Midday Melange

We were rudely awakened at eight this morning by our phone ringing. It was MBNA looking for my parents, who not only live in Mexico, but can't call him back because they can't dial 800-numbers from there. I took great pleasure in using the 'send caller to answering service' option on my little silver phone.

We went back to sleep, since even the dogs didn't want to leave bed just then, and were awakened at a much more acceptable nine o'clock by our realtor, confirming that she had the termite clearance on our new house, and was GO for SIGNOFF ON MONDAY. YES! I feel so antsy, but in all honesty, the fact that it's taken so long for this escrow has served us well. Our interest rate was half a point lower when we finally locked last week, than it was when we'd initially started our loan process, and because we're signing on the last day of September, with a November 1 loan payment, we're not paying ANY interest on the new loan. Well. One day. But what's a day?

So, if all goes according to plan, we will get the keys on Thursday, and have the appliances delivered, and the carpet guy come to measure, and on Friday we'll be having the movers move our stuff.

I'm itching to paint – there's so much PINK in this house, and I'm just not a pink person. I mean. I like baby pink…on ballerinas and girls under the age of ten. I like fuschia and magenta, but not on WALLS. This woman has one room painted entirely ruby-red, and the other maroon. The red, actually, I can live with, since it'll be the guest room, and the furniture in there will be our old black dresser set and black iron canopy bed. All very gothic.

The maroon will, I think, be the computer room, unless we decide we're having two separate computer rooms. We haven't decided yet. I kind of want the sitting room to be a sewing room. Fuzzy thinks we can put one computer in there, and the other bedroom will be my sewing room / office. We shall see.

I'm actually excited about pool toys, as well. And actually being able to treat trick-or-treaters, since we're in an actual neighborhood now, and everything.

And I'm also looking forward to having something other than my new house to talk about.

One more week.
I can handle one more week.

Domain Slut Seeks New Identity

I'm having that urge again. The one that prompts me to shed my current identity and take on a new one. Oh, not my actual name or anything, though I've never particularly liked it. I'm in the mood to get rid of all my current domain names and take on something new.

I want a word, a single word, not too hard to spell, type, or pronounce, but something that fits me. AngstyBitchQueen is too long, of course, so I've ruled that out. And BoringChick isn't really the image I'm going for.

I collect hats.
I play the cello.
I love art, though I suck at making it.
I sing.
I write, though, admittedly most of what I write is pretty dull these days.
I think in songs.
I see in rooms.
I like designer drinks.
I hate baby-pink.
I'm mostly happy.
But I'm also often mercurial.

I've often added to my collection of domain names, but never really purged any, and now I want to purge everything.

I want a new online ID to go with my new house.

And I want a word that fits all of my moods.
And is somewhat obscure.

Suggestions are being taken. If I use yours, you get a box of Dan's Chocolates, in dark, milk, or mixed, on me.

Do help?


I have spent the entire day dealing with people who collectively have maybe one working brain-cell. I began my day in a happy buzz, after using my favorite conditioner in the shower, and getting a pumpking scone at Starbucks. (Yay, pumpkin scones. Not quite as good as Morning Glory muffins, but…)

But then it got worse.

BitchyBorrower called after her loan documents were in title to ask if now was an okay time to lower her loan amount. Um…no. Last week when we told you we were drawing docs would have been the time to ask. Which we told you. Twice.

DumberThanRocksAppraisalCompany called to ask me the square footage of the house they're appraising. I said, “Doesn't the appraiser have to tape the perimeter and measure?” Well, yes. “And wouldn't that help him come up with square footage?” response: Oh.

And Now there's Homophobic DocDrawer. We're doing a loan for two of my mother's best friends, and this post is locked because if they read it and knew this they'd be screaming. Kass and Libby are two of the coolest women ever, and one of the few lesbian couples to participate in the last gay marriage thing in SFO, and, like most of my mother's friends, are radical activists. NOT women you want to cross.

We moved their loan from FabulousRates lender because they tried to make them sign separate applications, and we refused to let that happen. Then, two days ago, my title rep from NewLender said, “They drew the docs based on the pre, not on the application or the doc order. Help.”

So I called the lender. D. didn't call me back, but apparently sent my message to the doc dept. Who also didn't call me back. Today, we hammered on them some more. Our rep said, “Well, the preliminary title report doesn't reflect married names, and anyway that's not recognized in CA.” I said, “It's no different than a divorced person going back to their former name. THis is why we gave you name change paperwork.”

So we battled, and finally Susan, who is really the loan officer, and has more time to talk than I do, called D. and said, “Either you call me back, or I call the press and tell them you're discriminating.”

He called back.
He was pissed.
Apparently, the doc-drawer OVERRODE the underwriter's instructions and changed the names to match the pre. Without authorization.

Stupid. Stupid. And almost a nightmare.

So, I'm tired of dealing with people who can't think.
And I'm tired of having to resort to threats and blackmail to get people to do their jobs.

And I'm done ranting now.



We've spent the last seven or so weeks doing stuff on the house that we technically don't own any more.

Today, we finally got to do something for the new house: We went to Western Appliance, where they were having a 'we're doing inventory on Monday, please help us have less to count' sale, and while we didn't ultimately get the fridge I'd been looking at with the freezer on the bottom, we did get a nice basic Whirlpool fridge…well, not basic, in terms of features. I mean, okay, no ice maker (not that we'd use one anyway), but it has all sorts of nifty bins, bottle holders, a can rack, and all the shelves slide out. They promise to move the hinges to the left side, too, so it won't open into the room.

And I got the washer and dryer I'd been eye-ing on the web: Neptune. It's a front load washer without an agitator, and uses way less water than any other waster. Yay for not wasting water. The detergent, bleach and softener all have nifty top-load dispensers. Also, the actual part where the laundry goes is tilted slightly up, so nothing can fall out when you open the door. And it's supposedly really quiet. We shall see. The dryer matches. Both have all sorts of nifty buttons and settings I'll probably never use.

While we were there we eyes televisions. Panasonic has one that has an integrated DVD and VCR, and it's under $1000. Tempting. Very tempting. We'll see how many loans I close.

The trip to B&N was disappointing, and the cafe was filled with students. I'm all for bringing a book and reading, but I hate when students use restaurants as libraries. It's not fair to people who just want a place to sit and drink their coffee.

On Natalie Goldberg

I first discovered her during the summer after my first year of college. I'd been working in a funky neighborhood bookstore/cafe, and had been flirting with a local poet between making sales. I don't remember his name, now, but I remember that we had a long talk about the comfort of companionable silences, and how it was nice to be able to share a table and not have to converse, just have the sounds of glassware clicking gently on the tabletop, and the scratching of pens as the only noise.

He let me read a poem, and asked what I was always filling notebooks with when I was working, and there were no customers to serve. I blushed, and told him I was 'just babbling on paper.' He asked if it was a story, and I said no, just thoughts. Even then, I had the strong feeling that, much as I love to read it, writing fiction was not for me.

He went to the shelves in our small-but-eclectic 'writing and reference' section, and brought me back an oversized paperback called Writing Down the Bones. I revealed that the cover had intrigued me – it looked so frivolous – but, he said, it's not.

So I read it. And I nearly didn't realize when my shift was over because I was so entrenched in, entranced by, this book.

Yes, it's essentially a writing manual.
No, it's not like any other writing manual you could ever imagine.

Natalie Goldberg doesn't so much instruct as suggest. She's a great proponent of using notebooks, because handwriting is more visceral and more organic than typing words on a screen. She pushes for writing practice and writing meditation and timed exercises.

But most of all, she's adamant that when you're sitting down, and putting pen to paper, or even fingers to keyboard, you turn off the self-censor, and send the internal-editor to bed.

Her rules are simple, and in a later book, she joked that they apply to everything from writing to cooking to running to sex:
Keep your hand moving. Meaning don't stop to think, to edit, to see how long you've been writing.
Lose control. Let yourself go wild. If it flows, go with it.
Don't think. Just write.

I have never met Natalie Goldberg. One of my fondest dreams is to spend a week in Taos, New Mexico (and if you know me, and know how much of a desert person I'm NOT, you'll understand how much I want to do this), and take her writing classes.

I rarely have time, these days, to take a notebook (paper or plastic) to a cafe and sit and just scribble or babble. But I still want to.

Goal for Q3: Return to writing practice. Write /something/ every day.

On Crayons

Originally posted 5 September 2002

I've been in love with crayons ever since I can remember. The first box I remember having is the child-sized 'basic eight' which were large and long and only half-round, like a bunch of wax logs, split for easy use, and wrapped in colorful paper. They're supposed to be easier for young children, those who haven't yet developed fine motor skills, to handle. You know you're growing up when those fat coloring sticks become too heavy, the tips too large, for the work you want to do. But what I liked about them is that you could fill a page with color in next to no time, and the points never broke.

Later, probably beginning in Kindergarten, our lists of school supplies began to include personal boxes of crayons, or, in the wake of budget cuts, teachers would ask every child to bring in boxes of tissues, boxes of crayons, glue, etc., and all would be shared among the community of the classroom, over the year. I never went to grade school in California, except for sixth grade, by which time they tried to wean us away from crayons, and my vague recollection of the schools in New Jersey was that they were very structured, so maybe this was just a Colorado thing – after all, it was the seventies, and it was an open-classroom school.

Now, I'm the proud owner of a 96-pack, which contains the eight newest colors, as well as the eight that were retired several years ago. I've never used it. I might, someday, or I might not, but just having it means I can pick it up, and look at the riot of colors in that yellow and green box of artistic possibility. I can smell the combination of wax and construction paper – it leaves the merest trace of a metallic taste at the back of my throat, and I've never been sure if that's just a trick of the mind, or if it's a faint memory of the times, as a young child, I must have eaten a crayon. (Has any child ever /not/ eaten a crayon?).

I hate to be a brand-whore, but it's really only Crayola® Crayons that have the smell, and the color quality, that pleases me. I know this because once someone gave me another brand, and the blue wasn't blue enough, the red looked pink, and the brown was just disturbing.

On Feeling Like Fall

Originally posted 13 September 2002

It's overcast this morning, and for once I'm the first person out of bed. This rarely happens, and a part of me has to wonder if the overcast morning was somehow calling to me. Not that I don't like sunshine – quite the contrary – but fall, or autumn if you want to be all proper, has always been the season I'm most attuned to.

My latest theory about why I love Fall is that it has to do with being born in August, and that the cooling of the days, the lengthening of the nights, and the turning of the leaves were some of the first things I encountered, outside the circle of love that was Mommy.

Or, perhaps it's just that I know the rainy season will start, and I absolutely love rain. Once, when I was nine or ten, I had a rainy Saturday all to myself. I remember wearing my favorite rainbow sweatshirt, the jeans I'd been given for riding lessons earlier that summer, and my favorite red Keds, adding a very spiffy raincoat, taking my very spiffy bubble umbrella, and practicing the Gene Kelly curb-thing from Singin' in the Rain. I'm sure I must've looked extremely strange, but when you're nine or ten you can get away with such things, and at the most, they'll call you 'creative'. Now, they'd call me 'touched' – or worse.

Rain is the one element of weather that I know I experience with every sense. I love the taste of ozone in the back of my throat, just before the clouds burst, love the way the air seems to still, love the smell of the world being washed clean, however briefly. I love the way it tingles on my skin. Natalie Goldberg wrote once about how she took a bunch of grade-schoolers outside and tried to teach them how to walk between the raindrops – this is something I, too, have tried. It doesn't work, of course, but it's still fun to let go, and pretend. And, I confess, I still love splashing through puddles.

Today, of course, it's much too early in the year to expect actual precipitation. But even the haze of morning brings a hint of that pre-rain tang, and cools the morning a bit. True, it'll all be gone by eleven, but by then I'll be cocooned in my office, with music playing and a macchiato at my fingertips, and the world Outside will cease to exist at all for several hours.

Until then, I'm going to curl up with the fall editions of some favorite magazines, and imagine decorating the new house for Halloween, and pretend that the sound of the water from Zerimar's shower is really rain.

* * * * *

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today.

On Routing Self-Censorship

A couple weeks ago, in a fit of low self-esteem, I created another journal where I'd intended to post the results of self-imposed writing practices. I have that impulse a lot, really, because shedding a virtual identity is so comparitively easy, and because my moods change I want to be able to change the title, the very username I use, to reflect that, sometimes.

And then this morning, posted a probably-rhetorical entry that had in it the question, “Does anyone have any useful advice about writing,” and of course, I offered the words of my own writing guru, Natalie Goldberg, and that sparked an entry, and a minor epiphany.

This is the entry.

Here's the epiphany: If I'm truly interested in using this as writing practice, I have to stop censoring myself, because none of Ms. Goldberg's techniques work when you have a closed mind.

Does this mean y'all get to read my unsubmitted entry from OD's last sex week? Well, not likely. But it does mean, Calla-Lily is dead and I'm bringing the couple of entries I wrote for that over here.

After all, it's MY journal. I can do what I want.

Crush. Destroy. Pulverize.

Those are the words at the top of my mind right now. I try to be patient, I really do, but lately it seems I've been surrounded by incompetence.

Like the bottle-blonde bitch who represented the buyer in my real estate transaction, who pushed and pushed to close early because her buyer did a fifteen day rate-lock in this market and would lose her lock, and managed to get the lender to agree to fund and record without having section I termite items cleared. And while that doesn't really adversely affect me (I mean, okay, I'm technically renting my own condo for the next ten days or so, but that is less money than my full month's mortgage, so what do I care?), it annoys me, because SHE got her paycheck today, but the loan officer doesn't get paid unless the section I stuff is cleared. And it's unfair.

And then, to cap it all, this same woman called the title company yesterday to demand that they NOT record, so her client wouldn't have to pay interest over the weekend. (This is illegal. If you fund a loan it MUST record within 24 hours. This is why we're lucky to be in Santa Clara County were you can do 'specials' – fund and record in the same day.) Note: people who have been in the biz for 20 years should know better than to ask the escrow officer to do an illegal thing. Especially when the escrow officer has a business relationship with the seller of the property, and not with them.

But, no, that's not enough. In addition my OWN lender hasn't yet managed to do their paperwork. They've had my conditions for OVER A WEEK, and have known since DAY 1 that a review appraisal was required. So today, I had to find a review appraiser FOR THEM. Aaack. Idiots.

And then, apparently, my job has been extended to include training other people's employees, because I just spent half an hour educating a new underwriter at a lender in Santa Rosa about the concept of Deminimus PUD's (like the Stepford Houses off of Park) where there's a nominal HOA for gardening and security, but no real HOA documentation. And this same underwriter seems to think, “Um, yeah, this is D. and you should prolly leave a message” is a professional outgoing VoiceMail message, and doesn't know enough to include his extension when he leaves the phone number, knowing they don't have a human receptionist.

Whether or not you read the rant, here's the practical upshot: I'm bitchy and moody and need a lot of Vodka, and September cannot end soon enough.

Half Over

This morning, I bribed my escrow officer with a mocha, so that I could sip my chai for an hour and not feel rude for drinking in front of her. She's a wonderful person, so it was all to the good.

We no longer, as of tomorrow, own our condo, although we'll live in it through the first week in October. Maybe.

Now, we're pushing our lender to do their thing, and pushing our realtor to do her thing, so we can close on the purchase, probably late next week, after the Section I termite work is done.

Saturday, we're going to the house to look at the bathrooms, so we know what color tile to pick for replacements, and measure the gaps where appliances will go, and such.

On a side note, the woman who bought our condo currently lives in the same apartment complex where we lived for six months in 1998, just before buying said condo.

Just a token “small world” story.