Wednesday, October 31, 2007

farewell to the condo

It’s finally time to say goodbye to our condo.

No, it hasn’t sold yet. (Unfortunately!) But we have to leave tomorrow anyway.

I’m surprised at how sad I am to leave the condo. Sure, it has its quirks…like the old washer (that sounds like it’s going to explode when I overfill it), the nail that perpetually sticks out on the deck, and a slightly “spotty” paint job (brought to my attention by a Realtor yesterday – thanks for that). But, it’s ours, and it’s been a good home over the past 4 years.

I’ve never been one to get too attached to things, but somehow leaving the condo feels like saying goodbye to a friend. A quiet, slightly musty-smelling friend, that is – but a friend, nonetheless.

Regardless, it’s both exciting and sad to leave. We’ll spend our last night here in our sleeping bags, watching the 13” TV that Husband insisted we keep with us. (I’m grateful for that now, since the rest of our belongings were whisked off by the movers yesterday!)

And tomorrow begins a new adventure. The first part will be deciding which car (and which lucky driver!) will carry all the leftover Halloween candy… :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

rain, part II: something to be thankful for

I was caught in a torrential downpour (second one this week!) while running some errands. But, I am thankful that, for once, I was not wearing a white t-shirt! It almost doesn’t matter that the end result was me resembling a drenched rat. At least I did not resemble a drenched rat participating in a wet t-shirt contest!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

rain and an open house

I love the rain. Except when I’m held hostage by it in a near-monsoon, huddled under a small shelter in the park.

I had been reading there, eyeing the looming storm clouds and hoping that they would pass quickly. I would have been reading comfortably in my own home, but Realtor was showing it as an “open house” this afternoon. [The irony of an “open house” is that it is open to everyone except its very owners! But I much prefer it that way, avoiding all awkward conversation between the desperate home-seller (me) and the potential buyers.]

All my frustration – about the rain and about our hasn’t-sold-yet condo - melted when I came home. Waiting for me were 7 business cards of interested Realtors, 3 balloons, a container of chicken noodle soup, and a loaf of fresh bread. The numerous business cards were a hopeful sign and should have been the focus of my delight. But I have no shame in admitting that I was won over more by the balloons and the food. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for both!)

Tonight I will enjoy every spoonful of the chicken noodle soup, which seems like a perfect meal in the backdrop of a rainy day. And I will hope that on some sunny day in the future (hopefully soon!) we can finally celebrate the sale of our home…

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

what I learned during my final exam

Round one of my finals started this morning at the library for a proctored essay exam for my national security class.

I sat quietly at a computer station with a laptop in front of me, and a sign beside me that read “proctored exam in progress.”

My stomach was a bundle of nerves, and I fidgeted as I read the print-out of the essay questions, wondering how to even begin. My mind raced, trying to summarize large concepts like homeland security, terrorism, and….divorce?

That last topic was a contribution to the woman next to me, also seated at a computer, but definitely not working on an exam.

“So what are you working on?” She asked in a friendly tone, as she peered over at my computer.


I looked at her, surprised, wondering if I should respond, since I was clearly in the middle of an exam. A timed exam. Although I don’t usually mind small chit-chat with a stranger, I didn’t think the testing process allowed me to talk to anyone. (Although I don’t think I was in any danger of this lady “revealing” any secrets of national security that might give me an unfair advantage on the test.)

“It’s an exam for my class. A proctored exam.”

“Oh.” I thought she’d stop there, allowing me the necessary time to complete the task at hand. “So what’s it for?”

“Um…my Master’s class.” I said, glancing at her, then returning my eyes to my computer screen.

“Oh yeah? What program?”

The conversation continued, since I was too darn polite to ask her to stop talking. And I didn’t want to ignore her questions, which would have been rude - though the rules of manners might change when conversation is attempted during exam-taking. Either way, I wasn’t sure and erred on the side of being polite.

“That sounds cool. I want to go back to school, too. Just as soon as my divorce is final.”

From this point, I learned things about this woman that I shouldn’t have, especially during a final exam.

She’s getting divorced. She has a 8-year-old son. (I saw photographic evidence, when she turned her computer screen toward me so I could see a picture.) She’s dating someone else. He went through a divorce, too. And isn’t that ex-wife of his so terrible? That lady actually signed the rights to their daughter away - what kind of heartless woman would do that? Anyway, she is going to adopt the girl, assuming that things go well with her and the boyfriend.

Finally, she stopped talking. I felt relief and proceeded on with the exam, focusing again on national security and not on this lady’s unfortunate divorce.

She sat next to me for an hour and a half longer, surfing the internet and showing signs of her cold through occasional sniffles and deep breathing.

Finally, she left. “Good luck on the exam!” she announced.

Lady – good luck to you, too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

the offer

I turned down perhaps the most enticing offer I’ve had all week. It was just a simple question that Husband asked:

“Do you want to go to Barnes and Noble?”

That’s like asking a starving child if she wants to go to the candy store. Almost all of my being wanted to jump and shout “Yes!” – just like I normally do. But, somehow the rational side of me prevailed. You know, the annoying, adult-minded side that says: “you can’t read for fun when you have finals in just 2 days.”


I’m telling myself it’s not rejection – just postponement – of the offer. So, I’ll be there…on Friday.

In the meantime, I'll be studying for finals (hopefully), anticipating my trip to Barnes and Noble (most definitely), and figuring out how to silence the "adult-minded side" of my brain for next time.... Any ideas??

Sunday, October 7, 2007

my little secrets

Here are a couple things that I'm not embarrassed to admit that I did today: 1) I ate a peanut butter cracker after I accidentally dropped it on the ground in a parking lot this afternoon. 2) I teared up at Extreme Home Makeover tonight. But, I have good excuses for both... 1) I ate the cracker within 5 seconds, clearly within the bounds of the 5-second rule. 2) The show was about a young girl battling cancer for a second time, which is well worth my tears. And I'd do them both again. In fact, I'll probably do #2 again next Sunday night!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rainy Days

I adore sunny days – the warmth, the bright sun, and the invitation to play outside. But there’s something equally charming about rainy days. They offer a permission slip to sleep in and relax indoors. For me, that means curling up and reading a good book; for Husband, that means curling up and playing a good video game.

We started our rainy day with burritos for breakfast. With a start like that, I think today has all the markings of a good day...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Condo Craziness, Part II

We had another showing on our condo today.

I fulfilled my end of the bargain, going into the normal cleaning fury and completing all bizarre rituals to cleanse the condo of any signs of filth. [Reference previous post for all the sorry details.]

I planned with military precision. Candle lighting would begin upon first waking to purify the condo of any odors, allowing the vanilla scent to sweeten the air for hours. The wipe-down of all sinks and counters would begin soon after, followed by the opening of all windows to let in the fresh fall breeze. Then, I would vacuum 40 minutes before they arrived to minimize any footprints on the unspoiled vacuum tracks. Finally, I would spray some air freshener and leave the premise exactly 20 minutes before their arrival, to avoid the awkward “um, hi…here’s the condo” conversation between me and Potential Buyer and Realtor of Potential Buyer.

It was all going according to plan…until the vacuum unleashed a foul stench in what could be described only as burnt rubber. Drat! It must have been from the last vacuuming, when the vacuum tried to devour a backpack strap.

From there, the plan unraveled. Potential Buyer and Realtor of Potential Buyer arrived 30 minutes early! The vacuum stench was at its strongest, and worse, I had no time to use the air freshener. Plus, all of my items that I was taking to occupy myself at a nearby park were strewn around the entryway. So instead of walking into an immaculate condo smelling of vanilla, they walked into a nose full of burnt rubber, nearly tripping over my belongings.

I struggled to act calm, offering: “Oh hello. Take a look around. I was just about to leave.”

I left hoping that maybe the smell wasn’t as bad as I thought, but all hopes were dashed when I returned later and got a whiff of the stench. But, perhaps they didn’t notice?

They did. A couple hours later, an e-mail from my Realtor was waiting for me in my inbox, with their feedback on the showing:

They loved the condo but indicated that there was a very strong 'burnt rubber' smell.”


I was horrified and called Husband in a fit of frustration. The conversation - or monologue of my ranting - sounded something like this: “and I cleaned for hours..and the vacuum…and there was this smell….it’s like burnt rubber..and they noticed…it’s in the e-mail…might have ruined the sale...we need to get rid of that stupid vacuum!”

Husband assured me that everything was fine. We then played the it-could-have-been-worse game, coming up with the following scenarios that beat burnt rubber any day:

1) An overflowing toilet, with sewage and the associated stench overtaking the condo. 2) A cockroach – or a herd of cockroaches – making an appearance for the showing. 3) A toilet overflowing of both sewage and cockroaches.

Everything is cleared up now – both the condo smell (which I doused with air freshener) and the misunderstanding, as I explained the story to my Realtor. She laughed and told me not to worry.

I’m not sure what will come of this showing, but I’m considering this story my consolation prize if it doesn’t sell.

Oh – and Goodwill just got themselves an extra vacuum.

Monday, October 1, 2007

selling our house, and losing my mind

I’ve been dreading writing this post. I knew the topic was too good to pass up, but somehow putting it down in words seemed to admit what I knew was already true.

I’m going nuts.

It's true. Selling our house has made me crazy. Husband would wholeheartedly agree. (Although he wouldn’t in front of me to spare my feelings and whatever self-respect I might have left.)

It started slowly over time, so that we both barely noticed the insanity creeping upon me. But when Husband asked yesterday – “where are we putting our recyclables now?” and I responded “in the freezer” with a tone of “duh.” Well, there’s just no getting around that. I’ve gone nuts.

We’ve had our condo on the market for a few months now. It started with a For Sale By Owner effort for about a month that only yielded interest from 1 nosy neighbor, 2 crazies, and 3 cheapos.

Next came the Realtor phase, which we’re still in. I happily passed the buck to her, thinking of her as my home-selling savior and worshiping her advice.

But exactly 2 months later, we still have no offers. I’ve chalked it up as out of my hands, and started focusing on the only thing I could control: cleaning.

I figured that we could at least keep the house neat and tidy, it might entice any home-lookers. So that’s what I told myself – “neat and tidy” - but somehow my warped brain translated that into “nuts and nuttier.”

It started innocently, liking making sure the house was vacuumed, the beds were made, and the blinds were open. Then it moved into making sure the counters and sinks were clean, starting a horrible requirement for us to “wipe down” our sinks after each use. Then it moved into smoothing out the wrinkles in our futon (our poor substitute for a couch).

The list of tasks got longer and crazier.

*Lighting a candle – not for romance, of course, but to give a better fragrance throughout the house.

*Putting what I deemed as “smelly” trash in a bag in the freezer until trash pick-up day. (We don’t own a garage, and it seemed like a “logical” place to contain the smell that’s out of sight of any potential buyers. Yes, further evidence of my craziness.)

*Storing our recyclables in the freezer or the refrigerator. (Our recycling bin was stolen last week - that’s a story for another post.)

*Putting a Hawaiian-print beach towel over our laundry basket to hide any dirty clothes. (Heaven forbid if any potential buyers knew that we – gasp! – kept dirty clothes in a dirty clothes hamper!)

*Keeping a variety of “show” items around the house, with the real ones hidden and inconvenient for actual use. Like our “show” rolls of toilet paper that are large and plump on display, with the real raggedy small rolls hidden under the sink. Or like the “show” toothbrush that’s displayed – white and crisp – with my real imperfect purple one concealed under the sink in a cup, next to the imperfect toilet paper roll.

*Hiding bills and other papers in the junk drawer we never had, leaving little room for the silverware and items that actually belong there.

* Avoiding or jumping over carpeted areas after a fresh vacuuming to preserve the "vacuum tracks." The list goes on and on, but I think I’ll stop before I further embarrass myself. I know – it’s all sick and sad.

I tried to shield Husband from my bizarre practices, preferring to keep them as the weird things I did while he was gone. But, he noticed them over time, especially if we got a call that potential buyers were on their way. I’d morph into a tornado of cleanliness, rushing around the house, wiping and cleaning everything in sight, muttering under my breath about the “filth” in the house.

With every new scheme to somehow add more cleanliness (and inconvenience) to our house, I tried to excuse it, by saying “I know this is crazy, but…”

But, there’s no excuse.

It’s all making the temporary studio apartment that we’ll live in when we move look better and better. Sure, it’s only one real room and a bathroom, but think of the joy we’ll have when we finally get to put trash in the trashcan!