Getting sick doesn’t do much for progress with fixing up and moving into a house.

The original plan was to finish priming ugly wood paneling the weekend after my mom came out to get it started, but I ended up sick the rest of that week and although I was back at work by Friday, spending another day or so painting seemed like a bad idea. So we put it off.

Thursday night, Brandon and I went to see JD McPherson in Pittsburgh–and the show was amazing–so I took Friday off. Mom’s been offering to come help some more, so she took the day off, too, and we figured we’d either finish the priming or get to taking down ugly wallpaper in the kitchen. A stubborn coat rack kept us from finishing the priming, so wallpaper it was. We ended up not having a whole hell of a lot of time thanks to a late start and a deadline of dinner with Paul’s coworkers, but we got the bulk of it down. All that’s left is the parts above the cabinets and the stubborn sections that didn’t come off easily.

Paul and I headed over to dinner, then to his friend Andrew’s place–by the time I was showered and we got to the restaurant, he and he fiancée had already left, so we swung by for drinks and an illegal stream of Thor: Ragnarok. 

April decided to turn into summer for the weekend–it jumped back to late winter/early spring today–so we took advantage of the heat and sunshine and went for a walk. I was still not feeling so great and a walk probably wasn’t the greatest idea, because it really wore me out, but I’m glad we got out. We swung by the outlets for a food-truck festival, which was about picked over so all we got was lemonades, then did a little shopping.

Sunday was mostly House Day. Paul had to stop into work and we needed to make a Home Depot run, and then we figured since we missed out on the food trucks Saturday, we’d try again Sunday. We got some pretty great Polish food, which seemed a little silly since we eat Polish food all the time, but sometimes, a girl just needs a styrofoam box full of haluski…

The work in the house actually went by pretty quick. Paul was able to take care of the stubborn coat rack, so aside from some spots that need a touch-up, the priming is done. We also got just about all of the wallpaper off the bottom half of the wall and just need to do the top half and above the cabinets, so we made good progress. The goal for this weekend is to officially finish up the priming and maybe prime the wallpaperless wall if we get it all clear. I understand why it was put up in the first place, though–the top half is white, and the bottom half is, like, this Pepto Bismol pink.

Now, the fun thing is in doing this work, some big differences between Paul and I have emerged. He’s kind of enjoying the process. He doesn’t mind the work because it’s our house, so it’s kind of like a goal for him. As for me, I’m just impatient. I want all of this done and I want it done yesterday so I can spend the rest of my time moving in and saying good riddance to the apartment. You can imagine how well I’m doing with having to wait on contractors before we can redo the floors and siding. I realize I have to and I’m not, like, being a bitch, but man, do I just want to skip ahead a solid two weeks. Paul’s dad is gonna handle the floors, at least, so as soon as he can come out, get a look at what’s under the carpet, and get going, that’s taken care of. The siding is gonna take a little longer, but at least I can live in the place in the midst of that.


Saturday 9: High Noon

Saturday 9: High Noon (1952)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) What will you be (or were you) doing at high noon on Saturday? I think I was at home doing not much of anything. Or wait, I think that’s when I was sleepy and took a brief nap.

2) In this song, Tex Ritter sings he doesn’t know what fate awaits him. How strong is your sense of intuition? Tell us about a time you knew what would happen before it occurred. I think it’s good when I pay attention to it. In college, I was in class one morning and my mom sent me a text saying to call her when I was done, and I just knew she was gonna tell me that my grandma had died. And sure enough, that’s what it was.

3) This song was the theme of a hit movie western by the same name. It starred Gary Cooper as a small-town sheriff. When did you last interact with a member of law enforcement? I don’t know. Definitely not recently. Maybe when I got my last speeding ticket, and that was a couple years ago now.

4) Grace Kelly co-starred as the “fair-haired beauty” mentioned in this song. Four years later, she gave up films to become Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco. Which job seems like more fun — movie star or royal? Movie star. The scrutiny on you as a royal would be too aggravating. I’m sure Meghan Markle is really happy, but I kind of feel bad for her because she can’t go anywhere without her appearance and behavior being heavily scrutinized. I’m sure the royal perks are awesome, but that’s certainly not one of them.

5) Though he cultivated a “just plain folk” persona, this week’s featured artist, Tex Ritter, was really cosmopolitan and highly educated, earning a degree in economics from the University of Texas before going on to study pre-law at Northwestern. Do you think the “real you” is consistent with the image you convey? I do, actually. I don’t really put on any kind of facade or try to present a certain image or version of myself. My interactions with people are sometimes different–obviously, my coworkers get the more professional version of me than, say, my friends and family do, but the core of who I am is always there.

6) Tex Ritter was the father of Emmy-winning comedic actor John Ritter. John is remembered fondly as the voice of Clifford, the Big Red Dog. Clifford appeals to children because he is “gentle, friendly, loyal, lovable and clumsy.” Do any of those adjectives apply to you? I think I have little bits of each one.

7) Tex is also the grandfather of Jason Ritter, star of ABC-TV’s Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. If you followed one of your grandparents into their line of work, what would you be doing? If I had to pick one, I’d go into psychology like my paternal grandfather. And that’s the route my brother went, actually. I have the interest, but the career path I chose was a bigger pull for me. Psych would be a close second.

8) In 1952, the year “High Noon” was popular, Stopette, the first antiperspirant deodorant spray, was introduced. Do you use a deodorant spray, stick or roll on? Right now, I use what could best be described as a bar from Lush.

9) Random question: What’s something you have always wanted to own, but never have? A sewing machine. There’s no space in our apartment, but now that we’re in the process of moving into a house, I may finally get one. I’m gonna wait until our furniture is moved–and after we buy some new furniture–and see what space is left, though.

Friday 5: Aloon Again, Naturally

  1. With which Looney Tunes character do you have the most in common? I don’t know! I didn’t watch a whole lot of Looney Tunes growing up, and I can’t think of any personality overlap. I can say a went through a big Tweety phase as a kid, though.
  2. Who or what are your metaphorical Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote? Myself, I guess–I’m the coyote chasing goals, the Road Runner, and it’s not so much that I never reach those goals so much as it is I find new ones to chase.
  3. What’s up, doc? Went for a walk in the park since our first nice weekend of spring decided to act more like summer, went to the outlets for a food-truck festival, am now home and really need to shower.
  4. When did you last hear some opera music? I was listening to NPR on my way home the other day, and they were interviewing a former opera singer and asked her to sing a few lines.
  5. What’s a good life lesson you learned from Looney Tunes? None, really. I didn’t watch it a lot, like I said, so I didn’t take away much.

As always, from Friday 5.

Well, illness foiled my weekend plans to finish painting in the house.

I caught whatever Paul had the week before last. I felt it coming on Tuesday, a day I already had off and was planning to use to paint some ugly wood paneling. I knew going ahead with the painting plan probably wasn’t a great idea, but I didn’t want to lose the day, so I did it anyway. And I was pretty much fine until the end of the day, when we finished up and I was exhausted and achey. I did use the house’s shower for the first time, though, which was great. Hot water is so unreliable at the apartment anymore that I spent a lot of time just standing there in the house.

I called off work Wednesday, slept in, lounged around the apartment, then went back to the house in the evening for a bubble bath. I thought maybe I’d be able to go to work Thursday, but I felt pretty shitty in the evening and when my alarm went off in the morning, so I called off again and spent Thursday much the same as Wednesday, including another bubble bath. Let me tell you, it’s worth it. Hot, relaxing, quiet, with the added bonus of being really, really satisfied that we own it.

I did go to work Friday and hoped to feel up to finishing the painting over the weekend, but I could tell Saturday wasn’t gonna happen, and Sunday wasn’t much of an improvement. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to overdo it and make myself feel worse so I’m being patient, but man, I just want to get these little improvements done so we can start really moving in. I’ve been taking small bags and boxes every time I go over, mostly of books these past few trips, and the plan is to slowly clean out the apartment and move things over and go through them and organize them, but man, it’s making me antsy.

On the one hand, we’ve gotten really apathetic with apartment upkeep, knowing that we’re just gonna be packing it all up, but we also have the same issues of lack of space. I’ve hauled over a few small stacks of books and you’d never know when you walk into the apartment. But the thing, too, is it’s getting harder and harder to leave the house, even if I’m just there with my Lush bath melts (I smelled so good and my skin was so soft for those couple days, just so everyone’s aware). There’s nothing there, other than books and a box of wedding cards, yet I don’t want to come back to the apartment. I mean, at the same time, the fact that there is nothing at the house is what keeps me from staying put. I have to come back to eat, sleep, and entertain myself, but the second I have an excuse to keep me there, I know that’s what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna end up spending a night on the floor there one of these days, and I’m gonna love it.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll see how the next few days go. I have Friday off, and my mom might be coming out again to help with whatever I need her for, so maybe that’ll be finishing the painting, maybe it’ll be taking down ugly wallpaper in the kitchen. We’ll see. One way or another, I’m really hoping to get back to making progress this weekend, rather than being stuck.

Saturday 9: Nights on Broadway

Saturday 9: Nights on Broadway (1975)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) It’s estimated that there are more than 200 separate streets called “Broadway” in the United States. Does your town have a Broadway? I don’t think so, but I know a couple towns nearby do. We do have a Wall St., though! And boy is it a letdown.

2) Think of the last time you celebrated well into the night. What street were you on? I’ll give you two–the more recent one would be New Year’s, but that barely counts as a celebration because it was four of us eating pizza and trying to keep ourselves awake. That was on a Jefferson St. Just before that, the weekend of Christmas, my husband and I went to a couple parties and hung out with some friends, and one ended up being a little get-together where much karaoke was sung into the very early morning hours. And that was Slaughterhouse Lane, the best street name ever.

3) The Bee Gees blame it all on those songs that go straight to the heart. What love song always makes you go, “aw …?” Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” It has some amazing lines. It’s also one of those songs where I love every cover version I’ve ever heard.

4) Even though their sound depended on tight harmonies, all three Bee Gees were heavy smokers, which is not good for the throat. What habit do you have that wish you could break? My messiness–not putting things away, not cleaning quite as often as I should, that kind of thing.

5) In addition to the three Gibbs who sang this song, there was a fourth brother, Andy, who also had hit records. But did you know the Gibbs’ had a sister, Lesley? Your turn: share some trivia that’s rattling around in your head. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, but the way we Americans eat sushi is absolutely not the way its meant to be eaten.

6) “Nights on Broadway” was recorded in Miami. When you think of Florida, what comes to mind? Beaches.

7) In 1975, when this song was popular, Sony introduced the Betamax and JVC gave us the VCR. Sam admits she was glad to see VCRs go because she never could program hers. What about you? Do you adapt easily to new technology? Yes and no. I’m a slow adopter because half the time, I just don’t care. I’m not the type who feels the need to get each new thing as it’s released, but when I do upgrade, I have no problem setting up something or learning how to use it.

8) The Bee Gees’ greatest success came two years later, in 1977, with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Have you ever seen the John Travolta movie? No, but my mom showed me clips of Staying Alive specifically to show me Finola Hughes, since my mom and I are both fans of her on General Hospital.

9) Random question — Your mail carrier is very attractive, and flirts with you each day when dropping off the mail. Would you a) ignore it or b) let the carrier know, firmly but politely, that you’re not interested or c) complain to your local post office or d) subscribe to more magazines and order more stuff to guarantee that the mail carrier comes every day? I’m happily married, so I’d ignore it until I felt like I had to say something. If it continued, then I’d complain.

Friday 5: Welcome to the Terrordome

  1. What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen? The most scared I’ve ever been during a movie was when I saw Signs, which I know some people are gonna think is really dumb, but first of all, when M. Night Shyamalan is on, he’s on, and I get that people hate the end and I get why, but the rest of the movie does a lot really, really well. And when you’re like 12 or 13 and aliens are the easiest way to scare you, there ya go. That said, it’s not one that still scares me–although I think it’s rare to find a scary movie that can keep up the tension on multiple viewings.
  2. What most recently startled you? A deer running kind of in my peripheral vision near the side of the road, but mostly because of a fear of hitting one.
  3. What’s something in your residence that’s frightening? Man, just the whole state of my apartment. It’s a mess, but we’re in the process of moving–and in terms of the house, it’s just the unknowns. Like, you know how after some time living in a place, you know what it sounds like? I’ve been around enough that I know the sounds of like the heat and the hot-water tank, but I don’t feel like I know it well enough to tune out your typical house sounds the way we all do eventually. I’m gonna sleep like shit the first night there, I’m sure. There’s also the fact that a lightbulb burned out at the precise moment I read this question…
  4. What kinds of social settings cause you anxiety? I don’t like making phone calls, and I don’t like answering the phone at work in the very rare instances where I’ve had to. I also don’t like being alone at a party, or like a small get-together where I only know one or two. I feel really self-conscious and I don’t want to be left with people I don’t know, so I tend to hover around the people I know. If I start talking to someone, I’m fine, I just don’t like feeling like I’m sitting there by myself, and I’m clearly not one to make smalltalk with people around me.
  5. What’s something you are no longer afraid of? Standing up for myself and putting myself first, even if its means pissing people off or losing them entirely. Somewhat related, losing friends, in the falling-out sense. I used to think it was the worst possible thing that could happen, and then it did happen, and I came out on the other end of it more than just okay. I’m not afraid I’m a terrible writer anymore, either.

As always, from here.

We’re Homeowners!

At last.

I was pretty much over renting about a year into it. It was one of those things where at the end of that first year, I was like, “Well, that was nice, I’m ready for a house.” It just wasn’t a good time–if I remember right, Paul would’ve been working at Alcoa at the time, and in the middle of his Alcoa stint was when he moved to Greensburg, an hour away. We weren’t financially ready to get engaged, let alone married, so a house wasn’t really in the plans. When he lost that job and ended up working a mile away from my apartment, he moved in with me, and while we discussed an apartment upgrade since we could afford better, we decided to stay put and save money. After some time at that job, he proposed, and we set the wedding date for about a year and a half later because I wasn’t about to plan a summer wedding for the same year when he proposed New Year’s Day. We look at houses a tiny bit in the middle of wedding plan, but as expected, we got really busy with that and the house took a backseat. We didn’t jump back into it immediately after the wedding because I was focusing on things like thank-yous, but we did a little house-hunting in the fall, took a break around the holidays, then jumped back into it right after New Year’s. At this point, by the time the lease is officially up, I’ll have been here for six years (what the fuck?) and he’ll have been here about 3 1/2. And man, is it well past time. The first year of us both being here was fine, but we very quickly ran out of space for both us and our stuff. The place looks like a train wreck, and while some of it is because we’re just both messy people, it’s also a matter of some of this stuff has nowhere to go. There’s shit sitting out in the living room solely because we have nowhere else to put it.

I got pretty frustrated with the whole process, really, because things would look great online and then end up being a total disappointment. We looked at places that wouldn’t have given us any extra space, places that were shitty flips, places in shitty locations, whatever. After we took the parents along to look at what we thought was gonna be a really nice, promising house, I was really annoyed. The place was a small half-assed flip, and the parents were concerned that our real estate agent either pretended it wasn’t or didn’t see it. It wasn’t hard–a cabinet door wasn’t even on, things were put on crooked, the countertop looked a lot like one that they don’t sell anymore because of how easily it chips, that kind of stuff. So my mom got the name of one of my cousin’s realtors, and we switched. I basically ghosted our old realtor because I didn’t know how to go about it, but also because I was pretty sure she’d hardly notice if we dropped off the face of the earth. I was still getting the automated e-mails for listings from her while we were working with someone else, and nothing was appealing anyway.

The second agent was a lot more helpful, particularly in terms of the process. I’ll grant that with listings being automatically sent based on our search criteria, the actual process of choosing places to tour wasn’t any different, but I just felt like we were in better, more helpful hands, and I didn’t feel so frustrated.

We looked at four houses on one night out with her, and the first one ended up being the one we bought. It was one I’d seen in the middle of the realtor switch, and honestly, the outside was–and still is, for now–a little ugly, with this mint-green siding. But it had some things that strangely were hard to come by in the area we were looking in, mainly an actual yard and a two-car garage, because for some reason, one-car garages seem to be the thing here, and being in a more urban area, a lot of the houses are squished together with tiny yards. I showed my mom this listing and I was like, “I’m betting Paul’s gonna want that yard and like this one the best.”

Our realtor, Jody, has her buyers rank houses on a scale of 1 to 10. I gave the place a 7 with the caveat of I thought we could make it a 10, and Paul just straight up gave it a 10. And I knew that was it. Something was gonna have to really stand out for him to want a different house. Admittedly, the last one of the day was the nicest–a renovated three-story house with these gorgeous kitchen out in Bentleyville, but with a carport that could only fit one car taking up the yard and street parking for whoever didn’t get the port. I was just so ready to have a house that I’d take Paul’s 10 no matter what, probably, but I also felt like we were gonna have a hard time finding a two-car garage and a decent yard around here, so we decided to go for it.

I think the fact that the siding was kind of ugly worked in our favor. I think it turned people off, and there were some things inside that needed upgrading. The price was lowered a couple times, including just days before we saw it for the first time, and I think I saw potential where other people didn’t. We offered their asking price and got it, and the month-ish since has just been the whole loan process, which was annoying, and that’s coming out of one that went relatively smoothly. Paul has a coworker who insisted it would take longer than a month and complained of the loan officers continuously losing paperwork, but aside from some miscommunications, ours was pretty painless.

We closed Friday, right before the Easter weekend. The real-estate office, for reasons unknown, had beers stocked in the mini-fridge, so both our agent and loan officer cracked some open, and Jody sent us home with two to celebrate. And on top of that, she gave us a sweet card with a Longhorn Steakhouse gift card, and the loan officer gave us a small jar of apple-pie moonshine and a cake and nut roll from one of Pittsburgh’s best bakeries. We joked about how Paul’s friend Andrew’s experience had been such a headache and here we were coming out of it with alcohol and baked goods.

It’s like an unwritten rule that you have to get takeout and eat it on the floor of your new home, so that’s what we did. Paul had Andrew and his wife come over, and they brought some honey mead and we ordered a pizza and enjoyed both our first meal and first guests in the new house. I had to work the next day and Sunday was Easter, so other than taking some small boxes of stuff over, that was about it for house fun for the weekend.

My mom and I both took Tuesday off, so we spent that priming this one room with ugly wood paneling. Already it’s made a huge difference–it’s such a brighter, more modern-looking room. In true me fashion, I got sick right after. I felt a cold coming on, likely from Paul, and felt really exhausted by the end of the day. Powering through a full day of painting was probably not smart, so I called off today and feel a lot better than I did last night but still not great. Hopefully I’ll feel okay enough by the weekend to go with Paul and do the official painting without relapsing, so we’ll see.

We–or admittedly, mostly I–have a small list of things we want to change before we move furniture, and with a few months left on our lease, we have plenty of time to do it. We have to finish that painting, and then there’s the fake wood beam going across the ceiling I want to take down. Apparently, much like the wood paneling, fake wood beams were all the rage in houses built in the ’60s and ’70s. After that, I’d like to replace the carpeting, but that depends some on what flooring will work best on a house built on a slab and without a basement, which is weird for the area. The existing carpet is definitely gone because I don’t like it and it’s got some stains anyway, but what goes in its place is unknown right now. It’s either gonna be wood or fake wood, unless the slab means carpeting is the best way to go. And once that’s done, we can start moving furniture. The next project is gonna be replacing that siding, but being that some of the siding companies can’t come out until May, that may take a little while. At least that’ll give us time to get money saved up to do it, now that we took out a good chunk for a down payment.

We’re both antsy to be out of the apartment and officially in the house. It’s not my 10 yet, but I love knowing that it’s ours and we finally knocked buying a house off the list, which is particularly impressive since we did it not even a year after paying for a wedding. I don’t want to leave when I go over there. I’ve said coming back to the apartment feels like such a downgrade, where you come in to a small space filled with clutter. I don’t necessarily expect that once we’re all moved in, we’ll feel like we have tons of free space the way it seems now, but it’s sure to be an improvement. And maybe we can purge some things in the process of moving. It’s nice to actually have time to do the move slowly, too, and actually take a look at what we want to go and what we can get rid of.

For now, at least, I’m taking stuff over little by little and enjoying a nice tub with reliable hot water. I’m driving over later this evening solely to take a bubble bath.