Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In between days

This is the time that I hate.  We have a contract, but we're negotiating over what repairs to do (as identified by the buyer's inspecition), so it could still fall through.  Most of the repairs they have asked for are minor, but we have to treat for termites, which is about $1000, and there are a couple of other things we're haggling about.  It's all very nerve-racking.  I don't feel like I can sign a contract with a mover or make other final-ish arrangements before knowing if the deal is going to go through -- though that didn't stop me from signing a lease, so go figure -- so all I can do right now is wait.  It's hard.

Monday, January 29, 2007

To do: everything

For the past couple of weeks I've been working on a huge brief that we're filing today in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  It's 70 pages long and has consumed my life and my brain lately.  Which means that while I am vaguely aware of the fact that I will be out of my house in a month, I've been too distracted to deal with it. 
 
I emailed the brief to the printer about 20 minutes ago.  So now I have to deal with it.  There is so much to do.  My list keeps getting longer and longer.  And the buyer did his inspection on Saturday, so he might want things to be done that will add to the list even more. 
 
But with each passing day, I'm more and more excited and optimistic and less and less freaked out and anxious.  I discovered that flying from Hawaii to the west coast is cheap and easy, so I'll be able to visit friends and meet up with family without it costing everyone an arm and a leg and an endless flight.  And it really is so beautiful there.  The Leeward Coast, where we'll be living, has some of the most pristine beaches and gorgeous sunsets on the island. 
 
Today it was 19 degrees when I walked the dog this morning.  The thought of being able to stroll with him to the beach on a warm, sunny morning is quite nice. 
 

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We have a place in Hawaii

Jesus.  I can't believe how quickly this is all happening.  I was freaking out about finding a place to live, and lamenting that we'd be renting a dump for a year or so while we figure out if/where we want to buy.  Then yesterday I stumbled on a craigslist posting for a 3 bedroom, 3 bath townhouse on the Leeward side with a $99 move-in special that covers the first month's rent, security deposit, and application fee.  Insane, especially for Hawaii.  So I submitted an application and the lady from the rental place called me and told me that we could have it, but the move-in special ends today.  If we take it, we save about $4000 in rent, deposit and fees.  Plus there's the peace of mind of having a place to move to.  An address I can use for my mail, magazine subscriptions, etc.  And of course, having some concrete idea of where we'll be.
 
So we took it.  We'll be living here:  http://www.kalaeloaliving.com/makai.htm (click on the layout for the 3br/1.5.5 ba townhouse).  It's a quarter of a mile from the beach and has plenty of room for visitors, so start saving your frequent flyer miles.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's All Happening

When I started this blog last August, I was in Hawaii looking at real estate. We had just put our house on the market and assumed that it would sell within 30 to 45 days. I had it in my mind that we would be out there within months, and I was ready. Everything seemed to be moving so fast, I didn't have time to really think about it.

But then the house sat on the market for months, and I started to feel complacent. Like the move was just this thing that was always out there in the future, but not ever actually happening, especially after we took the house off the market for the holidays.

All of that time in limbo caused me to ruminate more and more on what I would be leaving, most particularly my friends. But it's more than that. It's my whole life here. I moved to Atlanta 12 1/2 years ago, fresh out of law school, with no money and no job. I got an apartment with some college friends, waited tables until I found a job in a law firm, and proceeded to put down roots. While living this city, I learned how to be a lawyer, had my heart broken, made lots of friends, traveled, became an aunt, bought a house, ran a marathon, played in a bluegrass band, and fell in love and got married. This is where I became a grown-up. I feel at home here.

And now I'm leaving in 5 weeks. We signed a contract and are closing on February 27. I'm excited for the future, but my heart feels heavy at the same time. I'm going to miss this place.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Deal.

We accepted their counter-counter-offer.  I'm freaking out.  I may throw up.

Deal or no deal?

We got an offer yesterday.  It's a little low, but we're countering.  I'm afraid to say any more for fear of jinxing it. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How we spend our time together

Last night we were trying to set up an online account for Jason's bank account in Australia, so that he could check his balance and transfer money. One of the security features on the account is personalized questions, but you get to make up the question (instead of being stuck with the standard, "what's your mother's maiden name" or "what's the name of your favorite pet.")

I was doing the typing, so I asked him, "what do you want your question to be?"

He thought about it for a minute and said, "'How many hairs do I have on my butt?'"

"Heeeee! Seriously? That's what you want the question to be?"

"Yes."

So I typed it in.

"OK, so what's the answer?"

"What?"

"How many hair do you have on your butt?"

"6."

"Awesome."

We finished setting up the account. Then we were trying to figure out how to do a wire transfer, so we called the bank in Australia. Jason explained to the young woman that answered what he was trying to do. And of course, she had to confirm his identity.

"Ah, sir. Ah. I have to ask you some security questions. Er."

"Yes, go ahead."

"Er, well. Sometimes we don't read the questions aloud to avoid embarassing the customers..."

"No, that's alright. Read the question."

"How many hairs do you have on your butt?"

All three of us (Jason, the teller, and me) busted up with laughter. I would try to stop, and then my shoulders would start to shake and my eyes would squinch up and I'd start guffawing all over again.

This is how we spend our time together. Making butt jokes and fart jokes and imitating each others' accents (he thinks my Aussie accent sounds too posh), and laughing. It's kind of fun.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Personal Best

Saturday night Jason and I went bowling with my friend E and her new dude. She's a journalist and was reviewing the bowling alley for the newspaper, so we got to go with her and hang out and bowl and point out things that she might put in her review.

I have been bowling one other time in my life, about 6 1/2 years ago. I bowled a 53. This time, I bowled a 56. Personal best -- woohoo!! We had a great time -- drinking beer, bowling and watching the last bit of the Saints-Eagles game on TV. It all felt very wholesome and Middle America.

One of my favorite things about hanging out with E is that she's such an encouraging person. I'm very competitive, but it was hard to get too steamed about my crappy performance when I obviously had no chance of winning, and when E cheered every shot, whether I bowled a strike (which I did twice) or a gutter ball (which I did about 8 times). She reminds me of my mom, who is also incredibly positive and encouraging.

Most of the time.

Yesterday I called my folks to say hello, and told my mom about our bowling excursion.

"How'd you do?"

"I bowled a 56."

In the tone of voice she reserves for expressions of shock and dismay, she blurted, "WENDY!! That's terrible!!"

I cracked up. I guess I'm out in the cold, cold world now, the one where my mother doesn't blow sunshine up my ass at everything I do, or at least not at a really pathetic bowling score.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Inaugural Fancy Schmancy Tastebud Dancey

Yesterday at around 2 in the afternoon I started thinking about what Jason and I were going to do for dinner. We like to cook, and most nights we'll make something pretty good -- fish, steak, grilled chicken, different kinds of veggies, yummy salads. But I'd been feeling like we were coming back to the same well too many times and was getting bored with our repertoire. So I decided to look for a fun new recipe to make.

The Food Network's website is really great for finding all different kinds of recipes, and I ultimately decided on an Italian recipe for chicken served with gnocci. I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home to pick up the ingredients, and we started cooking as soon as we got home. We decided that we would start a new weekly tradition on Wednesday nights, in which we would pick out a recipe from one of our cookbooks or a magazine and cook together.

The dish called for pieces of chicken sauteed with onion, garlic and figs, and then simmered in red wine reduction and chicken stock, seasoned with lemon zest, parsley, thyme, and a couple of other things. The cooked gnocci is sauteed in butter with chives, salt, pepper and nutmet, and then garnished with pancetta.

It was insanely delicious. I've never eaten or cooked with figs before (except for fig newtons), and they have a rich sweetness that complemented beautifully the salty, onion-y, wine-y taste of the sauce. Jason and I sat there eating and sort of laughing to ourselves, like we and our tastebuds had stumbled into paradise and couldn't quite believe it. Jason said, "So, have you thought about how we're going to top this fancy schmancy tastebud dancey for next week?"

"'Fancy schmancy tastebud dancey?' Did you just think of that? That's awesome."

"Yeah, I'm feeling pretty clever right about now."

"So are your tastebuds dancing?"

"There's a riot in my mouth. It's mayhem in there."

"That's what we'll call it! Our new tradition will have a name: Fancy Schmancy Tastebud Dancey!"

"I'm thinking c-h in the spelling of 'schmancy'."

"Absolutely. s-c-h-m-a-n-c-y."

"'Hello, Bob? I'm sorry, I can't go drinking with you that night. That's Fancy Schmancy Tastebud Dancey night.'"

"Hee! Should we do an acronym? Call it FSTD?"

"No, I don't want to give anything food-related a name with 'STD' in the title."

"OK. So it will be our weekly Fancy Schmancy Tastebud Dancey."

And that's how traditions are born in our house. Next week we're making a New Orleans redfish served with a smoked mushroom salad. Yum.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Bulgarian State Opera

Last night I went with Kathleen and Mindy to see the Bulgarian State Opera perform The Marriage of Figaro at the Fox Theater. The good news was that we got tickets for half price because we bought them less than 30 minutes before curtain. The bad news was that it totally sucked. I love opera, I love the Fox Theater, and I especially love The Marriage of Figaro, but watching this production was the theatrical equivalent of eating bad clams. The prospect of a show done by the Bulgarian State Opera sounded all Old World Europe and grand. But I guess Bulgaria isn't doing so well -- or at least, their recent economic progress hasn't trickled down to the State Opera's coffers -- because the plays I did in high school had higher production values. I felt bad, because the performers were really trying -- the effort showed on their faces, like a baby straining for a poop. But it just wasn't good. Mediocre singing, terrible acting, plodding pace, no set design. I'm sure I sound like a snobby bitch, but so be it. We left at intermission, figuring that if we paid half price, we got our money's worth by watching half of the show.

Line of the night, by Ms. Kathleen A. Sullivan, upon seeing the numerous uni-brows sported by various musicians as the orchestra stood up to be introduced: "There's alot of hair in that orchestra pit." It took all of my powers and all of my skills not to giggle throughout the overture.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I have the cleanest house in the world...for at least the next few hours

I feel like I've been hit by a truck. Our house is being relisted today, so we spent the weekend cleaning and organizing. One would think that there wouldn't have been that much to do, given that we had been showing our house only two months ago. But no. Apparently, our last realtor, while very nice, was even more of an amateur than we thought, because she gave us a few minor chores and then told us that the house looked fine. Little did we know.

The Shark came by last Wednesday to walk throught the house and tell us what we needed to do to get it ready to show (and stage for the extensive photos he will be taking today and posting on his website). I followed him around with a pad of paper, writing everything down. The list was over a page long. We needed to:
  • replace the light fixture in the dining room (which I've hated for the entire 7 1/2 years I've lived in the house, and have been meaning to get a new one for God knows how long, but just never got around to it)
  • clean out and organize every closet in the house
  • recaulk the bathtubs in both bathrooms
  • get rid of the CD rack (which had 300 CDs in it)
  • get rid of the huge easy chair in the sitting room (*sniff* -- I love that chair)
  • rearrange the furniture in the guest bedroom
  • get rid of as much as possible on the kitchen counters, which meant I had to redo every cupboard in the kitchen
  • get rid of the drain-rack next to the kitchen sink
  • move the stereo speakers off the top of the armoire in the living room and put them on the floor
  • pop the screens out of every window and clean every window, inside and out
  • clean out/organize the garage
  • clean/organize the laundry room
  • get rid of every last leaf and stick on the lawn and driveway, and possibly plant some flowers (in January!!)

Saturday morning, we slept in a little bit, but as soon as we got up, we were off and running. Every waking minute of the next two days was spent working. I loaded 900 songs onto my ipod in the process of culling through the CDs. I threw away the extra spices that were cluttering up my spice cupboard (I had 4 tins of bay leaves, 5 boxes of baking soda, 3 extra containers of nutmeg, 2 boxes of ground mustard, and 3 boxes of whole cloves). I organized my 40 pairs of shoes and my 25 purses. We washed, folded and put away every piece of laundry in the house. I caulked the tub and washed every window. We vacuumed, moved furniture, compiled massive piles for the dumpster and the Salvation Army. By the end of the day, my lower back was so locked up that I couldn't even sit, and even rolling over in bed proved to be enormously painful. Thank God for Dr. Lopez, my chiropractor -- he worked on me for 1/2 an hour this morning and told me I would need to do stretches "a bunch of times" over the next few days.

But the effort was worth it, because the house is pristine. We got everything done. And it will look perfect until either Jason or I set foot in the house again, because Pig Pen has nothing on either of us.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Fresh Start

The New Year’s party was everything it should have been. It was fun, it was silly, and it rinsed away the bad taste of the old year and prepared our palates for the sweetness of 2007. I spent the evening playing with some of my favorite friends: Mindy & Chris, Kathleen & Rich, Elizabeth & Anthony, Julie Lewis, David & Michele, Karen & Phil, and all of the peanuts: Addie, Lula, Bella, Lila, Grayson & Dylan. And of course, my bestest, most favorite friend, Jason.

As promised, we had the moon bounce and the champagne fountain and the firecrackers and the sage. The champagne fountain was a gloriously tacky affair. All molded plastic and chintzy metal, with rough looking cherubs and chains (to guide the liquid from one level to another without splashing) that could have doubled for the on/off pulls on my ceiling fans. Plus, the people that rented it before us appeared to have used it for some kind of thick, fruity drink, some of which somehow got stuck on the inside, so the middle part looked all globby and gross when it was lit up. As soon as it was delivered, I ran a warm water and vinegar solution through it for 20 minutes to clean out the pipes, but the dark globs didn’t move. I don’t want to think about how they got there in the first place, but whatever. The essential plumbing was clean enough for our purposes.



The real beauty of the fountain is that it removed any and all effort that might normally accompany the act of drinking champagne (lifting those heavy bottles, for example). It also made every glass flow into the next, as it were. No tilting the bottle all the way for the last dregs to remind me of how much I had already had to drink. The champagne just streamed out of 4 different pipes into the main basin, so any time I wanted a refill, I just stuck my glass under the stream for a few seconds. All in all, I probably consumed at least a bottle and a half of champagne. Plus a couple of beers, a shot of whiskey, and god knows what else.



The moonbounce was also a bit hit. One of the best things about the party was that everybody brought their kids, so we had all of these little monkeys under the age of 4 running around. Bella, my friend Michele’s daughter, was particularly delightful. As soon as she arrived, she wanted to play with everything and everyone. She followed our dog around, she and I jumped up and down on both of my beds, we danced, we giggled, and we bounced in the moonbounce. It had been raining all day, and continued to rain off and on throughout the night, but we waited for breaks in the weather and didn’t mind getting a little wet. Bouncing is incredibly liberating. I would yell “woohoo!!!” without the slightest touch of self-consciousness or irony.

Much to my delight, Michele showed up at 10:30 or 11, having come straight from the hospital after delivering 6 babies in 24 hours, on about 90 minutes worth of sleep. We had been afraid she wouldn’t be able to make it, because she was on call and apparently every pregnant woman within a 10 mile vicinity of Northside Hospital broke her water on December 31. But Michele was a trouper. Notwithstanding her exhaustion, she rallied and bounced in the moonbounce, drank some champagne, and burned sage.

Kathleen picked up the sage (which was neatly wrapped with piƱon in a special, made-to-burn bundle) at Sevenanda, a hippie-ish store in Little Five Points that sells such things. We stood in a semi-circle on the back deck, around the outdoor fireplace (I optimistically lit a fire during a break in the weather, daring Mother Nature to fuck with it). We lit the sage and passed it from person to person, each waving the smoking sage bundle and talking about their hopes for the new year.

And then came the surprise.

Jason had been talking for about two weeks about a “surprise” he had for me on New Year’s. I knew he would never give me a hint and I couldn’t imagine what it could be, so I put it out of my mind and acted uninterested when he brought it up. By the time we did the sage circle, the party had been going on for hours, and I had completely forgotten about it.

When it was Jason’s turn to speak (he went last) I knew something was up when he took the sage and gave Rich an “OK, hit it” type of nod of the head. Rich took off into the house. Jason started talking about how great his life is and how happy he is because of…me. As he was talking, Rich came back out to the porch carrying an enormous trophy, and suddenly, I knew what the surprise was.

I was being presented with the Spouse of the Year award.

When we were newly married, Jason and I started joking around about having an annual Spouse of the Year competition between the two of us. If one of us did the other a favor, we would talk about the points tally for the competition running neck and neck. We envisioned a trophy with a pair of bronzed boxer shorts on top or something like that, and that we would present the award on December 9, our anniversary. I always thought it was just a cute joke, but sometime in November, Jason went to a trophy shop, had a trophy made and engraved, and enlisted our friends to help him carry out the presentation and keep the secret. It was one of the sweetest, cutest things anyone had ever done for me, and that is saying something, because my husband makes a point of being sweet to me all the time.



Then it was midnight. I turned on the TV so we could catch the countdown on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and discovered that 2007 was less than a minute away. We blew our noisemakers, counted down, and kissed and hugged each other. Jason and I called our parents and siblings to send them love and kisses. I paraded my trophy around with pride.


The hangover from the party hasn’t worn off. Every time I think about it, I get a happy flush in my belly. My friends and I keep emailing each other about what a great night it was. I’m excited for the new year. The house is going on the market in 4 days, we hope to be in Hawaii in a few months, my brother and his wife are having a new baby in June, and, with luck, maybe I'll be knocked up soon. Who knows. Anyway, I’m nervous and excited and thrilled with where my life is going.

Happy New Year, everyone.