The second week of school has started for my boys. Nephew Vonda MaShone is in fifth grade and does patrol in the morning. He looks quite official in his bright yellow belt. SweetFaceBoy, my son, is in third grade and spends the mornings before his classroom opens reading under a tree. Though it was 103 degrees in my backyard yesterday, summer is over.

My biggest accomplishment last week was not crying on their first day of school. Everyone woke early. The boys dressed in brand new school clothes and gleaming white sneakers. They gelled and spiked their hair so hard you could've popped truck tires on their heads. We took pictures of them in front of the house.

"C'mon, let's go." SweetFaceBoy's impatience started to snarl his face.

"I'll be late for patrol," Officer Friendly said.

Pandemonium reigned at the school. Four policemen directed traffic. Harried parents. Anxious children. Tears on a few of their faces. Cameras everywhere.

I took MaShone's two-ton backpack while he took his patrol post. SFB and I walked to his classroom, a portable near an overgrown garden and two picnic tables in the shade of a large oak. Hold it together, I told myself. His teacher, Mrs. Jonesey greeted us warmly, and I squeezed his shoulder and told him to have a great day. He wove through the clutch of kids already there to a table with his name on it and put his backpack away. The teacher announced something and they all moved to one spot, standing in line to store their lunch boxes. SFB flashed me a shy smile as he shuffled along. Yesterday I brought him to kindergarten. The day before that I changed his diaper. Two days ago I held him, five minutes old.

"Have a nice day, Mr. Lovejoy." It was Mrs. Jonesey, cocking her head toward me at a knowing angle. It said: He'll come home alive, I promise.

I turned, realizing I had blocked three sets of parents and kids from getting inside. Hold it together hold it together. My hand was numb from holding Vonda's backpack. I walked down the path from the portable and he raced up to meet me.

"You have allergies, Uncle Lovejoy?"

"Yes." I cleared my throat and sniffed. "Say, how did it go this morning?"

"Great. Mr. Miller said I did a really good job. See you later. Bye!!"

Seven years ago, abandoned by the assholes who conceived him, he was still in diapers and drinking from a bottle. Today he makes Mr. Spock look like a slacker.

Normally on the first day of school I plant tomatoes and italian parsley. However, the garden wasn't prepared and I had cymbidium orchids pushing out of their pots.

With a hammer I boke the clay pots and used a saw to divide the tight roots. The cymbidium fought against every division every step of the way. I lost a bulb or two but got five new plants from one.

They will now grow separately, but they'll be healthier, and they should all flower at about the same time.

I am sitting, listening to the fans whirr several meters above my head. Like all public places, everything is toned down to a gentle muted murmur, and the only sounds that jerk this curtain away is the occaisional cry of a gurgling child. Things roll overhead thumpily like mythical rotund egg-men jumping in joyous glee.

Yesterday the Canadian soccer team arrived, and I found myself looking way up at their height and their bags. I passed out, and sometime afterwards I found myself waving at the bus with the soccer players inside, folded neatly like collapsible pocket umbrellas in small sardine cans. Scrunched up, they were looking out the windows staring tiredly and confusingly outside at our uniform-clad selves. A few of them waved back, and as the bus left we walked back, evidently pleased with ourselves, for contagious grins were spreading across us like the seventeenth television episode of SARS.

As I step foot outside, there was a slight fog, just enough that everything had been blurred with a medium gaussian. Everyone else was jogging, hunks of flesh jumping up and down under sweaty shirts, and somehow I didn't feel repulsion but rather a strange warmth towards these people. I ran, too, and I caught a bus, 'beep'ed my card and sat with a slight sigh of tiredness in a plastic seat.

I woke up. Everyone was planning to go; everyone had the jitters of pre-flight excitement and nervousness. I was only disinterested; there is something about working in an airport that is distinctively attractive, like sitting at a river and watching the water flow by. Everything is different, from the shoes to the hair; you can see how every single piece of clothing has been prepared for these people, how they know where to go. Ten dollars, a fortune, and I fall asleep. My life must be a set of negatives polka-dotted with spots of bleached white unconsicousness. In and out. The third floor is abuzz, the first is gently muted. The mute itself is smothering, so I Stop, Drop, and Roll and barely crawl out from underneath the burning flames.

I raise my arms a little higher, and people begin to follow me, fanning out behind me like ripples in water distorted by the Doppler effect. A sonic boom spreading outwards, I walk, and people fall outwards as I approach. I am the Bringer. I hold my sign so that everyone may see, so that everyone will follow. I lead my obedient band of sheep towards the sky, towards light. The bright light.

At two, the sunlight streams in between glass and steel poles, a sullen, cold, yet queerly compelling contraption. Beautiful, like the open cage to a bird. Overhead, I hear engines rumbling, people walking, suitcase wheels rolling, and I can almost see this world tumbling over and over in endless circles, downhill.

NinjaPenguin: Happy birthday!

Today we went on our walkthrough. The house was bustling with activity today as the foreman, two painters, and a customer service rep wandered around cleaning up the last details. The rep, of course, walked us through the house, answering the few questions we had left ("where's the water cutoff, gas cutoff, drain for the washer?" and "which outlets are switched?") and testing everything for leaks, cracks, missing grout, stains, paint where it didn't belong, etc.

They fixed the horrid scratch they put in our dryer, and removed the stupid little metal pins from the sliding doors that caused the scratch in the first place. We spotted a cracked pane of glass upstairs in the third bedroom, which they claim they'll fix. We signed everything, except the bit that said "everything has been fixed to our satisfaction" ... hehehehe ... are you proud of us, or what?

The god damned fucking lender still hasn't gotten our paperwork finished up, so the builder wouldn't give us the keys to the place yet. This worked out for the better anyway, as they still have a couple small things to fix (the glass, and some miscellaneous paint bits) and I didn't want to start moving today anyway.

I was completely convinced of the complete, pure evil nature of mortgage lenders, when we got some good news from the lender. There are no current known complications, the title is expected to file tomorrow (giving us our keys), and we'll get $200 back from that damned escrow crap Friday. It turns out the title company just "pads" the damned account requirements by $200 "just in case." Yeah. Just in case they fucking figure out a way to scram with the money. Bastards.

Our packing is nearly completed, and plans are falling into place to get all our stuff moved from this dinky apartment to our small-by-most-people's-standards-but-fuggin-huge-to-us house.

Today it finally began to sink in -- that thing really is ours.

Thanks again to everyone who's /msg'd to say "congratulations!" and (paraphrasing) "lenders suck". The virtual back-slaps feel great, and we both really appreciate them!

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