Transitions

A Note about Password Protected Posts: I’ve been feeling the need to keep some kinds of topics here more private recently, especially as I have been wanting to write about family planning and other more personal topics. I’m just not comfortable posting about that where anyone with Internet access, including people who work(ed) with me and with my husband, can read it.   So, if you’ve noticed some of those protected posts showing up lately, that’s what’s going on. Thanks for your understanding! 

In news that’s fit to share, the school year is rapidly coming to a close. Today marks the first day of finals week. Time to take a deep breath, tighten my grip, and hang on. A week from today, I will be submitting grades for all my courses and, with completely dry eyes, bidding the semester adieu. I’ve just got to get through all the final exams and the grading between now and then.

And then, summer, glorious summer! This year will be the Summer of The New House! Our closing date happens to be the last day of finals, but we’ve got a few things to get done in the new house before we move in. Mainly, we need to paint and to buy a refrigerator and have it delivered. We also are in the market for a new couch and some bookcases. Possibly also a new dining table. But the paint and the fridge are the only things that need to happen before the move, so we’re thinking the end of May would be a good target date.

I am both eagerly anticipating and anxiously dreading the process. There’s always so much to do — no matter how well prepared and organized I think I am ahead of time, by the end of the packing process, I inevitably find myself disheveled and cursing as I shove random leftover items into a garbage bag. Sure, this assortment of coat hangers, cleaning products, dog leashes, and flower pots can all go in this bag!  That makes perfect sense! Dammit.

You know how it goes. Moving is the WORST, am I right?

PaintYou know what is the BEST, though? Setting up the new place. That’s my favorite part. I can’t wait to do that.  (Well, except the part where I have to help CW hang up the art and he does like 87 unnecessary steps in his measurement calculations and then asks me endless questions every time he moves something by a quarter inch — but I digress.) The two of us have been looking at photos online to get some inspiration for paint colors and this past weekend we finally went and looked at paint chips at Lowe’s and found some good options. I expected this to be a lot harder than it actually turned out to be. I think we are pretty much decided on the color palette, but need to iron out the details of exactly which color goes where. I am also grateful to be able to say that we did not kill each other during the discussion. Even though we often have vastly differing opinions about those things in the beginning, we usually wind up agreeing before too long. The Wrong person just has to come around to seeing the Right side, is all.

One thing that’s sort of stressing me out a bit is the thought of all our stuff and where exactly we’re going to be able to put it. The new place is the same size and number of rooms as our current rental house (3 bed, 2 bath, living, dining, kitchen, laundry), but we’re going to be configuring it differently. At the moment, we have a master bedroom, a guest bedroom with my desk in it (90% of the time this is my office, but when guests are here, it becomes a guest room), and the third bedroom is exclusively CW’s home office, and also the room where his closet is.

In the new house, we’ll have three bedrooms again, but we are planning to just go ahead and plan for the future we want, setting one of the rooms aside for Future Baby Wicklet. So we’ll have a master bedroom, a guest room with two desks in it (shared office 90% of the time, guest room when needed), and a future baby room. It’s going to be a tight squeeze to get both our desks into the guest room, and — perhaps an even bigger issue — CW won’t have a room to be his own space anymore. All our separate office stuff is going to have to share one zip code, so that will take some creative arranging, but I think we are up to the task.

Sharing a closet, on the other hand? Nevermind. I don’t want to talk about it.

On Negotiating

House hunting/buying continues to unfold at a rapid pace. After seeing several other houses comparable to the one we really liked, we just could never find any others we liked as much. This made it seem pretty clear to us that this house had something special about it. The floorplan, the lot, the way the house is situated — it just had something about it that the others didn’t. Our crush only deepened.

So we went ahead and made an offer. We started pretty low, but after a few rounds of back and forth with the sellers, we settled on a deal that made everyone happy. Negotiating is a bit nerve wracking for me. I am of the personality type that hates asking for things, because what if someone not only says no but also hates me — clearly this is completely logical, right? My husband, however, professional rhetorician, very much seems to enjoy the process. It’s all so dramatic, though. Are we insulting them by starting low? Is their high counter-offer a “real” counter-offer, or “a fuck you”? How many times can we go back and forth? What if they walk away? What if we walk away? No fun. But we got it settled and we’re happy, so that’s that.

The next step was getting a home inspection. There are a few repairs we asked the sellers to take care of, figuring they might not say yes, but we’d try anyway. The seem to be fairly tough negotiators, actually. I was not looking forward to having another negotiation process on top of the price. To our surprise, though, they’ve said they’ll take care of all of these small items. We’re now just waiting to get a report from the termite bond company. I’m not sure if this is standard everywhere, but part of our contract states that the sellers are responsible for getting a termite & fungus inspection, and treatment if necessary, obtaining a bond from the servicing company stating that the house is free from both, and transferring that bond to us upon the sale. This basically acts as insurance if we have any termites or mold in the future — and it’s done at the sellers’ expense. Once we get this, we can go ahead with the appraisal, and as long as it appraises for the full purchase price (a condition of our contract), we will be good to go.

I am excited, to say the least.

I have plenty of other updates I’ve been meaning to share here, including a recap of our fun trip to Florida, some things I’ve been watching and reading, a recipe, and a trip to Atlanta to see The Decemberists this past weekend. I hope that this week, being just slightly less crazy than the past two, will afford some time for blogging. Fingers crossed (for that, and so many other things).

House Hunting Madness

Is house hunting turning me into a crazy person?

CW and I have recently aquired the services of a real estate agent and a mortgage lender and the hunt is officially on.  We’ve spent ages poring over the MLS, looking at photos online, and have finally started seeing houses. So far, we’ve seen three in person and will see five (!) more this afternoon. Here’s the thing: one of the first three we saw, we really, really like. We both keep thinking about it more and more and liking it more, not less, when we consider it. It’s listed at just a bit more than we’d like to pay and we don’t love the particular shade of brick, but otherwise, we basically love it.

I just keep hearing that you shouldn’t fall in love with the first house you see (it was the third we saw, but the principle still applies, I think) and that you for sure shouldn’t fall in love with any house until the inspection. Of course. And, I mean, I don’t know. Are we in love, or is it just a crush?

At any rate, the five houses we’re seeing this afternoon are all similar to the object of our crush, but priced a little better. Online, none of them looks quite as great, but we’ll see. Maybe you get what you pay for, I keep thinking. Maybe they’ll come down on the price, I keep thinking. If we don’t like any of these other houses as much in person as we like The One We Like, we might just make an offer.

It’s funny: this whole house hunting project has me (well, both of us, but this is my blog so I’m not going to write about my husband’s feelings) — it has me really evaluating what I want, and finding that it perhaps wasn’t what I thought I wanted initially. I’d always pictured specific neighborhoods and older houses that could be fixed up: places “with character” that I could “make my own.” I think I may have been overestimating exactly how cool I am. I may also have watched too many episodes of Property Brothers.

When moving from hypothetical dream fixer-uppers to potentially real purchases, real dollars, and real work, I suddenly find myself less and less interested in doing much renovation. Painting and changing certain fixtures? Sure. Replacing all counters, cabinets, flooring, and appliances in a kitchen? No. Anything that involves (re)moving a wall? Absolutely not. We are two busy people who work full time and are trying to procreate. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So it turns out that rather than an older fixer-upper in an established neighborhood, what seems more attractive to me now is a newer house that might not be in the center of town but that requires very little work to move in. Basically, a house in a subdivision: the antithesis of cool. I’m not even sorry.

The whole thing has the feeling of being a gamble, too. We started looking a little early — we don’t need to make an offer this month in order for the timing of a summer move to work out. So do we make a move now, or wait? Do we go for the house we like best now? Or do we risk losing that one while waiting to see if something better comes on the market when the “busy season picks up,” which is supposed to happen “soon”? Hmpf.

I suppose we will figure it out. In the meanwhile, we’ll probably both be spending at least two hours a day scouring online listings, squinting at terrible real estate photography, and trying to answer some of life’s most difficult questions, such as “is that a tile shower?” or “why is there a water heater in middle of this ‘bonus room’?”

Fall Break

This past weekend was our school’s Fall Break, which means we’re now more than halfway through the semester. And, um, apparently I’ve only posted three times to the blog during that time. It seems I am out of the habit! Well, friends, I’m going to try to dust this thing off and see what happens.

Professor Umbridge! Dun dun DUNNNNNN.

I am in the midst of my great Harry Potter reread, which I began some time in the summer shortly after CW and I had re-watched all but the first two movie versions. I was really plowing through the books until I started the fifth one, which I’m still currently reading. I think once work got really busy, my reading time correspondingly diminished. I’ve got to finish, though, because 1) I always finish things, and 2) I have some good books just waiting for me on my Kindle app, including the new Tana French! So I shall soldier on. (Not that I’m not enjoying it.) I have gotten to the part where the kids start holding Dumbledore’s Army meetings, so things are definitely happening, but I usually can’t read more than 2-3 pages each night before I fall asleep.

Having the last weekend off was absolutely wonderful, I must add. We haven’t had a Fall Break here during the time I’ve been teaching — this year was the first. I am so, so pleased the school made it happen. It’s right at that point in the semester where students are exhausted from midterms and faculty are drowning in grading and usually, without the break, the light at the end of the tunnel (aka Thanksgiving break) is still so far away. Having a long weekend right in the middle of October is the perfect little breather.

[284/365] Terrapin Pumpkinfest

I got to spend time with my husband; I got to hang out with friends; I drank some pumpkin beers; I went to a bowling birthday party; I went on a couple of great runs; and CW and I got some much needed work done in our front yard. Lovely, perfect fall weekend. Speaking of our yard, I know I’ve written here before about how the lawn service provided by our rental agency had become so unreliable and sporadic — when our grass kept growing longer and longer and more embarrassing, I was half serious about putting a sign in the yard proclaiming “Landscaping by [Redacted] Properties.” I did not do that. Instead, CW just went out and bought a lawnmower and things improved immediately.

[291/365] Gardening Gloves

Well, we assumed the service would still come by and trim the hedges and whatnot, even if they didn’t need to mow the lawn any longer, but they never did. Pretty soon, the bushes in our front garden bed were absolutely OUT OF CONTROL. After I came in from a long run Saturday morning, I casually asked CW if we had any kind of hedge trimmers. This led to an impromptu trip to the hardware store and a couple of hours of trimming and weeding the entire front garden. It had gotten so bad that we had some legitimate questions about what was supposed to be there and what had simply started growing on its own. I uprooted a LOT of tiny maple trees. (Sorry, John Denver.) It was amazing what a difference it made! I should have taken some before and after pics, but it didn’t occur to me in time. I think we are going to get some mulch or pine straw this weekend, so maybe I’ll take a photo once that’s done. For the moment, you’ll have to imagine a very normal-looking yard that seems like it has been maintained by a couple of responsible adults. That’s the look we’re going for. Responsible.

At any rate, we are quite pleased with ourselves. Now that we basically know we cannot count on the lawn service do either mow OR prune/weed/trim, we can just take control of the situation ourselves. The only loose end at this point is to contact the rental company and make some official complaint. I…do not look forward to this. I am very non-confrontational and I hate to complain. I would much rather be passive aggressive — case in point, my hypothetical “Landscaping by…” sign. However, I do think they need to know that the work that someone is paying for (us? or the homeowner?) is not being done.

(Advice or Suggestions???)

The House, the Lawn, the Blazer, and the Body

Because I miss writing here and still have lots of little things on my mind, I’m really feeling the desire to just get some of it out. I have somewhat unstructured time in my office today (and hence, time at my desk/computer), so I am going to attempt another post filled with a mix of random small items. If I get a moment here or there to add to it, I will. I’ll post whatever I have when it’s time to pack up.

Thing One (file under “Not-So-Awesome Day of Domesticity,” also “Let Us Never Speak of This in Person; Seriously, If You Bring It Up I Will Pretend I Don’t Know What You Are Talking About”): Pantry Bugs. Oh yeah, that’s right. We had pantry bugs. On an otherwise idyllic Sunday morning (sleep in late, stay in bed a while, make a big pot of coffee, start making eggs for breakfast), we found a whole disgusting host of tiny little speck-like bugs had invaded our pantry and were having themselves a bountiful feast made up of all our dry goods. Just-purchased bag of flour and canister of oatmeal, we hardly knew ye.

So, we spent the entire morning and afternoon cleaning everything out and re-organizing. We wound up with a very neat and clean pantry and we didn’t lose anything we were too heartbroken about — with the exception, of course, of our lazy, cozy, idyllic Sunday morning. We’ll never get that back.

Thing Two (file under “A Not-So-Awesome Thing We Turned around and Made Awesome”): We’ve been living in our rental house since last July, shortly after we got engaged. For the most part, it has been lovely and we are really happy here (although we are both looking forward to buying a house in the hopefully near future). The one real issue we’ve had with the place is the landscaping. When we leased the house, we were under the impression that we would be in charge of all the lawn and garden maintenance, but our company told us they actually provided lawn mowing, etc., included in our rent. Which would be fine, except they hardly ever actually do these things. We thought it was supposed to happen every two weeks, but this summer it’s been more like every three weeks. The grass gets SO LONG, y’all. It’s embarrassing. (See post header photo.)

When we had friends over for a BBQ last spring, we found ourselves self-consciously apologizing for the super-high, itchy grass. When CW’s parents came to stay with us this summer, we were wishing and hoping (and finally calling on the phone to beg) for the lawn guy to come mow before our family could see how horrible the yard looked. (They did — the lawn got mowed just hours before my in-laws’ arrival.) Every time the grass starts to get really long, we dither back and forth for a couple of days, starting with “Should we call and complain again?” and leading to “Should we just buy a lawnmower and do it ourselves?” and eventually stopping at “Well, they should be here tomorrow, they said, so let’s see.” Finally, we managed to stop the cycle at “Should we buy a lawmower,” at which point we decided that yes, we should, so we did, and my husband is SO HAPPY. The man loves his new lawnmower and the lawn is mowed and WE are in control of our own destiny and the birds are singing and we aren’t hiding from our neighbors in shame anymore.

Thing Three (file under “I Was an Idiot and Now I’m Sad”): I bought a few new pieces of clothing at Gap before school, started and I wound up with $50 worth of “Gap cash” to spend during a specific range of dates this month. I knew exactly what I was going to use it on (a blazer like this one, but which I can’t find on the site). In between then and now, I wound up having to buy a car all of a sudden and I decided that my new resulting budget did not have room for any more clothing purchases this fall, and I was fine with that. A self-imposed shopping freeze is often a good thing for me. I would not buy any more new clothes. I did not need any more new clothes. Except maybe that blazer, which I really wanted, and for which I had basically a $50 coupon. Maybe I would buy that. So I bided my time and waited for the date when I could use the Gap cash and I went to the Gap and guess what? I had read the stupid date wrong and my cash had expired and I couldn’t even bring myself to go inside the store without it because I wasn’t even supposed to be buying clothes in the first place. Womp wommmmmp.

Thing Four (file under “Getting Older Stinks Sometimes”): I registered for that 5K I mentioned, which should be awesome and fun and way too hot on that morning to really race it, which is OK because it will be fun and my friends are doing it with me and yay, 5K. Except on Tuesday as I was doing some speed intervals through my neighborhood and I got all spun up at my goal race pace, I got a weird, unidentifiable pain in the back of my knee that just would not shake out. It wasn’t like a pulled muscle or any kind of impact pain. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it sucked. I had to cut the run short and now I haven’t worked out all week. The pain never came back, so I’m hoping it won’t show its face again during Saturday’s race. Stupid knee, you are on my list (keeping company with my hip, skin, hair, gums, reproductive system, and flora). Aging. Ain’t it grand.

Adjustments

By the middle of next month CW and I will have been living together for a full year. I love our home and especially love that he is here with me. I love the fact that we get to come home to each other and go to sleep together and wake up side by side every single day. It absolutely hasn’t gotten old to me yet.

 

The flipside of that coin, though, is that — as it hasn’t gotten old to me yet — there are still things I haven’t quite adjusted to yet. Napping, for example. I used to be a champion napper: on the couch, with the dog, under a blanket, television droning quietly in the background, passed slap out. How I miss those naps. I have had probably fewer than five really good naps since CW and I have been sharing a house.

I don’t know what the problem is, but I tend to sleep a lot more lightly now. So lightly that any movement or noise he might make — even if he is in another room, even a noise as slight as his opening a can of soda or the clicking in his ankle when he takes he first few steps after sitting for a long time — is enough to wake me from my sleep. I don’t just wake up, though. I EXPLODE into consciousness, heart pounding, blood pressure through the roof, every muscle at complete attention. Because my husband stood up and took a couple of quiet, barefoot steps on a carpeted floor.

I can hardly blame the man. What, should he hold perfectly still and stop breathing while I take a nap? Of course not. But I also would be lying if I said that his own ability to nap — deeply, for long stretches of time, while I unload the dishwasher and cook an entire meal, for example, in a room twelve feet from the couch — makes me so envious I could shoot lasers out of my eyes in his (peacefully snoozing) direction.

See also: the incredible ability to sleep through his own beeping alarm clock, which is set for 30 minutes before I want to get up. How can he possibly sleep through those beeps so soundly, when they’re waking me up like a blast from a cannon? I am so jealous.

I think my nap failures stem from the fact that some part of me hasn’t internalized the idea that I don’t live alone anymore. Simply put: there’s another person here. I know that, of course, but my sleeping brain doesn’t expect to hear those sounds, so — even though they’re quiet, quieter than the pets are — they startle me.

Napping (or, more accurately, the loss of napping) isn’t the only new thing I’ve been adjusting to. So many little aspects of life are just different now.

[It occurs to me that these thoughts are pretty original, aren’t they? You’ve probably never heard anything like this before. “Oh, gosh, cohabitation and marriage take adjustments? SHOCKING.” Well, simmer down. I feel like talking about it for a bit, so just humor me, please.]

Daily life at home can become the source of so many odd debates. We have two very different philosophies about how to load a dishwasher, when to unload a dishwasher, how many water glasses should be left around various rooms of the house, what temperature the thermostat should be set to, and what to do with laundry fresh out of the dryer.  The most serious philosophical questions of our time, people! They’re being debated right here in my very own home! No conclusive answers yet, however. I’ll update you if we ever resolve the question of whether bowls should go on the top rack of the dishwasher*.

Of course, I’m not the only one who has had to adjust to living with another person after many years of flying solo. CW has had to face the fact that he basically cannot leave a drinking glass unattended for more than five seconds before it gets disappeared into the dishwasher. He also has had to adjust to always eating with a wife who likes to photograph her food. Carefully. With, like, lighting and shit. He now lives with a woman who can’t watch an entire movie without checking her phone, who likes to have as many lights on as possible, who hates fans, and who routinely leaves the kitchen cabinet doors wide open. He has never been anything but gracious about these things, but I know they’re adjustments for him as well.

(And how many of you are thinking right now that I would be very annoying to live with?!)

I lived on my own for 13 years after college, so I’ve had quite a long time for my single-living routines to become deeply entrenched. Adjusting them is hard. Worth it, of course, to contribute to a happy home for both of us. I wonder, though, how long does it take before these aspects of daily life are no longer conscious adjustments, but simply the way we do things? How long before we settle on a temperature? Or before my brain can tune out the sound of another human being around and just let me nap without waking me up in a state of adrenal alarm? I really do miss those naps.

People who’ve been cohabitating for a while — what are your thoughts?

*They should absolutely not; are you crazy?

An Unwelcome Visitor

Not twelve hours after I posted last week about how tired I was (eliciting, I’m sure, more than a few eye rolls from my friends who are parents — sorry!), I figured out the reason I felt so fatigued.

Yep. It was yet another of those incidents where, if I’d only been paying better attention to the calendar, I could have easily understood why I felt so tired, irritable, hungry, weepy, and/or in need of chocolate. Sigh.

And this time around, I really should have known better: I was paying attention to the calendar. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that the arrival of that particular Special Visitor was an unwelcome surprise. I’d been hoping she wouldn’t show up. For a while —  if you know what I mean (and I think that you do). In my wishful and hopeful thinking,  I probably convinced myself I wouldn’t see her, but then all of a sudden there she was, the very morning after I wrote that post. DAMMIT. WHY. GO AWAY.

So anyway, these things have been on my mind these days — occupying plenty of my brainspace, against my will — and I both do and don’t want to articulate my thoughts here. I want to talk about it enough that I am writing this post, but I don’t want to talk about it enough that I refuse to spell out what it is I’m so ambivalent about saying. I mean, I DO want to talk about it, I guess, but here’s the thing: if you know me in person we are not talking about this in person, okay? What I say here stays here. I declare that to be the rule and this is my space and therefore I am the boss. Accept it.

Right, so. A little whippersnapper. We would like one. No luck yet, but we’ll keep working on it. In the meanwhile, I am going to drink a big, cold glass of white wine and eat some candy and try to think of as many ways as possible to say things without actually saying them, because, really, how fun is that.