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January 25th, 2008


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12:18 am - People Are Afraid to Merge on Freeways in Los Angeles
Since I left home after high school and my mom was unable to monitor my every move, there has been one thing I could always count on.

Approximately 90% of our phone conversations will contain a variation of this dialogue:

"You don't have anyone, right? You're not seeing anyone? No BMMW (black, Mexican, Muslim, white)?"
"No."

I don't even have to think about it anymore. I just tell her what she wants to hear. Luckily for both of us, I suppose, it's always been the truth. I've never dated anyone. If I did, that instinctive, standard, automatic "No" would become a lie.

I expect it; I wait for it; I'm ready for it. I give her the "No," and she's relieved once again. Today, she said it was like a hundred thousand pounds of weight had been lifted from her chest (one of our relatives just eloped with a white girl and got married in Vegas).

But, while irritating, it's not a big problem because there's clearly no chance of my actually having to turn my "No" into a lie because I am socially incompetent and neurotically guilt-ridden anyway. It's a ritual at this point.

The problem is that I've encountered a new ritual, and it's ten thousand times more irritating.

Approximately 99% of the times I see or talk to my uncle, he will ask me if I've looked into buying a house yet.

This has been going on for many months now. Since I have a job and I plan to stay in the Bay Area for the next few years, I should buy a house or condo for $400,000 instead of throwing my money away on rent. In five years, the value of my property will have gone up, and I will have basically been staying there for free if I want to sell. This is all completely true and incontrovertible despite the fact that everything I'm reading says this is actually a horrible time to buy.

It's worse with my uncle because with my mom, I only get a question. With him, I get an entire lecture. And it's the same fucking one, every time. As if I hadn't already heard it a dozen times before. As if the reason I haven't started actively looking is because I didn't hear what he was saying, not because I am perfectly content with my living situation and don't feel financially prepared to deal with a mortgage.

What's completely maddening is he knows I'm not really into the idea and that it pisses me the fuck off to keep hearing about it. He has often recognized that I just want him to shut up, and he does. Once, he actually promised not to bring up the topic again. He would only discuss it if I came to him and asked for advice.

LIES. FUCKING LIES.

I am twenty-six years old. I am trying to become an adult. I think I've generally got a handle on things. I have a place to live and a job to pay for it. I pay my bills on time. I have no debt, and I save way too much and spend way too little. I don't understand why this isn't good enough. For now, at least.

I was thinking recently that even though I may not look it or feel it all the time, I am probably the happiest (obversely: least sad) I have ever been, living in the Bay Area. And I'm not sure that matters to my family at all.
Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: Team Sleep - Natalie Portman

(66 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
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I would think they'd be super-proud of themselves for raising kids who are self-sufficient and happy. That should make them say, "Hey, look what a good parent I am! That's my kid over there, living a productive and satisfying life! Good for him!"
I think I could count the number of times my mom's said she's proud of me on one hand. Possibly two. I haven't really kept count; it's been so infrequent.
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From:gchick
Date:January 25th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
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I think you're doing a fabulous job of the adult thing, for the record. But clearly you need to tell your uncle that you're not interested in buying a place until you find a nice black-white-mexican-muslim to share it with.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
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I think you're doing a fabulous job of the adult thing, for the record.
Thank you.

But clearly you need to tell your uncle that you're not interested in buying a place until you find a nice black-white-mexican-muslim to share it with.
Heh. Yesterday, he was talking about the house like it was a precursor to the wedding.
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From:gymble
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Oh, Sunil. Parents/relatives can be a pain sometimes.

You're right that buying a house at this moment is not the right thing to do even if you felt prepared to take one on. I do want to buy a house and won't because it's not a good idea right now. The market needs to settle (and I need to know where the hell I'm going to live next year). So, take comfort in the fact that you're right. Which ... probably doesn't help at all with your uncle. Is he the kind to be persuaded by facts and figures?

Also, 400K? Really? I'd be surprised if you could find anything decent for less than 5 or 6. The East Bay is fucking expensive.

As for your mother, I'm sorry. As a white Christian (ish), it seems bizarre to categorically rule people out as potential spouses solely because of their race/religion. But, that's how it is for you, I guess.

You're not socially incompetent! Dating is difficult, but don't let your mother scare you off from it.

And now I sound like a mother. Great. I am getting old. Just hang in there and know that you have friends who care about you.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
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The market needs to settle (and I need to know where the hell I'm going to live next year).
Don't go awaaaaaaaaaaaaay, you guys!

Is he the kind to be persuaded by facts and figures?
I don't know. Maybe if I knew what to use. He's lived in the Bay Area all his life, so he considers himself an expert on the real estate market.

Also, 400K? Really? I'd be surprised if you could find anything decent for less than 5 or 6. The East Bay is fucking expensive.
Yeah, $400K is the low end. The low end used to be $300K. Next thing you know, he'll only be talking about $500K.

Just hang in there and know that you have friends who care about you.
Thank you. That's part of the reason I'm happy here. *hug*
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From:shamoogity
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
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Even though my family has always been fairly laid back, I'm starting to realize more and more that there's no such thing as good enough in Indian families. And it drives me crazy too.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for understanding.
From:harriettheelf
Date:January 25th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
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::hugs you::

Oh, hon. I'm sorry this nonsense comes in so many forms.

I think you're (doing) great.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
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Aw, look at you, all clever with the parentheses.
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From:harper47
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
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Boy I wish I could say I have no debt and save too much. That's a great place to be. Re the parentals - I think it's instinctive to worry and care and sometimes it just comes out in weird ways. I know sometimes I nag my oldest son about things all the time thinking - why are you nagging?

It sounds like you have a great family and I think quirky, annoying things just come with the whole family package.
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From:soleta_nf
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
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*hugs* I hate parental-type lectures. Sigh.
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From:riani1
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
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And I'm not sure that matters to my family at all.

Happiness cannot be quanitified, therefore it cannot be described and cannot be used to tell your parents' friends "Sunil is 30% happier than your kid, you loser." Therefore, they cannot quantify their success as human beings.

My father died when I was 20 and a senior in college. I ceased speaking to my mother when I was your age. All the power in the world that you find a better way than the one I took.
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From:electricmonk
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
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If I had more than a minute I'd try to say something more profound, but: I for one am awfully glad to hear you're happy(-ier, whatever), I highly doubt that you're as socially incompetent as you believe, and there's totally a loophole in your mom's question where you can run away with a Japanese girl and not have to tell her. (Which is a completely viable solution to the whole conundrum, I know.)
*huuuuuuuug*
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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*huuuuuuuuuuug*
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From:jenelope
Date:January 25th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Next time your uncle puts pressure on you to buy a house, ask him if he's got $20,000 you can borrow for a down payment and then tell him that's a mere 5% of the low end of the market. If he's as practical as I think he is, he'll think 20% is a better down payment. (And- heh!- 20% of the low end in your market just happens to be about what I paid for my whole condo.)

I do think that you should plan to buy, but the market sucks, lenders are shying away from low down payment loans, and every comment from you indicates you're not quite ready. Just assure your uncle that you're planning to buy in the future and making sure that you are completely prepared for it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
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ask him if he's got $20,000 you can borrow for a down payment
He does. He and my dad are willing to help me with a down payment.

(And- heh!- 20% of the low end in your market just happens to be about what I paid for my whole condo.)
Or what Melanie paid for hers! I was the only one who said, "Wow, that's cheap!"
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From:ethanvahlere
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
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BMMW? I've never heard that term before, heh.

Seriously, though, you should tell your uncle you already have two parents, you don't need another one nagging you. Sorry you have to put up with that.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
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He likes to treat me like his own son. And on some counts, I appreciate the privilege. On others, not so much.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Tell me how awesome I am!
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From:pixie37373
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
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I totally feel you on the not being ready to buy thing. I thought I was until I started on the research and realized exactly how stressed out the money thing was making me. Just do what makes you happy. You are living well within your means and saving money - that's more than a lot of people our age can say.

It makes me happy that you are happy. You know I love you!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
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I do know!
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From:kremlindusk
Date:January 25th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
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Personally I think age 26 is quite young to be looking to buy a house. Then again, my boyfriend is 30 and we're nowhere near ready to live on our own yet.

I know it's hard, but probably your best bet is to love your parents, but kind of brush off their nagging. Obviously you're doing well for yourself, and if they can't realize that or don't care, that's their problem, not yours. Eventually you'll have everything they want you to have, but then they'll have moved on to, "Have children and grandchildren!" So just figure, you'll get there when you get there, and the bonus is that they'll be happy for 2.5 seconds before moving onto their next goal for you.

Plus, if you did everything they wanted, right away, what would they do with their spare time? They'd be bored if they weren't thinking of ways to get you to accomplish things. You're doing them a favor by putting that stuff off. :D
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
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Ha. We wouldn't want them to get bored!
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From:cofax7
Date:January 25th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
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OMG no, this is absolutely the wrong time to be buying a house! You'd end up with a mortgage worth more than the house is!

Even if your family is willing to help out with the downpayment, it's a terrible time. At the least you can tell your uncle that it's wisest to wait until the market settles, when you'll be able to get a better deal. Prices are, in fact, dropping.

You have all my sympathy for the family pressure: it's such a hassle. I have my issues with my parents, but they've never badgered me about my marital status (and are less likely to now that all my sibs are married). Good luck on dealing with it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
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You'd end up with a mortgage worth more than the house is!
How is that possible? I thought you took out a mortgage equal to what you pay for it.

At the least you can tell your uncle that it's wisest to wait until the market settles, when you'll be able to get a better deal. Prices are, in fact, dropping.
Right? Shouldn't I wait until it actually hits rock bottom? Of course, how is anyone supposed to know when that is?
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From:upanashad
Date:January 25th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
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Heh. Arvin's mom is constantly bugging him to get married, too. He ignores her, but I can tell it bothers him. I guess the thing to focus on is the fact that you're happy, and as painful as it is to be disappointing your family, it's really courageous that you have chosen your own happiness over trying to please them, even if it's in small, agonizing steps. And I get how hard it must be, because you come from a culture that forbids you to individuate, and yet you were born into one that tells you it's your right, and you're sort of caught between the two. But you do have a right to be happy and make your own way, and if your family can't see it, at least you have friends that do.

And you're not socially incompetent. You have plenty of friends, and the rest will come in time when you're ready. The most important thing is not to be hard on yourself, and not judge yourself by any other standards than what you feel in your heart.

Cheesy lecture over. I think I'm the happiest I've ever been in the Bay area as well. There's good juju here.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
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I think it helps that I have so many friends here and I'm not in school anymore. And that I'm grown up. I mean, that's why I qualified with "least sad." Because Rice was happy happy times, but goddamn, I had some lows there too. It's a matter of semi-public record, in fact.

Does Arvin's mom know that he's seeing a white Caucasian she-devil?
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From:daynr
Date:January 25th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
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"I save way too much and spend way too little" I don't know that I will ever understand this, especially on less than 6 figure a year. Maybe I could get it if there wasn't whole 'student loan' thing but I don't know ....

it's wonderful that you at least recognize that you're overall happiest there, now, and that that is likely to continue. They will too, in some form, maybe. Either way I'm glad you know you're growing up.
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From:incidentist
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
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Grah. Houses. Parents. Grah to all of it.

I want to buy a place, just to have a place. Like, it would be nice. But apart from that, I just don't get it. It doesn't really get you that much money -- I mean, it's great that it increases in value, but you also pay property taxes, which offsets some of that. You're not really living there "for free" since you're paying a mortgage every month -- the actual experience feels just like paying rent. And the gains don't seem big enough to stress over, unless you've got a real reason to need a house. I don't understand that much about houses and so forth, but that's what I've gotten from it so far.

Um, point being, you're right, and you're living well, and you should stay in the Bay Area because it is where the awesome is.
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From:honeybunnylilb
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
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We all have uncles that don't know when to stop. I have 7 of them. Each has their shtick. My uncle from South Korea is always on about using moisturizer and wearing sunglasses. No, seriously. My Uncle from NY calls me just to tell me that I don't call often enough. He never gives me a chance to call him! I have the opposite problem that you have with your mother. My mother called me a few weeks ago to tell me that if the only reason why I haven't found a significant other is because I'm just looking for a Jamaican person or someone of African descent, then I should broaden my scope. She actually told me that she would be okay if I "married a German man named Heinz" or married a First Nations dude. She asked me if I thought Ken Watanabe was hot. She's serious about planning a trip to Wales, Scotland and Ireland to find me a husband. I don't like having these conversations with my mother. I had to assure her that my scope includes anyone with a (functioning) penis. She was quite relieved. She said it was bothering her, the fact that my background and heritage might be holding me back from finding true love. How do I convince her that I'm just unlucky and that I am trying?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Ha, how funny that you have the opposite problem. Maybe we should switch.

Uncle Moisturizer and Sunglasses sounds...fun.
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From:foresthouse
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
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...Your mom wants you to remain single? Am I missing something here?

Re: the house-buying thing. Dave was looking into it for awhile too, for the exact same reasons (and discussing it some with his parents, who aren't pressuring him, per se, but have talked to him about it a number of times). But it's true that it's not a good time to buy, and anyway, maybe there's something worth it in not having the house yet if you don't want it - I mean, yes, it will save you money, but on the other hand you'll have the pressure of mortgage payments and this gigantic commitment you are tied into that you may not need right now. So...tell your uncle to go whistle.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
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...Your mom wants you to remain single? Am I missing something here?
My mom doesn't want me dating—and then marrying—anyone non-Indian.
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From:etherealclarity
Date:January 25th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
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There are a lot of reasons to not buy a house that have nothing to do with the market. I think the market is going to get better soon for buying, actually... the Fed just lowered interest rates and the banks will probably follow suit at some point... but just because a market is good for buying doesn't mean the circumstances for YOU are good.

As someone mentioned before, it's good to have a 20% down payment. That's a LOT of money. My guess is you don't have that kind of cash sitting around just yet! The other issue is that homes are damned expensive where you live (from what I'm reading).

If you're really serious about wanting your uncle to get off your back about this, I suggest sitting down and working out all the numbers: what you're paying per month in rent right now, what you'd probably end up paying per month in a mortgage, etc. The thing to keep in mind is that for the first several years, almost all of your payments are going towards the INTEREST, not the principle. It doesn't become financially beneficial to own unless you a) stay for a number of years, and b) sell when the market is up enough to make up for the additional money you paid. Here's a great calculator you can use to crunch the numbers: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/business/2007_BUYRENT_GRAPHIC.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

And here's a great article full of arguments you can use to convince your uncle with: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/07/16/renting-vs-buying-the-realities-of-home-buying/



All that being said, it sucks that your family isn't more supportive of what you want for your life. They should be DAMN proud of you, because you're doing great.
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From:lenadances
Date:January 25th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
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First things first: you're doing better than I was doing at 26, so ROCK ON. You've got a real job, no debt, savings, and you have many, many friends. This is AWESOME. Twenty-six was when I first started living within my means because the only credit card I'd ever had dumped me for sucking so badly, even though I was doing my best to pay it off. I had to have my parents pay for my plane ticket home for Christmas. This sucked! You have done much better. Congratulations! Also behold most of the people your age being in debt up to their eyeballs and beyond! You are a rarity and much to be congratulated.

That said, I totally get the not-good-enough-for-the-parents thing except mine was because my dad thought I was too fat and everything I did was never good enough because I wasn't fit to show in public. Seriously, the man didn't keep a picture of me in his wallet until I dropped weight a few years back, and then he made this big deal out of how he could show people my picture now. There are NO WORDS for how much this pissed me off. So... welcome to the latter half of your twenties, babe; they will be spent finding a balance in the relationship with the older generation of family. The process sucks. I have faith that you will figure it out, even though you've got it worse than most because of the culture-clash generational divide. ::hugs::

Also, socially incompetent? When you have so many friends that I completely lost track of who you were going to see NOW on the awesome-travels-of-Sunil posts? Bah. It may seem like that due to a lack of dating, but take confidence in the fact that you get along well with a great many people and thus the likelihood that you'll get along well with interesting girls is high. In my experience making friends is pretty much the same thing as dating, only there is making out involved with the dating. So whatever on that. You are GREAT, yes?

I'll back up the calculators mentioned above with this one, which has the added benefit of comparing what your home-as-an-investment would do against an INVESTMENT-as-an-investment. Granted, in the current economy, investments are not great, and the coming recession will probably suck for all of that. If you do invest, don't invest in, like, banks. Bank of America just had its profit fall 95% this quarter. BANKS BAD.

Everything I've seen says that housing is going to keep falling until 2010, and I have no idea if those guys accounted for the continuing mortgage resets that'll still be happening through early 2009, or the option-adjustable mortgages that'll start resetting in 2010 and really go ape in 2011. A lot of people that don't have any equity are just giving up and sending the keys back to the bank. We don't frankly plan to buy anything until 2011, maybe 2012.

I tend to deal with pushy relatives (mostly my dad) by overwhelming them with data. This makes it look like I know what I'm talking about and also makes Dad back off until he can process the data. Anyway, if he knows the housing market, talk about the economy instead. It's tanking and will very likely continue to tank for a few years; right now your savings are probably best looked at as an emergency account, rather than a down-payment sort of thing. Emergencies may well happen.

And now I have to go be quiet for a while because I think I used up all my words for the day.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 26th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
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HOMG IT IS YOU, QUEEN OF THE LONG COMMENTS.

Also behold most of the people your age being in debt up to their eyeballs and beyond! You are a rarity and much to be congratulated.
Meh. My parents paid for college, so I was lucky.

Seriously, the man didn't keep a picture of me in his wallet until I dropped weight a few years back, and then he made this big deal out of how he could show people my picture now. There are NO WORDS for how much this pissed me off.
Eww. Not cool! Well, you look good now, for what it's worth.

So... welcome to the latter half of your twenties, babe; they will be spent finding a balance in the relationship with the older generation of family. The process sucks. I have faith that you will figure it out, even though you've got it worse than most because of the culture-clash generational divide. ::hugs::
*hugs*

It may seem like that due to a lack of dating, but take confidence in the fact that you get along well with a great many people and thus the likelihood that you'll get along well with interesting girls is high.
Yeah, but I have no idea how to say hello.

In my experience making friends is pretty much the same thing as dating, only there is making out involved with the dating. So whatever on that.
Ooh, making out. Yes.

If you do invest, don't invest in, like, banks. Bank of America just had its profit fall 95% this quarter. BANKS BAD.
Noted!

We don't frankly plan to buy anything until 2011, maybe 2012.
Yowch. That's a long time to wait.

Anyway, if he knows the housing market, talk about the economy instead. It's tanking and will very likely continue to tank for a few years; right now your savings are probably best looked at as an emergency account, rather than a down-payment sort of thing. Emergencies may well happen.
Yeah, I kind of like having a large safety blanket. It's what got me through my year of unemployment.

And now I have to go be quiet for a while because I think I used up all my words for the day.
I appreciate your taking the time, thank you! (Now answer your e-mail!)
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From:filmtx
Date:January 26th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry about the family pressures. Just remember, it's your life to live, not theirs. Do what makes you happy.

BTW, $400K for a condo? Are you fucking serious? I could live in River Oaks for that! Okay, maybe not River Oaks, but West U. Just saying.
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From:glasseseater
Date:January 26th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
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I've definitely noticed that you seem more happy/less sad recently. More content, maybe?

Some people think what makes them happy is the only possibly thing that could make anyone happy, so if you are in a situation that would make them unhappy, they're going to assume that you are unhappy, regardless of any sign otherwise. That doesn't make it any less annoying the octodecillionth time your uncle tells you to buy a house, but instead of feeling like it's a personal attack on you, you can take it as his toddler-like inability to understand other people have different feelings sometimes, and then you know, jangle your keys at him.

ps, my grandmother has been dead over five years now and last week she visited me in my dream to tell me I wasn't doing enough around the house or spending enough time with her. IT NEVER ENDS.
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From:idreamofpeace
Date:January 26th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry about the whole family mess.

I'm glad you're happy, though. That's important.

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