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So, as you may have gathered, Kyle and I are ecstatic to be in our new home. The space, the warmth, the pride of ownership -all reasons we adore our new home. But as much as we love our little Sage Bungalow for all the things it is, we love it almost as much for all the things that it’s not.

Also, how weird is it seeing my natural hair color again?

This is what it looks like when you have to empty your entire closet into your living room so that your landlord can try an find the source of the fucking water pouring from the fucking ceiling onto your fucking bed.

This is what it looks like when you have to empty your entire closet into your living room so that your landlord can try an find the source of the fucking water pouring from the fucking ceiling onto your fucking bed.

Primarily, it’s not our old apartment. For you see, our last apartment was a crap shack.

No, it was. A bonafied shit-hole. It was tiny. All the appliances were older than dirt and barely worked. The carpet was vaguely sticky (despite multiple shampoos) and was fraying in multiple places. For shit’s sake, we had to put out pots every time it rained because the roof leaked like a fucking sieve.

And then there was the porch. Not ours, ours was colorfully decorated and delightful. No, I mean the front porch on the first floor, the one belonging to our downstairs neighbors. The one that over the years became covered with shit belonging to the 2-6 people who were possibly living in that 700 square-foot apartment. A hunting bow. Stacks of boxes. Clothes. A fucking corroborator. All of it dirty and broken. Accented by our neighbors themselves, who took turns sitting on the porch and smoking during pretty much every hour of the day and night. A lovely tableau to meet our guests, a message that said, “Welcome to our home! Someone might break into your car!”

So yeah, our last place was a crap shack. But there is a silver lining to having lived in an absolute shit-hole: we get unreasonably excited about things that the average person accepts as a given. Such as…

  • Our washer and dryer doesn’t take quarters! In order to do laundry we no longer have to drive down the the ATM, get cash out, drive to the laundromat, turn the cast into quarters, and then feed $2.50 into the machines to get a load of clean clothes. We just…do the laundry. Put it in, press start, and it just…goes. And we never (knock on wood) go down to the washer to find the floor soak with 1/4″ of water. Nor does it break down, forcing us to do our laundry at work for two months. It just…works. And plays a jaunty little tune to announce when it’s done. But mostly? It doesn’t take quarters!

 

  • We have closets! In our old place, we had only two, and they were stuffed to the gills. Worse, they were long closets with single doors on them, so if you wanted something in the back (say, Kyle’s entire hanging wardrobe,) you had to flatten yourself against the wall and stretch into the dark corner. But now, we have more closets than we have shit with which to fill them. I mean, we have a whole closet just for coats. Nothing else, just coats! Can you believe that shit?! The luxury…

 

  • Our appliances work! All of them! At the same time! The thing about our crap-shack is that most of them worked…most of the time. But there was always something wrong with all of them. Usually at least one burner on our stove was broken at any given time. The dryer might need a second cycle because something didn’t go quite right the first time. Our toilet almost always required a second flush, even if you only peed. Little shit that we totally could have fixed ourselves, but there’s no way we were putting the time and money into a place that wasn’t ours. And sure, if it got bad enough we could scream at our landlord and he would come fix it, but that he wouldn’t bother to come until, say, all four burners on the stove stopped working, or the washer broke completely. Until then, we just had to deal with it. But now, all of our shit works. And if it stops working? We’ll fucking fix it! It’s so great!

 

  • We have a guest room! As in a room, with walls! And a door! As in, not an air mattress the exact dimensions of our living room floor! Sure, our last place called itself a two bedroom, but I called it a one-and-a-half bedroom, because that second bedroom was tiny! It worked okay as an office for the two of us, but there wasn’t room for anything else, especially not guests. So on the rare occasion that we did attempt to host guests, we went for option B, which was an air mattress in the living room. Unfortunately, our air mattress was almost the exact dimensions of the floor space in our living room, so you had to climb down off of the couch onto the bed once it was inflated. Worse, the mattress had to be completely deflated and packed up every morning, because the living room was the only hangout space in the whole apartment. It was pretty much an awful situation for our guests, and we’re super grateful to those who endured it with good humor. But now, we have an actual guest room. Okay, so it’s not exactly spacious and sprawling; there’s still only room for a full bed. But did I mention that it has a door? A door!

 

  • My feet don’t hang off the end of the bed! For the entirety of our two-year courtship and seven years of marriage, we slept on the same full-sized bed that Kyle slept on in college. And it was comfy enough. I liked it. Except the part where my feet hung off the bed. Anytime I slept in the bed by myself I slept diagonally, since that was the only way I could position myself and actually support my ankles. Put Kyle in the bed with me, and it was a bad situation for all involved. But now, we have a queen-sized bed, and it kicks ass! I can actually sleep in it like a normal person, with my feet under the covers!

 

  • I can paint everything! I love color, okay? There’s a reason my hair is fucking purple. Though I’ll admit, I was a little worried at the start about the prospect of painting; I was worried that it would turn out that I’m a terrible painter and the rooms would look like dog shit. But turns out, I totally don’t suck at painting and they totally turned out beautifully, and now the world of color is open to me. And now I want to paint our house ALL THE COLORS. Nothing is off limits, nor is it limited to walls. I’ve also discovered the joys of spray paint, and my goal is to paint until our world is a rainbow of color or I pass out from paint fumes!

 

  • No on steals our mail! Yeah, you wouldn’t think this would be a huge selling point, us living in Saratoga Springs and all, but it was. See, our downstairs neighbor (not the porch hoarders, the one next door,) took in a damaged young woman who may or may not have been her daughter. We called her Crazy Eyes. And we definitely caught Crazy Eyes going through our mail looking for money. The fucking stupid part? She thought to rip open the letter from my grandmother (which luckily contained nothing but a family fudge recipe,) but didn’t think to open any of the credit card applications or the rebate gift card that was sitting in our mail. Look, if you’re going to steal my mail, at least try not to suck at it. Bitch couldn’t even steal our identity right. So yeah, we haven’t met our new neighbors yet. I don’t know if they’re nice or weirdos or have obnoxious kids or clown fetishes. But you know what they aren’t? Mail-stealers.
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Write on, coding wizard. Write on.

There are lots of things that I’m good at.

I’m good at designing lights for dance. I’m good at making cheesecake. I’m good at skiing.

And then there are things that I’m not good at.

I’m not good at car repair. I’m terrible at drawing. Do not ask me to do a cartwheel.

And then, there’s a third category of skill sets. Skill sets that, not only can I not do, but the fact that anyone at all can do them completely mystifies me. When a person does these particular skills, to me it’s like they’re doing magic, because I can’t even wrap my brain around how a person goes about learning to do what they do.

Carpentry. Anything involving chemistry. Playing the marimba. Computer programming.

The beautiful thing about life though, is that there are people who know how to perform that magic. And sometimes, they happen to be awesome friends who are willing to use said magic for good. (Or at least to save a person’s ass.)

Meet Lindsey.

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Lindsey is a friend from high school. We live in different cities, and are lousy at staying in touch. Sometimes, we go a year with little more than a Facebook birthday wish or a ‘like’. But the cool thing about Lindsey is that even if it goes too long between chats, she’s still a sweet, smart, funny person (not to mention a kickass writer) who always has time to catch up.

She is also one of those people who knows the alchemy of computer programming. And is willing to use her powers for good.

The entire reason that you are able to read this post -this one, right here- is because Lindsey worked her programming magic for me. She will tell you that it was something simple that happens to WordPress sites all the time, and it was not a big deal. In fact, she did tell me that very thing, after the 45 seconds it took her to fix the problem. But the reality of the matter is that before 10 minutes ago, I was locked out of my very own blog with zero idea of what to even google to figure out what the problem was. And now, I’m typing away, happy as a clam.

Motherfucking magic.

So, in short, a zillion bajillion thanks to the programming wizard, word ninja, and generally awesome human being that is Lindsey.

Write on.

*Full disclosure, I did not take that gorgeous picture of Lindsey, and I don’t know who did. I did, however, swipe it from her Facebook page. If there is someone who would like credit for it, please speak up, and I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due. If not…I guess just go on with your lives.
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We’re Home: Part 2

The waiting.

This is the part that nearly killed us. The six weeks between the offer on our little green house being accepted and closing, six weeks of waiting during which there was very little that we could do to move the process along. Like I said, things went pretty quickly, as far as real estate is concerned. Our credit is nearly perfect, we were taking out a mortgage well below what we were pre-approved for, the inspection went beautifully; there really wasn’t anything holding up the process, and it still seemed to take forever.

And the thing about Kyle and I, is we’re very type-A, control-freak, see-a-problem-and-attack-it-with-solutions people. When something is giving me anxiety, I want to confront it and take care of it so it will quit giving me anxiety. But with real estate, there was nothing we could fucking do to make it go faster. Just sit and wait. And plan. And make lists. And draft the house. And pick out all the furniture. And draft the furniture. And make some more lists. And make plans for  new lists. And make lists of plans.

So basically, obsess.

But finally it was over, and we closed on the house. Our real estate agent brought us a bottle of champagne prosecco and hugged us. “Congratulations!” she squealed. “You own a house!” “I’m just glad it’s over,” Kyle sighed.

Now, according to HGTV house-hunter show rules, our journey is now over. Standby upbeat guitar music…

Except that the journey? Just getting started, motherfuckers. We left the opening IMG_20151222_200548and drove right over to our new house(!), where we immediately got started making it ours. Kyle swapped out all the old locks for new locks and deadbolts (because safety, yo,) and I got started covering that horrid orange giraffe room with a coat of primer.

The next day, we left to visit family for Christmas.

The day after we got home, all our friends– our wonderful, amazing, kick ass friends– came and helped us move. Which was amazing, because it would have sucked big balls if we’d had to do it ourselves, but was super not a big deal with so much help.

IMG_20151230_092512But now we were in crazy box land. Crazy box land, where everything is somewhere, but I can only find things I’m not looking for. So began the sisyphean task of unpacking.

And then, as if we didn’t have enough to unpack, we made a pilgrimage to Ikea and bought a Sprinter van’s worth of shit. Because we only had enough shit for a 700 square IMG_20160102_132841foot apartment, not a big boy house. We came home with some beautiful furniture, but also enough boxes to rebuild our entire house again in cardboard.

(Seriously, we had a frightening amount of cardboard.)

But before we could completely unpack, I had two rooms to paint: the no-longer-giraffe room (now our office,) and our bedroom. Which, while not entirely unenjoyable, was a lot of work. And on top of that was the cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. I swear to god, I spent the better part of a day scooting around on my ass, scrubbing the baseboards with a Magic Eraser.

And on top of all that, there was…the reckoning. Facing all of our shit. Going through all the boxes that we’d been storing at our parents’, in our own storage unit, in our closets. The shit that we’ve been saving since college, high school, childhood. My stuffed animal collection. Kyle’s old hockey gear. My dance shoes and leotards. Tchotchkes and once-beloved souvenirs that we hadn’t seen or thought of in years, or even decades. And in some cases, things we hadn’t used or touched in as long that we hadn’t previously been able to bring ourselves to get rid of. Some things (47 pairs of my dance tights, my extracted wisdom teeth) were easy to get rid of. Others (the Jones Soda bottle my ex gave me with our picture on it) were harder. And others still (Kyle’s harmonica) I wish we’d never found.

It was a solid month of absolutely frenzied unpacking, painting, repairing, assembling, and cleaning. We’ve made five trips of cardboard to the recycling center, and I’ve driven a garbage bag of donations to the drop-box at the church near our house nearly every day. I shit you not, I actually injured my right shoulder from all the painting and scrubbing. And let’s not even talk about how many trips to Home Depot we’ve made. It’s been a lot of work.

But damn, was it satisfying. And fun. Don’t get me wrong, we ended every day exhausted. But it wasn’t all sweat and swearing. Being locked in our new house, just the two of us, we were a team, and we were able to keep each other from completely losing our shit. He knew exactly when I was three seconds from lobbing my tiny Ikea wrench across the room, and would appear with a cold beer. I knew that he was tired and pissed off from attaching cupboard hardware, and that blasting Rent for a top-of-our-lungs-musical-theatre-sing-along would make him smile. And when he found my box of childhood momentous and insisted that I finish vacuuming the basement while wearing a plastic tiara and Girl Scout sash…well, you don’t really have a choice but to sash up. When we took a step back and looked at everything we’d done, I couldn’t help but be incredibly proud, and so very, very happy to be home.

We’re at the point now where I think I finally feel comfortable saying that we’re finished moving. We’re probably 98% unpacked, with all that remains being a handful of boxes of garage gak that will find its home once we build a storage shed out back in the spring. As we speak, Kyle’s rearranging the boxes that go in our long-term basement storage, which we’ve named Siberia, and I’m sitting on our couch in our basement den with a Mila-kitty on my lap, just being. Which really, is what we’re most excited for. Sure, there’s still a lot of projects on deck. We’re planning to gut the kitchen in a few years, and I’m absolutely itching to paint the guest room and the bathroom. In truth, I don’t think we’ll ever be completely finished with the house. But for the moment, I’m ready for us to just live in our little Sage Bungalow.

Do I hear upbeat guitar music?

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We’re Home: Part 1

The New York Van Sandts are finally home!12376565_10100147307192488_1782910962965740707_n

Oh, I didn’t tell you? Clearly you must not be in the tri-state area, or you probably would have heard me shout it one of the first three hundred times.

But yeah, we bought a house! We did! Kyle and I! Together! Bought a house! That belongs to us! (Well, the bank, but you know…)

It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s ours. And it’s our home. But before that…

The process of buying the house was fucking painful. Not because there were all kinds of snags and negotiations and hurdles or anything; actually in the grand scheme of things, the process went very smoothly, and happened about as fast as real estate is capable of moving.

It started in early November. We’d started the house hunt before at various points over the last couple years, but always put it on hold due to money. We were living fairly comfortably and had a decent amount saved, but it wasn’t really enough to be able to afford to stay in Saratoga Springs. We’d talked about moving to different areas, up north in the mountains or down closer to work, but we just couldn’t get excited enough about any one place to make it worth moving away from the city that we love. So we always put it off.

But a few months ago, two things fell into place that let us re-start the hunt. One, we had amassed a much bigger pile of savings thanks to some seriously thrifty living. And two, our financial situation got a big chunk more comfortable. (Read: Kyle got a pretty hefty raise.) So we started looking again. By this point, we’d done enough looking around to know where in Saratoga Springs we wanted to look down to the neighborhood, so when we called our real estate agent for the first time, we already had a list of three houses that we wanted to see. We set up a time to meet her and go see a couple houses.

The thing about the houses we saw that day is that it was not the first time we’d walked through them. Well, not those houses exactly, but the thing about the Geyser Crest  neighborhood is that there’s only about three floor plans to be had, and we’d walked through several of each kind during previous searches. So when we went looking that day, we already knew what we were walking into and what to look for. It made it very easy to zero in on the details without being distracted by layout, and we were able to tell pretty quickly when a house was in rough shape. Two of the houses that day were duds, and it wasn’t hard to cross them off the list.

But then we stepping into the little green house, and we almost instantly fell in love. The funny thing about it is that on paper, (or Zillow, but who’s counting,) it was the least impressive of the three; we weren’t really interested in it, but were going more for shits and grins.  All that changed when we walked through the door into the sun-filled living room that gleamed off of the warm, bright hardwood floors. A walk through the dining room revealed a kitchen that, while not our personal ascetic, was certainly functional, and featured a gas range. The rest of the main floor was rounded out by three(!) bedrooms, all framed by the same lovely hardwood floors and brand new windows. But it was really the finished basement that sold me.

The basement was teal. Almost the exact shade of my hair. IMG_0356

Right then, I knew that this was my house. Everything about it felt right. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. The kitchen has linoleum floors and laminate counter tops. The lot is pie shaped, so there are more than two neighbors to contend with. And the room that would eventually become our office was bright fucking orange with a picture of a giraffe on one wall. But the bones are fucking solid, and all the components that tend to be expensive (windows, roof, furnace,) are almost brand new. So what if a few rooms weren’t our particular chosen color? Besides, it felt like home. It felt like our home.

We put an offer in the very next morning.

And that’s where the single tiny bump in the process appeared. We’d no sooner finished signing the last dotted line on our offer, ($5,000 under asking, because who actually comes in at asking?) when our agent got a call from the selling agent. Apparently the sellers had just received another offer. So we took off our coats, sat back down, and started the whole process over again. This time we offered $500 over asking, (just as a little extra incentive,) which still felt like a very fair price. And then we waited 12 torturous hours for the sellers’ response.

That evening, our agent called us back. The other offer had come in higher than ours by $6,500, but with some pretty hefty seller concessions. The selling agent told ours that if we were willing to come up $1,500 with no concessions, it was ours.

Of course, we said yes.

Now, that’s the point on all the HGTV shows when the real estate agent says, “Congratulations, you’ve just bought a house,” and the upbeat guitar music plays to indicate that their long journey is over. And as anyone ever who’s ever bought a house can tell you, that’s a steaming crock of shit. No, the hard part is just beginning.

Then comes the waiting.

 

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