Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Venting; or Learning to Become an Undesirable Element

The following is generally about house payments, mortgages, and PMI (Personal Mortgage Insurance).

Definitions: PMI = unless you put down 20% of the price of the home, you have to pay a monthly insurance to the lender in case it were to go into foreclosure. Once you make payments for half the life of the loan, PMI drops away, or if you have roughly 20% equity (give or take 2% based on state/federal laws) comprised of appreciation and improvements. If the property has decreased in value, though, the banks can make you pay all the way down to 70% (75% in Virginia) of the CURRENT value of the home if you try to remove PMI prior to the half-way mark. Oh, and you have to pay for the appraisal of the property. Oh, and the appraiser is chosen by the company that holds the loan...
Yeah, stop for a second and ponder that.

Uh huh. So, yeah, I vented:

I can't even begin to describe how much this pisses me off in such a primal way.
"It's just business" is what the banks would say, but the fact of the matter is that they have taken the fundamental dream of most people (the proverbial American Dream, truth be told) and twisted it into just another scheme with which to line their pockets. And we've bought into it happily by saying, "That's just the way it is."
In truth, what they have done is good for business. They've stripped away any semblance of humanity from the process of buying and owning a home - shelter; one of the most basic of human needs. They've forced the public into a process which not only demands a pound of flesh up front and continued suckling of our sanguinary juices, but also a monthly stipend wherein they have the ability to slowly ingest the spirit by continually changing their demands to meet their own wants.
But, it's all in the name of Business. Feed the machine, follow its rules, and meet its expectations because that is how you maintain the status quo, that is how you keep the economy running, that is how you create Order from Chaos. There's no room for emotions in Business as that just muddies that waters, but how can you remove something so deeply human from a basic human need?
Wait, that's not a fair question is it? This is Business. This is just about money. There's nothing Personal here. All that matters is that you:
A) Honestly meet your contractually agreed-upon payments
B) Conduct your life in such a manner that you achieve personal success and stability so that you can meet (A).

So, you've continued to do everything you've promised to do, but that doesn't matter in the least. In Business, you are always a Liability when it comes to an issue that might benefit you, and an Asset when you quietly and happily continue to pay what they demand. In every dealing you are looked upon with Suspicion and Assumed Guilt. You are Forever and Always the "unwashed masses," a financial serf, a Lesser Being. Forget your track record, your loyalty, your honesty, your proven dependability, because when it all boils down to it, you are their field nigger - trusted enough to sow the seeds, raise the crops, reap the harvest, and diligently place it in massa's hands. You'll never have a seat at his table, though, you're much too untrustworthy, too base, too common. You are to be relied upon only so much as you keep your mouth shut and do his bidding. You are relied upon only so much as you pay him his tribute and align your hopes and dreams to his.

But, wait. This is all too inflammatory. This is Capitalism. This is the way it is, because it's Good and Fair? No, this is systemic enslavement and the only Good and Fair Treatment based on prior performance and basic humanity is reserved for those who make the rules.
Systemic Fucking Enslavement.

If you pay down to this level you are free! Unless, of course, we think otherwise, then we'll just push that goal a little farther out. Oh, you've paid everything on time? You've kept the house up? You haven't turned it into a Den of Ill-Repute? Congratulations! We still don't trust you. We think your beautiful suburban home, your American Dream, is no better than a run-down and abandoned property in the inner-city slums of Detroit. And your proven track record with us? Well, you may as well be an slum-lord for all we care. So, we're going to crush your spirit a little more, but don't worry! Just keep toiling away and in 7 years, we'll set you free (if we feel like it)!

"Chase Bank. We're Here For You."
"Arbeit Macht Frei."




Note: I feel better after having pounded that out. Of course, I'm sure some of you will think me a budding Communist, Marxist, Anarchist. That's not the case, as I actually dig on Capitalism. But to remove every shred of humanity from a process does nothing but demean those tasked with jumping through every hoop real or imagined that the lending companies can devise to impede your progress. I find that disgusting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Vacation for Grown-Ups (i.e. Bitter Dicks Like Me)

Five days ago I quit my job.

There's no reason to publicly go into why I tendered my resignation (or, "gave the finger to the man" if you'd rather a more romantic vision), but if you know me personally, then you know the main reason. Little reasons like more vacation time, actual sick time, and a casual work atmosphere all played their roles, sure, but the biggie? No reason to divulge.

The cool thing about quitting a job, though, and it dawned on me today as I wallowed in my Short-Timer Syndrome symptoms (lots of yawning, public flatulance, and copious amounts of solitaire/freecell/Hearts/Spider Solitaire - in that order). You see, quitting a job is to us grown-up folk what the last day of school was to us when we were still barely beyond our shootie-shoot stage of formation. It's this grand, epic moment that clearly marks a Change in Your Life, a New Stage, or a New Direction.

We don't really get many of those once we get beyond our 20s. Sure there are the biggies: engagement, marriage (I imagine), kids (I suppose), buying a house. Don't get me wrong, those are big Moments in Your Life, but we don't get them in regularly scheduled intervals like we used to and we forget how important they are to us. We too easily become mired in our routines and the older you get, the fewer of those changes come around.

I feel like this is something I need in a deep and visceral way. I've never had a job longer than two and a half years. While that may be because I got fired, got sick of living in my car, or whatever, I've always been nomadically-inclined in the realm of employment. That's not always a good thing, obviously, because I've missed some really great opportunities if I'd just stuck it out a bit longer. The point is, though, because of some circumstances beyond my influence, I've always had to answer to, beg for mercy from, or simply rely on the kindness of others. Being able to quit a job (and doing so with some measure of regularity) was a big Change in My Life that I had some power over. Sure, the financial monster always needs to be sated, but I never quit without a new job lined up, first. I'm certainly not in that same position anymore, yet old habits die hard. Deep-seated needs for a mental flush and a change of scenery die even harder.

And why should I try to kill the habit off? I really only fucked it up once. Sure... that was a biggie. I know, I know - "biggie" is being diplomatic. Here's the fucking awesome thing about this habit, though: I get to feel that Last Day of School Feeling again. You know the one - the world is my oyster, the freedom of summer, that desire to go climb a tree, look for crawfish in the creek, smoke a bowl and play Halo all day whilst never getting clothed beyond boxers. I am free of the shackles that bind (for a week, sure, but play along)! I get a Summer Vacation before I have to go back to school - and not just a new grade, but a whole new school! Sure, it can leave you a tad anxious, but it's a good anxious; a refreshing anxious that reminds you that life is more than just a string of routines (Morning Routine: Wake up, piss, make coffee, let dog out, shower, let dog in, dress, forget coffee at home, drive to > Daytime Routine: Come in office, run through checklist, drink coffee, answer emails, answer voicemails, wait for something to break, lunch, wait for something to break drive home to > Nightime Routine... you get the idea).

So, I'm fucking excited. I have a big number "7" on my whiteboard. Yesterday, it said "8." My boss looked at it and rolled his eyes, but despite that snarkiness, I saw it in his eyes: Jealousy. He knows what he's missing as much as I know what I need - a Summer Vacation that's more than just one or two weeks off with the family before coming back to a full inbox, blinking voicemail light, and another year of monotony. He's missing and I need real change.

The end of the job marks the beginning of Summer Vacation. I'll have 9 days before the new job starts. Let's see how dirty my feet can get.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Together

My grandfather died when I was 10. I still remember him clearly - the towering frame, the smile, the wit, the letters gleefully typed on his shiny new C64 (and eventually a C128). I remember flashes of moments - him catching a walleye on Lake Brittle, my first fishing rod given one Easter, a Christmas here and there.
My memories of my grandmother, his wife, are much more vivid and fresh. She's always been around; that short, feisty Norwegian who may have been mostly blind, but it never seemed to stop her. She got around, slowly as she got older, but she refused to be stopped.
Her smile, her laugh, the late-afternoon bourbons.
As I got older I thought of her, as herself, not part of a couple. Not that my memories of my grandfather had dimmed, but her vibrant personality was in the forefront. I thought about her a lot last night, and I found myself thinking of her and my grandfather as a couple, again. Together.

I miss you, Margie and Bob.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rage Against the Machine?

I like to think I'm not naive and am somewhat informed, but I'm unable to find a single unifying reason for the G20 Protests. This is not meant to be inflammatory, but with a melange of protesters demanding economic accountability, pro-environmentalism, anti-Capitalism, pro-Socialism, anti-government, pro-anarchy, pro-human rights, anti-Imperialism, anti-Colonialism, and seemingly (KEY WORD: SEEMINGLY) trying to draw violent responses from police, there doesn't seem to be a Message that can be delivered/debated/argued/compromised-upon/etc.
Look, I'm just a douche sitting comfortably in my middle-class life but I am willing to listen, though without the Unifying Message, it seems like all bluster and no solution.
Someone, for the Love of Locke, someone enlighten me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick Post

As a reminder that I am alive in more places than Facebook, here's an email I received today with my response:

From: REDACTED
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:12 PM
To: Bulletin Board
Subject: Miley Cyrus book

I accidently ordered 2 copies of Miley Cyrus' book "Miles to Go." It will cost half the book price to ship back to Amazon, so not worth returning.

Paid $9.98 for it - will sell for same price - brand new, hardcover version - any interest?

Thanks!

________________________________________

From: Rob Spidle
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:16 PM
To: Bulletin Board
Subject: Miley Cyrus book

If I say that yes, I am in fact interested, does that make me seem creepy and strange – maybe even worth keeping an eye on?




Someone once said that I will not survive long back in the corporate world. That person MAY have been correct... or is it that the Corporate World will not long survive the likes of me?

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Truck With No Name

You know… I never named my truck. It never really gave me any problems (aside from the horrific alignment that never stayed true or the suddenly fickle air conditioning), but it never got a name.
And now it’s gone.
Last night I drove home my Dodge Magnum R/T.
“Midnight Blue Pearl” is the color… sounds like a Smurf porn act, yeah?
The process of buying the car, however, was not as fun as it could have been, but I made the best of it.
By the time the deal was done, I had talked them down on the price 3 times, got a written guarantee to re-paint the front and rear bumpers, got my trade-in allowance increased by a thousand dollars, and only put down $675.
And somehow… I paid LESS than the blue book on the car.
All said and done – they sold me the car for $4000 less than sticker and gave me $1500 more than what my truck is worth.

Look, I doubt they lost money on this deal, but I certainly came away a lot better than I had expected to and all it took was a combination of the following:

STATEMENT: “Whoever re-painted these bumpers is obviously missing a chromosome, man. You gotta take another $1500 off because that’s what it’s going to cost me to get them fixed.”
RESULT: Another $1000 off the price of the car and a written guarantee that they will re-paint to my specifications.

STATEMENT: “On this appraisal sheet you’ve added 20,000 miles to the odometer on my truck.”
RESULT: Stammering apologies, and the realization on their side that I’m scrutinizing every document.

STATEMENT: “I went to your sister dealership up the road and they appraised my truck for $600 more than you did and that was 4 days ago…”
RESULT: “Well, you know how it is…” No, I don’t. But the anger is bubbling now. Good work.

STATEMENT: “Well, thank you for wasting a combined 4 hours of my life over the past two days. It’s been fun, now give me my keys.”
RESULT: “Wait, wait, wait… let me go talk to my manager.” Of course, you do that… ass.

STATEMENT: “Uhm, what are you doing?” / “Sending text messages and updating my Facebook and Twitter about how this place is fucking me over, actually.”
RESULT: “Look, if you’ll put $675 down, we’ll give you $1500 more on your truck and knock another $1000 off the Dodge.”

Now, you understand the “fucking livid” status update from yesterday and the removal of the picture. I showed him what I was doing as I was doing it and that got the point across that maybe I was a really loud and obnoxious person that would make sure the thousands (read “couple hundred”) people associated with me through the social engineeri-… erm, networking sites would know his name and his dealership’s name. Sure, he didn’t know that I am inherently a lazy bastard that likely would have posted a snide note that would have been ignored by 99% of you, but the threat worked!

So, back to the original gist of this post… Names.

Look, I’m a geek so names for my vehicles have all tended towards geekery in some way, shape, or form (particularly Phish geekery, but I’m open to suggestions). Pictures will be posted on FB and my Flickr, so give it some thought and throw some ideas my way.
If I pick the name you suggest, then you will be rewarded.
That’s right…
A prize! Ooooooooooooooo….

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bathroom Hijinks

Every day for the last few months I've played a game in the bathroom at work.
See, someone spat out a wad of gum into the urinal and it's been there ever since. Months, I tell you.
That gray little wad has lingered in a pool of sterile, yet odoriferous liquid... languishing in a state of constant defilement. No one is ever going to pull it out, and frankly I don't blame the cleaning crew for not fishing that thing from the confines of its porcelain tomb. It's nasty and somewhere in this building lies the inconsiderate fuck that spat it there in the first place.
These facts, however, have not detracted from the joy which is dislodging the gum from whatever point its become stuck to with a strong stream of liquid waste.
It's great fun, really! You knock it loose, flush, the water carries it swirling around the small basin, and eventually it comes to rest in a new location where it begins the ritual of slowly fastening itself to its new home.
I have never failed in freeing it from its surly bonds.
I've had to strain and sue every last drop, but never have I been bested.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tour

I need to be seeing shows.

I thought I was over it. I thought that the 33 days of the reunion weekend in Hampton would be enough. It was epic, stellar, amazing, a huge load of heavenly spooge shot straight into my waiting mouth-ears, and I gobbled down every aural drop.

But… it’s not enough.

I’ve been browsing the setlists and while they don’t exactly leap off the page at me (there’s nothing really insane going on there – truth be told they sometimes look kind of disjointed as though they haven’t got a clue what mood they’re in, where they want to go, or hell, what their freakin’ names are), I’ve listened to the first 4 shows and they are baby-cunt tight.

Sorry, that’s a bit too graphic even for me.

They are home-schooled-teenager-cunt tight.

The boys have reached this level of communication that I’d only heard on CDs of shows from the early 90s. Every note played by each individual is a map as to where each person wants to take the song and there’s no ego – each is eager – giddy as a school-girl – to see what the other has in mind.

It’s easy to say the Jedi is back. I screamed it and wept in glee, but that’s not fair. The boys have stepped forward and brought this band, this experience back from the brink or becoming a caricature of what it used to be.

I’m not going out on a limb when I hold up Hampton from 2009 and say, “Balls to 1997.” It’s THAT good. THAT tight. THAT… that Phish.

Yep… and I’m sitting at home watching it all go down through stilted text messages, IM’s, and setlists posted from the road. Sure, I can have the show the VERY next day (and those Schoeps sources will absolutely buy you dinner, take you dancing, and drain your balls as an encore to a wonderful night), but… it’s not the same. Sure, that first show or two hurts – you’re out of shape, you over-indulge, etc.

But that third show… you’re fucking on point.

Your liver is stretched and ready, your lungs are deep and powerful, your legs are the boogie-motives that they used to be, your eyes have re-keyed to spot the dangers in the lot, your nose dulls itself to the scent of BO and patchouli, your fingertips callus up, your mind remembers what to hold onto and what to let slide.

Nope. I sit on my deck in the dark with a cigarette and the silent blue glow of my laptop watching the updates roll in every 9-15 minutes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Traffic Court

I sat in the trailer which acts as the temporary Manchester General District Court yesterday morning and fumed. I had to take off of work to come into this hell-hole and act as a witness to the accident where my truck was nearly totaled.
And, let me tell you... this was a scene out of Night Court.
I'm going to skip the plethora of cases I had to sit through and get to one of the real gems...

There were two older black folks - one man and one woman - sitting on either side of the court-room in wheelchairs. She was dressed nicely while he was... not. He was missing his teeth and kept drooling/spitting into a towel that he had draped across his jeans. When the case was finally called, each person's handler got up and rolled them to the front of the court.
Apparently, they lived in a nursing home and he liked to torture her... he'd hit her chair with his, slap her in the face over and over, taunt her, block her rolling path down the hallway, etc. When the judge asked him his side of the story, he lifted his head and I THINK he stated:
"Ah aimenent guht nubbthin t'say. She a lahruh. I aimenent ne'r duhn nubbthin ter," and then dropped his head down again. The judge pleaded with him to not engage in the behavior again or else he'd have no choice but to send him to the city jail.
It was vaguely sad, yet damnably amusing...
And then around 12:45pm (nearly 90 minutes after the session began, The Case was called.
I stepped up to the front of the court and stood alongside the officer as the judge began to explain the charges against the girl. I never got a good look at her at the accident but while everything about her screamed Hood Rat, she was actually kind of cute... and then she opened her mouth to answer the charges...
"Nah Gitty."
The judge sighed and explained what he had in the notes of the case (location of the accident, the makes and models of the vehicles, etc), and then asked if she'd like to add anything.
"Ah gitty of hittin' him, but I AIN'T gitty of NO rrrreeckless drivin'!"
There was a pause as he stared at her and then looked to the officer:
"Officer, please give me the details."
The officer explained the further details of the accident and was quickly interrupted.
"Ah AIN'T gitty of NO rrrrreckless drivin'!"
Another long pause.
It was almost a deliciously awkward pause.
I basked in it.
Wallowed, even.
The officer cleared her throat and added, "Your honor, her exact quote to me at the scene was 'I was listening to music on my cell phone and I couldn't stop."
The judge nodded and looked to me. "Mr. Spidle, do you have anything to add?"
I kind of smiled and said, "No, sir." You've been damnably patient with everyone that's come through here this morning and you showed amazing leniency on everyone who showed you the bare amount of respect, Your Honor. In this case, you didn't have to give her the rope, she brought her own. Fire away, Your Honor!
"In that case, I find you guilty of reckless driving."
The galley cheered, I wept in vindication, and they dragged her kicking and screaming off to prison while her loved ones looked on with a mix of shame and hatred.
Or the last three people in the court room waited for their names to be called as I strode out of the court and she went off to pay her fine in the clerk's office.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Orgasms in 1080p

I love HD Television and all of the random pretty programing that goes with it. The sunrise channel? Yes, please. I'll stare at the cone of a volcano as the sun crests the horizon... for an hour. It's pretty.
A plane swooping over the mountains of Vermont in the fall? Uh huh. Gimme.
Curling? In HD? I'll shrug, get a beer, and watch Canucks sweep ice for hours...

But the HD Music Channel? Live concerts impeccably recorded? Tickle my bag and call me Sally! This is fantastic! Sure... it's the Gin Blossoms or Maroon-5-3-Doors-Emo-Loving-Christina-Agui-Mayer, but I don't have to stand next to some A&F-smelling Dockers-wearing DMB junkie! I can see if they are any better live without... well, the hassle of the "live" part.
Every so often, though, they get it right. Someone sneaks out of the programming prison and slips an unmarked disk into the transmitter and something like what I am watching now - David Gilmour in Gdansk - hits the digi-waves and it's a thing of sheer beauty.
Fuck the sunrise, the vomit-inducing plane ride, and those god damn broom-wielding cheese-eaters... THIS is what it's about...