Friday, April 29, 2011

Next, Please

I am back in my own house.  No more living half here, half there with my belongings (and my sanity) divided between two houses.   

Before I go any further, I just have to say:  Thank you, all of you.  The support and advice and empathy I've gotten in the comments to my past few posts has been nothing short of amazing.  I am one very lucky woman to have blogfriends like you.  Thanks, y'all.

The first few days, it was enough just to be back in the Kelly House, with its high ceilings and transom windows and boxy little floor plan.  I spent quite a bit of time, I must tell you, just sitting there.  (Honestly, I couldn't do much else because I'd separated my shoulder three weeks ago.  I was clambering up a riverbank with AJ and a couple of his friends and when the hill crumbled under me and I started to fall, AJ's friend Aaron grabbed me by the left elbow and hauled me up.)  But now I'm feeling better, both emotionally and physically, and I think it's time to consider what's next for the Kelly House.

There's the bathroom remodel, which Sharon has dubbed the Behemoth Project because it involves knocking down a wall, laying tile, putting up beadboard, installing new fixtures and a clawfoot tub, demolishing a shower, and moving the back door of the house, all to turn two awkward bathrooms into one nicer one.  That seems a bit much at the moment.

Then there's the front parlor.  The old wallpaper's been stripped, the plaster walls have been repaired, all the furniture's pushed out into the center of the room, and part of the trim's been repainted.  Since that's what I was working on last winter, it makes sense to start again there. 

So on Monday, my next day off, I'll be hanging wallpaper in the front parlor.  I can't wait!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

She Sings

"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her,
still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings."
--Victor Hugo

The thing about living in a small town all of your life is that, if you're lucky, you develop friendships that last for decades.  The people who love you, faults and all, are the same people who sat next to you in kindergarten, cried with you over skinned knees, giggled all night about stupid boys, were brave enough to ride with you when you learned to drive a car on gravel roads, visited you in the hospital when your baby was born, and stood next to you at your daddy's grave.  So when one of those girls invites you to lunch and upon arriving at the restaurant you see four more friends, you know something's up.  Something big.
Five of your best friends gathering together to tell you that you shouldn't get married almost exactly four months before your wedding day (when one of them is your maid of honor to boot) is, indeed, something big.  We laughed and we cried, and the words they said rattled around in my brain all week:
He doesn't understand you at all and he has no idea how amazing you are.
The Kelly House is your dream. What kind of man, who claims to love you, demands that you give up on your dream?

Rather than complementing your fire, he dulls your shine. 
Honey, you shouldn't have to work this hard to be a little bit happy...and you're only a little bit happy.

I realized that they're right.  They didn't talk me into anything I hadn't already figured out on my own:  this relationship with AJ is not going to work.  I told him as much the other night, sitting at his kitchen table.  And then the fur babies and I went home to the Kelly House.  Some of my furniture is still at AJ's.  I'm not sure where my work boots are.  The refrigerator is empty except for a jar of mayo and one beer.  I won't have cable and internet until Wednesday at the earliest.  More than that, his family will be terribly disappointed and upset, I expect to have to answer the question "What happened?" at least 50 times before the whole town knows and to endure snickers because I'm calling off another engagement (this is my third in 20 years), and I think when reality sinks in that AJ won't be nearly so reasonable as he was upon first hearing my decision. 

In spite of all that, I am happy...or maybe I'm not quite happy yet, just relieved, but I'm quietly approaching happy again.  I sing.  My family understands and supports me no matter what, I have the best friends anyone could ask for, and I am back where I belong.  Like that little bird, I have wings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hello, Gorgeous!

Check out the floor my good friend Joey and his daughter Alicia just installed in a customer's new house.  I am drooling over the sheer gorgeousness of this floor.
Gorgeous...just gorgeous.  Did I say "gorgeous" already?  Yowza, what a floor.

I don't even want to think about the math involved in planning out that pattern.  Alicia figured it out.

A closeup of the pattern.  That's red oak, walnut, cherry and Brazilian tiger wood.
Gotta give Joe and his family a shout-out:  If you're anywhere near the Kansas City area and want or need some floors, give Burkhart Hardwood Floor Company a call at 660-259-3204. 

Out of Options

Kind of a lot has happened since my last post....

I called the realtor and told him I wouldn't be listing my house anytime in the near future.  He didn't seem surprised.

Then, I told AJ I wouldn't be selling my house.  Probably I should've told him first.  It didn't go well.

And then, I told White Trash Bob.  He was delighted.

And after that, I took a look at the terms of my mortgage.  My heart sank.  My mortgage prohibits using my home as rental property, or as a business, or as anything other than a primary residence.  In the words of Astro from The Jetsons (and my friend Ryan) "Ruh-roh". 

So I heaved a big sigh, put on my big-girl pants, and went to AJ with three offers:  "Let's sell your house and live in mine."  Absolutely not.  (Which I expected, since it's already been discussed.)  "Okay, then let's rent out your house and live in mine."  Nope.  "Well then, how 'bout we sell both the houses and buy one that neither of us has ever lived in?"  Flat no to that one, too.  Oh.  Hmmm.  Well then.

And with that, it seems I am out of options.  It's back to The House or The Guy. 

Friday, April 15, 2011


Last Monday I ran into a lawyer friend at the gas station and he noticed my engagement ring.  John is known for his bluntness, so when he asked, "What do you want to do something stupid like that for?!" I wasn't surprised.  I was, however, taken aback a bit when he then said, "You better not be selling that house of yours."  I told him I was indeed planning to sell the house and he rolled his eyes.  "Stupid," he said.  "Stupid, stupid, stupid." He walked with me back to my car and said, "I can think of three reasons right off the top of my head why it's stupid.  First, it's the biggest asset you'll ever own and you'll be selling it at a loss in this market.  Second, you don't need to sell it--it's not like you're moving across the country or hurting for money.  And third, what if you sell it and the sonofabitch you're marrying drops dead?  Then you're homeless.  Stupid."

I told John I would give his advice my careful consideration, took laughing umbrage with his calling AJ "that sonofabitch" (they don't know each other), gave him a hug, and promised to call him soon. 

And sometime between Monday afternoon and Wednesday night, that man who cautioned me against being stupid did the stupidest thing imaginable.  He took a bottle's worth of sleeping pills, washed them down with alcohol, and then went out to his garage and started his truck.  The coroner says the pills killed him before the carbon monoxide did.  John was 50 years old.  I met him 15 years ago when I worked for a lawyer in Kansas City and John was our opposing counsel.  He was so impressed with my paralegal abilities, and I with his firebrand courtroom style, that when he offered me a job I took it.  It was just the two of us in his office in my little hometown, and between clients and court appearances we argued politics, traded gossip, talked about raising kids alone (his daughter and my son are the same age), and went to lunch together every day.  John was the most difficult person I have ever known:  he called me four times a day, every day, the entire time I worked for him, to make sure I was on time for work and really in the office while he was not; he expected me to pick up his laundry at the cleaner's and his daughter at school; he would deliberately take the other side in an argument, even if he didn't actually hold that opinion, just to have something to fight about; and he fired me at least three times and then called me an hour later to say he didn't mean it.  John was also one of the most intelligent men I have ever met, was a capable attorney (he would want you to know he had a 100% acquittal rate at jury trial), showed almost unbelievable generosity to his true friends (of which there were few), was the best father I have ever witnessed, and had a keen wit and sense of humor.  I adored John.  I didn't tell him that nearly often enough.

So while his last act was stupid, John was decidely not stupid.  Neither is his advice.  I am giving myself another week or so to consider whether what I'm thinking now is wise or merely a knee-jerk reaction to John's death, but for now the plan to put the Kelly House on the market is postponed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Having My Cake

Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale:  You can't have your cake and eat it too, in life.
Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier Beale:  Oh yes, I did.  I did.  I had my cake, loved it masticated it, chewed it and had everything I wanted.
The lines above are from the original "Grey Gardens" movie, the documentary filmed in 1979, and if you haven't seen that one then I highly recommend you rent it, if only because it will make you feel better about your own housekeeping abilities.  I feel very safe in saying that, even though I haven't actually seen your house, or yours, or even yours, because Big Edie and Little Edie were, quite possibly, the original hoarders.

But I digress.  What got me thinking about the Edies was that today, all day, I cleaned my house and sorted through things and dragged a couple of bags of junk out to the trash, and then one of my neighbors stopped by and said something like, "Don't you wish you didn't have to sell your house?" and after she left I sat in the middle of the front parlor just staring at the stained glass windows there all teary-eyed.  Of course I wish I didn't have to sell my house.  I wish, like Big Edie, I could have my cake and eat it, too.  In my case, "everything I wanted" would be both having the perfect guy and living in the perfect house with him.  I can have half of that:  either I can marry the perfect guy, and not live in the perfect house; or I can live in the perfect house and not marry the perfect guy.  The former seems a better choice.

I read back through that paragraph I just wrote, and it sounds incredibly spoiled.  It sounds like whining, and I hate whining.  I hardly ever whine, and usually when I do someone smacks me.  Maybe I need to be smacked.  I mean, really, what in the Sam Hill do I have to complain about?  I'm marrying a guy who is so thoughtful, kind, honest and loving that he really is darn near perfect.  We'll be living in a house that's not in a constant state of renovation, doesn't have cracked plaster ceilings, and won't cost 300 bucks a month to heat.  Those are good things.  They are.  Right?  I mean, right.  Right??  Someone smack me.  Please.