Tag Archives: downsizing

I Went To A Dinner Party Alone

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

If you’ve read my previous post, “You Don’t Have To Bring a Date, Come Alone. Come Alone. COME ALONE!” you know that I was alternatively stressed, concerned, pissed and kinda bummed by the repeated suggestion that I come alone to a dinner party. Here is the update.

Yes, I went alone. Yes, and as I predicted, it was fine.

Let me set the scene. It was at a private home, more like an estate. The night was beautiful so everything was set outside –cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for an hour, then a buffet dinner at tables around the pool. It was a catered affair with gorgeous centerpieces and decorations all in pink and white, to celebrate Cheryl’s being cancer free. Guests were also encouraged to wear pink, and on behalf of those who did, Cheryl would donate money to Cancer research. Everyone had on some sort of pink. It was a really classy affair, with around fifty guests.

Okay enough with the back drop, this is how it played out.

  • I walked in alone.
  • I was greeted by Cheryl who immediately introduced me to, let’s call her, Regina, who was the ONLY OTHER SINGLE PERSON THERE!
  • Cheryl informed the group I was standing with that Regina and I were seated at the same table –because we were THE ONLY SINGLES THERE!

Awkward? Yes. Appreciated? Yes. It made sense, actually.

  • After Cheryl made the announcement that Regina and I would be dining partners, Regina joked, “But we’re not a couple!”

Of course I took that opening to add, “Well, the night’s young.” Ha ha ha, the Tears of a Clown.

  • Then, someone noticed, not me, that one of the ladies standing in my group HAD ON EXACTLY THE SAME BLOUSE I DID! The same pink, jeweled halter top.

I swear, that has never happened to me before. We laughed it off. She said she’d picked hers up in the islands, Martinique, I think, while on vacation.

Where did you get yours?” she asked.

And me, being painfully truthful, admitted, “At a consignment shop.”

At a consignment shop.

Let’s review, shall we? She got hers while on an exotic island vacation. I got mine at a thrift store.

There are two things wrong with this:

One: I admitted I was wearing a used shirt. No shame in wearing second hand clothes, but sharing that information isn’t necessary. It’s not like telling folks you have a rescue dog — one of the few situations where the wealthy applaud acquiring someone else’s cast offs. I should have said my blouse was a rescue. My snappy comebacks come years late … but I digress.

Two: I thought the beauty of buying at a consignment shop was that you were less likely to get something that someone else has! I mean, seriously? It was the only top like that in the store, of course. Indeed it was the only top like that I’ve ever seen. Oh snap, I guess it’s because I don’t vacation in the islands, or vacation at all. Crap.

Wait, there’s a third thing wrong with this — WE WERE WEARING THE SAME SHIRT!

Eventually I made my way away from my shirt twin to some familiar faces. As Cheryl promised there were a couple of couples I knew because they had kids the same age of mine and who are in the same activities. One was the same couple who, at the graduation party, had walked away from me. But this time they were very talkative and friendly. The husband reminds me (and my kids) of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.

McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy

McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy

And we did the suburban parent thing and talked about our kids, college applications, etc. The other couple introduced themselves to me as if we’d just met, which was weird, since I’ve been running into and exchanging pleasantries with this couple since our high school senior kids were in the fourth grade.

  • In discussing their children’s college application process, the couples shared that their children blamed them for having not gone through any hardship about which they could write about on their essays, “Oh yes, she’s mad because we’re successful and not divorced and she has had what she needs. Can you believe that? Yes, we’re sorry we’ve given you a good life.” I couldn’t even summon up the Tears of a Clown to respond to this particular topic, as I stood between the two couples. Though I did discover that one of the moms had NOT gotten into the college I went to. Score one for me. Empty victory, because she was being nice, damn it.
  • Cheryl had hired a professional photographer and also took pictures herself. The couples were asked to pose together. I was asked to pose by myself. Regina was also asked to pose by herself. Yup.
Carrie, being photographed without  a

Carrie, being photographed without a “Plus One” in Sex In The City

When the party moved to the assigned poolside tables, I sat between the McDreamys and the only other single person at the event, Regina. I discovered that Regina was divorced with children and in the midst of downsizing so we talked about the whole downsizing, moving, process, etc. and I chatted with her and the other couples about our kids, etc. I think the people (and by people, I mean couples) on the other side of the table may have been interesting, but the centerpiece was too big to talk over. They must have been listening to our conversation, however, because in the buffet line a woman asked if I was a professional organizer because I seem to know so much about it. Ha!

No, I’m not a pro. But yeah, I know a lot about it. I know a hell of a lot about moving and downsizing . . . but I digress . . .

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

And that was that, except that at some point someone said, I think it was Regina, “I heard someone else here has on the same top, is that true?” And I, of course, helpfully, pointed her out. My shirt twin was at the next table, as it turns out. I added that, “Well, I had wondered if I’d be dressed appropriately. Clearly,” gesturing to my shirt twin, “I am.” Ha ha ha, Tears of a Clown.

The party wound down, I left when everyone else did. It was nice, fine, a lovely affair. It was the kind of party I used to like to look at from a distance, “Oh look, rich people are having a party!” And then I’d drive or walk by to try to catch a glimpse. It was good to be more than a fly on the wall, or a nosy neighbor, or a creepy stalker.

But, as to the whole “Come Alone!” thing — no, Cheryl did not have an ulterior motive and play matchmaker for me, unless, of course, you count Regina.

And yes, I was fine without a date. As far as I could tell, and based on Cheryl’s comments, all the other couples were married. It was not a casual date kind of party. It still would have been okay to have brought a date, but it was okay without.

This does not mean, however, that I will forever go to these things alone. Nope.

Just Me With . . . a shirt twin, a lady dinner date, and a new career as a professional organizer.

P.S. Cheryl actually did a great thing by having assigned tables, especially when there are only a couple of singles and some guests who don’t know many other people. I didn’t have to walk up to a table of couples and ask if I could join them or wait by myself for coupled up strangers to sit with me. And at least I wasn’t seated with my shirt twin.

From

Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis from “You Again”

Sleeping Pills and Clogged Toilets: How to Unclog a Toilet While Under Sedation

I’m on a sleep regimen.  No messing around this time.   I have a lot of crap to deal with and I need to do it without being sleep deprived.   Sleep deprivation is a form of torture —  of mind control, right?   (We all saw the third Bourne, it can drive you to kill.)   I haven’t  slept on a regular basis in years.   This week I have been  making a point  of going to bed at a decent hour.  No television, no computer, no phone.   I’m also taking a very mild sleeping pill.   I have a low tolerance for sleeping pills,  however, they put me seriously out,  and I’m often groggy the next day, even  though I’ve allowed myself the  full eight hours of sleep recommended.   Consequently,  I take a low dose and break it in half.  Still, two nights ago, it didn’t work well.  I had trouble falling asleep with the half pill.   So last night, I figured I’d take a whole low-dose pill.

All of my night-time routine work was done, i.e. dishwasher was running, instrument had been played, kids were in their rooms, dogs had been out and were back in.   It was all good.  Sleeping pill taken.   Then,

“MOM!!!!!”

“What?!!!!!!!!!”  (I’d like to say I said, “Yes, Sweetie,” but I don’t think that was the case.)

“I CLOGGED THE TOILET!!!!!”

Swearing in my head commences.   We’d just had a bad experience with this about a month ago, hereinafter known as “The Last Clogging Incident.”   It was not pretty.

You should know that I hate plungers.   I hadn’t bought  one for this  new old house (except for the first few days, we didn’t have a working toilet here anyway in so it was unnecessary . . .  but I digress).    I hate plungers  because although they serve a useful purpose,  I despise cleaning them afterward.  It’s just one of my things.  My usual method of unclogging is to pour water down the toilet, quickly, to “flush” out the obstruction.   Often this must be done multiple times, but it works, it’s less messy and less smelly.     During The Last Clogging Incident,  however, it did not work.  There was no plunger in the house and it was after midnight.  Suffice it to say, I have a plunger now.

Back to last night,  the hour wasn’t as late as The Last Clogging Incident, and I now own a plunger,   BUT I HAD TAKEN A WHOLE SLEEPING PILL!!!!     If I had a strong reaction to it, I would be a stumbling idiot in a few minutes.   If not, and I simply attempted to override it, I would be cursed with a blinding headache.   Plus, two kids had to use the bathroom.   The “clog-her” was content in her bed, reading on her Kindle.    grrrr    Still, I had one on deck and one in the hole.   The drug would soon take effect, and  I, too,  had to go to the bathroom.   (As a result of prior medical/emotional issues, if I don’t go to the bathroom right away when nature calls, I become nauseated).   Oh, did I mention we only have one bathroom in a house with 5 girl-type people and one boy?

It was a race against time.   But since The Last Clogging Incident — when we ran out to a convenience store to use the bathroom just to buy time for me to figure out what to do and stave off my nausea — I had gained some knowledge.   It is amazing what a simple Google search will yield.    I had searched then for  “How to unclog a toilet without a plunger.”   I found the following.   I do not claim ownership, authorship, or creative input.    In short, I did not invent this method, but I pass it on.

Squeeze liquid dish detergent into the toilet.

Boil water.

Wait.

Slowly pour boiling water into toilet.

Wait.

Repeat.

The theory is that the soap lubricates the mass (ew) allowing it to pass more quickly and the boiling water breaks it up.  All of this is safe for your commode — unlike using chemicals (which neither I nor the convenience store had anyway).

Last night  I chose to use a variation.   Liquid soap, hot, but not boiling water.   I couldn’t wait for the boil, wanted to avoid the plunger.  After a while — it worked.   Two kids used the bathroom (before me, of course, I ignored the  airline face mask on the adult first mantra).

After the second kid used it,

“MOM!!!!! THE TOILET’S CLOGGED AGAIN!!!!!”    (The cursing in my head resumed also.)   Time was not on my side, I was already feeling woozy and nauseated.

This time I got the plunger, the soap,  and hot water (still couldn’t wait for boil).   It took some work.   (Note to self:  add more fruit to kids’ diets).  One kid helped (as I stood back, letting the wall hold me up, pinching my nose closed).  But this was the kid responsible for The Last Clogging Incident, so I felt no compassion.

“It smells, Mommy.”

“I know.”

But finally,  the sound of a flushing toilet.  Twice for good luck.  Thrice — well, for me.   The plunger was rinsed, wrapped in a plastic trash bag and still sits on my back deck.   I went to bed.   I slept.   I feel like crap today.   I will only take a half a sleeping pill tonight.   Still, I am triumphant.   I am strong.  I am invincible, I am . . .

Just Me With . . .  a plunger on my porch and a half of a sleeping pill with my name on it.

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

My house wasn’t this grand, but it was somewhat similar.

My Marital Home was  large Victorian fixer-upper still in progress.  I  had accumulated a lot of  children and stuff over my years there.   One of my forms of therapy has always been to get rid of things and rearrange furniture (I know, a little weird) .  Consequently  I’d been cleaning crap out with a vengeance after my husband left (so much so he thought I was moving way before I even thought about it).

When the real move was on the horizon, I was faced with moving from this  big house to my new little project where Piss Man and his GF were living  (See Piss, Puke and Porn).    So I basically decreased our belongings by — my guess — around two/thirds . . .   Mind you the kid count was remaining the same and they were/are growing by the minute and although some days I’d like to sell them, I’m aware that generally this is frowned upon.  Consequently, other stuff had to go.

Since I’m a purger by nature I drop by Goodwill often; they know me (even got hit on there).  But since I was already doing this massive move by myself, including getting the Marital Home ready for sale and fixing up the new old hoarder’s house, I was quickly tiring of schlepping my stuff to Goodwill.  I also tired of selling individual items, you know, meeting strangers at inconvenient times, etc. to maybe or maybe not make a sale.  (Sounds a little like dating, but I digress.)  I’ve never had luck having yard sales.   So I started posting things for free.

We’ve all seen those ads, “Free Stuff”  “Moving” etc.  Well, I became one of those people.    I decided to give away everything I could on one beautiful weekend.  I took pictures,  posted them on Craigslist and said FREE — come get it . . . first come, first served.

When living in a smaller space you don’t have the luxury to store certain things, one of them being holiday decorations.   I’d already gotten rid of much of that stuff, but I was ready to let go of  almost everything else.  I told myself, and I was right, that I probably wouldn’t miss it  and if I wanted more decorations later I’d  start fresh.

My kids’ babysitter (now a good, good friend) had given them these beautiful angel decorations — you know the kind with the velvet gown and fur and whatnot — I had four of them for the girls and she’d given the boy  a big nutcracker (heh heh).   The angels had looked beautiful in my formal dining room when I had my Christmas sing-along parties.   But, that life was . . . over.   Still, even for me,  it is a bit harder to get rid of items that were thoughtful gifts from a loved one–  so I struggled a bit.

I knew I couldn’t store the angels and I knew that in the new old house I wouldn’t have a place to display them at Christmas  . . . so . . .  I took a picture of the kids’ pretty angels, posted it on Craigslist and put them out on the street, convincing myself that my friend would understand.  It felt kinda like giving away my four girls, except  my girls  aren’t  always angels  . . . but I digress.

Craigslist Angels

Christmas Angels

After posting, I got an email right away from a guy wanting to know if I still had them.  I checked outside and they were still there.  He asked me to hold them until he could get to my house.

Alrighty.

I mean, they were pretty, but I didn’t know they’d be hot property  — in June.   I moved them to a more secluded place and told him where he could find them.   He came and got them right away.  I never saw him.

Cool,”  I thought,  “My stuff  is going.”  It’s amazing how you can’t sell something for a dollar but if you offer it for free —  it’s gone.

A couple of hours later I got an email from the man who took the angels.   He  thanked me for the them, telling me that they were for his mother who was going through Cancer treatments and having a pretty rough time.   She didn’t get out much, he said, hardly ever.  But when she saw the picture of my Christmas angels she  wanted them so badly that she rode with him to get them.

He said those angels made her so happy. He was thrilled to be able to make her smile.

He just wanted to let me know how much I’d done for the both of them.

I almost cried.  I’m lying, I did cry.

Oh wait, it’s Just Me With . . . tears in my eyes . . . again.

For what happened when I prepared the Marital Home for sale, see My Panty Drawer/Your Panty Drawer

For my purging of marriage related material, see:

My Wedding Album, Time to Reduce It — Perhaps by Fire

Wedding Leftovers — What To Do With The Dress?

and for what I wish would happen with Craigslist, see,  A Craigslist Fantasy.

 

 

Piss, Puke, and Porn

Piss, Puke and Porn. Ahhh, my new house. Just Me and the Kids had been living in the marital home since the Husband moved out. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t take care of it. But I have five big kids so it’s not like I could hole up in a one bedroom apartment. Plus, the kids and I loved their schools and I did not want them to have to change schools, for academic and emotional reasons. So, I bought this little house because I could make the bedrooms work and my kids could go to the same schools.

But the house was in deplorable condition (which is how I could afford it). The people living there had owned the house for generations but had done no maintenance. Plus, they were sick and poor. The house looked like it should have been condemned. Actually the back part of it was condemned by the county and had to be demolished.

I couldn’t even tell the kids about the house because it looked so bad it would have been too traumatic for them. We drove by it every day and the kids had no idea. The prior owners rented it back from me for 6 months and I worked on the outside of it when the kids weren’t around so that it wouldn’t look so bad when I told them.

Meanwhile, the marital home finally sold. I would have two weeks from the time the prior owners/renters left the new old house before I had to move the kids and I there. The prior owners were heavy smokers, and I say this with no judgment, just the facts — and nasty. I knew that I would be undertaking an extreme makeover but . . .

I get that it was a tough move for the prior owners. Their family had lived there for over 60 years. I stopped by on move out night and they asked if they could leave a couple of boxes to pick up the next day. Sure, I said, because I’m nice that way. But when I went over there the next day and could see in broad daylight what was left behind, it made me sick.

These people kept cats but did not take care of them. They left me litter boxes with cat poop and no kitty litter. The boxes merely had newspaper lining the bottom of the pan. They also left used wet cat food cans. This was late Spring, people. Temps were in the 80’s and rising. Also, there was cat poop that didn’t make the cat box at all. They had apparently kept a cat locked up in what would become my room. The cat had yacked numerous times and they hadn’t cleaned it up. Add that to the cat urine which had soaked into the floors and the remnants of wet cat food — the smell was indescribable.

But the third floor attic bedroom was even worse. A grown man (like in his 40’s) and his girlfriend had lived up there — like hoarders. The side of the attic which was used for “storage” had clothes and debris thrown over there, not in boxes, not in bags, and another cat had free rein up there. Think about it. The storage area was nothing but a big litter box.

Do you see the cat?

Anyway, after the move out there were some boxes and debris left there. Well, okay, I thought, they said they’d leave some things and be back to get them. But I had to inspect the property anyway and start to clean. I had to.

This is what I found: bags of trash, well, actually garbage, including used tissues and vintage porn with sticky pages, more cat poop and litter boxes without litter, an adult diaper (used), little green baggies (which I’m told was crack), and, 2-liter soda bottles — a lot of them strewn about, in boxes, under debris, etc.

These soda bottles were not empty — but no soda, either —

I found approximately fifty 2 liter bottles of HUMAN PISS!

Understand that the bathroom was always in working order. Understand that the guy who lived up there, though collecting disability, was not immobile — he could walk, climb stairs, etc. Understand that he was not developmentally disabled to the point that he was incontinent. In other words, he was capable of carrying his lazy ass to the bathroom and knew that’s where people are supposed to urinate! Understand also that he had a girlfriend who must have allowed this!!!! (What kind of woman would . . . ??????)

That whole Hoarders TV show — finding piss collections? Turns out it is very very real.

The Piss Collection

Part of the Piss Collection

Let me say it again — 50 bottles of human piss — in my new house. I knew I’d have to do major renovations, but piss removal?

Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me when I made this discovery. Even my therapist said she’d never heard of anything like this. (This was before the show Hoarders was so popular.) I stopped looking through stuff. My daughters’ future bedroom was a toilet, literally. And people, this was an attic bedroom — in June! It was ten degrees hotter up there than outside. It was nauseating. Truly. And I was going to move my kids in this house in a matter of days. Looking back on it I still shudder. Yeah, I’ve been through some crap . . . and piss.

Just Me With . . . 50 Bottles of Piss in My House, 50 Bottles of Piss . . .

For more new old house stories, see:

That Hoarders Smell

Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell?

What Happened In My House? Murder?

Exhumation by Accident — Be Careful What You Dig For

Goodbye Hoarders