Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Failure of the Day: Too Much Brain on My Hands

Thank god for benadryl—I’m finally getting something like enough sleep, chemically induced though it may be. And it occurs to me: I don’t handle stress well. I mean, I handle it—I don’t fall apart or go on a tri-state killing spree or eat four whole chickens at every meal. I get my work done and I continue to groom myself properly, but my emotions are not gentle really under any circumstances, any of them, and stress is a bit of an accelerant to my already emphatic predisposition.

And you know how people really need to take a vacation from their same old thoughts because distraction is the cure for obsession and depression and worry and kind of everything? Yeah, that’s not going so well for me. For example, I might actually, oddly, be on the David Letterman show at some point in the coming months. (It’s a long story; I’ll explain more if it pans out.) Ordinarily, that would be a world-class distraction, wouldn’t you think? What will I wear? How will I keep from making more of a buffoon of myself than is strictly necessary? How will I keep Chris from weeping with joy the whole time, etc. Just worrying about how fat I’ll look on TV should be enough to distract me clear through July.

But it’s not. Instead I spend all my time worried that the economic downturn isn’t affecting SOMA real estate prices as much as we need it to, and they won’t accept our lowball offers. We don’t have the answer to any of our questions yet, mostly because we haven’t found just the right realtor yet, so instead of fixating on how to make sure my hair is perfect for Dave, I obsess over new home sales data by zip code. And it’s just me, asking the same question over and over into the sacred space between my face and the monitor screen, and I don’t have any new information since the last time I asked. There’s no new answer. There’s no answer at all yet, because I have to wait. I. Have. To. Wait.

This is the second week.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Failure of the Day: Enter Sandman

I have seriously never had this many people interested in discussing my needs in my entire life. People are appearing out of thin air and asking if we can discuss my needs. I get emails and phone calls daily now from people who want only to know what my needs are. I have a neurologist, a dermatologist, a gynecologist, a dentist, and an internist, and not a single one of them is 1% as interested in my needs as any given real estate agent in San Francisco.

Let me tell you what I need: Sleep.

I haven’t slept through the night since last Saturday. I thought I saw a big black bird swooping through my office two times yesterday. This is the condition in which I am supposed to make a decision that will affect the next 30 years of my life.

Thing is, I don’t feel stressed. I’m exhausted and I have what I’m pretty sure is hysterical diarrhea, but I don’t feel scared or on edge or tense. I feel like I’m thinking clearly, making fine decisions, and performing perfectly fine acts of deductive reasoning. So yeah, real estate agents, I would like to discuss my needs in more detail with the whole lot of you. But I’m not hiring any of you yet, not until I know I have to, and not until one of you strikes me in just the right way.

But seriously, did no one else see that bird? It’s gone now but it was just there.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Failure of the Day: High-Stakes Education

I learned what a mortgage broker was when the lady on the phone identified herself as one. Which was just before she pre-approved us for a sum roughly 50% more than our budget. It was a science fiction sum. Isaac Asimov wrote that sum.

That was when my stomach stopped hurting for the first time in 2 days. Approval is nice. We had the stamp of productive and responsible adulthood on our foreheads. Our income and credit scores are acceptable. Now we get to shop for real.

Now I need to learn what a realtor is, and if we need one. And if it’s different than a buyer’s agent. And what short sales are and why people seem wary of TICs. On the plus side, I know what a TIC is.

I’m also having my own personal episode of Spock’s Brain—all of a sudden I forget everything the Money Grown-Up explained to us and I can’t figure out how we can afford this. My understanding just wears off and I need to get re-hooked up to the Teacher helmet. It’s something about taxes I know, but after that? Pfffft.

It wasn’t long before my stomach started hurting again. That’s the second day.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Failure of the Day: We’re Sorry, My Nerves Are Experiencing Unexpectedly High Call Volume; Please Hold

After putting it off for literally years, Chris and I saw a financial advisor on Saturday. We call him the Money Grown-Up. He told us that in fact we could afford to buy a condo, pretty much now. He explained all the various details and tax implications and mortgage options and millions of other details about numbers that hopefully Chris paid attention to because really, I was mostly spending all my energy trying to keep a reasonable expression on my face. Owning our own place is kind of a big deal to me, is the thing. On Sunday we started shopping.

The first thing you learn is that you are unforgivable wealthy. A half million dollars! That’s what these things cost, and you just bat the concept around like a kitten with a yarn ball. A half million dollars. To start.

The second thing you learn is that you are a deadbeat. You look at places that are priced higher than you can afford and know that you’re going to haggle them down to what you want. But in the early stages, the whole time you’re talking to the agents, you’re keeping the terrible secret that you can’t pay the asking price. Because you’re a deadbeat. Your shoes cost $11 from a store that was going out of business, and they can totally tell.

Meanwhile you’re a lost little lamb. The nice Money Grown-Up says you don’t need a realtor to buy a condo, any moron can negotiate a good deal in this market, so you walk into the places alone with your pants around your ankles and your wallet open, and the people showing the properties start talking REALLY FAST.

On Sunday night I sit straight up in bed covered in sweat just like they do in movies. “We have to get rid of all our books!” I shout to Chris, who is happily killing digital zombies. “We’ll never get enough square footage for all our bookcases!” Chris lets the zombies run free for a while and comes to soothe my frantic head. “It’s just shopping,” he says. “It’s fun. It exciting. And we like our books.”

I take a fistful of benadryl and manage to get to sleep. That’s the first day.