Playgrounds, libraries & grocery stores, oh my!

Going on 3 months living in our new home, now. We are so very happy! So happy that I wonder if I was actually miserable previously. And so happy that I haven’t blogged even one little bit since we moved.

To point to the obvious, I haven’t chosen a new topic to blog about. Personal experience seems a good choice but I am not really interested in writing a mama hood type blog. Not sure that anyone would want to read about my adventures at libraries, playgrounds & grocery stores.

I have some fiction that I am working on though I think the pieces are too long for blogging. A few ideas from readers that I am considering as well.

Just wanted to let you know that I am going to attempt to rustle up a new blog idea by the end of March or let this project go.


Have a Look

Thank you everyone for all of your kind words of support for my writing. I also appreciate your congratulations for the house! We are SO happy about this house. Here is a photo for all those that asked. Maybe some of you will be able to see why this house is familiar to me. (Especially if your last name is Finn.)

So, I am still trying to decide on a new topic for my next blog. Do you have any ideas? I promise to consider all suggestions. I will let you know what I choose in my final post.

Would anyone be interested in a print version of this blog? I have one copy left of Part 1 that includes all post from June-September. If there is a lot interest, it will become a lottery.


Holding out for the Dream

One evening, I realized that I was talking myself into settling for less. When I heard myself say things like “It might be OK to live there.” or “That street isn’t THAT busy.”, the red flag went up, I was on the brink of selling out on my dream. That’s not cool, I thought.

As I wallowed in the muck of my own private ditch, I felt no house in our price range was ever going to work for us,everyone was holding onto the “good” houses and my husband and I would NEVER agree on a house. On that day, I was ready to give up. I was tired of looking and hoping. It HAS been nearly a year since I started looking at houses “for fun” and 6 months since we started looking, in earnest. I haven’t counted but I think the number of open houses we have been to could easily be in the hundreds!

For the last house I was obsessed with, I was ready to accept little half-sized, insanely steep steps to the second floor that look like something out of a cabin where you go to experience nature and find yourself. As I reconsidered this house over and over again, I kept seeing myself falling down these stairs and then getting stuck, contorted and squeezed in the crevasse of a stairwell. Help!

Three days after I had tumbled into my pit of despair, a promising prospect appeared on the market, I opened my mind and heart once again and let myself get excited. As you well know, this was nothing new. I have been falling in love with some house or another on a regular basis only to have my bubble burst either upon seeing the misrepresented subject or realizing that it just wasn’t right for us.

One of the things I love about myself is my eternal willingness to get crazy passionate about something and throw myself in head first. It can however be extremely annoying and cause me to get caught in the girl who cried wolf paradigm. This is THE ONE, I just know it! Oh, no…oops,nevermind.

So, when this unassuming yet, familiar house came across our radar, I was excited (as usual) but cautious and a bit skeptical. I have been lured in by deceptive photography on many an occasion. I didn’t bother to ask our realtor to take us to see it before the open house. No need to rush into realizing that it is another dud. I did however, rearrange my schedule on Sunday to be sure I was free all day, just in case we wanted to make an offer.

And guess what? My husband predicted it, we found our new house that Sunday in November, just a few short days after I clawed my way out of my pit of despair. We made an offer and we are now UNDER CONTRACT!

Holding on and holding out for THE ONE felt daunting at times. It was like I had to really hit rock bottom to stop trying to make houses work for us and allow it to come without trying to control it. I was truly surprised and what is even more surprising is how I am realizing more and more how perfect this house is for us. I just had to get clear, get out of my own way and be able to recognize when the dream was coming true.

What does my blog have in common with Colombian and Egyptian soap operas? Unlike American soap operas, in Colombia and Egypt, soap operas actually do END,as will this blog.

My next step,to choose another topic for my next blog. I hope you will follow me there.I will write one more post for this blog, an epilogue to wring out lingering thoughts and tell you what my next writing project will be. Stay tuned…


In the Ditch

I once had a teacher who often made reference to “ending up in a ditch” in his teachings. He was trying to teach us about where our power lies. The scenario that he would map out went like this; you find yourself in a situation you don’t like i.e. you are sitting in a ditch.
You are complaining about being there, possibly blaming someone else. Meanwhile, you are still sitting in the ditch. Perhaps, my teacher suggested, the question to ask yourself isn’t ‘How did I get in the ditch?/ Whose fault is it?’ but rather ‘What am I going to do about being in this ditch?’

So, there I was in my version of the ditch, which I will fondly refer to as “the pit of despair”.I had made an appointment with our realtor to see 4 houses on a Monday afternoon. Two of them were houses that I had already seen without my husband. One, I wanted to show him to convince him that it was a GREAT house and the other I wanted to show him to convince him that it was a TERRIBLE house. The other two were a long shot and a safe bet, both with potentially problematic locations.

We opted for seeing the more neutral properties ( i.e. the ones where I didn’t have manipulative motives about the property). The first had a predictable colonial floor plan that we like and find live-able. The best way to describe what was wrong with this house is to use my husband’s spin on it, ” A kid could play alone in the backyard…kick the ball up the yard and it would always come back.” Nice! P.S. The street was too busy.
On to the next one…A beautiful 1890 farmhouse, gorgeous gardens, we step out of the car, FORGET IT! The sound of the nearby traffic from a busy road was deafening. I thought, I could pretend it is a rushing river.Feeling desperate,yes, but not that desperate.

Then, we saw the house that I just loved inside. A beautiful bungalow with a sweet combo of new updates and original charm. It is in a neighborhood that we have been waffling about for months now. It finally hits me, as my husband gives me his deeply inhaled & disapproving grimace…though the neighborhood itself is lovely, it just isn’t right for us. I am too in love with the house to want to admit it.

We get to the last house that has a great location for us and my husband has a vision for how to change the house. He tries to share that vision with me and I just shake my head. I find the house depressing and can’t see myself enjoying spending time in any of its rooms (except maybe the bathroom with the fancy toilet that seems to be a robot of some kind). AND I know that after buying this house we will not have the budget for all of the changes he is proposing.

We say goodbye to our very patient and gracious agent and I feel like barfing. I was in the pit of despair. I like one house, he likes another, this journey of house hunting is stuck in the ditch. I didn’t want to look at him. I was so frustrated. I start thinking, what is wrong with me? How did I get into this pit of despair?

And then I remembered that I am powerful. I shift my thinking, those just weren’t the right houses for us. My husband, reminds me, the right house will be here soon. Maybe next weekend.


Playing Hard to Get

Some times I feel like I want IT too much. It is like when I am with my daughter around bedtime and she is obviously sleepy but keeps calling me back to her room for more “back rub, mama”. And I take a deep breath, calm myself and then the most eloquent and loving sentence slithers across my lips, “Just go to sleep NOW!”  Besides not helping me with my “mother of the year” nomination,  whispering this type of sweet nothing,  is not actually getting me towards my goal of a sleeping child.

I think that my tenacious stalking of the perfect house at a slightly unrealistic price has been about as effective. As my brother said the other night, maybe it is time to play hard to get.

Which brings me back to my  internet dating metaphor; I feel like I am that clingy person who is so ready for a serious relationship with a scary overeager glint in my eye on the first date and this scares away the prospective soul mate every time.

Every time I see a house that is even remotely on target, I am like “oh wow, you like old school rap and cycling too, this must be fate”. And then it is hard for me to see obvious red flags. “Oh your last 2 girlfriends went missing mysteriously, probably just a coincidence.For our second date, lets meet in some remote area where I don’t have cell phone reception.”

There is an art to playing hard to get in a way that is actually effective and not just  a defensive move towards quitting the game altogether. Which is really where  I have been lately, feeling like quitting, pouting really, with an attitude that goes something like — I didn’t really want to buy a house, anyway, I just needed something to write a blog about. So nyah, Arlington, with your $500,000 money pits.

So, this past Sunday,instead of going to another round of open houses, I spent 3 hours at a fantastic yoga teachers’ practice. I think this was major progress, like stepping away from the phone/ answering machine ( pre-cell phone reference) when waiting for a prospective suitor to call.

I am taking a few more deep breaths, allowing my feet to settle into the earth, lengthening my spine and resting my head back into the support of the universe.



Hot & Bothered

I have been kind of hot and bothered about house hunting lately. And not in the “adults only” kind of way.

Here is how it has gone. I see a house online, I get the jittery “oh boy this could be it” feeling, I spend the day sending emails and text messages to my husband and real estate agent; making arrangements to see the house and possibly completely  transform our lives. And then we go to see the house and  I am bothered when it turns out the maximum height  of a person who could enjoy living in 2 levels of the home  is 5’1″. Am I exaggerating? Of course, I am. But the ceilings were REALLY low. I would have to install one of those measuring sticks from an amusement park at the front door, you must be at MOST this tall to enter this house.

I start to wonder, do all the houses in the price range we are looking at suck? Or am I too picky? I start to get bothered and look to adjust the thermostat and there is nothing sexy about this feeling.

Prices are creeping down as I suspected they would which is great news but I am still amazed by what asking prices are & even more amazed that sometimes they still get those prices.

It has felt like we are playing a game of hide and seek with “our house”. Is it this one? getting warmer. How about this one? Warmer still. And then my husband shows me a house that I actually haven’t seen, which is amazing because if it is in our price range & for sale in Arlington,I know about it. Have you see this one? he asks…

Hot!Hot !Hot! That looks fantastic, I say. Weird that I have never seen it. Then I let out a little growl and say, Dude, its $700,000, why are you showing me that?

So, each time I experience realizing that a house we have gone to look at isn’t going to do it for us, I walk back into our current home, look around and think this place is pretty nice, I could live here.


Beware of Dogs and Naked Neighbors

Today I enlisted professional help. The realtor that we have used for all of our domestic real estate transactions took me to see a few houses. The first house was in a neighborhood that I consider to be a great location, in terms of access to amenities and transportation but, a little iffy in terms of vibe and peaceful living. The neighbor next to the property gave us a lot of information to work with regarding what life in the house might be like.

As we inspected the backyard and giant green deck, we noticed the 3 identical signs posted on the chain link  fence facing the property’s yard that read: “BEWARE OF DOGS  – NO Trespassing – Do NOT Tease, Taunt or Harm Dogs  – Violators will be Prosecuted”. Professionally produced, metal signs printed in red and evenly distributed down the length of the fence, these signs piqued our curiosity and made us a little scared. What type of beast might be unleashed at any moment? Perhaps, it wouldn’t be safe to have a toddler living next to creatures that need such severe warning. Is this neighborhood worse than I thought? Or does the current resident spend their free time taunting and harming the neighbor’s dogs?

As we approached the garage that sits directly next to the neighbor’s fence of signs,I felt a little apprehension and then, as we  began to open the garage doors, we heard barking. Ahhh! Wait a minute…that doesn’t sound like big, ferocious dogs. And then out they came, a parade of Napolean-esque dogs strutting their 10-12 lbs of terror, ready to attack. They just kept coming until there was a ragged band of 4  little dogs, all different breeds, all just barking their little hearts out .

Then, from the back door of the house next door, we heard a voice assuring us that they just don’t recognize us and wonder who we are. I look up to see a woman, yelling all this to us, as she stood in the doorway propping open the screen door with one hand and barely holding up the towel that she was “wearing” with the other. The dogs began to gain confidence as they barked in unison. After shouting a few other excuses for her dogs, she tells us that they won’t harm us and pleads with us, “just please don’t harm them”. Had she not had the signs or told me this, that is definitely what I would have done. Too bad I didn’t have my bb gun with me.

She finally lured them back to the house by shouting ” Wanna a treat?” and then lifted her arm up  to waggle the treats for them to see and smell, leaving the towel to fend for itself in its job as a cover up.

My life in this house flashed before my eyes and I felt a little wise and a little lucky to have gathered this information and have the foresight to know that if I were to live in this house, that would probably not be my best or last anecdote about the nearly naked neighbor and her merry band of attack dogs.


she swings, she misses

The title of this post could be a summation of my experience in elementary school PE class. I didn’t respond well to social pressure which took how well one hit, kicked, caught, threw or blocked a ball and translated it into eye-rolling, exasperation and yelling. Usually, I buckled under the pressure, went limp and tried to be invisible.

Now, what does this have to do with looking for a home? If you read my “about” section or know me well, you will know that I enjoy a good tangent. However, I AM going to attempt to find a connection between the two experiences.

Yesterday, after looking at dozens of houses online, motoring through 5 open houses and 3 “drive bys” ( not that kind of drive by, I am not that fed up with house hunting…yet),  my sweet, sane husband and I were talking about what we had seen and I realized that I had dragged the poor fellow down the rabbit hole with me and he started sounding a lot like me. “You know that one with the kitchen?” “You mean the one that the price dropped drastically?” ” Yes, well, I am not sure, you mean the one we drove by near the school?” “Wait, which one?”  It was a lot of noise and very little communication.

I have an exceptional ability to remember and visualize things, including houses, with great detail. As the conversation spiraled into a frenzy of confusion, I could barely visualize and describe the room I was standing in. All of the information, all the houses started to merge. I felt ineffectual, lost and like I didn’t want to play anymore. Ah,there it is… I felt like I was standing in the middle of a dodgeball game and hoping no one could see me or someone would take me out gently.

We did manage to figure out what we were each talking about, I think. And my head started to clear again. To further the analogy, I have been feeling like we have been having a string of missed opportunities. A short list:

1. A house  shows up in a neighborhood that we love that almost never has houses in our price range exactly when I took a break from looking.

2. We schedule to see a house with our realtor at 2 pm on Saturday, it had a contract on it at 12 noon that day.

3. We walk into our 5th open house, I think to myself, ” wow, I really like this one.” Thirty seconds later the realtor says, ” I just got word that a contract was ratified on this house.”

This list is not a pity party, just an observation we have had these brushes with possibilities that slipped away suddenly. For some reason, this actually makes me optimistic, like we are getting closer to the one where we make our move and it comes together.

Also,I am happy to report that I overcame many of my emotional scars from PE class and much to the surprise of many, I even went on to teach elementary school PE for a couple of years. So, I am thinking that I may still have a fighting chance in the sport of house hunting.


Finding the One

In looking for “the one” many of us have tried all possible venues for meeting candidates. I think that modern house hunting feels a lot like internet dating.

An open house is like that first in-person meeting after much data gathering has been done from the comfort and ease of sitting at the computer.You see pictures and descriptions of your potential soul mate. You exchange emails.You build up expectations. You walk into the agreed upon public venue ( please be safe, people!) and you anticipate what the person is going to actually look like.

Not that I am saying people lie, well, actually I am. It isn’t like we are going to give a stranger,(especially not a potential lover or soul mate) the full story right away. And that makes sense but,sometimes we do get carried away with our omissions and misrepresentations, don’t we?

Internet dating was a lot more interesting when computers still sucked a little.Sending a photo was a big pain in the butt and most people didn’t know how or have a computer good enough to either send or download images. It added a little mystery which was magical or nightmarish depending on the outcome. And kids,just to be clear, video wasn’t even an option.

Every time we approach a new prospective home, I wonder how much is this house going to look like the photos from the internet? This past weekend for the first time, we experienced seeing a house where the photos did not do justice to the work that had been done. The house actually looked better than the online presentation.On the flip side, there is the DRIVE BY. A house built of cinder blocks for $550,000, I just couldn’t bear it. I heard myself saying “Just keep driving.” This move in the internet dating arena only worked before online photos were expected.

Walking through the door and beginning to survey the inside is like the first few minutes of small talk in which you are sizing up how much like the person you thought you were interacting with this person really is. This can be harder to do if you have an overly pushy owner who shouts as he follows you around the house. I am left focusing on things like, I wonder if he shouts because the street noise is so loud in this house?

Then you move in a little further and get into deeper subjects, you start to know if this is going to be about relaxed exploration or an exit strategy. They are counting this as a bedroom? What IS that smell? So, this is why there were no photos of the bathrooms? Did you say you still live with your parents?

Sometimes it is hard to look past the current decor. I find that I am easily dazzled by decor that pleases my aesthetic sensibilities. I suppose this would be akin to being lured in by a pretty face. There was a house that we saw last weekend that had many attributes that we are looking for but the ugly wallpaper & strong personality of dated furnishings and decorations were blinding. It was like really enjoying someone’s company & conversation but not being able to get past not being physically attracted to them.This makes me worry that I am both shallow and that I am being duped by good staging.

Either way, I am still waiting for the planets to align.


What do you want!?

So, this summer, I had this experience while looking for houses that impacted my perception of my power to create in the world around me.

After looking around at certain neighborhoods, I would think to myself, yes, I would be willing to live there. I waited to see if a house came on the market in that neighborhood. And then, the next time I was looking at listings, BAM! a house in that neighborhood is listed. Wow!Then, after taking a look,I thought, nah, I don’t really like that particular spot after all.

During this round of house hunting, we have seen a multitude of cape cods.  We decided that we only like the ones that have a staircase at one end ( as opposed to through the middle of the upper level),BAM! one exactly of that description comes on the market. Nice house that we LOVED, wrong location.

Then, I started thinking ok, I have drifted too far from my ideals on location, I need to get specific. I started naming specific streets in a few neighborhoods that meet our criteria for walkability & public transport access. BOOM! Houses pop up right and left exactly on the streets that I mentioned ( in my head). Got excited, had a look…well, yeah, those were close but not quite. Nice try, universe!

Honestly, it started to feel a bit creepy. It was as if every time I focused and asked for something… it happened. I was feeling pretty powerful. Also, slightly concerned that the force of nature that was making this stuff happen might start getting annoyed with me and my changeable desires. I was waiting for a knock on the door from an angel-like being, that would say something like, “What the hell do you actually want?”

I wasn’t actually shocked about all of the creation through thought, it is something that I do on purpose & the results fit with my view of how the universe works. Thoughts have energy and power. Manifestation happens every day… buildings, babies, websites, products that we like but don’t need. It is still amazing and spectacular that it happens especially when it is elegant and well done.

Now, I don’t know that I caused all of those houses to appear but, I do know that I caused myself to become aware of their existence. I put out a beacon of what I was looking for and found it rather quickly. Pretty cool. But, this time around it felt a bit too sloppy, like going to the grocery store hungry without a list. In this state, it becomes all about what is available & impulsive desire.

Not exactly the state of mind from which I want to create my new home. As I continue to back off the house stalking, I am giving myself space to enjoy myself & remember/redefine what is important to me so that I can send out a beacon that is clearer. A little less “what is out there?” a little more “what do I actually want?”