Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Deferral and Denial

It has been a terribly stressful week around here. Kim has been beset with a series of minor maladies for the past few months, most of which have barely affected Skylar and me. I'm of the opinion that being very ill with pneumonia and, probably, valley fever in the fall of 2000, with a relapse of pneumonia in the spring of 2001, has made me healthier of late. I just haven't gotten sick as regularly as I used to. Could the free radicals theory hold water? Or is it simply a matter of boosting the immune system more generally. Whatever, I'll take it. But it's unsettling to have one's partner, normally the healthier and heartier, not quite right for a while.

Kim thinks it's stress-related, more specifically home-refinancing-related. The hell we went through over the past four months is hard to describe. I'm too tired right now. Suffice it to say that we were working with a person at our mortgage broker who was either incompetent or sadistic. Amazingly enough, however, after Kim placed a call to the owner -- his kids are in Skylar's pre-school at the JCC, which is where we met his wife and learned of his company -- on Friday expressing her despair, he called her back Saturday, set up a Monday morning conversation with his manager, and had said manager figure out a way to at least honor our "lock" that had been botched so that, as of yesterday, we were able to combine our variable rate second mortgage -- already at over 8% -- with our first mortgage at 6% for a 30-year loan. Since we will now be paying mortgage insurance again for a while, there are almost no immediate savings attached. But we save ourselves from the possibility of getting screwed by a rapid rise in interest rates down the road and, once we get back to an 80% loan-to-value ratio in a year or two, will end up paying over a hundred dollars less per month. There I said it. I hope not to be in the space where I have to speak about such matters for a while.

The upshot of all this is that both Kim and I are relieved that it's over and that we got what we thought we had coming a month ago, but are still suffering from lingering trauma.

And then there were the termites, discovered Sunday before we had a clear sense that our broker would rectify the wrongs done to us by their employee. As it turns out, treating these subterranean termites is almost as normal as breathing in Tucson and hardly a big deal. But, not being familiar with this particular dimension of Tucson extremity, we freaked out, Kim especially.

Luckily we got not only the company that treated our house when new to come out, but also one recommended by long-time residents, whose representative was one of the nicest, most helpful people I've ever encountered professionally. We were worried that our warranty might not be sufficient to deal with the problem, but it is. Thanks to the guy from the other company, though, we have a much clearer sense of what to do in the future and the knowledge we need not to panic.

And then there was the traffic ticket issue. I got a ticket in June for "leaving the roadway to pass on the right," when in fact I did what thousands of people do in Tucson every day, putting my passenger-side tires on the dirt at a red light so that I could make a right turn and not block up the road for people heading straight. I did it out of courtesy, as I did many, many times before. Nor did I "pass" anyone: I merely pulled even with the car waiting to go straight, let two cars go through the intersection, then made a right on red. But I got the ticket nonetheless and had to go to traffic school to avoid getting points that would raise our insurance. The school was long and largely boring. The instructor went around the room asking each person what they had been ticketed for. Almost every one had been speeding. When I explained my offense, she said, "Your officer must have been really bored that day." I was content, though, to finish the class and move on. Then I received something in the mail from the county court saying my license had been suspended as of the beginning of the previous week and that I could incur grave fines etc. for driving, which I had already been doing unawares. I resolved the issue Monday morning in 90 minutes -- the traffic school had been late submitting the paperwork -- but the stress of not knowing what would happen over last weekend, coupled with the annoyance of being on hold forever really sapped my strength.

Alright, then, I've given a horribly mundane account of my bad week and the reasons why I haven't been posting. Time to go eat some leftover chicken and then turn my attention back to William T. Vollmann's Butterfly Stories. I seriously doubt whether any writer could do a better job than he does of jamming my sex drive. Nothing turns me off faster than reading his tales of sordid couplings with prostitutes. And that, I suppose, is a good thing. But I must read on, since I'm precisely interested in the way that his work mobilizes disgust for both aesthetic and political purposes or, better said, the way in which his work makes disgust into a passageway between aesthetics and politics.

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