Winter Magic

Winter Magic
"Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall." ~ Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Offer #3: Cold Feet

The third offer came on Christmas Eve.  Well, not exactly.

The offer we finally accepted came on Christmas Eve.  The days prior to that are a bit blurry, but it included a string of email and text arguments between me and my ex.  The arguments went back to the issue we had with the first offer, my ex wanting me to pay  him $5,000 to accept an offer.

This time my ex had "leverage" over me. He knew that I had a contingency offer on a house and that unless I was willing to start over on a new house, I needed to get back into escrow quick.  So, he pushed harder this time.  I ended up offering him a compromise: when the loan was funded I would pay him $1250 cash out of my proceeds.

It was Christmas Eve; I was feeling generous.

This offer was short lived.  When the buyers got back the inspection report they countered us to repair EVERYTHING on the list.  Our house was built in 1990, it is not a new house, very well taken care of, but not new.  They were first time buyers and they really believed that we HAD to repair everything on the list.  Their agent tried to explain to them that the inspection report is more for them to know what maintenance issues they may need to deal with, and for the sellers to make any safety or legal repairs.  We offered to do some minor repairs and all safety related repairs.  We also offered them $1000 towards any repairs they wanted to do.

They decided to walk away.

And so, on January 8th we had fallen out of escrow again...

But, my house was still waiting for me; the seller had agreed to keep waiting for me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Offer #2: Things Fall Apart...

Things Fall Apart...

We didn't have the painful negotiations we had the first time for the second offer.  Since it was for the same amount as the first offer, where my ex had already agreed that I didn't "need" to pay him the $5,000, I made it clear to him that we would not be going down that route again.

I had also placed an offer on a home I wanted... a contingency offer based on the sale of my home. I was waiting to hear if my offer had been accepted...

All seemed good.  Conventional loan, 20% down, appraisal came back at value, inspection went well... and then there was a pause.  Everything just stopped.  Our agent was having difficulty reaching their agent.

Then, on the morning of November 4th, I get the phone call. I'm at work.  My offer was accepted.  I'm elated - I can't believe it.  The seller was willing to accept my contingency offer.  I'm walking on air.

Then, an hour later, my phone rings again.  It is my agent.  I hear what she is saying, but I don't really understand.  I make her repeat it.  "The buyer of your house is pulling out of escrow."

What? Why? How?  How could this be happening again?

I want to scream, I want to be mad, but I can't... The buyer and her agent are related, mother and daughter.  The agents son, the buyers brother, had attempted suicide.  The reason why they couldn't be reached is because they'd been at the hospital with him... then things made a turn for the worse and he didn't make it.

November 4th, 2013.

I call my parents to tell them.  My mom answers.  She's upset.  She's crying.  Before I mention the house I ask her what is wrong.

Grandma.  She's been in hospice for over three months at my parent's house.

 My grandma.  My mom's mother.  They are moving her out of hospice.  They are giving her just a few more days and my mom doesn't want it to happen there. I don't say anything about the house.

My dad calls back when he realizes it was the middle of a work day (I never call anyone between the hours of 8am - 3pm) and I must have had a reason to call.  I tell him the news about the house.  He asks if that means that I'm losing the house I made an offer on.  I don't know at this point.

It is a Monday and almost lunch time.  I leave school.  I can't be there.  I'm too emotional about everything.  My agent is calling me to give me updates on the house.  My dad is calling me to give me updates about grandma.

I need comfort food, but I can't go to my mom.  I drive to El Farolito in Placentia.  I order their carnitas special and a Cadillac margarita. I'm not crying any more.  I try to ignore my phone.  I smile briefly when my agent sends me a message saying that the seller of the house I made an offer on is willing to keep it off the market for two weeks.  I have two weeks to find another buyer for my house.

I go to pick up baby bug.  I hug her tighter than usual.  We go home and I make her dinner.  We are sitting at the table talking when my phone rings again.  It is my dad.  Grandma didn't make it the three days the doctor gave,  less than three hours after arriving at the nursing home she passed.  My mom was in the room with her.  Baby bug asks me why I am crying.  I tell her great-grandma is gone.  She hugs me back, she tells me she doesn't want me to cry and she tells me she loves me.  I know she doesn't understand.  I embrace her and don't let go for a very long time.  She accepts this.  I am thankful she is there with me and I don't have to sleep alone that night.

November 4th, 2013

I take a week off of work.  I go back feeling a little broken, but life goes on.

Not mentally ready for round three...

Offer #1: Our first attempt at negotiation...

Offer #1:  Five thousand below our asking price and to me this is a no brainer:  Conventional loan, 20% down,  Let's do it!

My ex insists we counter, but adds a caveat. He tells me that he wants me to pay him $5,000 to accept the offer.

He had never mentioned this to me before - I was shocked.

His reasoning behind this is that when we bought our house his grandfather gifted us $10,000 to purchase the home, and he wanted me to pay him half of that back before he would sign anything.  My response is that when we sell the house and he gets his equity, then he will get his grandfather's money back.  I also told him that if he really wanted the money, he should have brought it up with the mediator when we were working on the judgment.  I also reminded him that his grandfather wrote the $10,000 check in MY name, so if he wants to get technical, he actually owes me money (which is why he didn't bring it up with the mediator).

We fight about this for three days.  We fight a lot.  I'm reminded of why I finally got the courage to leave.

Just as I'm about to give in, he agrees to counter and says that if they accept our counter he will drop it.

They accept our counter.

We go into escrow... and a week later fall out of escrow... buyers girlfriend lost her job and he doesn't want the financial commitment...

Time for round two...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Post-Divorce Anxiety

I step out of the shower and pat myself dry with a towel, my back still bumpy and itchy from the allergic reaction I had to new laundry soap earlier in the week.  I reach to scratch and then stop myself, picking up the lotion instead.  I look in the mirror, towel wrapped around me held up with one hand, I see only a blur so I crack open the bathroom door to let out the moisture and steam.  Then I peak out and I see his reflection in the TV.  The game is on, ULCA v. USC basketball.  I suddenly want him to put the lotion on my back, I almost walk out to ask him, but I stop myself.

In my moment of hesitation thoughts race through my mind... he's watching the game, maybe I shouldn't interrupt... the lotion smells like vanilla, maybe he won't want to smell like that...we don't have time to fool around, maybe this would tease back is bumpy and red, maybe it will bother him...It really would be nice, but the game is on...maybe I should just do it myself.

I take a deep breath, I remind myself that this is someone new.  I tell myself I'm being silly, I'm over thinking, I just need to ask.  So, I open the door and walk out into the hall, towel held up by one hand Vanilla Lace lotion in the other, and I ask him if he can please do me a favor and rub some lotion on my back.

He jumps up from the couch and is following me into the bedroom as I hear him say "I'd love to".   I relax.  I enjoy every second of his hands on my back, the lotion taking the itch away.  And when he is done, he hands the lotion back to me, looks me in the eyes, and asks me why I asked him like that.  "What do you mean" I ask.  He says that I asked him like I was afraid he'd say no, like he was doing me a big favor or something. He hugs me and tells me that he loves doing little things like that for me, and in no way should I consider it a favor.

I realize at that moment that I'm more damaged than I thought. There is anxiety and fear inside of me that I can't hide.  He saw it.

And I am okay with that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

No more "we", no more common goal...

When I filed for divorce there were two things that I knew were going to be the biggest "issues" to deal with.  The first was babybug, the second was our house.  Turns out that custody issues have been much easier to deal with than financial issues.  The house has become a pawn- an emotional and financial pawn that can't just be walked away from.

My ex has a condo that is "pre-marital" property, so it was pretty clear that he would be moving in to his condo, which also put him only five minutes away from his work, and that I would be staying in the "marital home".  We agreed quickly that the best thing to do would be to sell the house.  I would live in it while it was on the market, but since we have equity in the house selling it made the most sense. I knew I would want to buy a place right away, something closer to my work and smaller for just me and babybug.  These decisions were easy to come to, they were obvious to both of us and easy to make.

But then it got complicated.

How much do we put it on the market for?  He wanted an amount much higher than what our Real Estate agent recommended.  We fancied him for a month, then once it was clear that no one was going to give an offer near that price, we adjusted the listing price.

  If I'm living in the house and my ex is not, how much should he pay towards the house payment?  Thankfully our mediator had an answer for us that allows me to stay in the house without having to pay the entire payment and allows him to pay a portion of the payment to keep his equity in the house.

Once we get an offer, how do we agree on negotiations?  This is where the problems began.

This is the point at which I realized that my ex viewed the house as a pawn, as a way to get to me, as a way to prove that he still had power over me.   And the thing is he does.
I want to move.
I want to buy a new house.
I've actually found the house I want.
He doesn't care about any of that.  He doesn't care if the house sells today or in six months.  He does not need his equity now, so he has no real motivation to sell.  Not only that, but when we do sell he will lose that connection to me, he will lose that power, so he is making things very difficult.  It is amazing to me that the law allows him to do this, but according to my lawyer and the all-knowing "Google" there is nothing I can do.

The thing is, we have to agree on the selling price.  We have to agree on what to counter, what to fix in the repair request, and all of the other details.  We both have to sign everything.  Except that "we" are no longer "we"... there is no common goal anymore.  I take that back, the only common goal we have now is raising our daughter, and to my ex, babybug does not figure in to the picture when the house is discussed.

It is six months later and our house is still on the market.  We've been in escrow three times, and each one has fallen out of escrow due to different reasons.  I've put an offer on a house - the same house - twice and have had to fall out of escrow due to our house not selling.  And then today... today we get two more offers on our house... and the house I want to buy is still available... so I will write about all of this later.  Now, I want to summarize the last six months, and I will try my best to leave out the mundane.

I've been working on this post for over a month now... and I've realized that I can't summarize without bringing in the mundane, without complaining, without getting angry.  So, for now I will stop here.  I have Five more stories to tell with regards to the house... I will tell them one at a time.  But not today.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thanksgiving...Then...and Now...

Thanksgiving 2012 we did our usual rotation, so for 2012 that meant Thanksgiving Day with the in-laws and then a second Thanksgiving celebration the following Saturday at my parents house.  The year before it was reverse...2013 would be reverse... regardless of the divorce.

Thanksgiving 2012, Saturday morning we are getting ready to head to Temecula for our second Thanksgiving feast.  As I am getting Samantha ready DS says he isn't feeling well.  He is coughing a bit, but isn't running a fever and seems to otherwise be fine.  Nonetheless, he says he doesn't feel like making the 45 minute trek down to Temecula.  So, Samantha and I go without him.

The tradition is to spend the night at my parents' home and the next day go to the Christmas tree farm to cut down our tree.  My dad and brother help with this, and then everyone comes back to our house to set up the tree, decorate, and eat dinner.  I called DS to see if he wanted to meet us at the tree farm, he declined and said he would see us when we got home.

So me, my mom, my dad, my brother, and Babybug pick out the perfect tree, cut it down, and bring it back to the house.  DS comes downstairs to say hello, but basically hides out in his computer room until my family leaves.  It feels odd.  I keep telling myself that he is just sick and that there is nothing really wrong.  He isn't feeling well and doesn't want company.

What I learn later is that he does not like being around my family.  He says my dad is too "hands on" and "loud", my mom "irritates" him, and he doesn't understand my brother (my brother is a whole other issue).  I think about it and realize that in the entire time we we've been married, he never once went with me to visit my grandma in the nursing home.  I would try to take Babybug once a month, and even on her birthday he declined and said he'd rather stay home.  When family would visit, like my dad's brother, he would come downstairs, say hello, and then retreat back to his computer.

He wasn't like this when we met.  I don't know why he became anti-social.  I don't know when the computer became more important than family.  I just know it did.  It isn't because I didn't ask.  He just didn't have an answer for me. However, I know that there is more to it... I just don't know what.  I suggested counseling...  he refused.

So, Thanksgiving 2013 we continue the rotation, except this year we are divorced, so it is just me and Babybug at my parents.  And in the middle of dinner my dad and mom look up at me, and I can't remember who said it, but one of them said "this is just like last year".  I had forgotten that DS wasn't with us last year.
All smiles - Thanksgiving 2013

The first question people ask me about the divorce is "how is Babybug handling it".  The thing is, there isn't a whole lot for her to "handle".  We'd already started living separate lives almost two years before the divorce happened.  It wasn't a strategic move, it just happened.   Slowly. it. just. happened.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Day

It is Christmas Day and I'm sitting here at my friends house alone. I don't think I've ever had "alone" time on Christmas before.  I dropped Babybug off at her daddy's around noon, and now I have a few hours alone before I get to have dinner with a very good friend and her son.

Other than the fact that Babybug is not sitting here with me now, it was a pretty much perfect Christmas.

I will admit that one of my biggest fears about divorce was how it would change the holidays.  I love this time of year...starting with Halloween and ending with New Years, it is by far my favorite season.  What I learned this year is that although things have changed, in the end they are still the same.  I didn't miss out on anything with Babybug, we shared all of the same holiday experiences we had in the past and, to be honest, she got to spend more time with her dad than ever before.  I think for her it was a huge benefit.

New bike!
I was dreading the noon drop-off with her dad, but when it happened the anxiety I had dissipated.  She got to open her big Santa gift with both of us there - a pink Hello Kitty balance bike - and she loved sharing that experience with both of us.  My ex and I agreed that we would always share the cost of her big Santa gift and have her open it with both of us there; I was worried it would not go well, but with both of us focusing on Babybugs happiness we were able to put our differences aside and give her an amazing Christmas.
Presents at Daddys 

Not wanting to go home to an empty house, I was lucky enough to have a good friend invite me to dinner with her and her son.  We made amazing prime rib and had a fabulous Christmas dinner. No tears. No sadness. No anxiety.  None of the things I had worried about.  It was exactly what I needed.

Merry Christmas!