Life with a house

I feel like I’m at the end of the strangest and somewhat stressful three or four months of my life. More stressful than those first few months of living in Japan even, getting used to a different culture. In the past four months, my first novel has come out, I’ve been teaching three classes at the university, one of them a fiction workshop that I dearly loved to teach but which took a lot of my energy because my students were ridiculously awesome and I wonder if it was a fluke or if it is just teaching a fiction workshop that got me so psyched and consequently I delivered a whole lot of energy and time to that class. And I’ve bought a house, and moved in. And of course have been doing a lot of promotional events around town and in nearby cities. Which is a new thing for me, and seems odd at first but I’ve gotten quite used to going to bookstores or whatnot and giving a reading or signing books. It felt slightly uncomfortable at first, doing things like that, mostly because I get sort of shy when a lot of attention is directed towards me specifically (unless it’s karaoke we’re talking about, ahem) but now it’s got to the point where I look forward to events because it’s at those that you really do get the experience of talking to your readers, which is really an amazing experience. In any case, I feel like I’ve constantly been running after a bus this fall. I always manage to stop it and get on, but I’m that guy who gets on and is out of breath and sweating as he looks for a seat as the bus starts moving again.

Anyhow, it’s been a completely faster pace of life for me. Having the house, too, is something that I’ve realized I have to get used to also. I’ve spent the past twelve years moving around from apartment to apartment, and now I have this whole place and neighbors and a street (a tiny little street, which feels like its own little community) and, and, and…it feels really different being a homeowner than a renter. And I hadn’t expected that. It’s a good thing, I think, to feel that you have a place of your own. In some ways I feel like it’s more of a shelter to retreat from the rest of life than I’d ever considered in previous places I’ve lived. The first few weeks I kept feeling like there must be a landlord lurking around somewhere, and I realized how odd it is how we come to incorporate certain presences into our consciousness, like a landlord, and how something as little and seemingly banal and ordinary as that can change your perspective and relationship to everything, or lots of things–so small but it makes real ripples. At least this is something I’ve noticed.

Noticing and feeling this, it makes me even more sad for the people who have lost their homes in recent times to bad mortgages. I have to say here, I don’t like the way this home foreclosure problem is being presented in most media. The media and the government language for dealing with this clearly indicates that it is the fault of the people who are losing their homes, that they shouldn’t have tried to purchase something they clearly couldn’t afford, and that they deserve what’s happening to them, having their homes ripped away from them by banks that have received thousands and thousands of dollars from them as they tried to hold onto their personal shelters. These mortgages are called bad mortgages because the language of them was cryptic, and most mortgage officers for the banks didn’t go out of their way to explain the way they worked in this particular case to the borrowers because if they had, most of the borrowers would have realized they couldn’t have afforded a home with a whack interest rate that demands a couple hundred dollars a month one year and fifteen hundred or two thousand a month the next. But it’s the borrowers’ fault, the tone in the media takes, because really in the end they should educate themselves about these things, right? Whatever happened to a business like a bank being completely honest with its customers though? What happened to businesses that are held accountable for the services they’re offering? I don’t understand why they aren’t being treated as criminally as they’ve behaved in this whole phenomenon, and find it just another symptom that America truly is more a capitalist government than a democracy. A government run by business for business. Screw the people. They’re there to be screwed. And unfortunately people just take it and say, That’s life.

I have my very own home for the holidays for the first time in my life. I mean my *own* home, not my family’s. And having moved around and around between rented spaces the entire length of my adult life, I can now fully appreciate the comfort and sense of privacy having your own home can give you. When I think of those families that have been displaced in recent days due to being conned by banks, I feel like America is existing in a somewhat Dickensian shadow at the moment. Tiny Tim, no healthcare for kids Bush, Scrooge, all that. This Christmas, I hope the ghosts of past, present and future visit the people–the lawmakers and supposed leaders–who have ruined great things in this country in recent times, and I hope they give them hell.

3 responses

  1. Congrats!!! That’s awesome! 🙂 Good for you.

    When you sign up for Satellite for your TV, DON’T GET DISH NETWORK! Trust me, they’ll rip away your hard earned money and that’s no fun for your new house.

  2. Christopher,

    This post is so thoughtful. It made me love my house all over again. Although, more and more lately, I’ve come to appreciate what I have over what I think I want.

    I completely agree with your perspective on the press coverage of foreclosures. Mother Jones did a really nice article last year on foreclosures in the Cleveland area, and the lending institutions in many/most of these cases were acting in some pretty shady ways.

  3. Hi Chris,
    Long time! I just wanted to say that I think your words extend farther than the US alone. I’m finding the UK to be very business-without-conscious, too, and I’m sure Canada isn’t much better.

    Yes, congrats on your house! It looks beautiful! It’s funny, because my partner and I have just bought out first house as well, so much of what you’ve said has really hit home (pun not intended, but I’ll take the credit!)

    In other news: I’ve finally ordered a copy of One for Sorrow (from Amazon.CO.UK, no less!) and I’m really excited about reading it – I should finally find some time over Christmas break! Congrats on all your success there; I love reading up about your latest successes on your blog!

    Okay, have a fabulous Christmas. Take care.
    All the best,
    Crystal from Shimodate, Japan

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