Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Digressions are the sunshine"

The move
Thanks for asking.

Everyone has a different philosophy regarding packing and moving. Of course, mine's the only right way, so why do so many people fail to see that?

Pack everything in sight — what's out of sight is out of mind — in a more or less spatial progression. Open all cupboards and closets to have full view of full inventory at all times, and pack on a more conceptual basis. Carry 5000 boxes to the car in one trip, very slowly, and put your back out. Carry one little bag at a time. Throw everything in the vehicle on a first-come, first-served basis. Didn't anyone but me ever play Tetris?

The heart attack
Or the experience of mine that most closely resembles one. In mid diaper change, I ask J-F to move this bag, it's in the way. A garbage bag full of Helena's stuffed toys. An hour later it occurs to me that I don't see the bag in the hallway. I ask J-F about it — he has no recollection whatsoever of my request or the bag. It's also garbage day. I make him poke through the bags on the curb. I eventually find the bag amid other garbage bags (full of garbage) yet to be removed to the curb, on the balcony.

The mother-in-law
Would you put a 12 pack of beer empties in a box (?!) and move it to a new residence? Heck, if we don't manage to find time to run it over to the dep sometime during the week when we're cleaning our vacated unit, we put it on the curb for some bum to stumble over and factor the $1.20 into the cost of moving.

I got a little snippy with my mother-in-law about the beer. It wasn't about the empties per se, but it was the incident that put me over an edge. It wasn't even about her.

I've been "blog-ranting" about her in my head for days, because the stress build-up simply had to be relieved and it seemed reasonable to focus my energies on her. Now, with keyboard at the ready, there doesn't seem to be much to say about her. Apparently I did drive her to tears, though the tears did not materialize till many hours after my snippy outburst, and not in my presence.

To me, it's painfully obvious that events such as moving are stressful and tiring. A person's mood in this situation is not a fair indicator of that person's outlook or character in general. It should not be taken personally. That someone might fail to recognize this mystifies me.

The problem of "territory" arises from time to time. I still feel Helena's first birthday was taken away from me. Similarly, I walked into Helena's new bedroom and my heart sank, because it was all set up. With her non-favourite toys on her bed. And a dust ruffle on the bed (I hate those). Et cetera. While I know that my mother-in-law's intentions are well-meaning, these deeds do not significantly lessen my load. These are the details of a mother's affection for her daughter and desire to make a home for her being encroached upon.

The kid
If you have to move house with a toddler on hand, don't. And especially make sure the toddler's not sick.

Helena has been less than well and more than needy. This adds much to my stress level, Helena wanting Mama and only Mama, and Mama having to relinquish control and rely on others to get other things done (see above).

Helena's been feverish and snotty-nosed. She also has eczema (have I written about this before?), and it's been severly exacerbated in recent weeks. (I wonder if stress has anything to do with it. And dust.) She scratches till she bleeds (yes, I'm a sorely negligent mother). It's all very pathetic. When she's tired she starts scratching, she scratches in her sleep, she doesn't sleep restfully. When she's a little under the weather, everything's just a little worse. Her bug or cold or infection has passed, but the eczema has become acute.

J-F took Helena to a clinic yesterday (while I waited for phone guy, cable guy, and dishwasher delivery guy); we keep smothering her in creams till she grows out of it.

The doctor
I watched Doctor Who with Helena last night. She'd napped lots and late, and I'd be damned if I was going to let her intrude on the only television hour I give a damn about, again, so watching it together while sharing a muffin seemed like the way to go. She was quick to recognize that this program does in fact have the best theme song ever. At some point (dead bodies) my inner parenting chip pinged and it occurred to me that perhaps I should be "monitoring" for content — that is, not letting her watch, which would entail my not getting to watch. Whatever. She loved the dog and the "monster" ("Rrrrawwrr," giggle, giggle).

First the cataloguer, then the editor; both with an incredibly destructive thirst for information (and the power that comes with it). Hmmm.

Translating Eco
Umberto Eco's new translator, Geoffrey Brock, talks about the experience and the book (and quotes Laurence Sterne to describe Eco's writing style: "Digressions are the sunshine.")

What an extremely challenging, but satisfying, job that must be.

(Digression: Some years ago, I heard Eco speak on problems in translation. He gave examples regarding the translation of The Name of the Rose into Russian. Rather than the Latin found in the original Italian text and English translation, they decided Old Church Slavonic would convey the intended flavour within an appropriate cultural context.)

(Digression the second: Coincidentally, the website on which the interview is featured is the first site I ever bookmarked when we brought a PC home in 1996. The first thing I did with the internet at my fingertips was search for information on Eco.)

"Bad enough to be entertaining"
"Celebrating clunky sentences and mixed metaphors, self-indulgent prose and just plain old bad writing, Lit Lite, a weekly literary series, invites performers to select and read from their favorite bad books."

I love that "heavy drinking is encouraged."

The terrace
I wish I could access my camera. (I do know which box it's in, under all those other boxes.) Our terrace is finally being built and the hourly progress as viewed through the patio doors in what we will treat as the dining room slash office slash family room or play room is amazing.

The courtyard two days ago was a mud pit. Earth and gravel have been compressed, the land has been tiered, small walls are shaping the levels. Stairs run up and down a la Escher. I'm in awe of how this outdoor space has been defined to ensure each unit has its privacy.

The lair
The condo is huge. I love it more by the minute. It's a mess, but it's ours.

We're a little disoriented. Helena came out of the bathroom this morning wondering where the stairs went, taking a minute to figure out they weren't directly opposite the door but a little further down. Myself, I keep forgetting that we can run cold water in the kitchen sink (long story). And there are no ants.

Books will line the bedroom. This is my retreat from the world.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, all sounds toooo fabulous! I am so happy for you. I loved your little apartment in Ottawa, never got to see the one in Montreal, but I'm sure, sure, that this one - your home - will surpass them both.

So glad to hear things are well for you. Yes, they are well. You didn't kill your mother-in-law, Helena is right on track and J-F- well, you remembered to buy the beer, right?

All's good!


Anonymous said...

You survived! More impressively, you didn't kill anyone! Glad to read that the condo is growing on you and can't wait to see your new digs.

Suzanne said...

Glad the move went well. Post pictures soon!

Anonymous said...

Glad it's over! We all missed you!

I have long speculated that if Scott and I ever break up, it will be because of a move. They are so stressful and we just turn into MONSTERS.

Kimberly said...

Congratulations on accomplishing a disaster-free move!

The last time that we moved, Paul's new employer paid, so we had "professional" movers and packers. The day that the packers came, I thought it was quite pleasant to sit on our deck and drink wine with a couple of friends. When I was unpacking three weeks later, I was less than thrilled to discover that the packers boxed up the kitchen trash can with all the garbage still in it. Yuck.

I'm glad to read that you're loving your new place.

Suzanne said...

Congratulations on completing the move!

Send pictures, etc.