Tuesday, August 31, 1999

This journal entry has been transcribed from the paper journal I kept while I was offline. There were frequent interruptions, so if bits sound incomplete, that's because they were left unfinished while writing, not because I forgot to type them up.

3:00 PM: We spent most of yesterday unpacking and wating anxiously for the guy to come fix the AC. He finally showed up around 3:30 - after Matt and I had left to go to closing.

But starting bright and early at about 8:15, a bunch of people arrived to do other things - install the stove, put up toilet paper holders, and add doorknobs. (Yes, we finally have doorknobs!)

We went to closing at 4, turning over a lot of money and signing a lot of paperwork. It went pretty quickly, though - it was just us and the lawyer and we were out of there by 4:45.

Today has been devoted to further unpacking, though the AC guy came back right at 8 and took about half an hour to find the problem, fix it, and get muddy water everywhere in my kitchen.

(My kitchen. I like the sound of that.)

Around nine, we both went down to the DMV to get new driver's licenses. After that, we came home to unpack. Actually, Matt's been doing most of the unpacking. I've been off running errands. Went to Lowe's to get a number of things - most notably blinds for the windows and an extension hose for the washer. (We've finally done the laundry!) Then to KMart for some other odds and ends.

I've been slowly organizing the kitchen, and Matt has been industriously organizing upstairs. Of course we got the computers set up fairly quickly, but I haven't posted to my online journal because Matt's been working in the office, and I don't want to get in his way.

There goes the dryer buzzer - that's the last of the laundry!

5:00 PM: And now I'm making dinner - after I put away the laundry, we went down to the office to turn in our time sheets (today was the last day of the pay period) and then to the apartment to check the mail and return the broiler pan (it came with the place but was accidently packed.)

This will be the first dinner in our new house that I've cooked (as opposed to brought back from some place or re-heated) but I'm afraid it isn't very special, since we still haven't gone to the grocery store: fish (breaded fillets; it's the only way I can eat it), mashed potatoes (with lots of butter to mask the fact that I don't have any milk to reconstitute the flakes with), and corn.

Sunday, August 29, 1999

This journal entry has been transcribed from the paper journal I kept while I was offline. There were frequent interruptions, so if bits sound incomplete, that's because they were left unfinished while writing, not because I forgot to type them up.

7:30 AM: Well, Becky's arrival wasn't the end of the slow moments, but I didn't get any more time alone to write.

Friday night finishes pretty quickly: Jen got to town around 8:30, just as we were decided to go get dinner without her or Brian. (Brian, it turned out, had had to stay home to work on a sudden and urgent deluge of research theses.) Anyway, the nine of us (me, Matt, Braz, Kris, Jen, K.T., Shbee, Karen, and Jeff) went over to the Mongolian BBQ / Peking Chinese buffet for dinner. After dinner, we divided by gender - the boys slept at the house, and us girls at the apartment, except for Shbee, who slept over at K.T.'s so he could give her a ride back up on Saturday, so Kevin could use their (the Hicks') car. (Yeah, things tend to be convoluted like that around us.)

So, yesterday:

As I said, Kris, Jen, Karen, and Braz went out to breakfast. Matt, who hadn't taken a change of clothes to the house, wanted to go back to the apartment to shower and change.

So I headed over to the house, stopping first to put gas in my car and get some breakfast at McDonald's. But we realized when I got to the house that there wouldn't be time for Matt to shower and change before we had to pick up the U-Haul. So he and Jeff went to pick up the truck before they went back to the apartment.

Around 10:30, Becky pulled up, and I got her to help me put the dining table together. Around the time we finished that, Chuck showed up and I sent him over to the apartment. Then the breakfasters arrived (if I'd known they'd go to Denny's, I'd have woken them up earlier) and I sent them over to the apartment.

It wasn't too long after that that the truck from Lowe's arrived with the refrigerator. It took about 45 minutes to unload and install, and shortly after they left, the first U-Haul load arrived.

I didn't carry a box outside of the house even once. I stayed on the porch and directed traffic, I re-arranged boxes and stuff indoors, and I unpacked boxes, but I didn't carry or "move" anything.

When the first load had been mostly unpacked from the truck and we were trying to figure out the logistics of moving our ugly 500-pound hideabed couch, Chuck offered us his - it turned out that their friends Byrd and Lisa were buying a new couch and offered their old one to Chuck and Anita, who then needed to get rid of their old one. (I told you things tend to be complicated around us.) I've seen the couch, and while it's not what I'd pick given a choice, it's not awful either, and it's worlds better than our old sagging, iron-framed monstrosity. So they moved the old couch into the garage, to be disposed of later.

Anyway, once we'd moved everything (except the cat - we figured he'd be less unhappy in an empty apartment than an unfamiliar and rather crowded house) we got down to FUN! I called Chanello's and ordered 9 pizzas, 7 of which were gone before we even really got started. It took me a shower and three bottles of the hard cider Karen brought to actually relax, but it turned into a pretty good party. There was dancing in the kitchen, cards at the table, and conversation in the living room. I lost track of the bottles of cider I had - it was definitely more than four, and almost certainly less than nine, but beyond that things were a bit hazy. We rounded out the night playing a drinking game called "I Never..." - only by the end we were all playing with water, hoping to stave off our hangovers. (We're not as young as we used to be.)

Most everyone else is still asleep, but I woke up and couldn't drop off again, so I thought I'd write a bit. I'd be disgusted by the fact that I'm eating Fritos for breakfast if I didn't know that half the people here were going to be eating cold pizza...

Jen, Sbhee, Braz, and Kris have to go home today, but Karen and Jeff came from sufficiently far away that they won't go home until tomorrow.

9:00 PM: What a day. For some reason (theories are so far specific but varied)...

10:00 PM: This is going to be moderately shocking, but brace yourself: It's difficult to write in a journal with four other people around.

As I was saying, for some reason yet to be determined, the drain that takes water away from our AC unit is not doing so, and the water ended up all over the floor in our closet.

11:50 PM: Finally around 6 the emergency repairman called to insist that he knew what the problem was and suggest Matt plug a crack with Play-Doh until morning, when he (the repairman) could come and do a better temporary plug until a new part could be ordered.

When they (I refused to get involved) took off the panel the repairman told them to take off, a consultation of at least four people couldn't find the crack that Kevin the Repairman said would be there. But Karen the Amazing devised ways to siphon off the excess water and add a spout so the leak would empty (mostly) into a bucket instead of on the floor.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

This journal entry has been transcribed from the paper journal I kept while I was offline. There were frequent interruptions, so if bits sound incomplete, that's because they were left unfinished while writing, not because I forgot to type them up.

9:55 AM: Well, I'm sitting alone at my new house. Braz, Kris, Jen, and Karen decided to go out for breakfast. Matt and Jeff just left to pick up the U-Haul. From there they'll go back to the apartment. The boys stayed at the house last night, without much planning, so Matt wanted to go back to the apartment for a change of clothes and a quick shower.

I'm here because the fridge (which was supposed to be delivered yesterday) is due any time between now and later this afternoon, and I paged Donald a bit ago because I'd like to ask him some questions. (Namely, the stove is here, but not installed, none of the interior doors have doorknobs, and there are a few other minor things we'd like to see cleared up.

Yesterday was moderately hellish. Because Cox was going to show up any time between noon and four, Matt, Karen and I were on site at noon, even though our walkthrough was scheduled for 2. It was very hot. I think I want to go back to moving in the winter.

Anyway, between the last-minute compromises to get the inspections okayed, the unfinished stuff, and the heat, we were all a little irritable. When Cox finally showed up, they said they couldn't do anything until we'd closed on the house, so they made a new appointment for next Friday, and left. The phone company came and couldn't figure out where to hook up our line, so we've got a temporary drop cable running through our backyard. Also, the guy they sent knew nothing about our second line. (I should call about that soon.)

I just called. They had messed up the directions I gave for the dual service, so it will be connected on Monday. I guess that will do - we've been fine with just one line up until now.

So anyway, after standing outside for most of two hours (except for a while when we were at the model office) we finally had our walkthrough.

By then, we were expecting people to show up (I'd left my cell phone number on the answering machine at home so we could be reached to schedule our closing.) My dad, against our plan, had already loaded some stuff in his truck (he's excited, I can tell) and he and Mom came up. K.T. came over after she got off work. Jeff showed up while they were getting stuff out of Dad's truck.

By this time, having eaten nothing all day but breakfast and a few chips, I was nauseous from heat exhaustion. After Matt went home to change into cooler clothes, and it looked like the remaining crewmen were just about done coming in and out constantly, I closed the doors and windows and turned on the AC.

When Matt got home, K.T. and I were in the kitchen, which was the coolest place in the house. Matt stormed in and demanded to know why we'd turned the AC on. He railed about the power bill and leakage until I finally figured out that one of the workmen had come through the front door and left it open.

He was so grumpy that when Shbee called to say that he'd forgotten his directions back in DC, K.T. volunteered to go get him from the Taco Bell he was calling from; and I went out and sat on Dad's tailgate to watch him, Karen, and Jeff wrestling with the washer and dryer.

Thank goodness Braz and Kris arrived soon after - being with Braz always cheers Matt up. (I joked last night that Braz and Matt should be married. It got a lot of funny looks.)

Anyway, suffering from a touch of heat exhaustion himself, my dad finished up as much as he could and then headed home with Mom.

Matt explained to everyone that the directions that came with the dining-room chairs were wrong (I'll leave it to him to explain, if he likes) and then we went back to the apartment.

Well, it's 10:30 and Becky just pulled up, so I'll finish later.

Friday, August 27, 1999

Here we go! After a rather exhausting range of emotion yesterday morning and afternoon, the status on the house is this: We will do the walkthrough with the builder this afternoon, move in this weekend, and then close early next week. The reason for this somewhat topsy-turvey order is that they couldn't get our paperwork done in time for us to close today, but we threatened to be irritable at them again, and they agreed to let us move in anyway.

Since moving this weekend was really my primary goal (so we could make the most of our friends' offers of help and not waste the time of friends coming from as far away as New York and South Carolina, not to mention all over the state of Virginia) I'm actually happy with this. I don't care when they take our money, as long as we get the keys.

My journal hasn't spanned a Christmas yet, but if it had, you'd know that I am extraordinarily enthusiastic about the winder holiday season. (Understand - various of the decisions I made about the new house were made entirely on the basis of my Christmas decorating plans.)

I told you that so you'll understand this: I feel like it's Christmas morning. I slept last night as if this were Christmas morning, in fact, which is to say I got a couple of naps and was up before the sun. My stomach is fluttery with excitement. I can barely contain myself from shouting at Matt to hurry up and take his shower so we can go shopping.

It's just so nifty. Not only are we going to be moving, but we'll get an instant housewarming party - counting us and my parents, somewhere between 15 and 20 people are going to be chipping in. Many of us went to college at William and Mary together, and this is almost going to be a reunion. (It makes up, even, for missing my high school reunion, which is tomorrow night.) Jeff even called last night to say he'd finally gotten permission to take today and Monday off so he could come up. (Jeff's plans for any given weekend are always in doubt until Thursday. Being a research assistant graduate student really sucks.)

I'm babbling, of course.

So today will be busy. After Matt and Karen (who arrived from New York yesterday) get dressed, we'll go down to Newport News to Sam's Club to pick up some necessary staples like toilet paper, plastic plates and cups, and sodas. Because we couldn't change the appointment without a lot of hassle, we have to be at the house starting at noon, because the cable company is going to show up between noon and 4 to hook up our cable. Our refrigerator will be delivered sometime after two. Our walkthrough officially starts at two, and after that we'll be going down to my parents' house to get our dining room set, washer, and dryer. (Exactly who goes depends on whether the cable and 'fridge have already been put in - until those are done, someone has to stay at the house to let them in.) Once that's done, depending on the time, we may or may not try to move some of the more awkward stuff over from the apartment.

I'm babbling again.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Well, today's the day we were supposed to be closing, but of course we're not. Instead, I'm at work, trying to figure out exactly when we're going to accomplish the 4,238,549 things that need to be done before Saturday morning. (That's just an approximate number.) Thank goodness we're taking tomorrow off. I don't know, by the way, whether I'll be posting tomrrow or Friday, so if you don't see anything from me for those days, don't panic.

I woke up this morning at 5:15 to go to the bathroom, and when I laid back down, snuggling up with my pillow and my husband, my brain and I had a short conversation. It went something like this:

Brain: When were you planning on going back to Lowe's to get blinds for the windows?

Me: I thought maybe we'd do that on Friday.

Brain: But you're going to be closing Friday morning, and then in the afternoon you have to wait for the refrigerator.

Me: Well, um...

Brain: And what if they can't deliver the 'fridge Friday afternoon?

Me: Then we'll have time-

Brain: And when are you going to finish packing the kitchen? You're going to need more boxes.

Me: But Dad just gave us-

Brain: And you really need to clean the stuff out of your car before Karen gets to town.

Me: Yeah, but-

Brain: What are you going to do about all the appliances, anyway?

Me: I-

Brain: And another thing...

I couldn't get a word in edgewise. So around 5:30 I gave up trying to go back to sleep, and got up. I made our lunches for today, and packed another box of stuff. (FRAGILE! Glass cookware - KITCHEN) Meanwhile my brain still won't shut up. Hey, most of that stuff is actually ceramic, not glass. Don't you think you should label that box more clearly?

On the plus side, they apparently had four different crews working the house yesterday: electric, flooring, plumbing, and mechanical. They'd made enough progress that when Matt and I got there, I turned giddy and took pictures of absolutely absurd things, like electrical outlets and light switches.

On the down side, it still doesn't look like it'll be ready for us to move into by Friday. Let's hope I'm wrong on that one.

My mom took Matt and I to Bed, Bath, and Beyond last night. She'd promised to buy us two shower curtains (and the pieces necessary to hang them, like rods and hooks) as a sort of housewarming present. We found a curtain right away that we liked for the master bathroom, but the only one they had left was the display model. Happily, the saleslady we found didn't object to pulling it down and putting a tag on it for us. Rods and hooks were no problem, but it took us longer than it should have to pick inner curtains. (We finally decided on clear.) Then we had to find a curtain for the guest bathroom.

I knew we were going to be using a set of towels my friend Jen had given us in the guest bath. The towels are blue and yellow. (Not on each towel - some are blue, and some are yellow.) Now, I had been thinking of going with a "spring" theme - I'd had this idea way back in January, helping Braz and Kris move - and I was thinking of getting a shower curtain that echoed the blue and yellow of the towels with flowers, and then green bathmats and soapdishes and such, for grass. I could see it all in my head, and it was perfect - decorative and homey.

What I told Matt was: we wanted to match the blue and yellow towels.

I actually had reasons for not telling him about the spring thing. Mostly, I didn't want him to feel that the house, which is of course his as well as mine, was being decorated too girly, if you know what I mean. I didn't want to swamp him with lace and frills. So what I thought I'd do was, find the shower curtain I liked, and show it to him, and if he agreed, then I'd tell him about the green floormats and such.

But no. While I was still looking for the curtain we both liked for the master bathroom, Matt pulled out a blue curtain with yellow suns on it and said, "Hey, I think this will match the towels!" Now, the shower curtain he'd pulled out was actually very nice, and the only curtain I'd seen which had leapt out at me as fitting the color scheme in the spring theme was an exact duplicate of Braz and Kris' shower curtain, which I wasn't sure I wanted to do. So I agreed to the suns and tried to mentally revise my image of the bathroom.

While I was still working on that, we came to the window curtains. Now, let me tell you that while I'm not exactly a stereotypical woman, I prefer curtains to blinds. And not just any curtains, but the sort of drape-y, curvy, with-curlicues-and-hooks Better Homes and Gardens sort of curtains. I had told Matt about this. I pointed out the sort of drapes my parents have in their bedroom, and the rod with the goofy loop-de-loops, and told him I wanted curtains, not mini-blinds, in the master bedroom at least. The problem was, most of the curtains at the store were fairly sheer, and we want something thick enough so that our neighbors can't watch us getting dressed. We finally found something thick enough to do the job, and then all hell broke loose.

The display showed a combination of cream and lavender drapes that I thought was lovely. My mother started showing me the other colors in that material, which were, to be precise, light browns and olives straight from my worst nightmares. I chased her off. The Matt started playing with the display, trying to figure out how you opened the curtains to let light in. (I don't know how, but until last night, he'd never really encountered curtains that were meant to be tied back, instead of sliding along the rod. I say that not to mock his ignorance, but to point out that it's not his fault that he didn't know what I meant when I just grabbed a handful of the curtains and pulled them back as an illustration.) Then he picked up exactly two panes of fabric, and this is the sort of drape that would look better with more - their display window, only three feet across, had four panes, and our bedroom window is six feet wide.

It got sortof ugly. Mostly, I suppose, because I hadn't done a good enough job of warning him that I wanted frilly, frou-frou-y things that were more decorative than functional. We ended up by agreeing to just get the damn mini-blinds to satisfy the requirements of light and privacy, and then later (oh, god, the ubiquitous later) I can buy whatever decorative drapes suit my little secret-designer-at-heart self, without even having to worry about them being too sheer.

Which is exactly the sort of thing we probably would never think of arguing about if we weren't so stressed. Gods, but I'm ready for this to be over!

Two days to closing.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Major progress on the house yesterday - for the first time in over a week I finally felt like they might actually possibly get us in on time! I spent yesterday evening bouncing like a kid. It's amazing how just loosening the tension can have so much effect.

The Phillips' added their names to the list of helpers, and as I'm counting everyone up on my fingers, including my parents, we could well have as many as 20 people in our house at one time. Twenty-one if Jeff manages to make the trip. Holy cow, that's a lot of people! I'm not sure that many people would fit in our apartment all at once, even standing! It's a good thing most of them will be going home to sleep!

They were talking off the Meade Hall last night about swapping anime, as well, but I don't know when they'll find the time. Friday night, maybe, since we're not actually planning on moving then. Though since we'll likely have disconnected the TV and stuff, they'll have to go over to someone else's house to watch it. But that's fine. I'm not a big anime fan, myself - I can watch a couple of episodes of something, or a movie, and then I want to turn it off and do something else. And all these people are going to be here that I haven't seen for a long time - to be honest, I don't even want to game. I just want to talk and visit.

But it's fine with me what everyone else does. I'm going to be obsessing about the house too much to worry about it. ::grin::

Anyway, I was going to try not to obsess over here about the house too much, since I'm also updating over on the house page, but the festivities begin tonight, really (Mom is taking us shopping for some necessities) and closing is in three days, and it's just about all I can think about. You'll just have to suffer.

Monday, August 23, 1999

I dreamed last night that the new house doesn't have air conditioning, because we hadn't told them that we'd wanted it. When I woke up, I wasn't sure it wasn't true, and I laid there in the dark for a while trying to figure out where they were going to put the temperature control box and the A/C unit. I still feel a little iffy about it, though logically, since the original concept for the builder was a low-allergy zone, A/C is necessary.

But logic has nothing to do with it. We're supposed to be closing on the house Friday morning, and until I actually have a key in my hot little hands, I'm going to be moderately irrational about this.

I realized yesterday while putting together my pillbox for the week that I'm going to be PMS-ing this week. As if I wasn't tense enough to begin with. I told Matt and he threatened to take the cat and barricade himself in the computer room. Actually I don't usually PMS very badly, but why do I get the feeling that this time will be an exception?

I saw the niftiest paint job this morning on the way to work. I didn't even notice what kind of car it was, but the paint job looked like a very smooth oil slick. As my visual angle on the car changed, the color warped from purple to yellow to green and back again. Very neat.

It's gonna be a weird week for meals. We're trying to eat up as much of the food in our apartment as possible so we have less of it to move to the house this weekend. So we only picked up milk and fruit and a little soda at the store. Today and tomorrow are likely to be fairly sane, but I dunno about the rest of the week. I can see myself coming in to work on Wednesday with a can of bamboo shoots, half a bottle of raspberry viniagrette salad dressing, and an old potato.

The festivities begin on Thursday - let the countdown begin! T - 3...

Friday, August 20, 1999

Well, we're a week from closing. Again. I feel better today, not because anything of significance has happened, but because I'm too tired to be angry. I talked to my mom on the phone for about forty-five minutes yesterday evening, and after getting worked up to the point where I was using words I don't think I've ever used in front of my mother before (much less when speaking to her) she made what were actually some good suggestions.

She suggested that, if we don't move next weekend like we're supposed to, then we get all of our out-of-town friends together and bring them over to my parents' house. They've got two spare beds and a lot more space than Matt and I have in our apartment, and she thought that if we couldn't move when we were supposed to, then we wouldn't want to be around all of our half-packed stuff anyway. She suggested that we just all come over and have ourselves a party and try to forget about the house. Then she suggested that Matt and I needed to take a break and go for a walk or something - didn't we live near a Ben and Jerry's?

So after filling all of the boxes my dad had donated to the cause, we did just that - we walked to the Ben and Jerry's and had ice cream cones. (Matt had a double scoop of Phish Food, and I had Chubby Hubby on top of White Russian, both in waffle cones.) And then we walked home. Slowly. Trying not to think about the possibility that we could be living with these packed bags and boxes for another whole month.

There was another fantastic thunderstorm last night, with lightning going off so often that I could've used it as a reading lamp. This time the cat was already inside, so Matt stayed in bed and snuggled with me. This time it wasn't the thunder that scared me (there was only one especially startling thunderclap) but the sound of the wind in the trees behind our apartment. My mutant worrybrain was convinced that those trees were going to topple over and fall right through our window and kill me. And when I'd convinced myself that the space between the trees and the apartment building was probably wide enough to prevent that, it decided that the louder whistles were the precursors to tornados. (We do get occasional twisters here in the East. They don't last very long because there are too many windbreaks, but for the brief time that they form, they can do an astonishing amount of damage. I've never seen a tornado with my own eyes, but I've seen trees twisted like dishrags and the aluminum room from an industrial shed crumpled like tinfoil.) With every whistling gust, I had to restrain myself from sitting up to peek out the window.

Luckily, the really violent part of the storm only lasted about twenty minutes or so, and then I was able to go back to sleep.

Then I had this dream that I looked out the window, and the storm had dropped so much water so quickly that the water had risen up to within an inch or so of the bottom of our window. I'm looking out the window at this lake we're suddenly in, and I realized that Matt had just gone to take a shower, and I knew that somehow, that was contributing to the water outside, and I was yelling for him to turn the shower off and praying that there wouldn't be another storm, but the horizon was looking kindof dark...

No, that's all right, I got the message. No need to send me interpretations.

Thursday, August 19, 1999

Okay, I'm going to rant about the house today. Those of you who are sick and tired of reading about the house, you have my permission to leave now.

Matt and I went by the house yesterday after work. We even left early, at 4, in the hopes of catching Donald on-site. When we got to the house, it looked like not one blessed thing had been done on it. Not one. We asked some guys working in the street whether Donald was around, and they said they didn't think so. We walked down to the model house and talked to the slimy realtor-guy on duty whether Donald was around. He told us that Donald routinely leaves around 3 or 4. So much for him being a supervisor.

We head for home, and each breath I drew was more angry and frustrated than the last. By the time we got home, we'd decided to come in to work late today so we could go out to the site and actually catch Donald. And I had decided to call Nancy when we got home. I did. She got on the line all perky and happy and then got very quiet when I told her how furious I was. She had me wait while she called Donald. Boy, am I glad we have a cordless phone. I was pacing like a caged lion. Which describes pretty well how I was feeling: caged, trapped, de-fanged and de-clawed and with nothing to do.

I reiterated for Nancy that there is no other solution: We must move during the last weekend of August. She stuttered and stammered as if she hadn't been told this before. Then she promised to make Donald call us immediately.

I made Matt talk to Donald. I was still getting angrier and angrier with every passing moment.

I'm still angry, writing this. Can you tell?

More lies. We had been told that the drywall would be up by Friday, but Donald told us it takes four days to put it up. He told us he could have the house ready to close by the 30th. Not good enough. Matt explained to him very calmly that people were coming from all over the East Coast to help us move the weekend of the 28th, and that the very latest we could possibly close was the 27th. Matt suggested that Donald have his crews work overtime. More lies: Donald said they already were. (We have yet to see a worker out there after 4:45, except for the vinyl siding crew, who stayed until 5:30 one day. This does NOT constitute overtime in my book.)

I've never been so proud of my husband as when I heard him say this: "We've been told all along Don't worry, it'll be done on time. Don't worry, it'll be done on time. Don't worry, it'll be done on time. And yesterday they started to waffle. Well, it's too late. It's way too late to change it now."

Finally, after much more hard-nosing on Matt's part, Donald agreed to have the house ready to close on the 27th. But I don't really think it will be done then, either. But if they try to move it again, we'll be moving it to the end of September, and demanding that Gabriel Homes reimburse us for the cost of our September rent. (I don't think they'll actually do it, but we'll demand it anyway.)

We've learned some valuable lessons from this. We are never, ever again going to build a house. Or rather, if we ever build a house again, we will tell them that the deadline is actually a month or six weeks earlier than we actually want to move. When we want to move at the end of August, we'll tell them we want to move in mid-July. And we'll build exactly what we want, instead of building something brand new with plans for later conversions. We want a den instead of a garage? Well, dammit, build the den instead of the garage! We want a deck on the back? Build the deck! Window seat in the nook? Do it! But mostly, I think, we'll stick to pre-built houses. We will, in the future, be using a buyer's broker. We wind up paying for the broker one way or another; we might as well have one who's actually on our side. And we will, by all that's sacred and holy, insist on penalty clauses for delayed contracts.

We decided a few days ago, actually, that the stress with this is much, much, much worse than the stress of planning our wedding had been. At least with the wedding plans, if we discovered something important that hadn't been done yet, we could do it. At least with the wedding plans, if something went wrong, we could try to fix it. Trying to build this house, our hands are tied. We can't do anything but go out and look around (and according to our contract, we're not even supposed to do that) and wring our hands and complain to our realtor and whine and worry. Oh, yeah, and write checks. We have nothing with which to threaten them - we can't fine them, or withhold anything, or even take our business elsewhere. Nothing. We are completely helpless. They agreed to the 27th, but they don't have to hold to it - all it would take is one late delivery, and they wouldn't have the house done. No matter how hard-nosed we are, we can't move into the house if it isn't finished.

I'm so angry at this point that I'm beyond cursing. I'm even beyond acting angry; I laughed and talked with K.T. and Kevin last night when they were over to watch Crusade. I enjoyed the Crusade episode. I smiled and chatted briefly with Jeremy when he came in this morning. The anger is slowly becoming part of me, and I can only hope that it will fade when this ordeal is finally past.

The worse part is that I'm afraid that this will sour the house itself for us. We were so excited about it. Our house. We would smile and bounce at each other and squeek "House!" We had plans, immediately after closing, of going up into the gigantic master bedroom and rolling around on the floor. Ours! I'm scared, now, that all this frustration and anger will reorient on the house, that living in it will only be a reminder of how frustrating these last weeks were, and we'll resent it rather than revelling in it. That the sense of playfulness and joy will have gone out of it.

I think that's why it's suddenly become so terribly important to us that we move on time - that we actually have this moving party. We have to associate some good memories with the house right away so that we can actually enjoy it.

But that fantasy I mentioned a while back, about kicking Nancy out of the house as soon as we've finished the closing? Now that the closing date has been moved, it's no longer a fantasy. Now it's a plan.

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

I was exchanging e-mail with K.T. yesterday, and I told her that I was waffling on so many things that if I didn't know better, I'd think I was pre-menstrual.

Things Liz Is Waffling About

Whether to try to find a divided box to pack wine glasses in, or just to wrap them carefully and put them in a regular box.

Whether to try to organize my desk before packing, or wait until we move and I get a new desk.

Whether to approach our builder nicely or to be a hard-nose.

Whether to make fish or chicken for dinner, or just give up and go out.

Whether to plan on cooking the few days before the move and have to pack all the pots and pans and stuff at the last minute, or pack everything now and eat a lot of microwave meals and fast food.

Whether to cut all my fingernails short so they don't get torn during the move, or leave them in the hope that some of them will survive it.

Whether to continue dieting for the next couple of weeks and endure the additional stress, or put it on hold in the hope that it will reduce the stress enough that I won't completely pig out. (The more stressed I am, the more I want to eat. An interesting dilemma when the diet itself causes stress.)

Whether or not 9 A.M. is too early in the morning to have a soda. Especially a really strongly flavored soda like Diet Dr. Pepper.

Whether I should wander out of the office over to the Candle Factory next door during work to peruse their one-cent sale. (I'm not actually working on anything, and I doubt anyone would actually miss me.)

Whether I should take advantage of my mom's offer to take me shopping for things for the new house before we close, after we close but before we move, or after we're done with the move. (Which is not to say that all three isn't a valid possibility, knowing my mom.)

Whether to listen to music or appreciate the quiet.

Whether to wear my hair up in a ponytail or let it hang straight.

Whether to wear clothes that suit the weather or those that suit the temperature in my office.

Whether to tear out my hair or chew on my fingernails when I hear about the next building delay.

Whether to laugh or cry.

Whether to dance or sing.

Whether to post this nonsense or just scrap it and start all over again.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

They actually worked on the house yesterday! As we were walking up what will eventually be the driveway, Matt looked up and said in an aggrieved tone, "What's this junk all over the siding?" I looked down at the fluff I was standing on and suddenly realized: insulation!

This is not the traditional rolls of fiberglass fluff. This is gypsum - it looks, essentially, like pocket lint, only lots more of it. Jeremy has encountered it before - apparently it's sortof sticky (Matt and I didn't try to touch it) and he explained that you install it by using a huge blower to blow it up on the walls, then take a board or other conveniently flat thing to scrape off the excess. Which explains the state of the kitchen, which I described in a bout of rare wit as looking like a giant malevolent dryer had burped in it. (Matt one-upped me by suggesting that it looked more like the giant dryer had barfed.)

Of course, the glee of finally seeing progress on our house faded slightly when we got home to discover that the apartment maintenance crew didn't listen when we told them that the water was seeping up under the floor. They'd fixed a leaky pipe in the air conditioner, which was good, but last week we'd had it explained to us that the water seepage actually came from under the apartment, and was due to a clogged drainage pipe. So we made a few irritable phone calls, and hopefully today they'll get someone in the place with a shop-vac, because it's really sopping wet. Carpets are not supposed to splash.

Despite sleeping just fine most nights, I'm tired all the time. Matt and I are both cranky and irritable and we're starting to snipe at each other over stupid, trivial things. And we're both breaking out like teenagers. (For petesake, I'm almost 28! Don't zits ever go away?)

Eight days to closing... Eight days to closing... I only need strength for eight more days...

I'm supposed to go to the gym after work today, but I forgot my book. I loathe exercising, so I don't know if I can keep it up as long without a good distraction. Maybe I'll stop by the house and pick up a book. (There are a few that haven't been packed yet.) Of course, if I go home, I'm not going to want to turn around and go to the gym, either. ::sigh:: And there are a handful of errands I'd wanted to run this evening: I need to go to Staples for packing tape and coin wrappers, stop by the house to see the progress, and go to Roses for, um... There was something I wanted to go to Roses for, dammit.

Oh, well. We'll see when we get there.

Saturday, August 14, 1999

Last week on the Dairy mailing list, I promised to provide a link to all those who could correctly tell me what went wrong in the following proof:

Given: A = B
Multiply both sides by A A2 = B * A
Subtract B2 from both sides A2 - B2 = (B * A) - B2
Factor each side (A + B) (A - B) = B * (A - B)
Divide (A - B) from both sides A + B = B
Substitute B for A B + B = B
Simplify 2B = B
Divide B from both sides 2 = 1

The first correct answer came from Susan of luminous. Also answering correctly were Matt Sturges, Simon, and Athelred, who didn't give me a link.

What's that? You want to know what the answer is? Well, write me and I might tell you.

The was a fantastic thunderstorm early Saturday morning. It was around 4 in the morning, and I was floating in that sleep-state where you're aware of what's going on in the real world, but are too lethargic to do anything about it. Suddenly, there was this terrific CRACKPOW!rumblerumblerumble for a bolt that must have formed less than a hundred yards from our bedroom window. It was a loud as a gunshot and at least twice as startling. I jumped all the way up to the ceiling and hovered there for a minute. Matt - who had been completely awake already - only jumped a little, and then he comforted me for a bit before suddenly realizing that the cat was outside.

I'm curled into a fetal ball, near to crying with adrenaline shock, and he gets up to let the cat in. And then he decides to towel the dripping creature off before coming back to bed. I spent the longest two minutes of my life curled up in the center of the bed thinking, "Oh, please, let him come back to bed before the next bolt hits and kills us..."

As a rule, I'm not afraid of thunderstorms. I actually think they're pretty neat. But that one was special.

There were, in fact, four separate thunderstorms on Saturday. Maybe five - you lose count after a while. The sky would go dark and evil-looking, we'd shut down the computers, it would start raining, and for a half hour or so it would rain very hard and we'd hear lots of rumbling thunder, and then the thunder would slacken off, then the rain, and an hour after it all started the sun would be shining brightly. An hour and a half later, the sky would go dark again. It was like that all day.

At first I thought it was neat, and then I just got bored with it.

And of course, all that rain filled the temporary drain ditch that had fixed the problem that caused water to seep up through our hall floor in the apartment, so our floor is once again soaked through. Gods, but I can't wait to get out of there!

Last night Matt took me to see Mystery Men, which is a hysterically funny movie about a band of not-so-super heroes. I loved it. It was cheesy; it was campy; it was loads of fun. Just as an example, there's a bit in the beginning when the main characters have an argument about the city's primary super hero, Captain Amazing. Captain Amazing's "secret identity" is a billionare named Lance. The argument goes something like this:
Mr. Furious: Captain Amazing is Lance.
The Shoveler: He can't be! Lance wears glasses! Captain Amazing doesn't!
Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he changes!
The Shoveler: That's ridiculous! He wouldn't be able to see anything!

Or later, as they decide they need to enlarge their crime-fighting band:
The Blue Raja: We could get the Sphinx. He's from down south somewhere.
Mr. Furious: What's his super power?
The Blue Raja: I've heard he's terribly mysterious.
Mr. Furious: That's it? He's mysterious?
The Blue Raja: Terribly mysterious.

It was worth the price of a ticket. And the popcorn. I was still giggling as I went to sleep. If you like comic books at all, go see it!

Friday night Matt and I decided to go visit K.T., who's been having a rough week or two. We hopped into my car and headed on down the road, and we'd gotten all of about two hundred yards when I realized that there was no light coming from the headlights, because I couldn't see anything. I fiddled with things and discovered that the parking lights and high-beams still work fine, but not the regular headlights. Well, there was no way we were going to drive half an hour down the interstate at night with nothing buy parking lights and high-beams, so we turned around and went back home.

My life has been like that, lately: Stuff goes wrong, but not wrong enough that I can really feel irritable about it. Just sortof grumbly.

Friday, August 13, 1999

But..... the.....
Cat came back.
He wouldn't stay away.
He was sittin' on the porch
The very next day!
The cat came back.
He didn't want to roam.
The very next day
It was Home Sweet Home!

Sorry about that. No reason, it's just been stuck in my head all morning. I sang it to Matt three times before we managed to get to work, and anyone who's ever met me in person will tell you that my singing voice - especially a capella - is not something you really want to hear first thing in the morning. Or at lunch. Or in the afternoon. Or... Well, you get the idea.

Now that we're down to less than two weeks (ha ha ha) until we close on the house, I've started doing a daily update over on the House and Home page. I'll try to not ramble on too much over here. But I'm not making any promises, because boy are we irritated. Also, I was blithely packing books last night, and my second bag split from top to bottom as I was putting it in the stack, which made me wonder if I'm going to have to go back and double-bag all the bags we've already packed. Someone shoot me now.

I recently finished reading Wake Up, I'm Fat! by Camryn Manheim. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to read this book, but Mode had printed a chapter from it a couple of issues back, and I'd enjoyed it, and Amazon had it for a substantial discount, so what the heck? I dropped it into an order of books I was placing anyway.

Wow, what a great book. It wasn't like the usual "inspirational" books in that it didn't try to tell me how I should go about aquiring self-confidence. It just told the story of Camryn's journey, and made me feel like I have companions on this journey. I have to take the steps myself, and no one can tell me how to do that - like walking, I have to try and fall until I get it right - but people are cheering me on.

And it didn't necessarily have to apply to fat people, either. Here's an brief excerpt from the section on her one-woman show:
... With no other space available, I performed from the stairs to an audience of seventy-five invited guests seated on folding chairs in a hallway. Through a light mist of soot and dust, the reading ran three hours.
I had no expectations. I had hopes, but no expectations. No one besides Cindy had heard the material, and a huge part of me was asking "Who gives a shit?" And as I write this chapter, I find that question once again echoing in my mind. I was asking people to come and listen to me for three hours, blab on and on about the hardships of being fat and feeling inadequate. I could see how it might be relevant to my fat sisters, but would it resonate with anyone else? And I discovered, much to my surprise, the answer was yes. While all my life I had been saying to myself "I suck because I'm fat," others have been saying to themselves "I suck because I'm short... I suck because I'm gay... I suck because I'm bald... I suck because I'm poor... I suck because I'm in a wheelchar..." Ad infinitum. Everyone can find a reason to hate themselves, which they use as an excuse to keep themselves from moving forward. I sure had.
There's a whole chapter I want to quote, too, but I won't fill up my journal with it. If you want to read it, go here.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

No. Work. Has. Been. Done. On. The. House.

Yesterday they were supposed to put up the insulation, so Matt and I stopped by after work. Nada. We were so angry, we called Nancy from my cell phone while we stomped around our bare-bones house. She called Donald on her other line and bounced back and forth between us for a while.

"The insulation people were running a little behind, but they finished up with [lot] 53 today, so they'll do you[r house] tomorrow! They'll start putting up drywall on Friday, and they've promised him it won't take more than three days!"

"Nancy," I said, as calmly as possible, "we're supposed to close in two weeks. It's too late for us to renew our lease. We're very concerned about this!" (That was actually true. We were very concerned, and it is too late for us to renew our apartment lease. She doesn't need to know that our lease runs until the end of September rather than the end of August.)

She remained blithe and bouncy about the possiblity of them getting everything done. Matt and I remain skeptical and pessimistic. We'll see when we see, I suppose.

We had a fantastic storm last night - hailstones as big as the end of my thumb, and for a while the wind was blowing so hard that I couldn't see across the street, even though the storm hit while it was still light out. We didn't lose power, but a friend told us that they'd heard a tornado had touched down in the county. We didn't hear anything - the cable went out, and we couldn't even get staticky local channels.

The power blinked some time during the night, though, because I woke up at one point and turned over to look at the clock and it was blinking at me. I had to wake Matt up to get him to tell me what time it was so I could re-set the clock and the alarms.

The cable was still out this morning, and it was funny to watch Matt pacing around the house. He usually watches SportsCenter in the mornings until it's time for us to go to work, and without that option, he seemed sortof adrift. Personally, if it hadn't made us miss Crusade last night, I'd almost be happy about it. Except of course, we'll still be charged for the time the cable is out, which is obnoxious.

I'd really like to see a cable company that charged according to how much you use it - say a $10 base fee plus, oh, call it a penny a minute for standard cable channels, half a cent a minute for the major networks and PBS (the stuff you can theoretically get without cable), and maybe two cents a minute for the premium channels. They'd rake in the bucks, and most Americans probably would just accept the additional cost rather than find anything else to do. But it'll never happen. Oh, well.

Two dreams last night. The first wasn't so much a dream as a pervading sensation that haunted me for the whole night - that my hair needed combing. I dunno; maybe I was sleeping on it so it pulled funny.

The second was fairly mundane for one of my dreams. Matt and I had gone to visit his friends Tristan and Jason Poje at their parents' house. (We actually did this last Christmas, so I know sortof what the house looks like.) For some reason, I had to write a letter to my grandparents, so Mr. Poje offered to let me use his typewriter to write the letter. I sat down and typed away, and there was something weird about the signatures at the bottom that I can't remember. I pulled the sheet out of the typewriter and signed it, then took it over to Matt so he could sign it as well. He looked down at the letter, then held it up so I could see, and the whole thing was written in Sanskrit. Including (and I don't know how I know this) the right-to-left reading order.

That's it. That's the whole dream. I have no idea what - if anything - it means. But it was one of those very vivid dreams that I don't get very often (I almost asked Matt when I woke up this morning why he hadn't warned me that Mr. Poje had a Sanskrit font on his typewriter), so I thought it was worth recording.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Yesterday, I got a delivery from my book club, with two of the four books I recently ordered. I started one of them at work, and quickly got so caught up in it that I couldn't put it down. Luckily, it was a moderately slim volume, and I finished it before work was over.

A Celibate Season (by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard) is the story of a Canadian family in the late 90's. The husband is an architect, the wife a lawyer. They have two teenaged children. Just before the book opens, the woman accepts a temporary position as legal council to a governmental committee. This position requires that she travel from their home in Vancouver all the way to Ottowa for at least ten months. The two of them decide to write letters more often than phoning (for many reasons), and the method of the book is printing all the letters that they write over the course of their "celibate season."

I frequently have trouble with letter- and diary-style books, because I'm not very conscientious about checking the date before each entry, which can make things confusing. But I loved this book. Never mind that I didn't understand any of the references to Canadian politics (and a couple of actual events which would probably date the book for me if I'd heard about them). The story of a couple learning that even a temporary separation means more than just coping with a lack of sex - and events that stretch their marriage right up to its breaking point - was beautifully conceived. I won't tell you any more, because I wouldn't want to spoil anything for you if you decide to read it.

Naturally, it made me think. What would I do in their situation? Would I even agree to a job that would take me away from Matt for ten months? Probably not; I've known for years that I don't function very well when I'm alone, and now that I've had the luxury for several years of a wonderful partner, I don't know if I could do without him for more than a week or so. Well, I probably could. But it's certainly not something I'd choose to do voluntarily.

I had a sortof rotten day yesterday. It started out just fine - reasonable day at the office, even if I'm not getting the work I was promised, but at least I know now that I'm not the only one, and I had this book to occupy my time. I got my Mode Magazine last week, and that's usually good for about a week's worth of personal confidence, so I was walking tall. I decided after work to go shopping before I went to my Weight Watcher's meeting, and I actually found this outfit that I had lusted after on the size-4 Sara last week, in my size! And it looked - I must say - great on me.

But I realized as I was taking it to the register that it was off the only rack in the store that wasn't on sale, and the ticket read $70, which is more than I can really spend for an outfit that I won't wear very often because it's dry-clean only. So I woefully put it back on the rack, and went on to Weight Watcher's.

I knew I'd been sortof bad on my diet last week, so I was expecting to have gained about a pound, but instead I'd gained two. I was shocked, horrified, and disgusted. Which, of course, opened the door in my mind for the little voice that hates me, and it came in and shoved all of Mode's fantastic self-confidence right out my ear.

You have no self-control. No will power. You're fat and lazy and always will be. You're incompetent at work, too - they haven't given you any work in the last six weeks because they don't have anything easy enough for you to do on your own, and everyone else is tired of babysitting you. You know what you are? You're worthless, is what you are. Worthless on a diet, worthless at work, and worthless at home.

By the time I got home, I realized that my choices were to take the black magic marker we've been using to label packing boxes and scrawl "I am worthless" on the apartment walls, lay down on the bed and cry for an hour, or to try to distract my brain. I picked up the marker. But then my voice made the mistake of sneering at me, so I put it down and called K.T. instead. She talked to me for two hours while I made dinner and waited for Matt to get home, and she cheered me up. Then Matt got home and hovered a bit. (He hates it when I get depressed. Lucky for both of us that it never lasts very long. I'm glad he wasn't there when I first came home.)

Anyway, I'm feeling better today, but I still haven't recovered that feeling of self-confidence I had earlier in the week, which is too bad. It's a fantastic feeling, and it's the reason I paid for a subscription to Mode Magazine even though I never use any of their fashion tips. Maybe I'll recapture it eventually. Each time I get it, it lasts a little longer. And I'd figured out - oh, years ago - that attitude, carriage, and self-confidence had a lot more to do with whether I thought a person as attractive than the size of their jeans. If I could get to where I have that confidence all the time, then I don't think I'd need to diet.

Oh, well. Maybe one day...

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

No work on the house yesterday. I've mentally given up on moving when we're supposed to. I mean, if they actually finish on time and we get to move when we're supposed to, that'll be great, but at this point I'm just grateful that I thought to extend our apartment lease.

Matt and I agreed last night that when (oh, excuse me - if) Nancy comes to us and tells us that she needs to move the closing date back, we're going to make her sweat for a while by saying "No." I mean, I don't think we can get away with it for very long - After all if the house isn't finished, we can't move in, no matter what the contracts say. But it would be nice to be able to calmly and quietly say something like, "Well, since we signed the paperwork back in February, but you didn't start work until April; and since we called you numerous times with concerns over the fact that no work was being done for weeks at a stretch; and since we asked two months ago to move our closing date and you told us no; and since you've been saying steadily for the last six weeks that you had plenty of time to finish the house... Well. I'm sure you've got plenty of time to get it done. "

I feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

The longer this goes on, the more I share with Matt his fantasy, even if they do manage to finish on time: At closing, after we've signed the last piece of paper and they've handed us the keys, we'll look up, smile beatifically and say, "Oh, Nancy? Get out of our house."

Ah, well. We thought the cat was going to actually sleep through the night last night! He didn't wake us up until 4 o'clock, which was fantastic. Especially since I'd been having a spider dream again.

I think I've figured out that I have spider dreams when I'm feeling stressed and trapped and there's no way out.

This time, I was walking through a park when I noticed that all the trees were up on little hills, and each little hill had a steel fence around it. I didn't ask for the reason, but I overheard it: The park was home to a bunch of "field tarantulas" which I knew in the dream were hand-sized spiders that lived in underground burrows. The reason for the fences was that the hills were places where the burrows were close enough to the surface that the weight of an adult could cause the ground to collapse. After that, I was practically paralyzed. I couldn't walk anywhere without worrying that I'd see the spiders. I couldn't stand still because then they'd know where to come get me.

I was grateful when the cat woke me up, and then it took me a while to shake the feeling of the dream enough to go back to sleep.

So I've been having this weird situation at work, where there are two different ways to log into my computer. I'm supposed to log in one way most of the time, but I have to log in the other way to get my Zip disk out of the machine. (I keep all of my personal stuff, like my web page, on my Zip disk.)

Yesterday, I was playing a game when I started having trouble making backups of my save file. I tried simply rebooting, but that didn't help, so I thought maybe I needed to defragment the disk and check it for bad sectors.

My defragmenting program lost all of its settings when my operating system had been re-installed a couple of weeks ago, so it needed to be re-installed itself. So I located and downloaded the installer and ran it. The installer told me that I needed an update to the operating system (called a Service Pack) - in fact, I needed Service Pack 2 or higher. Well, I know before the re-install that I used to have Service Pack 3, so I just needed to get that and install it.

After half an hour of network permission issues, I finally get to the machine on the network with the Service Pack installer, and run it. That installer tells me that I've got something newer installed already. I try it again. Same message. So in desperation, I reboot. While it's rebooting, I check the status line where it tells me what OS version I've got - and sure enough, Service Pack 4 had been installed. So why did I get the message from the defragmenting program saying I needed to install the Service Pack in the first place?

Well, naturally, I needed to be logged in the other way to install that program. Finally, I got it all installed and ran the defragmenter, and was told that it was impossible to completely defragment my Zip disk because its pagefile was fragmented.

My Zip disk doesn't have a pagefile.

I gave up. The minimal defrag that had been done seemed to fix the problem of not being able to copy files. And it only took me two hours. It's about all you can ask for, on a Microsoft-based machine...

Monday, August 9, 1999

This was the weekend for bad drivers. Saturday, we wound up stuck behind a tourist from Ohio who had no idea where he was going, and who eventually earned from us an enthusiastic ovation by: 1) turning left against a red light, 2) from the right (non-turning) lane, 3) cutting us off in the process.

As we were coming home from K.T. and Kevin's Saturday night, four cars passed us going at least 20 mph faster than we were going, in a construction zone. (And those of you who know me can be reasonably certain that I wasn't exactly puttering along.) These were not four cars travelling in caravan, either; they all had enough time and distance between them to be on separate urgent missions. I can only assume that Saturday night was a busy night for the maternity ward and/or the emergency room.

The crowning achievement, however, was Sunday night, on our way home from my parents' house, when I looked in my rear-view mirror and was confronted with a pair of glowing yellow parking lights undimmed by headlights. This was not a twilight situation - it was about 8:45 and had been dark enough to require headlights for at least half an hour. The parking lights came closer, disappeared, and then a van passed me. I slid behind it and flashed my highbeams at them several times, trying to impart a message, but they remained safely oblivious until about a mile from our exit, when I finally saw a glow burst forth from the front of the vehicle.

It was a moderately productive weekend as far as the house was concerned. We bought a refrigerator and arranged to have it delivered to the house on the 27th, the day before we move. We bundled my old computer into the car and had it shipped off to Matt's grandfather (we'd promised it to him last Christmas.) I know that doesn't sound like something to do with the house, but it was: We realized we had to either ship it off, or move it! And we packed another dozen bags of books. We've made jokes about using the filled bags to build a fort, but I think there'll be only another five or so bags until we're done! Well, and then there's the videos, so we may have our fort yet! This week's job is to arrange for a U-Haul truck, finish packing the books and videotapes, and to start clearing off the dining table, which is a fairly major project in and of itself.

Last night at my parents', we pulled all of the wedding presents we left there out. (There were things that simply would not fit in our apartment, and things that we decided we didn't need until after we'd moved. We didn't expect it to take so long, though.) I'd forgotten how much stuff was left over there, though. Boxes of towels, wine glasses, serving platters and bowls, candles and candlesticks, dishes... Just a lot of stuff. It'll be kindof fun to bring it home and figure out where to put it all, because it's all new.

Gods, but I hope they finish this house on time. I do not want to go through all this twice. And we're only two weeks (and two days) from closing.

Friday, August 6, 1999

Okay, I'm taking an opinion poll. Pretty please, go look at this page and look at the change to the calendar and then come back here and tell me what you think. (If you're reading this more than a week late, the first link is probably broken by now. Don't worry about it.)

What are you waiting for?

I stopped by the house yesterday, and they've fixed the pantry. Yay! Now we'll be able to buy food that isn't cereal! According to Nancy, they won't do anything else this week, but next week they'll insulate and start putting up the sheetrock, or drywall, or whatever you call it in your part of the world. (I'd always heard it was sheetrock, but lately whenever I use that term, everyone gives me a funny look until I explain, and then they say something like, "Oh, you mean drywall!")

So it's finally Friday, thank whatever gods may exist (even though they have nothing to do with weekends, really) but I doubt it's going to be an especially restful weekend. Tonight Matt and I are going over to K.T.'s to have a mini-game to explain why our characters haven't been around for the last few sessions. Tomorrow we'll be buying a refrigerator and mailing out my old computer to Matt's grandfather and then going back to K.T.'s for the regular game. And Sunday is chores day and I really ought to do some more packing. It's not going to be an especially rushed weekend, but it's not going to be relaxing, either.

I think I'm going to be missing my high school reunion. It's scheduled for the same weekend that Matt and I are moving, which is awkward enough, but we've got at least four friends coming from out of town to help us, and still more from here in town. I think it would be rude to let them help move all of our stuff, buy them pizza and soda or whatever, and then put on a fancy dress and go to a party without them.

We discussed the possibility of my going by myself, leaving Matt at least to be host to our friends, but I'm not excited about that idea, either. I'd still feel like I was abandoning everyone, and then to make matters worse, I'd be going to the party without an escort. (Nothing like seeing high school comrades again to bring back those old high school feelings, eh? "But I can't go to the party without a date!")

Anyway, I've been thinking about it, and while it would be neat to know whatever happened to some old friends, I have no idea if the people I cared about are even coming to the reunion. I wasn't exactly a popular, outgoing person in high school - it's not impossible that I could get there and introduce myself, and everyone would say, "Wow! It's great to see you again!" and think Um... WHO?

The bottom line, actually, is this: I'd rather be with the friends I have now than the friends I had then. If it wasn't the weekend we were moving, I'd probably go, out of curiosity if nothing else, but the move is making things entirely too complicated. (And expensive! The reunion is formal, so I'd have to go buy a dress in addition to paying the $85/head entry fee.)

Thursday, August 5, 1999

Matt and I stopped by the house yesterday after work. It didn't look like anything has been done yet this week, but I wasn't too upset, really - I think they have to wait for the electrical inspector to come in. I had been hoping that they would have fixed the pantry - the blueprint had shown a width, but not a depth, for the kitchen pantry, and so they'd just nailed the doorframe to the closest available stud, which left the pantry (after they put up the drywall) only about eight inches deep. Nancy had talked to Donald, and he'd promised to get the framing crew out there to fix it, but it hadn't been done yet.

I was looking around, hoping to find evidence of some sort of work, when Matt started drumming his fingers against the side of the stairs. The drumming got faster and harder and I turned around, and he was staring furiously at the stairs, so I came around to look. Someone (Ricky T. McKehan) had signed his name, and his wife's (Karen Marie McKehan). At least, we assume they were married and that he signed. Both names are in the same hand, and it looks more like a man's signature than a woman's. But for all we know, Karen could have masculine handwriting and been signing for her brother. At any rate, Matt was furious. I was annoyed, but not too concerned about it - the drywall will cover it up, after all.

Still, I called Nancy to complain about everything. Yesterday was exactly three weeks before closing, and they still haven't started putting up drywall! (If we knew what the schedule was supposed to be, then we could wait to get nervous until they were behind schedule. But since we don't know what their schedule is, we'll just be nervous until we've moved in.) She called Donald on her other line while I was still on the phone, and came back to tell me that 1) They're planning on beginning insulating Monday, after which they can begin putting up drywall, 2) the framing crew had been putting the second story up on a house elsewhere in the development, but should get to my pantry by the end of the week, and 3) Donald was almost as annoyed by the petty vandalism as Matt was, but he didn't know anyone named Rick or Ricky in the building crew, so it wasn't one of them. She also reassured me that they had just paid the water meter hookup fee, which was necessary before I could have our water service connected.

I started packing last night. Not much, though it felt like it at the time. I discovered a few years ago that standard-sized paperback books fit perfectly into paper grocery bags. My parents gave me a big stack of paper bags, so yesterday I packed all but about ten of our paperbacks. (Some of the ten were left out because I might want to read them in the next three weeks. The rest were left because they were tucked away in hiding places, so I didn't find them until later.) Luckily, once I'd packed enough of them, some of the packed books fit back on the shelves.

I wound up with six bags of books (five with paperbacks, and one bag of Time-Life books that just happened to fit perfectly in the grocery bags as well) and two bags of videotapes. That only covers about half the video collection, though. There's still a lot left to do. Only two shelves even really look empty! I hadn't realized how many hardback and weirdly-sized books we have. And even the videotapes are in three different sizes, only the smallest of which packs neatly in the paper bags. Oh, well. I knew it wouldn't stay that easy. That's why I started now, instead of waiting until the week before the move. This weekend, Matt and I are going to finally get around to mailing our old computer to his grandfather (we promised it to him back at Christmas) and that will free up quite a bit of floor space in the computer room. The amount of stuff that still needs to be done is sortof mind-boggling, though.

I started teaching myself JavaScript yesterday - it's easier than I thought it would be. I had looked before at the scripts people use, and it seemed like they needed twenty lines of script just to have an image change when you point the mouse at it. But I managed it yesterday in only four lines. Even if I pre-load the images, I can't see that it will take that many more lines. At any rate, you may see some new and spiffy stuff here in a week or so.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

I never promised to be a proponent of free speech when I set up the forum. Some person with the username finneganswake has posted several times to various topics with admittedly wonderful imitation of Joycian syntax. Unfortunately for this person, I loathe James Joyce's writing. With a passion. If that makes me an uncultured savage, I'm willing to live with that. Also, their ramblings have nothing whatsoever to do with the topics at hand. So I deleted all of their posts from all of the topics except the Welcome one, which was mostly nonsense anyway.

Just as I was waking up this morning, I was having this dream that was like watching a movie via V-R. That is to say, I knew that was was going on was fake, but it was all around me. I was right in the center of the action, but no one noticed me at all. It involved a Jewish Cabalist (Department of Redundancy Department) and a lot of people who never bother to look up. There was a central theme - something to do with a spiritual center, or something, that I told myself three times in the dream to remember when I woke up because it would make a great journal entry (I even think about the journal when I'm asleep!) but I forgot anyway.

I've been unhappy for some time with the way comics are stored. For those of you who aren't familiar, I'll explain: First you get a mylar plastic bag and put in it a "board" (which is a little thicker than posterboard and thinner than cardboard). You put the comic in the bag with the board (the board adds structural integrity) and tape the bag shut. The bagged comics are then kept in comic boxes, which are double-thick cardboard boxes specially sized to hold comics. The arrangement has several flaws. First of all, if you want to be able to get to the comics, you can't put anything on top of the boxes. Even other boxes. Matt and I currently have about four square feet of floorspace devoted to our comic boxes. (After we finally gave up and stacked them!) Also, I hardly ever re-read just a single comic. If I'm re-reading comics, I'm usually re-reading a dozen or so of them at a time. If you pull a dozen comics out of the box and stack them on the floor, the bags are slippery enough that they'll just slide over each other and wind up in an untidy heap. And taking the comic out of its bag is a bit of a pain, too, because for some reason I always manage to get the book hung up on the tape.

None of these things are really major issues (except the amount of space a comic box takes up, which bugs me.) But I've always felt that there had to be a better way. Most of the more popular comics are available in what are called trade paperbacks, which are collections of anywhere from five to twenty issues at a time, and these collections are thick enough that they can be reasonably shelved on a normal bookshelf. Matt is in the process of trying to trade in his issues for trades. But what about the comics that aren't popular enough to have been collected? Or issues where the cover art or letter columns are a big part of the appeal?

A catalog I get was offering magazine holders. These are narrow strips of plastic with holes spaced for a three-ring binder and an open slot for most of the length of the strip. The idea is that you thread the magazine through the slot, and then you can keep a bunch of magazines together in a three-ring binder. You can usually find these things at office supply stores for about three or four dollars a dozen. The magazine was offering them for less than half of that, and an even better deal if you ordered in quantity. Comics are essentially smallish magazines, and I thought this would be a great way to store my comics. I can keep a series together so it's easy to pick up and re-read at any time, and store the binders on a bookshelf, which takes up much less space than the boxes. Ta-da! So I ordered a little over three hundred of these holders.

They arrived yesterday, and I was very excited. I'll even be able to re-organize my comics before we move! Then I opened the box. The magazine holders are all still attached to the sheet of plastic from which they were punched. To use them, I have to rip a dozen holders from their sheets of plastic, then pop out the slot, and then pop out the binder holes. This is not flimsy plastic, either - this is good, heavy plastic almost the thickness of tupperware.

I did four of the fifteen sets yesterday. I tore four fingernails down to the quick, and little plastic "holes" litter the floor where they popped out of control and missed the trashcan.

I think I outsmarted myself.

9:30 update: Matt tells me that the bits I left on the forum in the Welcome section are the beginning and end of the actual book, Finnegan's Wake, and not imitations. I am now simultaneously less impressed with finneganswake and more annoyed with James Joyce.

Tuesday, August 3, 1999

My current task lead wandered into my office yesterday and asked me how everything was going. I stared at him for a second, then said, "Um, well, I e-mailed you that Request document that I was filling out because I need your input to finish it. I was waiting for you to get that back to me."

He said, "Yeah, I got that. But now they've decided that they're not going to bother with the whole update thing."

"Are you telling me that I just wasted the last two weeks' worth of work?"

"Um... Yeah."

A long pause... "So. What's next?"

"Well, what are you working on now?"

I stare at him disbelievingly. "Nothing, now."


"Well, no. I mean, I hadn't been working on anything for two or three weeks before Del finally asked you to find me something to do."

It didn't get a lot better from there on out, either. So I'm still not working on anything. But I got a lot done for the house!

I called all the utilities places (except the cable company) and arranged everything. I encountered three different varieties of being on hold, and have decided that I definitely prefer the sort with no music.

Also, Matt had measured all of our living room furniture Sunday night, so I made little cut-outs to the scale of our blueprints and we played with various arrangements for the living room. He thinks maybe sometime soon he'll measure the rest of the furniture so we can do this for all of our stuff. Making to-scale drawings of a room and cut-outs of the furniture is something that I first did when K.T. and I shared one bedroom in an apartment and we were trying to figure out if our two double beds would fit if we put the headboards against the smaller end of the room's rectangle. (The answer was yes, with about eight inches to spare.)

I also got a notebook in which I can keep track of things as they come up, and at Matt's brilliant suggestion, made To-Do pages for each of the weekends between now and the move, and for each individual day between closing and the move (since those are likely to be busy days.) I started making a list of the various people and companies who should be sent change-of-address cards, and got the bright idea of looking through our checkbook registers - at least that would be a good list of the places we might owe money!

Okay, I'm sorry, I'll shut up.

For now.

Monday, August 2, 1999

Somewhat astonishingly, I wrote an entry this weekend. You can use the link at the bottom of this entry to go look at it if you missed it.

There were no quarters to be had in all of Williamsburg this weekend, and Matt and I came up one dollar short of enough change to do our laundry. So we hauled it over to my folks' place to do it. (Four weeks, and we'll be moved into our new house and won't have to use quarters to do our wash anymore!

We spent the great majority of our time with them talking about our plans for the move. Much like our wedding (a year and four months ago), the move is beginning to take over our lives to the point that we can't really think about anything else. Everything we buy is considered in terms of having to move it. Everything we do reminds us of some other preparation we need to make. And every plan we make for gathering friends to help reminds us that we won't know until the week of closing whether they'll actually finish the damned house on time.

Bear with us, please. It'll be over in four weeks.

We've got new upstairs neighbors, too: our fourth since I moved into the apartment. (Which is not unusual if you consider that I've been there for three and a half years.) When I first moved in, the neighbors were a handful of fairly quiet college students. The students gave way to the Worst Neighbors Ever - the Mexican family who only slept four hours a night and played mariachi gospel music at full volume the rest of the time. We were vastly relieved when the Mexicans finally moved away to be replaced with an Oriental couple who were even quieter than the college students had been. The new neighbors are themselves reasonably quiet, but they have a pair of dalmations who bark hysterically whenever anyone opens the door - not to their apartment - but to the building.

Matt and I are desperately hoping the dogs get used to the door soon, and we are feverishly counting the days until we move out of the apartment.

(I told you everything related to the move.)