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.

New Jersey may smell like Old Jersey… but I secretly love it anyway!

I have a secret crush on the state of New Jersey.

I hide my love for the armpit of America well. I joke about the state and the people who live there often, but I’m secretly jealous of New Jerseyites and wish that I lived there too.

You may ask why I would love a state like New Jersey. It’s one of the smelliest states in America (drive through Elizabeth, New Jersey with your windows open if you don’t believe me), you can’t make a left turn anywhere in the entire state, the accents are ridiculously annoying, a lot of the shore towns are beyond trashy, and every summer hoards of horrible “bennies” descend and manage to make the cast of Jersey Shore look classy.

I’m not even going to try to dispute any of the negatives. They’re all true. And not in a charming way. In fact, the unofficial state song, “Born to Run,” is about getting the hell OUT of there.

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (Official Music Video)

But New Jersey has a lot going for it that no other state can boast.

For example, it’s hard to hate a state with so many beaches. I love the beach and hate that all Maryland has is Ocean City. For anyone who hasn’t been to Maryland’s Eastern shore, it’s kind of like Seaside Heights from season one of Jersey Shore, but with WAY less hot people. In fact, most of the people in Ocean City, Maryland look like Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies. 

Only instead of eating a baby, they’re shoving funnel cake and french fries down their throats so fast that you can actually watch their fat expanding. Jersey beaches have their share of fat, ugly people, but with so much more coastline to spread them out along, the ratio of fat people to attractive people is much lower and therefore makes going to the beach a far more pleasant experience.

One of my favorite things about Jersey is that the music scene there is ONLY topped by the music scene in New York City. And it’s close enough to NYC that you can get there easily for other concerts too. I don’t know exactly what it is that makes Jersey bands so good. Maybe it’s something in the water (although even suggesting that jokingly makes me think of Blinky, the three-eyed fish created by the pollution from the nuclear power plant on The Simpsons).

Or maybe it’s because New Jersey is mocked on such a widespread level that bands coming from there feel that they have more to prove to the world. But whatever it is, it works.

Two of my New Jersey favorites: The Gaslight Anthem and Bruce Springsteen

 The New Jersey Turnpike often sucks, especially as you get closer to New York City, but I have to say, New Jersey drivers are WAY better than drivers in most of the rest of the country. 

The reason for this is that New Jersey drivers understand that you’re supposed to drive on the right and pass on the left. DC, Maryland, and Virginia drivers don’t get this concept. In Maryland, it’s completely normal to see people driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit in the far left lane. In New Jersey, no one does that unless they’re from out of state. I’d trade our left turns for drivers who know what they’re doing any day. 

In fact, if people in Maryland knew which lane they belonged in, I might be able to be on time more often! (Okay, probably not. But it’s possible.)

People in New Jersey may pump their fists, but they DON’T have to pump their own gas. 

They’re actually not ALLOWED to. When I started college and met my first New Jersey natives, I found it hilarious that they didn’t know how to pump their own gas. 

But once I’d driven to New Jersey and experienced this myself, I started wondering why the rest of the world isn’t as awesome as New Jersey is. I’m not exactly Miss Feminism; I like it when people open doors for me and are extra nice to me because I’m a girl. So do I want a nice man to pump my gas for me? Why yes, I do indeed. And gas prices are even LOWER in New Jersey. On road trips, I tend to coast into the state on fumes, just to experience the joys of New Jersey gas stations. It’s not that I MIND pumping my own gas. It’s just so much nicer when I don’t have to. A gas jockey at a New Jersey station even killed a spider in my car for me one time. That just doesn’t happen in other states.

So New Jersey, I know everyone makes fun of you, but some of us are just jealous. And the rest of the haters just don’t know what they’re missing. 

And to everyone who has been reading this whole post expecting me to talk about how my favorite person in the whole world is a New Jersey native, give me a little credit here.

Dr. House is just the icing on the cake. 😉 

I have the best dog in the world… but she’s an evil super genius.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m obsessed with three things. Shoes, Bruce Springsteen, and my dog, Rosie.

Well I already wrote about shoes, and I pretty much wrote a book about loving Bruce (Literally. Beyond the Palace. Go buy it. It’s awesome even if you don’t like Bruce. I promise), so it’s time to talk about Rosie (whose name is short for Rosalita, and she likes to eat my shoes, so she does tie in to my other two big obsessions as well).

One of my biggest fears was always that I might someday turn into a crazy cat lady. You know, those old women who live with a million cats that they call their babies (and which, on The Simpsons at least, they use as projectile weapons).

This fear was compounded by the fact that I hate cats. A lot. Like more than I hate people who can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re” and the Cowboys put together. Therefore, to become a cat lady would truly be a fate worse than death.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and avoid the cat lady destiny by getting a dog. I’d had a miniature schnauzer growing up and wanted another one.

When I told my parents about this plan, my dad laughed at me for about ten minutes, then finally said, “You can’t even keep a plant alive! What makes you think you could handle a dog?”

(It’s true. I can’t keep a plant alive. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I water them, I talk to them, I even name them. My favorite was named Robert. Robert Plant. Get it? Although I got a LOT of weird looks from people when I told them that I’d killed Robert Plant. And explaining that it was an ACTUAL plant, not the guy from Led Zepplin didn’t make people think I was any less bizarre. Oh well. I just don’t tell people that I stuck a sheet of paper on the wall next to Robert and named it Jimmy.)

But despite my dad’s objections, I stuck to my guns and got Rosie.

And quickly realized that I knew NOTHING about dogs. The last time I had a puppy, I was a year old. And I didn’t realize just how much puppies enjoy peeing on the rug. Or that when they throw up, they eat it. Fun stuff like that.

Of course, Rosie also turned out to be an evil super genius.

For a while there, I pictured her internal monologue as sounding like Stewie from Family Guy, because she made several attempts to kill me.

We would take naps together and I would wake up as she was lunging for my throat. She’s also taken the bathmat and bathroom rug out of the bathroom while I was showering, in a clear attempt at matricide.

She grew out of that phase pretty quickly. Then she entered her Houdini period. Rosie can somehow escape from anything. She can get out of her locked crate with no trouble at all (and eventually made locking it impossible by chewing the door out of shape. See? She’s smart). I used to keep her babygated in the kitchen while I was at work. But after a couple of weeks of that, every time I came home, she was sitting on the sofa.

And one time when I came home, she was in the kitchen, but she had somehow managed to leave me a little present in the dining room. Meaning one of three things: 1) she got out, pooped on the rug, then climbed back over the babygate into the kitchen to look innocent, 2) some other dog broke into my house, pooped in the dining room, then left, or 3) Rosie can throw poop. All three of those scenarios worry me.

I finally gave up on the babygate situation.

Her next phase was quite a test for me as her mother, but I hope that I passed it, because I accept her no matter who she is.

Which I’m pretty sure is a lesbian.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But I first got suspicious when she ate several holes in the carpet.

Next she started trying to eat my underwear. Like she literally ate a hole in my laundry hamper to get to them.

Then she became a peeping tom. Whenever I take a shower, I hear a little rustling sound, and then this cute little face peeks around the shower curtain at me. Which would be much cuter if I didn’t get the feeling that she was doing that because I’m naked.

She’s also been known to hump boy dogs. We had a little talk about the birds and the bees after she started doing that, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped the problem.

Rosie also seems confused about what type of animal a schnauzer is. She likes to lie on the back of the sofa and lick her paws like a cat. She won’t walk over a grate and eats grass like a cow. She likes to pounce on her stuffed animals and rip their throats out like a lion. And she walks on her hind legs a fair bit like a person.  She also does a pretty good impression of Batman.

But I think there’s a good reason for her confusion. She looks exactly like my dad.

They have the same beard. They make the same faces.

And he’s her favorite person in the world, which I think is because she thinks that HE is, in fact, a giant schnauzer and that she will look like him when she grows up. Which is entirely possible. Because I think she looks like him now.

I think my favorite thing about Rosie though (other than how cute she is!), is that she has a favorite tv show. House. She hears the theme music and comes running into the room, jumps on the sofa, and watches intently for the full hour. And God help the person who tries to shut it off while she’s watching. The cable went out one time during a rerun, and she bit me.

Not that I blame her. Hugh Laurie IS pretty freaking awesome.