Reaching For The Stars, Vol. 9

Chart Week: June 9, 1984
Song: “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
Chart Position: #18, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #4 for two weeks in July.

As I said, I’ve been sitting on a couple of these posts. And since Spotify and WordPress appear to be fighting again, I’ll knock this one out in place of a Friday playlist.

This entry is also less about the specific song than something broader. I noticed sometime last summer that I hear Billy Idol songs pretty regularly. I would guess that I hear a Billy Idol song on SiriusXM 5–6 times a week when I’m in the car a lot. When we were still lake goers, the radio station we listened to down there would throw at least a couple of his songs into their eclectic playlist each weekend. I swear I hear “Eyes Without a Face” twice a week, every week.

Which, I don’t know, seems like a lot. Billy was a big artist there for a few years in the mid–80s. But he has a relatively small list of hit songs and I guess I’m a little surprised that they have endured as well as they seem to have done.

To a certain portion of the modern radio audience, though, I wonder if he is the ultimate representation of the 80s. He had a punk rock look, although his biggest hits were far removed from his punk roots. He had an iconic MTV commercial. His VH1 Behind the Music episode was legendary. And his songs were pretty good, too.

This one was his biggest hit until the unfortunate “Mony Mony” remake came along three years later.[1] It’s a real good representation of rock music in 1984. It begins as a slower, ballady track and explodes in the middle with Steve Stevens fantastic guitar solo before calming down again. I have no idea how I didn’t know recently that the female voice in the chorus of the song was singing a French translation of the title, “Les yeux sans visage.” It’s almost embarrassing to me, an 80s music connoisseur and lover of all things 1984, that I never knew that. I think my friends should taunt me with that each time they see me.

Another Billy Idol memory. At our high school dances my buddy who DJed them all would always play “Dancing With Myself.” I don’t know if we requested it, or just loved it because it was so different than the other, standard high school dance fare he played, but that was always the highlight of those dances. Another friend of mine, Steve, and I decided that we would slam dance, as it was called back then, to the track. We did a pretty tame, suburban version of slam dancing and loved every second of it. It kind of became out thing; people looked forward to seeing us awkwardly jump into each other for three minutes.

At a dance our senior year “Dancing With Myself” came on and Steve and I found each other from across the dance floor. After connecting on a couple, um, slams I guess?, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was spun around to see the school principal looking at me. He said, sternly, “We don’t have slam dancing at Raytown,” and walked away.

As you would expect this became a highlight that is talked about to this day by everyone who attended that fateful night. We would repeat it to each other in class the next week and just roll. We also appreciated that we, two guys never got in trouble, had been labeled as potential social misfits and instigators of anarchy at our sleepy school.

  1. “Mony Mony” hit #1. “Cradle of Love” hit #2 in 1990.  ↩

ASG ’18

This has been the summer of my baseball discontent. We’ll get into the reasons for that in a moment. Despite that, I still sat down for my annual viewing of the MLB All Star Game last night. Granted, because of errands, watering the grass, and kids controlling the TV, I wasn’t able to tune in until the 4th inning. Which seemed appropriate for this season. Hey, at least I turned it on!

I never got going with baseball this year. The season began with the Royals alternately getting crushed and rained out over the first week. Also, there was a sporting event in San Antonio that week that occupied much of my attention.

Soon came spring break prep and spring break itself. After our return, spring sports. Next looking at houses and getting ready to move. A few times in April and May I would try to turn on a Royals game, only to be thwarted by our endless network issues we were experiencing at the old house.

The team was shitty, I was busy, and the feed locked up constantly. It was easier to do other things where I had watched the Royals every night for the past five or six years.

If the Royals were just bad I may have tried harder to build the habit back up. But, man, they’ve been terrible. I figured there would be bad stretches this year but I’m still waiting for the first good stretch. There’s almost a majesty to how bad they’ve been. And it will likely get worse as the team tries to move a few pieces over the next couple weeks and begins calling up more guys who have no business playing in the major leagues.

So rather than devote too much time to the big league club, I’ve been following the experts on Twitter and paying attention to blurbs in other sources about the next crop of prospects. As I followed Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Yordano Ventura a decade ago, now I’m tracking Nicky Lopez, Nick Pratto, Khalil Lee, and Seuly Matias.

I don’t have a ton of confidence that Dayton Moore is going to get much back for Moustakas or any other players he decides to trade this month. But I’m hopeful that this year’s draft was solid and next year’s very high pick will result in the next future superstar for the organization. And hopefully it won’t be another 25-year wait for them to be in a pennant race again.

Once I turned on the game, it eventually got pretty fun. At least if you like home runs in dramatic situations.

Otherwise I was, as usual, annoyed with Fox mic-ing up players every inning. I was annoyed with commercials for football. And I became annoyed with Joe Buck’s endless slobbering over all the “good guys” in the game. At first I kind of chuckled, because who doesn’t love Jose Altuve? But a few innings later Buck had labeled at least three other guys as “as good a guy as you will find in the game.” Everyone he labeled may, indeed, be a great guy. But it felt forced and pushed upon Buck from above rather than organic.

I was also a bit put off by the endless pushing of connections between the game and the military. Listen, honoring the troops is awesome and anyone who serves deserves respect and recognition. But it seemed like every five minutes here came another forced military tie-in to the game.

That combined with Buck’s identification of all the good guys in the game seemed like a concerted effort to say “Hey, we’re not the NFL!” Which, as much as I’ve grown to dislike the NFL, feels unnecessary.

I could expound further on this topic, but I think Drew Magary wrote way better than I can about it just last week in his weekly politics column for GQ. I recommend checking it out.

Patriotic Correctness Will Doom Us All

Reader’s Notebook, 7/17/18

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
I’m a Springsteen fan. But not a super fan. I like large swaths of his music, think four of his albums are pretty amazing, and appreciate his role in American rock music. But I’m not deeply aware of his story, can’t quote his lyrics beyond his biggest hits, and have never seen him live.[1] But I heard from several friends who were casual fans like me that this was a good book. It’s been on my To Read list for years and I decided to pick it up as my time killer around our move.

It is a really interesting book. It checks in at right around 500 pages, which would seem like enough to go into great detail about The Boss’ life. And he really shares, from his earliest childhood memories to where he was in his life when the book was published. He talks relationships. He talks about his own issues with mental health later in his life. He talks about his rise from ambitious band leader on the Jersey shore to one of the biggest stars on the planet. And he talks about his music.

But what I found fascinating about the book was how he only shares so much, letting the breadth of the book disguise its lack of depth.

The one area where this bothered me was in his discussions of his albums. He rolls through his career chronologically, and each time he comes to an album, it gets four, five, six pages and then he moves on. Perhaps he figures he’s spoken enough about his albums over the years, or there are enough other resources for people who really want to know about the nuts and bolts of Darkness on the Edge of Town, for example. I found it odd, though, for a musician who is known for putting great care into his lyrics and music in order to convey the exact message he wanted to share would just provide quick overviews of his most important works. This was highlighted when I tried to sync what I was listening to to where he was in his career. I’d start the chapter and begin listening to the album at the same time and when I was ready for the next chapter, I’d only be three or four songs into the album.

This is true for his discussions of his relationships, too. He provides just enough interesting anecdotes to give the impression you have a deep understanding of his interactions with his first manager, his first wife, or one of his bandmates. But, again, there are never any deep dives.

Those observations may make it seem like I didn’t like the book. That’s not the case; I enjoyed it quite a bit. Springsteen is arguably the most important American rock artist ever, and fan or not, depth or not, I think his story is important for any music fan to understand. I also don’t have a problem with Springsteen holding back. That’s his prerogative as the author. I know I would not want to share all the gory details of my personal life if I was famous and there was an audience for my memoir.

He also managed to avoid all the rock biography cliches. This isn’t a tell-all that brags about his debauchery over the years. Nor is it a sterile, saccharine ghostwritten account that is the literary version of cotton candy. In a very Bruce manner, he wrote a unique autobiography that is worth the time needed to get through it, even if it left me wanting.

The World Made Straight – Ron Rash
This comes from my list of Nick Hornby recommendations I’m still working through. It takes place in the hill country of western North Carolina in the late 1970s and centers on Travis Shelton, a teenager who stumbles into a hidden marijuana field owned by the county’s biggest dealers and the ramifications of his find.

Rash brings in some Civil War history, a few nice supporting characters, and does his best to build toward a twisty ending.

I found the book lacked suspense and some of Rash’s choices confusing. There were several awkward transitions that made me wonder if I had drifted off for a few moments and missed a paragraph or two. I forget why Hornby liked this so much, but it was a miss for me.

  1. The last one is a huge bummer. While I could still see him, I really wish I had seen him in his prime.  ↩

The New Local

Now that we’ve been in the new house for three weeks, I think I owe my readers a tour. Not of the house; that would be weird and difficult to do via text. If you want to see it, you just need to schedule a visit!

Rather a tour of our area, Nora, because it is quite different than the old digs.

We have a YMCA that is literally within walking distance. So close that if the girls went together we’d be comfortable letting them go there alone. They just have to cut across the edge of our neighbors’ yard, duck through a break in the tree line, and they’re in the Y’s parking lot. We finally joined last Friday and spent an hour at the pool before it got too hot to stay in the sun. Once our summer membership expires that is where I’ll be doing my daily workouts.

Running just behind our neighborhood, and accessible from the Y’s parking lot, is the Monon trail, the urban path that extends from downtown Indy 20 miles to the far northern ‘burbs. Last week L and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to Broad Ripple and back. It was only about a 5 mile round trip and she said she’s ready to go further next time.

Our old neighborhood was very suburban. We were surrounded by other neighborhoods, parks, gravel mines, and corn fields. The nearest shops and restaurants were all a healthy walk away. In the new ‘hood, we are less than half a mile from a grocery store, a Target, and their surrounding shopping areas, a Walgreen’s and CVS, and[1] a liquor store. We’ve already walked to a restaurant for dinner one night and a yogurt place for dessert another night. There are plenty of fast food options, a pizza place, a great bagel place, and a few other nice restaurants all within a 15 minute walk. As we were strolling home from dinner last week I told S it was almost like living on the Plaza in Kansas City again. Except we live in a house with a big yard instead of sharing walls with our neighbors.

North Central High School is also right up the street from our house. Friday night there was a high school football all star game at their stadium and we could clearly hear the PA announcer from our front steps. NC usually has a really good basketball team – famous alums include Jason Gardner, Eric Gordon, and Kris Wilkes – so I think L is excited to go watch them this winter.

L and I took 15–20 minutes to bike down to Broad Ripple Friday. When we hop in the car, as we did for dinner Sunday, we can be there in about five minutes. Broad Ripple was a 20-minute drive from our old house because of traffic lights, which meant we didn’t take advantage of all its dining opportunities very often. We could usually find something closer and more convenient. Now, thought, we’ve already eaten down there three times in three weeks.

The demographics of our area are quite different than in Carmel, too. Nora leans to the affluent side for sure. We have a pretty fat house and there are plenty that would be well beyond our budget. While new construction like ours isn’t uncommon, Nora tends to be filled with big, beautiful old homes.

That affluence extends to about half a mile north of our house. When you get past the 86th Street shopping corridor you move into an area of older apartments that are home to mostly working class African-American and Hispanic families. That area, and some others within Washington Township, make North Central almost evenly split between white and black students, with a healthy slice of Hispanic students as well. While our girls won’t go to school there, just being in this area will certainly open their eyes to the truth that there are people who look different than us and have very different lives than us.

Allow me to jump back for a minute to talk about our grocery store. I was very excited to have one right around the corner because I go to the store roughly 87 times a week. After three trips to our new one, though, I’m kind of done with it. They never, ever have enough people working the registers and on two trips I spent nearly as much time in line as I did filling my cart. I freaking hate waiting to check out at stores so I’ve given up on that location for all but quick stops. It is also older, with very narrow aisles, and it seems to always be filled with old people who block the aisles and can’t hear you when you say “Excuse me,” and try to squeeze by.

The one thing I will give the local store is that it shows off the area’s demographics. On one recent trip there was a group of African-American women shopping together. Two were in the little moto-carts for folks who can’t get around well. They had a third lady with them and they were cruising around, saying hello to everyone, having a great time. At one point the ladies in the carts got separated and the third lady was walking around yelling for the other, “MONIQUE!!! MONIQUE!!! WHERE ARE YOU????” Then she’d belly laugh. L was with me that day and was rolling.

That same day I got behind an older white man in line and he kept turning around making racial comments about the black lady in front of him. Nice. I will admit she was making an odd transaction. She paid for all her groceries at once, then kept a green pepper separate. I don’t know what she used to pay for the pepper, but she asked for $200 in change from whatever she used. That kicked off a 10 minute process of finding the right person to get into the office to replenish the drawer with cash. While that is certainly odd and out of the ordinary, I’m not sure it was worthy of racial comments from Angry Old White Man in front of me.

One register over, there was a staggeringly attractive white lady[2] in her best workout gear who was screaming at her kids for going over and looking at the gumball machine. They didn’t mess with it in any way. They just looked at it. These girls were like 4 and 3 but something about that set their hottie mom off. Then again, as parents we all have those days when you’re barely hanging on and some tiny thing will provoke all your parental fury.

Quite the gamut in one trip to the grocery store. Shame that the service in there is so bad and I won’t be getting to see shows like this every week.

  1. With a new one coming soon.  ↩
  2. I got a little woozy every time I passed her in the aisles. She was well put together.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“All We Got Is Time” – Eldoradio. I really can’t find much out about this band or song. It’s a good tune for the summer, which is enough to share it with you.

“One Day Left” – Stars. If you’ve read my music writings over the years, you should know that I love songs and albums about breakups. This is a very specific breakup song: Stars say it is about the last 12 hours you spend with someone. Interesting point of view and a nearly perfect example of what Stars can do when they are locked in.

“Homemade Bliss” – T. Hardy Morris. When it’s too hot to go outside, as it will be here this weekend, make your own bliss at home. 

“Glass Jar” – Tristen. This song sounds like something Jenny Lewis would have written/recorded. Hey, guess what? Jenny Lewis provides backing vocals!

“The Gold” – Phoebe Bridgers covering Manchester Orchestra. Not really a vid, but a song only available on YouTube right now. My second-favorite song of 2017 has some serious staying power: I still hear it on SiriusXM at least once a week. And we are going to see MO in a couple months at a small venue here. I love Phoebe Bridgers as well, and her take on the song is wonderful.

Cooking With Gas

Our house is now filled with the sweet, fragrant glory of wireless internet. Comcast finally showed up yesterday to get everything hooked up. Just in time for the second half of the rather glorious England-Croatia match we had cable TV and internet. Those two-plus weeks without them seemed a lot longer. Only 33 days from initial request until completion of installation.

Less than 24 hours into our Xfinity lives, we’re pleased with it so far. Then again, we would be happy with just about any connection at this point. Our internet is way faster than at the old house. We are paying for the speed boost, so it better be. It was pretty cool to watch stuff that used to download over the course of several minutes shoot down the pipe in a matter of seconds. I haven’t tried streaming any video yet, but I imagine that’s going to be better than our old experience, too.

I also figured I would have to set up several wireless access points through the house to make sure we had a strong signal throughout. I bought one, and a Raspberry Pi to control it, so I could at least get started as soon as we had service. But I was pleasantly surprised at how the Xfinity router gets a strong signal throughout the house. Looks like I’ll have to unload the WAP on someone else and find another project to use the Raspberry Pi for.

I spent yesterday afternoon getting everything in the house connected. It’s nice to be able to control our thermostat from my phone again. I need to get our Nest cam installed so I can monitor the outside of our house. I’m debating whether to dive into the world of other home automation devices as well. Right now a lot of them seem to have a higher cool factor than actual functional value, but while S gets to spend hours looking at furniture online, I can research smart light bulbs, DIY home security systems, etc.

Anyway, it’s good to be back in the world of the real internet, where I’m not burning through my phone’s battery to get a weak connection that won’t load anything that contains graphics in less than three minutes. Now I just have to keep the mowing crew and the construction guys next door from destroying our cable, which is currently sitting on the grass until another Comcast contractor comes out to bury it eventually.

Reaching For The Stars, Vol. 8

I’m a bit behind on these. Mostly because of not having solid internet access (fuckers). But I have three of these posts mentally queued up from the past month that I’m going to try to crank out over the next week.

Chart Week: July 5, 1980
Song: “Stomp!” – The Brothers Johnson
Chart Position: #28, 17th week on the chart. Peaked at #7 the week of May 24.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this song, so this entry is less about the track than its time.

But, a quick refresher on the song first.

I believe when I’ve shared this song in the past, I’ve labeled it one of the great gifts from my parents to me. I was blessed with young parents who listened to (mostly) cool music. The radio/stereo was always on, and they played pop, rock, soul, disco, and even a little country. I firmly believe exposing me to such a wide range of music made me more open to all kinds of cultural aspects beyond music. “Stomp!” Is one of those songs that I feel like I knew a little better than most of my friends because my parents owned it on vinyl in the summer of 1980. I’m guessing very few of my friends’ parents owned any Brothers Johnson albums back in the day. I have several friends who have learned to love this song over the years – it is a serious jam – and I’m never shy about dropping the “I knew about it way before you” card on this one.

As I said, though, this post is about the time this countdown is from. I forget exactly when we moved to Kansas City, but it was sometime in July of 1980. I know we were in Kansas City in late June/early July – I watched the Wimbledon final at my aunt and uncle’s house – but I think that was a trip so my parents could find a place to rent. I’m pretty sure we returned to southeast Missouri for a couple weeks and didn’t make our official move until the end of the month.

Last Saturday we were out running errands and heard parts of this countdown twice. At one point I told the girls that these songs were the ones that were playing right around the time we moved to Kansas City. I thought they might find that interesting given we had just moved. But there was only a muted response from one of the girls while the other two didn’t respond at all. I was going to tell them about sitting around watching the crew load up our moving van and talking about baseball, how much I loved George Brett, and the guys asking me if I was going to go to a Royals game as soon as we got to Kansas City. And how these songs were probably playing in the background of those conversations. Their brains don’t work like mine, though, so I was left to think about all of that on my own.

As I drove, I thought more about that move, or at least as much as I can remember of it. I thought of the kid across the street of our new place coming over and digging through my boxes to see what kind of toys I had. That kid continued to piss me off for the next five years. I remember thinking how awesome it was going to be to ride my new 10-speed down the big hill that was just up the block. I thought of seeing my new room for the first time; it had this awesome box window that I could crawl up into and sit in that I immediatley loved. And I remembered sitting in that box window about two months later, listening to the Royals claw closer to a division title, when my parents called me into the kitchen to tell me that they were getting divorced.

Back then I didn’t have a satellite radio that caught a signal beamed up into space and back to me. I didn’t have an internet connection that allowed me to listen to nearly any song every recorded on demand. I didn’t have a hard drive full of thousands of songs ripped from CDs I’ve purchased over a 25-year span. I just had a little transistor radio with a single, mono speaker. Man did I love that radio. I carried it everywhere with me, scanning the bands to learn the KC radio landscape, listening to the Royals, hiding in the basement with it next to me during my first Kansas City tornado warning. That radio sewed the seeds of a lifetime love of music, and the trivia that comes along with it, that has continued through nearly 40 years of technological changes.

Monday Notes

This was a good weekend.

No, we didn’t quickly sell our house on try #2. Hell, we’re not even showing it yet as we’re waiting on painters to wrap up. We did get it down to just needing one more trip to cart stuff out of there, though. That’s progress.

No, we didn’t get cable yet.(fn) After Thursday’s great leap forward of getting the line onto our property there’s been no further progress. But I have a good feeling this is the week it’s all going to get wrapped up. Why I am optimistic I have no idea…

This weekend was more about making some progress to get our new house livable. S met with our decorator, or design consultant, or whatever we should call her, and began the daunting process of buying furniture. All we have to show for it so far is one rug and some drapes we haven’t put up yet. However, orders have been placed, deposits laid, and workers in China or Mexico or somewhere will soon be putting together some sofas for us. A few tables should ship in the next week. Some more rugs are getting pulled from storage in a warehouse and should be available for pickup later this week. It was just the first few drops in a rather large bucket, but at least it’s beginning to fill up.

Another big step was getting C set up with her craft area in the basement. She had to swear to not destroy her new room the way she destroyed her old one with crayons, paints, glues, etc. and in return we gave her a corner of the unfinished side of the basement. We had to wait to get a folding table back that had been borrowed. I picked that up Sunday and we turned her loose in the evening. She was very pleased. Hopefully she follows the rules and we don’t find stains all over her bedroom carpet.

Another big accomplishment was filling up the back of my Tahoe with about a ton of cardboard we had collected over the past two weeks. When I say filled up I mean filled up. Thank goodness for backup cameras because I could not see out the back window the cardboard was stacked so high. I think we reclaimed a couple hundred square feet by getting all that crap out of the house. Now to clear out all the cardboard at the old house…

Sunday night felt like a turning point for us. We’re through phase one in the new house: we’re all moved in, have made those immediate, necessary purchases, are getting settled, and can now move on to making the house ours. If only we had cable/internet.(fn)

Coincidentally this past week was the official mid-point of the girls summer break. They’ve had six weeks of summer and have just under six weeks left. This is a busy week for two of them. M goes to a class to help her prepare for the high school entrance test all students who want to attend a local Catholic high school must take. When we signed her up, she was a little annoyed at us. But when we told her that she could earn scholarship money for getting a high enough score, she got onboard. I think she kind of thinks that she gets whatever money she earns, instead of it being subtracted from her tuition, because she came around quick. Regardless, for five mornings she’s going to learn test-taking strategies, run through some practice tests, and hopefully ace the thing when she takes it in the fall.

C is working at an art camp this week run by one of L’s friend’s moms. M worked there the past two years. She also begins cross country practice this week. The older kids run two nights a week in July. I think she’s excited to start running again. She knows this is a big year, being in the older half of her age group.

Friday Playlist

“You Amaze Me” – La Force. I’m not sure how to describe this song. There are hints of neo-R&B, but I wouldn’t say it’s a modern R&B song. There’s a healthy amount of indie rock to it, but it also doesn’t sound like standard indie rock fare. Nor is it straight, modern pop. Regardless, this ode by Broken Social Scene member Ariel Engel to her husband, fellow BSS member Andrew Whiteman, is excellent.

“Someday” – Phantagram. I planned on sharing this song a month ago when it was first released, just as I began having issues embedding Spotify playlists here. It remains worthy of sharing not just because it is a good song, but also because of its message. Sarah Barthel wrote it in honor of her sister, who succumbed to mental illness just over two years ago. Proceeds from its sales go to mental health awareness organizations. Given the losses of Scott Hutchison, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain, this seems like about the best cause an artist can be for these days. I hear some common threads with Julien Baker’s “When I Turn Out the Lights,” another song about mental illness, in the opening lines.

“Queens of the Breakers” – The Barr Brothers. I believe I checked out some of The Barr Brothers music last fall when they released their most recent album. There was some buzz about them falling into the same broad area of music where The War on Drugs lives. At the time, I don’t think that comparison struck me as valid. But re-listening to this song recently, I now hear it.

“Mirrors” – Crocodiles. This one goes back a few years, to 2011, but it seems like a good song to crank up in the summer.

Friday Notes

Time for an end-of-the-week update, as it has been an interesting few days.

I’ll share the good first: we actually have some movement in getting our house connected to the internet and world of cable television! Thursday morning L came and found me and asked, “Who is that creepy guy in the backyard?” I looked out and, sure enough, there was a creepy guy pushing one of those bicycle-wheel measuring things across our backyard.(fn) I went outside, greeted him, and asked what he was measuring. He was difficult to understand, but I gathered he was there to run a cable line.

“Great, we’ve been waiting on you!” I said. I asked how long after he was done it would take to get the house hooked up. His response, as best as I could make it out, was that as soon as he was done, he would call it in as completed and connecting the house should happen pretty soon after that. Of course he, or someone else, was supposed to have done his job three weeks ago, so I took his “pretty soon” with a big ol’ grain of salt.

I went back inside and the girls and I watched him and his partner run the line from the street to the power line behind our house. I thought it was very interesting the cable service is above ground. That’s what you get for moving into an old neighborhood, I guess.

Anyway, progress and there is a line about 100 feet from our house now. If we can just get it extended from there to our house, and then someone inside the house to get us hooked up, we’ll finally be cooking with the gas of the sweet, sweet internet.

Now for the not-so-good news: the deal to sell our home here fell apart this week. Although I think this site is pretty locked down in terms of privacy, I still don’t want to reveal too much yet since the house is officially back on the market. For now I’ll just share that we had a major disagreement regarding the results of the inspection – our realtor and we believe the inspector made an inappropriate observation in his report that caused the potential buyers to make an unreasonable request – so we gave them an F-you response and they walked away.

So, starting over. We have painters going in today and are doing some other repairs we wanted to hold off on to use as a bargaining tool. Between those improvements and the fact that our neighbors’ house has now closed at higher than their asking price, we’re hopeful that we can get a better selling price the second time around. We’ll see; we’re a little disillusioned and cynical after round one. And we’re bummed we missed two weeks of potential showings dealing with those dickwads.

What else has been going on?

We’ve arranged to have our lawn mowed. This was hard for me to do. I’ve taken care of our yard for 15 years. We don’t always have the nicest yard on the block, but I kind of liked the 30–40 minutes it took to knock out the old yard. But we agreed that even if I got a riding mower, the new lawn would just require too much of a time investment to take care of. Luckily we had some friends who suggested some guys who ended up being affordable, so they’re going to start taking care of it next week.

Thursday, on the lawn guys’ suggestion, I bought a tripod sprinkler. Yes, our yard is so big I have to use implements often found on football or baseball fields. Naturally it rained for three hours the day I bought it.

We’ve also been making daily purchases from hardware stores. We’ve literally made at least on purchase from Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, or a local hardware store every day the past week. And we keep ordering stuff from Home Depot online that, for some reason, causes our credit card company to freak out. I have to text a confirmation to the card company that, yes, the purchase was legit, and then call Home Depot and have them crank my order through again. That’s happened two nights in a row. But when I dropped four times as much on the card for a deposit for some house repairs it went straight through. I guess my card company has something against Home Depot.

The other big thing right now is just getting used to where things are and how they operate. Fifteen years of turning right to get a utensil for the stove is hard to forget when the utensils are now on the left. The thing that has really thrown us is having the door to our basement beverage fridge open on the opposite side. Every single time S or I go down to grab a beer, we grab the left side of the handle instead of the right. I imagine we’ll start getting this stuff figured out sometime in the next 2–17 weeks.