Friday, December 29, 2006

Say goodbye to my ass, because I plan on dancing it off on New Year's Eve (don't worry, it will grow back). The Aloha Steamtrain is playing at the Elevens, and that is all I have planned. For the rest of the night I'll go wherever I can.

I forgot one of my more memorable Christmas gifts: My elderly grandmother sent cards to me, my sister, and my almost-3-year-old niece. Since her hands are too gnarled, her caregiver writes everything for her. I opened my card first; it had a check for $5.00 in it. My grandmother's almost 90. I'm not going to cash a check for $5 from her. Then we opened the card for my niece, which had a check for $20, and anote saying she should buy herself a book with it. Fine, Christmas is for the children, whatever. And then my sister opened her card, which had a check for $50.00.


The card had a note saying she should spend it on stuff for her new apartment (they recently sold theirs for a huge profit and are now renting). OK. We decided that none of us should cash any of the checks, because just a few months ago my grandmother asked us all for money (I sent her a $100 bill; she was over the moon with gratitude) and clearly can't afford to give us cash. So none of this should matter to me. At first I laughed it all off, but now it feels like a diss. I told this story to H and L last night and they were incredulous. "She must have meant the $20 check for you!" they said. "Why would a 3-year-old need more than $5 for a book?" I say it's because I've gone and become single again, and since I have no family to share my salary with, I must be rolling in dough. That's my theory, anyway.

Edited to add: Apparently my grandma did not, in fact, mean to send me just $5. Whew! See first comment below for more info.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Holidays. We’re in the dead week at work, where we all pretend to be productive for the few days between Christmas and New Year’s. I am planning to party hearty (aka throw a penny) on New Year’s, but my mood might change if the bank appraisal happens this week and it’s not in my favor. There’s three ways it could go:

1. Bank appraisal is lower than our agreed-upon purchase price, and the seller will not budge: Worst possible outcome. I have no cash reserves to make up the difference, and I really shouldn’t over-pay in this market, anyway. So this will mean the deal will be scrapped.

2. Bank appraisal is low, but seller makes up the difference: The best possible outcome, though extremely unlikely based on previous negotiations with seller.

3. Bank appraisal is on target: A fine outcome, and what the whole process assumes will happen.
Also: My parents got me a lovely hammock for Christmas, so I really need a porch to hang it on (or some trees in a backyard, if this particular house falls through). My teenage-delinquent cats are driving me crazy; while I was away they knocked off and broke a lovely milk-glass dish (which the awesome Brian and Marisa swept up and then drew a little comic about it to explain what had happened), and Junebug keeps jumping up on things she really shouldn't be (Hambone's too chubby) and they could really use some more space to run around in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I have been oh so busy. First off, in trivia news, the 'Burns are back to number one, baby, after a tie breaker that had to be broken with a second tie breaker. That was ridiculous. Next, did you know it's almost Christmas? I am trying to be thrifty so I'm making a couple of gifts, which is time consuming. Also, my friends H and L had a lovely holiday party on Saturday, and it was an all-night affair. I brought yummy cheese and made butterscotch brownies. And I got the potential house inspected this morning, and I won't say more in print, just in case the seller or her realtor is reading this. So, even though I am single again, I've been too busy to be lonely. I've been nearly alone (but not exactly lonely, to tell the truth) for a while; now it's just official. (By the way, Official Lonliness is the name of my new emo band.) I'm sure everything will hit me like a ton of bricks once (if) I move in to the house and relax. But hey, that's like a month away, or more, even! Plenty of time. Meanwhile I'm going to keep fiddling away. Fiddle fiddle fiddle...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Year in Review.

Maybe you know you truly are a grown-up when each year stops being better than the one before. I don’t think that my past two years or so of disappointments and loneliness mean that the rest of my life will continue on this path. (After all, I have great friends, supportive family, a creative job…) I am hoping I can purchase this house, and that it will mark the beginning of positive changes in my life. I will have to raise money outside of my salary in order to have any fun, and that will mean finally getting off my ass and trying to sell some art or craft. If I don’t get the house, it’s a sign I need to choose a different path. I’ve always been frustratingly good at playing devil’s advocate, making it nearly impossible to make a decision. As practice I sometimes choose without discussion where my also-indecisive friends and I go out to dinner, but even that tiny, consequence-free act feels risky and exhilarating.

Meanwhile, today I got the Title V report on the house’s septic system. I read it with an uncontrollable expression of revulsion on my face, since it talks about sludge depths and solids levels and cesspool liquids and leaching and pumping and sewage odors… Ew ew ew ew.

Monday, December 11, 2006

From this past weekend's New York Times: "Single women made up 22 percent of the nation’s home buyers in the last year compared with 14 percent in 1995, according to the National Association of Realtors."

I agreed on a price for the house -- They would not budge on the 2k I asked for. I am 95% sure that the bank appraisal will come in low, and the stubborn seller may not reduce the price, leaving me to make up the difference in cash (which I don't have). My realtor is saying that there's no way I should pay more than the bank's appraisal, but, anecdotally, "over-paying" the appraisal is a common practice. This aspect of the process is very frustrating. I have to secure a mortgage (paying non-refundable bank fees to do so) and inspect the house (around $500) before the bank appraises the place, which can drastically change what happens next. I went to a home-buying class on Saturday (mandatory for the special mortgage I want) and the realtor that spoke was trying to explain how home prices are set by realtors by looking at all of the factors that the bank appraiser studies, but I and the rest of the group were clearly dubious. Someone asked why the bank didn't appraise it right away, or set the prices themselves, and she couldn't really give a good answer. Long story short, I won't know until the end of the month, and after spending $700 plus, if this house will really be mine. Then I'll have 12 days until closing. Yikes!

The Rug Burns won second place last week. It's fine, we are just getting back into the swing of things. First place will be ours -- oh yes, it will be ours. The purse was a bit small -- we need more players to come ante up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The "lighted holiday banners" are up downtown (if you recall, this is their substitution for covering the trees on Main Street with lights). This may come as a shock, but I don't like them. First of all, they're on every old-fashioned lamppost, hung opposite the "Walk into something wonderful!" banners. That's a lot of freakin' banners in a town that already has a problem with too many road signs. The design on the banners is fine, sort of mod simple fir-tree shapes (way to be culturally inclusive!); the lights that border the banners seem spaced too far apart and the overall look feels skimpy. They should have just wrapped the streetlights with white lights; that would look funky and cool, while protecting the trees and not making Main Street look like the inside of a shopping mall. More than it does already, I mean.

Tonight is trivia, of course, and hopefully our full Rugburns team will be in effect. We are tired of losing, and are going to get back to the winning. Believe it.

And oh yeah, the house thing. I am countering their "final" offer with one that's 2k less. I should just give in, but the seller is being super stubborn, which makes me want to do the same. I did have a crisis of "what am I doing?" last night, and called a bunch of people to get their advice. Unfortunately, they were unable to make my huge, life-altering decision for me, but I did get yes-votes from both of my parents (even frugal Dad), which helped. So I am going for it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I just did a workout with Maya, and at the end she said "You're doing great! I can't wait to see how you do on your next physical challenge -- that's the workout after next!"

I'm pretty excited, because the phrase "physical challenge" makes me think of Double Dare, and that is awesome. I hope I have to dig through a giant plastic nose's fake snot to find a flag!

I am finally for-reals in the process of trying to buy a house. It might be a terrible time to buy, but mortgage rates are still low, and my theory is that sellers know that it's a buyer's market and are open to reducing prices accordingly. I do have a property in mind, and I am in the middle of negotiations. The owner bought at the peak of the market two years ago, she bid over asking, and the place sold in four days. With the price she has now, she's clearly trying to recoup her costs plus her realtor's fee. But her place has been on the market for six months. I want her to give it up at a more reasonable price. The place is practically perfect for me.

Of course, I am terrified of losing my shirt (figuratively) if I get fired or something. Plus, for the past several years I have had the luxury of not having to pay attention to my expenses, and that would most definitely change. I don't exactly jet off to Costa Rica every time I feel like it, but it's nice to know that I could if I wanted to without having to save up for it.

What do you all think? Am I insane to be buying right now?