A young woman tries to get on her feet in NYC after moving to the city, then being kicked out by her boyfriend. Shot with her partner and frequent collaborator, the director made this piece after their own recent move to NYC together. While the storyline is fiction, a lot of the feelings are real. The city is beautiful and full of unique possibilities and inspirations, but it’s often isolating, more and more so as people are more reliant on technology.
We’ve all seen it: a Facebook or Instagram photo of someone we know showing off a big purchase. Sometimes we’re happy for them, sometimes we’re resentful, but one thing is usually true — we don’t know the whole story. In “How Did You Afford This”, we ask readers to let us know how they were able to afford big purchases in their lives. In this installment of the series, we are starting with one of the biggest investments any of us will ever make: home ownership.
- Location: Urban in Concord, CA (East Bay)
- Bedrooms: 4
- Bathrooms: 2
- Type of Residence: Single Residential
- Down payment percentage of home cost: 3.5% (first home), 25% (second home)
CH: How old were you when you bought/when did you buy?
SL: We bought our first townhome in Oakland, CA in June of 2011. I was 26 years old and my wife was 25.
CH: Why did you decide to buy?
SL: We bought at a downturn in the economy a few years out of college. I come from a real estate family and believe real estate is one of the best long term investments. Paying rent monthly for us was the equivalent of throwing away money and we wanted to avoid that as quickly as possible.
CH: How long did you save until you started your home search and what percentage of the value of the home was your down payment? If you have a partner, did you split the down payment?
SL: We were very fortunate and qualified for an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment. In 2011 Bay Area homes were surprisingly affordable and we had enough money on hand (it was about $9K) to purchase our town home. Our process from home search to closing escrow was approximately 6 weeks.
In the summer of 2015 we saw an Eichler home come up for sale in Concord about a half hour away from Oakland. My wife and I both come from architectural backgrounds and fell in love with the home instantly. We were not looking to sale/move but decided before viewing the home we were going to go for it. We sold our town home in Oakland and bought our Eichler in a span of 4 weeks. Given the increase in home values over the 4 years we owned our first home, we were able to put down 25% on the new home.
CH: Did anyone else contribute to the down payment? If so, what percentage of the down payment?
CH: Is there anything else you want to share?
SL: You’re awesome, and I want to meet your new puppy.
Did you enjoy figuring out how the fuck Scott afforded this? Find more stories in this series HERE.
Have you ever had the happy accident of liking something and then miraculously without you knowing about it, it became cool? I felt this about growing up in the southwest. As a child, I remember the pink adobe and teal accents, culturally appropriated Kokopelli statues, and coyote decals truly used to get under my skin. They felt so cliche and ugly to me, nothing special.
Just dry and hot.
Around 2011 something magical began to happen, on the internet. Pinterest and Instagram rose on the great tide of bloggers and influencers, and with it, mint green, succulents, and cacti. It was slow in the making, but I watched as my childhood motif became, of all things, popular.
It took me years to love the desert and its nuance. What the blogs and tidy potted cacti don’t represent is the vivacity that the southwest has. Typically it’s represented as two extremes, a dry, dead wasteland, or a neatly packaged $4 cutesy-cacti from Home Depot. What brought me to love it, however, was the tenacity of life found there. The plants evolved to collect and retain water, and protect themselves with thorns and poisons. The animals evolved alongside those, to live in those thorny places, to raise their babies and thrive in the coolness of night. The humans who live there have dug canals for water, or traversed miles and miles in the hot sun to provide for their families.
The other night I met a woman from the midwest who was wearing cactus earrings.
“Those are some very ‘zony earrings you’ve got on,” I commented. She told me she was planning to move to the desert.
My reply was, “It’s hot.”
What I meant was, “It’s devastating, it’s miserable, it’s glorious, dusty, mystical, and terrible all at once.”
With this series we like to call “Men in the Morning”, we ask men and masculine identifying people to give us an insight into a practice that is rarely displayed in media: their morning routines. In this installment, we get ready with Jack.
What you do for work: I’m the Political Director at Planned Parenthood, currently working on the midterm elections.
What you do for play: Several friends and I founded a cooperative house in a 115-year old Denver Square. I’ve been spending a ton of time renovating it.
Your brand of toothpaste: Crest
I’ve been thinking a lot about the one time my family was detained at the border for (at least what felt like) an entire day when I was a child and how scared I was. This, despite having papers and being nothing but upstanding citizens. It was the last time I crossed that particular border. I remember asking my mom why they called immigrants “aliens.” It was the first time I had heard the word in that context . It was on a poster on the wall. I thought aliens were green with antennas. My mom thought that was cute. It was the first time I realized I was an alien. Weird.
How we call humans aliens. Like we’re not all of the same earth. I remember wondering if we were in trouble even though I knew full well we hadn’t done anything wrong. I remember thinking they didn’t need a reason to do anything to us. We’re aliens. I most of all remember having my mother there to hold my hand and tell me we were okay, especially when my dad was taken out of the room. I remember holding on to her hand so tightly. And that experience pops into my head every time I’m at an airport. Every time I fly internationally. Every time someone looks at me uncomfortably in a public space. I remember that I’m an alien and that’s enough of a reason to treat me differently and to not see where I’m coming from.
This isn’t a country that wants immigrants. It hasn’t been that country for a while, especially for those running from authoritarianism, from war, from famine, from the effects of climate change. I am Asian. My family is highly educated. I am highly educated. I am of the privileged few. And yet these experiences still follow me. We came here because we had options, and I’m not kidding when I say I would give up my spot for someone who does not have that privilege. Though, I would argue there is certainly room here for us all.
Removing children from the people whose hands they hold when they’re afraid is a disgrace. It may not be a violation of any human right written anywhere, but it sure is an inability to see the humanity in others. Gathering families running from horribly dire situations and locking them up, together or apart, is yet another inability to see the humanity in others. It has long term impacts on a child’s (and eventually adult’s) psyche. It is so much more than just a simple detainment. This isn’t about what is legal or illegal, but about the ability to see the root cause, to see where others are coming from, what others are feeling. Fundamentally it’s an inability to care for experiences that aren’t our own.
Just something I’ve been thinking about lately.
I asked friends about menstrual cups. I read about how magical they were for the environment, how nice it was not to have to carry products with you everywhere, but ultimately it took seeing a single black woman in an Instagram ad for me to actually buy one. The website that sold them was beautiful and interactive, with graphics illustrating technique and a robust FAQ page. I was actually excited to use a period product, which, since the advent of my period at a Water World theme park when I was 9, has never ever been a thing for me.
Somehow I was still blissfully unaware of how intimate I was about to get with my period experience. There was the seal-checking, which requires you to run the perimeter of your vaginal canal with your finger, the at-first unfamiliar static fullness. Upon removal (earlier than advertised), I was surprised at just how full of blood it was, then i immediately felt affirmed that what doctors had suspected was an overuse of super plus and ultra tampons did in fact correspond to “heavier than average flow”. I had the milliliters to prove it. There was the intense bright red color that stained the bowl and made me instantly happy that I was doing this process at home. God forbid my period betray me in front of company again. Tampons soak up the vaginal secretions (lolz that word sounds just like what it is), but the cup just holds them, leaving a mix of blood and what kind of looks like spit. It’s interesting to me, but I am an ex-scientist so that fascination is likely not universal. At first there was more opportunity for blood on my fingers, on my thighs. My blood didn’t all go away when I flushed.
My period hadn’t changed and yet I was experiencing it anew at 27. I was ALL UP IN IT. But it didn’t make me feel better or worse. I was more viscerally involved with what was happening with my body, and the process of it made me think of what periods must be like for women in our village in Nigeria. Reminded me of how privileged and modern it made my mom and her sisters feel that they had access to pads growing up. The Instagram cup company said they donated a cup to a young woman in need somewhere, so I guess it was nice to imagine that a women somewhere was having the same experience as me. (Then I immediately felt guilty that I was letting a retailer give me a false sense of activism.) @it’s better for the environment” and “I’ll save so much on tampons” were both things I reminded myself as I washed my cup clean and reinserted it. I wasn’t grossed out by my period, I was just having to deal with it, really deal with it. I didn’t feel better or worse because my period hadn’t changed. It was still a bitch. I still had blinding pain, uncomfortable, bloating, difficult shits, which all seem incompatible with period positivity. I don’t plan to have children, so my uterus only does for me what a cocktail of hormone pills could do and does do for lots of people who have had hysterectomies. I’ve long considered getting one, but very few doctors would see the above symptoms as being valid enough to take away the fertility of young women who desperately wants to be rid of it. I hate my period. The novel excitement of the Instagram cup wore off so fast that I even surprised myself. So what I should say is I STILL hate my period, but I do know her a hell of a lot better.