12.14.2009

"Charming, 1920 Bungalow"

Well, after a year of looking at houses, we've made our first offer on an old bungalow in a small town about 10 miles from where we live. We made the offer on Thursday evening and gave them until noon today to respond. Is now 11:56.

12.02.2009

My grandmother, Act I

This entry is from a long Facebook message.  Some of that post is directly copied here, as I took my time to write that, and I don't have enough time to write this.

This is the first of what may be several posts about my paternal grandmother.  She died Oct. 27 at age 95.  The last few years of her life were spent at a nursing home; her Alzheimers had advanced to the point where she didn't know who my father was.

My grandmother had four sons; my dad is #3.  They grew up in northern New Jersey, near the Ramapo mountains, and from what I've heard about my father's childhood, it was everything a kid could want.  Grandma was an excellent cook and took care of the home/family realm to Stepford Wife/Mother Of The Year caliber while my grandfather, a pilot, was gone for weeks at a time.  My dad and his brothers were typical kids -- riding bikes, camping, forming No (Ugly) Girls Allowed clubs in the woods behind their parents' house.  They did everything together and were very close.  It was the 1950's, so when they did go off in the mountains somewhere, they had freedom from their parents; no one worried about getting sodomized and left for dead behind a rock.

They moved to Indiana in the mid-1960s.  My grandpa died in 1966, when my dad was 15.  Around that time, my oldest uncle was getting married, having kids and going to college; therefore, the next in line -- Paul -- became the man of the family.  My dad looked up to Paul.  My oldest uncle had been responsible and serious, but Paul was the "good looking" one, the "cool" one.  He was also Grandma's favorite.

Over the years, as my dad and his brothers grew up, got married and had kids, they remained close.  Nearly all of them started families in the '70s.  Paul's oldest, D, was only 13 months older than my brother (born 1974), and they were best buds as kids.  In maybe 5-6 years, Grandma went from having one grandchild to eight.  I imagine she was pretty euphoric.

The mid-1980s brought the "second wave" generation of grandchildren:  I was born ten years after my brother, and one of my uncles adopted two Korean children.  I never knew my older cousins very well... I always thought it was just because they were older and my uncles started moving out of town, so my cousins were these strange people that would show up for a holiday every once in a while with their parents, and they'd be in college and be super cool, but I never really knew them.  I'd get their names mixed up, forget which uncle was their father, etc.

By this time, Paul was divorcing his wife and -- unbeknownst to most of us -- slowly cutting his children out of his life.  He'd taken up with a flight attendant named Terri... occupational hazard for a pilot, I suppose... and she was a phony gold-digger who hated our family.  She thought we were low class.  I was too young, unfortunately, to defend my family and tell her that my parents already had post-grad degrees from Purdue by the time she was in "stewardess school."  They didn't go to my brother's wedding (1996) because they were having leaky windows or some shit... I was only 12 then, but I remember thinking, "can't they, like, hire someone to take care of that?" Terri wouldn't stay at Grandma's because she thought it was dirty, and she thought that we were a family of hicks. She'd walk into my parents house, sniff the air, breezily say, "Ooh, smells in here," and my mom would roll her eyes but say nothing, because everyone admired Paul somehow.

Almost five years ago, I began to see how low Paul and Terri were when Grandma went into a nursing home. At the time, Grandma lived next to my parents, where she'd lived for the past 5-7 years. They put her house on the market, which was within Paul's right as her power of attorney (again -- he doesn't live the closest, he isn't the oldest, he isn't the nicest, he isn't the most educated... he was just her favorite), but then they crept into town and threw away/auctioned off her belongings. ALL her belongings: baby pictures, birth certificates, etc... this includes everything that she'd had her relatives pick out (she'd taken us through her house and had us choose things we would like after she passed, and she painstakingly put our names on everything... he got rid of all of it). So someone, somewhere, has a china painting with "Kristy" painted on the back of it.

So, they did this at a time when my parents were splitting up, and my dad was living in an apartment, so he wasn't really around to know they were doing this. However, my mom did, and she called me; I got the name of the auction place and tried to buy everything back. I was a broke waitress at the time, so I only managed to get the piano... fortunately, I also managed to break into her house before the auction and steal a few china paintings and the faux Renoir she had hanging above the piano.  My dad also broke in and stole a bed, which is more impressive I think, so it's worth noting. Anyway, Paul changed the locks after that.

Since then, my father and I would get together with the other two uncles, and occasionally the topic of Paul would come up. We'd go on our rants about him, about him disrespecting Grandma's stuff, disrespecting us, being an asshole in general. My uncles were hesitant to join me and my father in fostering hatred against Paul, and they tried in vain to extend olive branches on several occasions.

I didn't know when the sudden shift was in Paul's personality -- to me, he was "mean" because he wouldn't talk to his now-adult children, but he only turned evil when he threw out all my grandmother's stuff.  I didn't know his children, I wasn't emotionally attached -- so hating him for not speaking to them seemed a little extreme.  Plus, I didn't know very much about it.  But, I heard bits and pieces -- I heard that his son was injured in combat and tried to contact Paul from a hospital in Germany, but he didn't allow it. I heard that his older daughter ran into him while grocery shopping, and his reaction at her after having to introduce herself to him made her not want to tell her own young daughter who he was. Paul's youngest was the first of the three that I became Facebook friends with, and I remember that she said earlier this year, "In May it will be 20 years since I've seen my dad." I remember thinking, on all of those occasions, "Well damn, what a dick," but there really wasn't anything I could do.

So when my grandma died Oct. 27, we had years of stories and experiences that have Paul as the center of this family drama.  We'd all had time to think... and we were pretty pissed.

So, my grandma passed away. Paul wrote her obituary, and it sucked. He left out his kids. He left out his own kids in the obituary, and he wrote that she had eight grandchildren. She has ten. Biological grandchildren - Paul's three kids + Terry's daughter from the marriage she initially fucked up but that Paul adopted = eight.

So, "damn, what a dick," right? Nah, this time I wrote a different obituary. Cost me like $300, but it was worth it.

So my new obituary ran. I posted it on Facebook. Then, Paul's kids started messaging me. They'd said things here and there when Grandma died, e.g., "I'm sorry for your loss," and my brother (who got those kinds of messages from them also) and I were like, "huh? It's your grandma too!" without knowing that they'd basically been kicked out of the family via Paul, and that Paul had told Grandma that they were basically terrible kids.

Long story short, Paul's oldest -- D -- and I started to talk. And talk. And talk.

Another long story short, D and I are now like two peas in a pod. He's visited me three times -- first, he drove all the way up here; the next two times, we met in the middle. And I'm going to see him again on Sunday, because he maaaaay find a job here. We still have a bit of anger over what happened: His father banned his own kids from the family. As a result, one of the best friends I've ever had was taken from me for over 20 years. As D wrote in a Facebook message,

"I know you don’t know me very well, but we have met before. Many times actually. Albeit you were 2 at the time. There was a time when we lived in [my town], and we were at your house almost every week. There was a time when your brother was my best friend in the world, and when you couldn’t go more than five minutes without spitting up on something =). Your parents were always my favorites, and even after 20 years, situations like this remind me how much it still hurts having half of my family taken from me.

I thank you for standing up to him, and doing what is right... From the bottom of my heart, you have made my year, and I thank you."

And shit, this was like the second message he'd ever sent me, so way before we were best buds.
So, a lot of good came out of it. I'm sure I'll post later on about this, but I needed to get some of it out somehow. G'night for now.

11.16.2009

Important? No, I just thought it looked funny.

Oversight
noun
1. an omission or error due to carelessness: My bank statement is full of oversights.
2. unintentional failure to notice or consider; lack of proper attention: Owing to my oversight, the letter was sent unsigned.
3. supervision; watchful care: a person responsible for the oversight of the organization.

11.14.2009

I prefer dreams of houses to dreams of pregnancy

Experimented with breakfast this morning and ended up with banana cinnamon pancakes.  It wasn't earth-shattering creativity, but the taste improves a bit.  Plus, I read somewhere that cinnamon helps with digestion, so I didn't feel like shit after eating about eight pancakes (could be mind over matter at work).  Take Hungry Jack pancake mix -- I used "Buttermilk" -- throw everything together per usual, add a mashed up banana and 1/4t cinnamon. 

P. and I are going to drive around today to look at houses.  As in, we highlighted some in Homes&Lifestyles (my idea of Cosmo, except useful... and free) while celebrating a financial milestone over dinner at Chili's, and we're going to drive through neighborhoods in town and see how awful the houses look in person compared to the pictures.  I'll take notes and photos.

We started doing this when, this month, we hit our target for our wedding budget.  Now I'm not sure how this worked, but we were both trying to put as much into savings individually, and we'd end up with about $600 in savings every month.  Then, P. did some math and realized he could cover all our bills with his paychecks.  Then-- after my student loans, phone bill, and a "Miscellaneous Purchases" budget for which P. and I actually set at $200 but my Kohl's credit card is mean to me unless I spend more -- all my paychecks can go into savings.  Suddenly we're able to put away anywhere from $1000-$1500 a month (depending on Kohl's).  We were able to save up the rest of our wedding fund in like, three months.  It was awesome, though I have no idea how the amount we saved separately was so different than the amount together, so don't ask how that works out mathematically.  I majored in English. 

So, by April, we could have a decent amount saved up for a down payment.  After months of flipping through H&L, I can allow myself a small percentage of fantasy about moving into a house and fixing it up.  I had a dream about doing that last night, actually... which was nice, because this week I've had 3-4 dreams about being pregnant.  Wheeee! 

11.08.2009

Backlog

I have a few things to write about -- a month's worth of family drama, meeting Peter Tork, wedding planning stories, etc.  But I have to stop being lazy, take a shower and go to P's parents' estate for dinner and to cheer them on while they try to finish siding a garage.  I might have to help.  It's been a big project, and hopefully they're able to complete it soon, since this might be the last nice weekend of the year (it's 72°, second week of November in Indiana, rare and worth savoring).
I'm ensuring that my mobile posts work...

EDIT:  Sweet.  I thought I was behind on technology for someone my age, but in the end I guess I was just too lazy to see how easy some things are.

There's a lot to write...

... but first, I'll introduce myself.  My name is Susan, though I took the name Q from a nickname that my former employers gave me.  There were too many Susans, Susies, Suzannes, Sues.  So they just called me Q.

I'm 25.  I'm engaged.  I'm saving for a house.  I'm working at my first post-college job.  My parents are working towards retirement.  My brother lives an hour away and has a family.  I live with my fiancĂ©, P, in an apartment in the historic district of the city where we both grew up.  P&Q, forever and ever. 

It is, quite possibly, the most precarious and exciting/terrifying times of my life, and I fucking love it. 

I started this blog because I know there are a million of me out there, but there's always something different about them -- they have kids, or they already have a house, or they're not worried about money, or they are single and ready to miiiiiiiiiiiingle!, or they just don't have a certain something that makes me want to read about their lives. 

So, this is the end result:  I want to develop this into something similar to my mindset... a 20-something blog of sorts, a mix of wedding planning/relationship maintenance/marriage talk, personal finance, house hunting/keeping, career maneuvering, family drama, retail therapy, etc.  I'm not so much into politics or current events, but I'll throw in some commentary every once in a while, if something piques my interest.

Enjoy... now I need a cigarette.