Friday, November 21, 2008

Food Friday....not!

Sorry, folks, no recipe today. Since I haven't been doing much cooking in the past couple of weeks, and I don't have anything in the wings waiting to be featured, there's nothing to feed the foodie in us today. I promise to get back on track next week.

It appears that I now have a new venue for my writing jones to express itself: I've been invited to write a monthly column for a new online publication called Peace Corps World. The first issue is scheduled to go out in January, and, depending on if the thing takes off, I might even get paid for it. It's all very informal so far, no contracts or legal agreements are involved. The publisher is an old Peace Corps colleague with deep roots in the New York publishing scene (and a published novelist himself) with whom I've maintained occasional contact. His idea is to cover topics of interest to the entire Peace Corps community, current and former volunteers and staff alike. He wants me to talk about gay stuff, but I think I'll be able to branch out a bit from that rather limited track. (How would you like to have to write about just "straight stuff"?) We'll see. Anyway, that's where I was yesterday. He asked for two submissions by December 1, and I was working on the first.

On the house front: there is some good news to add to the otherwise still-troublesome mix. The Realtor told us that if we continue with the cosmetic work on the house, we should be able to ask for even more than we were hoping. In the process, he made it clear that this property is too special, and the market too crazy, to show it in anything less than perfect condition. So our work is cut out for us. We could save time by marketing the house "as-is," but we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot if we did. Which leads to the "troublesome mix" part: the clock is ticking. Between the time limits on the bank's commitment and Steve's job, we have a fairly small window in which to get this house sold. The Realtor recommended putting it up for sale in February, to catch the first people with post-holiday cabin fever out looking. Given all we have to do, February is just too fast, but we will bust butt to make it in March. Then it'll be up to the market place.

We were very impressed with the Realtor. He knows this area like the back of his hand. Before he gave us any numbers, he put our sale in context with the entire market in Arlington to show us the conditions we are working in. (One astounding fact: while Arlington as a whole has fared better than most of the rest of the country through the real estate downturn, 50% of the sales in our Zip code in the past 12 months have been foreclosures. Half!! Those distressed prices bring all the rest down, and that's just a reality we must contend with.)

I know this blog is called "Days of Transition" and it's meant to document what we go through as we try to move. But I didn't know how hard it would be, and how boring and depressing (to me, anyway) this "woe is us!" trope would become. I had decided not to go into the Realtor story and just let it lie, but people actually emailed me wanting to know what happened, so here we are. I appreciate your interest and your good wishes. But I hope you'll understand if sometimes it just feels like too much and I need a rest from it. It takes time to put these words together and that means time thinking about the situation, analyzing, prognosticting, guessing, worrying. For my own mental health I'll lay off house stuff until some major milestone is reached. (Or at least I'll try!)


Anonymous said...

Not to be negative but if 50% are selling by third party consent or bank owned wouldn't it be more attractive for a buyer to buy one of those homes,get it for less then fix it up like you intend to do but do it the way they want? I think you're going to knock yourself out for nothing.

I did send out my recipe to the email and 7 friends I know who cook. Why 20? I can't find 20.

Cuidado said...

Good news about the opportunity to do some writing. I'm glad for you!

Mim said...

That's good on the writing.
I totally get about not talking/writing/sharing about daily dramas of housing/moving/loans selling.
Whenever you want to share your audience is here!
Hope you don't have to paint and clean all wknd!

Ralph said...

A worthy, if rather baldly stated, devil's advocate point, Z&M. I passed the question on to the agent. I think he'll respond that it's two different markets--the two-earner folk who buy these houses here don't have time/inclination to do that work themselves. I'll let you know what he says.

Ralph said...

Thanks, Cuidado. I'm looking forward to it.

Ralph said...

Mim, it's uncanny how our situations are coinciding these days. It's not that I don't want to share, having invited people into this process. The same old crap is just boring and depressing, for me and for the readers. This other writing outlet should be a nice pressure-reduction valve.

Anonymous said...

Well darn . . that's what you get for cheating us out of Food Friday. I wasn't being negative. It's just something people should think about. I would improve a property that I planned to live in because I would enjoy the improvements. They would be my taste in colors etc., hardwood floors vs tile; whatever. But try guessing what a buyer would like. I think you'd have better odds winning the Powerball.

Hope you show us some of the Peace Corps stuff you write. That really sounds exciting.

Linda (SE PA) said...


Congrats on the writing assignment!

Understand about writing about the house etc. Sometimes "we" need that mental time out.

Realtor sounds okay - would still check a few references. With the "windows of time" it seems that the workload is a tall order... perhaps, you can just spiff without too much investment?

I don't know - folks down the road redid the driveway - put in a new porch and every weekend they have an open house - house is still for sale. Beautiful porch too... Sigh

Ralph said...

Z&M, just one last thing, we are de-personalizing the place, not following our own tastes. Remember all those before and after pictures earlier this year? The big question, "take down wallpaper or paint over it?" We're back in that mode. We've talked to a stager and are going with modern, warm, generic colors that make the rooms pop. We already have hardwood floors that are in good shape. We are definitely improving the look of the place by any standard, not stamping it with our own personalities.

Will do with the PC articles. Glad you're interested. In fact, once the publication gets going you all might be interested in it as a Peace Corps family.

Ralph said...

So why didn't you sent **me** any recipes???