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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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still working on the housing quest.

The news from the mortgage broker was 1/2 good and 1/2 bad.  I have cleared up my credit mess sufficiently so that I can borrow pretty much as much money as I want ($4800/mo payments, she said), and qualify for the best interest rates.

That, I must say, took a lot of work.  I am proud of my diligent efforts to clean up the mess created by divorce and single motherhood in one of the most expensive parts of the country.  I am not proud that I had the mess, but I know that many, many women go through similar things when they make the transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced single mother of small children.  So rather than dwelling on the mess, I will dwell on the cleaning of the mess.  And I will be proud.

The problem that remains:  I chose yet another “most expensive parts of the country” and it is difficult to get even a 2 bedroom condo for less than $417,000, let alone a 3 or 4 bedroom house.  Or condo.

Who cares, you may ask?  Since I stated above that I could, in fact, get approval for a $650,000 mortgage?  What’s up with the $417,000?

Jumbo mortgage, baby.

Can’t get one of those puppies with less than 20% down.

On the house I want, that 20% = $150,000.

Which I do not have.

I could likely find a lender, says the broker, who would take 10%.

Nope.  Don’t have that, either.

But due to the current mess-o-rama, nothing less will do.

Which is really okay, and likely the more responsible thing to do.  You know, wait until I have a down-payment before I buy a house.  Have some real equity in the place from day one, rather than bills that keep me stuck to my job, regardless of whether things go south on that front (which there is no sign of happening thus far).

My biggest worry is that we’re going to miss out on this current dip in home prices. That by the time we accumulate $70,000+, the homes we want will end up being over a million again, instead of the 3/4ths that they’re currently at.

I read this article today, though, that made me feel more optimistic that our timing is fine, and perhaps even fortuitous. If things bottom out in the middle of next year, then perhaps by then – considering what we save and the lower still prices – we’ll be ready to buy before the uphill climb begins again.

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In the meantime, we need to move.  That means a bigger rental.

After visiting condos for sale, visiting apartments is ridiculously depressing.

painted 2×4’s subbing as kitchen shelves; moldy bathtubs; fucking coin-op laundry machines …. they’re just horrible.  Horrible.

rental agents are assholes, and I hate them all.

I also resent the fact that my quest to own a place is going to be set back by quite a few thousand dollars because of first/last/security and potentially (although I’m doing all in my power to avoid it) a broker’s fee, which equals a month’s rent.

Now, the financial aspect was cleaned up a bit today with the news that my tax refund is pretty freaking big (for me).  I feared that I owed.

But I still have to figure out how to find a good deal, and how to rid myself of the gnatty presence of the rental agents and their stupid fees.

I may have an inside beat on a very good apartment – one with real cabinets, one with laundry in the unit (no fucking quarters needed), one with a deck, and one with a ton of space.  But it is far from a sure thing (current occupants have to move out, and not just have everyone in the neighborhood talk about how they’re going to).

But I think that’s what I need.  An inside connection.  A way to just sidle up to an owner and neatly close their gap in rents collected without the headache of advertising for and vetting prospective renters.

And we may – just may – be moving within the next few (yeah, that’s 3) months.

Phew.  I can’t wait to stretch.

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