Thursday, March 31, 2005

We are too old to go to your show at 11:45 on a Thursday
I’m a fan of a rock band. Okay – they’re a pop band, but whatever. I like them – they’re Chicago boys. You’ve probably heard their songs.

Anyway, they’re in Cambridge tonight playing an all-ages show (hurl!) at TT the Bear’s Place. For just $10 I can enjoy all the live OK GO I can handle.

Sadly – I won’t be attending. The show starts at 11:45 people. In the PM – quarter of midnight. On a Thursday.

Can’t be done. I’m old now and will probably spend my $10 trying to buy a house or something. And some of us have to work in the morning. And I can’t very well show up to train with Wendy with a no-booze hangover. That is not cool.

Good God, I sound like such a bougie bee-yotch – I’m like Julie Cooper without the dramatic backstory. Or really good abs.
Don’t worry
Hi – you don’t know us – but do not be alarmed. We are not stalking you – we are stalking your house.

First we find you on the multiple listing services. Then we look up the address (thanks Google Maps!) and determine if it is in our accepted geographic range. This part is complicated and sometimes requires negotiation.

Then we do a drive-by. And then we park. Then we stare at your house. You’re confused – we’re trying to understand how the floor plans we’ve found of your house match up with the actual house from the outside.

Yes – we found your floor plan. And your deed. And possibly your mortgage. And any building permits you filed for – this is all public information. The Internet makes it much easier.

Then we drive around the neighborhood. We determine where the nearest bus or train stop is – we figure out where we can buy food. We look for a school or any other stuff that might later affect resale.

We look at the other houses – are we buying the cheapest house on the priciest street? Is this the most costly house on the cheapest street? Will we live next door to the Mansons?

We will be inside your house soon enough – but by that time, it is all academic. Seeing the inside is an emotional check. We’ve done the homework before hand, so we know if your house will be a candidate for what we lovingly refer to as The Weekly Bid.

But don’t worry – we’re just house hunters. We’re not dangerous.
When the Poopus attacks
Apparently the cat attacked Deeps last night when he came to bed.

This is a very, very rare event. Despite the fact that I’m her food bringer and pooper cleaner, she usually attacks me. That’s because – as Deeps likes to say – the cat has me whipped. I guess that’s true – I’m a light sleeper, unlike my husband the dead sleeper. Seriously. This is going to be a huge problem if we have some kids.

The cat uses this knowledge to psychologically torture me at night by making weird distant noises that culminate in me stomping through a dark house threatening her with bodily harm.

Or she tries to sleep on my head. Neither is acceptable. Although we have compromised on the head thing. She can sleep by my side – or under the edge of the pillow as long as I’m not sleeping on it.

Anyway, like any good uhm… American – Deeps blames this latest development on TV. Not only is it destroying our children, it is apparently causing mental damage to our pets.
I’ll take the rain
Sunday is the big Open House day. A few folks have them on Saturday – but most show up on Sunday between say 11 AM and 2:30 PM.

I pray for downpours during this short window every Sunday. Maybe it will keep the buyers at bay and we can get in early.

It is the rationale of a lunatic – a lunatic driven to the edge by the fact that being the first person in to see place, making a bid within hours of a house going on the market, offering to pay asking price and still losing the house to another bidder.

Other bidders are now the enemy. We’re only 2.5 weeks in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

And UGGs are 50% off
Last night as we stalked around Filene’s looking for the right pillow, we had the following conversation.

Deeps: What will be the next horrifying fashion fad?
ME: What?
Deeps: You know – like the poncho or UGGs? What’s the next thing I need to keep my eyes peeled for?
ME: Oh – I’m not sure. …. I haven’t been reading about fashion much.
Deeps: Oh right.
ME: Because I spend all of my time on the house hunt.
Deeps: Uhm, I know.
ME: But I’ll get my best people on it.

Okay – you are my best people. No longer content with his sweater count (the number of tourists who wander around Cambridge with sweaters jauntily tied about their shoulders because that’s what they think yuppies in Cambridge do) – he wants to count something new.

I suggested he count interest rate hikes, but that doesn’t seem to appeal to him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I’m practicing my Italian
In the midst of all the chaos of my life – which really, perspective here isn’t so bad – I’m trying to pick up a bit of Italian.

Like “Hey, where’s my damn pillow?” Or the always useful “You call this a toilet?!” I like to be the charming American when I travel.

Usually when we go on a big trip we have done months of planning and research before hand. Sadly, all of my research resources are occupied with THE HOUSE HUNT THAT ATE MY LIFE. So I’m not really sure what the deal is with Florence or if I’ll know much before I get there. I do have a map, I’m happy to report.

In addition to having hushed, heated conversations with my husband about housing or talking to my broker about when we can get into a place – or if someone is crazy and asking too much money, I’m quietly muttering to myself in Italian while I work on important schedules and plans for the year.

I put the whole CD on my MP3 player and have hit “repeat” way too many times.

So far, I’m super excellent at “cin cin” – however, I’m not really sure how many toasts I’ll be making.

And I think I speak Italian poorly - with a French accent.
After a week of bad sleeping that appears to be completely unrelated to our horrific house hunting process, we’ve determined the source of the problems.

We’ve got lumpy pillows.

“Didn’t we just buy these pillows?” my husband asked this morning.

I had to think for a moment, but yes – we’d just bought them like 5 months ago.
And they were very expensive…. And fancy. And apparently crappy.

So tonight, after looking at houses – we go to the mall to dine on cheap tacos and search for a good pillow. I need sleep - the dark circles are getting really, really bad.

And God knows I can only do so much with a tube of concealer and a brush. I’m an artist – not a miracle worker
So Pedestrian
I commented on just this topic yesterday to a colleague. Despite the torrential downpours (it rained nearly 3 inches in a day) – there were a lot of people out walking the streets of Boston.

Because you don’t really have a lot of choice.
Bring the big flashlight
Sometimes we stuff in the morning, sometimes in the early evening. Every time we are sorry we didn’t bring the big flashlight.

Or the tape measure.

For all of our preparation, we sometimes fall down on the job.

Just yesterday we went to a place during daylight hours – the unit was empty, but there were still a few lights. The problem was a lot of bulbs didn’t work. And we tried to go down to the basement in the dark.

Oh the hilarity. Deeps had a tiny penlight on his key ring and our broker had some little light on hers. I was pretty sure I’d fall and break something. But we lived and eventually found some kind of light to turn on – at the other end of the place.

Even during daylight – bright sunny mornings – we usually wish we had the flashlight. For basements or closets or the dark corners of a house. Most people don’t light their spaces well. I think we probably do a good job of lighting each room in our apartment. But most other people don’t have a lot of lighting sources.

If we’re lucky we get the one lamp or overhead fixture to work. Then I start looking at corners for the dreaded diagonal crack (where the foundation is settling) in walls. Or the weird tack strips left from hastily removed carpet. Or dodgy electrical and plumbing work. I’ve seen it all people.

We’re going out tonight to see a few places. We’ve got the big flashlight – like the cops use, but mine is bright purple. Of course.

I only hope Deeps remembered to bring the tape measure. Our giant bed doesn’t fit in every bedroom we see.
Kicking and Screaming
Most of the time Deeps and I are on the same page. We like a lot of the same movies and music and food. We share a common sense of humor and love for the truly bizarre. We’re not the same, but we have lot in common.

The times when we’re out of synch are always surprising to me. He wants barbecue and I want Chinese. Not exactly life changing.

During the house hunt, we’ve had a lot of instances of not being on the same page. He looks at things very literally and I can visualize how a few changes can make a big difference. Guess which one of us watches more home improvement shows?

Last week we saw two places that needed work. One needed a massive gut rehab on the 3rd floor of a 2-floor unit. The other needed more basic TLC like an updated bathroom color and the removal of wallpaper.

I explained the pros and cons of each place, what I thought we could do and then what I thought it would take to make the places the way we wanted. I consulted with a few friends and our broker who has done a lot of home improvement himself to arrive with ideas and a few rough estimates.

The information was really helpful in painting a picture for Deeps – how one might go about doing this stuff. Then we had to decide if we were ready to do that level of work. We decided that we’re comfortable doing more cosmetic things – ripping up carpet, stripping wallpaper, and painting. But not quite ready to do the more complicated stuff that requires tearing down walls or building them or whatever.

It was a good talk to have.

So last night we saw a huge condo – well over 2000 square feet. The place was in a decent location and the price was right. At first. Then we started talking about things we would have to do.

We’d need to refinish the floors. We’d have to replace the windows. These two things are more heavy duty than painting, but they can be done relatively quickly and without the same level of life disruption as say – converting an attic and building a bathroom from scratch. We were willing to still consider the place.

Then the dreaded question arose – what’s up with the electrical? This question has never come up in the previous condos we’ve looked at. For the most part, the electrical was pretty up-to-date. But this place needed a massive upgrading of electrical. Many rooms had one outlet – and that outlet was the original outlet from the time the house was built in the early 20s.

Deeps said he was interested in knowing more about what it would take to update the electrical – and he said he was still very interested in the place. We went to see another place, which was very nice but too small. He kept talking about the giant place that needed some work.

He asked to do a walk-through with our agent’s partner – who’s done a lot of hard-core remodels in the past for his opinion.

“Are you really sure you mean that?” I asked him. He said yes. I laughed a little but didn’t say anything. He told this to our broker and we headed off. About an hour later I’d gotten a call from our broker. She wanted to set up a time for the walk –thru.

“Yeah, he’s already changed his mind,” I said. She seemed confused. I told her I made an executive decision not to bother to schedule the meeting. Deeps was cooling on the idea, and he started to realize what it takes to update electrical work – putting giant holes in your walls and running new wiring. Not cheap or easy and it can be very invasive.

I apologized to the broker for allowing my husband to get carried away on the flight of fancy when I knew what the answer would be. I told her it was a learning experience for him.

“See – I’ve been dragging him on to the same page as me for a few weeks now, and since this is a huge decision – I thought it was time he started to figure stuff out for himself.” She agreed it was probably better that way.

I related my conversation to Deeps later.

“But if you knew I’d change my mind,” he started.

I cut him off, “What’s important here is that you didn’t know you’d change your mind. I thought it was time I let you get on the same page as me – without pulling you kicking and screaming.”

Monday, March 28, 2005

Meet Professor Murder

My friend just got a dog. She's cute. I love her name.
Good talk
While it is true that I’ve been totally absorbed in my tiny world of real estate (the saddest answer to the question of “so what else are you doing” is – nothing), we’ve also been speculating on the fate of Arrested Development.

The show is probably the best comedy on network if not all television. Think it isn’t? Tape an episode.

If you’re even a somewhat regular viewer you’ll probably rewind the show a few times to catch witty asides and little jokey references to previous episodes and adventures. I know in a usual sitcom there’s a joke about every minute or so – but with this series, you’ll see the main joke in the foreground, an aside in the middle ground and in the background there’s usually some weird sight gag.

I like to watch any episode at least twice. And given the dreary days of house hunting, we enjoy having an easy laugh.

But the show hasn’t been doing well. It barely got renewed for this second season and despite winning the Emmy for best comedy, the show hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity from Fox. The season order was reduced from 22 to 18 episodes to make way for American Dad (which is really, really awful) starting in May. Most recently, the head of Fox programming, Gail Berman, jumped ship to go to Paramount. The last champion of the series may be gone – and we wonder if it will be the last nail in the coffin.

If you haven’t caught an episode before, there’s still time. Plus the first season is on DVD. I can only hope the second season leads to a third. And that the DVD for Season 2 will be out sometime this summer.

If we’re lucky – we’ll get to watch it in our new house.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The good news is…
At least our savings rate went up. Thank you ING (and Alan Greenspan).

When the Fed raised interest rates just a couple of days ago it became more expensive to borrow (or rent – as we like to say) money. In just the time from when we got approved at the start of Feb. to now – our mortgage will cost us about $250-$300 more a month.

Obviously – that gets one motivated. As if we were not highly motivated before.

Last night we made another offer. It was rejected. Seems the owners are holding out for a lot more cash. Another incident where the asking price could be the suggested minimum cost for purchasing their lovely carpeted, wallpapered, outdated home with a pink bathroom.

We’ll try again this morning – but I’m not optimistic. The search continues. I had a moment of prolonged hysterical laughter that crossed briefly over to heaving sobs – then back to laughter. I like crying when I can’t punch anything. It is extremely cathartic. Everyone should try it.

What I have learned is that making offers on Tuesday and Wednesday seem better. People are more willing to tell you something – whether you like it or not. And Thursdays and Fridays are too close to the weekend. People want to sleep on it and mull it over. You want to shut down discussions as quickly as possible to seal the deal.

Deeps has been on a tear the past couple of days. He was so mad about the place we lost Monday that he could not focus on anything new. Now that we’ve gone through this latest round of rejection (and seriously – people just sound more greedy and delusional with each passing day) he’s come out of it.

I think we are dead inside. I realized that when after we made the offer in the freezing cold – writing checks in the fading light – I was not excited at all about buying a home.

So real estate isn’t fully a wonder killer – but it is very, very close.
They say that every year
I will admit that I am a nerd that regularly reads The Economist – I have for years. Despite their weird conservative bent, I rather enjoy their perspective on world events and finance. I’m not one to live in a bubble surrounded only by people and things I agree with and never challenge my worldview.

So I was very pleased this morning to read this funny column about housing bubbles. This has been a very huge topic of discussion for just about anyone who knows I’m looking for a house. I imagine this is like the talk you get from people when you’re pregnant – they’re trying to be helpful, but a lot of people have no idea what they’re talking about.

Shut up about the stupid article in last week’s Economist about the “housing bubble.” Do you know they write that article EVERY year? I’ve read it at least 5 times.

Here’s the thing – I’m not a professional economist – but I live in a very insane part of the country when it comes to real estate. I don’t claim to understand it – but there’s been a steady upward trajectory on housing appreciation for over 20 years. There was a housing crash in Boston in the late 80s – I think it was mostly related to condos. But Deeps and I ran the numbers last night. Basically most homes have increased in value by 100% in about every 10 years.

Not all – but in the areas we’re looking, people have done well to hang on to a place and then sell it for a big profit a few years later.

Thank you for your interest and concern. If I told you the amount of research I’ve conducted on this topic, you would be astounded. I perform complex (okay not like Sally – but still hard) calculations all the time to make estimates and educated guesses. And frankly – as long as I can own a place for what I pay in rent – I’m coming out ahead.

Because it is mine. And at a minimum, I’m building equity I can leverage later. Everything else is cake.

Thanks for your financial advice – but why don’t we talk about the Red Sox instead?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Clarification: Fixer Upper – part deux
We’re not buying a “fixer upper” – we might buy a place that smells like dirty laundry, desperately needs a cleaning and a paint job. That’s the second floor. It is also quite large and perfectly adequate for our current needs. It is very, very livable – even in it’s present state of dirt and stink. I would have to paint the kitchen – it is salmon colored.

The third floor is a walk-up attic that is perfect for expansion. We were keeping an eye out for a place could grow into – if necessary.

I think next spring, ideally, we’d do some refi (because this particular place is a lot cheaper than we budgeted for) so that we could expand into the attic and make a cool master suite. With real closets and a bathroom and everything. And maybe a library – the space is very big. And after we borrowed a bit extra to do the work – we would still come in under the price of the place we bid on last week.

So that’s what we’re thinking of. I’m not inclined to drag Deeps into a real old-school fixer upper. I won’t live in one room. Plus my beloved husband isn’t really one to rough it.

He’s an indoor girl. And I love it him for it.
Now, Voyager
The movie is fantastic. It very closely follows the book.

But the book is just so good. I loved to get sucked into the pulpy melodrama.
I can’t say enough nice things about The Feminist Press’s reissue of “Now, Voyager”. I’ve read most of the other books they’ve released – which are notable books written in the 30s and 40s by women pulp authors. Most of them are overlooked classics.

Some aren’t so great – and I’ll admit to skipping over the stuff that reminds me of school – the forward and afterward. I skim the later. But yeesh – I was an English major – I understand symbolism. (Also some of these people could take a lesson from Mr. Von D and learn to write their formal “criticism” in a slightly more accessible manner.)

I think “Now, Voyager” may displace “In a Lonely Place” as my favorite Feminist Press re-issue. I know there are plenty of people out there who aren’t afraid to pick up a book from the Feminist Press – get thee to the library.


I am Superman
I’ve been wearing disposable contact lenses for about three years. I finally got over my issues with them (cost) and embraced them at the suggestion of my eye doctor.

So every year I buy a year’s supply – plus one extra box. Just in case. I never end up using the “extra” box because I don’t do anything bad to my contacts. This past year was a little different. I found that I was experiencing a protein build-up that made my contacts fade a lot more quickly. I ended up switching to my “emergency” box a couple of months ago.

I think there might be something wrong with that box – every single pair of contacts wound up shredded. And not because I can tell I did something wrong. I would take them out in the evening, carefully clean them and drop them in the little lens case. The next morning I’d wake up and they would have huge tears. I couldn’t figure it out – I still don’t know the cause.

But I made an eye doctor’s appointment for this week so I could get more contacts (thanks eye insurance!). I was down to my last pair – I opened them late last week. I told them every day – you only have to make it until Thursday.

Wednesday morning I opened the case and found a giant piece of one lens missing.

I shook my fist at the heavens. Why oh why? Only 24 more hours!

So I had to wear my glasses to work. Which isn’t a big deal – but the glasses are a little old. Plus since I never wear them out (I like the contacts because I’m actually active now…) people were confused. I got a lot of confused looks.

I decided that maybe comics were right and that people did not recognize me because of my special “disguise.” I made a point of introducing myself to them again – then they seemed even more disturbed.

I go to the eye doctor this afternoon – I’m going to switch contact lens brands again. No shredding allowed.

And he better tell me I have the eyes of a 20-year-old. Sure, a blind 20-year-old…but beggars can’t be choosers.
Fixer Upper
My dad has been advocating for us to buy a fixer upper. Because he’d come out here (allegedly with Bangles and Slim) to help us do some work. The man puts in one laminate floor and suddenly he's Bob Vila.

Kidding, Dad - please come out this summer. We will probably need help.

We told him that there weren’t a lot of houses or condos available in the areas we were looking in that hadn’t been gutted and rehabbed prior to sale.

Which is true – but of course, I can always find the exception: which is on a little street, not far from here.

Two units are for sale – we liked the both. The lower unit needs a little paint, a lot of wallpaper removal, and the carpet pulled up. These are physically demanding tasks, but not overly expensive to do oneself. Sure my husband has never held a paint roller – but he said he was game.

I pushed him to the next level – literally – when we visited the upstairs unit. Would we consider expanding the 3rd floor attic into a master suite next year? This was a little harder for him to imagine. But he hasn’t ruled it out.

If we spend less to buy a place, would we consider spending more money down the road to do a renovation? We know it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. The bigger question of how much – remains unknown (although we’re soliciting some feedback from a few trusted sources). I think the even bigger question is: are we fixer upper people?

Perhaps. Only time and our Home Depot credit card will know for sure. And I guess we’ll know by our self-imposed deadline of Friday morning.
Isn’t it romantic?
I printed out two copies of the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy form. One for me and one for Deeps.

Because we are in love.
The train wreck on my TV
Deeps will watch some very disturbing television shows. Fictionalize dramas about dirty cops or corrupt prisons or crazy cowboys or mobsters or whatever. He’s also a huge fan of incredibly cringe-inducing television like The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm.

But that’s fiction. Real stuff is different.

I wince at zombie movies, but can watch hours of real surgery on TV. Autopsy photos don’t freak me out – but the TMI cam on CSI makes me turn my head.

We’re clearly different people. The fake stuff is too much for me sometimes but I barely bat an eyelash at real life horrors.

Which is why I’m deeply enjoying Project Greenlight while my husband talks loudly over it, shakes his head and regularly walks out of the room (only to walk back later). He can’t believe how nuts or bizarre or totally delusional some of these people are.

So while he barely blinks when David Brent makes one horrible social and professional faux pas after another – he can’t watch an actual live human being make such an ass of himself. As do the overzealous writers and completely inarticulate director during the first two episodes.

Me – I can’t get enough. Sign me up for next week. If I had the Tivo – I’d totally get a season pass.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Book club
Did I send you a book? Did you read it yet? Just curious what you thought. Did you like it? Was it too weird?

I read a lot of weird stuff.

Well I do.
Two nice things
Do you know about two nice things? I think I invented it a long time ago when I had my first job and sometimes people were mean to me.

Imagine! Sometimes people are mean? Horrors.

I had to co-opt someone into the world of two nice things, so that I had someone to ask and had someone to tell.

Two nice things works like this:
You need to hear two nice things about yourself (for whatever reason). This is what I like to call a professional emergency situation. You will come unhinged if you do not hear the two nice things.

You ask your colleague to help you – Can you tell me two nice things about me? Or I need to hear two nice things – usually works.

Your co-worker needs to know what the H you’re talking about – so establish the rules early.

Your co-worker tells you two nice things about you – professionally. It is not acceptable for one of the nice things to be “you have really good hair.” Although, that would be acceptable as a third nice thing. Examples of professional nice things: you are creative, you are a real problem-solver, and no one else knows how to work the fax like you do.

You graciously thank them for helping to salve your wounded ego.

A couple other important things: you must be willing to reciprocate at some point. You must be gracious in your thanks, and not be all falsely modest (gee – I don’t know how to use the fax….blah).

You must not go to the “two nice things well” too often. This is for emergencies. This isn’t because you feel bad about yourself every day. Two nice things won’t fix that for you. Lastly, you must ask for two nice things.

Two nice things about you, Interweb: You’ve been extremely supportive of me during my house hunt kvetching and I don’t see you rolling your eyes too often when you read my drama-filled entries. And despite the wonky state of Blogger (like not working) many of you still attempt to leave me nice, public comments. I salute you!
The agony and the ecstasy
We’ve seen two nice houses. We were ready to make a move.

The first house was taken off the market between our first visit and our second scheduled viewing (less than 48 hours later). The owners were clearly not ready to sell. Too bad – we really liked their house. It was in a great location – we could have been very happy there.

The next day we found another house. Our very savvy broker got us in to see it first – we did our homework the night before. We made an offer. That was Thursday. Then the process I’ll call “the stringing along” happened. We would submit, they would say – we’re waiting until Monday. No one told us that prior to submitting our bid.

We revised, we re-submitted. Still no action. We let the bid expire. We re-submitted on Monday. They wanted a bidding war. As it was – we were offering them 20k more than the other unit in the build (exactly the same in every way) that had just closed in early February.

We expected either yes, no, on a counter offer. We didn’t expect that they’d refuse to answer us for five days. And that’s what happened.

In the end, we lost to the only other bidder on the place. The buyers came in much higher than us and allegedly had a tremendous amount of cash (they could nearly buy the place outright).

By Monday morning we didn’t expect we’d get the place. But we wanted some closure. Our agent called me to ask if we wanted to re-submit a bid. I gave her my best, most resounding “I guess.” She laughed.

So we’re dead inside. The process is stupid. People are greedy. Maybe we’ll get something okay. We still have three months. I think this would have been easier if we hadn’t had back-to-back ordeals with finding places we liked only to be seriously disappointed. We expect answers – not silence.

Now we expect nothing: we do our homework, we hope for the best. We watch some crappy TV.

Nobody cries, nobody hugs, and nobody learns anything.

Monday, March 21, 2005

My People
And this is why I've always said that Indiana is a nice place to be from.....
That explains it
Last night Deeps walked into the office after watching the latest episode of Deadwood.

I was looking for houses (of course). He looked kind of squeamish and was holding his side.

ME: Are you okay?
Deeps: Yeah – it’s just TV.
ME: Huh?
Deeps: There was some frontier medicine on Deadwood tonight….
ME: Oh.

I didn’t really think much of it at the time, until I read the recaplet of the episode on TWOP.

I’m totally not sorry I missed it.
The Mansons Next Door
Now that we’re looking at places with our broker, I don’t do some of the stuff I used to do – like take lots of photos. Sorry – I know, it hurts.

We saw a very nice place last week that seemed really perfect in every way. The place had just been gutted and renovated and the builder did a great job – the tile was great, the floors were actually gleaming, and the kitchen was all granite and stainless steel and sparkly.

The price was right too. I also liked the color of the house – a very vivid blue green. The street was pretty nice and the other houses looked great.

Except one.

The house next door. It was very old and hadn’t been well maintained. In fact – Deeps was convinced it was the victim of fire. I laughed.

It is a victim of time. Imagine an old gray house – and over the years no one has painted, and the paint has started to peel and the place looks very weathered. And imagine the grass is a bit overgrown, and there were approximately 40 broken chairs on the front porch.

A house doesn’t look as totally beaten up as that house from a just few years of neglect. This was decades’ worth.

Our broker commented on the new fence erected between the renovated house and the neighbors. Deeps suggested the Clampetts might live there. Upon closer inspection, I decided the Mansons probably lived there.

If the Clampetts lived there, it might be a shabby house – but at least it would be tidy.

When you see the pictures and look at the floor plans before you arrive at a place, you get a sense of the house. But until you show up – you don’t get a sense of the neighborhood. The street is great – but that house may be on the market for a while.

Nobody wants to live next door to the Mansons.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Don't feed the baby chili....

I have no idea why my nephew is hauling around a drill and clearly about to climb a ladder. I guess he's been watching too much HGTV and hates the lighting situation in the basement.

Or his mother has been drinking. I can't know and I won't judge.
Fridays with Wendy
If you’d told me two years ago that I’d go to the gym pretty regularly and that I’d like it – I would have laughed in your face. Then cut you.

If you’d told me a year ago I’d hire a personal trainer to help keep me motivated – I would have probably laughed myself to the brink of unconsciousness, then I’d cut you.

If you’d told me six months ago that I’d meet weekly with a person to make me do the stuff I avoided in gym class - including dips, pull-ups, and push-ups – I would probably call your family to perhaps investigate getting you some serious psychological help.

Then I’d cut you.

But you’d be right. I’ve been going to the gym somewhat regularly for a few years. I go to an all women’s gym and I like it. They have nice facilities. When I first signed up – I met Wendy. She’s a master trainer – a personal trainer – at the gym. She helped me get a system of exercises going as part of my introduction to the gym. She helped me to figure out what to work on, how to build endurance, strength, and stamina.

I didn’t figure I’d be able to hire her much after our “complimentary” introduction – but I liked her. She’s like a normal person. She’s not so skinny you’re worried she’ll fall over. She never said anything like “don’t forget to breathe” or any of that crap. She never wore the cute little spandex outfits.

She’s just a woman like everyone else.

As time passed and I had a little extra scratch – I’d hire her to check in on me, we’d work for an hour to see how I was doing. She’d up my weights or increase my times or reps or whatever. We’d check back every few months. We chatted – and shared – and she was nice. I actually liked her.

Also – she didn’t mind my constant complaining, joking and later cursing – during our sessions. In fact, we started to develop something of a hilarious banter during our times together. I knew we needed to get a more regular show going. I made a couple of sacrifices (like fashionable clothing) and now we meet ever Friday for an intense 30 minute session.

She makes me do pull ups. I was shocked. Not shocked enough to not try – but I did give her the look I give her at least once per session: What have I ever done in the past that would lead you to believe I could do this now? Actually – I say that pretty regularly. And then she says “just try – then we can adjust” and I do it – and I don’t die. I did two sets of pull-ups with the Gravitron and I didn’t die.

Then she made me do old-school dips. I didn’t die. Then we did push-ups. I told her I spent two years of High School avoiding these activities – and here I was paying someone to force me to do it. On how the worm has turned.

She’s not just my trainer – she is also like my therapist. We talk the entire time (I know it’s her sneaky way of gauging my level of exertion – if you can still talk while exercising that is usually a sign that you’re building your stamina or whatever). She’s heard all the same stories you’ve probably heard (read) Interweb. And of course, she is intimately familiar with the home buying process we’re experiencing.

In fact, I referred her to my mortgage broker. She usually has a lot of specific questions – which is good. And it distracts me from some horrifying butt press I’m doing that will make me walk funny the next day.

Friday I was pretty frustrated. I told her that at the beginning of our session – she decided to channel the energy into seeing how far she could push me. I would do a set of some exercise – she’d up the weights. I’d do it again. She’d up it again. Then I’d be tired, she’d laugh. She’d kicked me up to a new level.

After about 15 minutes of this – she told me to wait a second and wandered off, and then she came back and motioned for me to follow her. I walked behind her to a slightly darkened room where I’ve seen Yoga classes.

“This should help with your frustration,” Wendy said. “And it’ll help work your arms and your waist.”

A giant heavy bag hung from the ceiling. I knew what I had to do.

She slapped some gloves on me – showed me a couple of things to try – and then we went to work. I wailed on that thing with all my might. She said my right was stronger, but quickly my left filled in and was almost as strong. I moved her a few times as I hit the bag.

Then we did jabs and danced around the bag. We pounded and pummeled and I was almost totally exhausted when it was over. Beating on the bag for a while was just the ticket.

“We have to do this every week, now you know,” I told her. She smiled.

“I’ve been waiting for the right moment,” she replied.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Head out of the sand
I’m tired of looking for houses. I’m more tired of telling you about it. I casually mentioned that I was house hunting to people sometimes – what a mistake. They’re just trying to be friendly; they want to know how things are going.

I try to dodge the subject.

So let’s talk about other things. If you come here regularly – I feel pretty confident that you are just as bored with this topic as I am.

And in my zeal to find a home – I’m missing out on other stuff, like Cuddles adventures in renovation (to make way for babies!). Shall I paint a picture: pregnant lady, two toddlers, work crew, and a nice house that has been (temporarily) transformed into a disaster area.

Hilarity should ensue.

And maybe Slim has retired. I have to do a little more research on this. The woman has been trying to retire for years – maybe this is the one that takes. I’ll keep you informed.

And my friend, K, has a new blog about her adventures with her two kids. She and I were roommates in college for 2 years. Sometimes I’m amazed to think that a woman whose hair I used to hold back after a few too many beers (I don't know if that technically happened. But she did take care of me when I had what later became known as the redhead ebola flu) is a mother – and not just a mother but like a super good mother.

At best, I’m a borderline pet owner. Thankfully the cat is developing a yowling tendency – so she reminds me to feed her and clean out the Poop-a-matic 3000. Of course, I’m starting to suspect that the cat is taking advantage of my distractions and eating extra food. She seems a little fatter than usual.

I kind of melted the two new canisters I bought to store some Indian food. Well – I mean they aren’t really “dishwasher” safe if they go in looking like canisters and come out looking like abstract art. Right?

Lastly – have you heard about the fun of Evacuation Day? I missed out on the parade and the floats (okay – I don’t know if there is one….but still. Shouldn’t there be?)

Next week’s entries will be better. Promise.
No one’s more happy than you has had a good quarter. We’ve seen a steady uptick in traffic – as more visitors come each day looking for exciting stories (or perhaps photos) about men’s bulges, 200 pound tumors or other… unusual topics.

And despite the sketchy (near daily) problems with posting (both entries and comments) the site continues to day ones of people each day.

There has been not traffic increase based on references to Taco Bell despite the best efforts of the cast and crew of

There has been a 75% increase in the rate of annoyance during house hunting season.

There has been a 400% drop in discussions involving television, movies or “my imaginary boyfriends.”

The three attempts to fully switch to de-caf have been utterly unsuccessful.

All 4 readers of are bored with the graphics and “really f’ing tired of reading about house – especially if she forgets to post pictures.”
I am trying to break your heart
We are just a few days into the “intense” search – and I dream of having my heart broken. Just so that it will be easier. Yes or no are acceptable answers – the not knowing is the worst.

In just two days we have found houses. And we lost one and will probably lose another. We didn't do anything wrong. It's not us - it's you.

I want heartache so that I don’t get too excited. I want to be disappointed so that my hopes never soar so high. So that I don’t tell anyone we found a place. So that I don’t stare at the phone hoping it will be my broker calling. So that my husband I have something else to talk about.

Break my heart – so that I can be normal again.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I read a book
I cannot believe I did – but I did. Perhaps it is telling that so much of my non-work life is consumed with the hunt. But it took me approximately 4000 years to finish this book.

Penn Jillette is a funny, talented man. I’m not totally sure I appreciated his writing; perhaps it was my state of mind. Perhaps it was him. Whatever. The book – entitled Sock - was dense and challenging and not at all breezy like I expected.

I mean – it is the tale of murder and mayhem told from the perspective of a sock monkey. I didn’t think it would be so hard to get into. Usually I can read 30-50 pages during any part of my commute. I was lucky if I could get through 12-15 of his book.

Maybe it was the font?

I had a hard time getting into the book – and frankly – I think that is based on a creative decision that Jillette makes. He never reveals much about the protagonist – except the weird childhood observations of the sock monkey. And he’s hardly a reliable narrator. Plus the monkey constantly comments on how the reader should be feeling at various points of the story – which is all very Meta, but rather condescending.

I get enough anvils falling from the sky on TV. I don’t need them in my books.

Still – I think men will enjoy the work. I think Jillette’s tendency to go off on wild tangents (some might call them rants) that probably appeal more to men (or libertarians, or both) make his book more interesting. I wish I could more clearly articulate why I think men will think it more interesting.

The best way I could describe it is – the three stooges. As a woman I appreciate them, but I never really love them quite the same way men do. I realize it’s overly simplistic. But let’s be honest here – it’s a wonder I a) made a non-house related entry and b) finished a book at all.

I go back to the library next week.
Fresh, Hot Death
I think the secret to the insane Boston housing market is this: people can’t stand to do this too long, so they just start bidding like crazy people.

I am now one of them. We haven’t actually bid on a place yet. I am already incredibly tired of this process. I don’t do anything except have the hot tension of “oh my god” in the back of my head all the time.

I have developed a weird knot at the base of my skull. It was not there on Monday. I just want my life back. Is that so much to ask?

I know now that I am weak. I hate this stuff. I just want to buy something and paint the kitchen. I’m a simple woman.

Finally the weather has cleared (but it is still cold) and so the “season” is in full swing.

Mothers – hide your daughters!

We did see a place we were very interested in and we wanted to go back (tomorrow) to see it. Everything was set for us to see it in the morning. Then our realtor (she’s fantastic!) called a few hours ago to let us know the viewing was cancelled. Apparently she’d just talked to the broker for the sellers. They have decided to take the house off the market.

They didn’t have an offer from anyone – that we know of - and nothing major had happened to cause this. But it happened. It is their right. We figured they weren’t ready to sell. Having a couple of viewings by the same couple in less than 48 hours probably tipped them off that we are interested.

Or rather, were interested.

But that is in the past. Now we move onward and upward – again. Perhaps this early heartbreak was good. We’ll be tougher and more decisive in the future. We will remember to be rational first then check to see if the place works for us on an emotional level.

We are armed with the checklist – on our special legal size clipboard. We have reviewed the primary and secondary list of requirements. We will remember to move the money from our savings account to our checking account in a timely manner. We will always bring the checkbook.

And the tape measure.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

You remind me of me
This entry reminds me of the quarterly reports I used to make about myself, in the third person, as

Because I keep telling you - there is something wrong with me.
Michael Stipe really knows his way around town
I grinded my teeth so hard last night I woke up around 3:30 with a throbbing headache. I hope this is over soon.

We found a couple places we like – we’re going back tomorrow. Would you believe I was so shocked we found something borderline acceptable that we didn’t take any photos?

Well it’s true. And that we so didn’t expect to see a place we liked that I paid our Italy trip off and sent cash off to our ING account – leaving us without enough liquidity to cover an earnest money check? Because I’m a big dummy. Luckily the ING account transfers are fairly quick – I think the money will hit tomorrow or Friday.

House hunting is officially consuming all of my free time. (I should note that wedding planning consumed about a weekend for me.) We don’t talk about anything else. We spend hours each day looking at things online and making lists to send to the broker. And reviewing the lists the broker sent to us.

I have like 14 maps, I have spreadsheets, I have budget forecasts, I have like a priority list, a checklist, and our dream list. I have all kinds of new phone numbers programmed into my speed dial – mortgage broker, our realtor, our realtor’s partner, and the realtor’s office manager.

Last night I dreamed REM became our realtors. Mike Mills was super organized and found us lots of interesting places. And Michael Stipe really knew his way around the area. He never got lost. Peter Buck just like, answered phones or something. (heh)

Eventually they found us a house and we helped them to adopt a baby.

What? I have no idea about that last part.

I will say this – the house hunt has been really educational. We each have a lot of weird ideas and concerns and hang-ups. I am mostly hung up on the fact that I look for speedy feedback from Deeps.

I should note that when we see a movie I always ask – what did you think? – afterwards. He smiles and tells me he needs some time to process it. I usually find out about two days later.

Can you imagine what it is like to see a house with this man? I love him so.

I could have white hair by Saturday.
On my mind
At this point – all I’m interested in talking about is Real Estate. This makes for very boring discussions with me. And even more blog entries. This is an approximation of what is happening in my brain at this moment.

Maybe we saw a place. Maybe it was okay. Maybe it has a bad foundation. Maybe the roof is bad. Maybe we could go through that wall and then build out some kind of master suite. Maybe our giant bed could fit in here (but probably not).

Maybe our kids could play down here. Maybe we could become people that barbecue. Maybe we could get one of those cool electric lawn mowers. Maybe we will grow jalapenos in the back garden. Maybe we will buy a snow blower.

Maybe we can pull down the wall paper. Maybe there are hardwood floors under that carpet. Maybe we can paint the paneling yellow.

Maybe we can do this. Maybe we can afford this. Maybe we can walk to the park and sit by the pond. Maybe we can have a life here.

Maybe we can get one of those big TVs.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Secrets and fire sauce
I cannot tell you how many times this conversation has happened in my life.

Person: I am starving.
Me: Yeah – me too.
We drive around and end up passing a Taco Bell.
Person: I know this is totally wrong – but I love Taco Bell.
Me: Me too!
Person: Seriously – it is my favorite fast food place. I crave it all the time.
Me: Me too!

Now what I don’t share with the person – but I will share with you, Interweb is this. I have driven 30 miles (each way!) to make a “run for the border.”

I also surveyed the Taco Bells in a 10-mile radius of my old apartment to determine which one was the best Taco Bell. When I was happy with the results I proclaimed that particular Bell – Kitchen Two – and then would suggest we eat there 1-3 times a week. Deeps always went along with this.

We do not like the Taco Bells that are combo stores – with like a KFC. I don’t want a Taco and a hunk of fried chicken. That’s weird. And the tacos taste funny. Don’t laugh.

Sometimes we go to the mall just to eat at Taco Bell. If I get my hair cut (at the mall) I will always bring home tacos for the family. Because that would only be right.

Yes, I know. We have a problem.
Tonight’s the night
We are going to see a couple of promising places. Sadly, they are not where I want to live – but they are my back-up choice.

I’m annoyed that I’m already at my back-up choice. I would tell you that it is very annoying to have a budget of approximately 40 bazillion dollars and still not be able to get into a 3-bedroom condo in your first choice.


Still. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll post pictures. Maybe I will bring my checkbook. Maybe we’ll offer to give away all of our money tonight.

Either way, I’m getting pizza.
Magic of Red
I have red hair – which isn’t so special in Boston, I’ll be honest. And I’ve had red hair since I was like 16 when I decided that living in between two colors (strawberry blonde) wasn’t working for me anymore. So I went all the way to red.

Now I like the red. The red is my friend – but sometimes it is my enemy. Sometimes it is the hobo/freakshow/gushy old lady beacon.

And this woman sums it up much better than I can.

Sidebar – I think there’s so much residual dye in my skull that my hair is actually growing in red now… weird.
I’m still not that in to you
Deeps asked me when I was breaking up with Blogger.

Everyone knows our dirty secret – we’re on the outs. Maybe you tried to leave a comment? You poor person – comments barely function. I can’t comment on your comments, when you are fortunate enough to get the stupid thing to work.

IT IS OVER. Almost.

I’m still struggling with some technical issues. Which is really code for “I think I’m a big idiot and doing something wrong.” I’m trying to teach myself some SQL stuff on the fly. I can sometimes do this because I need it for like 15 minutes, then I never need it again. It’s like a super power.
St. Paddy’s
It is Thursday. I work in Boston. Someone will probably uke on the sidewalk. I’ll be sure to take pictures.

At least they have the decency not to dye the river green.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Open House – Bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse
We are developing a ritual for Sundays. We get a big list of places together, consult the map, drink some coffee and plan.

I hit the gym. Deeps prints out pages. And by the time I get home, we head out for breakfast and to start visiting places.

Today drove into Central Square about an hour before a very promising open house. We wandered through the square to an Indian place Deeps had seen before but had never tried.

He was very interested in trying the chaat at the place. I could explain the magic of chaat – but the New York Times does a much better job. It’s like comfort food – meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, awesome pizza – that’s what chaat is like for Deeps.

I had some chicken tikka kebab - as that is one of my three standard test dishes for any Indian restaurant. The place wasn’t great, the food wasn’t so good, the ambience left much to be desired (you can turn on your heat – especially if the place gets colder during the course of the meal – jerks).

And then we wandered around to open houses. Things were going fine. We saw a couple nice places – not for us, but perfect (possibly) for the French Connection and CC. We called them and swapped info.

Then we saw the weird place for half a million that was mostly an oddly shaped basement. Charming indeed.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so well. I told Deeps I needed to go home – immediately.

We made it home – I took some… action and thought I was okay. We kept going (at my insistence). We made it about a mile – when we had to pull over again. Bad Indian food violently attacked my digestive tract – I was suffering.

We ran errands. I thought it was over. It wasn’t. I told Deeps to drop me at home. Where I could curl up in a ball and die.

I can’t say for sure if my gut’s reaction was tied directly to the bad tandoori marinade. Or if it was assisted by the suggestion that we visit a place that needed: a new roof, new walls, new electrical work, new windows, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, new closets, new doors, and possibly a new foundation – it could be ours for the sweet price of just $490K.

Now that I think of that list and the realtor’s smug, straight face – yeah… I feel a little more ill.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Love thy neighbor
An alert to my neighbors – I am putting many of you on notice.

To the people on Garden who never clear a path to the crosswalk – despite the fact that they have a corner lot and are legally (and let’s face it, morally) obligated to clear it. You suck. I have had to walk in the street on numerous occasions – risking life and limb – so that I didn’t take a header on your icy, deadly sidewalks. I know at least once you’ve seen me walk around your sidewalk. You acted like this was perfectly okay. It is not.

To the people in the big fancy house on Raymond Street – you can shovel. Or you can pay a kid. Or have your butler do it – I don’t care. I struggled to get through the slop in front of your giant house, and I saw an old man try to walk down the sidewalk and he nearly died.

Died I say. Get on it – or face my wrath.

Landlady – would it kill you to thank us for shoveling during ever single snowstorm we’ve had this season? What about the near daily salting and de-icing of the front walk because you installed the run-off from the sump pump of doom right in front of the steps? That is awesome during the winter. I just skate into oncoming traffic. It’s a wonder I haven’t broken my ankle or worse…

Neighbors with overgrown hedges down the way – seriously trim those things. They have thorns and they hit me in the face. I walk by every day and curse your name and very existence.

To the guy who parks his VW Jetta in front of #2 cop’s house – move that during snow emergencies. Seriously. I haven’t been able to park on the street in front of my apartment building in over 2 months because you don’t move your car and our street doesn’t get sufficiently plowed. I hate you and your family.

To the people next door – you have really improved your shoveling technique over the past couple of months. I salute you. I know that Deeps and I shame the whole neighborhood into removing their snow – but you have showed vast improvement. You include trenches and pathways to easily cross the street or to use the crosswalk. And your pathway is much wider than it was before. We thought you’d been hiring a small kid to shovel your walk – turns out you have a bad shovel. When we move, we may give you our good shovel as a gift.

Until then – treat yourself with a new awesome, regulation size snow shovel. Because the shovel you use to dig holes in the back garden doesn’t work quite as well on a foot of snow.

You are becoming a better neighbor – the others could learn from you.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Going to the Library
I need to make my reading list people.

For the li-berry.

Ideas? Suggestions? Please share.

I am almost finished with Penn Jillette’s really weird novel Sock about a brutal serial killer a the two guys who try to catch the killer. Told from the perspective of a sock monkey.

So, I think it is official – I will read anything.
House dreams – part 714
More dreams. Apparently they often feature celebrities. But of course!

I recall that I had to enter a house, via a side window – apparently the owners thought doors were gauche - that had a shower and kitchen in the same room. And that was it.

And apparently Fifty Cent (aka Fiddy around our house) gave me a referral for a guy who could “hook my kitchen up.”



I’m just not that in to you
I’m thinking about doing a big redesign of the blog without pity – primarily because I’m so frustrated with Blogger.

I have had a lot of issues the past 4 months. And while I appreciate that it is a popular site and tool – and that it is a free service – I would be much happier if the Blogger folks acknowledged they were suffering from growing pains.

If your overall level and quality of service is suffering because business is booming –just tell me. I will still respect you in the morning.

But you won’t so I’m thinking about moving on to something better. You, dear users/visitors/imaginary Interweb friends, will not suffer as a result. I promise.

Who knows when I’ll have time to do this? We are trying to buy a house, perhaps you’ve heard about it.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fun at weddings
I’ve been to a few really great weddings – and a couple of kind of “meh” affairs.

Your day is your day – I will never take that away from you. But some people throw a big party for their friends and family, and others bend to the whim of their families’ demands.

I’ve had two weddings – one was my way and one was their way. I did not have fun at the wedding that I didn’t plan; but that wasn’t the point was it?

The last wedding we went to was a couple of summers back. The couple was – still is – very good friends of ours. We love them and hauled across America to be there for the big day.

The venue was gorgeous. The food was great. We had a really good time.

As we were walking down the street to the car, Deeps confessed that he’d had a run-in with some of couple’s older guests.

I should note that he was wearing a beautiful, custom-made suit to what we thought was a more formal wedding that it turned out to be. Or at least – our interpretation of an evening wedding and the appropriate attire didn’t mesh with what some other people wore. I wore a ball gown (!) and a big freaky diamond bling necklace that I’d gotten as a gift for the Indian wedding.

Apparently he was chatting with the guests on the way back from the men’s room. The guests politely made small talk. And then asked Deeps when the appetizers would be coming out and if he’d get them a drink.

He said it took him a second to process what happened. Then he said something like, “Oh I’m a guest at this wedding,” blah blah.

I was furious. It was not an honest mistake. It was like some horrible scene from a bad movie. I knew why he waited until we were blocks away.

What played out as a small embarrassment for a couple of people could have turned into a whole big scene if I’d whirled in there with my prom dress demanding blood.

Because you know – like TNT – I know drama. We’re really fun at weddings.
House Dreams – part 319
Last night I dreamed we bought a house. It was a really great house

We had a huge party.

Our friends accidentally burned the house down.



We love squirrels
I realize that besides the cat, the most frequently mentioned animals in the blog are squirrels.

I see them all the time – well, almost. When it isn’t still freaking winter.


Anyway, please enjoy this legit flying squirrel sighting in a neighborhood not too far from mine. SQUIRREL!

[link via the Universal Hub]
Two conversations about one thing
This bugs me.

I hate when I do this – I can’t stop thinking about these seemingly innocuous conversations I had yesterday.

I was having a casual, passing in the hallway conversation with a guy. He was talking about stuff: his family, a book he read, whatever. We talked briefly about his new child. He mentioned before his wife got pregnant he had no interest in kids. He knew he’d like his own kid, he said.

And after the baby came he became interested in kids in general – be they his or someone else’s kid.

At the time I thought: wow. That’s a big risk isn’t it? What if you had not had this change of heart? What if you had a kid and still didn’t like kids?

A few hours later I had another conversation in similar, casual - hey how you doing? – circumstances. Another guy was talking about his kids. We talked about kids we knew – I know a lot of kids – and how amazing kids can be. Then I just kind of joked that it is still nice for me to hand them back when they get cranky or need a diaper change or when things get tough.

He just looked at me like – what are you saying? Then he said: You just don’t get it then.

I was rather taken aback by this statement.

He wandered off and I had a coffee. I stewed.


I get that if I want to have a kid, I need to be ready. We need to be ready. I’m not doing this on my own. No hand’s off dad parenting allowed. And if we have a kid it should be under the circumstances I think will foster a kid the best way possible: complete and utter devotion to your child.

Everything else comes second. I see that just watching strangers with their kids. They don’t worry about books or vacations or if the cleaners will get that stain out of their favorite jacket. The ego must be subjugated and denied. All else falls away – and you are not the center of your world any longer. A small, helpless person that doesn’t sleep all night and has colds and gets colicky and has questions and needs constant care and attention subsumes your previous desires.

That may sound extreme, I realize. Not all kids require this much attention. Not everyone turns into crazy super-parent. I understand that. But you really don’t know until the kid arrives do you? So if you’re not prepared to be utterly committed, maybe you’re not ready.

I’m not ready. I have stuff I would like to do before turning my focus outward. I’m still working on my inward stuff. I want to make sure I don’t carry weird baggage into a new and complex relationship that will shape another human being.

I won’t ever be perfect, I may never think I’m “ready”, we may have 13 children – I may never have any kids.

But I get it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Good times at the Library
When I was in college I was something of a repeat library offender. I could not return a book on time to save my life. In fact, when I tried to request transcripts to transfer during my freshman year of college – I was told I had to pay my $100 library fine first.


And then when I was about to graduate, I had to cough up dough for library fines (okay – and some parking tickets).

When we moved to Chicagoland, we lived pretty close to a very schmancy library. It had a huge hanging sculpture in the lobby that took up almost the whole ceiling. It was amazing and spectacular.

The problem with that library is that they only had like three books – I attributed that to the high costs of public art. But I like public art, so I just ordered books from Amazon. (Thank god for the Interweb - I would have become illiterate otherwise.)

So I have not had a library card in approximately nine years. Last week I went over to the central branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square to sign up for a card.

Because I can rent me some books for free! And I can pick my own pretty color card from three choices!

Of course I got there and I forgot what libraries are like. This one is – of course – historic and gorgeous. Chock full of classic architecture, columns, winding staircases and hallways – you can spend hours there. And you can see art – like Sargent’s famous murals – as well as amazing craftsmanship from the marble floors to the ornately sculpted cornices.

Which I say is not bad for the price of – free.

I do have to make a list of books or authors - I can't just wander in there and go... huh, what do I want to read.

It's not like shopping at Amazon. There's no - hey Alyssa - you've been shopping online since 1993... we know so much about what you read, you should totally try this. Nope - you need to know some Dewey Decimal stuff - or at least the name of the person. My previous technique has been... click, click, click until I see something I like.

Still the li-berry is fun. And free! And you can borr'y some movies too.

I do like to talk like that to the fine, upstanding (obnoxious) librarians behind the fancy wooden desk.

"I shore dooo like the li-berry," I said. I got such a look. I never get that look from Amazon.
Righteous indignation link of the day
It’s been a couple days – mostly because I’ve been righteously indignant with the weather.

Dear Winter:
Please go die.

Dear public transportation:
I wish we could be better friends

Dear Spring:
Where the $@^% are you? God! If it snows one more time, I think my husband may actually become unhinged.

Oh yeah – commence your righteous indignation. She may be right – he may be crazy.
People are getting their books
I’ve heard from three people so far – they got their books over the past couple of days. Hurrah!

I did send them “media mail” – so maybe it takes longer? I expect you’ll have your books in the next couple of days if you haven’t gotten them yet.

Meanwhile, I am still reading and trying to think nice thoughts and not focus on the stink too much. Apparently talking about how bad stuff smells all the time (in your blog) can earn you a bad reputation.

Curse my bloodhound's nose.
So cold…
Have I mentioned our very high heating costs? They are high – more than double what we paid in our old apartment. I believe that is because our old apartment actually had some form of insulation.

That cheap plastic stuff you put over the windows here doesn’t seem to have quite the same warming power. And thanks to some freakish pattern of moisture and “clippers” – we had a real humdinger of a storm today. This morning was about 35-40 degrees with some rain. By late afternoon the temperature had plunged and the sleet came. Then the ice.

I met some out-of-town co-workers for drinks at a nearby bar – within 90 minutes the world’s scariest microburst had started. We all agreed it was time to go home. That was around 7:15.

I walked outside and was hit hard by a big gust of wind… with sleet. I started sliding down the sidewalk to the T stop just a couple of blocks away. Then the wind really picked up and blinded me. I got that horrible cold induced headache you get when you eat ice cream too fast. I couldn’t see – my eyes were watering and my eyelashes were freezing together.

Sometime later – around 8:30 I finally made it on the bus at Harvard Square. I was cold. I was hungry. I was tired. I got off the bus and walked – no ran – the four blocks to my house. The cold was so biting I had trouble breathing. My lungs burned. And I kept moving I was so cold.

At some point I started laughing – weird, hysterical laughter - and then I thought I was going to cry a little. I thought I should – the tears would be hot.

And then I almost got mowed down by a snowplow – and I kept going. I slid a little. Then I couldn’t see.

Then I was home.

I stripped off snow-covered coats and hats and boots. I walked over to the thermostat and I turned the heat up. If I have to pay $250 a month for my stupid heat – I’m going to be warm at least one night.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Did you miss it the first time?
Please let me reveal my deeply headed nerd love of history and especially ancient Egypt.

I remember when I was a very small child being told about the utter majesty of the Tut tour from the late 70s. I was too young to see it – and I feel pretty confident it didn’t blaze through Indiana. But what do I know? I was like 4.

Don’t you remember the iconic cover of National Geographic? It captured my imagination and has held it ever since.

But behold – the tickets are on sale for a new tour. Sure, they are for LA only – but I might have to buy some tickets. There are only four stops on the schedule so far, but I expect that will change.

Me – I’ve got friends in LA and Chicago. I might have to book early….
Public transportation deodorizer
The T is a smelly place. When I get on it is not inherently smelly, but then the stink sneaks up on you.

There you are reading your weird novel when you turn your head just slightly and catch a whiff. You look around expecting to see a mass of rotting flesh or a pile of feces or possibly a rutting bear. Instead you just see regular looking people.

What did you people eat?

Yesterday a nice looking man sat next to me and he smelled like he’d just eat handfuls of onions and garlic. A delicious scent if you’ve shared a meal with your sweetie – but unpleasant in the small confines of the T.

I noticed that the Axe people are doing massive promotions at T stops around the city – they put up giant signs. I would prefer it if they’d hand out some little samples.

Perhaps the Wrigley people would like to hand out some gum samples. Anything – please!

Otherwise I’m going to have to turn into one of those weird English ladies you read about in Victorian novels and start carrying a perfumed hankie.
Is this unusual?
I’m dreaming about houses – a lot.

And not just houses, but stuff that goes wrong.

A few weeks ago I dreamed that Deeps bought us a single room in a huge apartment – and then had ripped out part of the wall to expose the outside. Oh and we paid a $1MM for it.

This dream classically illustrates my primary anxieties: we can’t find anything that is livable and that we won’t be able to really afford what we buy.

The dream I had last night was a little different. I blame that book I read a few weeks ago.

I dreamed that we found a really big place – it needed work, but we thought we could handle it. Then Peter O’Toole shows up and starts talking about stuff that is wrong – like otherworldly wrong – with the place. And then we get some poltergeists in the form of Eddie Albert Jr. (circa his Butterflies Are Free era) and a lady I used to work with at the Tribune about 8 years ago. They were haunting our house.

The only way we could get rid of the poltergeists, according to Peter O’Toole, was to break every single thing in our house. And that might work.

We did that – the ghosts/poltergeists were like … fine, we’ll leave. But we reserve the right to haunt your new home. So I guess we had to move.

Then I woke up.

So Interweb homebuyer people – did you have lots of weird dreams about buying houses when you were looking? Or am I off my rocker?

Okay let me rephrase that – off my rocker more than usual?


Monday, March 07, 2005

Surprises when you’re 30
I told Deeps that since he turns 30 on Friday he has to start taking a multi-vitamin.

He made a face. I should note that the man eats like a 12-year-old. He often suggests we have cake – for dinner. He eats cheese every day. He’s never met a Dorito he didn’t like. He never exercises. And yet he is approximately 10 pounds heaver than he was during his freshman year of college. Puzzling.

Anyway – I know how the old metabolism works and it catches up to everyone eventually. Which I reminded him when I raised the issue of the vitamin.

Deeps: Are you going to crush it up and hide it in my food?
ME: Why – because you’re seven?
Deeps: (rude face)
ME: I’ll buy you some Flintstones chewables if you’re going to be a baby about it.

That shut him up. Enjoy your damn health, jerky.
We don’t know where our house will be…

But we are fortunate enough to know where to obtain hoohas should the need arise. It is nice to know that I can fulfill our housewares and hoohas needs in the same place.


Open Houses – Week… I’ve lost track: Fresh Hell
By all accounts March is the start of the big selling/buying season in real estate. Because people like to move over the summer to make transitions with school and work easier.

A popular theory I’ve heard from up to one person is that as long as there is snow on the ground, the market doesn’t really “catch fire” like it normally does during the “high” real estate season.

I don’t know what any of this means – except we go to see houses we can’t afford or that are really, really crappy.

Next weekend we will maybe browse places that our realtor will suggest. Of course, we have snow predicted for nearly every day this week. I cannot tell you how depressed Deeps is that he might have a “white birthday” – and he doesn’t like the cracks about his hair being white to match the snow.

I think it is hilarious – but as evidenced in this blog, I am basically a mean person.

Anyway – I would like to add we did see some nice places. They just were not for us. We also continued the trend of – how much are you asking for this cluttered place? And my favorite: does this dirty laundry (that covers everything) come with the place or do I need to increase my bid?

Don’t these people watch HGTV? Put your crap away – you will get a better bid.

I am very close to announcing a boycott for any houses/condos that require me to take off my shoes before entering. There is no dignity in that.
So Sorry
Dear Boston,

I am really sorry for whatever small role I may have inadvertently played in your horrible winter.

Look – I realize it isn’t like the most horrible ever – but apparently it is on track to crack the top 5. At least, that’s what the dudes over at NECN tell me. I find their forecasts more accurate than the people on other channels. They are no Tom Skilling – but who can be in this region?

But the reason for my apology; it started simply enough. I finally learned from my fellow New Englanders about the magical warm boot powers of LL Bean. It isn’t like the only way to go – but so many of you do; I figured I should follow your lead. You people are nothing if not pragmatic.

I ordered them after we had that big nasty 28” dropping blizzard in January. They came several days later – as the snow had already started to melt a bit. I will be honest – I was a bit disappointed. Mostly because I had these new, magical boots and I silently wished for a little more snow so that I’d get good use out of them this season.

I think that’s where things might have gone wrong. Sure some people will blame it on the arctic highs, the resilience of El Nino, the jet stream – and I am a woman of science – I acknowledge the role played by these factors. But I also take responsibility for my role.

And for that, I am sorry. If you are tired of shoveling and the snow – well… please accept my deepest apologies.

If it is any consolation – I was totally wrong about the World Series.

Favorite topics of discussion with the in-laws
They came to visit this weekend – to mark Deeps’ upcoming birthday. God – what a fun weekend.

And by fun I mean awkward and excruciating. Now – nearly 10 hours after they departed my husband and I are almost speaking again. Their visits are good for our marriage.

1. My weight
2. My father’s Parkinson’s disease
3. Her illnesses
4. The glory that is her single, perfect child – Deeps
5. Problems with “lady parts”
6. Whether or not I like Indian food
7. The weather and how after living in Boston for 3 winters, we do not understand how weather works… Deeps’ father has no way of knowing that my super-secret nickname is Doppler Girl… but it is, because I have magical forecasting powers
8. And late-comer…. Babies – we should have between 7-12 children because the in-laws “love kids” (I have no evidence to support this statement)
9. Weird gifts we left behind on our last visit
10. God

Did you know God/god loves them so much he/she/it made good weather for them? Yep it is true. According to them.

And don’t we love weird perfumes they bought somewhere? Of course. I mean – they have now known me for … well over 8 years. I am always talking about how much I love Enjoli perfume.

Always. Even in my sleep. When I’m not muttering about how much I wish I had not left behind the baby-carriage candle from a baby shower I did not even attend. I needed it complete the look I was going for in the living room.

Jeez – this is a lot bitterer than I planned. This is the very long version of "these people drive me bananas."

Well, I haven’t blogged for a while – so don’t look a gift entry in the mouth.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Days of Stress and Freak outs
Friday morning we met with the buyer’s broker realtor. He’s an extremely nice man. Deeps and I spoke with him and his team – three other people – about topics from how many bathrooms we need, are we going to have kids.

I rolled my eyes and asked if he’d been talking with Cuddles. He looked at me with a puzzled expression.

The thing you don’t really think about when you talk with a realtor is that you enter into a weird like therapy session. Because you go in thinking that real estate is a pretty boring topic; dispassionate in all areas – money, taxes, fees, etc. And yet you quickly start talking about your hopes and dreams for your life – as they manifest in your search for a home.

You hope to have a place for a library, and maybe a garage. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little garden? We need two full bathrooms – so that guests can feel more comfortable when they visit.

And just like that you’ve moved from the boring stuff (taxes and school districts) to the blank canvas of your future.

We enjoyed our time with the broker, he is incredibly energetic and knowledgeable – he’s got a good support system of contacts as well. I feel pretty comfortable moving forward with him. Deeps actually said “I like the guy” which is almost unheard of in such transactions.

We ran some numbers with him and realized that we can take a hit on rent for a month and end up moving into a place earlier – thus making an offer earlier – which means we could probably get into a place by early summer. This made sense and the numbers worked and suddenly we realized that we could do this in the next 6 weeks.


We spent about two hours speaking with him – then headed off to the office. Deeps dropped me at work. My head was splitting. I was so utterly overwhelmed and over stimulated and desperate for a cup of coffee – I could hardly speak during the drive.

Deeps was quiet for a long time. I couldn’t tell what his position on the whole situation was.

He turned to me and said, “Well Red – I think we’re going to buy a house.”

The hunt is on in earnest.


Blind item from Deeps: His first blog entry - probably his last

Deeps emailed this to me last night - I did a bit of editing for content - but thought it was hilarious and very, very bloggy. I'm not even sure who he is talking about - but who cares? It is funny. He took entries from the best of Craigslist and tried to weave them into a story. Because he loves me. So shut it.

Warning: not all links are safe for work or small children.

...And clearly it's because she doesn't have good gay friends. I mean, sure, she's not a superhero or anything, but she's got to remember that there's someone for everyone, even the average guys. And she needs to realize that the dude you regularly refer to as the Mothertrucker’s quirks are not amusing, they are creepy. Nevertheless, if this whole thing goes down (what are they doing again? Spawning?), maybe we can get her a nice dog to keep her company when it all goes horribly wrong. If everyone pitches in we could even get her a washing machine. But definitely not a cat...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Swimming with sharks
My lovely friend, Em, is getting married in a couple months. Deeps and I are flying to Florence for her wedding to the always charming and delightful Tro.

Em and I speak at least 3x a week about the wedding – I’m constantly fishing for good material.

She mentioned that the wedding coordinator they hired to organize the “destination wedding” had sent her a bid for “hair and make-up” for the event. The bid was high – almost $600. Em balked at the cost. She is a simple, beach-loving gal with gorgeous hair and wears little make-up.

I suggested she take a trip to a cosmetics counter or to Sephora to get some suggestions on evening make-up and daytime looks. This way she could get a make-over, see how to apply the various cosmetics, figure out what look she liked best, and buy whatever she thought worked well.

I suggested a similar trip to a hair salon where she could pay to get her hair “styled” for a formal event – watching carefully so that she could reproduce it in Italy.

Em thought these suggestions were good as she had no idea where to start on either the cosmetics or hair front.

She called me the next day. “You will not believe what happened to me when I went to Neiman Marcus yesterday,” she said.

She confided that she’d gone to return something she bought on some kind of clearance sale – thinking she should take back something that she wouldn’t really wear and despite the sale was still pretty costly. Then she walked by a giant cosmetics counter where a few women were waiting around.

She mentioned that the Neimans was in PV; deserted on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

I started to laugh.

Em politely asked a woman behind the counter what number she could call to make an appointment for a make-over as she was interested in purchasing cosmetics for her wedding.

I interrupted her, “I’ll call that mistake number one. You should only talk to these people in terms of day or evening wear. Never tie it to a specific event.”

She snorted. “I know that now…” She continued. She said it happened so fast – suddenly she was swarmed by upwards of four women – each ready to perform various make-over activities. By the time it was over she said “I looked really good – but then… they just asked for my card and didn’t give me a total.”

I really started laughing hard now. “I am so sorry I ever suggested this to you – you shouldn’t go into a place like that alone.”

“I have like a bunch of make-up now – two different kinds of concealer; bronzing powder; blush; foundation; three eye shadows; lipstick and lip liner – and of course… the brushes,” she said gravely.

“Oh god – brushes are so expensive too. What was the grand total?” I asked.

She said she was stunned to see a receipt with a total in the $300+ range.

“I can take this back, right?” she asked. “I’m going to have to go to a different Neimans – I don’t want the make-up mafia to come after me.”

But Em has learned her lesson – we have a date set-up for her next trip to Boston. I’ll supervise any interactions with the women behind the counter.

“I research cars and technology and computers,” she said. “I would never walk into a place blind and get upsold like that – but God, those women were unstoppable.”

Let this be a lesson to you.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Where have you been all my life?
My “signature” drink – if I have such a thing – is a whiskey. Neat.

I used to drink whiskey sours for some reason, but I figured why beat around the bush? Just have your whiskey.

As a woman, I get a lot of weird looks when I get a whiskey. Some people don’t know what “neat” means (in a glass, no ice – no lemon – no nothin’). And men always comment on it.

My father makes a face like you wouldn’t believe when I drink it at holidays. It is not the face of disappointment or judgment – it is the face “Oh my god – that must taste awful.” It doesn’t – it tastes smoky and woodsy.

Sometimes I drink doubles – sometimes you have to live it up.

I’ve cut back on the imbibing of alcohol for lots of reasons: I don’t have to get blotto since I’m not a 21 year old girl, I’m older, I’m watching my diet, blah, blah. But I still like whiskey sometimes.

The biggest problem I have is that even if you have one whiskey – you smell like you’ve had several. Or at least I do.

This can be a challenge if you sometimes have a polite drink at lunch with your colleagues. I’m not a beer drinker and have never developed the palette for wine. So I stick to Jack Daniels or Maker’s Mark – or something fancier if someone else is buying.

A couple of days ago I ordered what a friend was having – a Vodka tonic, with a citrus infused vodka. It tasted smooth and clean - like summer.

I enjoyed it, I didn’t smell, and it came in tall, cool glass. I think my “signature” drink may have changed.
Maybe you didn’t know
Just an FYI – in general it is rude to:
ask how old someone is.
ask if you can see his/her jewelry to determine if it is “real.”
ask how much someone weighs.
ask if that is his/her “natural” hair color.
mispronounce someone's name and then ask him/her what kind of "weirdo" name is that?
ask someone why he/she is not having children.
make faces at blind people to see “just how blind they are.”
answer your cellphone in the middle of a conversation with a person – and then announce to the person on the phone that you are “not doing anything important.”

Feel free to print out this entry and carry it around in your pocket for future consultation.
The incident on the El in the morning time
Last week my friend Bea IM'd me about... well - I've included the transcript below.

She and I worked together for a long time in Chicago - and she's still there. I love a good El (the elevated train that runs through the city) because they are almost always disturbing or hilarious. (Or both)

If you'd like more hilarious, disturbing and entertaining stories about public transportation - please visit The CTA Tattler, Bad Transit or do some crazy Google searching. I find at least one site for every city with public trans.

bea (10:26:32 AM): Hello.
AB (10:26:38 AM): hi
bea (10:26:45 AM): Wanna hear my Redline story?
AB (10:26:53 AM): please!
bea (10:27:10 AM): At Howard, I'm waiting for
Purple Line.
bea (10:27:16 AM): Two Red Lines on the tracks.
AB (10:27:23 AM): right
bea (10:27:34 AM): Train #1 announces doors
bea (10:27:43 AM): announcement repeated.
bea (10:27:49 AM): i see 30ish guy
bea (10:27:59 AM): standing in car door nearest
AB (10:28:00 AM): uh huh....
bea (10:28:05 AM): eating his egg sandwich
AB (10:28:08 AM): like blocking the door?
bea (10:28:15 AM): eyes are bloodshot
bea (10:28:17 AM): yes
AB (10:28:22 AM): oh god
bea (10:28:29 AM): i decide to bite my tongue
AB (10:28:39 AM): is this man in the hospital
bea (10:28:41 AM): the CTA conductor comes all
the way down
bea (10:28:48 AM): this is the back of the
bea (10:28:56 AM): asks him what's he doin
bea (10:29:00 AM): the guy says:
bea (10:29:10 AM): I'm waiting on my friend to
get here!
bea (10:29:10 AM):
bea (10:29:13 AM): !!!!!
bea (10:29:23 AM): so then
AB (10:29:26 AM): jesus mud puddle -
what an ass
bea (10:29:34 AM): i look at another man on the
bea (10:29:50 AM): we both make astounded
facial expressions
bea (10:30:01 AM): This guy is good looking---
bea (10:30:06 AM): Long, brunette hair
bea (10:30:13 AM): nice brown eyes
bea (10:30:15 AM): we chat
AB (10:30:21 AM): the guy you make eye contact
AB (10:30:25 AM): not the drunky
bea (10:30:29 AM): we get on the purple line
bea (10:30:31 AM): Yes
bea (10:30:37 AM): the drunky disappears
bea (10:30:42 AM): somewhere i don't know
bea (10:30:45 AM): i don't care
bea (10:30:50 AM): so my cool guy
bea (10:30:55 AM): and i chat
bea (10:31:03 AM): he's from Romania
bea (10:31:13 AM): and yes he looks like a
bea (10:31:15 AM): and yes
bea (10:31:20 AM): he's a musician
AB (10:31:23 AM): uh oh - is this turning into
a Penthouse forum letter
bea (10:31:27 AM): who plays i think he said
the sitar
AB (10:31:36 AM): dreamy
bea (10:31:38 AM): (couldn't understand his
bea (10:31:40 AM): yes
bea (10:31:41 AM): and
bea (10:32:01 AM): he gives me his card -
bea (10:32:11 AM): he plays at a bar on lincoln
bea (10:32:15 AM): so anyway
bea (10:32:21 AM): i give him my card
bea (10:32:24 AM): what the hell
bea (10:32:35 AM): (I'm 41 and still as randy
as ever)
AB (10:32:37 AM): right
AB (10:32:41 AM): heh
bea (10:32:46 AM): and then I get off at
bea (10:33:01 AM): one minute phone call
bea (10:34:00 AM): ok
AB (10:34:15 AM): ok
bea (10:34:21 AM): get excited cuz the red line
car is empty and i can sit down
bea (10:34:23 AM): until
bea (10:34:27 AM): i see why
bea (10:34:30 AM): or smell why
AB (10:34:32 AM): uh oh
bea (10:34:40 AM): a lady is sprawled sideways
AB (10:34:48 AM): NO!
bea (10:34:49 AM): and she's crapped her pants
AB (10:34:55 AM): OH MY GOD NO!
bea (10:34:55 AM): so i guess she's not a lady!
bea (10:35:03 AM): O H F***ING YES!
AB (10:35:04 AM): SHE'S NO LADY
bea (10:35:17 AM): So I immediately leave that
AB (10:35:20 AM): and everyone just left her
there - no one called the conductor?
bea (10:35:23 AM): and go to the next one down
bea (10:35:25 AM): dunno
bea (10:35:35 AM): and get on
AB (10:35:43 AM): this is the greatest story
I've ever heard
bea (10:35:50 AM): (oh and I see [redacted guy we used to work with] who says hi to me_
bea (10:35:58 AM): and on the next car
bea (10:36:01 AM): is my gypsy
bea (10:36:02 AM): again
AB (10:36:07 AM): oh my god
AB (10:36:15 AM): you guys are soul mates now
bea (10:36:16 AM): so i tell him about this new
second improved CTA experience
AB (10:36:34 AM): right
bea (10:36:45 AM): and then he chats about how
he likes to travel
bea (10:36:55 AM): how so many chicagoans never
leave chicago
bea (10:37:02 AM): he loves vegas.
AB (10:37:04 AM): you've got to figure there
have been a few train riding pants crappers in Romania
bea (10:37:06 AM): new york
bea (10:37:16 AM): Yes, methinks so too
AB (10:37:28 AM): then what?
bea (10:37:30 AM): so, anyway he gets off at
Chicago and says hell call me
bea (10:37:43 AM): I tell him maybe I'll see
him perform on a Monday night.
AB (10:37:48 AM): wow
bea (10:37:50 AM): and that is my morning!
bea (10:38:02 AM): i must save this transcript
and write it up
bea (10:38:08 AM): for the red line blog that
AB (10:38:12 AM): this is a story that needs
to shared.... maybe you should send it to the CTA
AB (10:38:14 AM):
bea (10:38:18 AM): exactly
bea (10:38:20 AM): thanks!
AB (10:38:32 AM): I might have to put it on my
site - because it's awesome.... ;-)
AB (10:38:44 AM): drunky, crapper, hot gypsy -
it's like a movie
bea (10:38:44 AM): can you save the log and
send it to me?
AB (10:38:50 AM): sure