Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Commercial break...

Okay, so you know I don't blog during November, right? I mean, not usually. I don't USUALLY do anything during November--including housework or personal hygiene because November is the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where I take a break from writing non-fiction (narrative/memoir) and work on a novel.

So, that's what I'm doing and that's your explanation for my absence. But then I remembered that I didn't really do a "night before Nano" blog post on Halloween night while I was in Virginia. So, I figured I'd pop in here, let you know I'm alive, give you some updates and mosey on back off to work on my new crappy (and trashy) novel.

The closing went off without a hitch. You saw the pix of the woods, so I probably don't have to explain that every time I got to the bottom of the hill of my new drive way, I rolled down my windows and started crying at the first sniff. It smells like my childhood there... Woods, rotten leaves, forest moss... all that good shit. I can't wait for my kids to grow up there.

The day after the closing, I met a greenbuilding contractor at the property and talked about things I wanted done right away as well as things I wanted to do eventually. There are a lot of tall skinny trees around the house. I've heard the rumors about how things can get rainy and then windy and then someone has to replace a roof. Seeing as how the whole house is wood (in and out), I figured a few trees needed to come down. That's priority one and it should be taken care of by the end of this week. We'll have them cut down to about mid-shin to knee height so that we can attach little round pieces of wood to them and make impromptu seats, tables and benches for the kids. Might even paint a checkerboard on one, who knows.

The basement wall needs to be wired, a small replumbing and covered in Earth-friendly sheetrock. While looking at that, we discovered lots of small electrical repairs that need to be done.

When we first decided to sign on the house, we bid an offer that was much less than the asking price mainly because I wanted to replace the deck. Scrap it, tear it down and use the wood to make a tree house somewhere. But, after talking to the contractor, it looks like he can fortify it, power wash it, restain it, extend it to the side a little and then put up new rails and pickets to make it safer... all of that for under $6k and that will last us another ten years or so (at which time, I'll do the tree house idea and replace the deck with a wrap-around veranda).

So, those three things are the major priorities. Of course we talked about the future refinishing of the basement. Putting in walls and floors, a guest room, an office/pantry, a guest bathroom, a canning kitchen with small appliance/pots and pan storage and a small mudporch/playroom area (I see wicker furniture in the future). Also a patio OUTSIDE under the deck for extending our outdoor living options.

We talked about landscaping, retaining walls, rock walkways. We talked about replacing the formica in the kitchen with a more natural material. Same goes for the bathrooms. The tub/shower in the master bath needs to be replaced and I see a claw-foot tub in my future.

The outbuilding at the bottom of the hill needs some work. Most pressing is electrical. But the whole place needs to be resealed, caulked, whatever, and needs some kind of gutter system.

Anyway, needless to say, I got to spend the WHOLE morning talking about my dreams with this builder guy and I think he has become my new VA best friend. He nodded and understood everything I wanted and exactly why. *sigh*

Okay, so then.... I went out the NEXT day, just to check on the place and make sure the thermostat was set on 50. I went into the master bedroom and found a huge puddle of water directly under the ceiling fan. My heart dropped into my chest. And the first thing I thought was "Sam's gonna shit." I didn't even have anything to use to mop it up. I did, however, have my camera with me and took pictures as best I could with what little light I had. You see, the seller had our same greenbuilder do the work on the chimney which leaked pretty badly. The seller must have assumed this particular leak was linked to the chimney. You could tell it wasn't a NEW leak. The floor was pretty warped in that area. It REALLY bothered me to see drips hanging from the ceiling so close to the ceiling fan... and have I mentioned that the ceiling is WOODEN tongue-and-groove? *sigh*

So, I called the greenbuilder out and we walked around and could see from downstairs in the basement that there was some OLDER water damage in that spot. So, again, it's not a new leak. That's bad cuz it's not going to be covered under the sort of "guarantee" of the chimney repair. Sam's pretty nervous about how much it's going to run us, but the builder doesn't think it's going to be too bad.

There you go. That's what's up with the house. I love it, I miss it and I wish I were there to watch them work on it, but *shrug*

So, Sunday morning--well, Sunday all day, I felt like CRAP. I'm pregnant, remember, and sleeping in a strange bed... AND the Hampton Inn where I stayed had some strange smells and there was a cricket in my room who kept serenading me. BUT, though I wasn't feeling 100% I couldn't help but drop by the local Barnes and Noble in the late afternoon and meet up with all the other crazies doing NaNoWriMo in the Lynchburg area. Even though the group is new, on the day I was there, there were 65 participants registered and 15 people crowded into four little bistro tables at B&N where our energetic and fearless (recovering from the flu) leader lead us through some pretty fun and interesting ice breakers. We didn't have time to do our first official write-in, but since I had gotten there a little early, I didn't mind as I had already written like 3000 words while sitting there.

I got up early on Monday and met the builder back out at the house to deal with the leak, investigate some other small things, change a broken door handle on the outbuilding and stop by the post office to deal with forwarding our mail. But, since the USPS doesn't forward internationally anymore, I had to rent a P.O. Box and give my key to the builder to pass along to my real estate agent (and new other best friend in VA). I had wanted to be out of town by 10:30 because I needed to drive back to Charlotte and that's a three hour drive, but I didn't end up rolling out of town until after lunchtime.

When I got to Charlotte, I was surprised how tired and dizzy and stressed I felt. I lie down and tried to rest. I missed a meeting with a friend (who is also pregnant) because both of us were just so tired. But later, I met up with my Rachel. We went out for Olive Garden, but by the time I got there, I was woozie again. I slurped down a yummy minestrone, but couldn't bring myself to eat any pasta. I ordered an appetizer trio but when it got to the table the sight of it made me wanna puke. I was SO happy to see my Rach, but so grossed out by my mood and condition.

I went back to my hotel and conked out immediately. But I woke up at 1:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom and found myself bleeding. The ER being right across the street, I went. Four hours later, I watched the ultrasound screen as I saw the baby bobbing around in there, its heart beating strongly.

I went back to the room, finished packing, ran all over town taking care of last minute errands, (the lawyer called to tell me there was a paper that didn't get signed at closing that had to be signed and notarized... it only took about 45 minutes altogether--including faxing it back at Kinko's--but it was a lot of running around). Still, I made it to the airport on time. I did have to shift some of my stuff around so that neither of my suitcases were overweight *eye roll* but I got 'er done and got my ass on the plane.

Worse plane ride of my life. Dude behind me kept pushing on my seat. Both peeps behind me had their lights on all night. Dude across the aisle watched a comedy and laughed VERY LOUDLY the whole time. AND, I was still bleeding... and now, I was cramping. It got bad. I was sure I was losing the baby. The flight attendants saw that I was dismayed and took me back to the galley and fussed over me. They were so worried about me that they arranged to have an airport transport for me when I got to Munich. I didn't have to walk from one plane to the next. And when I landed in Lyon, I was so relieved to be home.... but SO nervous that the baby was dead. I guess all that stuff that happened in January has made me a little gunshy.

I went to the ER here in Lyon. And after four hours (HA!) saw the baby bouncing around in my belly, heartbeat nice and strong. Funny thing is, I only paid 22 Euros for the visit here in Lyon, but I paid a $150 co-pay in the States... AND... SINCE THEN, I've recieved bills for my ER fiasco in the States that keep going up and up and up... reaching close to $3000... guess what my out of pocket deductible is? Yup. Fucking capitalists. I won't get another bill from the French ER. 22 Euros. That's all. To get the exact same care and treatment and results. *sigh* There's further proof that the U.S. health care system is BROKEN. No wonder people don't go to the doctor over there until they are on their freakin' deathbed!

So, anyway, moving on....

If you're Facebook friends with me, you'll know that the other day, Ryan peed his pants... His teacher has a strict policy about when kids are allowed to go to the bathroom. During recess. So, when Ryan came in from recess (at 1:30pm) and asked to go to the bathroom, complaining that he had "forgotten," she said, "You'll have to wait until I finish explaining the instructions for this exercise" (because he can't go to the bathroom without a classmate). Well, the teacher forgot and because she's usually so stern about bathroom usage, Ryan didn't ask again. He was too afraid. So, at 3 PM Ryan peed his pants. The teacher took him to the lost and found and the only thing they could put on him were girls panties and a pair of oversized girls pijamas (and they don't have my fucking phone number I guess? they couldn't have called me and asked for a change of clothes? idiots!). Ryan doesn't care about wearing girls clothes. He wears tutus and plays with Lily's costumes and feathery fairy wands all the time. But because the other boys in the class started to point and laugh, Ryan was mortified because he was wearing "girls' clothes."

Result: Ryan needed to take a shit, but did he dare ask permission? No. He was so embarrassed and stressed and nervous that he shat his pants.

When I picked him up, he told me and I SHOOK with anger. I got him home and as I washed the shit from the back of his legs (and threw away the girls panties they had given him--but hadn't checked to see if he had donned properly, without the wide boy's briefs band at the top, Ryan didn't know how they were supposed to go on, so he had his waist through one of the leg holes, giving him a big shitty wedgie), I cried. I sobbed. I kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" because I felt like I had left him alone there with that cunt of a teacher to have her abuse his trust and sensitivity. I wanted to hold him and hole him away from the world. Wrapped in his Lightning MacQueen towel, he leaned down and held ME as I cried. He said, "Aw, Mom, it's not your fault. Don't cry."

I told him that I know that rule number one when it comes to school has always been Listen to the teacher. But that doesn't apply to bodily functions and needs. You need to pee and she says no, you get up and go anyway. You need to puke, you get up and go puke. Etc. I told him that I wanted him to go to the bathroom BEFORE playing when it's time for recess but that if he forgets, he is ALWAYS allowed to go. No matter what.

I was shaking mad. And surprisingly, so was Sam. He went in there early in the morning and talked to her and she denied that she has ever told them they could go to the bathroom "as soon as their work is done" as my neighbor girl has claimed (she's in the same class). The teacher also said that she thinks Ryan has a problem. That he goes to the bathroom too much. I found myself belly laughing about that. And THEN, she basically told Sam that Ryan, because of "maturity" issues would probably not be passing to the next grade. This is November she's saying this... Not March. She's already decided before the year is half way over that Ryan won't move on? And her reason is because Ryan can't seem to concentrate on workbook pages for more than a half hour at a time. Hmmmm. Well, Ryan reads like a champ at home. And he does practical applied math (by applied math I mean that he does addition and subtraction with everyday household items... and has even begun using multiplication when talking about telling time... he's not even 6 yet, so I'm okay with that level). So, I suspect her conclusion is drawn because Ryan doesn't like busywork. Because he isn't interested in worksheets. Some of you may say, "Well, that's school. He's going to have to learn to do those if he wants to succeed in life." But I totally disagree. I think that Ryan is a tactile learner. Something that it very special and necessary in our society. Ryan likes to play, sure, but he also learns a lot THROUGH play. Through what he calls "work." So, what is our solution? We're going to put him in Montessori next year. Seems only logical to do so since that's what Montessori is all about. He's first in line for a spot next year (IF a spot opens up). If it doesn't I might take him to the international school.... If that doesn't work, I might have to just home school him and then enroll him in the Mecredis de Lyon for socialization purposes.

The thing is, Ryan didn't have the benefit of beginning public school at age 3. See, I don't think Lily will have ANY problem. But she has started at 3. But I don't think Ryan's problem is a maturity thing. He's plenty mature. He just doesn't have the benefit of the cultural capital that comes along with having gone to the petite and moyenne section of the maternelle. He didn't learn to sit and work on worksheets from an early age. He was allowed to play. He was encouraged to do things with his hands. I'm not going to have him punished because he doesn't fit in with the other French kids. I recognize that public school over here is EXCELLENT in many... MOST... ways. But in this one way, it is not even adequate.

Anyway, moving on.

My neighbors are separating. I guess it's been going on for a long time. As long as we've known them. So, everything I've said about them up to this point, you can just erase it. Had I known that for the past year and a half they were just ACTING, desperately TRYING to hold their family together, I wouldn't have interpretted HALF of the shit i did the WAY I did. So, I take most of it back. I had a LONG conversation with her yesterday. I'm ready to support her in any way I can. I just hope she gets some legal help ASAP. That's all I feel comfortable saying right now.

So, I went to my very first OB appointment yesterday. Guess what? I hate her. For so many reasons but the main one is that she didn't give me a prenatal vitamin. When I asked her for one, she said that she doesn't see any need for it. Really?

That's what I get for going to the rich neighborhood doctors. I need to go to the regular humble normal old middle class to lower class parts of town, I guess. That, or I'll just have Rach send me a shit load of OTC prenatals and a fish oil pill on the side. After I left her office, all I wanted to do was go home and cry... And I kinda did... I ended up going to bed around 6:45. Blah. I just really wish I was home.... I'm so tempted to rent a small apartment back in Charlotte for the last two months of my pregnancy just so I can deliver there. I know it sounds silly but dude... I'm so sick of undressing in front of doctors here. Of them standing there watching me bend over to pull my underwear off. What the fuck yo? And then you just climb up on the table and spread 'em. And you wait there with you junk all open wide until the doctor decides to come over and poke on you.

See? It's not the CARE that I don't like... It's the CULTURE. I'm an American, yo. I don't mind if the robe is made of paper as long as there IS one.

Anyhoo, so, there you go. Thanks for listening to the bitchin'. Gotta go investigate the latest catastrophe. Take care until December!