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The Misery and Heartbreak of Trying to Buy an FHA-Approved Condo in New York City and Jersey City

Over the past couple of weeks, Janna and I were given a hardcore beatdown in the housing market as we tried to figure out how, when, and where to finally buy our first home in Jersey City or New York City.  We quickly found that an FHA loan — a Federally-sponsored mortgage program where you only have to put down 3.5% of the purchase price instead of the standard 20% — is but a dip in the yonder horizon:  A great idea in theory, but an impossible dream in reality.

The 2008 housing crash ruined everything for the first-time home buyer.  Nobody trusts anybody now.  Everybody’s playing an angle.  Everyone wants a quick and fast and dirty deal and nobody wants to deal with the red tape the FHA loans now require.

As one of Janna’s Black co-workers told her, “An FHA mortgage means to sellers and brokers that you’re Black and can’t afford a real down payment.  They don’t want to deal with that.  Try again later when you have more cash for 20% down.”

Continue reading → The Misery and Heartbreak of Trying to Buy an FHA-Approved Condo in New York City and Jersey City

When Does a Terrorist Become a Freedom Fighter, Politician and Even President?

Let me start this by saying I do not wish ill of the dead or the dying, but more to examine the change in attitudes in our society, media and government over time. I will also add that I abhor violence of any kind, for any cause.

As I was a growing up in the 1960’s there were numerous terrorist groups that dominated the news. The ANC — African National Congress and the Provisional IRA were the two that stood out.  The ANC because of their struggle against apartheid and the Provisional IRA because they were close to home and not only carried out their program of terror bombings in their own country but in ours too.

Nelson Mandela was fundamental in setting up and organising the armed wing of the ANC — it was his suggestion and one that got him arrested and imprisoned for 5 years with hard labour in 1962. The following year when the rest of the group was arrested and tried for plotting to overthrow the government by violence Nelson Mandela was brought forward and included in the charges which resulted in life imprisonment.

Continue reading → When Does a Terrorist Become a Freedom Fighter, Politician and Even President?

I Just Wanted to Be Sure of You

My grandparents are long gone, my mother died in 1963, daddy died in 1986, and my stepmother died in 2010. I guess that, technically, I am a 66 year old orphan — but I am lucky enough to have a big network of friends who have become my family.

I often take time to reflect on what a fortunate person I am. But no more than when I spend time with my friends. As Elbert Hubbard (who?) said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

And I have gathered them from so many different parts of my life. Six of them gathered for a birthday dinner for me recently and we commented on that very thing. All six of us are linked by theater: five by Board membership at the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and another friend who is a supporter of Remy Bumppo.

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The A to Z of Our Handfasting

Mr P and I chose to be hand fasted for several reasons. Most importantly it fitted our belief systems to a “T,” but there were secondary issues to take into account such as the Catholic church’s refusal to marry couples where one of the couple has been previously married and divorced and the nightmare of red tape that would have to be surmounted for a couple of two different nationalities to get married in a civil ceremony in a third party country. We are also both of the opinion that we did not need or want the state to recognise our union.

Continue reading → The A to Z of Our Handfasting