Who am I?
While much more than a philosophical question, the answer and what you say more often reflects not just who you are, but the character you carry with you.
Since I moved my blog over from Blogspot, I have wanted to put pen to paper and give just enough background on the author of the blog to provide some dangerous information, but not enough to provide enough clues for any given person to guess who I am. In reality, there are only a couple of people who know who I am as a real person, and I’m just fine with that. I never intended the blog to be a springboard into fame, nor was I trying to make a business out of it (trust me, the pitiful revenue the blog generates wouldn’t provide more than an occasional lollipop it seems in Southern California.)
Well, my story is too long for a blog entry. I didn’t originate in Southern California, but rather the midwest, though I haven’t lived there for more than 15 years. I have lived in SoCal much of my adult life (after University studies), and have lived in North LA County, Central LA County, San Diego, and Orange County where I currently reside with my wife and 2 kids. I studied Accounting and Information Systems and have a Bachelor’s Degree from one of the top schools in the US (can’t give too many details). I also earned an MBA since being in California in the past few years. I am in my 30′s and have also lived in diverse places such as Germany, DC, Utah, and Hawaii and I speak 2 languages fluently This has given me a unique perspective on language and how it reflects and changes our attitudes about life and surroundings; a window into our social makeup.
My wife… I don’t talk about her much, but it only seems fitting to give her a worthy run through. She is the most important person in my life, and so therefore deserves a place on this blog; not in name, but because she has supported me in all that I have done, even sacrificing personal beliefs and time for our family’s better good. My wife grew up in the intermountain west, and holds a Master’s Degree as. She speaks 2 languages fluently as well (not the same as mine, but she is teaching me bits and pieces of hers) and is an entrepreneur as well as stay at home mom. She truly is amazing; I got very lucky. She has lived in all of the same places in California that I have.
With that said, I started thinking about writing a blog in early 2004, although it took me nearly a year to put that plan into conception. In truth, I thought homes were overpriced already in late 2002 and early 2003. By mid 2004, it had become unbearable, and since I was itching to move onto another company, I convinced my wife in the Summer of 2004 that housing was overvalued and we had better sell our place; even before I had another job. Our place sold in exactly 3 days for a couple percent over asking price, and more than double what I had paid for it a few years earlier. It was insane. We even had one bid more than 20k above that, but at 100% financing. We chose the more prudent buyer because we feared not closing in time. It’s funny in hindsight. Housing Bubbles take years to pop.
Over the next 6 months, we resituated ourselves, moving closer to LA and taking a job in Beverly Hills. It was a nice move, but we both knew it was only temporary. It was during this time that I first started the socalbubble.blogspot.com blog. My primary inspiration was Rich Toscano, of www.piggington.com fame. I had no desire to be known, and only told a few people about the blog. I was fine to be anonymous, because, frankly, real estate had become a religion to most of the people we knew. It was as if I was attempting to hoist their savior up on a cross when I dared to even consider that housing had ever fallen in value in the past, or that it could ever fall in the future. “At worst,” one friend assured me, “it will only go up by 10% per year. That would be a terrible year.” Conceding defeat of trying to warn those close to me, and finding that noone wanted to know the inconvenient truth, I started a blog to just spill out my feelings and try to put things in context in my life. At first, the only visitors were there to ridicule me. Some sent me harassing emails, some just quietly told me how stupid I was and left. Either way, it seemed that there were only a few out there who would believe that there was a bubble, or that it would ever burst. I read Patrick.net, Piggington, and The Housing Bubble Blog daily and scoured news stories to try to piece together what would happen; I read historical economics treatises; I pored over more historical economic data than I care to admit. I was convinced, but noone else was. At times, I thought I might be going crazy myself. Noone I met would agree with what I thought was self-evident. Most people who should have known better just ignored what was going on.
It only took time. I changed my name from John Doe (my old screen name) to Chuck Ponzi when I moved to my own hosting and domain, to pay homage to the man who defined our current economic system (with stamps, no less).
Still, this was supposed to be about me.
What lies ahead for Chuck Ponzi? Even I don’t know. Will I buy again in Southern California? Who knows?; I may move before that happens, but an opportunity may present itself in the future too. Either way, moving has been both about good and bad. While many of the families in our age group that we have known in SoCal have since moved out of state or are planning to do so in the next year, we have remained noncommital to our future as Californicators.
I guess we represent much of what we thought California was, middle class families committed to our children’s future and our own personal responsibility. It is perhaps fitting that we are a dying breed here in California. Even if we leave, in a few years, there will be another group of people ready to take our place. I hope them much more success than we have had in living the American Dream. We have found that the price for that dream was much more than we were willing to give. And, for many trying to buy it; have found that it was much more a personal nightmare than the dream they (with their commissioned agent and loan broker) dreamt of. I could in some ways feel justified that I did what I could to warn, but rather, I feel saddened that most had no idea what was about to happen. Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, I walk around my neighborhood and see the Hummers, Mercedes and Lexuses, and then I’m not sad anymore. At least everyone got awesome rides.
So, by definition, who am I?
I am Chuck Ponzi. Welcome to Southern California.
My contact information can be found here.