I ain’t afraid of no ghost–because I own a house

While home sick this week, I decided to take the opportunity to do something I never get to do now that I’m married. I watched a horror movie.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the Hubby can’t even handle the evil queen scenes in a Disney movie. The second there’s scary music and a darkened room, he’s out. When I started watching American Horror Story, I had to shut it off before he would even enter the room because the opening credits were too scary for him.  (Granted, I haven’t been in our basement since watching Murder House.  But the Hubby doesn’t need to know that!)

But he’s cute and he puts up with Downton Abbey, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and Orange is the New Black, despite claiming to hate all four of them (which is clearly a blatant lie, but whatever). And I prefer horror books to horror movies anyway, so I didn’t consider giving up my scary movies to be much of a sacrifice. And I can still watch them when he’s not home, which makes them even better because then I get the additional fear factor of NOT having him there to protect me from the evil monsters in the television.

So I sat down (okay laid down with Rosie, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues—I WAS sick after all) to watch The Conjuring. And wound up browsing Wayfair on my phone for living room furniture, the prices of which scared me more than the movie.

It’s not that I’m unscare-able. I’m quite scare-able. I still haven’t watched the clown doll scene in Poltergeist. I know the kid lives. I know the doll isn’t real. But as soon as it’s off that chair, I’m out. Too scary.

I think the real problem is home ownership. The premise of haunted house movies SHOULD terrify home owners. You’re moving into a new space and you have no idea what else could be living in there with you.   And that’s basically how every haunted house movie starts.

Although I’ve definitely gained a greater appreciation for why the family always stays in the house.  Like as a kid, I’d be yelling at the screen for the stupid family to just move out.  But now, I get it.  We sank our entire life-savings into our house, plus all of our wedding present money into fixing it up.  I don’t care if the walls bleed, there are monsters in the closets, or some demonic voices telling us to GET OUT.  I’ll tell them to either shut up or get out themselves.  We’re going nowhere!

However, since buying our dream house a year ago, I’ve discovered that there are far worse problems that a house can have than a couple of malicious spirits.

Like the toxic mold in our air vents. While the Hubby claims that I’m sick from October to April, that’s typically not entirely true. Yes, as a teacher, I get sick a little more often than the average professional (thanks, kids, for sneezing all over my computer keyboard every time you sit at it. I appreciate that oh so much). But I’ve had a chronic cough that no course of modern medicine or even good, old-fashioned chicken soup from my grandma will fix since we moved in. So the Hubby decided it was time to get the air vents cleaned. I agreed, bought a Groupon, and a nice Israeli man came and ripped all of our painted-over vents off the wall (thanks previous homeowners) and cleaned one square inch inside each one, then showed us what the rest of our vents looked like and told us the exorbitant sum it will cost to get that scum out of our house.

Pretty sure an exorcism is cheaper and more effective than that.

Not to mention the other problem that the air-vent skimmer showed us. Apparently our dryer vent was made of paper. Not metal. Not even plastic. Literal, flammable-as-all-hell paper.

Which, while scary, was not entirely surprising to us, because we have long-since discovered that the previous homeowners were the cheapest people on the planet. Mr. Previous Homeowner considered himself quite the handyman, and he therefore he did all of the wiring and electrical work in the house himself. Which means that everything is a fire-hazard. Our electrician’s eyes literally displayed dollar signs when he saw what was going on in our unlabeled fuse box.

But the fire hazards didn’t disappear when we fixed the wiring. When we pulled out the old, hideous wood-burning stove insert in the hopes of having a working fireplace, we discovered that there was no fireplace liner and that all of the 1970s tiles that predated liners in our chimney were cracked, coated in creosote from numerous chimney fires, and basically guaranteed to burn our house down if we even attempted to build a fire. Twenty-five hundred dollars later, we had a working fireplace.

Of course, the working fireplace was a necessity because every time the wind blows, a tree falls down in our backyard. Which was terrifying because many of those trees are close enough to our house to cause severe damage, but also because sometimes the trees don’t fall entirely–instead they have massive severed hanging limbs waiting to fall on poor innocent Rosie while she sniffs out the herds of deer and foxes that inherit our yard. And adding to the fear factor there is the price-tag that comes with any tree work.

Because as handy as Hubby and I can be, shimmying a tree with a chainsaw to hack off dangerously dangling limbs is not in our repertoire.

But the working fireplace is necessary for more than just the burning off all of the surfeit of wood that now takes up ¾ of our half-acre yard—because possibly one of the scariest things about home ownership is the cost of heating our house in winter. While I know that ghosts are said to lower the temperature in a house, they only do it in the rooms that they’re in. And our house is cold in all rooms. We replaced the ancient French patio doors that literally had gaps at the top and bottom and we put on fireplace doors, both of which helped. But keeping the house above 62 degrees costs more than a ten night Springsteen stand at the Meadowlands.

The bottom line of which is that I would gladly trade some poltergeists for certain elements of the realities of home-ownership. Granted, ghosts can interfere with a good night’s sleep, but I’m an insomniac anyway. And a haunting would provide excellent fodder for a new book, which could eventually help assuage some of the costs of our typical household horrors.

At least until we have kids. Because that looks like it hurts a lot and the cost of college these days is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Winter may be coming, but winter break can’t come soon enough!

Tomorrow begins my least favorite month of the year.

Stop calling me a Grinch! It’s not because I hate Christmas!

And for once, I actually have a boyfriend, so Christmas this year will not be spent sitting in a darkened room with my parents and grandparents watching Rooney Mara get anally raped.  

 (No, Goodmans don’t typically celebrate Christmas with voyeuristic sodomy. My family made me see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with them last year. And I had to watch that scene sandwiched between my mother and my grandmother. It was worse than the time my dog rolled in another dog’s excrement. We’re talking THAT level of bad.)

And it has nothing to do with my complete and utter lack of understanding of Christmas decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas. (Although I still don’t get why Christians make up random characters to go with their holidays. Jews have the Maccabees and Mordechai and Esther and all, but they are actually related to the holidays they go with. We don’t let a random fat man into our house to lure our children under a tree with presents. Nor do we send our kids to go sit on a strange man’s lap at the mall. Seriously, how does no one recognize that Santa is creepy? And wtf is up with a giant pink bunny hiding eggs? Bunnies don’t even lay eggs! That’s just confusing and equally creepy if it’s the same guy in the bunny suit as in the Santa costume!)

No, December is my least favorite month for three reasons: Hanukkah, cold weather, and school.

Let’s go in order, shall we?

Hanukkah is the world’s worst holiday. And the world’s best holiday because my parents still get me eight wonderful night’s worth of presents. And Sara loves her presents. (Hint hint loyal readers, my shoe size is 8 ½, Ulta gift cards are lovely, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just saying.)

But Jewish guilt then demands that I make sure that my parents both have presents to open for each of the eight nights. Stupid? Yes. But I’m not telling my parents that it’s okay to not give ME a present for any of the eight nights, so they need something too. Even if it’s something little. And my dad hasn’t purchased a present for my mom since I was 12 (in some indeterminate year in the 1990s. I will give you no more clues to my age than that!), when he started dropping me off at the mall with a credit card and saying “buy your mother something nice.”

The problem? My mom hates everything. Like she’ll literally pick out a present, tell me she wants it, send me all over creation to find it, then decide she doesn’t really want it and make me return it. She doesn’t return it. I have to return it.

Add in that I hate malls, hate the Christmas music that blares in malls at this time of year incessantly (except the Bruce versions, which are acceptable year round), hate holiday shoppers, and hate crowds, and this time of year becomes the stuff of nightmares.

This year, I came up with a solution to the What-to-Get-My-Parents problem. I sent them the following email.

Okay parentals, we have reached the point where you need to give me Hanukkah ideas. I have one tiny present for dad, nothing for mom. Failure to respond to this email with ideas for yourself and/or each other will result in me getting a tattoo of “Mom” in a heart on one butt cheek, “Dad” in a heart on the other, and I will personally deliver and show off said presents at your respective places of business. So please give me some ideas because I really don’t want that crap tattooed on my ass. K thanks bye.

Mom replied that she would work on it.

Dad didn’t reply.

And when I called my dad to tell him that I was on the way to the tattoo parlor to get his present, he said “Cool. Have fun.”

Thanks dad. Really. That was helpful.

Worst holiday ever. And therefore the panic attacks leading up to it when I have to come up with eight things to give my mother (she wants a grandchild, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have decided that if we DO have a child in the future, we are naming him Jesus Nixon the Baptist III, just to piss my parents off. But that’s one present she’s NOT getting any time soon!) make December the worst month ever.

And even worse? It’s cold out. I’m a warm weather girl. I drive a convertible. I love the beach. And I REALLY hate shivering in the freezing pre-dawn air waiting for my dog to sniff out the one and only spot that she finds worthy of receiving her bodily excretions. (As a teacher, I’m not supposed to use profanity in my daily life, so I need to find creative ways to explain the process my dog uses in finding a spot to shit. Oops. Sorry mama.)

Is it winter break yet? OH WAIT, I still have three full weeks of school to teach in the worst teaching month. Because as kids get closer to time off from school, their behavior gets exponentially worse until even the best behaved students turn into something out of Lord of the Flies, complete with a conch shell, spears, hunting a beast, and killing a fat kid. Add the possibility of snow? You don’t want to think about that. Add in the fact that they KNOW a break is coming, that they’re getting presents, and that it might snow?

If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my desk, rocking like an autistic child. Just 75 more classes to teach after today until winter break. FML.

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend, Ary!  Love ya!

Who gets sick over winter break? Oh wait, me… but it’s Delaware’s fault!

Two weeks ago, I felt like I was coming down with a cold. No big deal, I thought. People get colds all the time. This was on Monday.

By Tuesday, I was running a fever and was pretty sure I was going to die. But again, I figured it was just a cold and that I could tough it out until the end of the week, then take winter break to recover. I’m not a big fan of using my sick days unless Bruce is touring, at which point I tend to come down with a mysterious ailment that flares up whenever he’s playing anywhere on the East coast, clears up at the end of the tour, and returns as soon as a new tour starts.

Unfortunately, Bruce wasn’t touring and it wasn’t a cold. I had contracted the dreaded flu.

Which makes ZERO sense, because I got a flu shot.

Of course, I get a flu shot every year, and it makes no difference, because I seem to get the flu every year.

My uncle (an ER doctor) told me that the reason for this is that the flu vaccine only contains the most common strains of that year’s flu, so it’s not uncommon to get the flu even after getting a flu shot.

But I’m not buying that explanation. I know the truth.

Well, okay, I don’t KNOW the truth. But I have several very plausible conspiracy theories that make better explanations.

Theory #1: It’s a plot on the part of my students to punish me for assigning them a research paper on Huck Finn. I don’t think they actually have their acts together enough to perpetrate germ warfare terrorism on this level, but when I thought about what group of people had the strongest reason to want to punish me, my students ranked high on the list. And it wouldn’t be all that hard for them to do. They’d just have to find sick people and get them to sneeze on their papers. I then handle the papers and boom! I’m sick. But kids, if it WAS you, please remember that I HAD to give you that paper. The county says so. Trust me, I’d rather write one Huck Finn paper than grade sixty of them! It’s not me you should be punishing!

Theory #2: Montgomery County has figured out that the majority of my absences coincide with Springsteen tour dates and decided to make sure that I got sick during a break so that I couldn’t use the break for anything fun. Basically they could do it the same way the kids could: infect a paper then give it to me as a memo or something. Again, unlikely, however, because I doubt the county has time to check my absences against Bruce’s tour schedule. And I’m 99 percent sure that if they can’t afford to give us raises, they’re not funding germ warfare.

Theory #3: Government Conspiracy A. This one really only applies if a lot of other teachers had the flu over break too, which I’ll find out today and get back to you on. Because what if the flu shot doesn’t REALLY do anything, and you need to GET the flu to be immune to this strain of it? I could see them infecting all the teachers during a break when we’re already going to be home and therefore saving money on substitute teachers. Think about it. It’s actually a smart plan!

Theory #4: Government Conspiracy B: The government is responsible for spreading the rumor that the flu shot makes you sick because they don’t actually have enough to inoculate everyone who would get it otherwise, and when they read my blog post about the flu shot NOT getting you sick, they realized I had to be stopped, so they infected me to keep me from blogging (which was actually quite effective for those couple weeks if that IS the case).

Theory #5: It’s Delaware’s fault. Right before I got sick, I went to New Jersey for a concert. Now I KNOW New Jersey didn’t get me sick, because I love New Jersey. I mean, if I’d been in Seaside Heights and contracted an STD, then it’d be a Jersey Shore thing, but I’m pretty sure Asbury Park isn’t spreading diseases. But I DID have to drive through Delaware to get to New Jersey. And stupid me, I stopped at the rest stop there to go to the bathroom and get gas. Which means that if Delaware WAS trying to silence me because of my blog about how much I hate their state, they definitely had the opportunity.

My best guess? Theory #5. Because when in doubt, I choose to blame Delaware. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the South Park movie would have been FAR more successful if the song was “Blame Delaware” instead of “Blame Canada.” Just to be safe, next time I head North, I’m keeping my windows tightly up and not stopping until I’m safely out of the state. I’m onto you Delaware, you’re not going to get ME sick again!

Two weeks later, I’m finally feeling mostly better. But I WILL find a way to retaliate Delaware. You’d better start sleeping with one eye open.

Just saying.

It’s cold and dark. This time of year would be awesome… if I were a vampire!

It’s currently my least favorite time of the year.

No, I don’t mean the Christmas season.

I mean it’s cold outside.

Because I hate cold weather the way I hate people who go ten miles per hour UNDER the speed limit when they drive past a speed camera.

Okay, that’s not ENTIRELY true. I like the cooler weather for about a week because I enjoy getting to wear my leather jacket and cute boots. And I like those newsboy hats that you can’t wear in warmer weather without looking like a jackass or a Britney Spears wannabe (and honestly, despite the successes she’s had, Britney Spears is the LAST thing I want to be).

But the novelty of my colder weather clothes wears off really, REALLY quickly.

And then I start wanting to make like a bird and fly south.

Which is where having a full-time job REALLY gets in the way.

I like almost everything about spring and summer better than fall and winter. I love wearing sandals. I hate wearing socks. I love wearing dresses. And I REALLY hate having to choose between wearing stockings and freezing when I wear a dress.

The last two years have been even worse on me though. Not because of the snow storms, but because I now have Rosie. When it’s warm out, I don’t mind throwing on a pair of boxer shorts and flip flops and taking her out in the morning or late at night. When it’s cold out, however, and I have to put on pants, a sweatshirt, a jacket, boots, a hat, and gloves, I mind. Because after you bundle up THAT much and go freeze outside waiting for Rosie to go, there’s no falling back asleep.

This is why I think global warming is such a gyp. It’s called global WARMING. In theory, if I start using aerosol hair sprays like it’s my job, stop recycling, use plastic at all times, leave all the lights on in my house at all times, and basically do everything I can to waste as much energy as possible, it SHOULD make the planet warmer.

No, I’m not stupid, I know it doesn’t work that way. And despite hating the cold weather, I’m kinda tempted to buy an electric car to get a polar bear to hug me, because I think this commercial is adorable.

(Although the making-of-the-commercial video is kind of cooler than the commercial itself.)

Global warming, in a lot of cases, does the exact opposite of what it sounds like it would do. And none of the movies about what’s going to happen are remotely accurate either. In the case of Waterworld, that’s a damn good thing because I get majorly seasick and would have to kill myself it the icecaps melting meant that the entire world would be underwater. Besides, I’d NEVER be able to get rid of the jewfro if there was that much water around. Suicide would, in fact, be my only option.

I do have to say though, that SOMETIMES, the climate change can work in my favor. If the freak snowstorms that hit the DC area last year (and I refuse to use the term “Snow-mageddon,” no matter what. When The Washington Post ran a contest to decide what to call the storms, I voted to call the storms “Kaiser Snow-se,” and I will not acknowledge the far inferior choice that the rest of the DC area made) are the result of climate change, I’m 100 percent in favor of it.

But Sara, you HATED walking Rosie in the snow!

Yes. But I LOVED getting nine days off of school that we didn’t have to make up. Because unlike everyone else, who went so stir crazy that they started writing Redrum on the walls and chasing their families with axes, Shining-style, I can entertain myself in the house for days on end.

But I think the worst thing about this particular time of year isn’t even the cold weather. It’s the time change. I mean, I LOVED the extra hour of sleep Saturday night (not that Rosie let me enjoy it… she just jumped on my face to wake me up an hour earlier Sunday morning. I need to train her to wake me up in a better way. The pouncing on my head method is unpleasant to say the least.

I also appreciate the time change in the morning, when for a couple of days, it feels like I’m getting up at 6:30am instead of 5:30am. And as an insomniac night owl, I fall asleep a little easier for the first couple of nights when my body thinks I’m going to sleep later.

But I REALLY hate the afternoons, when it gets dark at like 2:30. Because the problem is that from November to March, I don’t see the sun at all on school days. And while I know vampires are totally hot right now, and while I’d TOTALLY be willing to keep these hours for Eric Northman, I really start resenting school when it keeps me from even seeing five minutes of sunlight a day.

Short of building a machine with the exact opposite purpose of the one Mr. Burns used to block out the sun or moving to a spot smack dab on the equator, where the days stay the same length at all times, I don’t have a solution to this problem.

So if anyone has the smarts and resources to build a darkness-blocking-out device, or the funds to move me and all my stuff to a warmer climate, please let me know. I’ll be extremely grateful.