Last night, when I wrote that insanely long entry about having other people read my stuff, it was really just a diversion from the loads of Oh Holy Crap! going on everywhere except right in that seat in front of that screen.
It started out so normally. I had a PTO board meeting yesterday morning at the butt-crack of dawn, but at least with the time change it was daylight when I was walking around yanking on random doors of the school trying to find one that was unlocked at that hour. During the meeting I got a phone call – my phone on silent, of course – which I let roll to voicemail. It was from an odd, but local, number, though, so while everyone was discussing mulch for beautification day, I quickly listened to the first few seconds to make sure it was nothing urgent, like a neighbor threatening to shoot one of my jackass barking dogs who believes leaves blowing around might as well be an army of robbers trying to get in the house. Fortunately, it was far more mundane; it was an appraiser wanting to set up a time to come walk through our house for an appraisal on a re-fi.
Yes, before you say it, I know, I know, I know. We should have done this months ago when rates were in the tank, but the timing for us wasn’t right then so we’re doing it now and still saving ourselves money, so shut it. Anyway. Re-fi.
I called the appraiser back when I get in the car, mad-dashing toward Chick-Fil-A because I cannot physically get up early enough to shower, brush my teeth, AND eat before PTO board meetings for some reason, so my stomach is inevitably louder than Cowboy’s Stadium with the roof closed by the time we wrap up. So I call the guy up and he tells me he needs to come do a walk-through for the appraisal.
Now, I am the first person to admit I’ve been a total slacker for the past few weeks when it comes to my house. Clean laundry resides on the dining room table, computers are strewn everywhere in different states of “getting them ready to get rid of”-ness, and my “therapy room” (also my office where I’ve been writing like a fiend) is the most clutter, least relaxing room in the house unless you’re laying on the floor staring only at the ceiling. And let’s not even mention Earl’s bedroom and playroom where there are frequently 2-6 kids up there slinging stuff around like nobody’s business.
So I’m talking to the guy, going over what maintenance we’ve done, what improvements we’ve made, and I’m thinking, “Eh, I can just go through and tidy things up a bit. It’s at least a good excuse to sit down and sort through Earl’s Hoarders-worthy book collection. But then he says the dreaded words: “They require me to take pictures now, so….”
Wait. WHAT?? You not only need to walk through my house, but you have to take PICTURES? OF MY HOUSE???
That small part of my Nana that still resides in my DNA had a total and complete stroke. Because while my house may have been walkable and measurable, it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, camera ready.
I did some deep breathing. Attempted to calm myself. “Okay, that sounds great!” I lied. “When can we set it up?”
“Well, I’m leaving town tomorrow afternoon and won’t be back until Monday.”
Fast math buzzing through my head. We’re trying to push this re-fi through before our next payments are due and next Monday puts us two days before Thanksgiving holidays, and crap crap crap crap shit, then it’s December and our next payments are due. Not the end of the world, but we really want to get this thing done, like, NOW.
“But I can come by in the morning, if that works for you. Say, around 9?”
I looked at the clock. 23 hours. I had 23 hours to pull my house together. And my husband’s out of town, so no help there. Uhhhhh….
I called my mother, panicked. Well, actually, first I called a painter, just so when the appraiser is taking pictures of my beat up walls with nail pops all over the place and that small spot of water damage from a freak leak around an upstairs dormer window, I can honestly say I’m having someone to come in an give me an estimate later this week.
My mother, y’all, is the bomb. She was at my house in a flash, helping me sort through Earl’s books.
Is it at this point where I tell you that all of this “Hurry, we have to find somewhere to put it so just put it all away I don’t care where” panic mode of mine actually manifested as “Dangit, if I am going to be forced to do this, I am going to do it RIGHT?” Because the first two hours of cleaning out my daughter’s personal library that happens to have a bed in it involved me sitting on the floor with my laptop opened to ARBookFind.com, entering each book, and passing the book to my mother who, if it’s a 3.5 or below (if you have a kid who does AR, you know what I’m talking about), sorted it into either a sentimental pile or a donate pile. If it was a 3.5 or above, she wrote the grade level and the test point value on the inside cover and replaced it on the shelf.
I don’t clean often, but when I do, I anally clean.
You know what I mean.
So we sort through all the books, finding all kind of gems along the way. Like, why does my child have THREE Trophies reading textbooks PLUS a Teacher’s Guide? It’s like she’s related to me or something! (I adored old textbooks. It was part of my nerd identity.)
We picked Earl up from school, and I immediately incentivized. “Hey, Earl. If you’ll go upstairs to your playroom and put all of your little Playmobil pieces into the big blue drawstring thing, I’ll give you FIVE dollars.” Her eyes went wide. I saw possibility. “AND if you pick up the REST of your playroom where I don’t have to go up there and clean over you? And if you can get it all done in the 30 minutes before we have to leave for horseback, I’ll give you TEN dollars.”
That child hardly said a word before she was upstairs and I was pulling up the security camera to see what all the banging was as she slung things from one end of the room to the other to get them nearer where they ultimately belonged. Kid flat out earned that ten dollars (although I could have spent another 20 minutes up there, but she was gangbusters until I told her we had to leave).
Oh yes. In the middle of all of this, it was horseback day, which meant there went all of that lovely, invaluable time between 3:30 and 5:45. And, OH WAIT! It was also Chick-Fil-A Spirit Night for the school and I had promised to work 6:30 to 8! By the time we’d left for horseback, I’d managed to eliminate around 150 books (really, I am not even kidding) from Earl’s bedroom, get that disaster area somewhat under control, and she had tidied up the playroom. And now I had 150 books and four stacks of other things that were deemed fit to move on to clutter someone else’s home in my kitchen.
On the way home from horseback, a migraine aura floating around in my field of vision from, I dunno, maybe the sudden onslaught of panic at the mere idea of someone photographing my house, I had a thought that might help allay some of my fear. I called my brother, who is a loan officer with the very bank who is handling my re-fi. “Hey, bro! I have this guy coming to my house tomorrow for an appraisal and he says he has to take pictures. Does my house actually have to be clean for this?”
At that point, that small part of Nana still residing in my DNA suddenly recovered from her stroke and smacked me upside the head for asking such an asinine question because, regardless of the answer, “Yes, the house must be clean! Did we not raise you better than this?” Yeeeaaaaah, apparently not all of that stuck like it should have, Nana.
My brother actually laughed. “Seuss, he’s just there to look at the structure and the fixtures, upgrades and stuff. No, it doesn’t have to be clean.” “Which means as long as he can tell there aren’t holes in the wall that could be home to a small litter of kittens, then it’s not going to hurt the value on my appraisal?” “Right. Cats in the wall are never good.”
I took a deep breath. Awesome. So there’s some room for error. I can relax, right? Woo hoo! Well, when I got home from my duties at Chick-Fil-A, I figured, since I can relax, what the heck, let me sit down and write a blog entry for an hour! Then I can catch up on Dr. Phil and The Biggest Loser and catch an episode of Hoarders while ignoring the three laundry baskets worth of laundry still spread out on my dining room table!
At 6:45, my newfangled alarm clock for the hair of hearing that actually shakes my mattress to wake me up effectively woke me up.
shot rolled out of bed, showered, finished off the last few things that needed to be done upstairs, dressed, and walked downstairs to the disaster that had been created by cleaning out upstairs. My dining room table still rivaled JCPenney, the laundry room was overflowing with dirty clothes (how can three people generate this many dirty clothes????), my living room looked like the Apple Store had gotten drunk and vomited all over it, and my kitchen looked like Barnes and Noble’s children’s aisle after a horde of insane preschoolers ate a pack of pixie sticks each and just went at it.
Overwhelmed yet again, my inner Nana clucking away in my head, what did I do? Yes. Yes, I called my mother. Again.
An hour in, as I was stacking the laundry from the dining room table into baskets, I called out to my mother, who was putting Earl’s books for storage into a box. “Okay, Mom. Reassure me. I need to hear it. Tell me the cleanliness of my house is not going to effect the valuation on the appraisal.”
There was a pause.
“Humor me, mother!”
She sighed, then in a tone full of utter confidence said, “You and your brother seem convinced that the cleanliness of your house is not going to effect the valuation on the appraisal.”
Here, let me introduce you to my mother, the only person I know who can, with full confidence, deliver qualified reassurance while simultaneously making it clear that she holds the absolute opposite of reassurance. If there was any question, yes, she’s still related to that small piece of my Nana that still resides in my DNA, too.
In a completely anti-climactic end to a far-too-long tale, the house was passable, if nowhere near white glove clean, by the time the appraiser showed up. We walked through the house, talking about updates and maintenance, and I confidently pointed out the little things that I know can make a difference on a valuation. We talked we laughed, I gestured wildly as I spoke because I cannot talk without moving my hands, and he left. Easy as pie.
Is it too much to hope that the small pile of books still tucked under the bar in the kitchen was enough to distract him from the fact that, in my haste to wrap everything up this morning, I forgot to put on a bra?