Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Biblical Failure," or, "What is a Nick Nack?"

"There is nothing new under the sun." --Ecclesiastes 1:4-11*
"This is the song that doesn't end / Yes, it goes on and on my friend" --Lamb Chop
"I knew we were gonna fail." --Abby Wahl

Every Wednesday for two school years, I've been lucky enough to be able to take a half-day off from work in order to pick my kids up from their school, with its wacky Wednesday-half-day policy. We try to do fun things, like going to a museum or the planetarium or something, but often end up just going to the playground and/or the library, which is what we did this week. It started not only as a continuation of our set-up at Isaac's pre-school co-op, where one of us had to go in once a week and the other had to watch the baby, but as a good way for me to use my excess comp time and give Abby a half-day of non-parental adulthood. But lately, she's been joining us, whether on playground or museum jaunts, or at the house to meet with contractors, inspectors, or anyone else who needs the focus of both of us during working hours. at those times, the kids have occasionally gotten pushed to the back, either having to endure hours of cross-town driving, boring materials showrooms where a single executive putt-putt hole was the only distraction, or being shushed while they play pool or foosball in the community room.

Yesterday's plan was to keep the kids out of Abby's hair as much as possible, so we did the playground across the street from their school, spent an hour or so at the Mount Pleasant library, and went to Target to buy air freshener for our stinky car, before finally heading home at five. When we got home, Abby was in her painting clothes, having finished about a third of the first coat of Poppyseed paint on the trim in our family room. All around her, there were piles of boxes, displaced furniture, and empty cabinetry-- but not because she had carefully removed things from their place to make sure nothing got splattered. No, it was because she had spent the entire day packing up the house, so that when the inspector came today, he wouldn't see signs that we have effectively been squatting there for the last seven weeks. Her work took much of the day, and we continued with last-minute touches this morning, bagging all the contents of our freezer and fridge to stash temporarily across the street in the community room's fridge, taking sheets off our beds and leaning the mattresses up against the walls, emptying the dryer of clean clothes and packing our clothes away in the boxes they had come in back in April.

I left the house a bit late, due to all this re-packing, telling Abby that at least once we re-unpacked, we could get rid of the boxes once and for all, we could hang things on walls once and for all, we could cross "inspections" off our need-to-do list once and for all. Then, just before lunchtime, I get the following email:

"Gregory, the inspection failed. It's just a few nick nack items and one major item. The major item is the inspector couldn't find a sign off for the retaining wall, so we both are researching now to get to the bottom of this"literally"."

I had been waiting for his email all morning, having asked him to email me rather than texting, since I can't read texts at work. So when I saw his name in my inbox, I got excited momentarily. You know, like how you feel in the third quarter of a Bills game versus the Patriots. Just as fast as the adrenaline came, it left when I read the opening line. You know, like how you feel in the fourth quarter of a Bills game versus the Patriots.

Immediate questions: whose responsibility is it to have that sign-off handy? What are "nick nack items," and how many is "a few?" When will this stuff be found and fixed? How much will Abby hate me for telling her the news? Will we have to re-unpack, then re-repack, then, OMG, re-re-unpack?

So that's where we stand. Limbo. Abby was nonplussed when I told her this afternoon, giving me her quote at top in a resigned monotone. We'll bring all the food back into the kitchen, put the clothes back into the closets, arrange the toiletries and toys back into the vanities and shelves, redistribute the furniture to its proper place, reconnect the satellite and modem. Then we'll wait until we have to undo, then redo, it all over again.

*Those of you who know me personally may find it strange that I open this blog post quoting scripture. Be assured I had no idea of its biblical origin. The Shakespearean origin I had assumed was actually just a paraphrase. Thank you, Google.

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