neighbors without borders

When this happens in your backyard you might consider a few things. Like, how good is my homeowners insurance? Or, how did I not hear this thing fall? Or, how lucky am I that gravity had the tree fall away from the house and not onto it?

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We had a macroburst two weekends ago that involved 100 mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain. The neighborhood looks like a hurricane passed through–I’ve never experienced anything like it.

This is an inconvenience largely because we have dogs and our neighbors have dogs, and because it’s a giant mess. (And it’s a million degrees out, and I’m super pregnant, those conditions heighten any disturbance). But this is a joke compared to problems that exist in other parts of the world–or hell–in other parts of Phoenix. But while incredibly annoying, knocking down walls makes for a great social experiment.

It dawned on me today how different life would be without so many walls. What would it be like if we didn’t live in such modular, segmented ways that separate us–literally and figuratively–from those around us? How exactly did we become so reliant on the idea of privacy?

Chances are it would be weird if things were different. I mean, I’d definitely have to dress more appropriately when I let the dogs out in the morning, and there’s always the off chance your neighbors are creepers, or have ugly yards you don’t want to stare at, or run a frat house. But it also might be kind of cool to have a more open sense of community. Lots of cultures live more communally than Americans, and I think that’s neat. Although in these cases it’s often families that live interchangeably, not strangers who happened to prefer the same zip code as you.

At any rate, in the week since our wall was demolished, we’ve gotten to know more neighbors than we did over the past year, and it feels nice to get better acquainted with the people that reside 15 feet from you.

All day at work I sit in an enclosed office. My house is (well, was) surrounded by a six-foot wall. I’m an introvert, so this doesn’t displease me, but I also thrive in social settings and often wish I sat in an open bullpen with coworkers instead of in my own stall. And that I had neighbors dropping by to say hello rather than just waving from behind closed car windows.

The wall should be resurrected by the end of the week, but it’s temporary hiatus has had unexpected perks.

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dabbling in home improvement

Before: Land of the Lost Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.25.51 PM

After: Somewhere we actually enjoy spending time.

photo (4)Before: 80s vanity, builder’s mirror, single sink, ugly lighting.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.24.50 PMAfter: New vanity, new mirror, converted to double sinks and new light fixture.

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Before: Broken, 80s mini blinds. Everywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.24.14 PMAfter: New blinds and valances throughout.

photo (5)Before: Two-tone 80s vanity.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.23.59 PMAfter: Painted white until we figure out what do to with it.

photo (6)Before: Popcorn ceilings and whitewashed walls.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 1.48.52 PM

After: No more popcorn, no more white.

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The 10 Worst Tasks Associated with Moving

Moving is a lot of work. I moved every summer for nine years in a row after I left for college, and I thought I’d mastered the art of a smooth transition. That was until I experienced the joys associated with moving into a new house while simultaneously prepping another one for sale. You know, spending your time and money to make your house look better than when you lived in it, so that a stranger can enjoy the fruits of your labor. The experience opened my eyes to a range of new activities I’d be ok never repeating.

Here you have it, the 10 Worst Tasks Associated with Moving:

1. Moving four tons of gravel. By shovel and wheelbarrow. To cover up the areas where our dogs dug the crap out of an entire patio of pavers.

2. Cleaning out the refrigerator. I‘m no hoarder—I’ve cleaned it before—but when tasked with making it look new again, things got gross fairly quickly.

3. Deodorizing the carpet. I inhaled the equivalent of two tablespoons of scented baking soda in the process and fear I will forever smell of fresh linen.

4. Cleaning spider webs off the windows. As part of the process I had to violently shake my whole body every two-to-three minutes to remove the imaginary spider army I was convinced was crawling all over me.

5. Getting a new hot water heater. Because of course it went out just as we were about to move. Because it cost $750 for parts and labor. And because It’s still 110 degrees out so you don’t technically need a hot shower right now.

6. Painting. There was a point in life when my brother and I would lament our mundane office jobs and discuss the merits of being a house painter—a job where you see the fruits of simple labor each day, and never take work home with you. Attention: this is no longer an aspiration.

7. Packing. One cannot understand the magnitude of one’s possessions until it must be moved into cardboard cartons and carried to a new location.

8. Dusting window coverings. Blind dusting? I spent about two hours dusting the blinds. That’s a task so boring it doesn’t even have a real name.

9. Scrubbing the driveway. I may have completed a Pinterest project in the driveway last year. I may have used spray paint and neglected to use newspaper as a safety barrier. I may have then spent an hour scrubbing spray paint off the driveway with graffiti remover last week.

10. Cleaning out under the washer and dryer. It’s not convenient to do on a regular basis—or ever—so when the time came, it was gag-inducing. Fur balls and dust bunnies fled the scene like deranged tumbleweeds.

It was a lot of work, but we got it all done and the house went on the market today. Now, we wait, patiently, for the cobweb-free windows and freshly painted trim to draw in buyers by the dozen.

The feel of indoor camping

Everything we own is packed and moved out of one house and into the garage of another. I have no idea where anything is and am living out of cardboard boxes and plastic wardrobe bins. We’re moving.

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The transition has taken on the feel of indoor camping. We have no furniture or decorations and it smells like dust. The only items left are what we’ve deemed absolutely essential for our survival this week: our bed, TV and wine fridge.

A few dishes are still scattered in the kitchen, lonely soldiers abandoned among paint cans and rags, and a lone camping chair sits in the living room. It’s not uncomfortable, per se, but after watching the VMAs sitting on a dog bed last night, I’m ready to have a couch again.

It’s strange how little we actually need, compared with what we have. The nice-to-have things verses the need-to-have ones. Tonight I made spaghetti sauce using a plastic knife to cut veggies and a measuring cup as a ladle. I used leftover red pepper packets from a pizza delivery as seasoning and ate out of a casserole dish. My boxes of expensive culinary tools were nowhere to be found, yet the end result was the same as it would’ve been with my garlic press and colander.

It’s refreshing to feel minimalistic for a while. To define how I feel based off of things that aren’t really things. I don’t want to do this forever, but today, I’m content. There was a wild storm earlier and it was surprisingly fulfilling to sit on the floor and listen to the rain with my crazy dogs. I observed a lot more than I would have taken the time to notice under typical circumstances.

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I’m sad to leave the home we’ve shared for more than four years. We moved in as boyfriend and girlfriend and will leave as husband and wife. We’ve enjoyed countless meals here, shared lots of celebrations and recovered from defeats. We’ve experienced an appendectomy, new puppies and various jobs living here, stretching our lives into greater adventures than we ever imagined.

We grew up here, as a couple and as individuals, and I’ll never, ever, forget what it felt like to own my first home.

There have been wonderful parties here, and heated arguments, too. Early mornings and late evenings, long days and quiet afternoons. We experienced a leaky roof, rats and fallen trees. I learned what an escrow account is and how property taxes impact a mortgage payment. Most of all, I learned that a house and home are two very separate things, that combine under the most fortunate of circumstances.

It feels bittersweet to move on. Exciting and scary and hard to believe. I’m so thankful for this house and the memories we’ve built here, and although it sounds silly and dramatic, a part of my heart will always be here. A lot has happened within these walls.

At the end of the day, sitting on the floor once again, I finally feel ready to move on. It’s time to start the next chapter.

30 dollars to make you holler.

The 10 best things that $30ish has bought this spring:

1. Membership on a Tempe coed soccer league with Jim and 20 of our closest friends. We are terrible and uncoordinated but we play hard and occasionally we don’t get injured.

2. Chiropractic care. Because somehow — between sitting in a small, square cube for nine hours a day — and sleeping seven hours a night, I find ways to pop nearly every part of my back and hips out of place. The good doctor saves me from myself.

3. Delicious sushi here. Many times. You have to go. Have to.

4. A ticket to see Eric Hutchinson perform at the Crescent Ballroom. Moving up, living down.
5. Baby gifts for my friends who are having lots of babies. Well, they’re only having one baby each, but all together it adds up to a lot of teeny tiny clothing.

6. Mother’s Day brunch with my mom. Cinnamon roll french toast is as good as it sounds.

7. Succulents! The name alone is worth the price tag. I felt a compulsion to garden so I bought little cacti-succulent thingies and special cactus soil. So what if it’s only been two weeks and one is already half-dead, it was the experience that made it worthwhile. I think.
8. My monthly gas bill. Exciting? Not. But in warmer months it’s about $25 a month, to offset gargantuan Arizona electric bills, and that ain’t bad.

9. 40 pounds of dry dog food. It keeps my loves happy.

10. Presumably, a share or two of some sort of investment fund I don’t understand in my 401(k). This will perhaps help me retire before I’m 106.

paperboy

If we were playing word association games and you said “paperboy,” I would think of two things:

1. The game for the original Nintendo system where you were a paperboy on a bike tasked with throwing papers at houses while avoiding dogs, cars and windows.

2. The artist who came out with the 1993 smash hit “Ditty.”

I would not, however, think about receiving this letter:

I’m more than a little concerned with the outlined action plan. Photographing deliveries? Stationing watchmen?