Sunday, July 31, 2011


Oftentimes my ridiculously young friend Sara will fill us in on her weekend plans involving either driving home to Seattle to hang out with friends and/or family, or entertaining friends and/or family here. I find myself exhausted just listening to her - the sitting in a car for hours, the running around all day, the bar-hopping until the wee hours, the absolute zero me-time. I wonder how she does it. And then I remember when I was ridiculously young and did pretty much the same thing. At my advanced age I can't even imagine what it would be like to have zero me-time on my agenda. But that's kind of what this weekend has been about. Kind of. Because at my advanced age I can change plans at the drop of a hat if I want to and not feel guilty about it.

After a grueling (and I do mean grueling) month end week as an assistant on a crazy desk, getting up every flipping morning at 4am, I might add, I met up at that Mark's house (soon to be known as "That Mark and Becky's House") at around 6:30 for a backyard party. I wish I could have stayed longer and had more than two beers, but an out-of-town wedding was on the plate for Saturday and I never think I'll have enough time to get shit done, so I stayed for a couple of hours and dutifully left. I'll admit I was a bit out of sorts, considering I had started my period for the third time this month (...), was whacked by a crazy last day of the month, and kind of stressing about the next day, but had I been in my right sensibilities I would have really enjoyed hanging out with these people I haven't seen in a really long time. Alas, age is making me cognizant of my responsibilities (and the fact that if I drink more than five beers there is NO getting up and going in the morning anymore). So I half-houdini'd (meaning I said goodbye to the hosts but that was it) at a respectable 8pm. On my way out, however, I was texted from a friend who was needing some fair-food and since I was already about fifteen feet from Hillsboro, I met her at the Washington County Fair for a pronto pup and a quick lap. Not on the agenda, what with all the laundry that was needing to be done, but it's hard to turn down a corn dog, and I like the livestock exhibits at the fair (except I stepped in some unidentifiable livestock poo and just found it last night on the bottom of my flip flop. Nice.).

I think I got to bed around 11:45 (completely unheard of for me anymore) after having finished all the laundry. Got up around 6am (also crazy unheard of on a Saturday. What kind of luxury is that?) and ran copious amounts of errands, showered, and ran off to SE Portland to pick up that Whit and head east toward Hood River for the wedding. Wouldn't it have been nice if the wedding was in Hood River? I understand the Naked Winery there is nice. And no crossing that God-damned green bridge either. But alas, that Marci had her heart set on Gorge Crest Winery in beautiful Underwood, Washington. Beautiful only if you already live in Washington State and don't have to cross the Columbia River on a narrow, rickety bridge made of steel grates that allows JUST enough room for two mid-size sedans to pass each other without tearing off their side view mirrors. And it was a toll bridge, so for the low low price of $.75, I got to crawl across this flipping thing with ZERO control over the car for what seemed like forty-five minutes, gripping the wheel, clenching my teeth, certain that one wrong move would land me in the drink. I hated that bridge. I still hate that bridge. It's a stupid, stupid bridge and if I never drive over it again I'll have lived a successful life.

The good news is we were crazy early to the wedding, so we got a good parking spot.. the wedding itself was really quite beautiful.
I'll be covering the bride and her trusty sidekick, Sherri, for the next two weeks (assistants, again, but this time two, on crazy-busy desks - yay!) so there was some light-hearted (to them) joking about Monday being horrific. A nice drive home that involved NOT going over that stupid, stupid green bridge and instead paying an additional $.25 to go over the much shorter, much wider Bridge of the Gods.*

Home at 9:15. Fall into bed. Realize I can't keep this life-style up (I'm only half kidding). Up at 6am. Supposed to go lay in the white-trash pool today. Realize I simply can't. Because I still have to go to the gym, clean this casita, and nap. NAP. What I do on weekends. What I haven't done on a weekend in what feels like FOREVER. Am I REALLY getting old? Or am I just feeling sorry for myself since I'm on the rag again for the third time this month and yesterday was the thirty-first anniversary? Or is just that I'm selfish?

It's probably the selfishness.
*I'm not going to complain about the sun being in my eyes for most of the drive home because we never get sun in summer anymore and if I bitch about it it will leave us again. I'm not taking responsibility for that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Maybe it doesn't read as badly as it sounded in my head.

This has been drifting around in my head lately. I don't know really how to write it out without sounding like a complete bitch. So I'll preface, I guess, by saying that I have been very lucky to have some great friends in my life. In every state, in every life-stage, in every weird situation in which I've found myself, I've always had some kind of support system, someone who was always there to make me laugh so hard milk would have shot out of my nose, if I was a milk drinker. I'm certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth. And I am not belittling the importance of these people in those stages of my life. I have a great memory and these individuals are right there, every detail just as vivid as if it were yesterday, and I hold them in the same esteem as I always have. I'm thankful for them. So it's hard for me to not sound like an inconsiderate bitch as I go on.

Thanks to the wonders of social media, a lot of those friends come back. This is a great thing. With each discovery, we get to experience those good times all over again, sit back and remember the good, the bad, the ugly, all knowing that we wouldn't be the we we are without them. We might send a little note, hey, how are you, where are you these days, you look great. And then, well, then, they do their thing and we do ours and it's just a really great feeling to know that they are there, hovering in the background, while we live our lives and they live theirs. It's like, everyone wants to be a part of some one's memory, and social media (the recreational kind, not necessarily when used for marketing..) allows that to happen. It's warm and fuzzy and makes you feel like you made an impact of some kind to someone at some time.

(Here's where I feel like an ingrate) But sometimes our "now" lives are so different than our "then" lives that when the "then" people come back, we don't have an enormous amount of time to spend on them. Everybody has SOME time, just not ALL the time. Like DAILY time. Or even three or four times a week time. Or even ONCE a week time. It's not that we don't want to know what's going on with them, we probably do, but there's just so much else going on that it's kind of hard to add a whole other person, with their needs and requirements and feelings in tow, to the list of obligations. So the phone calls slow down or go unanswered, email is answered maybe not quite so right-away, promises to converse are maybe just a little less enthusiastic.

Why can't it just sort of stay in the past? Memories are a fun and fabulous way to relive your life, when you have the time to kick back and reminisce. It's great to reconnect, fabulous, really, but when it starts to become an issue if you don't get back to someone right away, or if you can't take the last four phone calls, and so you don't, isn't it sort of ruining the memory of the "then" with the irritation of the "now"?

I have long thought that a friendship that makes you have to take a deep breath and paste on a smile before you start a conversation is probably not that great of a friendship. Friendships are supposed to be easy and natural. If you see someone on your caller ID, your reaction shouldn't be "shit" said under your breath before you consider the consequences of not answering. Sure, there was a time when I was happy to see that phone call come through. But it starts to get a little tainted when the phone call comes through daily, at crazy hours, when I am in the middle of my "now" life. So I don't answer. Because I can't drop everything and be someone I was twenty years ago for two hours. Nobody has that kind of time. Right?

So here's the gist of it: People come in to our lives for a reason, and we are so grateful to have that connection, that camaraderie, that support. They propel us forward as we live and grow and become a part of society. And sometimes they come back in to our lives, years later, and it's great - hey, hi, you've done so well. An occasional phone call, a more than occasional email update, all fabulous things. But when you start feeling like you HAVE to keep up this friendship that took a twenty year hiatus, and you find yourself running to another room when the phone rings, or you wake up feeling guilt and dread because you said you'd try to call sometime this week but you just haven't had the time, well, I don't know. It just shouldn't be that much work.

It just should be enough to stay in the "then" and keep the "now" to a minimum. Because the "now" is worlds away from the "then", and there's nothing anyone can do to change that.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Golden silence

I know, I know, it's been weeks. You aren't missing anything. Besides the incessant ranting and raving of a person who seems to be a target for all the slow-driving-let's-cut-off-the-Honda assholes making their way around greater Portland lately. The weather has been shitty, I've lost all confidence in my (fantastic) escrow abilities because of my last two assignments (I suck as an assistant. I'm not sure I've mentioned that.), I feel like a sow, and my mood has been horrific for days.

On a brighter note, I'm not going to North Dakota. I still have a four-day weekend, though, so I have to figure out a way to get some tan time in. What about Kah-Nee-Ta? Hmm. I'm also diligently shopping Cancun for December. I got a bonus, bigger than normal, so hallelujah on that, now I can buy shampoo (it's really expensive). And I'm bringing back the bag I bought at the Anniversary Sale, but I'll get some boots instead maybe.

You're not missing a thing, because nothing's happening. At all. Adventure has eluded me. I'm bitter, but I don't mind the down time. For now.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Making the effort

The last two Mondays have been the kind of Mondays I used to have when I had my own escrow desk. Stupid, sullen, anti-social, bleak, blah, tired, stupid. Little by little I get better, but yeah, today just kind of sucked. I'm feeling stupid and untalented on the desk I'm on, and I seem to be just a tiny bit off the mark in my interaction with clients. Also, just this very second I am realizing I double booked a 4pm for Tuesday. Nice. Let's see how I figure THAT one out.

I meant to mention that I was recommended to (yet) another wax girl and went last Thursday. She used to work at Blush but when her husband's work schedule changed, she quit and gave it a shot at doing it from home. She seems to have quite a schedule booked out. My colorist (who recommended her) raves about her, so I gave it a shot. She was really good. Quick, cheap, and very good. I'll go back.

Because not only did she do my Albert Einstein-like eyebrows (things had gotten completely out of hand) and my bigota (that's "mustache" to you non-Spanish speakers), she threw in a soul patch and - get this - a NOSE! Don't worry, it wasn't like a 75 year old man up in there, but still.. I'm peri-menopausal; I got hair growing all over the fucking place.*

But seriously, it was awesome. It wasn't something I could post on Facebook, and I can tell you here because seriously I think I'm down to like thirteen readers, but I'm not kidding you, it was awesome. Clean, breezy, I just don't know of any other word to describe it. AND it didn't hurt. Simply fantastic. I highly suggest you try it if you have the opportunity.

Tomorrow is going to be all funky because I am taking Barbie to the hospital for surgery at 8am, and that puts me in the office around 8:30 or so, when I normally get there at 7. Wrenches in my routine can be off-putting. Let's hope the sun shines a little bit to cheer me up.

It's July, right?
* One of the many things that make me so date-able.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Right this minute

I lost another ring. I'm bitter. One of the drawbacks to having lost a couple pounds means my fingers shrunk and I had to start wearing my Tiffany ring on my index finger. In the mornings it would fall off and after I washed my hands things would be dicey. Now it's just gone. Don't tell anyone but when I re-parked the car (I discovered it as I was driving away from work this evening) and retraced my steps from this late afternoon, I went through the trash can in the bathroom. I didn't go all the way to the bottom, though, so if it doesn't turn up somewhere in the office at Lincoln Tower then I will forever be thinking about it, sitting in the bottom of the black trash liner, in a dump somewhere. Nice.

But it's sunny and I have stuff to do this weekend and a little bit of cash and the pre-sale at Nordstrom and a fresh pedi and naps and kitties and I have my health and it was just a stupid ring in the grand scheme of things.

But now I need something to perpetuate the tan line on that finger that is slowly fading. I should have tanned after work tonight. I still could right now, but I'm really tired and don't want to bother with it. I should go put some laundry in, I should go vacuum, I should go tan. Instead I'm catching up on my DVR and then I'll probably go to bed around 10 because this, folks, is what my life has become.

Sitting at home on a Friday night, watching Million Dollar Decorators and the Real Housewives of New York, mourning the loss of a Tiffany ring, waffling between getting dressed again to tan or traumatizing the cats with a good vacuuming.

It's not so bad.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Another bitch about the lost art of customer service

As a part of my job covering others while they are on vacation, I get to work with pretty much everyone’s clients. It’s a good thing. I know more industry folks than most, and I’m usually able to tell someone who works with whom. I also have access to their email as a part of that responsibility, but since I’m really trustworthy, it’s fine. I don’t read their personal stuff or anything. Really.

This morning I was looking at the overnight email from the person I’m covering (who is in Mexico, which mildly pisses me off since I haven’t been in like forever), and saw an email from a loan officer with whom I have a couple of files going. I had no problem reading it because two days ago he gave me a sign that said “Queen of Everything” because I pretty much am. Anyway, his email wasn’t about the files. It was, instead, a statement about a file that he had closed in April that just failed an audit.

It was a purchase of an REO property, and the seller (the bank) uses a centralized escrow company for the processing and closing of their files. I have a personal interest in this subject because escrow is what pays my bills (and now and then gets me to Mexico..) and if local escrow branches don’t get the business then I pretty much lose my job.

The gist? Centralized escrow service = bad. Very bad.

His file failed audit because of an error that even his own company had missed, and that’s understandable, in the end, he takes responsibility for it. But he can’t call someone, and he doesn’t have anyone specific who cares about this particular file and that it’s done properly. Ultimately he is on his own.

And so is his buyer. The centralized escrow company is some-goddamned-where else, and so they use mobile notaries to sign the buyers. Random strangers that have no idea what’s been going on in the file, don’t know a thing about the buyers, don’t know what the buyers have gone through to get this house, don’t know the loan officer or real estate agents, know NOTHING except they’re meeting the buyers some place and it will take about an hour out of their day. I work with a bunch of mobile notaries – some are really good. I use them when I need to. But some suck pretty badly and so I don ‘t use them. I honestly don’t think a centralized service gives a crap about whether or not the notary is good, they just want to pump out the numbers.
Why is this sucky, besides being a threat to my bank account? Because nobody is really thinking about the buyers. You go to buy a house, first time, fifteenth time, I don’t care what it is, it’s a pretty big deal. You want somebody to be a little bit enthusiastic. You don’t want some person you have never seen before who was just picked out of a hat twenty minutes after your HUD was approved to take your drivers license number and point to the signature lines of the 98 or so pages you are going to sign. You don’t want some complete random stranger to NOT be able to explain things, to assure you it’s going to be great, to let you know you can call them should something come up. You want your hand held. You want a little customer service. Shit, we ALL do.

Centralized companies like the one this loan officer had to use think volume, not individual escrow transactions. It’s data in and data out, and then on to the next one. They don’t know the neighborhoods, they don’t know the brokers, they don’t know anything about anything but the numbers placed in front of them. I’ve closed enough escrows to know that people want to feel important, even for just an hour, whether it’s for a refinance or a purchase or sale. You cannot sit there and tell me that it doesn’t matter anymore. Customer service simply has got to matter. It just does.
So I’m mildly bitter about it, but mostly because I can’t do anything about it. Whoever makes the decisions never see the customer anyway, so they don’t care. Save the penny. All that matters anymore is money.

On a happier note, it’s sunny, it’s casual day, it’s the Friday before a three day weekend. And it also would have been my dad’s 85th birthday, so happy birthday to him!