March 2007 Archives

I'm feeling better now... of course you didn't know I was feeling less well earlier, but you almost did a few hours ago. I was pissed/frustrated/tired/feeling guilty when I got home and I almost ranted here... but I was hungry and a bowl of cereal is not conducive to typing a rant, so I cooled my heels. A few episodes of Law & Order and six innings of pre-season baseball, and I'm not quite so exasperated with life.

I don't even know where to start, but I guess it starts with the seemingly irrelevant American Idol results show... or perhaps that work has been especially stressful the last week and a half, but the American Ido results show was the boiling point where the excitement of too much to do changed into more stress than I wanted to handle.

So, Chris Sligh, a guy I'd hoped would make it far in the competition got voted off the show on Wednesday. This shouldn't have been remarkable, but I was primed to be pissed, so it pissed me off. As a result, I surfed the internets later than normal (watching amusing JibJab clips) and when I finally decided to go to sleep on Thursday morning, I couldn't. Not quite sure why, but the things I've been putting off started lining up in my head and I didn't get much sleep.

Thursday I woke up ten minutes late (because I was tired) and so in my rush to get to work, I forgot my wallet. Of course I had managed to take extra time to find my contact lens prescription and some other stuff I needed to do. So, wallet-less I got to the El station and realized my horrible morning (it had taken 15 minutes in the shower to feel semi-human) was going to turn into a long day.

Fortunately, I had a few bucks in my pocket, so I could afford the train fare to work, but I was late, which probably wasn't appreciated by my boss since we had 170 wires to send on Thursday. Still, I came out okay at work because I've been putting in some extra hours the last two weeks to get ready for Thursday's onslaught. The new bank wire system that I've been tasked to head up the switchover finally paid some dividends and saved about three hours of work for me. You would think this was good, but all it let me do was pack more work into a day where I already felt hungover, despite the lack of alcohol on Wednesday.

On Thursday night, I was planning on going to sleep early, but I was also really hungry. When I came home, I turned on the oven to make some dinner and then promptly forgot about it and went to do some work in my room. Then, I was going to go to sleep, but Eric needed his cake pan back and I realized the oven was on, so I made dinner... and then sat on the couch to eat... and flipped on the TV... and then it was a commercial break so I wanted to check my email... and then I had to balance my checkbook after closing on my condo... and then it was midnight and I hadn't gotten to bed early at all.

After not being able to get to sleep again last night, I again woke up late, but managed to remember my wallet and still get to work within my 'grace period.' Fortunately, today was much less stressful than yesterday, so at lunch I had time to go down to ForEyes and order contact lenses and then stop in at Walgreens to buy $20 of flex-spending-eligible medical expenses. Both the contacts and the Walgreens stuff was because I thought today was the deadline for using my remaining 2006 Flex spending account. Of course, after dropping $90 because it was "use it or lose it" I logged into the system and found out that the deadline was March 15. Crap! I submitted the Flex Spending request and wrote a note on the claim explaining that I thought the grace period ended on 3-31... but they'll probably charge it to 2007, which translates into a loss of the $90 I had in the account from 2006 and $90 off my 2007 balance. So, it's essentially a loss of $180 on stuff I didn't need.

After returning from lunch, I also paid the $100 I need to renew my license plate for the year. That sucks.

Around two, my boss announced she would be leaving an hour early. Normally when she does this and we're not doing anything, she tells us we can go home, too. So I was sort of expecting it... but she didn't... and there wasn't anyone else around who could tell me I could go early, so I was stuck staying til five.

Around 4:40, I called GEICO to cross off the third item on my to-do list. I need Condo Insurance so the Mortgage doesn't default... I figured that since they advertise that it takes 15 minutes, I'd be done right around 5:00. Well, it does take about 15 minutes, but GEICO informed me that I had to have two policies: Landlord's insurance for the first two months while my tenant is in there, and Condo insurance afterward. So what do they do? They fill out all the paperwork for the Condo insurance FIRST, and then tell me the Condo insurance can't be started if I don't live there... so then I have to get Landlord's insurance. Without giving me my policy #, the agent tells me she's going to put me on hold for a moment and transfer the information to the landlord's insurance. I say 'alright' and then wait for 25 minutes while she does whatever the hell she was doing. By the time she finally picks up again, it's 5:30 and I've been sitting at work on a Friday half an hour after quiting time... on hold! It then takes 15 minutes for the Landlord's policy and then she informs me that I have to pay a minimum of 6 months for each policy, even though I only need the landlord stuff for two minutes. ("Oh, it's not a problem, you'll get a credit when you cancel.")

So, by the time I get out of work at 5:40 on Friday, I've dropped $400 bucks, and the only thing I actually wanted out of all that was my $6 lunch. ERG!

So what happens? I get to the EL platform and have to wait 20 minutes for a train to come by. We go one stop down the tracks and then the train stops for another 10 minutes before continuing on. Finally we get to my stop and I'm walking west toward my car when a crippled homeless guy nearly runs into me walking the other way. I'm already pissed and I'm about ready to start yelling at this guy, but I have more sense than to yell at a crippled homeless guy. So, I'm walking down the stairs to my car thinking about the short prayer I had said this morning after dropping the F-bomb because someone cut me off while I was trying to park (of course on a day like today, I had to park a block further up because of too many cars).

So, I'm already feeling guilty because my temper fuse has been EXTREMELY SHORT this week. I get into the car, turn around and am stopped at a light driving east when I see the crippled homeless guy hobbling as fast as he possibly can, shouting for the bus at the stop to wait. I suddenly feel bad for the guy because I can see he's struggling to cover ground, rather than running into me. My first reaction was that he really was out of place hoping to catch the bus since he still had to cross four lanes of street and the bus was already loading, but then I thought the bus driver was waiting for him because the bus waited forever... and then when the man was about ten feet from the bus door, the bus just pulls away and leaves the crippled guy breathing diesel exhaust.

Now, I don't care how tired you are, but if you've seen a crippled guy hobbling as fast as he can toward a bus and then it just pulls away, you'll feel bad for him. And then imagine you read your bible last night and you were reading in James and this particular verse stuck out to you and you've been thinking about it every time you pass by a homeless guy downtown:

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
James 4:17

So you have compassion for a guy who's just been left (literally) in the dust by a bus and that verse pops into your head, and the voice in your head says: "Maybe I should drive that guy wherever he's going."

And then another voice pops up. "It's the wrong way. Look at that guy. I'll bet he smells," (don't forget you can't actually smell), "I don't think he's bathed in two weeks. What if he wanted to take that bus pretty far? Look at the seat next to me. It's got a newspaper and some Granola bar wrappers in it. I'd have to put them in the back. I'm tired."

So what did I do? I turned north. I literally turned my back on the guy. And then I spent the next ten minutes trying to make excuses. Another bus is coming... It wouldn't be safe for me to pick up a complete stranger, especially in that part of town... I'm tired.

And then the guilt sets in and I'm just feeling like a total schmuck.

The guilt is a new thing. I didn't really used to feel bad, but city living is tough. I want to move back to Valparaiso. We don't have homeless... we don't have poor... you don't have to pass a dozen beggars on the way to work. How did Jesus manage? Did he ever just pass by a beggar because he was tired? How can I live in the city and get to and from work? I'd have to leave three hours early and arrive home at midnight. I can't help everyone, so I don't try. Dumb as it may sound, I read an article about that today (Numbed by Numbers by Paul Slovic).

Two weeks ago, our pastor was in Africa, so the youth minister delivered the sermon. It was a disaster by most accounts... except he talked about the Good Samaritan and related it to a guy he passed while he was downtown. It was a way I'd never thought of that story... and suddenly I have another passage to add to my growing list of "least favorite bible passages" that are convicting me and needling at my conscience.

Anyhow, so I'm struggling with a lot of things right now, but majorly struggling with the fact that God regularly speaks to me, pointing out opportunities to help, and I routinely ignore him. Why? Why can't I just listen to God? It's not like I don't know he's talking to me... I'm just always 'too busy.' Why can't I change?

See Pee Eh?

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I didn't have anything pressing to do this evening, so I got off work and walked in the general direction of a Jimmy Johns where I like to stop by for dinner sometimes. En route, I decided I'd 'treat' myself and try a hot sandwich next door at the Cosi. Mainly, I was hungry and the promise of the Cosi bread scraps seemed to imply that I would leave dinner hungry.

I took my new copy of "The Audacity of Hope" (by Barack Obama), which I had started reading on my lunch break, and a printout of a partial scene for my Harry Potter story. I ended up reading about twenty pages of the book before settling down to work on my story. Unfortunately, the Cosi closed at seven and I wasn't ready to be done, so I walked over to the Borders on State Street. After probably twenty five minutes of not getting anything done, I decided to throw in the towel and try to make it to the gym in time to catch 'Raines.'

'Raines' is a show that looked promising. It's this detective that sees dead people. I think it could be funny, but instead it's poorly executed drama that moved way too slowly. Give me my Law and Order. All crimes can and should be solved in twenty five minutes. Anyhow, Raines sucked, which meant that I wasn't distracted long enough to get a good workout in. I left after half an hour of uninspired treadmilling.

Anyhow, I finally got home around 10:30. As I set my bag down, I noticed a letter from the Condo people, and since they're supposed to be sending me a check for more than $4,000 for the post-closing credits, I was kinda interested. As I lifted the envelope, another envelope caught my eye and I put down the envelope that I thought contained $4,000. No Fib. You see, the letter was a standard tri-fold letter from the Illinois Board of Examiners.

Over the past few months I have received semi-regular correspondence from the Illinois Board of Examiners. The most recent post has been in letter sized (9x12) envelopes. These three pieces of mail brought very good news, namely that I passed the Audit section of the exam, the Reg(ulation) section, and the B(usiness) E(nvironment and) C(oncepts) section. So what was I to do, faced with a letter folded three times, rather than in an envelope where the papers are left unfolded so someone could say, frame the results if they were interested. Well, I maybe thought a negative thought or two.

Undeterred, I opened up the envelope and





Bom shick a wow-wow! YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH! Woot! I was thrilled. I got an 83. Blew right past that 75 and clear into a solid pass. So after jumping up and down, I got the cell out to call Mom and Dad, but they weren't home. So, I called Kyliah. I had to tell someone. You can't just take great news like that to bed with you. The world needs to know... so I'm posting too.

I feel sooooooo good right now. All I have to do now is pass the ethics take-home open-book exam and I'll be an honest to God See Pee Eh. Yeeaaaahhh.

I'm an adult now

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I shoulda picked up on the clues last summer when I had to work the entire time with no six or eight week breaks, but I've realized today that I'm an honest to God adult. Why? Because I'm a homeowner. Yeah... that's right. Woot!

I took half a day off from my increasingly hectic job to walk over to Chicago Title and sign papers for three hours. The closing went pretty smoothly. I'm pretty sure I got jobbed by about $140 bucks and had made a wrong assumption that will cost me another $580, but the bloodletting wasn't too bad, all things considered. I'm certainly better off for the experience of 'purchasing' and hopefully the stakes weren't too high so that my missteps were too costly.

Stupid things I did
I didn't understand the compensation structure for agents before signing my deal. If I'd realized that I didn't have to pay a buyer's agent, then I probably would have got one. It turns out that there are internet agents that will refund you 3/4 of their fee, which would have been in the neighborhood of $3,000 more into my pocket. Oops.

I should have hired an attorney before signing a preliminary contract. This is both obvious in nature, and limited in how bad it turned out. Stupid me. I knew I would hire an attorney, I was just worried that the unit would disappear if I didn't move quickly. Of course, I didn't move quickly enough to get the unit I really wanted, but I'm not sure anyone would have swooped in to take the unit if I had waited a bit longer and had an attorney review the contract beforehand. However, I'm pretty sure the damage I did wasn't too severe because I hired my attorney while we still had an open negotiation window, and I got basically everything I wanted... except part of the buy-side real estate fees. Oh well.

I made my decision to buy in the building too quickly. Now, I made that decision because I got a great deal... but I still am learning things about the housing market and different neighborhoods in Chicago. Still haven't found anything more desirable that I could afford, but there's a certain 'buyer's remorse' for 'what could have been' in that I had to compromise on some things so I could buy.

Things I did Right
I let the City help. I knew there was a reason for 9% sales tax. If you're gonna live in a 'Socialist's Paradise' (to borrow a phrase from Dad), you might as well take advantage of it. I almost passed up the units I was looking at because my first reaction was: "That program's for poor people. I don't need the money, I should leave it for people who really need it." After a while though, I thought: "If they really wanted the program to be for 'poor people' or those who 'really need it,' then they wouldn't have let me qualify. Anyhow, by the time I finished the whole process, the City has contributed a Subordinated Note to lower the purchase price about 13%, and provided a program that got me a below market interest rate and about $5,000 for homebuying fees. Not bad.

I asked people at work for suggestions. It might be tough to keep a realistic viewpoint on money when you work with a bunch of upwardly mobile folks, but they sure are the right people to give you advice on home buying. In particular, my real estate attorney was suggested by someone at work, and I think she did a good job. (How do you really know?) She had a bit of a rushed demeanor, but was willing to explain things when I had questions.

Anyhow, I'm thrilled to be an owner, but not so thrilled to be a landlord for two and a half months. Current plans are to move in to the new place in mid-June. The tenant's lease expires at the end of May and I'm going to want to remodel a bit before moving in. I think it's time to spend my Saturdays at Home Depot and Lowes so I'll have some ideas for when I get to move.

Other than Condo news, life is going well. I'm still waiting to hear about my last CPA exam... and I still have to finish the blasted ethics portion. As for the girl I mentioned a few posts ago... she's seeing someone.