coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Closing Thoughts

Yesterday we received the final paperwork clearing the way for closing on our house tomorrow, Friday, June 27th.   Today I am a whole body pretzel with all my fingers, toes, and appendages crossed.

This closing will take place 4 months after our original closing date was cancelled for the same exact house, and 3 months after the subsequent closing date was also cancelled and the contract terminated by Fannie Mae.  As you may remember, we had already sold our NYS house so we had to move down here anyway within days after the termination of the Florida house contract in late March.  It has been a challenging adventure.  The inconvenience of not having our belongings and practically living on top of each other in a travel trailer out in the boondocks will come to an end.  I still fear Fannie Mae will cancel at the eleventh hour and leave us high and dry, even though I rationally know all will be well.  I cannot help it.  Stuff happens.  I have some trust issues now. When you do not own a house or have a permanent home the world can be a scary place. Being at the mercy of landlords, government agencies, and bankers is an invitation for heartache and dehumanization.  I will not forget the lessons learned here. 

The movers are scheduled to bring our furniture and millions of boxes out of storage and to the new place on Monday.  We also have a delivery scheduled for new appliances. Utilities are being transferred.   TV/internet/land line phone services are scheduled for next week.  If I had a brain in my head I would have contracted with a cleaning service to clean the place before we move in, but I did not because when I shake my head nothing rattles, so I guess that means I am brainless.  Perhaps part of me wants to get in there and clean the place from top to bottom myself, making it my own, getting to know it up close and personal?

I am astounded to find I am a bit sad to leave the trailer.  Quite seriously, I am more sad and nostalgic about leaving this trailer than I was in March when we left behind our NYS house of 24 years.  What the hell is wrong with me?  I guess it is because the past 3 months have been hard for us.  This little trailer was a home when we had none, a sanctuary that served us well when we needed one. 

I will be without internet for a few days after we move, so I probably will not post again for a week.   If all goes well, it will be a very happy post. I think I can remember how to pull that off.

Right or wrong, here are my "closing thoughts" on our recent circumstances:  We were fortunate in many ways.  For one, we could afford to find a short term rental situation that was safe and private.  We knew we would eventually buy a house.  We have family near by, and friends a phone call or email away who gave us emotional support.  I am painfully aware that many people who do not own a home do not have resources or options.  The truly homeless are the saddest of all.  They are vulnerable beyond belief.  Can you imagine how awful it would be to end up in a homeless shelter with no money and little hope?  Like I said, stuff happens and sometimes you do not see it coming.  It can spiral outside of your control.  In some cases people lose their jobs and then they lose their house.  This is why so many of these houses for sale in Florida are foreclosures.  These former homeowners are not slackers or the mythic welfare cheats.  They are middle class parents with children who bought houses when the market commanded ridiculously high prices, thinking they had secure jobs and a safe, secure future.  They did not, and it was not their fault.  Someone once pointed out to me that, contrary to popular belief, it is actually physically impossible for a person to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.  Sometimes you need help.  The banks did not always work with the owners to help them stay in their houses until their finances recovered.  It can be a cold, cruel world when money is the driving force.  During our house search I saw willful damage some of the people did to their homes before they were forced to moved out.  I was both shocked and moved.  Shocked because I could not condone their actions.  Moved because I could understand the anger and frustration that drove them to do it.  I am hyper aware that we are getting this house because someone else had to give it up.  Perhaps our recent (and in retrospect, mere) 3 months of struggle was a means for us to fully appreciate having a home.   I am grateful to our realtor and our lending agent for the kindness they showed and the help they gave us.  Compassion without judgment is the greatest kindness.  This is the lesson I have recently learned.

Big sigh…

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting Down to the Wire

Looks like the house closing will take place next Friday.

When I chose the title to this post, it seemed perfect to describe where we are in the house closing process; however, it occurred to me that the phrase “getting down to the wire” made no sense at all taken at face value.  I wondered where the phrase came from so I looked it up in my handy on-line phrase checker,, to learn where it came from:
“Usage notes: In a horse race, the wire is a metal thread that marks the finishing line.”

Then I realized because of my crappy working class education, I did not know what an idiom was, so I looked that up in my computer-based dictionary.   An idiom is:
a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light).

I could not help but notice how close “idiom” was to “idiot” so I checked “idiot”, too.  They both come from the Greek word “idios” which means: “own, private.”  Apparently in Ancient Greece an idiot was not someone with a mental disability, it was someone who was considered selfish.  It was a person who was perceived as overly concerned with their private, individual life and ignored their public duties as a citizen of Greece.   Yep, a person in Ancient Greece who did not vote or participate in public duties was an idiot.  

This is what makes retirement such a pleasure.  I have the time to dabble and delve – wasting time in the most delicious ways.  Wait – I am not “wasting” time, I am “taking” time.  Big difference!  I own my time now.  I am using time to my own private advantage.  Some of you may think, “She has too much time on her hands.”  But there is never too much time. When I was working, for 40 long years, most of my time was not my own.  I sold my time to earn money and make a living.  I was not doing what I loved.   I was simply doing the best I could.  Now, my time is finally my own and I use it in my own, private, selfish way.   After today, I will never think of the word “idiot” in quite the same way.  

Anyway, getting back to that wire…I will believe it when I see it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Inert States

Can we talk about inertia?  Some of you have asked how I am making it through this house purchase waiting period.  It is hard, and it is also a sincere test of psychological health and well-being.  I wouldn't mind being depressed.  Unfortunately, it is hard to be depressed in Florida because there is so damn much sun.  Getting enough vitamin D is not a problem for Floridians.  Depression is kind of out of the question when you cannot help but be happy as soon as you step out of the door into the brilliant sunlight.   It is a little unnerving, especially for someone from Ithaca, New York where most days are gray and whenever I stepped outside I felt like I was crawling out from under a rock.   Anyway, I am settling for inertia.  The effect is sufficiently self-indulgent and mind-numbing, which helps.  I am also eating an amazing number of Reeses Peanut Butter cups.  OK, OK, there is wine, too.  

Let me give you an example of my inert state.   I bought a can of tuna about three weeks ago.  I like tuna sandwiches.  I want one.  I realize I have the can in the cupboard, but I cannot bring myself to take it out of the cupboard and open it with a can opener, squeeze the excess juice out of it, let alone add mayo and swish it around in a bowl to mix it up.  Come on!  It is too much work.   You know what I’m talking about!  I am now a delicate flower of a woman living a life of leisure, and it would require me to get up off the couch and stop reading my favorite trashy paranormal/urban fantasy novel, AARP magazine, the New Yorker, or the history of the U.S.A from 1812 to 1848 that T lent me.   These reading materials are all active and assertive subject matter and I feel like I have exerted myself by just reading them.   I need to save my strength for wrestling with my two year old grandson, N.  He likes to play Ring-Around-The-Rosy and when we all fall down he demands that we all fall down flat on our back and kick our legs up in the air.   He has real style.

That, of course, is an exaggerated view of my current life.  The tuna can avoidance behavior and Ring-Around-The-Rosy are true stories; however, we are pretty active most days going to State Parks, visiting tourist traps, babysitting and swimming in M&MV's pool. The grandchildren really cheer us up, too.   We just need a house so we can get all our things back.  Sometimes we go to the storage unit just to look at our things. Hmmmm, maybe that’s what we can do this afternoon.

I think of the quilts I could be making if I had my sewing machine and quilt frames.  I might even finish that masterpiece quilt I started in 1989!  I think of the meals I could be making for my family.  I could be swimming in my pool every day if only I had one.  I could be making lots of fun decisions about paint colors, furniture purchases, where to hang the pictures in the house, how to set up my quilt room.  I could be complaining about the oppression of endless boxes that need to be opened and contents put away.  I am looking forward to complaining about that.  Considering my current state of inertia, it might take a long time to get the house set up.  

Looks like we might close on the house on June 30th at the latest.  I am reluctant to even post this because I do not quite believe it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


We are still in the *&^%#@ trailer, but hanging in there.   It feels odd to complain about being stuck in this trailer because, as I have said too many times before, it is actually a lot like being on vacation.  However, I fear it is a Twilight Zone vacation that will never end.

I have a confession to make.  We have not cooked in over 2 months.  There is an oven/stovetop, but it is teeny-tiny small and in a cramped and inconvenient hallway on the way to the bedroom (also laughingly referred to as “the kitchen”).  T considers it unworthy of his consideration and refuses to cook on or in it.  I am so filled with inertia these days that sometimes I will not even pull out the toaster because it seems like too much work.  We exist on sandwiches, frozen TV dinners, and restaurant meals.  T would have NEVER eaten frozen TV dinners before.   Now he spends a good deal of time shopping for just the right one.  It is kind of cute.  I have recently resorted to buying frozen omelet breakfast meals, too.  There is only so much oatmeal or cereal that one can stomach. 

I used to love going to restaurants.  Now it is hard to get excited about going out to eat.   We try to pass the decision of where to go on to each other.  The general dynamic is like flipping a coin and the loser has to decide.  I no longer care.  Just put a funnel in my mouth, push my head back, pour some gruel down the hatch and fill me up.  Three times a day would be nice.  Whatever. 

It is the rare restaurant that cooks as good as home, anyway.  Also, there seems to be a dearth of decent Mom and Pop restaurants in the area we are staying at.  I am sick to death of chain restaurants.  At first it was fun to throw caution to the wind and eat at the chains, but now eating in those places feels like the death of the spirit.  They all serve the same kind of food.  Yes, I am a food snob.  Please do not hate me for it.  I like real food, cooked at home, with vegetables and fruit.  I cannot help it.  And there are no Wegman’s Supermarkets down here with fabulous healthy, multi-ethnic take-out choices.  Those of you in the frozen northlands of New York State need to understand that God gave you Wegman’s to make up for the long winters.   You can’t have everything!

Now that I have had my dramatic moment, let me say that we actually do have a favorite restaurant close by.  It is a Mexican restaurant.  The food is fresh, authentic, and fantastic.   As for the Margueritas, let me just say they are the absolute best. Ever. In the Whole Wide World.  We try desperately not to go there every day or twice in the same day.

We now have a signed and fully executed contract on House#1... again.  We are just waiting to get a closing date so we can sign on the dotted line, give Fannie Mae all our money, and move in to the house.  I hope that will happen before the end of June.  Would it be a cliché to say, “I hope it does not fall through again?”  Bite your tongue woman and don’t tempt Fate! 

I am pretty sure Fate is a huge jokester with nothing much to do in its spare time.  It is bored.  Perhaps it is retired?  Consequently, it devises screw-ups for humans in order to entertain itself.  We have been Fate’s playthings for a long time now.  Just how long can its attention span be?  I am trying my best to not react and to seem boring.  Then perhaps Fate will move on to someone else?  I mean, there are lots of truly awful people out there who could use some attention.  Not any of you, of course.  Fate could be spending time with a wife-beater, a banker who holds up the sale of foreclosed houses, a kindergarten teacher who prefers one gender of small-fry over another, drivers with road rage - there are so many obvious choices. 

Our son-in-law’s mother (SH) and step-father (JY) are moving down TODAY!   We’re all very excited to expand our Florida family and have them down here.   We love them dearly, and can hardly wait to see them.