How The Bachelor Prepared Me For Buying A House

Let me start off by saying something that won’t surprise you at all: I am a lifelong fan of The Bachelor. Judge me if you will, but there’s something about the simplified, fairy tale-esque love stories and over-exaggerated one-dimensional characters that appeals to my childlike brain and keeps me tuning in every season.

Throughout my bachelor fandom I have also learned a lot of important life lessons: Like first impressions are EVERYTHING (especially when you burst out of a giant cupcake);

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a career is what you make it;

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live your truth, girl

and, most importantly, make sure to always sleep with a full face of makeup on in case your date decides to surprise you with a helicopter ride at 5 a.m.

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But I never expected that the Bachelor could ever teach me anything about real estate.

Despite warnings about the crazy market, my husband and I began looking for a house in Toronto in February of last year. After months of frenzied open houses, we finally found the perfect place: a small, detached home in Toronto’s east end that was dated, but liveable- the perfect place to add value. Having been warned that the listing price was “more of a loose guideline” than an actual cost, we thought we would secure it by offering over asking- a number that already hurt.

We submitted our offer and held our breath. Almost immediately, our agents came back to us. Rejection. With 8 other bidders, the house ultimately sold for nearly 30% over asking.

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We were disappointed, but told ourselves that in this market, no one gets it on the first try.

A month later, we struck again. This time it was a charming, semi-detached in prime Greektown. Just one little hiccup: no parking.

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That’s a thing??

We accepted it as yet another compromise, and this time, got more aggressive in our bidding. Strike two: 7 bidders, not even a trip to the second round.

The third house was by far the most devastating. This time, it was in the Annex. No parking, but a lush, beautiful backyard, and a glassed-in front porch that just screamed out for enjoying a nice glass of wine (or three).

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I knew immediately we had to have it.

A friend recommended writing a letter to attach with our offer to make ourselves stand out from the pile. I initially dismissed it as a bit hokey, but in the end we decided, what did we have to lose?

I pulled out my laptop and got to work. My goal was obviously to make this letter as heart-wrenching as humanly possible. The more tears it evoked, the better. I pulled out every stop imaginable. I talked about how the open concept kitchen brought me back to my East Coast roots and having Ceilidhs (kitchen parties, which for the record I NEVER had). I rhapsodized about watching my yet-unborn children frolicking among the hydrangeas as my husband and I gazed into each other’s eyes, marveling at the beautiful life we were blessed with.

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If this letter didn’t get us the house, NOTHING would.

It just so happened that offers for the house fell on the same evening we were scheduled to fly to France on vacation, so we deputized my father-in-law to do the bidding. I pressed the letter against his chest and asked him to guard it with his life. We gave him our max number and said goodbye, not knowing if we’d  get the house until we landed the next morning.

I didn’t sleep a wink that entire flight- visions of enclosed porches and galley kitchens dancing in my head. As soon as we landed we turned on our phones and checked our voicemails.

Although the buyers LOVED our letter (obviously), we were edged out by another bidder and narrowly missed out on the house of our dreams.

This one stung like no other before. Through the letter writing process, I had allowed myself to become emotionally invested in this house. I had totally let my guard down. I had fallen in love.

And that’s when it hit me.

This is EXACTLY what it must be like to be on the Bachelor!!

I suddenly had a new-found respect for the women (and men) who were burned for “keeping their guards up” and “not being open to the process”. While they ultimately missed out on a chance at love, at least they weren’t the ones crying in the back of a limo, embarrassing themselves on national TV.

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While my recovery was aided by the fact that I was strolling the streets of Paris eating copious amounts of unpasteurized cheese, it still took me a long time to get over that heartbreak. We didn’t bid on another house for nearly four months.

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I’d never have another shot at love. Er. I mean, a house.

There were of course, a couple of flings. We tried out some houses in completely different neighborhoods. Some with styles we hadn’t considered before. But these brief flirtations ultimately also ended in misery.

And then finally one day, nearly 10 months and 7 bidding wars after we began looking, our realtors sent us a listing they thought looked interesting. It was a fixer-upper, but in a good neighbourhood. I wasn’t enthralled by the photos, and even less so when I saw the house itself. It was an estate sale, and most of the house hadn’t been updated in decades. The front of the house had an unsightly facade, and the basement, which was a separate apartment, was downright murder-y.

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Our agents assured us that it was just a bit of an “ugly duckling”; with a bit of work, it could be a great house and a great investment.

I had serious reservations, but agreed to think it over. Clearly, the “type” we had been going for- the shiny, good-looking, charming houses- wasn’t working. Maybe we needed a shift in perspective?

So we went to look at it again, channeling our best Property Brothers to imagine what it COULD BE.

On a second look, we discovered that with some new floors, a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture, maybe this could be something.  To be sure, it wasn’t the house of our dreams, but the bones were good, the foundation was there, and it had the potential to last. We just needed to take the chance.

And then I realized that much like skydiving, rappelling down a building, or conquering your crippling fear of sharks, buying a house, too, is also lot like falling in love.

(Come on. Don’t you watch the Bachelor?? There is ALWAYS a love metaphor.)

On the day of offers, we decided to go for it. There was only one other bidder (which we tried not to take as a bad sign), and after two rounds of bidding, we FINALLY became homeowners.

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Alas, much like with the Bachelor, the final rose has proven to be only the beginning of our “journey.” With countless renovations and issues on the horizon, I can only hope our love story ends up more “Trista and Ryan” than “Lauren and Ben”

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Question of the day: What was it like when you bought your first home?

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Love In The Time Of Shoe Racks

I  moved in with my boyfriend recently, and for the most part, it’s been great. Not only have the number of nights I’ve spent watching Teen Mom and crying into my Haagen Dazs drastically decreased, he’s also teaching me how to be more of a real-life adult. He cooks, he cleans, he flosses…. he even uses that fancy glass Tupperware that only grown-up people use.

I know, back off ladies.

Cohabiting in a 500 square foot space has not been, however, without its challenges. There was that time, for example, when I used the “special TV cloth” to wipe down the counters (SHAME). Or his continued refusal to accept the fact that books are like my children; they cannot simply be “given away”.

The biggest issue hands down, however, has been storage. Specifically, our shoes. As per my birthright as a female, I’ve got a lot of them. Surprisingly, he’s got even more (I try not to be too concerned about this). In an effort to get ahead of this problem and save our neighbors from experiencing the wrath of a full-on domestic, we purchased this over-the-door shoe rack from Bed Bath and Beyond.

The installation couldn’t have been easier- we hung the rack over the door, loaded all of our shoes on it, and did a little high five/victory dance.

We were feeling pretty smug- until we realized the fatal flaw in our design. The rack was not fully secured to door, which meant that every time we opened and closed it, one or more shoes would fall out onto the floor- or worse, our waiting heads. After a solid two days of being pelted by rogue Nikes, we were both beginning to see stars – Sylvester and Tweety styles.

Obviously we needed a solution.

Luckily, we discovered some tiny holes where you could insert screws to secure the rack to the door, so my boyfriend immediately ran out to the hardware store to pick some up. (He literally ran. To Canadian Tire.  Between periods of a Montreal Canadiens game. This story would only be more Canadian if he’d snowshoed there.)

He came home, sweaty but determined, only to realize the screws he had purchased were too big. Dejected, he settled in to watch Coach’s Corner, vowing to tackle the problem the next day.

Since I’m generally content to let household chores linger, I thought little of it, carefully sidestepping the pile of shoes on the ground, telling myself he would take care of it. I even used the discarded shoes as inspiration for this impromptu photo shoot of my Nikes.

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But then, I received this fateful e-mail:

Hey babe I’m pretty sure Canadian Tire won’t have the screws we need. Any chance you could  hit up Home Depot on the way home? It closes at 7. You know what we need – a really narrow screw that’s long enough go through the plastic space and into the door. No worries obviously if you can’t swing it.

I took a long, hard look at the the screen. A hardware store? He wanted me, to go to a hardware store? Well, I guess this is my life now, I thought. Home Depot. Shoe racks. Maybe we’ll hit up Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend.  Have a nice little Saturday.

The last time I had been in a hardware store was in grade 6, and I have been trying to repress it ever since. My parents were building a new house and insisted on dragging my ass around for every piece of the torturous process. I remember sneaking off to a quiet corner in the light fixtures department to read my book, while my mom and dad debated extensively between two identical pieces of crown moulding in the background.

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled about the idea of returning.

Since I was late leaving work, Home Depot was already closed- so I googled around and found another independent hardware store in the area that kept late hours. Let’s just call it “Studleys”.

The bell jingled as I walked in the door, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the labrynthian aisles and 10 foot high ceilings- each filled with implements I couldn’t identify if my life depended on it. I worried I’d missed a turn and somehow ended up in Diagon Alley (<— lame Harry Potter reference).I jiggled a few screwdrivers, just to make sure they weren’t trap doors.

“Can I help you?”  asked a skinny, 40-ish man with serial killer glasses and a non-ironic moustache. He wore high-waisted pants and a polo shirt; and bore a striking resemblance to Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, only slightly creepier.

“Oh, I was just looking for some screws” I replied, instantly regretting the “that’s what she said” opportunity. Kip remained unphased. “What kind of screws are we talking?” he asked.

He listened intently as I explained my problem, stroking his chin, and lisping “Yes, Yesss” at random intervals.

Hollow door. Miniscule screws. I could tell from his furrowed brow we had a real doozy on our hands here.

“Well, I do have these small screws, but you probably won’t have the right screwdriver for them.” he mused,  furrowing his brow even deeper. Actually,” he said, a proverbial light bulb going off above his head, “What about double sided tape? Have you tried that?”

“No,” I said, surprised, “You think that would work?”

“Oh sure,” he said, “That stuff is like superglue. We have some here I can sell you”

“No, that’s ok,I uh…. have some at home,” I replied,  failing to mention that it was the “Hollywood” variety, used it to guard against “wardrobe malfunctions”.

“Thanks so much!” I exclaimed “You’ve really been a big help”

“No problem,” he said, interlacing his fingers behind his head and leaning back on his heels. “I just love problem solving, you know? That’s kind of my thing. I just want to help people.” I noticed that Kip was moving precariously close to my personal space zone.

“Yeah….ok” I replied awkwardly, backing out of the store. “Well, thanks again!”

I walked home feeling satisfied with myself. Not only had I successfully entered a hardware store, I had also found a cheap and easy solution. With the exception of eavesdropping on my neighbours, never before had I invested so much energy in a domestic project.

I put my boyfriend to work as soon as he got home, double-sided taping the hell out of that thing. Kip had advised us to let the tape cure overnight, and we awoke the next morning like two kids on Christmas- anxious to check if our experiment worked. We jiggled it a little, and it seemed solid.

Cue second high-fiving sequence.

Double sided tape! It was so simple! WHY had we not thought of this before! Thank you, Kip!

Back went all of our shoes, and for a few days, everything worked fine.

………….Until it didn’t.

Slowly the  illustrious tape began to give way, releasing its tenous hold on our footwear. Soon I was seeing stars again, and found myself defeated, standing amongst a pile of discarded pumps, sandals and golf shoes.

In a curious case of life imitating art, mine was beginning to resemble a prolonged scene from the movie “GroundHog Day”.

Damn you Kip and your “problem solving!”

I began to worry that this delinquent shoe rack was some sort of cautionary metaphor for our relationship. Were we, too, destined to fail? To come unglued, to fall apart, no matter what we tried?

No, I decided. I am not going to go down that easy.

So I marched my ass back to Studley’s- this time with a purpose. I blew through the door, past the walls of unfamiliar tools, and slammed my roll of Hollywood tape down on the counter.

“This? I asked? THIS was your solution?”

“I….I don’t know what that is?” replied Kip, staring confused at the roll of pink and purple adhesive.

“Uh, double sided tape?” I spat “your big solution to my shoe rack problem? Well, it didn’t work at all, and now I’m back to square one. How you gonna solve this one, problem solver?”

Kip looked taken aback. It had probably been some time since he had seen this much female aggression inside the walls of Studley’s. A part of me felt badly; but in my mind, he and his dusty little shop of horrors had become the sole authors of my misfortune. There was no turning back now.

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter.” I continued, “Just give me those tiny screws and the screwdriver I need for them. How much is it?”

Flustered, he grabbed the necessary implement “Uh… three fifty” he said.

“Three hundred and fifty dollars?” I choked, trying not to lose my cool.

“No, three dollars and 50 cents?”  He replied, looking at me like I had three heads.

“Oh ok,” I sighed. “That I can do”.

I walked out feeling like I had won a small victory. Ordinarily, I would have given up on the whole thing; tossed the errant piece of plastic down the garbage chute and lived out the remainder of my existence in a sea of disorganized footwear. Not this time, though. The new, domesticated BreezyK was triumphant.

I took home my bounty, and together, we nailed the rack into the door until it was as secure (and by “we” and “together”, I mean I ate FroYo and provided colour commentary while he did all the work).

Although our relationship with the shoe rack is in a state of détente right now, we’re well aware that this could change at any moment. There are one or two screws struggling to come loose, and every few days we have to nail their delinquent asses back in.

If I were a contestant on The Bachelor, I would draw some sort of analogy here between our shoe rack debacle and the continued effort it takes to maintain a stable and loving relationship… But I’m not. So I won’t… but… you get the picture.

Question of the Day: Have you had any household projects from hell?

 

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