Monday, November 19, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Limbo, Again

Oh, how we hate being in an in between place.

We still haven't closed on our new house, and so we wait to be able to pack and move and paint while the nice window between our closing on the new house and the other people closing on our current house gets narrower and narrower.

But, unlike infertility and adoption, we know that this will end -- that the house is ours and while it's delayed, we WILL be moving soon.

Here is a photo of our neighbors around the corner, because it makes me happy while we wait. I stalk the house and these guys weekly, driving by and imagining the day when we are firmly rooted in our new home with our awesome new neighbors.

There's two -- the one in the orange coat, and the one with the white blaze in the far left corner. This was before it snowed...

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Celebrating the Cycle

When I was twelve and got my period for the first time, my mom baked me a cake. No, not red velvet (although that would have been hilarious), but my favorite at the time -- white cake with vanilla Pillsbury frosting. She called it a January Cake, so that the secret was ours, but the message was clear -- this was something to be celebrated.

It set up womanhood as a concept to be treasured, but also tied womanhood to my uterus and celebrated my newfound ability to become a mother (hopefully far in the future).

Loribeth's post about maybe, MAYBE finally hitting the end of this stage of supposed fertility, of hopefully being in menopause, reminded me of this cake and the idea of celebrating reproductive functioning. We should have farewell parties for that, too -- a sort of bon voyage to the idea of having been fertile, or in my case the big lie that arrived infrequently until the Pill masked the dysfunction.

It could be funny, or sentimental, or vengeful... All depending on your circumstances. I regret not having a goodbye party for my lining when I had my surgery almost 2 years ago, although I'm not in menopause. So there's still time to have a farewell party, with cake (gluten free this time), and tell no one who's leaving!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Hurtful Comments

I've been holding on to a couple of comments that happened on the same day in October, because life has been totally crazy lately and consumed with house nonsense and school difficulties. But maybe if I write them down here I can let them go.

I was at a training, a second run of a program meant to seek equity and diversity in schools, when we did a different sort of icebreaker activity -- The Hot Seat. Instead of the dreaded go-around-the-room and introduce yourself (name, where you teach, what you teach, something interesting maybe), each person had one minute where anyone in the room could ask any question of you. Which is interesting, but not exactly less stress-inducing.

Other people went before me, and I heard the question I dread over and over "Do you have kids? Do you have kids? Do you have kids?" -- although to be fair more interesting questions were asked too, like favorite vacation spot, last movie watched (ha, what's a movie, I have kids, ha ha ha HA ha), pets, etc. Interestingly, I was sandwiched between two other women who also do not have kids.

At the end, I was like, "wow, I'm so happy that no one asked me if I had kids!" to my friend who was also not asked if she had kids (although to be fair she is quite a bit younger and so maybe the assumption wasn't there?).

But then she told me...that I'd missed it, but when she asked me how many books I read this summer, and I answered "23," someone asked at the same time someone else asked another question, "Do you have kids?"

Except it wasn't a nice inquiry. It was sarcastic, like, "you couldn't POSSIBLY have kids and read so much, so you MUST not have kids, you oddball childless bookworm."

I'm glad I missed it. (Although it might have given me the opportunity to say witheringly, it's NOT by choice.)

However, I didn't miss the pointed comment directed to me by a coworker and friend who MUST have had amnesia because she knows my story. I said I was rushing home to have roasted duck, and didn't even get to say "for my anniversary dinner" before she said, "you guys always cook such fancy food -- well it's because you don't have kids. I never cooked fancy food when my kids were home."

UM, NO ACTUALLY, IT'S BECAUSE WE LOVE TO COOK AND IT'S OUR FREAKING ANNIVERSARY. We don't have roast duck on a Tuesday, typically speaking. Because...even though we don't have kids, we are actually quite busy and have responsibilities that make weekday gourmet difficult, despite our state of barrenness and empty extra bedrooms.

I did actually say the caps, minus the "freaking." I asked friends of mine with kids who I know love to cook, and they were like, "how ridiculous -- if you have things you love to do, having kids doesn't have to keep you from doing them. Not cooking because you have kids? That's a choice." Maybe you can't do gourmet dinners and read for two hours every night, I get it -- your time is not entirely your own, and at some developmental stages are more time-sucking than others. Maybe I would have felt differently if it was phrased in a way that made it sound like, "that sounds so lovely, I wish I had duck on a Tuesday!" or "I wish I could read so many books during the glorious summer months!"

But it really burned my britches to have my free time exploits so summarily judged and put into the box of, "Well, she doesn't have kids," most definitely packaged as a statement of what isn't rather than what is, of a lack rather than an alternative.  It's always amazing to me how not having kids allows people to both bemoan (and rub in) all the things I'll never get to do, all that I'm missing, but then also begrudge me what I do have. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Stress Relief

I am a big fan of self care, but it seems that self care is not a big fan of me lately.

These past couple months have been incredibly stressful, and not just because of the house buying, house selling, and the horrific crime and loss on our street. This is probably the toughest school year I've ever had. I have a LOT of very complicated kids and it seems that a good day is when only one of them is in crisis at a time. It is exhausting.

So when I called Bryce in tears last week after a particularly awful day and said there was no way I could cook and could we please go out to dinner, he did one better.

He met me back at the house, a little later than usual, and then told me to just hop on in the car. There was a gift bag on the seat, which I opened once we got to a lovely Mexican restaurant that specializes in tacos and mezcal (and unbeknownst to us has Taco Tuesday, where all tacos are only $3!).

That Bryce.

He got me not one but TWO pairs of socks that swear:

He said one was for home and one was for school. Guess which is which?

He got me a hand lotion that is lavender and espresso -- an odd combo but together it is relaxing without being old-ladyish.

And lastly, he got me an AMAZING necklace. Not because it's sparkly, or fancy, or expensive. Nope, this necklace is amazing because it features a spherical lava rock that is porous, and you drip a drop or two of essential oil (he got me OM, which is amazing) onto it and it soaks it all up and then diffuses it right to your nose via your body heat. ALL DAY.

This is the face of daylight savings time. I may be sleepy but I am relaxed!

I haven't taken it off since (well, except to shower, to preserve the lava rock goodness) -- I feel so much calmer, and even if it's totally psychosomatic, it really is making me feel a little more zen in the face of my stress.

Now if only I could diffuse it through the halls of the middle school, that would be something!

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

What the Eff, October?

October is our favorite month. It's our anniversary, it's a beautiful time of year, and we usually do fun and relaxing things throughout the month. In the past we've done anniversary overnights at a local fancypants hotel, we've done walks through Mt. Hope Cemetery (Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas are buried there, and it's really equal parts park to memorial space), we've done country drives and picking out of pumpkins and going to the local cider place... lots of fun things. And we watch horror movies and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

NONE of that happened this October. In fact, I have never in my life been like, When will October be OVER???

Until this year.

The Beginning
I started the month by being sick. Like, really sick -- nebulize-four-times-a-day, I-can't-breathe, why-isn't-this-leaving? kind of sick. I had the sinus infection/upper respiratory thing that was going around, but for me it just lodged in my lungs and made friends with my asthma. So that wasn't so great.

Add to that that we were scrambling to put our house on the market, working hard every day and then coming home to work hard in the basement, in the closets, doing everything we could to get everything in showing and selling condition -- it was SO STRESSFUL.

Showing the House
Then we showed our house. It was a super intensive thing -- We started Saturday the 13th, had showings Saturday and Sunday, then had showings EVERY DAY THAT FOLLOWING WEEK, and 5 scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday the 21st. TWENTY-THREE showings in 6 days.

The first weekend, we took the cats up to Bryce's office and spent about 5-6 hours up there, in an industrial park (like, a REAL industrial park with pipes and smokestacks and weird smells, although Bryce's office was reasonably homey).
Lucky trying to get comfortable

How I felt after the second day trapped in the office
It was a decent enough solution -- the loveseat was the one in our house that we replaced with the swanky cream-colored couches, and maybe it had faint smells the cats would recognize. There was wifi, and they have a ping-pong table, and Bryce could run out to get Chipotle or Panera for lunch. It was stressful for the cats though, and getting them in the carriers was not fun. The second day was better, though, because they'd marked everything with their chins.

Although when we left on Sunday, the security guard station decided to search the car, and was quite surprised to find two cats in carriers in the hatchback of Bryce's car. Ha.

Luckily, for the workdays after that, our neighbors were amazing enough to let us camp out at their house, with the cats, so we could just carry them (and their stuff) over. And we could kind of see what was going on at our house -- if people didn't show up, if people seemed like they liked it, if people stayed for over an hour. All of which happened MULTIPLE times.

It was exhausting, because we couldn't live in our house really, we had to keep it perfect all week, and not cook so it didn't stink of bacon, or fish, or brussels sprouts. So I'd have incredibly stressful days at school, rush home to move everything over to the neighbors' house, and make sure I'd turned all the lights on, taken all the hand soaps out, removed most towels, swept/vacuumed, hidden all evidence of cats. Because apparently people will THINK they smell cat smells if they know a cat lives there, even though our house doesn't even remotely smell of cat.

We were super glad when it seemed we had some offers coming in.

Anniversary, Interrupted Part I
We were supposed to go to a cabin on Keuka Lake for our anniversary, the weekend of the 19th & 20th. We thought we'd be done showing by then per the market in our area, but everyone was circling and no one was committing to an offer...lots of people saying they WERE GOING TO put one in, that they WERE GOING TO their bank to check on a cash offer, but then...NOTHING. People would reevaluate and say the house wasn't quite right. It felt awful, like our profile book -- "oh, they look nice and lovely, but just not right for us. PASS." It was amazing how this felt like our adoption process, all the hurry up and wait, get everything in order, and then feel passed over, over and over and over again.

We ended up cancelling our weekend away, because we were SO stressed we couldn't get on the road early enough (it was 1.5 hours away), we were worried we wouldn't have cell coverage in case an offer came in, and we were going to have to leave early on Sunday to get the house ready for the afternoon showings. We were nervous to put a pause on showings for a whole weekend when things weren't moving forward despite a LOT of interest. It all felt like adoption again -- tied to our phone, waiting for news, feeling stuck. Luckily the people who rent the cabin were fine with us rescheduling. We'd "won" it in a silent auction at the Care After Cancer event put on by our fertility clinic for fertility preservation prior to chemo/radiation, and we'd been looking forward to it since the spring, so this was a real bummer.

So, we just stayed in pajamas all day on Saturday, went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate, and then got the house ready for Sunday.

Happy "legal" anniversary! 

Selling Drama, Part I
We were very glad that we DIDN'T go to the cabin, because we got a call Saturday morning that we had an offer. It was a lot lower than our asking price (which we'd already dropped $10,000), but we were advised to take it as is, and get the ball rolling (you do NOT want to be selling in the winter when people don't want to move, and we did NOT want to hang on to two mortgages until spring. Nosireeebob).

So, remember how we were so upset that the seller of our house had an open house the weekend that we accepted the counteroffer? That we'd sent it in Friday night/Saturday morning and he'd still kept that open house on? WELL. Here's why that's legal.

If you receive an offer and you accept it and sign it, it is not legally binding until the attorney approves and signs it. And if you put your offer in Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday, the attorney office is closed and so it cannot be signed until Monday. So, if you have the chance the entertain more possible offers, you absolutely do it, because you could get one that is more appealing and then kill the other deal. Attorneys can kill a signed acceptance contract at any time for any reason before they sign it. So, we were VERY VERY LUCKY that no one was interested at the open house for our new house, and we still "won" it.

The person who put in the offer that we accepted Saturday wasn't as lucky, because when we asked if we should cancel the showings our realtor said, NO FREAKING WAY! and so while it felt real icky, we again went to the neighbors' house and waited to see what would happen.

We got two offers -- one cash ABOVE our asking price, and one right smack dab at the price we were asking for. We would have had to be crazy to still go with the lower offer. So we gave that potential buyer the option to counteroffer, and when it couldn't come close, we accepted the higher, cash offer.

It felt HORRIBLE. It felt like screwing someone over. But, it was perfectly legal, apparently a very commonplace thing, and it is a business transaction and so feeling bad couldn't stop us from doing what was legal and in our best interest.

So, we had the inspection last Sunday. The people were there for THREE HOURS and FORTY MINUTES. But, we knew all we had to do was wait the 48 hours and then we'd hopefully be moving forward.

Now Things Get REALLY Messed Up...Anniversary, Interrupted Part II
I was in my classroom on Halloween when a coworker whose daughter lives at the end of my street called me and said, "What the hell is happening on your street? My daughter said she can't leave the house, there's cops everywhere, and someone was murdered last night???"

Um, how do you react to that vague and disturbing news? Especially when you've had a terrible day with a very sad and complicated situation with a student and your nerves are shot and you're already thinking, "is EVERY DAY going to be like this?"

Well, you check your phone. And find that you have, no joke, 12 text messages from your husband, who is working from home that day, saying that there are 15 cop cars, 2 fire trucks, an ambulance, a crime scene investigation truck, and reporters galore on your street because your neighbor 3 doors down and across the street, whose house you can see from the front door, MURDERED HIS WIFE. And then, after brutally bludgeoning her, he went and severely beat his mother in another neighboring town, leaving her for dead (although the police found evidence to suggest other family members were in danger and so hightailed it to her house and probably saved her life although she is still hospitalized, and oh, 75 years old), and then fled across state lines to Pennsylvania where he shot himself.


It was so upsetting. It is STILL so upsetting. We saw them all the time -- we talked to him fairly frequently and he was always super friendly, a little odd around the edges but nothing that would lead us to believe that we had a brutal murderer in our midst. She was always super quiet, extremely introverted, but the two of them were frequently working in the yard and he was ALWAYS improving that house. It is so surreal. And incredibly sad.

It definitely changed Halloween. There was crime scene tape up across the street until 7ish, I had to show my license to get down my street, and reporters were swarming. Once the tape was lifted, absolutely NO children came down our street. We don't get a lot anyway, but it was depressing, and not the best way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and so after answering the door and finding only reporters, and eating our dinner and having some champagne and feeling morose about the whole thing, we went and hung out with the neighbors for the rest of the night, watching the news and just trying to make sense of something that will never, ever make any sense.

It was entertaining to see Bryce answer the door and tell the reporters what a great costume they had and for us to get them to take candy. We were like, "candy is all you're getting from us, thank you, goodbye."

It did not feel super celebratory, I will tell you that.

Still in my "troll" outfit from school, my hair looking as stressed as I felt, wondering what is WRONG with October this year. Happy 9th anniversary to us...
Selling Drama, Part II
So, then our other neighbors were like, "Aren't you selling your house? THAT sucks." Yeah. So when you google our street name, it comes up murder, murder, murder, murder, HOUSE FOR SALE. Yipes.

And then the person who had the cash offer backed out.

I don't think it's related to the horrific events on our street, or the incessant news coverage saying our street name OVER and OVER and OVER. It was because the inspection scared her too much. We saw the report (she sent it to our realtor for some reason), and it was only 4 pages (most are way longer than that), and there was nothing scary on it -- no mold, no structural damage, no evidence of pests (she had an EXTERMINATOR come inspect it, which didn't feel mildly offensive at all)... but things like the need to put a $40 bracket on the pipes in the upstairs bathroom since our contractor didn't install them correctly and they're not affixed to the wall (which creates a bit of noise, not any disaster). The inspector said we had leaves in our gutter. NO SHIT. It's fall, it's been pouring for days, and that is sort of where the leaves go. But she backed out after hemming and hawing for days.

So the freaking out commenced.

Although, there was another interested party, and the original interested party also put in a higher offer, but she got outbid again. (If only she'd put her offer in on Thursday of that original week, it would have been over and done with!) The people who came on Sunday the 21st got the inspection report from our realtor, and came on Thursday afternoon to see it and walk through with the report, and they put in an offer for the full asking price with no concessions yesterday, waiving inspection and just having a radon inspection since that was the only thing not done by the other person.

All's Well That Ends Well, I Suppose
We are immensely relieved. They are a family of four, which was shocking to us (how are they going to fit in our hobbit house?) but apparently have been living in a small apartment overseas and so our house feels like a castle to them. Perspective!

Also, I wrote a little welcome note to them when we packed up and went next door again, and she actually wrote me back. They love the house, and said, "We will make good use of all the bookshelves -- people after our own heart!" OH THANK HEAVENS! They are going to be great people to live in this house. Now we just have to wait on their commitment letter for their mortgage before moving our furniture to the new house, which hopefully we close on next week. We have our commitment letter, it's just down to scheduling. But, we can't take the risk that this deal falls through on the mortgage end and our house is empty of all our stuff, because our realtor said that our home is so inviting and so interesting to people because of our furniture and decorating, and without that it would be mighty hard to sell it the way we have. So, a little bump in the road, but it's okay.

So, if you've made it this far, I thank you for your patience! October was a seriously crazy month. Bryce asked me how my stress levels were, and I was like, "Oh, I don't know, this is the hardest school year I've ever had, we're drowning in house stuff, and I can't get to the gym or my dance/yoga classes and I haven't been able to blog because of all the craziness, so NOT GOOD!"

I am so thankful that today is a quiet day where I can do laundry, sit in pajamas, get on the computer, read my book, and just chill. I want to drive to the new house because it's a gorgeous (but rainy) fall day and the foliage is just beautiful. I want to do absolutely no work for school today to have a bit of a respite. I want to believe that November is going to be a much better month.