Sunday, February 23, 2014

Open Houses Suck

As soon as he left to take down the Open House signs, I went into my bathroom, opened the cabinet under the sink, and took out the toothbrush holder that had been hiding under there. I went around our 4/2, 2-car garage, corner-lot-with-pool home and blew out all the candles that had been lit earlier in the day in an attempt to make the house look more Zen and appealing. I didn't really blow. I huffed and puffed violently with great indignation. Everything that we had put away when we "staged" the Open House came back out: the toys, the books, my contact lens solution.

I hate Open Houses.

I hate and resent that I have to pretend I don't really live in my home, have toys and books and bags scattered around, where we live, where we spend our time, where my children are growing up, and my husband and I are fighting growing old.

I have done these before: these Saturdays and Sundays with the curtains all opened and the ceiling fans whirring and the candles lit. Where everything is "just so" and you pretend you live in this house like this, make it seem that it can be someone else's, but hide everything that actually makes it look lived in, real.

We want to downsize. We want to sell this great big dream house we bought and gutted and made to exactly our specifications. We want something smaller. Simpler. A few years ago when we took every penny we had (and several more that we didn't), nothing but granite counters would do. Now, when we go house shopping all we care about is a big back yard with space for a pool and storage for a new RV. Formica counter tops? No problem. No garage? We'll buy a storage shed. I am well aware that, most likely, I will give up my walk in closet with the tiny chandelier and wall of shoes. (If you are anywhere near a size 6 1/2, you might want to be real nice to me over the coming weeks.)

We want less house and more life.

Our children do not need an entire room filled with toys (what we call a playroom is really just an excuse for excess).
My husband does not need 5 bikes, 10-year-old racing trophies, and rappelling gear he's used twice.
I do not need 7 giant boxes of Christmas tree collectible ornaments.

What we all do need, however, is money for college and retirement.
A newer RV that does not require prayer each time we turn on the generator.
The ability to plan a trip and go on it without having to constantly swat away that nagging sense of guilt.

So we are taking a leap of faith. We are selling a too-big house we love and seeing where we end up. We are gambling on the research we've done (okay, really, Hubby has done and I have sat by him on the sofa and blogged and occasionally nodded and agreed whenever he'd show me something that served as further evidence) that we will be able to end up somewhere cheaper and smaller and possibly closer to the beach (Bonus! Bonus!), with a yard big enough to have what we have here.

Every time someone loves the house, I am hopeful they will make an offer. We will be able to jump in the pool (the metaphorical one, this time) without this prolonged waiting and worrying that we are making the right decision. Let's go already! Let's sell! Let's get out of here! Let's live with my parents for a while until we get our bearings. No more time to debate.

Push me in the fucking pool already.

So I will continue to hide my pictures and my toothbrush. But each time, I will resent it. I will be pissed off at the people who come in and smile politely and nod. I will resist the urge to yell at them: "Don't you see? Don't you see how great this house is? Don't you see how much soul and heart it has in addition to the goddamned square footage?"

And then, I remember...oh yeah, it's not the house that has the soul and heart. It's the four of us. And we plan on packing that shit up and taking it with us...wherever we go.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Discomfort: Just Write Tuesdays

The cushions on my side of the sofa have been lovingly beat up, smushed and flattened from years of little boys jumping and playing and watching too much TV on them. I feel myself leaning over, towards the right, where my husband is sitting, on the firmer, less-used side of the sofa. Tilting over.

The laptop is open in front of us on the chocolate brown Ikea coffee table. It is late, nearly midnight, and I am keenly aware of my chances of going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. slipping away: not enough sleep, a migraine starting, more excuses, albeit legitimate.

A map is open on the screen, dotted with little blue numbers. He clicks on several, and each one opens to reveal another house for sale. One is adorable: cute and full of character, and with plenty of space for a pool, but its asking price is pushing up against our budget ceiling. Another, cheaper and bigger, but with its red formica kitchen counters and brown laminate cabinets, it reminds me of a 70's porn film set.

He sees the possibilities with each click.
I see the possibilities for regret.

We both want this, I remind myself. This was our choice, our decision. We are not, after all, "house people." We are doers. We want to go and see and do. Less house equals more money. More money equals more trips, more adventures. This all, in turn, adds to a better life, at least for us.

Who downsizes?!?

People have asked me. I have asked myself. It makes me chuckle. Why am I surprised that people are surprised? We usually surprise people. They don't get us, sometimes. Sometimes, I wonder if we make people uncomfortable. I wonder if it just never occurred to them to do this, or try that, or consider this.

Why not?
Why not go after what you want?
That trip, that RV, that summer road trip, that new hobby...Why not?

My own discomfort makes me uncomfortable. I hate the anxiety, the fear, the paralysis, all brought on by risk, by change, by the What If We Tried This?

*This was another attempt at Just Write Tuesdays. Last week, I shared my homework assignment from Heather's course on free writing. Considering the fact that right now I can barely think about anything other than the For Sale sign on my front lawn, I knew I had to try the technique on this memory.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Perpetual Motion - Throwback Thursday

The only time I sat still today was in an MRI machine. Okay, I was lying down. But that was really the only time I was motionless. Even in the waiting room, while I "sat still," I was wiggling my foot, biting my lip, tapping my phone screen. I woke up at 4:40 in the morning, rushed to the gym (where all I can do, for now, is sit on a recumbent bike...hence, the MRI...and pedal and try not to be so bored I want to kill myself), rushed home, helped Hubby with the boys' breakfasts, rushed to get dressed myself, drove to work, stopped for gas, dropped off my son, made it to work in time for an early meeting, taught all day, rushed to an afterschool meeting, rushed my oldest to a dentist appointment while talking to my mother and then hanging up with her mid-call to answer a call from Ben's teacher about his recent not-so-impressive behavior, waited for Hubby to "relieve" me at the dentist so I could rush to my MRI appointment. (I'm out of breath just from writing all that.) I have not included, mind you, the post-MRI tasks of dinner, dishwasher emptying and refilling, washer-to-dryer transferring, and bad self-bikini-wax-job. You would think I was looking forward to lying there, completely still, with nothing to do (and no guilt), music playing through the headphones. But I wasn't. I was ready to get out before I even went in. What a waste of 40 minutes! I scoffed. And I remembered the following post...only the 9th post on this blog, back in 2009. I guess I haven't changed all that much. Neither have my knees, apparently.

I can only do Nothing if I schedule it in
Posted originally HERE on March 9, 2009

I love to run. As luck would have it (my luck anyways), however, my knees don't. So yesterday I had to get yet another MRI done on each knee. For those of you who have never had an MRI, let's just say that it's not exactly fun. If you are even a teeny, itty bitty, tiny bit claustrophobic, you're screwed. There's no other way around that. If you don't actually mind being pushed into a startlingly noisy, sterile coffin-like machine for anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour and being told to "keep very still" although you are absolutely shivering because they keep that room set to like, oh, maybe 52 degrees, then it's, at best, just a pain in the ass.

My husband's suggestion: "Why don't you sleep?"


Apparently, that's what he did when he went in for an MRI a few weeks ago.

"It was nice," he said.

And so, as I was lying there "very still," I thought "Okay, maybe I can nap. Maybe I will nap! Sure, I will take a nap!"

Uh. No.
I forgot.
I don't do that.
I can't do that.

My husband is in an almost constant state of relaxation. He can nap in the MRI machine. He can nap (and snore) during the final relaxation pose of yoga class (which is why he was no longer allowed to go with me). I, on the other hand, am always doing something--even when I'm doing nothing.

While in the MRI machine, for example, I accomplished a great deal:

  1. I planned this blog post.
  2. I planned what I'd wear to work the next day.
  3. I planned what I was going to make for dinner.
  4. I learned many of the lyrics of today's top 20 hits. (They give you headphones in an attempt to drown out that crazy noise. It doesn't work.)
  5. I calculated how much spending money I had left for the week out of my new budget.
  6. I counted all the things I might need to spend my spending money on before the end of the week.
Of course...
The blog post took on a life of its own.
I totally did NOT wear that cute outfit.
I got take out.
I forgot all the lyrics.
I'm broke anyways.

When will I learn?

There is always noise in my head. I can't shut it off, unless...I plan for it. How screwed up is that?!? I can actually relax, do nothing, just sit...if it's scheduled. As in..."We have babysitting so let's go to the beach and do nothing." That's the only way. Don't get me wrong. I do things everyday that I find relaxing. I read. I write. I work out. I watch "Lost" and "What Not To Wear".

But these things are all part of My Plan. My Routine. And really, still, they are all activities, things I am doing, and therefore are deemed worthy of my extremely limited time.

In fact, I was recently telling a friend about my summer cruise, and she was saying "Oh, I could never enjoy that kind of vacation. I'm not good at just sitting." And my response was: "That's because you don't have kids! When you have kids, all you want to do is sit." That may be true, but apparently wanting it is not enough for me to break out of my screwed up, noisy little head to actually do it on a regular basis. Not even in the MRI machine.