Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some People are Just Not Subdivision Material

Up until three and a half years ago, we lived in a neighborhood. There was no overall theme--the homes were whatever style the owner chose, and the lots were anywhere from half an acre to four acres. We had two acres with a brick house built in the sixties that I absolutely adored. Sugar called it Barbie's Dream House, and it was. It was Southern traditional--big front porch, screened porch in back, lots of big oak trees in the yard.

But... we travel a lot, and two acres of yard plus a large house with fifty-year-old parts that needed continuous maintenance made us think life would be less complicated if we had less to take care of. Small house, big scrapbook, we said to ourselves. Simplify.

I REALLY wanted to live in downtown Greenville, where we could walk to dinner, or to Falls Park, and could ride our bikes through the park trails without having to load them up on the bike rack. Sugar was not so keen on this idea, as ninety-five percent of the real estate in downtown Greenville is condos. "But our back yard would be Falls Park," I said. Sugar gave in on the condition that we would rent for a year, and if we liked it, we'd buy.

We sold Barbie's Dream House, and moved into a 1,200 square-foot condo half a block from Falls Park. Despite all the amenities of downtown living that we both loved, within six months we were both claustrophobic. No patio, no deck--no place for Sugar's grill.

We started looking at new houses, ones that didn't need anything done to them. The beautiful homes in neighborhoods that border downtown Greenville were older than the one we'd sold, so we looked further out. A subdivision, we thought, is the middle ground. Half acre yard, new house.

Covenants and restrictions? Oh, those are just to protect your property value--to make sure folks don't put up outhouses and such in the backyard. This is the fiction we were sold. Don't ever let anyone tell you this.

I believe there are three kinds of people on any given Architectural Review Committee:

Type One, the well-meaning sorts, who volunteer because they want to do the right thing, give back, etc. These are the minority, and they will be worn down to a nub by the rest of them, and likely take to strong drink.

Type Two are dragged in kicking and screaming, or perhaps convinced when they've had a few martinis, by their friends who are Type Ones. Type Twos will hide when trouble starts, and it will.

Type Three are the folks who want to be in charge. They have a driving need to decide what is best for all, and then shove it down their neighbors' throats. They will rule the ARC in any homeowners association because they are the most invested. They crave POWER. Likely, they were bullied in high school.

Two and a half years later, we love the house, but have ascertained that we are not subdivision people. We're rebels. If, on Saturday afternoon, we decide we want to put a trellis in front of the air conditioner compressor, we don't want to have to draw a picture, fill out forms, and wait FORTY-FIVE DAYS for the Architectural Review Committee to approved it (or not).

And don't get me started on the trees. The ARC has tried to dictate which trees we can plant and in what configuration. Thankfully, the attorney who drew up the covenants and restrictions assures me this is unenforceable, not covered in the covenants and restrictions, and ridiculous.

We're currently working on a scheme with our old neighbors--the ones who live next to Barbie's Dream House--to convince the folks we sold it to that the place is haunted so they'll leave. In the meantime, I'm thinking of taking up sculpture and creating a heinous piece of orange and pink yard art with tassels and old shoes stuck on.

Peace, out...


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jazzercise: The Cult

Okay, the thing with Jazzercise is, you really can't quit. They won't let you—I’ve tried. It's like a cult: Once you're in, someone has to send a team of deprogrammers to kidnap you out.

I had every intention of quitting earlier this month. But, as Betty (who power-guzzles her Kool- Aid) pointed out, my strategy was faulty. I went on a day when both Precariously Perky Julie and Casey, The Queen of Pain were there. I should have known better. They gave me all kinds of reasonable-sounding arguments why it was in my best interest not to quit. I caved.

Then, I went out of town, again, like we all knew I would. Since I didn't get home until after the 15th (the cutoff date for cancellations in any given month) I'm in through the end of September. This, of course, was their plan.

But... I figured I'd go ahead and fill out my cancellation for next month ahead of time (having come to my senses) when I drug myself in there yesterday.

Jules was ready for me. When I walked in the door, she shoved a clipboard at me and told me to fill out the form. Okay, I started doing that. A few lines in, I realized I was filling out the "I agree not to sue you if you kill me" form that everyone has to fill out once a year. I scratched my head. It wasn't time for me to do this. "Why do I need to fill this out?" I asked.

The place was full of people—Jules had some kind of special going on. She was very CONVENIENTLY too distracted to answer except for an over-the-shoulder, "It's the release."

Well, I knew THAT. I looked at her sideways. "You're just trying to distract me from asking for my cancellation form."

She trilled a laugh, tossed her ponytail, and quickly engaged in a serious conversation with someone behind me related to childcare.

“Here, Susan.” One of the class managers handed me a ticket. “We’re having a drawing today.”

When I turned back, Jules was chatting up a potential recruit. She had no time for my nonsense.

The crowd was moving toward the dance floor. All I could do was drop the clipboard and move with the group. It was that or be trampled.

After an hour with The Queen of Pain, I was too tired to argue with them.

Resistance is futile. At least I'll be 24 forever...

Peace, out...


Monday, August 09, 2010

In Which I Cancel My Jazzercise Membership--Again

Every few months I realize that I'm not home enough to make regular Jazzercise participation a reality. It's more like something I really want to do, and so, in one of my alternate realities, I Jazzercise daily. Here in the real world my attendance is not so regular. But the draft to my checking account is.

So, every now and then I go in and fill out a form to cancel my draft. Precariously Perky Julie (who owns the place) is no dummy. You can't cancel by civilized method like email or phone. You have to go there and fill out a form. Which makes you think, "Well, if I can drag myself in there to fill out the stupid form, maybe I should just put on my dancing clothes and go dance." I have done this several times.

Every time I go through with the cancellation, I email Jules a day or three later and say, "Never mind." Because every time I cancel, my schedule shifts (because Sugar's does) and I end up being at home because I don't typically go with him on a trip if he's flying. Precariously Perky Julie WILL allow you to cancel your cancellation via phone, email, smoke-signal--whatever. Like I said, she's no dummy.

Today is August 9th. We are 221 days into 2010, and I have MAYBE been to 15 Jazzercise classes. I'm thinking I need to come up with an exercise plan I can actually execute. I've decided to make an iPod playlist and dance in the family room--just do random Jazzercise moves I've learned over the years plus whatever the music moves me to do. I think I'll call this Spazzercise. If I'm out of town, I can Spazzercise in the hotel room.
Since I've already paid for August, I'll go dance with the Queen of Pain today. That way, I won't have to have the argument with myself about whether or not I should just go (because I can today) or cancel. I'll do both.

I'll let you know how long it lasts this time.

Peace, out...