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Please Don't Wreck, Train

Sometimes life seems to crest a rise and start plummeting, break-neck, so fast you can't stop to breathe or look around, let alone try to gather your bearings or attempt to get organized. You hold on to whatever is near to hand, and you try to stay calm, and if you happen to feel a slack in momentum or a semblance of momentary control, you can try to tackle and repair whatever issue is flailing most wildly about you. But you're not in control, and the best for which you can hope is that, sooner or later, you'll come to the bottom of the hill and find a nice, comfortable, more livable pace on the flatlands.

We just got back from Eric's family's home on Saturday. That alone would have been enough to make life feel a bit hairy; an ordinary extended road trip and its aftermath are sufficient to throw most families off their groove for a bit. This, of course, was not an ordinary trip. We were most fortunate to have that hotel room, as the house felt cramped with all of us and the weight of sadness lying across us all. Rita was doing better than I had expected; chemo had really knocked her on her back, and after a few weeks without it, she can actually get up and walk around once more. Her voice is gone, though, and she's lost a lot of weight, and she's...well, she's saying goodbye. She didn't want to do much but sit and watch, a sad gaze in her eyes, the boys play and her son sit close at hand. We left the house with her only a handful of times over the two weeks we were there: to go to church a few times, and to shop for her dress for her funeral. I'll admit, that last event messed with me quite a bit.

If the trip was the only thing happening, as I said, I'd have felt breathless enough, even now that we're back and engulfed in the post-trip hell that is finding everything that is out of place and trying to ease back into a routine again. Long-time readers will know, though, that I seem to have a complete inability to deal with only one major crisis or life-changing event at a time. (Witness the Wisconsin move/unexpected pregnancy, or the Ohio house purchase/new college job, for two examples from the top of my head.) I suppose it was inevitable that we receive a phone call a few days before leaving for West Virginia.

"Hello, is Eric there? This is H.T. So-and-So, and I found his resume on I have a position in the Toledo area that would be a good fit."

I'll let you guys get back up off the floor and regain your breath. I'm still sort of doing that, myself.

So Eric did a phone interview, and we looked into it, and the interview went well, and they loved him, and we went back and forth and back and forth with each other over the whole mess. Wisconsin stinks...can we afford to leave right now?...will they pay relocation?...Eric's company has been good to him until recently...what about the house?...what if, what if, what if...

When we were in West Virginia, they decided that they wanted to interview him in person, which set up a soap opera-style chain of tension and unresolved questions that dragged on for days. Every day after he flew up and back brought us a little more information: the interview went well, and we'll call you back; we're having meetings, and we'll call you back; they've agreed to write an offer, and they'll call you back; they've written the offer and freaking Fed-Exed it to your house back in Wisconsin without telling the recruiter what's in it; call them back once you've returned home and read it. My stomach didn't unclench for days. It's still actually clenched, even now that we're home, and we discovered that the offer had no new information, and he had to call the HR manager to get the answers to the questions that we needed to know most - those dealing with relocation.

...because without relocation assistance, game over. We couldn't do it. Not a chance.

But as it turns out, they can offer help with relocation. So here's the whole package:

  • A salary that's a decent hop over what he's currently making
  • Benefits that compare about equally to what we currently have
  • The title of Systems Software Engineer (that's had both of us grinning happily; oh, what you can become with a degree or two in music!)
  • A relocation package that includes:
    • 6 percent realtor's fee for the selling agent
    • Closing costs on the sale of our house and on the purchase of a new one
    • Movers (with packing included again!)
    • Either 30 days stay at a hotel or two months' rent in an apartment in Toledo

Eric's been talking to a few people about whether he should jump ship like this, and though he's hearing opinions on both sides of the matter, most of the people seem to be of the opinion that he should go for it. He's talking to his boss today to, without mentioning the new offer, see exactly where his current career track is heading. We're also having a realtor come look at this house tomorrow to tell us what he thinks our chances are of being able to sell it within two months.

We need to let the new company know one way or the other by Friday. We're leaning heavily toward accepting the offer, but nothing's set in stone yet. It's risky. It's really risky, and we've only been here for about a year and a half. But we'll see. Our heads are swimming with voices and thoughts and opinions and concerns, and we just need a little more solid information before we can make a reasoned and fact-based decision.

Reasoned and fact-based. That hasn't been my modus operandi in a long time, I think, and it's about time I returned to it. (And a pox on spouses who might insinuate that "return" isn't precisely the phrase I should choose over "make an exploratory visit.")

And if that wasn't enough?

Gabe started walking while we were in West Virginia. Rita got to see him take his first six-step voyage across the room; what a sweet gift for her to receive! He's still doing it only sporadically, but he's decided to evolve into a toddler mentally as well as physically, and he's now become an enormous handful, complete with temper tantrums and picking on his older brother.

Sam started preschool again today. He had a good time, I think, though he refuses to talk about it with me. "I had a few friends, and we played. Now stop asking questions, Mommy!"

I lost ten pounds before we left, and then I put them back on while we were gone, thanks to the hotel's Continental Doughnut Buffet Breakfast.

If I don't get a good night's sleep soon, without tossing, turning, and feeling as though I need to throw up, I'm going to snap. I should have napped when Gabe did today, while Sam was at school, but I needed to clean the house for the realtor. Hopefully, if we got good news tomorrow, cleaning wouldn't be an issue at all, as most of our stuff would be moved out almost immediately (they want Eric as soon as possible), but I'm doing my best to accommodate all possibilities. At least the realtor seemed relieved to hear that we hadn't yet put a whole lot of money into repairs and upgrades. I wonder whether a buyer would feel differently.

previous one year ago:
I've often wondered what it would be like to be able to travel backward in time and talk to my teenage self.
two years ago:
So now I'm worried that we're somehow not stimulating Sam's curiosity enough.
three years ago:
Ironically, many of his waking moments have been almost active enough to make us question whether or not he was sick.
four years ago:
Yesterday Eric and I talked to the priest.
five years ago:
"What are we doing here?" I all but screeched to the other librarians.
In the ears:
"Psalm 90," Charles Ives

On the Bookshelf:
Japanese the Manga Way

Gratuitous Sam

Crazy happy

Eating cake with Papou

First day of school

Extra Gabe


Eatng melon with Grandma

Mug play


©1999-2003 C. Richmond.