NO I haven’t taken the advice I once got to drop off the face of the earth and die. I’m here. I’ve been lurking. But I’ve been doing it from the dark corner of the room where I have been battling all sorts of demons, my husband, and various and sundry others to get to a point where I can look the new year in the face without running for cover or threatening to kill someone or breaking things.
It hasn’t been the best of starts, if you don’t mind my understatement.
Most, if not all, of the drama has something to do with the house. House? No, it’s more like a pile of shit, that thing. The latest is that the roof is now so deformed you can see it from the outside of the house. Inside, there are beams that are cracked and split. The leaks around the front windows are only getting worse and the odor of rot inside the building is becoming rather powerful. We keep the heat on so that things have at least half a chance of not rotting into oblivion before we get to court, but even that is an exercise in futility. The rot is everywhere.
We visited the house with Vi and Mô on New Year’s Day and as usual, I found yet another problem. This time there is water coming in in the front of the house, the part that’s under ground. Not a little water, mind you. Lots and lots of water. Now we have to figure out if it’s coming in from the walls (which have been treated with some type of waterproofing) or if it’s coming from the leaky windows and running down the walls from the upstairs, through the ground floor, and then into the basement. Neither situation is really better than the other. If it’s coming in from the outside, we’ll have to dig everything up and restart at zero—something we’re honestly already facing as the pillars in the front of the house that support the roof have been gently placed on the gravel and rocks brought in to fill in the hole around the front and not been taken down to the foundation like they should have been (this is only a tiny part of the reason the roof is deformed). If it’s leaking down from upstairs, well, we’ll have to rip out all the walls, replace all the dry wall which will eventually show signs of moisture, make sure the wiring hasn’t been compromised, and if it has, replace all of that. Basically more of the same we’re already looking at now.
We’ve both been back since and have discovered more and more. Once, with the man who may end up redoing the entire roof and who kindly pointed out to us that the huge beams holding up the roof (as opposed to the small ones the expert was worried would cave in under the weight of snow) were cracked—not like a little fissure running along the grain of the wood. That would be “normal”. No, cracked as in broken, against the grain, from one side of the beam to the other. And again, this time with the guys giving us an estimate to redo all the walls, yielding the information that the supports on one beam that actually hold the lateral beams in place is broken in half. BROKEN IN HALF.
I’m beginning to think that it may be a good thing, a VERY GOOD THING INDEED if the water in the basement is running down from upstairs and through the wiring. An electrical fire that takes out the entire house would be just what the doctor ordered at this point.
The sub contractor who has done all the work has dropped off the face of the earth and we are now definitely going to court just as soon as our insurance decides to let us. Marc is actually going to meet with the HMFIC of the insurance company to try and get things rolling along a little faster. Turns out our insurance company is the exact same one as the sub. In the mean time, the lawyer has all the papers drawn up and is simply waiting for the insurance to say ‘file’. After that, God only knows how long it will take. I have absolutely no experience with the French courts, but if all the rest of the bureaucracy is an indication, I’ll still be bitching about this next January.
Of course, all of this means that money is tight. I live with a cheap skate on the best of days, and now with a mortgage and rent hanging over our heads and double payments on everything from electricity to insurance and beyond, things are rather tense. We’ve just been through hell and back with yet another round in the car seat wars (though we both seem satisfied with the results on that one), but even that is not finished. We’ve got another monkey on the way and that means either another car seat (the three we have don’t quite fit together in the car) as a short term solution, or a different car as a long term one. We’ve also got to invest in yet another crib (Marc’s sister lent us hers for Christine, but as she’s due any day now, that’s no longer an option). And if the baby is a girl, we’ll have to invest even more clothing because the seasons don’t quite line up.
Do I even need to mention we have no space for any of these things? I’ve never claimed to be the world’s best house keeper. I’m actually right up there with the world’s worst. And as there are simply no more corners or nooks or crannies to hide things in, the house is overflowing with stuff—all of it vital. Hell, we’ve even got some vital stuff stashed next door at the in-laws’ because there’s just no more space here. And even in a best case scenario, it’s not going to get better soon.
The lack of space, lack of privacy, lack of money, lack of sanity, lack of (_____fill in blank____) has our nerves frayed to the point of snapping. And this is on top of all the regular day-in-day-out stresses of raising two babies, taking care of a farm, being married, and living with someone from a very different culture.
And those kids? They’re no help Matthieu decided the other day to eat a bunch of my birth control pills Yeah, I do have birth control pills, shocking isn’t it. So we had another round with calling the pharmacy/doctor/poison control folks, all of whom have probably listed me right under Britney Spears as Worst Mother of the Century. Either that, or I’ve pushed her out of the number one slot—doubtful as I haven’t shown anyone my nether regions since my last OB-GYN visit. (Yeah, that’s not helping things either.) And Christine refuses to stay in any clothes that resemble in any way her age group. Hell, she’s not even a year old yet and she’s already in size two years—has been for a couple of weeks (and don’t worry Anne, American sizes run larger than French ones, so we’re all good).
But lest I paint a picture of despair, let me assure you it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s mostly doom and gloom, but there are bright spots. The two monkeys are wonderful and they get along really well. They’ve really become interested in playing with each other and are learning how to wrestle and rat the other out. Christine has learned recently how to strip and we often find her in various stages of undress in her crib. Yesterday, while we were visiting friends, she treated the entire group of kids (all boys—go figure) to a striptease. Any wagers on who she gets this from?
The pregnancy is going fairly well, and I honestly feel better than I remember feeling while knocked up before. I go back and forth between thinking maybe this is my body finally working out its chemistry and thinking that it’s more to do with the no-more-need-to-stand-on-your-head fridge and the oh-thank-god-we’ve-got-a dishwasher that have saved me countless hours of work, shopping, and husband-related stress. (Just imagine what life would be like if we had a ‘real’ house!)
And we’ve had a right good number of visits lately, from the aforementioned Vi and Mô, to S&M, most of the old crew, and a bunch of other folks. It’s the visiting season and we’ve been doing a bit of it, back and forth. It’s been nice to spend time in the kitchen sharing recipes or just getting out of the house long enough to forget that I have 18 pairs of shoes too many for the space we’ve got.
I’ll leave off my grumbling for now. I have to take the older kid to the doctor as he’s got some odd rash type thing going on and if he scratches any more I swear I’ll snap his arm off. Anyway, happy fucking new year. Hope yours has been better than mine.