Our Lady of Perpetual Depression

Next, part three

This is the final part, the one that began when our real estate agent asked, “Do you guys seem to attract this kind of craziness normally?” Because if you take the insane factor of the first homeowner, multiply it by a hundred and then feed it a truckload of Twinkies, that’s the owner of my dream home. She who at one point said, “If you leave the shed unlocked that bobcat will come back. But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure it’s friendly. It purrs.”

So our real estate agent put in our offer the morning after we walked through the house. They countered, we accepted the counter, the end, right? THAT’S HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO WORK. Although I happen to have a track record of breaking things. Toes, tailbones, and apparently the rotation of the earth because that’s when all hell broke lose. I was in New York City on Mother’s Day when we had to sign the counter papers, unable to get a signal on my phone, unable to hear the 17 frantic voicemails Jon had left going I’M GOING TO FLY OUT THERE RIGHT NOW AND STRANGLE YOU MYSELF. And not in a kinky way.

The fax machine at the hotel was working, and then it wasn’t, and my car was on its way to pick me up to take me to the airport, and WE WERE GOING TO LOSE MY DREAM HOME. It felt like a scene out of a really suspenseful thriller as I ran around and around the block searching for a signal to talk to Jon, the fax machine creaking along… did you get it? No? Let me run back and try again. Clock ticking, ticking ticking… around the block again… attempting the fax again…my car waiting… ticking… ticking… BOOM! When the woman at the hotel finally managed to get that fax to send I asked about her name and told her that if my husband’s vasectomy miraculously reversed itself, we’d name our next kid after her.

It’s a boy? Sorry, kid. I promised Susan in New York.

So we had signed papers. Signed papers! Dates! Signatures! Deadlines to meet! YAY! Except, two days later the owner fired her real estate agent. That’s the first thing that raised our eyebrows, and then she made it really difficult to schedule an inspection. Second thing. And then she basically refused to let anyone in to make an appraisal. Third thing. Notice I haven’t mentioned the purring bobcat yet. That’s like, 300 things down on the list.

I’m not sure how earnest money works in other states, but in Utah you write an initial check with your offer that basically says $This Is How Much We Are Interested in Buying Your House. Usually about one percent of the asking price. And if everything goes like it’s supposed to go, that check is released the day of closing and is applied toward the price of the house. Well, this home owner thought that after a certain date on the contract had passed, she’d be written a check for that earnest money. And she could just spend it willy nilly.

When she was advised that this is not how it works, she said she wouldn’t sell the house because she needed that money to move.

But we have a signed contract.

But she didn’t care.



If we didn’t write her a check for the earnest money, she was going nowhere.

I don’t know what it’s called in other languages, but I think in English this is called extortion.

Yes, we could take her to court, but that could end up being thousands of dollars in legal fees, plus months and months of duking it out. We were still waiting for our loan to be approved, and the real estate agency basically said this: if you don’t take this risk, she won’t move out. This risk being: she takes that check, spends it on kibble for her bobcat, and then still refuses to move.

You guys, Jon and I didn’t sleep for days. I know, first world problem. But it was a total nightmare. It was making us physically ill. We’d already paid for the inspection and two appraisals, not too much, no, but I guess the biggest thing was, well, it was my dream house. A dream house I could afford. One I’d already foolishly imagined would be the place where we could host our entire families for holidays and graduations.

We took several days to weigh our options, and I guess the Universe was feeling generous, or perhaps it couldn’t stand the green coloration of Jon’s face, but in the meantime she hired a lawyer to sort out her options. And that lawyer told her to suck it that if she didn’t show up to sign closing papers, he would not represent her. She HAD no options. Also, LADY. DON’T PET THE BOBCAT.

Needless to say, we did not write that check.

A few days later we drove by the house and saw moving boxes and trucks, and it was like my brother that Christmas morning when he got the Millenium Falcon. We called our real estate agent, my mom, his mom, my sister, the mail carrier… WE EVEN DIALED RANDOM NUMBERS just so that we could shout SHE’S MOVING! And then Jon pretended he was Han Solo and I was Princess Leia.

But then. Yes. There is a but then. A very large but then. A but then that required the services of six different lawyers representing six different interests. Turns out that the homeowner’s ex-husband whose name was still on the title of the house had one enormous lien taken out against the home in his name. Like, huge. Like, more money than she was going to walk away with from the sale. And since the two of them no longer speak to each other, his lawyer was talking to her lawyer was talking to the lawyer of the title company was talking to the lawyer of the real estate agency was talking to the lawyer representing the lien. Add in our lawyer, and it’s a wonder the temple didn’t fall into the giant black hole that formed in the middle of Salt Lake City.

Estimates were that not only were they not going to be able to figure out the lien situation by the closing date, but that it might take so long that we might lose the interest rate on our now-approved loan. Since Jon’s phone was our point of contact for everything concerning this house, I developed a pavlovian response and would vomit when I heard the first three notes on his ringtone.

Cut to the week of closing, and I’m in New York City AGAIN, this time for the HGTV event, and I’m grabbing a quick bite to eat at a deli when, no joke, the song from Jon’s ringtone comes on the radio. That was the end of THAT sandwich.

Closing date comes and goes, and still no progress on the lien. I was capital L LIVID. And no one was giving a straight answer. But how could anyone? Because one lawyer had five other lawyers to check in with, and you know they were all off either golfing or busy billing someone for paperclips and staples.

Three days passed, and at that point I couldn’t go on living not knowing what the hell was going on. So I go, Jon, this is it. I want you to pull the My Wife Is Crazy Card. I want you to BLAME ME. Tell them I am ready to sue FOR EVERYTHING. For all the money we’ve spent up to this point, for all our lawyer’s fees, for what it is costing to hold our interest rate every day past closing, and oh! Mention that I’m emotionally unstable! In fact, tell them I once spent a few days in a psyche ward! THINK YOU’RE INSANE, BOBCAT LADY? THINK AGAIN.

And I think our lawyer believed him. Because the email he wrote to all those other lawyers will go down as my favorite email ever written. By four o’clock that day, we had keys to the house.

And when we showed up to have celebratory champagne on the giant porch, guess who was still there? And guess whose stuff was still pouring out of boxes stacked to the ceiling in the garage?

It was then that she approached us and asked if legally we could speak to each other, even though she was the one who had four weeks previously stated that she wanted no contact with us or our real estate agent without some sort of intermediary. We said we didn’t see why we couldn’t speak, and that’s when she wistfully showed us where the bobcat had lived. And when she got to the part about how it purred, well, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I started laughing. Maniacally. Like, to the point that I had tears coming down my face, and I almost fell over.


WE GOT THE HOUSE! And with it, so many amazing ideas and opportunities. I can’t wait to get started.

  • Ariel

    2010/07/06 at 3:21 pm


  • tmehraban

    2010/07/06 at 3:22 pm

    can i just say how much i love your masthead this month!?

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/07/06 at 3:22 pm

    As a present to all of us for waiting 8,000 years to get to that final line, I am pretty sure we need pictures of every single surface of that house.

    Congratulations! Dooce Community party at the new digs next week, right?

  • randi33

    2010/07/06 at 3:22 pm

    YAY! I assume you sold or are selling your other house? Or are you going to keep it and rent it out??

  • Pixie

    2010/07/06 at 3:23 pm

    Yeah!!! Go Team Armstrong!!

  • Fitz and the Dizzyspells

    2010/07/06 at 3:23 pm


  • acm

    2010/07/06 at 3:24 pm

    wow, congrats! the photos looked awesome.
    we expect some major redecoration paroxyms, and possibly one failing-pipe disaster story, just for leavening.

    good luck, and may all the rest be much smoother sailing!!!

  • kathleennavin

    2010/07/06 at 3:25 pm

    Yay! Congrats- I’m assuming she eventually finished moving out? Unless she is out back living in the shed with said bobcat?

  • fabnelly

    2010/07/06 at 3:26 pm

    Congratulations! My goodness I hope this is your last house purchase, that was one stressful experience to read, nevermind live!

    I want to see photos of the bobcat!

  • josephine

    2010/07/06 at 3:26 pm

    YAY!!! That is AWESOME!! I Am so freakin’ excited for you guys!!!

  • kayakgrrl

    2010/07/06 at 3:27 pm

    Remind me to never buy a house in SLC.

    (It’s a beautiful home. Stunning. I’m glad it worked out. Also, I’m sure Coco would love to play with the pretty cat. =)

  • Ariel

    2010/07/06 at 3:28 pm

    Meaning I know I’ve seen pictures as the bobcat ladies house, but I want to see it as YOUR house:)

  • Fifi Coon

    2010/07/06 at 3:31 pm

    Thank God!! I figured you left us hanging to tell us you didn’t get the house………… Congratulations!!!

  • tracy

    2010/07/06 at 3:31 pm

    Great ending. Totally worth the wait. And now I will be waiting for my invite to the house-of-your-dreams warming. I promise to bring Makers.

  • Amanda Patchin

    2010/07/06 at 3:31 pm

    Go you. Pull that crazy card 🙂

  • dooce

    2010/07/06 at 3:32 pm

    Many more pictures to come, and don’t get me started on what the guy quoted us on fixing the boiler. Another post entirely.

  • cameron_barrett

    2010/07/06 at 3:32 pm

    Does the bobcat end your dream of owning chickens?

  • mrs.notouching

    2010/07/06 at 3:32 pm

    Can’t wait to see the bobcat… being balanced on Chuck’s head of course. Congrats!

  • crooked_teeth

    2010/07/06 at 3:32 pm

    wait a second, so are you living in the new house WITH the batty bobcat woman? Did she eventually move out? Confused over here.

  • filmgoerjuan

    2010/07/06 at 3:33 pm

    Congratulations to you and Jon and the girls!

  • souphead

    2010/07/06 at 3:34 pm

    Mazel again, Armstrongs!

    I can’t wait to see what you do with that beautiful house.

  • noL

    2010/07/06 at 3:34 pm


  • Angeerah

    2010/07/06 at 3:36 pm

    Perhaps you should name the bobcat Susan since you aren’t having more children.

    ETA: congrats on the new house.

  • MJBUtah

    2010/07/06 at 3:36 pm

    OMG change the locks! I bought a house from a crazy woman, she still drives by and tries to look in our windows, and once she told my husband that we had the couch in the wrong place.

    The last time she “wandered” by (driving slowly and staring at us in the backyard) I grabbed a big stick and ran towards her car like I was going to smack it. She hasn’t been back.

    Who’s crazy now, beatch?!

  • addtova

    2010/07/06 at 3:37 pm

    Congratulations on your gorgeous amazing house! It looks like it is going to be perfect for you! I also attract crazies I think so I sympathize with you for dealing with the crazy bobcat lady.
    P.S. LOVE the masthead this month!

  • dooce

    2010/07/06 at 3:37 pm

    She and her sons finished moving the boxes by late that night. And HELL if I’m leaving open the shed so that the bobcat returns. I value MY LIFE.

  • theurbancowgirl

    2010/07/06 at 3:38 pm

    Umm wow. And I thought our homebuying experience was a disaster. Yours, totally takes the cake.

    So glad to hear it’s yours! YOURS!

    Maybe bobcat lady is living in the forest with the bobcat?

  • barbara

    2010/07/06 at 3:39 pm

    Pulling out the crazy card always works! Sometimes, you just gotta go a little nuts to get things done. Can’t wait to see pics of the new house!

  • The Prima Momma

    2010/07/06 at 3:42 pm

    Congrats Heather!!!
    So excited for you guys. Can’t wait for pics.
    Happy early b-day to you, huh?

  • WhatForMomma

    2010/07/06 at 3:42 pm

    Holy thank Jeebus.

  • christine1127

    2010/07/06 at 3:42 pm

    THANK GOD!!! 😀

    Love the new masthead, Heather.

  • TriptikGirl

    2010/07/06 at 3:44 pm

    Congrats! Glad to hear it all worked out.

  • mrswilson

    2010/07/06 at 3:44 pm

    Oh seriously. You made me laugh out loud too many times during this post.

    SO excited for you all and SO glad that it all (finally) worked out. Goodness.

    CONGRATULATIONS on the new house!!!

    ps. love the new banner. I also despise whistlers.

  • mommica

    2010/07/06 at 3:44 pm

    Hooray for happy endings! Are you moved in already?

  • Pinkporches

    2010/07/06 at 3:44 pm

    That bobcat is SO going to eat your chickens.

    But other than that, YAY for you!

  • Daddy Scratches

    2010/07/06 at 3:45 pm

    Congrats on the new house, Heather. Glad it had a happy ending.

    We have our house on the market right now and are trying to sell it and move from the Boston area to the Philadelphia area, and no one’s buying houses (unless they’re dream houses in Utah), and we can’t buy a house until we sell our house, and I’m unemployed, and I can’t take a job in Pennsylvania until we actually live in Pennsylvania, and … do you see where this is going? I’m headed to the PSYCH WARD! I’m not playing the crazy card; I AM THE CRAZY CARD!.

    Ahem. Sorry. A bit stressed. Congrats again.

  • curlsz

    2010/07/06 at 3:51 pm

    Ok I’m a realtor – and minus the bob cat this story sounds ODDLY like two other deals I brokered – except in one case we had an attorney racing through downtown traffic on closing days to subpoena someone – OTHER than that – welcome to my NUTSO world and congrats on the new house – now you can hire more people and have more children and oh wait vasectomy…forgot

  • LaLaBoo

    2010/07/06 at 3:47 pm

    Oh my God- You do draw crazy like a lightning rod!!

    Congrats on the house!

  • muirne81

    2010/07/06 at 3:48 pm


    Now, release Jon’s epic email. 🙂

  • zabadu

    2010/07/06 at 3:49 pm

    Jesus fucking Christ – I would have been using the Uzi days before you had your meltdown. I’m glad it’s your dream house because not much is worth that kind of crazy!


  • Amber

    2010/07/06 at 3:52 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve always wanted a friendly bobcat!

    So glad it all worked out. YOU DESERVE THIS! Hope to see pictures as your ideas for your new dream home unfold!

  • twelvedaysold

    2010/07/06 at 3:55 pm

    You. Are a saint. Good job you guys.

    ALSO, I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who tells my husband to use the whole “crazy wife” technique! I guess it’s for a certain breed of us who have no shame.

  • Greta Koenigin

    2010/07/06 at 3:57 pm

    ‘too light winning make the prize light’?

    ‘all’s well that ends well’?

    ‘unsex me here’?


  • sweetpotatopie

    2010/07/06 at 4:04 pm

    I’m surprised she didn’t charge you extra for the nice kitty.

    Bat. shit. crazy.

    Anyway, congratultions! Hope the home turns out to be everything you want it to be for your family.

  • Stephani

    2010/07/06 at 4:05 pm


    Congrats Heather- I’m so excited for you!

  • MrsRoo

    2010/07/06 at 4:05 pm

    Congratulations! Your new house is fabulous and I wish you tons of happiness there.

    Change those locks, girl. What a crazy, crazy bobcat lady. I sure as hell hope she didn’t feed that thing.

  • Leball

    2010/07/06 at 4:06 pm

    Congrats! And wow, what a crazy bitch right! You should put her as bait in the shed!

  • atmosphericNOISE

    2010/07/06 at 4:07 pm

    This is a situation that requires me to quote Randy Pausch:

    Armstrong family, “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”

    You smashed the shit out of the brick wall and good for you!

  • cassidy.stockton

    2010/07/06 at 4:08 pm

    I’m probably the 45th person to say congratulations, but you totally earned! Having just bought our first house and going through a similar, albeit less messy, closing (delays, leins, etc), I can truly say you earned it. The crazy card works- no harm in using it to your advantage. Sounds like bobcat lady had a few cards missing from her deck. Good luck with the move! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the place, besides running around naked and throwing peanut butter at the dogs.

  • MelissaJ

    2010/07/06 at 4:08 pm

    sorry…but this is HYSTERICAL.

    only you could this happen to!

    the house is stunning…and i can’t wait to hear the stories of the bobcat…and coco herding it…and Leta hating it…and chuck ignoring it…and marlo laughing at it.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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