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Archive for the ‘big purchase’ Category

Music2Loud Ok, so let me say first of all that I don’t consider myself an old curmudgeon in any way.  I’m a fairly tolerant, open-minded person, but I do like to have a sense of orderliness and peace around my home.

Recently FavNeighbor and her hubby moved out because they bought a condo.  I was so thrilled for them, but so sad for me, because they were amazing neighbors.  We had similar schedules, similar expectations, and similar lifestyles.  We liked to keep our duplex neat and orderly and we were friends with each other.  We got along so well, and I guess I sort of forgot that it’s not always that way with neighbors.

The place was vacant for a few weeks, and I spent that time wondering who was going to move in next door.  It is important to like and trust the neighbors that you share a common wall with.  Not to mention the fact that our backyard is a common space, as is our basement.

Very few people had come by to see the place, and I was worried that the management company might start to get desperate to rent it out.  My fears were warranted, as it turned out. I should mention that the management company was anxious for me to sign the new lease to my house.  I was glad to do it, especially because I found out they weren’t going to increase my rent.  I was really dumb not to wait to see who was moving in next door, especially because my lease wasn’t officially up until September 30th.

Tuesday I arrived home after a “koffee klatch” with Ish, to discover a bunch of plants, a medium-sized dog, and a bunch of backpacking equipment in the house next door.  No people.  I wondered what was going on, since I hadn’t been told that anyone was moving in.

Later in the evening, two people arrived.  One guy in his mid 20’s and his father, who I found out was 45.  Both men had long hair and a bit of a hippie vibe, but I wasn’t judging them by their appearances.  They seemed like nice people, and I found out that the son was an artist from Santa Cruz who moved here because this city has more of an artists community than Santa Cruz does.  (I knew we had some great galleries in this city, but I didn’t know it was such a hub of artistic talent).

Anyway, the father then proceeded to tell me that he used to do drugs (as evidenced from his lack of teeth – he has maybe 7 in his whole mouth) and had spent some time in jail.  Again, I believe that everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.  I also learned that they were going to leave at midnight to pick up the younger guy’s girlfriend and her dog.

So, just in case you aren’t following this, that makes 3 adults and 2 dogs living next door in a 1-bedroom unit.  Definitely a sign of trouble.

The first couple of nights went fine.  They were quiet, friendly, and I thought that things might work out.  Thursday night painted a whole different picture.

Thursday night they decided to start drinking, playing the music incredibly loud (I had all my doors closed and could hear it clearly), and were hooting and hollering.  They were hanging out on the front steps, and the vibe was just really low class and trashy.  I know that makes me sound snobby, but so be it.  I work too hard for what I have and care too much about my home to live next to something like this.

So, I wrote a letter to the management company explaining what was going on, how unhappy I was, and why I wanted to change my lease from 1-year to month-to-month.  Lots of my co-workers are in the process of buying condos or smaller houses since the real estate market is down right now, and I started thinking, “maybe I can afford to buy something, too.”

I got an email the next day (Friday) from the management company explaining that they had talked the the neighbors and assuring me that they would cease and desist with the noise.  The thing is, the noise was only a small symptom of a greater problem.  The main thing is that these new neighbors simply don’t know any different – they’re used to living like this and I’m sure they see nothing wrong with the way they live or the noise they make.  The fact that so many of them are crammed into a 1-bedroom unit should be an indication.  Plus the fact that the son is the only one with a job.  Now, I know that the economy is tough right now, but they don’t strike me as the hard-working sort.

The neighbors obviously realized that I spoke to the management, and that fact was confirmed when I heard the father say, “wow, she pretended to be so sweet, but she’s actually a fucking bitch.”  Nice.  It’s going to be just wonderful living next door to this, right?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’m at the place in my life where I want to live in an area where everyone cares about their home as much as I do.  My area isn’t like that.  My area is full of traffic, homeless people, and down-and-out sorts.  I’ve made huge improvements to this place, and I love my duplex, but if I’m honest, I don’t live in the best neighborhood.  By any means.  So maybe it’s time for me to move on to something better, somewhere nicer.

My mom always says that everything happens for a reason, and maybe the reason these people moved in was to show me that it’s time for me to look into buying a condo.  It would be a stretch, but I could probably afford something small.  I don’t have any money for a down payment, but there are new home buyer and teacher programs in my city that may make buying a place more affordable.  Plus, this is the time to buy because prices are down.

I pulled my credit score on Thursday and was happily surprised to discover that it’s gone from “poor” to “good” in the course of 3 months.  My Experian rating is 706, which isn’t stellar, but isn’t terrible, either.  I’m starting to get a bit hopeful that maybe I can join the ranks of homeowner.  So, I’ve contacted a real estate agent, and I’m waiting for his call.  I’m excited to see what might happen.

Things might be a bit uncomfortable for me at my current home, but with the idea that I may be moving onward and upward, I’m feeling positive.

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I finally got it!  A new, blue, VW Beetle Convertible!!!  I’ve wanted this car FOREVER and now I own it.  So excited.

The buying process was really smooth, although it took soooooo long.  I’m really not sure why it always takes HOURS to buy a car, but no matter what dealership you go to, it seems like it’s always a whole lotta waiting, right?

It was worth it, though.  My new car is a 2008, but it’s new,  because I’m the first owner.  It only has 128 miles on it, and it’s so nice.  I love that I got a great deal on it because it’s a little bit old, but that I’m the first one to drive it.  It is such a smooth ride, and I think it’s just such a fun car. Not only that, but the payments are quite a bit less than I was paying for the CR-V that I was leasing.  And I’m not leasing this one, I’m financing it, so in 60 months, it’ll be mine all MINE!  Gotta love that!

The thing I’m happiest about is that I did this all on my own.  This is the first time I haven’t had a co-signer, and I’m so proud of myself.  My credit history hasn’t been very good in the past, but I’ve slowly and painstakingly rebuilt it, and now it’s inching its way up.  It feels so good to have done this by myself, without anyone else’s help.  This car really does feel like a symbol of how much I’ve changed my life; in every aspect.

To see a cute picture of me with the car, you can click here.

One other awesome thing about this new car?  Owning a convertible is item #4 on my Life List, and now I can check that one off!  So exciting!!!

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For a month or so, at least.

Yesterday I paid the last payment on the CRV I am leasing.  The lease matures on August 25th, so I’ll be looking for a new car beginning Aug. 1st.

I can’t tell you how excited I am!  I really want a new car because I’m just so bored with this one.  I am not one who keeps cars very long;  in the past 21 years I’ve been driving I’ve had over 12 cars.  Some for a really short period of time, and none longer than 4 years.  I just get too bored of the current model and crave something new.  That’s why leasing was always so attractive to me.

The last 4 cars I’ve owned have all been Hondas – one Accord, two civics, and now the CRV.  Hondas are great, reliable cars that hold their resale value and don’t use too much gas.  Even the CRV, which is an SUV-crossover (mini SUV) isn’t a gas guzzler, which was nice when the gas prices soared to over $4/gallon last summer.

The thing is, while I like Hondas, the car I’ve wanted forever is a convertible VW Beetle.  I just love the way those cars look, and I think they totally suit my personality.  I like to think of myself as fun, quirky, and full of life, and I think that car represents all of those things.

2005_VW_NewBeetleConvertible_ext_1

So, I’ll be looking at local VW dealerships to find the convertible Beetle of my dreams.  This time I’m going to make a commitment and buy the car, rather than lease, because I figured if I’ve wanted the car as long as I have, I’m going to want to keep it.  Plus, I would really love to get the car repainted some funky color like hot pink/magenta or a vibrant turquoise – a car that fun shouldn’t be in a boring color.

For now, I’m just happy to have made my last payment on the CRV and can’t wait to start shopping for the Beetle!!

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Today my mom and I went to the outlets about 30 miles from our house in search of a few new items to add to our fall wardrobes.  The main draw was the Coach outlet, because I’ve had a Coach knock-off for about a year now, and it’s seen better days.

These outlets have four different sections, with at least 20-30 shops in each section.  There were tons of people and a crazy parking situation, which did cause a bit of frustration.  But the great finds far outweighed a little rise in blood pressure.

I got two great pairs of flats at Aldo:

black flats for only $15!

black flats for only $15!

brown flats

brown flats

When my mom suggested we go into the Liz Claiborne store, I scoffed saying that it was too conservative for me.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I got two cozy sweaters: a rust-colored one with short sleeves that really shows off my waist and a chocolate brown long-sleeved one with a hood.  Both sweaters were each only $14.98, originally $48.  I found a great, dark brown purse for $29.99, and because Liz Claiborne was having a Columbus Day sale, (buy 3, get one free) I also got the cutest graphic shirt:

(I’m going to wear the shirt tomorrow with my new black flats and some black capri pants).

The pièce de résistance was a gorgeous, black Coach purse that was normally priced at $400, which I picked up for $150!  I can’t tell you how buttery soft the leather is on this purse.  Plus the market bag style is classic, yet contemporary.  I think it’ll be in fashionable for quite some time.

After our day of shopping, my mom and I were famished (we hadn’t eaten since breakfast – too busy spending money to worry about food, I guess), and we met my dad at my parents’ house, had a glass of wine and some appetizers and then headed to a delicious, hole-in-the-wall sushi place for dinner.

Between yesterday’s biking adventure with my sister in Half Moon Bay and today’s shopping excursion with my mom, it’s been a fantastic weekend.  I usually like weekends where I have at least one day to catch up on cleaning and laundry, but this weekend was so much fun that the laundry can definitely wait!!

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Cape Cod has to be one of my most favorite places that I’ve ever been to.  The views are magnificent, the vibe is relaxing, and the houses are adorable.  And rather affordable, compared to Bay Area prices.  Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to buy a “summer home” on The Cape?  (Well, only if I marry a rich husband, or win the lottery, or some other windfall occurs).

CBCB’s Aunt Pam and Uncle Fred have a charming house in Bourne, MA, right across the street from the Maritime Academy on the canal.  They were kind enough to let us stay with them for 3 nights, and I have to say, this was my favorite place to sleep, by far.  Partly because of the views, but also because of the fact that I was able to have my own bedroom.  You see, CBCB had a hard time sleeping in the guest room with me because I snore.  (My mom used to tell me that I snored all the time, but I never knew it was so bad, until poor CBCB couldn’t get a good night’s rest).  Luckily, Aunt Pam and Uncle Fred have another spare bedroom, so CBCB was finally able to get some shut-eye.

After our first night on The Cape, Aunt Pam took CBCB and me to Hyannis, so I could see the JFK memorial.  It was really nice, but somehow I expected more.  I thought it was going to have a museum attached to it, but it didn’t.  It had a really nice fountain, though, and a plaque.

Aunt Pam also took us by the Kennedy Compound, which was huge.  The funny thing, to me, was that it wasn’t surrounded by gates or anything that would prevent someone from walking (or driving) right up to it.  I guess if you’re wealthy enough to live on Hyannis near the Kennedy Compound, you’re probably not going to just stroll up to the front door and bother them, right?  We also got to see Ted Kennedy’s boat, docked in the harbor, which was pretty cool.

The next stop on our unofficial Kennedy tour of Hyannis was the church where Ethel and Rose still go for mass.  The church wasn’t as elaborate as I expected, in fact, it was a lot smaller and simpler than my own church at home.  Still, it was beautiful.

I was so touched by the statue of the Virgin Mary with candles at her feet that I knelt down and said a Hail Mary.

The nice thing about our time at The Cape was that the weather was finally good – we had our first sunny, warm days of the vacation while on The Cape, which was perfect.  Although, truthfully, foggy weather is just as wonderful near the water.  Couple with a cup of strong coffee and a good book, I can’t think of anything better.

I would’ve liked to spend some time in Faltmouth, but we ran out of time.  Oh well, you’ve got to leave something for the next trip, right?  Oh, and next time I’m near The Cape, I definitely want to head over to Provincetown, or P-Town, as it’s known.  I’m sure it’s a great time with lots of fun people.  I wonder how it compares to hanging out in the Castro in SF?  Guess I’ll just have to find out the next time.  Also?  I really want to take the ferry and go to Martha’s Vineyard.  FavoriteCousin goes to Martha’s Vineyard every year to help a friend open up the store she has there.  I’d love to tag along some time, because FavoriteCousin raves about how much fun she has each year.

Since I had such a wonderful time at The Cape, I knew I wanted something significant to help me remember it by.  CBCB had mentioned early on in our trip that her mom has a Cape Cod bracelet.  I’d never heard of it, but then we found a jewelry store that sold them, and I really liked them.  I thought it would be the perfect momento for me.  It was expensive, but nice things usually are, and I really like the way it looks.  My goal is to get another Cape Code bracelet each time I go (up to three, otherwise I think it would be overkill).  I think the bracelet looks nice on me, don’t you?

I know I’m no hand model, but I think the bracelet looks nice on my wrist.  Plus, it goes with everything.  Good thing, too, because it’s a pain in the neck to take off.

While the pace of our time in Cape Cod was slower than in other parts of our trip, I definitely enjoyed myself.  It was a nice break from all of the hustle and bustle of the rest of the trip.

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My new iPhone 3G!!!!!!

Somehow I didn’t realize how much of a story getting this iPhone was going to be. But then again, I can turn anything into a story, right?

I went to the Apple store that’s about 10 minutes from my house, in a very busy mall. I got there at 7:45am, thinking there would be about 40-50 people in line ahead of me. I’d be there for an hour, two tops. Oh, how wrong I was!

When I got there, I saw literally 500-600 people waiting in line. Some of them had spent the night! Apparently since there were so few diehards that wanted to be the first in line, the mall security guards decided to let them stay, but kept a close eye on them. Anyway, even with all those people, I still figured it wouldn’t take that long to get through the line. Plus, I brought the current book I’m reading with me, so I had something to keep my company. “I can do this,” I told myself. “Just wait patiently for a little while and then go into work. No biggie.” Again, oh, how wrong I was!!

I knew it was bad when 9:30 hit and they started bringing out waters for everyone in line.

I called my mom for a quick consultation about whether or not I should continue to wait in line. To my surprise, Mom was totally onboard and said, “Of course you should stay, you’ve invested that much time – get the phone! Just think of a reason why you’re so late to work…Oh, I know! Say that you had to go to the dentist for an emergency.” A dental emergency? Well, it was original. I asked my mom what she was thinking of and she replied, “Well, BFF told me the other day that she woke up in terrible pain and had to go to the dentists office right then and there. They put a temporary cap on it, but she needs a root canal. The same thing happened to me one time. Yes, that’s good.” It was like my mom was hatching some elaborate scheme to get me out of work. It would look pretty fishy if I happened to just call in sick at this point in the morning, when I should’ve been there half an hour ago. I told her I was a bit worried about the detailed nature of the lie, since I’ve never had any dental problems, and only have 2 fillings in my whole mouth. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind calling my boss for me, to make it seem more believable. She wrote down what I wanted her to say:

“Hi Bella’s Boss, Bella won’t be in today because she had a bit of a dental emergency this morning. I’m at the dentist’s office waiting for her now. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, but she has every intention of coming in to work today. I’ll have her contact you as soon as she’s able to.”

With that taken care of, the next few hours were really surreal. There were masses of humanity waiting for this awesome phone. How could this many people all have the day off? Were they like me, cooking up some crazy story to tell their bosses? Calling in sick for work to do something like this is so unlike me, but my current project is at the point where I’m waiting for the rest of the team to give me more content, so I would’ve spent a lot of the day today twiddling my thumbs. So waiting in line is a much better use of my time, I justified.

After spending an hour and a half reading my book, I became bored of reading while standing, and put it away. At that point, the guy in front of me turned around and started chatting with me. He was such a cool guy, and he and I spent the next 3 hours talking about music, his fiance, his new condo, my life as a teacher, my upcoming trip to Boston, more music, his recent trip to Japan, how cool the iPhones are going to be, his planned honeymoon in Italy (I gave lots of great tips), and a bit of this and that. He was like a God-send. He even gave me some tips about my calling-in-sick-plan that he had overheard. He told me that I definitely shouldn’t go in to work today, because he had a root canal recently, and “you’d definitely not be feeling up to going in after that.” (He recommended I extend the lie into an emergency root canal, just to make it more believable). This guy was awesome! I’m so glad someone so cool was right in front of me. We were in this together now! Plus, they had wheeled out coffee about mid-way through these 3 hours, so we were refreshed and perky.

After 4 1/2 hours, we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel – we were at the entrance to the Apple store. It was like the gates of heaven opened up and we were almost in front of St. Peter himself. Or like we were at the North Pole and Santa was about to open his workshop doors. Or… ok, ok, you get the idea.

We waited another 20 minutes for an Apple “specialist” to individually help us get it all set up. That’s one thing I have to say about Apple, for all the time I spent waiting, they really did treat me like a V.I.P. once they finally helped me. My specialist, Jesus, spent quite a bit of time helping me set up my pre-existing AT&T account, getting the Apple Care warranty, and showing me how to set up my Yahoo email so it would be on the iPhone. He was spending so much time with me that one of his supervisors came over and told him that he could take over helping me and that Jesus had to help someone else get started. At that point I told them both that I could take it from here and I walked out of the store with the biggest smile on my face. So what if I was starving and my back hurt? I had my new iPhone!!!

I got home, called my mom from the new iPhone, and went through the email I was going to send my boss. I figured that since my mouth would be numb from an emergency canal. I told my mom that we’d have to work out the details of my “symptoms” later this weekend. My boss was completely understanding and told me to take care of myself. Whew! Now I just have to pray that the camera guy who was filming us in line at the mall didn’t get any clear shots of me. 😛

I spent the next 3 hours setting up the iPhone – all my music, contacts (with pictures), etc. is ready to go. I love the new GPS feature, and I know that’s going to come in really handy in Boston. How fun!

The day definitely didn’t turn out the way I expected it to, but it was amazing, all the same.

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For my birthday my parents gave me the money to buy the new iPhone 3G, and I’ve been counting down the days ever since.

I have no idea how crowded the Apple stores will be at 8am tomorrow morning when they open.  I’m having terrible visions of people already camped outside, sitting in lawn chairs, preparing for a long night.  I’m hoping that it won’t be too bad and I can get in and out pretty quickly.

I’ll update you tomorrow.

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