Excavation 2012 – Day #44 – There’s Something About Mary

So, I’ve had a couple nights where it has been hard getting to sleep this week, and inevitably I have found myself watching reruns of Hoarders. It’s somehow becoming my newest obsession. I can’t help myself. If I’m flipping through channels and see that it’s on, I immediately tune in. And even when I am absolutely mortified by what I see (like the lady named Mary whose hoarding had caused serious structural damage to the house, and who had resorted to sleeping on one small section of her mattress which was covered in cat feces and soaked in urine), I can’t look away. God help me, I can’t look away.

The opening credits of the show say that 3 million people in the US are compulsive hoarders. 3 million. That’s a whooooole lot of hoarding going on people. And even if I am nowhere even close to Mary’s ballpark of hoarding mania, this Excavation project has certainly opened my eyes to some of the more ridiculous things I’ve been holding onto.

Case in point–Cadence’s birth announcements.

For those of you following this blog, you know that Cadence celebrated her 2nd birthday almost 2 weeks ago. Yet, somehow, these announcement postcards have survived two years and two moves, following us from place to place. And honestly, I can’t even tell you what my rationale was to hang onto them this long. Obviously we ordered way too many, but I just couldn’t bring myself to toss them right away.

By the time we were packing to leave Arizona, Cadence was already 10 months old, so it would have been the perfect time to trash them, yet somehow they made it into a box instead of the garbage. I guess maybe I thought I should hang onto them just a little longer, in case we accidentally missed someone when we mailed them out. At this point, that excuse is more than a little moronic.

S0, it’s time to say adios.

I am a birth announcement postcard hoarder no more! Woohoo! I feel so liberated. Onto the next.

Excavation 2012 – Day #7 – Confessions of a Pen Whore

I know it seems a little cliche for a writer to have a pen fetish, but I’m not going to deny my sickness. I am addicted to pens–pens, pencils, markers, highlighters–any sort of writing utensil really. I’ll take a free pen, no matter who is giving it away.

The bad part is, I have a hard time getting rid of them, even the crappy ones. I will leave the pens that I don’t particularly care for sitting out for other people to use, while I keep my own secret stash of favorites tucked away.

Unfortunately, this means that on any given day, I have approximately 16,000 writing utensils hiding in my house. I’m starting to think I am toeing a fine line between being an eccentric writer and a certified hoarder.

So, it’s time to clean house.

I bought this little three-drawer storage caddy when I first started teaching in New York. and moved into a small studio apartment.

It kept my supplies organized–things like pencils and staples and paperclips. As the years went on, and Steven and I got married and combined all of our belongings into a house of our own, my little storage caddy suddenly became a catchall for anything even remotely office related–stamps, envelopes, cell phone accessories. Eventually, it was where we would toss all the junk that we didn’t know what to do with–matchbooks, half-stripped screws, buttons that we weren’t even sure we owned the matching outfits to anymore.

I actually had to partially disassemble the caddy to even open two of the three drawers. Yeah, we’re overdue for a cleaning.

Sadly, I found more junk than not, so I’m sure I’ll be revisiting the caddy for future Excavation blog posts, but for tonight, let’s focus on the matter at hand.

When it comes to highlighters, Steven is probably a bigger addict than I am. I prefer to underline, circle and write notes in the margins of my books. Steven, on the other hand, is a highlighting whore. Out of the 13 highlighters I found in the caddy, only 4 worked.

Moving on, here is the pile of pens, pencils, mechanical pencils, refill lead, erasers and markers that were hiding in the caddy. Half of them didn’t work at all, a small handful gave me an initial hopeful scribble then crapped out before I could finish the test drive, and one had even sprung a leak and started growing hair.


These pencils I held onto simply because they were too cute to get rid of. Unfortunately, I gave up writing with anything but mechanical pencils in high school, because I have serious issues writing with a dull pencil. It seriously makes my stomach turn. Should I ever get captured and thrown in some shady foreign jail and accused of being a spy, all my captors would have to do is force me to handwrite a 20-age essay with a dull pencil. I would tell them anything they wanted to know if they would just make the pain stop.

Because these are still too cute to get rid of, I’m setting them aside to give to some of my little cousins or neices and nephews who are just about the right school age to really dig them. After all, homework is always easier when you’ve got a cool pencil.

And for those who are curious, here is my current favorite pen–the Pilot G-2 with the extra fine 0.5mm tip. This baby is going back in my collection along with this small assortment that are still in perfect working order…

The rest of these are finally headed for the trash where they belong.

365 Project – Day 25 – It Feels Like Coming Home

Coming home from an extended vacation should be an Olympic event. At the very least, you should be able to list it on your professional resume because it takes a certain amount of strategy and skill to actually arrive back home in one piece.

First, there’s the luggage. Everything that you so carefully and skillfully packed just days ago must be repacked and hauled back home, yet instead of carefully folding and rolling and organizing everything back into your luggage, you eagerly adopt the Stuff It & Pray method of packing. What else can you do? Somehow everything you brought on the trip seems to be taking up twice as much space as it did just a week ago, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to have to go out and buy a duffle bag and pay another annoying baggage fee. Me? I’d rather just cut my losses and leave the shit behind. Let it all end up on someone else’s episode of Hoarders.

Then, doesn’t it always seem that just when you’re really starting to get rid of the jet lag and function like a halfway normal human being, it’s time to hop back on a flight and jack up your internal clock all over again? Arizona might only be 2 hours difference right now, but  I’m fairly certain that it’s going to take my poor body at least a week to readjust to Nebraska time. And poor Cadence–it’s 10:07 p.m. and she still thinks it’s time to play thanks to a short nap on the plane and a long nap in the car on the way home from the airport.

And, of course, the trip home is never without it’s mishaps. Just minutes before the first annoucentments were made to begin boarding on our flight home, Cadence had still not obeyed my request to pretty pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top poop before we got on the airplane. Bracing myself for another mid-flight disaster, I decided to take evasive action.

I took Cadence into the Ladies Room near our gate to change her diaper one last time before boarding and, in a moment of sleep-deprived genius, I decided that the best course of action was to double diaper her skinny little butt and pray for the best. As we boarded the plane and buckled into our seats, I was actually pretty proud of my little plan.

After the I’m-Hot-So-I’m-Gonna-Scream-Real-Loud-Until-They-Turn-On-The-Air fiasco on the flight out to Arizona, I made a point to fill Cadence’s empty sippy cup with ice just before boarding. As soon as she was buckled in and started to squirm and whine from the heat, I unscrewed the lid and presented her with the little cup of icy gold. She smiled and oohed and giggled, plunging her hands into the ice, picking pieces up, drinking the bits of melted water, and sucking on the ice cubes all with a great big This-Is-The-Best-Gift-EVER smile on her face. And I gave my self another mental pat on the back for being such a smart Momma.

Of course, my shining moment was short-lived.

About 30 minutes into the flight, Cadence suddenly decides to ditch the cup to get a look out the window, dumping the entire contents directly in her lap. After a quick wipe down of the seat, I dug through the diaper bag for another pair of pants and just slipped the wet pair off and the dry pair on. I checked the diapers, and all still seemed to be holding up pretty well at that point. The outside diaper was a little damp from the water spill. The inside diaper seemed a little soggy, but otherwise they were fine.

Crisis averted.

Or not.

Cadence spent the next 20 or 30 minutes sharing a Twizzler with me and playing with her toy phone and her baby. She was perfectly content, until the stewardess came by with the drink cart, and Cadence got a good look at her filling a cup with ice for the lady sitting across the aisle.

Cup-o-Ice vs. Cadence Round 2.

I should have known better than to even give Cadence the second cup of ice. She only caught a 5 minute catnap on the way to the airport, and my darling daughter tends to lose coordination at an alarming rate when she is tired. I, on the other hand, apparently tend to lose brainpower at an alarming rate when I am tired, because I handed over the cup and let Cadence have at it. And 10 minutes later, she is sitting in a puddle of ice and water.

Doubting that even my double diaper could withstand two icy floods on top of any deposits Cadence had made on her own accord, I figured it was time to head to the tiny bathroom for a diaper change before we began our descent into Omaha.

If possible, this bathroom was even smaller than the one we squeezed ourselves into before, and apparently Cadence was still so traumatized from our last visit to the lavatory that she started screaming bloody murder the minute I opened the door to let us inside, and screamed nonstop until I opened the door again to let us out. We were greeted by a few stares from the nearby passengers. Five minutes later, Cadence was asleep in my arms, and she slept for the rest of the flight.

The weirdest part about traveling though, is that things always seem a little different when you get back…a little off. The neighborhood looks a little smaller. The house smells a little sweeter. The dog either plays hard to get to teach you a lesson about running off and leaving her, or she jumps up, knocks you to the ground and then climbs on your lap and refuses to let you leave again.

But, in the end, no matter how wonderful the trip was, no matter how much fun you had while you were gone, it always feels good to get back home and see that the world didn’t end in your absence. Upon returning to Lincoln tonight, I was so happy to see that, as messed up as our world is right now, we are still able to breathe for free.

Thank God for small favors.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all my my Arizona family and friends for making it such a wonderful vacation. And now, my friends, it’s time to catch up on some sleep.

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