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April 2005

Well done, Universe

Apparently all you have to do to get the universe to cave to your demands is whine about it on your personal website. Mighty Maggie management will be flying off to Colorado at an unholy morning hour Saturday morning and staying till Monday night. It won't be a terribly long trip, but management has never ever spent the night away from her husband and adorable baby nephew or not, two nights seems like an AWFUL LONG TIME.

Except we have spent one night away from each other, oops. Last summer Phillip attended a bachelor party slash camping trip in the wild woods outside of Seattle. There was to be fishing and grilling and much manliness involved. There was only one thing to do, of course. I rented Can't Buy Me Love and Say Anything, bought a flat of strawberries and some melting chocolate, and invited some of the bachelor party attendees' wives and girlfriends over for a Big Girly Sleepover. We'd just bought an actual mattress for the bed and we hadn't yet sold the futon mattress to the guy who drove the Mini (and that was cool, watching this guy slide our queen-sized futon mattress into his Mini) so we were all piled on the futon in the middle of the living room drooling over Patrick Dempsey and John Cusack. [And Network Television? It is a sad sad thing when even the glorious presence of Patrick Dempsey can't get me to watch that pile of dreck, Grey's Anatomy.]

So anyway, we're all in our PJs watching movies and licking chocolate from the bowl (okay, that was just me) when the phone rings.

MAGGIE: Hello?


MAGGIE: What's up?

PHILLIP: Um, yeah. We're not camping anymore.

MAGGIE: What? Why?

PHILLIP: Yeah. It's kind of raining.

MAGGIE: sneaking a look out the window  It's barely raining. You wussy boys. You're going home?

PHILLIP: Um, we're already home.


PHILLIP: Right. We were trying to fish and all, but the rain was pretty bad and we didn't feel like setting up the tents in the mud, so, yeah, we're, uh, home.

MAGGIE: Well, you can't come home.


MAGGIE: We're having a PARTY. We are watching JOHN CUSACK. We are in our PAJAMAS.

PHILLIP: But I'm all wet. Can I come change?

MAGGIE: No, you can't come change. Didn't you hear the part about the pajamas? This is a GIRLS ONLY party.

PHILLIP: But where am I going to stay?

MAGGIE: You should always have a Rain Plan. Figure it out.


MAGGIE: AIIEEE! He's holding up the stereo! Gotta go!

Phillip ended up camping two blocks away at Neighbor's house because Neighbor was staying with me and her husband was one of the rained-out wussy boys and hello, Diane gave Lloyd a PEN. Some things are just REALLY IMPORTANT. (Also? Ione Skye? Is in Fever Pitch and she looks fabulous.)

So anyway. The point: it won't be the first time I've stayed away from Phillip. But it will be the first important time. It's a whole different STATE. I know this probably sounds silly to you people whose spouses travel for work and everything, but I'm going to whimper about it anyway. Wah. (Like how I find something to complain about even after the universe has given me everything I ever wanted? Right. I'm good at that.)

I had to write Sister a smarmy email to get out of confirmation practice on Sunday morning. (Turns out she won't be there either. Score!) And I had to talk up the adorableness of the nephew to my boss so he'd be cool with me taking time off for visiting and for moving. (Although, let's remember that this is the boss who said, "Of course we can push back your start date 3 weeks so you can go to China!" and "Of course you can go to Europe in September! Everyone should go to Europe!" and "You just take as much time for moving as you need!" because, in case I haven't mentioned it before, he ranks among the awesomest.)

Any ideas for good baby gifts? I've already sent this kid an extra super soft blanket (which I'm told he immediately pooped and peed on), a little rattle, wooden letter blocks that spell out FREAKING ADORABLE BABY PINCUS, and onesies that don't fit. I have some more onesies to bring along, but if you've given or received the Coolest Baby Gift Ever, be sure to let me know. I've gotta compete with five other girls for the Cool Aunt designation and I need the Internet's help! Any ideas for new parents would be good too.

So I'm just going to sit back and let you all work your gift suggestion magic. Oh, and box up the bridesmaid dresses that were mistakenly sent to me. (See, the store sent the Seattle dresses to Connecticut and the Connecticut dresses to me. I found this to be an extremely amusing development, but the Bride? Not so much.)

So soft and squishy under the toes

If I want to visit my new nephew- the month-old, extra-adorable, totally loves the sound of his aunt's phone voice, chunk of babywonderfulness in Colorado Springs- I have to leave SATURDAY and come back MONDAY and fly in and out of DENVER and rent a CAR and all of this without my HUSBAND because he is swamped- SWAMPED!- with work and is chained to the gigando server that's taken up residence and ordering room service from the spare bedroom. And people, it's not even about money because after this weekend, the New House begins running our lives with its demands for inspections and papers to be signed and spiffy new upstairs paint jobs.

Wah. Can't visit the baby because of my brand new house. Life is SO unfair.

In other news, there is CARPET in my new house. Carpet! We haven't gone inside for the last week and a half, but yesterday I dragged Fellow Bridesmaid* to the house and insisted that she ooh and aah over the lush lawn and the cute little shrubs and the red front door and the stunning beauty of the cedar siding. We couldn't get inside due to the irritating deadbolt, but there was a guy standing around watering the grass, so I decided to ask him if he had a key. I "control the property" after all! Right? Right. So I marched up all demure and polite and ready to suck up, but Bridesmaid looked at the Lawn Guy funny and blurted, "Lawn Guy?" and Lawn Guy was all "Bridesmaid?" Turns out Lawn Guy and Bridesmaid totally attended the same baby shower a few weeks ago. For a baby born a few days ago to parents I sort of knew in college, the husband of whom manages our financial investments. Oh, the world, it is so very small.

We kind of knew this already. The brother-in-law of one of the builders is friends with our friends The Neighbors*. The brother-in-law rides the bus to work with Phillip. A few weeks ago Phillip happened to mention to the brother-in-law that we were thinking of buying a particular townhouse and the brother-in-law was all "Hey, my sister's husband is building some townhouses in that area!" Fancy that. We weren't planning on making the connection known- there are buyer and seller real estate agents for a REASON- but on the day of the first open house, the seller agent was hanging out with The Neighbors AND the brother-in-law and it was kinda difficult to keep it quiet. So yesterday I stuck my hand out and said, "Hey Lawn Guy, these are our six degrees of separation" and rattled them off. And he said, "Oh, I heard one of Neighbor's friends was buying one of the units!" Then he cocked his head and added, "Nice to have a face for the girl who wanted white cabinets." At that I emitted a hollow laugh.

The hollow laugh - lips parted, teeth together, no more than three low pitched ha-ha-has. This communicates that someone has made a tasteless joke or has offended you in some way, and they need to not repeat it.

From Miss Manner's Guide for the Turn-Of-The-Millenium

To his credit, Lawn Guy let us inside and it was in that way that I was able to see the glory of the new carpet. CARPET!!!

The floors are all cleaned up. No more dust and shoe prints and blue tape shreds lying around. The single sneaker that they'd spray painted at the same time they repainted the cabinets- which had been perched on a holy cardboard pedestal in the kitchen- was removed. More fixtures were installed, including a dining room type of light fixture in the master bathroom. The sink and appliances were in place, the windows cleaned, the ginormous table saw gone from the garage. WHY WON'T THEY LET ME MOVE IN YET???

They won't. Stupid escrow and mortgage company and inspection people and demanders of 19-page forms everywhere. (You know what is horrifying? You can write on these forms in ink. In your handwriting. Which does not have to be good. And then? You can CROSS THINGS OUT. When we sat down with our agent to write up the offer, he wrote everything down in his wretched handwriting and then crossed things out and wrote on top of them! He scribbled on the Official Form For Buying A House! This is legal! Are you not shocked and offended? Someone needs to inform the real estate companies that we now have computers.)

In the meantime I have to satisfy myself with the Dania furniture website and calling up the Lieutenant* so he can wake up the baby and put him on the phone. And the baby goes "Hmph! Weh! Mew!" and "When will you come visit me, Aunt Maggie?" and ISN'T HE THE MOST BRILLIANT BABY EVER?

*Get yo cast of characters here.

The only beauty advice I will ever give the Internet

I haven't cut my hair since Thanksgiving, and then only because my cousin, the Professional Hair Priestess, was in town and giving trims away for free. She sat me down in my grandma's utility room, wrapped a towel around my neck and gave me a salon-quality cut in under 15 minutes. All that time you spend at the fancy salons is just to make you feel like your $50 is actually worth it. It's not the cut, it's the experience, right? (According to my friend The Neighbor, the $50 you drop at Gene Juarez downtown is worth it just for the little complimentary pots of tea you're served while you're waiting.) I'm not so much for salons, though. I like being pampered as much as the next girl, but I prefer my pampering to be done anonymously, which is never possible. Nowhere does there exist the beautician (cosmetologist? Hair Priestess?) who does not yammer on about her boyfriend and her roommate and her chihuahua while she's cutting your hair. And if she's not talking about herself, she's asking YOU questions and that's even worse. I can zone out while she's (or he- I've had many the limber-fingered man chop my hair) blabbering about herself, but I can't even make small talk with my friends.  I HATE sitting there frantically trying to think up the next topic of conversation so that the girl who's cutting my hair doesn't think I'm a boring snob. I end up asking them about the chunks of blue in their hair or where they got their earrings or gosh, I can never get my hair to hold a curl so what do they suggest? I don't recommend this last idea as I once left a salon in Cincinnati with near-permanent poodle dog curls- not the kind of hairstyle one wears to dinner at home with your brother and sister-in-law and baby nephews.

In college I was friends with a girl training at Gene Juarez and she cut my hair for free. I had extra-short little boy hair back then and it was awesome- until she got married and moved away and I went into apoplectic shock at the price of Real Actual Haircuts. Seriously, this is the only reason my hair now reaches halfway down my back.

And people? Hair that long is not good. It clogs the drain, your husband gets a mouthful when you're trying to snuggle at the movies and the baby you hardly ever get to hold at church grabs giant fistfuls and joyously rips it out. I decided, finally, that Something Must Be Done and tried several times to make appointments to have it hacked off, but then I see some movie star in InStyle with long beautiful hair and the Barbie-doll-loving little girl inside of me shrieks, "Nooooooo!" And sometimes the only available people at the salon charge $60 which, well, NO THANKS.

So last night I decided to do the next best and most direly needed thing, which was to cut my bangs. Myself. I've done this a few times with varying degrees of success, usually finishing with a spastic phone call to my aunt to find out if my cousin will be attending the next family gathering. But yesterday I was very very bored, very very restless and very very annoyed with the flop of fringe that hung past my nose. So I drew a little line down the center of my scalp and then a little V shape that went almost but not quite to the edge of my face. I pinned everything else back and then got out my well-worn Fiskars, used for everything from wrapping presents to cutting slices of pizza.

The Internet will tell you to get your bangs wet because it defeats cowlicks, or not to get your bangs wet because you'll cut them too short. The Internet will also tell you to divide your bangs into three sections and snip carefully, or to gather them all together and cut into them at 45 degree angles. But the fastest, easiest and most what-the-hell-why-not way of cutting your bangs is to gather all the hair in the V, twist it into a little rope that hangs in front of your nose and hold it at the end- a little bit below the bridge of your nose. Place your scissors right above your fingers and in one swift snip, cut through the rope. What's left is a little bit longer on the sides, which is what you're going for, and fringey and uneven in the right way. I sweep my bangs to the side, so uneveness is necessary. If you're brave you can make your cut shorter and go for a more blunt look, but if you are attempting this, I MUST emphasize the importance of a quick, short, in-one-fell-swoop slice through your hair. If you go slowly, your rope will untwist itself and you'll be cutting at a funny and surely not attractive angle. Of course, if you are using old Fiskars that live in your kitchen drawer, you will run into this problem anyway. But again- the side sweepy solves everything!

Then comes the issue of how to blend it into the rest of your hair and I have no advice for you on that one. My method involves wielding the scissors at dangerous angles and snipping away until you're either satisfied or you're afraid to go any further. Whatever you do, your Hair Priestess cousin will undoubtedly read you the riot act when she sees you next, but you will at least have saved yourself $60 and made her pity you enough to give you yet ANOTHER free, fabulous and salon-quality haircut.

Why do laundry? We're MOVING!

Lately we have been absolute models of restraint regarding our new house. The first week we signed the papers, we drove by every night and sneaked in most of those nights. That weekend the listing agent held an open house for the one unsold unit left, so we showed up bright and early with our supporters in tow to check out the carpet, the counters, and the fixtures. And after that week? We didn't go until the next open house weekend when we brought my in-laws to fulfill the oh-so-important Parental Inspection. That was Sunday and, amazingly, we left our house alone until last night, when Phillip wanted to stop by at 10 p.m. just to look. Which is all we could do because our house now has a LOCK on it. No more sneaking in, and not for lack of trying. I've got three more weeks, people. That's twenty-one days. I deserve a MEDAL.

The only addition to our house- that we could see from outside, anyway- is the landscaping. My new house now has a very nice fence, a red maple tree and an assortment of scraggly little mysterious bushes. It's hard to read the little tags when you are trespassing in the dark. I picked the unit in the back corner because it would have the most private yard. The two front units look out on the street and have a tiny patch of grass with a sidewalk running through it. The unit next to mine has a larger patch of grass, but sidewalks running down two sides of their unit. My unit might face the townhouses they're building on the other side of our block and the sad decrepit apartment building on the other side, but no one is going to be walking through my yard or next to my house. There's also quite a bit of space (relatively speaking- have you SEEN how they pack these townhouses together?) between my house and the others, so even though it's blocked on all sides, it's not like someone's going to be staring directly into my living room.

But anyway, where my fence meets in the corner, the builders have dumped a pile of gravel and a large rock. Directly in front of the rock is the new maple tree and then the little bushes form a semicircle around the tree. It's okay- again, hard to tell in the dark- but I'm not cool with the rock. It's sitting there like some kind of relic being worshipped by it's leafy and bushy subjects. "The rock must go!" I declared. There's another larger rock sitting in the gravel area between my unit and the next, but it looks like the builders haven't decided where to enshrine it yet. I'll wait to pass judgement. Also, the gravel is kind of lame, but they've left more than enough space for grass AND for the multitude of flowers that have not yet been purchased from Home Depot. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE FLOWERS.

One of the situations Phillip and I have noticed as Future Home Owners is the increasingly poor condition of our apartment. The kitchen floor needs to be scrubbed and we should probably do some vacuuming, but WHY? Why bother when soon- SOON!- we get to MOVE? Knowing I'm moving means I have a much greater tolerance for filth. We don't even care about the woodpecker slowly breaking into our apartment via his beak. (Yes, the woodpecker is back. The Pecking: Part Deux.)

I've also been ignoring the small mountain of ceramic pots on my landing outside. I left them and their contents there to die last fall when I realized I had nowhere to store them. All summer I had a staircase full of petunias and geraniums and gerber daisies, but the cold came and the leaves got crunchy and the squirrels started hiding their peanuts in the soil. But a few days ago I was walking up the stairs and there were bright green leaves sticking out of the crunchy brown ones I hadn't ripped out. So, where I thought I had NO plants, I now have a tiny fuchsia, a tiny geranium, and a few sprouts of gerber daisies. I am DYING to put them on my new porch. DYYYYYING.

Yeah, well, this is the most boring post in the history of post-dom, but this whole "closing date" thing is the suckiest part of Home Ownership and whining is necessary. Don't you think I should get the keys NOW?

White smoke

This is about the Pope. Not the new one.

Between June and August of 1997, I was stuck at home, working at the base Public Affairs office until it was time to pack up and go to college. I turned 18 in the middle of July and that's the day my parents officially stopped paying attention to me. They did not ask where I was going, they did not ask what time I was coming home, they did not ask who was going with me. They weren't home the weekend I got stuck coming home from Florence and had to sleep overnight in the train station with the bums and the ladies of the evening. And when they came home and found out, they didn't particularly care. And when I told them that I wanted to go to Paris for a week with the crazy church people, they didn't care about that either, except for maybe a slightly raised eyebrow or two because the church people? Fairly crazy. But this is not about my parents.

One of the hip-to-the-young-people things Pope John Paul did was start up World Youth Day, a yearly get together for, um, the world's youth. The Catholic youth, actually, but I'm certain the Pope did not discriminate. A bazillion young people would converge in one city for one week of sermons, singing, and seminars capped off with a huge Mass. At my church that year there were a couple hip-to-the-young-people-or-so-they-thought grown ups and they planned a big trip in August for World Youth Day in Paris. (I think they rather regretted this idea after it was all over, but that is an entirely different- though exceptionally entertaining- story. This is not about the crazy church people.)

At this point I'd lived in Europe for exactly eight years, three of them situated an hour north of Venice- a prime spot for travel. But my family had never gone to Paris and as I was about to leave Italy for good, I was feeling slightly sore about this. I mean, it's Paris. So I decided to join the crazy church folk and pray the Rosary on the ten-hour bus ride for my one last chance to visit the Louvre. Also? I'd get away from home for a week and I'm sure my parents were just as excited about that as I was.

Anyway, imagine my displeasure at finding out the crazy church folk expected me to, you know, participate. I went along with their hokey games and sang their hokey songs and obeyed their hokey demands for the most part, but when the leader of our group put his foot down about me going on my own to visit the Louvre, I responded in ways the Pope probably would not have condoned. (The church folk had their own gaggle of children, but as none of them had yet reached Teenagerhood, the church folk were slightly stymied as to how to deal with the handful of seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds on the trip. Meaning that we bullied them mercilessly. Oh come on, that's what teenagers are for, right?) So anyway, I convinced him that the Louvre would be a Religious Experience and by that time he was pretty sick of me so he let me go. And you know what? It was a religious experience. But this is not about the Louvre either.

On the day the Pope was set to descend upon Paris, all the youth gathered at the Eiffel Tower to greet him. And by "all the youth" I mean hundreds of thousands of kids from 150 countries. We were roped into manageable sections and waited for hours, drinking water and praying for clouds to float in front of the sun and rushing across the way to buy a World Youth Day t-shirt. And then the shouts went up- the Pope was coming. We stood up and strained on our tippy toes to see out over the throngs of people. He was being driven slowly down the gravel path in his Popemobile. He was frail and hunched over- I don't ever remember seeing the spry and athletic Pope- but he waved at the crowds and smiled and moved his hands in the sign of the cross. He looked out on each side, as if he were trying to make sure that each kid would be able to say that he saw the Pope at World Youth Day.

Later in the week, renowned gospel singer Dee Dee Bridgewater sang, “O, Happy Day!” as Pope John Paul II rode through the crowd of more than 500,000 pilgrims waving flags, banners and white sashes at him in greeting. For many of the young Catholics, seeing and hearing the pope was a high point of the pilgrimage, and it showed in their response to him.

“It kind of gave me a spiritual renewal to see the pope,” said 15-year-old Marissa Mountcastle of Orange, California. “You hear all this stuff about how ‘big’ the pope is, but when you actually see him, you get to feel it.”

And the pope, in turn, seemed to draw just as much inspiration from the young people. “Some people have said the pope has gathered all the young people of the world to Paris,” he told them. “It is not so. You have brought the pope to Paris.”

When I watched the vigils a few weeks ago when the Pope was dying, there were many many young people waiting in St. Peter's square and in Poland. The cable news channels liked to linger on the kids who didn't quite look the part- with piercings and dyed hair and cigarettes. Plenty of anchors pontificated on the attraction of the Pope to The Young People. It quickly became trite, but I felt that it was true- and I felt privileged to have been one of the young people. At the Mass at the Longchamps race course at the end of the week, the Pope spoke in many languages, always addressing us as Dear Young People! Most of that Mass was a horrible experience, a logistical nightmare, but I remember the thousands of people my age holding candles at night, watching the Pope baptize nine other kids, and the quiet over the crowd as he spoke to us. It made you feel important, to be directly addressed by the Pope. Dear Young People!

Supposedly the pope's final words were addressed not to his loyal friends and assistants that were at his bedside, but to the crowds of young people chanting up at the window of his papal apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square.

He said, in Italian: "I looked for you, now you have come to me, and for this I thank you."

Travel the world and the seven seas

Near the top of my Must See TV list is The Amazing Race, the only reality show I could ever see myself doing. Except not, because, hello, it's on television. Also, I like taking showers every day and people like Boston Rob make me cry. So, yeah, maybe I'm not really cut out to be a Racer. But still. Reserving flights? I'm awesome. Navigating? I kick ass. Reading comprehension skills and following directions? My elementary school scrapbooks are full of certificates to prove my excellence in these areas. (And from the previous sentences, you can see that I also have a good-sized ego, a definite requirement for any respectable Racer.) So maybe flying scares the crap out of me and maybe I run a thirty-minute mile, but I could last until episode three, I know it.

So anyway, last night the Racers flew from Botswana to India. And, from the admittedly limited TV presentation of India, it appears that India is much like China with the terrifying cab rides, rickshaw drivers and hordes of people gathering around the Foreigners. Even the Detour made me think of China, with the pots of tea. I turned to Phillip, who is only midly entertained by reality television and was just avoiding his homework, and said, "I miss China!"

Now where, Internet, did THAT come from? Lest you forget, my time in China involved taking showers on top of the toilet, impossibly spicy food, interminably gray skies, constant staring and numerous homicide attempts by cab drivers. And to be honest, I didn't find China particularly beautiful. I know there are many beautiful places and sights in China, but downtown Xi'an is not one of them.

I miss Blondie, our insta-friend who, every night, sat between Phillip and me cracking up over back-to-back episodes of Scrubs on the little laptop monitor. I miss our students, whose conversation dated from the Old Testament as their English textbook was the Bible, and who teared up with me on our last day in Xi'an. I miss Kitty, Blondie's sophomore student, who still writes every once in a while to tell me about the current Chinese festival and to update me on Teacher Blondie. I miss spending 50 cents on a lunch I can't finish and a dollar on a taxi ride across town (although with those taxis, you get what you pay for). I miss the orphan babies I held for one afternoon. I miss Western pizza and Coronas that cost ten taxi rides at the High Fly pizzeria. I miss locking up my house for three weeks while I go sightseeing in the most foreign country I've ever visited. Phillip and I are pretty lucky, huh?

I miss Italy, too, although it's not the people I miss there. (Except my parents. I love my parents! Hi parents!) I lived in Sicily when I was eleven and twelve, and the smells and tastes and textures of Sicily always factor in when I think about what heaven is like. I lived in the Azores after that and maybe one day I will write about hiking over volcanic rocks and hurricane winds and going to a high school with two hundred students in grades seven through twelve. We moved back to Italy three years later, albeit northern Italy where the sun and smells are not quite so spectacular as my earlier experience. Occasionally something will taste like Italy or sound like Italy- try to stop the mopey when that happens.

Sometimes- and I KNOW this sounds stupid- I hate the fact that we have to have jobs and pay rent because it seriously interferes with my whole Seeing The World plan. You can get around this dilemma by choosing to work in a part of the world you have not yet seen, and Phillip and I were going that route for a while last year. We're not anymore- turns out Seattle isn't such a bad place to be. But I still think about teaching English in China or taking a year off to ride the trains around Europe. I'd like to see pyramids and elephants and South Pacific beaches and remnants of the Cold War. If someone decides to produce The Amazing Race on NPR, will they please call me up?

Fifteen random thoughts do not a post make

Welcome to the latest edition of My Husband Is Working Late So I'm Drinking Wine And Reading The Best Of Craigs List. And also? Wasn't the world a sad place before Instant Messenger? With Instant Messenger I can sort-of-pay-attention-to my husband's explanation of what he's actually doing and send him this at the same time.

I'm also looking at this because I am a boring almost-new homeowner and this because I am a terribly anxious and anal-retentive almost-new homeowner.

You know that song they're playing now on the teenybopper station with Alvin the Chipmunk? Or maybe not the real Alvin, but maybe his thirteen-year-old cousin? So there's this chipmunk singing about being lonely, oh so lonely, he has nobody, to call his own ah-oooh and then there's a guy rapping on top of that? So it's a HIP HOP song with a CHIPMUNK. Right. I know. But people, I love this song. I don't usually listen to that teenybopper station, but on my drive home they play that song and I love it and I can totally do the chipmunk's part. The thing is, I totally don't see how anyone else likes this song, let alone sees fit to play it every hour. Me, I love the 1950's doo-wop chipmunk style, but most people, well, most people don't love the country song about the Pick-Up Man who met all his wives in traffic jams. And I LOVE that song.

We had my sister over here last night for dinner and a Miss Marple and friendly engaging banter with the Original Thursday Night TV Gang and you know what she gives me? Her cold. Thanks a lot, dude. Kleenex stockholders thank you too.

I finished A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver yesterday. And then I started in on The View From Saturday, another E.L. Konigsberg story. That author, she's a bit off, as my friend's English mother would say. I have a somewhat large collection of sixth grader books for someone who is well beyond sixth grade herself, but those are what I read when I remind myself that I would someday like to be an author who is A Bit Off. I was hopping around the blogosphere the other day and found a little discussion going about books we all loved when we were kids. I had no idea that Anastasia and the Stanley family were universally adored! The Westing Game also scored itself a few mentions, despite the efforts of my sixth grade teacher dad who made a face every time he saw me with that book.

(Although the kid on the Anastasia book kinda freaks me out. That kid was probably wasn't even born before I read my first Anastasia. And Anastasia is someone who looks strange without her glasses, not strange with her glasses. Take that kid off the cover!)

Are you allowed to leave the state when you are in the home-buying process? I have a nephew I need to go see. All this inspection stuff and papers to sign and financing to secure is really cramping my style. (And if you think that sentence implies that I am nowhere near mature enough to purchase my very own house, you are probably right. Unfortunately for you, this is my website.)

Okay well it's late and my husband is still yapping about the server and the email and the backup and the hard drives and the blah blah blah and that means my eyes are glazing over and it is time for me to go to bed. I hope something exciting happens tomorrow morning so I can post about it real quick and get all this drivel off the front page.


Neuroses explained

Here are some good things about today:

1. It's Friday. Fridays are, by definition, extra fabulous.

2. Red Mill Burger for lunch.

3. I have a new database to play with, meaning my crap work gets shoved to Monday. And, let's face it, Mondays are for crap work anyway. Fridays are for jeans, hair that isn't blow dried, and catching up on blogs. Ok, right, I do that last part every day.

Last night Phillip and I wolfed down dinner and skipped out to look at Our New House while there was still daylight. They'd hung the cabinets and drawers- that was the only difference from our last clandestine visit. The walls and floors are still papered and plasticked over to protect them from the paint. The carpet isn't down, the toilets and sinks are lying on their sides and the walls still have holes with wire innards seeping out. The kitchen cabinets- white, not green- are missing their knobs and handles. The front units will be finished first- ours is in the back- and the builders are having an open house this Sunday. I plan to show up with my husband and my sister and my personal interior decorator (and not all together, of course!) to sneak a look at the finished (nearly) product. By Sunday the countertops should be in, the carpet should be down and the tile laid in the bathrooms. It's occurred to us that we bought our house somewhat sight unseen, but we barely noticed it while it was happening. After seeing practically every townhouse in the city, they all start to look alike. You can count on a few things, although I'm glad we caught the green cabinets issue...

But now that I have a house- a brand new house- I'm starting to feel a little terror. What I'm about to write will have the entire Internet nodding their heads, finally understanding the root cause of my sleeping issues, but ohmygodIonlyhaveonechancetomakeeverythingabsolutelyperfect!!! Because, it's not like, if I decide the color I painted the living room isn't really working for me, I can just do it over. That's a lot of work, not to mention potentially provoking homicidal thoughts in my husband. What if I save up for my oft-dreamed-of red couches, then I order them and they show up and they look hideous? The first time I hang a picture I better like it, because there's no way I'm treating the brand new walls that I own the way I treat my apartment walls. (Hello Apartment Walls! With your many punctures and scrapes and broken screws lodged in the drywall!) I don't even think I can BE in the house when we move furniture upstairs because of the high risk of Wall Defacement. What were we THINKING buying something brand new? This is why I've always thought that I would never buy a brand new car.

Phillip thought I was kidding last night when I asked a friend if I could borrow her collection of Pottery Barn design books, but I am utterly terrified of ruining my pretty new house with some godawful color scheme or a poor choice of wall art that I can't take down because I can't put more holes in the wall. And YES, I KNOW I am being RIDICULOUS. No one says neuroses make SENSE.

Also, I should probably wait on this whole next phase of Freaking until we actually get the keys. We've signed the papers, we "control" the property and financing is secured. But there's not really a lot to do until we get the keys. I figure I may as well start the Freaking. I never said I was a procrastinator.

The thing is, the house is already imperfect. Last night as we were admiring our shiny white cabinets, Phillip asked, "Are they dry?" and I said yes, because when I ran my finger over the counter (underneath where the countertop will go, mind you) it WAS dry. And then he stuck his finger on a cabinet door and made a little fingerprint in the not-quite-dry-yet paint. It's tiny. No one will ever notice it, but it's there and we know it. There was no screaming or gnashing of teeth, though. We just kind of stared at it and thought: "Well, I guess it's really ours.

There WILL be chocolates on the pillows

Never the kind of people to let the Universe get us down, Phillip and I spent Sunday evening in the company of our cheerful and industrious real estate agent writing up another offer on a townhouse. It took nearly two hours (one hour of which could have been eliminated if Phillip had only acted on his impulses to deliver a swift kick in the rump to Mr. Agent every time he began to repeat himself. Which was every other sentence.) This was the essence of our offer:

Dear Mr. Builders Who Are Handsome and Wonderful and Sporting Large Pectoral Muscles:

Please oh please let us have one of your funky new townhouses, the rear one on the right, if possible, for we love the sparkly newness and we haaaaaaaaate our apartment and cannot bear to spend another summer with the heat and the ants and the laundry room in the basement. For this we will give you a cement truck full of American dollars. There are some strings, those being:

1. please don't paint the cabinets a minty olive green as this is an affront to all people who everywhere who would prefer not to be reminded of baby puke as they cook their nightly meals.

2. you must give us something extra in return for not automatically supplying us with a washer dryer combo and a refrigerator, especially as whatever refrigerator we purchase will cost the entire GDP of Argentina as it has to match the other snazzy fancy appliances in the kitchen.

3. and we are taking $500 off the asking price. Just because. We hope it makes us feel a smidge better about having to sell our firstborn to our father-in-law in order to purchase the house in the first place.

Sincerely Yours,

Phillip and Maggie Homebuyer

And guess what, Internet? The builders AGREED. In fact, they are having their people REPAINT the kitchen cabinets white because I was so repulsed by the Minty Olive Green. (Painter: But it goes so well with the green streaks in the counter tops! The Builders are "fun"! They like to do things a little "differently"! Maggie: MY EYES ARE BLEEDING.) They are giving us MONEY to buy APPLIANCES. And the only condition is that we move up our requested closing date, and seriously, this is the most confusing part of home buying thus far, as I want to move in AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. At 11:30 pm last night, in my pajamas, I suggested that we go "look at our house" and "try to get inside" because I wanted to "decide where the new red couches will go" and Phillip was all "how am I going to put up with her for another FIVE WEEKS?"

We meet up with Mr. Agent again tonight to sign over what ever we didn't sign over last night. Hopefully we won't try to inflict bodily harm as he makes sure- for the eighteenth time- that we really truly understand the finer points of addendums and inspections. There will most likely be a stop at the grocery store afterwards for cheap champagne. Whee!

Chateau Cheung is now taking reservations at mightymaggieATgmailDOTcom

No, in fact, you may not have the salmon. I am Reservations Queen and have decreed it so.

Since I've seen you last, I've taken my beloved automobile to the shop, spent $110 of my own personal money on supplies for the Big Event, fielded 897 emails regarding the program for the Big Event, attended a meeting at church in which we ran through the program for the Easter Vigil- AGAIN, nixed dozens of available properties for sale based on price, location and square footage, drove around for two hours viewing properties for sale in order to nix them on sight, eaten fast food for every meal, stayed late after work every day and woken up before my alarm every day. Sleep, wherefore art thou?

Phillip had class the other night so I thought I would drive around town after work and check out the listings our real estate agent sent us. Also because one of us is a little better with directions than the other and sometimes it is more convenient for that particular person to drive herself around than to sit in the passenger seat barking directions and turning unattractive shades of frustrated purple. We aren't all blessed with iron in our noses.

I had to pull into a gas station and while I'm standing there (it's ARCO, they don't have the little thingy that locks the handle in place because they sell cheapo watered-down gas), some guy in an Army uniform and beret is looking at my car funny. And I'm all "Why is this man staring at my beloved automobile?" and also "Uniform! Uniform! Love uniforms!" Finally he comes over to me and says, "Ma'am (Ma'am?) I believe you're leaking radiator fluid" and then he flees in fear upon seeing the Enormous and Angry Cloud of Discontent that immediately appears above my head. You may recall, my car has leaked radiator fluid before...

But did this stop me from seeing the last (crappy, far away, possible meth lab) house on my list? Of course not. I was on a MISSION. I made it home, parked, and sat at my table looking out at the little radioactive green puddle gathering beneath my beloved automobile. Sighing, I drove it down to the shop, left it in the loving hands of my mechanic, Raoul, and spent the evening in U Village waiting for Sean to pick me up and buy me coffee and drive me downtown to pick up Phillip where we would present him with my Splendid News, the Splendid News being that he would get to ride home in Sean's fabulously-carpeted Buick.

The no sleeping parts aren't that interesting. Neither is the interminable miserable house hunt. Oh but then we had to re-do Easter Vigil, complete with responsorial psalms and chants. Sister called this Miss da Gogia and NO it's not really spelled like that, but I have NO IDEA what she was talking about. Miss da Gogia was all about sitting in a circle and listening to some guy go over all the readings and ceremonies from Easter Vigil and trying not to smirk when the cantor screeched the Alleluia and we all had to follow suit. It was about REMEMBERING the Easter Vigil and all I could think was "We have to do the Easter Vigil again?" And I hate saying that, because I really enjoyed the Vigil and actually knowing the people who were baptized gave me heaps of warm fuzzies. But the Easter Vigil? THREE HOURS LONG. Afterwards, when everyone was sharing their Special Memory, Phillip and I just stared at each other willing the other one to bust out laughing first. Because we are incredibly mature. Again, this is what makes us excellent sponsors, don't you think?

Work is also not interesting, except for the part where I gave everyone a deadline and everyone proceeded to ignore my deadline and are now peppering me with emails at a rate of one bazillion per minute because OH NO THEY ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE THE SALMON!!! Can I switch this guest with this guest? Can someone sit here and someone sit there? Oh, we didn't know that that person was going to be at our table- we fired that person- can we please have another table? Have you made the name tags yet? What these people don't understand is that I don't care. I. Don't. Care. Ignore my deadlines, deal with your crappy table.

So ends the Friday rant. Think of us tonight as we brave the snowy pass on our way to Spokane.

Homework: 1. Find me cheap tickets to Colorado Springs. Must see nephew! 2. Find me a beach house big enough for 8 on the Oregon Coast. 3. Find my townhouse! This is the important one, people. HUNT!