Bathroom Blues (or, How to Achieve Real Estate Success)

Warning: you probably will NOT achieve real estate success by reading this post.


Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you plan.

A while ago, we decided to build a house.  We were excited.  We were really excited. We made plans and drew pictures and picked out kitchens.

We got carried away.

The truth is, no matter how good your credit is, it still takes a LOT of cash to build a house.  Once the numbers started to come in, we chickened out.  Big payments, over-budget expenses (all of which have to come out of your own pocket) and down payment woes just added up to a big “we are not ready.”

So after we calmed down a little bit, we decided to buy a house.  I won’t go into the whole excruciating thought process, because that isn’t what this post is about.  Suffice to say we are going to postpone the whole home-building thing for a few years and still have a home of our own.

Of course to buy a house, the first thing you have to do is find a house, and therein lies the difficulty.

The nicest thing I can say about it is that it has been a learning experience.

The first thing I learned was that there is a LOT of manufactured housing in southern West Virginia.  I’m sure some of you are out there saying “no crap,” but it came as a surprise to me.  A lot of lenders will not finance manufactured housing, and, of course, ours won’t.  In our price point, at least half of all the homes on the market are manufactured housing.  So we had a challenge.

I also learned that people think their homes are a lot nicer than I do.

I learned that looking at pictures on the Internet is basically a waste of time.  Stay tuned–more on this later.

The second most important thing I learned is that bathrooms, generally speaking, are small.

We have a huge bathroom.  Our bathroom is as big as some of the bedrooms we have seen.  That’s because it has to accommodate a big wheelchair and an even bigger shower chair.  Now, I know that a house we buy isn’t going to have a wheelchair accessible bathroom.  The second thing we have to do is remodel the bathroom (the first is build a ramp into the house.)  But we have to have enough room to remodel.  There’s only so much you can do with a bathroom the size of smallish closet.

(I’m sure our real estate agent thinks we’re nuts–the first thing we do when we view a house is run in and find the bathroom.  Then she hears, “Look at that! It’s pretty big!” or “You couldn’t wash a cat in here! Is this the only one?” She must think we are some kind of bathroom-obsessed psychos.  But I digress.)

But by far, the most important thing I have learned is that there is a whole other language in the real estate industry, and if you don’t familiarize yourself, you will be in for some big shocks. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • We all know what “handyman special” and “needs a little TLC” mean.  (It means it’s a dump.)  But you may not know to look out for the words “potential” and “possibilities.” Be especially careful when either of these words is preceded by the word “unlimited.” For example, we went to view a home which was listed as having “unlimited possibilities.” This was the ugliest house in the history of the world, ever.  Even better, the smell of cat nearly melted off my eyebrows when we walked through the door.  There was carpet in the kitchen. (I have a deep and utter loathing of carpet.  You have no idea.  But in the kitchen?  Puh-lease!)
  • On a related note, beware of real estate agents.  They are great people, but I think they could possibly rank up there with politicians on the bull-shit-o-meter.  (The agent who actually listed the house is the worst.)  Anyway, in the cat smell house, the agent kept saying things like, “look how much room!” and “that’s wormy chestnut on the wall.”  Both true facts, surely, but still.
  • Forget about pictures.  Forget them.  You might get a rough idea, but ultimately they are useless.  I hate to dwell on the cat smell house, but in the pictures, there is not one view which shows any other homes close by.  But in reality, it is literally surrounded by other homes.  Also, there was no view which showed the front porch. I cannot explain this to you so that can understand.  You climbed the steps on the far left, and the door into the home was on the far right.  The porch itself was about two feet wide.  I am not exaggerating.  It was like a catwalk (get it?) to the front door.  The only word I can think of is weird–which was not, incidentally, a word used in the listing.
  • More about the pictures–the cat smell house had this strange ceiling that we couldn’t figure out in the pictures.  We decided it was that funky pressed tin that you see sometimes on HGTV.  It turned out to be…….wait for it……..particle board.  Do you know what that is?  It’s a big sheet of wood made up of smaller chips of wood that have been compressed together into sheets.  This was throughout the house.  Then, to make it classy, they varnished it, so it was shiny.  I can’t make this stuff up, people.
  • Also beware of the words “charming” (this means small and ugly) and “unique” (this means different, but still ugly.)  The word “cozy” is a nice way of saying that two people won’t be able to fit into the living room together (also, it means ugly.) Worst of all is “country charm.”  This means there is probably an outhouse (probably small, and ugly.)
  • Lastly, people are very generous in their descriptions of square footage and finished basements.  Don’t believe anything until you see it with your own eyes.  Apparently, if you can enter the basement without having to put on hip waders, it is considered finished and adds to the square footage of the home.

So it’s been fun.

I think it would be great to see just one listing that read something like this:

     For Sale: Older three-bedroom, two bathroom home.  Really, it’s just two bedrooms, unless you count the crawl space where the kids like to play as a bedroom.  Also, the second bathroom is the oak tree in the back yard.  Lots of potential, if you have lots of money.  We started to fix a few things, but had to quit when Uncle Jim went in for his sex-change operation.  Mostly everything is okay, although sometimes the lights dim when you flush the toilet, and we’re pretty sure our daughter’s pet rat is still loose somewhere in the house.  The roof leaked for a while, until we sprayed a can of that “Handyman in a Can” stuff on it.  We’ll see next time it rains, I guess.  It’s pretty clean, except for that stain on the living room rug where the dog barfed up what looked like part of a mermaid.  We don’t know what the smell is, but it ought to go away once Springtime comes and you can open the windows.  Lots of charm.  Unlimited possibilities!

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

So, I’m sure you’re wondering–we did finally find a house.  This is long enough already, so I’ll leave you in suspense.  We are under contract right now, and only time will tell how it all works out.

Wish me luck.

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Equal, but Different, Part 2 (Finally!)

I’ll just jump straight into it, shall I?

When you start talking about what a woman should and shouldn’t do, and Feminism, and Equality, you’d better be ready to make some people mad.

I’m ready.

This post is not about what I’ve read or what science or statistics tell us.  It’s about what I’ve observed during the course of my life, and what I believe.  I already told you what some statistics suggest and what the various arguments are.  I’ve had some wonderful comments, all of which were honest and adult, and all made excellent points.

First, I’ll start by saying that I think equality is very important.  If I decided to go become, say, a college professor, then if my experience and qualifications are equal to my male counterparts, I should get paid equally.  We should be treated equally.  This seems like common sense to me.  Equal pay for equal work and all of that.

Here’s the thing–equality is great, but just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do something.  I could go to work tomorrow if I wanted to.  But I don’t.  I want to stay home and take care of my family.  Why?  Because–gasp!–I think that is my job.

I said it.

I am a woman.  I don’t think my husband is better than me, but we are different, and I don’t just mean in all of the obvious ways.  Some of the comments suggested that they didn’t want to go back to the little wifey being tethered to the house, but it’s not about that. It’s about responsibility.  When I elected to become pregnant and have babies, it became my responsibility to take care of those babies.  I’m sure someone will say they have ten kids and all ten are by different daddies and they were all raised in daycare and now they are all attending Ivy League schools.  Great.  But the truth is that no one can take care of my kids the way I do.

No one.

Every time I go to the store, I see some little old lady with a little kid.  When Evelyn had her last 24 hour EEG, there was a three-year-old little boy having one in the next room, and it was his grandmother who stayed with him.  Now, I don’t know what the situation might have been, and I guess I’m passing judgement, but the fact remains that if I hadn’t been able to stay with my daughter during that test, well, the test would have been rescheduled until I could have.

I know some people need that second income,  but let’s be honest–sometimes it’s to maintain a lifestyle, not to provide necessities.  And sometimes, it’s just because a woman couldn’t imagine being “tethered” to the home.

That’s what pisses me off the most–the fact that somehow working women are more impressive than me.  They are juggling a career and a family.  But sometimes, I think they are dropping the ball.

Even as a wife, I find myself in support of a more traditional role.  I do most of the cooking and cleaning and laundry.  My husband is a wonderful partner, and all of my teasing is just that–teasing.  He is a wonderful father who has never turned up his nose at a poopy diaper or a vomiting child.  He is an excellent cook, and he enjoys cooking from time to time. We are a team, and I couldn’t function without him.  But ultimately, he’s the provider and I’m the stay at home mom.  And I like it like that.  Know what?  I’m better at being the wife and mom, because for whatever reason you want to believe–divine design, evolution, whatever–women are made for that role.  It fits.  I feel very comfortable and safe with my husband.  It’s silly, but I feel like nothing bad can happen when he’s with us.

For some reason, the family seems to be under attack in our society.  It’s no big deal to get a divorce if things get tough.  It’s perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to have sex with as many people as possible, with no attachments or responsibilities.  If you wait to have sex until you get married, people make fun of you.  Women are constantly lamenting that there are “no good men” to find, but I wonder if they ever stop and realize why.  I would love to know their definition of a good man–it seems like it might be a man with no opinion of his own that cleans, cooks, and expects absolutely nothing in return.  Conversely, I think men are so disillusioned that they want a hot little woman who also has no opinion and waits on them hand and foot and has sex whenever he wants with no physical expectations of her own.  It’s not so hard to figure out why half of all marriages end in divorce, is it?

(There is a whole other topic here, about how in our modern society we are raised to be always right, and how we cannot bend even a little, and so all of our relationships tank.  I’ll just skate on past that for now.)

I see husbands and wives who not only don’t get along, they seem to actually hate each other.  The way they talk to and about each other is mind-boggling.

Then there is this whole other topic of teen pregnancy.  I live in an area where this is a huge problem, and it was even when I was in high school a hundred years ago.  Scroll back up and read about granny taking care of the babies–that’s generally what happens.

I’m not even going to touch on the pressure that is on women to look a certain way.  I wonder what modern Feminists think about that?

This has been quite rambling, and I’m sorry.  Here’s the heart of it all–modern women are supposedly enlightened, empowered, and ready to take over the world.  The crux?  Just about every modern woman I know is unhappy.

Out of all the women I know, I would say 95% of them take some sort of mood stabilizing drug.  That’s a conservative estimate.  Many are unhappy with their relationships, they can’t control their kids, they’ve been divorced, they hate their jobs, they are totally unsatisfied with the way they look–the list goes on forever.  So if we are so empowered, why are we so unhappy?  You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.

I’m not going to kid you–sometimes I get unhappy, too.  I have a naturally dark, moody type of personality.  I always have.  But the things I worry about are different.  I worry about my kids, and if they are going to be okay.  I worry that I won’t be able to protect them forever.  Some people might think I’m overprotective, and that I hover over my kids.  An acquaintance of mine made the comment during a soccer game a couple of months ago that I was a little overprotective.  I bit my tongue and just smiled, but what I wanted to tell her was that I thought she was little too permissive, and that I wasn’t comfortable dumping my kids off somewhere and then heading in the opposite direction as fast as I could go.  But I digress.

So–long, long story a little shorter, I do think women are selling themselves short by trying to do everything.  I think it’s okay for a woman to stay at home and take care of her home and her family, and she should be able to do that without feeling bad about it, or feeling unimportant.  I think it’s okay to embrace being a woman.  I don’t want to do everything that a man does.  I think my job is just as valuable, maybe more so.  I’m better at it.  Sure, it’s hard sometimes, but that’s okay–I was made for it.

What about you?

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Camping in Hell

This was supposed to be a post about Feminism, but at this point I would give up the right to vote to have an air conditioner and some hot water, so I’m thinking I’d better wait a while to continue with that subject. Once the power is back and the laundry is caught up, I’ll get back on track.


In the movie “Alive,” after the plane has crashed, they are just sitting on the  mountain in the snow one morning, and one of the guys says in this surreal voice–“It has been six days.  This is the sixth day.”

Not long after that, they started eating people.

Well, this is the tenth day.  We have now been without power for ten days. Luckily, it’s too hot to eat.

I’m not really a self-pitying person most of the time.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who whine and complain about the various situations they find themselves in.

But this sucks.  Bad.

I managed to keep a fairly positive attitude for a while, but it’s getting tough.  I’m getting into that frame of mind where I’m starting to think everyone has power but us, why isn’t it back on yet, I can’t live like this any more!!!!!!!!!!

So you see how the thought process goes.

I need to stay away from Facebook, because I keep seeing how everyone is getting their power back, and it is starting to mess with my head.  Also, I’m having some unusually violent thoughts towards the Facebook preachers.  You know the ones I mean–the ones who say things like, “Yeah, we don’t have power and a tree fell on Grandma’s head and now she talks funny and the car blew away but we are so thankful that God has taken care of us and everyone shouldn’t complain because it could have been SO much worse.”

You know the ones I mean.

I would make me so happy to be able to catch one of these people and wring my sopping wet underwear (sorry for that image) out right over their heads.  Then possibly strangling them with them, if I had the energy.

Another thing that is getting on my nerves is how everyone keeps saying, “It’s like camping!” Well, I am an experienced camper, and this is NOT like camping.  Camping in Hell, maybe, but not regular camping.  For one, I camp on an electric site, even with a tent, so I can run a fan at night.  Also, I camp in the spring and fall, when it is cool.  I would never, EVER camp during the hottest time of the year, and especially not during the hottest temperatures our area has seen in decades.

So I’ve got to do it–I’ve got to get a list of complaints off of my chest just once.  Here it goes:

  • I hate the heat.  I hate the humidity.  We have both.  It sucks.
  • No air conditioning.  See the previous item.
  • No hot water.  This is the second worst thing to me–I wash my hands in hot water, I brush my teeth with hot water, I mop with hot water, I wash clothes in hot water–you see where I’m going with this.  Yes, we heat water on the stove, but not in large enough quantities for any major projects.
  • It is too hot for any major projects, anyway.
  • I have been doing laundry in the bath tub.  I HATE hanging laundry outside.  Some people talk about how great stuff smells when it hangs outside, but I think it smells like crap, and it also feels like crap.
  • When you DO heat water on the stove, the flame from the burner heats the kitchen to some ungodly temperature that I don’t even want to know.
  • Cold showers do not make me feel clean.  Also, while all of us able-bodied people can suffer with a cold shower, I will not subject my sister or my daughter to them.  So I have been bucket bathing them for ten days.  More suckage.
  • The generator is a little too small for such a big house, so we have to be very careful what we use. Some of the circuits weren’t wired in, so one end of the house is dark.  I’ll either be blind or have cat’s eyes when this is over.
  • On the generator note, we have spent a small fortune on gasoline.  I just keep telling everyone all our money is tied up in petroleum products.
  • It’s hot.
  • Also, it’s really hot.
  • Did I mention it’s hot?

Okay, I feel a little better.

Just to keep from bringing everyone down, I’m going to end this post with a list of the positive things going on here.  Maybe it will make me feel better.

  • We do have a generator.  So we have fans and television and we have been able to keep the fridge and freezer going.  We can run a small air conditioner at night in our room after everything else has been turned off so we can sleep in relative comfort.
  • We have a gas range, so we can cook and heat water.
  • I haven’t had to run the vacuum in over a week.
  • We’ve lived without a microwave, and I’ve always heard those things aren’t very good for you.
  • Evelyn and Mindy can watch television.  You have no idea how important this is.
  • We have cell phones and have been able to keep them charged.
  • We’ve passed the time playing Scrabble and Uno together.  I guess that counts as quality time, even though occasionally I would lose my focus and imagine hitting one of my family members over the head with some blunt object.
  • I basically haven’t worn a bra for any measurable length of time for ten days.
  • We do have water–thanks to our city water supplier for that.  In the past this wasn’t the case.
  • We learned about a new kind of storm, which was sort of educational and pretty cool.  It’s called a derecho.  Check it out.

That’s really all I can come up with right now.  There might be more, but frankly they escape me.

I will sign off again for now.  Hopefully the next time you hear from me, I will be sitting in an air-conditioned room typing on my fully charged laptop.

Either that, or you’ll read about me in the paper.




Out of Order

Due to the hurricane-like storm system that passed over our area on Friday, over half a million people in the great state of WV are now without power.  I am one of the half-million, and I am fairly certain I am producing enough body heat for all the rest of them.

We have a generator, but have to conserve energy, so I will not be doing any lengthy posts.  My updates are done by phone, and that is far too tedious for an actual post.

Assuming I don’t murder everyone in my home and end up in a mental facility, hopefully I will be back with you around the end of the week.  If you are also without power, you are in my prayers, and all joking aside, I’m glad everyone is okay and I’m sure this will make me appreciate the luxury we all enjoy every day.

I’ll just keep telling myself that.


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