Monday, March 31, 2008

doing what makes sense

I decided to dump most (though not all) items having to do with the mate's illness and death, and keep the happymaking stuff -- souvenirs from our travels, and the little notes she would write me. I'm keeping a bit of her ashes and any especially important legal papers. I'm keeping her favorite clothes, but looking in the dresser drawer I had to say, a la Charlie Crews: I am not attached to these socks. The illness did have a big influence on our lives and not all of it was negative; it brought better communication, greater committment to each other, and a few new friends. But it's hardly the defining piece of our relationship.

Nor is a person defined by their trappings. She lives in my heart. Her socks don't, and not even her other clothes, and not even the ceramic box. But her love notes do -- things that she created. That is perhaps where the division should be drawn.

I don't know how my new g/f feels about me keeping these things. She certainly understands that the mate meant very much to me. She has no reason to feel insecure, but you never know. When I unpack I will ask.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I sign it all off tomorrow

Tomorrow I meet with my RE agent to sign off the contingencies. This means I've checked out the house and I accept all its warts. In a normal sale, I could ask for certain things to be fixed up, or get money knocked off the sale price for fixup, and the seller might or might not agree. In short sale I'm dealing with the seller's lender, which is already losing considerable money on the deal and thus is highly unlikely to give up more.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

almost there

The insurance has been obtained, some paperwork signed, the loan is on its way. The termite inspection will be tomorrow, but I don't expect them to find much but a small amount of dry rot in the expected places, like the crawlspace vents.

Sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist and continuing to pack. Things are starting to look more manageable now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


It's becoming obvious I'm also terribly sentimental about my previous g/f's things. Our tickets to the now-demolished Toreo de Tijuana, a plastic dragon she got in Chinatown on a whim to play tourist in the city where she was born, a funky ceramic box. My own things I have much less trouble trashing, but hers are difficult. These things however briefly brought amusement or a light in her eye.

It's coming up on 11 months and even though I'm at the beginning of a new love, the past has undeniably shaped my life significantly.

I can certainly remember our lives together without these trinkets, but without them would I take the time to remember? Without them, would the good times be overshadowed by the bad ones?

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The most time consuming bit of this is packing, so I'm starting right away. I have way too many books. I'm also too sentimental about them: if it's a classic or good reading, I want to hang onto it even though I haven't read it in a decade and if I do, I can pick up a copy for a few dollars or find it in the library. I have an incredibly hard time applying the "if you haven't used it in 5 years, toss" rule. Books simply have a value that somehow transcends practicality.

I ditched four boxes of them from the garage last week and still have three down there. Upstairs, I have what will probably be six or seven more boxes, and these are larger boxes (apple boxes rather than paper-ream boxes).

And this is well before getting to my other household stuff: furniture, treasures, wall art, appliances and dishware, and too many computers.

Friday, March 14, 2008

i've got the house

I just got a letter -- not the contract, a letter -- that says they've accepted the offer.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

house and hawk

Well, not much word on the house yet. I got the previous inspection papers, and everything seems very minor. Still, I'll be doing a general house inspection and a termite inspection as well. The termite report looks completely lame, like they hardly inspected at all even though they came out twice. The inspection company didn't do the work recommended, so either it was someone else, or it wasn't done.

And my RE agent tells me (for the third or fourth time), "We should hear by Friday."

Shrug. As long as I eventually get it, I'll be happy.

On the hawk front, last weekend was great. We flew 3 out of 4 days and got 5 crows. Four of them were unspectacular, one was good. Several good flights without catches as well. My fridge was stuffed with birds; two went into the freezer and the rest got eaten. There's surprisingly little meat on a crow: one crow makes 3 maintenance-sized hawk meals, generally speaking.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

house to home

Here I am, age 43, and I’m finally gonna be a homeowner.

I work in the SF Bay Area, one of the more desirable and thus more expensive regions in California. The late 90s crash in technology startups had very little effect on regional house prices. Here, the house priced at a half-million makes people wonder what’s wrong with it.

Speculation and flipping and the economy's failure finally did stun the insanity. This house is one of many that are in the first stages of foreclosure. A foreclosure is bad news for both the owner’s credit record and the lender, something to avoid. There’s a half-state between a regular sale and foreclosure called a “short sale.” For those who unfamiliar with this, this is a situation where the current homeowner has not been able to make their mortgage payments, and the value of the loan is greater than the value of the house. In a short sale, the house gets sold and the homeowner’s lender will forgive a portion of the loan. The owner’s credit record just shows a few missed payments, and the lender gets their money.

The term short sale is a misnomer. Instead of being negotiated by the owner and the buyer, the lender has much of the say. And lenders are institutions, meaning they make decisions at a speed that a wooly mammoth would consider leisurely. A three-way train wreck. Short sale is actually a very long sale.

But I’ve managed to weather through the waiting and the confusion. The house was offered at $349K and I offered $345 in mid-January. Finally, hopefully Monday, almost two months later, the lender will accept. Or at least my real estate agent seems to think so.

It’s a nice house, no piece of crap. Admittedly, it's a tract home built in the fifties, ordinary looking and identical to all the other houses in the neighborhood. But it’s got hardwood floors, granite countertops, oak cabinets, garage door opener, and vinyl windows: all the good upgrades. I wish it had was a fireplace, but given my record of fireplace usage where I live now, this is no big deal. It's not on a corner and has a small front yard (both mean less work to stay acceptable-looking) and a big backyard. The neighborhood is decent blue collar, neat lawns, no gang types, no security doors, and just one house down the street looks trashy. It’s an easy drive to the freeway but far enough away that I don’t hear the noise or get the dirt. The street it's on won't have the entire neighborhood driving by during commute time. And finally, for my good feng shui fix, it faces east.

There are short sale and foreclosed houses going for less, but none of the ones I’ve seen so far have all the above factors.

I liked the layout immediately, and interestingly, it is nearly identical to the layout of the house I grew up in: living room on the left, kitchen/dining on the right; down the hall are two bedrooms on the left, and a bedroom and bathroom on the right. The only thing my parents have in addition is a formal living room in front.

Happiness awaits.