Friday, July 18, 2008


Here is my new favorite shirt dress by BB Dakota that I bought for 50% off. The teacher's apple locket necklace is also a favorite. I've always had a thing for lockets.

In other news of favorites: Marcia Tate is AMAZING and if you work in education at all you must must go see and participate in one of her workshops. I shall be purchasing a light up magic wand very soon.


How happy am I: simply stellar.

When I watched shows like Flip That House, I always wondered how in the world the people got the money to do these projects. Now the terms "creative financing" and "luck" suddenly take on meaning. Oh, and I need to mention "humungo risk" and "stupidity." That about covers it.

I watched the movie The Kite Runner tonight, and I'm quite certain that once I push the "sold" sticker out of my mind, I'm going to sit down and weep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

nail biting

This morning I got my first offer on the house. With a listing price of $99,900, the buyers offered a price of $95,500 but asked for me to pay up to $3500 in closing costs, making the total net offer $92,000. After a counter, a counter-counter, and a counter-counter, my final price is $98,500 with the closing costs covered, making the total net for me $95,000. I bought the house for $73,500 and paid $1000 of the closing costs. I'm hoping my pre-tax check from the mortgage company will come in at $20,000. That would make me very happy. Right now I have to wait and try to get sleep not knowing whether or not they will accept my final offer. I won't go lower than $95,000 - it'll be too close to breaking even, and I have put WAY too much blood and sweat into this house to break even or (NOOO!) take a loss. The excellent news, though, is that this offer came in this morning, after my house had been on the market for ONE WEEK.

If I get this hypothetical $20,000 check, though... none of it is really mine because I probably owe that much on my credit card between my graduate school tuition, my furniture, re-wiring this house, plus all the other renovation materials and costs - oh, and some new clothes and a plane ticket. My plan is to pay down almost half of the debt and put the rest in my bank account. I'll transfer the rest of my debt to a new card with a year of 0% interest, and hopefully my next renovation will yield enough to pay off all debt and put me on top of where I would have been had I never dabbled in real estate. The goal is to get enough money to pursue some writing and travel. I want to be wreckless in my youth, I also want to be well and independently funded. My grandmother had to loan me money this month in order to keep my head above water. I could have done without it, but it would have cut very close to the danger zone. Neither borrowing nor having $100 dollars to my name feels very good. Come on, accept my counter-counter-counter offer!

I had been planning to go to a teacher workshop tomorrow called "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites" which is supposed to be amazing, but sadly I realized that it is 1.5 hours away in a rural elementary school cafeteria. This location for the workshop makes no sense to me, and I decided to bow out. I'll spend the day tidying up my yard in case the offer doesn't go through and more buyers need to come through. Friday's workshop, "Shouting Won't Grow Dendrites" is by the same lady, and is actually being held in a place I know - my own school! I'll go to that one. I need sixty professional development hours per year, and I'm on the cusp of throwing in the towel on finding another job. The towel is pretty much in the hamper. An extra year of teaching will probably be better for me in the long run - but I'm sad to say that I am not looking forward to it. I hate the commute, and as much as I like English literature and most of my students, (I adore quite a few), I hate repeating myself literally six times a day. My goal is to eventually have a job that neither makes my brain numb nor gives me cotton mouth. Again: come on, accept my final price! Patience is overrated.

The big accomplishment for today, though: I got my bike tuned up at Chainwheel and purchased (spending my profit again) a bike rack for my car. The bike is back, and I couldn't be more excited! This evening I went around part of the River Trail - I saw two skunks (a safe distance away) and birds sweeping the sky at sunset. Biking is surely the sport of dreamy nature lovers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the only love letter

strawberry fields forever

this is my mother's night gown from when she was young; it is strange to me that it has survived longer than her.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Edge

Two people(s) have come through my house now, and no word yet as to whether they liked it, hated it, or left completely apathetic. It is nerve wracking to know that people are coming in to your house, judging any work you've done on it, judging your decorating taste, judging your cleaning skills, and judging your personal life based on the few trinkets and photos deemed worthy to remain on display. I've been keeping close tabs on the other houses listed in a similar price range. There are a few I would consider serious competitors in that they are or are close to being up-to-date and have an extra bathroom and/or bedroom. The competition adds to the nerves. I have spent the majority of my time off cleaning and scrubbing my house in order to keep up appearances, (and keep me from getting bored). I'm hoping that waiting for my first home sale is similar to waiting for other monumental firsts such as getting a first kiss, being offered my first real job... they are all bound to happen EVENTUALLY. It is simply the patience that might kill me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look out, Boston!

Joanie, Dave, Me, Sarah, Ana, and Josh outside the White House c.2003

I just bought my tickets to go see two of my best friends from my year at George Washington! We're going to meet in Boston, MA and the first thing on the agenda is to go see Julia sing/play in her band The Deckhands. I'm so excited by the combination of seeing Joanie and Julia and going on an actual trip. My poor American Express card is officially maxed out now (thanks Continental); travelling is not a luxury for the masses. Nonetheless, I do have to recommend I spent two hours searching, Yahoo Travel, AirTran, Southwest, etc., and this search yielded the best price, (but just barely).

My house is officially on the market as of two days ago. This is the truly nerve wracking part: will anyone actually want to buy what I have worked so hard (and spent so much) on? The MLS is 10198741, and the official asking price is $99,900. I've already got my eye on another project if I actually sell this one. Two days and no visitors, though. I feel a little bit like an artist or musician who has just put a piece out there and is now certain it sucks. How disconcerting.

The process of putting it on the market was easier than I thought. It consisted of signing one piece of paper, and for once I did not have to write a check to anyone. My realtor took the pictures, posted a sign out front and it was done. Now my job is to keep the place clean, (which isn't hard for me - somewhere in between being a messy five year old and now I became a neat freak). I had been very hesitant to put it on the market, thus why I've lived here for a month without doing so. I'd liken the experience to breaking up with someone you've been thinking about leaving for some time. Once it's done you wonder why it ever took you so long.

I also finally listed my wedding dress (never worn - yes, I'm an engagement breaker) as "for sale" on craigslist and the Arkansas Times. I think letting that go is going to be a huge step in my resolve to get out and explore the world in the coming years of my life. Up till now my resolve had been to get married - and according to my friend Stephanie, it had been to have this act done by age 23, although I don't have ANY recollection of the passionate insistance of this that she swore I made. Selective memory.

Tomorrow is my last day as a "substitute summer school teacher." I've been a bad teacher this week - assigning work and sitting at the back of the class rather than doing active teaching. For this one week, I've made up my mind not to care. I'd prefer not to fight with students to see that their work gets done - they are already on chance no. 2, and quite frankly I don't wish to expend the energy. I have other places to channel it - like getting ready to go and have an amazing time in Boston!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An early wake up call.

Writing gives me affirmation that my own life is incredible. This is why I am so glad that I have kept a diary since the first grade, but disappointed in myself for abandoning it in the past two years. I have been reading a book on travel writing, (just for fun), and it offered some great advice on getting past a lull in writing. Apparently, John Steinbeck wrote Exit to Eden on half a notebook: on one side he kept a diary to get his thoughts going, and then on the opposite page would write the novel once he was warmed up. Sounds like something to try.

Today I began my first day as a substitute summer school teacher. I think that could possibly win the category of worst job title EVER. I had planned on actually having my own class for the three week session, (and making a bit of money), but then I was informed that I was only needed for a week as a fill in. I have ninth graders, and they were actually well behaved, mostly. A far cry from the juniors I had last year. I have a very difficult time swallowing attitude. I'm not sure which is worse: attitude from a teenager or attitude from an adult.

I have been glued to my television set during the rest of my free time, as the Travel Channel has been running a marathon of No Reservations. If it didn't kill me that Anthony Bourdain can slaughter a live pig with a spear and sleep well at night, he might be my idol. He killed that, too.

Back in Business

Ta-da! The budget-renovated kitchen.

Double ta-da! The living room.

My house is complete! I have now been living in my newly remodelled 1950's bungalow for almost a month. During that time I have taken on the usefulness of a slug - perhaps less. I'll consider the past weeks as a needed recovery from my first real year of teaching. Sadly, in that time I have committed the cardinal sin of home remodelling - I have fallen in love with the house, my incredibly private back yard, and my neighbors - especially the guy across the street who works for Budweiser and gives me free beer. Tough to beat.

While my mortage, at $600, is less than M's one bedroom apartment rent, ($645), I am still struggling to cover all of the bills in conjunction with paying off my renovation debt. This would not be an issue if I would simply sell it. I bought it for $73,500 and my realtor would like to list it for $99,900. My plan is to go ahead with this and see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

Now, after three weeks of sitting around my house and M's apartment pool on summer vacation, (with lots of amazing books), the travel bug has bitten me, and I am eager and anxious to plan a trip somewhere off the contintental US. Facebook is a bad instigator of this, as viewing all the amazing places my friends have gone makes me insanely jealous and antsy - something it would be to my benefit to learn to quell. Unfortunatley, travelling is far out of my means at the moment. If I had to make a conjecture right now, I would say that this is going to be my last year of teaching for several reasons. While I enjoy both my students and literature and make a very decent living, being a teacher feels like trying to zip myself up into a dress that doesn't fit; I can't move around and I can't breath. The summers off would be great if I had the money to go abroad. Perhaps when both of my houses are sold this will be the case. If I do not sell this one, then M is planning to move in on August 5th, so that will ease the monthly payments.

Money troubles aside - I had an amazing 4th of July. For the first time in years I got a front row seat to fireworks on M's parents boat on Lake Ouachita. Incredible. I nursed my sunburn by drinking frozen strawberry margaritas while stretched out on the back of the boat, counting stars. Clearly, I need to start saving up for a boat of my own in the future. I'll add it to the list.

Lake Ouachita and surrounding Ouachita Natinal Forest from Hickory Nut Ridge by day.
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