Thursday, April 3

Around The House. (Or 'Four Floors Of Fail.')

Floor 1.
STORY #1 - "You Should Probably Get That Fixed."

Being a Home Inspector seems like a pretty sweet gig. You get to spend the bulk of the inspection explaining to the homeowner all of the things that you're not allowed by law to monkey, tinker or fiddle with, and if you see anything that appears to be broken, you just look at the owner and say "You should probably get that fixed." Don't get me wrong, our guy was great and took strides to help us out, but I now feel confident that I could do similar work with no less than 20 years worth of training. It's a money bin, damn it, and I'm diving in.

I honestly wasn't prepared for how nerve-wracking the inspection process of our new place was going to be. You don't want to find out that you purchased a lemon made entirely out of tin foil, hair and carbon monoxide, so every time the inspector tilted his head or furrowed his brow at an outlet or appliance, my body ran cold and I simultaneously clutched my wallet and heart. For all I knew, there was an expensive and elaborate deathtrap lurking around every intricately-drywalled corner.

As someone with absolutely no experience in the art of keeping a house from collapsing in on itself, my only concern for any error was the fear of my house exploding. It's the only thing that made sense to me as a direct detriment to my well-being.

INSPECTOR - "It looks like they're running gas through copper piping. That's strange."

ME - "Will it make the house explode?"

INSPECTOR - "See that crack in the foundation? It's no big deal, but..."

ME - "Is the house going to explode?"

I also put on an Oscar-worthy acting performance as he explained to me the furnace and water heater. You would have actually believed that I understood even a microsyllable of what the man was saying. I swear to you, the day I move into this place, I'll feel a level of isolated loneliness and frightened despair the likes of which I've never known. If anything breaks, no matter how small and simple to patch, it's all over. I might as well board up the windows and join up with a traveling carnival, because I'm never coming back to fix it.

Floor 2.
STORY #2 - "Come Back To Me, Sherilyn Fenn."

Why don't they make dishwashers with an triggered light inside, like a refrigerator? I'm tired of reaching my hands into a darkened dishwasher every night, only to stick myself with a fork or some other undesirable glob of non-rinsed foodstuff. Come on, dishwasher technology! Evolve! Everything should have little automatic lights in them. Cabinets, toilets, closets, drawers, the whole lot.

The Missus, in her quest to convert every bulb in the house to fluorescent, has done a good job of saving energy and money, in that I don't even bother turning lights on anymore. Seriously, what's the point? Fluorescent bulbs take so long to warm up, that by the time they finally decide to lurch and flicker into action, I'm already napping in a different room. Furthermore, they click and buzz so much that I always feel like I'm in a David Lynch movie. At any moment, I expect some chalk-faced goon to show up at my door with a videotape of myself watching the very same videotape that he handed me.

(EDIT: I've recently been informed that some newer dishwashers have lights inside. Way to go!)

Floor 3.
STORY #3 - "If Calories Were Cash, I Would Still Be Dead."

Before sitting down with our mortgage lender last night, I was asked to make a copy of my most recent bank statements. Not being one to pay close attention to where my money is going, I saw this as a good chance to dig through my 2008 purchases and see where I could tighten the belt a little. What I saw shocked, embarrassed and forced me to vacate my bowels in anger.

No less than $150 spent each month on sub sandwiches, bagels and ice cream. Seriously.

Sub sandwiches.

Bagels.

Iced creamery cream with cream sauce.

$150 a month.

Don't bother wanting to jump through the screen and punch me right now; I'm digging a bent paperclip into my wrists as I type this. I absolutely could not believe how wasteful I was concerning office lunches and desserts alone.

Never mind all the alcohol and concert tickets. Never mind the HD cable and internet. Never mind any other luxury. By simply bringing a salad to work and saying no to that Mint Oreo Blizzard every night of the freaking week, I could save enough money to either power my house for a month, score a good amount of cocaine or snag myself an hour with a low-end escort.

I'm sorry. I really am. Just to prove how sorry I am, I will be putting a dry-erase board in my new kitchen to remind me just how much money I've pissed away every week in empty calories and honey-nut cream cheese. My Esquire lifestyle shall continue unhinged, but I'll be damned if I'm going to keep allowing so much cash to be pooped away for no reason. How disgusting, especially considering that I don't even like bagels all that much.

Jesus.

Floor 4.
STORY #4 - "Like MacGyver, Only For Poop."

Part of the reason we spend so much money dining out is our laziness when it comes to grocery shopping. It's a necessary evil, and I don't even mind it all that much, but when the food runs low and the apathy begins to skyrocket, dragging yourself into the Pick & Save is about as difficult as beating Duke University in a 'suck' contest.

Yes, I know that I recycled that joke. I didn't think you'd mind.

Me and the Missus theoretically go grocery shopping once every three weeks. We buy big, stock the cabinets and take comfort in knowing that we won't have to do it again for awhile. Our neighbors and contractual Best Friends Ben and Sherry, on the other hand, shop on a many-times-a-week basis, much like the Italians or French. Most afternoons, I can spot Sherry riding her bicycle home from the market, sporting a sundress with a stick of bread and fresh vegetables protruding from her pink basket.

She rings the bell and I wave kindly from the porch.

I don't know if you've ever waited over a month to buy groceries, but it's quite the feat of human achievement. You've reached a point in your de-evolution that not even the instinctual threat of starving to death will peel you from the couch to easily remedy and ward off disaster. It gets sad towards the end, however, when you're digging through the remnants of your pantry, deciding between boiling up the dented can of white hominy or the Spaghetti-O's with the fuzz on them. Still though, laziness and apathy trudge forth for another 5-7 days.

Unavoidably, the grocery store strike always comes to a bitter end. Not when you've finally had enough of eating crap that was too embarrassing to even donate to the Food Drive. Not when you've run out of money to order pizzas every night. Not even when you start to eye up the moist cat food in the basement.

Nope, the strike truly ends when you run out of toilet paper.

Game over, dude. You've lost. Look, I've gone a day without food. I've also gone a day without toilet paper, and I can say without a shred of uncertainty that I would rather temporarily starve than to glance over to the bathroom rack and see a bare, plastic toilet paper holder. What a helpless and tragic moment it is to know that you're about to do something horrible. Congratulations; you're MacGyver now. Good luck getting out of this jam. It's why I no longer own any white socks.

Typically, all I need is about one life-altering experience in a toilet-paperless house before I leap in the car and head for the nearest market. Preferably one with clean stalls.

Wednesday, April 2

Hump Day Dance Party.



The group is Justice, and the track is 'DVNO.' I've been enjoying the hell out of this video recently, as I'm an old nerd with a penchant for 70's and 80's television production company bumpers. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.


TOMORROW: "Will It Make The House Explode?"

Tuesday, April 1

Yeah, I'm Only Three Inches...From The Ground!

Bang Me.

I typically don't like to rant and complain about things that don't amount to an entertaining punchline, but I just can't resist sharing my recent home buying experiences with you. I'm flabbergasted, terrified and have no better recourse than to laugh and hold on tight. Pay attention, however, because you are probably indirectly responsible for my optimism.

Here's how much it's costing me and the Missus to move into our new house.

1. Down payment for mortgage - $8600.
2. Earnest money - $400.
3. Home inspection fee - $250.
4. Home buyer clause buy-out fee - $965.
5. Stray closing costs - $100.
6. Moving fees - $500.

Bear in mind that this is all expected to be paid by the end of April, a scant 29 days from now.
It also doesn't include condo fees, additional taxes, repairs and anything that has anything to do with the actual settling into our new home. Nope, this is all paid in advance for the privilege of owning a home. For those keeping score, that's almost $11,000 out-of-pocket before we even get to see what we'll need to put into the home itself.

Wow. Damn. I wasn't exactly prepared for that.

If you think that award-winning blogger and author, Ryan J. Zeinert, is the type of person that would have eleven grand just laying around in the savings account for this sort of occasion, I appreciate your high regard of me. You'd be wrong, though. In fact, on a bet, I think I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that I knew who had that sort of money ready to go. How in the hell do people afford homes? Just getting into this house is going to bankrupt me.

I was getting worried, certain that there was no way that I could scrap this kind of cash together in such a short time. Even if I drained every account I had, eleven thousand dollars is a lot of money, and I just didn't think I was in a position to make it work. I started to think that maybe we just weren't ready to make the jump into home ownership. The month-to-month was more than tolerable, but this initial cash purge was a whole lot for one young couple to muster so quickly.

After a lengthy discussion, marathon number crunching and check writing, it was determined that we were still over two thousand dollars short in covering our overhead expenses. The Missus turned to me, looked a little dejected and said, 'what are we going to do?'

But just then, I remembered something. Something beautiful. Something wonderful. The book!

Goddamn it, I wrote a book last year! A good one, too! Not only that, but I've been putting every cent of the profits into a savings account that I tried my hardest to forget about every day. For every freelance writing gig or sold book, I'd throw the checks and cash into the savings account and vanish the thought from my mind. Spending money earned through writing seemed wrong to me, and I figured there would come a day when I would feel deserving enough to enjoy it.

Well guess what, bitches? Today is that day. Admittedly, it didn't take very long.

So, to a large amount of folks out there that purchased a copy of 65 Poor Life Decisions and wondered how I spent your heard-earned cash, I want to let you know that you are partially responsible for me and my wife purchasing our first home, and I cannot thank you enough.

How cool is that?

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Monday, March 31

I Bought A Freaking House.

I Bought A Freaking House.

My original plan for the month of April was to begin work on my second book.

Instead, me and the Missus went ahead and purchased our first condominium.

Needless to say, any serious work on the next book has been pushed to Summer.

Sound off in the comments section, give us some good advice and enjoy your day.