Well, I Seem to Have Bought a House

It’s a townhouse, in the same development as the 2-bedroom I liked. It’s 3 bedrooms; 2.5 bath (the tub in my bathroom is sunken!); same huge 2-car garage; laundry room, not just laundry closet; dining room (no dining table in the living room!); gas stove; pantry about twice the size of the first one I saw; small patio/balcony thingie. The living room and the sunken tub have Bay views. My bedroom would look up at the hills on one side (and across the street on the other side, but that’s okay). It’s huge — basically it’s three stories although technically it’s apparently 2.5. And while I am paying quite a bit more than the 2-bedroom, this place is palatial in comparison. It didn’t go to the top of my budget at all, though, so that’s good.

We went to see it last night and then I went back to my realtor’s office with her and we put the offer in. She had to do it over a web site she had not used before, so it was a bit of an adventure. They were accepting offers until 1:15 PM today. Around 2:30 I checked the web site and it said the house was in contract. I was bummed and sent my realtor an email saying that it sounded like I hadn’t gotten it.

She called awhile later and said, “Well, I think you’re seeing that because you got it!” I said, “What? Are you kidding me? I did? Really?” and then I started to cry.

It’s bank-owned, so I will have to do my own spackling/painting/cleaning the range/having the carpets cleaned sort of thing, but if it hadn’t been and I didn’t have to, it would have been out of my price range. So there’s that.

Also, the dining room and living room each have one berry-colored wall. So even though I will be leaving my purple living room wall here, I will be moving to a place with berry walls!

(The brown ones in the bedrooms have GOT to go, though.)

So, wow. Of course I worry about the mortgage not going through, but really it should be okay. Maybe I won’t get the best interest rate ever, but I’m putting 40% down on this place and I have a steady job. It should be fine.



Balancing Act

I looked at condos today, four of them.

#1 — the keys wouldn’t work, but we could see in from the patio. I didn’t care for the building and the unit was right on top of the pool. No.

#2 — I thought I’d love it, and I did like the unit, but a) it’s in a gated community which is kind of outside my comfort zone; b) the hallways are dark and kind of creepy; c) it’s at the higher end of what I want to spend. Also, it’s a short sale.

#3 – Loved it! The only cautions I have are that a) I’d need to buy a fridge and a washer and dryer because the previous folks took them; b) there is no patio or balcony, although there is a small front doorstep and a sort of park right across the walkway; c) there is no dining area or eat-in kitchen, so I’d still have the table in the same room as the couch; d) not much more counter space in the kitchen than I have now. BUT it has a two-car garage so the storage space, especially for a person with one car, is immense. I loved the development and the views. GAS STOVE! Lots of cupboards plus a pantry closet (and all that garage space for maybe a freezer and some storage of cans, etc.). Tons of closet space and a tub with jets. And it’s thirty grand under my target price.

#4 — oh holy Mother of God no. It was also in a gated community, but a rather downscale one, so not so weird. English names (as in, place names from England) for all the streets. Cute architecture and nice landscaping. Basically, though they’re technically townhouses, they were houses. But this one was rubbish. Every piece of carpet or flooring would need to go. There is mold. The kitchen is hideous. The backyard, which would otherwise be a huge selling point, backs up onto the outside and you can see the signs of the industrial businesses across the way. Everything would need to be painted. It’s way more work than I would be able to put into it. Also, it’s $29K more than the one I loved. If they were asking a bargain-basement-steal price, so I could use the “extra” money to fix it up, maybe. But no.

So my dilemma is balancing “being realistic” against “settling.” I am thinking to get what I dream of — outside access, nice development, big kitchen, separate eating area — I’m going to have to go up to the maximum of my borrowing range. And I want to have a comfortable life post-purchase, so I don’t really want to do something that requires me to to be on a penny-pinching budget for years and years.

Much to chew over.

Ah, That’s Better — Now for Some Miscellanea

It’s grey and cool out; I am sitting in the living room having a cup of coffee and a glass of a spiced cognac-based liqueur that caught my eye at Trader Joe’s the other day. They’re both tasty and I feel my will to live returning with the fog.

I am, however, a little concerned about my inattention/eyesight from something that happened after work. I went by Target and I saw a 6-quart slow cooker on sale for $18. Only as I was in the process of paying for it did I notice it’s got a football field motif all the way around it.

Oh hell no. I would cringe and be irritated every time I saw it. I imagine that’s why it was on clearance — nobody else wanted a dumb green thing in their kitchen either.

But how did I not notice that?


Apparently my sensitive-teeth issue is not tooth-related after all– or maybe some of it is. But not the I-would-pull-all-my-teeth-if-it-would-make-the-pain-stop festival of screaming nerves. That often happens after I’ve been through the trans-Bay tube and it happened to a lesser extent after being on the Paris metro; eating or drinking will sometimes set it off but not usually as badly. I have had the vague thought that it might be sinus-related, a dental analogue to your ears popping. Lo, the hygienist and the dentist on Wednesday both said: See an ENT. So that’s on my to-do list.

Also on the to-do list: Go all the way across the street and mail a package to France (because it wouldn’t have been easier to mail it while I was, oh, say, in France); vacuum; bake some pumpkin bread to use up the plain yogurt in my fridge; clear up the clutter round here, and then on Sunday go look at condos.

Ye gods and little fishes. I can’t believe I’m to go look at places to buy, especially since I was so adamant about not doing so. My misgivings are still there (any repair is on my dime, on my time, and due to my own organizing; I am not even the slightest bit handy; I am single; will I have to work full-time for the rest of my life because of this?) but I think the benefits outweigh the risks at this point. Especially since in my current situation I have to arrange for all repairs and whatnot myself anyway, so the luxury of calling the apartment manager and saying, “This is broken. Can you have the handyman fix it?” is over for me.

Also there may be three bedrooms! And there will definitely be two bathrooms! AND A NICE KITCHEN! Because the kitchen is the dealbreaker. If I don’t love the kitchen, I don’t care how nice the rest of the place is, I’m not buying it.

So there’s that. I am just steeling myself for 12-18 months of searching.

On another note, I’m daydreaming about my next solo trip, which might not be til 2014. The bright side to that delay is that I have plenty of time to plan and anticipate (and build my travel fund back up). I want to go to Vienna for a few days and then fly to Lyon. From Lyon I’ll either rent a car or suss out the trains to go to Avignon and Arles, and then take the train up to Paris to finish (of course).  My original thought was Budapest – Vienna – Paris, but I’m not sure I want to do three countries in two-ish weeks again, and I have wanted to wander around the south of France for some time now. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve got awhile to ponder!

I know people at work who will say, “What? Paris again?!” But seriously. It’s a large and ancient city — you could spend years there and not exhaust the possibilities. I’ve only been there three times for about a month altogether. (Wait, that sounds wrong — of course I’m grateful to have been there at all! But it’s not like I’ve come close to seeing or experiencing everything I’d like to, and many things require return visits. I can’t believe I didn’t go to the Louvre or the Orsay this time!)

So yeah, Paris again. Besides, with my frequent-flier plan I’d be flying into and out of either Paris or Amsterdam anyway, so…

And lastly I am gearing up to try NaNoWriMo again this year. I tried about five years ago but I was absolutely not in the right place to make it very far. I’ve had a dilemma for some time about writing — I don’t really enjoy most American literature. Yet, of course, that is what I’d write, being an American and all. I had/have a plot that involves the north of France — the reason I went to Lille last year — but I am stymied by a fierce internal editor over that. I’m not French, even by descent, and so the editor is telling me I cannot possibly write a book about French people set in France, and that if I did and anyone ever read it, I’d be torn limb from limb. I have been negotiating with the editor, asking if it’s okay if I just write the thing and then decide if I’m feeling brave and/or suicidal, but we have not reached a tentative agreement yet.

Therefore I am taking a cue from the aforementioned-very-strange Amélie Nothomb and appropriating my own life directly for something. I have a little brainstorming map going and things I want to use almost unchanged and some things will go off on a wild tangent. There is a (non-fictionalized, American) memoir out there that I very much dislike and I must be wary of making part of this story sound like hers. Anyway, if I can just get the editrix to shut up for thirty days, we’ll see.

Perhaps she’d like some cognac?

The Heat. Enough.

I realize the low eighties is not very impressive to a lot of people, but really now. It’s the Bay Area, and it’s heading into late October. And my office is apparently taking a stand against such luxuries as proper air-conditioning.

I am so done. After work I flop down and read — I nibble on something rather than make dinner; I don’t tidy up the books and whatnot scattered about; eventually (like about now) I take a shower and go to bed. So productive!

Perhaps in my next place — which will not feature hours of unfiltered afternoon sun  glaring down on a wall of windows — I will be able to get something done on hot evenings. But for now I am just holding onto the promise that there is allegedly rain in the near future. Oh please please please.

I did accomplish one major thing today: I voted. So that’s over with. And in a few weeks the whole three-ring circus will be behind us for a little while, and I will either be limp with relief or trying to resign myself to four years of apologizing, saying, “I didn’t vote for him” when I’m abroad, and reading the news with fear and dismay. It’s been a mixed bag these last four years but at least I wasn’t ashamed of him as I was his predecessor. (Lately the GOP has been fielding candidates that, were I a Republican, I’d still be cringing at.)

Ah, politics. I prefer other countries’ politics because I can find them interesting without getting my knickers in a twist. Although I suppose if the Impossible Dream ever came true and I got to live abroad, I’d soon find the politics of my new locale just as emotionally exhausting!

I’d have to make sure to choose the coldest climate I could so at least I couldn’t complain about the weather!

Stefan Zweig on the Viennese Coffeehouse

As I was reading along in The World of Yesterday, I came to this:

But the coffeehouse was still the best place to keep up with everything new.

In order to understand this, it must be said that the Viennese coffeehouse is a particular institution which is not comparable to any other in the world. As a matter of fact, it is a sort of democratic club to which admission costs the small price of a cup of coffee. Upon payment of this mite every guest can sit for hours on end, discuss, write, play cards, receive his mail, and, above all, can go through an unlimited number of newspapers and magazines. In the better-class Viennese coffeehouse newspapers were available, and not the Viennese alone, but also those of the entire German Reich, the French and the English, the Italian and the American papers, and in addition all of the important literary and art magazines of the world, the Revue de France no less than the Neue Rundschau, the Studio, and the Burlington Magazine. And so we knew everything that took place in the world at first hand, we learned about every book that was published, and every production no matter where it occurred; and we compared the notices in every newspaper. Perhaps nothing has contributed as much to the intellectual mobility and the international orientation of the Austrian as that he could keep abreast of all world events in the coffeehouse, and at the same time discuss them in the circle of his friends.

I am sure that there is a lot I would not have liked in the Viennese society of the time — in the anywhere society of the time!  especially as a woman! — but this sounds like a piece of delicious heaven to me.

The book in general is enchanting and disturbing; he wrote it in 1941, so there’s a lot yet to come in this part of world that we know and he didn’t at the time, and it’s making my stomach wrench a little. But descriptions like these are among my most favorite things in literature.

Two Books: Could Not Be More Different

Finished a couple of books between last night and just now.

Up first: Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature by Daniel Levin Becker. If you’re interested in word play, esoteric literature, France/French literature, 20th century intellectual history, or if you’ve read Georges Perec’s A Void and wondered “what the hell?” then you should read this book.

Also: Funniest. Footnotes. EVER.

I mean it. David Sedaris would be jealous of these footnotes.

Then I finished Mariana by Monica Dickens (great-granddaughter of). It’s a long book and I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces since before I went on vacation. She wrote it in her early twenties and that alone would be amazing, but it’s really an engaging read. It’s set in England between the world wars and ends just at the beginning of the second — with an ending I did not expect. It’s a portrait of an era and a class (Mary is in a sort of limbo between the well-to-do-but-not-titled and the working class; so perhaps a portrait of a few classes); a coming-of-age story; a love story; and a comic story. Though part of it takes place in France, it’s a book that makes me think of going back to England.

Now I’m reading The Life of Hunger by the (very odd) Amélie Nothomb. (I saw her on La Grande Librairie and a couple of other shows while I was in France and I Googled her; intrigued, I ordered this in English because, while I saw plenty of her books at Fnac, I didn’t feel up to tackling them in French!) We will not go into how she’s two months younger than I am.

My Kindle book of the moment is Stefan Zweig‘s The World of Yesterday, from which I shall have a quote for you tomorrow.

Feline Grace

Not always. Here’s Alexander losing his balance from an odd stretched-out position and Simone turning around with “the hell?” body language. Goofballs.


Sunday Night This and That

I may have mentioned before (about a hundred times) how much I hate Sunday nights. It was a nice weekend and everything is okay, but I am really down and kind of anxious. Ah well.

The gal with the awesome nails of the other day? Good Lord, look at this. Also, apropos of her blog and blogs she links to — how I wish I were a lighthearted, happy, bubbly person. I am, sometimes, but not in the way some people are. I suppose I’m too old for blue hair and wacky clothes (not that that was ever my style anyway) but I long to feel that buoyant.

I did, however, get my nails done today with a friend and my toenails are now sparkly dark purple and my fingernails, which cannot take much in the way of color because of their short, peeling state, have a very understated clear/sparkle on them. Color is cheerful!

My landord/BIL raised my rent today more than the local rent control allows (four times as much*), but because they gave me a break when I moved in and because I intend to buy someplace and leave them, I feel I cannot say, “Uh, dude, that’s against the law.” Also, I am disinclined to start a family row so soon before the holidays in any case. So there’s that.

It’s been lovely and autumnal here this weekend but they are predicting 80s for the end of the week. Canada, can you send some cool weather thisaway, please? I am such a transitional seasons person. I have what is probably a rare order of favorite seasons: spring, fall, winter, summer. Also, fall has a good run of holidays — Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving — that segue nicely into the winter holidays Christmas, New Year’s, MLK and President’s Day. I realize not everyone gets all of those, but you’ve still got the big ones!

I got the Streetwise maps I ordered for various cities I am interested in seeing, and have been looking them over. I remember as a kid being entranced by the globe that dots were places and people were living in them! Now I look at city maps and imagine how that’s just someone’s route to school or work. Neat.

Now I think I will have some dinner and a bath and try to cheer the hell up. Cheering-up advice?

*Upon review of this fiscal year’s allowable increase, he actually only increased it 2.57 times as much as he should have. My bad.

A Lovely Movie

Last night I decided to move the party into the TV room and watch a movie (my weekend nights are full of excitement!). I’d had Sequins — known on IMDB as A Common Thread and in French as Brodeuses — on my Netflix watch list for awhile, so decided to finally watch it.

It’s a good movie — although it has that thing I’ve mentioned before, where one character is saying really intense, emotional stuff to another and that other doesn’t say a word. I still wonder if I’m the weirdo who feels the need to respond when someone says, “I don’t understand why you’re mad at me. Certainly you knew I didn’t want to be seen in that state!” Or does the average person just look at someone who says that to them?

Leaving that perplexity aside, it’s quite moving. But the thing I was most entranced by was the color saturation — the young woman wore the most gorgeous blues and greens; her apartment was painted in a rich teal; she had cascades of red curls. Obviously part of the film was fabric-craft oriented, and so there were some absolutely stunning works of art created by these two characters as well. I could just watch the movie again with the sound and subtitles off.

I did have to look away during a fish-killing-gutting-and-skinning scene, and there was some sadness for me about rabbit pelts, but that’s me being animal-death-averse.

The other thing about this film was Thomas Laroppe. Where has he been all my life? He is heart-stoppingly gorgeous.

All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.