Archive for July, 2013

God is My Cosigner

Friday, July 26th, 2013

I think that maybe God has a lower tolerance for listening to me over-evaluate things than I would have expected. Last week I mentioned that God was complaining about my pickiness in looking at houses, this week I chose one and am now in the massive paperwork and escrow process. The thing is, I probably shouldn’t have really gotten a house this nice in today’s market for the money I had to spend; that’s why I suspect that God just got tired of my endless circular arguments. Does this house have enough space for everything I own? Can I live with the terrible flow patterns of this one? That house is really nice but it is both more than I can probably afford and adds too much time to my daily commute.

It’s not that any of my arguments were wrong, and it’s not that I was despondent or anything, it’s just that I’d keep revisiting the same arguments for the same houses, over and over again, always hoping that I’d discover some redeeming thing that I’d missed but never actually finding one. So I’d move back to the start of the list. Now the list did keep changing, since houses are selling pretty quick right here and now, so houses that I’d almost committed to would drop away and I’d have to take another, harder, look at one that I’d already passed on. Should I really have passed on it? Are my hopes just out of line with my budget and I really need to tone them back and look again? Should I change my mind about my insistence on not needing mortgage insurance? After all, the market is finally rising so I could refinance in a year or two or accelerate payments to get below that magic 80% of loan to value number.

And that’s what I’ve been doing relentlessly for the last week and a half.

So I think God nudged the market a little. I was waiting in my car outside a house that I really wanted to see, but probably couldn’t quite afford, when my agent called to let me know that the house I was at had gone off the market earlier that day. This wasn’t the first time that had happened, and, remember, I’d only been looking less than two weeks. Then he went on. He’d seen another house earlier that day that had just come on the market and he thought it might be what I was looking for.

He was right.

Not only was he right, but the sellers were apparently interested in getting a quick deal, which means they weren’t necessarily going to get the best price, so maybe I could afford it. They were taking offers right away, not waiting to do an open house, not setting a day for comparing all comers. Somebody was already working up an offer and if we wanted to have a shot we needed to get in on the same day. So I made an offer. I made an offer notably lower than what my agent recommended, but only a smidge over my comfort zone. We tweaked some things, we offered some perks that didn’t affect the price but which might make us more attractive, and we made sure that we showed that I was good for what I said.

Mine was the third offer, they held up until nine at night to give us time to finish writing it up. I don’t know any of the details of the other offers but they picked mine. The house is, to my tastes anyway, much nicer than ones I’d seen that were listed at higher prices, so life is good. I’m happy and God’s happy, now I just have to make it through escrow.

Four Walls and a Bed

Friday, July 19th, 2013

I’m buying a house. So it follows that you’re going to hear about it, probably a few times, since this isn’t the sort of thing that happens overnight. I don’t yet know what house I’m going to buy, but I know quite a few that I won’t. God tells me that I’m pickier than I need to be. I tell her that she’d be right if I were looking for a place to rent but as I’m buying it’s perfectly appropriate to be picky.

When you rent a home, you find someplace that seems like it will do, that is near enough to where you want to be, and that you can afford, and then you jump in. If it doesn’t work out, no harm, no foul, just find someplace else. But when you buy a place you’re either going to be stuck with it for a long while or you’ll likely be out a lot of money. Money isn’t everything but, well, it’s a lot of things. It does matter. It’s sad what that implies about humanity, but it’s still true.

And also, the place you buy says something about you. Much more so than a place you rent. I’d like it to at least say nice things to my face, even better if it says nice things behind my back. So I’m looking, I’m looking for a place that speaks to me, a place that will whisper sweet nothings into my ears when I go to bed at night. I guess that makes the online real estate sites just another dating service.

Shafted Etiquette

Friday, July 12th, 2013

God tells me it’s time to make another public service announcement. So without further preamble, here it is: In an elevator, step to the front before the doors open on your floor.

It’s a simple thing but it makes life so much better for those of us waiting to board. What I see all the time is people extending great courtesy when they get in and ride the elevator. They enter and then immediately step to one side or other, and usually to the back as well. At least as soon as they’ve pressed the button for their floor.

That’s great. It makes it easy for people to come in behind them and find an open space in which to stand.

But then everyone is shy when it comes time to leave. No one wants to be the first one to step up to the door, so presumptuous, people might think they feel entitled to get out first, might think that they think their business is more important than everyone else’s. Well cut it out. What you’re doing instead is having the doors open with no one standing there, so those of us waiting to get in see an empty space just waiting for us, an inviting space giving us that come hither look. So we go for it, we start to move forward, so we can all get in before the door starts to buzz. But no. As we start forward someone inside the elevator suddenly steps from one side of the door, sometimes both, ready to get out now, as if they hadn’t known that their floor was due. Now we have to back up, possibly stepping on the toes of the people who moved up behind us and now we’re doing this awkward dance of stepping sideways and looking over shoulders and trying to make sure that we get out of the way of the people coming out but don’t end up completely shuffling the order in which we get in, just in case there won’t be enough room for everyone.

So please, if you’re getting off, stand right up there, front and center. It makes life a little better for everyone. I promise we won’t feel you’re presumptuous.

Ambiguity in the Dark

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Last week was a dark week for me. By which I mean that it was time for Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBT film festival, so I spent much of the week sitting in a darkened auditorium, with God ever by my side.

There are a number of things that I like about going to film festivals. I get to see films that may never make it into wide release. I get to see them with an audience of enthusiasts. And, especially at Frameline, I get to sit in on Q&A sessions with the film makers.

One of the themes that God pointed out to me was being repeated in several of the Q&As this year was a form of cowardice being presented as if it were a virtue. I talked about this in the context of fast food back in April, when I complained that the supposed professionals preparing my food wanted me to micromanage the process, in effect making me into the chef. Here’s the film director’s equivalent: “Yeah, I wanted to leave that ambiguous so the audience could make up their own mind.”

Well, screw you, you coward. It’s not my job to decide how your story was supposed to end. You’re the professional storyteller so do your job and make a commitment, make a decision, and just accept that some of us will like it and some won’t. You’ll actually probably please more people, because I can tell you, judging by the number of questions people have about what actually happened, not saying is pissing a lot of us off. Look, don’t be scared to have an unhappy ending, but if you do, make sure it has value and was supported by the rest of the film. Also, don’t be afraid to have a happy ending, but if you do, make sure it isn’t contradictory to where the rest of the film was going.

Oh and God wants me to add, as to that whole “slice of life” thing? That’s what newspapers and magazines are for, fiction should actually tell a story. Stories end. If your film just stops, without actually ending, most of us don’t like that.