Sunday, May 17, 2015

Moving in a Rush

Between buying a house, vacating my apartment, and moving to Burbank, I’ve had my hands full.

My last day of the big work project was Monday. And though I don’t need to report to Burbank until 5/26, my friend Yancey needed to get some work on his/my apartment. I had to get out quickly so the floor refinishers could get started.

Initially, I booked them to start on Friday. But then I realized that meant a significant part of the work would happen on Monday, and I’d end up being out of the apartment longer than I wanted to be. I called back Alpine Floors and rescheduled them for Thursday, called Morrissey’s Moving and booked a move for Wednesday, and started packing.

I don’t have much stuff, but somehow, I still have way too much. I wasn’t ready and I had to leave some books, art, and all the kitchen stuff behind, stuffed in closets, the bathtub, the hallway, and in the refrigerator. But the movers got the majority of my furniture into my new house and all the books into my garage.

And now I find myself with a house that needs a scrubbing and a pressing need for replacement tub fixtures for a clawfoot tub from 1895.

There’s a lot going on in my corner of the world.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A Big Step

I finally bought a house!*

This was a long road. How many have I bid on and lost? There was the beautiful old Magnolia row house, Richie Havens' amazing house up in the Heights...both stunning and perfect, but unfortunately many other people seemed to agree with me. There was me chickening out on homes before that, the obvious great one being the $220k shack on my old block now on sale for $869k post-renovations, another being the murder-house two doors down from Havens', where a man had shot his girlfriend some years back. It finally went into foreclosure when he couldn't make the payments from jail. I'm not sure if it went up on the auction block or not in the end. I was keeping an eye on it for a long time until I gave up.

And there were the three I succeeded with, to a point. The leaking oil-tank house at 181 Beacon, which was amazing aside from the toxic soil. The fixer-upper on Pine Street, which I loved, but the bank didn't love it so much because it wouldn't appraise anywhere near what I perceive it to be worth. And finally, I got this house, a really good one on Lafayette Street.

The house I bought is great, but it has some drawbacks. Magnolia and Beacon were by the Journal Square PATH train, a tremendous benefit. Havens' house was by a trolley stop in Hoboken. And Pine Street by a trolley stop near Liberty State Park. That was the perfect confluence of bargain and accessibility, but no, I couldn't have it.

The Lafayette house is slightly less convenient, a half-mile walk to the trolley but only a half-block to the bus. Buses are easy enough but trains are more easily understood, easier to navigate, and not a problem when there's traffic. There aren't many restaurants at Lafayette, unlike the Journal Square homes I'd tried for.

But one thing Lafayette has going for it is it's a hop, skip, and a jump to the exploding gentrification of Grove Street, to the point where developers are all over the area. Two huge luxury condo projects are going on nearby, one in an old church and one in a former Catholic school. I'm fairly confident in the potential of a huge raise in value. But then, so were the previous owners, who bought at the height of the bubble and had to sell at a huge loss in the end. I can see that happening if there is a change in Manhattan's fortunes, which there is always that potential for a swinging pendulum to clock me up side the head, but probably not.

I first coveted this house in late 2005. It's the $420k one there, though the link doesn't work anymore. I'm not a fast mover when it comes to real estate, but in this case, that worked out as the final price was $285k now. I later started chasing it in August of 2013, from Mexico, when I saw an FSBO ad on Craigslist. I looked but balked at the price, which was much higher then.

My friend Roberta finally decided to buy it when it went up on Craigslist again recently, but when she tacked and started looking by JSQ, I went for it.

And now it's mine. Which is daunting as hell, but thrilling too. So, yeah, I have a house. Now what?

September 15, 1895

The New York Times from New York, New York · Page 14

Fine new cantellated brick cabinet 4-story and concrete cellar houses; all improvements; $80 to $35 per month; at Breadalbane Terrace, Lafayette St.; eleven minutes from Pa RR ferry, Jersey City.

*Just in time to have to move to Burbank for a while for work, but that's another story.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hard Work

Sorry I've abandoned you for these past few weeks. I'm overseeing a monster of a comics event where I get 248 pages to press every Friday for eight weeks.

We've got three weeks of this left, and then I can blog. And nap. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Last Comp for Now

I got my comp copy of my final Marvel work for a while. I've switched teams and now I'm full-time with the Distinguished Competition. 

Editing prose novels at Marvel was fun, though calling movie makers for the ART OF books was more fun. Being a freelance writer/editor/book packager didn't come with health insurance or any security whatsoever, but I'll still miss it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fun with Fluorescents

For years, I've been unplugging the coffee maker every morning so I can plug in the coffee bean grinder. Then I put away the grinder and plug the coffee maker back in so I can make coffee.

That's because the other plug was devoted to an under-cabinet light.

Well, no more. I bought a new coffee maker recently—I'd purchased the old one in 2002—and one nice feature is the timer. But to use the timer, the clock has to be accurate, so plugging and unplugging the coffee maker became problematic.

I decided to wire in an under-cabinet light instead. The old cable was there, hanging out of the wall. I pulled out my digital multimeter to learn there was still power, and got to work.

And to my great surprise, this worked out. I've been learning all kinds of new skills in Yancey's apartment.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

More Fun with Real Estate

I had easy experiences with my first two condos and also with buying my garage, but the house purchase continues to elude me.

First, we had the great leaking oil-tank scandal of 2013. Now we seem to have the low appraisal of 2014. 

I went into contract to buy an as-is house near the Liberty State Park light rail. The house is nondescript on the outside and a bit of a wreck on the inside, but everything worked and it had a nice yard, and was out of the flood zone. 

Unfortunately, due to the lack of similar comps nearby, it didn't appraise anywhere near what I was going to buy it for. I really believe in this area, so if there were any way to get it at a reasonable price, I'd make up the difference. 

But to get it with its current appraisal, I'd need to fork over $61,250, then put another $30-40k into renovating. Once you get into a $100k up-front house, you start to think "Wow, I could buy a lot for that, and wouldn't need to lift a finger." 

So strike two. Hoping not to strike out next time. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Mornings

Work has been taking up just about all of my time, but I liked doing pottery so much last time I tried it that I decided to make time to do it again. I signed up for the Saturday morning class and that has really worked out.

I get out of the house early—like today—and there is nothing pressing for me to rush to after, so I can stay late until I've finished something. I take these classes at La Mano, near the 23rd Street PATH train, so it's super-easy to get to, and the classes are inexpensive enough that it's a better deal than getting a free class where I teach and paying the materials fee.

I'm still not very good at it, but I'm getting better at mugs.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Working Hard

I had a business trip over the weekend.

Food trucks were also involved.

And so were monsters and aliens.

Anyone want to guess where this was?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The New Heater, Part III

The new heater is looking great, isn't it?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Decorative Heater

Here's my new heater. It looks great, doesn't it?

But it didn't seem like it was generating that much heat. I peered in through the slits. I'd turn it off, then turn it back on. The fan would kick in and heat would come out. Then the fan would go off and an orange light would go one.

Hrm. What could that be, I thought. Standby mode? 

I looked in the manual. 

Oh. That's the thermal protection light. It comes on when something goes wrong. 

I shut it off at the breaker and gave it the finger. That'll show that heater.