Archive for the 'Josiah' Category

It’s not supposed to be this hard

Josiah moved out yesterday. I knew it was coming. His rental agreement with us was through April, and he didn’t ask to extend it. It’s best for him and for us that he live on his own, so it’s a good thing, but it was not easy to load him up with groceries and household stuff and haul cords and monitors out of his room and look at him and love him and miss him before he even left.

I’m not sure what led into it, but he spent quite a while on my computer looking at aerial shots of various parts of Niger on google earth and showing me where he’d been and who lived where. It was neat to see. Ever the philosopher, he also talked about the importance of remembering what we’ve been through and who we are. How it’s good to look back even at difficult and painful experiences; to not lose hold of what we’ve gained. I agree.

It was nearly 9:00 PM when he drove away.

And I cried.

But only for three minutes, because just then Andrew walked in with a dental injury that needed to be attended to, so crying had to be postponed.

Then today, I decided to brave his room. I just needed to get it over with. To Josiah’s credit, he really had emptied it. All that was left was Scott’s desk, the trunk that holds our photo albums, a cheap flimsy dresser that desperately needs to be put out by the road while modeling a FREE sign, and a little TV stand-type thing on wheels. He took his bed and bedding. Said it’s really comfortable.

I loosened the screens and brushed out the thousands of dead ladybugs. I dusted the few pieces of furniture. I used a whisk broom to get all the crud (and more thousands of dead ladybugs) out from along the baseboards and then I vacuumed. The vacuuming was hard because as I worked my way around the room, I saw all kind of things: the brown crayon writing on the baseboard from when he was a little kid, the AIM paper plates on the wall, the picture of him at the Great Wall – so young, so fresh, so innocent, so happy; I remember those days. The days before his heart hurt so much and before everything started changing. Tears. His Loveland trail map. The cross with the nails. More tears. And the “Resolution” document. The one he and Scott and Dave Brown signed. Rivers of tears. I just couldn’t leave it hanging there to mock me. It hurt way too much, so I took it down and put it in the trunk with our photo albums. Maybe that will be my hope chest.

I cried awfully hard. Maybe sobbed is the word.

I went to my desk and decided to do something productive. I wrote a Niger update that I think was pretty good. It helped. I checked with some other folks to see how they’re doing. That helped. I did a bit of research on some possible source material for a project I’m working on. It helped some.

Later in the afternoon I was pretty OK, except that I had to keep tilting my head up to see my screen clearly. I finally figured out that my glasses were dirty. When I took them off, I saw the problem clearly: they were splattered with dried tears.

Today it’s really hard for me to see the Llama’s stall, all clean and empty, but I know these words ring true: “Take courage, O, my heart! He’s sure to come back soon because he forgot to take his panini press!!!”

Mobile home

When Josiah drove away in “his” car on January 10 – that would be the Honda (“Frozone) to which we have officially and ceremoniously given him full rights and for which he now carries ALL responsibilities (although we are currently retaining the title, simply because it’s a lot less expensive for us to legally own the car and have him to pay us for his insurance) – the temp here was 7 degrees.  He was anticipating a two-day drive back to northern Virginia, where he planned to withdraw from college, register to audit one or two classes, and fly to Albany for a several-day business trip to get things set up to work remotely (from northern Virginia) as a programmer on a Farm Family Insurance Company software development project that Scott is overseeing.

Yes, nepotism lives, and in this case, it’s a pretty darn lucrative deal for the 20-something college drop-0ut!

So, I had asked Jo if he was planning to get a hotel that night, and he said no, that even with burning the gas to run the car and keep the heater on all night, it would be less expensive to sleep in his car than to rent a hotel room.  Well, that’s probably true.

However, being nearly out of gas in a remote section of the mountains of Pennsylvania when he grew sleepy at 3:00 a.m., he decided he couldn’t risk keeping the car running, and it was just too darn cold to sleep.  So he drove on, found a gas station, filled the tank, drove on some more, and ultimately came to a McDonald’s.  What could be nicer?!?  Food, a bathroom, a parking lot, and free wi-fi!  He slept there for a few hours and then pressed on, ultimately arriving in (I assume) Purcellville.

The next day, he made his trip to Albany (although have I heard through the grapevine that he came close to missing his flight, that there was some kind of uproariously funny event related to the wearing of minimal apparel while drying some other subset of his clothes, and that his computer could not be configured to interact with the Farm Family network), returned to Purcellville, and established himself as an off-campus student.

Well, I suspect that “off-campus” may be stretching things a bit.  And stretching a bit may not be what he does in his sleep these days.  I have now been made privvy to (via two different sources, neither of which is Josiah) the fact that the Llama is sleeping in his car.  We have been told that he does shower, which is a good thing.  We don’t know exactly where or what he’s eating, how or if he’s doing laundry (or ironing his required “business casual” clothes), or where he parks his car while sleeping in it, but we do understand that a kind friend has volunteered the use of his study cube, where we assume Jo is setting up his programming business.

The guy is nothing if not creative, resourceful, and independent!  Regardless of how long he chooses to sleep in his car, he will undoubtedly have some wild and crazy stories to tell his kids in twenty years!!!

Classic one-liners from Josiah

“Mom, do we have any distilled water?”

“What do you want it for?”

“To clean my paddle.”  [That would be his beloved Killer Spin ping-pong paddle.]  “I wouldn’t want to get lime scale on it.”  [because of our hard tap water]

Furthermore, Josiah announced. . .

“I’m going to clean the microwave.”

“Thanks, Jo.  That’d be great.”

I later opened the microwave and it was still all full of crumbs and junk.

“Jo!  I thought you were going to clean the microwave, but you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did.  I cleaned the control pad on the outside.  It was quite messy, and using it was making my fingertips yucky, which was then making my keyboard sticky.”

These kinds of comments aren’t heard around here regularly, but they sure make me smile!

The essentials of (college) life

I got word today that My Favorite Llama has acquired sheets from Target.  Money must’ve changed hands on that transaction, as South American mammals are well-known for their fiscal integrity.

Josiah left home in late July to serve on a mission trip in Niger, west Africa.  From there, he returned directly to college with, as best I can determine, only his laptop and the 38-pound suitcase he took to Africa.  He was dropped off at college on Saturday, and classes started on Monday.  Margin is not generally a high priority for him.

As a bona fide mom, I do possess the ability to worry about my kids – although in my defense, I have, through much practice, become fairly adept at letting those temptations pass me by.  However, thinking of one’s son in a dorm room with (albeit by his own choice) no bedding and not much more than the clothes on his back does tend to bring out my latent motherly instincts, and in that vein, I submit these portions of my chat this evening with Katie:

Katie:  The Llama has acquired sheets. From Target! What a Llama.

me:  That’s superb!  But I would think he would have had to spend money to do that. . .
Katie:  It does seem that that would require green stuff.
 me:  I thought all his stuff was of another color.
 Katie:  Well, yes.
 me:  Well, I’m proud of the guy! I guess it’s like some kind of a camping trip where you pare everything down to the barest of essentials.  I suppose technically one can survive at college with one set of dress clothes, one set of relaxing clothes, 2 pairs each socks and underwear, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, laptop and charger, cell phone and charger, killer spin paddle, and a few quarters for laundry.  Technically speaking, I guess everything else (more clothes, pillow, sheets, blanket, towels, room decor, outerwear, razor and shaving cream, etc.) is just gravy.
Katie:  haha! so true.
me:  Oh, a Bible would probably be an essential, too, unless, of course, one has hidden it in one’s heart. . .
I am smiling.  Josiah may win the campus prize for minimalism and simplicity, but it sounds like he’s doing well.

Jeopardy question: What is 38?

Answer:  The number of pounds of stuff (including the weight of the suitcase!) that Josiah took for a three-week mission trip in Africa followed directly by a semester of college.

He was packing until ten minutes before departing, so only God and Josiah know if he really has everything he needs.  Well, maybe only God.  = )

In a few days, Andrew will begin his traditional “mucking out of the Llama’s stall,” and, depending on the treasures unearthed in that process, I assume I’ll be emailing Jo some questions about what he may or may not want shipped to PHC!

Fire and ice

Josiah had a very productive day yesterday.  Among other activities, he burned a book that had caused him much agony, and he enabled our cellar freezer to once again function properly, by removing an impressive sheet of ice from the inside bottom of same.

He found the fire exquisitely satisfying, and I am thrilled that all we lost in the meltdown was two boxes of ice cream!

Pajama Sam

As expected, there was no sound or movement from our oldest son until sometime after noon.  Following his shower – during which I know he ran out all the hot water, because I had to boil some to wash dishes; that’s what I get for doing the breakfast dishes so late – he came padding down the hall in his PJs for this conversation.

Jo (while buttoning his pajama top):  Mom, am I expected to take anyone anywhere today?

Me (looking at the calendar):  Not that I know of.

Jo (grinning):  Great!  I’m going to stay in my pajamas all day!

And he has.   = )

The really funny thing is that he told me that he slept last night in his clothes (well, the jeans were technically Scott’s), got up, took a shower, and put on his pajamas for the day!  He said he usually sleeps in his clothes because he has no pajamas – umm. . . what about the pair he is wearing as I type, which he could have taken to PHC had the computer not occupied so much of his suitcase? – and only one pair of shorts.  “In fact,” quipped the Llama, “I’ve even been known to sleep in B cazh!”

I guess that would explain his newfound facility with an iron. . .

Traveling light

I started this post on Saturday afternoon, but my weekend was full, and I’m just now (Monday morning) getting around to finishing it.

On Saturday, Andrew and I went to Springfield to pick up Josiah, who is home for spring break.  Yes, he’s home!  Yes, he has a beard.  Yes, I’m very glad to see him.

Josiah tends to travel light, so he arrived – fully clothed and wearing a jacket, mind you – with a carry-on bag and his backpack.  The backpack contained his laptop, laptop charger, mouse, ping pong paddle, purple headphones, an external hard drive, “The New Deal” and Dante’s “Inferno” (two books he needs for papers he’ll be writing), and a belt, which he would normally have been wearing, but chose to pack, so as to simplify things at airport security.  The carry-on bag contained a small desktop computer, a five-subject notebook with all his notes for all his classes, his Bible, and his cell phone charger.

No clothes.  No toiletries.  I told you he travels light.  He said he knew he could just wear the clothes he had at home, so there was no need to bring any with him.  Now, I have learned that arguing with the men in my life is always a losing proposition, so although I would have brought at least minimal clothes and toiletries, I said nothing.  Aren’t you proud of me?!?

The next day would be Sunday, so I asked him Saturday night if he needed me to iron anything for him to wear to church.  Rejoice with me in this AWESOME response from my nineteen year-old son:  “No, I don’t need anything ironed, but if I did, I would iron it myself.  I’ve gotten quite good at ironing.”  That really made me do my Cheshire cat imitation.

I told Jo that the last train to church would be leaving at 10:00 AM.  (Andrew was already at church, Scott and I needed to be there at two different times, and with us just having the two cars right now, we couldn’t leave one here for Josiah to use.)  He said he was going to set his alarm for 9:00 AM, and all was well.

In what I have come to believe is typical PHC student fashion, at 9:50 AM there had been no signs of life from the Llama’s stall.  I needed to leave at 10:00, and Scott was eating breakfast, so I asked him what he thought I should do.  Scott said, “Go pull the covers off him and see what happens.”  Sounded awfully risky to me, but I did open his door and peek in.  The Llama had been in slumbering repose, but sat straight up when I opened the door.  “Oh my gosh, I don’t know why I’m so tired,” he stated, and I resisted the temptation to say that it might have something to do with the fact that he’s only been sleeping three or four hours a night for the past week or two.  I told him I’d be leaving at 10:00, and I went to get dressed.

While I was pulling on my dress pants, there came a knock (would that be a kuh-nock?) at our bedroom door.  “Mom, I seem to have made a mistake.  I thought I had a pair of jeans here, but I can’t find them anywhere.  Could I wear a pair of Dad’s or something?”  Half-dressed, I pawed through the appropriate drawer of Scott’s, but the only denim things I saw in there were shorts.  I called through the door for Josiah to please talk to Dad about borrowing Dad’s jeans.  Which he did, and a very few minutes later, Josiah appeared in the upstairs hall in jeans, an untucked dress shirt, and tennis shoes.  Couldn’t tell if he had socks on or not, but no matter.  (Note that a shower was deemed unnecessary, as he had showered at length the previous afternoon.)

Then I asked him the killer question:  Did you put on deodorant?  He looked at me with that quizzical, analytical gaze that we all know so well, raised one Eugene-esque finger, said nothing, and walked toward the bathroom.  And here I made my one mistake.  I called after him, “If you don’t have any deodorant, maybe you could use Dad’s.  It’s on the shelf in our bathroom.  And please brush your teeth!”

Now, I’m pretty sure that a guy who travels with no socks, no underwear, no clothes, and no toiletries probably didn’t have a toothbrush or toothpaste either, but I could be wrong.  There’s no telling what supplies could be lurking in the boys’ bathroom.  I trotted downstairs and briefly related to Scott my interaction with Josiah.  He said, “What right did you have to suggest that he use MY deodorant?  You should have offered to let him use YOURS!”  I told Scott that I figured it wouldn’t be good for Josiah to smell like sweet peas and violets. . . and off I went to church.

Scott and Josiah showed up a few minutes later, and there were no offensive odors emanating from either of them.

I have made myself a mental note to make sure that Jo doesn’t wear Scott’s jeans back to PHC.

Sent my llama off

I got up at 4:00 AM to leave at 4:30 AM, to get Josiah to the airport by 5:30 AM for his 6:10 AM flight back to Virginia.  Honestly, the guy is just smart and handsome, even before dawn cracks!  Just before security, I did persuade him to let me give him a hug.  I told him I love him, told him I’m proud of him, told him, “Go do it!” and walked away.  It’s the walking away part that’s tough.  I will miss him in the coming months, but as we had cruised past the cell phone lot seven minutes earlier, I did ask him to perform for me his rendering of the inkjet printer noise, which he did with panache, and I laughed.

On a less emotional note, I did have a bit of difficulty parking Da Luo Ban (“dah LO ban” – DLB*), our official name for the Durango, at the airport.  Well, the parking wasn’t difficult; it was getting into the short-term lot that was the problem.

I had intended to drop Jo at the curb, but wanting to inspect the ladies room, I needed to park.  Shouldn’t have been a big deal.  There are two side-by-side entrances to the short-term lot, and I always take the left-hand one.  I’m a creature of habit, you know.  So I pulled up and, with difficulty, pressed the flashing green button.  It was difficult because DLB is such an “up” vehicle.  It’s so high that I had to lean out the window and reach down to get the ticket, but I’m not overburdened with height myself, and my arm was only just barely long enough to let my fingers graze the end of the ticket.  I couldn’t grab it, and I couldn’t lean any farther down, and there wasn’t room to open my door and get out and get it.  Unfortunately, when my fingers grazed the end of the ticket, that shoved the ticket back into its slot, so that I couldn’t possibly grab the thing.  What to do?!?!?

Fortunately, it was 5:20 AM and there was no one behind me, so I rather sloppily backed up and went through the right lane, this time being very careful NOT to push the ticket back into its slot!  For all I know, traffic may still be backed up on that left lane, but I know Jo made his flight, because in the middle of the day I got one of his typically newsy texts:  “At PHC.”

* Da Luo Ban is Chinese for The Big Boss

Biz Cazh

Between the eight to five dress code at Patrick Henry and the standard dress code at ANPAC, Josiah gets to live in business casual fairly frequently.  One might assume that this would involve a great deal of ironing, but Josiah’s work-arounds have been notable for many years.

He has learned that a totally ratty-looking (but clean) shirt or pair of pants can be made to appear tolerably presentable in a fairly short amount of time by soaking and wringing out whichever dish towel is hanging in the kitchen and throwing that, along with the desired item of apparel, into the dryer for about 20 minutes.  20 minutes is obviously not be long enough for Josiah to shower – he has requested that showering be added as an Olympic sport – but given a computer, he is well able to occupy himself while his clothes de-wrinkle themselves.

What I like most about this procedure is the term Josiah has devised for it:  “tenderizing his pants.”

So this morning, as I completed my walk and saw him airing up the rebellious left front tire of the Honda so he could drive to work, I looked at him standing there, looking dashing in his pea coat and in-progress beard, and I glanced at his pants, which did have decent creases (along with a few very light wrinkles), and I said, “Did you tenderize your pants this morning?”  To which he replied, “I did.  And I was preparing to iron them as well. . . but I decided against it.”  (big grin)

The man told the truth.  The ironing board was set up in the dining room, backwards.


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