Last night the doorbell rang right after dinner. (Meatloaf again. I made a lot of meatloaf. We are up to our eyeballs in meatloaf.) It was our new next-door neighbor, whom I'd met briefly on Monday while pacing the sidewalk and waiting for the movers to finally show up. I was, at that point, thoroughly convinced that they never would and were, in fact, not movers at all but simply an elaborate thieving ring who masqueraded as movers only to vanish forever with all my crappy furniture.
She'd been very nice in spite of my manic state, and even offered to bring over air mattresses and a port-o-crib later in case my nightmare scenario did come to pass. Then she looked over my shoulder and pointed at the moving truck that was rounding the corner.
Anyway, last night she rang the doorbell to tell us that the interior light was on inside one of our cars.
That same car, incidentally, refused to start on Monday morning, right after I'd loaded up the pets and the baby to drop them off at their various caretakers for the day. I was running late, of course, and the car (the newer car, the non-paid-off car, Jason's car) wouldn't start.
One by one, I reloaded Max and Ceiba and Noah into the other car, which was parked nearly two streets over, since I'd been unable to find a damn parking space the last time I drove it. Meanwhile, the movers helped Jason roll the over car down the street in a futile attempt to clutch-start it.
We were 20 minutes late for our first settlement of the day -- the sale of our condo. It didn't matter much, since our buyers didn't show up. After choosing and refusing to budge on a December 18th closing date, giving us less than 30 days to find and complete the purchase of a new house, the husband was unable to get the day off from work, and then refused to grant his wife power-of-attorney to attend the settlement alone. They were coming by later in the day, forcing us to purchase our new house without technically selling our condo first.
We didn't have enough time to return home in between the two settlements, but we did have time to grab a quick lunch at a nearby cafe. We were in the heart of Logan Circle, one of our favorite city neighborhoods, and one we'd searched and searched for something in our price range. A few years ago we could have, but there's a Whole Foods and about a dozen Starbucks there now. So no.
The weather was in the high 70s. We sat outside and I had to take my sweater off and sit outside, in mid-December, in a tank top, just to keep from sweating. There was a Channel 7 guy there interviewing people about the bizarre weather. If you watched the 5:00 news on Monday we were in a bunch of background shots, probably looking really freaked out.
Jason spent most of lunch on his cell phone to his parents, who had come down the night before to help us out. They were supervising the movers and cleaning the place up in anticipation of our buyers' final walk-through in a couple hours, just before they finally went to the settlement table.
His dad was currently riding in a tow truck to a Mazda dealership to drop the stupid non-starting car off. His mom was cleaning the bathroom, and Jason implored her to stick to our obligation of "broom clean" and to stop cleaning the grout with a toothbrush; we just didn't have that much time.
The settlement on the new house went well. We signed a bazillion forms for our new mortgage and the sellers gave us tips about some of the quirks of the townhouse.
"For the love of God," the husband said, "Don't put your trash anywhere but in that Rubbermaid shed out back. Squirrels eat through garbage cans. They eat clear through them."
"And don't even think about metal garbage cans," the wife chimed in, looking grim. Then she launched into a story that we couldn't quite follow, but evidentally the neighbor across the street had something to do with it, and something about him being a diplomat from Cameroon was relevant.
We promised to use the Rubbermaid shed and I asked when trash pick-up was (Wednesdays) and whether or not we could put moving boxes out for recycling. ("I don't know, actually. You can probably just call for a special pick-up.") ("Call who?") ("Um, the recycling people.") ("No, seriously, I'm dumb. We had a trash room. Do you have their number? Can I Google it? Will I get arrested if I just put a few boxes out to see if they'll take them?")
We got back to our condo 45 minutes before we needed to be OUT. OUT OUT. Vacant, broom clean, OUT. My mother-in-law was carefully scrubbing the inside of our refrigerator; there were gigantic dust bunnies EVERYWHERE; and the movers had packed our vacuum. The couch was still sitting in the living room, and a quick tour of the closets and storage areas revealed that they'd left a shitload of stuff unpacked and loose.
I started yelling and clapping my hands at everybody, like some kind of shrill sidelines coach: "45 MINUTES PEOPLE, LET'S GO LET'S GO. THAT GOES IN THE TRUCK, THAT TOO, HURRY HURRY."
We ended up sweeping the entire condo with some Swiffer sheets, sans actual Swiffer, since that had been packed too. We crawled around on our hands and knees around the baseboards and stuck them on the bottom of our shoes and skated around the floors. I grabbed the video camera and wandered around, filming Noah's mural and the brick artwork and the kitchen and possibly even the bathroom, because damn, my mother-in-law had gotten it really really clean.
We got out with five minutes to spare and I got choked up as we scrambled down the three flights of stairs for the last time, just like we scrambled down them the night I went into labor.
Jason and I stared at the front door for awhile.
"Okay," he said.
"Okay," I said.
"Time to go," we both said.
The movers had apparently felt like taking a long lunch, hence their delay in arriving at the townhouse. I was instructed to stand at the front door and tell them what room everything belonged in. Unfortunately, the first stuff off the truck was a bunch of random crap from our storage areas -- super-old furniture we'd brought just in case we needed it. I had no idea where any of it should go and hesitated before answering. This royally pissed off one guy and he yelled at me, dramatically dropping an ancient IKEA corner cabinet in the foyer and leaving it there, even after I stammered out that it should probably go in the basement rec room.
He spent the rest of the move kissing my ass and helped me decide on the best furniture arrangement for Noah's room, although I think they were confused as to why I wanted him in a light-green colored room when the other bedroom was already painted blue for a boy. (That is, except for the one guy who labeled a bunch of Noah's boxes as "HER TOYS" and "HER CLOTHES.")
Another guy got mad when we realized there were literally dozens of unlabeled boxes, and he kept bringing them to me and demanding to know where to put them, like I had x-ray vision or something. Finally it was my turn to lose my temper and I pointed out that we'd paid them a lot of money to pack for us, and it was not my goddamned fault they'd neglected to label things. The lead guy intervened before the situation came to like, arm-wrestling or something, and took it upon himself to open all the unlabeled boxes and figure out where they went.
Not like their labeling skills were anything great, though, since we spent most of the evening ripping open boxes and finding the most bizarre hodgepodge of items inside. Anything metal was labeled as "POTS." Our dish rags were labeled "FRAGILE." A frantic search for cups or glasses of any kind kept unearthing shit like flower pots and empty gift boxes (which were carefully wrapped in paper and then put inside bigger boxes and labeled "KITCHEN"). Whenever one of the movers asked for a drink of water I served it to them in a lidless sippy cup.
It took hours to find sheets and pillows since I didn't realize they'd used all that stuff to pack up our stereo equipment, and my poor father-in-law kept searching for our shower curtain rings, desperately insisting that he'd put them in a box full of bathroom-type things, even though a search of every box failed to turn them up. We all started thinking that maybe he was losing it a little bit, until I finally found them on Tuesday, carefully packed in a basket of stuff from our bathroom, buried at the bottom of a box of board games.
Noah and the pets seem to be adjusting okay, although they're all a little bit clingy. Max gets upset if he's on a different level than we are and we hear him howling in protest, waiting for us to call him. Like a game of feline Marco Polo. Ceiba won't leave my side, and although she certainly appreciates being able to go pee out back as many times a day as she wants, I think she kind of misses our company when she does her business and casts these forlorn looks back at me from the yard. There's a big unofficial off-leash dog park nearby and I keep promising to take her there but...well, I keep finding stuff I want to unpack first. I've been soothing my guilt by feeding her meatloaf.
Noah wakes up a lot at night, but I think that has less to do with the new house and more to do with some vicious spoiling we did early in the week. Whenever Grandma is around she plucks him from his crib at the first sound of a whine and takes him to bed with her, and we're usually all too happy to sleep to protest. Then we Pay, for days afterwards when he expects this routine every night. And this week we obliged and brought him to our bed, since we were gutless and thought making him stay in a strange room would be too scary for him.
He also wants to be held all the time and does this baby monkey move where he wraps his legs around my thigh whenever I try to put him down, although he was starting to do that at the old place too. Oh, and our living room is "sunken," which is just a fancy word for "there's a step down, so don't trip, you drunken klutz." He knows to turn around and go down the step backwards, but hilariously always turns around a good five or six feet too early and then slides across the dining room floor on his belly while feeling for that darned step with his feet.
Speaking of Noah, I finally ventured out even deeper into the suburbs to do his Christmas shopping. Although we already have a closet full of gifts for him from friends and relatives, I wanted to at least get him one thing from us. Which meant I got him more toys than he could ever play with, including one of those goddamned red and yellow ride-on cars because I put him in one at the store and he honked the horn and laughed and I am a Big Fat Sucker.
I hadn't been to this particular store since I was pregnant, but I was totally blown away by how...nice everybody there was. Clerks stopped to play peek-a-boo with Noah as they walked by our cart, and the minute I started to pull down the big plastic car box someone came and carried it to the register for me. And then someone else carried it to my car.
And I finally found the perfect Noah's Ark playset that I have been searching for in vain since Noah was born, but none of the tiny local toy shops in the city had one, because none of those tiny local toy shops carry toys that children actually want to play with. They carry high-minded wooden educational toys that childless city people buy for their friends' children out in the suburbs, and then they come home and tsk that when THEY have children, they'll ONLY buy the high-minded wooden educational toys for THEIR children, because who would want to live with all that plastic crap all over the place?
And then they have a child and move the suburbs to have more room for all that plastic crap, and because they now have more room they just start buying bigger plastic crap.
The carpet, though completely inoffensive in color, is almost 20 years old and gross and worn. And I just dislike carpet, period. I'm a hardcore hardwood snob. But we agreed to keep it until Noah and Hypothetical Baby #2 Who Will Go In The Blue Bedroom Although I Will Probably Paint It A Nice Light Green Color Or Something are out of toddlerhood. I don't know if we'll stick to that plan now that we're here and keep discovering more Yellow Stains Of Not-Mystery and the thought of an infant lolling around on it gives me hives, similar to the ones Noah broke out in the other day when he took his pants off and climbed up the stairs.
Most of the first level is Pergo, actually, something I avoided telling the Internet about because of the aforementioned snobbery, but I didn't want to offend anyone who loves stuff-that-looks-like-other-stuff stuff, like peel-and-stick squares that look like ceramic tile. And while I still don't think the Pergo is fooling anybody, I'm actually kind of becoming a fan. It's so easy to clean! And indestructible! I don't have to cringe when Noah chucks his sippy cup from his high chair! And it's so! Easy! To! Clean!
One of the shades in Noah's room broke the first time I tried to open it and the kitchen appliances look nice but upon closer inspection and actual use, are actually kind of crappy. I keep finding piles of dog poop in the backyard that are Not Ceiba's, thankyouverymuchpreviousowners. I am constantly cold here. And the wiring is completely backasswards and a bunch of lights are on two switches and if one switch gets flipped off then the other switch is useless, and of course the switches in question are on COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LEVELS of the house and the switch to operate the ceiling fan in our master bedroom is IN THE FUCKING ATTIC, I AM NOT JOKING.
I love this house so, so much.
(For the five of you who care and also my mom, I've uploaded a bunch of SCINTILLATING room-by-room photos of the house to my poor dusty and ignored Flickr account. Durr.)