Sunday Lowdown #163


Like, I knooooow stuff happened this week, but all I can think of is on Thursday we bought a house. Sit in a conference room, sign fifty thousand documents you don’t understand, and then a stranger slides you a key — like, bought-bought a house. But the odd thing is you don’t feel like you bought the house. It’s far from being paid off, someone else possessed it not five minutes ago, realtors and prospective buyers walked all up in it. And now it’s yours because of some paper??? (well, and a substantial money wire). Weeeeeird.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, so things felt fortuitous. The previous homeowner, 87-year-old Marjorie, brought two of her “kids,” likely in their early 60s, to the closing, and they gave us a “welcome to your new home basket,” which I did not know was a thing. Was I supposed to get them a “goodbye and thanks for all the fish” type of present??? Did we biff our first moments as homeowners???????

The tiny old lady had moved into the house we bought in 1953, which means she must have gotten married right out of school and moved into that house and made more people, and those four people she made were too many people, so they built a house right next door on the same property. And thus the lady who owned what is now my house lives on the other side of my driveway. It took so long to close on the house because her little bit of land and the house she lives in needed to be separated legally. Imagine she owned a whole brownie, took a bit out of it, and then sold us the rest. That’s not meant to be gross, I just want you to picture a rectangle of land that had a little piece taken out of it and we bought the rest.

So when we went to our house that night, surely she was in her house right next door, peeking at us through the blinds and thinking what wonderful kids we are. That physical closeness, and having a new mortgage, made us feel like we were gallivanting in a forbidden structure, as if we crawled through the windows to access it rather than properly entered by unlocking the front door with a Spiderman key (yes, the 87-year-old lady gave us a Spiderman key) like proper homeowners. Weeeeeird.

We touched things more carefully, we opened cupboards and closets more curiously, alone, in our house. You do not investigate the house with the same eyes when you have a realtor or home inspector hanging behind your shoulder. For instance, there are three bedrooms. Two are identical but mirrored, but now we’ve noticed one has a much shorter shelf and bar in the closet, and that’s how we decided that room is mine.

To clarify, Nick and I share a bedroom, but because he wakes up earlier than me, we put clothes in a different room to avoid blasting the sleeping person with light. Plus, we each have our own “office.” Mine will have a laptop and Jason Voorhees mask, Nick’s will have a desktop screen and 3-D printer. Okay, we didn’t need ALL this space, but you find me a two bedroom house in South Bend that doesn’t look like it has a nervous disposition. Looking out my window, we saw a herd of deer and promptly yelled at them to get out of our dang field, ya’hear? Next, there is a meeting to introduce ourselves to our farmer, who will continue to rent the acreage, and on Monday it’s a meeting to get a quote from a plaster and painting guy for how much it will cost to repair our walls.

And then, you know, Friday Nick had an all-day interview because it’s down to three candidates for a job that is much above his current position — no sweat. OMG. My heart is beating all kindsa funny, literally. When I get to my yearly doctor’s appointment next week I half expect her to tell me I’m mostly dead. I have not eaten well the past 72 hours. And I definitely ate all the Andes chocolates in the St. Patrick’s themed “welcome home” basket. I kept thinking of Anne @ I’ve Read This and knowing she would approve.

Me dressed up and ready to head to the title company to sign all the papers to the house.


Although I reviewed Where the Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih first this week, all the attention went to The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank. I have no regrets. The more I write book blog posts that focus on experience instead of measuring the qualities of book, the more you guys respond. I now know loads more about you, like Amal @ The Misfortune of Knowing ran through law school, and Bill @ The Australian Legend thirty years ago used trucker drugs that made him thin (and probably drive all night wired like an electric fence (Bill, you know how I feel about you — “watch out for deer”)), and for Stephanie @ A Stone in the River getting to full-time bike-riding seems like a journey unto itself!

By reading the comments I also realized that while elementary school physical fitness made us all feel excited to move around in our bodies, middle school destroyed all the joy, and high school reinforced that happy movement is reserved for those in competitive sports. No wonder we all feel haggard and lost in regards to exercise. Biscuit didn’t even find her favorite, Zumba, until she was in her fifties, probably because like all normal humans she couldn’t do a pull-up in school. Knowing Biscuit moves with joy is an inspiration to me.


The online Zora Book Club, Gathering and Gabbing, met again this week to discuss Zora! A Woman and Her Community, compiled and edited by N.Y. Nathiri. This book, full of glossy pages with color photos, has information about Hurston’s roots in Eatonville, how Zora got buried after passing in poverty, the history of “race colonies” established by people of African descent, and a speech by Alice Walker given at the first annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival. My thoughts on Tuesday.

Stacey Levine writes some wild stories, which may leave you with few details, all puzzling, or she might obsess over one troubling image. As a reader, you sit there contemplating if there is a deeper meaning only to realize there doesn’t have to be. My thoughts on Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 188
Owned Books on TBR Today: 187

No new books added to TBR.


  1. Congratulations!! That’s so exciting. I love that they gave you a welcome to your new home gift. When I moved into my home, the couple who had lived here before me left me a little bottle of fizz, two very fancy wine glasses, and a card saying they hoped I would be as happy here as they had been. It was so nice! And it really helped me to feel at home here. I hope you start to feel settled into your new place soon!


    • Oh, how lovely of them. I was especially cognizant of the little old lady having spent her early married days there. I’m sure there are loads of memories. Nick pointed out to me the house had likely been rented the last several years, which makes me feel funny for some reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations Melanie and Nick! You both are remarkable! One proud mom here! I cannot wait to see your new digs and celebrate Nick’s new job! ♥️♥️ PS. Zumba is just a grown-up recess. Everyone needs to schedule a recess into their day! Love and hugs! 😁😎 ~B


  3. And so it begins, the quest to level up in adulting. A thousand questions come to mind every minute. Do we rent a goat to keep the lawn short? How soon is too soon to hang up Christmas lights we never take down again? Should we charge the cat rent? We have a shed. This is a strange development. Am I going to get pushback on my plan to install a slide to get down from the loft in the garage? Do we have to purchase the inflatable Halloween decorations, or are they issued by the township? ARE WE GOING TO GET TRICK OR TREATERS? Oh, and maybe there’s this new job thing that would be ok too. 👍


    • I request about, oh, one ARC per year, lol. They tend to come to me after the author or publisher has asked permission rather than by request, actually. And Biscuit and I are trying to eat away at my book bin (which is where the physical TBRs live).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful, congratulations! That whole paper signing things is strange, isn’t it? I had panic attacks after we bought our house, which I didn’t anticipate, but I guess my body was like “This is too much new!” But they went away after a couple of months. Do you have any gardening plans? That’s what I love most about owning a house, being able to plant things and dig in the dirt. 🙂


  5. Now buzzing like an electric fence at the excitement of your new home. Thank you for thinking of flowers for Milly’s new home (in our side correspondence) now I’ll have to think of flowers for you – an Australian flower that will survive snow (and goats!). Good luck Nick!


    • I’ve been talking Australian flowers with my American friend — but, she’s in southern California (where we lived for three years) so that’s easy. Similar climate, where there are already eucalypts, callistemon, etc.


    • Wait, I don’t have goats! LOL! This must be part of a conversation I don’t remember. I do love a good cactus or African Violet inside my house, probably because those are the only ones I can keep alive with confidence. Everyone says the succulent is the foolproof homeowner’s plant. Dead. So many dead succulents in my history.

      Nice said the interview went really well. He showed me the itinerary and what he had to do, and I couldn’t make sense of any of it.


  6. Congratulations homeowner! What a nice gift from the previous owner who is also your new neighbor! I’m so excited for the new adventure. And good luck to Nick!


  7. A bit late as usual, and I will read your experience post too. Congratulations on “closing” on your house. Coincidentally, my son and partner “settled” (the term we use in Australia) theirs on 18 March. They said that when they did their pre-settlement walk-through it didn’t look as wonderful as they’d remembered (reflecting your comment about not noticing details before because you can’t poke into every nook and cranny.) I think part of that is that they saw it furnished originally, but it was empty on the walk through where you can see wear and tear etc? It must be weird knowing the previous owner is right next door, but she sounds pretty “cool”.

    Now, let me read your experience post and see what else I can reveal about myself – haha!

    Oh, and I wish Nick success in the job interview, and your both many happy years in your home.


    • Everything that was worn and torn was obvious, so as we looked, it was more about discovering how we envisioned our things in that space. What is likely supposed to be the pantry would serve the linens better, and vice versa. One closet is shorter than the other, which we didn’t notice before, so Nick’s office has the taller closet. Things like that. The one thing I’ll need to think on is the cupboards. They have a paper down in them that is pretty old and a little sticky. I’m going to search the internet and see what folks do to old cupboards these days.


  8. I approve wholeheartedly of your chocolate consumption – you are correct!!!

    Congrats on the new house, that’s totally awesome and i love that you have your own separate spaces, it makes total sense. Aaron and I bought our first house when I was 25, and I was sort of drunk when I signed the papers at a Tim Hortons, as my boss had given us drinks at the office and then I took public transit to meet my husband and our realtor to sign the papers – so random! I’m glad I don’t drink anymore LOL


  9. You’re so cute! I love those earrings.
    I’m so pumped for you and Nick! House buying, then moving in and decorating is exciting. (The moving part sucks but setting up your new place is cool.)
    Are you going to paint the place fun colors? I’m always amazed at the amount of people who keep their whole place white. I personally cannot. I need splashes of color in my life.


    • We’re painting it gray (Dorian Gray, according to Sherwin Williams) for two reasons 1) I could do video interpreting at home with that solid background color, and 2) Bobby Berk from Queer Eye pointed out that if you do your walls and big furniture, like the couch, a simple solid color, you can constantly change the pillows, curtains, art, etc. without clashing or spending a ton.


      • Wise man, Bobby Berk! I thought the same thing when I painted my living room before we had furniture. We painted it sourdough (warm vanilla) with the plan to buy a dark brown sofa with burgundy throw pillows and curtains. What we actually ended up buying was a gray sofa. So now, gray sofa and curtains. But I can easily change things without repainting if I want.


  10. Yay! So happy for you and Nick in your new house! Do you move in right away or are you waiting while you paint etc? How nice of the previous owner to welcome you with a gift basket! The previous owners of our house primarily left us a mess so I don’t think that’s the norm but it gets you all off to a pleasant start as neighbours.


    • I recall my great-grandma talking about when they bought their house, and all the previous owner left was the floor, covered throughout the house, in inches of cat shit. On Monday we have a team coming in to repair any holes or cracks and sand down the kitchen cupboards, and then paint everything inside.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh, that’s horrifying. My parents rented their house out when they lived overseas and the tenants had an unneutered cat who sprayed everywhere. The smell was unbelievable; they had to replace the carpets. For us, doing a big reno and painting helped because we had to clean after that anyway!


        • Your poor parents! Renting is so risky, both for the renter and the owner. I know the big push right now is to try and regulate companies buying up houses and inflating the market and then renting the house, so no one can own it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • One of the big problems locally is the growth of short-term rentals (like AirBnB). We’re a tourist town so renting out your space short term is way more lucrative and generally carries less risk. But it’s led to a major shortage of affordable rentals here.


            • I hadn’t thought of AirBnB causing problems. Around here, most people live in their home and then move out for the weekend you want to stay, but that may largely be due to living next to the University of Notre Dame. Basically, folks live in their house all year, rent it out on home football game weekends, and roll in the money.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh yeah, I’ve heard of places like that. A lot of people have vacation homes here so when they’re not using them, they rent them out. But since they’re not locals and they’re not there on site, it’s easy for problems to arise.

                Liked by 1 person

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