Tiny House Agita

Anyone who has spent time with my hubby has likely witnessed at least one episode of Stevie getting all riled up. It happens quite often. I don’t know if it’s his Italian blood, his New York upbringing, or just his exuberant temperament, but it often doesn’t take much to get him started and then after that, well, all bets are off. If we were collecting data on Stevie’s tirades, we’d likely see sports and any sports-related topics as the #1 rant-inducing subject, followed closely by any mention of Red Lobster or Olive Garden, and what I like to call the “Not My Daughter” series, which mostly revolves around Stevie’s hatred of females wearing shorts so short that their butt cheeks hang out.

However, after stumbling upon a show called Tiny House Hunters, we may have to update Stevie’s rant list. Two minutes into the show he started squinting at the screen and muttering, “What? What the hell? How big did he say? Where the hell are they going to sleep? No doors? What do you mean plumbing is an add-on? How much smaller do these things get?”

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I started chuckling as I listened to the running commentary, which sounded a bit like a mash-up between a Lewis Black skit and an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

One episode led to another and then the shit really hit the fan when a young couple started searching for a tiny house for their family of five.

Five.

Two adults and three children under the age of five in a 150 square foot space that didn’t even have any bedrooms.

I sat and laughed and my husband lost his mind.

“Are they serious? They’re serious. Holy shit, honey, they’re serious. They have three kids. They have three kids. Three kids and hundred and fifty square feet. That doesn’t work. How does that even work? Social services should come and take those kids away and no one would complain, because they would be put in a bigger home. That’s child abuse. It’s child abuse. Seriously, how is that not child abuse? There aren’t even any bedrooms. Where the hell is everyone going to sleep? Oh a loft? A loft? Great. With a ladder? Yeah? How does that work? You have a 6 month old. Oh, a bed that rolls out from under that bench you’re calling a couch? Great. Electra sleeps on a bed bigger than that. When you buy a tiny home and you have three kids, you’re buying a playhouse for the kids. Put it in your backyard and let the kids have fun. Storage? She likes all the storage? What storage? Where? You have one cupboard. One. Where are they going to keep their underwear? There is something wrong with these people.”

The rant continued for the next 20 minutes, nonstop, even through the commercial breaks, as Stevie tried to wrap his mind around what he was seeing. As the next episode came on, he grabbed the remote and quickly changed the channel.

“Nope, I can’t. I can’t do it. This show gives me agita. I feel like my brain is going to explode right now. These people are crazy.”

Even now, weeks later, all it takes is for us to see two words–Tiny House–as we scroll through the DirectTV Guide and Stevie’s blood pressure starts rising.

It’s safe to say the Romanos won’t be moving into a tiny house anytime soon, and that’s okay with me.

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I’m Baaaaaaack…

And I’ve gotta rant about some Sidewalk Chalk Nazis out in Colorado.

But before I spout off, you should probably read a little background information here…

Sidewalk Chalk Art Against the Rules in Stapleton

First of all, I want to say that it pains me to speak ill of any community in Colorado right now. With the wildfires raging and destroying homes as I sit here writing this, I’m half-fearing some sort of immediate karmic backlash from the Universe if I unleash on the group of morons in Stapleton who are trying to keep a 3-year-old from coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. But, I can’t help myself. This news story popped up on my phone while I was on vacation last week, sending both Steven and I into tizzy, and it’s been bothering me ever since. So, today, as my vacation has officially come to an end and I begin to settle back into a routine, I figured I better get this one off my chest before I pop a blood vessel.

Here’s the deal, people. Even the most optimistic person has to admit that times are tough right now. Our economy is in the toilet. People are losing their jobs and their homes. We’ve got brave men and women in our armed forces being killed to protect our freedoms overseas. The costs on almost everything are rising. Fires are burning out of control. And people are literally chewing each other’s faces off.

It’s a shitstorm out there, my friends.

And yet, in spite of all the craziness and negativity, humans have a very natural instinct to find the simple beauty in life and hold fast to it. Little things like sharing a hot cup of coffee with a friend, singing along to a favorite song on the radio, and feeling a cool breeze against your face on a hot day are often the things that make all the difference, the things that keep us going in spite of all the odds stacked against us.

To put it simply, sometimes a little sidewalk chalk is exactly the therapy we need to get us through a difficult day.

Hell, Cadence and I had fun drawing with some sidewalk chalk on the patio just this afternoon…

So what’s the big problem?

Apparently, a sub-committee of a local HOA in a neighborhood in Stapleton has received complaints from a few of the residents, and they’re saying that “because it is a shared space, anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment isn’t allowed.”

Seriously??? What the hell is wrong with these people? They’re so miserable, they make Ebenezer Scrooge look like that cuddly little bear from the Snuggle fabric softener commercials.

Here’s my response to the complainers and the Courtyard Committee…If a 3-year-old drawing her ABC’s and some pictures of hearts, flowers, and balloons on the sidewalk is disturbing or offensive to you, you need to seek immediate medical help, because that stick you’ve got wedged up your ass has obviously migrated north and is starting to affect the parts of your brain that regulate logical thought, pleasure, empathy and compassion. If your health insurance won’t cover a complete asshole-removal and personality transplant, feel free to drop by my house tomorrow afternoon. I’ll gladly slap you in the face a half-dozen times to try and knock some sense into your empty head.

And if that doesn’t work, I’m fresh out of ideas, and I might have to admit that the old saying is right…You just can’t fix stupid.

So, tonight, I’m soliciting prayers for the people out in Colorado. Please take a moment to pray for the people affected by the wildfires, and the brave firefighters trying to bring them under control. And please pray for the hardhearted morons in Stapleton that have forgotten what it feels like to have fun.

Brain Dead – A Rant

So, I’m sitting here when I really should be sleeping, and I’m staring at my blank computer screen trying to find some inspiration.

Sorry folks. I got nothin’.

See, it’s been a long week here in Casa de Romano. Our lives have been completely hijacked by potty training and taxes.

The good news is that Cadence is doing amazing with her potty training. She is rocking the big girl unders, and we just completed Day 3 with no accidents…well, at least no #1 accidents. Since accidentally peeing in her snowboots on Thursday (which were a logistical nightmare to actually get clean again), Cadence has been pee-free except on the potty. #2 though, is still a work in progress. We’ll get there though, as long as we keep the Peanut Butter M&M’s flowing as rewards.

The bad news is that after getting excited about getting a decent return back on our taxes, we get hit with the news that we owe the federal government $7500 to repay the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit we took advantage of when we bought our house in Arizona.

Damn that house.

See, a few years ago, the government started giving away up to $8000 to first time homebuyers. It was their way of stimulating the housing market and giving people an incentive to buy when everyone was starting to realize that the market had gone to shit. Then suddenly, the rules changed, and instead of giving the money to people, they started giving it as a “loan” that had to be paid back in $500 increments for 15 years. Of course, home sales started slowing down again, so the government decided to reinstitute the free money campaign.

Unfortunately for us, we fell in the short period where the money was a loan.

We weren’t irritated about that…okay, so maybe we were mildly irritated. I mean, it’s just our luck that we somehow buy a home in the 3-month span that the goverment decided to change the rule to our detriment. But we decided that a $500 a year deduction from our tax refund to pay the loan back wasn’t going to kill us.

Then, we moved, and the government found a way to screw us again.

See, there are all sorts of “what if” scenarios floating around regarding our credit/loan. If you get divorced and sign the house over to your spouse, you’re off the hook. If you sell your house for a loss, you’re off the hook. If you foreclose, you’re off the hook. If your home is condemned, your off the hook. If you home is destroyed, you’re off the hook.

But, if you relocate because you find a new job that is going to give your family more opportunities, if you do the right thing and find a way to keep your house and continue to make the payments without fail, if you are a responsible citizen who tries to do what you can to make sure you’re playing by the rules, what you get is a whole bunch of attitude from the holier-than-thou IRS agent you go to talk to at the local office, and a big f*%# you from the federal goverment in the form of a $7500 bill, payable upon receipt.

Seriously? What the hell is wrong with this system?

In 2009, big banks and corporations and corrupt executives were handed billions of dollars–dollars gleaned from the little guys, the hardworking taxpayers that do more to keep this country running than any of the politicians or wealthy CEO’s that look down on everyone else from the windows in their big offices. If you ask me, it would have been a whole lot smarter to invest the money in the hardworking American people, than to hand it over to the greedy SOB’s who got us into this economic crisis in the first place. Hand a nice check over to the members of the hardworking middle class or the struggling lower class, and you might have actually seen a positive change in this economy already. I mean, these are the people who would probably end up spending that money to pay down student loans or mortgages, to put food on the tables for their families, and maybe, just maybe, even invest in themselves or their own small businesses. Instead, the big fat checks lined the pockets of the greedy and got flushed down the big toilet we call corporate America.

Don’t get me wrong, Steven and I take full responsibility for the money we owe. We should have known what we were getting into taking a handout from our federal government that seemed too good to be true. I guess, overall, we’re just really disappointed.

We’re disappointed that the system in the country is so broken that hardworking, responsible citizens routinely get raped even when they try to do the right thing and get their hands on a piece of that ever-elusive American Dream. We’re disappointed in ourselves for trusting in a system we know is broken, even when our guts were telling us not to. And we’re disappointed that there seems to be so little that we can do to change it.

Instead, we will tighten our belts and find a way to repay what we owe. And we’ll continue to pay our mortgage and hold onto our house in Arizona until the market picks up enough for us to be able to sell it and at least break even. We’ll continue to pay our taxes. We’ll pay our bills and our student loans. We’ll put food on the table and buy treats for our dog and continue to build a future for our young daughter. We’ll scrimp and we’ll save and we’ll treat ourselves when we can because life is short and we want to enjoy it now instead of regretting later. We’ll do it all because that’s just how we are, and because we truly believe that, eventually, the good you do comes back to you.

Sometimes, it just takes awhile.

365 Project – Day 206 – Enough Is Enough

Enough is enough. I’ve had it. I’m done. In general, I am not the type to complain. As the creator of the 5 Minute Rule (if you have no clue what I’m talking about, go back and read the explanation HERE), it would be the worst kind of hypocrisy if I did a lot of complaining, so I tend to err on the side of letting things that might bother most people just roll off my back. But, even the most easygoing, even keel people have their limit, and today, I hit mine. So, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to use my five minutes and get a few things off my chest.

It has been a helluva few months around here. It’s always hard moving to a new place, trying to get settled in, trying to establish a routine, but lately it seems like just when things are looking like they might settle down, something else happens that throws us off kilter. Getting sick, Grandma passing, Dad’s accident, trying to get ready for and get through Grandma’s estate sale, trying to rebuild a business that was just starting to take off before the move,  trying to find a good work/life balance so I can get things done, but still feel like I am spending quality time with my husband and daughter, a house in AZ that we can’t sell, a flooding basement in our rental house, finding a house that we love and then watching it slowly slipping out of our reach, car repairs, more car repairs that blindsided us with a big fat bill, and tonight a car that won’t start.

I feel like I’m losing my mind here.

The world is full of so many bigger problems that I feel downright guilty even pretending for one moment that any of this is worth getting stressed over. But I am stressed, because I’m getting to the point where starting to feel like this shit is never going to end. It just keeps coming, kicking my legs out from beneath me just when I feel like I’ve found the strength to stand again.

I’m having a good cry tonight. If you know me at all, you know what a rare occassion that is. But tonight, I’m just too stressed out and too tired to hold it in any longer.

I’m tired of turning on the news and hearing about how our country is in the toilet because a bunch of self-serving, money-grubbing, no good politicians have spent decades lining their own pockets as they rob the American people blind. I’m tired of watching prices rise on everything from gas to groceries, while our paychecks continue to decline. I’m tired of counting our pennies and making sacrifices to live within our means while professional football and baseball players complain about their salaries, get in trouble with the law (without really getting in any trouble at all), and team owners continue to jack up prices at the stadiums to the point where the average American family damn near has to take out a 2nd mortgage just to attend a game. I’m tired of rotten people like Casey Anthony and Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson literally getting away with murder and then getting endorsements and book deals and big fat paychecks while perfectly good, law-abiding citizens bust their asses just to get a brief glimpse of that legendary American Dream.

Most of all, I’m tired of people not giving a shit about anything but themselves. These days, we are living in a very selfish, self-centered world. It’s all about me, me, me, me. How is it going to affect me? What belongs to me? What are you going to do for me? If it doesn’t somehow directly impact me, then it is not my problem. Admirable qualities like honesty and integrity and empathy are slowly becoming extinct. It’s a sad world we’re living in when people stop caring about each other.

Believe me, I could keep going about the things that have been grating my poor nerves raw lately, but I’m hitting the end of my five minutes, and going on any longer will only mire me deeper in this stressed out rut I’m finding myself in right now. Life is far too short to be unhappy for long. And so, I’ll close my eyes and I’ll take a deep breath and I’ll remind myself that for all the shit I’ve had thrown at me lately, there are a million little blessings that make it all worthwhile. And I’ll look at my droopy-faced dog sleeping on the couch, or my daughter giggling on the floor, or my husband singing  along with some random song on his Ipod in a loud falsetto, and I’ll let the tension begin to slip away because, in the end, nothing matters except enjoying as much time as you can with the people you love the most.

Thank you for indulging my rant tonight. It feels good just to get some of it off my chest.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all of the people out there who are feeling the pain like I have lately. Take your 5 minutes, let it out, and then refocus on what makes you happy.

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