Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bricked and mortified

"But I don't have a hold on what is real
Though we can only try
What is there to give or to believe."

We're between trips just now. Barely. We have Ryland's birthday weekend in Keller coming up and we just got back from Lake Charles.

Before that we spent five days in North Carolina.

What did we do? What didn't we do?

The house is framed and wired. Bricks were being applied all week. We met with the builder and made a few tweaks, added a couple more cans and data ports.

I really, really love the brick color. It reminds me of home.

We met with the landscape company and Neil sketched out his ideas about a kidney shaped island and raised garden beds.

We met with the closet designer and brainstormed how to create an illusion of separate closet space with a center island.

We tagged the granite slabs for our kitchen island and counters. Hmm, that's the second time I mentioned islands. Did I mention I was rewatching Lost?

We went back to the lighting company and chose a dining room chandelier. Only it turns out it may be too big for our space. I personally liked the smaller version of it just as much, one level of lamps versus two. So I think we are good there.

We met with two shutter companies. One uses all North American hardwoods. The other uses "Pollywood." I guess we'll see how the estimates compare.

We met some of our neighbors, three ladies with young kids, chatting in the park. I called them a hen party, which made Neil laugh.

We walked around the pond which is all wooded and nothing like walking around our pond here. At least the ducks are familiar.

We ate a lot of ice cream. Also soup, pizza, sushi, sandwiches and grilled chicken. We drank lots of lattes and mochas and strong coffee and ate scones and muffins.

We went to the bead store in Mooresville and I bought a few things.

We look a walk at Jetton Park on Lake Norman.

Always good to have a nuclear emergency plan in place.

We loved the airbnb we stayed at. We had an entire third floor suite. While it was not completely separated from the home, our hosts were friendly but respectful of our privacy.

In fact, it turned out we had a lot in common with them, a couple of about our age, with copathetic political views and a wealth of information about the area. I have leads on a housekeeper and cat sitter as well as an interior decorator.

We visited a furniture place about the size of three airline hangars. For jumbo jets. After that, I acquiesced to Neil's desire to use a decorator. I feel confident in my ability to arrange a room. What I don't have is the patience to scout out furniture pieces that suit my vision. I'd be thrilled to have a decorator just to help with sourcing.

Not that my vision is anything exceptional, nor do we need a massive amount of stuff. I want some simple, quality pieces at realistic prices. I'd like a round dining table, large enough to complement the space and to seat eight, maybe with a leaf. I want durable, cat-resistant sofas and armchairs. I want a couple of queen-sized guestroom beds and for the master bedroom, night stands (that could be small dressers) and twin larger dressers.

Those are the basics. I'm sure there will be more things that we'll find out we need. Neil thinks the stuff we are bringing will rattle around in the new house. I think we will fill it up pretty well. We'll see who'd right.

When we started out on the whole moving venture, I suspected - and warned Neil - that it would be stressful at times and that we might as well expect to be cross with each other at times. We had a couple of moments on this trip, although they weren't the sort I'd have predicted.

None of us sees ourselves as others see us. I see myself as kind and gracious and polite and respectful. Neil thinks I could be nicer to service people. I do try to be conscious of what I put out but sometimes what I think is appropriate makes Neil flinch.

I had a soft-serve ice cream in a sugar cone at Carolina Cones. Two days later I ordered the same thing and was told I couldn't have soft-serve in a sugar cone.

You're kidding right? I had one two days ago. Seriously? OK, what are my options? How about this. I'll have soft serve in a cup with a sugar cone on top.

I didn't think I was so bad, but I could tell Neil wasn't happy with me and that makes me doubt myself. I feel angry and confused because I'm not sure whether I'm truly a bad actor or if I'm being harshly judged.

And as sometimes happens, when you let down your defenses, all sorts of things spill over. Neil concedes that I have a special talent for having whatever I order in a restaurant come out wrong. For instance, bacon served on a sandwich when I asked for no bacon. Soup served room temperature. Cheese when I didn't want cheese. And no one seems to be able to get "eggs over medium" right.

However, while I might mention it to Neil, unless it is something like bacon (because I don't eat pork) I don't usually complain or send things back. But I'm going to have to stop mentioning it, in fact, from now on, unless something truly is inedible, it's going to be delicious, because I have to counteract the image Neil has of me as a complainer.

Relationships are so complicated, aren't they. I just want his good opinion so badly. I don't see myself as a complainer but if he does, then I might as well be one.

So this weekend we went to Cracker Barrel in Lake Charles and I ordered my eggs scrambled.

Extra points for me because I really don't like Cracker Barrel in the first place, but Laurie wanted to go and I didn't resist.

If it takes one "oh shit" to wipe out ten "attaboys" then I assume the reverse is true and I will have to be a martyr multiple times to reinvent my image in Neil's eyes.

And since his are the eyes that matter most, I will work at it.

By the shadows of the night I go
I move away from the crowded room
That sea of shallow faces masked in warm regret
They don't know how to feel
They don't know what is lost

Lost in the darkness of a land
Where all the hope that's offered is
Memories of being taken by the hand
And we are led into the sun
But I don't have a hold on what is real
Though we can only try
What is there to give or to believe

I want it all to go away
I want to be alone
Sympathy's wasted on my hollow shell
I feel there's nothing left to fight for
No reason for a cause
And I can't hear your voice
And I can't feel you near

I wanted a change
Knowing all I could do was try
I was looking for someone.

(Sarah McLachlan, Lost)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Renouncing attachment, thing by thing

"I'm a zephyr on the inside
And it's a hard ride when you feel your heart tied down
Hide-and-earth bound, but there's no tether
On a zephyr."

Selling glass is surprisingly addictive.

It could be the unconditional validation. Everything sells. Even things that don't sell, sell. Twice now I've posted "Sold to No-one" and within moments someone has messaged me and taken it off my hands.

It's a bit more complicated than selling beads, especially estimating the shipping and wrapping the glass securely. I've gotten pretty good at eyeballing what will mail for $10, what will need to go in a flat-rate box, what is too much for a flat-rate, etc.

My arms are getting a workout, bubble-wrapping and shrink-wrapping bundles of glass, taping up boxes and hauling them to the post office.

All-in-all, it's satisfying. The more I sell and ship out, the less I need to worry about packing. I've already started to sort out what I'm keeping and done some preliminary boxing, trying to come up with a system that protects the glass while not overloading the boxes.

I've stopped donating clothing and linens because I am planning to use them as box filler and donate them on the other side.

Every day I wash and rebundle a few lbs. of glass. The more I can do in May, the less I'll have to sweat through in June and July. I've gotten most of the low-hanging fruit at this point. It will get harder as I work my way up the shelving unit and get into more of the glass that I'm keeping.

Yet, like my collectibles. the more glass I let go of, the easier it gets to let go of more.

I'd like to say I'm feeling less anxiety about the move, but that would be a lie. I'm talking about the physical move now, not the more existential issue of living in North Carolina. I keep the anxiety about living there at bay with the anxiety about getting there.

I keep wondering if we are past the point of no return.

It's easy to rationalize that my glass needed to be cleaned up and thinned out anyway, so all this work is worthwhile independent of the move. The move is just a good motivator. I've known for a long time that I needed to do this, but I lacked motivation.

We got some new house pictures. Not much to say about these. Interesting perspective on the elevation. At least, I hope the house isn't actually listing.

Left windows are facades. Center windows are home office down and bonus room up.
Right windows are study down and guest bedroom up.

Great room with view of woods through scaffolding.

I imagine it will all seem more real after our upcoming trip. We'l be spending five days there, meeting with the builder, designer and landscaper.

I've been pulling out all sorts of oddments as I try to get a handle on drawer contents. Letters from an old (brief) flame. Scores on standardized tests taken 40 years ago. My college commencement program. My extremely erratic college transcript. Greeting cards from my kids and Neil. Yellowed newspaper clippings. College newspaper illustrations by my college boyfriend. Rejection slips from publications (and a couple of acceptance letters). Papers I wrote, going as far back as seventh grade.

If you don't want to squirm, don't re-read a paper you wrote when you were 12. In face, don't re-read a paper you wrote when you were 20.

Helpless, I asked Neil what to do with this stuff. He said, don't ask me. Then he said, I'd keep it. Then he said, we're not downsizing with this move, it's the next move where we'll be forced to make the hard decisions because it will be a smaller place.

I said, I'm not moving again. Then I put 90 percent of my old paperwork in the recycling bin.

If I didn't remember that I still had it, then I probably won't miss it. And I'm highly skeptical that my kids will have any interest in reading my analysis of Faukner's The Bear or my comparison of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsy, cleverly titled, The Sun Also Rises in West Egg.

Every closet, every drawer, every cabinet presents like challenges. I'm trying to be ruthless. I'm trying not to be sentimental. We're still going to be taking a shedload of stuff, impractical stuff, because it's simpler to stick it in a box than to figure out what else to do with it.

I hope there is a lesson here in this madness. I hope I will stop and think a tick longer before I buy another trinket, another decorative box, another basket, another statuette, another damn purse. I found 3 purses with the tags still on them that I'd long forgotten about in a box that I probably packed when I moved 10 years ago. They are nice enough purses but I have a purse I like now and another half dozen purses queued up for when I tire of this one.

What was I thinking? What am I ever thinking? Do I even think?

I may sell half my glass stash and that may keep me busy for the next few months, but I have no energy for selling purses. Or shoes, Or watches. Just some of the things I've compulsively collected over time. Does anyone still wear watches, now that we have smart phones always at hand?

Maybe Neil is right. Maybe I'll save some of these hard decisions. Maybe there will be a great consignment shop when and where we land. Maybe vintage purses with tags will fetch big money one day when my heirs go through my affairs.

Or maybe as the move draws closer and the gun descends, I will develop a Zen attitude and renounce attachment - at least to the things that are simply that. Things.

I don't know nothing, nothing today
Whether to leave or to stay
'Cause underneath sorrow, underneath fear
There's nothing that's keeping me here

'Cause I'm a zephyr on the inside
And it's a hard ride when you feel yourself tied down
Hide-and-earth bound, but there's no tether
On a zephyr

I tried to be constant just like a star
I tried to be steady and yar
But the storms keep breaking over my head
I'm aching for blue skies instead

'Cause I'm a zephyr on the inside
And it's a hard ride when you feel your heart tied down
Hide-and-earth bound. but there's no tether
I'm a zephyr

All of the wings I've ridden back home to you
All the things I've given I wanted to
All that you see has always belonged to you
Except for the wind

Forever and after, that's if we're charmed
You've got to hold on with more than these arms
Because love's all there is and time is just sand
And I might just slip through your hands

'Cause I'm a zephyr on the inside
And it's a hard ride when you feel your life tied down
Hide-and-earth bound, but there's no tether
On a zephyr.

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)