Thursday, July 28, 2011

for our next magical trick...

we sold our house.

and sitting here this moment, we officially have no place to go.

the situation not *quite* dire. yet. i mean, we do have until aug. 21 to relocate our stuff. a rental house, perhaps, somewhere nearby.

or a really big storage locker.

but still...holy sh*t. we sold our house.

after six days on the market and a breathtaking rush of traffic, we ginned up three competing offers. all for full asking price and one for a wee bit more.

(note: we took the highest offer~we're going to spend the extra 50 bucks on a bottle of wine or two. or four.)

we weren't expecting this. if that's not already obvious.

background: mrs. spaceneedl never liked this house. she routinely ruminated on its shortcomings, even as she transformed it into a thing of beauty. during our seven years here, rare was the day when some update, upgrade, or upheaval wasn't underway. and honestly, it was a pain in the ass.

the metamorphosis was tedious and debilitating and costly. also, totally worth it. i would be remiss not to acknowledge the sweep and nuance of her vision. particularly now that it's been completely validated by the quick sale and the lavish praise of nearly everyone who toured the place.

well done, wife.

that said... holy sh*t. we sold our house.

and we have to find someplace new to live, ASAP. someplace that'll accommodate four people, three dogs, a geriatric cat, and a hamster. not to mention an unusual amount of accumulated stuff.

how hard could that be?


update: we found a place to go. it's about a hundred yards kitty-corner thataway (pointing northeast). a nice house that our nice neighbor was kind enough to offer up since she's getting married, and her fiance has an even nicer place.

as a result, we don't have to entertain new neighbors, the children don't have to leave their friends, and the dogs don't have to trek thousands of miles to track us down after we move, accidently leaving them behind.

so, several problems solved all at once.

on a related note, the new place is slightly smaller than the old place. we need to host a garage sale, stat. not everything must go. but the stuff that must go can't stay.

anybody wanna buy a hamster?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the almost exorcism

every time i think about it, it makes me ill.

maybe if i tell you about it, this gut-punch reaction will go away.

back in the day (make that way back in the day) on a warm summer afternoon, a friend of mine drove up in a new car. it wasn't new-new, of course. our parents didn't have that kind of money.

but it was new to him, and more importantly it was a set of wheels, which was pretty damn cool no matter how not-new it was.

i no longer remember what kind of car it was. if i had to bet, i'd say it was a 1969 chevy impala. yellow, with a black hardtop, and black vinyl seats.

but, you know, that's a guess.

the car wasn't in perfect shape. it needed some body work and some paint and four new tires. it eventually got the paint. didn't matter. my friend (we'll call him "tyrone," even though that wasn't his name, and i've never had a friend named "tyrone") was fired up about his new ride. teenage independence, and all that.

so here was tyrone, in front of my parents' house, showing off his car. we walked around it, we sat in it, we cranked up the AM radio. eventually tyrone popped open the hood so we could peer in at the engine, which looked like it had been power washed. which it probably had.

full disclosure: i'm not a car guy. never have been. i subscribe to donald sutherland's philosophy about tanks in kelly's heroes; "oh man, i only ride 'em, i don't know what makes 'em work." (his character's name was "oddball," if you appreciate the irony of such things.)

my ignorance, however, doesn't explain away what happened next, or why it's haunted me all these years. did i say it makes me ill? it really does.

tyrone was investigating something low on the car's grill, a ding or some other minor flaw that no one else would ever notice. his hand, supporting his weight, was above the grill, his fingers gripping the edge of the frame.

at that point i think i may have said something like, "are we done here?" and i think he may have said yes. so i pulled the the hood down.

heavy, spring-loaded, the hood dropped like a detroit guillotine. microseconds before it sliced through his fingers, tyrone blithely moved his hand off the car.

he wasn't even aware the hood was in was blind, preposterous luck that his avulsed fingers weren't at that moment twitching atop the engine block.

i don't really remember any more details of that afternoon. i'm sure i had a shocked look on my face, and i'm sure tyrone was equal parts relieved and annoyed. outraged, maybe. like, "what are you, fucking stupid?!?"

can't say i'd blame him. but at the end of the day...nothing really happened. and since that's true, i'd guess tyrone has long-forgotten about the whole thing.

me, i still think about it. not often...but when i do, it's as if his fingers actually had been lopped off. i get the same sick, shuddering feeling, all over again.

i think it's because i did something really stupid, something with disastrous consequences for someone else. the fact that they were almost-consequences is completely irrelevant.

when i started this little exercise, it was in hopes that i could purge the memory of that day, and never have to think of it again. second-best would be not to have to deal with the lousy feeling in my gut every time it pops back into my head.

but now i'm thinking something else. now i'm thinking maybe tyrone and his not-lopped fingers are a great reminder to wake up, pay attention, and always be vigilant about what i'm doing.

and the fact that i get this reminder without anyone actually having been hurt is a ridiculously generous gift from the cosmos. or, you know, whomever.

now that i've told you about it, i hope it doesn't go away.

having said that, i still advise caution if you drive over one day to show me your new car.

you can't be too careful.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

fabulous free advice, worth every nickel...

her sensual and easy motion
seems impossible to chart
in a world that needs more dancing
she's still a hula girl at heart.

--jimmy buffett

free advice...

when your wife is having an argument with herself, don't get involved.

this may be difficult, since in your role as a caring and concerned life-partner you'll likely want to help, or at least referee, as the discussion heats up.

big mistake.

because at some point you'll be compelled to pick a side (say, the side of "logic")...and that's when you lose. even though it wasn't your argument to begin with.

as it turns out, logic isn't necessarily useful (or welcome) in cases of conflicting emotions and contradictory conclusions. input that might, under different circumstances, be perfectly reasonable or obvious, may now be misinterpreted and mischaracterized. this invariably leads to said advice being tragically underappreciated. or ignored. or used against you later.

pithy observation...

as has been documented countless times in clinical studies and romance literature, women most often don't want the man to solve the problem for them. they just want the man to listen, and to empathize as appropriate. men, however, are hard-wired to help, to solve the problem as efficiently as possible (so as to more quickly move on to the sex).

this dynamic is brilliantly described in the underrated movie "white men can't jump." (note: dialogue paraphrased)

she: honey, i'm thirsty.
he: (gets out of bed, leaves room, brings back glass of water) here you go, honey.
she: why did you bring me a glass of water? did i ask you to bring me a glass of water?
he: you just said you were thirsty...
she: when i said i was thirsty, that didn't mean i wanted you to get me a glass of water. it meant i wanted you share the experience of being thirsty with me. it meant i wanted you to understand my dry-mouthedness.

at that moment, woody harrelson's character becomes angry and confused. he doesn't yet understand a woman's innate need for empathy; he only knows there's a problem to solve, and he leaps up to solve it. the poor bastard. in doing so, he demonstrates he lacks the sensitivity and depth of soul necessary to sustain a meaningful relationship with a fabulously intricately spontaneously complex woman.

to his credit, he later goes on to write a poignant song about sharing the dry-mouthedness experience, which wins back his lover's heart. temporarily.

history lessons...

there are plenty of things every guy just knows how to do. okay, a handful of things. okay, come to think of it, there might not be any. case in point: you'd think that over the millennia we would have learned something intrinsically and persistently true about the most important half of our species. other than their relentless and often-spectacular splendidness.

but generation after generation, instead of learning from our collective experience, men stagger around executing the same pratfalls over and over again. instead of handing down hard-won (and useful) knowledge, we pass along disinformation and bewilderment.

and still, to this day we can't imagine why our cheerful offers of help are not-so-in-demand. i mean, aside from a history of uniquely male behavior like misogyny and institutionalized oppression and war and other activities not compatible with life, what's not to love?

"darlin', stand back and let a man handle this [________] business. you just sit there and look pretty."

breaking news...

we're different. just as women are generally predisposed to nurture and sustain and cultivate, men are hard-wired to ejaculate. from words to weapons to wetness, we just~~plahhh~~all over everything. nothing any of us can do about it, really. it's a biological imperative writ large in crayon letters. if we were smart, we'd stand aside and let the women take charge (michelle bachmann and sarah palin excepted).

but as history demonstrates...we're not that smart.

which brings us full circle.

if i were smart, i wouldn't have insinuated myself into my wife's existential dilemma. i wouldn't have seen her plaint as a problem for me to solve. i would have maintained eye contact, nodded at the appropriate times, offered a hug now and then, and kept my mouth shut.

except to say, "dear, i trust you to follow your instincts and make the right decision. do what you think is best. meanwhile, i'll just sit here and look pretty."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

after zat, zen what?

"now, my girl quickly said to me
man you better watch your feet
lava come down soft and hot
you better love-a me now or love-a me not
let me say now, i don't know, i don't know
i don't know where i'm a-gonna go
when the volcano blows..."

~~jimmy buffett

the missus and i are unaware of any current volcanic activity on oahu.

unless you count the prospect of our heads exploding.

whatever we lack in zen and sigh and ommm, we make up for in steady pent-up stress.

which means we fit in perfectly with the rest of the mainlanders as they arrive in the islands.

you've seen them. you recognize the signs. the pinched mouth, the crease between the eyebrows, the shoulders drawn up like a crooked shade. that's how they get off the plane, fresh from their corporate cube farms. cringing, squinting, shading their eyes, as if they're emerging from a submarine or a root cellar or the set of "pot zombies."

and yet within hours, no matter how severe the symptoms, the process of recovery begins. one early morning walk on the beach and the tension in the neck eases. one dive into the waves, and a layer of angst washes away. one sunset something-with-rum at a barefoot beach bar elicits a spontaneous little smile and a deeply satisfied sigh that feels like the first breath after several months underwater.

in the days that follow, pieces of negative karma and dark aura and bad attitude fall off, leaving behind something fresh and clean and healthy. relatively speaking.

not coincidently, little epiphanies start happening about the same time, rolling in like gentle surf, mixed in with the occasional rogue wave to make sure you're paying attention.

"constant cold and overcast is not mandatory."

"maybe there is such a thing as a healthy tan."

"people actually live like this."

"tick tick tick tick tick..."

full disclosure: i have no idea if other mainlanders share this experience. it's quite possible they find this kind of overanalysis completely unnecessary.

what i do know is that the water is warm and blue, and the sun is shining. the missus and i are slathered up with sunscreen, and there are a couple stand-up paddle boards down there with our names on them.

less talk. more ahhhh.....


update: paddle surfing is not as easy as it looks.

watching from shore you say, "stand up, paddle, repeat. when a wave comes, paddle faster in the direction of the wave. how hard can that be?"

tsk. i am so dumb.

at least one layer of something has been efficiently exfoliated. shoulda worn my rash guard...

Sunday, July 03, 2011

china syndrome

according to some web site, a 20th wedding anniversary is the china anniversary.

not to be confused with the silver, pearl, or ruby anniversaries, which imply significantly more commitment, time-wise and gift-wise.

no, it's china. symbolizing "...the beautiful, elegant, and delicate nature of 20 years of love."

sure, okay. you could make a case for that. you might also make the case that once it's unwrapped, you put the china away and never use it again, leading to dust and decline...and what fun is that?

regardless, in hewing to this fascinating wedding tradition, the missus and i will commemorate our 20th anniversary with a fabulous trip to...

...not china.

because we didn't really have the time or the inclination to go to china. and we're not slaves to tradition at our house. plus, have you seen airfares recently? china is really far away, which means it's probably really expensive to fly there. which i'm sure we would've discovered, had we bothered to look into it.

we had just a couple mandatories for our momentous occasion: it had to cost somewhat less than a second home on montserrat, and it had to be warm.

we entertained monterey and santa barbara and san diego. vancouver island and banff and the okanagan valley. italy, france, spain. cabo.

long story short, and for various reasons, we decided no, no, no, no, no, no and no. and not likely.

not saying they're not all fabulous options. not saying we wouldn't love to visit all of them at some point. just saying too boring, too cold, too much, and are you kidding? $1700 to fly to cabo? in the middle of summer? what's spanish for "don't be ridiculous"?

so, after much ado...aloha, y'all.

we'll be watching july 4 fireworks from duke's barefoot bar on waikiki beach.

they don't do china at duke's. they do surfboards and mai-tais. and they do them very well.

that'll do for us.

just fine.