Random Blog A Musing Farf: June 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Ever since I was a child, I have hated numbers. Math is confusing and scary to me. Financial agreements and anything that smacks of Wall Street bores me. I have never rolled over a 401(k), have no clue what is in my Roth IRA (which some ex-boyfriend made me set up years ago) and can not even tell you with any precision how much I make, except that it is less than the amount of my American Express bill every month. On the other hand, I am finally forced to admit that my self-imposed ignorance of anything financial is a hindrance.

Husband and I are taking the leap into adulthood and buying a home. I pictured the process akin to renting: We would follow a broker around NYC and looks at apartments until we found one we liked. Then we would tell them we wanted it, have our excellent credit confirmed and viola! Apartment would be ours. It turns out that is not even close to true.

Let’s start with the fact that we are picky. I refuse to live anywhere but the Upper West Side of NYC and, although that includes the up and coming Morningside Heights neighborhood, I will not move above 106th Street and, if above 97th Street, I refuse to be east of Amsterdam Avenue. Oh, I also will not live below Columbus Circle and if south of 65th Street, I won’t live west of Broadway. So pretty much I am restricted to one of the priciest sections of Manhattan. Plus, now that Sister is on the West side, I am not moving far from her.

Now that we nailed down a location, the apartment must have a minimum of two decent sized bedrooms. Husband and I want to have children soon and it would be ridiculous to have an apartment that we outgrew as soon as a baby was born. (Note: I am not into co-sleeping since even Husband takes up more room in the bed than I willingly will part with and I also refuse to live like so many other NYC families where the living room couch becomes the marital bed. In the words of Husband – NFW!)

So, we search high and low (well as high as 106th Street and as low as 66th Street) and see one place that could work, but will not allow dogs (Tiki is a non-negotiable part of the package) and then we find it. An adorable apartment in a well maintained building on 106th and Broadway. Near the subway, restaurants, bagels and Riverside Park. Two blocks from a dog run. Bright, quiet and full of pre-war details like a 66 foot hallway with exposed brick. The only thing it was missing was outdoor space but we already had conceded that we would not afford an apartment with a private garden again and really, who needs outdoor space when three different parks are within 100 yards of the front door?

And so much space! I can envision making this place home.

Now, for the financials and the part where I get confused and lost. The apartment badly need renovations. It needs a new kitchen and bathroom and the maid’s room is really just wasted space. I would knock down the walls from the bathroom to the kitchen, enlarge the bathroom and build in a laundry cabinet for a washer/dryer and turn the kitchen into a real chef’s kitchen with an island to make it eat it. And the paint needs to be stripped and the floors polished and sanded. So we are talking serious money.

So, Husband comes up with a brilliant plan. We put 10% down (we have been saving diligently for years for this moment!), withdraw a bit from our 401(k) and take out a mortgage to cover the rest of the cost of the apartment as well as the cost of any renovations. We figure we would offer about $100K under ask since real estate prices are falling.

Well, it turns out that prices are falling everywhere but NYC, where they have been steadily rising. And, except for new developments (which are priced so high as to be offensive), you are pretty much stuck with coops and all the crap that entails. Like an obligation to put down 20-25%. Who has that kind of cash lying around???? And, you can’t take out a home equity loan because in a coop, you don’t really own your apartment, you own stock in the corporation that is your building and your share entitles you to live there…or something. So we can’t finance the renovations through the mortgage and we need more money than we can dream of for a down payment. Oh, and the last apartment sold in the building went for above asking price!

I spoke to the mortgage broker and ended up listening to her talk about options for 20 minutes, none of which made any sense to me. All I could see was my little dream apartment slipping away. I finally told her I did not understand what she was talking about and (politely) said that I could not summon the energy to deal with it anymore. Head safely back in the sand, I went home and cracked open a couple bottles of wine in which to drown my sorrows and forget that I did not know the answers to questions like “How much does Husband make per year?” and “Do you own any stocks?”

Grrr. Forays into adulthood suck.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I am touched. Honored really. Wuzi and D asked me to officiate their wedding. I was nervous at first since I am not actually registered as a wedding officiate in NYC, but it turns out to be surprisingly easy. You just use the internet (hmmm, I knew there had to be more to this thing than blogging a porn!) and become an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. That’s free and then for an additional $24.99 they send you all the paperwork you need to go to city hall and become an official officiate. So now, I am officially “The Reverend Farf.” I may have to atone for this on Yom Kippur.

Now that the registering process is underway, I am even more nervous. I love Wuzi and Dave. I love them individually and as a couple. And I want to help make their wedding perfect. They are writing their own vows and having a secular service, so I don’t have to worry about the whole “in sickness and in health” thing and nobody will force me to read a passage about Jesus, which might make me uncomfortable. But, I want to do something they will remember (in a good way – not a “can you believe she said that????” kind of way).

So, I put it to you. Has anyone out there ever officiated a wedding of your friends? I would love to know how you did it and what kinds of elements you incorporated.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Sister is moving to the Upper West Side and I could not be more excited. She is going to be living two blocks from Husband and me and that means I will get to see her all the time and hopefully, convince her to join the same gym as me so I will actually be motivated to go occasionally.

Husband is also fully in support of this move as he will now have a date for all locally playing scary movies, a genre of film I refuse to patronize. (Seriously, why pay $10 to ensure a week’s worth of insomnia and nightmares???) Plus, since Sister has a doorman, we can now use her to get packages delivered. It’s a win-win situation.

And of course, there is the easy access for dinners, brunch and general hanging out. She is moving in on June 22nd and I am already planning our first local brunch on the 24th! Yippee.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I spent a few days last week in DC at a conference. It was weird to be back in a place I had lived for so many years (1993-2001) and yet did not miss when I left. So much has changed. DC is more gentrified, hipper (by yuppie standards) and so much more bland than I remembered it. Gone are the small African cafes where the staff made fried plantains for my boyfriend’s daughter’s first grade class because she told them she was studying Trinidad in school - instead there is a slick and wanna-be hip, but really kind of generic Latin-Asian fusion restaurant with mediocre food and expensive drinks.

And yet for all this gentrification, I was still informed that I could not walk the 6 blocks from dinner back to the hotel at 10pm because the area was “dangerous.”

I am so happy to not live there anymore.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


One day I hope to have lots of foster children. It breaks my heart to read about people who, for whatever reason, basically throw away their children. Every time I read a story about a person who injured and/or neglected their child, my blood boils and I want to reach out and hug the poor kid, who no fault of his/her own, got a really raw deal.

I am not really in a position right now to have a foster child. My apartment is too small, my work hours too insane and my social life too important to me. But, despite all these factors, Husband and I have decided to become foster parents of a different sort.

Meet Cody.

Cody is about 18 months old and comes from upstate New York. His previous owners surrendered him to a shelter where he was adopted out to a family with a handicapped child. This family clearly knew nothing about Shiba Inus and allowed their handicapped child to walk Cody on a leash by herself. Cody saw another dog, pulled on the leash and was returned to the shelter as “dog aggressive.” He was scheduled to be put to sleep (PTS) within a few days. NYC Shiba Rescue was contacted and since there was nowhere else for Cody to go, Husband, Tiki and I welcomed a new member into our pack/family.

I was really nervous about how Cody would do. Dog Aggression can be serious and I had no idea what was in store. However, it has been an amazing few days. However, this is not a dog aggressive dog!

Tiki and Cody took to each other immediately.

They wrestled, played and napped together. They went on walks together. Not only was Cody not dog aggressive, he was sweet, submissive and fearless. He is willing to share food and toys (which makes him better behaved than Tiki) and explores everywhere. The hardest part of walking him is that he tries to kiss every person and dog that he sees. Do I believe he pulled on a leash to get to another dog? Sure. Do I believe there was any aggression in that act? Not a chance. Oh, and maybe the adoptive parents should have tried this, but Cody will “heel” when asked. Hard to pull a leash when you are walking in step with the leash-holder.

Cody loves to snuggle. He kisses us constantly.

Cody was clearly once well-loved. He has the best recall of any dog I have seen in a long time, knows his name, has a perfect sit, down, roll over, shake and can catch treats and toys in the air. He won’t come up on furniture unless invited. He will “drop it” or “leave it” as you command. Anything to please. Oh, and he is completely gentle with the children who live upstairs.

I have no idea what happened that made someone give up this sweet and loving soul. I don’t know how you can look in Cody’s eyes and live with yourself after letting him down. And yet someone did.

But we can’t foster forever. As much as we would love to, our landlord is not so keen on the idea. And Cody does have some separation anxiety (really, who wouldn’t after twice thinking you found your forever home only to end up back at a shelter on death-row) so he wouldn’t be happy with Husband and my unpredictable work schedules, something Tiki handles in stride.

But I am invested. So if you are interested in being that person who won’t let Cody down, head to NYCShibaRescue.org and fill out an application to adopt him. I will have a hard time letting go, but it will be a lot easier if I know he will really has found his forever home this time.