Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

To Do X 60

1. Launder all the clothing in the house
2. Study for a psychometric measurements exam
3. Accompany Somali refugee family on a bus tour of Salt Lake City
4. Find others who may want to accompany refugee families on bus tours of Salt Lake City
5. Purchase a bicycle and see if I still know how to ride it
6. Attend fundraiser
7. Learn about permaculture
8. Help Jacki move
9. Collect boxes
10. Purge unnecessary belongings
11. Pack necessary belongings
12. Give 30 days notice to the ousting land-people
13. Tidy the house
14. Sell a pile of comic books Ryan purchased with his paper route money in the early nineties
15. Write self-reflections about various issues pertinent to my multicultural competency level
16. Evaluate my performance in multicultural counseling class. Choose the high road of honesty. 17. Cry.
18. Meet with real estate agent and do as I am told
19. Take car to the shop for repairs required after being smashed into while parked in a driveway
20. Get gas in the truck
21. Buy soymilk
22. Plan Sunday dinner
23. Return (unworn) underwear to Target
24. Clean out files
25. Figure out what books I need for summer term
26. Purchase books for Summer term
27. Read Chapters 1-17 in my multicultural counseling textbook so I can say I did it on my self-evaluation
28. Review Qualitative article on traumatic birth
29. Turn in article review to professor
30. Write paper about a fake psychopathology of my invention (suggestions welcome)
31. Fantasize about Ikea
32. Ruminate on the possibility of earthquake
33. Make mental game plans for how to survive earthquake
34. Print new fertility chart
35. Write a report on panel discussion I attended about Black Masculinity
36. Wax legs and underarms. Maybe.
37. Investigate stacked washer/dryer units
38. Sell non-stacked washer and dryer on craigslist
39. Learn to make bread
40. Fix brakes on the truck
41. Call Qwest and have a hissy fit because they have charged me $55 a month when the rate we agreed upon was $15, be on hold for three hours, use all cell phone minutes for lack of alternative, march angry self to Qwest location downtown and chain angry self to a pole and refuse to stop screaming until issued a refund, BASTARDS
42. Pay summer tuition
43. Cry
44. Create a summer calendar
45. Contact neglected friends because I still love them
46. Purchase one of these and one of these and rid self of all other floor-cleaning apparati
47. Learn to make household cleaner (find the recipe Adriana sent me years ago involving Borax)
48. Run a marathon
49. Convince Ryan we need a Macbook and rid self of all other spontaneously-combusting computing apparati
50. Learn about diaper-free babies
51. Buy art
52. Learn about home maintenance including but not limited to evaporative cooling systems, furnaces and the servicing thereof, water heaters, roofs and rain gutters, etc. (suggestions welcome)
53. Call Chris and ask about his shingles (roof, not viral)
54. Buy caracara oranges
55. Teach a lesson about sexual assault to teenagers, attempt to remain composed when they ask who goes to jail if both people were too drunk to consent
56. Work on lit review for thesis
57. Call doula instructor to see if she has any ideas about how I can recruit participants
58. Plan Ryan's birthday (his preference not to acknowledge it will not be honored)
59. Eat a mango
60. Wash sheets

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Of Money Pits Etc.

When we went back to Vlad's, he had clearly been instructed by his real estate agent to keep a lid on it. His behavior was exactly what you would expect of a Labrador who has recently learned the command 'stay' and is expected to remain still despite the hunk of cheese just inches from his nose. The man was having a hard time. He was obviously trying to leave us alone, but instead of just going out on the porch and having a much-needed cigarette, he tried to look nonchalant as he awkwardly followed eight feet behind us. A few times when he was trying to keep it real, I think he actually squeaked. Poor guy.

We placed an offer on his house.

It was accepted.

The inspection was scheduled. When we arrived, the inspector was in the basement. First thing out of his mouth was "Have you guys MET THE OWNER?" We nodded knowingly. "Yes, we have. Has he been following you around, too?"

"He was, and he was talking so much I couldn't do the inspection. Finally I had to tell him straight out that I needed him to leave me completely alone so I could do what I was hired to do." Poor Vlad. It's hard to sit on the porch with hunks of cheese walking around inside the house.

The inspector advised us of his concerns with the house. They were extensive and expensive. He used the term "money pit," which is not music to the ears of a first time home-buyer. At one point he started a sentence with, "I just know if you were my kids..." and then trailed off. I guess he decided he may have crossed one of those subtle-yet-palpable inspector/home-buyer boundaries, but we got the point. We bailed. Sorry Vlad. Might want to replace that furnace. Oh, and insulate the attic while you're at it. And shut the merciful H up.

Even after making the offer, the truth was I never felt fully comfortable with Vlad's place. I mean, the peach tree was a major selling point, but in truth it just didn't ring my bell. As a wise friend told me on g-chat, a person should buy a house that speaks to them. Vlad's didn't. But there was another one that did. This was the great tragedy.

As I stewed and festered about Vlad's, never comfortable even though I had signed the contract, there was another place I couldn't get out of my head. The yard was larger and would need more maintaining...the location wasn't quite as prime...but it had a really cool bathtub. A really, really cool bathtub. So I called our agent again. I know, we put an offer on that one house, and I know it was accepted, but I just can't get that bathtub out of my head--is it too late to go see it again?

A paragon of patience, our merciful agent called. The House of the Beautiful Bath was under contract. Someone else's contract. Our contract was with Vlad.

My heart sank, but I tried to be strong. "What's for you won't go by you," my Scottish great-grandmother used to say. But I was disappointed. Even moreso once I found out we wasted our contractual moment on the hoar frost of Vlad's.

It was back to the house hunt for us. The emailed lists of dismal properties (only dismal properties are generally available in our price range), the visiting abominable little houses waiting to blow down with one huff-and-puff. But, with no other options, a-hunting we did go. While we were touring a house that my sister-in-law called the Alice in Wonderland house for its nausea-inducing tippiness, the agent's phone rang.

"The contract on the house with the tub fell through! How much time do you have?"

My heart skipped a beat and then it sang. I pumped my fist in the air like an idiot. I told her I would risk failing my measurements class to see that bathtub just once more, and we went right over.

The tub was even lovelier than I remembered. So was everything else. The house, it spoke to me! Glory, glory! We put in our offer the next morning and it was accepted.

The inspection is tomorrow. Pray hard that the guy doesn't say "money pit" again. I can't take much more of this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chateau Vlad

Uncle Sam has decided to kick us to the curb; starting June 1 there will be no apartment subsidy for us. Goodbye $578 a month. I will never forget you. I will love you forever.

The upside of this fiasco is that the lack of reasonably priced rental properties in desirable locations has driven us into the home-buyers market. With so many incentives to buy we could honestly lose 15% of the purchase price and still come out ahead if we sell the place in two years when I finish school, per the five year plan. So it's house hunting for us.

The process has been a whirlwind. We decided just a week ago that we'd like to consider buying a home and are now in the final throes of selection and settling. It is insane. We have held it together relatively well, all things considered, though it would be unfair to fail to report that last night I broke down in a hysterical fit of laughing/crying and actually speaking in tongues. Ryan is faring better. I have mostly recovered.

The best part of buying a house is getting to break into strangers houses, with or without them present. Yesterday we went into a home that had a post-it written on a side door telling us to simply say "kennel" if we wanted to check out the laundry room on the other side. The "friendly dog", we were promised, would hasten to his kennel. Against our better judgment we tried it out and the well-trained beast did in fact obey us, his unexpected and unfamiliar masters. Still, I consider it one of life's little adventures.

Most interesting, though, are the visits where the current tenants are present for the tour. At one home, an entire family lounged around watching TV while we attempted to make ourselves scarce and still get a good look a the place. Tragically, what I most recall getting a good look at was the underpants-clad gentleman reclining on the sofa in the front room who first welcomed us. Although a concerned woman, presumably his wife, hastily covered him with a blanket, we retained a fairly good view of most of him for most of the visit.

My personal favorite, though, has been Vladimir. Bless his heart, the man wants to sell. Most of the property details online describe the sellers as "motivated" but they really ought to have added a superlative for Vlad. When we arrived he was waiting on the front porch, eager to guide us into the parking space out front. He ushered us in, advising us that his wife, who works nights, was asleep, only to then open the bedroom door and turn on the light, revealing a bedroom whose only memorable trait was a wifely lump in the bed. He spared no detail. The bed containing his wife, he assured us, could be included with the house, no problem I'm thinking sans the wife, but you can neve be sure.) Or his kids bunk beds, for that matter, we could have those, too. The circa 1988 blue sofas a la Sears could be ours if we needed them--they were old, sure, but could serve the new tenants until they could be replaced. Cooling the place should be no problem. There was an evaporative cooler, so nice in the summer because not only does it cool the air but also imparts moisture! In our dry desert clime! Relief sublime! Or, if we preferred, he also had an a/c window unit he'd be happy to leave behind. Whatever we like! The attic was in good condition, perhaps we might like to put a bedroom or two atop the little bungalow? It could be done with ease! All we would need was to place a spiral staircase in the middle of the tiny living room. It would be a piece of cake! In the back yard stood a tiny peach tree that, he delighted to tell us, would give fruit in the summer. The fruit was small, but sweet and delicious! The basement! Did we need his tools? BECAUSE WE COULD HAVE THEM!! WE COULD HAVE ANY DAMN THING WE WANTED! WOULD WE LIKE TO HAVE HIS FIRSTBORN SON? HE COULD BE OURS IF WE WOULD BUY HIS HOUSE!!!!

All the caps lock in the kingdom cannot approach justice to Vladimir's enthusiasm about his house. Bless his heart, his strategy is not well-suited to the real estate market. We ran out of there as fast as we could, and, after we recollected our exhausted brains, all we could remember about the experience was his yammering.

We decided on another house. This morning we were set to make an offer. The plan was to meet the realtor this morning at 8:15.

Last night I lay awake thinking. The house we'd picked--was it the best choice? Would Ryan be happy there? Would I? Was there lead paint? Could we rent it or resell it when the time came? Thoughts of other houses floated through my mind as I prepared to kiss the other options goodbye...but I kept thinking of Vladimir and his little peach tree.

We woke up and went to the realtor's. The first words wout of her mouth were "What about that place with the loud guy? Have you given it any more thought?" Strangely, I had! As we talked more Ryan discovered that in his last-minute farewell searches last night he had landed on Vlad's place and wondered why we hadn't visited it (understandably he didn't remember the house, only its owner.) We decided to go back.

In the final hours of our house hunt we just have to see it again, just in case. But I'm prepared to hit Vlad with a tranquilizer dart if he doesn't shut up and leave us alone. If we want his weed wacker, we will ask for it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This is one of the best things I've read in awhile.