 Colonial (that we lost, thanks Bank That Shall Not Be Named) and I would not know how old Brodie is. When did I start working at my current job, and which time did I start working there.

Doug has a great memory for dates but I'm usually always a year off, up or down.

And I keep get lost in reading the blog. Losing the house entries should have a trigger warning on them for me because they are so stressful to read.

I hate getting stressed out about things, especially things that I can't undo, and couldn't control. And I blogged honestly about losing my shit in the midst of moves, and I know that I can be a bitch sometimes when things push me over the top. Hopefully this move won't be anything like that. Fingers Crossed.

I have a record of Early Morning Geoff waking up on the first morning in the 1774 house looking for breakfast, and I now recall with vivid recollection taking him to the town coffee shop at 6 am to get donuts and coffee, since we didn't know where any of our food really was in all of the boxes.

And I also am reminded that in the midst of things that are stressful (like losing our house) I have done good things for people, for strangers. Like paying $13 to help a girl who was short on her family shopping. Having my son tell me that I'm the nicest person he knows. Pondering even back then how no one is nice to anyone, and how there really are no roles of niceness in so many young people's lives - I think that I've done my best to be honest and kind and nice, even when I am losing my shit over things.

I keep telling myself I need to write more frequently so I remember things. I don't think I have dementia or anything, I'm just not really cognizant of what dates are.

After 50 it's all a blur, right?

I haven't gotten nostalgic or misty or anything yet. But in looking back on the entry from three years ago when we were moving in the deep heat of August into our house I wrote:

The way I see it, and this is my mantra, "It's only two years. Two years from right now, right this very minute, we can move again if we want to. Anywhere in the country. Anywhere in the world. Anywhere."

Here are more dates and facts that cover the last three years. We will be moving before the end of September. We spent 3 years in our house with our happy wood stove. We lost 2 of 3 dogs while at that house, and one of the finest dogs that ever lived among those. We graduated a boy and made him an Eagle. We broke two snow blowers. We had coyotes in the woods behind the house that sing at night and sometimes wake us up from our sleep when the windows are wide open. We had the loveliest neighbors across the street in our good friends the Kellers. We had a farm stand and ice cream parlor next door - one of which I'll miss horribly. And I can't believe I didn't shop at the farm stand more frequently. John would give us a free Christmas tree because I maintained the town Facebook page as a volunteer admin and he said it was a job that he didn't relish, so he admired me for doing it (again a nice thing that I do?) I will miss our library not for the books but for the Pokestop for Pokemon Go! And Team Valor will have a hard time maintaining the four Gyms in town without me and Doug running out in the middle of the night to kick Instinct out. Jess will have to drive over and take care of keeping things in order.

And here we are. More than two years later but. Here we are.

And. Here I am, in Maryland, a whole brave new world where I don't know hardly anyone, and I have to admit it is cool and somewhat terrifying because I don't know if anyone will be nice. Or if yet again, I'm going to be the only nice person my son knows.

We shall see.

Friday, September 01, 2017

The Big Update

The summer pretty much vanished. I started several posts but my brain was only focused on the fact there were no updates to share, so I abandoned the entries.

Then everything changed. Overnight.

Doug had three prospective, very good, very interesting jobs. He managed to get ahold of a recruiter, and then another recruiter called him, and finally one company called him after he submitted dozens and dozens of applications.

In one week he went from nothing to everything. He had interview after interview. The universe just clicked for him. He got an offer, he accepted it, and we're good to go. He starts his job on September 18, so we're looking for our place to live, working with a rental agent provided by my company (thanks Company!) and we have seven places to look at this weekend.

One of the jobs he interviewed for, he really wanted. Really. But the pay was more than 20k less than what he gets right now and we can't afford for him to make not near what he makes now. They offered him an extra week's vacation, but, you can't pay your bills with vacation time. One job was at a school district, and he realized the amount of work he'd need to do to get certified and re-licensed was crazy, and expensive. So he opted to remove himself from that candidacy.

The job he took is west of Baltimore, pays well, is a six month contract with the hopes of permanence and more money after the six months are up.

So he took that job, and if it doesn't work out, he now has access to two recruiters, both of whom were eager to place him in a position. He's open to whatever happens.

But step back a little and look where his job is.

Baltimore. That's not in DC. Or near DC.

If you know the region, you know that's a big distance. We looked at a lot of options for where to live, aiming for right in the middle.

Laurel, Odenton, College Park were all on the list. I stalked zillow listings, I eagerly awaited notifications from my realtor for new rentals fresh to the market.

In my heart of hearts I wanted to live in Brookland, and be a total hipster old lady, but the lowest rent we found was over $3000 a month. And that's just dumb. We can't afford to live inside Washington DC with the three of us and a dog - nothing is the right size in our price range.

Our realtor suggested we focus on Silver Spring, so I have easy access to the Metro, and Doug has a straight shot up to the town where he'll be working.

Additionally, we took into consideration Geoff and his life. Looking at the community college system, Montgomery County has a great college and programs he may do incredibly well at. So he is looking at classes for the spring. And we're close enough to DC, and the surrounding area is urban more than suburban, so he may have a lot more employment opportunities than say Millersville.

We are off to find a place to live this weekend. Fingers crossed. Silver Spring, here we come. Each of the places we're looking at are inside the beltway, inside 495. I'll have access to downtown to the red line Metro, and Doug will have easy access to getting up north.

In the meantime, I started a podcast, but haven't put the podcast out into iTunes yet. I still have some tech things to figure out about it. In the meantime, if you want, you can go to and scroll down to the bottom for episode 1. I'm interviewing friends to say goodbye to them, but not goodbye - smell ya later.

Over the last week I've been purging and cleaning like mad. I had started pulling content down from the attic in June, and then stalled.

I took today off to do more. But first, coffee.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Brave new world

For those wondering about an update on the move, we don't really have an update.

Doug,  Geoff, and I recently went to DC to scope out neighborhoods and get the lay of the land.  We scoped out so much stuff. We know neighborhood after neighborhood between Fairfax and Rockville; DC neighborhoods and border towns up the northeast. The trip down was enlightening, and during the trip I wanted to just say forget it, we're not doing this. I'm so not in love with this. I question my motivation for why we decided to do this. I love my job. I want to keep my job. I don't want to go through 4 years of unemployment again really. Doug is not happy at his job. So in a lot of ways it makes total sense but I'm not loving this idea. I came back from that trip with a sadness, not an excitement or hopefulness, like everyone expected I would have.

We enjoyed dinner in Arlington, walking all around Old Town Alexandria, which felt a lot like "home" to us with its colonial brick stylings, waterfront, music, cafes and foodrinkeries. We got lost between Rockville and Colesville, and the middle of the day traffic was hellacious. Doug got hangry and we got to eat at Chic-fil-A for the first time ever. Pretty good chicken sandwich, I must say.

On a map, everything looks super close. In reality, it takes a lot longer to get from point A to B in DC than it does here in Boston. For instance, I currently live 36 miles away from my office. With no traffic, it is about a 50 minute trip. With traffic, up to 90.

In DC, living 36 miles away will probably be 2 hours, maybe more. Public transportation is indeed available, and will probably be what I have to do to keep my sanity, get to work on time, and the like. But that can still take well over an hour and a half depending on how far you live from a train or Metro station.

In all honesty, I'd really like to live closer to my new office. Before the company announced our office closure, Doug and I started looking at Salem, Beverly, Malden, Melrose... towns closer to Boston. We could cut our commute by half easily, and we were ready to do that. We were looking forward to that.

Now things are different and we have to do the search elsewhere.

I talked to several colleagues in the DC office, and found that to live within the radius of where I would like to live, those currently in that circle are paying around $3500 a month in rent. Even in incredibly "bad" neighborhoods that they lovingly encourage me to view as Up and Coming. In my heart of hearts I know neighborhoods transition, but I don't like being seen as an invader by residents whose families have lived somewhere for 40 years, who now can no longer afford rents because things are changing as people from spots like Logan Circle move east as those rents get even higher.

Where we live hinges on where Doug gets a job, and that's our hang up right now. That's our limbo.

We don't want to pick a place to live in a Maryland Suburb if he gets a job in Fairfax Virginia (see: commute info above). We don't want to pick somewhere in Western Alexandria if he gets a job in ... Baltimore.

Doug is applying (look at google maps) everywhere from Baltimore to Fairfax. My office is in the Northeast side of DC, so several towns in Maryland would be a good fit. If he got a job in Annapolis, Bowie would be a good target. If he got a job in Baltimore, Laurel or even Columbia would be good. But my commute, and his commute, would suck, and we wouldn't have the joy of being together like we do now.

And it is a joy, I don't joke about that. We love going together, and listening to the radio, and talking about stuff we see along the way and all the stupid things.

Doug began applying for jobs with earnest back at the end of may. He's received a lot of thank you emails. He had a couple pre-screening calls, but nothing has gotten him anywhere. He's starting to get frustrated and I cannot blame him at all.

I'm happy for the delay, personally. It gives us more time to pull money together in one place, to pack, clean, prepare. But he's chomping at the bit and wants to interview, wants to go. His frustration makes him unpleasant to be around, and makes me depressed because I feel like we are in two very different headspaces in regards to what needs done. I would like for him to organize his clothes, purge things we've been schlepping around for 10 years; he wants to apply for jobs. I want us to go out to the garage and start to clean shit out; he wants to apply for jobs.

We have done nothing fun, and you know us. We like fun.

I am feeling deeply sad and depressed about a lot of this.

For the past several weeks, I've looked at rentals, and keep putting little hearts on houses and townhouses and row houses that fit our price range and my requirements. There was a particularly lovely little brick home in a town called Takoma Park, Maryland. I stalked that listing daily to walk through the photo slideshow. Three bedrooms, full finished basement, three baths, gorgeous kitchen with exposed beams, and a fenced in yard. Everything about this house was me.  It was a tiny bit more than our target rental price, but I felt like we could totally do this. This was my house.

The house is no longer on Zillow. It was rented. And I'm kind of chuffed about it. I fully know that there is a good rental, a nice rental, out there for us. But that house. I could be totally happy in that house. And if Doug had a job and we knew where we needed to live, and that house wasn't geographically in the right area... well then I'd fully accept that. The inability to give notice on where we live, to pick a place, to sign a new lease, and to know what my kitchen is going to look like... stuff like this compounds my sadness.


So indeed - not much news of action. Just news of waiting for our trip to our brave new world. Hopefully my next post will be more good news. Cross your fingers and say a little prayer. It would be appreciated if the stars align, the cards on the table all point to a winning hand, and all those lovely metaphors of things working out would come into light.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Next Great Adventure

About a month ago, the company I work for announced they're closing our office, effective September 22nd. They offered all of us transfers to the main office. In Washington DC.

Let the shock of that sink in for a minute. You might be surprised in reading that. Hell, every single one of us in the room was stunned upon this news, and all immediately began to process the "what the hell" and the "what am I going to do" portions of life.