Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life: Always Look On the Bright Side Of....


This never gets old. 

     Yeah, I've got nothing this week but angst. This is becoming (already a done deal?) a bad habit.

     I'm trying to pack up the house so I can stage it and sell it, all the while thinking I'll never get back into the house market if I let go of this one. I wish I had the money to build one of those Tiny Houses.  ( ) and ( ). It's hardly any money at all, to build and furnish one, not much more than one of those purses that NYC fashionable types carry around. Unfortunately, hardly any money is still more money than I've got. I'm not quite at the stealing-an-expensive-purse-and-putting-it-on-ebay stage, not yet. I know we're not supposed to talk about money and/or money troubles, but I think it's pretty obvious where I'm at financially.
     Actually, the Tiny Houses from the Tiny House movement are sweet dollhouses, perfect for one, but speaking for myself, just a little too small. I wish I could build a Little House, which is a NEW new movement, freshly sprung from the Tiny House demand ( ). The tiny ones are too small, happily, the little ones are juuust right.
     The older I get the less inclined I am to waste time cleaning house (I was of the opinion that a clean house = good, a spotless house = waste of time, and you might consider a more fruitful hobby, even before I got sick.) I can, and do embrace yard work quite happily, and normal chores are actually kind of comforting (dishes, laundry, etc), but I no longer get excited about Spring Cleaning or Deep Cleaning or Saturday Cleaning get the idea. I'm also less enchanted with Buying Stuff For The House. I've had to do so much de-junking and de-cluttering over so many moves; I've gotten to the point where it would be easier to remove a tattoo than pry money out of my hands for More Stuff. I didn't set out to become a tightwad, and I'm sure I wouldn't be this extreme if I had more money (more mannerless financial talk, sorry) but the idea of buying random house type Stuff just fills me with dread, because I can see that very same Stuff in a box headed for Goodwill more easily than I can see it on a shelf in my house.
     This is not to say that my humble home is furnished and decorated in a tasteful, grownup way, oh no. My first home was decorated with clearance and garage sale items, but it was absolutely and deliberately decorated. This house, not so much. It is very neo-poverty, a step above Starving Student. I used to put up art, and photos, and paint the walls, and make lampshades that matched duvet covers, but I haven't done that in a while. It just has to be undone when you move. I've got the mentality of a teen who has to make the bed: why make it when you'll just be back under the covers in twelve hours anyway? Not a mature, hardworking ethic, I'm sorry to say. The fact that my home will be better decorated by staging it to sell than it ever was before? Bitter irony.

     I hate that I'm having to sell with no specific direction to another home, or condo, or apartment. I hate the idea of rent disappearing into a landlords pocket, instead of building my own equity. I cannot adequately express how much I love having my own house. It was so hard to break into the housing market, and so gratifying to own our first house. The kids and I adored that little cracker box. We'd wave goodbye and hello when we drove away and back again; for almost a year we kept waving, not caring that we must have seemed overly cutesy and saccharine to others.  Having our own patch of real estate, no matter how small and unremarkable to other people, was a dream come true for us. Being able to decorate however we wanted, to plant whatever we liked, to play music and yell and was glorious. It still is.

      You can't buy a house, not even a fixer upper (realtor speak for a meth shack) unless you've got a job, and I don't and the ex doesn't appear to be looking anymore. He's always bounced back from his job losses with bigger and better jobs and paychecks (he was making a ton of money as an executive at this last job) but he seems to have reached some weird, critical stage where he doesn't care about pissing people off or treating people badly, even if it means not getting hired. I always thought it was just me that he hated, but as the years go by, it appears he hates pretty much everyone, and doesn't care enough to hide it and play nice, even if it's only playing nice at work. This scares me, because work is the one thing he has ever truly cared about. He is (was?) ambitious and wants to play with the big boys and girls (the ones who are rich and in charge). Money and job titles are the only thing that matter, he's told me repeatedly (he should have been in finance on Wall Street, those guys are his heroes) but the line of work he's in isn't as accommodating toward people with anti-personal personalities.

     He's at a bad place, hiring wise. He's forty five, and made a big pile of money at his last job, which counts against you in the job hunting market, and he was let go because even though he worked harder and more hours than three people put together, he treated his employees and coworkers badly. There's just no other way to say it. If he'd been a feudal lord in the middle ages, his serfs would have revolted, refused to stand for that level of abuse, even knowing that they faced certain death. He just is Not Nice to other people, and doesn't understand why he has to bother with certain daily social graces. It's naive to assume that other employers and companies haven't heard of him and his behavior by this point.  I suppose he could do consulting, and make quite decent money with that,  but you have to build up with friendly connections and social networking, friendly and social being key.

     I don't want to move from Kansas. I want so badly to have a little home where I can put down roots for the kids, so that they feel like they have a hometown, or at least a home, a place they can grow up and out of, a place to come visit or even move back to, if necessary.  I want them to have the familial and social safety net that I have with my parents and my childhood home; the place where they have to take you in. I don't want to go backward, where we're renting someone else's home, or worse, a scenario where the kids and I end up in the basement of my parents home. A safety net like that is precious, but when that net closes around you,  the knotted rope still quivering from your fall, well. It's the opposite of successfully navigating the Tightrope of Adult Life. You're grateful as hell to be saved, for sure, but the view was better from above.
Websites/reading I liked this week: (they are all quite positive, cheerful, or interesting, and full of 'We CAN do it' type other words: not like the above or recent posts by my grumpyass self)

Videos I liked this week: 

A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome: 

Texting teens (French and Saunders comedy skit):


A walk through David Austin's English Rose Garden (I'd play it on mute, it's got terrible music, but jaw droppingly gorgeous antique roses):

Music by Hoodlem (Old Friend): Kid Number Two emailed this to's wonderful: 

"I'll fly away" covered by a group of Big Country Stars (the whole concert is worth looking up on youtube, it's one of my favorites. I can't imagine how good it was live, because it's flat amazing even on video): 

Europe's first carbon neutral city: 

Knitting video (how to do a picot bind off; all of iknitwithcatfur's youtube uploads are excellent knitting tutorials...ok it turns out it won't load, here's the link):

Books I liked this week:

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore: 
(  )

I can only recommend it conditionally. It's not as good as 'Lamb' or the 'BloodSucking Fiends' trilogy. It's funny and weird, the way all of his books are, and I'm glad I read it, but it's not my favorite CM book by long stretch. It is nice, light and lighthearted reading for a stressful time, and even the worst CM book is better than many others. For instance:

Books I despised this week:

On a pale horse by Piers Anthony:

     Actually, the word despised is too generous. I wish I'd never read it, it was a total waste of time. I can't believe that there are people who adore this book the way I adore, say, Harry Potter. I got the idea to read it off an io9  ( ) commenter-generated reading list of all time favorite scifi/fantasy. People, especially guy type people, really love this book, and the series that follows.
     I don't know what the hell they're on about - it's got the worst dialogue I've ever read, LITERALLY EVER (keep in mind I've read a lot of bad scifi/fantasy/and/romance). I cannot believe a caring editor signed off on the dialogue. It's painfully bad. And, AND, the protagonist thinks exactly like he speaks, which means you can't escape the bad dialogue for more than a few sentences. The plot was a little boring, kind of an obvious series set up, but not terrible, and the concept is kind of fun; a guy becomes Death incarnate after a botched suicide attempt and has to figure out his role without any job training. That's fun, right? Of course, right. It's a really good plot idea...I just wish someone would write a book worthy of said plot, because it emphatically is NOT this one.
     He meets a girl in his role of Grim Reaper and sort of falls for her.  I say sort of, because his misogyny colors his every thought and interaction with The Girl, to the point where I couldn't tell if he genuinely liked her or just really needed to get laid and she happened to be the only female in his path and he really mostly resented her for making him want her.
Piers Anthony would have been very at home with the Midcentury Misogynists like Kerouac and Roth. I couldn't believe the book was written in the 80's, the sexist protag's befuddled opinions and interactions with women seemed like helplessly angry anti-hero junk from the fifties or sixties (or from a Men's Rights Activist, MRA, happening on a Reddit near you, on this very date).
     I didn't want to throw the book against a wall, the way I wanted to with Odd Thomas, but holy cow, this book, THIS? is a cherished and classic re-read of so many io9'ers? What am I missing here? Are the Piers Anthony disciples so enamored of the Grim Reaper's gadgets and toys, a la James Bond, that they just don't care about how well or poorly the books are written? I mean, is that it...that this particular Grim Reaper is Agent Double 00, and Old Double 00 Death is so cool that he rises above bad pacing, execrable dialogue, one dimensional characters and relentless sexism?  What? Whaaaaat? Someone tell me...on second thought, no. Nope. Don't tell me. I don't want to know. 

Pictures I liked this week:

(you can click on individual pics to enlarge)

end; have a good week

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