Tag Archives: American Dream

Millennials, Strive for that Perfect Selfie because You will Never get out of Debt and You Will Never own Your Own Home Responsibly

“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”
― Guy DebordThe Society of the Spectacle

“The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.”
― Guy DebordThe Society of the Spectacle

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The headline you just read is what I think to myself when I realize I shouldn’t spend money and should save for my future interests, especially when my contemporaries scroll social media and see how others are living large and in charge and strive to be just like them.

(Firstly, social media is an affirmation to spend more money, and waste more time.  Do you have it in you?)

I am pretty sure the people around me are concerned about my one point of obsession, my now goal: paying off all of my debt. My motivation being: Because I am a slave to debtors, credit card companies own me, my student loans own me, I really don’t exist freely…  What keeps me going in this direction:  Good reasons.

Good reasons:  Some day I will own my own house, responsibly–not through some insane mortgage.  Some day I will be out of debt, entirely: zero debt.  Some day I won’t have to work every day to pay my bills, no worries.  I will retire with dignity.  And again, those around me will benefit from my now goals, from my relatively insane efforts, from sacrifices I make.

These sacrifices are easier than the alternative for me, of living in debt for the rest of my life, chipping away at what I one minimum payment, all that high interest at a time.  That is stupid.  That is something that could use distractions!

It’s hard and easy for me to imagine that there is a world out there stranded glaring into their phones at millions of other people acting out their fantasies–Millennials et al., taking photos, images of a luxury lifestyle that is nothing more than made up. IT DOES NOT EXIST.

Imagine if we could get paid for that time spent glaring at other people’s dreams… We’d all be as rich as Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Buffet, Steve Jobs, or Donald Trump.

I really shouldn’t care about the setting or the background or how long it took for another person to get that perfect photo, the perfect selfie, and all those likes, although it worries me. I care, imagine.  That is my philanthropy for the day: caring.

(Your debt is that train in the “perfect selfie” video above, maybe doing the same to you as you read.  Stay off of those tracks that lead you, or the future you, into imminent danger.)

The first thing I think about when I see pictures of people doing AMAZING things is, how much debt does that person actually have, credit cards, student loans, etc.? I know, it’s none of my business, but for science…  Then I wonder, does all that debt add up to contrived happiness, the happiness in that picture, imagines on a screen, unfocused a distracted ephemera of fleeting feeling… Does it come from that?

(A hobby of imagining your existence is entirely different from what it is?  Doing this doesn’t cause change, it avoids it.)

And we compare ourselves to those counterfeit images, those freewheeling fantasies, those nice narrative and salacious story lines… Am I as good as that other person’s selfie?  No, no, I am not… Should I be spending more money, should I be buying into this false pretense?  Do I give a shit?

Then I vanish from social media and that apathetic society that we all pay to join in some way or another. I vanish because we all should and walk back into the deep woods to find our inner animal selves, or into a deep sleep.  Beasts called gentlemen in suits and ties pretending to be anything other than ourselves.

(When we die our Facebook us’s keep on living.  Is that me?  For example, my father died four years ago in June and he unfriended me on Facebook a couple of years after that.  He is virtually still alive, however he is physically dead.  I don’t know if he sleeps anymore.  I cannot visit his grave because my reality does not understand this sort of paradox.  Social media creates dead and living zombies right now.  Imagine.)

So, yes, back to the beginning, you will never get out of debt or own your own home, responsibly–without insane lenders and bad deals, if you keep this up.  That is what I tell myself and then avoiding those distractions becomes very easy for me. You as in me.

Forget your likes, upvotes, retweets, highlights from whatever years ago, virtual memories, Facebook lives, and other people’s selfies, they evoke no artistic value whatsoever (or maybe they do: this mini-essay tho.).  Think about what you owe that credit card company, what you owe in student loans? Try to smile now, make that art, Picasso. Get that photo sing.  Real good job.  Create those American Dreams.

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If you want the impossible, you’ll have to do the impossible

If you want the impossible, you’ll have to do the impossible to get it.  Not sit around and diddle, or sit around and post on social media.  Limit these distractions.  Limit all news but the weather.  You don’t need prescription pill commercials nor paid for ideas.  Every day is another day to make it right individually, to attain everything that you want or need in YOUR LIFE.  Sitting here at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, every Saturday, I teach English abroad to make my impossible possible.  I am a dad, human, American.  I have obligations.  There is no questions about it.  I want the impossible.  And the only way to get it is to be realistic, and do the impossible.  If you want something hard work is the key, that shouldn’t be impossible.

Financial Freedom as I Walk Through My Neighbor’s House 

I walked through my neighbor’s house today looking for flaws and thinking how I would never buy this place, ever. It’s too small and I like unfinished basements.  I went house-shopping today but did not buy. Instead, of buying the American Dream I take a step back and try to get out of our American Nightmare first: credit card and student debt.  I walk through my neighbor’s house and I know I should have started earlier, as most millennials. But unlike the aforementioned group–my “tribe”, I protest that and focus on financial freedom.  I have no time for distractions, I know I’m funding some bank exec’s beach.  Also, wait til the housing market crashes again. 

How everyone is making a killing off of Millennials in the 2017 housing market, here is my plight

housing market - screen shot.jpg

A screenshot of the 2017 housing market, Twin Cities, MN. 

Twin Cities, MN —In recent weeks, through home searches, online and afoot, as a Millennial, I have become obsessed and mentally defeated by the prospect of buying a house to call my home.

My seemingly novel never-to-end socioeconomical crusade has taken place in a seething market that has been nothing short of aggressively “seller’s”, as those in the know dub it, and one that might be the figurative death of me financially.  And the wheels keep turning, the lights don’t go off at keep looking.

From my semi-consummate home search I have learned a number of very important things for those searching. Mostly that it is a difficult task buying a house in this market, in this year, 2017.  Yet I have no other reference.  And two, perhaps, that everyone is making money off of Millennials in this housing market, a lot of money.

And here in my own wordy words–which I hope are unbiased and as objective as possible–from a post-modern interpretation, which may not be possible–I offer you something of my experience.  I hope this helps inspire you and build your confidence in your endeavors, if not simply to allot an entity of an easy target for you to blame your failed searches on.

Let’s jump right in, when searching for a house in the Twin Cities one will notice that houses leave the market shortly after they are put on the market. (So, be prepared.  Get pre-approved, because if you are only pre-qualified your offer means dick and you have no edge.)  These home listings are a magic trick in reality; in the best locations performed, a home that you love in your price range is gone!  Abracadabra!  Search the same home listing you descried yesterday and the once “for sale” designation will be in “active contingent”.  Strike one, bummer dude…

This means your prospect home is off the market fast, post-haste, nowish, and it is no longer for sale to you. Feels good, don’t it?  Most times, in 24 hours your new home will morph into someone with money’s home.  Better up the price on your range, boss, or search a new area entirely.

If your ideal search area is anywhere near a nice neighborhood in the Twin Cities, or in proximity to efficient transit (say, the Green Line, a decent/good bus route) there is no hope. Your home search might commence like JFK’s secret service in Dallas, the opposite of well.  Rental agency want your ideal and your cash, and they have amassed money.  It’s called dollar bills and they are on fire in their trousers for something you like.  Because there are thousands out there like you ready to pay high rents and not buy especially in the metro area.  Good deal!

That seems like round one for my home search.  And obvious after the fact.  All that, and I still put my feet on the ground and went.  I started to notice that realtors were driving the prices by saying in effect that you must get on the train ere it is leaving the station, once it get’s moving you won’t get on. Juicing seems right, sort of emotional about it. Still it went, nothing short of impossible, in a bubble, as MPR has suggested.  And now realizing that the ones that get OK’d by FHA cost more, they must be decent!  Never in a good area.

I will say this, from seeing it firsthand, one of the main reasons the prices of homes are driven up is because of those in control of the market, the ones with the documents nd the keys to show the listings.  These are the people behind the curtains twisting the levers.  FHA restrictions, thorough inspections, the flood of those looking to buy, these are great sales pitches for price increases.  I want in.  Of course location, quality, and size are also important, but that is a side note from the real estate industry marketing.

Throw in pre-closing costs, underwriting costs, appraisals costs, closing costs,and you have an industry that depends on these houses moving and to the highest bidder.  I write for free, mostly, this underwriting mortgages sounds nice!  To give you a feel, I have spent $2500 so far and I don’t have a house, and I borrowed money for a down payment, and nothing is certain until it is.

To me, the whole housing market scheme is to make money, naturally.  That is no surprise.  But how aggressive.  And the higher the price, the higher all will make in the end.  Let’s not forget, we must pay the realtor for finding the house and pay his buddies to tell you whatnot about the property.  They don’t just want to hang out with us in a strangers home.  Everyone get’s a cut; the higher the price of the house, the better for those involved save the ambitious buyers.

The other reason that houses in the Twin Cities are so expensive and going so fast is surely because the market is flooded with property management companies looking to buy houses cheap, with their vested agencies and commanding authority, and turn them into ad hoc rentals.  Also, to note, flippers are prevalent too.  Renting makes money.  Flipping might make money.  And the renters pay the the owner’s equity unawares.  it could be yours.  And perhaps flippers do cheap obvious work, shoddy.

Not only does buying property for rentals drown out first time homebuyers looking for an inexpensive starter home, it can lead to devaluation of the community, surrounding properties, and areas in which they are in, that’s redundant of me.  But you get the point, it’s an opinion.  Try living next to a rental home; you never know who your neighbors will be next year, every year.  I might be a good neighbor who likes to trim his grass weekly, or I might not.  Maybe I like to party and you like to go to sleep at 7 PM on the weekends because you are tired.  We live next door.  I don’t care… etc. 

All that said, we live in a capitalistic society where sleeping and partying and property management and home ownership are real… I think of French in The Departed, “… This is America, make more money, if you don’t make money you’re a douche bag…”  I am not complaining, I am just letting you know what I have seen.  That’s it, everyone is out there to make money.  Millennials are getting killed in the market by Generation X and Baby boomers and foreigners with money, and by everyone else too.

There is still hope though.  Apparently winning and getting a house in this market really depends on picking an area that will be good in the future, not picking in a good area now.  Grow a vision.  Get your brain to work better.  Become a psychic.  Things change, areas get better.  I was told about Grand Ave. in St Paul.  Imagine it ten years ago.  It wasn’t like it is today.  Beautiful.  So maybe North Minneapolis, far North, will be good in ten years.

This motivation to switch my demanding search area preference might work out actually, though we haven’t closed on the deal yet.  I have seen some promise, less bidding and more realistic prices.  I saw inspiration for this location change in a comments section of one of the numerous “house bubble” articles I read about some crybabies being sad about the housing market because wah!

Let me preface by saying I am not sad, I am jaded.  The commentor remarked that the market wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be, and that those looking (as he dubbed, and I quote, the “white hipster dorks” of the Twin Cities) just wanted to live in unrealistic areas that were trendy and expensive right now.  They wouldn’t even think about buying in North Minneapolis or in East St Paul because they were basically scared, or craven.

I rather became obsessed with that title “white hipster dork”, it’s hilarious and exact, and this fear about living in certain areas we pervade only having merely heard stories about, legends, tales, beliefs, lies, etc., it means a lot to me having read Moby-Dick unironically twice.  I kind of put that label and its baggage on myself and thought of how I didn’t want to be motivated by fear, I am no WHD, as this great muse said.

Why not?  Things change.  Areas become safer.  Neighbors make neighborhoods.  Homes and properties gain value elsewhere.  The sun also rises in the north and in the east.  People say bad things about me and it might not be true.  Everything became so topical and relevant.  Find a house I want in size, in quality, in feel that I like and not worry about the area at first.  Not be a wimp or motivated by portent fancies.

Becoming so fed up from what I had heard about safety, about bus routes, about price and what we should have and shouldn’t–what others want for us, what we don’t want, I thought on and kept thinking.  I don’t tell you what to do, don’t tell me what to do.  Maybe I recommend boxers and you recommend briefs; I don’t want to wear the underwear you pick for me, and vice versa.

I came to the most logical conclusion that the safest place to buy a home in Minneapolis is La Crescent, MN.  The safest place to buy a home in East St Paul is Hudson, WI.  (Though, I am no good at geometry, so forgive me about the locational inadequacies.)  I wanted to know what everyone thought about the commute and how safe it was to live there, so I could pretend I cared.  I usually make decisions for myself, usually.

But I won’t move there yet.  No, but I have lived there and it is nice, La Crescent.  May retire there later on.  Most likely will move to the most northern part of North Minneapolis and become better at DIY home security.

Though, I will live in a house more our speed.  I don’t want to live in a house that is cheaply redone by flippers–the kitchens all look the same–in an area that will turn to shit later.  Same soon-to-be dated backsplash in the same small kitchen with the same cheap craftsmanship looking tacky.

I’ll take the original 1949, untouched, nothing done to, rambler style, ready to have the carpet torn out of.  It’s that old.  So I can make it my own.  Do something better than what everyone else is doing.  I don’t care about trendy.  Like buying a house in a great neighborhood today.  Accordingly, while I do the repairs, I will think of how it has come to this and blame only myself.  The other area will fail.  No one else did it for me.  These briefs do wonders for my thighs.  Go fish.

In my exact experience, FHA will require an appraisal, that costs money.  I have done two home inspections at average cost of $400 each, and one radon test, at $125, these cost money.  A lease must be resigned by June 1st, by birthday, rather resigned, this might cost money.

Moreover, if we don’t get lender approved because of a bad appraisal or because of our financial situation, we lose both our rental and the prospect home and become homeless, this probably costs money.  If it get’s approved we have to repair the paint on the house before closing date, which gives us a week, and pay an extra $100, only to have more costs incurred.

So all in all, things are looking up.  Never been happier about being where I am.  Maybe won’t rent again.  Maybe have my own place.  Those are the prospects from someone who has been diligently going after their dreams, the American dream: own a home.  I know more about how bad my math is than ever before.  I read about 28/36 and I am not sure if we qualify.  It might happen and the edge might get taken off.  Or not.  Got to go forward, right?

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Thank you for reading my piece.  Leave a comment.  I would appreciate it.  Also, thanks in advance for sharing my story.  I love writing!  TS_

 

“Who Was Vince Foster and Was He Killed? Cover-Up, Hillary Clinton (1997)”

Showing Up is More Important

Photo by Kait Ripley (amateur photographer)

Photo by Kait Ripley (amateur photographer)

When I get an assignment back with excellent marks on it, I want to cry. I feel I don’t deserve it. Though, I feel at this point in my college career I only expect to get good grades. I have always tried my best, as hard as I can, yet I feel it is not good enough, and when I receive good marks I find it unbelievable. One time I turned in something and got a D- on it. I thanked the teacher in office hours for being objective, and I deserved it—still I aced the class. When I put out shit and still turn it in as my best, I get better marks than expected, better marks than in High School (which I should have failed out of). It is as if the rule books were thrown out for something more important than just a piece of paper. I am graded, I feel, on the art of just showing up.

For the past couple of weeks, months, years I have learned something, and throughout my college career this lesson has followed me. This lesson has been that showing up is more important than being a complete genius and acing the class via a test, or a project, or great work, or ass-kissery. It means more to the class as a whole, and to every single teacher, that you are in each class every day, no matter what. There are a million and five excuses a person could use, or employ: I could say anything—I am a doctor, you are sick; my dog died, my grandma died, my dad died (which did happen); my car broke down, my cat pissed on my homework, my bike got ran over; the bus was late; I am deathly ill, but why waste everyone’s time? Why waste your time? I know better, most people should, you know better.

When one person misses class the whole class misses that one person. Not like, “oh, sad, I miss that person,” but like, “fuck that person is not here, I am aware of their void.” The class loses that interaction, the missing hand raised, the unasked tangential question, the discussion that never happened. The previous list comes from easy excuses, lazy decisions to miss that one moment, it all matters in the long run. For example, you wouldn’t ask the bartender for a beer, pay for it—tip, and then not drink your refreshing beverage, would you? So, why would you register for classes, apply financial aid, deal with advising—pay for it all, and then not go?

If you really want to get an A at any point in your life, career, schooling, just show up (my GPA is 3.627, I am not boasting, I just show up). There are a million people with a million excuses, don’t be one of them, be the other guy. Be unique. Everyone can think of a lame ass excuse, it’s second nature—humans make mistakes, but don’t. Since I quit my shit-job washing dishes, where I was verbally abused, and came to University (in hopes of acquiring dental insurance, exclusively), I made it a point that each and every teacher would see my bright smile, and remember that bright smile when grading. The many times that my peers missed class, that smile would become brighter, more emblazoned in their minds; my teachers would be forced to reckon with it. My grade would inevitably go up, no matter what. They think: Oh, yeah, I remember Terry; big bright smile, ridiculous questions, yeah, I do… I thank my classmates for skipping (really, I do), being cool, or lazy. It really helps me out. And if your professor says they don’t grade on attendance, they are fucking lying.

From my first day of college until now, I can count the seldom days I have missed class and work, and on all of these days someone had a funeral, or a sick loved one to attend to. I won’t miss a day because I don’t want a day to miss me. You want to get ahead, be the person that is always in the same spot asking the same fucking stupid questions, the one that everyone looks at with a sideways glance, disdain, be that person, be brave. Be the person that no one can understand, because when it comes down to the end of the semester someone—the teacher, will most likely remember you for that, your name, your smile, your attentiveness to detail, your question that sparked a conversation, everything, and they will know that. Be part of the community you are in, the academic community, and your grade will work itself out. True story.

Road Trip for Experience: Four Guys Drive Through Oregon