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March 2005

Whine. Whimper. Moan.

The dream of home ownership? Currently on pause. Our offer was rejected and it turns out that our next options, well, those are all pending sale too. Yesterday my boss sold his house. He got his first call after it was listed for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. And then they left an offer on the kitchen table. Now how, Internet am I supposed to compete with THAT?

So all that hostility in the air, that's me, hating the universe.

In the meantime, there will be the annual Coloring of Eggs this evening. I have to get a package off to my new nephew, clean my bathroom and attend a combined 15 hours of church this weekend. It'll be okay. But there better be something new on the market next week, because I? AM SO READY TO MOVE.

Words of comfort, sympathetic murmurs and general universe-directed rants may be sent to mightymaggieATgmailDOTcom....


Project Townhouse Two: The Freaking

Last night over a Starbucks vanilla latte/oatmeal cookie dinner, Phillip and I signed nine dozen documents instructing banks, brokers, lenders and agents to systematically suck out our savings with a little black coffee straw. It was more than a little nervewracking for me and every ten minutes or so I had to snap myself out of one of several recurring reveries:

1. The Cute Asian Couple Interviewing Their Potential Wedding Photographer. This group sat right across from me, thumbing through the Cute Asian Photographer's collection of photo albums, examining the price sheet and asking questions from a little list. I watched the girl whip out her credit card, I watched the guy write down notes, I watched the photographer carefully wrap his albums in velvety bags- all while my husband and my real estate agent were discussing closing dates.

2. The Eclectic Group of Conversation Partners. Why did I think I could understand snippets of Russian? Because I swear Russian is easier to figure out than how much rent to charge until the sellers move out in June.

3. The Sorority Girls Discussing Whether Or Not You Can Handle Dating Two Boys At Once. Because when you are trying to decide to put down 10 or 20 percent, even sorority girls can be captivating. (Dear Sorority Girls: JUST KIDDING.)

So, Internet, how irresponsible is that? Also lazy and inconsiderate, seeing as how Phillip had to do all the financial heavy lifting. Although I am pretty good at the Freaking Out- someone's gotta do it- and the Freaking Out is in full swing as we are NOT the only offer on the table and we won't find out until TOMORROW if they even are CONSIDERING us. I have just finished an exhaustive real estate search of the Greater Seattle Area and concluded that there is NOTHING ELSE AVAILABLE. Do you hear that Townhouse Owners?  I don't want to be demanding or anything, but I have already repainted your scary red hallway and redecorated your living room in my house-obsessed brain. Please take pity on me.

Gah. And I can't even imagine what it will be like when our offer is rejected and we have to go through this AGAIN.

On a much more spectacular and joyous note, my nephew was born early this morning finalizing the Full Fledged Grown Up process my little brother began last summer when he graduated college, married his high school sweetheart and morphed into Lieutenant Pincus. The baby arrived a bit early, but maybe that was just because he wanted to catch the Huskies vs. Louisville game at 4pm Pacific, in which case he is definitely his father's son. It's the Sweet Sixteen, people!

So tonight, instead of huddling over paperwork with our agent or perusing the townhome listings for the millionth time, I'll be heading down to Pottery Barn Kids to engage in some expensive retail therapy. As the oldest of six aunts vying for the Cool Aunt title, I've got a disadvantage. I am, however, the only aunt with a full time job. Do you know what this means, Baby Pincus? LOTSA PRESENTS!


Not giving up on the dream of home ownership

I would like to know how the businesses of America expect you to go to work and actually be productive when, at the very moment you are typing up a post for your personal website when you should really be typing up a nice form letter, you are also MAKING AN OFFER ON A VERY CUTE TOWNHOUSE. How is this done, Businesses of America? The phone calls, the emails, the form letters, the project for which I am solely responsible for making sure Important People get the eye-poppingly expensive meal of their choice at the Important Event- how in the WORLD am I supposed to concentrate on this? If Mr. CEO and his Trophy Wife end up with two salmons when they were supposed to get steak, it is SO NOT MY FAULT.

My weekend, when I was not developing crushes on numerous NCAA athletes (Mike Gansey! Call me!), I was out house shopping. Okay not house shopping, as the word "house" implies, well, one single dwelling. No no no, an actual house- by which I mean: the roof is not falling in, the plumbing works, the carpet does not smell like cat pee, and is situated in a neighborhood where you are 99% certain that crystal meth is not being produced in the near vicinity- requires about a frillion more dollars than what we've currently got in our New House Jar. But we were townhouse shopping which is somewhat within our financial reach.

Some thoughts on Townhouses, especially the spate of new ones going up north of Green Lake.

1. You cannot buy a new townhouse without granite (or slate or some synthetic yet very snazzy) countertops. Now why, you ask, would I NOT want granite countertops? It's not that I don't want them, but when you are out to buy your first home, like many of us townhouse shoppers, it seems a bit much. As does the

2. full bathroom in every room. Again, not particularly complaining, but I wonder how much these amenities jack up the final price.

3. The tiny living rooms! TINY TINY TINY. In 75% of these townhouses, there is no space for my dining room table, which, it must be known, is MUCH more important than granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a shower in every bathroom. How are you supposed to have a PARTY inside these places?

4. The "third" bedroom is a joke. The "third" bedroom is about as big as the master bedroom's walk-in closet. It might have a tiny window, it might have a sliding glass door onto a teeny tiny patio. It is barely large enough for my husband's fourteen computers and monster desk (and you know he can't have the second upstairs bedroom for all that stuff!) Not much impressed by the "third" bedroom, although I was mightily impressed by the townhouse that added a FULL BATHROOM to this "third" bedroom.

They are pretty and sparkly, but they seem small and cost too much. The townhouse that we want? Has three bedrooms and the "third" bedroom is way bigger than the two rooms upstairs. It has about 400 more square feet than the others. It doesn't have hardwoods or granite countertops, but it does have more bathrooms than 2 people really need. Also a fairly scary bright red hallway that my interior decorator and I are seriously going to have to discuss. AND CAN I HAVE IT PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE???

We talked it into the ground all day and I emailed our agent around midnight. We faxed her the pre-approval letter. She's handling the paperwork and we're going to see it again tonight. All that's left to do is Completely Freak Out and, of course, I've got that covered.


Thinking:

there is nothing like DOUBLE OVERTIME to rewind all of your hard anxiety-related progress and make you bust out the elephant tranquilizers. Do you think my brother should name his new baby Pittsnogle Pincus? Because I think that would rock. Oh wait, he's already naming him Nate.

I've gotta go- Hoosiers is on.

UPDATE! I added a notify- see right sidebar- even though NotifyList is notoriously suckalicious. But you all should humor me and sign up anyway, because my a) my husband is at WORK right now even though it is MIDNIGHT b) I am home alone c) I have run out of O.C. episodes on TiVo d) AND bottles of wine e) I could totally use the attention. So if that made you feel sorry for me and inspired you to make me feel better- and that should be ALL of you- go sign up.


Sometimes it causes me to tremble

Oh Internet how I've been neglecting you. Let's blame it on my spyware-infected computer, shall we?  Somewhere on this site I believe I have called the death penalty "vile", but let's amend that to "vile except in the cases of the people responsible for unleashing the unholy hell of viruses and spyware into beautiful internet-land, including the reprobates who thought up the Elite Bar, which somehow hijacked my beloved Google toolbar and replaced it with shortcut buttons to online dating sites."

Work sucks, the house hunt sucks, and we have to figure out how to get rid of a 14-year-old thrice-stolen minivan tomorrow. So let's talk about something that doesn't suck, namely the choir at St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle.

I don't like cathedrals. They are big and scary and overwhelm me with their massiveness. Not to say I don't appreciate the architecture and art, but attend actual Mass inside one of those things?  No thanks. The cathedral in Seattle doesn't compare to, oh, St. Peter's, but it's similar to the church I attended as a frightened 10-year-old in Messina (and in Italy, ALL the churches could be American cathedrals). I say frightened because there were some mean looking nuns at that church and I SWEAR they were giving me the stink eye the entire time because my brothers and sisters and I were not sitting up front with the rest of the children where the nuns could lay the smackdown were we to twitch in our hard cold seats. Obviously, I am not over the experience.

ANYWAY, I tend to stay away from the cathedral, except on Good Friday when Phillip likes to head down there for the Good Friday service. Phillip actually likes the massiveness. For him, it symbolizes the majestic . But, Internet, that is not why he likes the cathedral's Good Friday service.  No, it's because every Good Friday some dude in the choir with a deeeeeeep voice starts singing about "where you there when they crucified my Lord?" and did we "tremble tremble tremble" and PHILLIP LOVES THIS GUY. And then after Mass, Phillip cannot stop singing about "were you there" and did it cause you to tremble and Internet, this is why merely walking into the cathedral occasionally gives me the giggles. In fact, Phillip haIs only to look at me, his chin slightly tucked, his eyebrows lifted, his mouth open in an operatic O, and I will start laughing. This is not proper cathedral behavior.

In short: the cathedral?  Huge, overwhelming, associated with depressing Lenten season and with small amounts of extremely inappropriate laughter.

It's not Good Friday yet, but we're sponsoring Future Catholics this year and are therefore obligated to attend all the services, especially the ones we didn't even know about.  It's this kind of thing that makes us excellent sponsor material.  So this Wednesday we attended the Chrism Mass at the cathedral. The Chrism Mass is where the priest blesses the oil to be used for the sacraments of baptism and confirmation at the Easter Vigil. At least, that's as much as I was able to get out of Sister who runs our gig at church and talks a tangenty mile a minute in an Irish accent. I also know  that we' were to wear our Sunday best. Although when Sister says it it comes out "Whirrr yer SUNdy BESST!" (The young people in our group? We've got some stylish denim going on, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't qualify. Also, the fact that you've been going to church since you were old enough to sit up and your forearm has the scars from your mother's fingernails to prove it does NOT mean that you had any idea that such a thing as the Chrism Mass even existed. Who let us be sponsors anyway?)

And I didn't really want to go. I mean, we've been going to church A LOT and I think we've enabled more than enough pagan babies to get themselves out of Limbo, don't you think?  Totally. Also, driving downtown at rush hour is stressful to the nth degree, not to mention finding a place to park. Is there a patron saint of parking spaces? So, we just weren't in the holiest of moods upon getting ourselves into church, something that didn't make it easier when we opened the front door to find a mass of men in white vestments giving us the stink eye because they were about to start the PROCESSION and could we PLEASE use the SIDE DOOR? (Dear Priests and Nuns: The stink eye? I am so over it.)

I missed the whole procession because I noticed that the fourth grade girl in front of me was wearing the shoes I bought myself last week at Nordstrom. What does this mean? It can't be good.

But the choir... They stood directly behind us and were accompanied by a loud insistent organ. It was deafening and intimidating and so very very beautiful. Phillip whispered, "This is why I like the cathedral" and I finally understood. My touchy feely church in the neighborhood does not convey the majesty of God like the cathedral, like the full and glorious voices of the cathedral choir. The song sung during Communion began so softly I wondered how it was possible. Then the voices fanned out into their parts, the organ swelled, the sopranos hit the high notes without breaking glass, the bass voices supporting the entire sound. It was like the choir knew it was the one thing that could fill the great vertical space.

It's late now.  If I can hack in to Typepad tomorrow I'll try and update with some links. Who knows where Messina is, anyway, right?  Maybe some punctuation too, if you're lucky. But I'm tired and all my energy is funding the part of my brain that figures out how to get out of reformatting a spyware-infected hard drive.


Monday List Mania

Things I can buy now that we no longer are in the market for a house and will not bother saving for a down payment, seeing as how the most we can ever afford in our fair city is the one bedroom-half bath house under the flight path with the cat-pee-stained turquoise shag carpet and the mildew growing in the corners.

1. I might be more inclined to try jogging if I had one of these strapped to my [toned and buff] bicep.

2. A room in this hotel. For when we go to Paris. In September. EAT YOUR HEART OUT, REAL ESTATE MARKET.

3. I need some of these in my costume box, don't you think?

4. I can totally fit this in the apartment I have now, right? Goodbye ripped-up leather couch with the cat-scratch marks! Hello beautiful comfy ginormous couch with enough room for the entire Original Thursday Night TV Gang! Now if only it came in red...

5. Plane tickets to visit Blondie. Hi Blondie! (Except not, because you can't view Typepad sites in China. Yay, censorship!) Oh, and while I'm at it, plane tickets to Paris because we don't have those yet. If anyone's keeping track, I prefer direct flights.

6. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Although the Etiquette Grrls say that on some girls, diamonds look "a trifle cold". Can't decide if I am one of those girls yet. In the meantime, these are a hell of a lot prettier than that one bed-half bath shack.

7. One day my beloved automobile will travel its last mile and then I will have to purchase one of these.

8. My husband can send this to me. But not at work. According to my co-workers, receiving flowers at work means your husband had an affair. Yeah, I don't know.  I just work with these people.

9. Also, I will need to be drowning my real estate-related sorrows with some of this.


Sentimental

I know a guy at church who has a two-year-old son. Sometimes after church we'll agree to meet in the school cafeteria for coffee and doughnuts. And our friend will point to the nursery and say, "Let me go get the boy." And there was another time when we asked what his family was doing that weekend. He said, "It's the boy's birthday so we're having a party." 

At first I thought it betrayed some kind of indifference to call your baby "the boy", then I just thought of it as quirky. Then I grew to like hearing him say it and I couldn't figure out why. The tone or the delivery? But I was thinking more about it yesterday and I realized that when our friend refers to The Boy, it's like his boy is the only boy. The only boy who matters.

And I was thinking about my grandpa this morning.

Lately when I drive to work I've been driving in silence. I have a giant stack of CDs scattered on the passenger seat and a radio station on every preset, but I've liked the quiet recently. It's much easier to concentrate on your conversation with yourself when you're not also listening to traffic reports and jewelry store ads. This morning I was sitting in the lane to turn onto the bridge. I had my blinker on and the little blinker noise seemed extraordinarily loud.

When I was a kid, my grandpa had what I believed to be a most luxurious automobile. It was a white Buick sedan with deep blue velvety upholstery, the kind you can write on just by drawing with your finger. The backs of the front seats showed footprints if you moved your foot just the right way. Or sometimes we tried to play hangman, but that never worked. Every once in a while we would pile into the back bench seat to go feed the ducks. We behaved in that car. It was very clean and smelled of older people and my grandma's plastic head scarves and velvety blue upholstery.

And it was quiet. Grandpa liked to play a game called Little Red Schoolhouse. The object of the game was to be as quiet as possible, but Grandpa never really explained that to us. He would simply say, "Let's play Little Red Schoolhouse" and then sit there, waiting for us to say "How do you play that game?" or make any other noise. And one of us inevitably did and Grandpa would exclaim, "I win!" We didn't get it. Then we got older and we got it and we felt a little tricked, to be honest. But in the white sedan with the quiet engine and the fancy upholstery- so different from our big rattly van!- we didn't need to play a game.

I remember sitting behind Grandpa's seat on these trips. He was losing his hair and I would look at the folds of skin in his neck and wonder if my dad's neck would look like that when he got old. I never thought about what my neck would look like. Most of all I remember the loud click clack whenever Grandpa turned on the blinker. It seemed a disturbing noise for such a quiet and dignified vehicle. And it lasted for an interminable amount of time! Turning into the park entrance: click clack click clack. Turning into the parking lot: click clack click clack.

When he passed away the car disappeared- my grandma never learned to drive- and if we wanted to feed the ducks in the summers, my dad drove. I can still see and smell Grandpa's car. I know exactly what the blue fabric felt like on my bare legs. Every time a turn signal permeates silence I think of the back of his neck, his hands poised to twist the steering wheel.


Wah.

Hello Internet. Welcome to Tuesday afternoon, except in my brain, where it is Wednesday and I have scheduled fourteen appointments for this evening and where is the phone and I need to cancel and what was I THINKING scheduling all this stuff at the same time except- oh- it's Tuesday. Internet, if there is no convenient conflict happening in my world, my brain CREATES it. Brain? Enough already.

And the accountant brought in Easter M&Ms and what with all my world-renowned self control, I have eaten several hundred and am now hammnering out fifteen snot-nosed emails per minute. Dear Valued Customer: Bite me.

Conspiring to shred my day into little pieces of crap are the U.S. Postal Service, an impending Cold Front of Doom and the man I no longer work for, but who seems to believe that I am still manning his own personal 24-hour technical support service. Oh, and I can't forget the townhouse I saw last night, the object of some heretofore untapped reservoir of serious real-estate adoration, but which, unfortunately, will probably be sold by the time you read this. My heart, it is breaking.

For a little over a year now Phillip and I have been doing the Potential Home Buyer Oh Maybe Not Yet Well This One's Kinda Neat No You're Right We Can't Right Now Tap Dance of Major Muscle Tension. The apartment that once seemed so large has somehow shrunk. We've talked a lot about finding a new apartment, but every time we bring it up, the Greek Chorus of Why Rent When You Can Buy? starts its shrieking and, well, why not? So anyway, they are building adorable townhouse after adorable townhouse around here, but they are all within the neighborhood of seriously financially draining. We could purchase one of these cookie-cutter townhouses if we planned to never eat again. (But you guys know my husband, right? The man needs his nightly bag o' Lays Potato Chips. And okay okay. I might be sitting right next to him slurping on my Healthy Choice Fudge Bar. And Internet, those things are SUPER YUMMY.)

THEN we're all "We gotta Hunker Down!" but Internet, that doesn't mean I don't surf www.johnlscott.com while I'm at work, right? And lo and behold, I find my Perfect Townhouse. The Townhouse of Beautiful Massive-Square-Footage Perfection. And my husband? He of the major hunkering down? HE CALLS THE AGENT TO SCHEDULE A SHOWING. Love!

So yes. It's true. The very first piece of real estate I have EVER SEEN in my role as Actual Real Live Buyer is the piece I want to buy. This is BAD NEWS, Internet. Someone is already signing their life savings away to buy my perfect townhouse RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I might write more about this later. When it isn't time to go home. And when I don't have to split myself into fourteen sections to make my fourteen appointments GOOD GRIEF I NEED A NAP.