Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Up in the Air

Early in my journalism days, Corey, my editor, used to complain that "people think you just throw a whole bunch of ideas up in the air and, presto, when they fall back down as words you have a newspaper." I guess I understood his frustration that few people recognized the hard work and experience that went into putting out a good publication.

But when it was my turn to be an editor and later a publisher, I always thought it was a lot cooler to make the whole act of publishing seamless so that readers didn't know or care about what hard work went into their paper but just enjoyed reading it.

Honestly, that sounds more noble than I actually was. The truth is that more often than not my team would be rushing headlong toward deadline with barely an idea of how we were going to get the paper done. And absolutely no clue as to whether there was anything we were doing that was going to end up being worth reading by the time we were finished.

In other words, my style of editing was more or less to throw lots of ideas in the air and hope that when they fell back down as words, they'd make a publication.

Even though I am retired (aka, professionally unemployed), I thought of this today. The lawyer who is doing the contract and other stuff you have to do when you sell a house had sent a questionnaire over the other day. It had to be completed and returned within an hour or two because - well, because I had forgotten to hire him and therefore left him almost no time to compete the draft contract, which was required before the first open house.

(Regular readers will recognize a trend in this procrastination. Irregular readers can find several earlier posts about it. But if you are anything like me, you will put it off and never get around to it.)

Regular readers will also recognize a disturbing tendency to stray off topic, so for their sake I will return to the lawyer's questionnaire. There were lots of questions in there which left me no option but to guess at the answer if I was going to get it back in time. The biggie was about putting the pergola on the deck - and converting it into an undercover entertainment area!

A lot depended on when the work had been done. I had to guess whether the pergola was built within the past 7 years. I didn't think so. Turns out I was wrong. I had to guess whether I had a copy of the Home Owner Warranty Insurance for the pergola - which is a legal requirement for any improvement when selling the house. I said it didn't matter because it was more than 7 years ago. I was wrong about that. Did we have Council approval for the pergola? That I remembered - yes, we did.

The questionnaire asked if I had a Council survey and if not did I want one. I didn't know - both times. So I said No and Yes. Turns out the correct answers are Yes and Doesn't Matter.

I took a few more stabs at the truth, but you get the idea. Anyhow, the lawyer called me up and asked if I could take a look for the Council approval for the pergola. And he also suggested that if I could not find the survey done when we bought the house, we really should shell out the $600 and get one done.

Now that someone has actually asked for a copy of the contract, I was starting to think that perhaps my best guess wasn't exactly what most lawyers would consider best practice. So as part of my ongoing mission to tick off the to-do list, I decided I would give it a look this afternoon.

I went up to that part of the desk known as the Big Square Part Where We Shove Everything We Don't Think We Should Throw Away But Don't Think We Really Need, Either. It took awhile, but eventually I found the Council approval. And while I was searching for that, I found the survey from when we bought the house. And I found the copy of the Home Warranty Insurance. I even found a letter from the bank that we needed to find. I had no idea it was in the Big Square Part etc.

And that is why, as I came down the stairs smiling broadly and ready to share my good fortune with LK, I thought of Corey. Some times when you just throw everything up in the air, it all really really does come down exactly as you wish.

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