Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's starting to wear me down

I'm sick of house hunting. Really. I'm just fed up with the whole thing. I want to crawl into bed and wake up three months from now, magically moved into a new house, with my stuff unpacked. Heck, I'll even take keeping it in boxes -- I can unpack it myself, thanks.

I find that even looking at listings of houses is making me a bit tired. Another crappy kitchen. Another boring shower. They're starting to look alike. Have I seen that fireplace before? I think I know that purple bedroom.

I want my house to magically appear. I got to redfin constantly, hoping that it will be there. I'm afraid that I'm getting so tired of this whole process that one day I'll see a house and just throw up my hands go say, "Fine, let's be done. This one will work." That I'll settle. And there's a part of me that thinks, well, would it be so bad? It would let me get on with my life.

But I don't want to settle, I want to love it. I'm just getting impatient, you know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walking away

Well, apparently I was too insulting. I put in a bid for the hot mess of a house and they were like, "yeah, we're not even going to answer that." So, yes, I am still available, if you know a nice place that will treat me nice.

This is probably not a bad thing. The house really is a mess. It would probably just lead to heartache. I mean, what would I do with those crazy holes in the ceiling anyway? Maybe they're just there to let out the bad spirits -- patching them up may only mess with the feng shui. Even the "good" rooms, the kitchen, the family room, they had issues. Yes, I must remind myself that it's for the best.

I am getting anxious. Of course, the rational side of me knows that there is a house out there for me. I'm starting to get sick of waiting. I'm sure it will all work out, but there are days I'm searching for the fast forward button.

Anyway, I've convinced myself that the hot mess needs an owner that is not me. I will miss the phone by the toilet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Latest Love

I may have found a house. I know, it took me long enough. I did have, well, complications, which is a big part of why it has taken so long. But, today, I put in a bid and now it's cross-fingers time.

Let me tell you about it: it's a hot mess. And, yet, I can't stay away. I first saw this house months ago. The good: glorious kitchen (a 15-foot island!), a lovely yard, good location, a glorious kitchen (oh, yeah, it's really [potentially] beautiful). The bad: wacked out master bathroom (with bidet -- ugh!), weird holes in the ceiling (yeah, we're looking at a pretty intense home inspection), missing kitchen cabinet doors, inch of dust on the ceiling fans, lots of little things that make you wonder, "Are they actually trying to sell this house?"

It does scare me. It is quite possible that these people have done no maintenance on it. (Why, yes, those are the original air filters on the furnace, is that a problem?) Here's one: the fan in the one bathroom is missing -- what the hell? Or, here's a better question: what the hell am I thinking buying this house? But the place draws me in. It's got personality.

I have been looking at smaller, more reasonable houses. But those houses will always be starter houses. The house that you hope to move out of someday. This house, while a bit of a mess, could be cleaned up, fixed up, and really be awesome. I can see wanting to stay there. Plus, this house, it fits me. It has things I want (good kitchen, nice but minimal yard, nice family room). Some of its weaknesses (only three bedrooms and one really small one, no real dining room) just don't matter to me. I just hope that they actually want to sell it. We'll see how negotiations go (although I did put in a really insulting offer...)

But, seriously, there's a phone right by the toilet. I mean, what the hell?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Count one to ten

There are times I wonder what might have happened. What would have happened if Mr. Higgy-Piggie would have gotten that pair-programming job in DuPont Circle? (I guess he's technically still Mr. HP, at least for a while longer.) What if he had gotten that job that was in Germantown? What if we had sold the house right away, or had loved a house down here? Would I be doing what I am doing now, I wonder. 

I can always point to things that cause the changes but what about the things that don't happen that cause those changes? I remember being excited about when Mr. HP was coming here, what our life would look like. There are times I look at the houses we were considering and I think, if we lived there, would we have been happy? And it really wasn't so long ago.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Right or wrong

Every week I read "The Ethicist" in "The New York Times" and it almost always pisses me off. Not that I disagree with some of his conclusions or advice (although it's almost always cutesy and a bit random: "Return the ball but keep the bat" or some nonsense like that.) But it does make me wonder: how does someone practice ethics for a living? What qualifies someone as a professional in the ethics department?

When I was in grad school, it was a requirement that we take a bioethics course. It was taught by that media whore Arthur Caplan. (Oh, you know who he is; you've seen him giving his opinion on CNN, MSNBC, all those places. I'm sure you have. I don't think he ever turns down an opportunity to flap his gums.) This was a 3-day course and all I can say is that there's three days of my life I'll never get back. Here's what I learned: (1) Nazis: not ethical (2) Tuskegee Study: also not ethical. Hey, thanks Caplan!

Seriously, if, for one split second, you think Mengele was conducting research in an ethical fashion, a few days with Arthur Caplan will not be changing you. I guess that's the question: can a course change your ethics? Can a few talks keep you from submerging kids in ice water? "Oh, now I get it! That's wrong! I'll stop that now."

(Although the course was held in the beautiful auditorium of the Archeology and Anthropology Museum, which almost did make it worth the three days. It is seriously stunning and the seats were comfortable.)

The thing that pissed me off the most was that there are some real ethical issues to discuss. The ethics of who owns research (I'm looking at you Watson and Crick, and how you screwed Rosalind Franklin), the ethics of not allowing a grad student to graduate because you want another year of his/her work in your lab, how to determine which data is just "outlier" information, etc. These are the interesting questions. These are questions that a lot of folks have to deal with, not the obvious abuses of human life.

But, back to the original question, what makes someone an expert on ethics? Seriously, I want that job. I want to be the person who dictates, yes, this is good; this, not so much. Of course, since I'm a scientist, I have shady ethics (as anyone familiar with Frankenstein knows.) (An aside that pisses me off: IRB boards are required to have a "non-scientist," as if that "non-scientist" raises that ethics bar. [And, seriously, what makes someone a "non-scientist?" I would argue that an MD is a non-scientist.] Do publishing houses run books past scientists to be sure that they are doing that job right?) But, I think I'm ethical; can I be a bioethicist? Can I go on CNN and tell the world that this or that genetic engineering is right or wrong? Because I really think I could handle the job.

Now I'm off to inject children with mysterious chemicals. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spoiler alert

I read spoilers. I can't help it. If someone knows what's going to happen in a show and they post it on-line, I'll be trying to find out. Yes, I do want to know who will be voted out, who will be killed in the season finale. It doesn't really ruin a show for me. I know it would for some people, but I just like knowing ahead of time a little bit about what will happen. 

Lately I have been wondering about my own life. If I knew there were spoilers out there for my life, would I read them? Would I want to know what is going to happen? These days, I'm not sure what I would want. I would like to think, yes, I welcome the surprises, those unexpected things that happen. But there is also a part of me that wants just a little peek into what is going to happen.

Lately, my life has had lots of changes. A lot of people would think that it would be stressful, which, yes, it is, somewhat. But it's also been exciting. It's been good. Really. As nutty as it may sound, I've been enjoying the crazy. There are times I think I should be more stressed out, but these days I can look at what is happening with a feeling that it will all be okay.

But there are days that I do worry a bit. As I sit in this "temporary" housing for the 7th month, I look ahead and do wonder what the future will bring. Yes, I am enjoying the surprises, some of these unexpected things that have been happening. I know I will find a place to live, I will settle in, I will meet people and start to find those places to go. But on these days when I worry, I really want that peek.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cross fingers

We may have sold the house. We have a contract (we got screwed, in case you're checking on that one, but we expected that, it being a buyer's market). Now we just have to get through the inspections and hope that no other issue raises its ugly head. 

I just would like to say, these people have been jerks. I am sure they will continue to be jerks. I don't have a problem with negotiating a good price. Yeah, that's to be expected. But you don't have to change the settlement date (the date that we made perfectly clear to you a number of times) at the last minute. You don't have to see the house 20 times. You don't have to make, then cancel appointments. You don't have to demand things just because. 

I can't stand these people. Fine, it's a buyer's market. Feel free to jerk us around. But, you know what, we're still living in your house. Yep, that's right. We still are hanging out. So, maybe the house won't be as clean as you might hope when we leave. And maybe we won't point out that typo in the contract. Because you have given us absolutely no reason for us to help you out. In fact, I gleefully welcome any opportunity I have to screw you over. If I can make your life a tiny bit more difficult, I am a bit happier.

I may not be a nice person. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Randomness

When I'm staying at Mom and Dad's, it's hard to grab time to write, let alone pull the thoughts together to get a "whole" post anyway. Plus, during the visit, there have been those little random bits that may not be a post, but are still interesting. Here's your list:

* Saw an old ad for the Fonz arcade game, which is silly and 1970s to begin with, but my favorite thing about it was what Sega called themselves: "The Quartermasters." 

* Tried to help Mom clean out her closet. She wouldn't get rid of one dress because she said it would be nice for a funeral. Her funeral. Or maybe she'd want to get buried in a nightgown -- she hasn't actually decided.

* Every time I get a manicure I swear I'm going to get them more often. But then I only seem to get one when my sister talks me into getting one.

* Mom really hates horse racing ever since she saw that filly die last year at the Derby. But she was happy that a long-shot like Mine That Bird won.

* While shoe shopping with Mom, the word "bondage" came up. From her. Not enough therapy in the world.

* For as long as I can remember, my parents have sworn by tea. "Coffee? Bleh!" This visit (in conversations separate from one another): "Sometimes I drink coffee now." Who picks up this habit in their 60s?

* Tried to teach Mom about her ipod touch. It was quite the challenge. She did successfully download a bunch of apps, but then went pack to the pool game she plays all the time (although she doesn't know the rules.  At one point she asked me what "ball in hand" meant. When I explained to her, she said, "Well, I didn't have all the advantages you did growing up?" When is knowing the rules of 9-ball an indication of a privileged childhood?)

* What Mom thinks is funny: "Maybe your next boyfriend will have 5 children and you'd be a stepmother to 5 kids." She couldn't stop laughing.

I'm sure there's more to come. We have all day today.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Skill set

I think we all have things that we're good at, the things that just come easy. We also have things we struggle with. "I can't dance." "I can't balance my checkbook." "I've never been able to juggle." When you say things like that, everyone nods and comes up with their list. I'm not sure why, but yesterday I was thinking, I wonder if I'm good at love.

I think it's a legitimate question: can you be good (or bad) at love? Some people are naturally funny, some people are generally bitchy, so there's a good chance that some people will naturally be good at love. That they would know what to say, how to behave, without even thinking about it. They know what the other person needs and they can just give it to them. Me, I'm prickly. I'm kind of a pain in the ass (as Mom has pointed out.) I'll forget your birthday. 

It's a skill set I need to work on. Unfortunately, there are no classes at the local community college.

A Letter

Dear Maryland Drivers,

I know that we haven't known each other very long and this may be a bit forward, but I feel I've waited long enough and I must share this with you: you suck. Yes, every one of you. I know it seems harsh and some of you may wish to argue, but I'm feeling pretty confident in that statement. 

Now, it's not all bad. I think you have hope. It's not like you're a Georgia driver! I think if you follow a few basic tips, you would be at least tolerable:

1. It is generally accepted that, when you drive on a major interstate (I-95, for example), that you drive at least the speed limit. This is especially true when you are in the left lane. Here's a secret: in many parts of the country, when one drives in the left lane, they often drive faster than the speed limit (gosh, I hope no cops are reading this.) I know you may not be comfortable with all that speed. That's fine; that's what that right lane is for. Yes, a whole lane for you. Enjoy.

2. If you pass a truck, you don't have to slow down when you pass it. It actually makes the job harder. Think about it. If you want to go 54 mph and the truck in front of you is going 50 mph, yes, you want to pass (you have all this speed!) But, as you pass, if you slow down to 40 mph, it will be a challenge. Keep up those 54 mph speeds; trust me, it will work out better for you.

3. That wet stuff coming from the sky: rain. Don't be frightened. It shows up now and again. You don't have to start driving 40 mph. Especially if it's so light, the windshield wipers are on intermittent. If it really is that scary, maybe don't drive those days?

4. Just because a cop has his flashy lights on on the side of the road doesn't mean you have to slow down and see what is going on. And, when you see that there's nothing there ("hey, where's the accident?") don't slow down more, just to really check out the scene.

I do think you have potential. Your roads are pretty nice and much better marked than anything you'll find in Philadelphia. I'll try to work with you. I think we can both be happy.