Friday, February 12, 2016

Expectations of the Day

Typically when I go to the office break room I keep my head down, avoid eye contact, and mostly just try and get through it with as minimal interaction with my coworkers as possible. Most days I can make it out with little more than a pleasant smile or a mummbled 'hello'. This makes me extremely happy because I really don't ever have anything to say to random coworkers, especially since most of them are not even from my department. 

Today I was not so lucky and was forced into an incredibly awkward bit of small talk with two women who did not even look remotely familiar. We were all standing around waiting to get water behind a woman filling up a giant jug. 

The two women were chatting casually about Valentines day. They were comparing restaurant choices, flower deliveries, and jewelry selections. It was your basic generic Valentines day prattle. I tried very hard not to engage, but they seemed to want to involve me for some unknown reason. One turned to me and smiled and asked "What are your plans for Valentines day?".

"I don't celebrate Valentines day." I politely replied giving her a tight lipped smile.

Her smile faltered. It was as if I had just told her I didn't breath oxygen. She glanced down to my hand and eyed my wedding ring before looking back to my face. She schooled her expression so she wasn't looking at me like I was an alien, and asked me why.

I sort of shrugged and told her that it just wasn't something that we celebrated. I didn't feel like explaining to this stranger why, I just wanted her to stop talking to me. She sort of gave me a pitying look and nodded. Thankfully it was my turn for water and I made quick work of getting my drink and getting out of there before she could pry into my life any more. 

I get this every year and it kind of drives me crazy. I say that we don't do Valentines day and people look at me as though I am somehow being deprived. Or perhaps they are looking at me as though I am depraved. I think I would get less strange looks if I told people I don't celebrate Christmas. That at least can be reasoned through; religious reasons typically. 

Here is the thing, I am not being deprived of anything. This isn't the husbeast deciding to  be cheap or lazy. This isn't some sort of statement against the system or anything else. I am not saying that Valentines day is a bad thing, or that people who celebrate it are wrong. This is simply a day that does nothing for me.

When I was a kid Valentines day was just a day where we got chocolate, which was AWESOME! I mean free chocolate, who is going to argue with that? It was a lot of pressure though. I was in Elementary school just before they started requiring all kids to give a Valentine to everyone in their class. I am pretty sure my mom made me give one to everyone, which didn't bother me. I was well aware of the fact though that some people, sometimes me, did not get a card from everyone. I also noticed that not everyone got as good of treats as some others. 

You are never too young to feel slighted I guess. 

As I hit my tween years I began to see the other implications of Valentines day, and I quickly began to dread it. This was a day about couples and it served as a moment in time to highlight the fact that you were single. Of course in middle school when girls are just starting to be flooded by the evil hormone, this is particularly brutal. Tween girls can be especially vicious when flaunting that they have a boyfriend and you do not. 

I remember in 6th grade there was this thing the student council did as a fund raiser where you could have a flower sent to someone on Valentines day. The flowers were delivered during class, and if you got one it was super embarrassing because everyone wanted to know who sent it to you. I very unexpectedly got a flower during homeroom from a 7th grade boy that I had a huge crush on, who also happened to be one of my brothers friends. As I was walking down the hall between class this boy found me and I discovered he had gotten a flower which was labeled as being from me. 

Most likely this was a prank perpetrated by my brother, but I had no end of evil tween girls who hated me, so it was really possible one of them had done this. What I did know was that it was an incredibly cruel joke. The boy was so embarrassed by the gesture that he confronted me in the hall, threw the flower at me, shouted at me in the hall (in front of EVERYONE) how he didn't like me, and how I had embarrassed him, and he thought I was pathetic. 

It was pretty well one of the most awful moments of my school career. He was more cruel than he needed to be, but kids that age don't handle emotional things and embarrassment well. At the time I was devastated, but in retrospect I actually don't blame him. I am not saying it was cool, I am just saying I get it. 

I spent the rest of my younger years single on Valentines day. I like many would celebrate it in some form of Single Appreciation Day, and try not to let it bother me that I was single. I was always more than a little disappointed, but I swore that someday I would not be single on Valentines day and it would be amazing.

The husbeast and I had been dating about four months when we got to have our first Valentines day together. I was SUPER excited about this day. I had been waiting my entire life for this it seemed. It was going to be magical and amazing. 

We got all dressed up, he bought me a gorgeous tanzanite and platinum ring, we went to our favorite little Mexican joint for dinner, and finished the night cuddling on the couch watching romantic movies. It was exactly what a Valentines day was supposed to be except that it wasn't actually magical or special. Hell I think it was one of our worst dates ever.

The restaurant had brought in extra tables for the night, and the room was packed so tight that you couldn't hear each other, and you couldn't move without hitting someone with your elbow. The service was super slow because of the sheer volume they were trying to accommodate. The movie was good but it wasn't actually what we wanted to watch and so half way through the husbeast got up and went to play on his computer because he was bored. The whole thing was just so forced that it was ridiculous.

I realized that there was nothing romantic about the day at all. It was all of this pressure and all of these expectations for something that should never be forced. It was only a thing because I had made it a thing in my head. I discovered that it wasn't even a thing I wanted. 

Turns out I much prefer it when I get some daisies on some random Tuesday because he knows they are my favorite and wants me to smile. He likes it when I leave a Reeses cup on his side table for no reason more than I know he likes them. We like a quiet romantic dinner just because we can.

I am not saying that having a day to celebrate your love is bad. I am not saying that people who like Valentines day are wrong. I am not telling anyone how they should or should not enjoy any particular day.

I am just saying that it is not a day that means anything to us. It is just another day that we love each other, and we celebrate that love every day, so there is nothing overtly special about it. Our relationship works on random acts of love with no expectations and we are happy with this. 

So if you are celebrating Valentines day on Sunday I hope it is a wonderful and magical day. If you are not celebrating I hope you have a wonderful and magical day anyways. 

Most importantly I hope that every day is filled with love to celebrate whether it is romantic love or another form love, because love is what is important.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No Way Out

Owning your own home is a wonderful thing. It is an accomplishment which is seen very much to be part of achieving the elusive American Dream. There is something about knowing that this space is yours that is empowering and freeing all at once. It is wonderful.

Of course the reality of owning your own home is that until you pay off your mortgage you don't own jack shit. All you own is an incredibly large debt that you have absolutely 0 control over when it comes to who handles that debt on the debtors end of things. None whatsoever.

When we bought our first house we were told that our loans would be sold within a month. The company we had worked so hard to get a mortgage through were not going to actually end up being our lenders. In fact the people they sold our loans to would not be our lenders for the entire term of our mortgage. Over the next several years our loans would go bouncing around from lender to lender without any rhyme or reason, and certainly without any input from us.

We have absolutely no control over any of it. If our loan is sold to a company that has bad customer service, are unscrupulous, or have a tendency to cheat their customers, there isn't squat we can do about it. We have to continue to pay our monthly payments and just hope that our mortgage is sold soon to someone who is more tolerable to work with. I have no idea how that is supposed to be right, but that is how it is.

Now we could always refinance our mortgage. We could go to a bank and go through the incredibly arduous task of getting them to do the refi and having them be our lender. That is we can do that if we happen to have the money available to refinance a loan, because you can't just do that sort of thing for free. So if I happen to have the time and money and qualify I can refinance the mortgage and get away from my awful lender to an awful lender that at least I chose.

Until that lender sell my mortgage again, most likely right back to the amoral willfully negligent company I just escaped from.

This is the most fucked up system that is obviously completely built around making the banks money without any regard to the customers that they are supposed to be serving.I as a consumer have little to no recourse against these companies and banks. Anywhere else if I get shitty service I can easily fire that company and move to another provider.

Phone company supplies poor coverage or charges you too much for your data plan? Jump ship and head over to the competition where now days the competition will pay your switching fees. Cable company have abysmal customer service and constant outages? There are a plethora of other TV viewing options available to you from satellite providers to a Netflix Hulu subscription package.

Your mortgage company is forcing you to pay for things they shouldn't and has customer service reps that actively lie to you and are unwilling to help you?
Sucks to be you.

Suddenly owning a home sounds so much less appealing than it once did.