Tuesday, 23 August 2016

First-World Problems

If one more well-meaning soul lectures me about first-world problems and why they are wholly unimportant, I just might have to stick a stiletto through their iris. I get that in the grand scheme of the world's issues, my battle for Internet and cable is trivial. In no way am I comparing my frustrations to those of the child escaping war-torn Syria nor am I comparing it to the misery of the pregnant young panhandler who sits on a corner down the street. I fully understand that I am blessed and I count those blessings every single day. I NEVER forget what I have and how it came to be and I refuse to be lectured to by loving hearts online who have no idea how I go about my daily routine.

You see...while they might seem trivial to some, "first-world problems" are real issues because we happen to live in the first world. These are the everyday aggravations that punctuate our day. It could be that traffic jam that made you late for a crucial job interview or perhaps it was the self-checkout machines at the grocery store that double charged you for the cherries. What may sound petty to me is mostly likely not petty to you. Maybe that job interview was your first in a month of unemployment or maybe that double charge means no protein for dinner. So, when I post of my aggravations on social media about the fact that we have now been without Internet and cable service for more than three weeks, with no end in sight, I am offering up a public primal scream to relieve the frustrations. I have tried to infuse humour into the situation because, frankly, laughter is a tonic and the absurdity of this situation cries out for it. But, no! I do NOT choose to be aggravated and sometimes we are not the source of our own unhappiness. Sometimes, and this is absolutely one of those cases, other people are the source of my aggravation. In this case, it is the dozens (and I am not exaggerating here) of service people, technicians, call centre employees, managers and the like at THREE separate providers that have caused my aggravation. We have had people hang up on us; been told that the job has been rendered complete; stiffed on appointments after wasting SIX separate days staying home waiting; told that there would be no problem in hooking us up and then told they don't service our building even though half of the units here use that provider; been promised phone calls that never came more than a dozen times; and that is just the short list. So tell me again how I am the source of my own aggravation?

If you think that the lack of Internet access is a first-world problem, I hear you. It is also crucial to how we work and make our livings. Imagine for a moment that you rely on electricity to make your business viable. Certainly, you could operate for a few days without it, but three weeks? My guess is that when it started costing you time and money, that little "first-world problem" might not seem so trivial. How's that aggravation level now?

This battle for Internet/cable/phone service has both The Husband and me at the end of our tether. We have probably exceeded our data plans on our phones attempting to solve this problem. It is yet another hard cost that we will never recover. God bless my man as he has taken on this odious task and has spent far too many hours raging against the conglomerates, hours that he should have been working. Is he really the source of his own aggravation? 

I have refrained from cursing in this post because I can no longer come up with vile enough or descriptive enough words to adequately express how I feel. The comedy of errors, in this case, has turned into something uglier and while I am trying to keep up my sense of humour, I do draw the line at online rebukes and lectures. Unless you are sitting where I'm sitting, keep your judgements to yourselves. That said, honest help on any level would be gratefully appreciated.

I apologize publicly if I have offended anybody with my rant. I get it that people would rather hear or read the hearts and flowers stories of life online in their social media feeds. If I have disappointed you all by turning negative for a bit, the unfriend or unfollow button is at your disposal. I'm a big girl. I'll get over the disappointment. But I refuse to pretend that everyday problems aren't relevant problems simply because they don't fit someone else's definition of importance.
For now, I'm still waiting and hoping that somebody somewhere can get us out of the last century and turn on 2016 for us again. We kind of miss it. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

We're Moved In!


I know that most of you already knew that, but this is the first chance I have had to breathe in three weeks and, I can finally say it out loud. We're moved in.

I could regale you all with disaster stories from the two-day affair, but thankfully there are none. Both the packers and the movers showed up on time; they were decent, hard-working non-felons; they took great care to ask our opinions as to where things were to be placed rather than just finding empty spaces and fleeing leaving us to rearrange tables that are outside of our lifting weights; and the only recognizable damage from the redistribution of our personal effects was a single shattered wine glass, but as several friends on Facebook have reminded me, who needs glasses when we still have the bottles.

There are still a few nuggets to share and a few precautionary axioms to dole out just in case anybody out there is even remotely pondering a relocation in the next decade. (Yes...I said decade.)
  • Get organized now! When The Husband first broached the idea of moving five years ago, I told him that certain lifestyle choices needed to change. I was still working up in the North Jewish Ghetto and transferring downtown made little sense. Retiring was an obvious first step, but after that was accomplished, he made his feelings crystal clear. He wanted to move and develop that urban lifestyle we had talked about for years. Me, being me, looked around our dwelling of close to twenty years and could only see the massive amounts of collected flotsam and jetsam. Thus began the great purge of 2015. Yes, this move really started last year as we tackled some of the dirtiest and biggest tasks of divestment. We cleaned the garage and large chunks of the basement. We started divvying up cherished pieces of furniture and artwork to our children and assorted family members. We gave tremendous thought to all of that stuff that we thought we couldn't live without and we set our sights on finding a new location that would suit those needs. We were so very smug and so very stupid. We really needed to start organizing a year before we did. The real estate market here in Toronto is so very hot that one needs an asbestos suit just to walk into potential condos. In short, the process moved faster than either of us were prepared for and our earlier preparations were feeble at best. If one is looking to downsize? Understand that everything cannot possibly fit in the new space, sentiment sometimes must be replaced with practicality, storage is at a premium, and time is not on your side. Waiting for the perfect time to move or the perfect place with all of your needed amenities and all of your current stuff is lovely in theory and ridiculous in practice. Even thinking about the possibility of a potential maybe move? Mobilize now!
  • And while I still have you thinking organization....Rubbermaid is a wonderful company and label-makers are your friends. Those plastic bins from Rubbermaid come in various sizes and are necessary for the long-term storage that will come from relocating. Winter garb, purses, guitar odds and ends, Passover dishes, and photos are just some of the things that have found permanent homes within the welcoming bosom of Rubbermaid. And....I feel just like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory as I organize my closets and drawers with labels. I can't begin to explain the euphoria that comes with successfully storing and labeling a bin. Hello. My name is Dawn and I'm an obsessive/compulsive labeler. Of course, The Husband thinks that I belong on a couch somewhere, but this new home has afforded us a clean start when it comes to taming the junk and I intend to make the most of it.
  • When moving, try not to pick the hottest day in the last five years and try to avoid a ten-day heat wave with temperatures soaring into the 40s! (That's in the 100s for all of my metrically-challenged American friends.) I rarely complain about heat mostly because I spend so much time complaining about the cold, but last week was unlike any Toronto has seen in years. And moving day? It was the hottest of the hot and the stickiest of the sticky. Our awesome, strong-like-bull movers, who had no issues placing a massive wardrobe on their backs (one guy actually did this) and marching it down a flight of stairs and into the truck, almost passed out from heat exhaustion. There wasn't enough liquid refreshment available to keep the poor guys hydrated. I kept expecting to find them passed out in a puddle in the elevator or in a corner or even just cooling off in our shower.  I don't know how they did what they did and I have a newfound respect for anybody who works outside in extreme temperatures, hot or cold. These men were pros and it showed. I gave them some beer (all they would drink was water while working) at the end of the day and the grateful looks on their faces said it all. If I could offer any advice about moving? Spring or fall sound lovely.
  • Finally...take some time to say goodbye to the old before embracing the new. While the movers were packing up our kitchen and dining room, The Husband and I wandered the house, which was already very empty, and reminisced. The boys' rooms, which had long ceased being their rooms, were filled with voices and recollections. The Husband cleaned the pool one last time and I cleaned the bathrooms. (God forbid the new owners should think us pigs.) On moving day, I left first so that I could wait at the new place for the movers. The Husband was tasked with locking the door and he said it was so very bittersweet that he was glad that I wasn't there. I am too. I have been saying goodbye all summer and now it was time to say hello. There is importance in the past, but there are hope and excitement in the future. I feel as though I have left nothing unsaid and undone in that house. Now is time for new.
There is still much to do here. Pictures need hanging and photos need placing. It still needs those individual touches to make the place feel more like home. The cable and internet are still not fully functioning (a blog post all on its own) and the ducts need cleaning. (No, the irony is not lost on me that as soon as we gave up our landline we require a duct cleaner. I am trying not to think about how very absurd that is.) Also, I keep opening the wrong drawers and cupboards. For some reason, I cannot get it through my head that the toothpaste is on the left and the hairbrushes are on the right. Yesterday I threw garbage under the sink in the kitchen. Sounds harmless, yes? Except that there is no garbage under the sink in the kitchen, but rather in a drawer in the kitchen. I'll get it.


After all...we're finally moved in.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Home Stretch

We are definitely in the home stretch.

What does that look like, you might ask?

Well, since every move is different and requires various levels of divestment, organization, cleaning and the like, it is difficult for me to generalize. I can only report on what I know, so in no particular order, I herewith present the telltale indicators that we are in the relocation end game.

1. The Husband simultaneously cut his leg and hand this morning on broken glass while trying to repurpose an old picture/poster frame. Suffice it to say that he was unsuccessful in his task. No stitches were required for either wound but the bleeding needed to be staunched with band-aids; the adhesive to which he happens to be allergic. Fully aware that he was inviting a strange crop circle-like rash, he was eager to remove the offending bandage from his leg as soon as he possibly could without reopening the cut. As he ripped it from his very hairy Jewish man-leg, his scream, more intense than that of the original injury, was reminiscent of a woman getting a bikini wax. (We are still in possession of several framed posters that would be lovely decoration for college dorm rooms. Gratis!! If anybody is interested, please let me know by the end of the week. This is a serious offer.)

2. There are more open garbage bags and garbage boxes around the house right now then there is useable furniture. We figure that we have divested ourselves of about half of our possessions. Seriously! The sheer amount of trash that has been generated by this move has made me very aware of our environmental footprint. I am appalled, embarrassed, horrified, mortified, shamed, humiliated, and any other synonym you could possibly come up with. We have one final trash day in The North Jewish Ghetto this week and then another appointment with Just Junk scheduled for the weekend. We have taken to counselling anybody who is even considering a relocation within the next two decades to begin the process of cleaning and purging immediately. We are NOT joking!!

3. We are now confined to one functional room that has exactly two chairs in which to sit. (This statement does not allow for the bathrooms which of course offers adequate seating.) That room is the bedroom and while many might think of worse places to spend all of one's time, I have begun to think of myself as a political prisoner under house arrest. You know that you can move around the house, but that you are most definitely limited in those movements.

4. You know that your move is imminent when....the stress causes your hair to dry out, your skin to break out and sleep is a miserable afterthought. Oh...and I am eating far too much chocolate and yet have dropped a few pounds. Craziest diet EVER!

5. I have spent hours over the last several days washing, sweeping, vacuuming, and disinfecting. This house will be cleaner than it has been in years, and it was never dirty. Why am I going to all this trouble for people I have never met and have absolutely no feeling for? Because I'm a nut, that's why. I'm just like Golda in Fiddler when she said, "I just can't leave a dirty house. "

6. I had taken to leaving the TV on switched to my favourite all-news channel while packing. I had to cease and desist because I couldn't remember where we packed the Rolaids, GasEx, and Pepto Bismol.

7. I have been actively searching for my sense of humour, but it seems to have gone AWOL. I find that I am taking offense at the most innocuous of statements. I'm tired, ill-fed, and feeling enormously displaced. My sarcasm detector has taken a sabbatical so if I jump to conclusions I shouldn't, please cut me some slack. I am at the end of my tolerance rope.

8. Speaking of ill-fed, we are trying not to stock up on too much food because we will just have to move it next week. As a result, we are having to get creative with meal planning. What kind of vegetarian meal can you all come up with that involves 20 or so bottles of flavoured vinegars, 6 jars of various flavoured mustards, dark chocolate ice cream sauce, and 8 Roma tomatoes? Recipes happily accepted.

9. I have taken to wandering around the house in search of tasks. As our list dwindles, I am finding it hard to believe that we are actually moving next week. I suppose that I think that keeping busy will keep me from crying. When I first started writing about this move back in May, I was unequivocal in my belief that it was just a house and a home is where the memories are made. I still believe that to be true, but this endless process of sorting, organizing, and purging has brought the past flooding back. I remember bedtime stories read, birthday celebrations, pool parties, youth group sleep-overs, arguments fought, weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, a goofy labrador retriever, camp laundry, a shiva, giggles, tears, Shabbat dinners, a few backyard Kabbalat Shabbat services, dear ones who were here and will never see the new place, and yes...even the f***ing squirrels. It all happened here in The North Jewish Ghetto and in this house. I better understand now why my sons are having a bit of difficulty with this move and I am more incisively aware of their nostalgia and their pain. If I have been dismissive of that, I profoundly apologize. I hope to be able to convince them with a more acute sensitivity that the new place is a good thing for The Husband and me, and that new memories for all of us will be made there. No, it won't be the same. But if home is truly where the heart is, it can only get better.

Ten days and counting.....