And just like that, it was done

Last week was a bit of a stress fest thanks to the buyer for our house being out of town the week before and not getting her paperwork completed in time for us to close via FedEx on Thursday, which had been the plan ever since she chose the one day in September that would not work for us as the closing date. People from our realtor’s office kept sending me documents from the buyer’s real estate agent that referenced Friday for closing, and I kept emailing back, “How many times do I have to tell you guys that we are going to be out of town Friday?!”

Finally I sent a stern email letting them know that if we did not receive the documents by 3 p.m. on Thursday everything would be signed on Monday, meaning the buyer would not be able to move in that weekend.

That seemed to light a fire under someone’s ass, because around 2:45 p.m. Thursday I got everything emailed to me. Then I had to rush over to BlueCross so Ian and I could print and sign it all in front of a notary. Luckily the notary there was cool with notarizing things on Thursday with Friday’s date, too. Jeez.

I emailed everything back, and we ran by FedEx before they closed later that evening to overnight the originals. We crossed our fingers it would get there in time and then left Friday morning for our trip to Music Midtown. Friday afternoon I got an email saying the buyer’s agent had forgotten to include some papers and could we please sign and return them sometime that day. Um, no. Like I had been saying for more than a month—we were not available on Friday. I mean, Jesus Christ on ice skates, people.

The papers weren’t anything that would hold up the buyer taking possession, though, so as far as we know she was moving into the house as we were enjoying festival beers and watching CAKE. Everybody wins! (We signed and emailed back the additional papers this morning, so we should be all square now. Although I won’t be surprised if I get another email asking for more signatures next week.)

Yesterday afternoon FedEx knocked on our door as I was working and handed me a check for the proceeds from the sale. I was expecting it to take a week or so to get the money, so that was a very nice surprise. And we both got emails from SunTrust saying our mortgage had been paid off—well, I got one saying our payment due was $0 and Ian got one saying our monthly billing had been canceled, which seems right in line with the slightly confusing way SunTrust likes to do business.

So, I guess we’re done. It’s been kind of anti-climactic, but I guess that’s what happens when you close via FedEx and not in person. It was no less stressful, that’s for sure.

Oh, and here’s something that our parents never could have done when they sold their first house: I looked up the person who bought our house on Facebook. Her mother was her real estate agent, so I figured she had to be young and, therefore, would have a Facebook account. I was right. I saw that on Friday she changed her profile picture to show her holding up the keys to the house and she seemed really excited to be moving in. So that made me feel good, although the whole thing is still kind of bittersweet.

I had to laugh, though, because Ian’s camouflage key—the one he had made as a joke—was right there, front and center, in the picture. So I wonder now if she’s trying to figure out if we are rednecks who just happen to have liked a modern, funky color scheme.

Music Midtown: Waterlogged edition

This weekend Ian and I drove down to Atlanta (now only an hour and a half away!) for Music Midtown, a festival we attended last year and really enjoyed. Two of our friends from Murfreesboro met us in Chattanooga Friday morning and we caravaned down there together; my youngest sister Emily was supposed to come too but ended up having a scheduling conflict. Sadface.

Gates opened at 4 p.m. on Friday, and we made it into the park right around that time so we could buy some beer and get the lay of the land before CAKE came on at 7:30. We sat on the grass at the top of a hill and listened to 2 Chainz (who is just really awful) and then to Phoenix for a while before heading over to the newly added Roxy stage (last year there were only two stages) to see CAKE.

Art wall

Sidenote: Last year this festival was perfect because they only had two stages and they alternated acts on each stage so you never had to miss anyone. You just walked back and forth between the two stages. This year, though, they added a third stage and acts were no longer staggered so you had to pick and choose who you wanted to see. And despite the third stage being all the way out in BFE, you could still hear music from the other stage that had an artist on at the time. So no matter where you were in the park, at any given moment, you heard the artist on the stage you were closest to but then you could also hear the other stage buzzing in your ear like an annoying bee.

And I get it, that’s what pretty much every other festival does these days, but some asshole decided to put CAKE and Jane’s Addiction on at the same goddamn time Friday. And despite what seemed like half of the entire Internet complaining about this scheduling snafu on the festival’s Facebook page leading up to the event, it was never changed. I mean, what the hell is social media good for if it can’t help me see both CAKE and Jane’s Addiction at a festival?!

I was really torn because these two bands were two thirds of who I was most excited about seeing over the course of the entire fest, but CAKE has been one of my favorite bands for at least 15 years and I’ve never gotten to see them live before. So I was determined to see them, and everyone else with me decided that’s who they wanted to watch, too.

Holy shit it was a great show. It really was. My friend Alex convinced us to stand up front fairly close to the stage, and though usually I don’t like the crush of the crowd, this time it was worth it. Lead singer John McCrea sounded amazing and was very interactive with the crowd—something I love at live shows. And played almost every song I wanted to hear—even Love You Madly, during which I made Ian hold my hands and dance with me. Corny, sure, but we never do anything romantic so I’m giving myself a pass here.

There were the usual assholes ignoring festival etiquette and trying to push their way past us halfway through the show, but Alex and I were having none of it. The first offenders were a group of men who looked to be in their 40s; we shamed all but one of them into moving back behind us where they had started. Then a couple of hipster kids tried to shove me out of the way so they could stand in front of us, but they were short and I am tall (and surprisingly good at planting myself on the ground like a block of cement) so that didn’t happen. Alex and I stuck our elbows out toward each other and formed a sort of dickbag-denying gate that nobody was allowed through unless they were just passing by. It worked pretty well, and by the end of the show we had even made friends with the lone holdout from the earlier group of old guys.

I found the large number of kids jumping around and singing along with “Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle” without a single hint of irony quite amusing, too. As I did the people who watched the show through smartphones they held in front of their faces taking pictures while McCrea gave a big speech about how we need to just enjoy moments as moments, reassuring us that things still happened even if we didn’t post about them online as they were happening. Wait, does that make me an asshole for blogging about my experience? I kept my iPhone in my backpack for the entire show, so that should redeem me at least a little bit.

The last show of the night was Journey, but we stuck to the very back since the crowd was huge (and Ian and I saw Journey last year anyway). They were good, but since none of us are huge Journey fans we took off a bit early to beat the rush of people leaving the festival right when it ended at 11 p.m.

Journey #latergram

Speaking of assholes, as we were walking up a hill toward the exit Alex accidentally stepped on someone who was sitting down but didn’t realize it. Ian leaned down to apologize on Alex’s behalf, and the guy started yelling at him. Ian kept walking, but as I passed the guy he yelled after them, “I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU!!!”

I’m not really sure why I didn’t just let it go, but I leaned down and asked him if he was serious. He started yelling in my face about killing all of us again, and I very calmly said, “Ok, well he works for the Highway Patrol.” The girl with him immediately started hitting him and telling him to shut up, and he got this dumb look on his face and started sputtering apologies. I told him to be careful who he yells death threats at in the future and walked away.

Sure, it was a lie—he hasn’t worked for the Highway Patrol for two months now. And he wasn’t a cop when he did work for them. I’m not really sure why I said anything except that he was threatening my husband and friends and my first instinct was to kick him in the head. This was what my brain came up with as an alternative. But it seemed to scare the shit out of the kid, and maybe he’ll think twice before he tells any more strangers that he’s going to kill them. It seems like there could be pretty bad consequences for doing that.

I guess people were just feeling saucy that night, because as we were in the slow crush of people leaving the gates in a cattle-like formation, I heard someone behind me yell, “Hey bitch! Move! Move bitch!” I turned around and saw a girl being supported by two friends, and asked if she was talking to me. She immediately started apologizing, and her friends apologized as well. They unnecessarily explained that she was very drunk, and added that it was her first concert. I told her to be sure to drink a lot of water or she would feel like crap the next day, she thanked me, and we went our separate ways.

Kids. I tell you.

Saturday morning we woke up and saw that it was raining and was expected to rain all day—something we had planned for but were hoping wouldn’t actually happen. Unfortunately, it turned out to be way worse than we had anticipated. We left the hotel around noon to get into the festival in time to see Weezer, who was playing at 2:30, and it was only drizzling. By the time we got into the festival grounds, though, three of us had put on the ponchos I’d bought at a dollar store before leaving town. We got beers and hung out for a while under a tree for some extra cover listening to The Neighborhood (who were decent) and Reignwolf (who were terrible). By the time Weezer finished their set at 3:30 we were completely, utterly soaked. I had on water-resistant shorts, a hat, a rain jacket, and a poncho covering all that and I was soaked to the bone within an hour. Everything inside my Camelback was wet. Ian’s beer seemed never-ending due to all of the rain that fell into it.

Weezer through a ziplock bag

It was completely miserable. The rain alternated between what I would call heavy rain, driving rain and a goddamn monsoon. There was no avoiding it. There were no tents to stand under unless you had a Super VIP ticket. I felt really bad for people who hadn’t prepared and showed up wearing jeans and no jacket whatsoever. You know how terrible wet jeans feel? They were stuck wearing wet, cold jeans in the middle of a park that was quickly turning into a field of mud.

We all decided that conditions were too miserable to stick it out all day, so we decided to walk back to the hotel to regroup and go get something to eat. We took showers and dried out our stuff (seriously, I had to peel apart the cash that had been in my wallet—in the middle of the bag—and lay it on the TV cabinet to dry out), and then met up with our friends to go grab some food and drinks at 5 Seasons, a great restaurant nearby that Ian and I visited every time we were in Atlanta last year.

Drying out with some beer and rabbit, duck, alligator and antelope (black bean burger for me).

After 5 Seasons we hit up the pub across the street from the hotel so the guys could get their famous duck quesadilla (yes, even though we had just eaten dinner), but once we discovered their extensive menu of hand-crafted cocktails we decided to stick around. Ian was up for heading back to catch the Red Hot Chili Peppers at 9 p.m. since it had quit raining, but we were all three sheets to the wind by then (and I was not to keen on having to use the port-a-potties at the end of a very muddy day) so we opted to just stay at the bar.

Ian and I at dinner. Thanks @reidiii for the picture!

I would have liked to have seen more acts on Saturday, but considering the weather I’m convinced we made the right decision. Plus, at $90 it was still a decent value for what we did see—I know I’d pay more than that just to see CAKE and Weezer. I guess that’s the risk you take with a fall festival in the South.

Next year, though, we’re going VIP. There are all kinds of perks, but I was sold when I saw that the private VIP bathrooms aren’t port-a-potties but real, actual bathrooms in a trailer. Bathrooms that are cleaned. Air-conditioned. And, most importantly, since unlimited beer and wine is included: There were never any lines.

I’m so in.

Mark it

Last night around midnight, after a full day of fun and shenanigans, I discovered my first* gray hair. It’s small–new growth–and is more white than gray.

I’ve been waiting for this. I’m not going to pluck it. Bring on the silver!

*A few years ago I discovered what I thought was a gray hair, but upon further inspection I think it was just one of my lighter hairs that had been bleached blonde by the sun.

A symphony of meowing

We knew moving the cats to another city would be an ordeal. On July 20, we loaded each of them into their own carrier and then into the back seat of my car, the rest of which was packed full of everything we didn’t want the moving company to handle that we hadn’t already moved to Chattanooga the weekend before. Ian drove his car, too, which was also packed to the gills with our belongings. We were basically the Clampetts.

BK cried the whole way. But Gordo, who nine years ago when we moved completely flipped his shit—sending three grown men running—was completely calm. He chilled in his cat carrier the whole way down, even over the mountain when BK was singing the blues louder than the music I was playing.

King Boo was silent. He was so scared. Every once in a while I heard him whimper in response to BK’s cries, but for the most part he sat wide-eyed and frozen.

BK has been singing the blues the whole way. She especially hates rain showers and driving up the mountain (but was cool with driving down it).

When we arrived at our new apartment, Ian went up first to make sure the sealant on the floor was dry (they had resealed the concrete a few days prior), and then we hauled all three carriers up all three flights of stairs because the elevator was broken. Of course.

We set the carriers in the bedroom and closed the door so the cats wouldn’t be overwhelmed by too many new sights and smells immediately. We opened all three carrier doors and sat down on the floor, but only Gordo would come out. Considering he had screamed and cried and had to be drugged with both thorazine and valium the last time we moved, I was in awe of how normal he was acting. He literally did not have one shit to give about being uprooted from his previous life and home. He just wanted to check things out.

But after he walked around a bit, he must have noticed that the other two cats were still scared. And then I witnessed what is probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen a cat do: He started comforting BK and King Boo. He crawled into BK’s carrier and laid with her for a while, purring. Then he got up and crawled into King Boo’s carrier and did the same thing. He went back and forth, mashing himself in there on top of them, purring and cuddling. Let me note: None of these cats *ever* cuddle with each other. They get along, but they have never ever cuddled. I’m no veterinarian, but I saw this as him going out of his way to comfort his brother and sister because he knew they were scared.

Is it possible to feel your heart break and swell at the same time? Because that’s how I felt watching him.

Gordo knows King Boo is scared so he got in his carrier with him.

Eventually, BK and King Boo came out of their carriers to eat and drink and use the litter box we set up in the bedroom. Ian and I inflated the air mattress we’d brought with us and piled blankets on it, and later that night we had all three cats sleeping on it with us.

But poor King Boo was more nervous that weekend than I’d ever seen him. He’s always been affectionate with me, but Saturday night he made sure that at any given moment he was touching some part of my body. Instead of sleeping above the covers in the crook of my knee like he usually does, he burrowed under the blankets and wedged himself right next to my stomach, making sure that he was as close to me as possible. It was like I was the only thing in the world he trusted to keep him safe.

I left Sunday evening to drive back to Murfreesboro since I had to meet the movers the next day, and Ian said King Boo slept right up next to him that night. But by the time I got back to Chattanooga on Tuesday night, he was right as rain. A little freaked out by all of the boxes, but he was back to strutting as he walked.

BK was depressed for a couple weeks after the move, but we made an effort to pay extra attention to her every day and it seems to have helped. She is mostly back to normal now, although we do still find her sleeping in the bed a lot instead of hanging out in the living room with us in the evenings. I’ve always heard that female cats are more territorial than males, though, so I imagine she is holding a grudge because we took her away from the house she diligently guarded for nine years.

Quick programming note

I’m not sure if anyone else still uses RSS, but just in case: I’ve changed my feed from FeedBurner to FeedPress after noticing that FeedBurner wasn’t updating on a consistent basis. So, if you would like to continue to read (or start reading) my blog via your RSS reader, here’s the new feed. I’ve redirected the old FeedBurner feed, too, so you might not have to do anything. Until Google screws that up, I guess.

Oh, and if you’re still trying to find a new home for all of your RSS feeds after Google Reader left you at the altar, I highly suggest NewsBlur. The training feature is worth the price of a one-year subscription alone.

A farewell letter to our house

You were our first.

You were the house we bought after dating for only four months, prompting some people to say we were doing it wrong, and that according to Dave Ramsey we were going to fail. Nine years later, you were the house that helped prove them wrong. (Also, fuck Dave Ramsey.)

Your walls housed us through five collective jobs, and saw three different cars parked out front. We had to fight our neighbors often to be able to park in front of you, but most of the time we won.

For the first several years of your existence, while the neighborhood was still being completed, you saw a steady stream of stray cats on your back porch. Among them were Big Head Todd, Thundercat, Nutz, a little silver and black striped guy, Chamberlain, and two sets of “King Boo’s kittens.” One time we let BK out on the back porch by herself and found her kicking the shit out of Big Head Todd, who had recently peed on our front window screen. It was at this moment that we realized our delicate, purebred flower was in fact a raging badass.

Eventually one of the strays stuck around a bit longer than the rest, and after discovering he had diabetes we moved him inside to live out the remainder of his years in comfort. We scattered his ashes around your perimeter when he died earlier this year, so I guess he’s staying with you. (RIP, Evil Twin.)


You were the only place I lived in Murfreesboro that really felt like home. You were really ours. You saw us change your wall colors after months of painstakingly applying test coats. You watched us slowly replace our college furniture with high-quality, “adult” pieces. You allowed us to become thrifty, DIY homeowners as we upgraded your fixtures and learned how to fix parts of you that broke. One New Year’s, we spent three days on our hands and knees installing a beautiful laminate floor. I loved that floor.

Project 365 | Jan. 12

Almost every October we hosted a Halloween party, and we’d spend hours cleaning and decorating your downstairs in anticipation. We’d then spend the entire next day lounging in your living room, recuperating and eating the leftovers our friends had generously brought with them to the party. We amassed quite a Rock Band and Guitar Hero collection for these parties over the years (a collection that I’ve since sold to a co-worker), and we spent many late nights drunkenly singing and playing guitar with friends.

Justin Bieber plays guitar

Each December, Ian stood precariously atop a folding chair and strung white icicle lights along the front porch to welcome in the Christmas season. One year, we left those lights up a day past New Year’s and got a warning letter from the homeowners’ association. But that was back when the neighborhood was new. It’s since become routine to see the sidewalks littered with trash and children’s bicycles deposited haphazardly throughout the shared grassy areas, forgotten for weeks at a time.

In the spring, every time the wind blew a bit too hard I would worry painfully as we drove home that you wouldn’t be standing when we arrived. But each time we rounded the corner at Lansdan Drive there you would be, peeking through those gigantic, old trees like a sentinel.

I loved those trees, and the way the path they lined led right up to you. One year, one of the trees was struck by lightning and had to be removed. It was a spectacular storm, but I wondered how long that path had remained unmarred before then.

Me in my trees

You felt every single one of our growing pains. For nine years you listened to us cry, fight, love and laugh—the latter two more frequently than the former, luckily.

You were a great house, and we’ll miss you.