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All You Have Done…

It’s the darkest day of the year — the Winter Solstice. It’s cold. And snowy.

I’ve had a pretty crappy year in a lot of ways – I will certainly not be sorry to see 2008 go. My husband calls it The Year of the Bitch. Actually, he doesn’t but he wouldn’t really deny it if I asked him (though he is sleeping at the moment so I can’t.) I’ll not go on about it. You all know most of what happened, anyway. Besides, I can’t stand pessimism and mindless, endless complaining. I complain plenty but it serves a purpose — it moves me forward. Usually reasonably quickly though sometimes it takes longer. People who can’t get out of the Bitter Barn are toxic. Bitter people sap their own energy and that of everyone around them.  With that…

I am Queen of Silver Linings. Lemonade from lemons and all of that. The eternal optimist in me sees the many good things that have happened this year. The Fall (not coincidentally, when life finally settled down) was *glorious.* There is no better place than New England for holiday spirit. We have happy, healthy kids; good friends; good health;  close families; good jobs that pay well; a lovely house.

It’s the darkest day of the year — the Winter Solstice. It’s cold. And snowy. And absolutely gorgeous outside. Here’s one way I’m continuing to move on… a stolen meme that celebrates achievements and things accomplished.

99 Things (cross off the ones you have done)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band (I sang – I’m saying that counts))
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill 
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (does pig latin count?)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing (tried to — foiled by a hurricane.)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
(do crabs count?)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

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Last weekend we went to the Warner Fall Festival with a woman my husband works with, her husband, and two of their kids. He’s talked about Louise since this summer — she’s a newcomer to DH’s office and NH, too —  but this was the first time she and I had the chance to meet, and one of our first social outings at all since moving here.  So I was on my best behavior. Which you know is hard for me. Anyway, as we’re walking up the street we hear ABBA playing… at the same time Louise and I shout “OH MY GOD, I LOVE ABBA!” — and then we sort of look at each other, gauging reaction… and we break into grins and (shocked, shocked, you are) move more quickly in the direction of the music. We found its source, but it wasn’t at all what we expected.

We found about 16 women who had about 1,000 years of experience among them (go ahead…do the math) dressed in a sort of can-can girl type of Greek-looking traditional dress, doing a Tap Dance routine to an ABBA medley. On a street corner in small-town New England.

Seriously.

We stood there, staring, speechless. It was one of the most Bizarro things I’ve seen since moving here. It almost beat the woman riding a horse, leading a camel that was towing a man on roller blades. And THAT wasn’t even AT the fair. (Yes, really – I swear. I wish I had a camera.)

We had so much fun that afternoon that we took Louise’s daughter up on her offer to babysit Muppet and Louise’s 4 year old son (both of whom were ecstatic to have a real play date), and me, Danny, Louise and Ethan went to the local pub for drinks…which turned into dinner…

What an unexpectedly lovely way to celebrate my birthday — and the best present was meeting people I think we’ll become great friends with.

Yay us.

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GREEDY PEOPLE SUCK.

Shame on you, People Who Mortgaged Themselves Beyond Their Means

Shame on You, Mortgage Brokers Who Arranged Those Mortgages

Shame on You, Banks Who Lent the Money

Shame on You, Wall Street Investment Banks for Turning Shitty Loans Into AAA- and BBB-rated Securities

Shame on You, SEC for Allowing Balance-Sheet Scams That Don’t Truly Reflect Assets and Liabilities

ALL YOU FREAKING GREEDY PEOPLE PISS ME OFF — because of the flipping mortgage crisis/credit crunch you caused, I can’t get a $100k home improvement loan. ME — a bank’s wet dream…steady, secure family income in the top 5% of US earners; not a flipping CENT of debt except for my $285k mortgage; and 20% equity in my house.

SERIOUSLY?!

And here’s the pathetic part… the $50k that I can get (because of a crappy appraisal and new bank laws) is an 8% construction loan but FROM CREDIT CARD COMPANIES, I can get multiple loans for tens of thousands of dollars at 1.99-3.99% for the life of the loans.

God Bless America Visa. :-Q

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For those following the relocation trials and tribulations…after much ado and angst, the relo company was convinced to expedite the test results from our basement mold remediation (remediation: $5,500; yes, sir, you MAY have another…) They came back on Tuesday *clear*. YAY!! Today we have a scam artist…erm, I mean drywall guy… in to replace the drywall (to the tune of $2,000 – can you freaking believe that?!) so it seems that all we need to do is send photos of the finished drywall repair to Sirva/Satan by 5pm Thursday and then we will be able to sell them the house.

Not out of the woods yet but it’s looking a whole lot better than it did on Monday.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Maple Brook Farm. We close on June 27.

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For Sale

WOW.

They say a sale.jpg is worth a thousand words…

They just put a For Sale sign outside my house.

Wait until you see the inside, though — it looks like June F*cking Cleaver lives here – not a thing out of place, and decluttered by about 1/3. Even the laundry side of the basement is a pleasant place to be now. A said “Geez, Mommy, it doesn’t even look like our house!” And she’s right.

My bedroom looks AWESOME. I can’t believe we had to move in order to get it looking like this (taupe walls with robins egg blue and chocolate brown bedding and window treatments — aahhhhhhhh — so spa-like and tranquil.) At least D admits it looks better without the hideous orange paint. (for those who have never personally visited Chez NDQ, a couple of years ago D was desperate for an orange bedroom. Which was fine with me until I realized that my idea of orange was Terra Cotta, or some other earthy tone and his was Fall Leaf Orange. I agreed to He made me paint it anyway even though I hated it from day one.

Anyway – my mom just arrived, and my brother, SIL and nephew are coming this weekend for K’s belated b-day party. I am SO ridiculously excited to have them here. I need big hugs and lots of wine! I really wish my dad was going to be here, too, but that isn’t possible. For the first time I can remember since my parents divorced 12 years ago, I cried because my whole family won’t be here at the same time.

Well, look at that…almost 40 years old and I still need my mommy and daddy. If that isn’t a credit to them both I don’t know what is.

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You know, that ritual in which you seriously scrub your abode from top to bottom until it is squeaky clean in places you generally don’t know even existed. And by “occasionally”, I mean “annually.” Ok, ok, biennially.

OK. OK!!! Never.

There, I said it. I have *never* cleaned certain places in this house. I mean, why clean them if you can’t see them?!

But when you are preparing to sell your house you clean and freshen *everywhere* and you do things to your house that no sane person would do, and you don’t question it either. My friend Amy, whose house is also for sale, said that one realtor she interviewed told her — with no sense of irony…or even recognition — NO WIRE HANGERS.

The Realtor says rip up the carpet on the basement steps and paint them? Sure, you betcha! Paint the floor in the unfinished side of the basement battleship gray? No problem! Fill the cracks in the garage floor and paint that battleship gray, too? Sign me up.

THE BASEMENT FLOOR? Surely you jest. But ok, we did it. And yes, it looks great. As D said, “wow, now you look in here and say ‘what great storage’ instead of ‘ewwwwwww’.”

So I begin to tackle one of my parts of the project last night…the basement steps. I give hearty tugs on the carpet and hear satisfying rrriiiiipping sounds as it comes off in one big piece. I feel accomplished and powerful. I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar and all that… I did just fine, ripping, tugging, pulling… I didn’t flinch when the now-disturbed basement fiberglass ceiling tiles rained their dusty, itchy particles down on my unsuspecting head.

I can deal with fiberglass ceiling tiles, dirt, and the selection of puncture wounds in my fingers from the carpet staples.

But I draw the line at the 2 ounces of mouse poop that fell onto my head as the last piece of carpet near the ceiling tore free.

Gross gross gross.

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Today my office officially approved my transfer.
Wow.
I am moving.
I still have trouble saying that.

So to help me, I am thinking of some of my favorite things about moving to rural New Hampshire…

My farmer’s market

My CSA (which I can’t join this summer because of timing…but they have Winter shares!)

The Children’s Theatre

The Summer Theatre

The Food Co-op

A’s Summer Camp (Hopefully! Please note that a full-day M-F camp in the DC area for $110/week would be your choice of two camps: one run by Elliot Spitzer and the other by Marion Barry)

My favorite houses to possibly buy are this one and this one. The first one needs a garage and some added living space (a guest suite or some kind of rec room/convertible space with a bathroom); the second needs a two-story master bedroom suite/great room addition. Either way, our mortgage would be far less than it is now.

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Out of the Closet

It is time. Finally, finally, I can speak publicly about what has been consuming my life for nearly 10 weeks. We are…

…moving to New Hampshire.

Anti-climactic for you all, I know. No death, destruction, divorce (yet) or babies belonging to the milkman. But this has been a roller-coaster since damned near Christmas and because it generally was not public knowledge for various reasons I couldn’t write about it here and writing is the best way I know how to process stuff.

D was presented with an opportunity he really can’t refuse. It’s in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere — both a blessing and a curse.

We have talked for a long time about raising the kids away from a metro area – somewhere more outdoors-focused and generally environmentally friendly where people hike, bike, camp, fish, ski, waterski, snowshoe, etc. A place where once is not concerned about French immersion programs for 4 year olds; where you don’t have to schedule swimming and play dates and sports teams to ensure your kids get enough exercise. But this plan was always for “someday” – not for now. So when this opportunity presented itself no one was more gobsmacked than me. I oscillate from being excited to being convinced that agreeing to do this is the worst.decision.ever. Not that there was ever really a decision to make – D wants this so badly he can taste it and although he said we won’t go if I don’t want to, I know that isn’t an option. I can’t in good conscience not agree to try something that means this much to him…even though I am not convinced he would do the same for me if the situation were reversed (his selfish gene is waaaaay stronger than mine – and a giving nature combined with 30+ years of Catholic Guilt is such a winning combination…) And parts of me really want to go. Especially since my office – which has to be the most wonderful, flexible place of employment in the DC-metro area – has agreed to transfer me to our Boston office and let me telework a few days a week because New London, the town we’ll likely be living in, is not commutable to Boston.

There are good things about the move – probably more good than bad. Like this and this and this. And this and this. And all the 1950s kumbaya idyllic childhood stuff I mentioned above. Like the near-total financial freedom that comes with selling this house at about a 180% profit, which will allow us to pay off every bit of debt we have, flood the kids’ college fund (at the moment, the college plan in my house is “somebody dies.”) and buy a new house with lots of land and have a 1/3 smaller mortgage than we do now. And being within a few hours of a couple of good friends we hardly ever see.

But there are completely, totally, *sucky* things, too. Like moving 8 hours from almost all of our friends and family. Like me having to stay overnight in Boston 2 nights a week – away from the kids – to make the job situation work (thankfully I am paid more than well enough to make it worth it, financially.) Like leaving my friends/neighbors I’ve known for 9 years…we live on the best.street.ever. Like completely side-tracking my career (in terms of advancement).

But hey – there are silver linings, too. Now when I have to go to DC for work, I’ll have to stay in a hotel. Maybe I’ll be able to suss out who Clients 1-8 are.

And here’s where I need to thank – from the very bottom of my super-sized heart – a handful of dear friends friends for keeping me as sane as possible these last few weeks…you know who you are, and I love you to bits.

Here’s to our adventure…D leaves March 30. I stay here with the kids until school is over (let’s hear it for single moms) and follow sometime this summer.

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