Category Archives: rant

Because Banks


Who said moving house would be easy? In the past 48 hours of our house-buying saga:

  1. Appraisal report comes in (several days late) severely undervalue, causing us to scramble in last-minute negotiations for our new house. We end up buying the house for less money overall yet paying more on our monthly mortgage, because banks.
  2. Negotiations concluded, the updated sale price has to be returned by the same appraisal company that borked us a few days ago. We are still waiting, and if past is prologue, we will wait for a few more days just because.
  3. Something about a fridge. Apparently a box was checked on a form somewhere in somebody’s basement and now the fridge is a major issue. The sellers write out a bill of sale to sell us the fridge for zero dollars. This resolves the issue. Because banks.
  4. Thanks to the holidays and all kinds of people taking extra days off, documents can only be submitted by Monday. And thanks to government knowing better than we possibly could, we have to take three additional days to “think it over” once those documents are in, even though we are ready to sign and have been ready to sign for four weeks. Because banks.
  5. The lender financing the purchase of our current home has a last-minute issue crop up that requires immediate attention and a several-days delay. (Because banks.) Our agent finds this out from the closing attorney because our buyer’s agent for some reason doesn’t think this is useful information for us to have.
  6. The lenders (both ours and our buyers) refuse to commit to dates and what they’ll be able to get done when, leaving the rest of us (those with their entire lives in boxes and moving trucks) in limbo and unable to even reschedule the myriad of services and family help and pet boarding and all of the rest of it.

TL;DR: We’re not moving for about another week. We’re pissed. Our agent is pissed. The people we’re buying our house from are pissed. Their agent is pissed. And we are still living out of boxes.

Because banks.

Oh, and that novel I wanted to work on? Those lesson plans I planned to plan? LOL I have no more fargoes to give for a scrap of that.

This is life on hold.

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I searched Pixabay for pictures of boxes and this is what I found. Apparently the internet is just as over it as I am.

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Stupid House-Selling Stories: STAIRS


We have tons of strangers passing through our house lately. This leads to a strange sense of discomfort and ickiness in general. You come home to find a cabinet left open, or a light left on, or the cat flap locked. And you know that you dealt with those things before you left the house. (Seriously? Who locks the cat flap in a stranger’s house? Who even touches the cat flap? Who has any interaction with a cat flap beyond “oh, look, a cat flap”? But no, somebody bent down, poked at it, and locked it — on both sides, mind you??) Humans have a lot of built-in reality-denying responses (just talk to a Trump supporter), but that stuff is pretty hard to ignore — it reminds you that strangers have been in your home. Poking through your closets. Judging your choices in interior painting. Complaining about your floor plan.

Or, in our most recent encounter, whining about the stairs.

Realtors trade feedback all the time; it’s to their benefit to know what potential buyers think about a house so they can address that concern for future viewers, and it’s therefore also to their benefit to engage in a symbiosis to other realtors. You help me sell this one, I’ll help you sell that one. Makes natural enough sense — you become a positively contributing part of the ecosystem or you get left alone to fend for yourself.

And then we have the following exchange, via text message, which, in a fit of flabbergasteredness, our realtor relayed to my wife:

Our realtor: How did the showing go?

Other realtor: too many stairs

Our realtor: (after thirty minutes of uncomfortably waiting for any follow-ups) Okay, great! Thanks!

That’s it. No exchange of pleasantries. No constructive commentary or disclaimers. Not even a godforsaken capital letter or period.

Too many stairs.

Too many stairs.

My head is a pinball machine of dumbfounded responses. I can’t focus on one thought about this exchange before some other part of my brain lights up with an entirely new concern.

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Actual image of our staircase, as evidently envisioned by the most recent visitor to our home.

Too many stairs.

Our house is occupied. Which means you can’t just “drop in” with your realtor on a fly-by. Which means you need an appointment. You know, so that we can wrangle our two kids and our dumb dog and shoo at least some of the cats outside and spritz some air freshener about so that the house looks livable when you get to it. Which, further, means you had to look over the house on the internet, think to yourself, “yeah, that’s worth our time,” and confirm with your agent, who then confirmed with our agent, who then confirmed with us. All of which means, you had a general idea what you were getting before you set foot in the door. Okay? You didn’t know the state of the bathroom fixtures, for example, but you damn sure knew the house had a second floor, which — unless you’re living in caca-cuckoo land, means it bloody well has stairs.

Too many stairs.

You would have, perhaps, preferred less? I don’t know a whole lot about building codes or suburban planning, but I’m pretty sure stairs in houses are pretty universal when it comes to their rise over run. But, what? instead of the fourteen or so stairs up to the 2nd floor, you’d have preferred four HUGE blocks that you have to climb up like a toddler? Or perhaps, instead, an intricate series of ramps you could hike up in the evening at bedtime and slalom down to catch your morning coffee?

Too many stairs.

That’s literally all she said. I didn’t edit out the rest of the conversation. That was the beginning and the end of the interaction. Nothing about the weird floor plan. Nothing about the ivy-infested backyard. Nothing about the tacky paint jobs in our rooms obviously painted for young children which wouldn’t suit your needs even though you could easily re-paint. Literally not a word, positive or negative, about anything else in or around the house? Evidently they made it through the yard, opened the front door, walked into the foyer, ran smack into the staircase, said “NOPE” and walked right back out.

I mean, I guess if stairs are a sticking point, then once you see the stairs, all bets are off. But that brings me back around (like a tail-chasing dog) to the first thought: why are you looking at this house in the first place? If stairs are the deal-breaker, how did you make it past the listing? Then the pictures (which clearly show the staircase — FROM A MULTITUDE OF ANGLES)? Then the appointment? How did you not pull up to the curb, see that WELL IT’S TWO STORIES SO THERE MUST BE STAIRS, NEVER MIND, and drive back into your somehow stair-free existence?

Too many stairs.

Maybe I’m mischaracterizing the whole thing. Ours isn’t a simple straight-up staircase, it’s got a landing and doubles back on itself, which could conceivably present people with certain disabilities with legitimate problems. I’m sensitive to that. But there I go again — how did they make it to walking in the front door before they figured it out?

Or maybe there’s more to it. Maybe the client loved the house, loved the neighborhood, but just wasn’t wild about the stairs. A weird sticking point, but okay. In that case, the agent made the call to mention only the stairs. Well, that’s a big ol’ cup full of wtf. How about that symbiotic relationship I mentioned up above? A little goodwill, a little quid pro quo, a little bit of genuine help. Tell us, tell our realtor, something that we can use. Something actionable. Something that adds to the conversation. “We liked all the nice, open rooms, but we’re not so sure about the tile in the bathroom.” “We love the kitchen, but the pile of human skulls in the crawl space gave us pause.” You know, we can do something about the house in that case, or we can at least know what to warn people about. I can grind up the skulls. Not a big deal.

Too many stairs.

Seriously?


Faithless


We’ve got a few hours left to wake up from this nightmare.

It’s a long shot, to be sure, but it’s the last shot for folks like me who still can’t quite believe that the Orange One is about to be our president. But is it such a long shot? All we need is for thirty or so people to come to their senses and realize that the American experiment is more important than the system that makes Trump the president.

The faithless elector. I didn’t realize quite how perfect that term was. Because it would take something like faith for the electors to vote for Trump given the circumstances.

He lost the popular vote by over three million.

He’s shown that he will endeavor to keep his family as close to his politics as possible.

He’s already pissing in the punch bowl of international affairs, before he’s even taken the office.

He’s naming a laundry list of offensive, unbelievable idiots to his cabinet (a racist, sexist idiot for chief of staff? a woman who’s never taught for secy of education? a man who “lived in the projects” for HUD?).

To say nothing of all the horrible, wickedly either negligent or downright evil things that somehow didn’t bring him down before the election (Trump U? Grab them by the pussy? “I like soldiers that don’t get caught?”).

I know, I know. Democrats have done nothing but moan and complain since the election, but consider for a moment if the shoe were on the other foot. Consider that Trump had amassed three million more votes than Clinton, but we were preparing for a Hillary presidency instead of a Trump one. There would be riots, both ideological and literal. There would be nothing but shut down the government talk, and rigged system talk, and burn the electoral college talk.

Notice that (most) democrats aren’t calling for that. Most of us have shut up, taken our medicine, and accepted that Trump won the election by the rules in place.

But he has also shown that he is uniquely undeserving of the office, and undeserving of the people who have awarded it to him. So we need faithless electors.

Consider:

Faith is believing something in spite of a lack of evidence, and this may come as a shock, but I don’t have that kind of faith.

It would take something like faith to believe that he will somehow turn all this around and become the president that we deserve.

It would take something like faith to believe that the people he’s surrounding himself with (the best people, believe me) can somehow control him.

It would take something like faith to believe that he’s actually going to deliver on any of his campaign promises that were the cornerstone of his rabid support (the Wall? Locking her up? Draining the swamp? Nope, nope, and nope — and again, this is all dead in the water before he’s even taken office).

Like I said, I don’t have that kind of faith. And I find it hard to believe that anybody looking at the world as it is, simply, truly, and honestly, does either.

I don’t even expect them to vote for Clinton. (I’m using up all my living-in-a-fantasy-world currency in even entertaining the possibility that the electors won’t go for him.)

I just want them to do the right thing, speak for the people, and send the message that this man is not what America stands for. He doesn’t deserve to speak for us.

Now, back to non-Trump, non-wallowing-in-denial programming.

 


Becoming the Curmudgeon


I’ve always joked that I’m going to become that old guy. You know the one. Pants a little too high on the waist. Hair in wispy explosions behind the ears. Gravelly, phlegmy voice. Shouting at the neighborhood kids, warning them off his lawn.

I hate everything, so this is a natural outgrowth, but I fear it may be closer than I anticipated.

And ironically, what’s bringing it out of me the most is day care.

I know; there’s nothing more suburban and yuppie than kvetching about your kids’ day care. To be fair, though, it’s not the day care that I have a problem with; it’s the other parents.

Our “school” hosts about fifty kids. It’s not huge, by any stretch. So it’s a comfy little building with a tiny little parking lot; about twenty spots or so, with a “pickup lane” running the gap right in front of the door.

Now, look. I’m going to preface all this by owning and acknowledging how 1st world this particular issue is, but I think, like most things, this is a microcosm for bigger problems.

This parking lot, then, of twenty spaces or so, means that there really isn’t a bad spot in the lot. At worst, you have to walk maybe fifty feet to the front door; a not at all unreasonable distance to rid yourself of your kids in the wee hours of the morning. But there’s also that pickup lane.

Now, the pickup lane is there, presumably, for people to keep their cars idling while they hop in to pick up or drop off the kids. Well and good. But at our day care, people don’t just use the pickup lane. They park right in front of the goldfingered door. So I, and anybody else unlucky enough to arrive at the same time as these hapless, bumbling SOBs, have to detour around their cars, sucking up their exhaust, just to get into the building.

And this is bullsharknado. I pay the same weekly fee as these people. My son and daughter come home with the germs that these people’s kids bring to school. My wife and I (okay, mostly my wife) bring in extra donations when the pre-k teachers send home flyers begging for them. (Seriously, my wife sent in two full-sized pumpkins. WHO DOES THAT?!) But no, I have to detour around their oversized cars for the privilege of using the front door.

Never mind that there are perfectly good parking spaces — dozens of them! — not ten feet away. Never mind that in addition to disrupting the walking traffic, I’ve seen these knuckle sandwiches align themselves like poorly-placed Tetris blocks, stopping even the other jerk stores from passing through the pickup lane until they’ve done their business inside (and they’re never walking in a hurry, either, let me point out). No, these monsters have to park right in front of the doorright across the middle of the crosswalk, and to hell with anybody who’s inconvenienced.

I mean, we’re living in a society, aren’t we? Enough people live in these cramped cities of ours that, even if you hate people like I do, you surely understand that we’re better off if we occasionally look out for each others’ well being and convenience than if we only look out for our own.

These are the people who will drive past the backup at the on-ramp, then nose in at the last possible second. The ones who will angle their shopping cart to stop and obstruct the entire derping aisle at the grocery store while they compare nutrition labels on store-brand and name-brand Cheez-its. Speaking of the grocery store, these are the ones who will blithely pay for a hundred-dollar order with a jarful of change with five customers lined up behind them, or who will stalk you in the parking lot for your space that’s fifteen feet closer to the door than the space that’s wide open a bit further down. (Man, I have a lot of rage centered on the grocery store.)

Well, I’ve had it. I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m no longer content swallowing my displeasure in favor of good manners. I thought for a bit about making up a bunch of passive-aggressive notes to stick on their windshields, but there’s something cowardly in that, and I also think that if you’re being an arsehole, you need somebody to point it out to you to your face for it to really sink in.

So, when I see these people now, I’m calling them on it.

Politely. Self-deprecatingly. But directly. “Hey. I’m not trying to be rude, but this is a crosswalk you’ve parked on.”

I say it, and I can feel that siren’s song in my gut when I do it. Get off my lawn.

I’ve done it twice, now. As nicely as I can stand. And you know what I’ve seen in the faces of the two people I’ve tried out this societal intolerance on? Confusion. They were surprised that I was saying anything to them in the first place, but more than that, they legitimately had no idea they were doing anything anybody would find objectionable. Double-takes to their cars and the crosswalk. Uneasy shuffling. To say nothing of my blood pressure shooting through the roof — me, the ever-avoider of conflict, getting face-to-face to call somebody on their stupid.

But you know what else?

They aren’t parking in front of the door anymore. And that feels good. But I know I’m also paying a price for it. The price of being disliked and grumbled about after the fact. Then again, that may be a price I’m happy to pay.

Is this my first step towards becoming the King Jerk of my neighborhood?

 


Lost


I have a confession.

A writer’s confession, which should be taken with all the appropriate hand-wavings and grains of salt. When you look at the real problems of the world, my meager problems mean little. But it’s weighing on me nonetheless.

I haven’t worked on my novel in almost two weeks.

On the one hand, I feel okay about that, but on the other hand, I feel very much not okay about that, because I know I’m not going to be able to work on it today, and it’s dubious whether I’ll be able to get to it later this week either. The excuses for this are twofold:

One, it was vacation last week, and as much as writing is a release and an adventure in pink unicorn land, there are days when it’s work, too. And of late, the writing has felt more like work than like a unicorn frolic. As such, a little vacation from it is, I think, warranted, and what better time than when I’m on a vacation from actual work? I got to turn the ol’ brain off, veg out and watch some TV, take the kids and the wife on a few day trips … it was good. Didn’t have to worry about how to get my protagonist out of his latest scrape. Didn’t have to construct the machinations of the villain working behind the scenes. Didn’t have to batter my brain against the Rube Goldberg machine of gears and spindles and flywheels that constitutes the plot of this thing.

Still, I felt guilty about leaving that creative garden untended for the week, sort of the same way I feel about letting my lawn continue to grow, sprouting weeds and dandelions and the occasional mushroom, while my neighbors keep their lawns neatly trimmed.

Sidenote: there’s a new show out called Speechless, about this deadbeat family with a handicapped, mute son. No idea if the show has any staying power or not — the first few episodes have been pretty funny, but who knows — but I at least resonate with the family. Not because they’re jerks — the mother proudly drives in the emergency lane, runs stop signs, and flings bluster and righteous indignation and her son’s handicap at anybody who even looks sideways at her. And I have a hard time getting down with that. What I totally get, though, is that they just don’t give a sharknado what other people think of them. Lawn is overgrown? Paint is peeling? Car’s looking a little dumpy? Yeah, no, we’re not going to fix those things. They just don’t matter to us; we have only so many fargos to give. To that, I give a deep, sonorous AMEN.

So I returned to work on Monday, all set to hunker down and return to the love-hate relationship I have with my current novel. Which brings me to…

Two: I can’t find my flash drive.

Now, before you say anything, know that I’ve already said every possible thing to myself, mostly inside my own head, occasionally in raging, fists-pounding-on-the-desk angry shouts. How can you be so stupid? Haven’t you heard of backups? How could you possibly lose it? Dunce! Idiot! Disorganized, sloppy, careless!

And my excuses are like the rain in Arizona: woefully inadequate, but all there is. I write the novel mostly at my job, so keeping it on the flash drive makes sense for taking it home, back and forth. But I have to steal time at work to write, so I don’t exactly have a routine, and, well, backing up is the last thing I’m thinking about, because usually I’ve either got parent calls to make or meetings to get to or students coming to my room and …

Well, here’s my other dirty confession. I haven’t backed up outside of the flash drive in over a month.

Sigh.

And of course, with the whole of the novel missing (or at least my recent work on it), I can’t re-read to get inspired to write the next bit. Not to mention the soul-crushing stupidity I feel when I think about the project at all, which pushes every creative thought right out of my ears.

But I’m going to have to face up sooner or later. If the drive doesn’t turn up in the next few days, it probably never will; there’s only so many places it could reasonably be, and considering all the places we went over the break … well. That little piece of plastic and silicon could be anywhere in a fifty-mile radius, which means it might as well be on the moon for my likelihood of stumbling across it again.

Luckily, the weather is changing. Morning runs have been downright pleasant — sixty degrees or so with the stars twinkling overhead — and have done good things for my blood, which on Monday was boiling, and which today is only simmering. Further, when I think about it, the beginning of the novel was going to need massive re-working anyway, probably a complete re-write in lots of places, so the first 40,000 words were hardly carved in stone.

Still, for the moment, they’re not carved anywhere, and that’s tough to see around.

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