Friday, August 29, 2014

Undoing Me

This weekend, our focus will be to get the house ready to be put on the market for sale. Last year we had a realtor come in and we almost did the same thing, because we thought we were buying a new house locally (side note here: the owners were crazy, and we went back and forth and ended up walking away. They would write long bizarre letters in rebuttal to our offers, etc. Apparently, they sold the house a few months ago for LESS than what we offered. *rollingeyes* Clearly, we were meant to get out of this state, though!) The main thing that stuck with me from the realtor about putting our house on the market was to make it not "us" anymore.

How do you make your home not you? Isn't that a weird thing to think about? How do you undo... you?

I thought I knew what that meant a year ago, but I realize I didn't fully grasp it at the time. Now, after seeing 35 homes in three days in Raleigh, I have a whole different appreciation for what the realtor was trying to tell me. Out of those homes, when I walked into a house that had stuff crammed into corners and pictures of their kids and pets everywhere (no matter how tasteful) I was totally turned off by the house. The less the house looked like it belonged to someone specific, the more neutral, the more the house appealed.

I figured out that when we walk into a house like that, of someone we don't know, the last thing we want to be thinking about is their life. We don't want to buy their life, we want to keep working on our own. I think there are times when this is not true, when we have friends who we know have amazing lives (or celebrities?) and we walk into their homes (or see them in a magazine) and we think "wouldn't that be lovely?" Yet, in the end I think we all know we'd make changes, we would want to make it more US.

When I had gone off to the airport, I had thought I had already done a pretty good job of de-Kyra-familying the house. When I got home, I realized I had barely scratched the surface. I have to take down so much more than I had even anticipated. All the curtains have to come down (except for bedrooms), most paintings, all pictures, any knickknacks (I'm not a big knickknack person, but I have some) have to be stored. Anything with personality? It's gotta go. Half the furniture. Even if it'll look like too much was taken out, it'll look better.

Which kind of stinks. I have to bring my house to the level of "nice hotel" or thereabouts.

I think part of this is about letting go of my entire life here, it's not just about packing things away. There is a weirdness about needing to hide your life so someone else can step into your space and hopefully want to stay.

I've lived here since 2000. We built it. My son was born the same year we moved in, and my daughter remembers nothing but this place. It's just a house and these are just things, but it feels strange to be packing them all away. I know the first steps were done a long time ago, but it's almost as if I can hear them echoing in the hallways sometimes.

My children used to laugh in their sleep when they were young. I don't mean a light giggle, I mean a full, loud, HUGE wonderful bout of laughter that went on for five minutes or more while they were sleeping. Sometimes, I'll stand in the hallway while they're sleeping now and remember how I used to stand there and hear them laugh. I feel like that laughter has saturated the walls over the years, and I wonder if that's something anyone else might notice when they view the house.

Of course, that's just being silly. Those memories won't be packed away and no one will see them, but all the physical things will be gone.

My house isn't overly done, but it still smacks of my family. There is more to do than I thought there would be. Even the little things turn out to matter. In some ways this is actually comforting, that there is so much to do. That means that the new place can be turned into "us" a lot easier than I may have thought.

At least, that's what I'll tell myself while I'm packing everything away over the next few days!
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Not What I Expected

My trip was not what I expected it to be. For those who don't know, I currently live in Vermont and I'm moving to North Carolina. We flew down to find a house to put under contract so we'd have a new place to live. That was the plan. Another part of the plan involved said house being in the forest with a couple acres of privacy (hermit, that's me.) ALL of this got tossed into the fire.


Our flight out wasn't bad, but we did have to get up at 3AM to catch it. By the time we got to our hotel and had lunch it was 1pm. That meant I had been up for 10 hours at that point, with travel stress and exhaustion, really needing a shower and to just sit down, which totally justified this:

It had some sort of strawberry & pina colada concoction inside. And rum. Rum was important. 

Anyway, our goal was to find a house. I have to say that I wasn't thrilled with NC when I got there. I don't know what I was expecting, and maybe I was just being resistant. Change is hard for me even when I want it. But the thing is that Vermont isn't the place for us anymore (we need better schools for the kids, a better economy, etc) so maybe there isn't really any place for us and I just need to get over it.

One thing that really tripped us up was that NC has a Due Diligence Fee. Which stinks. I won't get into what it is (you can look it up if you're curious) but the end result is that it totally blocks us really putting a contract on a house with a contingency to sell our house - something that is totally normal everywhere else. Well, unless we pay thousands of dollars (and I'm not exaggerating, we looked into it and given the area and whatnot, that's what we can expect.) This meant that no matter how much we liked a house we saw, we couldn't put it under contact. Instead, we have to sell ours and hope that one we like is still there or start all over and find a new one before we are living in a hotel.

Another change to my expectations was finding out that all these houses I really liked with my whole forest and privacy vision were completely ruled out because 1) the listing agent (not ours) or listing service lied about the assigned schools, or 2) they were really rundown and overpriced, and 3) too far away for my husband to drive.

What this means for us is neighborhoods. My hermity-self died a little inside upon learning that.

I know. One of my goals with this move is to actually be where there are nice people and... *gasp!*... MEET PEOPLE! Make friends! But I guess I had imagined that as going out and doing so, then scurrying back to my cave and being safe there. Probably diving head first into my bed where I can promptly build a pillow fort and pull the covers over it, so I can go over what happened while surrounded by my solitude.

Hard to believe I used to love to go out and meet people, isn't it? I don't know when people or the world got so intimidating for me. People are scary, especially up here. Not all of them, but enough.

But you know what? Every store we went into or restaurant we were at in NC, people actually made eye contact and smiled and said hello. That might not sound like much, but it's a HUGE difference from here. That was made even more clear when we flew back home and the flight attendant collecting the snacks/trash made it a point to rip into anyone who wanted to keep their stuff. She screeched "I will NOT let you keep that! You Can't keep that for landing!" The poor person had simply said "Oh, I'm not finished yet..." Now, I understand it needed to be collected. Yet, couldn't she have nicely said "Oh, I'm sorry, but we have to collect everything for landing." And not yelled it at her as if she was asking to light a bomb? It's the little things, but it makes a huge difference. (For the record, the flight crew was from Boston.)

Ok, back to the houses. Oh, and bugs! We found this guy trapped in one of the screened porches. I figured it was a cicada, but we weren't sure. My husband leaned down to look and it made that LOUD sound, and he jumped three feet in the air! I do so wish I had been recording when that happened. Anyway, I made a quick little video of the little guy so you can hear how loud he is (and how big he is... geeze!)

Kinda cute, in an ugly bug way, right?

Part of the trip was also to help my dad find a place for he and my mom to rent. They had a different agent, and my husband and I thought we were going to die. I snapped this picture from the back seat:

She was on the phone, texting, checking emails, writing stuff down on paper, and more while driving. It was bad. We tried to focus her a bit, but she was just completely scattered. She gave off a weird vibe to me in general too, tried to poach us a few times, etc. I was NOT happy. Our own realtor I was unsure about until we met her. We LOVE her, and we got my parents set up with her to help find a place instead.

On the last day we didn't have to look at houses, so we went to breakfast at Big Ed's. Our realtor recommended it, and it was good. I had grits. I'm not sure what I think about them. They were plain with a little bit of gravy in the center? I like cream of wheat, and I know grits are corn-based, so I think they could be something I could like if I just figured out how to have them... but I assume they're not all that good for me anyway. I almost never have anything corn-based, unless it's on the cob as my starch for the meal.

When we got done and walked outside, this tour went by:

Maybe it's a time thing, you see more? I think I'd rather walk.

And then with our bellies full, we walked past this and my husband was DEVASTATED:

There was simply no room for RibFest (which I'm OK with because I'm not a huge ribs fan. But he is!)

The flight home was long, and I was glad when I finally walked into the door and fell into my own bed. Although it did feel a little weird, as if I'm letting go a bit of this house already.

We found houses we liked, and one in particular that if we could have we would have put an offer on. Yet, as I said, we're handcuffed by this stupid Due Diligence Fee. My poor dad found places he wanted to rent, but they were being rented faster than we could get in on them. In the end, we left without a house and so did he. They're moving this weekend anyway, into a hotel down there so that they can see rentals that come up and try to jump on them. They decided it was best for them (and I support that, because it means I can get my house on the market next week! Who knows, maybe it'll sell fast and all this will be a blur as we suddenly move! *crossing fingers*)

Here's the part where I fully admit that my food consumption was deplorable. I think I'll probably be full until Christmas. I learned that going out to eat with two stress-eating MEN does not bode well for a stress-eating me. But I did get to finally eat at the Cheesecake Factory (I lived in Chicago for over two years and never made it, but I finally did 20 years later in NC, sad right?)

They did actually have cheesecakes there. 

I'm 100% back on track. Maybe 200%, because school is starting and my parents are moving out this weekend. A return to a sorta-schedule and some sort of normalcy is just around the corner! Less chaos! I'll have my house on the market, but I'll have my parents out and my kids off to school along with knowing we're moving. Clarity in the face of stress is a huge improvement, even if my whole vision has been trashed.

I also don't want to move having gained weight. I'd much rather move having lost it. Given that I have no idea how long this will take to get us moved, I'm using it as one of my projects to keep things in line and on schedule. Something to obsess about that will be good for me. There's something about unhealthy eating that feels chaotic to me. I need less chaos on all fronts.

So, that's where things stand and how the trip went!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back At... Home?

...and I'm back!

First things first; YAY for everyone who did the 5k!!!

Quick drawing for the pedometer from the finishers who commented both here and/or on the race group on facebook: Katie Erickson Granahan! (So just get in touch with me and I'll mail this little guy right off to you!)

Everyone did great! I wish I had done it too! Although I probably did walk that much on Sunday while tooling around Raleigh, I didn't keep track and since I didn't set out to actually DO a 5k, I'm not counting it. I ran today though. I cannot express to you how much more normal I feel having finally exercised after more than a week of not. I know, I know... I could have brought stuff and used the gym at the hotel. But, I think I have to be honest here and say that I am really self conscious.

No, not about my weight. Well, not only about my weight. The thing is that even if I was super thin and ripped I'd still want to hide away while I'm sweating, coughing, drooling (hey, it happens. You KNOW it does!) and tripping over things. I'm like a one-woman horror show, one that should be kept under wraps. Maybe this all goes back to when I was 15 and I fell off the treadmill and Spandex-Barbie and Steroid-Ken spent the next five minutes literally pointing and laughing uproariously at me and trying to bring other people in on the joke of my humiliation while I limped bleeding from the room in tears. (Me, still bitter? Why would you think that?)

Anyway, I just cannot do the hotel gym. My dad is trying to convince me to sign up with a local gym with him when we move so I'll go with him. We'll see. I do really well working out on my own, in my house when I don't have to make time to drive anywhere. But again... we'll see.

Yeah, I'm a hermit. A PROUD hermit. Hermits unite! Well, on your own time, in your own place, but in spirit with lots of personal space! Yes! Unite!

My trip did not go as expected, but I'll get into that tomorrow...

But I'll leave you with this; outside the hotel there were these pretty flowers:

Every morning, they would bloom with this big flower, and by the evening the bloom had wilted and fallen off. EVERY DAY! We think (according to facebook friends) that it's a Mexican Petunia. Isn't that cool?
Friday, August 22, 2014

August Chase The Stars 5k!!!

Welcome to our sixth 5k in the 2014 virtual 5k series!  If you have done all 6, after this one you will have run/walked over 30 miles! That's more than a marathon, folks! YAY everyone!

Still want to join in today? You can! Just sign up on the original post or by joining the Facebook group and letting me know by leaving a comment here or there, go do your 5k (run, walk, crawl...) and then post your results here (or there!)

The rules are simple:

  • You can run, walk, crawl, or any combination of those three, but those are your only options. 
  • You can do the 5k anytime in the 48 hours (but it needs to be in one go, not added up over the weekend or day.)
  • It MUST be done on either the Saturday or the Sunday, races done on Friday or Monday do not count for the 5k. 
  • You need to keep track of how long it took you, not because you are in competition with anyone, but because you WILL BE in later races with yourself. 
  • After you have completed your 5k and posted the results here (along with a link to any blog post you may have posted, but that's not necessary if you don't have one or don't want to) you are more than welcome to the "medal" that's below. You can display it on your website, or simply print it out to tack up on your wall, whatever you like!

...and that's it! If you'd like a race bib for the 5k, it's on the bib post (the one before this one) or in the Facebook group for you to download or print out.

What's the prize? A little, brand new pedometer! It's nothing super-francy, but it counts the steps and it's just one of those fun fitness gadgets that everyone should have so they can avoid wearing, I mean challenge themselves! I'll do the drawing a little late this week, because I'm actually traveling and looking for a new house right now! I'll be unable to run the 5k because of this (I can't fit my gear in, and the hotel doesn't have the facilities - and I'm too big a chicken to go out by myself. I've lived here 15 years and I still get lost!) But I'm with you all in spirit, and I plan on running it too late to count when I get back anyway. 

Oh, and of course the medals for your site or wall (Hey, I realize I need to update my own sidebar! Sheesh! I'm falling behind in my glory wall!)

Large medal

medium medal

Small medal

Have fun out there and tell me how you did!!!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 5k Bib

Hey, it's that time again! For those that want it, here is your race bib! It's also available for download in the Facebook Group! As always, those people who would like to join, the more the merrier! Just leave me a comment either in the FB group or my original post for the race, and I'll sign ya up!

If you click on the picture here, you should get a giant version you can save and print.

This month, as a prize I have decided to give away a little pedometer. It's not much, but it's brand-spankin' new in its box, and it'll be yours if you win!

To enter, you MUST complete the 5k in one go (adding up your steps throughout the day does not count) on either Saturday or Sunday. I don't care if you run, or walk, or some combination of the two. It doesn't count if you get it in on Friday or Monday, it has to be on those two days. Then, you simply comment on the official race post (the one that will follow this one) or on the FB group post (some people are having problems commenting on my blog, I'm not sure why) with your time and how it went, and I'll draw a winner from those comments!

So, you ready?!?!
Monday, August 18, 2014

Laying Plans

You know, in my head I've been posting more... but it turns out I haven't posted for a week. A WEEK! I don't know why I thought I had. Oops. I was working on a deadline for a magazine, though. I did manage to get my last piece finished and I rather like it:

"Lotus" 9x12 acrylic

I think it turned out a lot more "zen" than I am.

Well, things are quite wild here in casa del looney-bin. We've been gathering up papers and virtually home shopping, and booking flights, and... *yawn* I need a nap.

Things have shifted a bit. It turns out I won't be charging out of here full-blast and on my merry way to Raleigh just yet. These relocation processes are tricky, but in short, the whole temporary housing thing isn't going to quite swing the way it needs to. So, I'll be hanging out here until the house sells. Not sure how all of that is going to work, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now, it means we need to get our house on the market and find a new place to live in NC once it sells. And I have GOT to get my parents out of my house. I love them. Dearly. But there are little things. Little things like them filching my water glass for their own repeatedly. It's so frequent, I'm starting to wonder if it's on purpose. We all get a good laugh out of it, but I'm becoming neurotic about my glass. It doesn't matter how obnoxious the container (I even have one that's a neon orange jack-o-lantern!) they somehow end up with it. There's also the towel crisis of 2014. I also managed to give myself a black eye on a kitchen chair that had been left in the wrong place. I was all by myself, so while I didn't move the chair to that location, it's still 100% my own fault. I'm apparently the type of person who cannot handle her environment getting moved around without serious injury because I just count on those pesky pieces of furniture to stay where they're supposed to!

It's times like these that I wonder if I'm really on a reality show and just don't know it.

Anyway, house finding is under way! My goal? A home with a big enough art studio space so I can stop painting at the kitchen table, and not so close that I can moon my neighbor (either by accident or design.)

I don't know if I can give up seclusion and go for a house in an actual neighborhood (with a neighborhood pool, because they all have pools! And maybe a fitness center, and then I could go play in that every morning!) Part of me wants to. Part of me is desperately hoping that out of all these people who live down there, that there will be someone who will want to be my friend.  There's gotta be someone, right? I know, it's like I'm five years old.

The other part of me just wants to find another cave to hide in away from the world. It's easier not to get hurt that way. Of course, then there's no pool or fitness toys. Hrmmm.

We have a list. We have a realtor. So, I guess we'll see what happens? I'm rather nervous to finally see this place I agreed to move to. I've never actually been there before.

My dad is flying down to NC soon to find a rental for them, and so I think by Labor Day weekend I'll have the house back down to just my family. Shortly after that, on the market. We hope. All these things that we had been meaning to fix, we're finally fixing just in time for us to leave!

I've also been a bit melancholy all day today because it's autumn-like weather here (I was wearing a sweater this morning!) and I even found some yummy scented candles. I went hunting at Bath & Body Works, but they didn't have our favorite Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle. I was at walmart later, and found that Glade actually has a Pumpkin Waffle one that smells pretty good! For only $5, I figured it was worth a shot (it was only later I found the right scent on B&B's website. I thought it had been discontinued.)

All these lovely autumn scents and the chilly weather are making me a bit wistful about the upcoming move. I won't get snow, or at least not much. I don't think I'll have any days where I'm snuggled into my fluffy soft clothing, cuddled up with a book in front of the fire while the snow falls heavy outside. It might happen as a rare occurrence down there, but here it's something I get to do every year. I'll miss it.

At least I'll still have my pumpkin scented stuff. That's something! But I'll miss my snow.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Anger (mis)Management

It's funny, the jubilation hasn't set in yet for the move. Instead, there has been the absence of being ticked off. I cannot explain how weird it is, how long I have been angry. It's kind of eye-opening actually. It started in February, when we were told to decide on a job and a location within 48 hours.

I mean, that's sort of fast, don't you think? That was a little bit frustrating, but I could go with it. It was one of those "do we jump and make the big leap? Ok... let's do it!" moments, and we were so excited!

...and then nothing.

It all stalled, or get messed up, or complicated, or... Basically, I wanted to haul off and punch someone. There were actual stupid - almost on purpose - errors, unexpected and completely frustrating. There were things to be mad at, and many other people were mad too on our behalf. It just kept going, and it continued on until this last week.

From February until now, I was... well, I was pissed off. It's hard to be excited, to decide to take the leap and make all these big things happen, and then repeatedly get smacked in the face by the situation and have no answer. Limbo stinks. Added to that were all those things, all those errors and mistakes and fights by other people, and I was just out-and-out furious.

Yeah, I'm sure someone is going to pop in and tell me I should have gotten my zen on and meditated and let the anger go and be free with daisy chains and frolic with Bambi or something. Some people are able to do that, and that's awesome. But the truth is that nothing worked, or was going to. I'm really good at being mad. I mean, I'm really good at it. I always have been since I was a kid. I am a fixer, and when I cannot work towards a solution and I'm forced to just sit with it, well all that is left is anger. It's sort of a last resort, but it's there.

Now, suddenly there was no more limbo. Yet, instead of feeling excited I felt... numb? Or, well, not exactly numb. Quiet, I guess. Quiet seems closest to the truth. All that internal angst and fury was finally silenced. No more grumbling about this or that, we finally had the answer. No panic just yet about the actual move, because nothing is happening just yet (although that will come, and quickly) and just a little bit of anxiety and fear, but all of that is so much quieter compared to how angry I have been about being jerked around since February.

Seriously, it's like I can feel part of my original self in here somewhere for the first time in a long time that's been buried beneath all the haze and static of just wanting to slug someone. I am not normally an angry person, I release it fast because I know I'm so good at being mad. That's why I'm a fixer, because as long as I'm doing something - anything - to fix it, I'm ok. However, put me in a box with no doors or windows and I turn into a brooding champion.

Plus, you cannot under any circumstances take this out on your children. You have to compartmentalize and keep it to yourself. If you have to shove it down and pretend with everything in your being that you're freakin' Mary Poppins, then you do. You do NOT have the right to rail and scream and cuss like you want to, no matter how mad you are, because your family doesn't deserve it. As a mom, you also have to make sure the other furious people (my husband, my parents) ALSO keep their ranting and raving to themselves, because again - your children do not deserve to be exposed to this sort of thing. Enough is out of their control just being children, they do not deserve to endure your issues too.

So, I was furious. I could do nothing, and I had to internalize as much of it as possible, and run around putting out the fires of everyone else's temper as well. I was the girl in the box... swearing colorfully and creatively, and imagining slugging the people who needed slugging. Which is not to say I was some sort of angel or martyr, because I wasn't (not possible, heh.) But I did my best, mistakes and all, and I stayed aware. Angry, but aware. This situation made me so mad and nothing I did put it to rest. No amount of running, no amount of talking to friends, no amount of chocolate (hey, I'm being honest here.) I went to bed gritting my teeth and angry, and I woke up in much the same condition (often with a headache.)

And now there is silence. Wow. Hey me, I missed me! I'm not all bubbly and perky and woohoo! Not yet. But I'm not angry, and that is such a vast improvement! It leaves room for... well, lots of stuff! It's like being released from a cage, and you are stumbling around a bit. Where'd the bars go?

My appetite is probably the best example because it's just weird. Sometimes, rarely now though, I feel like eating everything (I don't) and then other times I completely forget to eat until I'm about to pass out and I recall that I haven't eaten anything. I mean, since when does someone like me forget to eat if I'm not in the middle of a painting-binge? Or sick. But I'm not! I'm just sort of stumbling about and remembering what it is like to have me-thoughts instead of super-angry-me-thoughts.

That anger took up a lot of space.

Food just isn't all that appealing to me suddenly. I still have just as much to do. Well, more really (I was making calls to doctors and dentists, and you would think they'd appreciate me canceling far off appointments instead of not showing up, but instead I got many nasty "Why are you canceling? Can't you just come back for the appointments?" Yeah... are you NUTS?!) So you would think with the demands cranking up that my appetite would match it. Usually, it would. But now, without the hum of anger in the background, it's like my appetite doesn't know what to do with itself!


I mean, yay(!) and all, but... weird.

I could be all condescending and end this post about how people should manage their anger and get in touch with their inner peace and weave rainbows out of moonbeams instead of sowing anger... but this is me.  This is who I am. Put me in a situation completely out of my control and I promise you; I'll be angry. Make me scared on top of it, and it gets ugly fast. I have no words of advice for anyone going through something similar (except don't actually slug anyone. The law tends to frown on that. No matter how much fun it might sound like.) Instead, all I can say is thank goodness it's over! I'm enjoying the silence!

I'm totally terrified - somewhere deep down - of what's coming, because it's all new. A big giant cliff of unknown stuff. I mean, who wouldn't be at least a little scared? But that feeling of starting a completely new chapter in life, no matter how scary, is so much better than being stuck and angry that all I can feel is... BETTER. And that, my friends, is a really wonderful thing. It almost makes a girl want to go weave rainbows.