Monday, April 21, 2014

In Which I Whine About Houses Yet Again.

1) The South, oh, the South.  There's this kind of convention here called "How Ladies Get People To Do Stuff By Being Sweet As Very Persistent Sugar."  I find myself doing it simply because it's the most efficient way to get stuff done.  Picture me calling several very busy contractors (some of whom flat-out turn me down because they have too much business to bother). "My husband* and I are looking to buy a house but there are some structural issues.  I know you're so busy...[other person grumbles about how busy they are and how they probably can't]... and I'm so sorry to bother you about it but we only have a week to figure all this out.  Is there any way you could come out and have a look just to give us an estimate?  I'd appreciate it so much.  How about Tuesday?  No?  Monday?  Oh, thank you, I really appreciate it."  And so on until they give in, because I will just keep going until I get what I want.

My spouse informs me that the Ohio version of this is, "I need an estimate on X.  Are you free on Tuesday?"  While I am very tired of the lengthy script above, I have strongarmed three contractors into coming out on very short notice.  If I were brusque and Northern at them, it would probably be two weeks until they slotted me in.  Really, that's just how it is.

2) The House of Endless Headaches, it transpires, has somewhere between "Hmmmm" and "Oh sweet baby Jesus" of termite and mold damage.  Here I was trying to make the responsible choice (over an older, beautiful house) and it comes and bites me on the rear.  More many-branched decision making ahead.

3) If I have to do one more round of "What Would We Decide If X Costs Y" my head may explode.

* Note that I almost always say spouse in conversation, but that is not the vernacular of the region, and do I really want to confuse people over this?  When I'm calling about construction?  NO.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marital Harmony

I have just returned from two days at my parents' (three-bedroom) house.  My sister and my grandma were also there.  We had a very brief Pesach seder!  We ate!  We drank in great moderation, uncharacteristically!  Dr. S got food poisoning!  (Not from my mother, from a restaurant.)  My kids drove the tractor!

However, due to the large number of people who snore, talk in their sleep, or get up multiple times at weird hours, we arranged ourselves so:

My boys slept in the sewing room in a pack and play and on a mattress.  My sister Pru slept on the bed with them (badly.)

My grandma slept in the guest bedroom all by herself.

My spouse slept on the living room pull-out couch. The dog, who normally sleeps on the couch*, slept in the dining room.

My mother slept alone in her/my dad's bed.  I slept on an inflatable mattress in their walk-in closet.**

My dad?  He slept outdoors, in the sauna, in a sleeping bag.  No, I don't really know why.

* The day my parents found her as a skinny stray has to be the most-improved day of this dog's life, I tell you what.
** Amazingly quiet and dark, especially with a fan outside for white noise.  Highly recommended.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pro Tip:

Space OUT major projects, events, and un-reschedulable-stuff.*  For example, it was not the best idea ever to a) sign a house-buying contract during finals week; b) then have to schedule inspections immediately thereafter; all of this c) the day before one's spouse receives 40 finals to grade by d) MONDAY, which is e) the first night of Pesach**, for which f) one's 80-year-old grandmother is flying in from California.  

It reminds me of once in college, when a former student, back from grad school, gave a talk.  I remember nothing he (or possibly she) said except "Don't have your thesis defense and a baby in the same month.  Just don't."

* You'd think I'd know this by now, eh?
** A holiday for which one traditionally cleans crumbs out of ALL THE THINGS, especially (ahem) my car, in which many a goldfish cracker has died, and my counter, where the flour lives, and my fridge, because I empty-and-clean it only twice a year.  And this is one of them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

This Is Just To Say

... that arranging-things details are spilling out of my ears.

I was, at one time, able to a) run my own multi-year, multi-project research program while editing a journal and volunteering weekly and later b) manage a tech support team along with all its extremely varied needs, work on many software projects, and have a small child.  This is a mystery to me.  Yesterday I had to a) take Bug to a kindergarten-observation slot; b) take Bug to preschool; and c) go to a meeting.  I forgot the observation and was late to the meeting.  I would have been late to preschool, but it was on the way to the meeting.

We have made an offer on an ugly-ass house.  It may have lead paint and asbestos.  I have been arranging for testing for these things - this involves labs, licenses, accreditation, inspectors, contract amendments... it goes on and on.  Why is Dr. S not dealing with any of this?  Because it is finals week and he has until noon on Monday to submit all the grades.

Perhaps my brain is full of these details to the exclusion of all others.  Yesterday I set something out for dinner, forgot it, and cooked something completely different.  I also defrosted a chicken, and then realized that it was not a good idea.  Pesach is Monday.  We are going out of town.  I still have to clean/boil the entire kitchen. Send help, brandy, minions, and secretaries.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Depressing, But Not In Error

Last week, Dr. S finally printed out his wage statement from Mountain U.  I sat down to do the taxes and saw they had listed "Federal Withholding: $0".  I promptly panicked and demanded he call HR right away (they were closed).

Eventually he got in touch with them.  The response? "Yes, we got your W-2; yes, we calculated your salary times twelve months.  Your federal tax liability should essentially be zero because you are poor.  Stop bothering us now."

(AGAIN.)

Friday, April 04, 2014

In Which My Brain Is Scattered

I should be doing a lot of things.  Instead!  Here I am typing away.

For instance, my in-laws are, in theory, showing up in town tonight (doubtless at some ungodly inconvenient hour).  Have I cleaned the bathrooms or put away any of the laundry-pile infestation?  Have I acquired any food they would be happy to eat?  I have not.  In fact, we're almost out of bread, too.  They've 'changed their minds' so many times that a) I fail to believe they'll show up until they're at my door and b) I don't give a fuck if they judge my housekeeping.  Even though it's Dr. S's housekeeping, mainly.  (He folds laundry, does dishes, and sweeps, and we split bathroom cleaning.  It's the week before finals, and we were away last weekend, and one of his students just plagiarized something, which generated a tornado of possible-expulsion paperwork and meetings.)

This morning, Bug went to preschool, and then he had a check-up.  When he was crying and kicking in the car ("I don't WANT a shot!") did I calmly and compassionately soothe him?  Did I give him a goodbye hug?  I did not.  (Also he had been screaming, jumping like a frog, and throwing tantrums for an hour, and my compassion was low.)

We are making yet another offer on a house - this one very BLAAAAAH.  I can envision it after $40,000 of new materials and a lot of work, and Dr. S can't, and therefore we are differing degrees of BLAH about it.  However, any house where one's conversation includes, "Well, if we took a prybar to that wall in the basement and knocked out part of the kitchen with a sledgehammer..." will not lead to overwhelming joy.  Perhaps acceptance. We will see.  I can't decide if I'd be sadder if they do or don't accept our offer.  (There are good, logical, reasonable, compelling reasons to buy this house.  None of them are exciting reasons.  This house is that accountant you date in college and you come home and say "Unobjectionable in every way.  Heavens, I was so bored.")

... and now I have to get the child from 'quiet time'*, cook, clean, fold, sign things, go to the real estate agent's office, go to the grocery, go to a consignment sale, go to dinner at the Hillel, and collapse onto the couch just in time for my in-laws to wake up my children.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

*Mama needs to eat her lunch in peace, kid.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In Which I Go Full-On Watering Pot at Toddler Storytime

Last week, I took Tatoe for his regularly scheduled Library Toddler Storytime.  I brought along my knitting, as I usually do, because toddlers can be boring.  Afterwards, they were all playing with play dough and a woman I kind-of-know asked what I was knitting.

"A present for a friend's baby." I said. "She had some tragic events recently and I hope this baby makes it."

"Oh," she said.  "We lost four.  Seven pregnancies, three children.  We lost three right in a row.  I look at little girls who would be that age, sometimes, and I still feel sad.  And nobody talks about it, or they do and then they get upset and you end up reassuring them and it's even worse.  When did your friend lose hers?"

So of course I said "I'm so sorry to hear that, it's just terrible" and told her (in general, privacy-protecting terms, though these people will almost-certainly never meet) and we both sat there in front of all the small children and their parents and the librarian with tears streaming down our faces.  I've never lost a child, but I know so many people who have, all the way from garden-variety infertility to sudden and inexplicable stillbirth, and it's such a tragedy and awful and terrible and I'm probably going to cry every time it comes up ever.   

Anyhow.  Clearly I should bring a different knitting project to the library.