Saturday, March 31, 2007

I had a dream last night where the following dialogue happened:

Random dream character: "Would you ever work for a science?"
Me: "What do you mean, become a scientist?"
RDC: "No, I mean the company -- Ascience."

I think this is interesting. I misunderstood a word in my own dream. Isn't that somewhat odd? I mean, the sleeping me was creating the whole dream conversation, right? So why would I (and by "I" I refer to either the sleeping me or the dream character 'me') not understand a word in that conversation? I'm sure it tells us something about the way dreams work, but I'm not sure just what.
This really is pretty messed up.

They pick up a guy, isolate him, and beat him. Then they say "okay, we'll stop beating you if you say we never beat you."

This is the U.S. government we're talking about.

This is part of the reason I've never understood why we tolerate plea bargains. Don't they encourage people to make false confessions out of fear of what will happen if they don't say what the government wants? The only convincing argument I've heard in their favor is that, whether we officially sanction them or not, they'll happen -- so we might as well make it official so we can keep an eye on them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Guess I ought to note that we bid on another house and lost it. It's getting depressing, and I'm starting to get pretty worried that competition for those houses is stiffening, and we're going to have an even harder time of finding a place. Plus, I'm scared that we won't be able to make the monthly payments and continue to save cash. But I think that last part is wrong. I'm a worrier.

Also, the seller of the house that we lost before this one called our realtor back and said they wanted to "meet us halfway" -- but arbitrarily upped their previous offer by $5K (from $395K to $400K) thus upping the halfway point $2.5K (from $387.5 to $390). That amount of money is basically meaningless in this context, which is why the move is so infuriating. Why bother trying to "outsmart" us like that for a .7% increase in your payday?

I know I'm not supposed to let my feelings get involved, and I wouldn't if I really wanted this place anymore. But we went back and looked at it again -- after making our "final" offer, when we were reconsidering -- and it's really not that great of a place. It's been rehabbed, but the style is truly tacky, and the workmanship is questionable at best. There's this ugly granite tile on the kitchen floor, and it's not flat. That's the main example.

Our realtor advised us that we could make our offer contingent on the seller's fixing the things we don't like. But W and I talked about it, and, having dealt with this idiot, we have absolutely zero faith that he'd make any effort to do a good job. He'd no doubt try to fool with us. A better option would be to tell him we've figured out how much the changes we want would cost, and we'd like the price reduced by that amount. Of course, I'm certain he wouldn't go for that, since he's so unwilling to budge on the price as it is.

Anyway, all that's going on. When we found out we lost this last place, I had a sort of private, quiet freakout. I couldn't handle reality, and got pretty drunk every day for a few days. I'm sort of still in that mode, but handling it a little differently -- I've just kind of stopped thinking about the house-buying thing. But now that I'm doing this post, I'm all upset again, and I think I'm going to get a drink after work.
Hah. I haven't posted here in days. It's funny. This blog has actually existed since... 2002? Or maybe it's '03. But anyway, it's been a long fucking time. And every once in a while -- maybe once a year -- I come up with some purpose I'd like it to serve, and then I do a few posts and forget about it again. This may be another example of that. I'd like to believe it isn't, and that this time will be different, because this really doesn't involve any effort on my part at all: I'm not trying to impress anybody, and most of what I write is basically stream of consciousness. By continually emphasizing the fact that I don't think anyone's going to read this, I'm probably on some level trying to convince myself that there's no risk involved in writing these posts.

I do keep thinking of things I want to post here. But actually I'm walking something of a fine line. I'd really like to maintain enough anonymity that, if I do feel like writing about something horribly embarrassing or extra private, I can feel free to do that. Like, what if I get a crush on a girl and I want to talk about that? I'm a married man! I actually really do believe that having crushes on people is just part of life, and it's going to happen. I've accepted that W will have them, I think... It came up once, I can't remember the context, and I really didn't feel any compunction about saying "I understand you'll have crushes, just as long as you're not unfaithful." Oh, but here's another example, maybe a more realistic one: what if W is really annoying me? Can I write about that? It happens sometimes, believe it or not. Or what if I want to say "I made a little schedule for myself today, and I blocked out 20 minutes for jerking off?" (Not that I did. Or would. I actually don't jerk off, never have. I think it's disgusting.)

What's hysterical is that I'm posting this from work. I'm sure that, if they wanted to, anyone could look at what I'm writing. So guys, for the record? I'm kind of sitting on my hands today -- haven't had any assignments. Don't want to go chasing after them b/c I've been told that I'm going to get one soon.

Ah me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I just took out my guitar -- probably for the first time in months -- and started noodling around. I found myself playing this song, that I wrote when I was 21 or 22, I think. So ten years ago at least. It's about some of the same stuff that's been a major subject of this little diary: how time passes, and things change. I think this is one of the biggest mysteries, shall we say, of life. "Mystery" might not be the right word, but I don't know what is.

Too many days have passed,
Too much has been lost.
A lot of things are different now,
At such a cost.

Nothing is for sure;
You never know what might change.
Nothing works out in the end --
And nothing stays the same.

Too many days have passed.
Time goes by so fast.
No, this will not last.
Nothing works out in the end -- too many days have passed.

Reading them written down, they seem so simplistic. I'm no, I don't know, Donald Fagan. But I do think they capture something. Every moment is fleeting. It's here and then it's gone, and it will never come back. And in the end -- at the risk of some high melodrama -- you die. Nothing works out in the end; in the end, everything you ever did, ever cared about, ever worked for, ever enjoyed, ever hated, is just gone. And even before that, each moment, each hour, each year, you lose your past, and it's never coming back. It's a pretty incredible thing about life. When I wrote this song, I was singing to an ex-girlfriend; our relationship had been over for years, and our lives had just trucked on. We had really cared about each other. I wrote this song when I realized that, well, it was over. That relationship was gone forever, no matter how much I cared for the girl. I wasn't exactly wishing I could have her back or anything; I was just thinking about how, no matter what happened, our lives had changed and that was behind me, behind us.

Now that I'm writing about this, it makes me think of a stanza from another song I wrote, another one I found myself singing just now. This one was also about a relationship that had fallen apart (although it subsequenly came back together, and the woman is now my wife). The lines are

My faith and my pride, and all the tears that I cried,
Were all lost for good when you said goodbye.

I found it very profound, the day I wrote that, that when you cry you lose those tears forever. They're part of your body; they come out of our eyes and roll down your cheeks, and they're gone. They're never coming back. I mean, the same can be said for, say, sweat, or fingernails, or dandruff, or hair, or hangnails, or probably every other part of your body. But there's something about the fact that, your natural emotional reaction to losing something includes shedding a part of yourself. And it's a nice parallel to the things you lose emotionally -- namely, in this case, your faith and pride.

Well, I'm sure I'm thinking about this because my life is on the edge of some major changes. I'm going to leave New York; I'm going to leave our friends here; I'm going to cease being a student and a bohemian type who lives in a shithole apartment and become an adult with a well-paying job who lives in a nice house. So I'm feeling this stuff about time rolling on, and things changing, and saying goodbye to the past, very acutely. But part of what's so incredible about it is that it's constantly going on. I sang another of my old songs today, and I was brought back to the time I wrote it. It must have been spring, because I was sitting outside at this little (really little, I don't think it had any indoor seating at all) coffee place at Houston and 1st or 2nd Ave. I was a young-ass motherfucker. I worked at a little record label. Everything, everything was different. I lived in an even smaller shithole. I drank constantly; I probably smoked most of the time too. I had long hair. I thought I was hot shit. (I wasn't.) I played music all the time. And I was somewhat rawer, emotionally. Or at least I was more interested in accessing my tragic side, the side of me that's blown away by the mysteries, pleasures, and pains of life and the world. It's the side that I associate with my mother. The part of me that believes crying is good, and being bowled over by something beautiful -- just taken down completely by something that you can't put into words -- is the goal in life. I always remember my mother crying when she put on a CD of Carmen. At the time, I was annoyed, frankly. But part of me felt like, now that is experiencing life. Just allowing it to stop you in your tracks altogether. Today, there's a big part of me that's skeptical of that -- I think my mother cries a lot of the time because she's not sure how else to handle things. I think it's a bit of a crutch: she can never actually do anything, and she can say it's because she's just such a raw nerve, so sensitive. Still, there's part of me that still wants to live like that. I've put lines in my songs about this too -- there's a line that says "my eyes will never be / dry, it's heavenly." That line is about this feeling. In that song, actually, the tears signify love and music -- a love song, really.

Anyway, back then, I was closer to that side of myself. Now I'm more practical, more grown-up. More boring. But I have to be, I have a responsibility to my wife. I have to keep my head on my shoulders, and I have to be willing to do things, and not let the beauty and pain of life stop me in my tracks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Man, since I've been doing this, I encounter so many things during the course of the day that I feel I want to write down for you. (You being me.) (But actually, that's another issue entirely: are you really me? I mean, I'm assuming you are the person w/ the same SS #, same birthday, same name, same wife, same DNA, etc., as me... But is it really fair to say that we're the same person? This is something I [or was it someone else?] grappled with a litttle in college when I first started leaving notes for myself around. In a lot of ways, we're really not the same person. And again -- this is what has been troubling me for all these years. I want to be myself. But I'm just not sure who that is.) This time I just started typing because I'd thought of so many things I wanted to say; I figure I'll decide as I type which one to focus on now.

Well, yesterday I had a weird experience. Now, what I'm about to write about is the sort of thing that makes me want this blog to stay as anonymous as possible. I know that I've put enough details in here that anyone who really knows about my life will be able to figure out who I am (although there's really only about three people -- W, and our two best friends -- who fall into that category). So the anonymity thing may be a lost cause. But I'll say this: I'm going to talk here about some dark thoughts that I had. But, on the off chance that someone I know is looking at this, I want you to know that these are just thoughts. I know I'd never do the shit I'm thinking about. And I'm confident -- although people don't talk about it much -- that 90% of the rest of the world has thoughts like this, and often.

Anyway. So I was depressed, and so was W. The two of us, and our dog, were sort of snuggling on our couch-bed, just lying there like sacks, feeling sorry for ourselves. And I started drifting off. It's when I'm in that state between asleep and awake that I have a lot of interesting thoughts. Anyway, I had this thought: what if the two of us, me and W, had made a suicide pact, and we were just lying there waiting to die? Part of the story I made up in my mind was that we'd poisoned D too (that's the dog), since there'd be no one to take care of her after we were gone. And I just sort of saw the three of us floating up into the sky. And it felt like, man, that would be nice. To be just the three of us, with nothing to worry about, for the rest of eternity. Just snuggling.

Then, of course, I started to worry that we wouldn't all end up together. I sort of saw D floating off in a different direction. I think this was because W and I had made a decision to die, we had had an opportunity to think about it and deliberately chose it; but D hadn't had that opportunity. We'd killed her. It wasn't fair. So she was being taken somewhere else -- maybe she was going to heaven and we were going to hell? I don't know. But I got very upset by this. It was like, yes, it would be wonderful to be just the three of us forever; but if it's not going to be the three of us, it's very sad.

I suppose that's part of the thing about death, that we just don't know what to expect. I've always believed pretty strongly that, well, it's just the end -- you don't feel or experience anything at all after you're dead. But as I get older, I have to face the fact that I actually don't know. And if it involves some sort of experience, and that experience doesn't involve W and D, well, I don't want that!

Man is this a stupid post. I guess that's what I get. But it is probably worth noting for the future that I felt this way once. But let me add: at the time this was written, I was a lot smarter than this sounds. I swear. This is not representative.

Ah. Shit. This sucks.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Well, if I'm keeping a diary of the significant moments in my life, I should probably make a note of the fact that we just learned we didn't get the house we bid on last weekend. It's been a fucked up experience. I bet this is something I'll forget if I don't write it down -- how really upsetting it is to find out that we're not getting that fucking place. Especially for W, but everything is harder on her than it is on me. Actually -- I was very, very upset when we got the call, but at the moment I'm kind of over it. A different feeling has replaced the feeling of loss. Now I'm just sort of pissed off and depressed -- just that black mood that makes you want to say, "fuck it. Fuck everything. I'm sick of it."

And I guess that kind of gets to what bothers me now. When our realtor called us and told us they wouldn't accept our offer (I'm telling you, no one is going to pay what they are asking for that house), I was sad because I wanted to live in that house. But now I'm pissed off because we have to fucking start from scratch again. And I'm scared, because we're starting to run out of time, and I basically refuse to buy a house that feels like a major compromise. I want W to have a nice place to live, something that represents what she wants out of a house. I can't feel okay about buying a house that feels like a cop out. That poor woman has stood by me for eleven years now, and never in those eleven years has her life been what she wanted it to be. Now we have an opportunity to start taking steps toward getting her what she wants. I don't want her to be sad about the house we buy, I want her to be happy. I guess that's really what it comes down to.

This last week has been wild. We put in an offer on this house last Saturday. I was on spring break, so I had jackie wilson to do, and I spent the entire week thinking about how to handle the negotiation, and then sweating bullets while we waited to hear back from the sellers. This is another reason why it's so upsetting not to get the place.

But there's something else important about this experience. I have been in charge of handling the negotiation. And W and I both felt that I kind of "grew up" in the process. I finally felt like a man: I knew that my approach was the right one, and that I was handling this very big, important thing for my family in the best way possible. I wasn't acting like an irresponsible kid, as I have with basically every other major decision in my life; I researched and thought and got advice from the right people, and as it turned out, each decision I made was the right one. The only wrong thing is that we didn't get the place -- but I'm telling you, no one is going to pay that price for that house.

Even talking to my father -- this is a big thing for me -- I could tell that he felt I was doing everything right. In fact, a few weeks ago, he tried to tell me that maybe we shouldn't buy a house right now. And I talked him into seeing things from my perspective. In the end, I'd won him over. I don't believe that has ever happened before. When we were talking about this house, we were like signing off -- you know, "alright, well, I guess I'll talk to you later; great talking to you; keep me posted," and the like, it can go on for a very long time sometimes -- and I sort of blurted out, "do I have your blessing, Dad?" And he said yes. That was a good moment.

Another moment along those lines that sounds insigificant but was an important one for me was this: we're talking about my situation, and my Dad asks me about his mortgage situation. He asked whether he could get a lower rate if he had a longer-term mortgage. Now, really. That sounds incredibly insignificant. But it was nice for me -- he saw me as an authority on this shit.

Of course, I gave him the wrong answer (I said yes). I looked it up online later and discovered that it seems the opposite is the case. Beautiful, isn't it? That sums some shit up right there.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I might make a note of some of the music that's defining our lives right now, since that's such a huge part of painting a picture of what things are like for us. I have become obsessed with Amy Winehouse -- downloading huge numbers of her songs (but of course never buying anything, since we're flat busted). I'm also in a hip-hop mode, listening to lots of Talib Kweli, the Roots, Redman, Jay-Z, Nas, Ludacris, a little Common, Kanye. W is in the other room listening to "Don't Let Go" by En Vogue, and singing along at the top of her lungs. Oh, now it's Justin Timberlake.

In the kitchen -- you know, the one with a mini fridge and no wall space for a paper towel dispenser -- we have a boom box sitting in a cabinet (since there's no other surface to put it on). It's a pain in the ass to switch the CD in there, you have to take the box out of the cabinet because the CD thing is on the top of the box, and there's a shelf directly above it. As a result, I tend to put a CD in there and listen to it over and over. For a long time I had "The Carnival" by Wyclef in there. It's an old album, and I sometimes think it's pretty corny, but it's really good. I always get the sense that you can tell he really likes music -- he's got a song based on "Guantanamera," a song based on "To All the Girls I Loved Before," one based on "Stayin' Alive." I just put in a CD that my Mom gave us, by a Frenchman recording in the 40's called Charles Frenet. I think I'm going to really like that too. It's that real corny French music, but exactly the kind of thing I like. Lots of strings, lots of catchy melodies.

UPDATE: Just another note about old Charles Frenet -- I realized after hearing the shit maybe twice that Django Reinhardt plays on some of the songs. Not much more to say but that. But I thought it was significant.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

So these days we're living in that ridiculous apartment on India St. It's hilarious: the floors sag so much that we have 2" shims under one side of every piece of furniture. And the place is so small that we're sleeping on a pull-out couch that also serves as our couch. Funnily, though, we don't fold it back up to use it as a couch -- we just lean some pillows against the wall and sit sideways, with our legs sticking out in front of us. I don't know why we didn't just use a bed!

Well -- actually, I do know why, and this is kind of funny too. We do own a bed. It actually was my grandparents' bed, and my great-grandfather built it with his own hands. The confluence of three or four things are keeping us from using it; I actually believe that any one of them on its own would have been sufficient to deter us from using it, but all of them together are an unstoppable force. Here are the reasons:
  1. it's in storage, and W claims that the storage space is so tightly packed that we can't get anything out without spending a few hours unpacking and repacking the space (me, I've never been to the space);
  2. the last time we used it, our apartment became infested with bedbugs. Yes, bedbugs. You can't imagine how horrible that experience was. Anyway, we've read that they can live for a year without eating. This strikes me as damn near impossible, but that's what they say. So what if there are some bedbugs still living in that fucking bed, just waiting for us to take it out of storage again?
  3. I love my grandparents, but it's actually kind of a piece of shit as furniture goes. I mean... Wow, I can't believe I said that. It is beautiful, and it's amazing that my great-grandfather built it. I couldn't be happier to own it. But it's very rickety, and it's on little wheels. Having sex on it is a weird experience -- you are in serious danger of breaking it, and simultaneously it is inching across the floor. You're never sure where you'll end up.
  4. it's a little creepy sleeping in your dead grandparents' bed, much less having sex in it.

So, for those reasons, we are now sleeping on a true piece of shit futon couch. It is really -- realy really really -- really uncomfortable. It's small, and we are the crazy couple that doesn't just allow their dog to sleep with them, but actually insists on it -- we get our feelings hurt if she tries to sleep elsewhere. We call her. I think I've even gone over to her, picked her up, and brought her back to the bed. It's also all indented where we lie, so you don't have a flat surface underneath you, and some parts are hard and others are soft, and there's a big ridge between us.

Anyway, the kitchen in that apartment is so small that they couldn't fit a real refrigerator and stove in there -- we have mini versions of both! (Not a college fridge, but like a three-quarter size one or something.) And our only counter space is this thing we bought from Ikea that provides us with about three square feet of space, on which we have to keep our coffee maker, knives, any bread we have on hand, and our paper towels (there is literally no space for a paper towel dispenser on the wall). We use what's left over of that space for cooking.

The oddest thing about the place is the fact that the bathroom is outside the apartment. Basically, the apartment is the upstairs of a house. You come into the house, and you're in a common area; you walk up the stairs, and directly in front of you is our bathroom, and to the right is the door to our place. Mind you, we don't share the bathroom with anyone. But there's nothing to stop our downstairs neighbors from coming up to take a shit if they felt like it.

Which brings me to the downstairs neighbors. I have a feeling they are going to fall into the same category as the crazy old junkie with the cane who loved D -- weird people I didn't particularly care for at the time, but who I really don't want to forget about. They're a Polish couple, in maybe their 40's or 50's. Hard to tell, because hard living takes its toll, and the husband definitely likes to stay drunk. They had a hard time adjusting to D, because she tends to, well, howl at the top of her lungs for hours on end when she's left alone. But the amazing thing is that they have stayed completely nice about it -- they always tell me, in their broken English, "no problem." (That does seem to be a favorite English phrase among Polish speakers.) Yesterday I stopped and shot the shit with the husband for a good ten minutes, neither of us understanding a word the other was saying. He was talking about the weather, about the dog, something about the mail. It seems they had some sort of problem involving the mail and the woman who used to live in our place. The wife is also very nice, but she's weird in her own right: one day the doorbell rang at about 9 a.m., and I answered it. It was an old woman with a piece of paper in her hand w/ our address on it, asking for the woman downstairs. The woman comes out, in a full-on nightgown, obviously embarrassed for me to see her like that. The two of them go into the downstairs apartment. For the rest of the day, the whole house smells like hair products.

There's also a younger guy, probably college age, who lives there. We think he's not related to the other two, that he just rents a room in the front of the house. He is really quite nice. His room reeks of adolescent boy. Nasty. I almost never see him. I can't figure out whether he's always home or never home, but he's never seen going in or out of the house.

One more thing about the husband, a story that I hope to not forget: when we were moving in -- the very first time I meet the guy -- he comes outside the house, stinking of vodka, and insists on closing the door (which we have open so we can move our shit in). W and he nearly get into an altercation about this; then he goes to the mailbox and gets out the mail, takes a look at it, and starts getting irate: "the fucking post! Is wrong! Is wrong!" And he shows me the address label, as he's walking next door, presumably to drop it in their slot. The label shows his adress; but it has my name on it. I had to talk him down, convince him that it was right. I'm pointing at the address, then pointing at the street numbers on the house, I'm pointing at the name on the label, then pointing at myself going "me! Me!" And that was our introduction to the guy. Then we walk in the door and notice that there's a damn billy club hanging next to the door. I admit to being truly afraid at that point. But he turned out to be very nice, like I say.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hi again, future me. Just checking in.

Here's the scenario at the moment: I'm still in law school -- about a month and a half left or something -- and I'm on spring break. The wife is off at a sewing class. Which leaves me home alone, with nothing terribly pressing to do. So I figured I'd write you a little note.

The prevailing feeling today is crushing pressure. That's because we've made an offer on a house, and the sellers are not behaving predictably, shall we say. The asking price was $419K, and we offered $340K. They've not responded to our offer with a number -- ours was obviously quite low, so I'm not too surprised that they seem to believe they couldn't really play ball -- but they have responded by trying to get us to get a mortgage from them (they happen to be lenders). The first time I heard this from our realtor, he didn't explain the situation well, and I got the mistaken impression that they'd said, "our counteroffer is $395K, subject to them getting a mortgage through us." My response was to put the mortgage thing to the side, and give them a higher offer -- $360K -- to see if we could settle on a price. I figured that we want to be free to get a mortgage from whomever; what we needed from the sellers was a price so we knew whether we'd be able to buy the house. This is what our realtor advised me to do. But like I say, I'd misunderstood the situation. What had actually happened was that they said to our broker "we can't come back w/ a number when their offer is so low. But tell them that, if they were to get a mortgage from us for $395K, we could give them a better deal than what they've got." So the didn't in fact give us a counteroffer, and we raised our bid anyway. Not something I feel very good about.

Their response to our second bid was basically exactly the same as our first: according to our realtor, it was something like "Hm, that's interesting. What's their credit score? Maybe we can give them a mortgage." After hearing this, and understanding it better, I was totally disinclined to follow our realtor's advice and raise our bid again. So I sent them our credit scores, thinking, we're not at our highest number, and I don't want to walk; let's keep them engaged, let them give us their mortgage pitch, and see if they can come up with a doable number. Now I'm waiting to hear back. I fully expect them to say "Okay. Our counteroffer is $395K, and here's a great deal we can give you on a mortgage." I will want to say, "wait, we already turned down $395K. Can't you do any better?" But I believe that if I do that, they'll say "we've come down $25K from the asking price. We can come down to $385K, but that is firm." To which I would have to say, "no can do." So instead I plan to give them our firm final offer if they do what I expect. And I'll say "we can't commit to getting financing from you unless you commit to a price, in writing. Once you've done that, we're happy to consider your mortgage." Giving them our final offer and telling them it's firm might get them to come down to us; if they give us their firm offer first, I think it'll be too high for us.

But, so the reason I feel crushing pressure is that I'm freaked out that I'm going about this wrong, and we're going to lose this fantastic house as a result. (Not that it's the end-all-be-all, but it's quite nice.) Am I insisting on a price that's too low? And by being hard-assed about the mortgage -- instead of saying, "hm, this is very interesting! I'm intrigued" -- am I going to run them off? Maybe I should dangle the possibility of the mortgage a little more temptingly. Hm, yeah.... At least maybe I shouldn't knee-jerk say "we can't commit to this" until I've really looked the mortgage over. If it's really good, maybe I should be more open about it at this stage. And now that I think about it, maybe I shouldn't refuse to commit; maybe I should just come back with a firm final offer and not mention the mortgage. That way I'm not insisting that I won't consider it; if they're so inclined (which I don't think they will be) they might just allow themselves to be committed to our price without deciding on the mortgage if they're not sure whether it's a possibility. Yeah, but that doesn't seem too likely. What seems more likely is they'll say "we can't give you that price unless you do a mortgage with us," and I'll have to say... I guess I'd have to say "put that in writing." At which point I'd look at the mortgage and either say "can't do it," or "you've got a deal."

But regardless of what they said, when I looked at the mortgage I'd want to show it to other lenders and see if they could do better. Don't tell them buying the house is contingent on financing through the seller, just say "can you match this." If it's really not a good deal, I guess we'd walk away.

Yeah, I guess the reason I wanted to refuse to commit until they agree on a price is to avoid a situation like that one: where we have to choose between getting this house at a fair price but with a lousy mortgage and not getting it at all. The idea is to completely sever the requirement of the mortgage from the house. W (my wife that is) is a proponent of this plan: make it clear that we will not buy the house if it's a requirement that we get the mortgage from them. We want to treat them just like any other lender. My only concern is that we'll lose a house that could have been ours for no reason other than our hard-headedness. What if they can really offer us a good deal on the financing? Or even just a decent deal, but the price on the house is right? What would be the harm in letting that happen?

The answer is that there's no harm in letting that happen. But the problem is that we're opening up a difficult, and risky, negotiation. If we allow ourselves to get into that situation, it will inevitably take a long time to sort out the details; and there's a good chance that we'll have to walk away at the end of it. Which we can't really afford to do -- time keeps on slipping into the future.

I'm not totally convinced that that's the only problem. But I can't think of what the other one would be right now.

Well anyway. This is not what I think a note to my future self should be like. It should contain a portrait of life today, not just a long train of thought. I actually do this when I work on pretty much any project -- I write for a while about it, just letting whatever comes to my mind come out. I find it extremely helpful. But I don't think the blog should be like that. Crap. So this was a bit of a waste of time, because I didn't come to any decision about what I should do, either. Shitty blog post, no decision. In fact, I just confused myself again. I was all ready to say "we can't commit to financing until you commit to numbers on paper," but now I'm not sure. Great going, there, man.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hi. Well this is interesting, I thought ought to note it since so much of what I've talked about of late has to do with what I'm trying to accomplish by having this blog. I keep harping on how this is a note to myself, and how no one else is reading it, etc. But I was just poking around in blogger's settings, and one of the options was to make this blog private -- i.e., make it so it wouldn't show up on blogger. Or something like that. Anyway, what's interesting is that I decided not to do that. In other words, some part of me wants people to read it.

I don't know what that's about. But it's interesting, and it seems to be a piece of our reality TV/blog world -- we are voyeurs, and we apparently want people to view us too.

I actually have thought a lot about this in a different context, the context of making art. How important is it to have an audience? That is something that's troubled me for years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Well. Oh, crap. I was getting ready to write about the fact that we seem to be negotiating to buy a house, but coming back to this page reminded me of the last thing I wrote about -- that buying a house is going to be harder than we thought.

Okay, I'm going to talk about numbers. That's okay, right? No one is reading this shit, and presumably if you are, you don't know who I am. Right? You'd tell me. I trust you. Okay. So let's say we end up buying a house for $375,000. Let's say losing costs are 5% of that -- that comes to $18,750. Whew. Then we need a down payment. Good lord. Now the thing is, we have the money to do this -- it's not like we're not going to be able to buy this house. We can do it, assuming changes in the market don't make it so we can't put down 5%. (I understand that riskier mortgages -- ones that aren't your conventional 30-year fixed with 20% down -- are becoming an endangered species.) A 5% down payment would be another $18,750, for a total of $37,500. (Oh yeah. Duh. That's 10%.) Yowza, but we can do it. Now what if we were to do a 10% down payment? $56,250. If we get together all the money we have at our disposal, we can do that too. We don't want to completely deplete our savings, but I think we could do this.

Okay, using a handy online mortgage calculator: this would mean we'd have two loans, a first mortgage for 80% of $375,000, or $300,000; and a second for the remainder after we made our 10% down payment -- or $37,500. Say the first is at 6.25%, and the second is at 8.5%. The montly payments on the first would be $1,847.15; payments on the second would be $288.34. The total would be $2,135.49. Completely doable. Of course there's that pesky matter of a balloon payment. Good way to make sure I don't get too rested at night.

Now for further edification, what if we did a 5% down payment? It would raise our monthly payment by $144.17, for a total of $2,279.66. Also completely doable. Of course, over the life of the loan this would mean we'd pay an additional $33,151.20 in interest. I'd rather put that $144 in some mutual fund or something. But whatever. Who do I think I am, fucking Merril Lynch?

Anyway, that's where all this puts us. It's very much not a given that we'll get this place for $375K, and I also feel like getting those loan terms isn't a definite either, even though some lenders did offer us that. It seems like nothing is concrete until you sign the shit. But if all that were to work out, we'd be okay. Except for that pesky motherfucking balloon payment. Yee.

I guess there's something else I should consider. We could conceivably come up with a full 20%. That would be the absolute shiznit. The shitty shit. Our interest rate would probably go down; we wouldn't have any difficulty getting the loan; and our monthly payment would be low. And we'd own 20% of our house from the start. Then we could put the monthly savings into our bank account and make up for the lost dough pretty quick. Oh. Actually, not that quick. It would take about eleven years. But still... dude, that would be SO SWEET!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait. We wouldn't have the cash for closing costs. Duh. Damn.

Ach. This isn't a real blog post. I'm not going to read this in the future and think back fondly. It's just me thinking out loud. But still, it's helpful.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Warning to self (because no one else is reading): I will most likely have to end this post abruptly. I am at work -- in case you've forgotten, self, you're clerking at the law firm where you'll end up working after school, to pay some bills during your 3L year -- and there is apparently a very urgent assignment just waiting for me to knock it out. But the partner who's supposed to tell me about it is unavailable, as I suspect partners are wont to be, and so I'm sitting here waiting for his ass to call me back. But the shit is urgent!!! So anyway, when he calls, off I go.

So yeah. It's funny. This diary-type idea seems to be taking the form of a message to myself in the future. I think that's a worthwhile endeavor. I also think it's funny, because when I was in college -- eleven years ago -- I had a laptop (one of the first) with a word processing program on it (don't remember whether it was Word or Wordperfect). The "help" section allowed one to annotate the pages. That's actually a pretty good idea, I think. Don't know why they don't do that anymore. Anyway, I took to just randomly inserting little notes to myself, with the idea that I'd find them later. I think most of them were basically stupid, or let's say silly or absurd. I do remember one of them saying something along the lines of, "remember, you're a good person, even though you sometimes feel like you're not." Well, this is undoubtedly one of those moments that I'm so glad that no one else reads this shit. It's incredibly self-indulgent to spend time writing notes to yourself about how you're a good person. Even more so when the note is actually about how you once wrote a note to yourself about it!!!! It's ridiculous.

But in a way, that in itself is interesting. There appears to be a theme running through my semi-adult life, a fear that I will forget who I am somehow. It's not a bad thing to make some small effort to address that. I think the "you're a good person" stuff, as unbelievably masturbatory as it is (I hate it when people use that word for some reason, but I guess it's appropriate here), is about the sense I've had, ever since college, that I was a good person as a kid but I'm not anymore. I really feel like, when I was in high school and before, I had a good heart, and I'd put a lot of effort into doing the right thing. Not so sure that's me anymore.

Of course this plays very importantly into the concerns I was talking about yesterday, about the relationship with my family and all. I mean, this sort of goes to the heart of it. I've always been afraid that my family loves the guy they knew -- the guy that lived in the house with them. But that's not me anymore, and I'm always worried they wouldn't like me if they knew who I'd become.

Yuck. All the above got interrupted by some news from my wife, we'll call her W, that her family is not going to help us to buy a house to anything approaching the degree they'd originally told us they would. Basically, this puts all the bullshit above in perspective. That's stupid, this is urgent. Now I can go back to lying awake at night.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

So my new idea ... I've had so goddamn many of them ... is to use this space as like a diary. That's one of the ideas of blogs, right? But I'm thinking, I could use it to put flesh on the bones of ideas that I have -- like when I used to mention images or phrases or whatever that I liked, or when I'd post about stuff in the news, or I could even post about legal ideas or any other kind of idea -- but I could also use it to just remind myself of shit that's going on in my life. Because I don't want to forget things as time passes, and I think I'm in serious danger of doing that.

One of the things that inspired me to want to start keeping some record of the mundane little things that happen in the course of the day was our move from our apartment on Eagle St. I think I can say that -- I want this to be as anonymous as possible, I don't even want my wife to come across it, because I want to talk about whatever comes to mind -- but I think I can say Eagle St. Yeah, why not. Okay, when we left Eagle St. I got sad, because I didn't want to forget about the little things that had made up our life there, even though many of them were negative and others weren't exactly positive. One example that really struck me at the time, for no reason that I can think of, was the guy with the cane who always hung out outside the bodega on the corner, and would harrass me and the dog and yell at us -- in a loving, but oddly aggressive way -- in spanish, or spanglish. He loved that damn dog, and she didn't like him much. He had a running joke about her, which only he knew, because he'd always say it to me in spanish. I think it had something to do with sex, but that might say more about me than about reality.

I imagine that last sentence will be repeated frequently if I really do keep a diary here.

Anyway, I don't want to forget about that guy. I heard he's an old junkie of some sort. The "zabadoot" told me that. No idea how to spell that word, but that's what my landlord called the neighborhood guy who knew everybody and was also very aggressive about his friendliness. The landlord, we'll call him Mr. S., said that's what you'd call this guy in italian. He told me it means "know it all." And I get that -- "zaba," like "savoir," or "yo no say," plus "doot," like "tout." I was very proud that I understood that. Anyway. The zabadoot told me that weird dude with a cane was a junkie. He (the junkie) used to tell me about his medical problems too, but I didn't understand that either.

I also wanted to talk about our friends. Because we're moving. I don't want these people to be insignificant little blips on the screen when I think over my life. You know, when I die, and I think over my life. My god, am I having a midlife crisis? Anyway. I lose touch with people. Life goes on. I move from place to place and I'm terrible about remaining attached. But these people, and these places and all the little things that make up my life, they're significant. And I genuinely love them. So I want to recognize that somehow. I think this may be why "In My Life" by the Beatles came into my head a few days ago.

Ugh. Part of it is that my life is changing so drastically. I'm going to be a lawyer, at a big fucking law firm. In a new city, where I don't know anybody but my coworkers. My life is going to be totally different. I'm terrified -- terrified -- that I'm going to become a different person. I don't want that. I want to remember -- that's what it's all about -- I want to REMEMBER who I am, where I come from, what my values are, what's important to me, and who I AM NOT. But it's doubly tough because I don't believe in being rigid. I think there's probably a lot of great stuff about the life I'm going to discover, and I want to be open to it.

Wow!!!! Jesus. Just writing for ten minutes has opened all this up. I mean, this is what's been on my mind. This has been scaring me. It's been holding me back, too: I've been dragging my feet on buying an expensive house, because that's not something I would do, it's someting a young lawyer at a big firm would do. And I'm not that. Or I don't want to completely become that.

Of course all of this is tied up with my relationship with my family. And my relationship with my wife. My lord. I need to figure this shit out.

Or do I? Is there something to be said for leaving it the fuck under raps? Don't rock the boat, and all that? The devil will drag you under, by the sharp lapels of your checkered coat? (In case you're reading this and you've forgotten, that's a line from a song from Guys and Dolls; the song is called "Siddown You're Rockin' the Boat," or something along those lines. It's significant for another reason: my father frickin' loves Guys and Dolls; furthermore, my wife does too. And so do I.)

Ah. Shit. I am at work. They gave me Jackie to do today -- Jackie Gleason, you might say -- and about ten minutes before it was time to leave I started typing. Now it's 20 minutes later. I need to go. Maybe I'll do this more in the future?

There's always the issue of time, though. Don't want to be a timewaster. Don't want to be like my brother, who has like ten blogs, which he updates when he's supposed to be working. Ah. Shit.