Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Venturing Out Further - The Beginning

And so I return from an absence in writing to share with you that we have finally purchased our first home. We've been through so much the past few weeks, that I think I can't begin to tell much about the home or the experience, except to say that it is quite an ordeal trying to purchase a home 3000 miles from where you live. I will be making my 2nd and 3rd trips within 1 month in just a week from now. I am reminded of our friend's calming words, that what we are going through is no different than what thousands of military families go through every year. And when I think of the tsunami and mudslide victims, and how quickly a home can vanish, I try to remind myself that this purchase is not the end of the world... even if it feels like it at times.

My wife called me to tell me we had counter-offers on homes we had bid on. I needed to fly out immediately because home inspection and escrow periods were short. She called on Dec. 28, the second and possibly worst day of rain in "sunny" Southern Cal. Within a couple of hours, I had a ticket for Dec. 29... I had purchased so fast that I forgot I was committed to dog sitting, and that my parents couldn't cover for me because they were leaving on a cruise on the 30th. The dog owners were in London, and unreachable, and apparently you can't kennel a dog without it's shot records, which were in her purse in London. The nice friend with the military advice was the one who eventually came to our rescue.

I packed the heaviest coat I had (the only heavy coat I have - a ski-type down jacket). Mental note: need fashionable winter wear when I get to Maryland and can afford it. I left behind a powerful 15-day rain storm (which by today's count had beaten the most rain since records have been kept, with a second place finish that hasn't taken place since 1889. They said if it doesn't rain AT ALL the rest of the entire season, we will be almost 500% above the average seasonal rainfall.) I arrived in MD to 60+ degree weather... all week. I actually stood in bare feet and just pajamas, outside in MD, on January 1st! Between the tsunamis, earthquakes, rain, and heat, something is definitely screwy on the planet.

Other interesting things on my visit: Canadian geese. I saw hundreds of them, and they were amazing. I'm sure if you're from Canada, this is no exciting thing, but they never fly to California, so seeing them seemed special somehow. To think they go to such a cold state to warm up! Other new birds for me were cardinals. Looking at a home, I think I shocked the realtor when I looked up a tree and froze in awe at the little red bird. We don't have those in L.A. Also interesting is the ability for cell phones to work underground on the Metro. In L.A., my cell phone has trouble working in my office building most days, but there I could get reception underground, with 3-4 bars! Guess they know their target consumer! Also fun while there, we attended the auto show. The auto show pales in comparison to the L.A. Auto Show... again you have to know your target audience, and L.A. drivers probably demand more. But they had a radio contest that we were just in time to see the end of. People had been holding on to some cars for a week, the last to hold on would win a car. These people were insane! and quite tired!!! Eventually, there were too many people left when the contest ended, so they had to pull cards to get a key, and only 1 key opened each vehicle. After 4 years, 1 guy finally won a vehicle. He had made it to the end all previous years, but his key never was the right one. The whole scene was surreal. I've seen the contests on TV, but we were there by accident to witness this great event... I started to wonder what their hourly worth was to spend a week for the cost of a car. Hmmm....

Anyway, last but not least... the house. For a mere (approximate) $100,000 over the last year's going rate, we landed a home. Prices were ridiculous, but one more year and we'd be out of the market for good. So we took the plunge. (Any contacts in the MD area for work, especially at Discovery Communications, are greatly appreciated!!!) Apparently, Maryland is 4th in the nation for the outrageous home sales price growth. 4th, ABOVE New York!!! That just blew me away. It's funny to own a home and not know where it is. I don't really know how to get there, or any major cross streets. I just know it's about a 1-2 minute walk from my friend's parent's home, which was a nice coincidence. It's got 4 bedrooms and 2 baths (which sounds big until you see the size of the bedrooms and baths... small!), a fireplace, wood floors, newer roof and newer kitchen with granite countertops. And it's on 4 levels... which sounds huge if you're from CA, but again, size is relative. The only thing that REALLY is big is the yard... a large feat in L.A., we came away with a MD average-sized 1/4 acre lot.

That's about all the energy I can muster up for description at the moment, but I'm sure there will be many more adventures to come, as the hermit ventures into new territority. Stay tuned...

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