Currently Listening To: The Pixies, mostly from the "Death to the Pixies" CD.
Currently Reading: P.J. O'Rourke, Holidays in Hell (an old favorite of mine that I unearthed while packing up a bookshelf); James Lileks, Fresh Lies. That's a collection of Lileks' old columns from the early 90s while he still lived in DC (close to my old neighborhood!). Interesting stuff, some of it: back then pre-Gnat he was darker and harder edged than, say, Dave Barry. But not quite as mean as P.J. I'm not sure anyone's as mean as P.J.
I haven't been able to stomach most of O'Rourke's recent stuff: he's gone from being an equal-opportunity social critic to being so relentlessly anti-Democrat that he's just boring.
But parts of Holidays in Hell are still laugh-out-loud funny. Or infuriating, or thought-provoking. I can forgive a lot of knee-jerk Dem bashing just to reread "At Sea With The America's Cup," his full-scale hatchet job on yacht racing. I xeroxed it back in the day and showed it to all my mom's yacht-racing friends. They didn't laugh.
Random Picture of the Week:
The dining room area from the townhouse we have under contract that isn't quite ours yet. The furniture belongs to the current owner, which is a shame -- I adore that grandfather clock in the corner. The picture in the previous entry is of the foyer.
The "Secret" Comes Out.
I've been even lamer about updating than I usually am during winter doldrum season. I realize that.
See, the thing is that something really big has been going on and I've been petrified of jinxing it by talking about it. And because it's been consuming my life -- our lives -- since late January, nothing else much has been going on and ergo, I've had nothing to write about. It would feel false for me to sit here and babble mindlessly about TV or the rude schmuck on the Metro the other day all the while knowing that The Big Thing was pulsating just beneath the surface. But we've been letting the word dribble out here and there to the point where I can't legitimately call this a secret anymore. So here it is:
We bought a townhouse.
Let me rephrase that, lest I arouse the ire of the Real Estate Karma Gods (believe me, I've seen them when they're all pissed off and it ain't pretty):
We have a townhouse under contract. In Centreville, about 25 minutes from where we are now but a world away in terms of the neighborhood and the atmosphere.
I still don't want to tell you too much about the house. I don't want to fall in love with it any more than I already have. You can hear more about it when we've gone to settlement, which will be at the end of March if everything stays on track. We've gone through the inspection and radon testing with no deal-breaking problems. I feel good now, but god ... it's still a month away. A month. So long. So much could happen.
I will say this: You know how people often ask that infernal question "When did you know you'd become an adult?" Now I know the answer: it was the day I casually informed my supervisor that I was going to be unavailable for a half hour or so because Bill and I were making an offer on a house and my realtor was coming over with papers for me to sign.
I know that teenage millionaire sport stars and pop stars buy houses all the time and home ownership does not in any way equal maturity. But still. Out of my mouth, it all sounded really weird. My realtor. An offer on a house. That whole Day of the Offer (the same day as the Olympic opening ceremonies) felt as if it took place in the Twilight Zone. The realtor did indeed drive into DC to meet me. She did indeed bring along a huge sheaf of papers that needed signed and initialed. We holed up in an empty office and the entire time I was signing and initialing I kept waiting for one of us to crack. Surely the joke had gone on too long. Any second now, we'd eyeball each other over the desk and burst out laughing. "Okay, this has been fun. Time to stop pretending. Back to blowing up monsters on the Nintendo for you, little girl."
It still feels surreal now. We've driven by the place time and again just to gaze at it. It's so hard to believe that if everything continues to go smoothly, by April we should be in there and the house will truly be ours.
And until that day comes I will worry and worry and worry and fret and worry some more. Back in 1990 while I still lived with my mom, she endured one of the all-time ugly real estate catastrophes. I'm sure there are worse stories out there (feel free to not tell me about them until April, thank you), but having lived through this one I'm acutely conscious of how swiftly things can go to hell.
Mom fell in love with a funky old house in Annapolis. She bought it and sold our house and all was well until a day or two before she was going to settlement with the owners, when she got unthinkable news: The title on the house wasn't clear. I don't remember the specifics -- something about how one of the daughters of the original owner back in 1920 or thereabouts hadn't ever officially relinquished her claim to the house, so theoretically any of her descendants could turn up on our doorstep one day and legally throw us out on our theoretical asses. Something like that.
Oh, god, it was ugly. Mom had to back out of the purchase and find somewhere else for us to live, and in the meantime the people who bought our house were making cross phone calls asking us when we were planning to get out of their house and the owner of the Annapolis house was threatening to sue Mom for breach of contract.
You don't soon forget something like that. In the end, though, it all worked out: Nobody got sued. She found a nice apartment in Annapolis. Later after I'd moved out, she bought a waterfront condo. Last year, she quit Annapolis entirely and now lives in a beautiful house out by the shore.
I guess that's what I have to remember now: Stuff works out in the end.
I guess I also have to remember this: Stuff needs to be packed. Now. Somehow I've managed to cram about 10 years of crap into an apartment that I've only lived in for about three years, obliterating all the room that Bill cleared out when Rascal and I first got here. Suddenly, a month doesn't seem all that long at all.
Anyhow. Due to having a lot going on, including the need to pack up all this stuff, I'm taking an official journal vacation for the month of March. If I don't do this I'll just yabber on about the house and packing until you all die of boredom anyhow, so it's better this way. I might post things on my long-neglected blog if the mood strikes me.
Have a great month and I'll see you in April. In the new place. I hope. Keep your fingers crossed for me if you think of it.