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.

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Saturday 9: Easter Parade

Saturday 9: Easter Parade (“In Your Easter Bonnet”) (1948)

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

1) This song is about a special Easter hat to be worn with your “Sunday best.” Will you be getting dressed up this weekend? I did! I do like to dress nice for Easter. I wore a mint-green dress with small white flowers on it.

2) Judy Garland’s partner in this movie was supposed to be Gene Kelly, but he was unavailable because he broke his ankle playing volleyball. Have you ever lost a big opportunity because of a medical issue? I mean, I’ve missed out on a lot of fun due to sinus infections and stuff like that, but nothing huge.

3) Garland later confessed that, at first, she would have preferred Kelly because she knew him well and was intimidated by Fred Astaire. By the end of filming, she found she enjoyed Astaire a great deal. Can you think of a friend with whom you had a rocky relationship at the beginning? Not when we first met, no, but some notable messes in the middle. I’ve found that my first impression of someone tends to be accurate, so it’s off to a bad start, you’re probably not winning me over.
4) This song was inspired by New York City’s Easter Parade. Does your community host a similar event? No, but we have parades for every-damn-thing else, so I’m kind of surprised.

5) The biggest chocolate Easter egg was made in Italy, measured 34 feet tall and weighed a staggering 15,000 lbs. Do you thinks it’s possible to have too much chocolate? Yes, and at one time, I would’ve called this blasphemy, but my husband and I don’t eat candy very often, so when we get it for Easter or Christmas, it takes a long time to get through it and we end up with stockpiles of stuff we make very little progress on. I recently threw out some old Hershey kisses, which was a bummer.

6) Jelly beans are also popular this time of year. A 2013 poll tells us that red is by far the favorite jelly bean color, with yellow a distant second. Do you have a preference? Red, for sure, but only if we’re talking the fruit-flavored ones and not the weird minty and cinnamony ones my husband’s grandparents put out. You have to be careful with those because if you’re expecting lemon, you’re gonna be disappointed.

7) We’ve been talking a lot about sweets this morning. The only holiday that generates more candy sales is Halloween. When do you eat more candy: Easter or Halloween? Easter, because weirdly, I’m more in the mood for it then. I think it’s because we don’t do much for Halloween.

8) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated? Sleep, bubble baths, fresh air, and exercise.

9)  This year, April Fool’s Day happens to coincide with Easter Sunday. Do you expect to fall victim to any pranks this weekend? No one played any, but I don’t trust anything I’m told on April Fool’s Day, so I’m tough to get.

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Friday 5: Waste

  1. What’s something you unintentionally threw away? I almost always throw away food packaging before I’ve read the instructions.
  2. What disgusting memory of garbage do you have? I once threw away some sort of produce–a cucumber, I think–that ended up, like, rotting and leaking out of the bag and into the bottom of the can. It smelled horrific. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever smelled. I had to dump out the nasty liquid and wash the garbage can, and I kind of wanted to puke.
  3. How are you about deleting emails? Eh, great with some, horrible with others. I go through it every day and delete anything that’s junk, but I let things like coupons pile up, thinking I may want to use them in the near future. But I almost never do, so my inbox is tons of expired coupons. The one good thing here is when I do buy something online and check my email for a coupon, I do delete a bunch of the old ones. So I might delete a large chunk in one go, it just takes me forever to do it.
  4. What do you treasure that someone else considers trash? Certain clothes, I think. I don’t care about what’s in style, I care about what I like. So while I don’t buy based on that, I do end up with things that would probably fit a certain time, but I also don’t purge based on that, either. I’m not the type to rid my closet of things some people would consider outdated, I just purge what I don’t like anymore.
  5. What’s the litter like in your neighborhood? I’m kind of in neighborhood limbo right now–we closed on a house on Friday but are taking our time moving in. The apartment is downtown, which has a bit more litter–it’s not horrible and I’ve certainly seen worse in other cities, but you do see some. The house is in more of a country setting, where we have a proper yard and trees in it and close neighbors but not so close that we don’t have privacy or space. Fewer people are driving through, and the ones that are are there for a reason. I haven’t noticed a scrap of anything there.

As always, from Friday 5.

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.

Saturday 9: Sweet Disaster

Sweet Disaster (2016)

Unfamiliar with this week’s song. Hear it here.

1) This video begins outside a convenience store with a sign advertising beer, produce, lotto and an ATM. Will you buy beer, produce or a lotto ticket this weekend? Will you visit an ATM? I will most likely buy produce because we do typically get a little every week. I should probably visit an ATM because we’re singing my husband’s youngest brother in his high-school musical and I don’t know if that Catholic school is up with the times and can take cards.

2) As the video progresses, fountain drinks and donuts are consumed. When you stop for a snack during a road trip, what do you usually grab? It depends where we’re stopping, because if it’s a Sheetz, I’m ordering something legit.

3) The lyrics reference “a river of champagne.” When did you last enjoy a spot of the bubbly? I’m not sure! It might’ve been two Christmases ago, because I don’t think we’ve had any even at recent weddings.

4) The end of the video features sci-fi/horror images. Is that a genre you enjoy? If not, what kind of books do you read most often? YES. I don’t know that I’d say it’s what I read the most of, though, but that said, I don’t know that there’s any genre I read that dominates all the others. I like a lot of different things. I mean, my library picks are basically the first thing I see that looks interesting.

5) The trio that makes up The Dreamers are dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers. If you could live in any city or village in the world, would you move or stay right where you are? I don’t know. I could definitely see myself living in there, but I also do like where I am now. Some people in the Pittsburgh area try to pass the area off as horrible, but it’s really not.

6) The Dreamers describe themselves as “impractical.”  What about you? Do you consider yourself practical or impractical? Very practical, for the most part.

7) They also won’t “listen to those who doubt” them. Sometimes we find the ones who doubt us most are ourselves. What about you? Are you confident, or do you suffer from self doubt? It depends on the day. I’d say I’m mostly confident, though. We all have our moments, and it’s not like I think I’m perfect, but I don’t worry a lot about other people’s opinions or whether or not something is good enough or if I said something wrong.

8) Do you often remember your dreams? Lately, no, but when they stand out, they really stand out. I haven’t had a really weird dream in a long time. I wouldn’t mind one.

9) Random question: Would you rather get $100 today, or $250 on this date a year from now? 250 in a year. We don’t need the money that bad right now, so might as well wait and get more.

Friday 5: The Shine of a Thousand Spotlights

  1. What physical trait are you (or have you been) self-conscious about? Where I carry my weight. Not necessarily my actual weight, but specifically where it goes–my stomach and my neck. Parts of me are actually pretty small, parts of me aren’t. My wrists are tiny and I can feel my ribs directly below my boobs, but by middle…
  2. When did you last do something risking injury? I don’t think I’ve done anything recently, but I’m known to climb on things as needed without thinking about it, so…
  3. Why do critics and the general movie-going public never seem to agree? I have kind of an interesting perspective on this. I work for a closed-captioning company, and I’ve started to say that we’re about on par with critics in terms of taste. We both watch a lot of movies and TV, and so things start to stand out, good and bad. You notice how formulaic things are and how unoriginal they are, too. I once asked a co-worker what he was working on, and it was some new medical show I’d never seen. I asked how it was, and he said, “Ah, you know, typical medical show,” and that told me everything about it. A show that involves solving something, either medical or legal, will have an aha moment where the main character’s personal life and the case collide and they gain some bit of wisdom from someone uninvolved that helps them figure out what the problem is. If they catch the criminal in the first 15 minutes of a police procedural, either he didn’t do it or the legal proceedings are going to be full of twists. A number of sitcoms are what I like to call “bumbling-dad sitcoms,” where you’ve got a dude who consistently is a jackass but it’s all worked out a half-hour later. It’s harder to impress us, to get us excited about something. That said, when we do get excited about something, we really want other people to love it and for it to do well. I’ve seen early episodes of shows and thought, “My God, I hope this is a hit,” and sure enough, it is. I think the public is less picky and more forgiving. I also think studios and executives can be and often are really, really wrong about what people actually want to see, but that’s a digression for another day.
  4. How do you feel about Hugh Jackman as an actor? I’ve always liked him. He’s good, and I had more than a small crush on Wolverine.
  5. Who is the best singer you’ve seen in live performance? Not counting performers in theater, because it’s a different beast and because it would just be a list of every professional tour I’ve seen, Puddles Pity Party, who I just saw last weekend. I’ve seen some great singers live and I’ve never really been disappointed, but his voice is so powerful. I’m posting “Palms” again because I love it, but I don’t think it does his voice justice, so I’m throwing in his America’s Got Talent audition, too. I think that’s where he really shows what he’s capable of.

 

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.