Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stayin' Alive

Hippie dance church is tonight. Time to sweat out the frustrations of the week, and clear the mind.

What is the ultimate goal of all of this waffling about? I really don’t know.  I have a great job. Live in a great city. The potential for fulfillment is out there, I just need to be motivated to call people and make commitments. Volunteer somewhere.

I’m still feeling the insecurities of the dark days after my wife died. I have great new friends that would love to hang out and have good conversation, I just need to pick up the phone. I realize I am full of contradictions. I am a very social loner. I’m also a lousy planner. A three day weekend is coming up and I haven’t planned anything to do.

I used the word commitment. Is that what I am afraid of? The fear of losing the best part of my life again? Or is it something else? Something that has been buried in me deeper my whole life? Fear of not succeeding? How can that be? I’ve been successful in many things. But I still feel unfulfilled.

Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah. 
Stayin' alive............

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aint no sunshine when she's gone

Went to look at the house yesterday with my realtor and the selling agent had removed the keylock for the home. That’s right. We couldn’t get into the house. And the selling agent was not answering her cell. We still spent a good hour checking over the property looking at siding, the outbuildings, and checking window sill rot. Lots of window sill rot. Like every window. Like pushing a finger through the wood, wondering how the glass plane has not fallen out kind or rot. A closer look at the outbuildings show a haphazard building style, predominantly comprised of 2 foot lengths of 2x4 bolted together to form 12+ foot support beams. DIY wiring projects everywhere. The previous owner was very handy with modifications that probably worked great 30 years ago, not so great today.
The universe is telling me something. I better listen. I’ve canceled the buying process on this house.
I need to look into why I want to move from my current situation so badly. Some of the benefits of staying where I am include:
1.       No yard work
2.       Within walking distance to one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
3.       Biking distance to a few other neighborhoods, including downtown.
4.       Relatively low rent compared to home ownership taxes and full utilities.
5.       Very nice remodeling of a basement living space of 600 sq ft.
Some of the disadvantages of staying when I am include:
1.       Crazy landlord
2.       Crazy landlord
3.       Lack of storage
4.       Difficult to entertain quietly (especially overnight guests)
5.       Basement living is not the best for sunlight and positive thinking.
6.       Lack of dishwasher and oven (have a stove top only, and a fancy kitchen faucet won’t easily allow a portable dishwasher hookup)

Really? Does it really only come down to I can’t have my stereo up loud and a dishwasher? If I want sunlight, get outside! Sure, I’m spending about $250 more a month in rent than I would if I had to pay property tax and full utilities, so most of my “rent” money goes to bills I would still need to pay if I owned my house outright, without a mortgage.
Sure, a sense of self-worth and accomplishment can be tied into home ownership. But maybe I just need to find that (here we go again) Passion and Purpose elsewhere in life?
I’m sure there are many more pros and cons I could list, but those were just the surface issues that came up quickly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You say either and I say either, Let's call the whole thing off

I finally got some disclosure statements on the house I am looking to buy. Seems there is a very good reason I am accepted offer number 9. There is a substantial oil tank leak that will need to be addressed. The unknown at this point, is the water table is fairly high in that area of town, and the tank could be leaking into the underground water. Not a good situation, and very expensive to fix. Add to that the cost of a new (non oil) furnace….  I’m still going to take a closer look at it today, but unless my General Contractor brother can see some better positives in the other items that need updating, I am leaning heavily towards walking away from the house. If I need to sink another 40k-50k into the house, I might as well look at houses in that price range.
The idea of owning a RV is looking better all the time. My brother-in-law used to sell RV’s at one of the biggest dealers in the state, and he still has friends in the business. We talked briefly about the subject, and he would definitely be the go-to guy if I narrow down the search to specific RV styles.
I’ve been thinking about what price range I should look at for an RV. Trying to be honest, I think 2 years of RV living would be a great goal. So if I take my current rental amount for 24 months, that would be a decent starting price point. At the end of two years, I would have no idea what the resale value of the RV would be. To be on the safe side, let’s assume it will be only worth 50% of what was paid for it.
So check my math on this:
If rent is $700 a month, or $33600 for 4 years, and one should be able to sell the RV for 50% of the purchase price in two years, an RV purchase price of $33600 should be the equal amount of money spent on rent for two years. Let’s not factor in gas prices for now.
On a more serious note… is the correct grammar “buying a RV” or “buying an RV” ??  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Upside Down You Turn Me

And the rollercoaster continues. I got a call yesterday late afternoon from my realtor. Apparently the investor that is trying to buy the house I have a backup offer on can’t get his finances together. The seller’s agent contacted my realtor to see if my backup offer still stands.
So what does this mean? The investor has until 5:00 tonight to close up the deal and if he fails, I have first crack purchasing it. I’m trying not to get too excited over it, but I really think it would be a wonderful house. I still need to get some serious professional inspections done on it, including getting a family member who is a General Contractor to take a walk-thru and pick his brain for rough estimates of what needs to be done.
My Brother-In-Law and his partner are coming to town on Saturday. I already had dinner plans with an ex-girlfriend, so we will be double dating for the night. The ex-girlfriend has become a great friend over the years (we dated almost 15 years ago). And no, before your eyebrows raise in question, we both realize we are better off as only good friends.
Ok, I’ve only had like 4 hours of sleep last night, my brain was on overdrive all night over the possibility of the house. I’ll enjoy the Sunday hippy dance and then Band Practice Sunday afternoon! I holler and scream into a microphone every once in a while with a great group of guys. It’s a great excuse to get together in a garage and drink tequila.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't just sit there, Jump Around!

I went to an ecstatic dance class last night. My normal place I go is on Sunday mornings. This was a completely different location and mostly new faces. It’s rather amazing that my brain goes into overdrive while I’m dancing and I am able to work out issues without realizing it.
So I feel much calmer today, pushing the thoughts of tomorrow away and dealing just with today.
Remember, Be Here Now.
My life is good. There is no need to rush through it. Tonight I am hanging out with good friends. What more do I need today?
I need to Jump into Today, and let tomorrow happen later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pick up the Pieces

A comment on a previous post got me thinking of what I’ve shared so far on this blog. It may sound as if I’ve been wallowing in self-pity and despair, but there have also been some profound expansion in my psyche.  I admit it has not been an easy road since my wife’s death, and the old cliché of two steps forwards, one step back, easily sums up my life these last few years.
The most amazing realization to me, is how my grief is allowing me to work on parts of myself that have always needed attention, even before I was married.  I’ve talked with many older people that had lost Significant Others at a young age, and one of the common experiences I hear is that these people feel they have become better humans beings through the grief process. It’s not that they were glad their S.O. had died, but rather they learned to look deeper into themselves and others. Not so surprisingly, most of these folks have a deep spiritual calmness. These people are my new role models.
I do intend to hold open my heart for growth. I am actively stretching my social uneasiness. Gently allowing myself to open my feelings to new relationships. Opening my awareness of other possible paths.
 I also see many young people that are grieving in such a way that it has consumed them. They are bitter, dejected and waiting for time to pass. They keep themselves so closed off  from all emotion except the feeling of loss and emptiness. These people are also my new role models. I need them to show me the path I do not want.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

So the house I had the backup offer on? The seller signed the papers with the first offer. I’m just too slow compared to those full-time investors.
Maybe I really should just buy a small RV without the comfort of a “Home Base.” But I still fret about what to do if I want to settle down after a year or two. Having a house to come back to would be a huge sense of safety. Plus, I have some artwork, and furniture I would like to keep. Not to mention boxes of pictures and papers of my married life. Where would I put those items? I just can’t see spending money on a storage unit.
In other news, I’m finding it difficult to actually post something every weekday on this blog. My life is rather boring, really. And you, gentle reader, do you really want to hear my inner thought processes? How much to tell, how much to hold back?
Maybe I need a stiff drink and some karaoke.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life can move forward

Hiking both Saturday and Sunday was great. A little sore this Monday morning, but gorging myself on huckleberries on the side of a mountain was well worth it. Even dipped my feet into a beautiful alpine lake for a few minutes. Bliss.
Previously I mentioned looking for a house that I could plunk all of my retirement savings into and possibly not have a mortgage. With the current interest rates, I am rethinking that plan. I can’t stand the thought of paying the bank all that extra money for the interest, but if I am able to have roommates help pay for it for a few years, maybe it would be better not to spend the retirement funds. Again, playing it safe…the recurring theme in my life.
There has been no word yet on the house that I put the back-up offer on last week. The more I think about this home, the more I can see myself in it. There will always be other houses with just as good or better layouts, but this is the first one I have really been jazzed about. I’m 95% sure the first offer will close with no problems, and I will continue my search. I will know for sure this Friday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hiking with the Boogie Fever

A full weekend planned. Hiking with a new partner tomorrow (Saturday), someone I’ve known for a few years, but have never hiked with. He is a bit of an outdoorsman, so it will be interesting to see if I can keep up. Another hike is tentatively scheduled for Sunday with my regular hiking partner.
I will be skipping my standard Sunday morning routine of Ecstatic Dance yet again this month. Yeah, ecstatic dance. I’ll wait here while you google it…. Now don’t laugh. It’s a wonderful way to get the body moving. Nice and sweaty workout with good music and beautiful people. Every walk of life is there, from young families with children, to long-retired elder adults just trying to keep the bones moving. Sure, there are a few dirty-foot hippies, and some hot soccer moms in yoga pants, but most are regular folks just dancing around, trying to feel the groove and maybe burn a few calories while interacting with the community. You should look it up, and see if there is an ecstatic dance community in your town.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just another manic Wednesday

The Young Widows and Widowers dinner was last night, with 4 new members showing up.  While everyone goes through this process differently, I am amazed when I encounter an individual that has not talked to a trained professional counselor/facilitator/shrink at any point in the grieving process during the first 2-3 years. This dinner group is more for social interaction rather than deep core issues. We laugh and make inappropriate jokes that ‘normal’ people would be horrified to hear. We give ourselves a break from the extremely tiring task of being other people’s catalyst for their grief. We give comfort in the fact we are not going through this process alone. We do not and can not provide psychoanalysis or recommend treatment for specific individuals. We can however, give them space to smile and laugh and maybe even give a glimpse of a possible future where happiness can become the norm again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Memories Fade but the Scars Still Linger

Going to a monthly dinner for Young Widows and Widowers tonight. I’ve been going every month since November 2008. There are 6 new people coming today. We are not a structured support group with a trained facilitator, but rather a social group for people with similar situations. With 6 new people coming today, with fresh and raw emotions, it could be an emotionally difficult dinner. We’ve never had 6 new people at once before.
There is a wonderful bulletin board forum for young widows/widowers that was very helpful to me early on. They even have a chat room that saved my sanity a few times in the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t want my widowhood to define who I am. I do not want to be a victim of this. I want to grow and expand as a human being through this experience. I want to become a better person because of this. I want my self-esteem back. I want to feel worthwhile again. I want to be able to stand straight and hold my head high.

Sorry for such a bummer post today. I had dinner last night with a woman that I dated over this last winter. We dated for 6 months. It was a good and healthy relationship. I ended it a few months ago because I freaked out about developing feelings for another woman other than my wife. Yes, it needs to happen eventually. But I wonder if I will ever be ready for true intimacy and connection again. I certainly hope to have it again.

Tears for Fears The Hurting Memories Fade But The Scars Still Linger

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Midnight Karaoke - My Midnight Radio

I put an offer on a house yesterday. It’s an older home that hasn’t been updated in 30 years. Meaning every visible surface needs some type of work. But it’s a nice big house with strong bones. Except for the oil tank. And the rough neighborhood. And the roof.
I’m not holding my breath for it though. There is an investor that already bid cash. It was accepted, so I am in first back-up position. These investors like to come in with a strong offer, and then try to push the already low price down further with demands to the homeowner to pay for needed repairs via renegotiating to a lower offer. So there is a small chance that my offer could still be accepted.
It might be a pretty rough neighborhood, but it is right in walking distance (>1 mile) of 3 different really groovy areas.
It is a good sized lot, with no less than 1 oversized garage and THREE carports, PLUS an RV carport! I can picture the connected 3 carports being used as a “gathering” spot for friends (and the band!); it is shady in the summer, dry in the rain. And it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest. So plenty of room for roommates, plus a spot to eventually park a small RV (I got my eye on those Sprinter conversions, if I ever win the lottery). And there could even be room for the occasional or guest.
So I went out last night with a bunch of friends for karaoke and stayed out way too late. Past midnight! My alarm goes off at 5:15 am so today will be a bit slow. Singing karaoke at midnight is so much fun though! How Can Be?
It was busy with all the folks, but was able to sing:
Runaround Sue - Dion & the Belmonts
Train in Vain - The Clash
I Saw the Light - Hank Williams Sr.
Vehicle - Ides of March

 I Love My Radio (midnight RadioTaffy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dough Balls of Confusion

Maybe it all boils down to needing the right kind of excitement in my life. I had a great weekend of a Friday night birthday party, a Saturday morning 7 mile hike to some breathtaking waterfalls, a late-night dinner party that ended with an hour-long midnight walk through downtown, and on Sunday morning an ecstatic dance class, a few hours of boring laundry and housework, and another hour-long walk after dinner with friends. Pretty busy weekend, and the activity level was just about perfect. Lots of movement, sweat, and there were even 4 (yes FOUR) doughnuts thrown in. Regular old-fashioned doughnuts, for the record.

I’m Flip-Flopping on my goals again. I keep finding great houses, but just a day or two late. There are investors jumping on these homes. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any housing crisis in the normal urban working class neighborhoods. The rougher neighborhoods and the middle-upper suburban neighborhoods seem to have the stagnate housing sales.
With that said, I am putting a backup offer on yet another house. It needs lots of work, but it could work out great. And it has a really nice covered RV carport!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roads of Redemption to Free us from Sin

I want to buy a house so if I do travel, I have a home base. My fear is travelling to the end of my monetary resources and having nothing in the end. If I buy a house first, at least there is always that fall back position.
Hrmmm- that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? I have always played it safe. Always having a backup plan.
As I read the blogs of various vandwellers and RV’ers, I’ve noticed they tend to either get off the road after a year or two, or at least quit blogging about it. That’s the fear part for me. What about the end of the road trip? How would I get back into society with a job, housing, insurance, etc..
Not following your dreams would be sinful, wouldn’t it?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Schizophrenic (No I'm Not)

My co-worker thinks I have ADD (Bright! Shiny! oooh)
My shrink thinks I might be slightly depressed (who woulda thunk?)

I'm wasting a bit of time before heading to another birthday party for a groovy lady that is turning 41. 
What is it about being in your 40's ? The WanderLust seems to hit quite a few of us. Especially the childless ones.

I'm sitting in a BurntChunks (starbucks) and in the parking lot there is a conversion van. Definitely a VanDweller. There is a back cargo box on the trailer hitch piled with coolers, tarps and a couple of bicycles.  The back and side windows have reflectix covering. The vehicle is a fading late 70's Chevy van with a fiberglass topper. Looks like the perfect size vehicle. It's a bit rustic looking, but unobtrusive and functional.

I don't have much vacation time with this job. They only give us 2 weeks a year. Not Enough. I'd like to take the two weeks all at once and rent a van and see how I like it, but I've done two-to-three weeks at a time in my mini-van. Two weeks wouldn't be enough time to stretch my boundries. I guess I cheated in the mini-van though.... every 4-5 days we would stay in a cheap motel or campground to shower and re-organize. 

Video- The New Duncan Imperials album Hanky Panky Parley Voo!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I realize my ramblings are all over the place, with no focus. I rather like it that way.
I see my shrink today, so maybe she can help me bundle up my thoughts and present them in full sentences. I saw my psychiatrist every week for the first two years. Down to about twice a month now. We no longer focus on just my wife and my process of grieving. We now incorporate my whole life experience to allow growth and expansion in all aspects. Dunno if it is actually working, but at least I feel relatively ok about myself now.
The difficulty for me is living in the present tense. I am trying to look to far into the future and plan my life ahead. I need to constantly remind myself of the simple Ram Dass instruction of “remember, be here now”.
Dang it, I need a hobby.
In the meantime, I spent last evening with some friends at a very crowded karaoke bar:
Babe- Styx
Hit the Road Jack- Ray Charles (sang as duet with the lovely and talented MizBy)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flip Flops, Waffles, and Parking on the Beach

Home prices keep falling. The recent downgrade of the US credit rating could trigger harder and more troubling times. As I search for a home to buy, my wish-list keeps flip flopping in wants and needs. Do I stick with the original plan of buying a home large enough to have 2 roommates to generate income? Or perhaps buy a very small home and pocket the difference and buy a small RV?
My initial thoughts of having enough space for roommates also buffered the idea that I may possibly be in another relationship someday, and may want room for a family. Admittedly though, as I am 43 years old, starting a family at some time in the relatively near future does not sound appealing.
The whole thing seems crazy anyway, as the homes I can purchase either need too many repairs or will deplete my savings completely.
I have a small amount of savings that I am hoping to put on a house, and potentially not have a mortgage payment. If I can play my cards right, I might even have enough left over for a decent small-sized RV or large conversion van.
My plans start to waffle quickly when I start to add more variables to the equation. Maybe I shouldn’t pay cash for a home, and take out a loan instead? The roommates would pay the mortgage, and I would still have my savings and I could still get the RV and also have money to travel. Maybe I should look at houses further from the city and my work?  I might be able to get a less expensive home, but roommates would then be difficult to find and the commute would not be enjoyable.

This is retirement savings I am messing with. And what is my fascination with the RV lifestyle anyway?

My wife stopped working about 2 years before her death. Her disease would not allow her to work any longer.

 We used to take wonderfully long road trips in our mini-van to remote areas and camp out. The back of the mini-van was large enough for a double sized memory foam mattress. We were more comfortable sleeping in the mini-van than in most motels. A little over a year before her death, I was in the process of changing careers, and my wife expressed the wish for me to take 6 months off between jobs so we could travel the country. We could keep the house, buy a small RV, and have plenty of savings to travel. My fear kept us from fulfilling one of her last wishes in life.

My Fear.

Her Life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Birthdays, Music, and Weddings

A three day music festival is great for re-energizing the soul. It was amazing.

I had gone to the festival campground early on Thursday to set up some tents, and then came back into town for a friend’s 40th birthday party. It was a great party, and very healthy for me to go to. I’ve known these people for almost 3 years, but I still have that insecurity that they just let me hang around because they feel sorry for the socially awkward widower. I realize this is totally not true, and that they truly enjoy my company based on the growing 2.5 years of friendships. I value these people. They have an openness in their communication that helps me look deeper within myself.

The weekend festival had some pleasant surprises. Reconnecting with an old friend, and connecting with new. And the music was darn good, too.
There was a group of women travelling in an old RV that had seen a lot of miles, and probably more than a few visits to Burning Man. These were seasoned nomads, and a pleasure to share space with. There was one older woman in this group who walked with a cane.  I would see her every couple of hours, and would be drawn to her. I eventually went up to her with the simple greeting of “Hello, Sister”.  She had a wonderful peaceful smile, with deep insightful eyes. Her inner strength and essence strongly reminded me of my wife. We talked briefly and continued our paths.  As the weekend went on, and we crossed each other frequently, the resemblance to my wife grew stronger. I hadn’t realized how physically similar this woman looked like my wife. Same hair style, height, body shape and facial features.  The wrinkles of old age beautifully dancing across her smile and twinkling in the corners of her eyes, the wrinkles my wife never had the joy to receive. This was the vision of my wife 15-20 years into the future if she had lived. As this Travelling Sister and I talked, and exchanged names, I was overcome with grief finding out she shared the same name as my wife. As we gathered each other up in an embrace as my tears rolled down, the familiarity of her embrace was almost too much to bear.

Thank you, Sister.
I left the festival several hours earlier than I normally would have, as there was a Sunday evening wedding for an incredible couple. Part of the same group of people from the birthday party on Thursday,  I was once again honored and humbled to be allowed access to this incredible group.  With tears in my eyes yet again on this incredible weekend, I recognized the spark this young couple has. The same spark that my wife and I had.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eastbound and Down, Loaded up and Truckin'

Heading out to the music festival today and I had a spare hour to get there before the gates open. It's a hot day out there and I wanted some free wi-fi but wasn't in the mood to spend any money. I passed by a hospital and realized they had two things I was looking for. Free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Easy parking, I walked right in, went to the nearest waiting area, and plugged in my laptop to charge my battery and here we are.

I've spent enough time in hospitals that I have surprised myself by being here. I no longer associate hospitals with healing. Since my wife's death, I feel grief, pain and despair when I walk through hospital doors. I went to a grief support group twice a month for two years trying to work through my feelings about her death. This group meets in a hospital.

The weekly Shrink sessions helped also. And then there is the monthly widow/widower dinner group I belong to. That's alot of therapy.

I still occasionally go to the grief support group, and I am down to only two sessions a month with my psychiatrist. The dinner group has become a safe haven as well.

I didn't specifically plan on this blog being an outlet for my thoughts and feelings around my wife's death, but I suppose these blogs will sprout naturally in the direction our thoughts need to go.

Maybe a combination of sitting here in the hospital, on my way to an event I was never able to share with my wife, has given me pause.

I struggle with that.

My life is continuing on, and there are many happy new avenues. But I have a hard time accepting that I can not share this with my wife. My struggle has been to accept that I have a new chapter in my life.

The music festival will be a blast this weekend. A few friends are going after all, we just won't be camping near eachother.
Jerry Reed Smokey and the Bandit 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

women with banjos

As I left my basement apartment for work this morning, I noticed a van parked across the street.
It was a Dodge Grand Caravan with a Thule storage box on top. Out of state license. The back windows were tinted, but I noticed extra fabric was hung to further block the back windows. Just like mine when my wife and I would camp.  My curiosity piqued, I looked in the cab. Yup, more fabric was hung behind the front seats, blocking the back end from view. The windows were open a bit, and there was heavy condensation on the windows. 
Someone was parked for the night and sleeping. A Stealth Van! I approve this action.
I am attending a 3-day music festival this weekend. Pickathon is an annual event held just outside of Portland, Oregon. Great banjo, fiddle, guitar and beer.
I bought my tickets before talking with friends, and very few of my regular crowd are going this year. I’m a bit disappointed. I will be camping alone, without a friendly gang. I’m not too worried though, as I am sure I will meet friendly people camped near me. I had an extra ticket I was able to give away through bartering some acupuncture from a really groovy woman…very happy about that!

My wish list seemed so simple at first.
1)      Minimum Two bedrooms
2)      One bathroom
3)      Double car garage or oversized single
4)      Within .5 miles of Light Rail Public Train Transit 
5)      Full basement (unfinished is great)
6)      Needing a moderate amount of repair/updating
7)      And of course, within budget with leftover for updates/repairs.
It seems the hard part is Location and the Short Sales. There are plenty of inexpensive homes, but they are either too far away from the city central bus and rail lines, or they are short sales being held captive by the banks. Anything remotely close to downtown that is in decent shape is being snatched up quickly. My hometown  has become a hipster magnet for the entire nation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Weak foundations won't support strong endeavors

I’m frustrated. My focus has been on finding a home. My “Passion & Purpose” for the time being, until something actually meaningful to me comes along, has been finding a home to center on.
Poking my finger through the crumbling sheet rock of yet another house, my hopes of finding a small and inexpensive home are fading quickly. This last house was extra special. A light tap of my shoe against the foundation wall dropped about 10 pounds of concrete onto the floor. The foundation was disintegrating as fast as the leaking and sagging roof.  And this house supposedly already had half a dozen offers.
I left the house fairly quickly as 2 more realtors showed up with happy clients in tow, eager to join the frenzy.
There is a housing crisis going on across the nation, but here in the Pacific Northwest, the hot location properties are still….well…. hot. It really does boil down to location, location, location.
So I went out with some friends last night for some therapeutic Karaoke instead.
I sang a few times:
I saw the Light – Hank Williams Sr.
Situation - Yaz
On the Darkside –John Cafferty
Everybody wants You- Billy Squire

Monday, August 1, 2011

The material, it rips and tears apart

I sold my house in November of 2010. The housing bubble had burst, and home values were falling fast. I listed about 8% lower than the comparable homes in the neighborhood, and sold in 3 days. The selling price was right at my minimum that I needed. I feel very lucky. There are homes in that neighborhood that are still for sale, and now they are at a significantly lower asking price.
Downsizing from a 3 bed/ 2 bath ranch on 1/3 of an acre was no easy task. Every item was a memento that weighed 20 tons on my shoulders. How could I possibly get rid of that chipped coffee cup that held 50 different ink pens? That huge table top kitchen appliance we only used once? There were memories attached to every material object in the house.
And that was my answer. Material Objects.  I wasn't getting rid of the memories, just the physical items.
I moved myself into a small 1 bedroom basement apartment and slowly started moving over the items I thought I really needed to survive. It was surprisingly a very few items.  Family members came and took their needed mementos, then close friends, and then friendly acquaintances. There  was a disturbing amount of stuff left over. And it was all useless “stuff”. I contemplated a garage sale, but spending an entire weekend pawning my junk to strangers in hopes of receiving a couple hundred dollars was not my idea of a positive experience.
I settled on Craigslist.
The Free Section.
I hauled EVERYTHING into the driveway. I posted the ad with my address. In 20 minutes I had 20 cars blocking the street hauling everything away.  In 4 hours all that was left would fit into one trip to the Thrift Store donation center.
I considered myself downsized.