Irma and others

Don’t try to have a conversation with me this week. I will, at some point, mutter darkly about throwing away five pounds of PERFECTLY GOOD shrimp. It will not need to be relevant to the conversation for me to bring this up, either. I am bitter and it’s stupid that I’m bitter and yet: five pounds of shrimp. It’s become the focal point of every feeling I’ve had the past few months.

But let’s back up.

When I last left off, we were mostly all about Monkey’s immediate needs and making sure he was okay. It was all… well, it was a lot. Me imitating Oprah and randomly pointing and shouting “YOU get an ulcer, and YOU get an ulcer, and YOOOUUUU GET AN ULCER!” did little to alleviate either his immediate health crisis or his mood, which is just crazy because I am exactly like Oprah but he never seemed all that excited about the ulcer. But time (and meds and modified diet) heals a lot, and although we are all still working on the game plan for moving forward next semester, Monkey is Monkey again.

At the same time, Chickadee was getting ready to head back to school, and I needed to be there for her, too. In particular, I needed to sit in her room while she cleaned it. Because my adult daughter is a toddler and cannot accomplish household tasks without me prodding her continuously loves me so much. Ahem. And somehow, Chickadee owns more STUFF than anyone else in our family, so the room clean-out we did last year before she moved away was amazing and then over the course of the year (take one thing, leave twelve more on every visit…) and the final move-back-with-a-dorm-room’s-worth-of-stuff-while-deathly-ill somehow culminated in four times as much stuff as we’d started with, seemed like.

Chickie has a single this year, which has tons of benefits, but also a few drawbacks. For example, we had to acquire many items which had previously been shared, and so by the time summer ended, the piles of clothes (SOMANYCLOTHES) and board games and such in her room here at home were joined by other goodies like both a fridge AND a microwave, plus the cart said items live on, PLUS the storage unit for the TV and oh yeah, the TV she bought herself, PLUUUUS the storage unit for the bathroom (she even has her own bathroom; cue #kidstodayhaveittooeasy), etc. And part of the clothessplosion was, according to her, because her dresser “wasn’t big enough” to hold everything.

Me: Your dresser is plenty big. If it doesn’t hold everything, you have too much stuff.
Her: No, it LOOKS big but it’s not. It’s a little kid dresser and the drawers are really shallow. Plus I need more space.
Me: You need to get rid of some stuff.
Her: No, that’s not going to help. LITTLE KID DRESSER.
Me: If I buy you a new dresser will you go through your clothes and cull out some stuff?
Her: Probably not.
Her: Fine.

I bought her a new dresser. Well, a new-to-her dresser, anyway. It is about 30% larger than the old one, plus the drawers are deeper. Perhaps most importantly, it is not a “little kid” dresser. (Said little kid dresser lived in the hallway for a while and after some period of time Otto brought it downstairs and put it on Craigslist, and the people who ended up buying it brought a bona fide baby with them, so I wish them many years of joy with their new purchase until said baby becomes a pseudo-adult and deems it wholly inadequate for her jammin’ hoarder lifestyle, yo.)

But you know, CHICKADEE HAD MONO and then she was taking online summer classes while still having mono, and then I finally had to say IF YOU DO NOT CLEAN OUT YOUR ROOM BY THIS DATE I DESIGNATE I WILL NOT HELP YOU. This, of course, was because I am mean and controlling and awful, and not at all because I didn’t want to be up all night the day before she moved back to campus. Anyway, she wanted my help, and over the course of a weekend everything got unpacked and sorted and repacked, and some clothing was indeed culled, and in the end, she was packed up for school and we could actually walk through her room again.

Note: The (new) dresser is full. She took more clothing to school than I own and the dresser is still full. I… don’t understand.

Move-in day was a series of unfortunate events, which was a surprise to none of us. Chickadee has a wrist injury that comes and goes, and by the time we left she was having quite a lot of pain, so I knew she couldn’t lift anything, which was fine, because I went down with her in her car and Otto came later (when he was done teaching for the day) with the rest of her stuff. We could handle everything, right? Well. HAHAHA. Last year we pulled up at our designated time and a swarm of student volunteers picked the car clean in about ten seconds, placing everything in the hallway outside her room. This year, Chickie signed up to be one of the student volunteers.
Pros to this plan: Getting to move in early! And it’s nice and quiet.
Cons to this plan: NO ONE IS THERE TO HELP and the air conditioning isn’t up to full power

We pulled up to the back door of her dorm and it went like this: I unloaded everything from the car to the sidewalk. Then I parked the car. Then Chickadee held the door while I brought everything in from the sidewalk to line the hallway just inside. Then I carried everything down the hall to the elevator. Then I put everything in the elevator. Then I took everything out of the elevator. Then I carried it down the hall to her room. Then I set my hair on fire.

I mean, Chickie helped by carrying small things, like her purse, and some pillows…. (I am not complaining.)

Once we got into the room, of course we had to move around some existing items, and the bed was lofted and she said we’d need help to unloft it and I was all NAH WE ARE STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMEN WE GOT THIS and about 10 minutes later I discovered that the beds there are REALLY FUCKING HEAVY and simultaneously had an anxiety attack AND dropped a frame on my own damn head while trying not to drop it on my screaming daughter. In the end, the bed was unlofted, and I was on the floor under it, a sweaty, tearful mess, with my hair caught/tangled in the springs and my neck throbbing, at which point my kid started yelling at me that next time when she tells me we need help I should listen to her. SO THAT WAS FUN.

We took a few minutes to recoup and then resumed moving and arranging everything else (nothing else was so fraught, thankfully).

First we attempted to assemble a square wire shelving unit by only sort of reading the directions, and after multiple baffling issues we figured out it is, in fact, NOT SQUARE. So if you drop one shelf onto the supports and then drop the next one rotated 90 degrees because you figure they’re all the same, that doesn’t work because rectangles. It went a lot faster once we realized we were dumbasses.

Next Chickadee worked on some other stuff while I began assembling the over-the-toilet storage thingie for her bathroom. Otto was due to arrive about an hour after us, at which point we’d planned to be done with everything we’d brought, but it ended up being more like nearly 3 hours and SPOILER ALERT I only had that stupid thing halfway assembled when he showed up. I basically flung the hex key and a bag of parts at him the minute he walked in, because I’d given up. But I put together a few other things, at least. Also—not to brag or anything—I’d managed to draw my kid into AT LEAST three or four squabbles over stupid stuff like whether the closet should remain permanently open, so there’s that.

Everything got done and her room looked great (I am sure it is covered in beer and hookers and laundry by now, but we do the whole Don’t Ask Don’t Tell thing) and Otto and I headed home much later than anticipated, but giddy, nonetheless. Chickadee is at her best at school and this was a very long and not-so-great summer, so YAY for her being back and happy. She’s been home a couple of times, briefly, but I suspect we will see a lot less of her this year than we did last. Before, she had to come home to get some solitude. With a single, there’s no need. She does still regularly FaceTime me to demand to see the dogs, so that’s… nice for the dogs.

Meanwhile, back at home we settled into a new routine. Once he started feeling better, Monkey was able to do more things, and we are slowly filling his time this semester with Excellent Learning Opportunities and then he had a dental cleaning and they were all, “Yeaaahhhhhh, those wisdom teeth need to come out,” and so because I am The Absolute Worst I basically took my sick kid home this summer, nurtured him back to health, and then made him have mouth surgery.

Here let us pause to note that NEITHER of my children have done anything entertaining after general anesthesia, which is disappointing. Chickadee only ever wants to sleep and Monkey was mostly perplexed by the bandage on his hand from his IV, but that was it. We came home and he bled all over everything for a day and puffed up like a demented chipmunk and then a week later he was mostly fine again.

BUT! Here’s where we come to Irma.

Monkey got his teeth out the Wednesday before Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma came to Georgia the following Monday. Our initial forecast was pretty dire, so Otto and I planned to start our storm prep on that Saturday. Saturday morning, nice and early, Otto was outside figuring out what needed to be done, and he bent over to scoop some dog poop off the driveway (thanks, Duncan! I know you’re blind, but could you maybe poop in the grass like every other dog?) and something in his back… popped. He wasn’t even lifting anything. He shuffled inside and spent most of the day on the couch, icing his back, and telling me he didn’t need to go to Urgent Care. Around about 5:00, I convinced him he did TOO need to go before we were housebound, and so off we went, whereupon the nice doc-in-a-box told Otto to spend the next three days flat on his back.

So, back at home, we were now 1) staring down a big storm, 2) with Otto flat on his back, and 3) Monkey still on a diet of pudding and smoothies and Jell-O and crankiness, with 4) a million things still needing to be done.

Look; I did as much of it as I could. And Monkey helped, some. We brought in all the outdoor furniture, wheeled the grill in, and then I spent the better part of Sunday playing Garage Jenga so as to be able to park my car in there. I went shopping for batteries and shelf-stable foods and as the forecast was screaming about tornadoes, I completely emptied out the floor of Otto’s closet (the only fully interior space big enough for three of us and the dogs) and even lugged a futon mattress down the stairs to toss in there in case we found ourselves camped out for a while. I bagged up ice and packed both freezers as full with it as possible. I brought a cooler inside, even! But… I forgot to put anything in it, because I’m dumb.

The power went out a little after lunchtime on Monday. It didn’t come back until Wednesday afternoon. As soon as it went out, I realized I hadn’t put anything in the cooler, and that opening either the fridge or either of the freezers at this point would be letting the cold out and OH GOD I HAVE MADE A HORRIBLE MISTAKE. For two full days, we three laid around the house reading by candlelight and eating protein bars. It really wasn’t so bad, and given the devastation Irma left in her wake, I am absolutely grateful that we didn’t suffer any real damage. We lost a lot of pieces of trees but no entire trees, and the house and cars are all intact. We had no flooding. We got off easy and I know this.

On the other hand, throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of food hurt my soul and I am bitter about it. The Internet is all OH YOUR FREEZER WILL STILL BE COLD FOR 48 HOURS IF YOU DON’T OPEN IT and our fridge/freezer have a digital temperature display that said it was 50 degrees in the freezer when the power came back on. So. Yeah. No thanks! I’d rather be bitter than poisoned, I guess! I cleaned out the main fridge and freezer pretty much right after the power came back on—and hey, it was great, because I then also CLEANED the years of accumulated gunk, and everything is now pristine and also restocked—but I didn’t do the garage freezer until yesterday. Did I mention bitter? BECAUSE BITTER.

One more thing, because there always has to be a It Could Only Happen To Me twist: on Wednesday morning, before the power was back and we had no idea when it might return, I felt so gross after two unwashed sloth days in the same clothes, I decided I had to take a shower no matter what. I shaved my legs in the sink by lantern-light (that sounds a lot more romantic than it was…), then hopped into the shower for a quick Navy-style get wet, scream at how cold it is, soap up, rinse and scream, get out session. I felt 1000% better, if a little bit frozen. While toweling off and putting on lotion (again by lantern-light!), I discovered… something… on my inner thigh. Um, very high up on my inner thigh. Like, almost not even on my thigh, if you catch my drift. By grabbing the lantern and contorting myself, I was able to ascertain that it was… a tick.

Because of course it was.

I grabbed my tweezers and dealt with it, but given the days in the dark and the same clothes, I realized there was a strong possibility I’d had said tick for a couple of days. And you know no one loves a good overreaction like me, but I’ve already had Lyme Disease once and must rate it 0/10, would not recommend. I have been watching this red bump ever since and I feel fine right now but in the event of my untimely demise I would like it known that I will, at the time of my passing, still be pissed about having to throw away all of that shrimp.


  1. Mary K

    So glad you made it through the summer – and Irma – only moderately scathed! We’ve missed you, Mir!

  2. Karen Reznek

    Sorry about the shrimp. I hope things improve soon, and that you don’t follow your offspring into extreme illness.

  3. Cindy

    Oh poor Mir! I am the same way about wasted food. I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of life but I’m at the level where I compulsively take lunch scraps home to our chickens. A whole freezer would give me serious twitches. Is this one of those misery loves company things? In case the answer is yes, consider this..

    1. My 18 yo moved in with friends and away from my rules and in a series of events I do not wish to expand upon, accidentally shot himself in the hand. With a real weapon. He’s fine, no serious damage but lots of pain and life changes and lawyer appointments going on. It might be the most unnecessary dumbass thing any of my children have done to date.

    2. We had no Irma damage but we do have Irma refugees. Happy to help and glad we could but Mark Twain’s remarks on fish and house guests is spot on. It’s been so much longer than three days.

    3. I found a tick attached last month and promptly freaked the f out because I’ve had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (not as bad as Lyme’s never ending effects, so I’ve heard, but fun fact o’ the day: it’s got a higher rate of death). PLUS for bonus points, I got that tick bite allergy where I can no longer eat mammal meats. They say the longer it’s been since the tick bite, the more likely you can resume consumption of meats. It’s been five years and I was dreaming about bacon. However, now I am back to eating out is dangerous because chicken cooked adjacent to mammal meats gives me hives. Again.

    I hope things calm down for you. I’ve heard, but never tried, that you can cover your freezer with blankets or other insulators when the power is out to keep the temp down longer.

  4. Lucinda

    Please don’t die. I need your blog to prepare me for my future with my daughter. I laughed so hard because I could picture a very similar conversation with my daughter about her room or moving her into a dorm. Both of us were diagnosed with ADHD in the past 6 months (twinsies) and now we laugh about how much it explains. But oy, vey! Her clutter and her helplessness at times and her looking at me like I have a third eye. Yes, I see the future and at times it very much resembles your present.

    Also, I’m very happy you all came through Irma ok.

  5. Corey

    So glad you were able to come up for air and hope that the bitterness will soon fade to saltiness–still not the best flavor, but a bit more palatable and goes great with a margarita.

  6. Chuck

    Ugh. Sorry about all the Irma drama. And Monkey has/had an ULCER? Seriously no fun. Glad you are taking care of him this semester though, and glad Chickie got settled and is doing well after her summer of recovery. Also sorry about the tick bite, it’s definitely worth keeping a close eye on. You know what freaks me out these days? Foot blisters. I’ve had cellulitis three times now and two out of the three times it was preceded by a blister. I did at least get to the point where I could recognize the signs that last time I only spent one night in hospital instead of a week (or three, the first time I had it.) Here’s to good health, quick recoveries, and the fact that we’re past the halfway point of hurricane season. (No chance of me being impacted by one any more, but they make for all kinds of fun times at work.)

  7. liz

    My fingers are crossed for no Lyme for you. NO LYME FOR YOU.

  8. Mom24

    Don’t hate me because I giggled a little. Oh my goodness. You’ve had so much. SO MUCH. Hang in there!

  9. LoriO

    Can we back up a sec here? Chickie couldn’t help you with her move-in because of her wrist, and there was nobody there to help you help her because…she moved in early so she could help others move in? Am I the only one who thinks maybe you got played just a teensy little bit? ;-)
    Glad to hear she’s settled in; glad to hear Monkey’s recovering and semi-helpful. I WAS Otto last week (stood up from a chair only to have my back go…twing!) so I feel his pain, literally. And I get you on the freezer thing, but I’m sure that shrimp was awful anyway and the new shrimp will be The Best Shrimp Ever, so no more fretting! :-)

    • Mir

      Oh I definitely got played. In fairness, she signed up to help before re-injuring herself. Also I suspect she ended up ferrying paperwork instead of luggage. (Also she had to report for duty at 6:00 am the next morning, so at least there was that!)

  10. Mary K. in Rockport

    Now there are two Mary Ks! Glad you are back and sorry you seem to always get an extra dose of what-the-hell.

  11. suburbancorrespondent

    Thanks for affirming me in my decision to let Larry be the one to drive our kids to college!

    My Anna graduated last May, spent the summer here, and left for Israel for 10 months with ALL the clothes, etc., she needs. So I’m left figuring out what to do with all the things left behind. Rubbermaid 18-gal containers are my best friends, currently.

  12. RuthWells

    Thank you for making me laugh, lovey. Totes stealing “No one loves a good overreaction like me.”

  13. kimmie

    Damn girl….I feel so much better about my little mucky stuff. 😁

  14. Jeanie

    I’m glad you are all okay after the Irma attack. You make everything sound so funny, I had to stop myself a couple times to tell myself this is not really funny.

  15. Brigitte Boyce

    Ditto everyone else. And, while Chickie doesn’t care for her supervised room cleaning, she may want to consider that it’s better than the option of you cleaning it alone, and deciding what stays or goes yourself! ;-)

  16. Karen Milano

    Well you probably already know this.. but… that bullseye rash doesn’t always show up even if the tick has lyme bacteria… My son had lyme but not the rash. Just the headache. Lovely.

  17. Daisy

    Oh, Lyme’s! I just tested negative for Lyme’s, thank goodness. I still have a cupboard full of bug bite remedies, store-bought and herbal. I react like crazy to bug bites these days, including the dreaded bullseye rash. Winter can’t come too soon to this bug-bitten mama.

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