Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Más Purge, por favor; or, Quiero tener duende

The Great Purge of 2017 continues.

Oh. My. God. Becky, would you look at her books?

Or movies? Or games? Board games AND video games?

Not to mention all the electronics that will eventually have to go?

Yesterday I came home to the husband on the back porch burning up the shredder double time like a mad man. I feel like we are in an illegal organization with the amount of shredding we are producing. Good grief.

Of course, this takes a lot of time, as does listing tons of stuff on one of the base fb selling sites. I'm really trying to figure out why I am doing this.

Here's what happens---I get some of the following messages:

a) "Yes! I want this __________. Please hold it for me and I'll be over at _____ to pick it up!!!"

(24 hours later-----"oh yeah, forgot to tell you, sorry, I don't want it after all" and the 3 other people who were once interested are suddenly not interested anymore).

b)."I know it's listed for $60, but will you take $5?"

c). "Very interested!"
(I send a message and never get a response).

d). "I'd want it and I'll pay for it. I don't have a car. Do you deliver?"

So WHY am I doing this?!!?!?

As it's all sitting around on my dining room table, never being sold, I'm rethinking the need to get rid of all of this stuff by selling it and just throwing it away. Or giving it away. Or anything but dealing with flaky people and SO MUCH STUFF. Ugh.

The point of the story: I have too much stuff. I also hate selling things. And I don't hate people, but I sort of hate dealing with people.

Otherwise, I'm making preparations for a big PCS move (that's Permanent Change of Station for all you non-military/DoD, real-world people).

In more exciting moving news (no, no orders yet), I got this in the mail:

Do you know how exciting it is to organize all of my toiletries, clothes, etc into 100 extra large ziploc bags?

No, you probably don't. Take my word---it's exciting.

If you've done a big move, you know the more organized you are, the better. Just like the less junk you have to move, the better.

In other news, I've been researching Everything Spain and sometimes I get so excited, I can't even sleep at night. I've also had a hard time doing my job.

It's not because of the moving excitement; it's because NOTHING TECHNOLOGICAL EVER WORKS IN OUR BUILDING.

If it's Monday, either a) the internet, b)the server, or c) the network will be out. Of course, today is Wednesday and it's the same. I am an idiot and can't say "no" to sweet, begging children, so I got suckered into doing yearbook which I cannot do without any of the above. I am in technological hell. Some things haven't changed in five years. I think it's the universe's way of telling me that if I had any remorse over leaving, fuggedabouit.

Also, H and the rest of the elementary school are moving into either extra classrooms (okay, we don't have extra classrooms---they are taking over labs we actually use) or "learning cottages" (aka "portables" aka trailers) on the grounds of our school while they are tearing down the old elementary school to build a new K-12, two storey, high-tech, 21st century, *insert educational buzzword here* school in its place. You know, the school that was supposed to be opening this year but has been delayed for years.

Yes, they are moving during spring break instead of over the summer. No, I don't know why.

My husband keeps telling me that I need to quit getting so riled up over things here because it's not my fight to fight. He is right (he always is, dammit) but I can't help it; it's like a genetic defect.

My future focus will be trying to quit fighting the good fight and focusing on things I can control. That leaves. . . looking up Everything Spain and daydreaming about a house that's hopefully a little less cluttered (our clutter is well hidden in drawers and closets, mind you). It will have its own sets of frustrations, and I will be reminded, again, that I need to quit fighting and just give in. But I also will try to let go and give into a new culture and let the stress of our final months of GTMO wash away. . .

Duende. From the page "Spanish words that don't translate directly into English"---I really liked this one.It's used with tener (to have)---"Tengo duende."(pic source:

From another website, loosely translated: "To have the art, the magic, the spell of captivating people with art and the will and affection of other people" ( 

I want to try to find things to make me feel this word. Isn't it a beautiful concept? It's usually used in conjunction with flamenco, which originates in the area of Spain where we will live.  I am SO ready to feel that way about the food, the art, the architecture, the people of Andalucía. . . and to stop fighting so much to control things that are, well, not my things to change.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

No More Rock-n-Roll Lifestyle; or, Bocas Cerradas

"En boca cerrada no entran moscas."

I had to learn a huge list of Spanish idioms in college, and this is the one I liked and remembered the most.

Basically it means, "in a closed mouth, no flies will enter."

In other words, learn to close your big mouth so you don't have to put your foot in it.

I've had to do that with much frequency lately. I don't know if it's because with a somewhat/certain end date I feel free to finally relax and be me, but I am losing patience with certain types of people and situations. Sometimes the real me needs to sit back and keep her big mouth shut. 

Part of it is my never-ending frustration with the bureaucracy that is working for the federal government. Part of it is I finally don't have to deal with certain types of personalities much longer, and I am having a hard time biting my tongue. I try to be professional, and on the occasions that I have been rude or inconsiderate, I have really tried to apologize. I know I'm not perfect and I own it.

But maaaaan. . . the closer I get to leaving, the harder it gets to keep my big fat mouth shut.

And to answer the question many of you keep messaging me---still no budget resolution, so still no orders, so no definite summer plans of when we'll move and where we will be en route to Spain. I now have two sets of orders waiting in the queue. The first is RAT in conjunction with PCS orders (in other words, our yearly paid trip back to the US coupled with our trip to Spain). Everything is still on hold until a budget is passed. I'm also waiting for our child's educational orders so he can---wait for it---move back to Cuba for 2 months and then move back to Spain. Makes a lot of sense, right?

Actually, it does, because he will have nowhere to live for the 2 months between the end of the semester (mid-May) and the time we get to Spain (hopefully mid-July). And most importantly---he gets to clean his room before the big move. Oh boy! 

I'm trying not to be fatalistic and think something will go wrong, so hope springs eternal in GTMO! This means I am throwing out 4-5 big black garbage bags of stuff a week. Things like worn out clothes that I can't give away. Living in 365 days of summer means you wear out your shorts rather quickly---I have several pairs I love that have frayed so badly and the pockets have completely worn out, but I just can't get rid of them yet. Who the hell has sentimental shorts? That would be ME. Broken toys, old catalogs, worn out shoes, the list goes on.  Expired medications and toiletries, dried out nail polish---it's exhausting. I went through my gardening stuff today and threw out broken pots and tools. It's just the tip of the overwhelming iceberg full of crap we have managed to accumulate through 25 years together.

Today it was a also trip down memory lane during my cleaning binge, and I threw out hundreds of CDs. I could have donated them to the thrift shop, but their shelves are full of CDs that nobody is buying. I could load them onto my computer and iPod, but really, I bought most of those for only a few songs. Remember when you bought a CD for one song? The brutal truth is unlike all the books I've given away, most of them are too embarrassing to take them to school to offer up for free because I didn't always have the best taste in music.

This reminds me of a favorite song from Cake's very first album I bought when we lived in Colorado Springs and listened to non-stop (where did that CD go?!?!), "Rock and Roll Lifestyle":

Well, your CD collection looks shiny and costly
How much did you pay for your Bad Moto Guzzi?
And how much did you spend on your black leather jacket
Is it you or your parents in this income tax bracket?
Now tickets to concerts
And drinking at clubs
Sometimes for music that you haven't even heard of
And how much did you pay for your rock and roll t-shirt
That proves you were there
That you heard of them first?

I kept all the David Bowie, REM, Pixies, Hole, and the Replacements.  My first Fiona Apple album---still love it---and the Jane's Addiction CD I listened to non-stop in college. And there were CDs I listened to all the time I can't find---all the Beatles and Stones (Some Girls was my favorite in college), Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Nirvana, the list goes on. Yes, I am dating myself. I didn't have much from the 80s, but I could supply a throwback 90s store with all I just threw out. And I really feel a little guilt for all the plastic that will be burned---they burn garbage here, and when I lived in the neighborhood nearest the landfill, you could always tell plastics day---my eyes would burn fiercely and I would have a horrendous headache for 2-3 days afterwards.

The flip side of downsizing is I have taken 3 big loads of books to school to donate to teachers, and they are almost all gone. I took a huge box of children's books to the thrift store---some were in pristine condition---which is exciting, because their kids' collection isn't the greatest. I took a huge basket of both of my kid's clothes that were also in great condition. Hopefully someone can use them here, and part of the proceeds from the thrift store goes to scholarships for high school kids, so I feel really great about that.

My favorite college professor whom I have mentioned in this blog numerous times, Dr. Karen Austin, once told my husband and me before we married that all adults should have to make a big move at least once every five years of their lives. It forces you to continually downsize. I've realized a few things about my life during our move here and now getting ready for another move: I attach myself to sentimental items (shorts? CDs?!?!) I can live without. I can live with half of the clothes, toiletries, and even food I have and survive very comfortably. My parents raised me to be frugal (and we gave away tons of clothes and toys every year), but I have somehow managed to let the weeding go by the wayside and accumulated more stuff. The little bit of traveling I have done has shown me how much less most people in the world need, and I am on my never-ending goal of retiring with what will fit in a few suitcases and not much else. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Letting Go; or, Finding (or Losing) Joy

A couple of years ago, a friend turned me on to the book The Life=Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She has a whole method of basically stripping your house down to only things that "bring joy" into your life. 

You are supposed to look at each object and ask if it brings joy. If it doesn't, you let it go. 

I know, it's like a new age-y, touchy feely way to see things, but I really have taken it to heart, even if I didn't make my way through the entire house. 

In the last few weeks, I've managed to get rid of about 50 books. If you know me, you know this is sort of monumental. 

In attempts to get through about 20 books that I really don't want to drag to Spain but really don't want to get rid of yet, I'm doing the Popsugar Book Challenge where you read books from several categories. I'm zooming through books and then adding them to my give-away pile. I'm working on my third give-away haul now and making progress through the list---so far, I've read 6 out of the 40. I started a couple of books and knew immediately I just wasn't going to finish them, so that was easy---onto the stack they went. 

I have found dozens (probably more like hundreds now) of pictures I have mailed to high school and college friends. Pictures bring me joy, but they are also sitting in a huge Rubbermaid container in my garage, so I'm hoping they bring someone else even more joy where they can put them in frames, or an album, or even throw them away if they want. They are no longer mine, and I'm glad to be rid of them. They belong to people who can enjoy them now. The hardest has been sending photos of siblings, spouses, or parents to friends who have loved and lost them. I love when someone in my family posts pictures of family members who are gone (or even pictures from my childhood that I have never seen). 

I can't open a drawer, a cabinet, or a closet without throwing something away. It's sort of Marie Kondo, guerrilla style. I am taking great joy in taking out the garbage. 

I'm also working my way through the pantry. My husband did a fantastic job of cleaning out the fridge last week, and this is after we both had done a thorough cleaning out during the winter break. How many types of mustard can one family have, really? We are soon going to get to that really funky stage of a move where you have weird combinations of food just because you are getting rid of it. Pot stickers and salad and corn! Why not? Shrimp and black eyed peas and sauerkraut! Yum. I'm working my way through the pantry and hoping to move very little more than spices, because those are expensive to replace and because in my librarian/OCD way, I have alphabetized my spices and have them neatly spaced out in 2 drawers. (I take my spices seriously---even if I don't always cook with them). 

I have given away some items from my garage and closet that I haven't used since I got here. I am accumulating clothes to give away. Most things we are going to give away because the sheer pain of having to have a garage sale for 50 cents here, 1 dollar there, outweighs the chump change we'll get for it. I'll give it away and spend that Saturday at the beach, thankyouverymuch. 

When Son 1 went to college, he did go through several pieces of clothing and we sorted into throw away, give away, and save for brother piles. Good thing, too, since brother just went through a hellacious growth spurt in the last couple of weeks and hardly has any clothes that fit. And our one and only store does not carry any shorts for boys in sizes 12, 14, or 16. Yes, you read that right. You cannot buy shorts in a tropical climate where it's hotter than seven hells half the year, and hot as one hell the rest of the year. I'm going to scour the thrift store this weekend in hopes of getting him through until the few pairs I bought online get here. (It's now taking about 3 weeks to get mail. I will not miss a) the inefficient mail service or b) the slim pickings for clothing in our little tropical paradise). 

My husband always has said this isn't a bad place to live if you aren't into material things, but dang, somethings "things" are pants. One thing you really can't go without is pants.