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Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning

Month

May 2008

Boo 60 Minutes

Call me heartless, but I am sick and tired of hearing about how so many people were "taken" by banks with regard to mortgages.  To that end, I have a bone to pick with 60 Minutes.  Last night I watched the show's update to the earlier story, House of Cards.  I found myself increasingly angry as I watched it.  It was sensationalist journalism at its worst.  The sky is falling, and it's all big bad Wall Street's fault, oh and yes, the mean mean mortgage broker.

Now, I recognize that there were lots of slimy people preying upon would be homeowners and giving them bad information.  But does anyone hold perhaps the, oh I don't know, borrowers at fault?  What about the guy they mention who wrote on his application that his income was $400K and nobody bothered to verify this.  The show does a great job showing situations like this which were poorly managed by institutions, but at no point in the show do they blame Mr. "I Make $400K" for being a lying clod!  And the show then portrays a couple that gives the sob story of just wanting a better home for their family, and because they were SO SO in need of a better place to live, we should feel sorry for them that they had no idea how much it would cost.  THIS my friends, is what is wrong with this country.  We have programs like 60 Minutes that want you to feel sorry for this couple.  I want them to have a better home, sure, but how about taking a little responsibility for embarking on a six figure loan?  The icing on the cake was when they talk about how people are losing their "dream homes" and we should feel sorry for them that again, big bad Wall Street, was packaging these loans up and selling them for fees and profits.  I like our new apartment, love it in fact, but it is in no way my dream home.  I cannot AFFORD my dream home and these people could not either!  Boo hoo that I have to wait to have it.  Come on, Steve Kroft, you know better than that.

Having just been through the mortgage process, I can attest that certain constituencies (banks) pushed us to take more than we knew we could afford.  But in a nod to Nancy Reagan, we just said No.  And I don't think it's asking too much for a borrower to have to understand what they need to pay back before they borrow.  We spend a lot of time blaming credit card companies ("But they keep sending me offers for money!") and banks for our current meltdown.  Well, sorry folks, but those that borrowed perhaps should look in the mirror and take a wee bit of responsibility.  We will never move ahead as a country if we continue to foster the blame mentality for everything.  Buck up, folks, read the fine print, it's not that hard.

All that, and yes,  I am a registered democrat.  But a democrat that believes in the power of people to stand on their own two feet rather than always looking for someone to blame at the first sign of trouble.

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Change of Heart

I don't know where to begin.  I am stressed about something fairly major…

NO. STOP.  I am stressed about something fairly major, but I shall not bitch about it.  It's one of those things in life that is annoying but really, in the grand scheme it's not that bad.  It's short term.  It makes me mad now, but it won't in a year.  Or two.  A year or two, really.

Do you ever do this?  I vacillate when it comes to venting.  Sometimes, it helps, I think.  But most of the time,  for me venting just is a few minutes of repeating, and reliving, something irritating.  Won't I be better off if I just say STOP.  Move on.  Venting is expressing annoying thoughts.  Almost every time I do it, I find my blood pressure rises and it's not helpful.  I rarely, if ever, feel better after venting.

It's not January, but I can still make a resolution.  No more venting (or at least I shall decrease the amount of venting).  It's not helpful, it's annoying, it's boring and it's pointless.  And it's generally negative.

(P.S. I really did start this post thinking I would vent about said annoyance in this post.  And the "NO. STOP." was real time.  So, yes, this is my stream of consciousness.  And yes, I feel better for not venting.)

Shameless Promo

And no, I am not being paid.  I just happen to think www.evite.com stinks.  So in the future, for online invites I will be using www.pingg.com.  I met the entrepreneur about a year ago and think he is onto something.  Plus, his templates are cool and customizable.  Thought I would give him a shout out from here, on my wee little blog.  If you are an online invite creator, in the spirit of there is always room for improvement, check it out!

Kids, Step Away from the Marketer…

Scary quote of the day from Advertising Age:

"Consider that in 1983, companies were spending $100 million a year to market to children.  Today they're spending 170 times more: $17 billion."

The Trouble with Doughnuts

There is trouble, my friends, TROUBLE today in NYC.  The trouble, naturally, involves doughnuts.  If I am honest with myself, much of the trouble I have gotten into in life has involved doughnuts.  There were late night doughnuts in high school when I should have been home and not at Dunkin Donuts.  Of course, there was college where no night was complete without a yummy glazed ring of deliciousness after hours of under-aged drinking.  And then there were those two years in Boston where Dunkin is on every other corner, and, well, you have to support the locals.  And finally, there was that one day a couple of years ago when a friend and I were driving down the coast of southern California, and after a stop at In & Out for burgers (animal style!), we swung by Krispy Kreme for doughnut chasers.  Very very bad.  This incident led to a 2 month new eating and health plan, and a bet involving a $500 pair of shoes.  Doughnuts are bad for the waistline and the wallet.  But oh so tasty.

Well friends, the trouble today surrounds the three dozen doughnuts that were brought into our office for a meeting.  Three dozen doughnuts, 10 people.  You do the math.  I feel bad having donuts go to waste.  This guilt, coupled with my newfound lack of self-control and coupled again with my unsatisfiable sweet tooth is causing the trouble. 

The culprit, for reference, is The Doughnut Plant in NYC.  These are quite possibly the best sweet doughy treats on the planet, and my new best friends (and worst enemy).

Alas, healthy eating will start tomorrow. 

Many Good Things

People say having a baby changes your life and puts things in perspective for you.  I cannot disagree…these are pretty obvious effects of bringing a new being into the world.  What I did not count on was the outpouring of good wishes and overwhelming generosity of people far and wide.  These last few months have been extraordinary, and a solid reminder that we are not alone.  Now, I did not really feel alone, but it’s nice to be reminded overtly at times that people care.  So I don’t forget, I thought I would take a minute to jot down a few things that happened:

Friends from all over came to visit.  Some came to our house multiple times.  Some came from other cities to meet the new kid.  People are still coming…my godmother is making the trek from England in the fall to NYC to meet her. 

People sent gifts.  Tons and tons of gifts.  More than when we were married.  Gifts came from friends, people from work, family, people I had not spoken to in more than 20 years.  Yes, 20 years – family friends and a pom pom coach from high school sent gifts (you read that right, yes, I was on the pom squad.  Perhaps another post on that later).

People made food.  There was brisket, mac and cheese, and chicken salad.  Two friends arrived with a full array of meats and cheeses, then they baked a cake and we drank wine.  Another set of friends have arranged for a private chef to cook us a meal (a private chef!).  We are spoiled people.

People called to check in.  They called regularly even to just leave a message saying "thinking of you."  This made a huge difference in my level of happiness.

And before she even arrived, b-school friends and my sister threw me a party, a shower.  I resisted a shower, but then said "What the hell."  And it was great.  I received a million things I did not know I would need, and now I use them all the time.  There was sushi and chocolate cupcakes and sandwiches.  There were children’s books everywhere.  And again, people came from far and wide.  One friend who lives in CA showed up…she had just returned from a trip to the Seychelles, and a mere two days later re-boarded a plane and headed to NYC for a day and a half.  A day and a HALF. 

To say the least, all of this has rendered me near speechless, and wonderfully overwhelmed.  And it’s a good reminder to pick up the phone and call someone.  I am not sure I have been as good a friend to people at times like this, I am not sure I knew it would be so appreciated.  So lesson learned, and much appreciated.

Cookie Cookie Cookie

It’s sad.  There really is no way to enjoy just one Samoa.  And now with Girl Scout cookie season upon us, I find myself in an endless cycle of Samoa happiness, and then, Samoa regret. 

Wishes

It’s funny when you have a child…all of a sudden you find yourself thinking of your hopes and dreams for them, including even the smallest of things.  Here is a start of a list for our new addition (let’s call her, Lil A, as one of my friends does).  So, Lil A, here you go, a few hopes and wishes for you, off the top of my head…I wish for you…

To dance flamenco in a Spanish courtyard
To find your favorite places and visit them often
To relish every moment as that is all we have in life
To find your own happiness, whatever that means to you
To dare to taste new things
To find sports where you can experience the thrill of hard work and physical exertion
To be OK crossing things off your list that you decide are not for you…yet always being open to possibilities and your ever changing sensibilities
To know the value of good friends…your own age and those from other generations
To create memories of family traditions that you will carry on and ultimately make your own
To face the things you fear
To allow yourself to feel
To taste real Texas BBQ, bacon and coffee in Minaki, and your Grandmother’s Christmas goose
To know how to hook a fish and build a shore lunch
To drive boats and relish swimming in cold fresh water
To pick crabs for hours and hours
And let great classical works wash over you
To get up from a fall
To see the Met rooftop on a glorious day and feel the joy of first snows in the Park
To experience flying through the air on a trapeze
To experience the highs, lows and contentedness that accompany true love
To find a poem you want to memorize
To do things not because you are good at them necessarily, but because you enjoy them
To experience multitudes of people from different areas of your life coming together to be with you
To not fear the dark
To know you are loved
To know you are always being thought about
To laugh

And much much more I cannot even imagine but that will inform your senses and your being as you live…and to do that, live in the moment fully not halfway.  Take your time. 

There is Always a Reason

This morning, like other work mornings, I left the house and went to the subway.  The subway from where I live is decidedly unpleasant.  It gives a new meaning to the word "crowded" between the hours of 7AM and 10AM.  Crowded trains are just awful – body odor, touching people you don’t know, near fights, real fights, no way to read the paper, fighting for your life in a steel tube all for the reward at the end (arriving at WORK).  Blasted trains.  It’s no way to start a day.

But I love NY and it’s a price you pay for living here, so I suck it up.  For any of you that have experienced the 4/5/6 train – legendary in NYC for crowds during rush hour – my line, the Q, is on the fast track to rivaling the East Side train’s dubious status as Most Crowded and therefore, Most Hated.

But sometimes you get lucky.  Sometimes for some reason it’s not so bad…but there IS usually a reason…holiday, weather, act of God, global warming (I am now blaming most things good and bad on Global Warming, just for fun).

This morning, I watched two trains go by before getting on (the others looked like sardine cans and I did not feel like a sardine).  The third train came…crowded as usual, but there was a stroke of luck – the car that stopped in front of me had room…even SEATS!  I was thrilled to realize that the subway gods were shining on me.  The doors opened.  I got on.  The doors closed and then I heard it.  There appeared to be a gorilla on the train.  I heard muffled gorilla sounds from about ten feet away, and thus I turned to see a man impersonating a gorilla right there.  He was deep in character.  So deep, people were afraid.  The impersonation was complete with chest beating and roaring.  He was even hopping around (hence the space around him, and therefore, the space on the train). 

He stayed on the train until we got to Canal Street, at which point he gorilla’d off the train to alarm other people on the platform.

I had to laugh.  Has it come to this?  That guy was brilliant!  What a strategy, impersonate a wild animal to create space for yourself (and hey, others!) on the train at rush hour. 

Only in NY.

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