Category Archives: Extreme Sarcasm

My Hellish Commute Is Turning Me Into She-Hulk

I have never not commuted. Nearly every job in my adult life has taken me at least 30 minutes from walking out the door to plopping my slightly frazzled ass into an office chair. In fact, most of the time it’s taken me around an hour to get from the apartment/house I can afford to the job that barely pays me enough to afford it. So when I took a job in downtown San Jose, I wasn’t daunted by the idea of a commute.

For the first three months of my new job, it took me nearly an hour to get there. Fine. Without Lucas in the car, I could spew plenty of swears while I caught up with family on the phone or worked on my mad car karaoke skills.

Then came the start of the school year. The additional volume of school buses and mom vans crowding the road meant something as minor as a feather floating into the street could back up traffic for my entire route. One minute, you’re cruising along. Next minute, it’s this:

traffic

The infamous Silicon Valley traffic. Intellectually, I knew to expect it. But the recent hellish commute has tested my patience like a toddler throwing a mega tantrum just as you’re about to check out $150 worth of Target swag. In the last week, it’s taken me between 1.5 and 2 hours to get to work each morning. And that’s enough to turn even the most patient driver (not me) into a full-on rageaholic.

So you can imagine the scenarios.

When I lived in New York, my morning commute consisted mostly of walking. There were times when the sidewalks became crowded or when idiot tourists paused to look up at things (the nerve), but I could usually passive-aggressively huff as I sidestepped them and continued on my way.

In fact, even openly aggressive expressions were not only expected in New York, they were considered “experiencing local flavor.” A man with a too-large umbrella once shoulder bumped me so hard my coffee flew out of my hands. On several occasions I witnessed people kicking car tires or pounding on hoods if the vehicles dared stop in the middle of a crosswalk. And God forbid if you didn’t perfect the art of the can’t-nobody-break-my-stride card swipe at the subway turnstile.

So no, NYC walking commutes were no Sunday strolls, but you could usually get where you needed to go as fast as your legs could take you. And if people got in your way, you could let some of your pent up anger out in sanctioned, socially acceptable ways.

In a car, on the other hand, you can’t really do much except fling expletive-filled epitaphs on deaf ears, pound on your horn, or hold a quivering middle finger up long enough for that bitch granny going 40 mph in a 55 zone to see. And even if you do do those things, 1. you’re the asshole on the road, not them and 2. you’re still stuck in traffic.

So you sit and simmer for however long your miserable commute lasts (1.5 to 2 hours) until you emerge so full of rage that even the slightest slight causes you to lose your shit. A slow Internet day, for example, is normally a pain in the ass but livable. A slow Internet day after a long commute results in this:

fuckthiscat

Not only have I become so full of road rage that I’ve actually done a cost/benefit analysis of whether I should slam into the driver’s ed douche canoe who cut me off the other day, but my precarious home/work/personal life balance has gone from teetering on manageable to full face plant. I actually growled at my son the other night. Growled.

I’ve gone from mild mannered Jennifer Walters to full-on She-Hulk. Except I can’t seem to figure out how to transform back. Being constantly enraged will do that to you.

I’ve tried to figure out some solutions, but no amount of audio books will change the fact that after two hours in the car, I want to kill all the things. So I’m thinking it’s back to the train life for me. Especially because in a couple months, my office is moving even farther away to the heart of the seven-lanes-grinding-to-a-halt traffic hell that is Santa Clara.

Goodbye, car karaoke. Goodbye, audio books. Goodbye, She-Hulk.

Hello, sanity!

How to Be Uncool: A Lesson from Lester Bangs

Have you ever had the feeling you just don’t fit in? That’s like asking me, “Have you ever had a craving for meatballs and sauce?” I don’t understand the question. Who hasn’t felt this way at one point in their life?

The unfortunate thing is, for people who consider themselves uncool (me), the ratio of fitting in to not fitting in is proportionately disparate, leaning hard in favor of the latter. Translation: uncool people never feel like they fit in.

When confidence is high, this isn’t actually a problem. So what if I don’t fit in! I’d rather not fit in! It’s much better to be genuine and be myself!

Unfortunately, another issue for uncool people is that confidence isn’t often high. This results in some awkward longing, some trying too hard, and plenty of kicking yourself HARD after you say something stupid in an attempt to fix the situation, which only makes it worse.

Those are matching sweaters. And turtlenecks. And yes...broaches.
Those are matching sweaters. And turtlenecks. And yes…broaches.

I’ve known I’m uncool from the point cool became a thing. As a spindly sixth grader, I still let my mom dress me, picking entire outfits directly from the store mannequins because I had zero sense of what to do on my own. I wore braces with elastics color-coded to match the holiday seasons, and my granny glasses made their way halfway down my cheeks. My hair was frizzy and unkempt and I spent all of my free time either at the dance studio or holed up at home with a book. I was a giant target, but I was completely unaware (at first) that I was a target, which only made the teasing intensify.

That year was one of the loneliest and most tortured years of my life. I also happened to write a 200-page novel in pencil on several unicorn-covered spiral notebooks. Great art, it was not. But I made something.

I spent the next few years doing everything I possibly could to fit in. I didn’t even want to be popular, I just wanted to blend into the background and be left alone. I was successful. I dressed like everyone else. I got contacts and the braces were removed. I made a couple friends. I erased my entire novel, painstakingly, page by page. No, I didn’t just toss the notebooks. I wore down multiple erasers and then wrote over the whole thing with something banal, like several hundred rounds of M.A.S.H.

Looking back, I think I was more miserable in the years I tried to fit in than during the year I realized how desperately uncool I was/am. So I moved on with my life, waving my freak flag freely, and reserving my fucks to give for only the most fuckworthy of situations.

In my early 20s, Lester Bangs—as played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous—helped me embrace my uncoolness. He said that most of the great art in the world is made by people who are conflicted and longing and guilty and in pain; people who are uncool. He said:

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.

And I believed him. Up until last week.

It’s been an emotionally shitty week. Feels like I’ve been hit with the sledgehammer used by Lumberjack Property Brother to bust through a wall in order to make an open concept living space.

Somehow, someway, I lost my confidence in being uncool. I’d been so caught up in Silicon Valley corporate politics that I started trying too hard. From a professional standpoint, I tried positioning myself as a certain way…and in trying too hard to “find my place,” I started to lose it.

I began overthinking and asking for permission and surveying and questioning. I told myself it was all good because it’s important to strategize and think hard on these things. But that was only a portion of the thinking I was doing. The rest of it was hand-wringing. And I felt myself slipping away.

lesterbangsThankfully, I watched Almost Famous tonight, and as Lester Bangs took a long drag from his cigarette, the tightly wound chord of the rotary phone swinging in the background, it all snapped into place. It was a momentary lapse of reason. A mini existential crisis brought on by self-doubt. I started caring too much about what impact I could make, what my role should be, how other people viewed me.

All of that is meaningless.

At the end of the day, what I care about most is doing good work. Yes, of course I want people to like me—especially the people I see during business hours and beyond. Yes, of course I want to advance in my career. But ultimately, the most important thing me has always been to do something meaningful and to share it with others.

So as I move into the next week, I’ll let Lester Bangs’ Almost Famous quote ring in my ear. I’ll go to meetings and I’ll listen and speak without rolling the words around 15 times in my head before they come out of my mouth. I’ll hold my head high as I walk the halls because I’ll be hunched over my keyboard the rest of the time, doing what I do best: writing…and being uncool.

How Do We Feel About Seasonal Decor?

Once upon a time, in a duck-stenciled kitchen in a country house, a woman named Bev decided that she was going to make the holidays extra festive. She hung mistletoe and garland and threaded popcorn on the tree, and her toddler daughter was delighted. So the next year, she decided to add some carolers to the mantle. Oh, and she decided to make a mantle.

Year after year, the carolers multiplied. Soon there was a caroling cat and a flickering old-fashion lantern and an entire Christmas town that featured fake snow and lit up. Christmas became such a magical time of year that the rest of the seasons just didn’t seem to measure up. So Bev decided to spice up Halloween with jack-o-lanterns and witches and glittery black cats. Thanksgiving featured some kind of harvest spilling out of a horn, and Easter was a sea of pastel and bunnies and duckies and springtime dew. Even the 4th of July became a Patriotic puke of red-white-and-blue.

You gotta hand it to my mom: she sure knows how to holiday.

When I moved away to New York City, I shared a 500 square-foot space with three other girls, one of which was Jewish. Needless to say, we didn’t give much thought to decorating for the holidays…mostly because our counter space was entirely occupied by things that we needed to function. Still, Bev couldn’t help herself. She mailed me my first antique Santa on a sled when I was 20 years old. It stayed in the box under my bed.

Post college, I had a little more room to spread out, but I was a broke 22-year-old with no extra cash for decorating. Halloween meant wearing something slutty, getting drunk, and watching the gays parade around Greenwich Village. New York City was so beautifully decorated for Christmas that there was really no need to do anything in my apartment except hang a couple glass balls off a Charlie Brown tree. Easter? I sort of forgot about it.

My best friend Shauna and I used to chuckle at our moms for their total embrace of seasonal decor, and how they always seemed to bring us offerings in an attempt to get us to catch their holiday spirit. They were like cats leaving dead birds at our doorstep, only the birds were heavy porcelain Christmas tree ornaments engraved with our names.

You know you had one of these.
You know you had one of these.

When I became a mom, the holidays took on new meaning. I could see them through the eyes of a child again! How magical! Only Lucas wasn’t even a year old for his first Christmas. We could have decorated for Dia de los Muertos for all he cared.

As my son grew, however, and started to “get” what the holidays were about, I found myself feeling guilty that my house wasn’t the magical seasonal wonderland that the Garofoli casa was during my childhood. Christmas has now grown from a tree and some stockings to outdoor chunky colored lights, a Jesus manger featuring Obi-wan Kanobe, various nutcrackers, wreaths, and poinsettias, and vintage Christmas trees made in pottery class in the 70s.

Still, while Christmas decorating has become an Olympic event in which I turn on the Bing Crosby and yell at my son to stop dropping fragile shit on the floor, I just can’t seem to get it up for the other holidays. I see people with their autumn foliage flags and I’m like…it’s still 80 degrees outside. Why?

Still, in an effort to pretend to give a shit, I put out a sad pumpkin and scarecrow on my mantle this year. It’s almost worse than having nothing. Behold, my Halloween decorations, in their entirety:

Who needs to trick or treat when you've got this?
Who needs to trick or treat when you’ve got this?

I never thought I’d embrace seasonal decor as an adult, but now I’m feeling the PTA pressure to make something happen. Should I put my mantle decorations away and focus on making half-baked Halloween costumes that are bound to be Pinterest fails? Or should I go full Bev and resign myself to a house full of glitter for the next four months?

Reliving My Youth One Dave Matthews Band Concert at a Time

A couple weeks ago, Caryn, one of my very good friends from college, hit me up with a message that made my day: “I’ve got two tickets to Dave Matthews in Mountain View…wanna come?”

It had been a year since I saw her and 14 years since I’d last seen DMB in concert. So yes. Yes, I did.

The last time I saw Dave, I was with Caryn at Giants’ Stadium in New Jersey. Right in the middle of the encore, it started torrential down pouring and the crowd went wild. Instead of running for cover or leaving the show, 60,000 stoned college kids danced and sang in the rain, while Dave Matthews just kept right on playing “Two Step”—even through a few scary-close lightning strikes. It was the single coolest concert experience of my life. In fact, even Dave remembers it:

I knew this concert couldn’t top that. But I also felt something bubbling up inside as I revved up for the show: my youth. My Abercrombie-and-Fitch, tie-dyed T-shirt, music-loving, concert-going youth. Sure, I’ve been to a few shows over the last few years, but they’ve been big commercial to-dos. Kanye. Madonna. Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Very pop. Very much a big light and dance show. A little less about the music and more about the spectacle.

But Dave…Dave and his band love music and they just play the shit out of their songs. They’re the adult-contemporary version of a jam band, like Phish or the Grateful Dead if you gave them a shower and dressed them up in plaid button-downs.

a sea of white people
a sea of white people

There were a lot of mom jeans at the Dave Matthews Band concert. But I couldn’t judge because I wore my stretchy pants and my orthopedic flats. Watch me reach into this big barrel of fucks and give them out to no one. Because I was there to sing and dance (“la, la, la HEY, la la la HEY, la la la!”). And as the earthy smell of weed and patchouli wafted over the crowd, I suddenly  forget about the minutiae of my day. The responsibilities on my shoulders, the to-do lists, the soccer games and team snacks, the deadlines, the dishes and grocery shopping…they were all gone.

Dave Matthews Band played quite a few songs I didn’t know. It didn’t really matter. Caryn and I were right back in 2001, making up stories about the older couple on an eHarmony date in front of us (we had a bet going to see how long they’d stay at the show before they took off to go make gross old-folk whoopie). And then, midway through the show, ignoring the girls next to us doing their best 1980s howls (“Owwwww! Yeah, Dave! Owwww, owwwwwww!”), I felt the same joy from Giants’ Stadium all those years back, . I turned to Caryn and grinned. We didn’t have to say a thing.

I danced like I hadn’t danced in a long time. I sweat and didn’t care. I walked a long way out of the concert so that we could catch an Uber back to our hotel. I expected to wake up and be in ridiculous pain. I didn’t. I just woke up in a shitty Motel 6 in Sunnyvale happy and just the slightest bit sore.  It felt like a night at dance camp, minus the Tiger Balm.

To Caryn, I want to say: thank you so much! Something in me jiggered loose that night. I was happy on a level I hadn’t felt in a while. Purely happy without side thoughts creeping in bringing it down. And the beautiful thing is…the happy has continued on. It’s amazing what the power of music, dance, and long-time friendship can do for you. Just sprinkle on a little Dave Matthews, and all will be well.

Bad Mood Rising

There was a full moon on August 29. Usually I give no weight to astrological bullshit, but there’s something in the air, and the after effects are lingering. I’m feeling sour and snappy, and I know it’s not only me. All around, everywhere I look, shoulders are slumped, sighs are heaved, and resting bitch face is the default expression.

There’s some kind of collective bad mood happening, and it’s seemingly inexplicable. Sure, people are busy, but that’s nothing new. Sure, traffic is heavy, but that’s to be expected. Sure, most drivers are douche yachts, or…as my new coworkers like to say…douche frigates, but how is that different from any other week?

Even my adorable son, who was like this a few short days ago:

happy boy
happy boy

Turned into this over the weekend:

emo cat stretch on the bed
emo cat stretch on the bed

The weird thing is, the bad mood is palpable enough that I’ve overheard several people ask other people, “Hey, are you okay?” I hear myself attempting cheerful pep talks to people who seem down, but I don’t even believe my own load of crap and give up a quarter of the way through. Lately, I have nothing to add to the conversation except, “Yeah, that sucks, dude.” I just can’t muster up the umph. And why?

I see a bad mood rising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see stank eye and frownin’.
I see bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight,
Well I’m bound to take your life,
There’s a bad mood on the rise.

So what’s causing this? Because at first I thought I had just reached my quota of nice for the month. But then why is everyone else all “meh,” too? Can someone explain? Did we just all decide to simmer in our issues and pout at the same time? Is there some kind of virus going around that makes people droopy and sad?

Until someone can talk this out in plain science, I’m blaming it on the moon. Or Mercury, which is in retrograde September 17. Or you all, who are too busy moping around to…to…to help me finish this damn sentence. Dammit.

I Feel Old

Before you even have a chance to form a judgmental thought, I want to cut you off at the pass. This is not a fairly youngish person complaining about how OLD she is. Oh GAWD, 23! I’m so OLD! Shutup. When one alcoholic beverage results in a full-day hangover, then you can complain about how old you are.

Which brings me to my point: I know I’m not old in number. But I’m really starting to feel old. In my bones. In my muscles. In my inability to work up to a baseline level of energy that can sustain me through the day.

I’m craving midday naps. I’m refilling the coffee and resorting to Red Bull (and then dealing with the sharp, shameful Red Bull come-down about an hour after consumption). I’m heavy-lidded and red-eyed on a regular basis (and not for the fun reason). Just constantly dragging ass.

A couple nights ago, I was in a playful mood so I started chasing Lucas around the bed. Then I switched it up and had him chase me. Little dude is fast. In order to stay ahead of him, I really had to haul, throwing myself on the bed in a dive roll, kicking off the side of the bed and peeling around the corner. Three times around the bed and I had to stop because I was getting dizzy.

Mama had to catch her breath. And as I lay there wheezing, my son tugging on the arm to get back up, this conversation played out:

Leg muscles: What the fuck are you doing?

Brain: Well, I just wanted to play with my son. He’s got so much energy and I thought…

Leg muscles: Oh you thought? You really weren’t thinking. We don’t DO stuff like that.

Brain, registering hot, searing pain: Hey! What are you doing?

Leg muscles: Oh, you like that? Huh? Huh? See how it feels!

Brain: Dudes, seriously, it was just three times around the bed.

Leg muscles: Well, three times around the bed is three times too much. Suck it.

I think the old feeling has a lot to do with the fact that I’m in terrible physical shape. I’m not saying I’m fat. I’m just saying I’m out of shape. There’s a difference.

…though I have put on 10 lbs since I started working at Malwarebytes.

So here we go ahead. It’s round 50,000 of the “Let’s go on a diet and work out/aka let’s be miserable and starving all day” dance. It’s always shitty at the start. But I know the end result could shave a few years off how old I really feel. Because while I may look like this:

sleepy face at work
sleepy face at work

I feel like this:

creepy-old_lady
This bitch is actually more alert than me.

 

Let’s Everything Break Now

Murphy’s Law: As soon as you buy a new place, no matter how perfect things seemed on the home inspection and final walk-through, some shit is going to break. Or in our case, everything breaks.

Case in point: On day number one, Alex took a shower in our master bedroom. By day two, it was totally busted. That means we’re 0 and 2 on master bathroom showers. (Yes, we had a problem with our shower in our last home as well.)

Before the end of the week, my washing machine—the one that never gave me a single problem in five years—was smoking. The warranty is, of course, expired. And then just before my cousins arrived from Massachusetts to stay for the week, the AC decided to poop out, too.

Thankfully for Lucas, the fans still work.

The thing about stuff breaking is that it’s never just one thing. Once a major appliance goes on the fritz, the busting of the things tends to spread like whipped butter on toast.

We very nearly broke this cabinet (and the floor) while assembling it.
We very nearly broke this cabinet (and the floor) while assembling it.

Last weekend, Lucas rolled up and down the car window so many times that it got stuck…of course in the down mode. It took three of us physically pushing it up to get it to close. Last week, when I got to work my computer passwords failed. Then, later in the day when my underwear started to sag, I yanked at the band and basically separated the enter “under” from the underwear.

Just to make that clear: I broke my underwear.

We expected to have to deal with a couple things when we moved in, but broken underwear was not one of them. Naturally, the warranty didn’t kick in for the shower, and it doesn’t cover the washer, so there goes the cash we planned to use on fun stuff like paint and booze (to get us through the painting).

This is the kind of shit that would drive me crazy in any other situation, but I’m still on a new-house high, so I’m not that worried. AC’s busted? Open a window! Washing machine doesn’t work? We’ve got a handy little sink where we can hand-wash stuff! Car window messed up? Just use the AC! There’s just one thing that could disrupt this delicate zen-like state: the breaking of the Internets.

So this is a warning, Zamora house wifi:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for entities like you. If you let my wifi go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t…I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

You can take my AC, but you will never take my Internet.
You can take my AC, but you will never take my Internet.

We Just About Nearly Very Soon Pretty Much Got the Dream House

Because this has essentially become a real estate blog as of late, let’s go ahead and wrap this story up in a nice, neat little bow. Kinda. I mean, it’s the makings of a bow. It’s pretty much a bow, but I’m not ready to call it a bow because what if someone messes up and makes a double knot instead? Or what if someone comes along with some scissors and is all “fuck your bow!” and cuts it?

If you’re wondering where this hesitancy comes from, just read the last five months worth of blogs and you’ll be caught up. Real estate is a game, and it ain’t over until the keys are in your hands. Still, I’m feeling confident enough to say that the house that we love…The House…THE ONE HOUSE TO RULE THEM ALL…is just about nearly very soon pretty much ours.

“Which house is this?” you might wonder, seeing as I’ve posted about several homes already and have sent family members at least 16 sets of photos featuring ’90s tiled bathrooms and generic granite countertops on top of Home Depot kitchen cabinets. This one is by far the coolest, prettiest house I’ve seen while on the house hunt. The house we were in contract on before had great potential, but needed work. This house I can move right into and call home. Behold, the house on Blue Parrot Ct:

house1
There’s a front porch, y’all. You know how I love porches.

 

First thing I said when I walked into this house was: It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.

It’s a freaking dream house. And that’s really what we were looking for. It’s cozy with a touch of modern. Check out this amazing updated kitchen:

Yes, that is a hella deep sink in my center island.
Yes, that is a hella deep sink in my center island.

And can you peep to the back of the room there, by the windows? Do you see it? DO. YOU. SEE. IT? That’s a bench seat. A bench seat in my freaking home.

But that’s not all! What else has she won? Well, Bob, besides the dream kitchen and the adorable bench seat, there’s a magical English tea garden for a backyard where gnomes surely roam. I mean, wouldja just look at it?

So much tea will be sipped back here in my bathrobe and slippers.
So much tea will be sipped back here in my bathrobe and slippers.

The woman who is selling this house has fabulous taste. It’s very nice. We change it all, though. (No, Frahnk, leave the English tea garden alone.)

One thing I’m surprised I will not be be changing is this wonderful bright red accent wall that I never in a million years would have chosen myself but totally WORKS in the space. I love the energy it brings to the room without taking away from its warmth and style.

dining room
I could do without the plaid curtains, though.

So this is the winner. This is the miracle I’ve been dreaming of. This is love.

Now please, St. Joseph (wherever you are): grant us a smooth ride through the rest of this journey. The offer on this home has already been accepted, and the house has appraised at our offer price. Those are the two biggest hurdles to purchasing a home, but that doesn’t mean more obstacles can’t stand in our way. There’s still the home inspection. There’s still a bunch of loan stuff that needs to get underwritten or whatever. And there’s still 30 painful days that we have to wait while banks do their bank stuff.

Until then (and unless there’s any more house drama to blog about, which I’m seriously hoping I never have to do again), we can get back to your regularly scheduled programming of longing for meatballs, attempting and failing at re-entering the gym and diet scene, being an overbearing Italian mother (and daughter of an overbearing Italian mother), and reminiscing about the good ole days when I was a dancing queen.

And once we move into the house and get our stuff straightened out, get ready for things to suddenly get very Pinterest-y up in here. I’m gonna need your help putting our dream home together!

 

Adventures in Tiny Living

Once upon a time, I lived in a 3,000 square-foot house on an acre of land.

No, I was not rich. That’s just the size of houses and land in Massachusetts.

Because the acre of yard just wasn’t big enough, I would wander across the street to what me and my neighbors affectionately called The Field. The Field was a sprawling, 99-acre playground for five rambunctious kids who lived on Old Princeton Road. There were trees to climb, a pond to ice skate on and catch tadpoles in, and secret trails that we believed led to a mysterious Indian burial ground. (They didn’t.)

But mostly, it was just acres and acres of wide-open field. Field as far as the eye could see. Field that you could twirl through like Julie Andrews singing, “The hills are alive!”

running in a field

I was always drawn to The Field much more than The Woods. The woods were dark and musty. Trees bearing down upon you, raining sharp needles and startling you with thick clusters of caterpillar nests. In The Field, I could breathe. I could just be.

When I moved to California, one of my favorite things was just how vast the land felt. You look one way, and you stare across the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean all the way to the horizon. You look the other way, and your eyes are met with perfect rows of vegetables stretching on and on to the base of the Coast Ranges.

So it came as a great surprise to me when I saw how Californians build their houses: Right the fuck on top of each other.

One of the reasons I agreed to buy our house in Salinas was that there wasn’t a house directly behind us. (Whereas most of the other homes we saw were flanked on three sides by neighbors and had windows that gazed directly into other people’s windows and roofs so close that you could hop from one to the next like Spider-Man running down criminals.) Still, my house in Salinas was not perfect: I had no windows on one whole side of my home and the other side stared directly at a two-story wall.

But! I had 1,764 square feet of living space that was all my own. Now, me and Alex are crammed into a single bedroom like sweaty New Yorkers on a rush-hour 6 train.

All things considered, our tiny living situation is not terrible. We get along really well with my brother- and sister-in-law, and sharing the household chores and child-rearing duties has actually been a huge relief. I cannot stress this enough: I am SO GRATEFUL for their help.

But that doesn’t mean I enjoy stuffing my entire world into one room.

Some nights, I’m laying at the edge of the bed with my iPad on my lap while my husband games and my son plays with the fan in our room. In one moment, I feel content, surrounded by my sweet little family. The next, I feel so claustrophobic that I end up throwing off the covers and tearing down the hallway. I’m so uncomfortable that I haven’t had more than five hours of sleep.

I know I’ll never have 3,000 square feet of home and an acre of land here in California. (Though there’s seriously so much land here…I just DON’T UNDERSTAND why builders insist on huddling homes together like emperor penguins in an Antarctic winter.) But I’m asking the housing gods right now: please send us a home that has at least a wee bit of breathing room between it and the neighbors. That I can look out the window and see leaves and grass and sky instead of walls and windows. And please, if you could…

hurry.

Finding The One: The House Hunt Continues

You know those well-intended, helpful people who tell you, after your fifth relationship in a row crumbles, “when you find The One, you’ll just know”? Turns out they are the same people who say things like, “I’m sorry this house didn’t work out, but that just means you haven’t found the right one yet.”

Thanks, Watson. I guess when I find The One House, I’ll “just know” and miraculously, no other investors with all-cash offers will swoop in and set down a purchasing price $50,000 over asking.

In case you’re wondering, this bitter tone comes to you compliments of the seven billionth house we’ve put an offer on in the Gilroy/Morgan Hill area over our house-hunting careers that did not work out due to other idiots way overbidding.

Most of the houses we’ve bid on through the years I’ve been able to shake off. Some were merely decent homes in decent areas that could have been fixed up to our liking. Many were extremely generic track houses that were clean, fairly new, and workable. But there was one that stayed on my mind for the entire time we lived in Salinas.

It was the one that got away.

Back in our early, heady days of house hunting, we had not a lot of money, but the promise of an $8,000 Obama tax credit for buying a home by the end of the year, so we took our paltry savings out for a joy ride. The housing market had crashed, so for the first time in our adult lives, it looked like we could actually afford a home.

Sadly, many of the homes we looked at in Gilroy were absolute crap. There was the foreclosed house where the owners had removed every light fixture, appliance, closet door, and even the toilet seats. There was the house with the beige carpet that looked as though someone had changed their car oil in the living room. There was even a house with a giant “FUCK YOU!” tagged on the driveway. Yeah, we’ll pass on that one.

But then we saw a beaut. It was blue with white trim and black shutters. It had an updated kitchen with white, distressed cabinets and stainless steel appliances. A wall of built-in cabinets framed the TV in the living room. Closet doors had a Japanese flair, with dark wood and frosted glass panes. We put in what we thought was the highest could possibly bid for an offer.

We were beat by less than $5,000.

I still think back on that house longingly. It was already in the Luigi Aprea district of Gilroy, so we wouldn’t have had to sell our house like we did this year. If we DID decide to sell, we would have walked away with at least $200,000 profit in our pockets.

Let’s just say that again for emphasis. Two hundred THOUSAND dollars.

It makes me a little sick to my stomach to think about now. Even with an increased budget and a profit from the sale of our home, we’re looking at being priced out of homes in our target areas again. It’s inspired me to be smart about my offers, to keep my eye firmly on the right locations, and to put in top dollar for a home we really want.

And then we found it. The One House. The house to rule them all. A pretty little updated one-story in the best school district in Morgan Hill. And, to our delight, it was in our price range! We fell in love, and I did the thing you’re not supposed to do until you sign the closing papers and get the keys in your hand: I mentally moved in. It went a little something like this:

1930 Criollo Way, Morgan Hill. I like the sound of that. Mrs. Criollo Way. Mrs. Wendy Criollo. Mr. and Mrs. Criollo. The Criollos welcome you to their home.

Won’t you come in? Oh, thank you. We love it too. Come have a martini in our spacious dining room. Want to sit on the luxurious outdoor couches on the patio? Perhaps a swim in the neighborhood pool? We could hit a few balls at the tennis courts.

I wonder who I should add to the guest list for our house-warming party. Family, obviously. Should I invite people from my old job? My new job? My old job AND my new job? Will that be awkward? Nah, my old work peeps are my friends. My new work peeps probably won’t come. I should make a playlist.

And so on and so on, until we got the depressing news that the sellers were countering our offer at their other top offer, which was nearly $40,000 more than what we offered. So yeah. No house.

front entrance
Welcome to our home! Just kidding.

So we’re back on the market, searching for true love, or at least a spacious three -bedroom, two-bath house with potential. We don’t want to lower our standards, and we do want to stay in our budget. So we may be looking for a long time. There will likely be many more disappointments along the way, but we’ll keep on the house hunt (in a non-desperate way). After all, isn’t it when you stop searching that love actually finds you?

Riiiiiiight.