I am Bridge and Tunnel

Oh shit, we are moving to the burbs. Can someone please throw me a handkerchief so I can go cry my fucking eyes out?

Catherine’s Residential Timeline

1975-1993 Alameda: my formative years

1993-1997 Berkeley: i-barely-left-the-library years

1997-1999 Emeryville: my first full-time job years

1999-2002 San Francisco: the dot.com boom and booze cruise years

2002-2004 Chicago: i-barely-went-to-class years

2004-2015 San Francisco: my single, engaged, married, had a baby years

2015-20XX Alameda: i-came-fullcircle-and-moved-back-to-my-hometown years

From the above timeline, you can see that I spent the past 15 years in a metropolitan city. I am a city girl at heart, but it came down to doing what was best for our family, which is to be closer to my parents so that they can care for Franco. It is truly bittersweet as we love San Francisco. Maybe one day, hopefully soon, we will return to live in the city.

We have purchased this Victorian in my hometown of Alameda, an island in the San Francisco Bay.

I was surprised to find out there is a ferry that can shuttle me from the Alameda main terminal to the San Francisco ferry building in 20 minutes. I didn’t know this until after we bought the home. Yay for my commute!

We will be living on the top floor and will be working to add a kitchen to the bottom unit so that we can rent that out. We are opting to keep our property in San Francisco and rent both units. We are officially San Francisco Bay Area real estate developers and landlords. Ha!

Guess what just came to Alameda? My favorite fast-food joint.

In the News

Pacquiao vs Mayweather

Pacquiao’s my man. He’s Filipino and religious. Of course I was rooting for the guy in the fight of the century, but he seemed like he lost his spark. The energy just wasn’t there. Mayweather was the better boxer. To me, it didn’t seem to matter that Mayweather was more of a defensive fighter, while Pacquiao was the aggressor. More of Mayweather’s punches connected. The judges saw it. I saw it. So I’m not going to be one of those Pacquiao supporters who makes excuses. It wasn’t meant to be and Mayweather proved his worth, both in the ring and as a savvy businessman and negotiator. Both boxers made a shit-ton of money and are smiling their way to the bank. Cha-ching! Kudos to them.

Funny story. I had lunch with a friend and she said, “You’re only rooting for Pacquiao because he’s Filipino.”

I said, “You’re only rooting for Mayweather because he’s Black.”

She surmised, “If Pacquiao wins, all you little Filipino people are going to think you can beat my ass.”

Haha!

Nevertheless, I’m proud of Pacquiao. It says a lot about someone’s character that more people around the world (and even in the United States) were rooting for a foreigner from the Philippines over an undefeated American boxer.

Birth of the Royal Baby

Who cares?!

Good for Prince William and Kate, living their fairytale lives with a son and now a newborn daughter who are heirs to the throne. Is there any Brit who is pissed that their tax dollars go toward a monarchic lifestyle filled with vacation after vacation, renovation and upkeep of the royal palaces, and the best health care which provides them with a team of doctors and specialists?! It makes me want to puke, just thinking about how you can simply be born into that kind of wealth and be the biggest idiot in the world. Ahem Prince Charles.

THANK GOD I AM AMERICAN!

RIP Dave Goldberg

Heartfelt condolences to the Goldberg family and the tech industry in losing a great leader. Dave Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, died suddenly in a freak accident at the age of 47. He was the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. She wrote the bestselling book Lean In which encouraged women to believe in themselves and pursue their ambitions. She credits her husband with championing gender equality and said that one of the most important career decisions women make is who they marry. So true. From what I have read, he sounds like an amazing man. Silicon Valley is grappling with the loss.

Tiger Woods and Lindsay Vonn Breakup

I’m sorry, but why on earth would any woman with a functioning brain want to date a man who cheats on his wife and the mother of his children?! Can someone please explain to me?

Yuck. No respect for these people.

I’m surprised they didn’t last. They’re both so stupid and were meant to be together.

Why Do Guys Date Girls Who Barely Speak English?

Dean and I encountered a couple the other day that really made me question some people’s common sense. The guy was white, average-looking, really outgoing and friendly. His companion was Asian, tall, average-looking, smiled a lot, and barely spoke English.

Our interactions consisted of this guy translating what people were saying back to his girlfriend by waving his hands animatedly and speaking slowly and loudly. Dean joked, “There were times I thought he was going to get his sketchpad out or that we were going to play a game of charades.”

Why do guys date girls who barely speak English? I remember a friend telling me that he dated a flight attendant that he met on an Asian airline. He said it was hard for him to understand her, but they got around it, and ended up dating for a year. Ummm…excuse me?

I guess another corollary is: Why do smoking hot runway models marry ugly billionaires? It’s all a matter of trade-offs and acceptability. Maybe he’s ugly…but hell, he’s rich and will secure the rich lifestyle I’m used to leading since I can’t make money modeling anymore.

Same with guys who date girls who can’t speak English. Maybe I can’t understand what she’s saying, but I think she’s cute and hence I don’t care about communicating! Conversation is so over-rated!

Does anyone else find this type of attraction strange? A relationship based on looks versus brains? Note: I’m not saying that this Asian girl we met was dumb just because she doesn’t speak English. I am only trying to wrap my head around why so many guys date girls they cannot communicate with. It’s like this perfectly acceptable dating phenomenon (men with mutes) which I simply don’t get.

Audible: The Cure for Boredom and Road Rage

I confess I don’t read books at the rate I used to. It makes me sad, but I just don’t have the time anymore. My non-work schedule is devoted to spending quality time with my son.

But recently I’ve been hooked on listening to books through Audible (which is owned by Amazon) where you can download audiobooks and listen on your smartphone, kindle, tablet, and computer. It has changed my life. I can now productively listen to books while commuting on a jam-packed train, driving, or strolling Franco around the neighborhood.

A couple weeks ago, I was stuck driving in insane traffic (talk about parking lot) and instead of getting frustrated and pissed, I was happy as a clam because I was listening to a great audiobook. It’s amazing!

So far, I have listened to two books.

Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

The narrator did a great job of altering her voice for the different characters, which I appreciated. Even though I didn’t really care for any of the characters (I felt they were all unlikable), I still found them entertaining and the plot good enough to hold my attention.

The book explores the tension surrounding mixed race couples and families in the 1970s by centering the plot around the death of a teenage girl who is half-white, half-chinese, and her struggle to fit in alongside her parents’ high expectations of her.

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

This book draws a lot of comparisons to Gone Girl. It’s a suspenseful whodunit. About two-thirds of the way into it, I figured out the mystery. I was hoping I was wrong and there was a final twist in the end, but I guessed correctly! There are 3 narrators:

Rachel: a divorced alcoholic who has a few episodes of completely blacking out without any memory recall

Anna: former mistress and now current wife of Rachel’s ex-husband Tom

Megan: married but philandering missing woman who was the nanny to Anna’s and Tom’s baby

Fantastic thriller. Loved it.

Lolita

Author: Vladimir Nabokov

I’ve queued this up as my next audiobook. It gets rave reviews as an audiobook. And why wouldn’t it, with Jeremy Irons narrating!

Please recommend your favorite audiobooks in the comments!

Real Estate Investing 101

I couldn’t sleep last night. I’m a light sleeper to begin with, more like a nervous sleeper as I’m always thinking about the stress in my life. And recent developments could seriously alter our future.

We are on the hunt for a new home. Yes, on top of everything going on with our current property, with checks to contractors being written in the tens of thousands of dollars. It would make your head spin. Piddly amounts like $400 to test mold and air quality and $750 for plumbing don’t phase me anymore because I’m used to seeing stratospheric invoices for the contract work and legal fees. We are in the midst of the spring selling season and Dean and I are determined to buy a more suitable home for our family.

A few weeks ago, we were prepared to submit an offer for this Victorian in Alameda listed for $895k.

We were willing to go as high as $1.2 million, but were told not to bother. I found out today that it sold for $1.45 million.

I’m not a real estate expert, but I do know a thing or two about economics and at that price point, the economics don’t work.

Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will make. It’s right up there with choosing a school and financing your education, finding a job and negotiating your compensation, and selecting your spouse (who can be either an asset or a liability). I think most people think of the wrong things when they are purchasing a home. Does it get enough light? Does it have a nice backyard? Is there enough closet space? Can I see our family living here for a long duration?

To me, it’s primarily about the economics…because when it comes down to it, you are investing your hard-earned dollars and it better make financial sense. Here’s my idiot-proof guide to buying a home.

1. How fast will it appreciate?

2. Worst case scenario, if you were to lose your job and could not afford the mortgage anymore, could you: A) immediately rent the property for more than the mortgage or B) put it on the market and breakeven or make a profit.

Those are the questions you should be asking.

I hear so many stories of people who lost money in real estate and I’m thinking, what were they doing buying property in Podunk, CA? How many venture-funded companies are in Podunk, CA? Why would anyone want to live in Podunk, CA?

Whereas other areas like Silicon Valley or high-growth neighborhoods…those make sense.

This is our current home, a humble 2-unit property in San Francisco.

It’s adjacent to a very busy and noisy street. Few people were at the open houses. There was no bidding war for the property. We paid $915k. We rent out the top unit which is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, while we live in the bottom unit which is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath. From Day 1, the economics worked tremendously.

Not only that, one year later, it is currently valued at $1.5 million and climbing since 2 bedroom, 1 bath homes in our neighborhood are being listed at $1.5 million. The point is, you want to buy where there is demand and that demand will continue: metropolitan areas, hot suburbs easily commutable to jobs, cities with good school districts, up and coming neighborhoods.

We submitted an offer yesterday for this 2-unit property in Alameda listed for $958k. We offered $1.2 million and apparently are in the running so we shall see. I’m really nervous about moving out of San Francisco (which would also mean a bit of a longer commute since I work in the city), but this property is only 3 blocks away from my parents and where I grew up. Plus my parents help care for Franco so this would make it easier on them.