Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Apparently, youth is wasted on me, too

Last night my friend Andrea called from San Francisco to firm up plans for this weekend (she's coming to Atlanta for Labor Day). It was 8:47 p.m. when she called, and I had to get up and out of bed and turn the lights on to answer the phone. Another 10 minutes and she would have missed me, because I would have already been asleep.

At least Jason has an excuse. He's working crazy hours this week and is out of the house by 5 a.m., so he has to get up at 4:30. I get up with him to make him his lunch and coffee and get him out the door, because he is so not a morning person, it's scary. But then I go back to bed and sleep until 7. So I'm not sure why I'm ready to climb into bed and go to sleep before the sun is even down in the evening.

I think much of it is the injury. I've been trying to keep my arm out of the sling during the day, so by the time I'm done with work, I'm hurting. Most of the time I'm able to hold my arm in a way that doesn't tax my shoulder too much, but I frequently jostle it or try to pick up something a little too heavy, or I just get tired. So all I want to do when I get home is prop my arm on a pillow, take a couple of Lortabs, and veg out.

I am also quite a source of amusement to Jason, who finds nothing more hilarious than me, whining and feeling sorry for myself. Last night I was trying to change out of my work clothes and simply could not get my bra and shirt off, to the point that my bra was still hooked over my left shoulder but hanging out of the neck of my shirt, and I'm trying with one arm to lift my shirt over my head but can't quite reach, so I'm flailing around like a total spaz (and please, no emails about how insensitive that term is to the disabled -- it's funny, OK? Plus I work for the benefit of disabled kids, so I'm allowed to be an asshole from time to time). I'm hanging my head in frustration, and my lower lip is pushing further and further out as I commence pouting. Jason takes one look at me and starts laughing his ass off, the kind where he's laughing so hard he's not even making any noise, just silently wheezing. I was afraid he was going to bust something. (He did the same thing the last time we went to the movies, when one of those fake movie ads came on where there's this big action sequence and then you hear a baby start to cry and the words "silence is golden" come on the screen. I was totally faked out by it, and said, loudly, "Oh, come on," in an exasperated tone, thinking that some bonehead had brought an infant to see Talladega Nights. Jason was so hysterical with laughter he had tears in his eyes. Anyway.)

I finally managed to get my pajamas on and got into bed. We were lying there watching Whose Line is it Anyway? when I had a premonition that we would be doing the exact same thing -- having trouble dressing ourselves, watching corny tv shows, going to bed when the sun was still up -- when we're 80. That made me smile, because I'd like to still be with Jason, having fun and giggling about everything, when I'm 80. But I'm not quite ready to be 80 yet. So come on, shoulder. Heal!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

File under "Curb, Kick His Ass To The"

I am all about giving love a chance. I really am. I'm the poster child for it, as anyone who knows anything about my relationship with Jason knows. If you've got that loving feeling, don't give up, etc. Blah blah. But there are limits. So this entry is a shout-out to my good friend E, who is hurting after giving The Boy a fourth chance, only to have him fuck it up again.

Girlfriend, it's time to move on. You're a beautiful, smart, engaging, talented, funny woman, and The Boy just isn't capable. He doesn't have it. I will say nothing disparaging about him because a) I like him and I don't think he's a bad guy, and b) it's not helpful, but he can't make you happy. I know you've had periods of happiness with him, but he always ends up kicking you in the gut (figuratively speaking, of course). You've given this relationship every chance to succeed, but, to use ER/Grey's Anatomy/House-speak, it's time to call it. "Time of death: August 2006."

Now let's go out and get drunk. I'll buy.

What the doctor said

I went to the Emory Orthopedic Clinic this morning to have them tell me the dealio with my shoulder. Nothing looks terribly out of place on the x-rays, which means it's a low-level sprain, nothing too awful. I might have a little bump on my shoulder when it heals, but I might not. The doc did a bunch of range-of-motion tests and asked me a bunch of questions, and then basically told me that it's going to hurt until it doesn't anymore. It should take about 3-4 weeks to heal (much better than the 6-8 I was originally told), and I should do what's comfortable, take whatever will ease the pain (and he gave me some primo shit ;)), do some exercises, don't do some exercises, wear the sling, don't wear the sling -- it really doesn't make a difference. Time will heal this wound, and there is really nothing I can do to speed the process up. Knowing that makes me feel much better, somehow.

In related news, my boss let me hire a temp to help me during my period of gimpiness. He's a champ. So for the first time in my life, I have a personal secretary. It rocks.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Everybody knows everything about everything

I am, I freely admit, a know-it-all. But I also freely acknowledge that I am frequently full of shit and often don't know the answers to things. I try not to correct errors that are irrelevant to the story or to embarass people. And I am discovering how utterly annoying it is when everybody else has all the answers to all of your problems.

Take my shoulder, for instance. All of a sudden, huge numbers of people I know have suffered the same injury, or know someone who has, and they all have something to say about it.

"Keep your arm in the sling, or the ligaments won't heal."

"I dislocated my shoulder when I was 20 and it hasn't been the same since. It's going to bother you for the rest of your life."

"If you keep your arm in the sling the whole time, you'll lose your range of motion and develop arthritis."

"Make sure you do exercises where you bend and unbend your elbow, or it will permanently stiffen."

"Treat it with ice."

"Don't treat it with ice. Treat it with heat."

"Take tylenol."

"Take advil."

"Don't take anything."

I want to congratulate everyone on the medical degrees they apparently went out and got when I wasn't looking. And in response to whatever it is you suggested, you're right, and I'll do exactly as you say. Now stop talking. And I promise to do the same when the urge strikes me to comment on something I know nothing about.

P.S. I recognize how bitchy this sounds, and that's not my intention. I so appreciate how sweet and concerned and supportive everyone has been. It's just that the constant unsolicited (and often conflicting) medical advice doesn't help -- it increases my agitation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

And just like that, no bike....

I'm such a dumbass. After going on and on about how much I'm into riding my bike and zen and blah blee bloo, I started to ride to work yesterday on my brand spankin' new bike, crashed 2 miles into it, and separated my shoulder. It was totally my fault. I didn't feel like waiting for the line of cars to get through a particular turn, so I tried to jump the curb to get on the dirt path next to the road, didn't angle my front wheel properly, and fell onto my right side. As soon as I fell, I felt and heard a *pop* in my right shoulder, and when I sat up and couldn't move my arm, I knew I was in trouble. Luckily, a bunch of people stopped and helped me out. My friend Karen came and picked me up (along with my bike,which is fine) and took me to the ER. Jason left work and met me there, and then took me home and took care of me the rest of the day.

To put it in the bluntest term possible, it hurt like a motherfucker. I was triaged in the ER and had to wait because of a couple of cases that were more serious than mine, so I sat holding my arm to my side for two hours before I got a sling or any pain medication. I'm not complaining about the medical treatment -- the other people needed to go first-- but it hurt so much. I tried to do Lamaze type breathing to get through the pain, but it didn't help much. Even after 2 shots of morphine, I was in serious discomfort. I took 5 percocets before the day was through, and never got rid of the pain altogether.

So now I'm out of commission for 6 weeks, at least. I can't do the triathlon, can't swim, can't hold a pen, can't put on a shirt (unless it's sleeveless) by myself. Because I was too impatient to wait for the cars to start moving, I've sidelined myself and I feel like a moron. I really need to learn to have more regard for my own physical safety. And, as Jason pointed out, to work on my bike-handling skills.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Zen and real estate, and bikes

I'm feeling much more mellow about the sale of the house and the move to Hawaii. Nothing has happened yet, though we did have a couple of agents show the house yesterday, so that's good. And as far as I can tell, the sellers of the Ala Wai place that I love didn't accept the other offer that they got, so that's good. But if I don't get the place that I want, we'll find another one, and if the house takes longer to sell than I'd like (which it's already doing), so be it. One of my good friends is going through a terribly rough time right now, and it's putting things into perspective. I've got no problems.

In other news, I feel like my life is consumed by bicycles. I now own three of them. A road/racing bike, a hybrid that's definitely seen better days, and my new mountain bike. I took the hybrid, which is my commuting bike, in for a tune-up, and quickly realized what a junker it is. It's heavy, the gear-shifting mechanism is awkward and temperamental, it's got bottom-of-the-barrel components, and the seat pole isn't completely stable so the seat moves a little bit when I pedal, causing me to lose power. The upside is that hauling that piece of crap up and down the hills of Buckhead and Decatur twice a day is making me much stronger on the racing bike.

So we went bike shopping, but had multiple objectives to fulfill. I wanted a bike that I could commute on comfortably, and Jason wanted me to get a bike on which I could go trail-riding, because he wants me to go with him. We found a really cool, reasonably priced Ironhorse, with disc brakes, easy shifters, and front shocks. It's as light as a mountain bike that doesn't cost $5000 can be expected to be, and it rides great. And I'm excited to ride with Jason -- he's a really good technical rider, he's a very patient teacher, and we always have fun together.

But last night I had a dream about bicycles. I didn't ride in today because I take Mondays off, but I'll probably ride to the Y to go swimming later on today, and I'll ride in the rest of the week, plus do a long training ride on Saturday or Sunday. I find myself obsessed with acquiring new gear that will reduce my transition times in a triathlon. My drain rack is full of water bottles.

On the other hand, I go to bed every day physically very tired from the exertion, and it helps me calm down about the other things in my life that I normally worry myself sick over. It keeps me zen.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The world can be a chilly place

I rode my bike to work this morning, as I have been doing off and on this summer. I do it to stay in shape, to save gas, to train for races, and this morning, because one of our cars is in the shop. Given that Jason works about 55 miles away from home, whereas my office is only 8 miles away, it seemed more reasonable for him to take the car.

I felt a little tired when I first started out, but then I got my blood pumping and felt pretty good. Then, about half-way through the ride, a lady cut me off in traffic, forcing me to try to jump the curb to avoid her. I wasn't successful, and I crashed hard, cutting up my knee and elbow. A huge line of cars that had stopped for a light saw me go down, and it was not a delicate fall -- my water bottle went flying and I sort of bounced on the sidewalk. I got up and picked up my bike with blood streaming down my leg from the cut on my knee. I knew I wasn't badly hurt -- just a little scraped up -- but it was definitely bloody.

Amazingly, not a single person rolled down their window to ask me if I was OK. Not one. A whole line of people, sitting there gaping at me, and nobody said anything. I know Atlanta drivers are shitty to people on bikes, but jeez. That's really cold.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our House in Israel

My brother Josh got an email from an old friend of his from 6th grade that we knew when we lived in Israel. Our school there just had a big reunion (I'm so sad I couldn't go) and she emailed some pictures. This is the house that we lived in at 15 Wingate Street in Herzeliya Petuach, a suburb of Tel Aviv. That huge wall around it was not there when we lived in it -- it was wide open to the street. Times have changed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I'm so bummed. The Kailua place that I love was taken off the market. This process is so annoying.

Monday, August 14, 2006

We are ath-a-leets

Ever since I was little, I was a good athlete. My mom taught me to swim when I was barely 2 years old, and I was fearless in the water and on the diving board. I played youth soccer, a little 8-year-old dynamo running around the field with my Dorothy Hamill haircut. I was a competitive gymnast and then a competitive diver. I've played on softball teams, soccer teams, field hockey teams, tennis teams and ultimate frisbee teams.

I point this out not because I think I'm some sort of stud, but to provide some context. In January of 1999, I ran a half-marathon, and then did a full marathon 5 months later. It was too much for my L4-L5 disc to handle. The disc herniated and jammed up against the sciatic nerve in my left leg, causing excruciating pain down my leg and into my toes. For 3 months, I hobbled around at an angle, unable to walk fully upright because of the pain. I walked the dogs in the mornings and cried because it hurt so bad. It was one of the most humbling and frightening experiences of my life. I went from never questioning my own strength or physical ability to do anything, to wondering if I would ever be able to function again without pain.

So in October 1999, I had surgery on my back. What my surgeon lacked in bedside manner he made up for in skill, because within 4 months or so I was relatively pain-free. My back still stiffens up from time to time, and I can definitely tell when it's going to rain, but it's manageable. Since then, I vowed that I would do my best to keep my body strong and healthy and never take my physical health for granted. I've had good examples set for me. My father still rides his bike to work sometimes, and my mother gets up at 5 every morning to lift weights. My grandfather is 90 and still loves to dance. I've got good longevity genes, so barring getting hit by a bus, I'll probably live to be in my 90s (at least). If I don't take care of myself, I could spend alot of years feeling crappy and weak. Having already been there, I know how much it sucks, so no, thank you.

After my surgery, and when I felt reasonable recovered, my friend Kathleen and I decided to do a sprint triathlon, and we found one in August 2000 in Charleston. Whenever we talked about it, we proclaimed that we were "ath-a-leets" (if it doesn't have three syllables, you're not pronouncing it right). We trained hard and were in great shape. I was a little bit nervous about my back holding up, but it did, and we finished the race in a respectable time and crossed the finish line holding hands.

We are now 6 years older than when we did the Charleston tri. We both have husbands, and Kathleen has two children. But we are still doing races, so now we just have a bigger cheering section at the finish. We did a sprint triathlon yesterday (again holding hands at the finish -- we are such dorks), and we are doing another one in 4 weeks. We trained and competed with our buddy, Michelle, who regularly kicks both of our asses but who helps us train and never complains when we ask to stop to rest.

Eventually, we'll be in our 70's and finishing at the bottom of the pack. But we'll finish, because we are ath-a-leets.

We cross the finish line with big smiles. I think my turquoise tri suit is the other manmade object visible from space.

Weekend miscellany

We had a good open house yesterday -- about four groups came through in 2 hours, and a couple expressed serious interest. So that's good. On the down side, the Ala Wai condo sellers got another offer. I don't know what it was or whether it was accepted. Argh.

In other news, I did a triathlon yesterday. I felt pretty good about it. I need to work on my transitions and my running, but it was fun. Such an improvement from the Chattanooga half marathon, which was utterly f'ing miserable for me. Kathleen, Michelle LeGault and Julie Lewis did it as well, and Jason and Rich and the girls came up to cheer us on. Jason was so proud of me that he got a little choked up when I finished. So sweet.

I'm definitely pumped up to do another one soon -- there's a sprint up at Lake Lure in North Carolina in September. Kathleen and I are mulling over signing up.

Friday, August 11, 2006


The sellers won't accept the offer with the contingency. I wish I could afford to carry two mortgages at once, but I can't. I guess nothing to do but wait for the house to sell.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My dad is fine, but he's a crazy adrenaline junkie

I just talked to my mother, who just talked to my father, who is fine. [*knocks wood, throws salt over shoulder*] But he's in the Golan Heights, near the Lebanese and Syrian borders in the north of Israel. He was talking to my mother from his balcony on the kibbutz where he's staying, and he's looking out on a beautiful night and watching the artillery fire from the Hezbollah rockets. He assured my mother that he would go to a bunker if the air raid siren sounded. Great. That's so reassuring!

Though now that I think of it, we lived in Israel when it went to war with Lebanon back in 1982. That same year, my parents took my brothers and me to a ski resort on Mt. Hermon -- from which you could spit and hit Syrian or Lebanese soil -- to go sledding. Our family motto has always been "suck it up," so maybe taking us to go play in a war zone was a way of teaching us to walk the walk.

It's out there...

I just sent Cy, the real estate agent, the signed offer. We had 7 different documents totalling 22 pages that Jason and I had to either sign or initial. Thankfully, Hawaii allows faxed or emailed signatures to function as originals, so we can do this all over the internet. I might not even have to be there to close, which would be great. I would love to have the deal finish, have Cy hook up all of our utilities, land in Honolulu, pick up the keys, and walk into our new place.

Fingers crossed that the seller will accept the offer. I really don't want to lose this place.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Three Little Birds

Poor Jason. I woke up with him this morning to make him his lunch for work, and promptly started to cry. I don't know why I'm feeling so weepy -- I think it's a combination of exhaustion and stress. He's a trouper, though. He always knows how to make me laugh, and particularly to laugh at myself, which I definitely need.

I also received this wonderful e-mail from a dear friend who I won't name because I don't want to plaster her name all over the web without her permission (but it rhymes with "Shmen Foocas"). I will also mention that she has been quite remiss in sending new pictures of her adorable baby.
you *should* be terrified wendy because that is a normal reaction when your life is so terrific. but most of the reason that your life is terrific has to do with being happy with yourself. since you'll be taking yourself with you to hawaii, i think you'll be all set. plus, being in a loving relationship will make it all worthwhile. missing family and friends will be balanced by the fun and adventure of getting settled in and exploring a new place. it will be really exciting. new friends are not the same as people who have known you forever, but new friends become old friends in not too long. i read somewhere that it takes a year to really get emotionally settled after a move to a new place. don't let the 30+ sets of visitors you'll have in that first year get in the way of you guys settling in :)

when you move you won't stop getting support and encouragement from all of us. i know it's not the same when there is an ocean between us, but many of your friends and family aren't in the same city anyway. but really, so normal to be scared. moving is a big deal. plus, getting married is a life-changing event. that's a lot of stress, even if it's good stress.
She's absolutely right. I will miss you all, but I will talk to you and email with you and you will visit me and I will visit you. And I will be experiencing it with my sweet, sweet husband. So it's all good.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

10:40 pm, and I'm all nerves

Jet lag sucks. I was so exhausted this morning that I slept like a dead person until about 7:30, which is way too late to get organized and be on time for work, then I'm exhausted again at around 4 in the afternoon, and now it's way past bedtime and I'm a bundle of anxiety and I can't sleep. Word to the wise: unless you can help it, don't take a trip in which your turnaround is less than the time you will require to get over the time difference. A good rule of thumb is 1 day per hour or hour and a half of time difference, i.e., assume that if you're going someplace where there's a 6 hour time difference, it'll take at about 4-6 days to get adjusted fully. Last year I did a trip to Australia, which is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast, that was only a week long. My body completely rebelled and I got horribly sick -- tonsillitis, if I remember correctly -- as soon as I got back. The Hawaii trip was 3 days, with a 6 hour time difference, and while I don't feel like I'm getting sick, my head hurts and I'm alternately tired and wired at the wrong times.

I'm also feeling very nervous. Excited about the move, but also terrified. I keep bursting into tears and then feeling stupid about it. I know it's going to be a grand adventure, but I'm going to miss my family and friends so much that it physically hurts sometimes, like a vise grip in my chest. Being in limbo is hard. What if the sellers of the Waikiki place don't accept the offer, or what if our house here doesn't sell in time? I crunched the numbers to try to figure out if we could float the mortgage on this place AND have Jason between jobs for awhile AND pay the mortgage, condo fees, etc. in Hawaii, and I just don't see that we could without ending up in the poor house or the funny farm. Which means that we have to wait for our house here to sell before we can do anything. I hate not knowing what's going to happen or where we're going to be, or when.

Plus my dad's in Israel right now until next week. I won't relax until his plane touches down on U.S. soil again, especially because, according to my mom, he may be going to Haifa. Which is being shelled by Hezbollah rockets. So there's that.

Sorry to be whining. This blog is functioning as my therapist right now, so I thank all of you for your patience and forebearance. I've received so many emails and other expressions of encouragement, and I appreciate your support and am flattered by your interest in my inane musings.

Oh, and Eleanor, I did finally get my Ipod to work. ;)

House hunting etiquette

I was gone over the weekend (as you all know), as was Jason. Apparently he and the boys had a big time camping and biking. Saturday night was spent sitting around the fire, shelling and eating peanuts and drinking beer. Every once and a while, someone would say, "good times," and the rest would nod, and then they'd go on staring at the fire. Boys are funny.

While we were gone, some people came through on Saturday to look at the house. We have a lock box on the front door, so realtors can show the house any time. At first it weirded me out knowing that people would be traipsing through the place whenever they wanted, but we got used to it, and now it's kind of nice to have the house spotlessly clean all the time.

So anyway, someone came through on Saturday, and TOOK A GIANT DUMP IN THE TOILET AND DIDN'T FLUSH. Yes, you read that right. Jason came home on Sunday night, lifted the toilet seat lid, and found a disgusting present waiting for him.

Who does this?? I'm still in total shock. My understanding of the general rules of house hunting is that one does not use the bathroom in a strange person's house. Of course, if you gotta go, you gotta go, so if there's an emergency, by all means, do the needful. But for God's sake, flush the fucking toilet. Seriously. Just flush. People amaze me, and not always in a good way.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back in the ATL

took the redeye in from Honolulu last night. I managed to get some sleep, but the trip was one klutzy screw-up after another. Cy and I went to lunch yesterday to go over the contract before we formally make the offer, and as I was walking out to his car, a water bottle in my bag tipped over and poured itself all over the inside in my bag. Normally not too much of a big deal, except that for reasons that I have still not been able to figure out -- after considerable investigation, mind you -- everything in the bag turned green, dripped green water all over my jeans, Cy's car seats, my ipod, and my bottle of ambien, which had somehow come open in the bag. I've tried to find a green pen, green piece of cloth, anything that would account for the abundance of green water soaking everything, but could find nothing. I try to play my Ipod, but it's acting all buggy and the click wheel won't respond to touch. I've rebooted it or reset it or whatever you do to an Ipod about 50 times, but nothing. It wasn't until I was on the plane that I discovered that my ambiens were slowly disintegrating into a pile of soggy green mush, so I grabbed 2 that seemed relatively whole and ate them, and then slept until we landed. Right before landing, they served some cereal and coffee, and of course I spilled my coffee on my tray and it dripped down into my lap. After getting off the plane and getting my luggage, I rode the Marta into the office. There was condensation from the airconditioning unit on the roof of the train car, so every time the train jostled it dripped water all over everyone. The long and the short of it is, I feel like the kid in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
A classic children's book -- I highly recommend it -- and one that perfectly captures the way I'm feeling right now.

UPDATE: Salvation!! Jason played hooky from work and is coming to pick me up. I'll do some work at home, and also shower and get into some clean clothes. I love my husband!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We're making an offer

I just talked to Jason, who is riding with Chris back to Atlanta after their camping trip in Tsali. They had a great time, and it sounds like the tent and other camping gear we have is going to be perfect for our road trip across the country.

OK, sorry, I buried the lede. We're making an offer on the Waikiki place on Ala Wai. I'm meeting with Cy later today to go over comparables so we can decide on the specifics of the offer, but we're doing it. Now I have to figure out if we should get this show on the road and get a bridge loan to cover the Atlanta mortgage until the house sells and just move out here ASAP.

This is all moving very fast, but I'm really excited.

A day at Waikiki beach

The waves were about shoulder to head-high and perfect. There were so many surfers out there, good ones, really tearing it up. I read the paper and lounged in the water on a floatie that a lady from New Zealand gave me because her trip was ending and she wasn't going to schlep it back with her. And yes, Mom, I used plenty of sunscreen (30 spf) and wore a big straw hat, so I didn't get burned.

Statue of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. Duke (he and I are on a first-name basis, dontcha know) was one of the first big wave riders in the world, an Olympic swimmer, and the first person inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Narrowing the field

I looked at 8 or 9 different places today, and I think I've got it narrowed down to a place in Waikiki and the place in Kailua. Nothing else even comes close. I saw a couple of places that were decent and in a good building and location, a place that was too shabby (with a weird layout), a place that was in a great location and building but was just too tiny, and then, the Waikiki condo that I really love. The thing that struck me was that as important as it is to walk through a place to get a sense of whether you like it, with both of the ones that I love, the walkthrough only confirmed what I already knew in my gut. With the Kailua place, I knew as soon as I saw the listing, a month and a half ago, that I would love it. Same with the Waikiki place. I don't know if the agents who prepared the listings really knew how to convey the feel of the properties or what, but I had a powerful sense that either of them could be the one.

So what's so great about it? First, it is in an unbelievable location. Right in Waikiki, blocks from the beach, walking distance to restaurants, shopping, recreational paths. On Ala Wai canal with a view of the mountains and great trade breezes to keep the place cool. It's got a terrific layout, and I already have an idea of how to open up the main living area even more. It's in move-in condition. It's got a lanai (Hawaiian for balcony) that wraps around the unit. The maintenance fee is a bit steep, but it covers every utility. It's got covered parking, and the location is so good that we could probably get away with having only one car. I can see myself entertaining guests and working there. In a word, it rocks.

view of Ala Wai Canal from the wraparound lanai

Above: the salt water fish tank/pond; view of the kitchen from the lanai

back corner of the living room. You can see the lanai on either side outside the windows.

The next step is to talk to Cy tomorrow and go over the contract process. When I get home, I'll sit down with Jason, go over all of the various listings and the 150 pictures I took, and make a decision. I think we'll place a contingency offer (contingent on the sale of our house) within a week.

And now, I'm going to the beach. I may even rent a surfboard and catch a couple of waves, but I'm kind of a pussy about surfing without Jason, so I'll probably just read and nap.

Saturday morning

I finally slept last night, with the assistance of 1 1/2 ambiens. I'm still jet lagged, so I was asleep by 7:30, and woke up at 5. Went down the street to a 24 hour coffee shop for breakfast and drank my weight in coffee. Kathleen called a little while ago -- it was so nice talking to her. She's still in Michigan with her family, while our husbands are biking and camping in North Carolina. That is going to be the hardest part about moving here -- making new friends and missing my Atlanta crew.

Cy is picking me up in about 20 minutes. We're going to look at in-town properties today. More later...

Cy Carnate, Coldwell Banker Properties, at your service

Salt Lake

Salt Lake a neighborhood in the metro Honolulu area, just north of the airport. It's very convenient to everything. It's an upper middle class area with decent public schools (a rarity for Hawaii), populated by military families and Honolulu professionals. It kind of looks like someone scattered condo seeds in a giant field, and lots of tall buildings grew very close to each other. The building I looked at (there are 3 identical units for sale) is within walking distance to a new shopping center, 5 minutes from the airport, close to downtown, beach, whereever. It's not as pretty as Kailua, but it's more centrally located.

The building is called Ala Ilima. It's not very pretty from the outside, but the elevators are well-maintained (Cy told me that you can tell how well a building is maintained by the quality of its elevators), it has a pool, exercise room, bbq area, sauna, and a bunch of other stuff. Both units I looked at had been recently renovated with granite counters in the kitchen, new cabinets, pergo floors. They have painted brick walls, which I'm not crazy about, but I can live with them. The layout of the condos is OK. I could live here. But I'd rather live in Kailua.

Above: kitchen and LR; the trapezoid shaped pool; the new public library across the street.


Ah, Kailua. What a place. I could easily see myself living here. It feels more like a beach town than Kaneohe does, for some reason. Kind of like living on the Outer Banks, but with more big city amenities, plus an actual big city 20 minutes away. The two properties I looked at here were both very nice, but one is $100,000 more than the other, so I ruled it out fairly quickly. The other one feels like home. The interior living space is about 1500 sf, which is close to what I'm living in now, plus a huge open lanai that is big enough to put a table on to have meals out there. The complex is beautiful -- landscaped gardens, a pool, a bbq area, just lovely. We would be a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bike ride from the beach, and close to great shopping. I love love love this place. The only downside is the price. The mortgage wouldn't be bad, but it's a leasehold, which is an estate in land peculiar to Hawaii, in which the owner owns the improvements (i.e., the building) on the real estate, but the actual land is owned by someone else, so you pay monthly rent on the land. In alot of places in town, the monthly leasehold payment is low -- around $30 -- so it's not a big deal. But my Kailua place is leased at over $400 a month, plus a $700 monthly condo fee and $120 a month in taxes. So we're looking at over $1200 a month before we even get to the mortgage. I do love it, though. Right now, this is the front-runner.


I looked at 8 properties yesterday, accompanied by Cy, my trusty real estate agent. He's a really nice guy, and a former teacher and curriculum coordinator for public schools, so when he found out I did special ed law, we had lots to talk about other than the real estate, which still gave us plenty. His wife made us these home-baked energy bars that were yummy.

As it always is, looking at properties is weird. For every one, you have to imagine, could I live here? Do the neighbors look nice? Where would guests stay? Do I have room for my pots and pans? Where will I hang my artwork?

Two of the condos (they were almost identical because they are in the same building, pictured below) were just gross. They were in the town of Kaneohe, on the windward side. The prices out here blow my mind -- these places were listed at around $360K, and they're just dumpy. No effing way.

The first building we looked at. Looks like the projects. To the left is a busy road.

Note the olive green counters, linolium floors, carpet, and fake grass on the lanai. There is no air conditioning and nowhere to put ceiling fans. Yes, the trade winds are strong, but it was stuffy in there.

I love the chutzpah the agent for this place has, listing this as a lanai off the bedroom. You couldn't put anything out there. If you were having a "fat" day, closing the door behind your ass might even be a problem.

The next place was much better (I'm having a hard time uploading photos onto Blogger, so here is a link to the listing instead). Also in Kaneohe. I don't love Kaneohe as much as Kailua, but it's not bad. Beautiful mountains, close to hiking, beach, canoeing, good restaurants, and about 20 minutes to Honolulu. This place has a tennis court, but no pool. It's cute, nicely done up, and it had a downstairs area with another bathroom and two guest rooms. Both of which are tiny, but that's the nature of the beast around here. Either one could function very well as a nursery or an office. Jason could put in some nice lighting to pep it up, and we could take out the carpet that's down there and put in Pergo. This is a possibility, especially because the price is right.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday morning, and feeling impatient

In case you can't tell, I'm (a) bored waiting for the real estate agent to show up so we can get started (he'll be here in 2 1/2 hours -- damn you, 6 hour time difference!), and (b) digging this blogging thing.

I went for my complimentary breakfast at 6:30 this morning. The "breakfast" consisted of mini-donuts, donut holes (chocolate and frosted cinnamon), cheese and apple danishes that had to be at least a day old, toast served with little plastic single-serve tubs of Country CrockTM well past their expiration date, and canned juice. Ah, Waikiki Gateway Hotel, how will I get used to being home again after the standard of living you've kept me in? *sigh* And if it seems like I'm inordinately complaining, I really don't mean to. I'm just trying to paint an accurate picture. The view is lovely, the location can't be beat, the internet service is fast, and the guy at the front desk is very friendly.

The nice thing about the time difference is that it's only 8 in the morning and I've already accomplished so much today. I made progress on my brief, which is going to kick ass, if I do say so my damned self. I read the news in all the major newspapers, plus CNN, MSNBC and Slate. I got caught up on my celebrity gossip. And I went for a run and checked out what might be my new neighborhood. The run was lovely. This is the general area where I ran, including a walking path right on the beach that isn't visible in these pictures:

Top: view west of Kalakaua Blvd, including Fort DeRussey Park. Bottom: view south towards beach

It is a beautiful day. I saw a bunch of surfers at the break just outside of Ala Moana Harbor -- there were good waves, as there is a 10 foot swell coming up from the south. Jason will be in heaven when he gets here. He is so happy when he can surf. Even though he likes our friends in Atlanta, does alot of mountain biking, is going camping with the boys this weekend, etc., I can see him withering a little bit when he's away from the beach for too long.

I walked by one of the buildings that I'm interested in. It's right on Ala Wai Boulevard on the canal. About 3 blocks to the beach, 3 blocks to the heart of Waikiki, right on a huge recreation path where we can bike, walk the dog or run. The downside of the property is that it ain't cheap -- the maintenance fees and taxes are about $700 a month, and that's on top of a hefty mortgage payment. But the fee does include cable, electricity, water and sewage, so there's that. Anyway, it's a nice looking building, and the view of the mountains and canal is crazy gorgeous.

I might try to hit the beach today, so I think I'm going to walk down to this bathing suit store I saw to find a new suit. I haven't bought a new bathing suit in about 3 years, and my old ones are looking very, very tired. I'll post more after I get back this afternoon...

A sign

There's a property in Kailua (on the windward side) that I've had my eye on for months. It's awesome -- 3br 2 1/2 ba townhouse right in a great little town on the beach, but it was a little pricey because it's maintenance fees are super high. When I first started watching this property it was listed at $350K. I got an email today notifying me that it's now down to $299K. It's over on the windward side of the island. I'm going to look at it today, I think.

4 am

It's almost 4 am, but my body thinks it's 10 am, so I'm up. Well, not physically. I'm lying in bed as I write this -- the one great thing about this hotel is that they provide free high speed internet access -- but I'm awake. I've got a big brief that I'm preparing for work, so I'm doing that and reading the news (depressing as ever).

I didn't end up watching the sunset because it was raining. Not a torrential downpour, but a soft, steady mist from the clouds that rolled down the mountains behind the city.

Here comes the rain

I walked down into the heart of the Waikiki district anyway just to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. The beachwalk is a bizarre combination of extremely high end shopping (Chanel Prada Coach Tod's Bottega Veneta Louis Vuitton Fendi Dior blah blee bloo) and seriously tacky souvenir-type shops selling "authentic" Hawaiian fare - endless racks of flowered shirts, flowered dresses, flowered shorts, flowered bags, carved wood totems, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, "my grandpa went to Hawaii and all I got was this shitty shirt," $3 travel-sized bottles of shampoo, sunscreen and liquor.

And the tourists. Holy shit, they're everywhere. Fat, and all sporting angry-looking sunburns, fanny packs, aloha shirts, and to my horror, even leis. I saw a family of four -- Mom, Dad, Buster and Sally -- walking down the street all wearing matching flowered shirts and leis. Come on, people. I know you're on vacation, but some small effort to not look like a total rube would be appreciated, at least by me. Jesus H.

Some of the properties I'm interested are very close to here, and as I was walking around I was wondering what it would be like to live in a neighborhood in which virtually no one you see on the street is actually a neighbor. But it is a cool city -- very pretty, lush vegetation, and I can see us enjoying being in such a physically spectacular place, with perfect weather and the beach within walking distance.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And So It Begins...

I'm sitting in my room at the Waikiki Gateway Hotel, having arrived about an hour ago for my three-day house-hunting whirlwind. The hotel is in a great location, but it is unquestionably a dump. Tiny room, crappy cheap green(ish) carpet with cigarette burns, furniture that looks like it was purchased at Goodwill, and the requisite synthetic hotel bedspread with the ugly tropical print. When I see a room like this, it reminds me of those episodes of CSI when the investigators are going over the crime scene bed with the black light, looking for spunk or other unsavory substances. They have a laundry on one of the upstairs floors. I'm contemplating washing my sheets.

My shitty room. This picture doesn't really do justice to how dumpy it is.

You're probably asking yourself, who cares? I don't know. Maybe nobody. But I'm on this big kick these days of keeping a journal and taking lots of pictures to remember different points of my life, and as transitions go, this is a big one, so I thought I'd start a blog. Easier than a paper journal, especially because I type so much faster than I write. So in these web-pages, I'll be chronicling the process of our move to, and then our life in, Hawaii.

So, to begin with, being here is sort of surreal. It's very odd to be by myself looking at properties in a strange city that I don't know very well, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I'm tired and hungry right now -- the flight was very long, I didn't sleep (no big surprise), and I didn't eat much -- and it's kind of lonely to be alone over here with no one to even go to dinner with. My mom called me this morning and asked, out of the blue, if she should have planned to come with me. I don't know why neither of us thought of it before, because it would have been nice to have her input, not to mention her wonderful company. At least I know that this will be the only time I have to do this or be here by myself like this. The next time I'm here, Jason and Max will be with me and we'll be setting up our new home.

I'm going to go for a walk, maybe watch the sunset, and then come back and watch a little tube and go to bed. Speaking of tube, prime time starts here at like 6 pm. I definitely have to get TiVo when we come here.