Friday, July 21, 2006

Clutter! Mess! REVISITED!

Why I took these pictures, I don't know. They bring up...irritation...even now, over five years later.

But, since I looked at them and was irritated and have pictoral evidence of exactly WHY my husband's packratness bothers me so much (and my MIL's packratness bothers me even more) I have decided to post them.

Several months before we married, my mother-in-law moved out of the apartment she had ostensibly been sharing with her sons (she had been living, more or less, with her longterm boyfriend, for the past year or thereabouts) so that we could rent it from her. I am forced to use the term 'move out' loosely, for while she claims to have moved out, she left a LOT of shit. Sure, SOME of this shit is my husband's. But most of it is not. Note the bicycles. INSIDE. And not my husband's. There is an enclosed patio and locked closet, both of more than decent size, attached to this apartment. But they were covered in assorted OTHER shit (we found everything from years-dead plants to decayed batteries to plastic boxes so old they literally broke in our hands as we lifted them) so the bikes were inside. The TV didn't work anyway (for those of us that think no-tv is new for isn't). SO. Much. SHIT.

We now get to see the kitchen. What you can see is NOT all you get here. MIL is, you see, a packrat of absolutely insane proportions. She saved every pair of single-use chopsticks she ever got. As a Chinese person in Hawaii...yeah. I lost count around 700. Why was I even COUNTING? I dunno. Amusement. So that I could tell people there were 12,345 pairs of chopstics in the kitchen, along with cans of Ensure that had expired a decade previous and bags of flour so old I should have submitted them to the natural science museum. Whatever the reason, it was a waste of time.

The dishwasher held the clean dishes. So that the actual cabinets could hold assorted nicknacks, candles, assorted small and unused appliances purchased off of infomercials, you know, SHIT. And YES, I do mean that there was more than you can see on the counters here. In addition to that bit of nonfunctional unloveliness, the oven was full of more dishes as well as all the pans and such. My husband assures me that the oven was never used, as his mom preferred the toaster oven, which also (hehe) housed the pyrex pieces. Both of these situations existed for two reasons: 1)MIL kept those foil things that come on the bottoms of pies and some restaurants' takeout and 2)the drawer that should have housed all this shit was full to the I-can't-open-it point with plastic grocery bags. What I didn't realize was that they had been shoved so hard that some had escaped up out of the back of the drawer, hiding to create stinkageness the first time I tried to bake something. Niiiiiiiice. All in all, there was not an INCH of counter space in the WHOLE FUCKING KITCHEN. Not an INCH. I don't know how my mother in law cooked, because surely she DID, I think it was all simply done in midair and placed in a crock pot, because that is how it seemed to happen when I came over for dinner (which we had to eat sitting on the floor in the 10 square feet of open space in entry/hallway).

Oh, but she DID have a table. You just couldn't sit at it. I mean, you could probably have managed to get yourself seated at it and that would have worked out, but you couldn't have moved afterwards. I saw my MIL clear it away once. She pretty much picked everything up and dumped it on my husband's bed so that her mom could sit at the table. I'm not sure what is up with the clear space in the photo. Maybe she decided she needed whatever it was she had in that spot at her new place.

I don’t have any pictures of the bedroom. It was perhaps simply too appalling. There were racks of clothes…store-style racks of clothes…outside the closet. File cabinets. A set of bunkbeds and then just…SHIT. You could barely walk through the room. Maybe that is why there are no pictures. I couldn’t get in there to fucking TAKE them.

Anyway, look and feel better about your life and the amount of shit you have in YOUR place. This is BEFORE I put any of my stuff in there. We had to clear out a lot of stuff. A lot of it, I was just…I was disgusted…I stuck it in boxes or bags and dumped it at MIL’s new place. I don’t want all your fucking half-burned candles and old correspondence and 1000 pairs of Chinese takeout single-use chopsticks. Three different types of coffee grinders, 12 spatulas, three hairdryers, and four (clothes) irons. A linen closet FULL of sheets, for the ONE bed we had.

It was a lot of work. It made me appreciate packratness for the mental problem it so obviously was. Clearly it took a lot of mental work for my mother-in-law to leave this stuff behind. I just wish she hadn't dumped it all on the heads of the newlywed, new-family, struggling day-to-day family that we were.

Random Summer Fun

Sometimes, summer just hits you upside the head. Like on Wednesday, when I was sitting at my computer typing "we are going somewhere today...maybe the zoo" to ~L~ at the exact same moment that the lovely mamaD (I don't know what she blogs as!) typed "we are going to the zoo...". So, since it was obviously a zoo kind of day, off we went.

To the zoo. Where the kids appreciated random bits of animalness (everything from toddlerific imitating walrus "burps" to big kids oggling porcupine spines), played in the wonderful but highly distracting 'kid zone', and generally got way too worn out.

And WTF, it was summer, we might as well stay south overnight and play more the next day.

Riding in my car must have worked some kind of proximity magic on Little Boy N (well, that or the bribe of Pirate's Booty), because I'll be darned if he isn't the very-best-little-kid-in-the-world in toddlerific's eyes now. She ADORES him. The feeling, apparently, is mutual: "She was crying but I could take care of her...I am going out her door Miss Niki...I like her...because she is so cute...". Way to melt my heart Little Boy N. He snuck random cute-toddler hugs the whole time we were together. So. Cute.

Well, Toddlerific slept in but GirlieG and Boyness were both having allergic/sick/whatever kinds of problems...they were rough on Thursday. We had planned Seattleness but ended up staying at ~L~'s place and attempting to facilitate any amount of not-tear-each-others'-heads-off we could get out of the kids. We all had fun, it was just...Seattle would have been way too much energy to expend on already out-of-sorts (and not in a recoverable way) kids. We did eventually make it out, in the afternoon, to a park. After the "5 more minutes" warning from me, we decided to check out the creek first before leaving...big, well, I dunno if it was a mistake. There were soon splashing fun-having kids and leaving was nowhere in sight. ~L~ captured some of this on camera and put it in her blog.

Ah, summer.

We got home and the way-tired kids had showers and put themselves to bed two hours before their usual bedtime. Oh, the fun.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Big Bad Walmart Rant

On Friday, circumstances aligned themselves most unfavorably and we found ourselves in Renton before the opening of Target or any other such civilized establishment, unwilling to travel far in morning traffic, and *gasp* within sight distance of an open (of course) Walmart.

Walmart should be razed to the ground and the likes of Sam Walton and all his progeny should be erased forever from the collective memory of our society.

It sucked.

I've avoided Walmart for about a year now. In fact, I can recall the last time we went to Walmart it was to pick up a last-second birthday present for the same child whose birthday party we went to on Saturday, so it was exactly a year between trips.

We browsed to kill some time before Target opened or I could safely get back on the freeway. The store was dirty. The employees were oblivious. The radio overhead played a maddeningly static-popping country music station, which midway through our stay at the store somehow found an R&B station as well, so we had Country, R&B, and Static playing through the crappy speakers all at once. Madness threatened. The floor was dirty enough to blacken the kids' hands when they decided ("Ewww, get off the floor!") to race each other down an aisle on hands and knees. Items were out of stock, others overstocked enough that bulky pallet-fulls of such assorted items as fabric softener, toilet paper, and Juicy Juice were strewn about the aisles randomly, like some newbie couldn't remember where they belonged and, unable to find another employee to ask (they were certainly short-staffed enough), did the sensible thing and walked out of that hellhole on the spot.

We left before the freeway was free. I just needed out.

We went to Target. Everything I'd purchased at Walmart was less expensive at Target. 24 pack Crayola crayons, $.25 at Walmart, $.10 at Target. 70 page craptastic notebooks $.10 at Walmart, $.05 at Target. Even the REGULAR PRICE CLOTHING was cheaper at Target (and I already only buy it on clearance, which, by the way, was ALSO cheaper at Target by over HALF).

What. The. Fuck.

Never, ever, evereverevereverever going back to Walmart again. Ever.

Hair Stories

We were posting our hair stories on a discussion board I frequent. Turns out this is a pretty meaningful subject for a lot of women. Here is mine:

I had my first hair cut at 3 years old. My dad cried. My hair had been thick, dark, and waist length, which is ridiculous to keep up on a three year old, and my mom was pregnant with my little brother and simply DONE with caring for my hair.

I then grew it again until the dreaded PIXIE CUT when I was 8 or thereabouts. It looked simply horrific on me, with my rectangular face and prominent jawline. I looked like a boy for two years. The attempt to soften the oddness of it growing out backfired, making an awkward phase last far longer than it needed to.

And then I grew it and grew it and grew it, only trimming it occassionally when chlorine (I was a competitive swimmer) rendered the ends ridiculous. By college it was well past my waist, thick, wavy, and beautiful. I got it permed my freshman year and it was absolutely gorgeous, thick curls if I wanted them, lanky heavy curls if I wanted them. I have beautiful photos of myself and my firstborn, my long hair draped on the bed as I admired little newborn her.

But my hair became difficult to care for in the Hawaii heat and I cut it short. I was never satisfied with it any shorter than shoulder length but the hassle of drying my hair (it seriously took 6 hours) kept me cutting it frequently.

When I was pregnant with my third I shaved my head. And LOVED EVERY MOMENT of my shaved head, EVERY SECOND of my hair growing back, the feeling that I was living and thriving and growing and producing for myself and not just for my babies. Funny how just my hair made me feel like this; like my embodied existance was not simply for others, and here was the proof. I could make something that served no purpose for anyone but ME! My third is 18 months old now and my hair is a couple inches past my shoulders, and I am considering shaving my head again. But I also LOVE the feeling of long, long hair. So I remain undecided. Maybe next year I'll shave my head again.