Thursday, May 29, 2008


Anybody want to buy a house?

Alright, alright, so if my friend on his European pilgrimage on foot (HI, D!) can notice and remark on my lack of blogs this year, I guess I can step it up today and crank one out.

Here's my thing: blogs, ideally, are meant to chronicle the little menial but comical and sometimes drab daily happenings in a way that is best done with wit, sarcasm and a little poetic license. The last few months for me have involved a very intense course of action intended to sell a house. Specifically, our house. And frankly, there is very little funny and much more drab in the preparations of real estate. Truth be told, I had several intentions of chronicling that drabness to celebrate its remarkable drabness with all the little fix ups around the house in some DIY themed blog with the before and after pictures of all the improvements we were making. However, I only mentally reminded myself about this gleam-in-my-mind's-eye blog halfway through said project without having taken the before picture. Alas, no blog.

And with selling a house on the brain, it leaves very little time for anything terribly comical to happen in the periphery of one's life with which to compose a blog about. Occasionally, I'd find myself in some funny circumstance (for instance: on a recent weekend trip to Orlando with the Mister for an ever-so-brief break from wall paint and carpet installation, we found ourselves lounging in the resort pool after a hard day of amusement parking. The Mister and I commandeered a volleyball and likely spent the next 5 minutes showcasing our extremely poor volley skills to the rest of the pool deck, just the two of us. After an hour, however, we had about 8 or 10 kids under the age of 12 factioning themselves into two teams with us to set up a makeshift game. While the kids mainly showed us up skill-wise, though we had them on height, life experience and 401Ks, the Mister turned to me and remarked that for the parents watching us with their children, this wouldn't be weird until I left him alone in the pool with the kids and he started offering them some sweet-tea, a la Dateline Predator style.) or have an entertaining conversation (for instance: at work talking with a doctor about a patient's progress over the phone. When I finished my medically sound report to him, I ended with, ".. and so now you're abreast." "A BREAST? Did you just call me A BREAST?" he joked. With the quickest wit I may have ever mustered, I replied (to the horror of nearby coworkers), "It's better than if I called you a boob." Oh, I slay me.) that I'd remind myself to retell here, but a few lines about an isolated funny moment seemed to highlight the greater percentage of drab doings in my life these days. Woe is me!

However, if comedy has not arisen from this foray into real estate, a little insight has. Namely, how two people edging 30 years young could have possibly amassed as much crap as we have. (I shudder to think of our stored tonage when we edge 50 or 60 - storing our nonexistent's children's crap in addition to our own.) In the name of "emptying the space to make it look larger" ~ I believe the fashionable term here is "staging" ~ we rented a storage unit. Going through the things in house-storage bound for storage-storage - things that I personally hadn't unpacked since I packed them leaving my dorm senior year of college some 6 years ago that had been collecting dust in mom's attic until I decided that my cohabitation with the then Betrothed would be a permanent arrangement suitable for mass communication of my storable stuff - I was beset with highschool/college memorabilia that I couldn't remember the story for 50% of the time (Why did I keep this empty beer bottle? What was the significance of this matchbook? Why this copy of The Flat Hat?). I had, in actuality, packed, kept and stored crap for 6 years. So had the Mister. ( For the record, he had more.) Decluttering the storage bound stuff left us with a still remarkable amount of storage-bound stuff and the storage unit now resembles some cartoon closet that when the door opens is a perfect (though tidy, I am still terribly Type A Obsessive Compulsive) mash of stuff packed right to the door frame. But, for our prospective home buyers (of which I hope there are DROVES of them..) our home looks hardly lived in, clutter free and well staged.

And then onto the selling part. The house is on the market, officially, tomorrow. It's so grown-up, I can barely stand it. As a dependent casualty of a military career in full bloom, my youth was full of sellings and movings. My father hated real estate agents and used to remark frequently during those selling times about how they were leeches who were more about the commission and less about actually working to sell your house. (Sidebar: He also felt strongly about Interstate-side attractions that he labeled "tourist traps" about which he'd rant on and on -- even after we'd long passed them -- about their worthless/money grubbingness and as you can imagine, we'd never stop for them. In my adult-car-owning-hood, I make it a point to stop at as many as possible now. Likely in some small rebellion to what I thought I was surely missing out on as a child. During few family trips to amusement parks - a tolerable, lower tier level of "tourist trap" - he would calculate the cost, per ride, that he felt the ride was worth and figure, then, how many rides we had to ride to make the entry fee acceptable. I somehow made it through my childhood, however, feeling undeprived.) So the sign outside of our homes nearly every two years always read: For Sale By Owner. And similarly, in my adult-house-owning-hood, thank God for real estate agents.

Still, having moved as much as I have, I remembered the process of getting a house ready, but was completely overwhelmed by the actual work it took to do so when it was my turn. I called my mother recently solely to commend her ability to prepare a single family home by herself -- as her hubs/my pops was already at the next military base doing something militaryily minded -- with three loony children most likely following behind her to redo what she had just undid. She solemnly remarked, "Yes. You three were sent to a lot of movies in those days."

One of those childhood sellings I remember quite distinctly. I never knew much about the process because I was a kid -- but I remember overhearing my parents talking about how much it was going to sell for. Several days later, someone called the house and just asked, "Your house is for sale?" 10 year old me replies, "Yup." Voice says, "And how much are you asking?" I quickly, but confidently, spat out the number I heard my parents discussing (It was probably the busybody in me trying to be included in the process). And then I heard -- nearly simultaneously -- the click on the other end of the line and my mother rushing to the phone yelling, "What did you just say?! That wasn't right!!" I don't know what part of it wasn't right. Only that the incident has always stuck in my mind that home sellin' is for grownups, man. So now when people are asking me "What are you asking for it?" I find myself muttering, looking at my shoes and stammering, "Uh, I dunno." I'm a great salesperson.

As a psuedo adult, I, in normal life doings, find that if there's a problem, yo I'll solve it. But nothing gets my goat, man, more than a problem that I have no control over the solution: house selling currently at the top of that list. I've done all that I humanly can on my end to sell this house and now, tomorrow, it is out of my hands into this great unknown abyss of faceless people to whom I can do nothing to cajole them into buying it. In that case, I turn to utter superstition. An old house selling 'stition is to bury a small statue of Saint Joseph in the backyard. Saint Joseph, a carpenter, has been appealed to, as storytelling has it, for centuries, in the name of opportune land transferal. According to the story, German nuns would bury Saint Joseph medals around the land they hoped to acquire for a new convent, hoping that St. Joe would intervene on their behalf so that might obtain it. My mother is a big fan of this tradition. It is said that St. Joe must be buried in the BACKyard, FACING the house and upside down (apparently, for reals, upside down makes him uncomfortable and he works faster. Whereas if you put him right side up, he'd take his own sweet celestial time?) She jokes that after instructing a home-selling cousin to do this, they buried him in the front yard facing the street and the house across the street, not even on the market, sold. After your house flies off the market thanks to Jesus' dad, you're supposed to dig him up and put him in a place of honor in the new digs. Otherwise, the house will continue to turn over to new owners -- a skip in the heavenly record of St. Joe's miraculous ways. After selling the last Omaha house in my youth, the clan had moved to Virginia before my mom remembered to dig up St. Joe. She fears, still, that she has sent that house into a veritable real estate tailspin by leaving him there.

Don't be fooled. I bought a St. Joseph statue. And it intends to be buried this evening -- I didn't want St. Joe getting on the selling bandwagon before I was ready to vacate the joint. All in good time, Joe. Amusingly, aforementioned friend D remarked that on his current travels through European Catholic kitche on pilgrimage path, there are signs in religious paraphernalia stores stating: "Catholicism is not MAGIC. Please don't bury Saint Joseph." Puh-lease. I totally intend to put St. Joe in the GROUND, man, and on his haloed head. To hedge my homeselling bets, I took the statue today to our church to have it blessed. That oughta include the choirs of heaven in our real estate endeavors. While I waited for the priest to come over to the parish office to perform the deed, the secretary asked, "You aren't going to bury that, are you?" I said, "Uh, yeah. I am totally going to bury it. That's how you make it work. " She leaned in, "Well, don't tell him that. Tell him you're putting it on the mantel or something." Right. Lie to the priest. That'll make Saint Joseph a party to my plan. Luckily, he didn't ask. And I whipped out some rosaries for him to bless, too, just to distract him from my oddly commercial looking Saint Joe statue. (It came in a kit. I appreciate commercialized, well packaged, efficient Catholicism.)

Sunday is our first open house. Unfortunately for me, I am working the Sunday nightshift, so I have to sleep all day Sunday to be ready for work. Which means I can't sit in my car outside like a pervert and watch anxiously as people leave our house trying desperately to read their faces or to talk on the phone loudly saying, "Oh honey, but this is the house that I REALLY LOVE, it's PERFECT. Did you see it's finished basement, 3 1/2 baths, vaulted ceilings, sunny kitchen and new carpeting?" And so I won't creep out potential buyers by actually sleeping in my bed when they come through the house, which would be super creepy when you think about it -- but I really could sleep through it -- I'm going to put in some Z's at the Bestie's house while she's away on vacay.

So. Seriously. Anybody want to buy a house?

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