Archive for April, 2007

Van Day: Part 2

Deciding to be optimistic, we kept bringing out furniture. When we had nine modular dresser components, two bookshelves, two desks, and and four wire racks still left to be put in the truck – and it was 2/3 full, I reminded her that we still haven’t loaded a single box. This was just furniture. There are still acres of boxes piled ceiling high.

She stopped, squinched up her face, and became her alter-ego: Tetris. Tetris can work miracles. She strarted re-arranging the things in the van and somehow made a sofa, a table, two racks and a desk disappear. I kept bringing her boxes. Three and four at a time, as many as the dolly would allow. For three more hours I brought her boxes and somehow the truck got LESS full.

We were both walking back and forth to the apartment getting things, so we were pretty much always there, but we both stepped inside at the same time for about a minute… and that’s all it took. I needed help carrying the microwave stand. When we stepped out, their truck was backing up to our van and one guy was already standing in the street. Not skipping a beat, I called out “Hey! Oh, I thought you were our help for a minute there!” and played dumb.

The guy tried to cut us off, keep us distracted – but I already saw the second guy and didn’t stop walking. Now that we had the standing guy surrounded, he had to think fast. He friend in the truck almost left him. He asked where we got something, then asked where the store was. It was the worst small talk in history, then he bolted.

Now we had to guard the truck because we almost got ripped off once. This slowed things down.

By 6:30, most of the boxes are in the van, and it’s still only about 2/3 full. Caren is about ready to drop. I’m pretty tired too. We’ve not stopped moving for 11 hours… then it starts raining. That’s when we get the message that the new tenant will not be moving in tomorrow after all.

So, we got some handmade noodles from Judy Fu’s, and sat down, finally.

It’s 9:35. We’re sprawled on a mattress on the floor. C’s asleep, and I hope soon to be.

Now instead of finishing first then sleeping, it’s sleep first then finish. Instead of being finished by noon, we’re going to sleep until noon.


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Van Day: Part 1

Our apartment is tiny. A shotgun 11’x34′ rectangle with an 8’x6′ bathroom attached. Around 7:30pm last night, we ran out of room to pack. The apartment was full. We couldn’t even open another box. We couldn’t pack any more until some of the boxes left this place. So we called a friend over, sat on the sofa, and watched Ugly Betty, Dirty Jobs, and The New Adventures of Old Christine we had on the TiVo.

Van day started @ 7am. Caren and S from downstairs (I really should learn his name) went to pick up the moving van while I guarded two parking spots and the driveway leading back to our apartment.

People were kind enough to mutter “fu**off” under their breath as they moved their cars for me. Pre-coffee dawn-ish is not the best time to be asking for favors.

Caren arrives with the van and we get it all situated. She jumps out and tells me that we got a free upgrade to the 15 foot because they were out of 12s. I thought we were getting an 18 or a 20. I begin to get nervous.

We begin the loading process going to the shed to get our GIANT WROUGHT IRON TABLE AND SIX GIANT CHAIRS. After that, the entertainment center. (2 bookshelves and a TV stand). The van is half full.

It’s 8:00am and I’m already tired.

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Male Bonding: How Guys Say Goodbye

Tonight, as a “we’ll miss you”, the two bachelors who live in the basement took me out. They’re really nice guys, but I’m five years older and fifteen years more married than either one of them, so for me it was like a night on safari. It was a real life Animal Planet, with beer and live music.

It didn’t start out that way. It started out as a nice dinner.

J and S had a party last night (their dog turned 3, so it was as good an excuse as any for loud music and beer). I threw some meat on the grill, met some of their friends, grabbed a bite, and said goodnight. C was better with the small talk, and I ended up meeting our newest neighbor. He reminds me of Steve Zahn. Nice guy; would have loved to have had him for a neighbor.

Anyway, so tonight J and I were going to hang out. He suggested food. He’s a food snob, so I was game for any place he suggested. He ended up taking me to this little Mediterranean place, where I ate incredible beef and impressive chicken. I also had my first two beers. J had a drink so strong that his leftover ice tasted like a tequila snow cone.

That’s when S called.

Two pitchers of beer later, the bar we’re in is getting boring in spite of the pictures of Telly Savalis, Steve Martin, Burt Reynolds taken from vintage magazines and turned into Men’s Room wallpaper. The pitt bull over by the pinball machine is now taking up a booth to itself, and the DJ has been spinning the same beat since the last time I went to the bathroom.

We grab Flex (S’s Boston Terrier) and we head to a place by the pier, under the viaduct, where three guys in leather and their drummer make eyes at the only three women in the place while they played Silverchair, The Darkness and Chris Isaac.

I hoot and holler and drink another beer. I bang my head. It’s been twenty years, my neck could use it. After the band finished their set, another Chandler and Joey who came out that night continued to drunkenly sing along to the Guns N’ Roses CD that played as the drummer packed up gear. I sang along, not knowing if I was enjoying it in an ironic or nostalgic way, and not caring. I had my fifth beer.

Most everyone was hanging out front. Some were smoking, all were drinking, and the homeless were asking for change. I struck up a conversation with a few of the underprivileged. Two were just guys on the hustle. One was a very sad woman, and two were the real deal. One man, Mike, took the time to talk to me like a person. He has a warm place for tonight, but who knows about tomorrow. Another man, I didn’t catch his name, sang me a song. He says he’d get a gig if he could… and he looked at his feet.

I thanked him for his time and went back to the huddled smokers in the tiny pen by the front door of the bar.

The guys in the band turned out to be cool guys, and I almost bummed a smoke from one but realized it’s been over two years since my last one and decided not to even tempt that demon.

Back into the bar, the Sing-along Twins are belting out Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, and playing air guitar. That’s when I realize I haven’t thought about the herd of boxen in my kitchen for almost six hours.

Thanks Guys.

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Those Three Words

Caren had been thinking it for a while, but it slipped out quite accidentally.

C and her BioMom speak every few days. We get farm updates fand give packing updates. They’re becoming friends, and are just enjoying talking about everything and nothing.

Another horse is about to go into labor; one was just born. We rented out not only our apartment, but the empty one below it; so our landlords can go on their honeymoon with zero vacancies. BioStepDad’s Corvettte is running better. I made sourdough pancakes in a half-packed kitchen. Blah, blah blah. How’s the weather there. Hot? It’s nice here today, but rainy yesterday. Blah, blah. Well, I gotta go. Love you.

And then she realized she said it.

There was only a split second to panic before an excited squeal came out of the phone and a gush of ILOVEYOUTOO turned her panic to joy. She tried to say something else, but BioMom already said “okayallrightthenokaybye” and hung up the phone.

It was so cute.

They’ve talked a few times since then, and the calls end with I love you and I love you, too. Them moving van gets here in six days.

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Meeting The Family: An Adoption Reunion

<— (Packing: Where the Past and Future Collide)

Vancouver, BC became “Seattle for a few months while we get approved for Permanent Resident status.” Without rat-race jobs you have to have proof of funds. $12659 Canadian. In the nearly three years we’ve been here, we’ve watched the exchange rate play with our emotions, but we stayed optimistic and saved our pennies.

Then, eight weeks ago, my wife found her birth mother.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

On April 30, we will be picking up our moving van and moving to a small farm in Texas to get to know the family.

We flew out once, but stayed in a hotel. These ARE strangers, after all.

C’s parents kept in touch with each other over the years, so when we visited we were able to meet her birth father as well. The two of them looked so cute together and behaved like teenagers. They kept staring at C.

“She has your hands!”

“She has YOUR nose!”

“Remember the time when…”

They laughed and joked and played and reminisced. Our trip turned into a family reunion. It was the best birthday my wife ever had.

The next night, we went to a small hamburger-joint/ice-cream-parlor. While sitting there, C’s birth mother and father discovered the plot to break them up all those years ago.

It started with a flippant remark. Something about the girl he dated after she left to have the baby. It turns out it was a set-up and a one-time thing to cheer him up for when she disappeared.

“When you didn’t answer my letters, I thought you’d moved on,” she said.

His face fell. “What letters?”

“I wrote to you every day for the first month”

His eyes glassed over.

She continues. “…and you never…”

He shakes his head.

They sit silently, connecting the dots. They each thought the other had left them.

He never knew why she left so abruptly without a word, she never knew why he ignored her explanation and dated someone else while she was gone. Even though they went to high school together for another year and saw each other at the annual homecoming game, this was the first time they had ever talked about their breakup.

Shortly after graduation, C’s mother met the love of her life, to whom she’s still married. She lives on a large plot of land. Part farm, part ranch, part homestead – it has hayfields, a barn, a cabin and two houses (with a third coming soon) – along with horses, llamas, rabbits, cats, and dogs.

We’ll be staying in the cabin.

C’s father married twice. The second time stuck. He has a child for each marriage. He lives a few towns over.

C’s mother never had any other children.

They seem like nice enough people, and I look forward to knowing them better.


Packing: Where the Past and Future Collide

I don’t have to begin packing until Saturday. I know this because I have packing down to a science. I’ve done it enough times.

When my wife and I were first married, we moved every six months. Sometimes less than six months if writing wasn’t paying the bills and there were no Help Wanted signs to be seen.

It was more like apartment hopping than moving, even if our friends did have to drive 50 or 60 extra miles to come see us.

As the years passed, the corporate job that overworked/underpaid Caren kept us from getting too far in any one direction, but when you work sales you don’t have to report into the office in person very often and she never minded a long drive.

Six months, move. Six months, move. Six months, move. For vacation, we’d go even farther. We were itching to get away.

As the 90s wound on and the money got better, a short flight became cheaper than long drive. The distance grew.

Our last three stops were nine months, twenty-two months, and now… two years and eight months.

Wow. Has it really been that long? No wonder Seattle feels like home. It feels good to have a place on this dusty ball where we feel that way.

Our stop in Seattle wasn’t planned. Originally, San Luis Obispo, California was going to be our home. My wife was going to quit the rat race in nine months, and we were going to move to the coast and flip hamburgers for tourists. Then three things happened.

First, a 6.5 earthquake in San Simeon crumbled much of SLO County. Second, the rat-race job that was going to be paying for all of this got wind of the plan and fired Caren four months early. Third… third is for another post.

So nine months became twenty-two months and SLO became Vancouver, BC.

Vancouver, BC became “Seattle for a few months while we get approved for Permanent Resident status.” Without rat-race jobs you have to have proof of funds. $12659 Canadian. In the nearly three years we’ve been here, we’ve watched the exchange rate play with our emotions, but we stayed optimistic and saved our pennies.

Then, eight weeks ago, my wife found her birth mother.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

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Things I’ll miss: Golden Gardens Park

I’m a bit of a beach bum. The sun, the sand, the surf, the sun, the people. The sun. I’m a bit solar powered. Nothing sounds better than a day outside, and a day at the beach is like a double-espresso shot of sunshine.

A short drive up the road is a small cafe called The Purple Cow. It’s a great place to grab lunch before heading back to Golden Gardens to watch the sunset and maybe stick around a while for the bonfires.

I spent many an evening strolling up the sidewalk hand-in-hand with Caren, stopping to sit on a log and plunge our toes into the sand, getting an ice cream from the small stand at the end of the walk, or sitting on a bench curled in a blanket watching the sun disappear over the mountains in the western sky beyond Puget Sound.

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