We're in. Not in the way we wanted, where we would have a few days to work at the house and then go back to sleep at the apartment. No, that was not made an option. I'll spare you the details and, for purposes of this post, merely state that we have dealt with more incompetence and classless, inhumane behavior in the last ten months than I could ever imagine. And it makes me wonder how people who aren't attorneys navigate stuff like this. We know our legal rights, and we have the skill set necessary to effectively stand up for them, but you have to imagine that there are a lot of folks out there who are similarly situated to us in terms of being dealt a lousy hand of cards, but who aren't similarly situated in that they don't know how to get around the obstacles that are thrown at them.
Heck, I don't have to imagine. Since all of this started, I can't tell you how many people have shared horror stories about reimbursable expenses that never got reimbursed, getting booted from temporary housing with no place to go, etc. It makes me want to write a book, or do a TV interview, or create a Web bulletin board for aggrieved consumers.
I can't focus on that right now, because I have more immediate fish to fry, but I hope that with the passage of time the anger doesn't completely go away, as I really do want to leverage our horribly negative experience into something more positive - both in the interest of helping others and in the interest of achieving some level of satisfaction and closure.
In the meantime, we're back in the house. Furniture arrived Saturday. Most of the contents of the apartment were moved - by us - on Sunday, with a gun to our heads, because a party that shall remain nameless was sending us threatening notices trying to evict us from said premises. Which is interesting, because you can't evict someone under a lease once you have already constructively evicted them, and it sure seemed like we were constructively evicted from the apartment, when said party informed us that they were leasing the apartment out from under us (and gave keys to a third party to come in and clean our carpets while we were in the apartment), because we had given our notice. Except we hadn't given our notice: it appears that someone else purported to give that notice on our behalf, with zero legal authority to do so, after assuring us that it hadn't, and wouldn't, attempt to give such notice under any circumstances.
Oops, I said I would spare the details. But you can kind of see where I'm going with the whole "what do people who aren't lawyers do to get through this stuff" comment? Suffice it to say that, in the midst of moving, we had to expend multiple brain cells, and hours of precious time, pointing out our legal rights. But we got most of the stuff out on Sunday - we thought. After the second truck came on Monday with the containers bearing our non-furniture belongings, it took several more hours to clean out, and clean up, the apartment and tender keys, clickers, etc. It was 3 am this morning before we got the last of the food put up in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry. We literally collapsed into our bed (which, in and of itself, was like coming home - I forgot how comfortable our mattress is). But sleep was kind of a dicey proposition, given that two dogs confused by all of the boxes were circling the bed like sharks, and the two older cats were nuzzling up against me demanding attention (they don't like change - the boy in particular), and the younger cat was amps on eleven: "BOXES! THERE'S BOXES EVERYWHERE! I'M GOING TO CLIMB ON THEM, AND THEN JUMP ONTO THE BED AND TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THEM!"
At 6 am, we learned that said younger cat knows how to work the push buttons for the oven. Are you kidding me? At least the range is operated by knobs - he can't turn that on unless he develops opposable thumbs. But there it was at 6 am - beep, beep, beep. Wuzzah? Not my alarm, which was set for 6:40. Coming from the direction of the kitchen. Oh, thanks, Max, for turning on the oven timer. I'll try to go back to sleep now, and if I drift off at all, it will be five minutes before my alarm sounds. Also, mental note to get in the habit of checking to see if the oven is on - at least until the novelty wears off.
At about 6:35, the kids woke up: "Mom, is it okay if we open a box?" Um, not really, given some serious logistical issues (which I will explain momentarily) - but I decided not to fight them. Good thing, because the ginormous box that they opened: (1) only contained eight pairs of shoes, which amused them and gave me hope that some of the larger boxes are only large because they contained heavy or oddly shaped items, and that they will unpack rapidly as a result; and (2) contained a pair of shoes that were too big for PJ when we moved (I bought 'em on sale from Crazy 8 at the end of last summer) but now fit him perfectly. They are slip-on tennis shoes with sharks on the toes. He insisted on wearing them to school. And he announced that unpacking was "fun," which was a tremendous reversal of his prior position, which could be summarized as "I-HATE-THIS-I-AM-SO-BORED-WHY-DO-WE-HAVE-TO-DO-THIS-I-WANT-TO-DO-SOMETHING-ELSE-WHAT-DO-YOU-MEAN-THAT-WE-DON'T-HAVE-TV-OR-INTERNET-I-REALLY-HATE-THIS." (Kid, even if we had TV or Internet, you couldn't see the screen or reach a plug. Also, we don't have hot water, because the plumber failed to take the clip off of the line, which means that we had to shower at Nana's last night, so, really, I think we have bigger fish to fry.)
More than once, I had to pull out the "I was an Army brat, we moved all of the time, and whining and other uncooperative behavior was not tolerated" speech. To hear me tell it, I was responsible for packing and unpacking my own stuff every time we moved -including that first move when I was six weeks old.
The main obstacle du jour is that the Blackmon Mooring packing women decided to err on the side of caution and treat every object in the house as a priceless heirloom. Hence, the FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR ginormous cartons that were delivered to my house on Monday and that now block out the sun. My first reaction was, "Oh, dear God - we're hoarders." Then I started opening cartons and discovered that they are 90% paper and bubble wrap - which creates another logistical issue, because (1) Spouse and I are committed recyclers, and (2) even if we weren't, the City of Fort Worth doesn't pick up trash in bags. So, whether we put out the paper and stuff for bulky pick-up next week, drag it to the school's recycling bin or pass it on to others, it all has to go back in boxes - and it fits in the boxes better (allowing you to collapse more boxes flat) if you FOLD IT. Ugh. UGH. UGH. UGH.
We are trying to see the humor where we can, and, to that end, we have created three contests:
1. Dumbest Individually Wrapped Item. Current front-runners are (a) stadium cup and (b) rock. Actually, multiple rocks - they were vase fillers, and the packing women wrapped every stinkin' one of them. You know, in case they were moon rocks or something. (Actually, they probably are souvenirs from a river trip, so they probably are special - but they are also ROCKS.)
2. Smallest Item Wrapped in the Biggest Box. Self-explanatory.
3. Funniest Item Description. Packing women had limited use of the English language. My personal favorite is "kitchen clothes." (That would be aprons.)
We also have created a fun game called "What's In the Box?" Explanatory notes, as noted above, are limited, and more often than not boxes of dining room and kitchen stuff fall into four categories: "cups," "plates," "vases" and "decors." A "cup" could be anything from a stadium cup to a crystal goblet. A "plate" could be anything that you eat off of. A "vase" could be an actual vase, or it could be any other roughly cylindrical object with an open mouth that was deemed not to be a "cup." And "decors" - well, you could be dealing with anything from a series of individually wrapped rocks to a pig-shaped cookie jar. So we try to guess what's in the box before we open it.
Thinking of a way to turn this into a drinking game.
In the meantime, our house looks like a rat maze. There's one path through the common rooms, the hallway between our bedroom and the kids' bedroom is blocked with floor to ceiling boxes, and there's a tunnel straight outta Dig-Dug from the door to C's bedroom to the bunk beds, which are walled in on all sides by boxes. Both boys are sleeping in there until we can make it through the living room, dining room and kitchen boxes and then relocate their boxes to the living and dining rooms. It would be ridiculous to open them in place, because you literally can't access the locations where stuff needs to go.
So, for now, the boys' jobs are to help Mom sort through housewares and, in the limited space available to them, consolidate like boxes of their stuff (books with books, toys with toys), while sorting unwanted stuff into discard boxes. Considering compensating them monetarily for number of cartons collapsed and pounds of items discarded.
While this is going on, the cats' litter box is in our bathtub, which is okay because we can't use our bathroom right now anyway, and are all using the newly remodeled boys' bathroom, which doesn't have the medicine cabinet door installed yet, so you can wash up in there but have to go elsewhere to look at yourself.
I tell myself, and the boys, that we need to celebrate the small victories. Instead of focusing on the sheer enormity of the work, our attitude should be, "Yay, we collapsed twenty more boxes" or "Yay, I found my socks."