Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Isn't HGTV, Missy

I don’t think it’s a secret anymore that my husband loves HGTV. His happiest moment of any given day is when he flips on the TV and that channel is still on from the night before.  His favorite HGTV shows are the real estate ones, where people are looking for houses to buy. These shows are as formulaic as Law & Order: The buyers have over-the-top expectations, the wife gets her panties in a knot and gets very bitchy, the Realtor gets frustrated and starts rolling her eyes and having aside conversations into the camera, the husband gets fed up and wanders over to the neighbor’s garage and has a beer with a guy he knows he’ll never live next to because of a sump pump (off camera). These shows are popular, despite the lack of a single sympathetic character. By the end of these shows, I don’t want anyone to get a house or a commission.

And then there are the shows in which a couple half my age are looking for a vacation home in Belize or Costa Rica or some other Hawaii-like place. Reminding us viewers that these properties come with a staff of housekeepers and gardeners is just mean. The wife demands beach front and a spectacular view, the kids gush about the surfing, and the husband wanders over to the neighbor’s villa where he gets held up for drug money (off camera). I don’t think I’m alone when I say that when I watch these shows I hate people who can afford to buy vacation homes while still in their 20s.

“What does he do for a living?” I’ll ask my husband. “And if they don’t pick the first house, they’re stupid and they deserve the scorching, breeze-less late afternoon that they’re getting with those other two houses.”

My husband hates when I comment on the HGTV shows. They bring out the sarcastic troll in me. I start out criticizing the buyers’ inability to see the bones of a house and I end the show by making fun of their clothes and the way they walk. And the fact that they say “the bones of a house.”

“You’re kidding me. You really are going to pass on this place because of the kitchen wallpaper,” I snarl from the couch. “And lose that belt. Gawd.”

My husband gets up and moves to the other couch.

So now that we ourselves are looking for houses (off camera) I’m actually living my least favorite TV shows. But I find myself trying to be like them.

“I like how they’ve used the space here in this ridiculously tiny powder room that is unfit for full-sized humans,” I say, trying to sound like Anne from the House Hunters episode where she and Craig want to downsize but keep saying that the houses were so much smaller than their old place. She tried hard to come up with something positive to say about each room, but anyone could see that she was not on board with the whole reduce-and-simplify plan. That is so Craig.

I’ve also been trying to pretend like I’m on House Hunters so I won’t slip into whiny, critical, snarky behavior - at least not as early as the first house. Also so I’ll dress better and not use cliches. This all fits in well with my Pretend Your Way to a Better You campaign, which I was all into in 2010. Pretending I’m on House Hunters could revive that movement for me and make me a better person as I look for a house.

Off camera, well, that’s another story.

If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hello, City Life

I’m trying like the dickens to live the life of Lisa Douglas before she chose chores over stores in Green Acres. But real life and 50 years of America’s urban evolution keep getting in my way.

I’m constantly reminded that I’m not in Kansas anymore. Nor am I in rural Hooterville. Nor any of the 14 suburbs in which I’ve lived.

My grocery store has a cop on patrol inside. She is friendly but not talkative. Last night I watched two police officers pull a guy off the train I was getting on, put him in handcuffs and lead him away. The open seat was still warm - but dry - so I have no idea what he did to deserve a police escort.

My apartment is so small, I couldn’t fit another person or thing in here if I tried. Yet I still can lose my cell phone. I’m sure that’s what Oli-vah was thinking when he beat feet for the country.

Last night, my half of the dinner bill was almost $100. Granted, it was a swanky spot filled with Google and Apple Generation Zs who seem to be on a constant happy hour break from all that important work they do that no one over 30 knows how to do. Now I know why Panera is so crowded with people more like me. You can get a Premium Signature Panini for under $8 and Friday’s soup-of-the-day is Low Fat All Natural Chicken Noodle, which is delicious and nutritious, thank you very much.

My apartment lobby door has a sign on it that can be found on the doors of pretty much every public building in the city, warning me that upon entering, I will get cancer and come to reproductive harm. The state of California is as concerned for my well being as the personalized ads I get on the Internet: “Lose your belly fat!” “Mother of the Bride Dress!” “Signs You’ll Get Cancer!” and “Exercise Your Brain!”

My Walgreens has a bath soap aisle that is constantly being rearranged, organized and cleaned by a bustling, energetic woman . . . but, why every day? It occurs to me that she doesn’t work at Walgreens. She might be one of the rare OCD homeless.

My style has changed drastically. All of my Florida clothes look ridiculous here. I’ve had to hurry out and buy jackets and close-toed shoes. I will say, though, this cup of tea suits me better. When I leave home, I only have to remember my apartment key and my transit card. Sunscreen is not necessary. Lipstick is optional. Femmy perfume is frowned upon.

I love to talk about how to adjust to a new life after you move. Of all of my moves, this one is by far the biggest stretch for me. This is the first time I’ve moved coast to literal coast; the first time I’ve done a big move without kids; the first time I ever had to fly a dog; and the first time I’ve moved to a big city.

It might not be Park Avenue, but I do have a nice “pent-house-view” of the Bay Bridge light show. Dahling I love you, so I think I’ll stick it out here and see what unfolds.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.