Tag Archives: house

What Happens When You Live Alone

I’ve lived alone for about six years now. And while the only problem with being independent is I have to do everything myself, for the most part, I love living alone.

In fact, I honestly don’t know if I could live with somebody again. I’ve been spoiled with endless opportunities to watch whatever I want on TV, not be grossed out by other people’s fingernail clippings in the bathroom and I can sprawl on my couch every night without judgment.

I get my couch. My couch gets me.

But there are a few misconceptions and/or disadvantages to living alone. For instance, it doesn’t mean I flit around the house naked. In fact, I still find myself wearing a towel when I go from the shower to my bedroom and once in awhile I instinctively shut the bathroom door when I pee.

Why? I have no idea.

And even though I know it’s ridiculous, I still instinctively peek around the shower curtain like I assume a crazed lunatic is in there checking his smartphone while he waits for me so he can attack.

More realistic but equally creepy is the fact that bugs are always my problem. I can’t freak out over a spider and delegate removal to anyone else, so either I “remedy” the situation or consider the arachnid to be my pet.

bugbean

A new pet is not in the plans.

And bug relocation isn’t the only thing that won’t magically take care of itself or be done by somebody else.

That tiny twist tie that I dropped on the floor as I ran out to work in the morning is still there when I get home. No one has picked it up while I was gone and I can’t blame it on anyone else.

Trash can Jenga—the act of stacking up the trash as high as you can until something tips over instead of taking it out—is a game to be played only if you’re a) living with someone else who might break first or b) at the office. Much like the twist tie scenario above, the trash fairy does not come while I’m gone.*

*However, the trash man will come once a week, and if I don’t remember to put the big bin out the night before, it won’t magically roll itself out to the curb and will instead fester for another whole week.

Low battery smoke detector beeps are always mine to investigate, and I swear I could live in a house the size of a shoebox and it would still take me an hour to find which one it is.

*beep* Wander around the house looking for it until it beeps 60 seconds later, somewhere that I am not. *beep* Wander around the house looking for it until it beeps 60 seconds later, somewhere where I am not.

You get the picture.

Folding sheets becomes a matter of neatly folding the pillowcases and then taking the actual sheets, attempting to find the corners and align them to fold before haphazardly bunching them up and throwing them in the closet.

Of course there’s also the fear of choking and being found by an emergency crew bundled up in robe with a mouth full of hummus. I imagine it’s just a slow spiral of shame down from there.

It might even start that with the absence of a second opinion in my house, I find that I have a commentary on everything that I occasionally still say out loud. It’s like I always have an audience, and no sane person has as many conversations with inanimate objects as I do.

When putting out a new candle, I might opine to the television that, “Yes, I think that looks nice there,” or “Hmm, I should add paper towel to the grocery list I’ll forget to take with me tomorrow.”

I admit it’s a little weird to notice the self-speak going on, but on a positive note, at least I’m wonderfully supportive of myself.

After all, no one else can do it for me.

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What To Know About Owning a House

I’ve owned my own house for around six years now, and I have to say that I love it. Having a haven where I can try and escape the rest of the world is a tiny piece of heaven for me and I have never regretted buying a house for a minute.

OK. That’s not entirely true.

While owning a house is great, there are some things that I wish people had told me about before I signed the mortgage with the blood from my soul and a pen from the agent. I knew I would be spending a lot of money and that living alone, all the responsibility for things fell to me, but there are some things that I didn’t realize.

Everything is Expensive

The good news is that in the beginning after you cut the largest check of your life, everything else seems like pennies. A $300 countertop? What a deal! Only $2,000 for new shingles? Where can I send the check?

However, this excitement diminishes as the memory of that initial payment fades along with the $20/gallon paint that you put on your deck. You soon find yourself comparing the prices of weatherstripping because you’ll be damned if you’re overpaying for that stuff again.

Note: “Weatherstripping” is not as sexy as it sounds.

Also, owning a house makes you extra conscious of everything that happens in or around your house. Shoes are removed because you’re the one that has to clean up the floor, you become captain of the Light Patrol and make sure only the necessary ones are on and every creak and drip will freak you out because it will probably cost money to fix.

Note: Everything will eventually break or need to be replaced—usually all at the same time.

Let There Be Light

Speaking of electricity, every house has at least one switch that you have no idea what it does. You will find it, you will flip it on and off, and somewhere in Alaska an impromptu disco party will be initiated by your actions. But in your own house?

Not so much.

The people who previously owned my house were electrical freaks and had more lights installed than could be found on an airport runway. When I moved in I was gifted this code sheet and control box with eight switches for JUST the outdoor lights. Please note the warning on button 8:

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Just Another Day in Suburbia

You eventually perfect the “suburban nod” to neighbors that will be used every time you see them outside for around the next 20 years. Most discussions will revolve around the weather or what week the recycling containers need to be put on the curb.

Note: Remembering to put out both the trash and recycling on time — and before the neighbors — warrants ALL the suburban medals!

You also become a repository of boring knowledge and get excited over weird things. For example, I couldn’t tell you my bust-hip-waist ratio but I know my furnace filters are 16-20-1.

Driving around you notice things like outdoor light fixtures and decorative mulch, and bringing home a new vacuum is like bringing home a new member of the family.

And no matter where you live, the people who owned the house before you left at least one weird thing when they moved. I’m not necessarily talking about a body buried in the yard, but there will something that makes you wonder what the heck those people were thinking.

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Basements are Creepy

For as often as I go down there, a commune of hippies could be living in my basement and I wouldn’t know it. Aside from taking shelter in storms and changing the furnace filter (size 16-20-1), I avoid it at all costs.

Then again, maybe I should check. If somebody is living down there, maybe I could charge them their part of the rent.

After all, everything is expensive.

Your turn. What’s one weird thing about where you live?

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That Sinking Feeling

Despite what this post might suggest, I’m not high-maintenance. I just have severe OCD and like my routine, not to mention a house that functions as it should and remains rather clean.

With that said, any disruption to my basic necessities — water, food, Internet, baseball, power, mostly food again — are classified as mini-catastrophes in my world, a world where I’m not proficient in plumbing or electrical work where hummus flows freely like water.

hungry

So when I walked into the kitchen the other night and noticed my previously functional faucet releasing a small but steady stream of water, I started to lose my crap.

After taking a deep breath, I called an old handyman friend of my uncle that sometimes helps me with things and found out he could stop by the next day. I knew this was good, but I also knew this meant tons of more stress for my dysfunctional mind.

If I don’t have a sink, how can I make my tea? Use my steamer? Would he take so long that my normal dinner routine would be shattered? And what about my semi-clean floors? How am I supposed to survive?!?

Part of my frustration with these things comes from not being able to fix them myself, but 99.9 percent of my frustration comes from the series of events that follow after someone comes over to fix them.*

*Yes, I am most appreciative, but I am also OCD with no patience for putzing or lack of respect for the Lysol.

So without further putzing, let’s take a look at how this went (all times are approximate, as I’m still recovering from the trauma.)


9 pm—Enter kitchen and notice sink is running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

9:01—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

9:05—Call old handyman guy and learn a) he really wants to engage in a “to make a short story long” type of discussion and b) he can come by the next afternoon around 3.

9:25—Call mom and ask her to meet him at my house until I can get home from work.

9:26—Ignore problem for the rest of the night.

Next Day

5:30 am—Enter kitchen and notice sink is still running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

5:31—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

5:35—Leave for work and stress about sink.

4 pm—Arrive home, find mom in my garden and give her a 6-pack as a thank you.

4:05—Full of dread, enter the house and notice he didn’t heed the “Please take shoes off. Thanks!” post-it note I so carefully placed on the door. And that he moved the blanket I had down over the kitchen rug. And that he was using my favorite coffee cup and dish towel to catch the dripping water OH MY GOD!

4:05:10—Remind myself he’s helping me out. Deep breaths are taken and possibly exhaled as a loud sigh—this part is sketchy.

4:10—Make small talk and pretend to care what plumbing parts are called while discreetly moving the blanket over the rug and his tools onto paper towel.

4:15—Learn he’ll be done in about half an hour and decide I’m pretty much a revolutionary for my survival skills in times of such stress.

4:16 to 4:45—Distract myself in the form of preparing soon-to-be used cleaning products and plan how I can clean and get dinner ready on OCD time.

4:46—He’s still putzing. Start freaking out and immediately change my mind on revolutionary status.

4:55—While searching for Xanax salt lick, I’m informed it’s fixed. Pleasantries and payment are exchanged, as is the information that his wife read my first book after my uncle gave him a copy.

4:56—Feelings of annoyance wane as I gently lead him outside my house.

5:00—Begin manic Lysol/Swiffer sweeps of the counters and floors while prepping dinner at the same time, once again applauding my survival skills.

5:05—Enter bathroom. Notice the toilet seat is up, meaning his dirty shoes and everything attached to them paraded throughout my house and used my toilet.

5:06—Manic feelings return. Cleaning commences.

5:15—Smoke detector goes off, signaling that dinner is done.

5:20—Revolutionary status restored, but my sanity? Still MIA.

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The Anatomy of a Garage Sale

Since we’re officially into summer now, I figured it was a good time to revisit my thoughts on the garage sale. I don’t know how it is where you live, but it seems I can’t drive 100 feet without seeing a cardboard sign with an arrow pointing me towards the sale of the century each weekend.

If you’ve never actually put on a garage sale yourself and tried to convince people they need to buy the crap you just don’t want, allow me to clue you in as to just how much fun they can be. I conducted a yard sale myself a couple years ago and feel I’ve recovered enough to talk about my experience.

The Night Before: You stay up late making tiny price tag stickers for all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. You’re naively psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your “inventory” at slightly over $5,000, give or take what you can get for those old curtains that came with the house you found stored in the attic.

6:30 a.m. The garage sale is scheduled to begin at 8 am, but a woman pounds on your door and tell you she “likes to get an early start.”  When you walk outside to let her “window shop,” you notice that there are five other cars in your driveway.

6:35 a.m. One of those cars is your crazy uncle—a black belt in flea markets, weekend auctions and roaming the beach with a metal detector—who is there to help manage the situation. He immediately lays claim to a yard tool he forgot he gave you last week.

9:30 a.m. You’ve sold a few things but are already annoyed with the fact that everything isn’t sold and you’re not counting your riches. A shopper offers you a dollar for your lawnmower that is brand new and not for sale.

You ask him to leave.

10 a.m. You look for your uncle and find him drinking Busch Light in a can and offering extras to shoppers for $1 a piece. He tells you he has sold three beers. At 10 a.m.

Noon: You leave the operation in the hands of your uncle/concession seller and go inside to get some lunch. A stranger knocks on your back door and asks to try on some T-shirts for sale, and another wants to know if you have “weenies to go with the beer.”

You ask them to leave.

12:30 p.m. When you return to the sale, you find your uncle slightly manic because he has sold a shovel, a set of garden tools and a hose for 50 cents each. You tell him that they weren’t for sale in the first place. He replies that he wondered why there were no price tags.

You ask him to leave. Of course, he won’t.

2 p.m. A group of college boys will stop by and start trying on some of your clothes in the driveway, conducting their own drag queen fashion show. Your mom will attempt to stuff dollar bills into their bejeweled belts (priced at 50 cents) and your uncle will offer them beer.

They are cute. You will not ask them to leave. In fact, you will give them the clothes, a few other items and several pathetic come-hither stares.

2:30 p.m. You decide things are taking entirely too long and start drastically slashing prices like an overzealous mattress salesman who does his own commercials. In fact, you just start giving stuff away and find that’s entirely more fun, especially because it pisses off your crazy neighbor lady who is trying to sell a holographic palm tree for $50.

4 p.m. You’re done. It’s hard to know what your take is for the day because at some point your uncle apparently sold the cash box. However, you find a dollar your mom dropped during the impromptu frat boy fashion show and seek out your uncle, who is digging through your “junk I’m throwing away” pile.

4:05 p.m. You buy a beer.

4:06 p.m. You vow never to do this again.

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Doorbell Death Roll

While on the phone with my mom the other day, I caught someone walking up my driveway out of the corner of my eye. Jumping into action, I bolted from the couch and took a covert peek through the mini-blinds. Seconds later I heard a knock on the door.

My natural (neurotic) instincts kicked in and I immediately dove behind the couch while telling my mom to be quiet, as apparently I assumed the knocker had supersonic hearing.

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Seeing as she will rush to shut the drapes upon seeing a solicitor walk down the road a mile away, this statement did not surprise her at all.

“It looks like there’s a DHL van parked next door and I didn’t order anything,” I said, cradling the phone between my ear and my shoulder while crawling on the floor to get a look through another window.

“Maybe there’s an emergency,” she suggested.

“And the DHL guy who is parked next door calmly walked over here because he thinks I’m best equipped to handle an emergency?” I asked. “What kind of emergency would that be? Did he get a craving for hummus?”

“Good point,” she conceded.

Another quick glance through the blinds revealed him walking down my driveway, walking back up and ringing the bell. At this point I thought it might be important, but again, in moments of possible social interaction my survival instincts kick in and I decide better safe and anti-social than sorry.

While I waited for his retreat, I examined my rug burn and the situation at hand.

The truth is that I might be a Publisher’s Clearing House million dollar winner if not for the fact that I perform a death roll behind the furniture the second I hear the doorbell.

Why?

Because I’m most likely not wearing any makeup and smell like garlic, which means even if the DHL employee is hot, it won’t do me any good. But also because in other instances there’s a chance someone is selling something — be it religion or a $14 roll of wrapping paper that covers one small shoebox — and I don’t have an interest in either.

Plus, if I’m not expecting someone and the person at the door is a semi-stranger, I’ll be forced to yell through the glass out of irrational fear they’re casing the joint — even if they are a pack of nuns with fundraising sheets in their hands.

Spoiler alert: Unless you want drawers of rubber bands and incense, you should probably loot down the street. You’ll be much more satisfied there.

So to avoid both an awkward social situation that may or may not involve me in a robe wafting garlic in my wake and the potential for junk drawer pillaging, I feel like sprinting across the living room and diving into the kitchen to hide is actually a quite reasonable response.

As I peeked back out the window a minute later, I was able to report that my arch enemy was retreating down the driveway.

“Arch enemy?” my mom said while heaving a sigh. “What are you, a superhero?”

No, not a superhero. That would most involve a spandex costume and I can’t even be troubled to wear a real bra. I’m just an ordinary woman who performs a death roll behind the couch upon hearing the doorbell, my friends.

Unless you’re holding a big check with my name on the front. In that case, by all means come in.

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A Motivational Speech for my Vacuum

Hey there bagless buddy!

There’s been a little bit of concern about your performance of late. Maybe it’s because you’re a bit confused as to what this job description entails, so let’s have a little refresher.

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You suck.

No, don’t roll away! That’s not an attack on your character! I mean that your job is simply to suck.

The endless hair shed on the carpet? The bastard grains of rice I spilled on the floor? You get the honor of scratching my OCD itch and sucking that crap up! Oh yes. You, my friend, have that “thing” that can do it for me.

What is that “thing”? That “thing” is power!

Because in spite of what you’ve heard, power does matter, and the second that I plug you into the wall we’re plugging into performance! Together we can focus on results and achieve the breakthroughs that will launch us into the realm of clean carpets and dirt-free floors!

That’s a little dramatic, I admit, but my point is that you can be special.

You can suck better than any other vacuum in this house. Well, except for the new dustbuster a fraction your size that could suck up the couch if I tried.

But you know what that dustbuster doesn’t have? A light on the front in case we need to vacuum at night. Light the way! It’s time to show that dustbuster who’s boss, and who sucks the most in this house!

So rise up and grab that rogue string I’ve run over 235 times instead of bending over myself to pick up. Run with it!

Why?

Because that string wants to come off of the floor, but it needs you to help it because it’s a string and a string cannot move on its own.

So tighten that new belt I bought you, spin those shiny wheels and get back to doing what it is you do best—you suck.

Let’s try and keep it that way.

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Stars! They’re Just Like Us!

Anyone who has “accidentally” flipped through an US Weekly magazine (as I did while waiting to get my hair did the other day) knows there is more important information on the back of a shampoo bottle than there is in that publication.

One of the most ridiculous things is the “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” segment. For the uninitiated, this is where they feature photos of celebrities doing things like breathing, eating, drinking out of straws and carrying adopted children named after obscure fruits found in Ethiopian villages.

The captions of these paparazzi photos verify/explain the celebrity is breathing, eating, etc., since it would otherwise be unclear that this person is, in fact, a human doing shockingly mundane human things — just like us!

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, these are a few of the captions from that issue:

  • They Indulge in Fast Food!
  • They Strap on Shoes!
  • They Eat Off Others’ Plates!
  • They Use the ATM!
  • They Write Names in the Sand!
  • They Balance Cans!

I don’t know about you, but I would never have guessed that Jennifer Lawrence uses the ATM—just like me! Of course her balance is astronomically higher than mine, but still! She’s so normal!

To be fair, a lot of magazines make the assumption that we all live a charmed life. Food Network Magazine had a spotlight feature on a new cast member and her kitchen in the Hamptons.

She said, “People hear ‘the Hamptons’ and they think glitz and glamour, but it is really just farmland.” The article then goes on to suggest we pick up some of Katie’s finds for our own kitchen. Those include:

  • French Bistro stools $674
  • Rivera strop shade for a window $209
  • Natural-edged bowl hand-carved from a single log $564

I would, but I just won $2 on a scratch-off lottery ticket and am busy trying to decide if I want to take it in one lump sum or a dime for the next 20 years.

Anyway, I might actually take interest in these features if they included things I could relate to a little bit more.

Stars! They’re Just Like Us! They:

Light incense, forget they lit incense and then freak out when they smell smoke five minutes later!

Say, “There’s fungus among us!” while picking out mushrooms at the store!

Excel in “Procrastibaking”—baking instead of doing a bunch of more important things instead!

Get up 10 minutes early in the morning so they have that extra time to stare mindlessly at the wall as they shower!

Can go from “nothing sounds good” to “why isn’t there more of this to shove in my face?” in mere seconds!

Get terrified when putting back a shirt without folding it and then making eye contact with the store worker!

Beat the crap out of a black bean with their spatula when they thought it was a spider!

Spend more time picking out broccoli at the store than picking out the clothes that they wear!

Will practically break their arms before making two trips into the house with the groceries!

True, it might not be as glamorous as sharing that they “Pull Their Hair Back On the Go!” but you can’t tell me they’ve never stood up and had a chickpea fall out of their bra.

Now that’s a headline that I’d like to see.

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