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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Packing We Will Go

I hope everyone had a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Holiday and that your New Year is looking bright. I continue to see a faint glow on our horizon so that's keeping me going. We spent a nice Christmas evening with our friends Vance and Laurie and their two boys. They were the first people we met when we moved to VA 12 years ago and I must say I will miss them sorely. Laurie is the kind of person who, even if you don't see her for a year, you will pick right back up as if no time had passed and she will have you laughing so hard you will blow your cosmo right out your nose. It's not an attractive look and it stings a bit but those are the friends that get you through the tough times so it's worth the red stain on your blouse.

In other news, we just flew in from Chicago tonight. It is official...they handed over the keys so we are now the proud owners of a condo in the land of corrupt politicians...I feel like we're moving back to Louisiana, only it's a lot colder. We have exactly one week left here in DC and now time has finally decided to speed up. In the next 4 days I have made a list (!!) of what we need to do to prepare for the movers who arrive on Monday.

Still no news out of Nepal but the yahoo groups are heating up with lots of speculation so that keeps life interesting at least.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is that something?

Today's mail brought the usual Christmas cards and plethora of catalogs but tucked away in the middle was an official-looking envelope from the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center. That's odd--we already got our new I-171 so what else could they be sending us? We've never gotten anything other than I-171's from them for either China or Nepal. It's a rather thin envelope....

Dear Petitioner:

The State Department's National Visa Center has recently received your approval Form I600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This letter is to inform you that your petition has been forwarded to the appropriate visa-issuing post where the adoption interview will take place. We have entered your petition into our records and have given your petition the following Case Number: yada yada ###

This case has been forwarded to: Embassy of the U.S. Visa Unit, etc, etc. in Kathmandu, Nepal

Yay! I have no idea what it means (yes, I have emailed our agency) but it's something at least and for now, I'll take it!

Meanwhile, Len is in Chicago working. It's in the negative numbers there temperature-wise. It's not a whole lot better here--26 degrees with a wind-chill that must be much worse with our 35mph winds. Bitter cold for DC!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Can it be? Is that a ray of light I see?

We had been quite afraid that the end of 2008 would look and feel pretty much like the beginning of 2008…bleak and filled with anxiety. With less than 2 weeks to go until 2009 it looks like there may be a break in the clouds.

If you are just now tuning in to the blog, take a peek at the archives to learn what you have missed. To summarize, 2008 has mostly been a pretty crappy year and one that we are only too happy to see end. There have been some really good highlights which I will point out towards the end so as to end on a positive note (consider it my Christmas gift to you for reading my tales of pity and woe all year).

To start the year, we had our 4th and final miscarriage and watched as our quest to adopt from China lengthened into a seemingly insurmountable wait. As of today the wait is 34 months.

34 months.

Just shy of 3 years.

If you look over to the right, you will see how long we have currently been in the queue for China. By today’s estimate, it’ll be another 16 months (give or take a year).

We also started a concurrent adoption with Nepal and turned in our paperwork in February. Nepal has been a rough ride but it looks like there may be a glimmer of hope for early 2009. In the meantime, I have been re-submitting expired paperwork. The good news for this week was that we received our new I-171 form and our new state police clearances so we are up-to-date with our Nepal paperwork until June (when our fingerprints will expire once again….).

The highlight of our year has been that Len got a new job in August as the speechwriter for the CEO of the company he worked for prior to his latest job. He will also be handling executive communications which makes him very happy as he gets to do a lot of writing!

The job is in Chicago so we have been consumed with getting and keeping our house ready to sell. We managed to put our house on the market in the week that everything went to hell with the economy. Although we have had a lot of traffic in our house (nearly every day for the past 90 days) we have had trouble getting a fairly priced offer.

You may remember my covert surveillance of the Beamer Leather couple from early last week. They made an offer! After a few days of negotiating, we agreed on a price and scheduled the home inspection. While that happened we got another offer on the house for the same price so we accepted that one as a contingency in case the Leather couple backed out. The home inspection was this week and after much back-and-forthing on that (the repairs are very minor) we finally reached an agreement today! The paperwork was sent to our relocation company and by Monday we should be officially free. They will take this house to close in January. We have our close in Chicago set for the end of the month and then we will move sometime within the first few weeks of January.

It feels good to finally be doing something again. And boy do we have a lot to do now with scheduling movers, arranging plane flights for the close, getting Charis boarded during some of the moving, hotel rooms, fixing the items from the home inspection, utility shut-offs, mail, etc.

Ahhh! I’m back in my list-making, organizational mode or what I fondly refer to as “normal”! All I need is a double shot of G with my T and I will achieve Nirvana.

We will spend the holidays here in Falls Church, and hopefully this will be the last year that it is just the two of us.

Maybe it will be a Merry Christmas after all.

P.S.--Happy Birthday today Mom and Spiff! Mom's pic was taken in Greece and Spiff's was at a dinner party at his house (the fire extinguisher is only brought out for special meals...)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Groundhog Day!

Have you ever seen the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day? The premise is that he continues to live the same day over and over until he gets it right. OMG are you kidding me? That’s MY life. And the kicker is, I can’t figure out what I need to do to get it right.

Everyday is basically the same. Get up, take Len to the metro, come home to fix breakfast and find that one or more realtors have called and want to show the house “in the next 15 minutes or so”. After a quick cleanup of the cat food bowls, the breakfast dishes, the bathrooms and a doublecheck to be sure the file cabinets are locked, I vacate the house and hang out at the local coffeeshop. After an hour or so, I return to find every light in the house on, the cat traumatized, and outside leaves and debris tracked in that now need to be vacuumed out of the rugs.

Add to that a couple of wrenches that get thrown in every other day or so for good measure. Today’s wrenches were:

After dropping Len off at the metro, I notice that the Prius decided not to have any dashboard lights or to shut off when I pushed the power-off button. So this meant an early trip to the Toyota dealership and a rental car. I got home to find the obligatory realtor message waiting for me—she was due to arrive with her clients in a half hour. Still not having had any breakfast, I empty the dishwasher, load it up with the oatmeal pot and bowls from Len’s breakfast, the cat bowl, and the teapot, cups. Then a sweep through the basement for the underwear I had left on the rack to dry and a straighten of the couch cushions from our tv couch potato activity last night. A run upstairs to be sure there are no stray pubes in the tub or toothpaste in the sink, and crap! I still need to put away the laundry basket of clothes that is sitting on the floor. I can’t throw them into the closet since the closets need to be neat (this isn’t a dinner party where you can ban your guests from closets and extra rooms, you know you do that) so I hastily throw stuff into the dressers and then run the basket back down to the basement laundry area. Check the office file cabinets—they are locked. Lock the computer.

And then I hear Charis. And this is not a happy, purring kitty sound. It’s a pissed off, where is my food, why is the throw on the sofa not out for me to curl up under, why are you running around? guttural howl. Now, she’s 16 ½. That’s really old in cat years. She deserves to live out her years with a full belly, a warm spot to rest in for 23 ½ hours a day and relative peace. I do a quick cuddle and mutter some platitudes that I know I will pay for later and realize that I have less than 5 minutes to leave the house. I turn on the Christmas lights (holiday cheer and all…I hope they aren’t Jewish) and get in the rental to hang out at the coffee shop.

Only this time, I’m curious. This is apparently the same couple who came to our THIRD open house this weekend. Covert surveillance is called for. I have a rental car after all. Never had time to put in my contacts so I'm still in my glasses. And I’m wearing a hat and scarf so my disguise is complete. I park down the street behind a truck. The first car pulls into the driveway. It’s a Ford Taurus so I figure it’s the client’s car. But only one person gets out and she goes into the house. Hmmm. Not the typical realtor's over-priced, flashy gas guzzler. Maybe the realtor is in a rental? 25 minutes pass. Another car pulls up. A silver Beamer. A cute couple dressed in leather gets out and heads inside. 30 minutes pass. I am now really wishing we had invested in some audio bugging devices and I start daydreaming about the potential conversation I could have overheard:

Realtor in the Practical Car: Now this house has all the amenities you could ever want in a Cape Cod.

Leatherette Lady: Yes, the bathrooms are gorgeous and the house is everything we’ve been looking for.

Leather-studded Dude: And the basement is such a man-cave; I can totally see myself with the flat screen and a cool brewski, kicking back with my dude friends for football season.

Realtor in the Practical Car: And did you notice the deep, fenced-in back yard and the enormous deck?

Leather-studded Dude: I could totally see myself bbq’ing with a cool brewski, kicking back with my dude friends and eating lots of encased meat products on that big deck.

Leatherette Lady: And those deep-soaking tubs! I could take long, hot baths and since the lights are on dimmers, I could really relax after a long hard day in these Jimmy Choo stilettos.

Realtor in the Practical Car: Great! Let’s write up a contract right now. Shall we say full asking price with no concessions?

Leatherette Lady: And since we drive a silver beamer, we obviously have lots of money. Why not offer what they originally were asking when they first put the house on the market this summer? I mean, we can afford it right?

Ah, but I digress. After they leave, I give them a few minutes to be sure they aren’t doing the drive-around-the-block-and-check-out-the-neighborhood trip, then I go inside and realize that I have a good 2 hours before the home inspector is set to show up. Great. I can turn off all the lights they have left on, have some lunch (never having had breakfast, lunch is now a must) and then get to the grocery store and back before he shows up.

The phone rings. Are you F*CKING kidding me? It’s the home inspector. He had a cancellation and “can I come now since I’m sitting in your driveway”?

While he is in the attic the phone rings again. It’s the Toyota place. They are on the phone with the Head Prius Mechanical Guru in Toyota Kingdom and he is apparently stumped. “Just wanted to update you.” Nice courtesy call but with no news, not really the helpful or informative information I was expecting.

The same day, sometimes packaged differently and with different characters, but still the same, every, single, solitary day. The same news:

no, we haven’t sold our house
no, we don’t know when we’re moving
no, we probably won’t be able to visit you in Atlanta for Christmas
no, there is no news on the adoption front
yes, my life is on constant hold

I will continue to hear “please wait and enjoy this lovely muzak in the meantime”

Same old, same old.

Happy Groundhog Day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you Prometheus

There are few things in life that evoke such varying emotions as fire.

As I sat in our living room yesterday and stared into the urban fire blazing in our fireplace, I felt soothed and nourished. While my mind was reminiscing of cooking s’mores on a camping trip and falling asleep near a crackling warmth on Christmas Eve, I realized how far removed infertility and the quest to adopt has taken me from enjoying life. I was finally able to decompress as I burned off the pain of dealing with infertility and stoked a dream for the new year with each added log. I halfheartedly thought, as Len grabbed a newspaper to help the fire burn quicker, that we could just burn the contents of our IVF file. And most especially, those sad sonogram pictures of babies who we knew for only a few weeks. Perhaps we will tonight.

I am not certain why I am drawn to fire. Perhaps its allure comes from historical to present reference; fire was a cultivator of society and in some form or another is still a common trait of mankind today. When we are in control, fire cooks our food and keeps us warm, yet when fire is out of control we risk losing everything. We are dependent on fire to survive, but this very thing that sustains us can so quickly take us, all our humanly possessions, and often our spirit.

While dealing with infertility I precariously played with fire and towards the end I found my ability to maintain control of either my body or my mind slipping away. Perhaps it is the control I currently possess over my personal fire that fosters my ability see the destruction by fire as a chance for something new.

New city. New opportunity. New path. New experiences. New life. New family. New relationships. New understanding. New fears.

Most importantly, a newly found happiness.

Friday, December 5, 2008

From Nepal today

Ministry to build fool-proof process: CCWB, CNFN to aid

Kathmandu: In its endeavor to build and implement a full-proof international adoption procedure-released as the new Terms and Conditions, the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare has called upon Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) and Child NGO Federation to submit a draft of format and process for international adoption to the Ministry. The organization is collectively holding an interaction workshop on Sunday to discuss several options of formatting and process. The workshop aims to bring out the best in a “participatory and qualitative way” and submit the draft to the Ministry after the workshop.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thirteen Lies Lisa is currently telling herself

1. That she is happy to have potential buyers come at 8pm to open closets and poke through the contents of her refrigerator where she has had to hastily stash the leftovers from a hurriedly eaten (and barely finished) dinner.

2. That those same potential buyers will make an offer on a house in Falls Church when one of them works in Baltimore.

3. That Vietnamese coffee drunk at dinner will not cause her to toss and turn and curse her blissfully sleeping (and loudly snoring) husband and cat. That it will also not cause her to dream that they have moved into a Motel 6 instead of a condo in Chicago.


4. That she only watches Survivor because she enjoys the Gabon scenery and not because she has developed a inexplicable attachment and acute concern for the safekeeping of Bob Crowley, the lean, handy, old guy physics teacher from Maine.


5. That Bill Clinton (her Secret Boyfriend #1 who she had to break up with due to circumstances too painful to discuss) will humbly and unobtrusively step a little left of the spotlight and let Hillary Clinton have her moment. That he will not show his ass (literally or figuratively) or continually upstage his wife, our next Secretary of State.

6. That insisting she would be inspired to use daily the exercise equipment which is now languishing in the dark and gloomy basement, when it is positioned in front of the sunny living room windows of the condo in Chicago…with eagerness and enthusiasm. So far, she has only used it six times.

7. That she has used the exercise equipment six times. She has only used it four times.

8. That she has used the exercise equipment four times. She has not used it once.


9. That she does not want another dog just as much as her husband does.


10. That Charis would in any way tolerate a new puppy any better than she tolerated Zoe.

11. That all of the snow that has already fallen in Chicago just lends it a seasonal, festive, holiday feeling and is not grim foreshadowing of the next six months.

12. That finishing all of her holiday shopping on-line and having the gifts mailed directly will not make her feel any less in the holiday spirit. Personally wrapping and delivering gifts is time-consuming and over-rated.


13. That realizing her first Christmas with Len was 21 years ago doesn't make her just a bit misty-eyed.
And yes, that was a brass desk lamp he was opening; she was already changing his bachelor pad decor even though she was still an English teacher.

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