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Stirring the pot with the conspiratorial Mr. Schultz 

During the summer before I started college, I worked as a laborer for a lawn-cutting service. There were five guys on the crew — including me — and my boss was a guy named Crew Leader Carl. He had hair down to his shoulders and always had a cigarette sticking out the corner of his […]

The unsung heroes who add beauty to the world 

During the summer before I started college, I worked as a laborer for a lawn-cutting service. There were five guys on the crew — including me — and my boss was a guy named Crew Leader Carl. He had hair down to his shoulders and always had a cigarette sticking out the side of his […]

This hardcore gamer doesn’t need cheat codes — or a headset 

It was a gray, windy Saturday morning. I was sitting on the living-room couch, focused on a life-or-death situation.  My girlfriend, Ashley, had just gotten out of the shower. She walked into the room wearing a bathrobe, a towel wrapped around her hair. “What are you doing?” she asked. I bit my lower lip, concentrating. […]

The abject inhumanity of a house without pizza 

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. I was standing in the kitchen, rummaging through the pantry.  My girlfriend, Ashley, walked into the room. “What are you doing?” “Looking for something to eat,” I said, my head buried in the pantry as I waded through cans and boxes. Ashley snickered. “With your butt sticking out like […]

A lawn-care crew that carries in the groceries 

During the summer before I started college, I worked as a laborer for a lawn-cutting service. There were five guys on the crew — including me — and my boss was a guy named Crew Leader Carl. He had hair down to his shoulders and always had a cigarette sticking out the side of his […]

Getting ahead by getting in over your head

“You know, you really should consider buying a house,” said my friend, Wayne, as he looked around my dismal apartment, his lips curled in a condescending sneer. “Now is a terrific time to buy.” “Really?” I said, settling across from him on my grungy couch. “Right now? You mean when inventory is depleted and prices […]

Maybe you should try decluttering your house before listing it for sale

Years ago, I worked in a small real-estate office. One of the agents got a new listing, so she asked me to drop in and take photos. As I dropped in, my jaw dropped. Random junk sat atop every conceivable surface. It looked as if a tornado had struck a knickknack shop. There were dog […]

What your real-estate agent is really telling you

Real-estate professionals speak a language all their own. However, with the right training (and a couple of evening real-estate courses), you, too, can comprehend the baffling jargon agents use to confound their clients — as well as impress each other. “Today we’re going to be looking at a cozy bungalow that’s right in your price […]

Where I was from

“I am always drawn back to the places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.” — Truman Capote “There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.” — Joan Didion My childhood home is destroyed. Abandoned. Most of the back fence has blown down, and where a gazebo once stood sits […]

If you want all those cool home features, you’ll have to pay extra

I wanted to go house-hunting, so I called my old friend, Rhonda the Realtor. “I want to look at houses,” I told her. “Are you serious about buying?” she asked. “Because the last time you called, you had no intention of buying. The only reason you wanted to look at homes was because you had […]