Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Magazine Expectations

I never deny the fact that I have a love/hate relationship with HGTV stemming from a love of the show 'Househunters' but with  the concern that the very same show is raising potential buyers' expectations to impossible heights.  Yes, you guessed it, we are trying to sell our house and we are definitely running into buyers who are clearly not only watching the show, but taking copious notes as well.  This weekend, I stumbled across the HGTV magazine and an article on what a seller should do to prep his home for a quick sale.  I read the article and I think I passed out from the shock of it, but once I came to, I realized for certain that we may never sell our home.

The article was filled with little tidbits like removing 50% of the contents of your closets so that the potential buyer thinks you have ample closet space.  Okay, where do we put the 50% we just removed?  We can certainly not put it in a spare room (if we had one) because then we would take up valuable floor space thus making that room seem smaller than it already is--a realtor no-no.  Shall we then rent storage space?  Who is paying for that monthly bill and what happens if the seasons change while we are trying to sell and we need those items back in our now half-empty closets?  Frustrating, yup?  I also read where sellers should replace soap with fresh bars or bottles before each showing.  Seriously?  Likewise, neutralizing paint colors--i.e. repainting those designer colors you fell in love with for those with a tone more appealing to the masses.  Quite frankly, we don't have the money nor the time for this foolishness and buyers need to have some vision when traipsing through the homes of others.

I have always taken great pride in the way I keep my home with clutter to a minimum, daily vacuuming and colorizing my closets--yes, all of them.  If a potential buyer cannot look beyond the fact that we are still living here without the disposable income to reduce our closet contents by half, repaint and top off our soap bottles before every showing, maybe he should stick to looking at new construction exclusively.  That way someone else's life will not be in the way of the buyer's 'visualizing himself in the space' (that is realtor-speak for a buyer trying to decide if he likes your house or not).

Friday, May 25, 2012


So here is my dilemma for the day (okay, so it is not just the dilemma for today but it has been my dilemma for far too many days it seems)...how to help my husband find a job.  Yes, for those of you who have been following my blog since its first post, I am still on this topic.  How could that be you might ask?  I wish I had an answer for you but I just don't.  Had anyone told me that my husband would be unemployed for almost 2.5 years, I would never have believed them.  Let's face it, how could that be possible, right?  He has umpteen years experience, all in the same field; he has been promoted many times and had reached a considerable level before unemployment relegated us to this unfortunate position.  We become more disheartened and depressed as we tick off each day --which turn into weeks, then months, then...well, you get the picture--because we are taking all the necessary steps to finding a new position. Placement agency...check, attended weekly sessions for two years; networking...check, my husband has spent over 2 years on a caffeine high with all the meetings he has been to; online job boards...check, these are my domain and I scour them multiple times daily sending potential jobs to my husband for review.  Personally, this is the least satisfying aspect of the job search as I cannot get my mind around how these positions can remain open for so long on the boards. Is it just terrible housekeeping or do companies simply not want to fill the jobs they list?  He sends resume after resume but it seems they all land in the abyss as no one calls to set up an interview.

A word about the resume since I seem to be on a roll.  Given my bent toward writing and my husband's desperation to get an interview, his resume has been revised approximately three hundred times (okay, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration...295).  I know this resume so well that I should be call prospective employers and tell them instead of sending the written version.  Heck, I might be onto something.  How much worse could it get?

How much longer until this terrible chapter in our lives will be over.  What next?  How do we make something happen?  Imagine how much better my blog would be if I could just move off of this topic?  I feel as though if I were writing to an advice columnist about our situation, I would need to sign my letter "hoping for change...and soon."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Big Show

The last of our school productions is tonight and our youngest is the participant.  Thus far, he has sat through two band performances, one school musical and an Honor's Band Recital (not to mention a few lacrosse games thrown in for good measure), but tonight he is the star of the show--in my eye's anyway.  I have had quite a preview already given that it is all he has spoken about for weeks and yet I am so excited about tonight's performance.  I am marveling in my little one's enthusiasm as he as always been the reluctant participant--the child who looked like a deer in headlights up on stage and oh, the torture it was to convince him to get on the stage in the first place.  I could never rest in the audience for fear that he might have a breakdown and need to be removed from the stage.  Okay, it only happened once, back in pre k 3, but it was gruesome.  Picture this.  I am the penultimate wallflower, the type of person who goes out of her way to stay out of view and there is my son, on stage, quite visibly 'losing it.'  I tried giving him 'the eye,' trying desperately to mentally cajole him into pulling it together and staying on stage.  Alas, he wasn't buying any of my desperation and his quiet sobs soon became and all out cry fest.  I had no choice but to remove him from the stage lest he disrupt the rest of the show for the other parents whose children were regaling them with their rendition of Skidamarink. In the meantime, sweat poured down my back as my eyes darted for the nearest exit, my son in a football hold under my arm. It seemed as though time stood still and everyone eyes were on me, partially annoyed at the disruption and partially thankful that it was my child causing the ruckus and not there's.

Thankfully, I have no such worries tonight as my son is a changed boy, no longer the one cowering in the back, but confident and eager to get on the stage (and get it over with!).  I must admit, however, with my high schooler attending an uber-special political dinner tonight and my little guy ready and happy to take the stage with his friends, I long for that preschooler who could not bear to be apart from me. If only I could turn back the clock for a little while to be needed like that again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Home Buying Madness

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am not a fan of television.  I come from a long line of TV lovers or should I say TV addicts and despite their best efforts, they have yet to sway my feelings toward the tube.  That said, I will watch one show and it is that same show that seems to be doing me in with regard to the sale of our house.  I love to watch Househunters on HGTV, domestic or international, both on most nights.  I just love it.  I love playing voyeur and poking through other people's homes, seeing how they live and deciding whether or not I agree with the couple's ultimate home choice.  Now, here comes the problem.  Potential home buyers must be addicted to the show as well because now if your wall color is not neutral enough or your home does not 'have the right flow for entertaining' (do all these people really entertain that much?), your house is knocked right off the list.  Back in the day (you know, when there were fewer realtors and buyers understood that they were not buying the furnishings, merely the house), you bought a house with 'good bones' and then you understood that you got to choose your own paint color, change carpeting you did not like or buy new appliances...these things would not be provided for you.

It is bad enough that the expectation is that that you need to 'de-personalize' your house so that the potential buyer can picture his/her things in it.  Huh?  I am still living here, right?  Not everyone can afford to store all their things so that buyers can look at an empty house.  Have some vision people! Open your minds!  You are not buying the current homeowners stuff, just the house.  Jeesh.

Every time I hear someone on Househunters say they do not like the ceiling fan or the color of the walls, I cringe.  Perhaps I need to produce a show myself.  I might call it Homesellers and then we can get homeowners commenting on potential buyers.  Think about how much fun that would be.  I would love to tell a potential buyer that I do not want to sell to them because their little boy just jumped up on my son's bed (true story) and she did nothing to stop him.  Payback is, well, you know what it is and in this case, it would just be sheer bliss.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Marking Time

Yesterday someone told me that I should look at this time of my life as an adventure.  The interesting thing is that in the beginning, I suppose I did exactly that to some extent.  Back in January of 2010 when we first found ourselves unemployed the prospect of change and of not knowing where we might be living had a certain appeal--despite the terrifying financial pallor cast over it. I never felt as though I totally fit in here in MN so the prospect of a move was, in fact, part of my adventure.  Of course, as the months and then the years (!!!) flew by, my optimism and the spirit of adventure quickly reduced itself to a stark, cold reality and a nauseating sense of defeat.  It is impossible to understand how powerless you can feel as you try to be as proactive as you can in finding a new job--endless phone calls, resume revisions, online applications and networking with anyone and everyone you meet--and still no one is calling you for an interview.   I spend a good part of each and every day grappling with trying to understand how all these positions can be listed on job sites but it seems as though no one is trying to fill them.  Law of averages dictates that if we do all the right things, sooner or later someone is going to call for an interview, no?  My husband is convinced of this--me, not so much anymore.

Now the adventure has turned into one of those unbelievable stories that you see on the news.  You know the type like that poor bear who was saved from being stuck in the tree only to be hit and killed by not one but two vehicles a mere few days later.  The uncertainty of not knowing where we will be living or where the children will be going to school is not an adventure at all--it is a full-blown nightmare with no end in site right now.  So, call it what you will, but after two plus years of marking days, I call this my own personal hell.  Adventures are over-rated.  I will opt for stability any day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Mother's Day?  Really?  Wasn't this supposed to be the relaxing, wonderful, stress-free day where I got to do what I wanted?  I suppose my children did not get the memo as my day was filled with the usual laundry, ironing, cleaning, vacuuming, report proofreading, arguing over Latin projects, a science project, meal making, kitchen cleaning and dog walking that every other Sunday (or day for that matter) consists of.  Yet something was different.  My husband was missing from the mix as he is out of town and yet he still had presents ready for me this morning just as he always does.  My oldest 'played Dad' when doling out cards and gifts while my husband sat with us at the table listening in--okay, he was not sitting there exactly but the phone was set on speaker which had to suffice.  The fact that he put the time and energy into buying and then wrapping these gifts prior to leaving means the world to me.  I know it bothers him that he could not be home today but that is what made it a special day for me.  Given our current situation it would it would have been very easy--and certainly understandable--for him to get lost in his own head and to have forgotten to buy something for me knowing how unnecessary it really is right now. 

So maybe I mediated the same sibling squabbles throughout the day and grew weary of answering the same questions as I do every day, but it was special none the less because my husband is teaching our children the importance of making mom feel loved even if distance separates us right now.  Of course, if he could teach them to squabble less, I would really appreciate that, too!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Letter

For those just tuning in, my purse was stolen from my car over two years ago and going along with the rotten luck I seem to be having of late, it was not stolen by a mere teenager looking for some fast cash.  Oh, no!  My purse was stolen by a group of criminals that police from multiple jurisdictions have been trying to apprehend for quite a while.  The good news is that they caught some of them and, interestingly enough, that is the bad news as well.  I am now a subpoenaed witness in two trials that have been postponed a total of 11 times over the past two years.  I am not an eyewitness but for reasons I shall not go into here, I must be present in the courtroom.  The alleged criminals have all the rights as apparently, the victims lose theirs when they are victimized.  Out of frustration and my never ending need to explain why I get so frustrated over these postponements, I wrote the following letter to the Assistant DA yesterday.  Please note that all names have been removed from the letter for privacy purposes and to keep me from getting into anymore trouble than I already am.  I certainly do not think that anything will come of this letter, but sometimes I need to be heard even when no one wants to listen.

Dear Ms. XXXX,

I just got off the phone with XXXX and I must say that I am more than a little upset, not with her, mind you, as she has always been most pleasant and forthcoming, but with the MN judicial system as a whole.  I was just told that the (insert alleged criminal's name here) trial has been continued for the fourth time.  First, my experience as a subpoenaed witness in both the (alleged criminal) and (other alleged criminal) trials has shown me that victims have no rights, unlike the alleged criminals.  I never knew that once a person received a subpoena, all his rights were eradicated.  Second, I did not realize that trials could be continued repeatedly for such issues as unlimited changes in attorney, judges taking vacations without replacements and more reasons that I have not been made privy to.  To think that in total, these two trials have been continued 11 times and counting is mind boggling to a mere victim like myself--so much for the concept of a ‘right to a speedy trial’ that I thought existed.  The alleged criminal perpetrated the original crime and then the state of MN re-victimizes us by allowing those alleged criminals the opportunity to play the system.  Clearly, if the (alleged criminal) trial had been completed in February, he would not have had yet another opportunity to switch attorneys and cause yet another continuance.

I thought that having my purse stolen was awful but it pales in comparison to having these trials take this long to be resolved.  There is so much more to my life than these trials that I am obsessing over—terrified of the actual testimony itself. I find it unbelievable that that there is no system in place to allow the victim the chance for video testimony or signed affidavit—of course, that is because the criminal has the right to face his accuser and the victim has no rights. I am not even the one who is making any accusations as I did not see anything in the first place!

 Two days after my purse was stolen, my husband lost his job.  He searched for two years and finally found another one.  Five weeks later on Good Friday, April 6, 2012, he was let go as the company restructured and reduced its senior management team.  I am beyond stressed with worry about our lack of income, about my children and how they are coping with this all over again and the thought of potentially losing our house.   To think that these alleged criminals are working the system as they are because they are being allowed to while I worry about when I can have some closure to this nightmare is certainly more than a little frustrating.

Ms.  XXXX, I am a writer and I write partly because it is cathartic but also because I feel that if you don’t let others know how you feel or why you re upset, than no one can help you.  I simply cannot believe that I cannot put this behind me and that I have absolutely no control over this situation.  Clearly, being victimized over and over again is quite difficult to handle.  I just want to have closure with this awful time in my life.

Thank you for understanding.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Little Girl Lost

I marvel at my daughter's wonderful outlook on life.  She adores going to school, has lots of friends and is talented not only academically and athletically but musically as well.  Most of all, she is the consummate joiner of any and all activities and she approaches them all with enthusiasm and determination.  Rarely is she ever down in the dumps--a place I often frequent--and I admire her for that which is why I am so sad today as I left her at school crying. She is worried about our current life situation and the fact that her dad was again leaving us to try to find work back east.

During this time, I have taken on the role of cheerleader extraordinaire stepping out of my comfort zone of a black/white reality while attempting to show my children that we need to view life as an adventure where there may not always be easy to come by solutions to our problems.  When faced with questions about where we might be living, I shake my pom poms of enthusiasm and reassure them that no matter where we are , we will be together, learning about the new area and discovering new and fun things to do.  As for leaving their friends--again, out come the pom poms and I do a little number about staying in touch with current friends but looking forward to the opportunity to make new friends as well.  I am a pro--there is no question that I cannot handle with a shake of the pom poms and a pseudo-positive outlook.

News flash--my daughter was not buying my rah rah attitude this morning (after 27 months it does start sounding lame) as she is looking for some answers, not generalities, not 'our life in theory' but cold, hard answers as to when daddy is going to get a job and where we will be living.  I have no answers for her and for a person who thrives on control and decisiveness, this is killing me. 

I think the only thing for me to do today is to hang up those pom poms (they are pretty tattered by now anyway), and hope that her friends could do for her what I could not this morning and that my happy little girl will be waiting for me at pick up today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I saw a post on Pinterest, the online pinboard site, that said that someone had childproofed their house, but the children still got in.  I have to admit that I chuckled to myself because this long rainy day has me wishing that I had done some (more effective) childproofing myself.  The funny thing is that my children are not pestering me because they are 'bored' or looking for something to do.  They are driving me batty because they are playing the loudest, most animated game of Monopoly in the world.  Now before you all go off on me for complaining that my children are occupying themselves and telling me how lucky I am and how grateful I should be, I already know that and I am. However,  if they could just be a tad quieter and less dramatic, I know I would feel all the more grateful and even luckier.

 One child cannot say anything. She sings everything and, adding insult to injury (what was I thinking?), today she got a camcorder and a tripod so now she sings it, acts it and tapes it all for playback.  Another one of my offspring cannot speak in a normal tone but loves to raise his voice thinking he could be best heard by doing so; he does not understand that being loud does not equal being powerful which is what he longs to be.  Finally, the third culprit encouraging my headache to grow and fester is the ringleader of this particular Monopoly gamefest.  The power-hungry leader of this troop loves to finesse the rules and use his age to his advantage--to say he cheats is a gross understatement of the truth.  Believe me, I would intervene but when I have pointed this out in the past, the younger ones were appalled that I was telling them something I thought they did not already know.  Duh, mom!  Great, they are enablers all...co-dependence at its textbook best.

As I type this, it seems that this particular game of Monopoly is winding down and so is the decibel level in our house. That said, the little one is setting up the poker chips in the other room which can only mean that it is going to be a long--and loud--evening for sure.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trying Unsuccessfully

Redently,  I seem to be on a quest not for the perfect pair of shoes, though that journey would most definitely raise my spirits, but for something far more personal and intangible--unlike those breathtaking Manolo Blahniks I have been 'virtually' fondling on the Neiman-Marcus site of late.  My search requires a skill that I never truly possessed entirely but seem to lack even more of of late; I am looking for the patience required to get through this impossibly difficult period in our lives and not lose my mind in the process.  At night, I tell myself that the next day is a new one filled with promise and, hopefully, potential change and then I approach the day as such.  I am at my best when my schedule is overloaded and when I am so mentally busy that I don't have a moment to think.  Thinking is not my friend these days for sure.

Some days the strategy works but I have to admit that most days it does not.  Often, I feel as though I am doing so well and then...wham...something just brings me down like today.  My son received his acceptance letter to the HS near Boston that he was supposed to be attending come September. I am so angry that this happened to us again and that my children need to be thrown back into the tumult of not knowing where we might living or where they might be going to school.  I am simply furious!

I've heard that patience is a virtue.  I am obviously lacking in moral excellence these days and I am far too cranky to care about who knows it.