Yesterday, YELP sent me an email advertising the "10 best donut shops in San Francisco." That's all fine and dandy, but as I live in the East Bay, the only stop I make for these delicious treats is Colonial Donuts in Montclair or on Lakeshore Blvd. It's a guilty and fattening pleasure to be sure (no judgement), but it's also a nostalgic one for me as well.
Growing up in Sacramento, our house was just a short walk to Marie's Donuts on Freeport Blvd. "Home of the 6-cent Donut!" their signs proudly proclaimed and as my father could never resist a good bargain, he would often hand us a crisp dollar bill on Sunday mornings and Jill and I would race to the stand for a dozen mouth-watering glazed donuts and dutifully bring back 28 cents in change. (Maple bars were 15 cents and if you wanted to splurge on one of those, you had to spend your own dimes. Harry counted the change.) The trick was trying not to open the sweet-smelling bag before we got home.
Happy Fourth of July. This will certainly be one for the history books: no parade, no picnics, no block parties, no barbecues, no music in the park, no fun! The chairs are noticeably absent along Highland Avenue, but there are still decorations to be found around town in red, white, and blue. (Thank you; your homes look great and they're a reminder that we're sacrificing for the American ideal, aren't we?!?)
I can't stand it anymore; I'll give up restaurants (Who needs the calories?), I'll dye my own hair (although I really shouldn't), I'll even REGRETFULLY forego my European vacation (say it isn't so, Joe), but it's probably the movies I miss most of all.
While our household has no shortage of televisions (too many, really), let's just admit that watching Netflix on the living room sofa is not the same as sitting at the Grand Lake Theater, or hoping to win the raffle prize at the charming Piedmont Theatre. I miss the BIG screen, the Coming Attractions, the buttered popcorn, the Milk Duds (preferably mixed into the popcorn), BOOMING SURROUND SOUND (although the nightly firecrackers are giving it a go), the organ music, and the overall experience of sitting in a movie theater laughing or crying with others.
"Hi Julie, I hope you are doing well. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your blog posts. Last week's, "The Naked Truth," in particular, struck me as insightful & powerful. You are SUCH a great Realtor and when that gift is combined with perceptive, cogent, insightful, humorous writing skills such as yours, the result is, well, amazing . . ."
Well shucks; how's that for a fantastic and unsolicited testimonial? (and I assumed no one but my mother read my weekly missives. Mom? Is that you?)
"I received your marketing piece earlier this week," came the friendly email, and it says "'transparently priced' on one of your houses.' (Yes, it did.)
"That doesn't mean anything," the man continued, "instead it should say 'correctly' priced." (Say, aren't there better things to do with your time, like cleaning out the garage . . . ?)
I get this gentleman's well-intended meaning and I appreciate that he took the time to write, but wordsmith or not, his conclusion isn't exactly right and here's why . . . .
Earlier this week, my friend emailed to ask about a house he'd seen advertised in Piedmont. Jill and I had helped Kevin and his wife, Jennifer, sell their stylishly-renovated Mid-Century last year, at what we believed was the height of the market (they had a jaw-dropping result!!!), and like many others who took advantage of last year's marketplace, they've been on hold, renting and waiting for the market to go down BEFORE they buy again. (Smart.)
"Why is the market still so hot? I would think that with SIP and the impending economic collapse, Buyers would sit out and wait," Kevin said, "Instead, prices seem to be going up!"
I'm over the Coronavirus. In fact, like many, I'm suffering from "Covid-fatigue" so when my manager called me earlier this week to talk me down off the cliff, it wasn't exactly the pep talk I had expected.
(Forvgive me Mike, I'm paraphrasing.)
"You know, Julie, no one likes the rules or the restrictions we're under, but this virus is no joke and people are dying (more than 100,000 to date), but unlike millions of Americans on the unemployment rolls, YOU and I are working, so if you have to tow the line and wipe down your listings after every showing (you heard that right - EVERY showing), get use to it because this isn't a sprint, it's a marathon and we're probably looking at a few years, not a few months."
Today, would have been my father's 90th birthday. Sadly, we lost him right before Thanksgiving, just six months shy of a nine-decade milestone. In place of throwing a BIG gala as Dad had requested (Harry always loved a party - especially one in his honor), my siblings, our mother, his grandchildren AND great grandchildren had made plans to meet at the AIDS Grove in San Francisco this weekend to celebrate his life, along with the many friends he'd made during his last two decades volunteering there . . . . Clearly, in the time of Coronavirus, that's not happening.
Instead, we'll likely set up a Zoom meeting and reminisce online until such time as we can meet in "The Circle of Friends," and hold hands once more as we give thanks and say a small prayer in honor of all that's been sacrificed. Granted, those hands may be gloved, but I've no doubt that family and friends will eventually (and physically) reach out to one another in times of sorrow, pain, joy, or uncertainty once the fear of further contamination and spread begin to recede in earnest.
"Hello," came the phone call early Monday morning, "My husband and I are standing out in front of the house on Echo, and wondering if you can show it to us now?"
Uhhh . . . no, I cannot. (Have you been social-distancing on Mars?)
Instead I said, "I'm so sorry but Shelter-in-Place mandates have made showing homes very difficult, and certainly, impossible on such short notice. Do you happen to be working with an Agent?"
Okay, so we're 50+ days into SIP and many of us are feeling rather humbled. With news that it's still too soon to let our guard down, it's finally starting to sink in that how we live, work, and play is going to look very different from here on out - at least in the short term. (What happens long term is still anybody's guess.) As states begin to open up and businesses resume, we could find ourselves three or four weeks down the road having to retreat into our respective homes once more, and wouldn't that be a total bummer? (Yes, it would.)
When I consider the overwhelming challenges we are facing, it brings to mind "The Five Stages of Grief." In her book, On Death & Dying, published in 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the five stages of grief in the following order: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. While she later suggested that people's emotions weren't quite so linear when dealing with loss, I can't help but think how closely these five stages parallel my own personal journey these past few months . . . (I'm sure I'm not alone.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.