The Universe is Always in Balance…

Photo: From the MLK Memorial in Washington DC. Clearly I need to channel that great, peaceful man this morning.

It’s cold, ya’ll.

Seriously, it’s 37 degrees here in the Boston area this morning. I am not ready for this.

Now, don’t get me wrong–cold weather means jackets and sweaters, and I rock jackets and sweaters (cuz the cover up the rest of my fatty fatness), but I’m not excited about all the rest of it. Nobody needs frost on windshields. Nobody needs shivering. Nobody needs super-cold wind. Nobody needs snow. NOBODY. But, I mean, my peacoat is sorta fierce. It’s the fierceness. I’ve got a really hot trench coat, too, that I haven’t worn in a while. Are trench coats in again? I’ll totally break that out…

Sorry, I’m trying to distract myself. The universe is in balance–while I have really cool news to share, I also have not so cool news to share. Let’s start with the good news that I was going to share on Monday.

There is a teaching/learning movement in the world called “Critical Exploration”: The idea that children learn best when they are given absolutely no or the most minimal instruction and they are simply allowed to explore concepts and objects on their own. Essentially, the idea is, children learn learn best when they are teaching themselves. While a lot of us affluent, educated parents may read this idea and think “yeah, that makes total sense, my child does something like this every day,” this idea is considered to be almost “radical” in the education world. There are many versions of this idea, the most famous being the Montessori Method, but there are also Sudbury Schools, child-centered early learning academies, and other such schools that create learning communities that are almost completely run by the children and their interests. As a young teacher, I thought that this idea was interesting but not necessarily sustainable for the larger world and the communities that I’m passionate about teaching. I thought, wow, this is really great for affluent white kids in the suburbs, but for my urban kids? Yeah right! As a mother, though, watching my own two sons learn and interact with the world–well, I mean, I’ve meticulously chronicled my attempts to get them into a school that emphasizes this approach.

The thing about critical exploration, in my point of view, is that it is great for young children but not necessarily for adults. As a 22 year old taking a class that critically explored critical exploration, I wanted to pull my hair out. It is hard to rewire the brain once it is used to the default format of “you lecture, I listen, I think, I write.” Luckily for me, I’m an auditory learner–I could listen to lectures all day, write a million pages of notes, write a million papers, and be just fine. But for so many people, the majority of learners, really, the lecture format simply doesn’t work. …I’m going on a tangent. What i really want to tell you is that I wasn’t an early believer in critical exploration, but now I am, and i’m grateful that I took the class because a) I can utilize it for my own sons and b) I have access to a fantastic community of critical exploration experts and educators.

As you know, I’ve been doing a lot of searches regarding diversity education for the early years. The results have been incredibly disappointing. I’ve been trying to tap into different networks to find someone out there who is focusing on diversity education, specifically in white and affluent suburbs. I’ve been very surprised by the non-results that I have found–there have been multiple studies that show that students in segregated learning communities (be they all White or all Brown) suffer from some disadvantages. Of course, students in urban, all-Brown, often impoverished segregated schools see more exaggerated disadvantages than their white, affluent counterparts. Obviously.

On Saturday night, I remembered that I am a member of a listserv that reaches a world-wide community of critical exploration educators. Maybe someone out there is thinking about this too, right? Well, I fired off an e-mail on Sunday morning and the results were… phenomenal! A lot of the responses contained links to academic papers–which I’m going to have to go to the library to access–but a few actually attached papers of their own. More importantly, I got the names of two contacts and a link to a very, very cool school in Rhode Island that i wish I could send my boys to. There are schools out there that are thinking about diversity! I’m very much looking forward to speaking with two influential and interesting contacts that just happened to be part of this community. I’ll share results as I can. in the meantime, I’m going to create a new section on my blog dedicated to sharing these resources. There is no reason for another mom out there to have to go through this frustration again–I’m hoping that this is going to turn into a larger, very cool idea. I’m inspired, and i have a few ideas,  Will share as the plausible becomes more clear. 🙂

So, of course, if there is something to celebrate, there must be something to scorn, right? The universe is always in balance.

When we got our commitment letter from the bank last week, it had a few contingencies on it. They mostly had to do with our contractor changing some stuff on his forms so has to meet whatever format they need or whatever. We also had to get our home insurance lined up… these were not big deal things. When we got our letter, we got started right away. Little did we know, our bank sent our full commitment letter to the selling family–something that they aren’t supposed to do.

So my realtor gets a call from their realtor yesterday–even though they asked for an extension for closing so that they could get the septic done, they have decided that they will not sign an extension or do the septic until we complete the contingencies on the commitment letter.


Let me tell you why that’s bullshit.

First and most importantly, they asked for the extension because they had not done the septic and the septic must be done 5 days before we close on the house. As of now, the official closing date, as written in the P&S that we signed last month, is this Friday. They are, currently, in breach of contract.

There is absolutely nothing in the P&S that we all signed that says anything about doing the septic only if we get our commitment letter from the bank. No legal language at all. They made the choice to wait on us to get our letter. It made sense at the time–they didn’t want to put down $30k to fix the septic only for the deal to fall through (even though, if they want to sell this house, they are going to have to do that septic no matter what). So their choices have nothing to do with me. We killed ourselves try to get all of that paperwork done over these past 3 weeks! You know how crazy we’ve been! So what the hell do they mean they aren’t going to sign the extension that they asked for??

So my husband calls me and is like “Well, they will probably just ask for a longer extension…”

Another extension? The ground is going to get too cold for digging! And then what??

This is where I became an angry black woman.

I really, really try not to be an angry black woman. I’ve spent many a year honing my super powers and I try to only bring them out when necessary. With great power comes great responsibility.

But yesterday was the day.

“I want you to send an email to the lawyer and to [our realtor] to tell them to draft a letter that blatantly says that they will be in breach of contract come Friday if they don’t get this extension signed. There will be no other extensions. It’s November 8th or it’s nothing at all. I’m done being jerked around. Do you need me to make this phone call? I’m happy to make this phone call.”

Husband didn’t want me to make that phone call. “You just need to understand that this might mean they’ll say ‘fuck you’ and we won’t get the house. And we might lose the money that we put down.”

I explained to my husband that, in no uncertain terms, if they are in breach of contract, we get our money back. Furthermore, if I have to hire another lawyer to go get my money, I’ll do that. I am absolutely out for blood. No mercy.  As per the house:

“Babe, I’m just not convinced that they are going to sell us this house. I think they are looking for any and every excuse to get out of this deal.”

He didn’t disagree. He went and drafted the email.

The lawyer and our realtor agree: They are in breach of contract. They are in breach of contract right now, because the original closing date still stands: October 25th and we’re within 5 days of closing and they haven’t done the septic yet.

So my lawyer sends us all an e-mail back: It would seem that they don’t have a lot of money… they are skiddish about putting down the $30k for the septic because they need the proceeds from the house sale to pay for it.

That just ain’t my damn problem.

When we originally started this deal, we gave them a number reflecting the fact that we would have to do the septic. We were fine with doing that, and basically asked for a significantly lower number than they were asking for. They insisted on doing the septic themselves. If you didn’t have the money to do the septic, why would you insist on doing the septic? If this is just about how much money everyone is going to get at the end of the deal, why subtract 30 grand out of your own pockets? Why not just let me give you a solid round number and ya’ll split it amongst yourselves????

So believe it or not, I’m back in freaking purgatory. I’m sitting here waiting for someone to tell me what the heck is going on with this house. Are they going to sign the extension that they asked for??

And what is making me extra angry is that I’ve been CC’d on a bunch of emails between my husband, my bank, my realtor and my lawyer, and all of them have language around “we’re going to fix this on our end.”

Buuuuuump alll of that noise. Let’s talk about getting people on that end in line.

……sorry to get all ranty ravey…. but I’m about to hit angry Level Delta over here. Seriously. How much longer can this go on? Give me a house or don’t give me a house. I’m sick of purgatory. You can’t let me see Heaven and then drag me back to purgatory. I’ve crawled for long enough.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Britt says:

    Ugh. The stress of home purchasing has gone on too long! My husband and I were in and out of P&S’s and agreements and bank snafus and whatnot for over a year. Though it makes me sound like a crazy person, in these moments prayer (in whatever form that takes for you) sort of works. You found a prayer right up there in the MLK Memorial. Light and love, sweet girl.

    Of course I want to know so much more about the angry black woman thing. Do you worry about falling under this rubric every time you can’t find a ringing phone in your purse, or slamming your finger in the car door, or receiving the umpteenth notice that you aren’t closing on your house? How frustrating to need to hold it all in with superhuman strength to go against your character so that you can also fend off a stereotype! When has unleashing your best angry black woman been exactly what the situation called for… and when was your husband’s counsel for restraint the right way to go?

    I realize I’m totally giving you a writing assignment, but I think you’re fascinating. Hang in there.

    Light and love. Light and love.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Britt!! 🙂 How are you??

      Girl, this is a dissertation! I’m going to ponder these questions and get back to you. There is a code among us angry black women… shall I share all of the secrets? That might be against the rules. 🙂 Also, I just need to come up with a story or two… I’ve taken to blocking out some episodes, lol. Let me see what I can do for you.

      How am I so fascinating? You aren’t the first person to say that. I get a lot of “You’re so awesome, Kyra,” without a lot of explanation as to -why-! I feel like there is a joke and I’m not in on it.

      You are totally right about prayer–I need to do it. i clearly need to get on my knees and see something bigger and better than I am to get through this. I’ve never been so challenged and frustrated in my life.It is hard for me to lay down my burdens, but maybe that is exactly what I need to do.

      I’m gonna seek some peace, twist my hair, and keep it movin’.

      PLEASE tell me I’m gonna see you at WordCamp this weekend!!

      1. Britt says:

        What the hell is WordCamp? I’m imagining wool-sweatered laptop toters engaged in serious discussions in front of fireplaces.

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          I feel like there are going to be more flip-flops and flannel shirts… and less fireplaces… lol. I’m sad you won’t be there. I couldn’t convince anyone to go with me. I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time.

  2. Ok, gotta tell you what struck me about this post:
    1. Totally hilarious as always. Great opening. ‘Fierceness’ – loved it.

    2. Your experience with this house was a great juxtaposition with the critical learning:
    ‘The idea that children learn best when they are given absolutely no or the most minimal instruction and they are simply allowed to explore concepts and objects on their own. Essentially, the idea is, children learn learn best when they are teaching themselves.’
    You are learning as you go too. Apparently life already knows how we learn best.

    3. Total dick move on the seller’s part; but I understand their being strapped for cash, learning as they go, and being advised by a third, and possibly fourth party, that has its own agenda.
    I wonder how would the deal go down in the old days over the tailgate of a wagon or a general store checkerboard?

    Now, I’m not one to do everything according to the supernatural, but I’ve learned (always in hindsight) that life puts obstacles in my way when I’m going the wrong damn way. It might be a biotch to pivot at this point, but have you considered bailing? Looking at other houses with no headaches? I’d be nervous that if they didnt spend the money for upkeep to begin with, what’re y’all gonna have to fix after you move in?

    I hope I’m totally wrong, having a limited perspective; but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to throw it out there.

    If nothing else, I have duct tape you can use. It works great on grown-ups too 😉

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      You and the duct tape!!! I’m backing away slowly! lol The NSA gonna be all up in MY house next time something bad happens. I’mma be like, “Noo! It was that one chick! In the midwest! You know they’re all crazy out there!!”

      I have thought about walking away more than once. But once you sign the P&S, if you walk away without good reason there is a huge, crazy huge penalty. Basically, we lose our down payment. If we lose this money, we probably won’t be able to do this again for another 5 years or so… we’d have to save up all over again… It is too much to just give up, you know?

      It is 8:30 est and I am still not sure if these people are going to go through with this…

      1. Haha I will totally fess up.

        Forgot about the penalty. Nertz I say, nertz.

        Well then maybe the proper cliche here is good things come to those who wait.

        Either way, still crossing my fingers 🙂

  3. zeudytigre says:

    I home schooled my youngest for a little over a year when the education system let him down. I had aspects of the curriculum that we had to cover but wove them into the learning that he wanted to do. It was a full on but truly awesome experience. Kids can learn SO much when they are engaged. The school system stifles individual thought and innovation but I don’t see how that can be avoided; one to one teaching just isn’t practical. I put him back into school for the ‘real world’ aspects. His academic learning has suffered but education is about so much more than results in exams.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I love homeschooling and I love parents who do it. If my husband wasn’t such a huge, crazy-huge, fan of public schools, I’d consider it for my sons. I very much worry about our public schools, even the ones in the suburbs–I don’t necessarily think that they breed leaders… I think that we just process kids and chew them out on the other side of 12th grade. I love that there are schools out there that are experimenting with the model and pushing project-based learning, exploratory-learning, and other types of experiences. It is extremely frustrating to me that this type of education is reserved for those who can afford it. As we learned over the winter, Ursa Major is worthy of attending a Montessori school, but we just cannot afford it. And he is missing out, too–As much as I love the school that he is enrolled in, I know that his personal learning style is far better suited to the Montessori environment. Will he not seek his full potential now? I mean, I don’t think it’s that serious..

      But this is indicative of a larger problem. I have high aspirations of my sons and they seem capable of meeting them… but my pockets just aren’t that deep. It is a cruel thing. A very cruel thing.

      I’m sorry that you, too, seem to be at a cross roads: Allow your child to learn in the best way that works best for him or prepare him for the “real world” where certain things are expected of him. It is sad that we cannot customize the world to fit every single one of our children… conformity is a cruel inevitability.

  4. OH my gosh! What a roller coaster! I would be angry too. Hopefully it will all work out soon. :/

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Oh my Gosh, Meredith, I just don’t even know what to do with myself. Cry? Laugh? Punch 10 people? Pray? Vomit? Throw myself off of the roof?? I understand why people pop pills now Good thing I’m so straight laced or I’d be off finding some sort of chemical to fix this!!!

      1. For real. I think that all the time. With my anxiety, I’d be an addict of SOMETHING for sure. At least right now, the worst is just Diet Coke.

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