Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alternate Project

If you have actually met me, you know real estate isn't my only love - I also write. If you haven't met me, you may have figured it out as I continue to transfer thoughts to blog as though it matters.

It should.

In the back of my mind, I've been slowly watching the seed of an idea, waiting to see if it grows.  And I do mean slowly - it started back in 2008. That's when I started my first blog, Everyday People.

It started with outrage and fear - I was watching a major meltdown of our economic system, the disintegration of our middle class suppositions, and the future resembled nothing so much as medieval feudalism.  I began to think of the majority of us as serfs - and the deeper I looked, the truer it seemed.

My outrage cooled, as most hot emotions tend to eventually do.  I grew discouraged. I felt like it was pointless to keep talking or writing. I grew quiet. I decided it didn't matter.

It does.

I am no longer angry. I'm determined. And I know what I'm going to do about it.  The seed that I discovered five years ago is sprouting.

People's stories are what matter and I'm going to tell them.

We work in a world that bears very little resemblance to the world I grew up in. The sixties and seventies were times of huge transition, and the nineties took us light years ahead with the advent of the personal computer. 

We have to work - the cost of living has skyrocketed and our incomes have not.  But we can't find work. Or we have to make our own work.

I am talking to working people in the US, people from everywhere.  I am talking to people who are working four jobs and people who cannot find one. I am talking to people at the top of their professions and people whose profession has vanished.

I am going to share their stories on my Everyday People blog.  I am sure I am not the only person doing this. There are even other projects with similar names. That's okay. No one will talk to the same people as I do, no one will hear the same stories I hear.  They all need to be heard.

Time is my reluctant partner and my problem; there is limited time available to collect these interviews and to write these posts.  I am busy working, too.  But I have decided this matters. I will make time for it and I will do it.

I will continue to post here when something strikes me, but most of my writing energy is going to go to my blog. I hope you'll stop by and comment if you feel the urge.

I have two children, both grown, both struggling to make ends meet in this crazy new world. Being smart and educated, even connected, isn't enough. I feel like I misled them. I think there's an entire generation wondering what happened to their shot at the American Dream.

We all want to feel like we're doing something that matters. This is my project. I hope it contributes to making a difference.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Let's say you have to decide right now - what do you want for dinner tonight?
Quick - what'll it be? If you're like me, you can't do it.

My brain goes into panic mode.
I love sweet potato burritos! 

 But that's kind of heavy. Fruit maybe?

Fruit's great. But what about pad thai? I love pad thai.
 But that's kind of hot. Maybe it's too hot for hot food.  

Blah blah blah. I could go on for hours and still not make a decision.

So I have absolutely no room to say a thing about people who have trouble making a decision about buying a house. It's a whole lot more of a complicated (and long-term) choice than what you're going to have for dinner.


IF you have decided you're going to buy a house, and you WANT to buy a house, at some point I guess you have to decide what house you are going to buy. 

The problem is, we all want the perfect house.  And I haven't seen it yet.  Maybe the location's perfect, the schools are great, the commute to work is ideal and the house is just the right size.  It probably needs work.

Or if it doesn't need work, maybe the rooms are too small.

Or it doesn't have a garage.

Or it has a pool (or it doesn't).

Or it's not in the town you wanted.

The trick is to find the place that has imperfections that don't make you crazy.

The house I loved best was a mess - an old farmhouse we redid slowly from top to bottom. I've never worked harder. It was totally worth it. It was the worst house on a beautiful old tree-lined street. It was pure joy to make it shine again.That house loved us as much as we loved it. I was pretty sure I'd made a big mistake as soon as we agreed to sell it.

The house I disliked most was great on paper. 

Big rooms, gorgeous spot near a stream, lots of land and privacy. Nothing I did ever made that house feel like home. I knocked myself out and got nowhere. Selling it was a relief.

I found my dream cottage alongside a winding country road and spent a blissful winter there.  With spring, I discovered that my scenic road drew motorcyles by the dozens...all day long. I was serenaded by roaring Harleys from breakfast to sunset.

 I left it with equal parts regret and relief. But leaving prevented me from laying down in the middle of the road in protest...probably a good thing. No one would have heard me scream.

I've been showing houses lately to two kinds of clients - the ones who know what they want the second they see it and go after it, and the ones who just can't decide what they can live with. Those second ones are waiting for the perfect house. I suspect they'll be looking for quite a while.

I suggest they make a pro and con list for every house that might be a likely candidate.  Weigh it all logically. Then I tell them to go to bed and fall asleep imagining they're going to wake up in that house.  How did it feel?  If they can't get to sleep because of a feeling of dread, chances are that's not their house.

But if it feels comfortable, a bit like coming home, they may have found their imperfectly perfect match.