Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just like heaven (if it didn't look like hell)

So this house just showed up on my radar today that sort of exemplifies the dilemma of someone like me, rummaging around near the bottom of the real estate market: the houses I see are either where I want to live/in a decent 'hood or really cool houses, but hardly ever both (and if they are both they're already under contract). The house in question is in Bethesda, which is at the top of my list of places I'd like to be, and not only is it newish construction and in one of those hideous neo-"Little Boxes" neighborhoods, but it's a damn garage with a house attached! Yechh! There ought to be laws against that sort of thing.

I know I'm going to have to make some compromises because I can't afford a "perfect house," and I know having a less-than-fab house won't make me a bad person. But am I crazy in thinking there's no way in hell I could live in such a place? Plus the lot size is only .097 acres. That's hardly room to play with a Chihuahua.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

They want to make buttons out of my bones

Warning: If you don't live in/around Durham/RTP this post will probably bore you.

Maybe I should forget buying for a while and rent until house prices hit rock bottom. That way maybe I could afford something I actually want to live in. The housing look-see went well enough on Saturday. We went in to look at a couple of places, including a brick ranch that I adored in Bethesda. Mostly we just drove by places and ruled them out without wasting time looking inside.

It sucks ruling out a neighborhood that I think may be on the upswing because it's still pretty cruddy. For example I see lots of signs of rehabbing and construction going on in Walltown, which is a good sign, but everything I can afford there is surrounded by scary crappiness. If I weren't going to be living alone I might think it would be a good investment to buy in Walltown right now, but the truth is I don't want to spend years alone in a scary crappy place waiting for my investment to pay off. That would be scary. And crappy.

And while I really like Northgate Park, I feel like everything there is so microscopic. I don't need as much space as I've got now (1600 sf), but damn, 900 sf is really little. Put me and a couple of dogs in there and I just think the coziness will get old very quickly. The benefit would be that it would make us get out and enjoy the wonderful proximity of the park, I suppose.

My agent insists I need to buy something that will sell again very quickly because she says most people in my position, i.e. separating/divorcing women, move again within 5 years. So this means that I shouldn't buy where I actually want to live, but where I think someone else on my housing budget would want to live (this is the main reason she wants me to consider Raleigh). But that just seems so messed up ... so I should pick a place that's LESS convenient to me because someone else will like it better? That sort of seems like it's setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy; I mean, of course I will want to move within 5 years if I'm not living where I want ...

I'm sick of this already.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nobody wants to be your friend cause you're not from round here

So tomorrow I'll start my house hunt for reals by going out with my agent and looking at a few places. I'm very excited, although I know from experience that it always starts out that way but then later you start to dread looking at yet another crappy house, wondering what the hell this next one is going to smell like ...

Anyway, I was quite surprised when my agent--who grew up in Durham, still lives here and is in fact the person who suggested Mr. Pants and I live in Durham when we first thought of relocating to this area--asked why I wasn't considering any houses in Raleigh. Because eww, that's why. I honestly can't come up with any reason to live in Raleigh other that it would get me to work more quickly ... and save gasoline and spew fewer destructive emissions into the atmosphere. But it would lengthen my commute to the dog training facility three or four times a week, which means I'd just be spewing emissions going the other direction (until they come up with a transit system that allows people to take their dogs places, at least). Oh, and also, Raleigh is full of the kind of people who like living in places like Raleigh, and I prefer the kind of people who like living in places like Durham.

But I told her I would look at whatever she wanted to show me. She sent me a few listings and I see that a few of them are fairly close to 540, which means I would be able to get the hell out of Raleigh fairly quickly, which would be a must. And a couple of them look rather cute. So we'll see, but I have a very hard time imagining myself as a Raleigh resident.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The wood floors at Casa de Pants are being redone this week, so I'm currently living at a friend's house. She's roughly in the vicinity of Bethesda in Southeast Durham. I'd never really been in this area before (except maybe that time I desperately needed gas so I exited 147 at Ellis Avenue because the sign said there was a gas station. There is--you have to go Miami Boulevard and turn left--and when you're running on fumes it feels like a long way.)

Turns out this area is extremely convenient for a daily commute to Raleigh. Hmmm. Also an easy and quick drive to my dog training facility. Double hmmm. But, a quick look at the MLS shows that everything here seems to be at the tippy top of my price range or higher, probably because the houses are decent sized (usually 3 bedrooms or larger) and have good-sized yards. So I might not be able afford to live here. Plus I'd be giving up the "walkability" of Trinity Park, but to tell the truth the only time I really walk anywhere is when I'm taking the dogs for their exercise. Otherwise I'm so busy going to and from Raleigh for work or going out to PBH to teach classes, take classes or practice agility that I don't have time to walk anywhere. Or do much at all, really. Why not live out in the middle of nowhere if it gets me where I need to be more quickly? And I really would love a nice big yard for dog play ...

(And please, no one post the obvious question: "Why don't you move to Raleigh?" Fuck Raleigh. And besides, the only places I can afford there are the types where I'd have to shovel crackhead poop out of my flowerbeds every day. And yes, they DO have crackheads in Raleigh. Cary has ordinances prohibiting them, I believe.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Keep or give away?

One box full of House Beautiful magazines from the '60s. No one needs a box full of old magazines, but they're just so dang cool to look at. I feel guilty if I keep them and move them because I'm supposed to be taking advantage of this opportunity to de-clutter my life. But I don't want to get rid of them. The serve no useful purpose other than I like them. What to do?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox

I did the radio thing last night, here be the playlist. Sta. Salsera hung out with me during my show and a good time was had by all, including perhaps the listeners. We somehow got onto the topic of thrift stores and the possibility of seeing stuff you donated for sale in the store later (Salsera is against it), and we asked listeners to call in with their own such tales, not expecting anyone to call. But lo, someone did call in with a tale of her orange rug's second career at The Untidy Museum. Good times.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The fat one balances the two skinny ones

Thanks to this post on BoingBoing, I now have a strategy for selling our house quickly once it goes on the market:
Female study participants in a room with a hidden chocolate-chip cookie scented candle were much more likely to make an unplanned purchase of a new sweater -- even when told they were on a tight budget -- than those randomly assigned to a room with a hidden unscented candle (67 percent vs. 17 percent).
So I need to put a few framed photos of chocolate chip cookies around the place and burn a cookie-scented candle before people come to see the house. Brilliant!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Most of all he needs the funk

Several years ago (I'm thinking 2003 or so), we switched every possible light bulb in the house from incandescent to to CFL. I should note that this was before it was cool an hip to do so. We're trendsetters that way. Anyway, the first one burned out (with a mighty POP) yesterday. I already knew that CFLs contain a tiny amount of mercury and that one is not supposed to toss them into household garbage. But I didn't know exactly what one is supposed to do with a spent CFL. Turns out that in Durham County, one must take the bulb to the Hazardous Waste Facility at 1900 E. Club Blvd. So, in order to properly dispose of this wonderful energy-saving device, I need to get in my car and drive a round-trip of 6.8 miles. If I were wanting to be a little more environmentally friendly about it and had plenty of time to burn, could my spent CFL and I perhaps take the bus together? Nope, bus don't go there, sorry. I could ride my bike. Yeah, it could happen ...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

“this one is north argentinian folkstep gauchito cowboy cumbia! this one is psychadelic cumbia!"

I don't want to talk about my wood floors or why I run away as fast as I can when I see the words "Location, location, location!" in a real estate listing. I'll post about that later. I wants to talk musics.

I may have mentioned here before that I'm cuckoo for cumbia, particularly in its "nu" forms all mashed up with beats and loops and whatnot. Since I like to use this here bloggy thing to evangelize about my musics, I must now share with you el groove del momento, mad decent worldwide radio #21 - SOY CUMBIA!. You have to listen with the little embedded player on the site, but it's well worth being tethered to the computadora via earbuds for however long is lasts (maybe 10 minutes? I dunno, it made me lose track of time).

I must give thanks to the always cool La Onda Tropical for turning me on to this via a post on a blog called Turn That Shit Off, which is written in spanglish, so just go there and click on all its linky goodness even if you don't understand.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Me love Jesus long time

I needed a laugh today, and thanks to a co-worker, I found it here:

Yes, GodTube. It was inevitable.

Friday, January 04, 2008

One big pile is better than two little piles

The fun never ends at the soon-to-be-ex Casa de Pants. We have to refinish the wood floors. (Note to self: next casa will most definitely NOT have pine floors. Oh sure, they're all pretty and historic and shit, but they're soft as hell and completely unsuitable for people with dogs.)

Aside from the kitchen and the bathrooms, there is only one room in the house that does not have wood floors. Fortunately, it's a fairly large room, because now I have to attempt to cram every item in the casa into it for about five days. Obviously, I'll have to live somewhere else, not just because my two little dogs and won't fit comfortably into the one room with all the stuff, but because the polyurethane fumes will make us keel over. I have an understanding friend who will take us in, but one of the little dogs will probably have to stay with the soon-to-be-ex Mr. Pants (and the big dog, of whom s-t-b-e MP has custody.) It will suck. Hugely.

I'm really feeling pissy right now and I hope that someone's sinuses are killing him and he's miserable.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Oh I'd love to stay but I've really got so many things to do

Scrubbing grout with a toothbrush. Painting that awful lavender room we didn't like but never bothered to paint. Painting the door that got scratched up by the foster dog. Cleaning things we never really cleaned so well before. Trying to figure out where those little oily spots on the wall came from and how to get rid of them. Removing the ugly wallpaper border which will necessitate painting the really awesome red room, but in a less awesome, more real-estate-agent-approved "neutral" color.

Happy new year. May your blinds always repel dust.