Monday, July 25, 2016

The Next Big Thing

I was thinking yesterday morning, and I realized that this week--Thursday, to be exact--marks the twelfth anniversary of this Little Pink Blog. Twelve years!! That means it's almost twelve years since I left for England, twenty-six years old and full of nervous excitement.

So many things can happen in twelve years. I've moved five times (more if you count the two moves in one summer, from Washington to Lincoln to Antioch in the space of a couple of months). I've had many jobs...no jobs for a period, there. I've lived in England, Washington State, and three distinct parts of California. 

Most of the last twelve years, I zipped around in a 2003 Mazda Protege I called Rosie, until I retired her last fall for Sylvie the Mazda 3. Those twelve years saw the addition of Harley Dude, and his untimely death at age four...and, of course, last year's loss of my fifteen-year-old soul mate, Millie Joyful.

Ups, downs, a roller coaster of living, traveling, experiencing. Figuring out that I'm not "too emotional," but rather anxious. Becoming a runner, losing a substantial amount of weight, taking control of my health, my career, and working damn hard in all of it.

Now, it's time for a new adventure.

This one doesn't involve airplanes or a new boss, but it does involve moving. 

This afternoon, I will sign the closing paperwork on a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in the Sacramento community of Antelope...then I'll go to the nearest Wells Fargo and wire the whole of my savings account to a loan company. This afternoon, I will become a homeowner.

If you've been keeping track, you know it's almost exactly five years since I bit the bullet and moved back in with my parents. One year of total unemployment, one year of 20% contract, one year of 33%, and one year of 50%. Finally, this last school year, I was back to full-time. When I landed the job, I sat down with my parents and asked if I could impose on them for one more year. One year to throw a ton of money into my savings account so I could look at buying a home instead of renting. They loved the idea, and frankly, they've never really minded having me here. 

That said, they're keeping me for at least another couple of weeks. The condo is in a great community--large, well-kept, quiet--but it needs a little love before I move in. It has been a rental for several years and the most recent renters were...less than clean. While it's been cleaned since they vacated it, I still want to go back and put the Meg Touch on it. And they were hard on the walls, so those will need some Spackle and a fresh coat of paint. I'd have painted anyway, to make the place mine. Most importantly...it needs new floors--the whole thing. The living, dining and kitchen have laminate that has seen some better days, and the linoleum in the bathrooms is separating and peeling (and it's...ugly). But worst of all is the carpet in the two bedrooms...the tenants, you see, had ten guinea pigs. And a chinchilla. And a dog. 

I'm not exaggerating. I counted. I never saw the dog, but the neighbors told the selling realtor, and he told my realtor, and that's why I could smell pee on the balcony. (It's since been cleaned!!)

Anyway, the rodents, all eleven of them, lived in the two bedrooms, and the carpet is...less than nice. It's also really old and worn out, so I figure if I'm going to redo linoleum, and rip out carpet, and update the laminate, I might as well do the whole place in one go, before I even move a stick of furniture in. Lino in the bathrooms, laminate everywhere else. No carpet, just cute throw rugs. 

Some of you reading this have known for six weeks now that I'm doing this, and you've witnessed the...stress...I've had through parts of the process. It started in June, when my amazing realtor, Kristen, and I looked at three different condos, including one in this complex. I had seen the listing for my almost-home but we couldn't get into it that day, as the renter insisted on 24 hours of notice, and only allowed people to see it between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:15 am. 

Yeah.

Anyway, we saw it on June 13th--a Monday--and my initial reaction was, "Ugh...NO." But Kristen said, "Think about it--yes, their furniture is way too big for the place, and they are...gross. But you're going to paint whatever place you find anyway, and yeah, you'd need new floors...but think about it. Give this one a good think. It's a nice floor plan."

So I thought about it. And a couple hours later...


And so it began. I was excited that week, full of possibilities and already mentally decorating the place. Then, with the next week, came the anxiety--and I'm not being cute when I call it anxiety. I am talking about full-fledged, all-out panic. 

I hid tears from my parents, taking extra-long showers and hiding in my room with the TV on. I texted Sarah (who has been through this process twice now, with the same team, as John the mortgage broker is her uncle and Kristen the realtor is her aunt!), and she was amazing with her advice and wisdom. 

And I cried in Matt's gym twice that week--the second time when the poor man simply asked, "How's the condo stuff going?" To his credit, Matt didn't miss a beat, just jumped up to grab the tissue box, smiled encouragingly, let me get it all off my chest, and then said, "I know exactly what you're going through." (He bought his house in 2015.)

 As I navigated the mountain of paperwork, and all the new terminology, and the very real worry that I wouldn't have enough money to do any of this, I felt so overwhelmed and scared. I stressed to Summer via email, and to my duck ladies and my friends Shae and Nicki, in private groups on Facebook. It was a rough week. 

If my parents and my friends were saints, so, too, were John and Kristen through this whole process. Ever since my first phone call to John in March, and my first time meeting Kristen in May, both have treated me like family. I saw both of them at a graduation party for Sarah's daughter Julia in May, and both greeted me with hugs. Both have taken excellent care of me, making sure I understand everything, calming me when the stress got to me, and looking out for my best interest every single step of the way--no small feat, with this particular condo, and this particular set of people. (An...inexperienced?...selling realtor, a seller described as a "cantankerous older gentleman," and renters who don't flush toilets, lie about having a dog, and live with eleven rodents. Eleven rodents.)


The inspection went well--the male renter (it was a dude, his fiancee, and her teenage son) followed the inspector around when he wasn't following Kristen and I. The teenager was asleep when we got there for our previously-arranged time, so we saved his bedroom for last while he pulled his comforter over his head and pretended we weren't in his room. (Awkward!!!) One toilet was backed up, and the other one was un-flushed with a ring of mold about an inch thick. Still, by the time we did the inspection, I had worked through most of my anxiety, and seeing the place again made me excited...even if it was a pigsty. 

Aside from signing a lot of papers, most of this has been just a big waiting game. Once the tenants were out, the selling realtor, who had made an enormous error by putting "single-car garage" in the listing and then saying, "Ummmm, OOPS!" when we asked which garage was mine after the inspection, did a walk-through with the cleaners and was suddenly very understanding of just why Kristen had asked for so much from them in making the deal on the place. He even paid to have a new lock put on the front door because the existing one wasn't great and he figured I'd appreciate a new lock (and, indeed, one of my first plans for the place was to get a new dead bolt because heaven only knows who might have keys to the place). 

So...here I am! I made it through, and today, I sign. Then I wait, a few more days, for the county to officially file the papers, before I can get the keys and start Meg-ifying my new home. 

I got to see the place on Saturday--for the first time without the renters in it--and it made me even more excited. I have big plans for this place, and I told Kristen that next time she sees it, she won't recognize it at all. "I know!!" she replied. "You're going to make this place really cute." 

Galley kitchen--I'm getting a new oven, pronto, because this
one doesn't work. The floor looks okay bit is actually
damaged from a mishap with the dishwasher.

The kitchen from the day of the appraisal.

Saturday marked the first time I ever actually saw the dining
room, haha. It had always been one big mountain of boxes.

A pic from the appraisal of the dining area.

The living room--gas fireplace!! Nice-sized balcony with an open lot behind it.

From the dining area, looking past the kitchen to the Mistress bedroom. I have
a nice-sized pantry in the kitchen.

Dining area (my hutch will go on that wall), and the front door.

This is the second bedroom. You can just see a hole in the carpet (bottom
right of pic) where a few guinea pig cages and one chinchilla resided.

Second bedroom. It doesn't share a wall, so I can keep my piano in here and
sing myself silly.

A picture from the appraisal--the chinchilla lived in the big cage, some guinea
pigs in the top cage. 

Mistress Bathroom--that is some UGLY linoleum and
what you can't see is the duct-taped toilet seat. Yes, duct
tape. I'm replacing both toilet seats anyway, but especially
because of the DUCT TAPE.

Another of the living room. The tenants had the couch blocking the fireplace and
an ENORMOUS entertainment center on the opposite wall.

A photo of the living room from the appraisal. Oh, yeah, they had a fish tank,
too.


This is looking from the kitchen towards the second bathroom. The second
bedroom is to the right (behind the fireplace) and on the left is a laundry
closet. That is Kristen's arm. ;) 
I've been a terrible blogger the last few months--it's not that I have nothing to say, it's just that I'm busy, or, in the case of buying a home, sitting on the news until it's properly official before I put it out there. Now I'll be blogging the progress of my new home as I go--I want to have a really good record of what I've done to the place. 

Fasten your seatbelts...it's going to be Wild and Absolutely True

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Adventure A'Comin'

I am not quite yet ready to reveal exactly what it is, but a new adventure is coming, and very soon. It is a big one, and a slightly scary one, and for once has nothing to do with my career, or travel. I can't wait to share it.


Details soon! Very soon!

Monday, July 04, 2016

A Whirlwind Weekend

Last week, I woke to a text on Wednesday morning from my brother, Aaron. "Are Mom and Dad going out of town this weekend?"

"I don't think so," I replied. "I don't know what they've got planned."

Aaron, it turned out, had a hankering to see Mom for her 70th birthday (today), and wanted to drive from Idaho to surprise her. I told him she'd love it, but to talk to Dad about logistics, and within a few hours, a plan was formed.

"Oh, and Erica is going to come with me," he later told me in a quick phone conversation.

Erica is my niece, adopted officially about two years ago. I had met her once, in passing, when in Idaho for Echo's funeral in 2013. I literally laid eyes on her for maybe five minutes, said, "Nice to meet you!" with a distracted smile (she was still fostered with a different family then, but she would visit Aaron and Susanne at their home because she is the biological sister to my nephew Tyson). We were only in Idaho for a couple of days, and obviously, our purpose in visiting wasn't a happy one.

Since Erica became part of the family, Mom and Dad have gone to visit, but I had to work. So I've been the Aunt-From-Afar, sending birthday and Christmas cards. So I was excited to get to spend some real time with Erica this weekend.

She turned out to be just awesome.

Aaron got off work at midnight on Friday, went home and roused Erica and her BFF Tara (who ended up coming with them), and they left Idaho at about 1:00 local time, because Aaron is crazy. Okay, I kid. But he's definitely a glutton for punishment or something.

By about 10:00, they were pulling into Lincoln, and Dad went to meet them to help them find their way to the house, where Mom was watering her garden and I was sitting on the patio furniture playing with my phone (but actually getting ready to take pictures).

Before long, we heard Aaron's baritone singing, "Happy Birthday to you..." and Mom jumped about three feet in the air before turning around to give him a bear hug.



We all sat on the patio for a bit catching up, then Aaron and the girls went to check in at the hotel and have a rest. Later on, Mom, Dad, and I picked them up and we went to Old Town Pizza in Lincoln.

Tara (left) and Erica (right). I promise we did not all spend the
whole meal on our phones.

Siblings.

Aaron was exhausted, but the girls were raring to go, wanting to have some fun. A little while after coming home from dinner, I got a call from Erica. "Aunt Meg...could you take us to the mall...???"

So I spent a couple hours with Erica and Tara at the mall, and while I made a silly post to Facebook about it, I was actually having fun. They're cute girls.

Nope, didn't buy it. I'm being Ms. Frugal these days.

Sorely tempted...but nope.

In the Disney Store. Erica had foot surgery recently, but that
scooter isn't slowing her down. Tara and I had to race to keep up!
On Sunday, Aaron wanted to go to Old Sac, so I offered to drive him and the girls. We took a quick detour by my school, and by our grandparents' old house for nostalgia's sake.

Aaron collects post cards. This was his sole reason for coming
to Old Sac. Even though I send him about three post cards
every week.

Star Wars knock-offs.

I so love old buildings. So many lovely details.

We made a new friend. 

Tara

Erica climbed up there, boot and all. 



At lunch (the nose rings are fake).


We walked on to the Delta King for a few minutes and I got
some fun shots.








Sunday evening, we had a long-planned dinner at the club here in the neighborhood. Dad had invited four couples they are friends with to have a birthday dinner for Mom, and of course I was invited as well. When Aaron announced his visit, Dad called to add a few more seats. We ended up having a party of 14, and a marvelous time.

Then it was back to the house for cake and ice cream. Mom had a great time.

After everyone else left, we took a few family pictures.



Meg and Mom <3 nbsp="" td="">
Aaron had to get back to Idaho today, so we said our goodbyes last night. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and after attending the Lincoln July 4th Parade this morning, I came home and had a three-hour nap.

Llama!

Soldiers handing out candy.




Red, white, and...purple hair.

This was the creepiest thing I've ever seen in a parade. Yes,
that is supposed to be Jesus.


Llamas!!

A horse in a hat.

It's been a great weekend. Busy, full of family. I am glad Aaron was able to be here, and I was glad to get to know Erica better--she and her friend Tara are both really with-it and mature girls (both 16). Really smart and funny. We all had a great time, and Mom is left feeling very blessed, indeed.