Summertime

I only just closed the purchase of my new condo in Seattle on February 29, 2016. Due to volatility in the markets after the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union (commonly known as “Brexit”), I received a call this week from the lending agent for my mortgage. Turns out Brexit has brought mortgage rates to new lows since my financing was locked in. For no cost at all, he offered to help me refinance and reduce my monthly payment by $110. That represents a rate change from 4.5% to 4.125% interest on my loan. Not too shabby.

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I may have owned a home once previously before this one, but I’ve never gone through the refinancing process before. Now, I’m not entirely dumb at finance and money things. But the refinancing logistics left me with many questions, especially when I’ve been paying off principal on my home for nearly 6 months now, yet my new loan would be for $2,000 more than my original loan amount as if I’d not paid any principal. How the hell does that work?

So I swallowed any pride I might have and had my lending agent explain the ins and outs to a CPA like I was 4. It was humbling, but helpful. And I’d highly recommend that if you own your home, you look into whether refinancing post Brexit could help you reduce your monthly payments as well.

I have many projects I want to complete in my home: new floors, changing all light fixtures from energy wasting halogen to energy efficient LED, a new paint job throughout, additional landscaping on the patio, and a bit of a birthday for the bathroom and kitchen finishes. I’ll soon have an additional $110 a month to put aside for those upgrades. Thanks, United Kingdom.

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In other news, I spent last weekend in Denver, visiting a friend and a new town I’d never properly been to before. I’d only ever spent 1 or 2 hour layovers in Denver airport. I went to a Colorado Rockies game (they won), had a fabulous massage, ate some great food, and made it up into Arapaho National Forest to a little ski town comparable to Breckenridge, called Winter Park. The ski lift is used in the summertime to transport mountain bikes and people alike to the top of the mountain. They then did some extreme biking clad in elbow pads, knee pads, and helmets, back down the mountain. This allows ski retreat locations to function not just in the winter time. I took no part in the extreme sportsing; I much preferred to enjoy as a spectator, while I enjoyed the most amazing watermelon caprese salad.

It was a nice getaway, but I’m happy to be back home. Summer has settled on Seattle, with temps in high 70’s/low 80’s. This past week has seen some mid 80’s/low 90’s action even. It’s a little warmer than I’m used to and prefer, but I can’t complain. If it gets unbearable, I do have an air conditioner.

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I beta-tested my first batch of Jell-O shots since living in Sydney last night: watermelon Jell-O, made with Malibu Rum and Triple Sec, my own twist on the recipe. I plan to sit in the Adirondacks in the sunshine after the gym both days this weekend. I sprung for a house-cleaner to spend 3 hours on my place today, to give myself a break from chores. I get to come home to a clean house this afternoon. It’ll be delightful. Time to really enjoy my first summer in Washington, now that the warm weather has arrived. I’m gonna kick back and let my home work for me for a change. I hope you enjoy the last weekend of July and get your summer on.

Marked safe

After last night’s events in Nice, France, my mind is a-swirl. A friend of mine from Sydney has been traveling through Europe on a fabulous vacation, and happened to be staying in Nice when this happened. Luckily, he’d not been on the Promenade that night, though he had been the two nights before. His gracious host, knowing there’d be around 20,000 people there to celebrate Bastille Day steered my friend clear of the Promenade last night, instead leading him to a night in Cannes to change it up.

In my friend’s words when he posted an Instagram photo of his gracious host posed with him against a beautiful sunset background in Cannes, he said, “I can’t imagine what some people went through last night. Because of Christian, I didn’t have to and I feel very lucky to have met him.” He utilized a feature on Facebook known as “mark safe”, and over 230 people liked it. His loved ones saw he was OK. Huge sigh of relief. For some.

Also in my swirling thoughts is how one of the cops killed in Dallas last week, Patrick Zamarripa, survived 3 tours in Iraq, only to be gunned down with 4 other officers that day. He was marked safe (maybe not literally on Facebook, but figuratively) on each one of those life-changing, and potentially life-ending, journeys previously. He couldn’t be marked safe that time.

A friend of a friend was one of those killed in the Orlando night club. Another friend of a friend was in the Istanbul airport on the day of the attack there.

Can anyone of really ever be marked safe, though? One of my favorite quotes about life involves looking both ways before you cross the street, only to get hit by the airplane you never saw coming. Is it luck, when one makes it through while another’s number is up? Is it fate?

I have no idea what the hell is going on with the world right now. I’ve seen jokes in tweets about how it feels like the 5th season of our show, and the writers are going nuts to keep everyone interested… or how as a country we shouldn’t date any president, and just spend some time with ourselves for a little while. But I am a citizen of this world, and regardless of where it happens, hate crimes and acts of terror hit home to me every time. Someone lost a husband, a wife, a child, a sibling, a friend, with every wretched occurrence.

A hostage situation and standoff in a Sydney café, an attack at the Brussels airport, Paris, a night club in Orlando, Bangladesh, Istanbul, Nice… countless others. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, Zika virus, all the stupid things that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth. It’s all too much, 2016. Shit is getting real, if it wasn’t already real before. It just keeps hitting, and hitting closer and closer to home. I feel like if David Bowie was still alive, he’d pull this face again, seeing the state of the world he left behind:

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The next time it could be any of us. It could be any event, in any city. Regardless of race, gender, orientation, religion… we don’t know what will happen next. All of humanity is the target these days. That doesn’t scare me, though.

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If it scared me, then the terrorists would win. They can’t crush the human spirit. They want us to not be able to live our lives freely, lovingly, and happily. It breaks my heart, because I just want to see my gays married, my people in pain stoned, my community educated, and a world that doesn’t always seem so bad.

How close does it have to get to each of us before it crosses our personal threshold of too much? Do the bombs need to drop directly over our heads for us to wake up and do something about it? With the release of Pokemon Go, I’ve lost all faith in humanity to look up from their phone in time to not fall off a cliff or crash their cars. Wake up, people.

I love this saying:

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We need left wing and right wing to work together if we’re going to fly. It’s so frustrating, being a relatively peaceful person, to know this is happening more and more frequently. I do what I can to put a little more love in the world, but even I get tired. I get sad. It all seems futile, yet I still get up every day and try to make those around me smile. I’m never going to be enough.

One day, my number will be up. No amount of marking myself safe on Facebook will save me. No one can ever be permanently marked safe. While my reality may diverge from the plan, anything could happen at any time along my continuum. The only thing I can do is be me, and keep going, until I don’t keep going anymore.

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It can be hard to keep going, when we see what is happening to the world. With every passing day, a new story emerges, killing us a little inside as our brothers and sisters continue to needlessly perish. It already is too much, and it can be too overwhelming to keep going. Don’t get paralyzed. Don’t stop thinking, feeling, reaching out, caring, trying. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself at a time when my heart hurts as an empath and a feeler. So maybe you could stand to hear it, too.

Don’t give up. Keep going. Keep being you. Don’t be afraid.

Twin peaks

Recently, a quote happened upon my path which summed up my struggle for many years past:

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For so long, I worked in a role I simply didn’t care about. I saw it as a stepping stone, a means to an end. It caused unnecessary amounts of stress. I was a mixed bag of emotions when I left San Francisco and my previous place of employment – there was sadness, yes. There was fear of the unknown, uncomfortability with change after the same role for almost 12 years…

Now, stress at work seems a thing of the past. While what I’m doing and the skills I’m using have not drastically changed, I look at work a lot differently now. When there is a lot of work to get through, it’s all manageable, and it all has purpose now. Even if, in the grand scheme of things, my tasks are not that important, I feel infinitely more valued at a smaller firm. The things I do, however menial, have impact. I’m in an industry in which I’ve studied and practiced my whole life. This is passion, now.

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I feel like I’m living so much closer to my truth. I’m genuinely happy, and have very little about which to complain. I mean, my garbage disposal is broken, my neighbor has been flicking cigarette butts on my patio, and construction is still ever-present at a nearby apartment complex, but on the whole, life is better. I feel myself wanting to write more blog posts, but having less to say. What I mistook for passion before was simply perhaps just a bug under my skin. I had more to write about, when I had more to complain about. I could write about horrible venture capital companies ultimately being to blame for my shitty living situation. I could write about my cat and the adventures in small apartment living with him… Now that I don’t have half as many things to complain about, perhaps it means less stress? Or perhaps I have it backwards: I have less stress, so I see the world with different eyes, and can complain about much much less. It’s an argument similar to which came first, the chicken or the egg… which came first for me, the stress or the stuff about which to write blogs… they are both twin peaks in the same mountain range, I suppose…

I’d even possibly go so far as to say, I might actually be slowing down too much as I grow some roots here… I’m quite content after work going to the gym, or going home to spend quality time playing with Cheddar, Netflixing, and relaxing.

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In some of my downtime, I recently watched the series I seemed to have missed when it first came out, Twin Peaks. It was filmed about 45 mins outside of Seattle, as the falls in the opening credits and the lodge are in Snoqualmie Falls at the Salish Lodge. Shots of the main character’s room were filmed in nearby Woodinville as well, about 20 minutes outside of Seattle. Now, if you haven’t seen that series yet, grab a bowl of popcorn and the Cliff’s notes, cause you’re gonna need them. Just like when I watched Mulholland Drive, I needed help to figure out what the HELL I was watching.

There’s this guy, who apparently dances in the world between worlds, speaking garbled words:

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And of course, the ever-wise log lady:

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Mine does too, lady, mine does too.

But it’s required viewing if you live in Seattle, especially seeing as how I’ve been to the falls twice now with guests from out of town. Here are a couple of photos I took at the falls for your own personal viewing pleasure:

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They’re just far enough away to take in the mountain and tree-filled scenery along the way, and feel like you’ve left the city far behind you. Even cell phone reception is sketchy at the falls, so you know you’re in the sticks.

So overall, life is so good, I really can’t complain… Until the next thing pops up to complain about.