I’m one of those people who has always prided herself on handling change well.  (Hope, OTOH I’m not big on.  I prefer to do than to hope.  And let’s not talk about charity, either.  I do what I can, but my thoughts aren’t always the most charitable.  I find, particularly as I get older, that I have a tendency not to take fools at well, let alone gladly.)

I mean, I  was all of 17 the first time I packed up and crossed the ocean on my own, (kind of.  There was a plane and a crew, and a bunch of other exchange students.  Stop being literal) with no relative to hold my hand, even thought this was unheard of in my culture for what Austen referred to (and which still applied in the culture I was brought up in) a “delicately nurtured girl.”

Not only did I do okay, and enjoy it, but I discovered I like strange things and new experiences.  Um… not the kind where you say “if you’ve never done it how do you know you don’t like it?” something my first serious LTR used all the time to try to coerce me into stuff.  (I know it will surprise you it didn’t work.  My answer usually being “I’ve also never tried being cut in two, and I’m sure I wouldn’t like it.  Some experiences are terminal.”) I mean given a choice of the known and easy or the difficult and different, I’d try the second.

Mostly because I’ve come to the conclusion at 53 that the thing I dread most is boredom.  In fact I tend to get away from it instinctively and without noticing, like a flat worm and a pin.  It took years for my husband to understand (I THINK he does now) that when I wander away from say a cash register line or a conversation, I’m not being rude, or at least not consciously so.  There’s a switch at the back of my brain that goes “bored now” and next thing you know I’m elsewhere, doing something else. This is a problem when writing the slower parts of a book, because my brain goes, “Okay, if you won’t let us leave, I’m going to fall asleep” and this is why I couldn’t have a career writing only lit fantasy, on pain of dying or becomeing pseudo narcoleptic.

I seem to have this trait in higher concentrations than normal human beings, because in the exchange student group, all of them presumably people who liked exploring and discovering new stuff, the tendency was to cleave to your linguistic or cultural group or as close as you could.  Portuguese hung out with Portuguese and failing that Brazilians, and failing that Spanish, and failing that Italian or Greek, progressing until, if there were Europeans in the group they clung together, and if there weren’t, then Portuguese would gravitate to Latin Americans.

It’s not that I don’t understand the attraction or don’t have my moments of oikophilia.  My host family were friends with a Cuban family and visiting their home was balm to a homesick teen, because it was SO similar.  They even had similar names for things that my family had named.

And honestly my first expedition away from home (at 12) to a summer camp was torpedoed when I got so homesick I had to leave halfway through.  But that was  different. It was one of those super-regimented summer camps, which scheduled your every minute.  And they didn’t let me watch TV news, which at the time drove me nuts.

And that brings us where I am: a strange environment I can’t control.

Okay, let’s make some things clear: I actually like the house we’re renting now very well, and our cats seem to love it.  If we were to buy it, I estimate 100k in improvements, but that doesn’t arise, as it’s not where we need it to be.  However, moving is a horrible dislocation, we’ve lost things, and life’s rhythms are disrupted.  Also we can’t unpack everything (a) no time, as we’re probably only here for three months on the outside and b) no room, as if we were to make this our permanent abode, we’d need to expand and make offices in the garage.  Yes, we’re space hogs.  We were talking about this, because it seems obscene to need so much room.  And objectively we don’t.  We use three rooms for the three of us, with additional space for the kids, as needed.  But here’s the thing — books (research) and office equipment and supplies take up way too much space.) So inevitably some of the things I need (like batteries, this morning, or all of our cutlery) are “in a box, somewhere.”

But what is distressing me, and what made us decide we DON’T want to rent long term is that I can’t control the change.  I.e. we moved here, suddenly (and are grateful to have it) because the landlord at the other house decided he wanted to sell and wanted us out.  He was within the law to give us a 40 day notice, but it was d*mnedly inconvenient, particularly since it’s possible (!) the short sale will still come through in the next month or so. And the last thing we needed or wanted to do was to move twice in that time.

And this is what made me realize that while I don’t mind/like change, I hate being out of control.  This sojourn (we’ve been renting for over a year and trying to find a place to live for six months) would be okay if it had an end date and we knew when we’re moving and where we’re going.  It’s the loose and unpredictable nature of the situation that’s driving me nuts.

Which means that some changes — the availability of Indie! — are good because they offer opportunities I can explore in my way.  And some are very very bad — the insanity of our national politics — because all I can do about them is panic and cringe.

Which means the next four years or so are going to be “fun” for me and people of similar disposition.

Meanwhile on the domestic update front there is some movement on short sale.  Those inclined to prayer, please pray that it actually comes through if it’s meant to be for us, and that it does so quickly.

And Derpfish is swimming around and eating, which seem like hopeful signs.  (As I type this, just watch he’ll be doing the backstroke by tonight.)  Also we have the cats back home, and office and kitchen are more or less unpacked.

Which means by tomorrow we should be fully functional, even if we intend to use the time here to cull our unnecessary possessions (mostly books, but any number of kitchen stuff too) and simplify our lives.

So, I’m trying to control the chaos, before it eats me.  Which might be the secret to living with chaos, but still leaves me in a blank about our national politics.



65 thoughts on “Chaos

  1. In some places it’s now cheaper to own (if you ignore costs of transactions and stay a long time), but that’s rare — a consequence of artificially low mortgage rates and unusually high rents because so few can afford to pass mortgage screening with a good downpayment.

    We tried to rent for a few years (when I expected house prices to crash — I was right!), but it was a trial — the first house lasted a year until the owner (an Indian engineer) decided to accede to family pressure and get married. So of course he wanted us out now that he planned a family and subsidzed Google housing wouldn’t be so comfortable. The next place lasted a bit longer, but the builder-owner suggested we leave so he could sell the building — we moved, the place stayed empty for a year but didn’t sell at the price he needed, and so it was rented again.

    Which is why we bought the next time, in a cheaper place (Palm Springs). Just too much hassle to rent a house when at any time you can get tossed out, and you can’t change things to suit yourself. A coporate-run apartment is safe enough, but houses are often being held for better days to sell….

  2. But no I have this visual of you stepping out of your front door in Portugal. Picking up your suitcases and wafting off into the air to fly across the ocean.

          1. Practically Perfect in Every Way….Every Evil Way.
            (Insert maniacal laughter here.)

          2. No, you, of all creatures, should have figured this out. She is not only a shape shifter, but a mythical one: a kitteh-dragon.

    1. Funny. I got the image of that incredibly annoying commercial, where that incredibly clownish car drives into the ocean somewhere in Europe and drives out on an American beach.

      Connecting that image with Sarah obviously means that some synapses are still not up to operating temperature. Time for more caffeine.

    2. So you’re saying the dragon shifters are a case of write what you know?

      More seriously, yes, absolutely, praying for your family and the house, Sarah.

  3. Wow. Compared to your move, ours has been a breeze, in part we spread it out so it didn’t have to be done all at once. That’s capital-intensive, to put it mildly. Persevere. This, too, will pass.

  4. …cull our unnecessary possessions (mostly books, but any number of kitchen stuff too) and simplify our lives.

    I have this wild idea of mailing you prepaid flat-rate boxes with a note saying, “Please, ma’am, if you have some left over, just put it in the box.” (Especially if it’s a Jenn Air unit, but probably not; and I guess you’ll use Abe books or some such.)

  5. *adds things up, carry the 2, convert to metric…* Aha! Derpfish was pining for the kitties! Notice how he started improving when they came back? He just needed a little cat hair in his diet 😀

  6. I grew up in a military family, so change was a constant. I loved it. I may have missed some things, but, overall, I gained much more.

    But there is a distinct difference between change and chaos.

  7. I can deal with a set level of chaos so long as I have an ordered foundation to work from or work toward. Unlike the USMC, I don’t thrive on chaos.

    1. I am similar, and I would claim so is the USMC. We thrive on chaos, as long as there is a foundation somewhere, to a Marine the Corps itself is the foundation, he can depend on it, and knows it is dependable; therefore he can cope with the chaos.

      1. That’s probably the secret to keeping your feet when all the world is scampering madly from one disaster to another. That, and be prepared for all plans to go up in smoke, as happens all too frequently these days.

        1. Didn’t somebody talk about the importance of building your house on a good foundation, some two thousand years ago? I think I’ve even heard it repeated a time or three.

          Sure, he’s gone deep into the Leftist tar pits, but he still sings like a son of a gun.

  8. I am NOT a fan of chaos. My daughters claim my alignment is Lawful Cranky. We moved into the house we’re in when my younger daughter was 3 Months old (Note; Adding a child and changing domicile nearly simultaneously is chaos to the Nth degree). She is now a sophomore in college. We’ll have to change someday. This house has features like a long driveway in a snowy climate that will make it unsuitable in less than 10 years. And yet the thought of having to leave irks me (beyond what losing 20+ years of family memories entails). I’ve shifted jobs 4 times in my life. I was 22 years in the first and would have happily stayed the other 20 or so but that was not to be. Every time I shift Its like someone tearing a hunk of flesh out of me. But yet I know the world is chaos, Entropy kind of guarantees it and makes fighting it futile. And yet I struggle against it. Silly little bird building a nest in a waterspout.

  9. “So, I’m trying to control the chaos, before it eats me. Which might be the secret to living with chaos, but still leaves me in a blank about our national politics.”

    Actually, the quote up to the penultimate comma, is all you need to know about our national politics. Everything else is but detail.

  10. Ugh. Sympathies. Hope nothing truly critical has gone AWOL on you.

    Right now the messiness of our house seems to have eaten a library book. Fortunately it renewed without a problem today, but when I noticed the title in the list of books i had out, I realized that I had completely forgotten I checked it out, and had no idea where I’d set it when I brought it home. I’ve looked in the obvious places without result, and unless it suddenly re-emerges on its own, I’m thinking that I’m going to have to undertake a major cleaning and sorting in order to persuade the house to disgorge the book before the next due date — right when con season is ramping up again and I’m trying to get a novel and some shorter works finished.

    1. I lost my publishing usb about half a year ago, and it didn’t show up in the packing. Probably dropped out of my pocket while looking at apartments in Aurora. Most of it is reproducible, though.

      1. I keep a flock of those things. Hard drives on three different computers, a NAS and many USB sticks. Even when I’m typing in some cafe I keep two sets, one on the drive and another on the stick. Sometimes two sticks if I’m feeling insecure.

        Keeping track of versions is a pain, but less of a pain than losing it all to a disk crash, stolen laptop or lost USB stick. My paranoia is learned.

  11. Moving house is the worst crap in life short of changing jobs. Naturally I’ve moved and/or changed jobs probably 50 times in my life. Got the scarring to prove it.

    Phantom method for that out-of-control condition during moving: find something easy to control, and then control the hell out of it. Just organize the shit out of it, so it practically glows from being so perfect.

    Like your clothing, ferinstance. Most of your stuff is packed, but you have your Moving Clothes. One set you’re wearing, one set in the wash. Not the kids, not the Significant Other’s, yours. Make both sets of your clothes be exactly where you want them, how you want them, squared away and ready to go every night so you just get dressed in the morning.

    Normally my crap is everywhere, but when I’m moving, I have my Moving Tools, Moving Clothes and Moving Vehicle ready for the Zombie Apocalypse. Nothing else works, but those things do. And that seems to get me through the uproar which otherwise would send me screaming to the asylum.

    Having a functional bed and basic camping-level kitchen stuff also hugely calming. Even if all you have is one fry-pan, a fork and a coffee pot, you got your back bacon and your java in the morning, you can function. These days one computer that works seems also to be a necessity, there’s always some stupid thing to be downloaded, looked up or whatever.

    Renting vs. Buying, I rented most of my young adult life and it SUCKS. Finally bought a really crappy little house on a nice street in Az, and that was the foundation of my current success. The house you live in is the ONLY durable asset you ever have that the government doesn’t take half of one way or the other. Ladder it up as well as you can, one rung at a time. My method has been to buy sound but crappy-looking houses, fix them as I go along and then sell only when forced to. History tells me I’ll be forced out eventually.

    From my personal experience, I prefer rural properties. They are cheaper, bigger and they are far away from everything and everybody. The farther you have to walk to visit a neighbor, the better. Anything over five minutes is excellent.

    YMMV, I’m a cranky anti-social type. I fracking hate other people getting up in my grill over what wreck is in my driveway this week or how long my grass is. Towns and cities, that shit never stops. In the country people compliment you if you have an interesting wreck in the driveway.

    1. I’ve redone two Victorians from wreckish to sparkling (the first was pure wreck when we bought. Outdated, with SiX families living in it. The second looked perfect, but it turned out it had been flipped twice, so we spent 13 years fixing it.) This time I’m done with fixeruppers only because I think I can make more money from writing. The temptation is still there, but I really need to push on the WRITING, not the sanding and varnishing.

      1. It is permissible to hire things done, you know. ~:D The trick is to pick the right things.

        I’ve been reading of your exploits with the fixing up, and it sounds to me like you’re getting to the same place I’m in: it HURTS. It fricking hurts when you have to put up the ladder to get that spot in the corner the paint pole won’t reach.

        My new rule of what to fix is this: I don’t do anything where I have to kneel. So any flooring or baseboards etc. where there’s kneepads involved, we call the man and he does it.

    2. “The house you live in is the ONLY durable asset you ever have that the government doesn’t take half of one way or the other”

      Really? Only if you jump through all their hoops properly, like a circus cat. If you sell your house and wait to many months before buying another one, or buy a new house and it takes too long to sell the old one, all of a sudden the government takes half of your money from selling it.

      1. Put it this way, It’s the only one that there is a chance the government doesn’t take half of barring inheritance.

        And remember that what you pay for a rental includes the taxes for property and the income for the landlord. So that is a sunk cost regardless of rent vs own.

    3. The house you live in is the ONLY durable asset you ever have that the government doesn’t take half of one way or the other.

      Well there have always been circumstances in which the government can take your house — and it has become worse since Kelo v. City of New London.

      The state government took all of our first house, a solidly built home, through eminent domain. It took a few years to get them to offer close to the true market price. That only occurred when one of their own employees took pity on us and told us on the side how to approach the matter. That house is no longer standing, in it’s place is the back driveway to the University’s baseball stadium.

      Then there are such cases where the government doesn’t actually take your home, but might as well. Consider the people who are suffering from the intrusion of the EPA and Wildlife …

      1. Yep, a guy I used to work with owned an old five bedroom house (he had six kids), it wasn’t a nice house, but it was perfectly liveable on about half an acre. After they built the airport nearby, it flooded once or twice, and then when they filled in to build the Walmart, the whole neighborhood flooded, and the feds condemned all the houses and decided to take them with eminent domain (they were going to add more fill and enlarge the airport). They offered him $50K for his place, when he complained that he couldn’t replace it for that, they informed him that it was only worth $50K, because it was in a floodplain. The fact that it wasn’t in a floodplain when he bought it, and they had created the floodplain was immaterial.

  12. I have been lucky to have not moved very much. If I had to move I will have to send most of my books for adoption. I do not want to move.

  13. Praying that the short sale comes to pass,and that derpfish makes it against all odds. And looking forward to the next book(s).

  14. Moved a lot as a kid. Much harder as an adult. Prayers for your family and for the short sale to work out if it’s right for you.

  15. Well, I’m closer to my move. Currently visiting the wilds north of the frozen tundra, and the answer to ” Have you heard anything about when you move?” seems to be “We need a date to start the processing.”
    Tomorrow, I hope to get to chat with a realtor before driving back to Title town to jet back to the drylands of current home,(hopefully it hasn’t washed away)
    You know, I’d rather share Milady’s chaos less literally.
    I too look to be short term renting in hopes of buying.
    shoot me now

  16. …particularly since it’s possible (!) the short sale will still come through in the next month or so…

    I’ll see your: ! and raise you: !!

    Good grief!!!

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