I can vaguebook with the best of them…

It may not always be obvious, but I’ve spent a lot of time simplifying my life. With the exception of time spent working for wages, I do what I want, when I want to do it. I know my own mind and have things here ordered in just the way I like them. There’s very little now that catches me by surprise or off my guard. It is a remarkably peaceful way to get through life.

If you’re trying to fit into this little world of mine, though, there’s a singular catch: The amount of drama you bring can’t outweigh the overall level of improvement your presence brings to my life. Having spent two decades putting the bits and pieces in order, if your presence causes more stress than happiness, I don’t have time for it.

I’ve become something of an expert at excising the extraneous stress and drama from my life every bit as completely as the surgeon cutting out cancer. It is, to borrow a phrase, the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.

I’ll freely admit where I’ve been wrong. I’ll apologize for whatever shortcomings there may have been. I won’t, however, go about wearing eternal ashes and sackcloth. If that’s not sufficient, good luck on your journey and you go with my blessing.

Take it where you find it…

After ten months of watching interest rates plummet through previously unimaginable record lows, I’ve finally stuck out my hand in an effort to catch the falling knife. Almost six years ago, I was thrilled to lock in 4.25% for 30 years. I’d taken 7.5% back in 2001when I bought my St. Mary’s County condo. At the time, that was a steal – especially for a 23-year-old with no significant credit history. I refinanced that one a few times over the years and the shopped around for financing for the Tennessee house in 2007. I closed on that one about three months before the bottom fell out of the housing market in 2008. Good timing, that.

I’d gotten used to being able to move through the mortgage process pretty effortlessly. I have every conceivable piece of electronic paperwork the underwriters may need at my fingertips – often sending it off before the call asking for it even ended. I’m still good for that, but the mortgage business itself is having a bit of a struggle at the moment. Just getting a broker to call me back proved to be more of a challenge than you might think. I suppose it’s a case of having an embarrassment of riches as everyone is racing to their favorite banker to take advantage of the unprecedentedly low rates. I was warned that getting through to closing, usually a 30-day affair, could take up to 90 days because of how much of a backlog they already have in the pipeline. The rate is locked in, with an option to go lower if they should continue to fall, but now that I’ve started the process, I’m impatient to start getting my monthly savings.

Plague, famine, sedition are all loose upon the world. Maybe we’re all going to hell in a handbag. It’s important to take your happiness where you can find it in strange times, so damned if I’m not going to appreciate a blisteringly low interest rate with no points on the way to the collapse of civilization.

Stockpiled…

Thanks to Amazon, my Kindle is now happily stocked with what could well be months of reading material – ranging from the Battle of Jutland to the reign of Richard III to fiction of a decidedly pulp variety. It makes me happier than it probably should.

I’ll admit that I was a holdout during the formative years of the e-reader, but I’ve come to appreciate it all the more as time goes by. While I miss the more frequent binge visits to the book store, there’s something deeply satisfying about having the preponderance of whatever you may want to read available at the stroke of a few keys.

I suppose I have to grudgingly admit that the pre-Cyber Monday sales from Amazon where good for something after all. I’ve heard it said that you can’t buy happiness, but as long as you can buy books, I’m not at all sure that’s true.

It keeps me up at night…

I’m not generally given to bouts of fear, but sometimes, lying in bed, late at night, I think some moments of trepidation are unavoidable – a product of a brain churning through a 100 different scenarios each more unpleasant than the last. Perhaps that’s the curse of the educated class; that we know the things we know and are thereby unable to live lives of oblivious happiness.

There are hundreds of possible “bad things” that one can reasonably fear. There are the perennial favorites: war, famine, plague, pestilence, dogs and cats living together. Then there are the more personal fears. Is tonight the night the “big one” is going to hit the New Madrid Fault? Is Uncle Sam going to open his doors on March 5th? And what could I have done to be better prepared? While those are quite real possibilities, that’s not the one that wakes me up at night.

The one that gets me every time is the fleeting notion that this 30-day hiring freeze could easily be extended through the end of the fiscal year – or beyond. Even more vexing is the thought that I’d then be sidelined here in Memphis indefinitely. It’s not an unreasonable thought. Should Congress pass a Continuing Resolution at or less than the funding level during FY10, I fear it’s altogether possible that the human resource managers at echelons above reality could decide that hiring and transfers are not currently in the best interest of the government due to the costs involved and in an effort to attrit the workforce into its desired size and composition. That would mean another six months marking time awash in a rising tide of disinterest and discontent.

To have gotten so close only to be turned away now would be a hammer fall. Even my self-confidence has its limits.