He's Never Gonna Run Around . . . And Hurt Me

I had a dream last night that I was romantically involved with Rick Astley. I can’t remember why I was thinking of him not too long ago, but it was really weird when an episode of “Family Guy” did a version of “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

I had a major crush on him when I was, like, thirteen, and he’s still a good looking guy for being 41. There is a bit of a Cute Curse, though. When you get older, you look exactly the same. Just older. It’s a shame he’ll mostly be remembered for crappy pop music when he’s really quite a talented singer with an impressive baritenor. Someone posted a YouTube video of him singing that song live, very recently, but I can’t find it. So here’s Brian.

Course & Consumerism

So I made a list of what I consider to be “essential” in terms of our trial period of purchasing nothing but what we really need. During that time, I’ll determine what sort of things come up and if I need to add anything, plus for how long (indefinitely would be ideal but most likely impossible) we’re going to do it. Three months? Six months? Two years?
And, of course, on the list is also what I think is unnecessary. I also ended up with a “questionable” column, including high speed Internet access. In an attempt to consume less gasoline, I try to take as many courses online as possible. But since I’m now in the 300 and 400-level major classes, I’m having trouble finding a lot. In fact, I only found one: Writing for the Web.

Unfortunately, I still have to be on campus four days a week (the online class isn’t even offered on campus, so it doesn’t matter for this semester), so I’m trying to decide which is better for the future: taking as many classes online as possible and saving gas, or getting rid of high speed Internet and going with either dial-up or utilizing the Web only at libraries or school.

God, that sounds so archaic. I can’t believe how American and spoiled I am.

One other non-essential on my list is the $30 per month Charlie spends on the gym membership he rarely uses. Of course, I could never talk him out of paying for it. In his opinion, it is a necessity, whereas I tend to think you may as well go for a bike ride, a jog, or do some yoga. If you want to lift, go pick up some furniture and vacuum under it. Try telling him that. HA!

My Web site is most definitely a waste of money. It serves no purpose as I’m neither a Web designer nor a famous blogger who can use ads to pay for the site. I also don’t have a resume posted on it. Hence, the name “vanity” for the pages. I have this blog, a flickr account, and access to other free sites that I can use to share photos and information if I’m so inclined. So, if you access my blog via my Web site, you may want to bookmark this instead as it’ll probably be coming down soon. I’m putting a note in the index page right now.

Bad Thoughts

God, I’m posting a lot today. This is what happens when your S.O. is out of town and the housemate leaves at 11 in the morning and you’re not allowing yourself to spend any money or make any needless trips. I already cleaned, did laundry, ran the Roomba (Hal) under all the furniture, put away clothes, took a bike ride, make lunch, texted Charlie, walked the dogs (twice!), wrote two insanely long journal entries, went through my blog roll (no one’s posted anything new), and cleaned some spots in the basement. There’s other stuff in there somewhere, I just can’t remember what.

What’s on my mind now is troubling. I’m having a lot of negative thoughts about something and it’s bothering me. When you can’t forgive someone and you hold on to all that nasty stuff, it eats away at you and does nothing to them. To quote someone else I heard the other day, “it’s like taking a poison and wishing someone else would die.”

Essentially, someone I know and care about is trying to get pregnant and hasn’t yet. Someone else I know and don’t particularly care for is also trying to get pregnant and I find myself willing the first party to do so and the second to continue having no success.

What makes me feel bad about it is that I empathize with those I care about based on their experiences, so I shouldn’t wish that on anyone. At least, I don’t want to wish it on anyone. And yet I do. I don’t think these other people should have children. That’s not a fair thing to say, but if you knew them, you might be inclined to agree with me. Basically, if the second party gets pregnant, I will feel even worse about the first party if they don’t. Someone incapable of caring for themselves or having the balls to deal with everyday stressors should not be responsible for another living thing, especially a child. Nor should that person be thinking they deserve that sort of responsibility. But she does. She thinks it’s owed to her. It’s all she talks about. And it drives me insane. If I had a cordial relationship with her, I might even try and tell her, diplomatically, to wait until she has her own shit straightened out before bringing a kid into the world.
She even narrowly, very briefly, tried to adopt. But that was “too hard.”

Boozing it Up, Breaking Up

Last night I went to a local bar for a short meeting, some pitchers of beer, pizza, and camaraderie with my fellow employees. Annie was on to something having our meeting there since everyone showed up on time, if not early. The meeting was scheduled at 8 but I left about quarter after seven so I could walk. I had a supercute goin’-out outfit picked out, but since it wasn’t raining and was seven-tenths of a mile from my house, there was no reason to drive. I put on more comfortable clothes and a pair of sandals I could walk in. I threw an umbrella in my purse and hiked over.

The meeting, itself, was quick and relatively pointless (there were only nine of us, but it was rather difficult to hear the managers over the college rock), and everyone settled in for highly sexualized, work-inappropriate banter. People kept telling me that I’m “a lot more fun” when I’ve been drinking, which sort of hurts my feelings, and they encouraged me to drink more often, which I thought was weird.

I’d had about three draft pints of NewCastle when Cavan showed up, so I was tired, headachey, and ready to go home. He offered to drive me, but I kept declining, hoping maybe he and Audrey would hook up. Then I realized he’d just lost interest and didn’t want to stay.

I was disappointed that he was basically my date. I don’t need Charlie by my side 24 hours a day, but it would be nice if our socialization with others extended beyond far-advance planned family get-togethers, and going in for coffee when we walk the dogs at seven in the morning.
I’m still sad that Charlie won’t be able (or willing, probably) to take any weekends off to spend time with me until the middle of July. And that will probably just be one night since I got him tickets to the Alison Krauss concert for his birthday. I did, however, get tickets for all three of us for King’s Island. I don’t get the impression that the San Francisco trip is going to work out. I really don’t have the money, even for our plane tickets, plus we’ve already sort of agreed that vacations are out of the mix for a bit.

One thing is definite for us in two years: we’re either buying a house or we’re moving out of the state. In which case, we can’t really afford flights and hotels and boarding the dogs. We have talked about taking a few weeks “off” from “consuming.” I’ve heard a lot recently Judith Levine who wrote a book detailing her year of purchasing nothing but the essentials. She saved an additional eight thousand dollars on top of her regular savings. I’ve already made a list of what I consider frivolous expenses and we are giving it a trial run here soon.

But which moving choice we make depends on a lot of things; whether or not I apply or am accepted to a graduate program here or somewhere else; whether or not either of us can get approved for a house we’d like to live indefinitely; whether or not we decide we want to buy a place; whether or not either of us wants to move out of the state.

There are an unsettling amount of people I am acquainted with who have broken up over grad school lately. The really disturbing part, to me, is that it’s always the woman who’s accepted to the program and it’s the guy in the relationship decides not to go. When my friend Robin was accepted to NYU, his wife went with him, excited about the opportunity. When Charlie’s friend Abdul found out his wife was accepted to NYU, they split up before she left. Same with this guy Brian, and another friend of mine, Greg. Oh, yeah – I just remembered, Sarah from work is going to grad school in Massachusetts and her boyfriend of four years just told her he’s not going. Hmmm . . .

When I was accepted to UCSD, it took Charlie three months to tell me he didn’t want to go, which came as quite a shock. I had to make a decision, quick, as to whether or not I could afford to do it on my own. I couldn’t. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I was accepted to a graduate program in, say, Portland (someplace Charlie claims he’d love to live for a bit), and he told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to go. Not a bit surprised.

What is it about hetero relationships that the men seem so unwilling to support the women in their ambitions?

What You Get for the Money

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about homes, checking out the guides they have for free at grocery stores and occasionally perusing the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors. I’d probably do better to actually research mortgages and the home buying process, rather than just what homes are out there two years before my lease is finished.
In my searches I’ve discovered two things. First, it’s a lot cheaper to buy a home outside of the zip code in which we currently live (duh). Second, it’s still kind of expensive to buy a decent place in a decent area (double duh).

I realize I’m Captain Obvious here, but it’s surprising to me that a place so devoid of culture (the town where I went to high school) is still a place where enough people want to live that home prices have gone up as much as they have. I recall some friends from high school buying homes between $60k and $100k that were pretty big and really nice. Of course, this was back in the mid-nineties. Now, small 3 bedroom ranch homes with no personality and twenty year-old carpet with walls covered in border featuring duckies, chickens, and cows are starting out at $120,000. And that’s for the ones that need work.

There’s this show on one of the cable stations – I can’t remember which one – called “What You Get for the Money” that I found fascinating when it first aired. They compared home prices in various cities. After a couple of episodes, it started to get ridiculous and pandered to fantasy rather than reality. Instead of what you can get for $150,000 in Portland, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Little Rock, it became what you can get for $500,000 in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, and D.C. Including significant remodels that did not include the original home price. It pissed me off because I wanted to see something a bit more realistic. If I wanted to see incredibly wealthy people with homes I’ll never afford, I’d just watch “MTV Cribs.”

So, they always say that home prices are about location, location, location. This is clearly true. You can get two-to-three times the house in Hendricks County that you would paying the same price in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t want that much house in a place where I couldn’t walk to anything, there aren’t any cool shops or independent theatres, and “coffeeshop” literally translates to “Starbucks” in any circumstance. But there is something to be said for being able to have a big fenced in yard and a home warranty.

I know this is how it is in every city; either you’re paying through the nose to have a decent place in good shape that has very little space to move around, or you pay the same for a house in an area known more for its school district than its support of small businesses.

I honestly don’t know which I’d prefer. Charlie claims he either wants to be right in the middle of everything or far out in the country with ten acres so we can grow our own food and raise chickens for the impending fall of civilization as we know it. I refused to finish reading The Long Emergency because I didn’t want to get too paranoid.

Speaking of Prior Residences . . .

I just saw an ad for the other half of my old double that’s for rent. Again. I think someone just moved out in October, and it’s available yet again in a month. She has quotes on the site from people who haven’t lived there in over three years. She’s asking $775 a month for it, plus an additional $25 per month, per pet, if you have them. That means we would have paid more to live there than we do for the house we’re in now. We’re only a total of about seven blocks away, but it’s like an entirely different world. No one’s smashing in to your car and driving away, shooting guns, coming on to your porch to beg for money or cigarettes, or passing out drunk on your steps.

I’m not suggesting anyone looking for a place rents there. Especially considering I saw the inside the first time we lived there and hot-doctor-neighbor Seth invited me over. The photos the landlady has on the Web site are exactly the same, only with furniture other than Seth’s. She states that it’s recently “completely rehabbed,” but you can tell from the photos that nothing new has been done. She has a different idea of that term than, say, the dictionary does. She thinks that because it has a new air conditioning unit (which froze up on us in the middle of the summer to the extent that it was over 90 degrees inside the house), and the fact that we painted on the other side and left a shelf we’d installed, that this somehow means “remodeled.”

For the record, this eight-hundred-plus-per-month half of a double does have a great, big backyard. It also happens to have 15 year-old carpet in the bathroom, black mold in the basement, neighbors who abuse dogs on a regular basis, and just over 900 square feet. I realize in other cities, $800 for 900 square feet is considered good. If the landlady weren’t such a crackhead, if she didn’t live right next door, and it didn’t happen to be on a street that made my black, formerly incarcerated criminal justice instructor from the projects of Birmingham exclaim “You live there ?!”, I might recommend it.

Old Rental, New Idea

Traffic was incredible this afternoon. I was headed back from depositing my check and getting an iced americano from work and had to take side roads to avoid the backups on the more major Broad Ripple thoroughfares. I ended up turning on to a street we used to live on a few years ago. It was the last place Kate lived with us and the first place Cavan lived with us. Coincidentally, the house is for sale.

I called Charlie to give him the gossip and he immediately wanted to know for how much the house was selling. We took bets on what our old landlord might be asking for it. I estimated somewhere around $210k, mostly because he’s a greedy bastard who charged us entirely too much to rent the house, considering his lack of attention when we had problems. Charlie’s guess was really high, closer to $300k. I though that was ridiculous.

When I got home I settled in for an exhaustive search on Mibor but was surprised to find it within my first modifiers. I was right on the price. In fact, it was less than my guess. So much so that if the house is for sale when our lease is up here (not for another two years), we’d probably try and buy it. We’d have to save a hefty downpayment and make a lower offer than they’d want, but, hey — if it’s still for sale in two years they’ll want to get rid of it!

It’s actually a pretty cool place, mostly the deck and the backyard. It has nice kitchen cabinets that are really big, but a small kitchen. It has a dishwasher, two fireplaces (we never used the one in the basement), nice appliances, newer bathroom fixtures. There’s a completely finished basement with a good laundry room, a full bath, a living area, and a bedroom with a big closet. Upstairs there are two other bedrooms (technically), but one of them you have to walk through to get to the breezeway and garage. I remember it was a massive pain in the ass to rake the leaves, and the windows needed replaced because we lost a lot of heat and air. Our utility bills were pretty crazy there.

All told, the main thing I didn’t like about it was the landlord Mike who, coincidentally, is my step-cousin. He’s the nephew of an uncle by marriage. Let’s see if you can follow this: my dad’s sister Mary married Mike’s uncle Bill a few months before Charlie and I got married (this is her fourth marriage). Bill’s sister is our former landlord Mike’s mom. The only way we even discovered the relation was at my family’s get-together when Charlie and I were talking about the house we rented. Bill was asking questions and it came out his nephew was the owner. Of course, Mike could have cared less and acted like an asshole anyway, keeping about 80% of our deposit. Most of that was both his and Kate’s faults; if she’d just called the guy to tell him that some of the damage in the basement wasn’t her doing, he might have given back more.

It’s probably too much space for just me and Charlie, but I wouldn’t mind checking in to it in a year or so and seeing if it’s still available. I’d love to stay in this place, but there’s no point renting for the rest of my life if we intend to settle in Indy, and I’d prefer not to own half of a double with a really small yard . . . Then again, if this landlord made the offer and did some updates, I’d probably consider that, as well.

Nerdiness

You know you’re a nerd when you go to a Star Trek convention (but wait – there’s more), and a guy hits on you by complimenting the points of your ears, saying you’d make a really hot Vulcan.

And, yes, I did go to a Star Trek convention where I was buttered up with the aforementioned line and a few sci-fi ones in high school. I found the science fiction conventions a bit more culturally diverse.

"My Face Hurts." "Well, It's Killing Me."

I took Charlie to the airport today for a four-and-a-half-day weekend at his mom’s in Pennsylvania. I packed his Penn State hat. He called me from the airport to tell me that my uncle had checked him through security. My dad’s brother is employed by the Department of Homeland Security, although none of us are sure exactly what he does.

I think this will be the first time Charlie and I have spent more than a day or two apart since he was in the Navy. But you know you’ve been in a relationship for a while when you don’t cry at the airport. I was sad to see him go, but I know his mom is secretly (or, probably, more openly than I’d care to admit) thrilled at the idea of having her baby all to herself for four days.

When he graduated from boot camp, we went up to see his graduation, as did his mom. We’d made plans to pick him up from her hotel after they had dinner and drive him back to base that Friday evening. When he called me from her hotel, I could hear her howling in the background “You get to see her all the time! Get off the phone with her and spend time with me!” That sort of sums up our relationship. Despite the fact that I hadn’t seen him in over three months, and she saw him first. Plus, for the first 24 or so years of his life.

And despite the fact that I’m a little sad that his first full weekend off in almost a year will be spent a thousand miles away, I am glad he’ll be seeing his mother. Oh, and I don’t have to get on a plane. She’s just as anxious about them as I am, so she understood that I didn’t want to hop on a puddle jumper for an hour or two.

My big plans for the next few days? Work, work, and a little more work, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, doing laundry. I’d originally requested the holiday weekend off but decided to suggest that Charlie take the time to visit his family, so I scratched out my requests off in the calendar. I know there are other people at work who’d like to take some time off and I need the money, so I’m not opposed to a few extra hours.

If we didn’t have a roommate I’d probably be reveling in the alone time for a day or two before getting incredibly bored and lonely. But I do have plans for Saturday night.
“Oh, do you, Courtney?”
“Yes, I do. I’m going out to a bar with people from work.”
“Sounds like fun. Who all is going to be there?”
“Everyone.”
“Everyone?”
“Yes. It’s required. We’re having a meeting.”
“Oh. That doesn’t sound like much fun after all.”
“I know.”

Normally I’d be happy to attend a store meeting at a bar. But at 8pm on a Saturday night, the day before the Indianapolis 500? Not so much. Luckily, it’s close to my house and, if necessary, I can walk and/or get a ride. Parking will be a nightmare, most likely.

I’m spending the evening on Vicodin since I don’t have to be up early and the pain is killing me. I really wish I could have gotten in sooner for the root canal but the doctors are going out of town next week. I never thought I’d look forward to a root canal, but at this point I welcome the relief in pain with open arms and mouth.

Plan of Action

When the dentist gave me the prescriptions last Thursday for antibiotics and Vicodin, she told me to hold off on filling the antibiotics. I wasn’t in any pain so I didn’t worry about the narcotics, either. There was at least a 10% chance that I would not need a root canal on the lower left molar, and I think we all wanted to be positive. Ten percent is pretty good, considering my luck thus far.
When the temporary came off Sunday night, I was in intense pain. Once I took a breath on my drive for denture cream at the pharmacy to shove that little f*ker back in, I thought I was being stabbed. Then there was this radiating, throbbing pain through my temple and back down into my neck. As I was explaining this to the husband part of the DDS team, Dr. M, this afternoon I didn’t even finish my sentence.

“Okay, I’ve heard enough,” he said. Time to make an appointment for my third – and, dear god, I hope – final root canal.
They warned me after my last-minute visit today to get an x-ray and give the go-ahead to fill the scripts that my insurance was almost maxed out. I’ve got a few more hundred to go before I’m pretty much screwed.

We all knew this was coming. You’ve known it was a concern of mine for several weeks now (and let’s be honest, probably longer), as the highlights of my free time have consisted almost exclusively of visits to the dentist. You go with what you know, right?
In all, we’ve paid out more than the value of my last car, and I still have one more big thing (replacing the cracked crown I got last summer), and several smaller cavities once this third root canal’s done with.

Since I’m not a pessimist, I’ve decided the following: I will get the third root canal, of course. Since it’s not got the fused roots and extra weird bits the last one had, it won’t be as expensive and Dr. M can do it in their office. I get that June 6th. The following day, they’re keeping the appointment Dr. S had made and she’ll go ahead and fit me for the permanent crown. At that point, I’ll pay whatever I have to, to get it taken care of. Then we’ll discuss what it will cost me out-of-pocket to pay for a replacement crown on the upper left, as well as what other sorts of things I’m looking at. You know, how many more little cavities have to be filled, what’s a regular cleaning cost? Is there a cheaper way to go with a permanent crown besides porcelain?

If the total cost for everything, after the insurance is maxed out, is more than my student loan refund and, hence, more than I can afford to pay Charlie back, I’ll ask them about a referral. Ideally I’d have just paid off the truck to improve my credit and lower my debt-to-income ratio, but that’s not the top priority here. If the dental costs are too great and if I can hold off for just a couple more months, I’ll get the student insurance through IU and, as long as no one has any horror stories about the dental school, I’ll get the rest of the work done there. I mean, how bad can it be, just getting a cleaning and a couple little cavities filled?

Better yet, don’t tell me. Only tell me about positive experiences.