Tag Archives: moving house

Metaphor Monday: The Painted Closet


Metaphor Monday is a new thing we’re trying out around here. Every week, I’ll pick a thing and compare it to another thing. Probably writing, since that’s what this blog is about, but who knows? Metaphors are awesome. Alliteration, doubly so. Got a suggestion for next week’s metaphor? Drop it in the comments. And yeah, I’m a day late today — you’ll see why below.

We’re moving (finally!) and as a result, most of my thoughts bend in that direction. The whole affair got delayed and postponed and we ran out of time this summer to deal with it the way we would have liked, and now we’re having to rush through things. Instead of two weeks to sort our lives out before we got back to work, we were left with more like two days, so it’s a frantic rush of movers and building furniture and unloading boxes and the house looks like a war zone if the war were fought between rival manufacturers of styrofoam peanuts.

So we’re hustling to get the kids’ rooms painted (because if we don’t do it now, it’ll never happen), and I catch my wife sort of staring into the closet. Hands on hips. Thoughtful frown on her lips.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“I don’t know if I can handle these closets,” she says.

I look. While most of the rest of the house is immaculate, the closets are not — especially the ones in the kids’ rooms. They were obviously occupied by kids before, and bear the scars of it. Dings and chips in the drywall where toys or sporting equipment were chucked heedlessly in. Aimless, careless scribbles in crayon and marker — not a design or an attempt at artwork, just an outburst of uncertain creative energy.

I shrug. “It’s a closet.”

“I know, but it’s going to bother me.”

Really? I’ve got bunkbeds to build and a rain forest in the backyard to trim down and about a bajillion boxes to haul up the stairs and you want to waste time painting a closet? Why? Who’s going to see it?

Come to think of it, I mean, when’s the last time you saw the back of your own closet, let alone anybody else’s? Leaving the closet in that state is a crime without a victim; literally nobody will ever know. I begin to protest, but I don’t get very far.

“No, I really want to paint over them.”

Happy wife, happy life, they say. So I go down to the basement in search of the primer. We crack it open and go to work with the rollers, and the job is done in less than an hour. We don’t even do a good job, really — the color’s not a perfect match to what’s in there already, and some of the really dark marks show through — but the closets look miles better.

And my wife is smiling a little more.

And so am I.

So, what’s a painted closet have to do with anything? Well, it’s exactly what it is: a lovely little detail that nobody else knows is there. It’s Van Gogh’s signature twisted into the whorls of a sunflower. An authorial flourish added, not for the well-being of the observer, but for the well-being of the author.

An oft-quoted bit of advice for the writer is “kill your darlings.” Generally, it means that those weird little things that you stuck into the work for your own benefit? Because they made you laugh, or amused you, without serving the story as a whole? Those are things which distract from the narrative, that seem to stand for bigger things and thus demand the reader’s attention, and then frustrate the reader when they don’t. They’re a waste of time, in other words. Everybody involved has better things to do. So they deserve, to butcher syntax in a way I feel rolls right off the tongue, to be got rid of. (Diagram that sentence, Ms. Finch!)

But a closet doesn’t take that much time to paint, and there’s the odd house guest who might poke their nose into the nooks and crannies of the place; wouldn’t we rather give them a nice, finished closet to look at rather than a pockmarked and graffitied (graffiti’d?) hidey-hole we hoped would never see the light of day?

By the same token, a story needs a few diversions. A few rabbit holes for readers to dive into, even if there’s nothing hiding at the bottom.

And, after all, a happier wife is worth an hour’s worth of work with a paint roller.

 

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At Sea


I was literally sitting down to type out a few words on the current situation — two days from moving, literally living out of boxes, eating off paper plates and bed in the middle of the living room floor — when we got the call.

After two delays of almost a week apiece, we’re delayed again. Indefinitely, at the moment.

It’s a source of great shame that despite the summer and the great heaping piles of free time, I’ve gotten next to no writing done. This is the reason. My daily ration of fargos is going straight into the ever-deepening stress pit that this move has become. Or at this point, the lack of move. My brain is shot. The wheels have come off. The ship’s run aground.

I keep thinking that if I were a believing man, this would be a sure sign that the almighty were trying to steer us away from this particular course; that there’s something wrong with the course we were on. But then I remind myself that if the almighty were involved, we wouldn’t have found ourselves on this path to begin with. Things don’t always mean things. This is just some really, truly, deeply, unfortunate luck. (And almost certainly some heinous idiocy if not incompetence at several stages.)

Can’t quite share details, because this is all still in the air. But once things are settled, oh sweet fancy Moses, do I have words. At any rate, to my regular readers, I apologize for the lack of material and my general absence. We will restore normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.


5x Reject


So while we sit here in limbo waiting for a call to tell us we can finally go and buy our new house — we’re already a day past the day we were supposed to move, and at the moment, things aren’t looking good for the adjusted date of next Monday, either — I get an e-mail.

Ding!

Mostly the e-mails coming in that don’t get filtered out are from our realtor, and those are worth reading right away. So I scurry over to read it.

But it’s nothing so pressing. Just another rejection letter on my first novel. My fifth letter — not that I’m keeping count. (Officially. If you count non-responses, that number is more like ten.) (And I’m totally keeping count. What else can you do?)

So between delays, and rejections, and fireworks scaring the hell out of my dog, and said dog, two days later and for no apparent reason, destroying our mattress pad — you know, because we have it sitting on the floor waiting to be moved — this week is one that, were it served to me on a dinner plate, I would return to the kitchen and head for the exit.

This is all a sign that things are about to turn around, right? It’s all going to mean something, right? We’re not going to just keep getting pummeled, literally and figuratively, forever, right?


Because Banks


Who said moving house would be easy? In the past 48 hours of our house-buying saga:

  1. Appraisal report comes in (several days late) severely undervalue, causing us to scramble in last-minute negotiations for our new house. We end up buying the house for less money overall yet paying more on our monthly mortgage, because banks.
  2. Negotiations concluded, the updated sale price has to be returned by the same appraisal company that borked us a few days ago. We are still waiting, and if past is prologue, we will wait for a few more days just because.
  3. Something about a fridge. Apparently a box was checked on a form somewhere in somebody’s basement and now the fridge is a major issue. The sellers write out a bill of sale to sell us the fridge for zero dollars. This resolves the issue. Because banks.
  4. Thanks to the holidays and all kinds of people taking extra days off, documents can only be submitted by Monday. And thanks to government knowing better than we possibly could, we have to take three additional days to “think it over” once those documents are in, even though we are ready to sign and have been ready to sign for four weeks. Because banks.
  5. The lender financing the purchase of our current home has a last-minute issue crop up that requires immediate attention and a several-days delay. (Because banks.) Our agent finds this out from the closing attorney because our buyer’s agent for some reason doesn’t think this is useful information for us to have.
  6. The lenders (both ours and our buyers) refuse to commit to dates and what they’ll be able to get done when, leaving the rest of us (those with their entire lives in boxes and moving trucks) in limbo and unable to even reschedule the myriad of services and family help and pet boarding and all of the rest of it.

TL;DR: We’re not moving for about another week. We’re pissed. Our agent is pissed. The people we’re buying our house from are pissed. Their agent is pissed. And we are still living out of boxes.

Because banks.

Oh, and that novel I wanted to work on? Those lesson plans I planned to plan? LOL I have no more fargoes to give for a scrap of that.

This is life on hold.

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I searched Pixabay for pictures of boxes and this is what I found. Apparently the internet is just as over it as I am.


Stupid House-Selling Stories: STAIRS


We have tons of strangers passing through our house lately. This leads to a strange sense of discomfort and ickiness in general. You come home to find a cabinet left open, or a light left on, or the cat flap locked. And you know that you dealt with those things before you left the house. (Seriously? Who locks the cat flap in a stranger’s house? Who even touches the cat flap? Who has any interaction with a cat flap beyond “oh, look, a cat flap”? But no, somebody bent down, poked at it, and locked it — on both sides, mind you??) Humans have a lot of built-in reality-denying responses (just talk to a Trump supporter), but that stuff is pretty hard to ignore — it reminds you that strangers have been in your home. Poking through your closets. Judging your choices in interior painting. Complaining about your floor plan.

Or, in our most recent encounter, whining about the stairs.

Realtors trade feedback all the time; it’s to their benefit to know what potential buyers think about a house so they can address that concern for future viewers, and it’s therefore also to their benefit to engage in a symbiosis to other realtors. You help me sell this one, I’ll help you sell that one. Makes natural enough sense — you become a positively contributing part of the ecosystem or you get left alone to fend for yourself.

And then we have the following exchange, via text message, which, in a fit of flabbergasteredness, our realtor relayed to my wife:

Our realtor: How did the showing go?

Other realtor: too many stairs

Our realtor: (after thirty minutes of uncomfortably waiting for any follow-ups) Okay, great! Thanks!

That’s it. No exchange of pleasantries. No constructive commentary or disclaimers. Not even a godforsaken capital letter or period.

Too many stairs.

Too many stairs.

My head is a pinball machine of dumbfounded responses. I can’t focus on one thought about this exchange before some other part of my brain lights up with an entirely new concern.

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Actual image of our staircase, as evidently envisioned by the most recent visitor to our home.

Too many stairs.

Our house is occupied. Which means you can’t just “drop in” with your realtor on a fly-by. Which means you need an appointment. You know, so that we can wrangle our two kids and our dumb dog and shoo at least some of the cats outside and spritz some air freshener about so that the house looks livable when you get to it. Which, further, means you had to look over the house on the internet, think to yourself, “yeah, that’s worth our time,” and confirm with your agent, who then confirmed with our agent, who then confirmed with us. All of which means, you had a general idea what you were getting before you set foot in the door. Okay? You didn’t know the state of the bathroom fixtures, for example, but you damn sure knew the house had a second floor, which — unless you’re living in caca-cuckoo land, means it bloody well has stairs.

Too many stairs.

You would have, perhaps, preferred less? I don’t know a whole lot about building codes or suburban planning, but I’m pretty sure stairs in houses are pretty universal when it comes to their rise over run. But, what? instead of the fourteen or so stairs up to the 2nd floor, you’d have preferred four HUGE blocks that you have to climb up like a toddler? Or perhaps, instead, an intricate series of ramps you could hike up in the evening at bedtime and slalom down to catch your morning coffee?

Too many stairs.

That’s literally all she said. I didn’t edit out the rest of the conversation. That was the beginning and the end of the interaction. Nothing about the weird floor plan. Nothing about the ivy-infested backyard. Nothing about the tacky paint jobs in our rooms obviously painted for young children which wouldn’t suit your needs even though you could easily re-paint. Literally not a word, positive or negative, about anything else in or around the house? Evidently they made it through the yard, opened the front door, walked into the foyer, ran smack into the staircase, said “NOPE” and walked right back out.

I mean, I guess if stairs are a sticking point, then once you see the stairs, all bets are off. But that brings me back around (like a tail-chasing dog) to the first thought: why are you looking at this house in the first place? If stairs are the deal-breaker, how did you make it past the listing? Then the pictures (which clearly show the staircase — FROM A MULTITUDE OF ANGLES)? Then the appointment? How did you not pull up to the curb, see that WELL IT’S TWO STORIES SO THERE MUST BE STAIRS, NEVER MIND, and drive back into your somehow stair-free existence?

Too many stairs.

Maybe I’m mischaracterizing the whole thing. Ours isn’t a simple straight-up staircase, it’s got a landing and doubles back on itself, which could conceivably present people with certain disabilities with legitimate problems. I’m sensitive to that. But there I go again — how did they make it to walking in the front door before they figured it out?

Or maybe there’s more to it. Maybe the client loved the house, loved the neighborhood, but just wasn’t wild about the stairs. A weird sticking point, but okay. In that case, the agent made the call to mention only the stairs. Well, that’s a big ol’ cup full of wtf. How about that symbiotic relationship I mentioned up above? A little goodwill, a little quid pro quo, a little bit of genuine help. Tell us, tell our realtor, something that we can use. Something actionable. Something that adds to the conversation. “We liked all the nice, open rooms, but we’re not so sure about the tile in the bathroom.” “We love the kitchen, but the pile of human skulls in the crawl space gave us pause.” You know, we can do something about the house in that case, or we can at least know what to warn people about. I can grind up the skulls. Not a big deal.

Too many stairs.

Seriously?


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