Saturday, July 31, 2010

the crazy, wild vent

Yo. Hey. What's up?

I'm having a nervous breakdown.

No, seriously.

The owners of House A came back today to tell us that they were not moving off their first counter. Charlie was afraid that we'd insulted them with our 3% increase after they'd come down some 14%. As for me, I think that they are totally delusional to think that they're going to sell their house at such a high listing price, as-is, when it needs so much work.

The ball is now in our court and we're debating what to do.

To be perfectly honest, the longer I think about House A, the less 'cozy' I feel about it. The bathrooms are SMALL. Smaller than our bathrooms in California. The closets are SMALL. Smaller than our closets in California. And while I can certainly live in a small space and make concessions - I was hoping that this move would be a step up for us.

Not lateral, and certainly not down. Because paying more for a house, that is less of a house than your current house, is rather depressing. (Does that makes any sense, probably not I think it's 2AM.)

Right off the bat, we can tell that the house needs a lot of work and that's before we put a professional inspector on the job to decipher what else might be wrong. So, I'm extremely hesitant to go up anything more on our offer, until I know EXACTLY what we'd be getting ourselves in to.

Also, I think it's worthy to mention that after reading all the e-mails from people who told me that they'd be wary of the liability with a creek in the backyard, I started to rethink the idyllic vision I had of that and wonder if it's actually a BAD idea to have a creek that drains to the Chesapeake 200-feet behind our unfenced house?

So while all those thoughts are swirling around our minds, we drove out to look at House B. And we had such high hopes for House B because the pictures looked so beautiful and our Realtor had driven us through the tranquil neighborhood at an earlier point and we were just sure that this would be the house. But then, we saw the house and didn't even bother getting out of the car.

I'd never heard, or seen, until I came here this thing called a Pipe Stem. A Pipe Stem is a road (or more like driveway) that is built off a main road, where several homes are constructed. And although I've seen a few homes on Pipe Stems that look very nice, the driveway leading to House B, was a through fare on a Pipe Stem to another house, that was directly next door.

This was the most "congested" Pipe Stem I've ever seen.

Worse than that, the driveway leading from the street to the house was at an angle of approximately so high, that you couldn't even see over the front of your car as you were driving up it. So not only would this bite in the winter when there is snow and ice to deal with and you have to park your car on the street and walk to the house because the drive way is way too steep, imagine during the warmer months ... when you've got your garage door open and you're out washing your car and your children are playing in the driveway, and then your neighbor comes home and RUNS THEM OVER because they don't see them out there playing.

Now, before I go on, I want to take a quick moment to thank all of the awesome people who live in this area and who sent me detailed descriptions of events to do with the children. Your kindness has given me reason to believe there are some GOOD people around here.

Having written that, I'm really sorry if I offend anyone, but Virginia has got some of the WORST drivers I've ever seen. Or, at a minimum, the rudest.

Yesterday, we were driving home from looking at houses and in the lane next to us, was a minivan with South Carolina license plates. There were luggage racks on top of the car and the driver and passenger were fumbling with a map, clearly trying to figure out where they were going. The light turned green and within a half second, the car - directly behind them - was LAYING on the horn. Not a polite, "beep! beep!" the light has turned green notification, but a ...


The map went flying in the air, the travelers were waving their arms apologetically and they gunned it, through the intersection, and almost nailed a pedestrian who was in the cross-walk.

Today, as Charlie and I were out AGAIN looking at homes, and as we were merging on to the highway, we were stuck behind a big truck, whose rig was blocking the over head signs. It wasn't until we were almost directly beneath the sign that we realized we were heading east, when we needed to be heading west.

No Big Deal.

Slow down, put on your blinker, change lanes.

Although if you're here, on a Virginia highway, and you slow down on the on-ramp and put on your blinker, the car behind you acts like you peed in his child's Cheerios. The hysteria - the horn honking - the screaming - the gesturing - the OH MY GOD - stop, before you give yourself an aneurysm!!

Unfortunately (for me), I don't respond well to that kind of behavior. Despite the fact that I put my head between my knees and prayed to God for patience and silence, the devil immediately overtook me and I was climbing OVER my husband's lap and flipping off the offender while screaming, "ASS WIPE!" as loud as I could, along with a bunch of other things that I don't want my mother reading.

We have CALIFORNIA plates on our car. While you might think that an out-of-state, from the opposite-side-of-the-country license plate would be grounds for some compassion, you'd be wrong. YOU ARE EXPECTED to know exactly what you are doing around here and God Help Your Sorry Soul if you don't. There is no tolerance at all whatsoever.

As for the driver? He was totally oblivious to my conniption. He had his outburst, and now, his attention was directed to text messaging, while driving.

Later today, as I was driving back from the store, I saw a FIVE car pile up on the freeway. With the exception of a multi-car crash that I witnessed in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in the midst of an ice storm, I have never in my life seen a five car pile up in perfectly sunny weather. But I did today and the reason is because people around here drive like aggressive lunatics.

Over the past few weeks, I have been a less than stellar role model, so it should be no surprise that tonight, my five-year-old showed me how she can flip the bird.

For the past several months, we've had a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It feels like we've been chasing something ... and now that we stop and look around, we realize that we're totally lost. At this point, we feel like we've made a huge mistake coming to the east coast.

After house hunting yesterday morning, yesterday afternoon we took the metro (train) in to Washington, D.C. We figured that the children could use a break and we definitely needed one, too. What I quickly discovered is that while on the metro, no one talks and no one makes any eye contact. It felt like for the 45-minute ride in and the 45-minute ride out, we were surrounded by robots. Our smiles were met with blank stares.

As we were riding the metro back out of the city, a woman sat down next to me, and commented on our large number of small children. We chatted for a few minutes, and I started to think that I was over-characterizing the people of this area and jumping to conclusions, way too soon.

Just then she asked if I lived here and I told her that we had just moved from California and were in the process of looking for a new home. She smiled brightly and said, "We're here on VACATION from California!" And I almost burst in to tears and asked her to pack us in her suitcase and bring us back to where the sun always shines and the people are friendly.

We had a beautiful house in California. In a beautiful environment, within walking distance to just about every store you could possibly imagine and a wonderful school, that is ranked extremely high. For the most part, we could drive on roads and if we had to change lanes - we didn't feel like our lives were in danger. We are now in escrow to sell our beautiful house, for a fraction of what we believe it is worth, so that we can "trade up" and buy a house that isn't nearly as nice, for twice as much, so I can be in an office all day and battle traffic so bad that on some roads, there is congestion at midnight on Sunday.

We have considered rentals - and checked out a few. We have also looked at no less than 200 homes in the past two weeks. Whether on line, or driving past, or walking through, we have seen almost everything in our price range. Our price range that has gone up by 20% since we've been here, because we realized what little we could get for such a large amount. And even with the 20% increase, we're still seeing homes that make our house in California look like paradise.


We had a GREAT life in California and since we've been here, our emotions - our health - our sanity and everything in between has been suffering. Add to that, our children have been suffering because they are constantly shuttled from one place to the next and although they'll rebound, I don't see any end to this crazy.

To say we are extremely frustrated would be a gross understatement.

We feel like we should have come out in June to do house hunting, because if we'd come out then and had an opportunity to see what was available, we never would have made the decision to uproot our family and take this plunge. But the reason we didn't come out in June, is because I was wrapping up my former job, we were getting the house ready for sale, and I was still under the care of a doctor ... with strict instructions that I shouldn't / couldn't leave until my numbers had stabilized. My numbers finally stabilized a WEEK before we left, and even though my doctor released me, I still don't feel 100%.

Speaking of numbers ... I'd be midway through my pregnancy right now if it hadn't been ectopic. I'd be sitting on the couch with my feet up, eating a bowl of ice cream, gestating a baby and not staying up all night worrying about our future.

While I know that sometimes it takes a little time to find the right house to buy, WE DON'T HAVE TIME. We have three children who are due to start school in one month and we have no idea where that school will be. For the past three weeks we've been living in various hotels and it has taken it's toll. Our good attitudes wore off about four hours ago, and since that time, Charlie and I have been pulling out our hair to try and figure out a way to get out of our escrow in California so we can move home and pretend this whole thing never happened.

Tomorrow (now today) is Sunday.

I think we need to go find a church and get ourselves some religion.


  1. Oh no, I am so sorry that things are so difficult for you all right now. I can sort of imagine, given our cross-country move AWAY from the east coast last year. The attitudes you describe... yeah, that's how it is, unfortunately. I have tremendous sympathy for you all, for what the kids are going through, for the heartache and worry.

    I say, if it feels wrong, then do what feels right.

  2. And maybe... maybe sell your old place in San Diego and go back and find a slightly bigger place??

  3. I've been in similar situations (we made a transatlantic move by ourselves w/kids 11 years ago and many smaller moves over the last 20 years). "It's always darkest just before dawn" as the saying goes. Still, in spite of the fact that I don't know you from Adam, reading your post frustrated and depressed the hell out of me and the reference to your lost baby brought tears to my eyes. I'm hoping and praying things will turn around dramatically for you. And, like, YESTERDAY!

    Oh, and the bit about climbing over Charlie's lap to give that @$$hole a piece of your mind? I swear, we could be twins sometimes....

  4. I feel your house pain. We went through the same thing when we moved here from Michigan. We rented for a few months to get acclimated to the area first and that turned out to be a great decision for us. We had some time to get over the culture shock of living in Northern VA before we had to commit to a house.

  5. Oh my! How horribly frustrating and upsetting for you all! *Big hugs* I'll keep you all in my prayers too.

  6. Jenn-

    Good Lord! I got totally stressed just reading your post. I can imagine how stressed you feel and it does not feel good!

    That having been said, I hope that you can get some perspective. I've live on the East Coast and the pace of life can certainly be fast here, especially from NoVa through Massachusetts. That being said, I have also spent time on the West Coast. Spend some time anywhere around LA, for example, and you will get the speeding and impatience and congestion. Same for Chicago or most any other major urban area. Comes with the territory. There are much calmer, nicer suburbs. But you will struggle with the parameters you have set. You essentially want a half acre plus of land, no congestion, modern (at least on the inside) house, privacy, near an urban center with a miniscule commute. Read that again. How likely do you think that is? You can certainly find happiness here plus great schools for your kids but you are going to have to adjust some of those parameters to get there.

    You guys made some whiplash decisions (moving, then pregnant and not moving, then ectopic and moving) VERY QUICKLY and you need to give it some time for the dust to settle. Right now you have your feet in both places and you are (perhaps) idealizing one b/c you are having difficulty in the other. If you give it time, you may well have a long list of things you love on the East Coast as well, just like your other list for CA.

    I hope you are reading this knowing it is coming from a long time reader and from a position of caring and concern. Hang in there. You've been through a rough couple of months. Give it time to shake down a bit.

  7. Oh I am so sorry to hear all of this. When things have been going like this the last thing you want to hear is that it will all be OK, so I won't say that... but I do hope that there is a bright light in your future-- at the end of teh tunnel, in the form of the PERFECT house, in the PERFECT neighborhood, for the perfect amount of money... and the nightmare be over. ((hugs))

  8. Oh I am so sorry to hear all of this. When things have been going like this the last thing you want to hear is that it will all be OK, so I won't say that... but I do hope that there is a bright light in your future-- at the end of teh tunnel, in the form of the PERFECT house, in the PERFECT neighborhood, for the perfect amount of money... and the nightmare be over. ((hugs))

  9. SERENITY NOW! You will find a place to live. You will be happy. You will learn to drive like an A-Hole! Maybe that driver was late for the Chelsea's wedding! Miss you guys!

  10. OK, Jen, breathe. It will be ok. BUY HOUSE A!!! You will love it! I moved a lot as a kid, and my absolute favorite house was on two acres surrounded by woods and ponds. It was a child's paradise. The mosquitos are only out here three months of the whole year. Use bug spray and you'll be fine. My husband and I share a closet... I use 2/3, he gets 1/3... all is well. Give this area a chance! If you still don't like it after two years, then move. I think you'll feel a lot better once you've settled into a home. And it sounds like a wonderful home to me. Buy it!!

  11. Oh, I am so sorry! Wishing you best of luck. You will be in my prayers.

  12. My heart goes out to all six of you. No answers to your questions and piles of empathy are what I have to offer. Perhaps church would help; the rest of my family of origin are big on giving it all to god and I have often found great community in a church family. They are resources that may be very helpful to you all right now.

  13. Oh my gosh-maybe I didn't hallucinate seeing you at the Natural History museum. Wish I'd darted down to the dinos to verify it was you and say "Hi"; or that we'd bumped into you on the metro. My 3-yr old would have made sure she entertained you with chatter to your destination. So sorry to hear the house hunting isn't going any better and that you've had so many encounters with the crazy DC area drivers. There really are some lovely people in the area. Also, if no one's mentioned it yet--the National Building Museum is a very kid-friendly place to visit. Lots of hands on activities and a Lego exhibit running through September. Timed entry to that part though. Praying you guys are able to settle somewhere soon.

  14. I'm so sorry, Jen. This all sounds dreadful and I hope it starts looking up very soon.

  15. Part of the reason people don't treat out of state tags with respect is that there are a lot of military in the area and they have non-VA tags. Also, the drivers are worse - read more dangerous- in DC. We live in MD and I had to stop calling drivers "idiot" after honking at them when dd (then age 3) yelled "idiot" after my husband honked at another car.

    I am sorry that House B was a disappointment. I don't find the stream that leads to the Bay a problem, but we have one in our backyard too. Our dd knows that she is not allowed in the backyard - under pain of no "tell me a story" time at night. She is five and it hasn't been a problem. We go out there and wade and find tadpoles, little fish, and crayfish. We both have D-ring nets to look for macroinvertebrates. We take pictures to compare the status of the stream from time to time and just have fun (even in the snow).

    Good luck finding a respite in a church and a house.


  16. Oh Jen I feel so awful right now for your family. But on the bright side and I don't know if this will help much you and Charlie are very intelligent, educated, common sense people and...I don't know what the "and" is it will all work out, I know that doesn't help much. For some reason in the end it will all make sense. I can't believe the trouble you're having finding a home. It's a buyer's market out there. I wouldn't buy HOuse A simply because it's overpriced and it has soooooo much work to be done. THe owners are crazy. The way I see it, it's the inheritors trying to get every last dime of dad's estate. Tell them to keep it on the market and I bet they come back to you guys in a couple of weeks dropping the price low low low and begging you to buy it. They have to see for themselves it won't sell at the price they want. And the creek behind you is a little daunting but nothing a fence won't fix.
    East coast drivers are ass clowns, ass wipes, assholes and I detest driving anywhere near the east coast region. They're impatient, inconsiderate and rude.
    I'm praying you all regain your sanity very soon. The kids are fine it's you and Charlie that may need a hospitalization on the psyc ward before it's all over. Keep your wits about you. Trust your gut and give it a little more time. It will get better I promise. OH yeah the metro - you're right it's robots and zombies. no one smiles it's all ipods and reading i'm surprised they get off at the right stop

  17. I can only imagine what a nightmare this all is to you. Yes, the folks in Virginia are bad drivers (sorry Virginians, but it's true) we witness it constantly down here being so close to the border. I think you are trying to bite off more than you can handle at once. Figure out what school you want the children to go to and then rent a house or an apartment in that district. This way you can slow down your search and find what you are really looking for. Otherwise you may make a hasty decision that you'll regret later. Just my opinion.

  18. I can relate to your feelings of being lost and wanting nothing more than to go home. Moving from AZ to FL 3 years ago almost killed me. I swear! I hated everything. Hated the grocery stores that were not MY stores, hate the stupid roads that change names a dozen of times in a 2 mile drive. Hated the bugs, Hated the people, hated the house, the yard, the nieghbors...
    I was miserable for several months.
    Then things kind of started settling in, and becoming 'normal'.
    I stopped hating everything and started finding little things I liked.
    It was a s.l.o.w. process, but Tuesday will be our 3 year anniv of living in FL and I have to say, I really like it here.
    I miss home, but I have found things here that I can now love. Like a friend, (that helped alot). She was also new to Fl so we helped each other.
    I hope that you will soon find some peace with your decision to move.
    At the very least think of the adventure you are having.
    good luck!

  19. BlackOrchid8/1/10, 3:29 PM

    Oh Jen!

    There is just this "Mid-Atlantic Stress Cloud" that I don't think people not in the area understand. I live in the Mid-Atlantic and whenever I go out West, down South, or even to the Northeast or Midwest it's like "why don't we live HERE?!?!"

    And having been to San Diego many times - I mean, I'm sorry, there is just nowhere else like it.

    Virginia is okay. It's just exactly like most of the high-population-density Mid-Atlantic -- it's all the same rigamarole. Everybody is stressed; everybody is stretched too thin. Things cost too much. No one can drive. Just wait til winter if you want to see crappy driving!

    The worst thing for you is that right now in NOVA housing prices are still way up there, cos DC is a boomtown now. Just bad timing to move there.

    Getting a lot of reno work done on a house while you're living there with four small children?!?!? Jen, I've redone electric and hardwood floors and tilework BY MYSELF before I had kids; now I can't get a damn room painted. You just have to outsource reno work, and that gets pricey fast (and is still pretty stressful).

    I don't know what to say. Hang in there? I know, I know, I'm useless.

    But that negative energy . . . whew. It sure as hell is not your imagination. I always attribute it to just a long history, whereas out west you are not under such a yoke of history, everything feels more open, fresh, and new. Plus, the cooler people all moved out there, you know? "Go West, young man."

    So, good luck, I hope things calm down for you!

  20. If the purchasers of your house ask for any kind of concession, and you say no, maybe they'll back out!

  21. Love reading following your life..find your guidance..from above. :)

  22. Well, between the two houses, I say let them go, and go back to square one. Of course, if you had taken my advice in the first place, you would have never left Paradise. (Sorry - I just HADDA say it! :O) I was just reading yesterday why your area in CA has such pleasant weather all year round. If I was you, I would take the CA house off the market and just let it sit... just in case. Whatever, I wish you all the best. :::::::leaves mumbling, "How anybody could leave paradise for the north..."::::::::::

    I just read the rest of your post. All I can say is, why dontcha go back to your old house. I really don't no what escrow is, but whatever it is, you can buy your way out of it.

    Most people spend a LIFETIME trying to GET what you HAD! Get it back, before it's too late!

    ~Cindy! :|

  23. Hoping that things turn around soon for frustrating. We moved to San Diego 3 years ago this month from the DC area (Bethesda) and we couldn't believe how much friendlier people were and how much easier it was to get around on the roads without all of the honking aggressive driving! I am still shocked by the differences on my once-a-year trip back to DC for work meetings (I've been fortunate to be telecommuting since we moved). But DC does have a lot of fun things to do if you can just find a decent neighborhood and home and get settled in. Crossing fingers for you.

    (I should be about 24 weeks pregnant right now but my pregnancy ended at 13.5 weeks and devastated me earlier this I know that goes too, unfortunately.)


  24. Does your company have a position for you in SC? We're very friendly (over the top sometimes as we'll completely stop traffic to let you into the intersection! Ha Ha!). You have family here and you can get a lot of house for your money! I'm sorry you're going through all this. Rest assured it will all fall into place....give it time, have faith. It will all work out. Kim

  25. Your comments and ramblings about house hunting makes me think of what my parents must have gone through when I was a child. I'm one of seven children. My dad was in the army. We moved every two years. Army bases didn't have room for our large family. I bet my parents went through just the same as you and Charlie are going through now. I'll have you know, we lived in a wonderful house on the banks of a man made lake in Missouri, we lived in a fabulous house on top of a hill in NY. It will happen, you will find your paradise. Paradise resides everywhere, not just California. Sending you some happy and house hunting juju to you. ((Hugs)) too.


  27. Oh the drivers of the South!!!!! There's nothing like them. I still have visions of driving from New Orleans to Savannah with a truck grill entirely filling the rear view mirror of our little Toyota rental.
    Check this post from our trip to New Orleans and Savannah and the return trip.

  28. Man! Being a grown up sucks! Seriously there are some days where my husband and I look at each other and say, "Was going to law school a mistake?" "Was buying our first home a mistake?" "Did we really want to have just one more baby right after we were finished paying full-time preschool tuition?"

    We had rationally, or passionately, thought it all made sense at one time and could reasonably foresee that these things would be GOOD things!

    It will all work out...everything is going to be okay!

  29. Seriously in 2 years, after your fantasies of San Diego weather have passed, you will really like VA! : )

  30. Hey Jen, just wandered back to you blog after a long time away from blog land. Sister mercy it sounds like you're in seriously tough transition! I moved right outside of NYC after living 5 years in the Midwest and I'm fairly sure every single thing you have said about the drivers and the no-eye-contact-ers and the nastiness I have said about 20 times in the past 2.5 years. (Story side note!: Seriously one time I had to quickly merge onto an on ramp with my NH plates shining forth as an obvious, "DUH i have no idea where I'm going", and the guy behind me FLIPPED out. It was a safe merge to begin with, but he CHASED me down the highway tailing me and honking and gesturing and screaming until he drove HIMSELF off the highway onto a closed off ramp. I'm not even kidding. If I hadn't just spent the previous 6 years of my life preparing for medical school I would have packed up my car right then and there and returned to the motherland. I thought: I seriously have to learn to take CARE of these people?! They are all going to crash and die before they will even get to the hospital if they continue driving like this, not to mention rage induced heart attacks!). But take heart! Recently on a rotation in Staten Island where I worked in one of the most hostile, nasty environments I've ever had the opportunity to frequent (an OB/GYN floor no less!) someone said to me "Staten Islanders as a group are horrible, but individually they are very nice." And I have found that statement to be true (EVEN after the head OR nurse ordered my colleagues to strip off their scrubs right then and there because med students shouldn't be allowed the privilege of scrubs...naked in the OR anyone?! Hospitals are not the most rational places around. If you see a naked med student some day this is probably what happened :P). It's easy to generalize an entire population from several choice interactions (Lord knows I do it), and though I prefer even my austere New Hamshirites and my warm Midwesterners to this NYC craziness I have found many a kind soul buried in the mix (OK, the fact that many of them are transplanted midwesterners or Californianites aside!), and I am sure you will too. I have moved more times than I'd like to say and each time I move I have to remind myself (or my poor mother has to as she endures the same panicked phone calls again) through the tears and regret and the missing that it takes me almost two full years to rebuild a solid community. Which in the span of things really isn't that long at all.

    Change sucks. It's hard. It takes time, and God's got your back on this one Jen! Blessings to you during this time of transition.