28 July 2009

PS--Goodbye Parties

PS. With how many people want one last evening with us to say goodbye, I feel like I shouldn't have bothered with a going away party. Hardly anyone showed up, then those who did still want a second day. Oy. The schedule is packed out to the max.

Last Minute Emergencies

Oy. So, without going into too much detail, I spent the weekend in and out of the urgent care unit and nine hours last night in the ER (that makes it sound worse than it was--five of those hours were in the waiting room). I'm fine, or, I'll be fine, eventually. But I lost so very many days calling, arranging, and planning. I only got a few hours sleep last night and I'm super out of it and still feeling weak. I am so not in the mood to continue planning, but so I must.

I still have unclaimed furniture that I don't know what to do with. Most of my odds and ends are gone. The semi is lined up for Friday afternoon.

The biggest problem is how little time we'll have left before we leave to pack and whatnot. Matt's last day is tomorrow, that evening we're hanging with a bunch of friends. Then Thursday, we have Mass in the morning (we didn't go over the weekend obviously, and we want to say goodbye to our parish priest), a meeting in the afternoon, dinner in the evening with friends. The semi will arrive on Friday afternoon. So little time to pack. What is left is almost entirely things we need, so we can't pack early.

We're testing out the cat tranquilzers tonight. They're not working yet.

Oy, I am not one of those people who "takes life as it comes," I worry and plan too much. I am barely holding it together. Praying every day for strength, wisdom, and calmness.

PS. We're definitely getting some kind of gap insurance until I get a job after a weekened like ours.

23 July 2009

Cutting it Close

Wow how life can change. I'm still reeling. Oy. So, a last minute change of plans: no pallets, no uhaul, no caravan of cars staggered a week apart. We hired a moving company. We load, they drive. Easy in that everything goes together, stays together, arrives together. Pheww. Oy.

Since the semi will show up the day before we leave and arrive a day or so after, we won't need two weeks worth of living in the car. We'll pack as if we're going away for a few days; there will be tons of room for the cats and computers. The apartment is still packed up though, no dishes, no toaster. We'll live out the next 8 days like this. Or maybe more, maybe less, more on that tomorrow.

I have been praying exceptionally hard over this decision, but I never heard God telling me one way or another. Matt feels at peace with this decision though. Maybe God only told Matt? Maybe only Matt was listening? Oy.

My how simple my life just became.

Note to self: Hire a moving company next time.

The Meltdown

Maybe it was stacking the third box full of bathroom stuff. Maybe it was simultaneously packing the 9th, 10th, and 11th boxes of kitchen stuff. Maybe it was the realization that it was probably going to take three pallets on the semi, two runs with the trailer, that everything wasn't going to fit in the Uhaul, or that all this mental and physical stress was only saving us, at most, $500. Maybe it was even that Frank McCourt died. I don't know, but last night, something happened, and I completely cracked. I lost it. I succumbed to the tears, the stress, the pressure, the realization of all the work the next two weeks holds. My dissolve lead me to re-request moving quotes from companies, and research the companies from whom I already had quotes.

The idea of a big truck showing up at our doorstep and taking everything down in one easy trip makes me swoon.

So why not go ahead and hire them? Well, we already dumped most of our furniture, so we'll have to pay $900 plus buy new furniture. Oy.

I have a bad feeling about doing this the semi+uhaul+two cars route. I have a feeling that it is going to cost us more in the end. I really want to hire Atlas and I don't even know how much they cost (still waiting to hear back from last night's midnight estimate request).

Oy. So little time left. 8 days.

21 July 2009

Packing Update

10 days to go. I am still packing. Everything that we don't need in the next week or so, except the kitchen, is packed and ready to go. The kitchen comes tomorrow. I still have a non-packing to-do list a mile long. 3 days until the semi arrives.

20 July 2009

Boxes

There is a lot more to the boxes that liter my apartment than just knowing their contents. Each box has a label on it that tells me in words what is inside. Each also has a colored sticker on it that tells me which room it will go to in the new place. Some boxes have a special sticker denoting if the contents are fragile. There are multiple locations for each box to be deployed: semi, uhaul, Contour, my parents for Michigan, my parents for Florida. Each box also has it's own departure and arrival time scheduled. Many boxes share such information, but not all. I try to keep boxes in particular piles, but sometimes piles move, get rearranged, are diminished by a pending deployment schedule. I feel like Grand Central Station, the shipping and receiving manager. Skills include a wicked memory, unrivaled work ethic, and serious organizational abilities Can this go on my resume?

19 July 2009

Two weeks to go stressers

Now that we are beneath the two week mark (12 days to go), I am pretty well invested in the world of packing/moving. There are stacks of boxes where the furniture used to be. The stuff on the semi goes out in five days. The kitchen, aside from the decorations on the walls, have yet to be touched. Although, other than that, everything else is mostly done. I have a few things left I'll pack the day before, but everything else is set.

Last night I had a big meltdown. I was realizing how little time was left compared to how much I had to do. There is so much more to moving than packing. Change of address forms, insurance, vet visits, furniture selling, salvation army drop offs, electric shut-offs. I finally made a big, long to-do list last night to try and get all the thoughts out of my head. Most of them have to be taken care of during 9-5 business hours, since I have lots of calls to make, but some of them I can do on nights and weekends.

My other big stresser is my husband. He has a ton of stuff he has to do before moving, tons of reading to do (law school sent him a summer reading list), plus the stuff he wants to do to enjoy his summer. I feel bad asking him for help with the packing, but sometimes I need his help! He has stuff I don't know what to do with! Keep, sell, toss? I can't make those decisions for all his stuff. Plus, this is our moving schedule, so we need to talk about dates and times for pick ups and drop offs. He has been in usch a bad mood lately that I hate asking for anything. Oy. I am not dealing with that stress very well.

It is amazing how many people want to hang out with us during our last few weeks. I just want to say, "Um, hello, that's why we had a goodbye party." But so many people are asking for a night to get together before we leave. Oy. We're doing what we can with those whose schedules fit ours, but it doens't look good for everyone.

Sometimes I feel like I have no time left whatsoever. I think to myself, "In less than two weeks, everything will need to be out of the apartment, on some other vehicle, with a scheduled arrival and departure time. There is no way I can finish!" Other times I think that I do have time if I just prioritize well. I can pack an entire apartment in a week, so in two weeks, I should be able to find some time to visit with family and friends.

My number one piece of advice to anyone ever, but especially someone planning a major life change, is to pray. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Luke 12:25. This verse is so true and I have been thinking of it for about two weeks now during my morning prayer time. I am a big worrier and a big stresser. Obviously it is unhealthy physically, but it also prevents me from trusting in God and listening to His will. It is eerie how different I am during days that I pray for calmness from days that I don't. If it weren't for prayer, I wouldn't be making it through this move.

16 July 2009

Countdowns

I'm a big countdown person. In high school I had a count down till summer started, till prom, till graduation, whatever exciting event was coming. Once I got a cell phone with a countdown program, I was stoked. I counted down till vacations, till I got married, etc. I've been married for 446 days : )

Going Away Party: 2 days
Our party is at a nearby park with tons of courts, fields, picnic tables, and bathrooms. It is bring-your-own-food picnic style. We don't have enough money to buy everyone's food, and since some people are morally opposed to RSVPing and I'm too busy to call them all, I wouldn't even know where to being estimating. So we are providing charcoal, paperware, beverages, condiments, and cake. This way friends can bring their flavor-of-the-month, swing by for any length of time, etc, and it doesn't matter. The party (from shelter rental to cake) will only cost us $165. It's frustrating how many people won't be able to make it. I hope more people can come than I know about. People are far more likely to send an email saying they're busy rather than that they can make it. So my impression is that no one is coming. To add some fun to the mix, two days ago the forecast for Saturday was 78 degrees and sunny. Today, they are predicting 69 degrees with a 30% chance of rain. I hope people still come out. There is a picnic shelter to hid under. Oy. On the fun yet shallow side, I bought a cute new shirt online and I hope it arrives in time.

Stuff to the Semi: 8 days
In a little over a week, we are going to have to deliver our goods to the semi that will drive them to Florida. This is the final breakdown of how the goods are going (almost set in stone):
-500lbs of boxes in a semi to arrive at a location tbd on a day of our choosing (the first week we arrive). This will carry most of our belongings.
-our car, a Ford Contour, possibly with a rented car top carrier, to arrive on a day of our choosing ; ) This will carry only what we need during our last week in Mi and our first week in Fl.
-a Uhaul trailer to be towed by the mother-in-law to arrive on a day of our choosing (the day before the semi). This will carry what little furniture we're keeping and a few random things we don't want in a semi.
-a Mercury Mariner driven by my parents to arrive sometime after we do (they are shooting for 2nd week after we arrive). This will carry things we want in Fl, but don't need right away, like my china.

Plus this way, all the parents will get to see where we are living, which both sets have been bugging me to do. My goal is to have everyone gone and everything set up and ready to go by August 24th, which is when classes start. We don't want anyone coming to visit during the first semester of classes, which is the hardest semester of school we've heard.

Anyway, I'm packing now. I'll kick it into high gear on Monday, which is the last week before the semi.

Fleeing the State: 15 days
I'm trying not to plan this yet, not until the semi is taken care of. That way I'll be able to see what kinds of things we're dealing with. Too much junk piled around right now to tell.



09 July 2009

Family and Friends

(This is something I wrote back in April when there were 112 days to go. I never published it, but after rereading through things, I think I'm going to go ahead and post it, since it's such a big topic).

So I will do what I can to be honest without offending any family or friends who happen to be reading along as well. This is a really huge topic that you'll encounter as the wife, and it needs to be dealt with honestly.

The "him" vs "you [two]" Qs/comments.
These are the worst. Almost every married couple says, "we" about law school. "We're still applying," "We just heard back," "We finally chose a school." It is completely normal. Law school is a huge, very life-changing event and you need to be fully in it together. I researched and read prospectuses with my husband. I went to the campus visits with him. I didn't force him to let me go, in fact, just the opposite: I questioned him to death about whether I should or was allowed to go. Later I found out how ridiculous I was being. Almost everyone else brought someone: spouse, mom, dad, sister, friend. One school even had a special "Law Student Spouse/Family" panel while the students were in the mock class! Anyway, where I'm going with this is that everyone in law-school-world expects it to be a family decision. So when I get together with some friends and they asked me "did he pick a school?" I try hard not to respond with, "did 'we', you mean?"

I appreciate the closer friends asking, "Is he nervous about law school?" or "How do you feel about the move?" Questions like that show me that even though they've never been through this, they clearly understand the balance between his, mine, and ours. It doesn't take a law school alum to understand the balance in a marriage. The frustrating questions occur mainly among our single friends and family, or those with weak marriages. I just try to respond with a gentle correction:
"Did he choose a school?"
"Yes, we chose Ave Maria in Naples."

How selfish people are.
When my husband called his friends to tell them about our decision, every single friend except one turned the conversation around to themselves. My end went something like this:
Hubby: "So we picked a law school: we're going to Ave Maria."
Pause.
"Yup, in Florida."
Pause.
"We're going to move at the end of July."
They start saying something about what they did last weekend.
"Oh yeah, how did that go?"

What?! We called you to tell you we're moving to Florida for three years and you want to talk about your fun weekend party?! Only the one friend who didn't turn the conversation around bothered to ask my husband what kind of law he wanted to study. No one else asked. Only a few asked how long we'd be down there or wanted to know what tipped the scales in Ave's favor. It was really heartbreaking. I am thankful my husband didn't seem to mind. I think it is my people-watching psychology-minor brain recording these behaviors.

Repetition
For me personally, the most frustrating thing about law school is having to repeat everything to everyone. I'm not a big talker, I'm not big into parties or being the center of attention. I don't tell good stores, or jokes, or anything of the sort. My sense of humor is very sarcastic and very dry.

So when Aunt so-and-so, the tenth person of the day, wants to know about the location or my job prospects, I get annoyed having to repeat myself. I want to just write a paper, a book, "Everything We Know About Law School So Far." I'll just hand it to them and walk away.

Of course my annoyance is unreasonable, which is why I swallow it, smile, and tell them what I know. Whenever we do family functions, I wake up and tell myself, "you will repeat yourself a hundred times today." It works to alleviate the frustration. Sorta like when you tell someone, "this is going to make you angry," they aren't as mad.

And at the end of the day, I'd be depressed if no one cared enough to ask. Their questions are their way of showing their love. I need to learn to appreciate that.


The fact that it's Florida
Of the four family and friends issues, this one is currently the easiest to deal with. When you say "Florida," people instantly remember their last vacation to the state: warm, sunny, beaches, Disney World, fun. But Naples, where the median age is 65, isn't Orlando, it isn't Tourist Town.

For starters, you can't get much further south than Naples and still be in America. The area East and West of Naples is cell-phone dead zones, and it's located in the Great Cypress Swamp, which is in the Everglades. The only reason Naples exists is because enough people had enough money to build in a swamp. Whereas in Michigan, highway shoulders and medians have flowers, Naples has swamp. Every grassy area in the circle made by freeway on and off ramps has a swampy retention pond. Behind apartment complexes, strip malls, everywhere, there is a swampy pond where they clearly drain the water from the land around the building. There are no banks and few ditches; the land is completely flat. The air smells like mud. All this isn't bad, it's just different, it's not Disney World, it's Swampy.

Disney World is actually 4 hours away. We will probably not visit very often.

90+ degrees for half the year will get very old very fast. Plus I've never been tan in my life.

This is not a vacation. Matt will be in school. A type of school known for being hard. He will have very little free time. With any luck, I will be working. I'm not going to the beach every day after work alone.

Dealing
I deal with all the issues by playing along.

"So Matt chose Florida, huh?"
"Yup, we chose Ave Maria."
"Oh, Florida, that will be nice! Lucky!"
"Yeah, no more snow!"
Normally at this point I would change the conversation, but for the sake of my demonstration...
"Are you going to work in Florida?"
"Hopefully, the economy isn't very good in Florida either, but I'm going some job hunting."
"Wow, we'll definitely have to come visit you, especially at Christmas!"
"Yeah, that's what everyone is saying!"

The truth is, I love snow, I hate heat and humidity, and there ain't no way in hell I'm hosting Christmas in a one bedroom apartment. But no one else needs to know that.

PS, my computer thinks "ain't" ain't a word.

08 July 2009

Driving for 1300 miles

As Matt tells it, in his family, road trips take one day. Be it a 4 hour excursion up north, 12 hour trip to MN, or a 20 hour haul to Fl, there is no stopping except for gas. They pack meals in lunch boxes and go to the bathroom at the gas station while dad pumps gas. The kids all bring stacks of books in the car and everyone over 16 takes turns driving.

In my family, road trips required much more. If you had to go to the bathroom, you just let the driver know, and s/he stopped at the next rest stop. Pit stops were good excuses to stop by vending machines. Gas fill-ups were a great time to get a candy bar and bottle of pop, and if you'd been well behaved in the car, mom and dad would put it on their credit card with the gas. If trips ran through meal times, a restaurant was called for and only the parents drove.

As a married couple, our road trip styles have merged together to form one beautiful machine. My mini-bladder requires a stop every 2-3 hours, but Matt uses that time to stretch his legs. When we stop to get gas, about half the time, we get a candy bar or a beverage, sometimes we just get one and share. If the trip is particularly special (like our honeymoon), we'll stop to eat along the way, otherwise we pack. We both like road trips, so our style emerged effortlessly.
Our only flaw?
The driver. Matt is a driving machine who can go for 8 hours without stopping, be it rain, sun, day, night and I'm great at navigating the map. What is wrong with this? Well, I have motion sickness so bad I can't even swing on a swing set. I have to either sleep or look out the window, or else. This means I usually drive, which I can only do on non-rainy days without getting too tired, and Matt can't find I-75 on a map (okay, slight exaggeration on both counts).

Next issue: the cats. Emma doesn't mind car rides, but she does get bored quickly. She's a kitten with too much energy to be cooped up in a cage all day. Then there's Belle. Belle acts like 10 minutes in a car is a terrifying torture straight from the fiery pits of hell to make her life pure misery and she cries bloody murder the entire time. Needless to say, I don't want them both in the same cage, because Emma doesn't need to learn Belle's method of car travel. Both are fine when allowed to roam the car freely, but I'm opposed to that method, explainable by another long story I won't go into right now.

Next issue: space. We'll need a suitcase with 2-2.5 weeks worth of clothing, the bathroom stuff, some food, pots and pans (for the time when everything is on the semi), the valuables (they don't go on semis), the cats, stuff to do while on the road and waiting for the semi, other miscellaneous things I can't think of right now.

Driving Options:
-20 hours straight through, arrive Sunday morning.
-11 hours on Saturday, stop for the night in Atlanta, do 9 hours Sunday.
-8 hours on Saturday, 8 hours on Sunday, and 4 hours on Monday.

So, with all of our issues, we knew #1 was out. We liked #2, but knew that we still needed to go to Mass on Sunday, and that it was going to be a late night both nights without counting stops, traffic jams, etc. We opted for #3, as it allows for life's lemons, lets us get a few extra hours of sleep, and only gets us there 1/2 a day later.

The solution to the driving dilemmas:
#1: Motion sickness medicine. I haven't found one I like the sound of yet, as many of the medicine side effects are the same as the symptoms of motion sickness. But maybe I'll actually be able to read in the car again!

#2: Large, separate cardboard boxes for the cats, big enough to fit a small litter pan, a little food and water, a few air holes, and lots of kitty tranquilizers.

#3: Each cat box goes on one side of the backseat, to-do items/cds in the middle, road-trip food on one side of the floor, maps, etc, on the other side. Suit cases, valuables, food, pots and pans, etc in the trunk. And, we bring only necessities.

Our route:
Saturday morning, we'll live Ypsilanti at 9am, we'll spend 10 hours on the road (counting stops), arrive in Knoxville, TN at 7pm.
Sunday morning, go to 7am Mass, leave TN at 9am, spend 10.5 hours on the road, arrive in Gainesville, Fl at 7:30pm
Monday morning, leave Gainesville at 9am, spend 5/5 hours on the road, arrive in Naples at 2:30pm.


I am remembering, however, that the best laid plans of mice and men have often gone awry, and planning to expect my plans to be altered.



PS
Just in case you're wondering about my state abbreviations, I use two caps for non sequitur letters (ex:
Tennessee is TN, Connecticut would be CT) and one cap for sequitur letters (ex: Florida is Fl, as though it were going to be Flor. Michigan would be Mi).

07 July 2009

Side-note

I've moved a lot in my life. 12 times so far; I only don't remember three of those. Florida is lucky number 13. In my experience, there is a time when I felt like I didn't belong anywhere, I had no home. When I would get off work from a long day, and returned back to where I currently lived, it felt weird, different, odd, like I wasn't really comfortable. But when I went back to my old home to visit, things weren't right either. Everyone had moved on with their lives. My friends and family had changed, their habits, their friends, their likes and dislikes. I wasn't home there either. I feel like a gypsy, wandering, no place feels like home.

The other time I had no identity was when I got married, and I changed my last name. I had spent 21 years as "Jacqueline J----" so really, I was "Jacqueline J----." But my name officially was "Jacqueline K------." But that didn't sound right, I didn't recognize it as my name. I felt more like a little kid writing down her first name with the last name of her crush in her notebook. But for the past year or so, no one had called me "Jacqueline J----," so I stopped recognizing that as my name too. I felt like I had no last name. Like I was Cher or Madonna, or something. "Hi, my name is Jacqueline. Yup, just Jacqueline." I'm getting more used to "Jacqueline K------" now that I've been it for 15 months and I'm "Mrs. K------" to my kids at church. But it's still a little weird and I still respond when they say "J----, party of two" at restaurants.

The funny thing is that I'm addicted to my dis-attachment from a sense of home. I feel like having roots makes one inflexible, it's a disadvantage. I really like living in my apartment complex now, but I still feel like I want to move.

06 July 2009

My ever changing life

I realized that my blog is entitled "Journeys of a Law School Wife" and that to some extent, if I ever make a book, I want it to be a mixture of memoir and advice/how to. So it is okay for me to make some posts journal-style. I have been too worried about it becoming an autobiography, but it is important to talk about how I feel and how the stress of law school relates to our marriage, the rest of my life, etc. I think this will enable me to post more. I will have more to talk about, and to talk through.
A memoir is a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.

How I deal with the mess

(So I was really hoping I could earn my Master's of Library and Information Science degree while Matt was in law school. Part time it would only take me 2 years and I could earn it 100% online using the school that already accepted me (Wayne State University). However, due to several different reasons, none of which I'll go into, as they've nothing to do with law school, we decided to post-pone my school. C'est la vie.)

In the meantime, we're selling more stuff. One of my three bookshelves will leave tonight. Hopefully the others will follow Wednesday or Thursday. My desk and craft cabinet will leave this Wednesday. I want to put up my table and couch for "pre-sale" on Facebook this Friday, but not to leave the apt until the week of the 20th. I have two locations of boxes that we're shipping to Florida, a wall of stuff that is in the process of both being sold and "sold but waiting to be picked up". I have a pile of stuff going to my parents' house to be stored until we return (we are very blessed to have such a location). Everything is kind of just, hanging out, waiting to be packed or moved.

I've got sticky notes on the bookshelf outlining which shelf is holding which destination's books. I realized that I'll be here for one week and in Florida for one week while my dishes, pots, and pans are on the semi truck. I don't want to eat out for two weeks, but I don't exactly know what to keep with me. I'm making lists of people who need to know of our change of address, utilities and services to have end on the 1st of August. I'm trying to figure out when we can go to the dentist, ophthalmologist, etc before our insurance ends.

Oy. I am not a person who deals well with disorganization. I organize and reorganize for the heck of it. I clean when I'm bored, stressed, anything. Whenever I feel an excess of emotion, my ocd goes crazy. Now, according to the definition of a psychological disorder, an issue only becomes a disorder when the issue prevents the individual from being a productive member of society (I can site that if you like, I was a psych minor). Well, for the most part, I just love to clean and organize and I do it a lot. But when I feel an excess of emotion, the only thing I will put before cleaning is going to work. I wont see family, hang out with friends, eat, sleep, until the house is spotless. I'll run over my to-do list over and over again in my head until I finish it. It's my way of exercise control over my world when I feel that I've lost control. Oy. While I doubt anyone who reads this is will be frustrated to the extent that I am by mess, I figure I'd explain my strategies for short-term living with mess anyway, just in case.

-I try to sort through or pack something new every few days. This keeps me too busy to worry about what that other pile is doing on the floor.
-I try to group things in boxes (with lids!) or in bags. This keeps the mess in some semblance of organization.
-In order to keep the piles of boxes and bags from getting under my skin, I'll reorganize the stacks. This keeps it fresh in my head that it is organized, just temporarily in a less than ideal situation.
-Remember paragraph #2? I repeat that list in my head, a lot. I quite often repeat my schedule to myself when I'm busy. For some reason, it soothes me.
-I give things deadlines: "If I haven't sold you by Tuesday, I'm calling up so-and-so and giving you away for free!" Also, I tell myself things like, "The week after VBS you can start putting things up on Craig's List" or "The week after you get back from vacation, you can start going crazy with packing!" While this doesn't always work, sometimes it helps alleviate the symptoms.

Sometimes I just want to get rid of all my stuff. If I don't have anything to clean, it won't bug me when it's messy. This is one good thing about getting rid of everything to move to Florida.

But that doesn't mean that moving isn't still scary.

Going away party in 12 days, moving in 25 days. Current temp in Naples, Fl: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 89. 67% humidity.

PS, yesterday I booked the hotels we'll be staying at on the way down.

Next post's topic: Moving Across the Country: 1 day or 3 days?
Additional bonus: How to Move with Pets Who Hate Cars