Big Day

Today is another in a series of my dental appointments. We're also taking the dogs to get groomed because they're super stinky, and Charlie has two small cavities to be filled. I'm getting that root planning or planing, or whatever it's called, on the lower half of my mouth because when I got the upper done it wasn't too long since my wisdom teeth had been pulled. I guess the dentist didn't want to go poking around in there.
I'm trying not to be too nervous about it. It's not the actual work that bothers me, it's the shots. But that won't take too long and the dentist is, as advertised, gentle. I just wish it was noon already and I'd just be done with it all.

Lastly, Charlie has an appointment at four to get his tattoo finished. I envy him as I've been getting mine worked on for years and have yet to finish it. His has taken just about a year, I think. When we went into the tattoo parlor to make the appointment I saw the artist who has been working on my back. He seemed … I don't know … unhappy with me. Maybe it's just my imagination. Maybe he doesn't care how long it's been since I've made an appointment. Or maybe he hates the idea of someone walking around with a 75% finished back piece that's his work.

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House Un-Hunted

If there's a real estate purchase in our future, it's not going to be in the next 6 to 9 months. We spoke to a guy Charlie works with who is a broker and he said, while our credit and credit scores are good to go, we really need to work on our debt-to-income ratio. Or, more specifically, my debt-to-income ratio.
Considering how little I now make being in school full time, and the fact that my checks bring in just a little over what I need to pay my consolidation (not a loan – just a credit counseling thing to negotiate lower interest rates), it looks like I'm in debt to my ears.
The truth is we're doing much better than what we thought. We can breathe easier and know that by the time the lease is up here, if we really want to stay in Indiana for another 3-5 years we can qualify for a nice home.
It's good to know, but I'm not sure what we're going to do.

From Jeff's Journal

If you read this, [which you are now]
even if I don't speak to you often, [we can fix that]
you must post a memory of me. [please!]
It can be anything you want, it can be good or bad, [or random]
just so long as it happened.
Then post this to your journal to see what people remember about you. [if you want to]

Blown Knee, Take Six

Charlie managed to get an early appointment with our doctor’s office this morning. He called while I was at the BMV, getting registered to vote and updating the address on my driver’s license, so I didn’t get to the phone on time.
He did, however, leave a message telling me the doctor sent him to an orthopedist (sp? right specialist?) at the hospital. He didn’t say if it was for x-rays or what.
Now I’m more than a little worried.
Just one game into the season and he’s already got a serious injury? I know his knee has been a problem for a while but I don’t know if he’s going to need surgery or what.
Sigh.

Real Estate

We looked at two houses and drove around a couple of re-developments yesterday. It turns out, even with the incentives those re-developments might not be a good idea for us. I'm not sure we could afford even the smallest of the houses.
One of the homes we looked at was on our block; it's been for sale now since we moved in, probably even longer, and the price has come down considerably. It's still way out of our budget but it's really cute. One thing I noticed looking around was that there had been a lot of cosmetic work done but not a lot of serious stuff. The furnace and A/C appeared to be older than I am (absolutely no joke); the kitchen had been redone but still has out-of-date appliances; the washer and dryer stay but they looked to be on their last legs.
It's a 1930s bungalow, which I love, but it was also a lot smaller than the web site claimed. Even with an unfinished basement included, there's no way this house was 1900 square feet. I think the basement was the size of my old studio apartment – about 500 square feet – and the first level was around 900. Yipes. I bet they're including hallways, closets, and the screened-in porch out back.

If it weren't so expensive it would be fun to finish the basement into an office with an extra bath, and even finish off the porch to make a second living area. But there's absolutely no way I can rationalize spending $1200+ a month on a mortgage when we pay half that for our share of the rent right now. Plus, property taxes in this neighborhood are outrageous. I can't see paying that much for a house that's literally a third of the size of most in this area.

So the real estate agent we spoke to said she has another one for sale, in a more up-and-coming neighborhood. It's a bit further south than we were looking, but we drove past. I guess she owns it, rented it out, then completely gutted it. And I mean completely. It is perfect.
It has all-new everything: roof, HVAC, kitchen, kitchen and bath floors, refinished hardwoods, all sorts of great paint colors, new front door, huge porch, all updated electric and plumbing, you name it. The kitchen was the room that got us. She put in a black and white checkered floor, but at an angle, which looked awesome, all new cabinets, and brand-new stainless steel appliances. After Charlie and I peeked in the back window and saw the kitchen we both said “Okay, we'll take it.” (That's the photo of it from the agent's web site – above.) She wasn't there with us – she just gave us the address, said it was empty, and sent us on our way. I liked that. And I really, really liked the house.

It's exactly what we would look for in a house – paying a little bit more for something that's been totally re-done so we don't have to do anything on it for a few years.

We went straight home and did some math, found some complicated mortgage calculators online. What surprised me was the “How much can I afford?” programs came up with significantly less than we thought.

I know I complain about money a lot and how we never have any but part of that is due to the fact that we've been paying everything off for the past few years. I'm literally months away from owing nothing but a small Target charge (I need to keep at least one revolving line of credit) and my student loans. Charlie has student loans and the car is in his name. Other than that, we're actually doing pretty well. So the fact that this mortgage estimate thingie told us we couldn't even qualify for a Lexus surprised me. We must have done something wrong. My friend Liz got approved for a mortgage and bought a house making about half what we bring in and with shaky credit.

So I guess the agent's going to put us in touch with a lender who can pre-approve us for a certain amount. How much is the bigger question. And I wonder if we're being premature about all this. December or January is when I plan to have all my debt paid off, so it might be better if we did all of this at that point, saved up something for a down payment, started getting stuff from the VA for a home loan. The agent seemed to be steering us away from VA loans, which I'm assuming is because she works with lenders and they have deals. I don't appreciate someone telling me that it's “really hard” to fill out all of the paperwork, but I blew it off. Hey, lady, I grew up in the military; I know from paperwork.

Footballers

I just got back from Charlie's first game and I have three words: Pa – the – tic.
There were at least three times as many guys on their team as have ever bothered to show up to any practice. And because they don't go to practice they haven't payed their players' fees. And since they haven't paid the fees they had mismatched jerseys, pants, shoes, helmets, you name it. Also, since no one bothers to come to practice they were a mess on the field.
I felt really bad for Charlie because, to use a typical sports phrase, he's always out there, giving 110%. These guys just wanted to get in game time.
The other team was a lot better, way more coordinated, and scored three times before I left. They were also unnecessarily rough; Charlie twisted or sprained something right into the second quarter. After halftime we realized the coach wasn't going to put him back in and he took off his pads.
I think he's like some sort of defensive coordinator or team captain so he couldn't exactly leave once he was officially hurt, but since I was there to see him play and he wasn't playing anymore, I just sat through the end of the third quarter and left.
I made a stop at the pharmacy for some extra-strength Ibuprofen and icy/hot patches for him, though. I don't know if he hurt his knee, his ankle, or his foot, but I thought he could use something once he got home.

I know he's going to be in a really foul mood tonight and tomorrow, so if you think of it, it would be really nice to come to his next game. I'll update when I know the specific date. It was only $5 to get in, though I thought it was $7. Maybe it's less if you come a little late, as I was?

Law & Order, Ice Cream, Stereolab

Can it get any more pleasant than the above three items? I’m getting ready to enjoy some ice cream the Nice Man brought home; an episode of Criminal Intent is on which I haven’t seen before; Stereolab added me to their Friends list just a few hours after I found them and requested they be my Friend.

Of course, they aren’t my friends, but they do make me feel all warm and fuzzy when I listen to them.

And the weirdest thing of all – Charlie and I are talking about buying a house. Not only has the price on the one across the street been lowered over $15,000 in the past three months, we’re also looking at several re-developments close to downtown like Martindale on the Monon and Fall Creek Place (though this web site doesn’t have nearly the information on the homes as it used to — it’s become a neighborhood message board). As far as our price range, though, we’d probably do better to stay out of the neighborhoods we’d really prefer: Meridian Kessler (including the house across the street, despite its reasonable price comparatively speaking), Broad Ripple, some downtown areas. Even the re-developments are out of our price range. But we’ve still decided to check out at least one this weekend.
Hopefully with the VA guarantor (sp?) program and down payment assistance for first-time buyers we might be able to work out something.

I guess we’ll see. All I know is I don’t want to find myself stagnant or disappointed that I bought a house when I’m not sure I want to be in Indiana much longer. Very confusing.