Moving on, part I: Home for Sale.

Dudes, I’m tired.

My house here in San Diego has been on the market less than two weeks, and I’ve already gone through sales offers and counter offers, meetings, paperwork, escrow and a barrage of inspections. I scrubbed and polished and straightened every single day.  I weeded and watered and hacked the landscaping. I arranged and edited and discarded decor. I sneezed my way through stacks of old tax records in search of home repair  receipts. I raced home to sweep the floor and remove the dogs when the Realtor called from 10 minutes away with clients.

When a counter to an offer was accepted, escrow initially came as a relief.  But no sooner had I breathed that sigh, did the appointments for inspections and repair quotes come rolling in, and it was back to schedule shuffling and dog moving and picking up where I  left off work at 10pm at night. And then I survey the junk accumulated after 10 years of ownership (not to mention the four years of marriage and then the sudden inheritance all his worldly possessions) and wondered “what do I do with  this?”

So I cleaned out this place with a ruthlessness I never knew I possessed: 7 bags went off to Am-Vets yesterday; they have another pickup scheduled next week. Couples and families hauled free items out of the backyard, including ladders, benches, plants, bricks, wheelbarrows…I loaded my van with piles of wood and tires and car batteries and broken patio furniture.  I recycled and donated and packaged and transported. And then…

The buyers backed out after a week.

The only remaining disappointment (after the initial 20 minutes of “awww, man…”) was that the house being back on the market meant it was going to be shown constantly to potential buyers. Because they want to, you know, maybe check out a house before they buy it. So I am back to the straightening and cleaning and gardening, racing home to sweep and move dogs, and then running out the door, multiple times a day.

On the other hand, the polishing and junk purging has been cathartic. Though the weight of the mortgage and property tax has not yet been lifted, my house at least feels daintier and brighter, with more of it’s delicate bone structure in view.

I remember now, why I loved living here. The afternoon sun reflecting off the wooden floors. The neighborhood  people walking and bicycling past the windows, the faint zipping of the spinning wheels floating by. Hummingbird nests in the backyard tree. My dogs lounging around the floors, the fat dog following me from room to room. I am enjoying this again, in the moments I can snatch between work and cleaning and appointments.

I missed this, though it’s not a life I want full time. In fact it never was. Too comfortable, too convenient. Too easy to isolate yourself as you move from home to car to office to gym to car to back home. Too easy to get sucked into manufactured adventure and a substitute social life on the TV. It’s nice for a respite, but I don’t believe comfort should be a full time state of existence.

So rebuilding my life the way I want it begins with downsizing my California home and losing half of the things in it. (I sold all but three all of my motorcycles last year. OK four, if you count the 1974 Z50.) I’ll be able to more easily move between countries, which is the lifestyle I’m setting myself up for myself.

But you’ll need to excuse me before we continue this little chat. I have to rush home to wipe dog barf off the floor before the Realtor arrives with more prospects. And that’s only the beginning – there are more tonight and tomorrow is the open house.

I’m ready to relax any day now.

“Cycling” culture observed

I’m slightly interested in velodrome racing, not because I care for fixed gear bikes so much, and certainly not because I give a crap about this whole culture suddenly surrounding these racing bikes, but because it’s another form of racing and it’s on a track, which I tend to like.

So of course I took note of the recent spike in popularity of fixed gear bikes on the streets in Barcelona and even in Italy. Not that I was unaware of this super-trend happening in the US – Basically, anything hip and underground on the West coast of the US will turn up in Europe with about a two year delay. So to see them In Barcelona meant the trend had absolutely exploded in the US.

Still, it did not prepare me for the ridiculous saturation of fixed bikes and anything related to them among the hipster culture in SoCal during my latest visit. The local velodrome, which for years featured small crowds of, well, normal people, is suddenly full of dudes sporting quasi mullets and handlebar mustaches (a real mullet would be going too far), chunky crafter chicks, and every variety of skinny, stony-faced, corduroy clad enthusiast drinking micro brews in the stands to watch their friend race, and, more importantly, check out the accessories on each others fixies they rode to the velodrome.

I think the racing, and perhaps even the bikes themselves, are merely an accessory to their own coolness for this crowd. For example, the racers seemed to be participating in more of a fashion show than actually racing, wearing things like woolly striped arm warmers (probably knitted by those same crafter girls), modified “racing” jeans, and ironic beards. And the fact that some of the racers weigh upwards of 200 pounds makes me question their dedication or even real interest in cycling for the sake of the sport. The bike itself is less important than the attitude and attire of the person on it.

I am no bike snob, but  I solemnly vow to never ride a fixed gear bike on the street. Or maybe, just never ride one at all.

And you will never catch me wearing striped arm warmers.

The Road Home

I am now in California. It’s been 7 1/2 months since I’ve been here. I received a huge welcome from so many people, I am awed. It’s a surprise when people pay much attention to me (old issues), so to be missed and anticipated feels strange and sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself. Like the spotlight is on me and I know what to say, but what do I do with my hands? kind of way.

Unlike the last few trips home, this is a big one. See, I brought my personal hair brusher and porter, GP with me. He is  here for a few weeks, until he needs to go back to Europe for the Czech Republic race. He met my parents, my brother, many of my friends and colleagues, and of course, my dogs. We also made a weekend trek to Portland to visit the person responsible for establishing our acquaintance a year and a half ago. (Whether that simple introduction is for GP’s ultimate benefit or detriment, only time will tell.)

I took him on my annual pilgrimage to the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP (previously WSBK pilgrimage) with the usual suspect riding bikes up to Monterey. We all stayed in a big house, as is the tradition, with extra bodies crashing on the floor for several nights.  (Picture the accompanying smelly socks, empty whiskey tumblers and empty snack food containers strewn around the house) The weekend race viewing and evening fun was great – Dinners with seating for ten, meetings with old friends, the waterfall of sound from the bikes racing down the corkscrew, a couple good games of Foozeball in the Ducati Island tent. The best had to be the ride from the track to the house one day, 7 guys plus me jammed in a van.  An exceptionally attractive police woman was directing traffic, and all the guys dropped their jaws. One of the guys on the floor in the back, desperate to get her attention, opened the back door while  screaming “Arrest me! Arrest meeeeee!!!” as we drove away.

After Laguna Seca, we headed to San Diego where we still are. I’m working in the offices of my company most days – that’s an adjustment, as I am used to working nights, and from home – and there are all kinds of surprises that have been waiting quietly in envelopes for the last 8 months for me.  Like the notice that I owe 300 bucks to the IRS that came last December (can you say penalties and interest?) Or the increase in my mortgage, announced last March. Or the demand for vehicle registration payments from the IRS (I had no idea this existed).  A few of these things are directed to JM, so I will enclose a death certificate with my non payment and hope they leave me alone (though they usually don’t).

While I’m getting some long overdue things checked off the US “To Do” list, including putting my house on the market, we haven’t had much time for fun. We haven’t even been to the beach yet ( it gets dark so early here). But everything is new and different for GP, so it’s been fun for him and fun for me watching his reaction to everyday things here, like the overwhelming supermarkets, ridiculous tiny helmets people wear on their motorcycles (against the law in Italy), and what sucky drivers Californians are.

Next, I’ll be going to the Indianapolis GP next, where I actually have a meeting with a potential moto related opportunity. Considering this year I’ve been working on creating an ideal life (for lack of a better term), I think it is time to step it up and make motorcycles a bigger part of that.

Should this opportunity come to nothing, I am open to suggestions for what to do next.