Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day, Moving Day, and The Transporter

Yes, I feel a little bit like Jason Statham this evening, from The Transporter. To clarify the reference, it’s been 48 hours of non-stop mind-wrenching, finance crunching, body-bashing, mind-numbing exhaustion. Quite honestly I should be in bed already but I’ve wanted to catch up with all of you who read the blog so I’m using this time to unwind, after which I plan on very unceremoniously planting myself face first into my pillow and recuperating until sunrise.

My Darling Amy and why I have the best Valentine in the whole world.

I can’t properly begin this conversation without putting things into context. Since last week Amy and I have been planning Valentines together, deciding what to get each other, deciding on what to cook for a special dinner, and just generally dying to be in each other’s arms again. When all I’m about to share with you came about on very short notice, she basically decided to postpone our Valentines a couple days and let me handle some things that needed to be handled if this weekend were going to turn out properly. Were it not for the woman of my dreams being the absolute most understanding and giving woman anywhere in the world, I would have a long week ahead of me.

The Story…

Owning your own business is not the dream everyone thinks it is during those first years. After the polish fades and you are responsible with coming up with the eleven thousand dollars a month it takes to run a business like ours with absolutely no capital investment of any kind from anyone it takes a toll on your personal finances. Opening a business in the beginning of what turned out to be the new Great Depression is even harder. My personal finances sometimes look more like a Wiley Coyote cartoon where the cliff edge plummets away than a profit and loss statement. Most businesses take from two to five years to become solvent. You’re not really “in business” until you’ve lasted at least two years. We’ve lasted 4 in total, but it’s been a long hard last 18 months and thanks to this economy we’re farther from the black line than we were two years ago.

For the last year money has been tight. I was still living in the beautiful condo I remodeled with April and hated to think about giving it up. Tim and I walked away from our jobs over two years ago, dropping my family income 50%. A year later, April and I separated and that dropped my family income to exactly 10% of what it was when I worked for the previous dirtbag… err, umm, company.

I’ve looked for roommates, considered getting a smaller place, and gone through all the financial pros and cons of each scenario, never able to really make the jump and commit. After 14 months of that, I was getting quite desperate to find a solution. The math was simple. Either I need to increase my salary 12 thousand dollars a year immediately, which I can’t do, or I need to cut expenses proportionately to be able to live within my means. My three main bills each month were twice my monthly income even before considerations like groceries, internet, gas for the truck, and other expenses. This weekend, I bit the bullet and made the commitment to change, and when it happened it happened very fast.

Enter Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins and I have a friendship going back just about exactly ten years this year. We met when I lived over at Brownlea drive just after Paula and I separated and I moved in with Jodie. Like myself Tom walked away from a job that paid a LOT more than mine and in doing so had to run his own analysis of what to do with his life to get things within budget while he works on his career path for the future.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of living together as roommates now for almost six months, always semi-serious, but with no real prospect for living accommodations that suited both of us, until this week. He has three dogs, I have 1. We need our space. Neither of us have had roommates in over ten years.

The short version of the story is that we moved in together into a 3 bedroom 2 bath, 1,700 square foot ranch-style house with a 1/4 acre back yard big enough for his dogs and mine, a garage (read as workshop), two living rooms, a big office, formal dining room, kitchen bar-dining room, two decent sized bedrooms large enough for ALL our furniture, room for guests, three couches, and in a beautiful neighborhood, all the while cutting expenses by almost exactly fifty percent. Let me put that into perspective compared to my old living arrangement. I have 50% more bedrooms, 50% more square feet of living space, 200% more yard area, and the cost is 50% of what I was paying before.

I got the call on Thursday from Tom saying this place was available to us, drove over to see the outside, and said “lets do this” without ever seeing the inside of the house. I had exactly 24 hours to figure out how to get my entire condo packed by myself, wrangle up some help to move, and get everything out in one weekend, or else spend days and days trying to get a few things at a time over the next week or two, which would also mean paying dual-rent during that time.

I will eternally owe a debt (which to Shane is equal to 14 months) of gratitude to those friends who chipped in on extremely short notice to help out. Me and Tom with the help of Tim and Clair, Shane and Tracey, Anne and Hannah, and Chris Comeau unpacked Tom’s house into the new house, then drove to my house, packed the entire house, brought it here, and unpacked the entire house in about 6 hours flat. Did I mention we had to do all this in the snow? Thanks again for the blizzard the night before… hmmph. We got wings for the team, Anne brought coffee from the diner, and Hannah even made us all grilled cheese sammiches!

Fast Forward 30 hours: Sunday Night

As I write this, it’s currently 10:30 on Sunday night and we’re completely moved in. I have about 3 boxes of things to organize of mine , but I’m close enough to finish to say I’m done. Dear old Tom has a lot of unpacking left to do, but he nearly broke his ankle coming out of the moving truck with my mirror in his hands. Relax, I freaked out too, but the mirror is fine. Thanks for all your concern!

We’ve got the all the rooms set up, the kitchen is organized and stocked, and we both can pretty much go to work tomorrow and consider it business as usual. I could never have done this without all the help of my friends. Just as important to me is the fact that I could have never done this without Amy being the one to offer to postpone her Valentines Day weekend. Quite honestly I had no intention of missing Valentines Day with her for any reason, no matter what it was. I was already figuring out how I’d do this next week after the holiday when she kind of nudged me into the idea of just getting it out of the way now instead. Darling, you don’t know how much that meant to me.

Valentines Day is special to me with Amy. Our first date, the day I asked her out the first time, was Valentines Day 1992. It’s not the anniversary of this current relationship, but it will always be the day I realized I met the woman I was meant to be with. All those years ago I knew, and I still know today. So yeah, Valentines Day is a little bit of a big deal to me these days.

Moving Forward

There are a lot of small issues to handle. I’m getting the cable and Internet moved over on Tuesday, getting the utilities changed over, changing my postal address, and informing my old landlord on Monday. This all happened so fast that I haven’t even been able to tell him about it yet. He has no idea I’ve basically moved out of the condo I’ve been living on for almost five years now.

Truthfully, Richard Donaldson is probably the absolute coolest landlord I’ve ever known in my whole life. They don’t make them like this guy very often. I’m going to hate leaving, but he just sold the property last month so I would have had new landlords next month anyway and I figured the time was good to boogie. They’re not going to be as awesome as he was, and I’d rather not deal with a property management company any more… bunch of bloodsucking scoundrels! (No offense to my clients who own homeowners association management companies…) It always bothered me that I could purchase a $139,000 condo and still have some pool-Nazi tell me I can't park my boat there. If I paid that much money and bought one of those condos, you’d be damned lucky if I didn’t dig a pond to float the thing in right in the back yard!


I started to take pictures tonight of the place, but there are still too many boxes and stuff lying in various places, so I’ll wait until we have the rest cleaned up before sharing. They’ll be up soon. Considering my unofficially “borrowed” internet connection, I’m not even sure I’ll be able to post this until sometime later on Tuesday anyway. I’m gonna try and hope it goes through tonight… We’ll see.

Pros and Cons

I love my old condo like a person loves their child. I’ve spent over a hundred hours and thousands of dollars making that place beautiful and increasing the sell value. Leaving it is going to leave behind a whole part of my life. My new life though is with Amy. The rest of my life is with her if she’ll put up with me for that long. Towards that end I’ve needed to get a smaller place for quite awhile now, a place I could leave for extended periods of time to spend more time at home with her. Now I can leave for a day, a week, or a month at a time and Tom is here to care for the house and keep things going while I’m gone. When the time comes that I’ve moved most of my stuff to the new house and spend very little time living in Greenville, it’s already handled. Now, when my income increases again as I hope it soon will, that money can be spent at home with her instead of the two of us paying for our separate lives like we’ve done this past year.

The bills here are sufficiently less that I could keep paying rent here forever and still be paying less than I would for an apartment on my own that I might use two days a week. Bear in mind the date at which I consider myself moved home to Amy can’t come quick enough for either of us, and I have a woman who’s used to getting what she wants when she wants it! I’m effectively taking another large step towards that goal this week. I moved here with furniture plus 45 boxes, but I’m taking almost 20 of those boxes home to Albemarle. In terms of percentage, I’m down to about 30% of my belongings remaining here in Greenville. I consider myself “moved” when the man-chair and the flat screen make their final voyage home. Hey, don’t judge. Each person has their own criteria!

Ok, enough from me. I’m going to try to publish this and get some sleep! Until next time!


  1. I'm sorry I couldn't help. I would not have been much good with the lifting, etc., but I could have cleaned your condo for you. I know things have been really stressful lately. And I wish I was in a position to help you (and Ray), but regretfully you weren't born in to a wealthy family. You hang tough. Remember to keep God in the equation. I love you and can't wait to visit. Mom

  2. "It always bothered me that I could purchase a $139,000 condo and still have some pool-Nazi tell me I can't park my boat there."

    Same reason that Mary and I didn't buy their 4 years ago, they also get you on that $100 a month homeowners fee.

    Man I knew I should have bought one of those places as a rental. $139,000?? Back then I had the chance to buy @ $89,000 (same size up stairs unit) thats a $50k profit (minus upkeep but plus rent income, so it almost equals out) in a 4 year period; WOW.

  3. Sorry I couldn't help with the move, but there was no way the Aveo was getting on those snowy roads! And PS: keep Amy. She's pretty darn amazing.


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