Dreams and Realities

Day’s Verse:
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:35

I keep dreaming about the house, mortgages, and other related topics. I wake up feeling vaguely uneasy, although that unease quickly balloons into full-on anxiety. I’m excited at the prospect of having a real home to settle down in, but I’m daunted by the mortgage stuff, by the responsibility of owning a home, and by the breadth and depth of my ignorance about anything pertaining to home ownership (and not a day goes by in which my ignorance isn’t revealed to be even deeper and wider than I previously thought).

The good news — aside from the fact that we will, in fact, be able to pay for this home and that our neighborhood evaluation didn’t come up with something so terrible we backed out of the deal — is that Ian and I continue to get along very well throughout everything. He’s documenting details; I’m talking to strangers. It’s working pretty darn well.

Slough of Despond

Day’s Verse:
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior…”

2 Samuel 22:2-3

Do you ever want to run screaming from your own life? It’s funny; I took this internship that we all agreed was perfect for me, combining my interests in biking, nonprofits, living in Seattle…the whole deal. What could be better?

Now, though, I’m at the end of my tether. Last night I broke down and just started weeping, paralyzed, with a pile of laundry in my arms. I couldn’t do anything. I just stood there and wept out of desperation and misery, my inability to handle everything that’s converging in my life overwhelming me in one fell swoop. It was terrible. Anne of Green Gables would have called it “the depths of despair”; I truly felt (and to some extent still feel; after all, nothing’s changed since last night) that I couldn’t move, couldn’t do any more. That all my reserves were gone and I couldn’t force myself to keep going any longer.

As a result, I’m having a difficult time finding much motivation to work hard or, honestly, work at all. I’d like to take a day off, but I’m behind in AmeriCorps hours. We are house- and cat-sitting through the 31st, and of course also house-hunting, and those (especially the impending terror of spending nearly all our money on one huge, permanent choice, and committing to spend a hefty portion of Ian’s monthly salary) have added to the sense of chaos as I struggle to find some solid ground in the quagmire that is my life.

I keep telling myself, “Just make it through this week,” but somehow the next week doesn’t turn out any better. I wish we had a permanent home. Or that I had something predictable in my life somewhere.

Stalking the Wild House: First Attempt

Day’s Verse:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

Yesterday Ian and I met Linnea Jones for our first round of touring potential homes. We looked at 8 places, 7 town home condos and 1 single-family home. The first two we knew were just not right for us right off the bat.

The third one we walked into, a new construction on Slater Avenue in Kirkland, struck us as having the kind of layout we wanted. We walked through the model, which actually wasn’t for sale, and then checked out another one that was for sale. That one, though, is directly adjacent to the freeway wall. It had about 10′ of grass, and then there was the huge gray freeway wall, with road noise coming through. Not only that, but it wasn’t anywhere near walkable to a grocery store or library, and those are important to us.

House number 4, also on Slater Avenue, had a similar open floor plan that really appealed to us. It’s slightly farther from the freeway but still close enough that you’d constantly have freeway noise and, probably, filth coming in through open windows. Also, this was a middle unit, and I’m not wild about living squeezed in between people like that.

After sleeping on the prospect of those two, Ian and I agreed that although we really liked the feel and layout of the homes, we couldn’t envision living in either of them.

House number 5, which we looked at after lunch, was a definite no. The pictures made it look wonderful, but walking through, the kitchen was clearly isolated from where people would hang out, and it had very high home owners association fees because they kept the extremely nice landscaping up immaculately. It’d be a place to retire to, not to raise kids in.

House number 6 was actually two units, but we liked the model much more than the other one. It received a resounding yes, our only definite yes so far. It was walking distance from schools, 1.5 miles (a reasonable bike ride) from the grocery store and library, and 1.5 miles from Ian’s work. We liked the layout, the complex was small and new and each unit had its own reasonable-sized back yard, plus this unit backed onto a designated green space. The complex was built in a neighborhood of really nice single-family homes, and the unit we liked was situated so you looked into the neighborhood rather than at the other townhomes squeezed in really close to you. Our biggest concerns are with the condo fees and financial aspect of living in a condo vs. owning a residential home. We’ll go back to that one again for sure.

We visited two more places after that, one single-family home that I felt ambivalent about — it was situated on a pretty huge hill, which isn’t an exciting prospect for a cyclist — but that Ian really liked. It did have a gorgeous kitchen with lots of counter space and an attached, open living room. We kept that as a maybe.

Then home number 8, another condo with high fees, directly across from Blyth Park and right next to the Sammamish River Trail. We gave that a maybe, since it met most of our criteria, but for some reason I just couldn’t imagine living there permanently. It did have an awesome kitchen, huge garage, and neat loft with cathedral ceilings. We’ll go back again and see what we think a second time.

Besides finding 3 places yesterday that we want to re-visit, Ian and I have been learning a lot. We’re starting to get a sense of what we should look for in a neighborhood and in a home. I doubt I’ll ever look at a home the same after this experience. I’ll always be thinking, “That fancy roof line just means re-roofing will cost more in 10 years,” or “The master bedroom is awfully far from the kids’ rooms,” or “It’s a nice enough place, but they’re nowhere near a grocery store or bus line,” or… well, you get the idea.

We’re also starting to get a sense that most everybody we talk to has some really important, crucial advice on home buying that will keep us from making a horrible, life-ruining decision that they just have to share with us. And don’t get me wrong — I appreciate and value advice, especially when I don’t know anything about what I’m doing. My first reaction in an unknown situation is to do research and talk to people who’ve done it. But my gosh, people will talk forever about what features to look for, how to look at homes, what kind of home would be right for us, how to finance the purchase, and on and on. It’s amazing. I suppose this is really just giving us a pre-taste of what it’ll be like when we have kids.

My Life Is Full

Day’s Verse:
There was a man named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea, captain of the Italian Guard stationed there. He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer.
Acts 10:1-2 (context)

So I’m sorry if you had something else you wanted me to think about. My memory and processing power are all used up, and you’ll just have to wait until I complete some tasks and free up some space.

What’s filling my brain? Why, thank you for asking!

  1. House hunting. Holy mackerel, there’s a lot to think about with purchasing a home. We landed with Linnea Jones as our realtor, and one hour with her convinced me that she’s going to be a huge asset in our house hunt. She’s an expert we can rely on, and I’m really glad to have that resource.
  2. Financial details. In addition to paying for the home we choose (yesterday we got a pre-approval letter from Cobalt Mortgage, the financial people Linnea recommended, and somehow seeing those numbers on a piece of paper makes it feel so much more real), we also have to think about details like the fact we don’t actually have any furniture.
  3. Bike repair. Of course, the struggle to obtain money from Hertz to repair my bike continues. I haven’t heard anything since the adjustor came by last Thursday, even though I called the Hertz guy Monday morning. I also have to choose a shop to do the work, which is tough since I don’t have relationships with any shops like I did with Landry’s.
  4. KDOG activities. Yesterday evening I picked up 750 free KDOG door hangers printed by Leatherback Printing. Now I have to organize volunteers to distribute them all — before the Big City Council meeting on April 6th.
  5. AmeriCorps activities. Of course, I can’t leave out AmeriCorps! I’m working with another intern to plan the Pod meeting that takes place in Othello on April 2nd. Also, on Friday Every and I have a site meeting with the gal in charge of the interns, and I have to have a self-evaluation filled out by then.
  6. Internship activities. Let’s not leave out my job; I have a new volunteer coming for training tomorrow, and another prospective volunteer to prepare materials for, and training materials to prepare, and a commute brochure to finalize and get printed, and a 10 to 12 minute REI commuting seminar to prepare for early April.
  7. LCI activities. I’m co-teaching a Traffic Skills 101 class in late April, and of course that requires serious prep… If I can squeeze it in among all the other stuff.
  8. Church volunteering. I’ve agreed to start volunteering at Journey Church at some point. I’m assuming that will start in the next month or so, too.

All that said, I think it’s clear I may be feeling a little stress and that the chaos may be getting to me. However, I’m blessed with a commute that soothes many ills.
East towards Bellevue 2

And the Moral of the Story?

Day’s Verse:
You are always righteous, O LORD,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?

Jeremiah 12:1

Cooking involves cleaning up. I know because the Seattle Times told me so. Actually, I thought this was interesting: Chefs at fancy restaurants see cleaning up as part of the job. The meal isn’t prepared until your cooking area is clean and ready to prepare another meal. I suppose a person could extrapolate this to a principle that applies to life: Finish what you start, you’re not done until you’ve covered every detail, follow through on your commitments, etc.

I doubt this knowledge will actually change my cooking habits — I’m happy letting the non-cooker do the post-dinner cleanup — but I have high hopes that I’ll be practicing my cooking and baking in our own home very soon. Yesterday Ian and I went to an open house at this town home; tonight we meet with to a real estate agent for the first time. Right now we have a goal of finding a home by April 30th, to squeeze in the first-time home buyers tax credit.

And honestly, April 30th doesn’t look that far away right now. Not far at all. I’m excited and apprehensive all at once.

We’re open to any and all home-buying advice, as long as it’s constructive. We already know to avoid homes infested with carpenter ants, homes on cliff-sides, and homes in Renton.