Dec 8

Yes, this is cheating

Yes, I’m going to cheat today since we spent ALL day house-hunting and my brain is a bit too fried to come up with anything witty, erudite, interesting, or even completely coherent.

So, here’s the 12-entries meme, which consists of the first lines of the first entries for the past twelve months.

And this has been my traditional post-Holidailies hiatus wherein I manage to lose every single reader I gained during Holidailies. In my defense, my life has not exactly been uneventful lately. My battle against comment spam continues. Anna woke up while I was still in the early stages of getting ready for work (i.e. I was naked as a jaybird and had only about half my makeup on.) No rain this morning, which meant I was able to run. One of the biggest aggravations about having a house for sale is that it has to be in Pristine condition every single solitary time you leave the house. I was glancing through some of my visitor stats and noticed that some people are finding my site through links on other sites. Madeleine L’Engle has tessered for the last time. Even though my stomachy-thing didn’t involve nausea or the other, it still took me a bit over a week to get over it. Okay, so yes, a good blogger would post frequent con updates and reports while at a con, especially if it was, say, a big con like World Fantasy, and even moreso if it were pretty much the only con that said blogger attended during the year. I’m sitting at the dining room table, working on my laptop with the background music of Little Bear on the television.

(Astute readers will notice that there are only 11 sentences in the previous paragraph. I somehow managed to miss posting anything at all during February. Sheesh.)

Dec 7

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa–

I have a small list this year:

1) I want you to stop people from proudly spouting, “I hate Christmas!” as if joining some cool secret society. Make them stop saying, “Bah Humbug,” with a proud and superior smirk. Make them stop and think about why they hate Christmas, and then maybe make them try to do something about that. And, maybe, just maybe, make them look at the people who still love Christmas and the kids who still believe with every fiber of their being that Santa Claus is real, and maybe suggest that if they help add to that joy, that belief in the wonder of Santa and Reindeer and love and giving, that maybe Christmas won’t be quite as hateable.

2) I want a bicker-free Christmas. No bickering about who goes to whose house when. No whining about who should call who first. No bitching about the fact that no one ever comes to visit. I just want a nice friendly Christmas where I can watch my daughter and my step-grands open their presents without the grownups–young and old–finding some reason to be dissatisfied.

3) I want people to remember that joy begets joy and misery begets misery. Please remind them that if you are pleasant to be around, then more people will want to be around you.

Santa, I know that there’s not much chance of me getting everything on my list, but any little bit you can do will be greatly appreciated.



Dec 6

Last house post until we find something. Promise.

More house-hunting-hell today and this week. We were referred to an agent who is something of an expert in foreclosed properties, and while I’m not one to gleefully profit from the misery of others, she pointed out to me that these properties are owned by the bank now and the banks are taking pretty much anything they can get. So, we’ve set Saturday aside to go look at scads of houses that were too much House for people to hold onto.

(I’m not an expert on the whole housing market crash, or the subprime fiasco. In fact I’m really not sure just what a subprime mortgage is, to be honest. Every time I’ve purchased a house it’s been a fairly straightforward transaction wherein we borrowed a sum of money at a certain interest rate and promised to pay the bank or mortgage holder x amount of dollars every month, plus extra thrown in for taxes and insurance.)

We went for a second look at a house today. Beautiful house, newly renovated after Katrina damage, in a lovely wooded neighborhood on a large lot. Priced fairly low because the owner is ill and needs to relocate. Unfortunately there are two other people with offers ahead of us, so I don’t think we’ll be getting that house. However, since we now have an actual contract on our house we’ve become something of a hot commodity with real estate agents. We are People Who Can Buy, not just People Who Want To Buy, and in this market we are Gold. So I keep telling myself that we’re in a good position: we have a buyer for our house, and a crappy housing market means that as a buyer we should be able to pick something up that will climb in value once the market recovers.

Ugh. I need my daughter to do something adorable again. Even I’m sick of hearing about my search for a house.

Dec 5

Job descriptions for the Big J

I picked Anna up from daycare and was driving home when I heard this from the backseat: “Mommy, what does Jesus do?”

I wasn’t exactly prepared for philosophical discussions with my three-and-a-half year old, so I said something to stall for time like, “Um.”

“And not the big Jesus,” she clarified. “The baby Jesus!”

I don’t like calling myself a christian. Religion in general gets my hackles up in more ways than I can count though I was raised Episcopalian and have, in fact, been sporadically attending Episcopal services during the past year or so with Anna. (I’ll go into more detail about why I’m taking her to church in a different post.) Also, the phrase, “It’s the Christian thing to do,” drives me absolutely bat-shit crazy, because of the blatant implication that christians have some sort of monopoly on good behavior. I consider myself to be far closer to an agnostic, though I still tend to be somewhat… spiritual I guess is the closest word. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something more out there, though I also find it hard to believe that it’s some single entity keeping an eye on us.

But I had to answer her question, and so I decided to go with what I think the “core concept” of Jesus is.

“Baby Jesus loves everyone, Anna. That’s what he does. He goes all over and shows people how to love.”

“Oh. Everyone?”

“Yep. Everyone. The whole darn world.”

“What does the big Jesus do?”

“Er, the grown-up Jesus does the same thing. He helps people remember how to love everyone else and tries to get them to not fight.”

“Oh.” Silence. “Mommy?”

“Yes, Anna?” I said, my shoulders hunching in anticipation of more questions for which I was completely unprepared about the nature of divinity.

“What do giraffes eat?”

Oh, thank you, Jesus! I thought in relief. “Leaves, sweetie. And pink cookies.”

Dec 4

Ah, the sweet smell of stress

Yes, yes, I know we can always move into my little rental house if we don’t find a house to buy before we actually sell the one we’re living in now. But sweet dearest gods of all, we do not want to move twice. In fact it wouldn’t even be as easy as that. We would have to pack everything non-essential into a POD, and move only the stuff that was absolutely necessary for the month or two (hopefully only that!) that we would be living there.

Needless to say, we’re scrambling to go look at every possible house that comes even close to what we want. After these past few months, though, I’ve decided that the next house I buy has to be one that I’ll be willing to live in for at least another ten years. I think it will take me that long to recover from all of this!

Okay, by now I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m totally crashing and burning on my noble goal of writing Meaningful Posts. It’s probably not helping that I usually don’t get the chance to sit down and try and hammer out a post until after 9 at night.

Oh well. I’ll at least do my best to make all of my posts interesting.

Dec 3

A perfect house?

We know what we want in a house. The house part is easy: single story (I’m sick of living in a two story!), at least 2100 sq ft, at least 3 bedrooms, on at least half an acre of land. Fortunately there are tons of those on the market.

However, neighborhood is far more important to us than the house itself. The whole reason we want to move is because we’ve come to loathe our current neighborhood. The only reason that we have not filed a complaint against the neighbor who lets his horde of yappy crapping dogs roam free is because after the hurricane he ran an extension cord across the street so that we had a fan for sleeping at night. (They had a generator. We did not.) The subdivision itself is small and shaped like a pair of ovaries (two curved streets ending in cul-de-sacs,) which means that when either of us wants to go running we have to get in the car and drive to another, larger, subdivision. The traffic is far heavier than we like, which means that Anna doesn’t play outside very often. But, living here has been good in a way because we know now what’s important to us. We want to live someplace that’s low-traffic and safe, a place where if we want to go running we can just walk out the front door, a neighborhood where there is distance between the houses, and–most importantly–a neighborhood where Anna will be able to make friends and play in safety.

Unfortunately, finding the house we want at a price we can afford in the right neighborhood is proving to be a bit harder. We thought we’d found the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood for the perfect price a couple of weeks ago. Terrific gated community with a clubhouse and a pool, low-traffic, quiet and safe, convenient to shopping, and not far from the interstate. There was only the teensy matter of the crack running through the slab.

Based on the site observations, the foundation differential is above the typical acceptable limit and the slope in the floor is very noticeable when walking throughout the house. We recommend that foundation repairs be performed to relevel and stabilize the house to within acceptable limits. Shoring repairs are typically performed by installing segmented concrete piers under the foundation slab, and then jacking up the house into a level or near level position. We recommend you obtain competitive bids from at least three qualified contractors before proceeding.

Ladies and gentlemen, the preceding is what I like to call Thank all the gods that I hired a structural engineer to inspect the place before I made an offer. In other words, I’m out $425 instead of about $50,000, and our search for the perfect house will go on.

Dec 2

No deep meaning here, except financially

We sold the house!

Yes, yes, I know I promised some sort of meaningful or interesting post every day for December, but my gentle readers will have to be satisfied with the more mundane today because

We sold the house! In this horrendously crappy housing market! We have a signed contract, earnest money, and a closing date!

Of course now the angst begins, since there are just a few teensy eensy matters that could complicate the whole thing. You know, something like the tiny detail concerning the fact that we don’t know where we will live after selling our house. Six long months ago we put our house on the market because we’d found a house that we wanted, or so we thought at the time. But we’ve changed our minds since then about where we want to live, and are now in the process of looking for a place that fits all our wants and needs.

On the upside, it won’t be the complete end of the world if we don’t find our Perfect House in the next couple of weeks. It will merely be the end of a convenient world for a few weeks… perhaps months. The tentative plan would be to pack all of our non-essentials into a POD, and then move into my other…tiny…house until we find the house we want. It won’t be fun or pleasant, but we figure it would be better than buying the wrong house. Besides, lousy seller’s market=great buyer’s market, so hopefully we’ll get a good price on whatever we do find!

Dec 1

Five Paragraphs About Me

I’m sitting at the dining room table, working on my laptop with the background music of Little Bear on the television. Next to my laptop are two pairs of dance shoes–ballet and tap–that are too small for my daughter now. I never had the chance to take dance lessons when I was a kid, so I want to give her that opportunity, at least until I am certain she does not want to do it anymore. But for now she loves it. In a few years I’ll sign her up for piano lessons, but I won’t give her the option to quit that. I’ll be the mean mommy on that one, since it’s darn near impossible to learn to play the piano when you’re an adult. I keep telling myself I’m going to go take music lessons when I get some free time, but I doubt that it’ll be piano. More likely guitar. I’d love to learn how to play electric guitar. Maybe I’ll get my daughter into guitar lessons some day too. I don’t want to overload her with lessons, but there are a lot of things I want to be sure she has the chance to experience. I want her to choose her own path, but I want her to have lots and lots of paths to choose from. She’s just so damn cool and smart and beautiful, it makes me cry if I think about it for too long.

My husband is out taking his thirty minute walk around the neighborhood. He worries incessantly about his health, for several good reasons. He’s a good husband, and a wonderful father and he wants to do everything he can to make sure that he’s around for us as long as possible. He’s a vast improvement over my first husband, which really isn’t meant to be as much of a knock on my first husband as you might think. We got married for the wrong reasons, and stayed married for too long. Habit and momentum, he used to say. But the one I have now is my partner, and we got married for all of the right reasons.

The tips of my fingers are sore as I type, and I can feel my forearms already starting to ache. We went to the rock-climbing gym with my sister and her family again today, and somehow I got talked into trying a particularly difficult wall. There were about six times when I didn’t think I’d be able to climb any higher, but then I’d hear advice shouted from below on where to move my feet or which grab to go for next. Sometimes I’d feel the slack on the rope being taken all the way in and I knew I could cheat just a bit on the rope to get to next hold, knew that my sister was nudging me up past the rough spots. That’s what big sisters are for, right? And I made it to the top, managed to slap the black pipe, then gratefully let go and let her bring me back down.

I just finished posting some research advice on a writer’s forum I belong to, giving details about what a body looks like after it’s been in the water for a day. I’ve seen a few of those. I’ve seen them when they’ve been in the water for far longer than that as well. I’ve seen burn victims and car accidents, murders and suicides, heart attacks and strokes. I’ve seen babies as young as a few hours, and men and women in their nineties. I’ve seen what a fetus looks like at four months gestation. I’ve seen that death is not fair, is not patient, is not discriminating. I’ve seen that death does not allow you to get your affairs in order first, and does not care if you spoke sharply to your child before you left home.

I’ll have some time to write after my daughter goes to bed. I’d write now but I can count on an interruption every few minutes on the order of, “MOMMMMMMMY!” It wears on me, but I also hate it if she goes too long without calling for me. My agent’s been shopping my novel for a few months now–not long enough for me to get concerned about its lack of ability to sell since in publishing terms its hardly been more than a few minutes. But that doesn’t prevent me from having neurotic episodes where I begin to worry that at some point my agent will throw up his hands and shake his head and ask himself why he ever thought I had anything resembling writing talent. I do what I can to counteract the neuroses by writing more, but I know that having the validation of having a book sold will be the ultimate cure. Then I’ll get to trade up for a whole new set of neuroses about sequels, and book launches, and sales numbers. But hey, at least I’m being honest with myself, right?

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