Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Useless Information About Me

Since all I've been doing lately is moaning about house hunting, I thought I'd shake it up a little and take Mrs. Chicky's offer on an interview. Because you just didn't know enough about me, right? I know the suspense is killing you. So without further adieu, here goes...

1. You've done gone crazy and pulled a Britney. You've shaved off all your
hair and you're about to get a tattoo. What tattoo do you get to detract
from your poor choice in hairstyle?

Owning up to my insanity, I would rent my bald head for ad space. Might as well keep it going. For me, it's all or nothing in life.

2. If you could pick one feature from your dream home to be your favorite
what would that feature be?

My favorite feature in my dream home is my own art room/office. No one else would be allowed to enter this room. I would be the sole owner of the key to this room. Anyone caught entering would be punched. Including the kids.

3. Sorry, you can only eat one flavor of ice cream for the rest of your
life. But you get to pick. What flavor would that be?

Absolutely chocolate. And it would have to be Ben & Jerry's.

4. Dog or cat person?

More of a cat person. I have had a psycho, moody cat for the past 12 years and I couldn’t live without her even though she’s a pain in the ass. But I think Border Terrier’s are the cutest dogs on earth. So maybe one day I’ll get a dog. Either way, I’m an animal lover in general.

5. What's your shoe size and favorite type of shoe?

Thanks to my kids, I’m now a 7 ½. Formerly a 7. My favorite shoes are sandals because that means it's summer. My favorite season of the year.

So have I made your day with all this intriguing information? At least you didn't have to live through insufferable tales of house hunting woes. But thanks everyone for offering your two cents on the house of my choice. More to come on that topic.

Would anyone else care to play along? If so, let me know and I'll be sure to send you some questions. Because it's all about us, right?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Honey, I'm Home (I think)

So just when I thought we had found the house we really liked and could easily afford, the city of Columbus owns part of the property. There’s something called a right of way easement on the property and there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it vacated.

After a long conversation with my mother who happens to be an administrator for a planning and zoning board in New Jersey, she knew all about easements and suggested we walk away. So we did. These poor owners have been trying to sell this property on and off since 2005. Mental note: do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

So once again, the house hunting resumed on Saturday. I was truly disappointed by the outcome on the house that had the easement because I was fully expecting to put a bid on the property and start packing. But such is life. There are worse things.

So I went into our house hunting for the 5th straight weekend in a row with guarded optimism. I really needed to calm down and take a deep breath and understand that this is a tremendous process. We saw the first house, and I thought, “OK, well this isn’t the one. Let’s move onto the next.” The kids were being pretty patient and it was a sunny and pleasant Spring afternoon. So off to the 2nd house we went with our buyer’s agent. We entered the front door of this house and I said, “I am home.”

It’s a 2 story Dutch Colonial in a great neighborhood with crown molding, chair rails, built-in bookcases and corner cabinets, hard wood floors, a second floor porch, a front porch with a swinging bench, a large backyard with a deck, 3 bedrooms and a playroom off the kitchen. So what is wrong with this place? This house was built in 1925 and it has the original windows (enough said), the driveway needs replaced and at the high range of our budget is totally capping out our funds. But this house has great character, and it’s a great location. We’re expecting good resale value because the old adage in realty is location, location, location, right?

So unfortunately I’m on the road for business most of this week, so my husband is going to look at it again on Thursday, at which time, we most likely will put in a bid. We need the owner to come down in price in order for us to actually afford the home based on the down payment we’re providing, and to feel like we’ve gotten somewhat of a deal, considering the work it needs.

It’s the first house my husband and I have actually agreed upon as well. I hope the optimism remains for him when he sees it on Thursday. We’re going through this whole house hunting process in two completely different ways. He seems to think we have eternity to find the “perfect” house and I’m a more impatient person who wants to find it yesterday. I’ve been wanting to move from our townhouse for a very long time. Our buyer’s agent summed up our house hunting perspective perfectly: he’s the voice of reason, and I have the emotional connection. Which I guess is a good balance. I just hope we can come to a finalization soon. I want to move before the summer begins. I’m hoping this house works out to be the one. We will be totally strapped for cash in the beginning. But I can’t help but ask myself, “Do I really have an option?” My son, CJ will be starting kindergarten this summer, and not to mention my kids need a yard. A neighborhood. A place to have their friends over. And frankly, who would deny this face a happy home?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Deep Thoughts

There was a film history professor at Rutgers University that told me he was shocked I had graduated from the 8th grade with my poor writing skills. Considering that I fancied myself a good writer, I was obviously devastated by what he told me. He was the first teacher that ever told me that. Besides the fact that I might have wrote that term paper in record time with a hangover to meet the deadline, that still didn’t warrant such an insulting bitch slap. But at the moment, as a 20 year old visual arts student, I hung to my creative talents like threads of life and for someone to tell me I was a terrible writer, he might as well have stuck a knife in my heart. In other words, I was an extremely sensitive, emotionally weak struggling artist searching for the meaning in my work and whether or not I should even continue to pursue my desire to be a filmmaker. Today I would tell the guy to go fuck himself. The fact that I never became a filmmaker or a photographer had nothing to do with that teacher, but more to do with the lack of courage and guidance, and a real need to pay back school loans. But I digress…

Now, I know I’m not a great writer, but I think of myself as an OK writer. I’ve always loved to write, I kept a diary all through elementary school, high school and part of college, and writing a book has always been on my top ten list of things to do before I die. I hope I live a long time because I’ve got several “chapter ones” lying around that seem to be going nowhere. I’m going to need a lot more time once my kids grow up to finish any of those. This pesky full time job just keeps getting in the way of all my worldly pursuits.

So imagine my surprise when someone whom I truly respect as an insightful and witty writer, nominates me as someone who makes her “think”? Me? Make somebody think? I’m utterly flattered and completely surprised. I’m so grateful that there’s someone else out there in blog land who actually relates to something I’ve said. Several months ago I would never have imagined this cathartic exercise of blogging. Now today, I’m shushing my kids to try and blog. And a couple months ago, I had the great fortune of meeting Christina, from
A Mommy Story, who shares the Buckeye state with me.

So without further adieu, thanks, Christina, for bestowing on me the Thinking Bloggers Award. Me love you. And me thank you. So screw that professor in college. If he could see me now…

And as is customary with this award, I'm going to share the love. There's another female blogger out there that is not only an excellent writer, but through her painful experiences, has moved me in so many ways. I have never personally met her, but through her words I feel like I know her. She has experienced unmeasurable grief, and has opened her world to us through her blog. And for that I thank her. I award the next Thinking Blogger award to Karla, of Untangling Knots.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Does This Hideous Kitchen Have to Come with the House?

I am officially sick of house hunting.

I know I introduced this in my last post, but I'm back again to bitch about the stress. As of this writing, we have officially looked at a little over 20 houses. Houses in good neighborhoods, houses in artsy neighborhoods, cheap houses, expensive houses, new houses, old houses, small houses, large houses, houses with awesome kitchens, houses with ugly kitchens, nice bathrooms, disgusting bathrooms... Well, you get the picture. A house for sale in our neighborhood in our price range? I can provide you with the complete profile of that house instantaneously. Why? Because I've looked at it already! I should be in realty. And speaking of a career in realty, you know what pisses me off the most about a realtor? When you go to an open house, and ask the realtor which elementary school is in the district, and they don't know the answer. WTF? Do your homework! I thankfully have a buyer's agent who's been doing a lot of the footwork for us, but we've been to the occasional open house with him and the fact that they don't have correct information on schools drives me nuts.

And I know I’ve been a little lax with blogging lately. All of this has been so hard to get into words lately. But then it occurred to me that I should be sharing all of my house hunting woes with all of you! Misery loves company right? I'm actually really excited because this will be my first home purchase, but it's just that the wind is starting to leave my sails, and all the houses I've seen are starting to blur into one another. But we’re getting into the nitty-gritty stage. We’re beyond the “Wow! We’re going house hunting!!” stage to the “We’re going house hunting again this weekend?” stage. We're thinking of bidding on a particular property. Just typing the words, 'bidding on a property', make my hands shake, so forgive me while I breathe.


Okay, I'm better now. Back to complaining.

My house is a mess because I’ve done no cleaning on the weekends. And everyone within a six mile radius of my desk at work knows I’m house hunting. The good news is that I’m currently a renter so I have no property to unload. Bad news is that I’m not rich and can only afford a small house. But it’s a house, right? So what if the bathroom is small. I can start to practice standing up while I pee. Guys do it. I could probably find a way.

So, readers, I give to you a sampling of the homes we’ve viewed over the course of a few weeks, just to bring you up to speed. These have been a few front-runners:

The dirty/needs a lot of work home

The gorgeous, newly renovated expensive home

The house that needs so much work no one wants to touch it with a ten foot pole home (although I love the look of it on the outside! So we really need a working toilet?)

The needs updating/good school district possible winner home

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Life Hunting

My husband and I were married in August of 1998. I was 27 and he was 38. Since then, we have lived in 5 states. Moving to escape the rat race, moving to escape a certain climate, moving to “start over” and moving to “begin again”. We’ve lived where we are right now for a little over 3 years. While that might not seem like a long time to some, that is close to a lifetime compared to our track record. Going back in my head, trying to dissect the very reasons we chose to move all over the country, it had nothing to do with logic. To others I’m sure it seemed like we were running from something. To us, we actually were running towards something. Trying to find ourselves in another community, searching for who we are as human beings, and where we might be the most successful. It never seemed to quite work out and we lost a lot of money and survived many arguments throughout all the traveling. But we would trade nothing for the adventure that we had.

You might think since we have been living in our current state for over 3 years now that we’ve found something. That we’ve actualized a bit of ourselves, inching closer to happiness. That would be a convenient and happy ending to a half decade of running, but it is not the way it is. While I don’t like where I live, I don’t hate it. And while I complain about the lack of things to do and see, I continue to search out activities and remain optimistic. I’ve come to terms with my where we've arrived, after a long internal battle, and actually call my town “home”.

Additionally, after a long employment search while I typed away at a dead-end job, I landed a great job. Not just a higher paying job, but a career changing job. Life was turning toward the up and up. Things seemed brighter again. The future seemed more promising as I watched my children sleep snug in their warm beds. And so purchasing a home seemed like the next step to consider. Since our comfort level has increased and our family has grown from 3 to 4 with the arrival of our baby last year, I was all right with calling this place “home”. This place would one day be described by my sons as their “hometown”. My husband and I were excited. We were ready. After years of renting, with no feet firmly in place anywhere on this earth, we were ready to plant the seeds. And so began the house hunting.

And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, life throws you a curve. There came the possibility from upper management at work, that my job might best be conducted in another state, 400 miles away. In a big city. An exciting city. However, a city we are not familiar with. So, yet again, a new city. Another new city. Do we want this? At first, we jumped on board. Yes, transfer me to this great, new city! It would be a great opportunity for me and my career! It’s not like we’re unaccustomed to moving, right? We can handle it. We have done it many times before. We’re pros.

But like bringing an aging pitcher out of retirement, we were achy. Slow. Tired. The air seemed to be leaking out of our spirits fast. Do we want to move again? But we were never happy here in the first place, right? Or were we?

Happy would not be the right word to describe it. Happy is how I feel when I get home from work and wrap my arms around my children. Happy is when it’s summertime and I feel the warmth of the sun tanning my skin while my toes dangle in a pool. No, happy wouldn’t be how I would describe my feelings for the state in which I live. Content. That is more appropriate. But is that settling? Have I grown so weary of adventure since becoming a mother that the sheer weight of that responsibility has made me immobile?
I would like to think that my vigor for life has not left me with the onset of parenthood. However, our focus shifts to less adventurous things like good school districts, a nice home, access to good healthcare and insurance, all those things that, dare I say, make us…. safe?

I assume that is the cyclical nature of life. We bring to our children all the lessons learned and our valuable education not only from school but from the streets. Because it’s their turn to be adventurous right? There will be a time one day when these birds will be freed from their nests to investigate the world on their terms and in the most appropriately reckless way possible. That right of youth has passed me now. It’s going to be their turn soon. And I would be lying if I said there isn’t a hint of jealously. As it turns out we are not moving away from this town. We are henceforth sentenced to the contentness of this tiny Midwestern mecca. But for some reason, at this ripe old age of 36, it doesn’t seem so bad after all. And I don’t feel like I’ve settled one bit.

This post has been a long time coming. There has been a tremendous amount of stress over our living conditions lately and we’ve officially started our house hunting. And I haven’t known how to put this all into words.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lost 3x11: "Enter 77"

I’b a little sick right nowb, so I bissed the first 10 binutes of Lost last night…

I’m so sick of this weather and now I can’t believe I’ve caught a cold. Now I’m desperately attempting to avoid my kids so not to spread the germs, because if one of the kids get it, we all know it will be this cyclical travel of germs back and forth until summer. It’s very hard not to help my husband with the kids at night by just staying in bed and sipping hot tea, but really I’m trying my best!

As for Lost, last night’s episode was very suspenseful. And how big is this freakin’ island? The explosion that rocked last night’s final scene was pretty big and loud, so I can’t imagine the rest of the inhabitants didn’t notice. Thanks, Locke, for yet again another stellar performance on the computer. Not only can you make the sky purple by not pushing the button, but you can also cause explosions. You might consider taking some time off from the keyboard before you melt or turn orange or something.

Thanks to Sayid’s perseverance we have a map to the Others’ camp! One request I have of the writers, is that I hope they don’t drag out the search for Jack until the end of the season. I’m getting a little tired of the physical battles between the Losties and the Others. Last night’s episode didn’t really answer any questions, just raveling the mystery even further into the unknown as is usual for the show. It was progress, just progress toward more of the unknown. And anyone for a little game of ping pong while everyone else is out busy saving the world? I love the contrast of the beach people, while Sayid, Kate and Locke are out in the jungle kicking ass and blowing up huts. Truly entertaining in a very Gilligan Island meets 24 kind of way.

Well, enough of me pretending to be a TV writer. Back to my cold. March seems to be my worst month when it comes to sickness. I’ve had some of my worst sicknesses in the month of March. WTF? Just when I’m ready to spring into spring and put winter behind me, it’s like the germs who seemed to have been lying dormant for months rear their ugly heads to play one more evil joke on me.

Monday, March 05, 2007

To Parents: A Nickel Bag a Day Keeps the Tantrums Away

Attention parents: there’s a new way to handle your cranky toddler! Teach him how to smoke weed! Don’t waste your money on parenting books, spend your hard earned cash on ganja!

In all seriousness, needless to say,
I was appalled by this recent story out of Fort Worth, Texas. Of course my knee-jerk reaction was, where’s the parents? According to the story, the mother is sleeping in a back bedroom, while her brother, the boys’ uncle, and his friend, encourage the kids to smoke pot. By the video, and according to the police report, it’s not the first time these kids have experimented with wacky weed.

At this point, I could go on by writing an enormously long post about child abuse and neglect. I could shout out from my soapbox about how the mom needs to get out of bed in the middle of the day and watch her kids. I could also write about how a story like this validates all the negative assumptions we make about a certain class of people.

But I won’t. Me? Moi? The most opinionated person my friends know? No, today I’m hesitating on shouting out from my ivory tower. Not because I can tolerate people giving marijuana to kids, but because I have no idea what the whole story is. So many people write posts about how “shocking” and “unbelievable” a recent news story was. But honestly, what I have to say is: Believe it. This goes on in our country. This is the reality of child neglect that is happening even as I write this post. So am I mad about this story? Hell yes I am. But here’s the real question I’d like to pose: how did the mother get into the situation of having to nap in the back bedroom while she left her small children in the care of their uncle and stoner friend, while apparently there seems to be no father in the picture. I can only hope she’s not sleeping in the back bedroom in the middle of the day because she, too, is stoned. She might be sleeping because she has to work third shift to provide for her kids. I have no idea. All I know is that this shit goes on everyday under our noses. Kids are smacked, punched, stabbed, shot, smothered, shaken, neglected and sexually abused everyday. The interesting thing about this story, is that it only came to the attention of the police because they were searching the house for stolen goods and came across the video equipment which was used to tape this incident, on a stolen camera. Had they not been raiding the house for other reasons, none of us would be aware of it today.

The kids are now in foster care. My bet is, in a few weeks, they’ll be back at home. This time, I’m sure the cameras will be turned off, where it will be up to the “system” to keep an eye on them from now on. I can only hope that smoking pot is the worst of what they are experiencing, but something tells me there's more.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bangthology: The School Years

I'm so late to the party, but it was such a kick to see some of my favorite bloggers' hair anthology that I had to jump on the bandwagon. So here's a short history of me, according to my hair:

1978: The Boy Cut

1983: The Sha-Na-Na phase?

1985: The Miami Vice phase with appropriate teen attitude

1987: My Tribute To Molly Ringwald

1989: Finally mastering the art of teasing upon graduation

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jersey Girl

(Special Note: I think my blog exchange partner is knee-deep in midterm exams, so not sure if I will be getting her post. So without further ado, I give you mine)

There was that chick from New Jersey that we all imagined, smacking her bubble gum between her teeth while smoking a Marlboro Light, full of East Coast attitude. In the 1980s, you could practically set a drink on the ledge of her bangs they were so high, but that was the style. And Jersey girls set the precedent for ‘80s hair’. Shampoo it, mouse it, tease it and spray it. I, for one, grew up on the Jersey shore and I was a little south of the Sopranos-style neighborhoods of Northern New Jersey, where the true “Jersey Girl” seemed to reside in our imagination. At least the kind that us central Jersey girls envision in our heads: high hair, acid-washed jeans, white belt, white boots, red lipstick and black eyeliner. But she is much more than that. And I am more of a Jersey Girl than I think.

When I moved to Columbus, Ohio from Red Bank, New Jersey, it was at the very least a culture shock. No more rude 7-11 store clerks, no more road rage, no more lazy summer days at the beach, no more scenic road trips, no more obscenely high car insurance rates, and no more mass transportation. Central Ohio is like one big land of flat suburbia, with a major interstate cut through the middle. Strip mall after strip mall, there is urban sprawl everywhere, while our downtown consists of vacant department stores. But no one here seems to care much. Most of the people here are modest, middle class people that care only about whether the Buckeyes will have a winning football season. Sometimes there’s too much of an evenness about the people, just like the landscape that surrounds us. I know I’m not making it sound very nice, but it’s really just fine. Just fine. And that’s the best way to describe it. Not too great, not too bad, just F-I-N-E. Fine. But how can this Jersey Girl manage such “fineness”? Where is my 3 hour commute? Where is the scummy ocean wave filled with hypodermic needles? Where is the overpriced housing? Where are the property tax hikes? Where is the political graft? Where is all the traffic? How can I function in such “fineness”?

Exposed to the Jersey way of living for 30+ years, I certainly lived up to the saying, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” But in my case, of course, I’m a girl. And apparently a complicated one at that. I was so flabbergasted when I came across the following definition of a Jersey Girl from Wikipedia, I thought it would have been extremely appropriate for the publishers of Wikipedia to place my photo next to this paragraph:

…She's humble, but ambitious. She's independent, but family-oriented. She likes pizza, beer and lots of mascara, but don't think for a moment she's not sophisticated. Jersey girls are about attitude. A Jersey girl is "crunchy on the outside, and soft in the center." A Jersey girl has the tenacity and drive of a New Yorker, but with the beauty of warmth and humility that being from Jersey is all about. Don't mistake her toughness as a lack of refinement. Don't misjudge her sometimes 'brash' manners as a lack of 'classiness.' At the center of the crunchy sweet exterior, she is tuned in and knows how and what she's workin'. She's spunky and witty, and she handles competition very well. She's got that confidence. Bottom line: she's sexy as hell and if you're lucky, she's yours."

Upon reading that paragraph, I think there’s a little Jersey Girl in all of us. Meanwhile, I’m hanging onto my Jersey-ness here in Ohio, so that I can continue to get giddy everytime I open my car insurance bill to remind me why I’m still here.

This month’s blog exchange assignment was to pick a song and write a post about the title. My song is “Jersey Girl”, by Bruce Springsteen, my hometown hero (even though Tom Waite originally recorded the version, Bruce covered the song later). I picked this one because I truly live up to the official description. And it ain’t a bad song either. Long live Bruuuuuce!