Adventures in Real Estate

One of my goals for this year was to buy a house, but I did not complete that goal. We were under contract in October, but the inspection report was pretty bad. The crawl space needed about $21,000 worth of repairs. So our one-bedroom apartment began to look like a wonderful paradise, and I fully appreciated how easy it was to maintain and how kind the landlord is (and sometimes, they give away free food!). And the brightest side of all? Only 600-something square feet to clean! In the home-buying process, I grew quite cynical upon reading real estate listings and going to what seemed like three million showings. So here is my interpretation of the real estate language:

Location, location, location: There will be 12 offers on this house before you even get to see it.
Priced to sell: Consider running away.
As is: Run away.
Handyman special: Run far, far away.
Lots of potential: Run far, far away screaming.
Won’t last long: Will end up sitting on the market for two weeks.
Adorable: Only 1,000 square feet. You can rent an apartment bigger than this.
Charming: Looks like granny’s house… and smells like it too.
Cozy: Two bedrooms and/or less than 1,000 square feet.
Close proximity to the nearest highway: You will never sleep again. Sirens will become your lullaby.
Country living: You need to drive 30 minutes to reach civilization.
Easy access to downtown: Purchase a home security system now. Just sayin’.
New HVAC, new roof: Congratulations! You just put off fixing “the big stuff” for another few years!
Motivated seller: The next time you blink, this house will be off the market.
Bring your ideas: The house hasn’t been updated since the 1980s.
Only one owner: No maintenance has been done for the past 12 years.
Hard-to-find ranch: What? Practically every house in North Carolina is a ranch.
Hardwood and laminate floors throughout: BUY ME NOW! (Seriously, I hate carpet.)
No HOA: You can paint your house purple and have a pet giraffe!
Low HOA: Nobody is coming to power wash your house for the next 10 years.
Split-bedroom plan: Send the kids to the other end of the house when you’re getting fed up!
Double sinks: Send your spouse to the other end of the counter when you’re getting fed up!
Low-maintenance living: You will be paying through the nose in HOA dues.
Multiple offers; highest and best due tomorrow: Better hope your offer was better than that Chinese investor’s…
This CITY #-story home offers a FEATURE, FEATURE, and FEATURE: The seller is Opendoor. Show up anytime and wave to the cameras!

I still plan to buy a house, probably at the end of 2020. Wish me luck, because this is still largely a seller’s market and will most likely remain so.

Happy All Hallows and NaNo Eve!

I’m not a fan of Halloween. Even when I was a kid, I did not like dressing up and knocking on people’s doors asking for candy, and I did not trick-or-treat anymore after I turned 10. Better to wait until Christmas, when you got candy and treats without having to ask strangers for them. I also have a grudge against Halloween because my brother and I went out trick-or-treating one year, but Halloween had been celebrated the day before because of Protestant church services. No candy for us. You could imagine how that would break a kid’s heart. It’s stupid to hold a grudge, I know, but I still do.

I don’t plan to pass my Halloween grudge on to my son. When he gets old enough to walk and talk, it will be fun to take him around so he can get candy and show people his cute and/or scary costume. I will have to be mindful of the calendar because I think Halloween still gets rescheduled sometimes. (Grr…)

Anyway, tomorrow is All Saint’s Day, NaNoWriMo, and the beginning of November (my favorite month after April). Fall is nice because the weather finally cools down (although I’m sure by March, we’ll all be complaining about how the weather needs to hurry up and get warm again).

Hope everyone has a nice fall and a productive NaNoWrimo, if you are participating!

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

I was flipping channels on the radio while driving home from work a few days ago, and I came upon what must have been a contemporary Christian music station. A few of the lyrics from the song that was playing stuck out in my mind:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong

“Where I Belong” – Building 429

It reminded me of a few times when I was younger, when I said, in sadness or frustration, “I want to go home!” even when I was sitting in my house. What I meant by that must have been “I want to get out of here” or “I want to go somewhere else,” but perhaps my subconscious mind desired heaven, a place where none of the sadness or frustrations of the world exist.

The lyrics also made me think of older people in nursing homes or hospices who say they want to “go home,” but they’re not talking about any home they had on earth.

Maybe instead of (or in addition to) memento mori, we could think of something like “remember your true home.” (Wish I could translate that into Latin.)

We’re not comfortable on earth because it is not truly home for us, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to make ourselves comfortable and avoid any kind of pain or discomfort.

This also reminds me of when my husband and I attended the childbirth class before our son was born. I read or heard something like, “Women in the Western world are not used to pain in the way women in developing countries are. That’s why there are more elective C-sections in the United States than there used to be.”*

That made me feel guilty for some reason. We are quite spoiled. There are so many conveniences and perks in our coddled lives that we take them all for granted. Air conditioning, heat, indoor plumbing, medications for a myriad of painful health conditions, computers, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, cars… so much to make our lives easier, and we still complain.

Were we born to be creatures of comfort? Were we born to suffer? A loving God would not want us to suffer, but I am not sure he would want us to become spoiled whiners and complainers either.

Faithful Catholics in the past would flagellate themselves for their sins, take vows of silence, and sometimes attempt to survive on just the Eucharist alone. Now our idea of penance in modern times is to take a social media fast or avoid eating meat on one day of the week. Is any of it “enough” for God? Is he happy with what we are doing?

I don’t think we do these things to make God happy, because he doesn’t take joy in our suffering. We do these things to make ourselves more pure and to strengthen ourselves for the final battle (which may be death or a literal battle, if we do end up living in the end of days).

So the real question is this: What will truly strengthen us, not just bring us comfort? Maybe if we get used to living with minor inconveniences like avoiding meat or perhaps taking cold showers instead of hot ones, we will be ready to face greater inconveniences and even pain. But choose your penances carefully, because an appropriate sacrifice for one person may not be appropriate for someone else.

That brings another question to mind: Are all offerings of suffering or penance equal in God’s eyes? I’m thinking of the story from Genesis where Cain and Abel offer sacrifices to God, but Abel’s is superior to Cain’s. If I’m remembering correctly, that was because Abel offered the “firstlings of his flock,” which is inherently better because you’re supposed to give God the best that you have. Abel just gave the “fruit of the ground,” which could have been any old fruit. (Or maybe God doesn’t like kiwis???)

I’m not sure that translates to the suffering issue; how can one give God his “best” suffering? The only thing I can think of is what I said earlier: the sacrifice or “suffering” has to be done for the right reason—to bring one closer to God.

*In my opinion, having a C-section would have been worse than giving birth the “natural” way. And I believe the facts state that in most cases, a C-section is actually more dangerous than letting nature take its course. But if the doctor had recommended that a C-section was the safer way to go for me, I would have done it.