.

.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Connection In The New Year, Embracing 'Before'

Today is the last day of this year.

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve and its shenanigans so tonight will be quiet, just as I like it best.  In our household there will be a couple of glasses of wine early in the evening, and I think we might have fondue because dipping things in cheese is not a bad way to spend any night.  JP will try to stay awake but will ultimately go to bed by 11pm and I'll fall asleep on the couch around the same time but I always wake up minutes before midnight, in time to watch the ball fall in Times Square.
Then I'll take Luna (dog) outside and we'll wrap up in a blanket and listen to the sounds of the New Year. I don't know why I always do that but I do it every year. That strange New Year's melancholy will hit me and I'll think about the past year and the coming one. I'll hear fireworks in the distance and some woo-hoo's shouted out by nearby revelers. But mostly I'll hear silence...night noise.  It's that new year quiet that I like the best.



I am also not a big fan of New Year's resolutions although I do like the concept of a fresh new slate from which to start new things.  I've noticed that my usual contempt for social media has been steadily building even stronger for ever quite a while and I've decided that now is the perfect time to spend less time on it following people who have not tried to be a real part of my real life despite my attempts and invitations. I'll still follow the myriad of internet people who inspire me on a regular basis and I actually really enjoy following small businesses, so that's going to be my new thing.  I'm excited for this.

I have too many stories about people I know well - relations and long-time friendships - that have been reduced to semi-annual text messages and/or the nanosecond click of the like button.
It leaves me empty and sad.

I'm staunchly old fashioned. I like many, many things before¹.  Before what?  Before cell phones and text messages. Before social media. Before the god-awful selfie fanaticism/narcissism. Before relationships became technologically driven and reliant. Before the world went crazy.  I won't elaborate beyond that; you get the idea.



I'm going into this new year not longing anymore for real connection with people who'd rather click a like or send button instead of hearing the inflection in each others' voices or good conversation over coffee or wine or coming together at the dining room table and sharing food and laughter.  Are we all really so busy that taking a drive to meet someone who likes/loves/cares about you is too much trouble?  Are you really okay with pretending it's fulfilling to find something funny to post somewhere so you can feel happy when some people who otherwise don't bother with you 'like' it?
I can't and won't even try to wrap myself around that anymore and I don't want to settle for it anymore.

I believe in not accepting mediocrity but I'm going to amp that up for 2019.
I deserve quality relationships...and so do you.

I'm going into this new year nourishing my real relationships and cultivating new ones with like-minded people.  People who have time for me. REAL time.

I'm putting my own spin on things in 2019:  Out with the new (ways), in with the old (ways).

Here's to a deeper, more authentic and genuine new year.
I'll be over here being happily old-fashioned.

A Blessing of Honest Days


Take a moment to be real then settle
into the absence of any existing restraints.
No commitment to meet anyone,
no urgency to be somewhere.
The arrival of a fresh year is gracefully nearing
and it is not asking for any resolution,
nor begging for you to do better.
It simply wants to invite you into its presence
and make of it what you will.
No need to worry, no cause to fret.
No requirements to fill or conditions to be met.
No more strict promises or guilt.
No needless pressure, no sweat.
Try a new approach to a different year:
Let time be an encouraging mother
and her daughters a blessing of honest days.
 
Words by: Susan Frybort



Further Reading:

Three Things We Can Learn From People Who Don't Use SmartPhones Or Social Media

More Being Social, Less Social Media


¹It is perfectly okay if you don't agree with me.  We were not put on this earth to agree with every single person (which is a really good example of the way people used to think before).

Friday, December 28, 2018

362 Days 'Til Christmas

I haven't posted since November 23rd.

I was pretty surprised to see that but then I realized it made sense considering how angst-y I get during holidays.  The holiday season really is a miserable time for me.  I actually had started to make a video about why I can't deal with holidays...but even that overwhelmed me - like everything else does during December so the video is sitting in fragments on one of my computers, incomplete.

Now that Christmas is behind us (phew!), I can think and write about it with freaking out. So the Cliffs Notes version of the causes of my holiday aversion are as follows:

1. Anosmia.  Ever since I lost my sense of smell 10 years ago, nothing has been the same.
Not being able to smell is like I am cut off from the real world; like my world is black & white and everyone else's is in color. Not being able to smell robs you of the ability to recall memory or create new memories based on smell.  I can't smell holidays anymore and everywhere I look are the reminders of what is now out of reach for me. It's very painful.  Maybe one day I'll put something together about the real effects of losing the sense of smell.  A lot of people think it's not a big deal and they always say that's the one they'd choose if they had to lose a sense. But losing the ability to smell is a profound loss on so many complex levels; the tremendous loss is one that can't even be imagined unless you've experienced it.  Trust me.

2. Family.  The holidays bring families together, right?  That's the big message but not the case in our "family"¹.  Nothing can do that.  Holidays are a constant reminder of that sad fact.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

TOO LEGIT TO QUIT




Our official business license came in the mail yesterday.

We are legit!

There are a million plans happening - some for the immediate future and others for down the road some.

(And wouldn't you know all of this is happening right when I am in some of the worst pain I've ever dealt with + needing to create a bunch of new Land O' Make Believe art in time for the holiday season in Berlin (Maryland)?  When it rains, it pours, right?  But aside from the pain part, we will take every single drop this thrilling new endeavor drops on our crazy heads.)

JP is doing all the business end of things and I'm doing all the creative stuff and then we come together - usually with wine - to discuss and plan and argue and laugh.

Poor Girl Mercantile will initially be online.
We want to take our time and build things - literally and figuratively - before we take the brick and mortar step.
Yes, there will be an actual store!  The where and when of that is a bit of a mystery right now but in the meantime we are having too much fun with all of it.

Here's what I already know:
The stuff I sell at Poor Girl Mercantile will be priced so that near everyone can afford it.
Last week we were in a shop that sold throw blankets for $350.  Nothing all that special about them except that the shop was in a high fallutin' neighborhood and the people there could likely afford to throw their money away on $350 blankets.

Poor Girl Mercantile will never charge ridiculous prices.
I've never done that with my artwork - and I could have - but never did, never will.
Being able to attain a thing that makes your heart happy should not be only for those in a certain socio-economic circumstance.

The worst thing in the whole wide world is being on the outside looking in, wishing.



So once again, the website will need a complete overhaul.
And a new online shop will need to be developed.
Poor Girl Mercantile will be all about the handmade - probably about 75% of our stuff.
It will feature my own artwork, my signs, my textile-based handicrafts...BUT it will also feature the work of other creative people and we'll be on the hunt for those that create quality, beautiful, affordable handmade items and who agree wholeheartedly with our philosophy.
If you're one of them or know someone who is, please have them contact me via email at poorgirlmercantile@gmail.com.  There will eventually be a section on the website with more information but for now you can just email me and I'll give you the basics.



I have never in my entire life done a single thing in an orthodox fashion and that will not change with Poor Girl Mercantile...aside from attaining the business license, that is.  We do abide by the law!
Above and beyond that we'll be flying by the seat of our pants, making stuff up along the way, and doing what I have always done that has brought me a lifetime of adventure:  throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Here we go...





Friday, November 2, 2018

"LOST IN REVERIE" - newest artwork




LOST IN REVERIE

“The earth was overwhelmed with beauty and indifferent to it, 
and I went with a heart ready to crack for its unbearable loveliness.” 

― Josephine Winslow Johnson

ALL SOULS DAY




This is a painting called All Souls Day by Jakub Schikaneder.
It was painted in 1888 and currently hangs in the National Gallery in Prague.

Lucky for us, this beautiful painting is in the public domain, which means it's ours for the taking.

I've uploaded it to my DropBox account so that you can download a print-ready copy for free.


Monday, October 29, 2018

SUNDAY AT KUERNER FARM




(sorry about the direction of the camera - i thought to shoot the video at the last second and was flustered)

JP and I got to spend the entire day wandering around Kuerner Farm, outside and inside.

If you are an Andrew Wyeth fan you will understand how surreal the above sentence is.

THE POOR GIRL THING...


I wanted to explain a little bit about where the "Poor Girl" name came from.

I'll start with misfortune.

Whenever something bad happens to a person, someone inevitably will say or think or insinuate "that poor girl" (or woman/girl/child/man/boy/person/etc)".

As someone who has had more than her fair share of misfortune (which you will likely eventually hear about as this blog journal progresses 😏), that phrase has been used about me more times than I'd like to admit.  It has always made me very uncomfortable as pity is not something I aspire to attain; also, I am vehemently opposed to being a victim of anything or anyone.

You see, it seems to me that every single bad thing that's ever happened to me has taught me a valuable lesson that I never would have learned if I hadn't gone through the bad thing.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Newst Artwork: "ON HIGH"...


"On High"

Mighty and proud she stands,
aging with grace and her memories.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

ROAD TRIP: ST PETER'S VILLAGE...



This past Saturday we hit the road, off on yet another adventure.

I had recently come across the Facebook page for St. Peter's Bakery (St. Peter's Village/Elberson, PA) and it looked absolutely lovely so I knew we had to get there. 

Also, for the record, I do not pass up the chance to visit bakeries.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

NEW ART: "FALL Y'ALL"...




“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

[Letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1, 1841]” 
― George Eliot  
 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

NEW ART: "SACRED SOUNDS"...






Silence, for one (especially after a snow). Bird's wings. Laughing - anyone's, really. Wind through tall grasses. Church bells. Rain, thunder. Waves, crashing and otherwise.
There are probably a thousand more.
I'll have to remember to pay attention to listen for them.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

SUNDAY STUFF: WRITE...





















Write because you want to communicate with yourself.
Write because you want to communicate with someone else.
Write because life is weird and tragic and amazing.


Write because talking is difficult.
Write because it polishes the heart.
Write because you can. Write because you can’t.
Write because there is a blackbird outside of my window right now and oh my god isn’t that the best start to the day?
Write because you’re trying to figure yourself out.
Write because you might not ever figure yourself out.



Write because there still aren’t enough love poems in the world.

-Dalton Day

Friday, September 7, 2018

Andrew Wyeth + Panic On The Big Blue Bridge

Last evening we sat on the porch, drinking wine, talking,

mostly about the previous night's trip in to Philadelphia to see the premiere of the new Andrew Wyeth documentary at the Kimmel Center.

Coupla things...

I adore Andrew Wyeth.

There is no other artist that I would say that about.

His art takes me to places deep into my soul and I know how freakin' artsy and corny and pretentious that sounds - the exact things I hate when it comes to art - but in the case of me and Andrew Wyeth, it's true.  I won't explain further than that because what it really is...is magic.  And (1) magic can't be explained, and (2) magic loses its magic when you attempt to explain it.  Magic is mystery, after all.  We'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Heat + Humidity = Road Trip (Simply Charming)

The heat and humidity just won't let up, making nothing enjoyable.

We've spent more time this summer inside than being outside, for real.

In fact we're pretty sure that we spend more time outside in previous winters than we have this summer.  Because of my persnickety lungs, I literally cannot breathe in humidity so I have to be indoors once the humidity outside kicks up...and I think there's been maybe two days this summer when it wasn't excessively humid. The grill sits unused along with the gazebo and the lounge chairs and even the motorcycles.  It's too hot and humid to ride.  We're not beach people and I am fully the opposite of a sun worshipper so those activities are out.  We are actually looking forward to fall and winter so that we can spend time outside.  We'll be the weirdos barbecuing in January.

The only thing left to do when it's too unpleasant outside is to hit the road and wander around the backroads in the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle.

Oh, how grateful I am for air conditioning.  



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Old House Problems & My Husband, The Liar

Our new house is actually not anywhere near new; it's about 80 years old.

It sat empty for the better part of a year before we bought and moved into it two months ago.

Empty old houses draw creepy things and I don't mean the shady characters who want to steal the copper pipes and appliances.

I know we had a creepy thing because of my dog Luna.
Luna eats premium dog food that comes from the refrigerated case in stores that are not at all convenient to get to and require a special road trip.
This gets old.

So I bought some not-so-premium-but-not-cheap-either dry dog food when I was at WalMart.

We put some in a bowl and she surprisingly really liked it.

The next morning we were in the kitchen when I noticed that the bowl that contained the dry food was empty.

"Why is that bowl empty?" I asked JP.



He answered that Luna must have really liked the food and ate it all.

"Impossible," I said, "Luna was upstairs with us all night."

We both looked at each other for a long OMG moment and then JP noticed that what was left in the bottom of the bowl was not crumbs but - wait for it - mouse poop.

Mouse Poop.



When I calmed down and stopped hyperventilating, I reasoned that it is an old house, it did sit empty for awhile, and that these things can't be helped.

And then I immediately drove to Home Depot and bought 10 mouse traps and two large packages of some kind of little boxes filled with mouse poison disguised to look like tempting food.

JP was then instructed to "put these things &#*$& everywhere!!!!" place the traps strategically where he thought the mouse (singular, not plural) might be coming and going.

Because, of course, there was just one mouse who periodically scooted inside to see if there was anything good to eat and then went back outside once his/her food expedition was complete.

Within a day or two, we caught the culprit out in the garage, where we surmised he/she squeezed under the door the leads from the garage into the butler pantry, which is next to the kitchen where the dog food was.

JP, who tends to overshare, let me know unnecessarily that "man, that was a big one!"

Yes, because it recently ate a whole lot of dry dog food.

We kept the traps baited just in case.  Weeks passed with no action and no signs whatsoever that we had more visitors so we were/are happy that, because there is a God, we didn't have a big problem.

Life was good.

And then the other day while working upstairs in my office, Luna and I heard a loud "SNAP!" downstairs.

Of course, JP was at work which meant that I had to do the investigating and so Luna and I tiptoed down the stairs (yes, dogs can tiptoe) which is when I contemplated checking the traps and then contemplated not checking the traps and decided on the latter.

Then Luna and I drove to DQ for the 5 Buck Lunch Special because whenever I get stressy I get hungry but was too skeeved to stay home...and did you really think I was going to make lunch in a kitchen that may or may not contain a mouse corpse?!

Anyway, did you know DQ has the best chicken fingers ever?  They do.  Plus they give your dog a Pup Cup for free which is a little cup of vanilla ice cream with a dog bone treat in it.  Yay, DQ!

Alas, after hiding out at DQ for awhile, we had to return home and wait out the afternoon for JP to come home and check the traps.

Unfortunately he confirmed that, yes,  the snap! we heard was in fact the sound of the death blow to another mouse.

Immediately I wanted to run out and buy a few cats but then I remembered that I am allergic to them so I scrapped that plan even though I did briefly consider buying them anyway along with a lifetime (their lifetime) supply of Claritin or Benadryl.
But then I remembered how much I hated dealing with the litter box from Mystic, the cat I had for twenty years, back when I wasn't allergic to cats¹.

Still, I was less panicked than I thought I would be, recognizing again that these are just old house kinks that need to be managed.

It's not like we have mice running all over the place, y'all.  God, what do you think we are, heathens?
I have a butler pantry with all kinds of foodstuffs on the shelves and none of it has been touched.  We just have occasional mice visitors, that's all.

Still, I became afraid of the basement even though Mouse #1 was in the garage.  Basements just seem like a place a mouse would like to hang out.

Actually, I've been afraid of the basement since we moved in because it has this really treacherous staircase.  Like, when you open the door to the basement you are immediately in danger of falling into the basement because of the treacherous design of the stairs.  I can't describe it very well and I am not going down there to take a picture because I don't really even open the door at this point.

And guess what?

Our laundry machines are in the basement.  Which means, of course, that JP has to do the laundry because I'm not going down there anytime soon even though it's not even a creepy basement and is actually a pretty nice basement as far as basements go.

But he's okay with being the laundry-doer.  In fact, he said and I quote, "don't you worry about the laundry, I will take care of it. I don't want you going down and getting scared or falling down the stairs.  You mean too much to me and I love you more than life itself and I will do your laundry forever."  Or he said something similar to that.

So last night I asked him to throw a small load in for me.
I had to ask him twice because the TV was on and men don't hear their wives very well when the television is on, but he did eventually put the load in for me and then a little while later I had to remind him that it was probably done and if he could put it in the dryer, which he did, during a commercial.

Which brings us to today.

Normal morning, kiss kiss and he's off to work.

And then I realized what he didn't do.

That's right.  He did not take my clothes out of the dryer.

They are down there right now and I am writing this to you in my nightgown and it is 10:00 am.

Here is the text I sent him this morning when I realized what he had done.  Or had not done.

Do you know where my good bra is?
The one that holds my boobs in place pretty good 
so they don't bounce around and make me and those
around me uncomfortable?
I will tell you where that bra is.

It is in the basement in the dryer.
Which means I have to descend the
Staircase Of Terror into 
The Abyss Of Rodents to retrieve it.
You said you would do my laundry.
You lied.

He responded:  LOL - already starting.

LOL?  I fail to see the humor in this.

Later, when he's home from work and looking for me and for dinner, I will send him a text from the parking lot of DQ that says, simply, LOL.

Just kidding, I won't do that.
Because I'll still be in nightgown and I can't drive to DQ in my nightgown because I might be low but I'm not that low + my car is now illegal to drive (see previous post).

But you know what he did do last night instead of remembering to bring up my laundry?

He went out late at night to get my fix for me.

Fix = Skinny Pop popcorn because I cannot survive without it and I realized very late that I had none left.

He really is such a good man. 

I'll let him slide on the laundry thing this time.




¹ Did you know that menopausal women sometimes develop weird allergies that they never had ever in their whole lives prior to advent of their hormones dying off?  It's true, look it up.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Refocus

Everywhere I look every single day I see people giving their attention to things that upset them over and over again, day in and day out...and I cannot for the life of me figure this out.

"I am angry about _____ and I'm going to keep reading and writing and talking about it!"

Why? What changes?

There are just so very many things wonderful things to focus on in your short time here.

I wish more people took the time to refocus on that. 

You don't have to be all Pollyanna and lemons/lemonade about things but, damn, go take a walk or a drive or tell your kid or any kid or some stranger what's great about being alive.

"I am angry about _____ but I'm not going to throw away this minute or this day or this life intentionally pissing myself off." 

 Much better.



 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

App Crap

It happened again the other day - two times in one week.

The first time was when I was checking out at a popular craft store that offers 40% off coupons.

While on the checkout line I remembered about their coupons and so I took my phone out, clicked on Google and typed in the name of the store + coupons.

This led me down a rabbit hole on their website - me, furiously clicking on things that said things like "click here for coupons" even though that just led to more "now click here" instructions...all while ambling in the line closer and closer to the checkout register. 

Finally time was up and I was at the checkout, sans coupon, but still in full click-on-this-now mode.
The girl at the register - seeing me maneuvering my cart, handbag, items I was wishing to purchase, and cellphone - monotonely told me that I had to download their app in order to get the damn coupon.

Contrary to the opinions of some people related to me, I am not a jerk.  I do not yell at people for things that are not their fault.  So I did not go off on the poor girl at the register who probably says "you have to download our app" 5,000 times a day.

That is not to say that I wasn't annoyed.  Very annoyed.

Certainly I am grateful for coupons.  I very much like to save money.  What I am not grateful for is being made to jump through hoops to get a coupon.  So I decided right there on that checkout line to not only remain calm and cool, but to download their damn app...while holding up the line and everyone in it.  The store could have made it easier all around (imagine that) by offering me a coupon in exchange for, let's say, my email address and then sending me an email encouraging me to download their app.  But that would be too easy.  Instead, they chose to make me do that at the point-of-sale and so I would do as they wished...while inconveniencing every person in line behind me.
There's some good business sense.

Meanwhile the girl at the register just kind of stood there awkwardly, likely mouthing sorry to the people in line behind me, as the little hourglass on my phone spun and spun while downloading their damn app.

Fast forward a couple of days.

Now we are in line at a grocery store known for its organic food and high prices.  (I don't care that it's ridiculously overpriced there. If you have ever had the macaroni & cheese from their hot bar you will understand what I was doing there.)  Everything was going fine at checkout until the man at the register saw that I was going to pay with the credit card associated with that store in order to get 10% back on my bill.  He then asked if I had their app because if I did have their app then I would save a bunch of additional money on today's purchase + a bunch of other perks that I can't remember right now.

Like I said, I like saving money a lot.  I do not like spending money so if I can save some when I have to spend some, then I'm all for it.  Plus I got flustered because there was confusion about whether I had to have the app to get the original 10% back that I thought I was going to get for simply using that credit card.

In short, I caved. 

Once again, out came the phone. 
Once again, I was holding up the line.

I turned to the woman behind me with the little toddler boy and said I was sorry and that if it didn't download quickly I wouldn't hold her up.

She sort of smiled, tersely, avoiding eye contact with me and then said to her 2-year-old who had no idea what she was talking about, "Timmy, Mommy is really sorry but we're going to have to be in this line longer than I thought and so I need you to be patient while we wait, okay?  Mommy isn't sure how long this is going to take and I know you need to eat and you're tired and want to go home to play and spend time with Daddy and, again, Mommy is really sorry that we have to wait in this line so long but it isn't Mommy's fault, okay?"
It was obvious she said all of this for my benefit, not Timmy's because Timmy was happily staring off into space.

Well, you know what?  Sharon needed to eat (the macaroni & cheese I was trying to pay for) and Sharon was tired and wanted to go home, too, and all Sharon wanted to do was pay for Sharon's stuff and go and not have to jump through hoops of confusion while listening to some lady talk passive-aggressively in the third person to her 2-year-old.

I put my phone away, told the guy at the register to just ring me up, and paid with the credit card even though I never use credit cards to pay for things like groceries.
And I'm sure I won't be getting that 10% back that I thought I was going to get for using that credit card.

What all of this is is bad customer service.
It is the equivalent of "PRICE CHECK ON AISLE 2"


Business Common Sense 101 will tell you this: Don't intentionally annoy your customers.
It will also tell you that if you want to retain customers and make/keep them loyal, then make their life easier, not harder.

But I am not fooling myself with this diatribe.

Some people will get what I'm saying here, but I fear that most won't.  I'm not naive; I could profess that I will not give my business to stores who make me jump through hoops but it would just fall on deaf ears¹.  For every me who is tired of  it, there are 10,000 not me's who are not.  I know, because I see them all every day, faces plastered to phones, missing life as it happens all around them, probably downloading all kinds of apps.
We're too far gone into technology; obsessed with it and letting it literally take over our lives.  No news there, right?


I have always been very vocal about how I am not a cell phone person.  I carry one so that I can call someone if I need to (need is the keyword); so I can send and receive necessary messages when a phone call can't be made, and sometimes - yes -  silly ones just for fun; and take the occasional picture.  I do not check my phone on a regular basis, for real.  A lot of the time I do not know the location of my cell phone and/or where I last left it.  I believe that at least one person has stopped talking to me because I missed a text message or didn't respond when they wanted me to.  It is not a joke that relationships this very minute and being made or unmade because of a cell phone which is just mind-blowing (and really sad) to me. 

Just the other day I got a text message (of course) from an old friend wanting to catch up.  When I saw her message it wasn't a good time for me so I texted back that I would make contact later in the day.  Normally I would call to talk but I was really busy that day and not in the mood for a long phone call so I uncharacteristically bit the bullet and decided to try texting to catch up instead of calling.
She and I exchanged a few texts over the course of maybe 20 minutes and then...nothing.  We were filling each other in on what was new and I sent back a text to her text and then she just stopped texting.  Was the conversation over?  Did something happen to her mid-text?  No goodbye, talk to you soon, let's get together?
So then I was stuck in this strange dilemma of not knowing what to do.  Do I text again - what happend, are you all right? Probably she was all right; maybe she just got busy?  I didn't know if it was okay to walk away from my phone and carry on with my business which is a dilemma the 30 gazillion of you who are attached to your phones never find yourselves in.
It's just all so weird and unnatural to me. 

Because I am old-fashioned.
Because I am cell phone awkward.
And I like it that way.


It's unlikely that will be changing in the foreseeable future.



¹ I will, however, identify stores that are less likely to make me jump through hoops and shop at them before the others.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Since I last wrote here, months ago, many things have changed in our life.

For instance, we listed and sold our South Jersey house...and searched for, purchased, and moved into our new (old) Delaware house.

I could not write about any of this while it was happening because I was in a self-induced coma in an attempt to avoid the sheer hell that is selling and buying a house.

I'm not kidding.  At one point during the melee, I was so stressed out that a trip to the ER almost happened.  That's how bad/ridiculous things got.

In case you are not aware, the business of real estate is a full-on joke.  I'm talking about almost every single aspect of it, except the part where you make a really good profit from the sale of your house.  No joke there.

The rest of it, though?  Complete nonsense.  I want to tell so many stories now that it's all over but I'm afraid that in the retelling my PTSD might get triggered again.  I'm only half kidding about that¹.
If I told you about the nitpicking you would not believe me, it got that ridiculous.  Maybe one day I will when I can do so with hyperventilating.  Crack in the sidewalk? A real estate person can turn that into "Driveway in shambles. Life threatening sidewalk condition may cause physical harm or even death to new owners and must be remedied before closing at current owners expense using the most expensive sidewalk repair company within the entire state. Estimate $9500."

There should be a Best Dramatic Performance category at the Oscars solely for real estate professionals.

Lucky for us, we had the best agents for selling and buying who are both blissfully non-ridiculous.  If you are in South Jersey or Delaware (above the canal) and need a good one, drop me a line and I'll give their names.

Conversely, if you are in New Jersey and need the name of the absolute worst real estate agent that ever existed...well, I won't give you that person's name because I wouldn't want a single other person to have to deal with that person, and that applies to even my worst enemies.  Or, enemy.  I think I only have one.  I might be wrong.  Anyway, I wouldn't even wish that person on that person. Or persons, if applicable.

Honestly I don't know why the whole real estate thing is as complicated and crazy expensive as it is. I feel bad for people who have never owned a house and who think it's as simple as saving up a down payment.  Hahahahahahahahhhhaaaaaaaaaaa.  Just wait until they start getting slammed with inspection and closing costs!

Anyway, we now live in a terrific house that we love and the very best, most perfect, absolutely divine thing about it is that it has public utilities!  NO MORE SEPTIC!  NO MORE WELL!

God, how I hated living in a house with septic and well.
Nothing like that annual "hey honey, time to call the septic company and have our poop and pee sucked out of our front yard where it's been sitting for the past year!"  So vile.

Now I don't have to think about those things. I flush the toilet and off everything goes down the mystery pipe that carries all the disgusting far, far away from my house, just as God intended². 
The insanity of the past few months is almost worth that alone.
Almost.



 ¹I really do have PTSD (actually C-PTSD) and have to be careful about revisiting things that cause me stress or I take to my bed and hide for an indefinite amount of time that it takes for the waves of anxiety to stop.

²You think I'm kidding?  How about "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."! 😇

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Berm Girl

As part of our quest to find our next house, this evening we were driving through a particular neighborhood in Maryland that we would like to live in, admiring houses that we wish were for sale.

Because there are no good houses amongst the hundreds that are for sale in the 100 mile radius that is our targeted area so we have taken to driving slowly through desirable areas and sending out mental please-sell-us-your-house vibes while also hoping that someone will see us driving slowly and stop us to ask if we want to buy their house.

On one street we had turned on, we noticed a teenage girl sitting all by herself on a berm.

Wait, did I just use the word 'berm'?  Who uses that word?  It feels like it's an old-fashioned word. Do people even know what it is?  No?


This is a good example of a berm:


It's kind of like a raised hill, usually separating one thing from another. An embankment, if you will.

In the case of the girl tonight, the berm she was sitting on faced the secondary road we were driving on, which ran parallel to the main road.

So she was just sitting there, all alone in her hoodie with the hood up, watching traffic on the main road from her spot on the secondary road.

I watched her carefully - because she was me decades ago.

Berm-sitting was my teenage thing.  Sneaking cigarettes may or may not have been involved, purchased easily at B00 Bea's, the luncheon/magazine/newspaper shop down the street.  It wasn't really called B00 Bea's, but the address - 1300 - and the actual name - Bea's - were printed on the awning and the kerning of the lettering was off so that the 1300 was squished together and looked more like...well, this:

(if you look at this long enough, you'll see it)

Renaming Bea's to B00 Bea's may or may not have had something to do with marijuana that my BFANF (Best Friend Apparently Not Forever*) Karen and I may or may not have smoked from our frequent perch at  the elementary school directly across the street from B00 Bea's and our frequent visits to B00 Bea's to quell what may or may not have been the munchies.  For a brief period of time, Karen and I were the late 70s version of Jay and Silent Bob, albeit female, and with bonus rhyming names, Sharon and Karen.  Good times.

So when I wasn't loitering at the elementary school with Karen, I was doing a ton of loner kid stuff.  It should be noted that I was not a lonely kid, but I was most definitely a loner kid.  I was never sad if there was no one to hang out with as I had my own company and I was always my own perfect companion (nothing has changed in the years hence).  The girl with so many interests and an overabundance of imagination.  It meant I was never bored.

And that's what I saw in the berm girl yesterday.  It seemed like she was just sitting in her spot, being her own perfect companion.

When I was a teenager in Union, NJ, we lived around the corner from I-78, the interstate highway that runs from the Holland Tunnel in NYC to Harrisburg, PA.
If you were driving on that road through Union, NJ, and you happened to look toward the berm on the eastbound side of things, chances are you would have seen a young girl sitting there with her dog, watching traffic.  And if you checked back in an hour or two, she probably would still would have been sitting there, dreaming up stories about the places people were traveling to and their reasons for going to where they were going.

I love the noise of travel.

And, oh, how I loved that spot.  People whose heads are in the clouds regularly often have special places of their own where they go that maybe regular people wouldn't think to go to.  You might think we go to these places to escape but that's not really correct.  We go to them to arrive, because they help us to be who we really are. I have probably had dozens of such places in my lifetime thus far and I never stop looking for new ones.  Some of them are quiet and private, and others are not so quiet but still private.

My dad, divorced from my mother, had us on Sundays.  He had a massive case of wanderlust (that I inherited) and so Sunday was Fun Day as we always set off on some adventure.  He was flat broke but that never ever stopped us from wandering.  At the time in the late 1960s/early 1970s, we lived in Elizabeth, NJ, which is right next to Newark, NJ.  Newark Airport was not the international metropolis that it is now but there were planes all day long and for my Air Force plane-loving father, that was all he needed.  The roads behind the airport were unfinished back then and there were bridges over railroad tracks that would end on these roads that turned to dirt on the other side of the bridge.  Some road planner with terrific foresight or insight knew that one day the area would explode but at this particular time there was never any traffic on these roads because they literally led to nowhere.
So my dad would park on top of one of the bridges and we would lie down on the hood of the car and watch planes take off and land right over our heads.  The ground would shake and the noise so loud that I would cover my ears, but oh the thrill of it! We would talk about where people were going and why they might be going there and places far, far away that you only ever read about in storybooks.  It was heady, magical stuff.  At the risk of being cliché, you could say it was the stuff dreams are made of.

Some parents gave their kids fancy trips to resorts and amusement parks; my dad gave me trips to the whole wide world from right there on the hood of his Dodge parked on a bridge to nowhere in Newark, New Jersey.

And just so so many other places.

If you can manage it, you should go and find a special place all your own.
If you can't find a special place, at least remember to look up and search for planes in the sky or pause when you're a traffic light to wonder about the lives of the people in the cars passing in front of you.  Where they might be going...why they're going there...who's waiting for them to arrive...

You'll be amazed at where your imagination can take you...if you remember to let it.

 
*other story, other time
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