Monday, May 31, 2010

Getting Your San Francisco House Ready to Show? Ten Tips Most Realtors Won’t Share But I Will

They don’t share them because these tips seem so obvious that pointing them out is a delicate and potentially embarrassing matter. 

1. Don’t cook fish the night before an open house. OK, yes, there is a teeny tiny chance that a few prospective buyers will applaud your decision to consume protein that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. But their subconscious olfactory response to the eau de salmon hitting them as they walk through the front door will ultimately translate into a lower sales price.

2. Lose the cat box. It does not matter is it has a lid. It does not matter if you’ve scooped it out with your sifter or changed the litter altogether. It’s still gross. Especially tucked next to the toilet in the half bath. (See note on subconscious olfactory response problem in item 1.)

3. Lose the cat while you’re at it. Just for the day. Nobody appreciates the note on the bedroom door that says “Cat inside. Keep door shut.” It makes people nervous. Nervous they’ll have an allergic reaction. Nervous your cat has peed all over the house. Nervous they may be attacked. Nervous that they have to follow instructions.

4. Hide the TV. Flat-screen televisions are no longer a trendy novelty. And televisions as the focal point of a room don’t project that suave metropolitan-home I-like-to-play-chess-and-sip-absinthe-in-the-evenings image that will fetch you an extra ten grand.

5. Don’t dare require visitors to take off their shoes. No matter that the carpet was just cleaned or that your religion forbids it.

6. And no blue booties either.

7. Turn off the music. Otherwise people will wonder what noise you’re trying to mask.

8. Turn on the heat and turn on the lights. Cold, dark houses don’t warm hearts and two hours of conservation aren’t going to save the planet.  Even on a sunny day, it's cold here in SF.

9. No, you can’t stage the property yourself. Yes, you probably do need staging.

10. Hear your agent’s advice on asking price but insist on pricing it even lower.

Bonus tip:  List your house with me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Endlessly rowing

Stuff added today to my to-do list, verbatim:

Patty 585
Outlook Q – add in thing
AT&T thing
Writing – writers
Noriega – follow up
¼ fish bad
Call Julian
Oh Darling, Human Touch
Keats letters
Christine! Aldo!
Ledger #792040
Call Curt
April sitters
Daniel Ellsberg
Gabriella search parameters
Links for Aman
Gabriella homebuyer credit
$ Steve 160
Photo info
Mail list!
RSVP spring night
Paul re MZ leak
Net nanny
Sofa legs
Water tree
Docusign account
43rd Avenue!!!
Paint walls

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I bought a box of conversation hearts. You know, the hard pastel candies stamped with blurry all-caps messages like BEAR HUG, CLOUD NINE, THAT SMILE and U R A STAR. Their sweetness offset by the weirdness of some of the sayings: WISE UP, TIME OUT, YEAH RIGHT and AS IF.

The one I popped in my mouth yesterday – pale yellow like watery egg yolk – must have said FUDGE U, though I didn’t look until it was too late. I bit into it and felt (or heard) a grinding crunch like I’d chomped on a pebble.

I dribbled the bits straight into the trash, bright gold now with spit, and realized that something had gone badly wrong. That inquisitive muscle – my tongue – grazed along what should have been the comforting curve of a molar and instead scraped against a sharp sheer cliff. A hand held mirror confirmed that tooth #19 was missing most of its crown.

No pain. Number 19 had undergone a root canal years before and was blissfully nonreactive to what had taken place. But still. I picked through the trash to find the little porcelain bits I’d just spat out. Yuck.

No missing tooth/death dreams. But my tongue ran – automatically, beseechingly, soothingly – over the broken surface all night. Upon waking to pee at 3 a.m. I thought how funny we humans are, comprised of bone and stone, our flesh just borrowed, our light only temporary. I’m thrown off by the loss of a chunkette of porcelain, nothing permanent or irreplaceable. What if I’d lived 200 years ago and my whole jaw was rotting out?

“A conversation heart did it,” I told Dr. Jacobs as I slid into the chair this morning.

He said it was probably fractured earlier and that “a marshmallow could have done it.”

Whatever.  No more $1,200 pieces of candy for me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Urban Inspiration

On Spreckels Lake

It’s the less pretty lake in Golden Gate Park
The one where the Russians play chess
Where the old Chinese ladies play Mahjong
All conveniently near my address

The pigeons are crumping and preening
The water unnatural green
Murky and dirty, three feet or thirty
The color of Listerine

The weather’s been rainy and moody
But the clouds have lifted today
Sun working its magic, alighting the granite
On the path where the wild geese hold sway

I walk round the sparkling raceway
Two teenagers poised for a kiss
Their faces earnest and watchful
So close to experiencing bliss

Brown turtles arrayed in a pyramid
Atop the one rock in the pond
Some pushing and tumbling, and surely some grumbling
Unaware of the great world beyond

Two captains embrace on the lakeshore
One’s sail has got caught on one’s flag
They’re discussing which rudder to swivel
Which remote switch can undo the snag

It’s a weekday and just about lunchtime
And time to go home for some cake
But oh what a glorious sojourn
‘Round the pavement of Spreckels Lake