Shout Out To Those Scrubbing Bubbles!!

You may be wondering why it took me so long to pack up my belongings, especially since I swore to you that I got rid of a ton of things.  Yes indeedy, I sure did unload lots and lots of stuff!  There are probably hundreds of people out there right now wearing my clothing, eating from my dishes and listening to my old albums.  But I still had a lot of stuff in the basement.  You know, that big, often ignored, hole in the ground under your house, (which is, in effect, another house), into which most of us shove lots of “stuff that I will use someday”.  Oh yeah, some of us also have superfluous items in the basement like furnaces and washers and dryers, but for the most part, basements are storage spaces for stuff we cannot part with.  Remember that George Carlin routine about stuff?  Well, that about sums it up I think.  For those of you too young to get that one, just go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac.  It explains a lot about …..you guessed it….stuff.  We also put things like canned food  in the basement.  Thanks to my basement and BJ’s Wholesale Club, I am pretty much prepared for the next flood, hurricane, blizzard or apocalypse.

After working on the upstairs for what seemed like enough time to pack Buckingham Palace, I had the upstairs (the place where I lived with stuff I used on a fairly regular basis) under control.  Despite my efforts to avoid it, I realized I had no choice but to move on to the dreaded “basement stuff” (the treasures that I would undoubtedly need if I was foolish enough to throw any of it away).  Being the black holes that they are, basements tend to get a little dirty and dusty along with everything in them, and well, just….eewwwwww.  There was just no way that I was moving my stuff DIRTY!  Oh hell no!  What if one of my neighbors at my new Florida home stopped by in the middle of me unpacking Connecticut basement stuff?  There was no way I was going to have them think “Oh my God…she seems nice, but what a SLOB!”.  Nope.  I am not having that!  My STUFF may be a lot of that other name George Carlin uses, but it would be clean before any of it saw the inside of a box headed to Florida!

Now this is where the bubble guys came in.  I would like to say that I am immune to advertising.  I am a highly educated consumer who does not make purchasing decisions based on silly TV commercials.  HA!  That was the huge lie I told myself for a long time – until reality hit me one day while I was standing at the cash register.  Make me laugh with your commercial and you have my attention.  Then provide a coupon in the BJ’s circular and that’s it….Sold!  And folks, I am here to tell you about a product that makes light of years of collected basement grime and makes you and your stuff the pride of any new neighborhood.  – Scrubbing Bubbles!    “But isn’t that just for bathrooms?” you ask.  Not in my Phyllis Diller book of house work it isn’t!!  Anything that makes it such that all I need to do is spray, sit back and watch the dirt run down is good for just about any room and any item in the house, I say!  Those cute little scrubber guys flying around on my TV screen one day caught my attention.  That and the BJ’s coupon, which enabled me to buy something like 6 cans of the little guys.  “Six cans for a single person with one bathroom?  Are you nuts?” you may ask.  Hey….Its not like they are going to go bad!  And as it turns out, 6 cans of that stuff is a cleaning gift from the Universe (or SC Johnson I guess) for a major move.

I went into the basement armed with my Scrubbing Bubbles and started to take things apart.  My food storage cabinet for example.  It is one of those four shelved plastic units I bought from Home Depot a few years back.  I put it together, started shoving stuff onto it and there it sat, doing its duty, but getting a little grimy as well.  I unloaded it, packed up the food and then took it apart, brought it outside and sprayed the heck out of it with those little bubbles.  Five minutes later, I sprayed each piece with the garden hose and VOILA!  Brand new again!  God I love those bubbles!  I also have a garden fairy that got put away every autumn without a whole lot of fanfare.  She is going to Florida bright and shiny now due to Scrubbing Bubbles.  Now don’t get all judgey on me about her before shots…remember – you too have basements with surprises in store!  Here she is in the process of being Scrubbing Bubbled.

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And here is the finished product!!

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Isn’t she beautiful now?  Oh and yes, there are other things that I just could not part with, goofy as they may seem.  This face will probably find itself on a palm tree soon – clean thanks to my little Scrubbing Bubble friends!  THAT is definitely something to smile about!  And oh yeah….I still have a few cans left if you need some…..

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Showings

The “Ball Is In Your Park” decision; the BIIYP, as you may recall, ended quickly with a request for a showing.  Geezzzzzz!!!!  So SOON??!??  This was supposed to take awhile!  I just got used to seeing the sign for Pete’s sake. I was quite comfy in BIIYP and was not ready to have strangers (otherwise known as BUYERS to regular people who list their homes) coming into my home!  No!  I didn’t want to show it!  But the PIA voice started nagging.  I could clearly hear her lecturing me about wasting Marilyn’s time if I wasn’t serious.  About having wasted MY time too.  “Alright ALRIGHT!!!  I’ll show it!  Shutup already!” I hollered to the PIA voice.

So you might think that with my half-hearted attitude about selling, that I would give showing the house a half-hearted effort, but that is just not me.  Nope.  Everything had to be perfect.  Each showing was akin to preparing for a visit by heads of state.   Every tiny speck of dust removed, every pillow karate-chopped just the right way.  Did I mention that I am a Certified Professional Home Stager and HGTV addict?  Well, I may not have really wanted to sell my house, but darn it!  It was going to look like it jumped out of Better Homes and Gardens for every showing no matter how I felt inside!!  Probably the funniest incident happened when I was in such a pre-showing rush and panic, I whipped myself around and accidentally stuck the running vacuum cleaner hose into dog’s water dish and it started sucking up water!!  So that showing wasn’t quite perfect of course since I had to have the vacuum upside down in the basement sink draining out the water.  Lesson learned.  “Budget your time a little better” the voice said…….  At another showing, the PIA voice nagged about giving more attention to detail.  “Maybe next time, you can remember to take down the bra hanging from the clothes line in the basement.”

I met each prospective buyer at the door, at least momentarily.  Yeah, yeah….I know you aren’t supposed to.  I cleared out quickly enough, but I wanted to get a read on the people who might buy “my baby”.  All told, I had a crew that came in and toured 3 times and each time they came, the entourage grew (should I set up a polling station??).  Another couple who came twice and spent at least an hour both times (The house is all of 1,176 square feet.  Seriously???  I don’t take that long to view some of the mansions at Newport).  Then they gave me an insulting offer.  Obviously, after all the time they took to look, they gave not a second’s thought to the problem with ticking off an emotional seller.  They found out quickly enough……  Then there was the couple who said the yard was too big (that would be why there is a lot size and lots of pictures in the listing (sigh…).  The single lady who had a big house and was trying to downsize.  A former colleague who told my agent that she knew my house was perfect because that’s how I did everything at work.  I decided to take that as a compliment and ignore the PIA voice reminding me about my tendency to nit-pick.  Each time, I did NOT want to show the house.  Each time, I ran myself ragged making everything perfect.  And each time someone didn’t want it, I felt myself indignantly asking “And just why the heck NOT???  HMPH!!!”.  Most importantly, with each “No”, I was able to stick with the satisfaction of the BIIYP.  Hey, I had no control over these folks, right?  I was doing my best to make the house look great.  It wasn’t my fault that no one was buying (or forcing me into changing).  So basically, I’d put in a good faith effort to make it look great, and feel a bit put-off when someone said no.  But if truth be told, there was that feeling of “Whew…I dodged THAT bullet!”.  There is probably some technical name for this in the psychology books under general weirdness or wishy-washiness or something along those lines, but I think the term “scared of change” would be most appropriate.

And then THEY came.  I liked them.  They loved my home, but decided it was too small (dodged another bullet HA!HA!).  But then they came back for a second look on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  And apparently, they REALLY loved my house.  Ut-oh…….

Marilyn called me the following Thursday evening chirping “Well, we are going to have an offer tomorrow”.  My response was “Oh yeah?  Hmmm.  What made them change their minds?”  So after all the staging and yard saleing and furniture listing on Craig’s List and Letgo and Facebook and just general angst, my response to her was “Oh yeah?  Hmmm.  What made them change their minds?”  Well, that’s what she heard anyway.  But what I was actually saying, with wild-eyed, screaming anxiety was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!   I      CAN’T      DO      THIS!!!!!”  I felt the tears behind my eyes, just waiting to explode onto my cheeks as I struggled to keep my stomach from flipping.   Instead of jumping for joy, I was terrified!  Scarlett came to my rescue.  I didn’t know what the offer would be, Scarlett decided.  It could be as bad as that first one.  So Scarlett wrapped her arms around me and decided “I can’t think about that now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow”.  I love Scarlett.

By morning, I had gotten hold of myself and was OK with the idea of selling my beautiful little house.  Still not jumping for joy, but OK as lukewarm as my OK’s usually are.  And so there I was…. waiting for the offer.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And then doing what I normally do when I’m stressed – I find something to do.  I took the dogs to the park even though it was 88 degrees.  I don’t have a problem with heat as long as I stay in the shade.  Perhaps wearing fur coats, however, is what made the dogs less-than-enthused.  They sniffed a bit here and there and then looked at me, tongues hanging out of their mouths, as if to say “Seriously????  What is your problem woman??”.  OK.  Home we went.  Since they were hot, I took that as a good time for baths.  Of course, that also means washing their beds.  And what the heck, while we’re at it, I might as well strip my bed and wash my sheets too.  Having completed my “torture” of the dogs, there were a couple of plant stands that I had intended to sand and spray paint.  That kept me occupied for a few hours even though I found myself checking the time regularly and wondering……WHERE…..IS……THE…..OFFER????  Sigh.  The personification of cool am I (not).  Moving on, I cleaned all the windows on my car – interior and exterior.  Finally around 8 pm, I couldn’t take it anymore and texted Marilyn with “Well….Did they change their minds?”  As it turned out, the offer had come in late and she hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet.  I wanted her to see it first.  Silly?  Well, maybe, but I know how I am.  Just in case it was another insulting offer, I wanted to give Marilyn time to come up with her calming words of wisdom.

As it turned out, their offer came in with great financing and a fairly decent first offer.  More hemming and hawing ensued, but not even Scarlett could save me this time.  I had to make a decision.  I HAD to embrace this change.  The price wasn’t quite there, so I countered.

And so the DANCE begins……

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I have always loved Florida.  For years, it has been my dream to move there, but year after year I would visit and then chicken out about buying a house.  In the fall of 2013, after much hang-wringing and driving my friends crazy asking for advice, I finally bought a home in Venice (a shout-out must be extended here to my long-suffering friends who went through THAT decision making process with me – poor things).  And then I went back home to CT to start a series of what I affectionately call decision delayers.  Which are basically change avoiders.  I’m really good at these.  I like them so much, I have names for them.  Being from the corporate world, I got used to using acronyms.  In the corporate world, we can speak in entire sentences…sometimes even paragraphs…completely in letters!  But don’t worry, I’ll keep spelling things out.  I’m out of the corporate world now.  Time to relearn how to speak like a human anyway.  So here we go……First there’s the big one.  The Decision Not To Make A Decision, hereinafter known as the DNTMAD.  There is the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision delayer, or BIIYP.  Then there’s the “I’m Too Busy To Make A Decision”, the ITBTMAD.  And last, but not least, my favorite.  The Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll go mad if I think about that right now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.” (said with back of hand placed gently on forehead while swooning and speaking in true Southern-damsel-in-distress voice).  I’ll just call that one the Scarlett.  It’s too pretty for an acronym.  So what’s the difference between the Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) and the Scarlett you ask?  The Scarlett is short duration decision delaying – after which time, the independent woman that I can be decides to drop the Diva Drama and DO SOMETHING.  The Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) is not as dramatic, but it can carry on for extended periods of time.  Sometimes months…sometimes years!  And it comes with really, really logical excuses.

After returning from my Florida home purchase I decided that I had to go back to work until I was ready to retire.  So I flew comfortably into Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD).  Hey I was proud of myself!  I had the house decided upon and purchased.  It was rented to nice tenants.  Life was good!  No need for further changes!  But by the following summer’s end, it was obvious that my spinal cord injury was creating havoc with my ability to function in today’s fast paced, high stress office environment.  And the air conditioning that blasted from vents all around me caused me pain every day.  Winters were no relief from the A/C as the corporate-required 69 degree air blew cold drafts on me constantly. It was miserable. I was miserable.

By the time 2015 rolled around, I had actually made another decision!  (Feel free to applaud).  It was time to retire and head to Florida!  I started with the work of getting my house together to sell and my target date was April 1 to have it on the market.  But my handy man’s appearances were unpredictable at best and when he was here, 4 hour stretches seemed to be the maximum time he could spend helping me.  And then IT happened.  On March 24, at 2 o’clock in the morning, I woke up in agonizing abdominal pain.  WOW!  Never had gas pains like that before!  What the hell did I eat this time???  OMG!  At one point, I actually broke out into a cold sweat, ripped off all my nightclothes (the person who is always cold, remember?) and laid on the floor waiting for whatever it was to pass.  Finally, I felt a little better, so went back to bed – and there I pretty much stayed for 2 days thinking I had the flu – or food poisoning from eating some out-of-date food item (a subject for another post).  To make a long story short, it wasn’t the flu.  My appendix had burst and by the time I finally got to the emergency room, I had developed peritonitis.  I was in the hospital for a week and when they sent me home, I was still sick.  Ten days later, I was whisked into emergency surgery when my temperature hit 102.9 and they realized I had four abscesses growing and pressing on other organs.  That led to another 10 days in the hospital and a recovery period that I could not have imagined.  And so began another version of the Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD).

See, that little tiny organ called an appendix had a lot of power.  It made me terribly sick, but it also bit a huge hole into my self-confidence.  I am a fairly independent person, but suddenly I found myself unable to take care of me.  My dear friend Karen had to do my grocery shopping for me and buy meals for me.  I had to leave my dogs in the care of my friend Jo the vet as I just did not have the energy to deal with them.  I would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, do my dishes and collapse on the couch, feeling like a wet dishrag.  I did not begin to feel like myself again until August.  I suppose that I could have put the house on the market then, but my psyche had taken a huge hit.  What if I got sick again?  I have people who love me here – who would help me in FL?  I have snowbird friends there – what if I got sick in June when they were gone?  Suddenly, moving to Florida was not very appealing.  I was seriously scared.  And so, I hunkered down.  Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) was really comfortable at this point.

That delay did have a beneficial effect however.  First, it allowed me to heal.  There was no way I could have handled the physical demands of moving with a 6 inch, still-mending surgery wound on my abdomen.  And then my dear friend Karen, who so kindly did my grocery shopping and other errands while giving me tremendous emotional support, was diagnosed with cancer in May.  There was no way I was going to leave her to do that battle without me.  I drove her to her chemo appointments and stayed with her while she went through those truly frightening appointments.  Karen and I have been friends for 46 years and I can honestly tell you that our sicknesses brought us closer than we have ever been.  She is not just my friend – she is my sister.  And her family is my family.  And of course with that closeness comes another reason to NOT change my residence…….

As I happily spent the winter of 2015-2016 nestled in Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD), I had what I guess you could say was an epiphany.  One day when I was staring out of my window looking at my yard, I thought of my Dad.  I had begged him countless times to leave his house and move to a retiree community.  He stubbornly refused, but he paid the price in loneliness.  Before he died, he said to me “I should have listened to you”.  And there I was, staring out of my window and saying to myself “You aren’t taking your own advice!  Ut-oh…..I hate when this happens!!

So in January of 2016, I started back on prepping the house for sale.  Which of course, initiated an extended session of I’m Too Busy To Make A Decision”, the ITBTMAD.  I worked like a dog.  I cleaned.  I organized.  I bought things with which to stage the house.  I moved furniture.  And I am not kidding when I tell you I spent the entire month of February in my basement.  What the heck was in the basement you ask?  I think my entire life of “things I just couldn’t part with” was there, that’s what.  Folks, let me tell you something I learned.  Get rid of that stuff NOW while you still have the chance!  OMG!  I had my very own TLC Hoarding: Buried Alive starter kit!!!

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OK.  In all fairness, that mess you see is what it looked like after I took it all out of neatly stored boxes, but still…..AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

After 3 yard sales and countless trips to Goodwill, my house looked like a normal person lived there.  And I fell in love with it all over again!  It was comfortable and clean and organized….  Ahhhhhhh!!!!  And then spring came and the yard just looked so……. beautiful!

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A little unwarranted medical scare at this time moved me back into another Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) session.  When that disappeared, I went into an extended Scarlett with the oak tree you see in the picture as the backdrop (just use your imaginations and picture a swooning redhead there by the tree).  My inner (my friends might say outer) Drama Queen was in full swing.  What to do?  What to do?