Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2022

It seems house owning is out -- and so might be renting.

Although I found a dear friend willing to co-sign a loan, a beautiful human being throughout, the cost of the house has increased by more than $50,000 in the 18 months since the last sale.

That put the house well out of any range for me.

I looked around the potential houses for sale but in this time, in the Hayward market, it's either decrepit or palatial. When a home description starts with, "Must be comfortable with the smell of leftover meth," that's more than a fixer upper.

But there's nothing to rent here in God's country.

The singular thing I've made a call on right now is a 700-square-foot upper and I've not had a call back.

In the two counties where I work, there are only three apartments I've found and two of them are for elderly. Per the rules, I'm old but not elderly.

The question becomes how far away from my job can I comfortably live.

I don't care to be a case story for the woes of housing. I've already been through this.

All the uncertainty, it's exhausting.

Peace and certainty unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

 I made the rounds today and made connections on properties and bank possibilities.

Frankly, I don't care for it.

Not being homeless to me is largely about have a place to settle and relax. Once again, I'm not settled and it's hard to relax.

I've talked to folks about owning and received great advice, despite my lack of knowledge about these issues. I've been an owner of four houses but my then wife, smarter than me, generally handled the details. I was only there for my looks.

On the second prong of what happens next, I asked people about rentable properties and the answer in Hayward is always this: You're shit out of luck.

But I actually have a couple leads.

I also talked to my kid who is now out in Hollywood working in a production company. While she interns during the day, she's also working on an original screenplay, "My Loser Dad." I hope it's fictional. Danny Devito is up for the loser dad role. I'm not taking that personally.

In my new crisis, I try to keep in mind Buddhist principles. Want is the base of pain. Not wanting relieves us from pain.

Yet, goddamnit, I just once some solace. Some peace. A little bit of relaxation for a while before the next wave hits.

I've received many heartening notes and messages from friends, thank you. They give me solace.

Peace and a home unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The "Homeless" part of the blog title beckons.

It turns out the house I rent is going on the market and I'll likely have to move again. The kicker on moving again in Hayward is there are virtually no rentals. I lucked into this one. Most rental units have waiting lists.

I spent part of today approaching banks for a loan, potentially buying the place. On the positive side, I'm building equity -- and my monthly payment would decrease by hundreds of dollars. By the time I retire in 15 years, I would have savings. (I had to look up that word to see what it means.)

But I must deal with reality. That is I have a less-than-positive credit score. And "less-than-positive" means "crappy." And crappy is a synonym for another word. For instance, this year, I didn't get a W-2. I received a W-0.5.

I talked to three banks today and had a mixed experience. There's always a litany of questions, and inevitably we came to me being out of work came up and the whole "without a permanent address." What's that mean" they asked. "Well, technically it's being kind of homeless." You were homeless? "I always had a place to stay that was dry and safe and clean." At three banks: pause, pause, pause.

It comes down to credit score ultimately and when I last looked, mine was below 600 and banks, all of them, need at least 620. It's hard to tell what mine is because I needed deep-sea expert Robert Ballard -- the guy who found the Titanic -- to find it.

It seems unlikely I can buy, even though I can make the payments and save money at the same time.

The system is not set up for those on the cusp, even for someone who has worked since age 16 and still works 65 hours a week at age 56.

I'm working in two directions -- seeking a loan and looking for a rental -- equally. In the short term, I always have the Steakhouse Lodge, where I stayed for a month before getting into my current home.

Keep in mind this is not a Debbie Downer post. It is a journalist honestly reporting his own story. And as I write this, I'm having a Manhattan at the Steakhouse, my Hayward family, waiting for my Wisconsin fish fry. I have my troubles but I also have my blessings.

Peace and hearth unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, January 21, 2022

We're fighting off 20 degrees below zero here in the Wisconsin Nort'woods.

That involves some drinks, thick food and a nice fire.

I built a nice fire in the living room the other night and had a little cognac.

Sadly, I don't have a fireplace so that's become an issue with my landlord.

And, oh, I can't afford cognac for those who believed that. But I do have a handle of rotgut gin that serves multiple purposes. First, it gets me going. Second, you can run your car for a short time on the stuff but then the car suddenly veers off the road. Third, it will take paint off your car if you're remodeling the vehicle. On the downside, it will take paint off nearby cars, your home and you will lose all your fingernails.

Despite my stupid jokes, it's lovely to have a home where I can settle at the end of the day. I'm still unpacking and have yet to find my winter coat, so warm to me I rarely wear it until the temperature is below zero. I suspect I won't find that box until May.

But I can do some minimal cooking with what I've unpacked and now have a kitchen table instead of a lap to hold the plate. I'm picking over some old books I haven't seen in a couple of years, not unlike talking with old friends after years away.

Home is beautiful. Life is good. Now I'll upgrade the nightly cocktail to, say, turpentine? 

Peace and home unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, January 14, 2022

I have too much crap.

This I realize as I'm fully engaged in a slow unpacking process.

"What the hell is this?

"Oh, this other thing is cool.

"Now where do I put it?"

The forced minimalism of the past couple years has affected me. I never wanted to be a "stuff" kind of person, holding on to only those items I valued. Well, that turns out to have been too much.

Especially books. When I was in eighth grade, I started a library in my bedroom. I asked for a book case for Christmas and a gift certificate to Waldenbooks. Remember that store? Yes, I am that many years old.

The eighth-grade library of six books was underwhelming but eventually grew to full rooms at several of the homes I owned or apartments I rented. At one house, it was the entire second floor, which housed not just the books but my antique typewriter collection. My wife was quite gracious about my peculiarities. 

In addition to any writing-related addictions, I have a problem with cooking gadgets, plates and anything that produces or holds a consumable. For instance, I never purchased one of the electric devices that makes spiral veggies -- I sniff at such a thing -- but I do have a manual spiralizer. Never used.

I have two, not one, but two potato ricers. One is a standard size while the other has different ricing plates. Used once between the two because I've come to enjoy mashed potatoes with some chunks and then broiled. 

So the process of unpacking is culling what I don't need or want, all of which will be given to the free store on the reservation next to me. 

And it's become a nice little jaunt through the history of my consumerism.

I'm always reminded of the story of the Buddha who suggested to a group of students all they needed was a tea cup and a rice pot as property. "What if you have visitors?" a student asked. "Well, they will bring their tea cup and rice pot," he answered.

Well I ain't no Buddha, even if I'm shaped like him. I enjoy some creature comforts, gadgets and the occasional pen. Or 500 pens. Hi, my name is Rich. I have a pen problem.

Peace and less stuff unto you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, January 10, 2022

 A colleague asked me this morning how was my weekend.

I said, "Well -- I lived."

You see, I reunited with high school friends Saturday and they are reprobates all.

Imagine men in their 50s acting like teenagers mixed with examples of what medication we on. Oh, and beer. And alcohol. No little belligerence. And trash talking that would make a professional wrestler blush a Catholic grade school boy at a dance. (Note: We're all Catholic school graduates, something the church won't acknowledge.)

My plan had been to visit them at my friend's cabin outside of Solon Springs. Directions to the cabin were: Drive to the middle of nowhere and turn west for four hours. When you hear the cries of a rabbit being killed by a bear, stop. You have arrived. Even Google maps asked, "Where the hell are we?" And advised, "Proceed to the route outta here."

It was a nice cabin, rebuilt after a 10,000-acre forest fire blew through a couple years ago.

And the first beers tasted good, mostly because of company and even though it was Busch Light, which isn't really beer. It's like one of those hard seltzers that taste vaguely of a flavor and has less alcohol content than my spit.

Yes, we did compare medications. I did not win the competition for most.

We quoted virtually every line from "Blazing Saddles," able to do so because my friend's brother in-law had a VCR copy (kids -- you'll have to Google that) of the movie and let us watch it along with buying us a pizza. Cheapest and worst babysitters in history. But the kids survived to adulthood -- which is now the next goal for me and my friends.

I still had a goal to get home by 5 p.m. but they wanted to show me area bars. Now Solon Springs has as many bars as Madison, Wisconsin, they're just more spread out. Say, every quarter mile. I have not run the official numbers on this. It's all anecdotal.

Soon enough I determined I was in no shape to drive home to Hayward. Or interact with others. Or talk.

I asked our designated driver for a ride back to the cabin and was the first one to hit the hay. Real hay, by the way. None of this fake hay. This was a class joint.

First I was awakened by the story of how the designated driver who slid into a ditch. I thought I dreamt that. Then brought out of slumber by two friends arguing over apparent urination in a non-peeing room. But such hysteria is hard to keep up for 56-year-old men who treated Jack Daniels like a mother's nipple.

The next morning centered around trying to get the vehicle out of the ditch, which wasn't really so much a ditch as it was the woods. The intersection of Highway A and Highway AA was like walking on an ice drinking. There was no stopping, particularly when temperatures dipped to 15 degrees below zero.

By morning, temperatures retreated to 0 degrees -- how often can you say you had no degrees. Thankfully, that was augmented by a wind of 15 miles and hour. When I tell you the wind cut through us, that doesn't suffice. It's more like the wind minced us into small pieces which would then be added to a crockpot of homemade chili that would taste strangely of Busch Light. And sorrow.

After one of the man-children tried to dig out his car -- that would have been like giving a piggyback ride to the whale in "Free Willy" -- professional services were required.

We spent the next couple of hours in the Lakeview Bar & Grille, where they had coffee, breakfast and, oh, some beer.

I have to write I love those guys, some of whom I haven't seen in decades. Our friendship is like an old shoe, stinky but easy to slip into after some time away.

And we've all turned out OK, even with life constantly shooting hockey pucks at our genitals. That is an appropriate metaphor given our proximity to Canada. 

I can't wait until we do it again -- in 25 years.

Peace and lifelong friendships unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Bloomington friend checked on me the other night, which was nice.

I realize I haven't appeared in a couple of weeks.

It just occurred to me the other night that the last year has caught up with me. I'm pretty worn out and can't get enough sleep. Every chore becomes monumental. As the philosopher Lilly von Schtupp said, "I'm tired. Tired of playing the game. Ain't it a crying shame. I'm so tired. God dammit I'm exhausted. Tired, tired of playing the game. Ain't it a crying shame. I'm so tired."

On New Year's Eve, I sipped on a glass of Ballatore, the cheapest sparkling wine one can buy that won't cause chemical burns if spilled, and I recalled a year earlier doing the same thing in my cheap hotel room. I felt guilt at the time when I drank the same stuff at about $10 a bottle dug and bit into an Arby's turkey Reuben. Spending money on anything was the guilt trip dejour.

I had been out of work for seven months and unemployment was to end in two months. Jobs seemed to be harder to find at the time and 2021 didn't look so good. So I blew $15 for a celebration that would end in bed a couple hours before midnight. Happy New Year.

One year later, I have a great job and a warm home -- even when it's 20 degrees below zero as it was last night. I've met innumerable folks and made some great friends in this short time.

Friends from high school visit, announced and unannounced, and tomorrow I'm meeting more old friends north of here in Solon Springs. (There aren't too many places north of here until it becomes a frozen Lake Superior.)

I'm unpacking, slowly, hoping the next box contains my winter coat. In the meantime, I have a lovely windbreaker that serves as protection between me and body part freezing and falling off.

And I'm working toward normalcy -- I'm not sure what that's going to be but when I get there I'll report back.

I can't apologize for a little break because my body is telling me I need recovery.

And a cheap-ass bottle of sparkling wine.

Plus another bedtime two hours before the celebration.

Peace and bubbles until all of you my brothers and sisters.