DINKS in (a cleaner) SPAAAAAACE... and more fitted pants!

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Marital Cohabitation: Art of the most cyclical nature was brought up into the living room, and spun upon immediately. A successful surgery on little Dell, the Ultrabook. And the uber-workout of DINKYosity was accomplished. Coming up: towels were folded, beds were made, chrome began to shine, insurance was negotiated, and shopping was conquered!!

And a new DINK milestone - we have a cleaning service - After making a fairly early call that all potential strains on our marriage could preemptively be alleviated by the tactical engagement of house-cleaners, we went ahead and received a span of supplemented cleaning service as one of our most spectacularly generous wedding gifts. As soon as we were relatively "moved," I contacted Maid For You, the service that my mom has used for years, to set up an estimate/bid/consultation. Just to indicate how long my mom has used them: during our chat, the cleaner epiphanically proclaimed "oh, did you live in the front room of your mom's house?? Because of you, I learned all kinds of new ways to get weird colors of hair dye off of surfaces!" Nice to be remembered. I did not mention that because of one of her cleaners (allegedly and without any substantiation for said claim), I am now afraid to leave dark chocolate mint m&m's unattended in the office during a cleaning weekend... But I will be hoarding all loose candy in a bomb shelter I've scooped out of the basement floor, just in case.

They are apparently a popular service and required roughly two weeks' notice to get us set up on the calendar for bi-monthly cleanings. I received the call on Monday, mid-retreat (from which I then had to make my own hasty Inception-style retreat within a retreat to field the call in a corner of the house with cell reception - all that collaboration and good faith apparently clogs up the airwaves). To my surprise, the turnaround was rapid: they'd be cleaning the next day at 12:15 p.m. and wanted to know if I would meet them of if they could pick up a key. Since I, naturally, had not preemptively made copies of the key and was somewhat isolated from key machines out in northern Whatcom County, I figured I'd best meet them there. And this is indeed what I suggested; and further what I then actually did. 

And, all according to plan, the cleaners came. I left. The house magically became sparkly... and ... different. Different that way that things always are after somebody has rifled through your stuff. There were little details like the crisp origami to our towels (as opposed to Andrew's more kerchief threading, and my more whimsied foldishness) and the impeccable unyielding order of our bedsheets. And then, there were the handy "suggestions," perhaps, including the relocation of our bathroom scale across town to the shower area and the Nordstrom's-approved display of our various face soaps and body creams left on the bathroom shelves. I didn't quite realize this one until I had begun washing my face last night and habitually grabbed for my my face soap. My startled fingers instead came against a bottle of ginger Thai massage cream (better than peanut sauce!)! It fortunately stopped at the fingers and not the eyes. 

And yes, one of the gifts and curses of having cleaners coming is that it necessitates a pre-cleaning clean that may strike one as a touch ironic, but maybe not rain-on-your-wedding-day and/or greek-tragedy level ironic (massage cream or no, all eyes remained intact last night!). I'd just as soon have a hand in assorting my own clutter, despite the superlative rearrangement skills of our cleaning people. And... maybe that means throwing everything into a box in the corner for the day, but sometimes it also means - oh I don't know - putting things away for a change! 

Since we also ran the dishwasher that morning, rehabituating the house held a bit of that bittersweet guilty sapor one gets from cutting into a perfectly iced cake. After an evening and morning together there, our home is minimally becluttered and becrumbed again, as suits our wonts. But with regular service, we should forestall that tipping point where detritus evolves into sediment (this is usually when I give up my vinegar and water quotidian wipe-downs for my "gee I'm sure I want to visit somebody or hang out at a coffee shop" daily exoduses from the oppressive home-arena). And with two of us, one of us often coming home with half a mountain clinging to his legs, that tipping point might have come sooner than expected. 

Besides, now if we ever lose anything, we have the most spectacular scape goat! Oh those cleaners!!! They ate my m&m's and hid my kindle in the freezer! Nut jobs!!

May Loris and The (W)right Insurance Deliberations - Yesterday was time to turn the calendar and start over again at number one (we're number one! we're number one! Ok, we're now number two! That's ok too!!)! When Andrew and I first started dating, I made him a wall calendar of lorises for Christmas. Well, pictures of lorises. I did not fly out to Yunnan with a pet carrier and some loris-bait just that time, but perhaps in future years when I have a non-expired passport with my legal name in hand again (there is hope - my check processing fee has been cashed!)! I'm pretty sure that I gave him some other cute things and candies, but this was certainly the stand-out hit for both of us. Up there with the gross of high quality pencils that I think he is still working through, and the coffee mug with a picture of a monkey burying its head in a coffee cup in the eschelons of enduring gift-scores.

It's just hard not to feel better about that long week when its being handed to you tentatively by a wide-eyed strepsirrhini with poisonous arm glands and some folkloric ability to ward off evil spirits! Knowing I could never best that idea, I've mostly replicated it as a standard Christmas gift. It's been fun. When we lived apart, Andrew would chat his observance of "New Loris Day!" and it always made me smile. While every day is a new day, it adds a special sort of oomph the beginning of a new month. I still get excited about it now that we're all shacked up. So, I give to you NEW LORIS!

As Andrew has now been employed for half a month, the time has come to start lucubrating over benefits packages. He will be eligible for them in roughly July of 2038, so obviously he needs to get started on all those forms. I jest. He can get most benefits in regular old July, but I'm still flummoxed by the sense of urgency that HR brought to him about getting started on that paperwork. They do claim they only need a month to process it, and, while math skills are paltry I believe that gives them more than ample time from May 1st (or late-to-mid April, when they started turning the heat up on us both to get back to them). Andrew speculates that they may be familiar with certain stereotypes regarding absent minded engineers and/or are familiar with many occasions when a newer employee is shipped off to the UK facility for a few months before paperwork is finished (incidentally, Andrew also tells me that the biggest occurrence of head injuries in Electro-Impact employees is not from large machines falling on them, but instead from getting into scrapes at the UK facility... Those British Engineers, man! Cowboys. I am looking forward to his eventual visit there. At least he already owns several helmets!) 

Of course Andrew would like some free employee health insurance over his crappier post-student bridge policy. But here we get to the really juicy matter: having already committed to a lifetime of matrimony AND a YMCA joint membership, are we really ready to be on the same insurance policy??? Turns out, apparently, not... or maybe so... or may not. Signs were pointing in a variety of contrary directions right until the end, then reversed and then reversed yet again. I honestly don't even know what policy I'll be on come July! My currently policy and the new one are mangoes and papayas in comparison. Mine is a standard copay. His is a highish deductible percentages supplemented with an HSA, In various scenarios (oh yes I charted them), one bests the other, but there's no clear winner for me unless, I suddenly become far better at statistics.

 I really like the idea of being on the same policy, and saving my mom's office some money, but then again I didn't like that I'd have to change dentists and eye doctors (both of my treating professionals are supernaturally nice and good at their jobs). I was just leaning towards "yes" and Andrew was just pulling out the fifty tons of paper when I "realized" that the money would not go into our theoretical HSA until December. And since I anticipate a few potentially costly medical things coming up in summer... well, I pulled out after only twenty minutes of turgid equivocation that Andrew had already accepted with a shrug and a "ok, then we'll not sign you up."  I was then getting comfortable with that idea when Andrew chatted to me that, actually, he'd been wrong and the HSA account would be filled immediately so DO I WANT TO SIGN UP OR NO?? I may have inferred the capslock there, but he did seem rather determined to get the application end by the end of business. 

The forms seemed complicated. Or so our dinner ritual would imply. There are many reasons that we cook our own separate food mostly. For one, obviously, we just eat different food. For another, well... So last night was rice and beans night for Mr. (W)right. This involves a precisely eyeballed not-quite-cup of brown rice, and a can of chili. The rice takes approximately 40 minutes and the chili takes about 15. To give lip service to the whole "family eating together" thing, I often try to time one of my "huge bowls of veggies and nuts and things" so that it coincides with the conclusion of his rice and beans. I often take his starting the beans as my cue to start my mix.

 Last night, that wasn't quite the helpful indicator. Andrew got rather drawn into the papers until lo and behold, the rice was sere again! This is something that I fortunately noticed on one of my many excursions to the kitchen for staring, snacking, and surveying purposes. I suspect that left to his own devices, Andrew may have been eating roasted rice and pan pieces for dinner. Of course, that meant the beans were still cold, necessitating a second cooking shift. He plopped a can in a pot and went back to his papers. Hearing some spluttering noises and fearing for my life (or at least my kitchen), I finally stirred the mound a bit and turned the heat to simmer. About twenty minutes later, he asked me what my birthdate was, and I asked him didn't he think the chili was done by now. He eventually sort of figured out my birthday with a lot of help (ok what date does everything happen on? The 18th... what season is my birthday in...? Ok, so if it's not in June and not in July...?), and responded that he liked to wait until the chili was bubbling a bit, something which I pointed out had been happening for some time. Dinner was eventually had by all only about an hour and ten minutes after the first hints of dining. And, I'm happy to say, forms are completed and ready to be thrown into the giant HR vacuum never to be heard from again. I'm sure I'll be covered somehow and somewhere, possibly many different wheres if I'm not careful! 

DINKY dons some not-so-big girl Pants: In which Adella embraces the opposite of mom-jeans and feel my very existence be condensed into the void! Yesterday, I catapulted into thoroughly unprecedented girly territory: I went shopping. I didn't just "go shopping" (I can go and shop at places like Fred Meyer's and various grocery stores quite regularly, and have been known to buck up for a good Goodwill trip with enough caffeine), but I went (1) with other women, (2) to an outlet store, (3) to try clothes on together, (4) and then to purchase first-run clothing. We did not go to a bar and sip cosmopolitans together afterwards, but I believed said behavior was implied.

I don't really do this much. In fact, most of my episodes attempting to do so end in panic attacks and various lingering symptoms of anxiety for the following two weeks (my suit-shopping experience at Nordstrom's remains on the "that which shall never be spoken of" list, except when I mention the name and then shudder. 

I am a thoughtful, reflective person, prone to overstimulation. Traditional shopping conflicts with this in several ways. First, usually there's a lot of pressure - er, support - to choose things and make decisions during the shopping trip itself. That "support" often comes from the sales people. The sales people apparently wear retail goggles for the aesthetically myopic, judging by some of the things they were emphatically praising on other people yesterday.

And of course, your co-shoppers are happy to pick up any "supportiveness" slack. We've all heard of the cheesecake pact (if you eat half of this ridiculous dessert, then I can, but only if you do it to, because our "sins" cancel each other out)... the whole-new-wardrobe pacts is equally strong. Women, in particular, want to make sure that they are not the only ones "saving sooo much money" by spending so much more. And they will try to dress you in what they think is perfectly you, potentially creating friction when you seem to think it is so perfect;y nothing you'd ever want to be caught dead or alive in. It's the nature of our upbringing I guess, although when I suggest pants to Andrew in a store, it's usually as much from fits of impatience and a desire to leave (shhh, I didn't say that - but really, he's just so handsome that any pants would do! Why linger?)

And stores are usually not exactly low-stimuli environments. The entire intention of a well-keeled store is to storm the senses, pushing shoppers into a momentary credit-card melting mania that ends with sacks of clothes that are so totally you just bought what?? If you had not surmised, I hate shopping, unless it involved the words "amazon" and "prime membership" or "bulk chia seeds!!" and "self check out"  

Still, when I say I needed pants, the "need" was not too overly emphatic. I currently have one pair of work pants that barely stays on, one pair of skinny pants that stay on, but are starting to fray at all ends (crotch first, of course), and... um pajama pants. It's been a somewhat dire sartorial situation. So I did it. I sucked on the bullet briefly and then just went ahead and chomped into the darned thing. 

And thus my Friday ended us up at NY&C in Burlington. NY&C sells good and reliably attractive and well-enough-made clothes at good enough prices to make it worth the hour and a half slog to get to it. More importantly, their pants routinely come in Talls, which appears to be about a 600' inseam (possibly more than I need since I do not wear heels to work often, but nice to have the option). 

The color scheme of fashion at the moment is ... well... soo not me and sooo melon on top of tacky turquoise with kelly green. I imagine that was a kindness to my wallet, since I beelined straight for the two or three black items in the store and backed away trembling from the nautical prints I'd more have expected on a toddler's onesie or an old lady's kerchief. 

As we foraged through the sales wrack, Azita delicately called to me me (as if she were asking if I'd heard back on that stool sample the doctor had taken) wondering if I knew what size I wore in the store. I admitted I had no clue (and had jeans running the gamut of 2-10 at the ready for such diagnostic purposes). She glanced about to make certain it was safe and then said in a throaty whisper, because I found these size 0 talls. And I think they might fit. I smiled at her and tried to contain my instinct that she may be deranged (I am lean, but I have always had birthing hips and no slight or birdish skeletal structure to hold up my tallness). But in an age of vanity sizing ran amok I conceded it was possible and that I would try them. 

Lo and behold, they fit. They won't once I've gained a few more pounds, but for now, they fit. I feel there is something quite wrong with this - either with my nullity or with the fashion industry's cruelty to women who are in any way smaller than me and who must shop in the children's section these days (or shelling out for size 9's in highly expensive designer clothing). On the other hand, judging from my jeans experiments, I was perfectly fine in a size 4 (tall skinny jeans, which tubed down over my feet in a rather silly fashion, but sadly the attractive boot cut jeans only came in a six 6)

The trip ended up taking an hour more than I'd previously negotiated, and I was on the verge of collapse by the end of it, but I do have pants, damnit! And a shirt that cost as much as the pants, because the pants were on sale. I can justify this to myself because I will still be able to wear the top after I've gained some weight, so it's more like a long term investment instead of a payday loan to keep me decently clothed. Even better, I now have a guestimate of my sizes at NY&C so I may return to ordering online!

To celebrate my shopping bravery, +Andrew Wright  braved the writhing mass that is Bellingham Costco and got ourselves cards. I love and hate Costco. I covet its wares, but hate the chaos intrinsic in shopping there. It is particularly stressful because on any given day, half of the Province of British Columbia is in the store with a time crunch, a wad of money to spend, and no patience for us delicate Washingtonians. Do not get between a BC shopper and her quarry. Blood will be shed.  Basically, for them, every day at Bellingham Costco is midnight on Black Friday.We arrived just as Costco opened to see a line of adventure shoppers extending beyond the horizon and support staff wrangling cart-stealers and line cutters. Fortunately, Andrew can stop at Costco in Burlington (right next to NY&C, so see, he can go buy me more pants when I need them from now on!!) to get gas and his obscenely large quantities of the four or five items he regularly stocks. And I can get myself a flame thrower eventually and figure out a good time when the Great North is feeling a little burnt out on cheap milk and cheaper gas... Until then, I have another fuzzy id photo of myself with my new Adella 3.1 fancy pants surname. And Andrew has a new credit card and a card with a photo of himself that looks decidedly like a mug shot (didn't hurt that he was wearing an orange shirt)

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