Sunday, September 30, 2007

"I'm not done and I won't be 'til my head falls off," says They Might Be Giants -- and me.

Not dead yet. Just digging out and digging it. Looks like I owe a month's worth of Scributes. Man. I have them. I do. But where did I put them...?

One month. Sheesh. Time flies when you sell a house and move. Except for the constant vacuuming and that staging business, the selling part was fairly simple enough. Despite the craptastical market, it sold in about a week of listing, and I got just about the price I listed it for which surprised my realtor. I owe all of my skills and superpowers to blind stupidity and child-like naivety.

But I can offer up three handy tips I used when selling a house:

Handy Tip 01 is to literally not give a flying damn whether you sell it or not. If you took good care of your house, then in my tiny, sparkly, happier world, the buyers will be lucky to get it. Don't let them walk away with it just because the market has gone softer than a middle-manager's waistline.

Handy Tip 02 is...well, don't be too confident. Come on. Nobody likes a cocky jerk. Superstition and Murphy's Law especially hate cocky jerks. So, in my opinion, it never hurts to bury a St. Joseph statue upside-down in your front yard. But don't let him stay out in the rain if he's old and made of ceramic otherwise his head will pop off when you dig him up. Oops.

Handy Tip 03 is to thank God in advance for helping you sell your house because, if you do sell, The Great Realtor obviously has something else in mind for you. And if you make it through the selling part, you'll need all the strength you can ask for from Big Daddy G to help you physically move all your crap.

To heft an entire house move a mountain of stuff you think you can't live can make you feel stupid and very aware of yourself and all your Stuff. Don't get me wrong. I like Stuff. Sometimes, I downright love Stuff. But, I'm just suggesting there should be at least one 800 Help Me number you could call for therapy before and after a move. I moved and moved and moved and moved and moved. For days and days and weeks. On the last day, I stopped and cried three times and begged for it to be over or stricken dead of a heart attack at 4:00 in the morning. Then I tried bargaining. "Please, dear God, just three more trips. I'll never buy anything again." After a long pause, I heard my dad's voice in my head say, "Six." Then after six trips, I wailed, "Six! You said 'six!'" My dad said, "You're lucky it ain't more. Get goin'."

I hate clutter but cannot resist buying cute, tiny, happy things to adorn a shelf. I think after this move, I'm officially broken of that for a while. Well. At least for a month or two. I'm not made of stone, y'know.

"Unless you can eat it, bathe in it, burn it, or drink it" has been replaced with "Donate it" or trash it if it's totally 1993 and sad-looking, making time to ask yourself, "What were you thinking?" And you'll probably hear a sarcastic voice in your mind reply, "In 1993? Probably 'Crash Test Dummies' or 'Toad the Wet Sprocket'" or something equally as useless like that show with Jennifer Anniston and that guy who had the drug problems later.

Luckily, I found a very cool, old 1920's apartment that I really liked in midtown. Already I feel more at home here than being down by the river. Midtown can be sketchy in some areas, but "Welcome to Memphis." This neighborhood is in many ways to the one I just left so I'm constantly remembering and noting things forgot I loved. I love being back in a neighborhood with squirrels and birds and with the smells of old houses with basements and real stone and hardwoods, not pressed particle board and 2 x 4s. I forgot what a tree older than 5 years looked like, up close. The location is a short walk away from Labmonkie HQ, and too many fast food joints, and strong, hot coffee that I don't have to make myself in the mornings when I don't feel like it. Which is every day.

Older buildings with smaller designs are equalizers and tend to encourage a little more honesty as to what you take in versus what you need. They say a lot without words. Built before wars big and small enough to leave their marks, these buildings were designed and constructed way before the concepts of modern-day consumerism and Wal-Marts/Targets/Costcos. So they have smaller closets, less storage space, but more of everything else that lasts -- built-in sideboards, taller ceilings, intricate detail work around the windows, and the bigger, heavier doors. Plastic? What's plastic? Nothing is made of plastic. The floors don't just have the appearance of wood, they are wood. They creak, they expand, contract and breathe along with the weather. They don't just look like a photo in a Restoration Hardware catalog, they are Restoration Hardware. And the bathrooms have enormous bathtubs big enough to float in.

This building is older than anyone left in our family that I know. When I listen to an older building, it always asks the same thing, "So now, how much do you need to be happy?"

Creaky floors, a short walk to hot coffee, plus your very own resident mythical creature who has a Christmas tree fully-decorated and lit almost every day of the year? Yes. Already, I'm enjoying the new neighbors. I can't figure out this one guy in particular. I just call him wrongly and shamefully the Happy Hippie. He's very tall with long hair, rides a bike to the local grocery, has a tricked-out VW beetle original that he never drives yet I covet with a metallic yellow-to-orange psychedelic sunrise custom paint job. But I think what gets me most besides the fully-loaded Christmas tree is that he dons the skimpiest pair of running shorts and darts off into the neighborhood for a jog, iPod-less. Now, I'm not saying anything indecent about his shorts. I'm just sayin'. He's fascinating to me. Therefore, he must be a serial killer.

"What's the story with the Rocker?" Mamie asked me when she came over one day. "The Happy Hippie, y'mean," I said.

"Nah, he's a Rocker, I bet," she said.

"Well, I call him a Hippie, but I didn't think Hippies jogged much. He jogs a good bit. Got these little, tiny shorts he runs in. Looks like Sasquatch or some mythical being running off into the neighborhoods. He fascinates me," I said.

"Nah, I think he's a Rocker. I betcha anything. Strike up a conversation with him about The Stage Stop, and I bet he'll go off on it," she said.

"Oh, no. Not me. I don't strike up conversations," I said. She looked at me like I was nuts. Everybody always looks at me like that when I say that. I wouldn't call it nuts though. "You do it. You talk to him. Then tell me what he says."

So that's what I've been doing* for at least a month now. But for now, I have to get back to unpacking and squinting through the blinds at the neighbors. Next time, I'll post photos.

*Oh yeah, and also working at a dog daycare. And helping with a professional pet-sitting business. But that's two other stories. I'll see what I can do about photos on those, too...

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