Just got back from a weekend jaunt to Nashville, where flood recovery continues. Parts of town are just devastated, while in others you’d never know anything happened. We were lucky enough to be able to volunteer a bit.
First, we packed flood-relief food boxes in a big assembly line at Second Harvest food bank. I had the toilet paper station, and D had the huge-boxes-of-fake-Cheerios station.
We shared the instant-mashed-potato station, which basically meant that every time I grabbed a box, I found that she had already put one into the big box. I put in 832 boxes of instant mashed potatoes, and took out 828 of them. Every time either of us picked up a box of mashed potatoes, soft, little white clouds of dried potato bits billowed around us and settled gently into our hair like snowflakes. Or dandruff. (Wait, I like the snowflake imagery better.) Nothing like breathing in a few big, fresh lungfuls of potato starch to start your day.
They didn’t vet the volunteers very well, or else they’d have realized that the person who’s a tiny bit OCD shouldn’t go at the end of the line. Especially when they’re loading the toilet paper, which by all logic that’s good and holy and just should obviously go in second. The biggest box, which was the fake Cheerios, should’ve been the first one in.
Instead, we got the boxes after they had already been stuffed with two cans of Beanie-Weenies, three cans of tuna, two tall bottles of jelly, two fat jars of peanut butter, a huge cylinder of oatmeal and four boxes of fruit drink.
This left approximately three square inches of space in which to shoehorn one ginormous box of fake Cheerios, one tall box of instant potatoes and a four-pack of toilet paper.
And who was last in that scheme? Me, who prefers not to be thought of as OCD, but CDO — so it’s in alphabetical order like it oughta be.
I’m happy to say that despite me feeling a need to unpack and repack every box, we didn’t hold up the line. Not much, anyway.
Our shift still ended up packing more than 1,000 boxes, which was awesome. I couldn’t help but think of how grateful people who’ve lost everything would be to get that fruit juice, oatmeal and toilet paper. I again feel very fortunate.
Then we moved for an afternoon shift of debris removal in Bellevue, one of the hardest-hit areas. We went to River Road, whose very name tells you what awaited us. Home after home, swamped by 8 feet of muddy stormwater. Every single thing this family owned was covered in slimy, smelly mud that must be the main ingredient of super-glue. Houses stripped down to the studs, water-ruined photos, bedraggled stuffed animals… Lives in ruin. Yet the residents we met were unbroken in spirit, and buoyed by the massive amount of support from friends and strangers alike. This tragedy is no match for our spirit. We are Nashville.
Meanwhile, throughout the weekend and from three states away, we went back and forth on our Probable New Home. And I’m happy to say, as of yesterday, it’s morphed into the Soon To Be Our New Home.
Our fears were eased by the cadre of roofing experts we brought in, who say nothing major is wrong with the roof. It just needs a couple of repairs, no big deal. So we nagged the sellers … oops, I mean, we negotiated a settlement with the owners, who by that point had thrown in their golf clubs, a year’s subscription to Vanity Fair, a pair of scissors with one broken tip, two packages of frozen broccoli, a box of Scooby-Doo Band-Aids and their 14-year-old to seal the deal.
It was a tough standoff. We countered and held our ground… They have to take back the 14-year-old.
Of course, now I’m sure I overlooked something, like maybe a nest of African bush vipers in the attic. Or a sinkhole in the side yard, cleverly disguised with incredibly lifelike fake grass. Or a neighbor who’s the proud originator of a band named Skreeming Bansheez of Satan’s Death Hole.
It’s hard being me sometimes.
Now we just have to finish the mortgage paperwork, which as I mentioned before is a whole new world in this day and age. (Thanks a helluva lot for that, subprime lenders.) I’ve already gotten three of the forms Mortgage Guy needs. Now I just need to find the other 2,349. I have this year’s tax returns handy, and I’m sure it won’t take me long to find them from 1987-2009. I’ve gotten the Act of Congress written up and submitted, and I have surgery scheduled to remove my arm and leg. I’m halfway through the YouTube video showing me waving at the camera in all rooms of Children’s Medical Center Dallas, to prove that I’m really employed there. (The one from the brain surgery was a little difficult, but we finally got it done after I got the kid’s VP shunt put firmly in place.) And I’ve appealed to the Belize Department of Inland Security to see if they’re open to erasing that pesky little legal problem stemming from my vacation a few years ago.
We close in mid-June, so it’s five more weeks in the apartment. Five more weeks of dull knives and unfamiliar pots and no Tivo. I did whine my way into having them bring me a new mattress this weekend, though, so that’s exciting.
Now for the tough decisions: what color should we paint that godawful pink bedroom?