- I made this amazing pear tart tatin for my book club last night. The end result was ridiculously impressive for my guests but it was actually very easy to do. Add it to the list of amazing things you can do with a cast iron skillet!
- Side note: This is why I love Pinterest. Without it I never would have discovered this recipe and this blogger and now I have someone new to follow and learn from.
- Side note part deux: I feel like "blog" and "blogger" are uncool words now. Like "photocopy". Which I also say. Am I old? Mr. PW was helping me with some Squarespace back end stuff the other day and I confessed to him that I felt old. I used to be the young person that explained things to older people. Now all of a sudden I'm the old person that needs things explained! I do not like this, Sam I am.
- Forgive the HuffPo link: Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense.
- A few days old but freshly heartbreaking: I Had a Stillborn Baby.
- Word of the week: doryphore. A pedantic, persistent critic. Someone who can find fault in everything and anything. Know anyone like that?
Yesterday marked ten years since a tabby and white cat walked up to me in a parking lot in Coralville, Iowa and yelled at me like I'd just dissed his grandma. Despite this initial insult, I kept him, named him Sammy, and he's been with me ever since.
He was the center of my life for many years - still kinda is, despite sharing my life with two other cats and Mr. PW. It's not been all rainbows and sunshine, of course. He's part Siamese, so he's got lungs on him Pavarotti would be proud of. You should hear him project down our hallway. The phrase "howling like a banshee" takes on fresh meaning. When he's annoyed, you know it. And he's kind of... well, dumb. A lot dumb. Bless-his-heart dumb. He gets lost a lot. In his own house. We'll be in one room, and all of a sudden we'll hear him crying in another room. We'll call out to him ("Sammycat! We're in here!") and we'll hear the rapid tik-tik-tik-tik of his claws down the hall and all of a sudden his wide-eyed, worried face will pop around the doorway.
Okay, more than dumb. Stupid. And he never has really learned how to socialize. He never really learned how to make friends with any other cat we've owned. When they get too close he freaks out and hisses at them. He just gets overwhelmed by their presence. And he's hilariously, annoyingly, obsessively protective of me. Whenever Mr. PW and I sit and talk he gets upset and runs to jump on my lap and get between us. He barely tolerates Mr. PW and anyone else in my life. And he neurotically chews all the fur off his belly and doesn't know how to play and likes to stomp hard on my stomach just after I've eaten dinner and begs shamelessly and loudly every time lunchmeat comes out despite the strict division between Kitty Food and People Food in this house.
He's my little guy. He's been with me through some of the hardest, loneliest times in my life. He's an endless source of amusement. He's instant zen after a hard day. He's the first animal that was really, truly mine. He's an incredible cuddler and the fact that my little ol' self can inspire purring, drooling, and breadmaking is heartmelting.
Recently we had a food shakeup in the PW household. Wally, our middle cat, tested positive for a list of allergies a mile long (BEEF. He's allergic to BEEF) and there is exactly ONE kibble he can have. Well, Sammy decided that he was having none of it and went on a hunger strike. We thought if he got hungry enough, he'd eat. But before we knew it, he'd dropped almost four pounds. For cats, that's really bad. Not only was it about 25% of his body weight, if cats drop weight too fast, they can fatally damage their livers. So guess who won? We pulled out the big bribe: soft food. Cue hysterics and gobbling down of noms. He's starting to slowly put on weight and we're resigned to the fact that our animals eat better than we do.
But it made me notice, a little bit sadly, how old he's gotten. Of course I don't know what his real age is; best guess is that he was just under a year when he introduced himself to me, so that'd make him elevenish now. Which isn't that old for a cat, unless said cat has anxiety that prematurely ages him like my idiot. In the last few weeks all I can see is the way he moves a little slower, sleeps a little more during the day, doesn't see faraway movement like he used to, needs a little more heat in the winter. He's officially an old man now.
My brain is odd. It immediately goes to worst case scenarios and inevitable sad ends in a strange attempt to prepare me for the worst. And I just can't help thinking about that day, hopefully far in the future, when I'm going to have to say goodbye to him. The fates willing, it won't be for several more years. I've had pets all my life; i know it happens and I've experienced it. Just three years ago we had to say goodbye to our Kitten. There's no way around it. It's true, sometimes he drives me nuts. But with all his faults and aggravations, I want to hold onto him just a little longer. He's worth all the soft food he can eat.
... A husband who indulges my need for a yearly Halloween fix. (Amuck amuck amuck!)
... Harney & Sons' Hot Cinnamon Spice. Like Red Hots? You'll love this tea.
... Nyquil. I am a whining baby when it comes to colds, and I had a doozy this week. I slept in the guest room to minimize the chance of infecting Mr. PW and it confused the bejesus out of the cats. All they knew was that this was not normal and they did not understand why I didn't sleep where I was supposed to.
... People posting their hilarious, awesome Halloween costumes online. I always get a kick out of the immense creativity humans possess. My favorite this year? Edgar Allen Hoe. Best comment? "The TellTale Tart."
I suck at giving gifts. When an occasion arises and I have to find that perfect little something, I descend into a pit of panic. Nothing I find, nothing I can create, nothing I can afford is ever good enough to give. It doesn't help that I'm not exactly a master at noticing details. Just yesterday I asked a friend if I could borrow her quilting frame. Never mind that she'd never quilted a day in her life. The approaching Christmas season is sending me into fits of depression. But sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes.... I get it right.
Mr. PW loves owls. Like, loves. Minorly obsessed with. So for a couple of weeks I've been telling him to keep Monday morning free because I had someplace to take him - and that's all he knew. No hints, no slips. Morning of, he had no clue where we were going. He even let me drive, which if you know him is basically a miracle. Just an hour east through a soft October morning, and we'd pulled up at the Wildlife In Need Center. I have no idea how much he suspected at that point, but I know as he walked into the center's meeting room, he wasn't expecting this:
Yup, the one on the stand is live. I had arranged a private session with Dakota the Great Horned Owl and his handler, Leslie. For over an hour we got to hear his story (he was kidnapped once by idiot teens and has PTSD as a result) and get up close and personal with him. We were so surprised at his personality! He had little conversations and cuddles with Leslie, hooted and chittered at her, balked at requests and listened to us talking sweet to him. It was so amazing to be so near a raptor. Did you know that owls have no sense of smell? That makes them the only real predator of skunks! No sense of smell means no biggie if you get sprayed, I guess.
When Leslie had Dakota step up to her glove we got to get even closer and touch his tail. I have touched an owl tail, guize. I wish I could describe his feathers - his markings looked like tree bark, in swirls of chocolate and caramel and vanilla. We were amazed at how specialized all his parts and feathers were - everything was wonderfully engineered to its purpose. Eventually Dakota got tired of us (one would think we'd be better company than a class of screeching kindergartners, but whatevs) and was allowed to retire to his chambers while we met Grace the Kestrel and Chloe the blind Screech Owl (adorable!). Grace ki-ki-ki'd at us from behind her glass and Chloe turned her head intently to listen to us whichever way we were.
We soon made our way back home but Mr. PW spent the rest of his day talking about the new friend he'd made, one with big eyes who hooted at him and had PTSD. I think it was a good day.
Five years ago Mr. PW and I were crowned king and queen of our household.
Back then it felt like nothing could stop us. Everything was bright and glowing. I remember that when Mr. PW and I locked eyes from opposite ends of the aisle, instead of crying we both burst into big, goofy grins that lasted the rest of the day. I never felt so good.
It's a bit harder now, a little bit rougher around the edges. It's been an exhausting five years. The universe has drop-kicked us and battered us and spit in our faces again and again. We've made it through sorrows and stresses that would tear other couples apart. And somehow, here we are.
There's been wonderful moments, too. Saturday mornings with coffee and cats and podcasts. Music clubs. The first wake-up in our first home. Painting every. single. room. in said house. Farmer's markets and dinners with friends. The road to Salida. The setting sun over the ferry to Bainbridge Island.
We went to the wedding of close friends in Baltimore in September, and the very last song of the night was our first dance song . This fact in itself was an act of love from our friends to us, and bless them for it. As Mr. PW and I are dancing, I'm getting all weepy, and when I look at Mr. PW, he's got tears streaming down his face. There's so much out there that can hurt you, change you, beat you down and defeat you, but marriage means that there's someone there that always has your back. Mr. PW will always take care of me, always encourage me, always love me for who I am. And I him.
And he still makes me grin like a fool.
Now is the time of the year when the leaves turn, the nights get deliciously chilly, and us gardeners' thoughts turn lightly to planning.
Not that I'm a Gardener, mind you. Just a gardener. I'm still incredibly new to the process and kind of bumble my way through it. Don't know what that plant is? Let it grow for a few months and let's see it we like it! Planting tomatoes in a raised bed? What could possibly go wrong? (I'll you what could go wrong. 7 foot frankenplants, that's what. Next year we're scaling that back a bit.)
The average Madison backyard, thanks to old-fashioned semi-urban neighborhoods and urban planning around four lakes, is shady, inclined, and approximately the size of a postage stamp. Ours is the exact opposite - a mostly sunny, flat expanse of unlimited potential.
The previous owner was quite the gardener in her day. I thank her every time I discover a new floral treasure (hello, evening primrose? for real?) but she had less energy as she got older and her style was a bit old-fashioned.
I plan my garden like i plan my wardrobe: as if i had endless money, time, and energy. In my mind I have a beautiful stone patio with a pergola covered in clematis and grapevines, a water feature, a built in fire pit, six raised beds for the veggie garden, peonies and lilacs and alliums and tea roses shoved in every available corner, and islands of six foot decorative grasses providing privacy from the old man next door. Instead we've got this:
Blah. Blerp. Derp. In the above photo (taken maybe June) you can see our back door with our silly little deck and the main feature right behind the house: shade. Luxurious, lie in the grass, read a book, and sip a mint julep shade. While this is good for my complexion, it's shit for flowers. You know what thrives in shade? Lamb's quarters and Creeping Charlie. Aka weeds. There's a peony bush holding on and some stunning double day lilies, but not much else has really taken hold, resulting in those embarrassing vacant-lot style dirt patches. In addition, there lies our 20 year old, rickety, obnoxiously loud air conditioner, squatting like a warthog in a bad mood. Ain't no hiding that thing, no matter what we plant.
Last October when I was in the hospital (for the second time!) my mother kindly planted bulbs all along the vague kinda-maybe edge there. I don't even remember what she planted (maybe poppies?) because not one came up. Not one! I told you I wasn't a Gardener. That's the thing about plants; sometimes they work the way you expect, and sometimes they toss you a leafy middle finger and refuse to cooperate. And usually, it's because you screwed up somehow.
So what to do, at least until we win the lottery and I get my beautiful back patio? At the least I'm edging it with some bricks this spring to bring some kind of definition to the space. I also suspect I need to teach myself how to divide bulbs and spread out those day lilies a bit. After that, I'm not sure. I love decorative grasses, sedum, allium - lots of texture and movement and softness. Not many plants fit those criteria and thrive on three hours of sun a day.
Lucky I've got a good five months of winter to make my plans.
which is one of the reasons I'm moving over to Squarespace, as soon as husband and I coordinate some free time to do so. The address will be the same, but there might be a few hiccups. And after I move over, I'll actually update, instead of getting frustrated and flipping my iPad closed after ten minutes of futzing. So hi. I'm back.
I'm sitting on my couch, staring at the screen, waiting for some inspiration, and all I can think is that I wish I had a punching bag. I sometimes get in these moods when I kind of withdraw into myself - call it extended introversion. I suspect one or two of you out there might know what I'm talking about. I lose the ability to express myself in any coherent way, I get overwhelmed easily, I find myself sticking close to home. I even have a hard time connecting to my husband and family (which isn't fair to them, but that's the way it is). I can't pretend like this phase of my illness has nothing to do with it - I'm pretty damn tired of being an invalid. I'm embarrassed to hide that part of me from Mr. PW - someone whom I've never hidden anything from. I'm tired of having to change my equipment every week, of never sleeping deeply because I'm afraid of rolling onto it, I'm tired of worrying about a leak whenever I'm in public, I'm tired of not being able to wear PANTS. Know what I'm wearing right now? Maternity jeans. That's the only pant (besides sweats) that doesn't cut directly across my stoma. I will say this for them - they're the most comfortable pants I've ever worn. Dirty-mirror photo, taken two weeks after surgery, as proof:
Also, messy guest room.
I know, intellectually, that going through a major illness involves a form of the grief process, and I'm totally justified in feeling sad. Because I am. I'm sad. And I'm angry. I don't think women are supposed to admit that. And I'm really, really jealous of you healthy people out there. Know when your parents used to tell you that you didn't have anything if you didn't have your health? TOTALLY TRUE. But then again, I feel a little guilty for feeling the way I do. I have some dear friends going through much more difficult things. At least there's a light at the end of the tunnel for me.
But if this wasn't overwhelming enough, it's the holidays, we're still settling into our house, and Mr. PW's trying to get through the semester without collapsing. We don't need both of us in the hospital. I just keep counting down the weeks until January, when some of this will get put back the way it was and I can try to face forward instead of jogging in place.
That's a pretty combative headline, I know. I should back up. I've been acutely, seriously ill all summer. You know this from previous posts. It's not clearing up by itself, and I'm going to have the first of two surgeries to fix it in October. It's going to be invasive. I'm going to be incapacitated. I'm going to have a temporary ileostomy for a few months. Then I'll have another surgery. I'll be hospitalized for a few days on either end. In the meantime, I still have this damn tube in my hip.
People have been sweet, and wonderful, and supportive, and concerned, and caring. But I still get (well-meaning) comments like "well, just take it one day at a time!" or "Your life could be worse!" or my absolute favorite, "you're so good-natured about it all! You're such an inspiration!"
No I'm not. I'm not here to inspire you and I'm not cheerful about this. I'm fucking pissed.
Do people seriously not see that? I must be a better actress than I thought. I'm not being good-natured about it, I'm being polite, because it's generally not good manners to fly into an uncontrollable rage in public. It's especially not good manners to take your terror and pain and frustration out on someone who has no clue that they have no clue. I haven't accepted shit; I'm angry at the universe and frustrated and tired and in pain all the time and terrified out of my mind that I'm always going to be like this and holy shit okay crying now.
I'm only 30 years old, and I'm facing the possibility of medical equipment hanging off me for the rest of my natural life. What part of that leaves someone cheerful? I mean, unless you've got some fetish thing, in which case I ain't judgin'. I've got so much of my life that I haven't yet lived. And I just can't fathom anyone wanting to stay married to someone like that.
I don't know. I had more to say, and now I'm just overwhelmed with sadness and I can't think.
I guess I would say, if you meet someone with a chronic illness, don't tell them it could be worse. That completely negates the real suffering they experience. Don't tell them they're taking it so well. That means they can't be themselves, and they can't acknowledge the days they're feeling bad (which is going to be most of them, okay?). And for the love of all that is holy, don't tell them "but you look SO GOOD!". That will get you a slap across the face. Because well, if I look good, then everything must be okay, right? I must not really be that sick. It couldn't possibly mean that I'm just good at masking.
Here's what to say:
"I don't know what to say, but I'm thinking about you."
"Wow, that really does suck."
Or, you know, you could talk to your friend about fashion, the weather, the NFL, or whatever else you want. We're more than our disease.
SO, don't tell me I'm your inspiration. That means you have no clue about reality - that I whine to my husband and mother almost constantly, that I'm worn out by sweeping the house, that I smell like plastic tubing and old blood, that I'm 15 pounds overweight because I can't exercise at all, that I'm wishing I could run away or sometimes borderline suicidal because I'm wrapped up in worst case scenarios. That I cry and throw tantrums when I drop something for the 15th time that day. That I'm much, much weaker than I seem.
I think my mom said it best, when she attended the decisive doctor's appointment with me. She reached over and patted my arm, and chuckled sadly. "Life's a real piece of shit sometimes, isn't it?"
YOU GUYS. I MADE BREAD TODAY.
Here is why I'm shouting: I have tried bread many, many times before. Each time I simply managed to create a thick brick of gummy nothingness, a frustrating disappointment and discouragement time and time again. This time? The yeast actually foamed. The dough actually proofed. The crust actually browned! And when we cut into it this afternoon, it was yeasty, soft, chewy, and delicious. It was certainly a thousand times more tasty than the white bread we buy at the store. I am so pleased with myself I could spit. Once again Cook's Illustrated comes through with a reliable recipe.
This is such a boost to my self esteem, ferreal. Every useful skill I can teach myself makes me feel more useful in return. I can't wait to get a few tries of this basic white under my belt, and then branch out to sesame bread, baguette, Greek bread, pita, naan.....
Aaand a little bit of this:
And some of this:
Not what you're doing with your July, is it?
Mr. PW spent the last half of June in Russia, which was really, really cool for him, but obviously left me home alone. Over that time, a pain in my belly started and got progressively worse until I could barely sleep or walk. By the time my mother and I picked him up at O'Hare in the middle of the night, I was not terribly functional. Still for some reason I was hoping that it would all just go away. That's kind of the mindset you get into when you have a chronic illness; pain is just a part of life, and if you can avoid the expense of a doctor on something that'll go away on it's own, why would you seek help?
Well, six abdominal abscesses and a partial fistula is why. Mr. PW took me to the ER and I didn't leave the hospital for five days. Exactly one month later - this Friday - they took the drain in my belly out. I'm still holding my breath - they took it out once before, and I relapsed and had to have it put back in. I have a PICC line:
and I've been giving myself infusions of IV antibiotics four times a day. Let me tell you how old that routine has gotten. I'm done with this game now.
I've been home from work - thank goodness for short term disability policies - and coworkers have been covering for me. I'll be home next week to allow for possible backsliding, finish the IV drugs, and get my PICC line out. Then I'll go back, and I'm ready to.
Parting shot: I was in the hospital for the weekend before Independence Day and one of the nurses took a couple of us more mobile patients to the roof of the parking garage to watch the fireworks across the lake.
Your mother was right: you don't have anything if you don't have your health. Don't forget that, you lucky people out there.
[Second, third and final pictures are by Mr. PW. He has an eye for it, does he not?]
I miss writing. Let's fix that.
The past couple of weeks have been such a blur of activity. The new house is still such a mess because we've been doing other things:
[Hotel room mirror shot before we head to C & T's wedding.]
That was such a great day - they held their ceremony and reception at Devil's Lake State Park. The bride's mother is a Lutheran pastor so she did the ceremony and it was so emotional and funny and moving. I got mentioned in the ceremony because of a smartass comment I'd made at the bridal shower. The food was all provided by close friends and family, and the groomsmen grilled chicken on a huge borrowed grill. Mr. PW and myself made some bars (it's not a Wisconsin event without some bars), fruit salad, and potato salad.
[Industrial scale fruit salad. That's a huge stock pot that we filled twice.]
It was such a long day - we helped with setup and teardown too, and I did the bride's and mother of the bride's makeup - but so wonderful. SO many things could have gone wrong, but nothing did!It was a gorgeous day outside, all the food was amazingly good, everyone had a good time, and the bride and groom felt loved. What more could you ask for?
The very next day we went to another wedding - kinda - back here in Madison. This couple decided they didn't want to get legally married, but since they're leaving Madison soon one of them can do a post-doc in Memphis, they wanted to throw a big party, so they did. They rented out a great bar and called in favors to get an awesome band (The Hometown Sweethearts) and good food and basically just let people rock out. They potlucked their dessert bar as well - Mr. PW made a gluten-free almond cake since the bride's family had a few celiac-sensitive members. Their "vows" were really wonderful - they are in a band themselves, so instead of actual vows, they got up and made a speech thanking everyone there for supporting them and making them who they are. And then they played a few songs that meant special things to them, and at the end they conducted a singalong of the song they said was "the best expression of community" they knew - Stand By Me. It was so lovely to see everyone around the room singing along at the top of their lungs.
[Running late to get to the bride's house. I did her makeup too.]
Both weddings really did illustrate two sides of the same coin - weddings aren't just OMG MY WEDDING MY DAY ME MINE. There's a lot of people in this world getting those two people to where they are, and a lot of people who love them enough to show up, contribute, and make the day as wonderful as they can. In narrow terms, a wedding's about creating a new community of two people, but in broad terms, it's about the merging of the larger communities that the two people bring with them. It's a pretty wonderful thing to be part of those communities, too.
(That's what she said...?) Wake, office, paint, collapse. Repeat.
Oh I'm sorry, do you have things happening to you too? I'm too absorbed in my own life at the moment to notice. When I get home from work we rush over to the new house and paint as long as the light will allow. The movers come at 8 am on Saturday; by then we have to have the living room, master, and office fully painted and all the carpet in the living room and hallway pulled up.
.... Yeah, I'm not optimistic either. So far we have the ceilings in the living room/hallway and master painted. Nothing else. Tonight we're aiming for second ceiling coats and hopefully the first ceiling coat in the office. I might have to start pulling carpet too. Thoughts:
+ Through this whole process we've encountered salespeople and professionals that have been totally honest with us. Our appliance guy didn't try to upsell us, the paint guy turned down purchases we didn't need, and the plumber we had in to look at the basement drain today told us flat out we didn't need the work done and to call him if something else comes up. $150 saved! It's easy to chalk it up to living in the Midwest, but I know it's not exclusive. It's just made all of this stress a little easier to bear, knowing people out there aren't out to get me.
+ We have an account at Sherwin Williams so we got all of our paint for 30% off. Kinda proud of ourselves for that one. We probably saved a good $200.
+One-coat ceiling paint, my Aunt Fanny.
+ Who paints a ceiling lime green, anyway?
+ Seriously, all the rooms are Boxes of Color Emotion. Even the neutral surfaces are a weird biscuit color. And the living room walls are Snookie Flesh Tone.
+ If you are doing major repainting, get thee an edging tool. Once we got the hang of it, it has made everything go infinitely faster. Though I am debating taping the ceiling edges once we get to doing walls, just for insurance.
+ I am very annoyed because the bedding I wanted to buy was discontinued mere days before I made up my mind to buy it. And now NOTHING ELSE will do. Besides, do you know how hard it is to find pretty orange bedding? I have ordered a second best and we'll see.
+ I have a very hardworking husband. Not a complaint from him as we try to accomplish this task during the last week of classes of the semester.
+ You should see the current house. Cue the banjos: the resident bunny can now officially hide in the dandeliony, weedy, shin-high front yard. If nothing else happens, we have to get that yards mowed and the brush hauled before we hand the keys back. It's embarrassing. And the inside.... thank goodness movers don't judge. We are totally That House on the block right now.
+ Mr. PW and I agree: it's far more fun to buy stuff for inside the house than it is to buy the house itself. We'd budgeted for a new sofa, a new bed, a new mattress, a new washer and dryer, and some things like bedding and bookshelves, and we went on a little spree last weekend to get most of those. Why wait? I'm kind of stupidly excited about our new washer and dryer. We're going to go from using 60 gallons of water a load to 18. That's crazy! I'm also ridiculously hopeful about our mattress. We're switching from inner spring to natural latex in an attempt to maybe not wake up every morning needing painkillers just to function. I'm only thirty - I shouldn't feel this way. And Mr. PW's only twenty-nine, and doesn't have a chronic illness. He has even less reason. Crap Inner Spring Mattress now becomes our guest bed.
+ Which means now most of the money we have left goes to those little repairs.... like fixing the hot water heater that's plugged into an extension cord. And those cracked rafters. And the carpet in the bathroom.....
+ I'm hoping we have enough money left over to paint the front cedar siding and the front door. We have a gorgeous color scheme in mind that could make the whole house look completely different. I'll be sad if that doesn't come to fruition.
So. We're homeowners. It was all at once an excruciating, stressful process, and a moment in time that happened faster that I could blink.
Yesterday's closing was, in retrospect, anticlimactic; we did our final walk through, went over to the title company, signed papers for a bit, and we were done. Oh yeah, and handed over the biggest check I'd ever held in my entire life.
The seller lives out of state, so he wasn't at the closing. It was just the selling agent, our agent, the notary public (I think that's what she was), and Mr. PW and I. Everyone else was having fun, laughing, joking around, and I couldn't hear any of it because inside me was a tight ball of fear and overwhelmed-ness and anger - yes, anger, I don't know why - and I just wanted everyone to stop finding this so fucking fun, because it wasn't fun, okay? It wasn't. Up until the very end, when the ridiculously perky notary public chirped out "Hey! You just bought a house!" I was waiting for someone to stand up and declare that nope, the rules had changed Yet Again, and we didn't get the house and we're not worthy of this massive amount of debt. But somehow that never happened. We scooped up our piles of papers, hugged our realtor, and went to our favorite diner for pancakes.
I'm pretty sure I was a buzzkill for Mr. PW. He was trying to coax a smile out of me, asking me how I felt, getting me to remember how stressed I was while we were hunting, and I couldn't. I just couldn't feel happy or relieved or anything. I was just totally and completely numb. And exhausted. The rest of the day I could barely keep my eyes open.
It wasn't even bad, as transactions go. Yeah, the hunting part was stressful. Until we found our house, we'd get so excited about showing after showing only to be disappointed in the actual property or even worse, being told by our realtor that there was an offer on it - mere hours before our appointment. I think we only managed to snag this one because we were literally the first people to view it, and we put an offer in within three hours. At least it wasn't a foreclosure, we didn't have to deal with that current form of insanity. It was so aboveboard that I really have no room to complain, objectively. But I still hated almost all of it. We actually watched some close friends of ours go through the process of buying a foreclosure - they offered in February and their closing got pushed back four times thanks to wankery by Bank of America, and only managed to close a couple of weeks before we did. They had to get a lawyer involved. It was ridiculous. I know some of you out there have had similar troubles - I'm looking at you, Emily - so I know we're fortunate.
I'm still tired. I'm still numb. 24 hours of perspective has allowed me to be a bit calmer, lose a bit of the anger at the torturous, nervewracking process, and start planning forward for the first things to get done (hire a plumber! buy primer!) but I'm still wondering when I'll feel like I can celebrate.
Sorry, is that a downer end to a post? Here, have a photo.
*Yawn* Uft! Excuse me.
Man, you guys. I'm beat today. And it's not because of daylight savings time. I just couldn't shut my brain off last night. You know the feeling. You're bone tired and have been lying in bed for at least an hour but suddenly you realize you're simultaneously wiggling your left foot, singing to yourself, running down the grocery list for the week, and coming up with a great comeback for a conversation that happened three days ago. (I can't be the only one...)
Truth is, we've been doing something major that's taking up all of my spare time and mental energy... house hunting.
OKAY, UNIVERSE. It's out there, okay? Please don't screw us. We were trying to keep it quiet but we keep needing to let more and more people know and so it's really just out there. We have pre-approval and our 20% and we in theory are set to go, but my worst case scenario brain is waiting for it to all fall through.
I'd be lying if I said this was fun for me. Well, it's a good deal of fun, but not all fun. The loan process! Holy cow, is there anything that makes you feel more inadequate as a person? And looking at houses - here, let's repeatedly get your hopes up only to dash them like so many raw eggs upon a cold Chicago sidewalk. Houses that look sweet and cozy on the MLS listings have trees growing into the soffits, bowed walls, fist-sized holes in the drywall, tile laid on top of linoleum in the kitchen (without any appliances, of course) amateur electrical work, mold smells, and a host of other problems that make you turn on your heel and run, no matter how big that garage is or how nice the storage space in the basement is.
Or, you know, squatters. Which is what we encountered in the very first home we toured. As Mr. PW said, they looked like extras from Winter's Bone. our realtor* cheerfully took it in stride, and when we made it to the basement where we were alone, turned to us and said "Now I encounter that kind of thing all the time, but I imagine you feel a little awkward!" Um, yes. Good thing that house wouldn't have worked for us anyway.
Quite a few of the houses we've seen are actually quite nice - or could be, if we had a place to stay while we fixed them up. But we need a place that's livable immediately - our lease is up on May 31, and we have to move before then thanks to things like finals and grading and a trip Mr. PW is taking. And of course, we need to know whether we're staying in our current place or we're going even earlier than that. Worst case scenario is that we could ask to sign another year lease. But we're hoping we won't have to do that. Did I mention our landlady is showing our place on Saturday so I'm doing the mad-rush spring cleaning thing on top of all this? I haven't had any down time, period, in days.
Of course, my impractical brain skips right ahead from buying a house to buying things for the house - a new table and chairs, a new sofa, a king size bed, art and paint and nice things that one might find at Ikea or on Pinterest. But make no mistake - no one's going to want to Pin this house. It's going to be modest. That's just where we are as a couple, and in our lives. But it would be nice to have a little place of our own, don't you think?
*Whom I adore, and has really kept me sane. She's been so calm and upbeat. She loves first time buyers and it shows. If you ever need a realtor in the area, let me hook you up. I'd recommend her in an instant.
Whenever I'm stopped at a light and pedestrians walk in front of my car, I stomp as hard as I can on the brakes. I'm secretly terrified that if I don't, my car will jump forward and hit someone and hurt them. This has never happened, that I am aware of. Yet I will never trust that I won't be the one it finally happens to.