(more) Real Estate Madness

Whose stupid idea was this, anyway? Gee-I know- we have a lovely home
and a wonderful little retreat (Wit’s End) 45 minutes away with enough
bass in the lake to keep Rich happy for years and enough waterfowl
variety to choke the most avid bird watcher. One’s paid off, the other
is manageable except for the insane taxes of a university town and
there’s enough room in the budget that I can order plants from White
Flower Farm the entire merry month of May. But I know! Let’s buy a
little (expensive) arts and crafts bungalow in the quaint historic
district of St. Petersburg, Florida (aka, in my book, the state that is
most likely to qualify as The Armpit of the Nation). One we can barely
afford, is a mere 1000 miles from our home and where insects and plant
life threaten to literally consume the place if you turn your back for
4 days.

Yes, well, my friends. A brief update to a weblog that may no longer
even exist for all I know. We’ve not got internet so this morning
Kristen and I intend to drive around until we find a cafe. Of the 9
wireless free locations available 8 are gay bars and I’m not sure how
early they open (it’s 530 am) and the other is some mystical “zone”
that exists around Central avenue so we’ll probably sit in the car with
the doors locked, drink coffee and try to get online.

If I sound cranky it’s only because I’m still so tired after we worked
like dogs yesterday (actually, most of them don’t work anymore do they?
They hang out and get groomed.) Let’s see, we worked like immigrants
all day yesterday from the time we landed at 9 am. If you back this up
you realize we caught a 630am flight, so we were waking up Abby at 430
(the she-wolf, the Terror, the Alpha Bitch of morning. Around our house
the standard line is “I’M not waking her up. YOU go wake her up. I
know, let’s let Mikey do it!). Nick helps the situation by moving like
paste. I further understand their attraction now; they are kindred
spirits when it comes to packing, the theory here being unpack your
ENTIRE suitcase AND backpack to find that toothbrush you never even
thought about packing in the first place. Throw the contents as far as
possible around as much space as possible, let your stuff commingle
with his, etc.

While we were waiting for our luggage ( all 11 pieces of it. Say! This
would be a great opportunity to buy everything we need to stock an
empty house in Florida before we
go and take it down there in all that old molded luggage I don’t want
anymore because it weighs a ton, has no wheels and flies open on the
luggage belt because you can no longer lock your suitcases.)
They probably don’t sell toilet paper, cleaning supplies or Tupperware
in Florida. What a golden chance to move all my unused and unwanted
sandals, tennis shoes and clogs into retirement! And those bulky but
cute Kiwanis bunnies I was bragging about 4 days ago! Yes, yes- Easter
is coming and Abby, at 19, and The Putz will surely need Easter baskets
(Nick asked on the plane down if the Easter Bunny was coming to Florida
so I read that right.) Anyway, as I was writing, while we were waiting
for our luggage I said, “Say! What we need is a Yellow Pages! So we can
find the stores we need to hit to furnish the house. ” I teased Nick
that he’d earn his lunch at Crabby Bill’s fish restaurant if he could
find a Yellow Pages and THAT, my friend, is how to get this lad moving.
By the time I pulled all the luggage and Kristen got the rental car he
and Abby were conferring over the mechanics of liberating a phone book
from the metal jaws that clamped it to the booth.. I know I should be
appalled rather than admiring when Abby says, “Here, let me, I’m good
at these things.” and unleashes it from the secure row of locking pins
and the leather binder in 6 seconds flat. Sometimes I’m a bad mother.

We weren’t out of Tampa Int’l before I was on the phone with Roy, the
manager and sole employee- of-the-day at Mattress Firm, getting driving
directions and assurances that, yes, indeed, we would be sleeping on a
newly delivered mattress tonight if we got in before noon. So we
dropped all the luggage at our home where I had previously spent eleven
minutes, admired how truly lovely it STILL is and how darling are the 14 anoles (Kristen says look that up if you don’t know)
living in the kitchen, fussed a few minutes pressing cancel,off,manual override and red symbols on a beeping Brinks Security pad (Wow!
What is this thing? How does it work? Make it stop beeping!) and raced
out the door to find Roy. Over the phone, I had already made it
absolutely clear to Roy that I was a competitive shopper, I was on a
budget, I wanted a Good Firm bed and I wasn’t listening to long sales
pitches because I was coming in on a time-limited mission. Roy had already asked me
where I was from, told me he was from a tiny town in Indiana, how he
felt about life in the Midwest, how much he liked Florida and to be
sure not to stop at Mattress World the block before because all they
sold was crap. Armed with the map, the phone book and two hungry kids
(they are kids. I’m sorry but at 19, they are still kids these days.)
we headed out to buy a bed and other necessary items.

Ends up that Mattress Firm, Mattress World, Better Mattress, Mattress
Express, Your Mattress and Mattress Beater are all lined up in a row,
much like used car lots. Also, it ends up that once you drop below that
golden 1,000.00 mark, all mattresses are only barely different with
interchangeable names that all have the words firm, luxurious, pillow
top, posturepedic, lifetime guarantee (ha! I snorted. That’s what-
four, five years at the most down here?) and they can all be paid for
with no interest, no credit, and if you believe the advertising,
basically no money. You just let them deliver it, haul away your old
nasty and what? Life goes on until poof! your credit is so bad you
can’t get a roof over your head? Roy had us try out 43 beds and Kristen
and I would plop down side by side on one, the kids on another as we
worked our way down the ladder in price. I finally said, “Look, Roy. My
husband (he looked surprised; he was getting into the two girls thing)
gave me 500 bucks for a bed, that’s it, there’s Mattress Galore across
the street…” and swear-to-God, he said, ” Okay, let me show you our
best seller” and took us into the back room where three plain and
lonely beds lingered against the back wall. I tried the one marked
extra firm, thought it felt like the high-priced spread and said sold.
“Yeah, we sell more of this one than any other…” and he trailed off
to do the paper work. Which took forever as he went on and on and on
about every subject under the sun. ROY! It’s not a friggin
dissertation! Here’s the money, deliver the mattress! Seemed like a
lonely day for Roy and he was going to keep us captive as long as
possible. At one point I looked over and Abby and Nick were asleep in
the front window on one bed and Kristen had dozed off on a futon. Okay,
delivery between 6 and 9. At that Nick perked up and exclaimed, “That’s dinner
time!” and we headed off to lunch.

At lunch Nick swooned at the possibility of “gator.” We ordered gator,
fish, clam strips, crab cakes, chowder, salads, onion rings, fries and
when we finished about a third of it Nick wanted the rest boxed up for
later. As though that could work out after sitting in the back window
of a car in sunny Florida while we filled 6 carts at Target and
Walmart. Shower caddy, wall clock, Aero bed (it squeaks when Nick moves
in his sleep), margarita glasses, CD player with speakers, lamp, metal
spray paint, sheets, towels, throw rugs, more cleaning supplies- you
get the idea. We could barely get into the car between the
odor of leftovers, the heat and the piles of stuff. Arrghhh. I HATE SHOPPING. Truly
I do. I go years without going to a mall. There’s nothing I need that I
can’t normally buy from L.L. Bean, Barnes and Noble, Title Nine Sports,
Garnet Hill (sale catalog only) and White Flower Farm online. I hate
stores, I hate crowds and I hate shopping carts. Down here I have
discovered that shopping carts come attached to go-carts and it takes
really good reflexes to avoid getting run over. There are many seniors
racing around in these motorized mini vehicles just waiting for an
opportunity to clip you in the heels and the small of your back. And
when they do get your attention they say, without fail, “Do you work
here, dear?”

When we got back we unloaded all the stuff, Nick put the fried gator
bites and clams in the refrigerator (ha, ha, ha!), had Abby use a hand
pump to inflate the Aero bed and plopped down for a nap. Kristen and I
looked around at the mountains of
bags and boxes and decided it was time to find out where the liquor
store was located. It was only 10 blocks away and you wouldn’t think
that is such a complicated thing but EVERY single friggin’ street down
here is a number (9th, 10th, etc.) followed by Ave. OR St., followed by a direction (N., S., N.E., etc.). Math whiz I’m not but you figure out the possible combinations. Then
double that because they do the whole range of possibilities over again
on the other side of the only non-numbered street, Central. Except for
the 23 short streets named after trees with either ‘view’ or ‘ way’
attached down by the Bay. And then they mark them all one-way. We finally found it and you can get a read on
my mood by knowing that I signed up for the ABC Liquor Store frequent
customer card, entitling me to discounts every Monday and Thursday.
Should we go to the grocery store? Nah, tomorrow. We came back to wait
for our mattress and went to dinner at Tortilla Flats down the street.
With great quick food, enormous proportions and outside seating this
place had definite appeal to Nick. We liked it, too.
We brought the leftovers home in boxes, put them in the fridge and I
tossed the seafood. The security system was again beeping and just as I
went to push the on, cancel, set buttons that I discovered worked
pretty well the ALARM went off. ALARM. We’re talking drive you
screaming from the house, wake the neighbors for four blocks,
unrelenting, ear-piercing high pitched shrieking ALARM. We ran around
outside the house in fast little circles like a disturbed ant hill for
about 45 seconds and then I ducked back in to grab my cell phone and
squint at the box for the emergency number. I race back out of the
house, dial with trembling finger and get:(are you ready for this?) “All of our operators are currently serving
other customers. Please wait and your call be will answered in the
order in which it was received.” Cap’n and Tenille begin to sing for
me. “Would you like to learn more about Brinks full range of home
protection systems? If so, please press one now.” The Cap’n is back.
Now, mind you, I am standing in the middle of our quaint brick-lined
street barely able to hear the Cap’n because the ALARM is (sorry, I’ve
got to) SO FUCKING LOUD. Wondering what would happen if Anthony Hopkins with a hockey mask was after me. Finally an operator comes on, wants to know
the address. I don’t know, I forget. The name on the account (who WAS that slut that sold us this place
without giving us the 3 number code???) I don’t know. The phone number on the account? I don’t know! Can I find the
box in the master bedroom closet that is screwed into an outlet? Can I
take a phillips head screwdriver (sure, let me see, that’s right
here…WHERE? WHERE?), can I open the master panel box and disconnect
the circuit from the battery while I turn the screwdriver, talk on the
phone, cover my ears, scream, “What? WHAT?? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
Sure, I can do that. Thank you, ma’am. Is there anything else I can
help you with this evening? No? Okay, thank you for using Brinks,

G’Night. Oh, wait! The very best, most wonderful part of the day was
discovering in the kitchen drawer and then later, in the bathroom
cabinet, and then later in the bedroom drawer heart shaped boxes of
candy with little love cards with wonderful notes Rich left about how
much he loves me and our life and this house…me, too.

Okay- now, because I love you and because I’m narcissistic about this blog, I’m at Starbucks (conveniently located 2 blocks from the Florida house) and I’ve signed up for T-Mobile. Pictures of our progress tomorrow.


4 responses to “(more) Real Estate Madness

  1. WOW Great Blog!! Glad I stopped by!!! Thanks for checking mine out, too! It was a pleasure 🙂

    I LOVE Tortilla Flats.
    I DON’T LOVE T-Mobile (sorry… but we have them now and they suck.)

    Good luck with everything~ I’ll be checking back to see how goes it.

  2. Sounds like your having a great time. Love reading your blog.


  4. David- this is true in Key West, but not St. Petersburg. But I’ll scope them out for you. Neighborhood seems diverse on all fronts- gender, age, married, not, retired, working, gay, straight. Gotta like that.

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