In Which There are Fruitless/Fruitful Phone Calls and Fortean Fantasies

5 September 2003

Let me tell you what I know about buying a house: have credit cards.

No, really. No, really. Have credit cards, and don't keep a balance on them. Pay them off regularly. "Won't your credit report show that you're a good credit risk?" Not well enough, no. They need more documents. They need to demonstrate that your credit rating is not just a fluke. Some mortgage loans will need you to have lines of credit open. Almost all mortgage loans will require verification of credit or alternate credit. Alternate credit means that you get letters from people you pay bills to regularly, saying, "Sure, this person pays the bills regularly."

The problem is, not everybody to whom you pay bills regularly will do this. You can't force them to, I don't think. As far as I know, there's nothing legally requiring them to do so. And Pacific Gas and Electric, for example, won't do it for you. They just won't, according to the woman I talked to yesterday. Doesn't matter if you pay your bill the minute it shows up every month. Doesn't matter if you've been doing so for -- oh, let's take a random number here -- the last four years. They don't care. They won't write you a letter. Do not rely on PG&E. Also, Sprint PCS won't do it. They don't even seem to understand the concept. "Your mortgage people could, like, call us," said the woman at Sprint PCS. "And then we'd, like, tell them what they need to know." Mortgage people are not, like, into that. Do not rely on Sprint PCS. Comcast actually gives an excuse: they consider their service a leisure activity. So what? So they won't write letters for you. Oh. So that's what.

We have enough of these things coming. What we do not have is an overabundance of them, and considering how many people I pay bills to on a monthly basis, that annoys me. With as good a customer as we've been, they can't take five seconds to print and send a form letter? The car insurance people are now my favorite people: they're willing to fax the letter of credit experience to our mortgage being upon receiving our signed faxed request/release letter. Done!

Pam the mortgage being seemed to believe that this would be a simple matter, getting these letters of credit experience. This leads me to believe that California sucks.

Wait, no, I'm sorry. Four years of experience leads me to believe that California sucks. This just confirms my preexisting prejudice.

Actually, I'm hoping it has nothing to do with California, because there are enough of you-all who are friends of mine and are living out here indefinitely that I hope we're just unlucky on these things and it won't affect you at all. Still: credit cards, no balance, that's my advice to you.

(We can afford this house. We can afford the up-front costs and the monthly payments. It even looks like it on paper. What worries me about this mortgage stuff is that they need documentation of so many other things -- what if they decide that the Stanford transcript isn't enough information about that component of Mark's work history? What if they don't like the phrasing on our letters of credit? So much can rely on things that have nothing to do with whether we can actually afford the house. I will be glad when this stage is all over. I told Mark last night that we should get fabulously wealthy before we buy our next house, so that we can just get a cashier's check and avoid all this fussing. So that's the plan: first, fabulously wealthy; second, new house with extra wings for drool farm, marvelous writerly/geeky house guests, etc. I suppose that puts my entire to do list at zeroth. Err.)

I also had to try three places before I found one that would take a donation of a used microwave. We haven't used it in this apartment, and our new place has one built in.

Also, I discovered that although my doctor had promised to call in a refill on my birth control, in fact she had not done so. Luckily, I found this out by looking at the package of new pills I was just starting, rather than by blithely traipsing into the pharmacy expecting to get a new package only to find them not available. But it still meant time on the phone with the doctor's office (with an assistant who immediately assumed that the patient was in the wrong), and then with the pharmacy. And it meant that I feel I have to check in mid-September to make sure they're doing what they said they would.

Then I called to check up on Andrew, and he called me back and we talked awhile. Theme of the day: initially fruitless phone calls ultimately bearing fruit. I've had better themes of the day, I have to say. Although there could also be worse.

Jenn set victory conditions for the day in one of her recent livejournal entries. That amused me. Me and the breach have had just about enough of once mores at this point. The breach is like a toddler right now. "Again!" No. No more agains. "But there's this --" Shut up, breach. Makes me understand the victory condition idea a bit better.

I made lists for up to the week of October 20-26. I think I like the week of October 6-12 best. So far it reads, "Unpack. Subscribe to Strib." Let's just skip ahead to that one, hmm? (I have not put "Help Timprov and C.J. with Obelix and Asterix costumes" on my list for the week before Halloween. Next year. Mark has not yet agreed to be Tintin, anyway, so our French comics theme would be all off: why should I bother being Snowy if he won't be Tintin with me? I might as well be My Mother Age 25 or Danny Pearson at that point.) (Yes I am contemplating being Danny Pearson. In the sari Mary Anne gave me for our birthday a couple years ago. It's a long, long story. Suffice it to say that I'm a midpoint between Dan and most sari wearers, and some of his ambitions were not precisely traditional. A sari and a homemade banjo, is what I would need. And long hair. Maybe he doesn't have the hair any more, but I'm not cutting my hair for Halloween anyway.)

My pen has been leaking more and more lately. I need to check how the cartridges are attaching, or else stop taking it on planes. Stupid planes. Not at all geared for fountain pens.

I'm also starting to notice increasing deformities in my keyboard. The s, in addition to missing most of its letterness, is developing an odd dent/bump; the inexplicable scratch lines in the n are deepening. This is not the most el cheapo keyboard I could find (unlike last time). I think this is just my letter vampirism coming through. I'm not the only one -- Jo Walton talked about it awhile ago. I am too lazy to look up when.

Somehow I think our paper will be running the controversial Doonesbury strip that's coming up: the top article of the "Style" section is "Women and Pornography: Ladies Who Like It." (Hello, disappointed people who got here from google! Sorry! It's just me babbling!)

I read a bunch of newspapers sent by my parents, but I still didn't finish Timescape yesterday. Ah well. It's still there; nobody unwrote it while I was busy. I watched the season finale of "Monk," which I had taped, while I did other things around here. Maybe the weekend will feel like it's more okay for down time. It had better: we're spending a whole afternoon hiking and hanging out with Stan and Judy, and if that's not down time, I don't know what is.

I seem to be accidentally starting a list of relaxing people in my head. It's probably a good thing for me to do (and actually, I think Cal might have recommended something of the sort years ago...well, better late than never).

Hey! I've got a new story up! Fortean Bureau has published "MacArthur Station,", and to my delight, they got a picture of BART for the illustration. That rocks. "MacArthur Station" is in the series that will eventually become an episodic novel. It's the second of them I've sold (the first was "Glass Wind"), but it comes chronologically first. Go check it out.

As for me, I'll go bask in my published storyness, and in the slightly diminished glory that is my list. Maybe I'll make biscuits. Maybe I'll sing songs. Maybe I'll buy boxes and check in with the mortgage being to make sure there's nothing else I need to do and try to finish this stupid story. Sigh.

Back to Novel Gazing.

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