Ugh dammit I wonder if this is over yet I what does that notification say no it’s not let’s get this day moving do you ever clean the toaster why doesn’t he just eat in the morning teenagers drive me nuts no time to drink my coffee into the go cup it goes at least we have coffee I’m so glad I bought two boxes of pods last time I went to Costco we will be OK as long as we have coffee move over dammit I’m exiting here why are so many stupid drivers in this area I wonder how much traffic has gone down since December I sure don’t notice it but it will get worse with Amazon God I love that kid I hope he does well on that test I’m 99% the sacrifice for this school is worth it damn I need to go to yoga so glad three months are paid for what bills do we have and which can we shift well sure as Hell not that damn toilet maybe I’ll have the plumber check ours too its running a bit I think great I beat him here does anyone else empty the dishwasher in this house OK so DiploDad does it too but anyone under 50 no that’s not fair DB1 has a migraine today let me check on him ASAP geez he’s greenish white I remember getting these it’s probably hormones he’s gotta stop with the Monster energy drinks I bet he bought one with his allowance at school yesterday because he didn’t sleep over his math quiz of course I know he didn’t sleep because I was awake too why do I even check Facebook what kind of idiot really believes that “not hurting the right people” fuck him and the horse he rode in on man I need to sleep what’s this voicemail shit shit I did not charge that to PayPal this is why I don’t have PayPal great call him now now now why the fuck would he ask me if I bought over a hundred bucks from a food app delivering in Boston he’s just stressed where’s the number for USAA OK OK OK cancelled but now we have to transfer savings and no points to pay for the plumber no big deal probably just a couple hundred what the Hell you are kidding me both of them crap OK yay laundry time to make casseroles I am so devastated for her I can’t imagine losing my mother she was so sweet and lovely and it’s not fair damn this stress too I can cook though I hope her trip is going well I need to run we have that race coming up and fantastic I was going to pay the balance which is due tomorrow with the now cancelled credit card what a shitty time for this to happen happy new year to me at least I am healthy except for that arthritis thing and headaches now well of course I’m getting headaches now should I do the Christmas cards now man I’m late on that well at least I got them done this year I already have tons of forever stamps no need to buy them I like the cool red envelopes red is cool maybe I should go apply to Target just in case at least we have one more paycheck then all bets are off thank God we’ve saved but that’s for retirement and college beyond just rainy days what’s the penalty for early withdrawal is this really going on still no news you’re kidding me Cousin A just posted on Facebook I forgot her husband was Coast Guard that is going to get ugly why do people always forget the Coast Guard that’s border security people should I cancel that visit to Mom and Dad’s I don’t think I can be civil if they spew wall shit this weekend I wonder if they will get retirement pay and social security this will be a mess if old folks aren’t cared for and mean too no way you’re kidding me a hole in my dining room ceiling of course you don’t do drywall repairs no one fucking does drywall repairs shit the cats are gonna crawl into that that’s not good whew it’s probably just out of reach only an additional $300 thank God the best worst case scenario typical when are they going to be finished with the car it’s been three days and dammit it’s brand new what’s the Virginia lemon law why did we buy on a new model year oh yeah we needed a left hand drive car come on dog let’s go it’s freezing yeah we’ll be using everything in the freezer I am glad I learned the art of freezing and stretching in Ghana gotta go get DB2 why is there always a crash when I’m running late at least the route is blue once we pass Tysons oh shit now it’s yellow dammit red fun times sorry baby I’m still not to Maryland I know soon sorry I’ll call DB1 and ask him to walk DiploDog thank God he’s alive again OK got kid he seems happy I bet he asks for Earth Wind and Fire and bingo I called it I’d tell Siri to play it but the bitch only speaks German can you imagine if we got hacked that way I wonder who hacked our card of course the Chinese have all our data anyway from the OPM breach it’s nuts we’ve had more problems here than in India oh I miss India what’s the next holiday I should text my friends and see how they are doing you’re kidding another crash how hard is it to just pay attention while you drive turn signals are not an option asshole I think I need to shut off the news DB2 is stressing about the shutdown why would a ten-year-old even have this on his radar this is sad I don’t want to lie to my kids I want them to stay kids finding this balance sucks why do they always ask what’s for dinner when they’ll complain about something anyway did I complain that much about dinner man I remember when it was tight when I was a kid too but I was loved my kids are loved it will be OK nope still not over I’m turning off notifications someone will tell me when it’s over who else is affected others have it so much worse off Mitch McConnell is a jerk he’s abrogated his Constitutional duty yeah only say the second part out loud to DB1 I bet government class at Marshall is nuts right now OK homework done why doesn’t he read his parents are both readers his grandparents are all readers is this some majorly recessive gene wow that’s an awesome LEGO build he’s smart in other ways there’s the door man please don’t be in a shit mood oh I love his hugs everyone is everywhere again and dinner is on the damn table getting cold get down cat it’s not your dinner I swear that fat one would open the fridge if he had thumbs I can’t believe they all like everything I swear he ate the carrots too please can we not ask about this at the table damn his jaw is set this is going to be upsetting he’s conservative but he’s not mean so we’re doing our job right somehow that’s actually a good idea why doesn’t congress think like a 15yo wait that might be bad thank you I love you more for doing the dishes wait now I get to fold laundry OMG he soap dodged again saves on soap one less thing I’ll have to buy quit being so maudlin it will be OK we’ll all be OK I love the way semi-clean boy smells did the teenager go to bed light is off hmmm odd blue light did I turn Qustodio off he needs his sleep especially after that migraine really I forgot to install it I think we paid for that up front for a year oh man gotta change all credit cards on all autopay I’m sure we’ll miss one and get some kind of stupid late fee gotta put that app on the Kindle kids always find a way where should I hide this oh he’s walking the dog what else can I do turn down the heat its 70 but we can do 68 mom always told us to put on a sweater I get enough hot flashes to heat the house anyway can I sit down yet yeah TV sounds good man the music in the 80s was awesome those are groovy clothes FBI agent is a cool job but then I don’t think they’re getting paid should check in with her and ask how she’s doing she was supposed to be here last week no word though I guess that was cancelled you’re kidding you have to go in early and stay late yeah and federal workers are lazy fuck America they don’t care I need to sleep I need to sleep breathe I need to go to yoga that’s paid up until March will this go on past March no don’t think that we’ll be fine our friends will be fine we will stick together I need to sleep dammit what level am I on Candy Crush I need to sleep melatonin is your friend lalalalala sleep maybe tomorrow this will end yeah right I gotta work on being more positive oh fuck it.
It’s only taken about six weeks, and the DiploFam is almost entirely moved into our postage-stamp sized townhome in Northern Virginia. It’s taken a lot of work, appointments, negotiations, and time. It’s been worth it.
The previous paragraph is complete and utter bullshit. Let me translate it for you: DiploDad had a total of three days off to direct and unpack about 18,000 lbs. of crap. He marked off the boxes from the BINGO sheet as the movers brought them in, bought food for the movers, and promptly went back to work and left me with 16,500 lbs. of crap to unpack and find a place for. The DBs sat around and played with their LEGO or phone in the middle of a pile of paper, completely overwhelmed at the idea of putting any of their crap away and didn’t move on it until I physically lorded over them and made them. The DiploCats spent the days rustling paper, hiding in or climbing on boxers and inducing general panic of “have you seen the fat one?!?!?” whenever we took a bunch of boxes and paper out to the trash. The DiploDog hid. Just hid. He’s probably the smartest creature in the family.
Moving is overwhelming. It’s exhausting. And I’m SOOOOOO done with it. I’ve never lived anywhere longer than 4 years in my entire life. And I’ve gone through a total of 27 moves. Nope, that’s not an exaggeration, and yes, it excludes the moving from temporary quarters to permanent ones in a couple of places. I consider myself an expert on moving. Today, I present my Top Ten Lessons on Moving – the Delivery. Learn from me, not the hard way, trust me.
1 The movers will always show up earlier if you have an early morning school run, later if you have a late afternoon cable appointment.
Always. It will not matter if you take your kid to school a half an hour early and drop him ten minutes before he’s even allowed in the building, the movers will be there, waiting for you and calling your phone, trying to induce panic. Do not fall for this. Your delivery window was 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., if they show up at 8:04 and start hassling you, remember that they cannot leave because you were not there. I’m not saying you can go to Starbucks and hang out for 30 minutes drinking your morning chai (unless you take orders from the moving crew and pick it up for everyone), but I AM saying don’t freak out and feel guilty because you’re buying milk at the grocery store half a mile away or are 10 minutes from arrival home after dropping said kid at school. They have to wait. This is gonna be an all day affair. Chill.
2. You’ll Be Eating Pizza for Weeks.
There are several reasons for this. First, you will have very little energy to cook anything for most of the first two weeks you move in. Second, you can’t find the pot or pan you want or need. Third, in some kind of scarcity mathematics or over exuberance, your spouse will order six pizzas for the three adults on the moving crew. You can always return the favor to your spouse for his planning by pulling a foil-wrapped pizze slice out of the freezer two weeks later and pack it in his lunch.
3. There Will Always Be Something Broken You Can’t Replace
Always. It might be grandma’s antique cookie jar or Aunt Eileen’s hope chest. Maybe it’s the pottery “who knows what it is” your kid made in preschool that you always put out for display on your desk. Maybe it’s your wedding cake topper. Either way, brace yourself. And then take a deep breath and either file the claim to replace it or fix it, or let it go. I have a friend who buried one of her kid’s art projects in her garden (just make sure you don’t dig it back up if it’s not biodegradable) to say goodbye. Because I’ve moved so much, I don’t have my memories stored in a place – there’s not an ancestral home to go back to. I store my memories in things. This was a hard lesson to learn, but I’ve made peace with it now. When something you love is gone, the memories can remain. Take a photo if you must (you’ll need one for the claim anyway), take a deep breath, relive the memory it jogs again, and let it go. You were overweight on the last move anyway, right?
4. Watch the Filials and Stoppers!
Movers don’t care about them. At all. Personally, I don’t let the movers unpack any trinkets or dishes alone without me hovering, because I know exactly which items have a stopper or filial or decoration that comes off that the dude on the other end decided needed to be separately wrapped. DiploDad does not track these things. If you leave the movers alone (or worse, with your spouse) you will wind up without these crucial pieces. This move was particularly bad for this – I’ve got two stoppers gone forever, including the top of one of my oil-and-vinegar salad dressing bottles I’ve had for over 20 years. I have no idea how I will replace it. DiploDad may finally, finally NOT override my directive on no unpacking after this fiasco. Maybe.
5. There Will Always Be a “How the Hell Did They Break THAT?”
Yup. It’s like it was a challenge and they met it. Sometimes, you actually have to admire that.
6. Clothing Hangers will Take Over the Entire House if You Let Them
Hangar supply always goes through a predictable cycle in our house during moves. It goes something like this:
DiploDad: “I need some hangers. I don’t have enough to hang all my clothes up with.”
Me: “I have a few I can give you.” (Takes off a few dresses, folds them, hands hangers to DiploDad)
DiploDad: “That’s not enough – I have a total of eleven hangers. I need at least 15.”
Me: “UAB* comes in a week – I packed a TON in UAB. Can you wait just a few days?”
DiploDad: “Not really.”
Within 24 hours, DiploDad will sneak out on a Target run, ostensibly to buy cat food or milk, and return with three twelve-packs of plastic hangers. A week later, UAB will show up with about 40 hangers in it. A month later, HHE** will show up and we’ll be looking at this:
DiploDad: “We’ve got to find a place for all of these. Can we donate them to Goodwill?”
Note that Goodwill does NOT take hangers. Everyone on the planet drops them there and they have too many – they will actively chase your car down as you are trying to leave to give them back to you. Trust me on this.
7. The Cats Will Do Something Bad While You Are Unpacking
It’s 3 a.m. in the DiploHouse. All is calm, all are asleep . . . .
DB2: (runs into our bedroom) “Mommy!” (Not Daddy. Never Daddy.)
Me: (waking up, disoriented) “What?! What?!”
DB2: “It’s Gink!” (DiploCat1)
Me: (jumps out of bed, runs with DB2 into his room) “What?! Is he OK?”
DB2: “He peed on the paper in the corner of the room! I heard him meowing and then scraping the paper and then I went to pick him up and he was peeing!”
DiploDad: (who has followed us in, unnoticed) “On my new carpet.”
Turns out that the carpet was safe, and the pile of paper was big enough to absorb the accident. This meant that DiploCat1 was permitted to stay a little longer. It also meant I used less white vinegar on the area. Just in case.
A few nights later:
DB2: (leans down next to me, sleeping, whispering in my ear loudly) Mommy! (Not Daddy. Never Daddy.)
Me: (disoriented) What?!?
DB2: Gink peed on my LEGO!
DiploDad: Damn cats.
Upon further inspection, it seems that DiploCat1 was completely disoriented again when DB1 placed a plastic bin of LEGO pieces on the floor in a corner. Seems that the change from Indian kitty litter, to American kitty litter, to American kitty crystals confused him, and when a pan looking suspiciously like a new kind of litter and his old Indian litter box showed up in his favorite room in the house, he thought we were just being considerate.
Me: “I think it’s time you got a handle on your room.”
I can now check “cleaning cat pee off LEGOs in the middle of the night” off my Mom Bucket List.
8. Cats Like Paper.
Make sure you don’t accidentally recycle them. Unless you want to.
9. You Will Have More Things to Hang on the Wall Than You Have Wall Space
Every post, every move, you “localize” your apartment. When I lived in NYC, I bought a couple of black-and-white photos of the Flat Iron Building and the Chrysler Building. During our European travels, we bought watercolors that I framed on base at the US Army MWR framing shop. Africa added masks and batiks to our collection, and India some Bollywood movie posters, prints, and paintings. Add that to family photographs, a curious cuckoo clock that always needs refitting after lying in storage doing nothing, and some Chinese ancestor paintings and we’re overloaded. My advice to you: Hang what you love. Do a gallery wall. And then store the rest unless you truly think you will never use it again. Those NYC prints? I haven’t had them on the wall since I left the City in 2000, but DB1 visited New York for Model UN last year, and they are now finding a new life in his room. All that “me wall” stuff? Awards, diplomas, stuff you hang at work but don’t want to look at while chilling in your rec room? Two words: Storage Space.
10. Your Furniture Will Not Be Adequate for All Your Stuff. Ever.
It’s a hazard of State Department life: you never have enough bookcases. The furniture that is assigned to your quarters will either be all new and complete or it will have been mostly given away and turned in by a string of predecessors. We have never, ever, experienced the former situation. Our house in Ghana was so bad and so lacking because the previous occupant had her own living room stuff, that we literally had ONE bookcase when we moved in. ONE.
Most of us travel with extra tables and bookcases. IKEA’s Billy line is excellent. I figure we’ve owned about 245 Billy shelves since we got married. When you leave, they are inexpensive enough you don’t mind passing them on or donating them, or selling them, and you can replace them at your next post. Just be patient while you sort through your stuff and know you’ll have a few piles on the floor until you can make that IKEA or thrift shop run.
11. You Will Forget This and Do It All Again.
Yeah, there are really 11 lessons here. A wise person on my Facebook page compared moving to childbirth. She’s not wrong.
*UAB – Unaccompanied Air Baggage. A certain amount of stuff that goes via air, ostensibly arriving within 2 weeks to your new destination.
**HHE – House Hold Effects. All your crap. Don’t ask me why there are two Hs involved when “household” is technically one word. It sounds better, anway.
I loathe home leave. Well, not always. After six months back in India, I’m sure that I’ll wax nostalgic on the idea of it, if not the actual practice.
In its infinite wisdom, congress decided that in order to prevent its diplomats from sympathizing too much with the situation of whatever country they are posted in and “going native” or “going rogue”, that every so often, they would be have to come home and reorient themselves to life in the U.S. This fantastic concept, codified in Sections 901 and 903 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, requires the diplomat to spend a minimum of twenty business days in the continental U.S. after each assignment abroad before heading back out, or after two years of a four-year tour.
I see some fellow diplomats posting fabulous photos of themselves on home leave, and they seem to relish it and do all kinds of awesome things. They also tend to be single, childless, and either come from intact families, or families where the divorce was Amicable. When some twenty-something, clearly single junior officer posted on Facebook that he thinks home leave can be fun and great and told me to just book a house on airbnb, I wanted to kick his unattached, millennial ass to Kingdom Come. Twice. Maybe even four times. I know he was trying to be upbeat and helpful, but FFS, dude, Get. A. Clue.
You might notice that thus far, this post has more than the normal amount of swearing in it, and I’ll get to that eventually. You’re on notice, Mom – I’ll probably drop an F-bomb or two before I’m done here.
Home leave and its mechanics are nothing if not predictable, so there are inevitably Certain Things That Happen Relating To or During Home Leave. Let me narrow that down to the top FIVE here:
- There will be some fucked-up regulation that makes you file extra paperwork or waste valuable time.
Turns out that when you extend and take a four-year tour overseas, the law requires you take your Home Leave midtour – which they define as within a month of arriving at post. Most families with children, like us, arrive in the July-August timeframe; especially if they have school-age children and they are dealing with camps, pack outs, and finishing up school (which is virtually NEVER compatible with the school they will start in the country they are moving to). We arrived on August 1, about ten days before school started, so DiploDad could leave the position he was vacating unfilled for as short of a time as possible (so the new guy could take HIS home leave) and so the DBs had a bit of time to shrug off the last vestiges of jet lag before starting school.
Fast-forward two years, and DiploDad has to take home leave. Given office staffing requirements (summer is, after all, a busy time for consular officers), a heavy rotation of folks in and out of the office, and the DBs’ school schedule, it made sense to take Home Leave in June and July. But nooooooooooo – that’s too early, the Department said.
DiploDad: I have to wait until August to take Home Leave? Seriously? No, you’re kidding. This makes absolutely no sense. My kids start back to school August 8th. I’ve got folks who have leave dates and transfer dates in, and I’m trying to work this for the least amount of disruption. There’s got to be something we can do about this.
Random DC Bureaucrat Who Never Goes Overseas: Well, you can leave your family behind. They don’t have to go. But you do. Or, you could just go early anyway, and lose an R&R.
DiploDad: Excuse me? You mean go by myself and leave my wife to deal with the kids alone at the beginning of the school year, or give up one of the tickets home that I get as part of my compensation? How is that reasonable?
RDCBWNGO: Alternatively, you could fill out a form for an exception to policy.
DiploDad: That sounds like a much better solution.
I should note that this conversation is condensed from about three or four separate conversations, because it took THAT long and THAT MANY conversations to get it out of RDCBWNGO that one could file for an exception. Asshat.
Attention AFSA (American Foreign Service Association for the uninitiated): The next time you get all crazy and decide that you need to lobby congress about something, let me flag this for you and even set it out in writing. Home leave should be given flexibility when taken mid-tour. Most officers with families will try to eventually get on summer cycle to make school and transition easier for DiploKids, which means that they will want to try and take home leave in the summer usually between mid-June and mid-August. Argue for a 60-90 day window of flexibility for Home Leave from the original date of arrival. Trust me, very, very, few people will skip it, the Department will have to process fewer exceptions, and it will be easier for HR folks. I suppose this may mean that a RDCBWNGO or two may be out of a job and have to find their sadistic “say-no-to-everything-not-be-helpful-ever” kicks elsewhere, but I’m sure there’s an office somewhere in DC hiring.
- There Will Be People Who Are A Pain in the Ass About Visiting Them, Whether You Can or Can’t Visit.
Once you get your dates and reservations, you send out the email to everyone in the family and try to alert friends. Some folks jump at it, and some it makes sense to visit because you have similar goals for the summer and they make it easy. Others, you go round and round with and nothing works out and they accept it, or you keep looking for chances to get together. Either way, in about a month, you’re fully booked. Let’s say this all happens about January.
You know where this is going now, right?
In April, you start getting emails and messages from a variety of family and friends asking if we could get together, and oh – when were we going to be in the country, and could we possibly drive to California/Nebraska/Texas/Alabama/Florida/Timbuktu to visit them?
Now, some folks get it and put no pressure on you. And if you possibly can, and are along the way or they are in your neck of the woods or willing to take the time to drive a bit, you get to see them and they are SO happy and you are BEYOND SO happy to see each other. I was lucky enough to see a former sorority sister this trip that I’d not seen in 20 years. One of the highlights this year was catching up with her. Others just know that if you CAN, you will definitely reach out to them, and so they don’t even ask, or just send you a message saying, “hey – we’ll be around this summer on these days, so if something works out, let me know – we’d love to get together” and that’s it. I love these kinds of people.
Then, there are the ones who not only pressure you to visit, but also insist it must be on their terms. They are often, but not always, the ones who never respond to the initial email/text/message where you gave dates you’d be in country. But two weeks into your trip, or a couple of days before you depart, you’re bound to get something like this in your inbox:
“Hi! If you guys can come over, it would be awesome. I’d love for you to drive to XXX (name town three hours from anywhere you’d be going normally, if ever) and spend some time, but only during the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday this month, and only if the temperature reads less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit between 9 and 10 a.m. Oh, and we’ll only be serving shredded wheat with bayberry juice because we’re all on a really restricted diet, and there will be NO WINE because we read somewhere that the prices are inflated this year because of drought in the Sahara and wages have gone up and we don’t support this.”
I wish I were kidding.
Let me be clear: I love my relatives. I love my friends. But we are travelling two days, going through security checkpoints twice, eating shitty plane food, getting DVT symptoms, and dealing with a bitch of a case of jet lag. By the time I landed at Dulles Airport in June, I’d been awake for 47.5 hours. You read that correctly. So, for the love of Peter, Paul, & Mary, please make it easy on us. We don’t really want to take a long plane ride again or drive 15 hours; it’s exhausting, and then we don’t really enjoy it at all. Ease off the guilt trip. If you think you might even be a tiny bit guilty of this, here’s what you do: when we send out the email telling you when we’ll be in town, jump into the queue immediately, and propose something halfway, or something near us, or, if we’re talking about doing X while we’re back, jump right on in and ask if we’re up for company. If we don’t want to go to Swaziland with you and want to go to Cape Verde instead, consider it – this is the only chance we have all year to escape the craziness of whatever post we’re at that means we GET a home leave. If it doesn’t work out, and our interests don’t align, you can always visit us, or we’ll try again next year.
If you think I’m being totally selfish about this, here’s a nugget for you – I’ve been trying to get to California and have a family trip driving Route 66 for four years now. We compromise. I lose out. And we try to put the grandparents first while they’re still around – for good reason.
- Even After It’s “Settled”, Something Else Will Pop Up and Try to Fuck Up Your Home Leave.
RDCBWNGO: Your home leave dates aren’t sufficient; you have to make a change.
DiploDad: Say again? I’m going for four weeks. Twenty weekdays.
RDCBWNGO: Yes, but the 4th of July is a holiday. You’ll have to stay longer and take an extra Monday.
DiploDad said “shit” because that takes us over the 30 days of LWOP I’m allowed to take before permission has to be given by DC instead of post. And since we didn’t feel like finding out if that meant 30 calendar days or 30 business days, I just decided to go with the former and leave a week earlier than the DBs and DD. Which meant he had to take the DBs back by himself. (Hahahaha!)
- Some Relative or Friend Will Find a Passive-Aggressive Bullshit Way to “Punish” You for Living Abroad.
Towards the end of our Home Leave, we headed off to visit DiploMIL and her husband. They just bought a massive house, and we’ve been hearing about it for about 18 months. We confirmed with them no fewer than five times that yes, we were staying, and yes we were coming on X day. We arrived a day after DiploBIL and his family arrived, and hugged everyone. DiploMIL and DiploSFIL gave us the tour, starting with the upstairs. Their bedroom was beautiful, giant and posh. The DBs and DiploNephew were in a bunk bed with a trundle, perfect for 3 little/medium boys. DiploBIL and his wife were in a lovely room with a canopy bed, fluffy white bedding, and an en suite. DiploNiece had a room to herself with a double bed.
DiploSFIL: We put you downstairs. Come on; let’s go see where you’ll sleep.
DiploDad: Cool, sounds great.
So, we’re thinking that we hit the jackpot; we’ll be downstairs in a guest suite away from everyone. Instead, we get downstairs, turn into the rec room and see this:
As DiploMIL and DiploSFIL head back upstairs, I’m standing shock still STARING at my “bed” for the next four nights. And then I shake it off and I’m PISSED.
I turn to DiploDad and he immediately falls onto his knees –
Me: What the FUCK??? Are you fucking kidding me?
DiploDad: Shhhh! Shhh! I beg you, please do not make a big deal about this.
Me: Are you kidding me? I’m –
DiploDad: You can have the pop-out bed, I’ll sleep on the floor –
Me: Are you kidding? We’ve been married 26 years. We have two kids. We’re pushing 50. A 1980s era broken-down single pop-out couch and a couple of couch cushions wrapped in a sheet on the fucking floor are FINE??? While a 12-year-old gets her own room? Do you realize we’re in the rec room like middle school kids? I got over that shit YEARS ago, DiploDad.
DiploDad: We’ll fix this, I promise, we’ll fix this –
Me: On what fucking planet is this acceptable? Tell me. Really, tell me. We don’t even have a door to close. I’m not even in the same bed. Hell, the two cushions YOU will be sleeping on are uneven – one’s over an inch higher than the other – how is the OK for YOU?
I texted DiploSIL, who informed me that they’d tried to bring this up with the ILs but they said it would be ‘OK’ so they didn’t push it. She did offer to swap rooms with us. Seriously, am I wrong to think it would be OK for the 12yo niece to take the rec room? I didn’t think so. But even her MOTHER didn’t see that should be the solution.
An hour, a Target run, a lot more swearing, and $200 later, we had an aerobed and a pair of sheets.
DiploDad: OK, bed, sheets – we need anything else?
DiploDad: (Reaches for tetrapak (hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) on shelf.) Two?
I should probably mention that DiploMIL and DiploSFIL do not drink. So after all that crap, there wasn’t going to be any booze in the house. That’s not how I roll. I have children, people. You’ve met my children. I drink.
After the bed fiasco, we settled in, and things calmed down. We had a great few days exploring colonial Williamsburg, visiting, and hanging out.
The afternoon before we were going to leave, DiploNiece was showing me, DiploSIL and DiploMIL a dress she’d worn to a dance program at Colonial Williamsburg. I moved into her room entirely, and that’s when I saw it.
A three-foot high, spooky-ass, china doll on a bureau in the corner.
We left the room. I came back a few minutes later, picked up a pair of scissors I’d noticed on the nightstand, and placed them in the doll’s hands and went back downstairs.
Me: Hey – DB1, come here.
DB1: Yes, Mommy?
Me: Did you ever tell DiploNiece about Annabelle and the other haunted dolls you read about online?
Me: Why don’t you?
- You Will Get Extra Special Treatment From TSA.
The flight was OK, but I got extraspecial treatment both at Dulles and at Heathrow. Sometimes, I think they just pull me to make sure their stats don’t reveal profiling. Still, when I’m being wiped down for powder AGAIN and getting a special pat down that seems to get more thorough every single year, I can’t help but blurt out: “Dude, I AM the target.” Still, TSA is there to keep us all safe, so I try not to fuss. Even if the rules about taking your shoes off are not the same everywhere. Even if the bag you need to put liquids in is different and you’re repacking three bags of toothpaste and Axe products, and even if I have to take all electronics out when it says “laptops” at one airport and not at the other. Which inevitably gets me pulled over for MORE frisking. Dammit.
Even if the song, “TSA Gangstas” keeps running through my head. It went viral a few years ago. If you missed it, here it is – oh, wait – don’t put this on with children present.
Oh, and I lied. You get a bonus sixth reason:
- You’ll Still Do the Same Damn Shit Next Year.
I’d hit 53.25 hours awake by the time I got back in. Everything melted away once DiploDog attacked me with the exuberance only a small mixed-breed dog can deliver. After much DiploDog snuggling, unpacking a bunch of cheese and lunchmeat from my suitcase (and removing the TSA “I searched your bag because that shit looked like plastique advisory flyer”) and packing it in the freezer to take out in October or so, I hit the sack for a few hours rest before starting off full throttle.
A week later, DiploDad and the DBs showed back up, and they just managed to shake off the jet lag today – I hope.
We were getting our morning coffee a few days later when DB2 walked up to us.
DB2: Do we know what we’re doing when we go back home next summer?
Me: Nope. But it won’t EVER involve me sleeping on the floor again.
DiploDad: Damn straight.