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.

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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.

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.

Paul and I did kind of a tri-county tour of school theater productions his siblings were in for the weekend. Working Saturday made it a bit annoying for me, just because it meant little downtime at home. I don’t like doing things after work. I like going home after work and that’s it.

We went out to Greensburg first to see Emily in “The Tempest,” only significantly shortened and set in space, so basically, it was “Forbidden Planet” onstage. It was fun. Emily played Miranda, and at this point we’ve gone to a few of their shows and have seen a few of her friends at literary events over in Pittsburgh, so they’re familiar faces and they remember who we are, too. Their dad said it was a bit over-the-top, and Paul and I were like…of course it was over-the-top! I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point.

We went out to dinner with the cast and crew after, which was fun but also a reminder of how we’re kind of at a really different place in our lives, mostly in terms of schedules. We’re used to early nights and early mornings, while they’re college kids who stay up late, so being out until around 11 and not getting home until midnight was rough. I fell asleep while Paul was driving us home.

So praise Sunday matinees! The thing about marrying someone who went to your high school and has fiver younger siblings is you’re never really away from that school’s orbit, at least not for several years–we’ve been together for like 7 1/2 years at this point, and his youngest brother’s still got a few to go before he graduates. But I didn’t hate my high-school years, and for the most part, I kind of like going back. I think it’s one of those things where you enjoy it for the first year or so after you graduate, when you still have friends there, and then when they’re gone, it’s more of, “When will I ever be free?” and now it’s, “Oh, this is nice.” I like seeing the teachers that were good, and the musical this time was good, too. They did Footloose, and I was honestly impressed with the lead. Jonathan only had a small part, but I was impressed he even tried out for it.

We hung out at my parents’ house while Jonathan was at his cast party a few minutes away, then picked him up, took him home, and hung out with the in-laws for a bit before heading home.

I spent my Monday off sleeping in and lounging around, then headed out to have Friend Emily, not Sister Emily, dye my hair. It’s been in need of it for a good few months, but we’ve been busy and on top of that, she tends to book about a month in advance, so I had a good while before I made it back. But it was almost worth it–I really liked having subtle pink-ish hair, but I was itching to take it farther, so now we’ve gone full bright pink and I love it.

I can’t remember exactly how it happened–I think it was how easily Paul ends up in YouTube black holes–but we found out about Puddles Pity Party, a super tall dude who dresses like a clown and his this amazing deep singing voice and does tons of great covers. And we were both pretty into it. Like, his voice is so great, and it’s the kind of performance-art type thing I can really get into. He honestly reminds me a little bit of Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” clown, just strangely not as weird.

It worked out pretty well that right around the time we were listening to a lot of Puddles, one of the local concert venues announced a show from him, and I remember the timing being so good that I thought, “If I’d seen this a few days ago, I would’ve been very confused.” And naturally, we got tickets, and me being me, when I saw that we could get like third row, I was like, “Fuck it, why not?”

The show was last night, and I’ve already written about it in the new AXS listicle style they want for articles, but I have to admit I like that–it’s a style that works kind of well for live reviews, I think, because it hones in on the highlights without being wordy. Sometimes when I do live reviews, I struggle to find the words for them, particularly if I loved it, because I can’t just write, “It was fucking amazing,” a few hundred times and call it a day. As much as I’d love to see him really just go for it and put in a serious, moving performance, he throws humor in and it works pretty well, and there is a benefit to not having a concert full of sad songs. He pulls people up onstage and I realized really quickly our third-row seats put us in the danger zone, but fortunately, he honed in on other people and never came for me. His sets, like his releases online, cover a wide variety of music over the years and he nails them all, and like I said, his voice is amazing.

Afterwards, he meets with fans in the lobby, so we were like, “It would be a great picture and he’s awesome, let’s do it,” and I find the result hilarious. Puddles and Paul in reality are very close in height–Paul’s about 6’5″, 6’6″, and I think he said Puddles only beat him by a tiny bit–but he stood on his tiptoes for the picture and gave himself a boost. And then there’s me on the end, and they both tower over me. And they’re both going for the sad-face schtick, and I’ve got this shit-eating grin. I mean, really.

Two tall sads and me, a tiny ham #PuddlesPityParty #PuddlesCuddles #cry #clown

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I love it.

It was nice to meet him, but part of his thing is he never speaks, which is kind of cool because it makes the whole thing very in-character and performance-oriented. But he seemed very grateful when we gushed a little.

So yeah, we had a good time. We had dinner at the Waterfront beforehand, walked around a little bit, and since Mondays are my days off all month, I got to not necessarily sleep in since the alarm wakes me up when Paul gets up, but I did get to nap and play with new hair stuff meant to keep my pink dye job bright. If you look in the picture, it’s a tiny bit pink, but today, it’s a lot more vibrant, so I’m pleased. And then it gets redone in a week anyway, so I’ll be back to officially having Cool Hair again.

I leave you with one of the only–maybe the only–original songs Puddles Pity Party has worked on. It’s called “Palms” and it’s a collaboration with Sxip Shirey, and I fell in love with it.

Things are going well on the home-buying front, so I figured might as well take advantage of the last weekend of Pittsburgh’s annual home show. And it was a successful trip–there are some things I’d like to do with the place, so we got some leads on that. Now it’s a matter of hearing back from everyone who took our info.

I wanted to eat while we were in town, and one of the places I’ve really been wanting to try in the city is Kaya, which serves cuisine from the Caribbean and South America. I was quite happy–I accidentally ordered an omelette when I meant to order a burrito because my brain, like, stopped working for a hot minute, but it was still delicious and served with a side of pineapple, so I was pretty happy. Paul had a salad also filled with tropical fruits, plus conch fritters as an appetizer, then we had coconut creme brûlée for dessert, so yep, basically great. I’d like to go back and experience their full menu, rather than just their Sunday brunch.

Monday, I meant to run some errands and ended up falling asleep on the couch for the entire morning, so I got a bit of a late start, but I made my Sephora trip happen.

And now we’re into another week.

I’m on weekend rotation at work again, which means Mondays off, which means the week it starts, I get a three-day weekend. It was nice to have three days off.

My mom’s birthday was Friday, so Saturday, she wanted to do dinner and a movie, so us kids and our spouses met my parents at the movies for Game Night, which entertained us all. Then we had dinner at Solomon’s, which is one of those places I’ve wanted to try for a long time and just never got around to. I quite liked it and it’s right across from our apartment, so it’s definitely one to keep in mind until the lease is up. And, I mean, after that, it’s just that the house will be out of town.

On the house front, it’s been taking up chunks of our time here and there. First, it was all the paperwork to make the offer, then it was the inspection and loan. Saturday morning was the inspection, and Sunday was a make/wait for phone calls type of day. The advantage was it was also a lazy day at home, and aside from having to take Paul to work due to a flat tire on his car, Monday was much of the same. But it was nice, and it’s one of the strangely nice things about working Saturdays–because no one else has Mondays off, I’m not making any plans, so I get a day to myself at home. A lot of times, it’s a day for phone calls and things that can be tough to do with normal working hours, but it’s also a good opportunity for books and Netflix.