Friday, July 31, 2009

Updates on This Fabulous Life

I had expected house hunting to be a headache, but more a metaphorical than an actual one. But I went to see my first house yesterday, and there was a good deal of visible mold in the basement. I had a sinus headache within fifteen minutes, and three sinus flushes have not been sufficient to dislodge it completely.

When I played little league (as opposed to Little League, because it was run by an entirely different outfit) baseball as a child, I almost always went for the first pitch. Two hours to purchase a car seems an intolerable amount of time to me. I've only ever turned down one job offer. And I came to regret it. So I was predisposed to like the first house I was going to see, especially given that I'd chosen it with some care. And I really did like it. It needed a lot of cosmetic work that I could do myself, the location was great, the price was very good (no wonder: mold!), and it was pretty big. On the downside, it needs a new roof and new appliances, the bedrooms are on the small side, the layout is a little weird, the lot is smaller than I'd like, and the former owners appear to have remodeled part of it in a bizarre way. But there were salvageable hard wood floors! And a deck! And a large, finished (moldy) basement! And oh my God is this what my mind is going to be like for the next three months? Or (please no) even longer?

Someday we'll look back and this will all seem funny.

Headache notwithstanding, I'm still thinking about putting an offer on the house. If I were an investor with a lot of money, it'd be an easy decision: once the mold and the roof and the cosmetic stuff is fixed, I think the house will be worth a lot more than its current asking price. But I don't know whether I can deal with the uncertainty or the long wait that might be associated with an FHA 203k loan. I told my extraordinarily competent and handsome yet unattractive-to-me (Everything about him screams breeder. And frat boy.) realtor that I'd make up my mind over the weekend.

And I'll be spending that weekend at a family reunion in Western Maryland and Southwestern Pennsylvania. The only silver lining associated with my father's formerly terminal illness was that he'd be too sick to make the trip to Pennsylvania for the reunion, so I wouldn't have any reason to attend. But when I called him last Friday, he casually mentioned that he and my mother were thinking of driving up to PA. Driving. Sixteen hours. With cancer and a wife that you can't be in the same room -- let alone car -- with for more than forty-five seconds minutes seconds before you begin arguing. I begged them to wait until Monday or Tuesday when I could fly EFU down so that she could drive them up, and Dad was all, well, maybe we'll do that, we'll see, but Mom was in the background telling him to get off the phone so they could finish packing, and on Monday morning (when EFU was still flying home from San Francisco), I got a call from the house in PA saying they'd arrived the night before. And I just knew it. I had spent the entire weekend sure that they'd already left because they weren't answering the phone in Florida. I'd sent my sister an email asking her to reason them, which resulted in the following phone conversation:

TED: Hello?
TED's sister: Hi, TED. It's your favorite sister.
T: Is this where I'm supposed to say that you're my only sister? Like the last seventy-three times you called me?
TS: Well somebody's grumpy today.
T: Urgh.
TS: I got your email. What's this "your parents" thing?
T: They're your parents when they act up. When they're good, they're my parents.
TS: Funny. I tried to call them to reason with them, but I didn't get an answer.

See, the thing is, my father was dying. And he's still dying, but now it's slightly less like death is waiting in the next room and slightly more like the way we're all dying. But he still has the cancer, even though it's spreading more slowly. And the reason he's doing better now is that he got some excellent palliative care, and the resulting reduction in stress on his system allowed the rest of his body to rally somewhat. And given that, a normal person would want to avoid things that would further stress him. Like sixteen-hour road trips with his spouse/arch-nemesis. He even did some of the driving.

And, sure enough, on Wednesday, my phone rang, and after my mother tried to make me feel guilty for not answering the phone the first time she called (Oh, please, is that all you got? I was in a meeting, and you didn't leave a message, and you were using someone else's phone, and I didn't recognize the number. And you expect me to feel guilty? My mother used to be a master at making me feel guilty, but either she's really lost it, or I've gotten a much thicker skin.) she told me that she needed me to call my ex-wife because my parents had been going to have dinner with some neighbors and then spend the night at my ex-wife's house before heading back to PA in the morning, but now my father was feeling too sick, and she was going to take him back to PA and put him to bed, and she didn't have my ex-wife's phone number with her.

A few hours later, Mom called to say that they'd gotten back. Apparently, Dad had forgotten to bring his pain medication with him when they set out for the area, and that's what had caused the problem. I tried to be sympathetic, but I just couldn't help thinking that maybe they had brought the problems on themselves with all that driving. I told her that I'd see her Friday night.

Anyway, it'll be good to see my parents again, but the reunion is a lot to handle with a sinus headache. Most of my relatives are good, kind people, but they are very conservative, and the notion of spending the weekend with scores of people talking about how the President hates white people makes my soul weep. I figure it'll take about seven minutes before I hear the first complaint about government-run health care from one of my relatives who loves his Medicare. EFU hates it even more than I do. I just hope she doesn't slip up and say "fuck" too many times. The girl has a mouth like a sailor.

In other so-called news, b&c and I are getting along really well now that we've decided to separate. It's always good to have things settled, I guess. The peaceful cohabitation is a good thing because, what with everything, I'm guessing that I'll be lucky to be in my own place by Thanksgiving. He's going to cut way back on his consulting work next year, but he has several trips (including a month-long gig in Guyana, of all places) planned for the early fall, and he's glad that he won't be leaving the house uninhabited. I think the house is too big for him, and I told him that he should sell it and get a smaller place closer in and a modest home in the Tuscan countryside. He agreed that the idea had merit, but he wasn't so excited about my suggestion that he also acquire a houseboy. I even offered to help train the houseboy and to watch him when b&c is in Tuscany, but he still wasn't convinced. Some people are just prisoners of their own inertia.

1 comment:

  1. I take it you're shopping for pink houses. It seems like an ideal time to buy, good luck sir.