Well, Mike and I bought it together. But still...a house. Of my own, that my parents don't have any say (or money) in.
When I was in California the last week of February, I'd already been obsessively stalking the realty listings because I wanted to buy a house soon. Mike and I had our down payment fund, it was in the right place for 20% of what we could comfortably afford, and our credit was finally good enough (read: existed, instead of having paid cash for everything forever) that we'd qualified for a loan we could, again, comfortably afford.
On March 4 I saw a listing for the townhouse around the corner from where we currently live. It's a 3-bed, 2.5-bath, 1830 sq ft on two floors, whereas ours is a 2-bed, 2-bath, 1300 sq ft on three floors, the first of which is an awful staircase (and a coat closet. Nothing else!). The listing was for $215,000--very affordable and only $10K more than my parents paid for this one a few years ago, for lots of extra space. (It went up about 2 years ago but is now worth $205 again, and so my dad isn't willing to sell it anyway, nor do I want to stay in it forever.) I called the listing agent that night (9pm EST--and she got back to me right away, score a point for her) and scheduled a showing for when I got back, on Monday the 7th.
Monday I went in with Mike and his mother (both a lawyer and well-versed in the buying of houses) and we looked at it. Huge and relatively lovely, with a bunch of scuff marks that could be easily painted over, with brand-new carpeting (the carpet is a big issue with all the cats we have, if it's new it's less likely they'll pee on it to cover other animal odors).
The layout is a little strange--you walk into the living room on the 2nd floor, with the dining room and kitchen and powder room down the hall. There's also a carpeted room right off the kitchen that I would think is where you'd put a kitchen table, but I've never seen such a room carpeted before? Not a big deal in any case. Then, you walk down a set of stairs (not smack dab in front of the door, thank goodness) to the "basement" floor, which has the second full bath, two smaller bedrooms, washer and dryer and utility closet, and the master bedroom, with a master (full) bath and walk-in closet. Oh, and there's a deck outside the living room visible through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, and underneath it is a concrete patio that you can see through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows in the bedroom.
Tuesday we put in an offer for $198,000. The sellers are the surviving children of the woman who died there (meh, someone's probably died everywhere, right? And it's not like she died in the bed I'm going to be sleeping in) and there's 5 of them and every conversation the realtor has is like telephone: call 1, she has to call 2, then they call 3, etc. They rejected our offer right away and told her they didn't want to sell for less than $212. Apparently at this point she and her manager had a heart-to-heart with them, about whether they actually want to sell, or whether they want to sell AT THIS PRICE. They gave us, on Wednesday, a real counter-offer of $206,500 (for those with quick memories, that's only $1500 more than the 2+2 is worth at this point) and we took it.
Home inspection was Friday and he only found a few minor issues, most of which the seller fixed immediately (no GFCI in the kitchen, slow drain in the tub) and some of which the HOA will be dealing with (water under the patio, replacement of main water shut-off valve) before we move in. In any case, nothing I have to deal with.
Tuesday, Mike and I signed lots of paperwork that said how much money we have and how much we're willing to pay every month. We ended up with a 15-year mortgage that is just under the limit of how much we can pay easily every month, with a much better interest rate than the 30-year we were offered.
Now...we wait. Closing is April 18th, and until then the only thing that can really go wrong is the mortgage not being approved for some reason. In that case, we get back our $6000 deposit on the house and try to fix the issue before we look for another one.
But really, I'm pretty sure--I HAS A HOUSE!
And I will have my own knitting and crafting room. (What? I can't have a post with NO mention of knitting at all...)
Apparently I'm on a real finishing kick to go along with my winter bout of start-itis.
My list of finished objects has grown by 8: 3 pairs of socks, one hat, one pair of fingerless gloves, 2 scarves, and one case for my Kindle.
The socks! First was a pair of Monkeys for me. I've been wearing them every night because it's kind of cold outside and that way I don't have to keep the heat up too high. They're soft and warm and snuggly.
Next up, Aragorn socks for my grandad Itzik. He already has a pair of my handknit socks and says he loves them, and wants more!
Last but not least, I finished a pair of socks tonight for my every-other-week supervisor Denise. These are a pair of Wyvern socks which I think look a little like dragon scales. I color-corrected this picture; I couldn't seem to get a real one where the colors were anywhere near as saturated as they are in real life.
The hat is for Danna, and has a bunch of differences from the original, all to her specifications. I'm taking it to LA this weekend so she can wear it when we go skiing.
The gloves and scarves are all for the winner of my auction for the Forest House Eyes charity fundraiser. The gloves and one scarf are based on the Magic Mirror sock pattern (that's a Ravelry link, sorry non-Ravelers) and the scarf is based on a couple of patterns for the TARDIS from Doctor Who.
The Kindle case is based on the TARDIS from Doctor Who, because it's bigger on the inside :) Pattern is on Ravelry here.
I saw a post on the Loopy Ewe blog that got me thinking about how and what I knit.
When I'm trying to relax, I knit something simple or relatively mindless...the long stockinette body of a sweater or a sleeve, just a few increases or decreases here and there. When I'm watching TV I've usually got a sock or a hat on the needles, with the pattern within eyesight but not obscuring my view. I can't sit at the computer or in front of the TV or even read very often WITHOUT something to knit...I feel like I'm wasting time and I fidget, a lot, to the point where I don't enjoy myself like I would otherwise. I was the same way in college, and many of my teachers took it upon themselves to remind me to bring my knitting to class so I could pay better attention.
I LOVE colorwork and working lace patterns on big needles for extra oomph, so I do those often as well. My latest charitable donation (the second round of auctions for Foresthouse's eyes) is a combination of both: a lacy scarf on big needles with a pair of fingerless mitts to match, and a colorwork scarf.
Lace knitting on tiny needles with tiny yarn can be fun, especially if the end project is for someone else--but I don't wear shawls and probably never will, so it's unlikely I'll ever make one for myself. (I'm trying to think of a recipient for the shawl that's still in my UOP--my "unfinished projects pile"--but so far no go. Anyone want a giant half-circle shawl that shades from red to yellow and back?)
I do feel like I've gotten very good at the basics in my 6 years of knitting, and pretty competent with more intricate stuff like cables and lace and the different forms of colorwork. Really the only thing I haven't tried is steeking--knitting in one piece and cutting it open to make the armholes and neckline--but I don't really have much interest in that and I'm very happy with my colorwork purling so I doubt I'll ever bother.
I like my knitting, and my friends and family like the results. So: I'm happy.
This pair of socks, hand-knit by me, is a prize offered up for the raffle at Juniper Moon Farm to raise money for Pete's Barn. All the important information is in Susie's post here.
These are the Rivendell socks (Ravelry link) from Rustling Leaf Press. They are knit in Franklin Hand Dyed yarn (from Valley Yarns of WEBS fame) which is 75% wool, 25% nylon in a lovely green/blue colorway flecked with white, called Spruce.
They fit me fine, and I wear an 8.5 US women's shoe, but they're nice and stretchy as well.
I try to keep all the yarn and knitting stuff away from my cats, but there are 4 of them and they are curious little buggers!
“Okay, so this looks like fun, a meme that will help explain my accent, I guess.
Your name and/or username is tinyplasticmeat, which stems from a long long story involving the role-playing game Kingdom of Loathing, and my boyfriend and his fun nicknames for me.
Where you're from--I'm from Haifa, originally, in Israel, and then I grew up in Los Angeles, and then I moved to a suburb of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, so kind of all over.
Read out the following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, direction, naturally, aluminum (even though they spelled it aluminium) and herbs.
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house? It's called TP-ing a house and it's probably illegal, still, most places? It's a lot funnier if you do it on a car, and it's raining, it sticks.
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called? It's called Pepsi. I refuse to believe in any other kind of soda.
What do you call gym shoes? Sneakers.
What do you say to address a group of people? I say Hi, or Hello. Or usually I say nothing, because I don't like addressing large groups of people, I get horrible stage fright.
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs? Daddy Long-Legs, or just "Ew ew, get it away."
What do you call your grandparents? I call them Saba and Safta, which is, it's Hebrew for Grandfather and Grandmother. Most people in Philadelphia apparently use tons of random names like Mom Mom and Pop Pop and Nima and Geepa, and on one occasion just by their names, but I just stick to Saba and Safta.
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket? I call it a cart, a shopping cart.
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining? Nice? It's usually not shining when the rain is out?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with? The remote, although I keep forgetting that my boyfriend doesn't speak Hebrew, and asking him for the "shlati" which is Hebrew for "remote."
Apparently, regardless of how tired I am, I cannot fall asleep before 6am (which is even worse, in a way, because my shifts end at 7 and I still have to drive home) even on night when I'm not working and have stuff to do in the morning.
New Year's Resolutions have never really worked for me, but instead I'll be continuing stuff I started doing in the past 6 months since I moved back to Pennsylvania:
- Continue learning about my chosen profession. Even though I'm licensed now, I don't think I know everything there is to know about ER vet medicine. (Ha! I've met a few people, both licensed and not, who feel this way--screw you guys, you're dumbasses.) I am taking the California boards at the end of February (mostly to make my mom happy, not because I ever plan to move back) and I've stepped up my casual reading up on ailments I see every night to all the stuff that's going to be on the exam. If VSPN ever comes back online (it's been down for HOURS :( I'll sign up for a refresher course too. My long-term goal is to be able to apply for the technician credentials in Emergency and Critical Care Nursing in about 4 years.
- Make my relationship with Mike a priority. We love each other very much and both know we want to be together, but we tend to retreat to our own little caves (him to his office, me to the bedroom) because we need time on our own--but we forget to take the time to be together. (Sex life is fantastic, thanks for asking. That's never been an issue.) We got a bunch of our favorite TV shows on DVD and are watching them together, making snide commentary. I love having a partner in crime to snark with.
- Knit more, and finish more. I cleaned out a bunch of yarn I hadn't touched in years when we moved, and I cleared out even more (acrylic stuff mostly, as I've become a yarn snob) by giving it to a women's shelter that has a crochet group. I finished many many hats this year (three in one week just before Christmas, for Tali*) and several pairs of socks. I completed a pair of gloves for a charity fundraiser, and a smaller pair for a Christmas gift. I finally wove in all the ends on a sweater I made over 3 years ago, and wore it to Thanksgiving dinner--and no one realized I'd made it until Mike said something. :)
This year I plan to finish a sweater that's been in my head since I first started knitting--sleeves are done but nothing else yet. I want to make baby sweaters for all 5 people I know who are expecting or have newborns. I am going to finish a test knit that's due on January 15th. I have a lot of other little plans--it's all going to be done out of my stash; I'd like to have it all fit in the main "yarn display" in the living room by the end of the year.
- Continue to exercise, and maybe get some more in. I have a personal trainer (it was my holiday gift to myself) and a gym membership that is 24/7. I have been seeing her once a week every week since we signed up (a full month now) and have been to the gym at least one other time during the week since then. (I missed the week of Christmas due to a horrible head cold/sinus thing that's still bugging me, but otherwise I'm doing well.)
- Get out of this house. As much as I like the little condo, the downstairs neighbors are still making me crazy and honestly? The house itself is too...I don't know how to explain it. It's not MINE, and that's the real issue. Mike and I are planning on buying our own place--another townhouse/condo, most likely, somewhere nearby--and the ones I'm looking at are beautiful. Not to mention, they are all end units and so we'll only have neighbors on ONE side rather than three, and NO ONE downstairs. This involves a lot of money (duh) but I have faith that the credit we're building is going to be worth it.
* Tali was Oren's girlfriend's little sister. She was 19 when she died on New Year's Day 2011, after fighting off brain cancer and being in remission for years, then succumbing to a devastating new bout of a completely different leukemia that had her in the ICU, in a coma, for much of the past few months. The whole family is heartbroken and I don't even know how to feel at this point; she was a very sweet girl.
So I sing in the car. Loudly. To whatever's playing, usually off my iPhone.
Thus the disturbing pattern of me driving home from work at 6am, belting out first a Hebrew song by bad-ass transsexual Dana International, then a song from Man of La Mancha, then a slow Decemberists ballad, followed by some quick and happy Lady Gaga and then a country song...you get the drift. Complete schizophrenia, in loud and obnoxious tones.
Also it makes me notice more than ever that when I speak (or sing) Hebrew I use completely different parts of my mouth and throat to form the sounds than when I speak (or sing) English. Same for Japanese, which I don't speak but can sing relatively well when I've memorized it.
And also, people who can afford them...and aren't practically crippled.
My leg/hip/low back still really hurts and I think that if I exercise it a little, the muscles will get stronger and not hurt as much. So I'm trying.
My new exercise regime consists of walking--briskly--from my front door, down the street to the next cul-de-sac where there is an entrance to the forest path, through the forest and back up the hidden "Power Trail" to where it lets out two cul-de-sacs further on the other side of mine, and back home. (Confused yet? Here's a map: Purple is what I did this morning, yellow is what Mike and I did Sunday night)
Sunday night Mike and I walked together, about a mile. I didn't time it but it probably took a half hour. We weren't trying to go very fast or very far--just to get moving. This morning I gave myself 25 minutes, and ended up walking about 1.3 miles. Never more than a power-walk, listening to fast beats to keep me motivated.
I saw lots of people walking dogs and several just walking themselves. Everyone seemed nice and waved or nodded, but with my headphones in no-one tried to talk to me, which is just the way I like it :)
I think it helped bring down the morning mania too--I always feel tired but unable to sleep when I get home from an overnight shift...so now I'm ready for bed!
Well, I knew I had this one in the bag from the beginning. They offered me the job on July 1, right after I had my first interview with them. But I had concerns: they have a 6-month probationary period (unlike every other place, which has a normal 3-month probation) and I hadn't done any other interviews in the area.
"That's okay," said the manager, "Take your time and do your other interviews, and let us know. We'd really love to have you."
Two weeks later, after a disappointing interview at the place I was really excited about (for a place that is staffed by former Penn techs, their pay scale is ridiculously low and their expectations inversely high) and a really annoying bout of phone tag with my former manager from the last place I worked here in PA (who I still haven't heard from despite an excellent working interview and a promise to have a job offer by Thursday at the latest), I called up the first place and told them I'd love to work for them if we could get past this probation thing, since I can't afford COBRA for another 6 months.
They promised to put me on their insurance immediately, although they won't pay any of their portion until the 6-month period is up. Honestly, that's fine--I just can't get accepted to any insurance outside of work, and even without their contribution it's cheaper than COBRA. And in 6 months it'll be like a raise when they start to pay (slightly) more than half the premium!
So I has job now. I start Tuesday night. In the meantime my baby sister Danna is coming out in...uh...4 and a half hours. I should probably get some rest before I drive out to the airport...
She'll be here for two full weeks, spending this weekend with me, then doing a 10-day seminar at Villanova for pre-pre-med students, then spending next weekend with me as well. We're going to New York to see Avenue Q on Broadway and Mike's grandma is taking us to the Art Museum here in Philly where she used to be a docent. So we'll get a little culture in too :)