The Innkeeper Chronicles… Part One

innkeeper-motto

So I’m starting something new on here… since I’ve got this Airbnb adventure going and it’s doing pretty well I thought I’d start answering some questions that have been thrown at me through messages and such and give some of you who are considering this an idea as to how I make this work and the realities of having strangers in your home on a regular basis.

Okay, the short answer? It’s going well but it’s definitely a learning process. With each new guest I’m getting better at the process, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. My beginning? I stocked the Refrigerator with soda and water, actually scrubbed the entire house top-to-bottom, and hoped for the best. There were some hiccups… like me losing my own housekey and the guest having to leave me his until I could get another one… but all in all it went pretty well. The second guest was great – one night, no real needs other than internet, and bonus! He left me a fantastic review. The third set of guests was my first time with both rooms in use. Grandparents and mom of FSC student. Nice people but very much morning people and everybody knows I don’t do mornings until around 11 or so. Also they’d never stayed via Airbnb before and didn’t know what to expect. I was much relieved to disabuse them of the idea that I would be making up the room every morning after they went out for the day. Um, well, no. Not to say that I don’t check everything over in the bathroom and replenish what needs replenishment but I leave the guest rooms alone. I don’t want to invade people’s privacy and unless I hear sounds of ritual sacrifice or ongoing demolition you can be sure I will not. My longest guest thus far (4 nights) just departed yesterday and she was absolutely wonderful. Very nice, brought a hostess gift, very low maintenance, and she’s the first where I started experimenting with offering breakfast as well. I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started getting used to a revolving door and people coming and going… at least I’ve stopped waking up with a start when I smell coffee in my house and taking 5 minutes to reason through knowing that people who rob your house likely won’t make coffee first and then finally remembering that there’s people staying with me. And with that now I’ve got a month-long guest arriving tomorrow and weekend guests arriving 3 of the next 4 weekends so things are getting busy and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I’m sure this is going to get even more entertaining for me, especially with the holidays and all that coming up, so I’ll keep sharing the fun on here and giving you guys the back view on my new gig by default.

After that recap of my adventures, based on questions I’ve gotten and things that have been said, here’s the things I recommend if you’re considering this gig:
1) The basics – Invest in good high thread count sheets, good all cotton white towels (bleachable, more sanitary, and if they stain you throw them out), and good pillows. Don’t eye-roll me or say you can’t afford it… just shut up and do it dammit. Rue Lala has 500tc Egyptian Cotton sheets for $39.99… Sam’s has Serta Pillows for $9.95 a 2 pack… Macy’s runs Ralph Lauren towels on sale several times a year. Trust me when I tell you it will pay off in the end. And don’t argue about the white towels… things happen… bleach solves it… can’t do that with cornflower blue or brick red… argument over.
2) Upgrade your guest room so it looks like a place people want to stay. So here it is, if you’re still holding onto that Hello Kitty bedroom stuff from your daughter’s teen years it’s time to make like Elsa and let that ish go. My decorating rule is to make your guest room and your guest bath inviting and comfortable. There’s no need to get House Beautiful to come in and redo the rooms and you probably want to lay off the more esoteric and complicated Pinterest stuff, but definitely choose things that are comfortable and cozy, and also make sure those things are sturdy and can take frequent cleaning. No need for Louis XIV antiques, but a well-placed reading light, a soft throw, a luggage rack, and a chair to sit in will never be out of place. Throw in a drawer or two available in the dresser, some decent closet space, and extra hangers and you’ve got it done. It’s not hard… just look at the room and envision where you would want to stay. Create that.
3) Put a power strip near the bed for plugging in multiple electronic devices. Not sure about you but that’s something I bitch about in every hotel room I stay in… no matter how cheap or expensive. So with my rooms whatever I’ve missed in a hotel room? I’ve made sure it’s in mine. Electronics recharging is a part of life today… get with the program.
4) Go sleep in your guest room… make sure it’s a bed you would sleep in, make sure the room is comfortable for you, and if you’re not comfy there then fix it!
5) Get fast internet. Everyone I’ve had here has used serious bandwidth their entire stay. Everyone. I’ve got streaming devices on both televisions in those rooms and they use the heck out of them. So plan for that… the demographic that is adopting Airbnb the fastest is the millennial generation. That’s their MO… you need to make it yours if you want them back. They might enjoy the novelty of your in-room Keurig but they’ll demand fast internet. So do I… so make that happen.
6) Don’t waste money on things that will likely not pay off. An in-room refrigerator is nice, an in-room coffee pot is convenient but offering use of the kitchen and extra space in the refrigerator if there’s things they need to cook or chill is just as good. These people are guests in your home. If they wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn they’d be there. Make them a part of your home to the degree that they’re comfortable with but know upfront that if they’re renting a room in a private home they already expect that they will become a part of a home dynamic. I tell all of my guests that they are welcome to enjoy all common areas of my home. If they want to sit in the Living Room and watch the big TV they’re welcome to do so. If they want to use the pool then come on out. They aren’t expected to just stay in their room and out of my hair. Part of the adventure in this kind of travel is meeting new people and experiencing new things. If you’re not into that, don’t sign up and choose to rent your room. Seriously. This takes peopling. You have to be good at it. At least sometimes. So keep that in mind.
7) Don’t stress out and remember to have fun. I schedule the day after departure for cleaning and restoring the room(s) back to clean and ready. I also schedule the day before arrival for cleaning of the entire house to make sure I’m ready. When I go back to work I may look into a cleaning service to assist me with this part. But outside of those two days of effort I’m a neat person and my house stays pretty well put together so it’s not something I focus on. When guests are here I run the sweeper every morning because of the additional foot traffic and I also wipe down the bathroom and kitchen counters, just because I’m OCD like that. But that’s about it. I would much rather spend a few minutes chatting with the guests about restaurants I love and things to do in my beautiful little town than worrying about whether the bathmat is hung up properly. Perspective… it’s important… get some.

Okay… there you go… that’s my innkeeping manifesto… now go figure it out for you. We’re all different and our spaces are different too. If you’re leaning toward trying this out this just starts your conversation about it. And if you have any other questions ask away. I’ll do my best to help. It’s fun… I’m enjoying it… good luck! Oh… and for a bit of shameless self-promotion, here’s my listings from Airbnb… share amongst yourselves!

Casa de Bruce-Weiner Room 1

Casa de Bruce-Weiner Room 2

 

Rolling the dice…

So everything is a risk. Nothing is a sure thing… ever. No matter the situation there’s the point where you think it’s a success, there’s the point where you think it’s still workable, the point where you think it’s a write off, and then there’s the point where you know there’s no way to come back.

The hard part is that every one of those are usually right before everything finally works out the way it’s supposed to be. However, lest you think that’s a good solution, the way it’s supposed to be is not necessarily the way you want, it’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Do yourself a favor and don’t ever get those two things confused.

They most certainly are not.

In the end everything you do is gut work, no matter how much preparation you do and no matter how much risk management you build it… at the end of the day you have to guess, give it a shot, see what happens… but there’s no guarantees and everything can change in a moment.

Life is like that. All you can do is the best you know how and you hope for the best. Everything is sitting on a lucky roll of the dice…

Do you feel lucky?

Been a while…

Yeah… I guess… a minute or two anyway.  What can I say? Been busy?  Yeah, busy… that’s an understatement.  Making dreams come true takes a lot of work kids.  Lots and lots.  And so much attention must be paid… that too.  So “me time” on here has been a scarce commodity.  So much I’ve wanted to write, so many things I’ve wanted to work through in words, but no time to do so.  So I’m writing in my head and neglecting this thing.

Life?  It’s good.  Okay… better than good.  Actually it’s damned near perfect these days.  Yes, I got the dream job.  Finally after 8 years of trying I’ve managed to make a total sea change in my career, into a field that didn’t even exist when I first started college way back in ’82.  When I went back to school in ’10 this was my plan.  I didn’t know exactly how I was going to make it happen but I knew it would.  I had faith.  And, hey!  Imagine that!  It did.  And it’s perfect… just like I planned… and I love it.  Simply put… my work is every thing I dreamed it would be, working with people I really like and respect, and I cannot imagine doing anything else.   And for those of you playing along at home… I do miss my IZEA family… I miss the energy, the forward motion, the feeling of being a part of something on the verge of being huge.  But because of this thing I do, this social media world I’m wired into like a native, I’ve not really left them.  Amazingly enough there were people there who played a huge part in helping me to move into this new role.  For which I will forever be grateful.  That kind of support and care is hard to find these days.

I am so lucky.  So very very lucky.

But anyway, there’s the update.  Life is good.  Blah blah blah.  Here comes the holidays… hope yours are spectacular.  Ours?  Who knows.  But no matter what… it’s still good.

On finding my place…

finding-my-place
Scrolling Facebook at 3:30 this AM… yes, really, there are people who do that… I’m one of them… and frankly I’m shocked that I’m alone out there.

So. Disappointing.

Anyway, while scrolling, as my day began, imagine my surprise when I read this.  This one little picture, created by someone who has never even heard my name nor has any interest in doing, has very succinctly summed up the last 7 years of my life.  Seven years, rolled into seventeen small words, and they say everything.

Mind. Blown.

To be clear, virtually everyone around me thought I was crazy.  Most thought I was throwing away a carefully built career  for something that was just a fad.  Something that I knew very little about in the beginning.  Something that wasn’t even a real job when I first started considering it as my path.  Haven’t you people learned yet that I love proving you wrong?

Love. It.

And yes, I know I’m only one day in and I know that things can dramatically change in a second, but an entire day surrounded by people who are creative, throwing creative stuff into the air, talking through how everything is connected, and figuring out those connections in a visual and verbal fashion, drawing pictures of them, was so much fun.  So. Much. Fun. Indeed.  And this AM I woke up early, ready to work.  Because it doesn’t feel like work to me.  It feels like play.  It feels like home.  It feels like it’s way past due for me to be this excited to learn more, to see where I fit in, to use the skills I’ve spent all this time building.  To get off the bench and contribute.

I’m. In.

Thanks are owed.  To everyone who didn’t laugh out loud at me.  Who didn’t derisively snort at my ideas and aspirations.  Who didn’t say “but why?” more than once or twice.  Thanks for believing in me… even if you thought I was crazy… and for reading and commenting and sharing and helping me be a part of this world.  With every single like, share, comment, and interaction you all helped get me to this day.  And I’m here.

Day. Two.

I’m ready.  To seize this day, and the next, and the next, and the next… and make them all my own.  Even though I know I’m so new, even though I have so much to learn…  I’m ready.

So. Ready.

To go make magic.  Magical magic.  As I smile broadly.  And say yes.

Go!

Food for thought…

not-perfect

Sharing from a friend… because I’m a long-time victim of perfection paralysis. Imagine how good you could be if you just let go of perfect?

95 days and counting…

So… yeah… mentioned running yesterday… and I’m still doing that craziness.  Yes. I know.  And I’m still not being chased by someone with an axe.  Although that might come in useful some days.  If you know anybody then please HMU… I may need to put some resumes on file for that position.  But anyway, miles keep progressing, and believe it or don’t I’ve actually run over 11 miles all at one time.  Yes, in one run, 11.8 miles, and nobody died, despite my dire predictions otherwise.

I know… what the what???

It’s challenging though, especially when my running partner is Stuart Smalley.  Him with the relentless cheerfulness and spring in his step.  Most of the time I want to kill him.  Dead.  Or mostly dead.  And then I’ll eat some Bacon, lots of Bacon.  And then I’ll revive him and kill him again.  And then I’ll finish the Bacon.  But I’ll kill him with kindness and love though… because I’m like that.

Cue chorus of “poor Bob”…

But yeah, I’m still at it.  And my first and second goals are now getting uncomfortably close.  You remember.  The two Half Marathons I signed us up for last Spring.  When I somehow talked myself into the crackpot idea that I am a Marathon Runner.

Yeah… again, what the WHAT???

Apparently delusions are a tricky thing, eh?  Anyway, yeah, I came to this crazy-assed decision months ago and ever since then I’ve been running.  Just like Forrest Gump.  Only slower.  Like possibly slower than a herd of Turtles running through 6 inch deep Peanut Butter, but still I run.

Like I’m mildly scared… not yet terrified… but occasionally I do burst into a short sprint that speaks of low level terror.  Not “OMG he’s got an Axe” terror, but getting close to that.  More like “OMG he’s wearing Axe Shower Gel and Body Spray and Shampoo… all of the Axe… run away!!!!!”  Yeah, like that.

You’re welcome… now enjoy that visual in Smellovision… great isn’t it?

But anyway, yes, I’ve been playing this running game for a while and I was doing fine with my delusions and then yesterday I saw this little gem of happiness when I was on Runkeeper

celebration-half-marathon

Yes… 67 days until my first test of these new mad skillz I’ve acquired.

YIKES!!!!

And to make matters worse, the next thing I saw was this

princess-half-marathon

And then I fainted.  Dead away.

Really?  Two months is all that’s left between me and those two twin monuments to craziness?  Until I have to actually put up or shut up about this whole “I’m a runner” thing?  I don’t think there’s enough time.  Not even if I had an entire year extra.  Maybe two.  But then I started remembering when I first started this craziness.  Back when less than a mile was more than I could do.  When most people could walk faster than I was running.  And then I realized that I’ll be fine.  No, I won’t set any land speed records.  But then, I’m reasonably sure that there are no Lions out on Lake Hollingsworth that will assist with my training.  But I do have that stupid voice in my head.  The one that says “you’ve got this”, and “don’t listen to your idiotic knee”, and “youcandoityoucandoityoucandoit”.  That one.  And yes, I can. And yes, I’ve gotten faster since I started.  And yes, I can go for much longer than I could when I started.

See?  This is from my very first Galloway Run – BTW my interval time back then -for those keeping score at home- was 20 seconds Running and 40 seconds Walking

first-run

And then, when I saw this, that’s when I knew that I’ve got this… because this was yesterday’s run

last-run

And again, for you scorekeepers, my current interval cycle is 1 minute Run / 1 minute Walk, and I’d already decided that this is the week that I’m going to start stepping that up to 2 min Run / 1 min Walk… starting with tomorrow morning’s training run.  So… yeah… I think I’ve got this.

So the moral here, all illustrations aside, is that if I can do this anybody can.  Really, anybody.  No, it’s not what I live for. Yes I still hate it just as much as I did the first time I laced up my shoes and started out the door.  But I’m doing it.  For me.  For my future.  Because I want my 50s to be better than my 40s.  And I want my 60s to f’in rock.

So I run.

I run for me.

Find something you can do and just do it.  Do it for you.  Because nobody else can.  Live your life.  Live it big.

Just do it.

 

Requiem, remembrance, and resurrection?

RIP David… you were loved, by so many, for not nearly long enough and the world is dimmer at your passing. But truly, your death, for those of us left behind wrought so many other things that have flooded my brain, things that I’m still trying to sort out. Things that I cannot really find the words to speak about.

Yet.

You were one of us. Too young. Taken. Gone. Yet in death you reunited us. The remains of our small tribe. Beaten, battered, scarred, yet still standing. And betrayed in a way at the loss of you. Because your loss means our own mortality is very much in our minds. If you can die then our own survival becomes a question. And our certainty about survival becomes less.

Much less.

I hope you’re at peace. They say you’re not in pain anymore. I’m not sure. I cannot imagine a greater pain than being dead. Being gone. Being alone. I hope “they’re” right. I hope I’m wrong about where you are now.

I hope.

But “they” also say that every death is accompanied by new life and seeing us three together, I hope “they’re” right. I hope our tribe is reuniting in old age, much like we were knitted together of miscast threads in our youth. Growing old is scary. Growing old alone is worse. Death divides and unites. Death brings death, and life. Life brings hope and fear and pain and joy. Death is hard, life is harder. Life together- with the people who know all of your secrets and pain, all of your oldest dreams and fears- is easier somehow, but it’s also more scary.

Much more scary.

It’s much easier to be someone else if the people who know the real you aren’t there to point out your subterfuge. Aren’t there to say “I’m pretty sure that you’ve got on no clothes”. Aren’t there to pull off your mask and make you be real. I’m not sure that I’m real anymore. Are you? Is anyone?

Are you sure?

Your death, a haven for you from any more feelings, has for us opened up a whole chapter of nothing but for those of us left behind. Your urn led us to a cemetary filled with the life we left when we moved into adulthood full of hubris and snarls and the belief that we could walk away from our wreckage and never deal with the horrible things we had wrought in the lives of the others we were attached to like siamese twins intent on doing each other harm. Your death made us acknowledge that life. That pain. That fear. The silence of words we never could say to each other but that we needed to shout to the world. These are the things we received along with the loss of you. The terror of finally telling the truth. Comparing our stories. Remembering the same things differently.

Oh so differently.

Interestingly, your death is filled with infinite peace for you but yet ripe with complexity for those of us left behind. Sorting through our reunion, figuring out how we fit now, remembering the passion, the anger, the disappointment, the love.

Yes, the love. That we thought was gone. That’s still with us today. A living breathing thing. That wrapped us in its wings and comforted us in our loss of you. Gave us peace. Peace like it gave you.

Sweet peace.

And truthfully I almost envy you for that peace. Somehow being dead is easier. No worries. About anything. Just dead. At peace. And I hope you are. At peace that is. We will be. I’m sure. Eventually. Now that we’re reattached. Like we were years ago. You had the power to unite and to divide. I think we’re together. I hope we stay that way. Even if it’s complicated. Even if it challenges us. Even if we struggle. As long as we hang onto each other. As long as we hang onto the thread of the rope that love threw us. I hope we will.

I hope.

We love you David. We mourn your loss. We wish it wasn’t you to go. One of the youngest. One of the most alive. You should have lived. You were one of the good ones. But we didn’t get to choose. You were the one who went. And you gave us the gift of each other as you left us.

Thanks.

So peace little brother. Rest in peace. We wish you good journeys, fair winds and following seas. We salute you from the shore of a distant life and wish you everything that we can for the dead. We wish you love.

Love. Now, before, after, forever.