It truly does take a village to move a Texan to London.

A few days ago the Rotten One's super duper enormous crate arrived on my front porch and I had a moment of realization that there was absolutely NO possible way that I'd be able to fit it, fully put together, in the back of my SUV.  This crate looks like most dog crates, except on steroids.  My SUV is a large crossover, and big enough to carry the crate when the top and bottom are nested inside each other, but not when it's put together...so how on earth was I going to get it to Houston Intercontinental airport?

Plus, none of the crates that are that size (extra ridiculously large and heavy) are vented on all four sides, meaning I'd need to drill holes in the back per Continental's requirement. Sure, I can drill (and I'm pretty handy with power tools if I do say so myself) but that would mean I'd need to take everything apart, drill, and put it back together.  While that seems simplistic it's really not considering how heavy and bulky it is - plus, who knows if I could actually find our drill in the chaos? 

So, I went into problem-solving mode.  I needed: a person, living in Houston, with a large truck, with access to power tools, who loves me enough to help me assemble the crate, drill holes in it and drive me and the dog to IAH, on their Memorial day holiday, wait around while I get her paperwork completed and drive me back.  Enter: the high-school ex-boyfriend.

A and I dated on and off in highschool and he took me on my first official date ever (I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16 so on my 16th birthday, A and I went to Birraporettis Italian Restaurant.)  We've remained friends through high school and college and over the years I've met most of his girlfriends and also finally the one whom he married shortly after I met the Canadian.  In fact, A's wedding was the first one the Canadian and I attended together and it was in Las Vegas (Bonus: I love traveling to weddings!!

As an aside, the Canadian was actually in Las Vegas that weekend attending a bachelor party so he showed up to A's wedding hung over and bleary-eyed, but he was a total trooper in spite of his gin-soaked liver.

A and his wife now have two precocious and adorable kids (the oldest of which cracks me up with her impressive observations and the fact that she introduced me to a complete stranger as "My friend Sarah".  How awesome is that?)  So, I called A on short notice and asked if he would mind doing all of the above...and of course he said yes, because he's just that kind of guy.  Most of Monday afternoon A and I were dealing with assembling the crate, transporting the Rotten One across Houston and getting her set to get on a plane...gratitude seems insignificant to say the least.  I could not have done it without his help.

After I left A's house I called my other friend, K, who had invited me over for a tiny Memorial Day get together  (more on this friendship later as it requires an entirely separate post)... and I told her I was on her way to her house. (Her boyfriend M is a gourmet chef of epic proportions). 

When I arrived at K's, she poured me a giant fizzy drink with two shots of vodka and some elderflower liqueur and lime juice as I proceeded to tell her about the unbelievably crazy weekend I'd had (there was some other weirdness going on at MomT's house that isn't really worth writing about but it added a lot of stress to an already exhausting few days).  M cooked an incredible meal (which I inhaled), and we laughed and chatted and listened to some great music (Steely Dan, Steve Miller Band, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle...).  I so desperately needed good food, good friends, good conversation and a few drinks. 

As I write this, this morning, the only reason my sanity is intact is because of my friends...and the only way I get by is with a little help from my friends. 
 
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...have been exhausting. Physically to some extent but emotionally it's been overwhelming. 

Tuesday Tuesday I spent hours at the veterinarian's office trying to sort out with the staff (not the actual vet) about the Aphis 7001 form I needed filled out for the Rotten One.  I mean, folks, this is one document that any dog who flies anywhere in cargo in the United States or abroad needs to have.  Every vet's office in the U.S. is supposed to have this form.  They did (finally) find the form, but the staff seriously could use some training and I was at the end of my rope with their inability to competently find/fill out this form.

After I left the vet's office I had to race home to shower and change for a going away party.  In the middle of that party I took off to head over to a cocktail-hour for a non-profit I have worked with and love. An hour later I came back to the going away party and sang karaoke until 10 pm.  I headed home and finished up my last paper for my docotoral coursework and sent that in to my professor around midnight.

Wednesday.  I woke up at 4 in the morning, completely unable to sleep further.  At 5 I went downstairs and made coffee and watched an episode of  'The Closer' (my new favorite show) -- I was out the door by 8 am for doctors' appointments.  By 11 am I was at the USDA office to drop off the Rotten One's paperwork and at noon I was at City Hall for an open meeting to discuss cuts to social services sector that directly impact (and by impact meaning we have to close the doors) a non-profit on whose board I have served for the last 5 years.  I hadn't eaten yet so finally at 2:30 pm I grabbed lunch with a fellow board member and then I went home and began to pull everything that I wanted to send in the airfreight container because the movers were going to be there at 8 am.  I finally crawled into bed at midnight.

Thursday.  I awakened at 5:45 am and finished up everything for the airfreight movers.  They arrived at 8 and began packing while I filled out the insurance form.  At one point, one of the movers asked for two forms of photo identification so I gave him my driver's license and passport. The mover said "I have no idea why people have passports, people tell me I should get one but I tell them, Why would I want to go anywhere?  That's absurd". 

I think it was at that point when my eyes started to glaze over and the shock set in.  Like, why was I allowing two strange men to put my things in boxes and walk out of my house with them to ship them to another country? And why were they using such big boxes for dishes?  Dishes should be in small boxes.  And why were they having a 'guess how much this box weighs' contest with my stuff? And would it arrive unharmed? or at all? And why was I even doing this again?

The movers left and I wandered around the house feeling lost and confused and depressed.  I tried to go outside and work in the garden but came in 5 minutes later.  I tried to drink some tea but it just sat there, steeping.  I tried to go to the movies but I couldn't leave the house.  I started to feel numb. 

I texted a friend and she told me that I was in shock and I needed to cry.  I wasn't entirely sure how to make myself cry so she suggested music and a glass of wine.  Turns out David Gray's 'Babylon' is an excellent catalyst for tears (especially since it mentions London and cryin' out loud).  So I cried for awhile and felt better -- at least enough so that I could start straightening up from the tornado I created while pulling everything for the movers. 

So, it's Saturday and I'm finally feeling almost back to normal.  And I promise my blog will return to happy/funny/lighthearted content when I'm feeling happy, funny, and lighthearted again.  In the meantime, I just need to process the transition, thanks for hanging in there with me.

 
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I have been a bad blogger, I know, but rest assured it is because either:
A) I have been finishing up my last semester of coursework (and that means I'm a paper-writing kamikaze)
B) I have been dealing with figuring out dramatic details about getting the Rotten One shipped over
C) I have been juggling movers schedules, getting my house in the hands of a rental agent, and figuring out what to do about all of that (change house insurance, install locks and peepholes etc.)
D) Trying to visit my friends before I go
E) Drinking too much (see D...)
F) Losing my mind (see previous post)
G) All of the above  <--------- THIS IS THE CORRECT ANSWER

Just in case there was any confusion, the answer is G...

So a few quick updates:
1) We have a house.  That was it's own special drama.  The Canadian found it. We liked it.  We tried to negotiate some of the terms.  The Foxton's agent said the owner had found someone else who was willing to take the house (without negotiating) at full terms. We lost the house.  The Foxton's agent called 3 weeks later saying the couple who wanted it had a miscarriage* so the lease fell through and did we still want it.  Yes, we did.  So we began the negotiating again.  We signed the lease.  The Canadian picked up the keys on Friday and moved in on Saturday.  We currently have rental furniture until ours arrives, but, the good news is, we are not homeless.  (The Canadian has photos of the house but he is currently at the Maple Leaf pub in London watching a hockey game (as Canadians often do) and can't get them to me, so that will have to be another post.)

The house is in the Kensal Rise/Kensal Green 'hood (NW6/NW10) -- known for its antique stores and gastropubs. Here's a small piece in the New York Times about it. I've heard there are lots of mid-30s hipsters who live there. Also, I learned it has a lot of Portuguese/Brazilian stores and markets so naturally I bought a Brazilian cookbook and I will be learning a new cuisine with the availability of Portuguese ingredients.

It's 5 minutes from two different tube stops and an overground station, and extremely close to London's best indie film cinema - I'm super excited about that part!

2) Moving the Rotten One over has turned into such a drama. The vet's office in New Orleans sent us the Rotten's One's paperwork several weeks ago (at least, that is what we were told).  Well it never arrived -- ostensibly lost in the mail.  So, after waiting a week, we called them back and they sent us copies.  I went to the USDA office here in Austin to get the paperwork certified by the USDA (one of her many requirements) -- well, they can't take copies -- they need an original signature.  Awesome.  So, I'm waiting on that, oh, and I need it by Tuesday in order to fly her over the following Monday (uhhh...it's Sunday, FYI)

On the other side of the coin, I call the vet's office here in Austin to get her certificate saying she is 'fit to fly' -- basically the certificate (Aphis 7001) that any dog who is going in cargo has to have.  This is for the airlines and has nothing to do with London or the DEFRA scheme.  I would need it if I were flying her to Houston or Cleveland or wherever, domestically or internationally. Also, supposedly, every vet's office in the U.S. has this form and it's not a big deal, done all the time.  Well my vet's office had no idea what I was talking about. They wanted all of the DEFRA information.  They were more and more confused when I told them this had nothing to do with London, that this was ONLY for the airlines, that it had nothing to do with importing a dog into the UK.  They were so confused they had trouble actually making me an appointment.  I finally just told them to make me a 'check-up' appointment and I'd speak to the veterinarian directly. (I know you're feeling the same confidence in my vet's staff as I am, but to explain, my vet joined a new practice and this is the staff of that practice.  Thus far I'm unimpressed, as you can imagine.)

So, that's all been a real pleasure to navigate.  Meanwhile, when I tell the Rotten One she's going to London she looks at me like "What's a London?". 

3) I have already started having requests for visits, and I mean, not just the casual "Yeah, we should come see you", but friends are forwarding me possible itineraries.  The good thing is, the house is a 3/2.5 so we will definitely have room.  And I'm excited so many people are wanting to come visit -- makes me feel like I won't be so removed from everything else going on.

4) If you're a fellow expat blogger and you haven't heard from me in awhile, see Answer G above...

*This is so disturbing.  First of all, I think it was highly inappropriate for the Foxton's agent to tell potential renters that a former potential renter had a miscarriage.  I am certain that the woman to whom this happened would absolutely not want her medical history shared with others. When we shared this with some friends, they indicated that it was entirely possible the Foxton's agent was fabricating this information, and if that's the case, why on earth would he make up such a creepy excuse?  Tell a better lie.  In either scenario, I was really unimpressed with the way that information was handled.
 
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You know when you lose something, you re-trace your steps to see if you can find it?  You search frantically for it, looking under papers, opening the dishwasher (once, I actually did put my keys in the dishwasher, no lie), you scour everything trying to find it? 

That's how I feel about my mind...I cannot seem to locate it.  It's not in the boxes I've been packing, or in my car which has devolved into a second closet.  It's not in my computer bag with the giant stack of papers collected over the semester and never organized -- nor is it in my computer where I have about 40 different tabs open on Firefox and 30 different documents open all at once...(and yes,  the computer *is* running slower now that you mention it...)  It's also not in the *three* papers I have due this week and next.

My mind is not in the three hour conversation I had on Thursday night with a friend that I can't tell you a thing about -- but suffice it to say, if you can imagine a million crazy things happening to someone, they did.  And, some of them (well most of them) impact me at least tangentially. It's also not in the email barrage that I get every morning from: movers, letting agents, the Canadian asking me about this or that, my professors, my friends or the spam guy telling me that my bank is concerned for my safety and I really need to give them my password and social security number so that I'm safe again.

I can't seem to find my mind at the board meeting I went to last night, making the incredibly hard decision with my fellow board members to close the doors on this extraordinary nonprofit I've been working with for years.  That's a long story that I might tell someday but today it's too hard and too sad.  I've also looked for my mind on my calendar which is filled with doctor's appointments (general checkups before I leave...), meetings, dinners, seminars and more.

I swear I've looked for my mind in The Rotten One's bed (did I mention I forgot to feed her yesterday?  She did get a peanut butter kong though...) and I've looked for it in the numerous closets, drawers, and chests that need to be organized and cleaned out before the movers arrive (June 6th).  It's not in the mail that keeps coming to my house, reminding me that I have got to figure out what to do with my mail...and it's not in the list of 65 things that I need to accomplish before the move.

So...if you see a mind running around somewhere (my grandad used to say he wanted mine because it was shiny and new -- since it had never been used) please return it to me.  I'm a little lost without it...

 
Hey, we have a winner!  But before I tell you who it is, I wanted to chat a bit about all of the comments on the giveaway post.  I asked you to tell me about your most brilliant domestic accomplishment and I was so impressed by all of the amazing things each of you have done.  Not all of us are brilliant homemakers, and I'd venture to say, most of us just work at getting through the day with our sanity still intact, but you all have really taken on some pretty cool projects!

I'm going to share a few of your comments below, but each of you tackled something challenging, or new, or sentimental, or frustrating, and I think every single one of you should pat yourself on the back.  Making this move to London has forced me to do a LOT of cleaning and organizing that I have put off for far too long (uh hello, my CD collection? and going through my clothes?!)  So, my hat is off to all of you for your perseverance, creativity, hard work that you've done in trying to get through life with your own blend of panache and savoir faire.

A few comments:
From Joy, The Herbed Kitchen
One morning, without even really thinking about it, my daughter and I slathered slices of toast with cinnamon peach jam and sat on the balcony to eat. Nothing extraordinary until I realized we had baked that bread together and las summer, we canned that jam. It was such a part of our lives but we had done it!

From Susan Smoaks
i am not very domestic but i did make curtains out of sheets and i am proud of that!

From Melizza, Mujerboricua
I recently took up sewing and managed to sew my new niece a dress. If it falls apart on her is one thing but I sent it off completely stitched and re-sized for her ever growing body. Hoping it lasts through the summer because it came out hella cute.

From Sand
Learning how to cook has been an interesting experience but last year when I hosted a brunch and made everything from scratch, everyone was blown away.

From Ed Nemmers
I make a magnificent Sweet Vidalia Onion Pie!

From Kylie C
Having never upholstered anything before I re-upholstered two wingback chairs last fall. I used a library book as a guide. They look good but more importantly they haven't fallen apart!

Meg at Ameringlish wrote a whole post about her accomplishments!

From Judith
My most brilliant domestic accomplishment was to give my husband cookbooks for his birthday. Now, he does all of the cooking - and baking.

From Jolene
i recently made a kick ass mexican lasagna that was so good my boyfriend keeps wanting me to make it again! It was meatless too...

From Debbie
I have been learning to preserve my own food. I have been dehydrating all kinds of fruits and vegetables, canning, and having a huge garden.

Beveanne Mckinley
i'm learning how to cook and its been 3 meals since the fire alarm went off or anybody got sick

Melissa B
I 'brilliantly' squeezed a family of four into a travel trailer for six months while we looked for a house to buy. Our own house had sold far quicker than expected and we had been left in a lurch. Thanks to creative minimization, we survived it!

There were a lot of you who painted your houses or rooms, took on sewing projects and cooking projects -- each you is really a superstar in my book.  And now...for the drawing!

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 16
Which means...MEG! Has won!!  Congrats :)  I will contact you and send over your book AND my grandmother's banana pudding recipe!  Thanks again to all who entered!  I have another giveaway coming soooon!!!

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