The lay of the land.

It’s been a while since I’ve lived in the suburbs but like riding a bike, some things just come back to you. Last week a free newspaper appeared in my mailbox — “The Pointer.” It didn’t look like anything I needed to pay close attention to, but then I spied this Publisher’s Note:

Although the response to my question regarding a letter in the last issue about the cover of the December issue of The Pointer was overwhelming, I have chosen not to print any of those letters. Thank you all for writing and calling and for giving me your opinions, but as of this date, this matter has gone as far as it is going to go in these pages.

The responses I received were varied, with a nearly equal number of readers who were unhappy with me as were happy with me. I apparently struck a nerve, which was certainly not my intent. Many members of our community were offended by the content of my response to that letter. To those neighbors I apologize.

Neither the writer of that letter nor I could have imagined the impact our words would have on this community, but I do commend the author for standing up for what he believes. It is his right to do so.

As for my beliefs, I will stand up for them too, which is my right also. Hopefully, we can meet on common ground some day as friends. That would be my wish for this new year.

No, I have no idea what she’s talking about, either. But it reminded me of the first rule of suburbia: Don’t make waves.

If there’s a secular church where we all worship around here, it has to be Our Lady of Real Estate. In the last week no fewer than three freebie real-estate publications and/or mail solicitations came over the transom. Evidently people buy and sell houses for fun around here. Having just barely survived this last move, I can tell you I won’t be pulling up stakes until we master the Star Trek transporter technology, and I can simply beam my belongings to my new address.

But the people who put those fliers out are onto something; they know that even those of us who aren’t in the market can find a few minutes to leaf through the Homes of Distinction tabloid, just to see what houses are fetching these days. I read mine this week just to find out how much I overpaid; buyer’s remorse set in right on schedule. Why aren’t these f*cking kitchen cabinets deeper? I fume, wondering how long it’ll be before my coffee cups come sliding out to smash on the tile. And where the hell’s the built-in china cabinet I used to have?

Then I think about how many frogs we kissed, how we spent two days looking at every house in our price range, and how all but two sucked out loud. Yesterday I pitched the notes I kept, being careful to read them all again, so I’ll remember how this one had small rooms and smelled like old people, that one had a Silence of the Lambs basement and the other had the world’s most awful carpeting, unless you like a pattern of ugly green squares.

I recall one really promising bungalow — well located! brand-new cedar shake roof! closets out the wazoo! — that had a distinctly strange vibe indoors. One wall was half-painted, a portion of the hall floor was half-varnished. All through the house were half-done improvement projects, but they were far enough along that you could see how much potential the place had, if you’d just do the other half. The previous owner, the Realtor said, had died suddenly in a car crash. “Was this her kid’s bedroom?” I asked at one point. “She didn’t have custody,” he said. “She had…issues.” I thought for a moment and said, “Let me guess: She was bipolar.” He nodded. The whole house was a shrine to being insufficiently medicated.

Now I’m looking around at this place — new windows, check. Good light, check. Refinished wood floors, check. So there aren’t any phone jacks in the room I’m using as an office. That’s why we have cordless phones and wireless laptops.

I wonder what that publisher’s note was about.

Posted at 3:08 pm in Uncategorized |

11 responses to “The lay of the land.”

  1. kathy (other side of Mack) said on February 8, 2005 at 11:20 pm

    Are we talking Shores, Farms, Woods, Park, or City?

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  2. jcb said on February 9, 2005 at 12:08 am

    Well, Nancy, I guess you’re one of the Mack Mommies now. And I checked…you’re less than 2 blocks from a Starbucks! You aren’t in the Fort anymore.

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  3. Nance said on February 9, 2005 at 8:53 am

    We’re in the Woods. JC, how would you know about Mack Mommies? This place is Upper Arlington cloned, or maybe it’s the other way around.

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  4. Maureen said on February 9, 2005 at 9:21 am

    Today is moving day here in San Diego, although I’m doing the reverse commute – leaving the ‘burbs for a funky, overpriced beach community. We’re thrilled, but damn, I’m gonna miss my storage. Say what you will about soulless human way stations, those developers know their linen closets and pantries. We threw away approximately 15 to 20% of our possessions, and that was easy, even satisfying. Now we are struck by the understanding that we have to start on the muscle and bone. This move is gonna make Buddhists out of us all.

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  5. Carmella said on February 9, 2005 at 9:32 am

    We are moving in 30 days after spending 20 yrs in our current home. I’m having trouble ‘organizing’ the boxes, etc. Any suggestions would be very helpful!!

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  6. Dorothy said on February 9, 2005 at 10:50 am

    Carmella: Mark which room the box should go to. This will help when the movers bring the boxes off the truck. Within reason, write on the box what is inside the box. Generalize, but you will be glad when it’s time to unpack. Pitch as much stuff as you can. If you haven’t used it in at least 5 years, you probably never will.

    Get receipts from Goodwill (or whatever institution where you make the donation). Will be handy at tax time next year. Make one or two boxes an “open first” box with sheets and pillows for the bed for the first night, toilet paper, toothbrush, that sort of thing. Make sure any important papers you need for the closing(s) is in a file box you keep with you.

    Hope that helps.

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  7. Nance said on February 9, 2005 at 12:16 pm

    Also, carry a small box or briefcase in the car with all your urgent important papers. You’ll be glad you did.

    And if your stuff will stay on the truck through the coldest night of the year, be prepared to find exploded bottles of club soda in your kitchen-pantry box.

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  8. Dorothy said on February 9, 2005 at 2:53 pm

    Oh yeah – and throw out any opened boxes of things like corn starch now, before the movers pack them and you didn’t secure the box and it spills all over everything in that box, and you find something that looks like cocaine all over your stuff!

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  9. Jeff said on February 9, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    What was the publisher’s note about? Easy. A response in support of a letter writer who wanted to have a relaxation of the covenants that required everyone to have identical mailboxes in the development, since the wooden mini-house mailbox cozies that were the developer’s inital install tend to harbor wasps’ nests in the peak above the standard metallic arc of the actual box itself. Various impassioned notes of “the safety of our children” and the “impersonality of sameness,” which the publisher agreed with, were answered in a torrent of “you knew the rules when you purchased here,” “protecting property values, especially for our older neighbors who may need access to that equity in the near future,” and “why weren’t you at the neighborhood association meeting where this was discussed.”

    Yeah, i just moved into a neighborhood with an association, and had my first ever annual meeting. And i thought church board meetings were tragically funny (in a don’t let them see you smile way).

    Did Cheever ever do an association meeting story?

    Peace, Jeff

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  10. Jeff said on February 9, 2005 at 4:43 pm

    Oh, and put your remotes in that briefcase Nancy mentioned.

    pax, jeff

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  11. Carmella said on February 10, 2005 at 7:02 am

    EXCELLENT advice, thank you one and all. I’m getting hung up on the sentimental items. Should I pitch…should I keep….back and forth…and before I know it an hour has gone by. Not good! Thanks all of you!

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