Now that the holidays are over, we haven’t had a lot of set, definitive plans for our weekends, which is kind of nice. So we ended up at Terra’s brother’s deli two Saturdays in a row for their Supper Serenade, where they have a different dinner special each week and live music, usually from Beautiful Bob, who’s probably one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Bob has an impressive science background but kind of get fed up with some bullshit, quit, lived in an Occupy Pittsburgh camp, and now wears women’s clothing, plays music, and cleans out abandoned buildings in the city.

It’s been kind of a fun, casual hangout atmosphere for us. We get to eat, hang out with friends, hang out with new friends, meet new people, and enjoy some tunes, so it’s fun. It gets us out without being, like, a whole thing, plus we’ve been coming back with deli goodies. We bought lady locks the first weekend, and the second, muffins to take to my parents’ house the next morning and haggis Terra’s brother made that Paul wanted to try.

It’s not gonna be a weekly thing–we have plans for the next couple of Saturdays, most likely–but it’s something fun to do for when we need it. Plus food.

Man, fuck house hunting. I’m over it. It’s a pain in my ass.

And that’s coming from someone who’s been at it a relatively short period of time and has only really gone to a few houses.

It was exciting at first, full of so much potential. And the first few weren’t bad–they were nice houses, but they just didn’t suit our needs. And I’m kind of okay with that. It’s gonna happen. But when I get annoyed is when you start getting into the various shit you run into, and again, I say that as someone who’s probably only seen a fraction of what a lot of other people in the same situation have seen. My tolerance for it just really, really low.

I think I got most annoyed a couple weeks ago when we found this one that looked really nice a couple weeks ago–and I mean the pictures looked really, really promising. It was obviously a flip, but they look like they put in some nice stuff. My mom suggested maybe we have Paul’s dad look at it with us because if it was one we liked, we might want to move fast on it, so we got it all organized and went.

And it turned out to be a half-assed flip. Cabinet doors not on, shit that was crooked or looked unfinished, countertops the agent said looked a lot liked ones she’d had that chipped in two weeks and were so flimsy that the home-improvement stores stopped carrying them. It was the kind of thing that looked pretty but was shoddy in reality, and my guess is they’re hoping to get someone young like us who loves a picture but either doesn’t notice the flaws or doesn’t see them as a red flag. Because really, if you can’t put damn cabinets together right, what kind of hot mess is hiding elsewhere in the house?

And then my mom was concerned our real-estate agent was probably not the best. She said she’d shown that house to a few people and couldn’t understand why no one jumped on it, and the way my mom put it, if my dad can walk into a house and see what’s wrong with it, it’s pretty bad. So either she wasn’t noticing obvious problems or is bullshitting to sell it. I liked our agent. She was funny and our personalities meshed really well. But there was some validity in the concern–I’d already kind of felt like not quite a priority, more like a name on a list, and I honestly don’t think she’ll notice if she never hears from us again. And yet, because I’m a little bitch, I felt guilty about going to someone else, but it made sense so we did.

My mom pointed us to an agent one of my cousins used. Even just from talking to her on the phone, I felt like we were moving in a better direction–she was more helpful from the start, and it could just be that personality thing, but she seems more knowledgable and more involved. So we met with her a few days later and things are looking up. I have a few things to do on my end to really get things going, but there are a few houses we want to look at, and we’ve kind of cast a wider net. We’re in this shitty position where we of course work commuters are a factor, but in thinking about having kids in the next couple years, we’d like to be closer to out parents. And even more short term, we’re far away from our friends. So we’re aiming to be between the two so that it takes less than an hour to spend time with people but no more than a half-hour to get to work. And there are some promising listings that fit that, plus the size and price we want. We just have to get on them.

So hopefully we have some more luck soon, find something great, get it, and can put in a damn notice that we’re leaving this damn apartment and its damn leaks that I am not at all confident they’re gonna fix.

Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel

Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

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

1) Elvis checked in to the hotel at the end of Lonely Street. Where was the last hotel or motel you stayed at? I think it was for my wedding night. I don’t think I’ve stayed in a hotel since then.

2) He sings that Heartbreak Hotel is always crowded. The fear of crowds is so prevalent that it has four names (enochlophobia, ochlophobia, demophobia and agoraphobia). Are you comfortable in a crowd? For the most part.

3) The desk clerk at Heartbreak Hotel is dressed black. Do you often wear all black? I wouldn’t say often, but it definitely happens.

4) The song was written by Mae Boren Axton, who said it was inspired by the story of an anonymous young man’s suicide in a hotel. She said she read in The Miami Herald that the John Doe left behind a note that said, “I walk a lonely street.” What’s the last note you handwrote? (Hopefully it was more upbeat.) I was taking notes at a meeting at work. I don’t really handwrite notes at home.

5) When Elvis was 11, his parents bought him a guitar. He had asked for a rifle, but his mama convinced him a guitar was a better idea. Tell us about a time one of your parents was right about something. I know it’s happened, but I can’t think of any notable examples.

6) Not long before “Heartbreak Hotel” was recorded, Elvis’ father recommended he give up the guitar and become a truck driver. Tell us about a time one of your parents was wrong about something. Same thing–it’s happened, but I can’t think of any. Well, my dad used to insist my political opinions would change when I started working and paying taxes, but no dice.

7) There are many stories about Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker. One anecdote, about his career before Elvis, has the Colonel painting sparrows yellow so he could sell them as canaries. Have you ever been ripped off? I mean, I think everyone has, although not on that level.

8) Speaking of birds, Elvis once owned a peacock. It damaged his cars, so he gave it to the Memphis Zoo. In earlier days, it might have been dinner, for peacock was considered a medieval delicacy. What’s the last poultry you prepared? I don’t eat meat, so fake chicken!

9)  Random question: You and a friend have dinner at a restaurant. Your friend left her wallet at home, so you pick up the entire tab of $62, including tip. A few weeks later, you two meet for lunch and when the bill comes, she puts down half. Do you remind her that she still owes you $31 from the last time you dined together? Probably not. It’s not a big deal to me.

Friday 5: Returns

  1. What was the last item you returned or exchanged at a store? For Christmas, my husband got me a few pairs of fleece-lined leggings and tights. One pair didn’t fit, despite being the same size and from the same store as another, because women’s clothing is the dumbest thing on the planet, and I finally exchanged them last night.
  2. When did you last leave the house and then turn right back around and go back inside? I did it, like, last weekend, but I can’t remember why. I think I’d forgotten to grab a bag of recycling to take to the drop-off site.
  3. What’s the latest you’ve ever returned a library book? Recently, I haven’t returned any late–our library gives you three renewals, so when I’ve exhausted those, I binge-read over the last day or so, depending on my schedule and how much is left. I definitely had late books as a kid, though.
  4. What location among places you’ve traveled would you most like to see again? Mexico, because it was probably the most interesting place I’ve gone. And I wouldn’t say I had a bad time when I was there before, but things weren’t great and I wouldn’t mind having a second chance at it. Plus there were things I wanted to do that we didn’t do. That said, I think I’d rather go somewhere new–there are so many places I want to go, so as much as I’d like to revisit places, somewhere I’ve never been yet is more appealing.
  5. What’s an unlikely movie sequel you’d like to see? Not so much a movie sequel, but after the show The Riches came to an abrupt and unjust end, there were rumblings of a movie to wrap things up. I wanted it very badly, but it never panned out and at this point, it’s probably pretty much dead.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Jump

Saturday 9: Jump (1984)

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

1) David Lee Roth does a lot of jumping in this video. He credits his flashy moves to his study with marital artist Benny Urquidez. Have you ever tried karate, judo, or jiu-jitzu? Nope.

2) Dave claims to be fluent in Spanish. Say something “en español.” Por favor. I know more Spanish than that, I just can’t think of much at that moment.

3) Dave appeared as himself in an episode of The Sopranos, playing poker with Tony Soprano. Are you a good poker player? I used to be pretty decent at Texas Hold ‘Em. I haven’t played in a really long time, but after a few practice rounds, I’d probably be back on it. My brother and I used to like to play each other for spare change.

4) Though known for his prowess on the guitar, Eddie Van Halen wrote the opening of this song at the keyboard when he was still new to the synthesizer. When do you recently venture outside your comfort zone? Was it a success? I can’t really think of anything, honestly. I mean, we’re house hunting and that’s a whole new world to me, but it’s also kind of different than your typical out-of-my-comfort-zone thing.

5) Eddie’s older brother Alex is the Van Halen drummer and his son, Wolfie, began touring with the band in 2007. Have you ever worked with a family member? When I  was a kid, I washed dishes at the restaurant where my dad cooked. That’s about it.

6) Van Halen’s first manger was Marshall Berle. Mr. Berle’s uncle was Milton Berle. Does the name Milton Berle mean anything to you? I recognize it, but I couldn’t tell you anything about him.

7) In 1984, when this song was popular, AT&T/Bell Telephone was broken up into 24 separate companies. Today, who is your phone provider? Verizon. I wouldn’t mind looking into other options.

8) Also in 1984, Michael Jackson was severely burned while filming a Pepsi commercial. Would we find any Pepsi in your kitchen right now? Probably not. If you do, it’s left from my wedding in August, so it’s probably flat. We didn’t keep the unopened bottles, which, fun fact, they just throw away.

9) Random question: Have you ever been so angry that you kicked or hit an inanimate object? Not that I can think of, but I used to throw things as a kid when I was angry. Never anything big, I never damaged anything that way, and I don’t ever remember throwing things at people, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do it. But I lost many a Barbie shoe by getting pissed that it wouldn’t go or stay on, then throwing it across the room, never to find it again. It was something I ultimately just kind of grew out of on my own, like one of those things you do when you’re young and frustrated then grow up and quit doing.

Man, we haven’t had a ton of snow this winter yet, but fuck this winter.

It was just my luck that I won tickets to a Penguins game for Saturday afternoon and a storm was rolling in Friday night with the potential to last until about the time we’d have to leave. My mom suggested we get a hotel room in Pittsburgh Friday night and we were toying with the idea, even enjoying a night out, when ice hit earlier than expected and we figured we were better of staying put and taking our chances the next day. I mean, they were free tickets, so it’s not like we’d be out any money, but…free tickets.

The snow stopped by early morning, but Washington’s snow removal is…mediocre, so the roads here were shitty, but the drive to the T was fine. Except for the fact that it took us so long to get rid of the layer of ice on the windshield that we left much later then I wanted and just missed the T we wanted. Like, we watched it leave. We killed time with food until the next one came and very nearly missed that one, too, and got to the game just a little bit late, but the nice thing is that doesn’t matter so much with sports. I get really irritated when it happens with theater, but hockey games I can take.

And we won! We haven’t been having the greatest season, so it was nice to even get a win.

We grabbed dinner back in the South Hills, then spent a little time at the mall. I like to take advantage of being there, with a Lush and a Sephora, to get whatever I need so I don’t have to make a trip out later, but of course Paul just makes fun of me and says I buy stuff so I don’t have to buy stuff. It makes sense in my mind.

Sunday was a lazy day–we’d intended to go to the gym, but Paul fell on ice in our parking lot and hurt his wrist and I walked so fast trying to catch the T on time that my thighs were burning, so all we ended up doing was get groceries and spend the rest of the day reading, Netflixing, whatever. But it was nice. The holidays were so busy, as they always are, and it feels like we’ve been constantly going since Thanksgiving, if not earlier. And now there’s only a handful of weekends coming up where we have plans, so it’s nice to know there’s some definite downtime in there and we can either keep it that way or go do something. We have some movies to catch–we still haven’t seen Star Wars and have been dying to see The Shape of Water–but I don’t think either of us would mind getting in touch with some friends and making some plans.

Saturday 9: Piano

Saturday 9: Piano (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) As she sings, Ariana muses about the songs she could compose on her piano. Do you play the piano? I don’t. There was a brief period of time where one of my cousins was showing me on theirs, but I didn’t have a piano at home and it’s not something I kept up with it. But my husband can play piano, and one of these days when we get a house, it would be nice to get a piano. He’d love to have one regardless, and then he could teach me.

2) She compares love songs, saying there are sad ones about how hard love is, and happy ones that make you want to dance. What’s your favorite love song?Is it sad or happy? I don’t really have a favorite.

3) Ariana’s mother always told her that they took her name from Princess Oriana in the 1988 movie Felix the Cat. Who is your favorite cartoon character? Don’t really have a favorite one of these, either.

4) Ariana’s favorite board game is Monopoly. What’s your favorite board game? Okay, this time I actually do have a favorite. It was Life for a long time, but I think it’s been hedged out by Clue. I’m also a fan of Scrabble.

5) She relaxes by baking. When you feel keyed up, what do you do to relax? Kind of what I normally do–watch Netflix, read, write, play video games.

6) She is a huge Florida Panthers fan, even though once, as a little girl, she got hit by a puck. Now that the NHL season is underway, how’s your favorite team doing? I’m a Pens fan, and I just went to our game yesterday! We won. We haven’t been having the best season, which is particularly frustrating coming off last year’s Stanley Cup win. We’re fifth in our division, but we’re only a few points away from moving up, depending on how other teams’ games go coming up.

7) In 2013, when this song was popular, the NHL reached an agreement with the players union and averted a strike. Have you ever belonged to a union? No. My current employer doesn’t have one.

8) Also in 2013, Pauline Philips died. Ms. Philips was better known to millions of readers as “Dear Abby.” At its height, her advice column appeared in 1,400 newspapers across the country. Do you still read a printed copy of your newspaper? I do not, but I am going to finally subscribe to it digitally. I might go to print when I get a house, but I’m on the fence about that–generally, I prefer reading print, but then I’m gonna end up with a stack of newspapers to recycle.
9) If you could get the answer to one question about your future, what would that one question be? If some nice houses are gonna come up for sale in a timely fashion that would prevent me from either having to renew my lease at my apartment or from being apprehensive about the timing. That’s it. Pretty simple and short-term. Obviously, being January, the market is slow, but I’m hoping some nice options pop up early enough into spring that if we like one and make an offer, I can feel confident that we’ll close before we’d have to be out. The building wants three months’ notice and I’m confident enough that we could choose not to renew before we’d close, just as long as we’d be good to go by move-out time.

Friday 5

  1. What’s your favorite breath mint? Eh, I usually just go for a pretty generic Icebreaker.
  2. What’s your favorite chewing gum? As a kid, I used to love Fruit Strip and Juicy Fruit, but I very, very rarely chew gum anymore. So I don’t really have a preference.
  3. What do you like on an ice cream sundae? I like hot fudge or caramel when I’m in the mood for either, but typically–as with most things I eat–I like fruit topping like strawberry. I’m also a big fan of getting chocolate ice cream at Dairy Queen with peanut-butter topping. A friend in high school turned me on to that.
  4. What do you put honey on? I don’t think I really put it on things. I put it in tea and I like to have the occasional honey stick as a tiny snack, especially this hemp honey I got, but that’s about it.
  5. Where do you go for a good muffin? Eat ‘N’ Park. Or the local coffee shop, but their selection of baked goods is limited since I’m pretty sure it’s a married couple making them all themselves. The last time I was there, they didn’t really have muffins. But when I had the flu right after Christmas, my husband brought me back coffee and food from there, and that was a delicious and generous portion of cranberry-orange bread.


Goals. Here we go.

  • Buy a house
  • Get a new job
  • Take on more freelance work
  • Publish writing
  • Subscribe to a newspaper
  • Travel somewhere
  • Save money
  • Pay off a credit card, ideally two
  • Read 20 books, preferably more
  • Get back into a good, regular gym routine
  • Get organized
  • Stop being fucking late
  • Keep up with past successful resolutions
  • Take more initiative with friends as far as making plans–hopefully, a house will happen and having the space will make this easier

House-hunting is officially in full swing!

Well, as much as it can be in January. Obviously, the real-estate market is slow right now, but we did do some looking. We saw three houses on Sunday. The first was a little disappointing–it’s on a street that I love and always say I want to live on, but it’s right around a curve and on a hill, plus we wouldn’t actually be gaining any space, aside from extra bedrooms. The kitchen, living room, and master bedroom are about the same size as we have now and half the reason for house hunting is we need more space, so I don’t see a point in spending nearly $150,000 on a house that’s not actually gonna give us any.

The second was my favorite. It was a foreclosure that we were kind of late on–I’d contacted the real-estate agent late last week and mentioned it, but the listing didn’t say it was being auctioned off. The auction was the next day, and we’d have to have a 5% buyer’s premium plus a 3% down payment ready if we won, and it was too short notice and too high-pressure. But the bids never hit the reserve price, so they were taking backup bids and we figured we might as well look.

It didn’t work out in the end because the bank did end up taking that lower bid, but it was a good opportunity I’m bummed we missed out on. The timing just wasn’t right. It was going for under our budget in a nice neighborhood where houses are worth more than that, but we’d need a small loan from my parents to cover all the costs to close and it needed some minor work. Paul was obviously not that thrilled about it, but I saw it as a really good opportunity.

We did look at a third house, but it wasn’t one of my favorites to begin with and it’s definitely not one I like enough to want to buy. So now we wait for more listings to go up.