Monday, April 04, 2016

Dear Every Seattle Homeowner Who Has Given Me Real Estate Advice This Past Year,


Please stop.

As I write this I’m waiting to hear from my Realtor whether or not I just bought a house. It’s my sixth attempt at purchasing a home in Seattle this year, and you know what they say—the sixth time is the charm!—or maybe it’s the sixteenth? Whatever the case, if this offer isn’t accepted it’s going to be because, as my three-year-old daughter keeps forecasting, “Someone else has more money than us.” Not because I lacked good counsel from your well-meaning but out-of-touch self.

So stop.

It’s been a harrowing adventure, trying to buy a house in this market in the year since my marriage ended and I was shooed from the family home. I’ve learned more than I care to know about poured concrete versus post-and-pillar foundations, stucco versus EIFS siding, knob-and-tube versus modern-era wiring, interior perimeter drains, exterior perimeter drains, sewer scopes, sump pumps, and the nesting habits of rats.

People are beginning to feel sorry for me. My inspector stopped charging me for pre-inspections. My Realtor has taken to baking us cupcakes—from scratch. One of my best friends and my ex-husband both offered to loan me thousands of dollars just to Make It Stop.

This market is a hungry, greedy beast—insane in a totally predictable way.

Please stop telling me I need to keep the faith because my perfect house is right around the corner. Stop suggesting I look for houses in neighborhoods you would never set foot in, let alone purchase property in. Stop recommending fixer-uppers, tear-er-down-ers, vertigo-inducing five-story new construction, and/or drowning-nightmare-inducing houseboats. I’m a single mom, not a contractor, and my children are accident-prone and—despite what they claim—do not know how to swim. And for the love of god, stop recommending that I include a heartfelt letter and photo of my adorable children in my offer packet.

I’m on top of all these things, and I promise they aren’t enough. This just isn’t that kind of market. No seller is going to accept my offer of 20% over the asking price when someone else is going 30% over, and no one would choose 20% down over 100% cold hard cash, no matter how cute my children are. (For the record: extremely.)

There’s nothing quite like waiting for the call from your Realtor to find out whether you just spent your entire savings and then some on a house that may or may not survive even a minor earthquake—you won’t know until said earthquake hits because you had to waive the once-standard opportunity to have the house properly inspected because inspection contingencies are so 2015. Nevertheless you hope beyond hope that you get this house—despite the fact that the foundational supports are shimmed up with a log, a brick, a wedge of plywood, and—is that a stack of plates?!—because if you have to write one more sickeningly earnest letter about why you’re the best buyer for this home, you might have to call it quits and move back to Iowa where hundreds of thousands of dollars buys you an entire operational farm—including a posse of cats totally on top of the rodent issue.

I’m in the state fellow home-shoppers know as “Trying not to get your hopes up about getting this particular house while maintaining a modicum of enthusiasm for the general process because you might have to resume the house-hunting slog tomorrow.” Like a job interview, it’s totally nerve-wracking, and it feels both personally judgey—like a beauty pageant—and vitally important—like hearing from the surgeon after the operation. “The good news is that you’re going to live. The bad news is. . .”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

If you don’t support Hillary Clinton, you might be a misogynist

Like many voters, I’ve never been a huge Hillary Clinton fan. She comes across as stiff, robotic, distant—the cold polar opposite of her I Feel Your Pain husband, a wet blanket contrast to Fired Up Obama, an overly rehearsed and polished foil for Revolutionary Sanders.

As a woman, a mother, a Democrat, a daughter of a woman who graduated from Wellesley around the same time as Hillary Clinton—and especially as a feminist—I wanted so much for Hillary to be my candidate. I wanted to feel the call to rally hard for the most qualified presidential contender in history, to make calls and put up signs and get into fights with relatives on behalf of this strong, powerful woman.

But remember the 2008 New Hampshire primary debate where Obama damned Hillary with faint praise by quipping—unconvincingly—that she was “likeable enough”? Despite Hillary Clinton’s qualifications, her brilliance, her tenacity, and her rainbow wardrobe of pantsuits, I’ve never found her likable enough to be excited about her candidacy—until two nights ago.

Two nights ago I was perched on a stool at a local whiskey bar with a man I’d matched with on Tinder. All I really knew about him going in was that he was (self-reportedly) 6 feet tall, not currently married, and not into polyamory—a surprisingly rare breed, it turns out.

We awkwardly shook hands, then he kicked off the conversation by accusing me of being an “extremely aggressive texter.” I’m still not positive what he meant, but I think maybe he was referring to the fact that I type fast? Or that I use complete sentences when perhaps an emoji would suffice? Or—surely not in 2016—that I’d texted him first? The conversation went on to cover his siblings, his young adulthood, his college years, his former job, his experience being catfished by a (self-reported) porn star.

It was one of those dates that made me wish I had a giant red ABORT! button I could push that would open up a flap in the floor to send my date down the chute with all the other bad eggs a là Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka. Instead, I drank.

One and a half barrel-aged Manhattans in, I found my voice. Apropos of nothing I said, “Tell me you’re not voting for Donald Trump.”

He laughed. “Trump? No. I won’t vote for Trump, but I’m definitely not voting for Bitch Clinton. Bitch Clinton? No way.”

And that was the moment Hillary became my candidate.

Because here’s the thing about misogyny: it’s often quite subtle and insidious, and when you accuse people of it it’s easy to come across as, um, aggressive. Or a bitch.

But right now in America a virulent and un-subtle form misogyny is alive and well, and it’s not just Donald Trump. Misogyny is a bumper sticker that says “Monica Sucks / Hillary Blows.” Misogyny is a campaign button that reads “I’m not voting for Monica Lewinsky’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Husband.” Misogyny is a t-shirt declaring “I believe Hillary can make this country what it once was—an arctic region covered with ice.” Hillary Clinton may not be warm and fuzzy, but she’s going to be one hell of a President of this diverse, pluralistic, always progressing, deeply complicated country of ours. And for that reason alone she’s pretty damn loveable.