Thursday, March 31, 2011

C'mon In

Well, today was a roller coaster...and the midway lies ahead.

While at work, Madeline from the Realty Office called to see if someone could see the house at noon.  No go.  I was in my office in New Haven, Ken at a work call in New York.  After a little back and forth, rescheduled for 10 am tomorrow, before Ken leaves for "Book of Mormon" rehearsal.  (Note:  I think that I am entering my own "Scary Mormon Hell," sans Johnny Cochran and Adolph Hitler and no dancing skeletons so far.).

Then, John our realtor, got on the phone and told me that he thought that the couple to whom he planned to show the house this evening would make an offer.

It seems too fast, a lockstep march to ....what?

Fortunately, not a day of crises and imminent need at the Clinic.  That is, if you don't count meeting with the Director and my client who may be administratively discharged for getting into a verbal altercation with another of my clients in the parking lot because the girlfriend of the former and she, the latter, had been in jail together and one or the other ratted on one or the other.  Oh, and then my client asking me not to be mad at him because although he is working and doing well, he still deals and that's why his urine screen in positive because the dope gets into his pores.  And the client on 120 mg of methadone and 6 mg daily of xanax can't understand why her mother is taking her into court to get custody of her disabled daughter; but why can't she get more take home bottles of methadone anyway.
And, honestly, these are the easy ones.

So, I had some time to frantically search the NY Times Real Estate section, and even Craigslist to figure out what we could afford, and where and why.  Dogs need a park and maybe a balcony or terrace.  Ken needs to get to Times Square.  We want at least two bedrooms and, oh please,
maybe a bath and a half.

Brooklyn has more engaging architecture and bang for the buck;  but is unknown territory except for Bushwick which lacks green and seems teeming with 20's and 30's although I've seen evidence of diversity. And my remaining NYC friends are mostly on the upper West Side.  Pre War apartments, Woody Allen without the cinematographers.

No resolution but raced to Marshall's for some candles... evening showing, scent and color.  And one
anti aging creme for 10 bucks, too.

Walked dogs, decluttered (again) and then John texted that "buyers" were going to reschedule.  OK.  Texted again, maybe at 7:30. OK, but not much later, please. John texted again...another reschedule.


Cafe Orwell, Bushwick

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


What I don't want this blog to be about is the past.  I want it to cover the present experience of putting a house on the market, possibly selling it, finding a new place to live, packing up and starting over in late mid-life.  I want it to tell the story and also to cover the logistical, geographic, financial and emotional elements that come with it.

But some "filling in the blanks" seems necessary to set the stage.

My husband Ken, 64 yrs old, bought the house as a bachelor thirty five years ago.  He wanted to be near the water and had what turned out to be a pipe dream of working at the Stratford Festival Theatre.  He's been a Broadway tech supervisor and stagehand for about forty years and has been commuting on Metro North 6 days a week for about those thirty five years.  About a four hour round trip commute.  This winter finally did him in.  During one of the snowstorms, he got on a train at Grand Central Station at 10:30pm and walked through the front door at 5:15am.

If anyone had actually said to me in 1982, "Let's get married and move to Stratford, CT," I would have replied "What!!!  Are you out of your mind?"  I loved living in New York City.  And, at first, we had the best of both worlds.  You all have a general idea of NYC (although it's changed since my wayward youth) but you should know that, despite its problems, Stratford has definite charms.  A beautiful coastline, our neighborhood (Lordship), the kind of place where generations lived and where people were able to leave their back doors unlocked and you could go in, grab some milk or oj, leave a note or leave your kids.  Note to thieves:  That's changed in the last 10 years.  Locks and alarm systems now.

So, I didn't want a house.  But a house became a home.  More so when Zebadiah (born 1984) and Elias (born 1987) came along.  Their elementary school with playground is across the street from our house.  And nothing beats those "mothers on the playground" friendships, most lasting when certain of the mothers bond over shared points of view, parenting issues or spousal conflict.  Those friends are there when it seems no one else in the entire world is.  Sue, Carol, know who you are.

Meanwhile, I commuted sporadically due to an empathic partner (thanks, Jane, wherever you are) who understood what it took to be a good, proactive mother and helped me to understand that once you have children, they come first no matter what.

I also felt that it was important that, if someday one of the kids had drug problems or something, I didn't feel guilty because I had left them for days or hours on end with a non-parent (no matter how wonderful.. and we had wonderful.  Kudos esp to Rosey and Donnette who took care of all of us and taught me so much).  Of course, when one of them DID actually have drug problems,  I had no one to blame but myself.  Let it be known that all of those named above, as well as great friends on both coasts and my brother Jamie, were there for me and said child every step of the way.

Throughout all this, I nursed a desire to return to NYC.  A place where I actually feel more calm and among my tribe.

Now that may be a reality.  But, at 59, and being a non-resident for 27 years, it's not a return anymore.
It's a re-invention. And a leap of faith. With financial restrictions - and two dogs who are used to a deck door and fenced in yard.  But those two "kids" live in Brooklyn and there are sustained friends in a couple of the boroughs.

Much unknown, but first..

..the sign went up.  The listing is online. The photos and sign made my heart clench. Still do. 

I had to tell our neighbors, best we've had.  Their kids said "Don't go.  We'll miss your dogs." Andrea said, "Dennis is away but he'll be so upset."  Dennis plowed me out while Ken was gone doing "Book of Mormon" this winter.  Dennis also was there to help when one of the cars died and Eli didn't know what to do.

Colleagues at work who have embraced an old but game gal are added to the mix.  They have helped me to live the counseling mantra that change is possible without transition; but transition is not possible without change.  Think about it.  Plus, they make lunch, every day, an occasion.  And support me in this, and in every moment and every day, in ways I didn't know could happen.

Our  realtor, John (met while aforementioned dogs - two Chinese shar pei, Wilson and Keaton - were walking me) is our delightful cheerleader.

He's bringing first potential buyers tomorrow night.  I'll put on the lights, light some candles and drag the dogs (in late spring sleet and snow) over to Sue's.  We'll have some wine.  Maybe a pizza.
And freak out about all this in the way that only friends do.  Our combined four dogs will run around and I do hope that Wilson doesn't piss on her couch again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For Sale

Thirty years in this house.

Living in NYC in the 80's.  With an evolving Broadway career as Producer.
And a funky but affordable (in 1980) apartment that abutted the Plaza Hotel.

A mix of tenants.  "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" - the REM  song inspired by
Dan Rather's mugging - was a case of mistaken identity of fellow tenant Kenny
Shaffer (who had an early satellite hook up with Russia at the end of the Cold

My dog, Grover, was also on Broadway in "Oh, Calcutta."  New Year's Eve
he didn't come home.  Next day he did, coat smelling of cigarettes and whiskey.

Worked in the Kennedy family offices for awhile.  Turned down the production
assistant job on "Dreamgirls."

Fell in love with a guy who owned a house in Stratford, CT while being production
assistant, assistant press agent, assistant stage manager on "Sophisticated Ladies."

Brought two babies home to Stratford.  Lost the NYC apt.  Produced Tony
winning and nominated shows.  Was Room Mother at schools.   Played roulette
with child care.   Cut up worms for the snakes.  Made snow angels and read
"Lord of the Flies."  Cub scouts, homework, kid arrested for graffiti (we were just
trying to express ourselves, mom).

In the interim, Co-produced"Driving Miss Daisy,"  "Buried Child,"  "Last Night of Ballyhoo."
Gambled on a big show (Beach Boys catalog) and lost.

Planted flowers, herbs.  Shoveled snow.  Learned French.  Both sons got into great colleges (minimal financial aid but huge debt).

Became a substance abuse counselor after a child's challenge.

Kinda sorta thought we could do it all.  And did, for a long while.

Now, we're selling the house.  Or trying to.

"Home" Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros