#blogExodus 12: Find

#blogExodus 5775 topicsHave I ever told you about the year that that our search for the afikomen (a piece of broken matzah that is hidden during the Passover Seder for kids to find and subsequently ransom, because the ritual meal can’t end until everyone takes a bite of the afikomen) took four months? It is a tale of mystery and intrigue and military movers that spanned 1,400 miles!

Back in 2008, when the glitter of Sampson’s newly-awarded Navy Wings of Gold was still a dazzling novelty on his uniform, we were getting ready to ditch South Texas for glamorous Norfolk, Virginia (well, it had to be more glamorous than Kingsville or Corpus Christi). Eager were we to leave behind the grind of flight training for an exciting life of… well, more flight training, but this time in a haze-grey Fleet Replacement Squadron aircraft with wings on one’s chest instead of in the clown-like orange-and-white birds of the training commands wearing a sad, wingless name tag. Before we could start that thrilling new chapter, though, we had to get ourselves and all our worldly possessions from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.

That meant military movers. When Uncle Sam is picking up the tab, you don’t exactly get to shop around for the best moving company on the block; the government’s primary criterion for its choice of relocation contractors seems to be the price. Our much-anticipated pack-out day, which fell during the middle of Passover, was fraught with a number of issues that one might expect when dealing with the lowest bidder, not the least of which was the driver forgetting to bring the key to the back of the truck so that the boxes and furniture could be loaded.

The wait while someone went to fetch the key would have been no big deal, ordinarily. However, for reasons known only to them, the movers had decided to stage all the boxes and furniture outside on the lawn. That would have been no big deal if thunder hadn’t started rumbling and the clouds hadn’t begun to threaten everything we owned with a thorough watering.

Luckily for us, someone returned with the means to open the truck so that loading could commence, and they managed to get everything safely aboard the truck before the skies opened up and soaked our stuff. Still, that last hour or so of willing the rain not to fall had added even more stress to what is never a relaxing day under the best of circumstances, so we were doubly relieved to see the truck drive off. Exhausted, we went back inside our empty house to grab a snack of matzah we’d stashed with the “Do Not Pack” collection of snacks and drinks we had left on the counter for the packers and movers.

MatzahThough the other snacks remained, the box of matzah — our last one — was nowhere to be seen. We looked through drawers (empty), the fridge (likewise), cabinets (also no joy). “They must have packed it by accident,” said Sampson, shaking his head.

And now it was on its way to storage in Virginia until we had a house to which our stuff could be delivered. “This is going to be the longest afikomen hunt ever,” I said, through giggles of disbelief bubbling up from the dregs of a long, long day.

We spent several months bouncing from temporary lodging facility to my parents’ place while Sampson was at SERE school to different temporary lodging facility before we finally closed on our Virginia house and took delivery of our household goods. With every cardboard box we ripped open, we joked, “Is this where they hid the afikomen?”

In the end, I won the prize–the long-lost matzah turned up in a box of miscellaneous kitchen stuff. Matzah being what it is, its apparent condition was indistinguishable from when it had been packed four months prior, but neither of us was particularly inclined to put it to a taste test.

#blogExodus, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the weeks leading up to Passover through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.


Decor in the Theme of Guilt

My husband and I find ourselves, at present, in a curious situation for a military family: that of living relatively near family.  Wonder of wonders, we are actually in a position to play host to family coming into town for my cousin’s wedding this weekend.  My mom, dad, and little brother (who has yet to see our house, having been busy finishing up undergrad for most of the time we’ve lived here) are descending upon us this Friday.  I suppose the courteous thing to do would be to have the guest room cleared of my beading and sewing paraphernalia and the floors free of the cat hair tumbleweeds that spring into existence when we turn our backs.  I swear we could make three more cats out of the fur they bestow upon this family like it’s fairy dust.

Luckily for me, while I am going to make an effort to get the house cleaned up, I don’t have to develop a case of OCD to do so.  My folks are wonderfully easygoing houseguests who don’t mind when a home looks a little more “lived in” than “museum-quality and dust-free,” and my brother lived until recently in a college apartment with five other dudes.  You do the math on that one; I should probably set out a pizza box and an arrangement of empty beer bottles to make him feel at home.  (Maybe not.  Lest you get the wrong impression about my brother, I should tell you that he is fastidious by nature and not inclined towards indulging in the usual 18-to-22-year-old male schlubbiness.  I understand that the six-dude apartment was far from the disaster area one might expect.)  In any case, while we’re going to clean up the place, we’re not living in fear that anyone is going to bust out the white glove treatment on us.

I tell you all that so you know that the domestic guilt I feel tugging at my nerves is of my own neurotic invention, not anything inflicted upon me by my extremely good-natured family.

I regret that I have not put up curtains anywhere in the house.  It didn’t particularly bother me not putting up curtains at our previous duty stations, because those places were temporary and so it was completely understandable that we wouldn’t want to waste time and money decorating that which wasn’t ours, not really.  But this is our house, bought in mortgage payments rather than rent checks, and I feel guilty that I wasn’t overcome by a new homeowner’s zeal to mark her territory with carefully chosen window treatments.  We don’t even have blinds or shades in our bedroom.  (Get your mind out of the gutter — we did have the decency to preserve our neighbors by blocking the windows first with cardboard boxes, then with marginally less trashy tea towels.)

I clearly would like to have curtains.  It does, in fact, bother me that we don’t have any up.  So why in the name of all that’s good and holy don’t I get off my tuchus and put up some curtains?  Good question, and I have a litany of excuses with which to answer it.

  1. Curtains are too expensive for the simple lengths of fabric that most of them are — you’re paying for the convenience of having pre-made panels.  I cannot bring myself to pay that much of a premium for something that isn’t perfect when I know I could spend a fraction of the money on fabric and thread for handmade custom pieces.
  2. I want to make curtains myself, as I know I have the skill to sew straight lines with my sewing machine.  When I go to the fabric store, though, I am overwhelmed by choice and pop mental circuit breakers when I try to divine exactly what this mythical “perfect” is.
  3. I know, I know, perfection doesn’t really exist, and for something as trivial as home decor I should just make something and try again later if it turns out I don’t care for it.  Curtains are not house tattoos.  Changing them does not involve painful and expensive laser treatments during which one wonders why in the hell their younger self thought a unicorn leaping through a heart of flames would represent their “true inner self” forever and ever.  (This is why I will never get a tattoo.)  Knowing perfection doesn’t exist doesn’t make the fruitless pursuit of it any less seductive, though.  It’s great: I can agonize and go back and forth and hem and haw ad infinitum without ever having to make a decision or do any work.  The excuse, “Oh, I’m still looking for the right fabric for my glorious home decor vision.  Boy, it will be fantastic when it’s done, you wait and see!” can be stretched out for years if you like.

The real biggie, though?  The real reason we’ve lived here in our own house for over a year and haven’t put up curtains?  I am scared that the instant we make this place too much our own, the second we get all our rooms set up the way we want them, someone will jump out at us from behind a tree with a set of orders  and a pack-out date of tomorrow.  I like living here.  I would love to find out that we’re staying here for my husband’s first fleet tour, because three years — three whole years compared to the three months we were at the last duty station and the bare year we were at the one before that — sounds like an eternity.  It sounds like time to get really settled in and worry about fussing with window treatments and maybe painting a room and gardening.

Yes, gardening.  I have guilt about that, too: a good-sized front and back yard all our own, and I haven’t planted a single flower.  That might have more to do with being too lazy to get out and water any plants I might choose than weird hang-ups about getting too attached to a house we might be leaving in a matter of months.

There is one home-related task I think we can cross off our to-do list before my folks and little brother get here on Friday, and that is to finish Rustoleum-ing the outdoor furniture my grandparents passed along to us when they got new stuff for their deck.  By Friday evening, I hope to be relaxing outside, gin and tonic in hand, on our shiny new-to-us chaise longue and laughing with my family at a low-key backyard party before the big bash my cousin’s wedding promises to be.  That’s pretty motivating, as is the fact that the grandparents who so sweetly gave us the furniture might drop by to see the house the morning after the wedding, and I don’t want them to see the paint job half-done.

All right, enough rambling.  I’m off to have breakfast so we can get going on what we need to get done in order to enjoy our time with family.  I’m really looking forward to it, because my family’s not going to care whether or not I have the perfectly coordinated curtains of which I feel I ought to dream.

Hello World

This is a real “Hello World” post, not the one WordPress automatically generated for me; I promptly deleted that.  I can’t even count the number of “Hello World” programs I’ve written when learning new programming languages, so it doesn’t feel quite right to use that particular phrase in a WYSIWYG editor like this.  Oh well, I guess I can go to the HTML editor when I’m feeling hardcore.

Scratch that.  When I’m feeling hardcore, I’m going to rock out command line style on a Linux box.  I haven’t had the chance to do that in a while.  Ah, the glamorous life of an unemployed programmer… I mean, a stay-at-home Navy wife.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I don’t have to work, but I am looking forward to reaching a point where I wouldn’t feel disingenuous applying for a job when we could easily be moving in a few months.  I can’t wait until we will be staying put for three years instead of moving three times in about fifteen months.  We’ve been at our current duty station for over a year, and it already feels like a long time.  That could be due to the fact that we were expecting to know where we’ll be next, oh, right about now, but the current estimate is that we won’t find out about staying vs. going for at least another five months.  Good thing this isn’t a bad place to spend our time in limbo!