Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival of the fittest, but not the cutest

In my first day post-sale, I cannot say that I did anything really crazy.  I went to work, worked, came home, went to Norwegian.  And now I am home.

There was a little bit of excitement mid-day that caused a minor disturbance for me and a coworker.  I think it bears repeating.

So my colleague and I were seated in the company cafe/restaurant eating our lunches to enjoy some quality time away from our cubicles.  There is just something a little too disheartening about eating while staring at beige fabric walls.

Our office cafeteria is on the first floor of a large office building.  We are located off of two major highways, so it is a bit of a concrete jungle.  Not exactly scenic.  But we like to sit by the window and pretend that we are not in an office building.

Today as we ate, we noticed a slight movement at our window and were delighted to spy a small rodent-like creature about the size of a mouse hopping along in the snow.  We watched him pass and I gave a fleeting thought to the fact that he was out the in open and visible to more than just our watchful eyes.

Approximately one minute after our sighting, my dining companion gave a startled gasp.  I turned around and followed her gaze to see a fairly good sized hawk standing on the ground near the projected path of our furry friend.  This could not bode well for him, but we could not immediately discern whether or not the hawk had been successful.

Initially, I thought not, but it soon became apparent that I was wrong.  One of the men at the table behind us had noticed our alarm and had taken a closer look.  He confirmed that it indeed appeared that our rodent friend was no longer with us in the land of the living. 

Truthfully, this is not the sort of thing one wishes to witness while eating one's lunch, no matter how "natural" it is in the grand scheme of life.  It was so bothersome that my coworker and I quickly departed and returned to our cubicles, both quietly wishing to be home cuddling with our dogs of all things.

Will this be the worst thing I have to face this week?  I certainly hope that it will be.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A day to remember

To put it mildly, today has been long.  Not that there were truly more hours in it, but it felt like it might just never end.  Bear with me on this; there is a happy ending.

My alarm went off earlier today.  On purpose.  I am making up time for the fact that I had a dental appointment yesterday and arrived a little later than normal.  It really isn't too odious, but I am not a morning person, so any forced awakening prior to 11 a.m. is difficult for me.

Preparation itself was again ordinary.  On his way out the door, my father asked me to push the garbage and recycling to the end of the driveway for pick up.  I agreed to do so as it really isn't that long of a driveway. 

When the time came to perform my agreed upon task, I quickly discovered that I was wearing inappropriate footwear, mostly due to the fact that overnight the driveway had become a treacherous rink of glare ice and my work shoes are not equipped to provide traction on such a surface.  Grumbling under my breath something to the tune of "THIS is how I am going to die," and "I wonder how long it will take for someone to find my unconscious body," I changed into boots and completed the job. 

After my experience with the driveway, I was aware that the roads could be icy and drove carefully accordingly.  All was well until I neared the office.  I did manage to avoid the common ice trap at the traffic light to turn towards the building, but I, along with my coworkers, was not prepared for the patch of road immediately preceding our left hand turn into the parking garage.  Perplexed, I watched as three cars, all with left turn signals blinking, glided right on past the turn.

Then I stepped on my brakes. 

At that moment, all of my car's natural defense mechanisms kicked in: ABS brakes, vehicle stability control, autopilot, etc.  Essentially, I was no longer in control.  Thankfully I was not operating at a high speed, so I was able to slide to a relatively gentle stop up on the curb just past the turn.  With fingers crossed, I put the car into reverse and backed out.  Now with a better sense of the situation, I carefully pulled into the ramp and parked.  I briefly thought about how sad it was that I did not have any of my co-worker's phone numbers to call and warn them, but they are smart.  I knew they would figure it out.

The morning itself was uninspiring.  Work was work.  I had to make a large withdrawal and get cashier's checks from the bank which was not pleasant.  That is to say, the actual fact that I made a withdrawal was unpleasant.  The teller was perfectly polite and efficient.

For the rest of the morning until 11:30, I worked and fretted about the afternoon.  I checked my emails and voicemails a bit more often to see if there were any messages or new information pertaining to the rest of my day.  When none arrived, I departed for my hour long drive to Monticello.

I did make one stop along the way, to refill the gas tank, but thankfully I budgeted some extra time for this necessity.  I must have budgeted a bit too much because I arrived at the title company 30 minutes early.  Rather than wait in the car, I decided to make my presence known and get things started.  Imagine my surprise to see a sign on the door of the office indicating that the staff was out.  I reasoned that perhaps they were at lunch and would return soon.  I was, after all, early.

When I returned to my car, I fished out my phone to call my mom for a chat to pass the time.  This is when I found that I had a missed call and message from my realtor.  With a sense of trepidation, I played the message to discover (to my horror) that there was a problem.  The second mortgage lender (who happens to be my former employer) had not sent in their closing documents.  They claimed that they had not been told about the closing date (not true) and that the earliest they could have the documents out would be 4 p.m. (for a 1 p.m. closing).

Frantically, I called my realtor to get the full information.  She calmed me down and ran through several possible scenarios in which the closing could still happen today.  She had hoped to catch me before I made the journey up and took time off work, but alas, she was too late.  I opted to spend the next hour or so in my car calling my mother and friend to vent about the situation.  When my realtor called again to update me that it looked like it would indeed be 4 p.m. or not today, I decided to wait out the rest of my time at a coffee shop nearby.

After what felt like 8 hours but was really only 90 minutes, my dad called.  He was not yet aware of the delay, but it was nice to have a distraction as the 4 o'clock hour was upon me and I was anxious not to go home without giving away my house keys.

Thankfully, in the midst of my conversation with my father, a new call came through from the title company to say that the bank had sent the documents and we were set to close.  I drove back over and completed my part of the closing in 30 minutes.  I met my buyers, a very nice couple, and went on my merry way for the hour-long drive back to my parents' house.

So, in the end, it was a successful day.  I didn't die on the icy driveway, I didn't get stuck in a snow bank and I sold my house.  All are pretty major accomplishments, in my opinion, but if anyone asks why I am partaking in a glass of red wine, I will go with the house thing.  Time will tell how my life will now improve without the albatross of home ownership around my neck.  For now, I am just happy to drink my wine and go to bed.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beware the seaweed

Tonight I did something abnormal.  Rather than let you guess what it was, I will give you the answer.  I ate sushi.  Not probably as cool or bizarre as you were hoping, but I definitely did not wake up this morning intending to consume sushi. 

I did, however, wake up this morning intending to meet my friend for dinner.  We had not yet selected a place; that act would not occur until almost the end of the working day when we decided to meet up in a specific suburb.  From there, she listed a few options and I selected a restaurant that just happens to also serve sushi.

To explain, I have had a complicated relationship with this foodstuff.  I understand the appeal, at least in theory.  My problem lies primarily in the consuming of said edible.  I am not one who enjoys choking down giant pieces of rice-laden chunks containing seaweed.  It is just too difficult.  Fortunately, my dinner partner is not the kind of person who judges others based on how they eat sushi, so I was able to use a knife and fork without criticism.

Unfortunately, I also forgot one of the other common side effects that comes with a meal such as this.  I suppose one could say that I have a hard time digesting seaweed.  As in, it makes my stomach feel funny and gives me gas.  Painful gas.  Too much information?  Just be glad you're not sitting next to me.

In other news, much is happening right now.  First, my brother and his girlfriend FINALLY got engaged.  I hope I am safe to announce it here, but as my readership is small and unlikely to post to their Facebook walls a public congratulations, I think I am fine.  Obviously, I am thrilled.  It has been a LONG time coming and I am excited that I am finally going to have a sister (in-law).  Plus, we get to go to Vermont.  In the fall.  Jealous?

As for other excitement, my house sale is scheduled to occur in one week.  The move-out process is ongoing, but I am confident that we will get it done this weekend and I can put it all behind me in seven days.  I have not yet decided how I will celebrate, but it probably should be memorable.

In stupid news, I received a Facebook friend request from someone I am not sure that I know.  Normally this would not be report-worthy news, but this person happens to have the same name as someone I went on a few dates with SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AGO.  To be fair, it is a common name, but I don't know any others, so it is possible that it was the winner I went out with after meeting him at an office party for a title company.  Either way, yuck.

Don't worry, I didn't accept his request.  In fact, when Facebook asked me if I knew this person outside of the request, I said NO and he is now barred from further attempts at contact.  Thank goodness.  It is a little weird when you consider that my profile picture is not of me, so how could he really know that he got it right?  I really need to update that thing.  After all, I am moving!

So on that note, I will bid you adieu.  Good night.  Farewell!  Be safe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hvordan sier man "cut and foil?"

I would like to say that I am a calm person.  Laid back.  Not easily riled.

I would LIKE to say those things, but sadly I cannot for they are not true.

It may come as a shock to many or none to find out that I am not an easy going person.  Much of it may be covered by the fact that I appear shy or reserved at times, but make no mistake.  I obsess, I worry and I speculate every minute of the day.

Surprisingly, this does not translate into OCD.  Not at all.  Just as my mother.  I am not given to over cleanliness or bouts of organization.

All of this leads into the state of affairs at the moment for me.  After months (and months) of waiting, my house sale appears to be finally imminent.  It is literally scheduled and ready to happen on the 29th of this month.  As in two weeks from today.

With all the time I have had to prepare, you would think that I would have been ready to go at any second.  But all this time sort of made me forget about just how much I would have to do for the end game.

I have owned a house for over eight years.  Translation:  I have over eight years of crap accumulated in my house.  True, I am only one person and the space was somewhat limited.  But still, it is a lot of crap.

My first indication to this effect came last summer as we cleaned my house in preparation for listing.  Thank goodness my parents were willing to help me sort out and de-clutter or who knows how long it would have taken me to put the house on the market.  While we were successfully able to make the house appear clean and sparsely inhabited, we merely postponed the flood.

I knew it all along.  Really, I did.  But with the house staged for showing, there was not much I could do without making a total mess of it all.  So I waited.  Like Sauron, I bided my time until all the evil in my house would rise again and overrun the world.

On January 2, I received the word that the sale was approved and I knew it was time for action.  Many ideas and suggestions came about, but in the end I opted to rent a short term storage facility and throw the majority of my belongings inside.  The major obstacle to this was in the simple act of moving said belongings.

I may not be the wimpiest person alive, but I am certainly not capable of lifting and moving a ten foot couch or a queen sized mattress.  Neither are my parents, at least not individually.  Thankfully, I have a brother who has yet to turn 30 and decay into middle age like myself.  And again thankfully, he was willing to help.

So last weekend, after two weekends in a row in which I packed like a madwoman, my family drove up to the house and did the BIG move.  I took care of the details, like the storage unit rental and reserving the U-Haul.  There were some unexpected bumps along the way.  The truck which I had hoped to have ready for use at 8 a.m. on Saturday was not to be ready until noon.  Said same truck was also initially frozen shut at the pickup location.  Thank goodness for my dad and a metal file.

In a moment of rare foresight, I did manage to find a storage facility with an indoor heated loading dock which was a complete lifesaver.  Truly.  I think someone might have keeled over in exhaustion if we had to unload the entire 20 foot truck in the freezing cold after dark.

I am proud to say that we pulled it off and now there are only a few scant items remaining in my house.  With two weekends left to clear out, I am confident that I will be fully moved by the 29th and ready to hand over the keys.

With all that has been accomplished, one would think that I could relax.  Alas, no.  But I have come to accept this state of being for now.  It started up about a year ago and will only be really gone when all the paperwork is signed and I am no longer responsible for a mortgage.  If it seems a bit backwards to be this excited about not owning a house, it is.  But I have to take what I can get when it comes to clearing off my worry plate these days.

So for the next two weeks, keep your fingers crossed.  If all goes to plan, I intend to celebrate by getting my hair cut and colored before I start to look like a giant pile of grey split ends.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nothing says "special" like satin finish Scotch tape.

Hi hi hi!

The weekend is sadly almost over, but that's OK.  I spent most of mine in a non-relaxing form of activity, so I am actually happy to get to bed early tonight and start a normal work week.

Since I haven't written about it yet, this may come as a surprise to you, but I finally am approved to sell my house.  So it is all going down at the end of this month, and let me tell you something.  Moving is a bitch.  I do not recommend it, even when you can do it in a long and drawn out fashion as I am.

Last weekend I had a little overnight party at my place with Lena in which we boxed up my entire library and kitchen.  This weekend I returned to the scene for my last overnight in my house.  We boxed more stuff and hauled those boxes downstairs.  First thing this morning I personally carried my entire book collection downstairs.  All 24 boxes of it.  And then I kept going with the bins.

I realize that this is likely to leave me in considerable pain tomorrow as I am already hurting in the joints.  But the good news is that my closets are clear and the big move next weekend to the storage unit should be a bit easier.  This will be my first encounter with self-storage, so I am nervous and excited to find out what that entails.

After January 29, I will no longer be a home owner.  In many ways this is a dream come true.  Quite the opposite of what everyone else expects, but it is true.  Yet on several occasions this weekend I found myself reflecting on everything that happened in my life while living in my first place.  The parties, the weekends alone.  My one month with a roommate.  Housing two cars in my garage.  Getting my dog.

To be clear, it is not the house itself that has ever caused me any problems.  It has been wonderful to have a place to myself that feels like a sanctuary.  But it came at a price.  Literally, when you consider that I was financially tied to a mortgage that required I work and make an income sufficient to pay for it.  Less literally, it was the one thing that held me back when I started to consider new options for my life.

Obviously, the changes to the housing market over the past 6 or so years have had an effect on my freedom.  My sale terms are definitely not ideal, but my life has changed and I can no longer wait around for a better day. 

My hope is that once this whole transaction is behind me that my life will start to sort itself out again and perhaps I can consider taking on this blog with a more creative zest once again.  While I am sure some people might find entertainment in my life trials, I am sure there are many who would prefer I return to the days of drawing and lighter things.

Incidentally, I came across a box in my garage that contains notebooks and folders from my junior high years.  Most importantly, I found my art portfolio containing what is likely the best watercolor painting I have ever made.  It is too big to scan, but maybe once I have it out of storage someday I can work out a photograph to showcase its awesomeness.