I’ve been on radio silence with this blog again, but this time I do have a good excuse. I last posted in April, and since then Celeste and I found and bought a house! I’ve heard many people say that the most excruciatingly horrible thing you can put yourself through is a toss-up between giving birth and passing kidney stones. I’ve done neither of those, but I still feel safe with adding the home buying process just below those two on the list.

We’ve been planning and saving for a long time, and we decided that the stars finally were in alignment for us to go through with this project. Our rental lease was up for renewal at the beginning of February for another year. In the lead-up to that, we decided to renew for only six months, and that pretty much committed us to having to find a place to buy. With the new rental lease, we had to have the new house and be moved in by July 31. That seemed entirely doable, with time to spare, so we started looking around for a house.

Cue stress. The first half of 2011 turned my temples white. I buzz my hair to near-baldness now, so you can’t really tell unless it’s due for another shaving or you get really close. But trust me, the whiteness is there, all Reed Richards-style. The actual house hunting didn’t take as long as it could have, and in retrospect the process of negotiating and getting under contract wasn’t as horrible as it could have been. In the heat of the moment, however, all the uncertainty and anxiety associated with something this huge felt like we were on a runaway train that might coast to a stop in a safe place or might careen off a bridge at any moment.

I kept feeling like I’d be able to relax if we could just get past the next milestone. First it was finding the house. Celeste and I each had ideas for what we wanted and needed in a house, and it didn’t seem like we were going to find something that really matched what we both wanted, was in a nice area, and was affordable. We did find the perfect house for us, though, and I thought I’d be able to take a breather at that point. Not so, as it turned out there were at least two other parties already putting in offers for the house. We made an offer higher than the listing price, and I still was a wreck for nearly a week until we got the offer accepted. I didn’t think the process could get more intense than that week of waiting for the acceptance. If we were turned down, we’d have to start the hunting process over again, and I wasn’t sure we’d have time to complete everything in that case. As luck would have it, our offer prevailed victorious, and I felt like things would be smooth sailing. Once again, not so.

At that point, we began the loan process. Between a decently sized down payment and my good credit rating, we weren’t going to have trouble being approved for a loan, so I expected that the process would take maybe a couple of weeks to complete. Our contract on the house was set to expire on June 28, and I thought we’d be finished and into the house long before that. Guess what. Celeste and I were sitting in the office and signing the final paperwork on June 28. The house we bought had been a foreclosure, so there were some additional i’s to dot and t’s to cross with the bank that owned it, which likely accounted for some of the additional time in the purchase. We did just manage to squeak the closing through at the last minute, though, and I’m pretty positive the nervousness of the week prior to that shaved a few years off my life.

So once we finally closed and had the house, everything would be golden, right? Well, sort of, if we had actually closed in mid-June like we’d wanted to. Closing on June 28 and having our rental lease run out on July 31 gave us about a month to fix up the new house and then move all our stuff to a different city. And if you know us, you know we have a lot of stuff. The first week after the closing, we had the exterminators come, and my dad started work on helping us redo the living room. Once the construction stuff was done, the time window was narrowing, so we had a company (supposedly) clean the house instead of doing it ourselves. I don’t think I’ll ever trust a cleaning company to do what they’re supposed to do again. And then the Great Move began.

We spent the greater part of July racking up tolls and gas bills, ferrying our stuff from the old house to the new one. We’re talking about two U-Haul truck loads, three smaller trailer loads, and countless carloads of things. There’s nothing like moving to a new house to put your place in the world in perspective, with regards to whether you own your things or your things own you. Granted, we were moving our store inventory at the same time, but even then it was pretty ridiculous. Geeks have lots of extra stuff to worry about moving that non-geeks never have to worry about. My 36 long boxes of comic books might have been the most exhausting part of the actual move, but my massive collection of statues and toys didn’t help much, either. We managed to get everything out and the old house cleaned up by late on the night of July 30, and I went back on the 31st to meet with the owner for the final inspection and to give the keys back. At that point, we were free and clear of the old house and could start getting everything ready in the new house.

Now through the maelstrom, I kind of feel like I can relax. There is a crap ton of stuff left to be done in the new house, even after both Celeste’s parents and mine have helped us with a bunch of upgrades and fix-ups. We have piles, stacks, and veritable towers of boxes all over the place, all of which need to be unpacked and sorted. But, even in the face of all that, I feel pretty good about the situation. We’re living in a place that we own, and we’re the only ones affected if we take forever to unpack things. I’ve mostly gotten caught up on all the business work that fell behind during the Great Move, and I even had a chance to play some Xbox this week. Things are looking good, and, barring unforeseen impediments, I’m back to posting here.

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.

(all the photos in this post were taken by Celeste and are posted in her Flickr account)

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