Saturday, August 29, 2009

I don't think "House flooding crisis" is a stage of grief

So! What have I done all day today? Mope? Nope. Eat too much ice cream? A little, but that wasn't the one I was thinking of. Did I move on to the 'bargaining' stage or the 'sadness' stage? Uh... not really.

I bailed the house out.

Our first leak was in the basement, behind the washing machine. It destroyed several boxes of books before we found it. After intensive mopping and some resourceful placement of buckets and barriers, we got it somewhat under control. Then it only needed to be mopped every half-hour.

This leak occurred because we have no gutters along the back of our house. We will soon... maybe next week... but, alas, our tropical storm hit too soon. The water drips right off the rubber roof into the ground, and then it keeps going until it enters the foundation. We really need to seal up that foundation, but we also need gutters.

Instead of gutters, we put a row of plastic storage bins along the rear of the house. They needed to be emptied every hour or so, or else they would overflow. They helped turn the basement gush into a mere trickle.

Upstairs, the roof held firm, but the flashing leaked. There was also dampness around the chimney. The builder came over and took note of the weak spots. We patched them up with some sticky tar tape, and he'll have to wait for better weather to repair them.

Now the rain has taken a break, and supposedly it will stop for good late this evening. So, yeah, I haven't been dwelling too much on adoption today.

Except... occurs to me that this might have been a very different experience with the kiddo around. But not too bad, nonetheless. We managed to keep it relatively low-stress, considering what was going on. AwesomeCloud might have fretted about the house leaking, and about Mama and Baba rushing around and being busy and frantic. But he also might have learned a little bit of resourcefulness and problem-solving under pressure.

I have to go stoke the fire now. We're trying to dry out the house. I think it's working a little.

Today is another day of the multi-day mourning of Ted Kennedy, isn't it? I am saddened at his passing. He worked hard at his job. I didn't vote for him during the last election, but I acknowledge the huge strides he's made for civil rights and the welfare of the working class. And I can't help being sad to think of him dying of cancer, in much the same way my mother-in-law died of cancer. She was a teacher, and thus a government employee, and like Senator Kennedy, she had the very best in health care. And it's still a very difficult way to go, cancer. Imagine what it would be like to die of cancer without any health insurance. For my MiL, it would still have been painful, but 5 years earlier. And we'd have the knowledge hanging over our heads that chemo had a chance of saving her, maybe, if only we could afford to give it a try. In fact, it almost worked. She got some very expensive, experimental treatment, all paid for by her superb Teachers' Union health care plan, and it came within a handful of cancer cells of sending her into remission.

I remember that, how hard it was, and I grieve for the Kennedy clan who had to go through it too. I also grieve for the thousands of families who have to skip right to the died-of-cancer part because they had no other option.

Okay, really going to tend that fire now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The 5 stages of grief

I'm grieving. This is normal. Anger is one of the stages of grief. I got denial covered, too.

I'm going through them quickly because I'm not grieving my baby; I'm only grieving two months away from my baby. Getting the extra two months of waiting time was unexpected, and, due to lack of information (my agent still hasn't called me), it dawned on me gradually. I'm still not 100% certain I won't get a last-minute call to hurry up and pack, because I'm leaving in a week! That would be cool.
I'm only 96% certain that won't happen.

Now it's raining hard. My new roof is being tested for leaks. Isn't that just awesome???

Hey, is sarcasm a stage of grief? Or is that just my normal state of being?

Guess I'd better go upstairs and check. *sigh* I want something good to happen. Or at least something bad to not happen.

I want a Boston cream pie to magically appear before me. (Because having a huge dish of watermelon and yogurt for supper wasn't enough stress-eating for me!)

I feel betrayed

I feel betrayed. I feel like I've gone above and beyond reasonable human flexibility in order to have a smooth adoption process, and that I deserve better than a last-minute two-month delay for no bloody reason.

I can't understand why my agent doesn't call me, out of common courtesy, to have a conversation about this setback. I left her a message yesterday. An apology would be nice, at least, or something.

My other agent, who has not been involved in this stage of the process, has been very distant, too.

Just a little customer service; that's all I ask. This silence sucks. (Obviously not as much as being left out of the September group sucks, but it's like kicking me when I'm down. Hmm, lousy metaphor. It's just neglect, not actual abuse.)

Edit: I should probably be less antagonistic. I'm waffling on that issue. I'll be furious for a couple of hours, then I'll feel bad about the intensity of my emotion (and the wording of this post - I've rewritten it 3 times already) and then I'll be angry again.

When it's just my husband and me, with no other input, that's the cycle we take.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Haha! Hahaha!

The Chinese, I've been told, are real jokesters. They love to laugh. I bet they even laugh about misfortune - especially considering how much misfortune they've had to face. Serious stuff, like facing starvation for the good of their government, and having no potable water for hundreds of miles around. And having their neighborhoods razed for little compensation to make way for high-rises. And facing dangerous working conditions in factories and mines. And being imprisoned and tortured for writing literature that used to be pro-Communist, but is not considered so anymore.

I, however, am an American. We Americans are not as versatile with the ol' funnybone.

But I'll give it a try.




Nope. Still moping.

Wo bu shi Zhongguoren, bu gaoxing. Wo shi Meiguoren. Zhe shi bu hao.

Drowning in disappointment (glug glug)

I don't think we're getting into the September group. The other families have already confirmed their appointments and booked their flights. And here it is Thursday already and my phone ain't exactly ringing off the hook.

I can't imagine dragging my poor psyche through another month of this waiting misery. I'm not a lot of fun right now, and I have no plans to stop moping, fretting, snapping, and being generally ornery and intolerable until I get that damn phone call.

I want my son. I have no other children in the meantime to do the parenthood thing with. The prospect of parenthood has been stringing me along for years now, years and years and years, and I do not wish to wait another month.

I have no interest in anything else. I don't want to talk about the house construction, and have people tell me that maybe there's something wrong with my builder if he can't get it done any faster. You know what? That's nobody's business. How would they like it if they fell behind schedule on something, and a bunch of complete strangers called into question their personal and professional worth? The details of the construction project are mine to deal with.

I already told him I want him to finish before the baby gets home. This doesn't mean I'm willing to wait longer for the baby. It means I'm sick of everything falling behind schedule, and I feel the need to stand up and shout, "ENOUGH ALREADY! GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR!"

Unfortunately, I'm not much of a shouter. I'm more of a sulker and a maker of snarky comments.

Get moving, or there will be snark.

And no, I don't have any huge plans for when I have my baby. Having my baby is pretty much it. What happens when he comes home, will happen, and I'll deal with it then.

I just don't understand why I haven't gotten that phone call. It seems wrong. Have I not been enough of a squeaky wheel? Does harassing my adoption agent have any effect at all? Did China lose all my paperwork and forget I exist? Did they look at it and say, "This one's ready to go, but we're going to randomly set it aside for no reason at all"?

I've been patient. I've been reasonable. But getting strung along while my group - what was supposed to be my group - is getting ready to travel... that's a powerful blow. Even patient, reasonable people double up in pain when they've been hit this hard.

And I know I'm not the only one - Steve and Kate missed being in this group because of paperwork problems. But at least they know what their delay was. Mine is completely inexplicable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feline time-waster

Have a cat picture.

Why am I posting a cat picture? Because I do not yet have a TA.

I do, however, have a cat.

Zàixiàn wàiyú xúeyuan

Mandarin lessons are over. We enjoyed them very much, and we feel we have learned a lot.

One thing I learned, although I knew it already, is that I hardly know a thing about what it means to be Chinese. I read and study and pay attention, and I feel like, at some point, I should start to know what I'm talking about. I suppose my efforts have made me genuinely less ignorant than most Westerners. But the more I listen, the more I learn that there is still so much to learn. The Chinese worldview, Chinese history, the roles of tradition, sentimentality, and practicality - these are all fish in a river. I can try to catch them, but at the moment they are slippery and I am ill-equipped.

But my family is becoming multicultural. Not only is AwesomeCloud going to become an American... we will also, to some small degree, become Chinese. I take this responsibility very seriously. GuiGui should keep some of his Chinese heritage, and it's up to me to make sure he does, and in order to do that, I must become a little bit Chinese.

My family is already multicultural; the Italians came to America and made great efforts to assimilate into American culture. As our Italian identities faded, we began to value them more, and now we try to hold onto what little heritage we have left. After spending 80 years being as American as possible, what's left is really a bunch of stories and echoes. Our Chinese culture will be even harder to hold onto, because it's so brand new and so incomplete. We're building it up instead of casting it off. AwesomeCloud may, at times, complain that it's phony and wrong. But we have to try. If we don't try, we'll be cutting him off from his culture far more than necessary. And when he's old enough to look back and assess our actions, he'd conclude we didn't care.

Therefore, we must care.

I hardly slept last night. The wait for TA (travel arrangements, which is actually a misnomer, as what we get is a consulate date and a 'Gotcha Day' date, an then we make all the travel arrangements ourselves) becomes increasingly tense. It's still quite possible for us to travel in September. But if we don't get the call within the next week, we're likely to run into the Chinese holiday in October, and there will be no consulate appointments during that time. (It's a multiday holiday, and there will be a lot of people traveling within China. We'd be looking of a delay of essentially one month, the way things work out.)

Insulation Guy #1 is here, taking measurements and giving us an estimate. He's from Russia. I love how multicultural the construction industry is. Insulation Guy #2 will come later this morning to do the same thing and give us another estimate to choose from. I insist on more than the minimum amount of insulation. Pay more now, stay warm later!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I speak Mandarin

Today will be our last lesson in Mandarin I. We now officially speak Chinese!

Although Husband'o'mine pointed out that we should not be too eager to use our rudimentary skills in China. If people get the idea that we speak the language, they will switch to speaking Chinese, and then they will discover that we do not actually speak Chinese. We know how to greet, ask basic questions, and offer tea.

However, our new knowledge might be good for listening in and understanding what's going on around us a little better. And we can speak to our child a few phrases he may understand.

Reading the characters, however.... we are not so good at that.

Our roof is done and it passed inspection. Today the builders will start installing drywall. We still haven't gotten our travel date yet. Still waiting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This photo looks like it should accompany an inspirational poem about following a path carved into a wilderness of juniper.

Instead, I'm just going to mention that hacking back the overgrown juniper is just one of the ways I'm occupying myself while I wait. Gardening is a great stress release. Good thing, too, because when we bought this house, the garden was in desperate need of heavy-handed pruning.

Interesting note: the path you see is a dead end. The juniper is way too thick for a toddler to crawl or wade into it. If GuiGui decides he likes traipsing up and down the stone path, he won't be making any mad dashes into the woods where Mommy will have trouble following him.

He can enter the woods from other points in the yard, which can be a problem at times. I've nearly eradicated the poison ivy, but we still have greenbriar. Greenbriar will teach him a lesson - the hard way!

Unless he takes after me and slips through thorns like they were nothing. I was a little Bre'r Rabbit when I was a kid. Not so much anymore.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chinese food for birthday

Husband'o'mine said to me today, "I don't want anything much for my birthday. Just take me out for Chinese food." Wink wink, nudge nudge.

We might be in China on or near his birthday, you see. This was even funnier because his sister-in-law announced she's throwing a birthday party for his brother in Key West. (Their birthdays are a year minus 3 days apart.) Husband'o'mine joked, "Nah, we can't go all the way to Key West for a birthday party!"

No way! We're only going to.... China!

IF we get that travel date anytime soon. Come on, travel date!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The effect of endless rain on the adoption process

The weather has been beautiful for the past several days. Absolutely lovely (plus some oppressive humidity, but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth). I've been out doing yardwork. Yesterday, Husband'o'mine and I drove up to Chatham to see KJ, writer of the blog, and we stopped at several yard sales on the way. A stunningly beautiful day.

On our way home, we stopped at the supermarket and saw... mums.


After only a week of summer weather.

My sense of seasonal time is all messed up right now. I'm not the only one, although I may be particularly susceptible to it. You remember how, sometimes, when you were a kid, you'd have to stop and think about whether it was spring or fall? Whether you could look forward to Christmas or the end of school? Remember those brief bursts of seasonal confusion? I still have them. I even have to stop and wonder whether it's morning or evening sometimes. I'm just not so good at keeping a running tally of time in my head.

Which is good, because clock-watching stresses me out. I find it unnecessary to be under that much stress.

The mums make me wonder, a little bit, whether getting seasonal confusion has affected my ability to cope with waiting. Whether, perhaps, it has helped. We've been stuck in an eternal spring. We were disappointed to learn that we wouldn't be traveling to China in June - oops, that estimate was too early. The wait times for each step turned out to be longer than our agent first anticipated. Now we're hoping and praying for a travel date in September.

(KJ assured me it wasn't too late to get a September travel date. I ride my wave of hope a little further. Of course, KJ's reassurances do not actually affect our travel date - that's wholly up to China - but they affect my sense of hope.)

September... it's coming up fast...

But my sense of seasonal time is still in June.

If it weren't, maybe I'd be waiting a lot less gracefully. If my brain were in August, maybe I'd be unable to avoid a full-blown panic.

I still hope to travel in September. If we get pushed back to November, then the weather will get cold again, and my illusion of being stuck in June will shatter. I can't articulate how much that would break my heart, and I'm sure people will discourage me from talking about it anyhow, because they won't want to know. My delay wouldn't quite be a true misfortune. It would just be another month or two lost. And that's not such a big loss, except to me, my husband, and my son.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Progress, finally! W00t!

We have our Article 5. (What is Article 5, you ask? Well, it's, uh... it's a document that... we don't have to deal with directly. It's a USCIS-to-CCAA thing.)

We went to a clinic and got specialized care and changing instructions for our AwesomeCloud from a nurse. Next we will get supplies.

We have a roof! Yes, folks, a real, honest-to-goodness genuine authentic roof. The roofers are finishing the installation right now.

Next, we will get real, honest-to-goodness, genuine, authentic walls. I'm breathless just thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Still waiting, stilll waiting

This morning I had a very nice chat with Zen Teacher Jim. He offered some advice for the journey ahead: "You don't know what's going to happen. You can make plans, but keep your mind in 'don't know' and don't get too attached to them. Pay attention to what's happening in the moment."

How will the plane ride be? Don't know.
How will our child take to us? Don't know.
What will his demeanor be like? Don't know.
How well will we get along in China? Don't know.

I may hope things go right and nothing goes wrong, but I honestly don't know. Nobody knows. The family who got quarantined didn't know. The family who is being forced to leave their daughter behind didn't know. The families who have had bonding problems with their children didn't know. The families for whom everything went smoothly didn't know.

What happens, happens. Just pay attention.

I think I was ready for this advice. It resonates with me. I can do it. I know that I'll be emotional, and that getting one's child in China is a generally difficult experience in some ways. I know that, at times, I'll be utterly exhausted. I also know that I have access to Zen Teacher Jim's advice at all times, and that I'm capable of taking it.

People may not know that about me. I like to hash out details, consider contingencies, and make just-in-case plans. I am frequently careful to prepare for emergencies. I occasionally have weak moments of worry. However, I'm also pretty good at this don't know mind. I can do both at once.

I'll miss Zen Meditation, but the scheduling is all wrong for me with the baby, and I'll have other priorities for a while. I told Zen Teacher Jim that someday I'd be back - don't know when.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Too much at once

Maybe if I had four times as many arms, I'd get it all done...

Oh god, no - the Scruggs family was denied

I'm verklempt.

I mean, what do you say? What do you think? How can a thinking, feeling, professional person deny a family the right to bring their adopted child home? Sure, that professional person is a government official, but he's an American government official.

Here's the link to the Scruggs family journal. Go read it yourself.

I'm so angry. i feel betrayed.

Yeah, I know, I'm not personally involved. I feel betrayed by proxy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why won't it stop raining?!?


Gaaah! This construction is moving along at a snail's pace.

Northern moon snail (Lunatia heros)

If only there were 3 days straight of sunshine... 3 days, that's all they need...

Also, I could be getting my travel date any day now....

Edit: Yay, I just got a phone call from a local nurse who runs a clinic we signed up for. We're in! We'll have to miss a session of Chinese lessons for it. But it's an important clinic. It will help us with care and feeding of AwesomeCloud upon first receiving him in China. His pediatrician recommended it.

We probably won't absolutely need the clinic, but more preparation is better than less preparation. We don't need Chinese lessons either. But we like to be educated. I don't need to be reading all these books about Chinese culture and studying up on Eastern philosophy, either. But if I didn't, I wouldn't be being myself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A letter to the CDC

I wrote a letter to two reps of the CDC who are involved in the situation of Jay and Candace Scruggs, a couple who is currently in China and is not being allowed to take their daughter home. She tested positive for TB. New immigration laws prohibit people with TB infections from entering the country. Apparently, this is being made to affect adoptees, too.

Scary stuff.

AwesomeCloud is too young to be touched by this law - it starts applying when a child is 2 years old. But this isn't about me. It's about all of us.

If anyone else feels like adding your voice, please do. The CDC isn't exactly going to be swamped with a landslide of emails. The adoption community is pretty small. Another email or two added to the mix can only help.

Mama horse

I'm studying Chinese, and am amused to note that the character for "Mama"...
...contains the characters for "woman" and "horse."Therefore, when you see "woman horse woman horse," you know they're talking about someone's mom.

I guess it's phonetic. "Horse" in Chinese is "ma" with the dipping tone. "Mom" is "ma" with the steady high tone and another "ma" with no tone.

Weren't the Egyptian hieroglyphs homophonetic, too? Neat!

In other news, we still haven't learned our travel date yet.

In entirely different news, out houseguest is enjoying himself. He only has 2 more days here, and then he's off to stay for a week in New Haven! After that he was going to stay in Long Island, but his host backed out. So he needs a new host in that area. I don't know anyone to recommend, although he was thrilled to learn that my friend in Ohio could host him, because his previously agreed-upon OH host seems to have become scarce.

BTW, I forgot to post his website before. It is 52 Friends.

And here's an article about him. He's quite a media darling, although the Cape Cod Times passed up an interview. Oh well!

Back to Chinese lessons! Wo hen ke. Wo yao he cha. (I'm very thirsty. I want to drink tea.)