The Financial Fallout Begins…

Kids Korner

Wow! I am really amazed at how much time has flown by. I imposed a blogging hiatus after my last surgery. I had to…didn’t want to…just had to. Just a few days after my last surgery back in January, my winter classes started back up. Last year, I was in freak out land. I was unable to finish my classes and so I just let them go. I thought I could do it, but realized I just couldn’t. So, instead of doing the smart thing and withdrawing from all three classes last year, I withdrew from one and vowed to continue with extensions in the other two classes. It never happened. My head just got too messed up. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see straight. Being the Type A that I am–it is an all or nothing for me. That’s just the way I’m wired. And so, I did the unthinkable–I just dumped my classes…I just let them go…and I took the F’s. Me!! F’s!! Can you freakin’ believe it? I couldn’t either, yet my head wasn’t there and it was too late to withdraw at that point. Gone was my hard earned 4.0 GPA–but ya know what? I didn’t care. I just didn’t care anymore.

So, I re-enrolled in those two classes that I left at the curb. I devoted my energy to once again, pulling my GPA up and proving to myself that I wasn’t just some quitter. I know that is far from the truth. So, for 12 weeks, I worked on my classes. I found out after finishing them up a couple weeks ago that I get a second chance option. Yes, the letter grade F will still show on my transcript, but it will not be factored into my overall GPA since I passed my Children’s Lit with an almost 99% and my Child Psych with an almost 97%. I was ecstatic!! Once, they were finished, I celebrated. I had come back and accomplished what I gave up on last year. I proved to myself and to my instructors that I was ready to get back in the game. I took a couple weeks off to just play with my family and with my friends. I played hard, laughed hard, and as always worked hard. There were a million things I needed to get caught up on, but instead, I relaxed. Those things are still going to be there and I’m still going to be behind, but I vowed in this year’s New Year’s resolutions that I was going to MAKE the time to hang out with friends, and work on my chill skills. Its just more important for me now to just let things go. I can’t do it all at once. I’ll get to it when I get to it these days.

And remember those taxes I was freaking out over trying to get done…they’re still not done. I need to still get ’08 ad ’09 in. Yes, there will be penalties. Yes, there will accountant’s fees, but you know what? I just don’t care. Well, I do, but I don’t. I have been sitting in a sesspool of financial obligations. I knew last year that the true financial fallout would happen this year. It would take that long to catch up–and it has–with a vengeance. All the bills from the doctors and surgery centers and related other physicians, anesthesiologists, radiologists, oncologists, pathologists, and any other -ologist you can think of has hit my desktop. It is mountainous and I can only do what I can do which is try to continue breathing as I wade through this nightmare. To make matters worse, Jeff was wrongfully terminated from his job of 17 years and we are in legal crap up to our ears. Lawyers don’t come cheap. So, we have tapped every reserve we have and watched it run dry over the past three months. He is caught in a non-compete clause. His former employer and life-long best friend is now appealing the court’s decision to grant him unemployment after it was contested in the first place (don’t get me started with this story–whole other blog, trust me).

If that isn’t enough, the first house we ever bought and subsequently poured our hearts and lives into as we renovated it extensively all by ourselves (except for the help of just a handful of people that were good friends or family)–was sold at a sherriff’s sale. Yep. After carrying that mortgage along with our current mortgage for nearly 4 1/2 years, we went into foreclosure–well, it was my name on that house, so I’m the one that will suffer the credit effects. We just couldn’t make it anymore. Hell, in this economy, I don’t know too many that could have carried 2 mortgages and all the expenses to keep 2 houses up for that long. I know several people that have lost the homes they were living in this year. I’m counting my blessings that we still have a roof over our heads–at the moment–with Jeff out of work and me still pulling down three jobs and contemplating a 4th part-time job–I’m afraid that the straw that will break my back will be a recurrence of my cancer due to stress–again. I’m ever mindful of this. I think about it a lot. Yet our situation is out of necessity at the moment. I’m also waiting for the gavel to fall. I’m waiting to find out how much the difference is between the amount left on the mortgage to the amount the house was sold for. I’ll be responsible for the difference. Up until last year, BOTH houses were under my name and you guys thought I was just stressed about cancer or my missing daughter…sigh…

Jordan 1 1/2 yrs. & Jasmine 5 1/2 sit proudly in front of their new home.

As I walked through that house one last time, I cried. The dreams and the hopes you have as you start out your lives in your first home were coming to an end. On one hand, it was out of my hands at this point, and I was relieved. I wouldn’t have to carry that weight anymore. On the other, I was sick that it never sold. Damn housing market…took a dump the week we decided to move. It was really like my life was flashing before my eyes. I saw my children growing up there..watched out the window as my oldest daughter learned to ride a bike down the street without training wheels…flushed boogey men down the toilet so my middle daughter could sleep at night…nursed my little boy when he was born from my muted mauve bedroom…saw the daycare children growing up there…listened to the laughter ringing throughout the house..echoing in my mind…reminding me of years gone by. I’ll never forget sleeping on the floor of the living room every night for 7 months straight in a big makeshift bed that held all of us as we gutted the upstairs bedrooms and refinished the hardwood floors by hand–not with big machines, but with tiny belt sanders…I thought about the gardens that I painstakingly planted full of perrenials hunched over for hours on end with a belly out to there–pregnant and happy…working until the streetlights were the only thing that illuminated the fenceline. I remembered all the Mother’s Day Tea Parties I had thrown and the friends I had made…I remembered Jeff spending one hell of a hot summer poised on ladders as he scraped the house by hand and repainted it a beautiful grey with navy blue and white trim…I remembered the fights…the arguments with Jeff about money, childrearing, or what ultimately led to our decision to leave. I remember, vividly, my dad…poised over the pipes in both the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen as we gutted those rooms and he slaved over a hot torch without central air on 100 degree days to help us replumb this big, old four-square. I will always remember the night we were robbed–our first Christmas there–they took everything–even our winter coats out of the closet to drape around the TV’s they carted out of the house. I remember Santa bringing us Cheyenne–our first dog. If you remember from a previous post, she past away last June 17, 2009. Even more bittersweet, her pawprints were in the drywall dust from where Jeff brought her back to play as he worked on getting it ready for sale.

Santa brought us Cheyenne '97

It was the fireplace that caught my eye the first time I ever saw the house…some would have thought I was crazy…weeds waist high…paint falling off like skin on a badly sunburnt back…in sheets…but I could see the beauty. The day I walked up those rickety stairs and stood on that raw porch and peeked in the windows, I immediately envisioned the Christmas tree in the alcove near a blazing fire with my kids racing down the wide staircase to open their presents. That fireplace sold me.

Christmas '99

I knew it would be years of work, but I was up for that challenge. I lived without a kitchen in that old house for 5 years. Nothing at all inthere except the beams, exposed wiring, a broken stove with only one working burner and the stove that backfired like the muffler on an old Ford escort wagon we used to own. A laundry utitility sink that served as my sink and a utility table for my countertop. For five years, I patiently waited as my husband built my dream kitchen with oversized custom maple cabinets, custom tilework and stainless steel appliances and enbossed tin blackplash. I only got to enjoy that kitchen for a few months before we moved. Five years! I know no other woman that would have put up with that for 1 year let alone 5!! With tears streaming down my face like a leaky faucet, I came to rest on the most important place of all in that old home–my custom made growth chart. The edge of the fridge wall alcove where I measured a dozen children mine and “mine” that grew up with us in that home. I placed my hand on that wall and could actually see the smiling faces of these children…feel their excitement once more as they scooted their heels back to the wall and waited with giddy anticipation to see how much they had grown. I would miss that spot in my house the most. (see sidebar for flikr photos of growth chart)

I placed some tracing paper up along the wall and taped several sheets end to end and sat and traced out every name, every date, every growth mark. Then, I took pictures of it. Although they don’t do the spot justice or to someone viewing them, they could never know all the laughter and twinkling eyes that stood at that very spot over the years, but for me I knew it would be just a matter of time before someone would paint over that spot. The sentimental significance would not be the same for them. Jeff and I loved to find the story of that old house. We loved to talk about finding a gun in the rafters of the basement or pictures of people that had been left behind. We joked that as we tore each room out and rebuilt it, one day we would find a bag of money or gold. Perhaps we did, but not in the physical sense of it. Perhaps our gold lied in our perseverance to turn that old dump into our goldmine–a home for our family. But as I stood there, last week, May 31, 2010…I knew even Jeff had given up. It no longer belonged to us.

As I turned to look through the house one last time, I whispered an apology to my home, “I’m sorry for neglecting you. I’m sorry for ever taking you for granted.”, “I’m sorry we chose to pay for medicines and treatment for me instead of medicines and treatments for you” and then I followed with a note of thanks, “Thank you…for the memories…for keeping us warm and dry, comforted, and loved”. With that I choked back the sobs and with tears streaming, I pulled out of the drive one last time. I told myself as I drove away watching the reflection of that house fade out of sight in my rear view mirror that it was another chapter closing. It was like leaving her as I found her, weeds waist high, paint peeling once again, gardens neglected, and on the inside, traces of renter’s that had not appreciated her beauty, plaster falling from the ceiling in the master bedroom where a leak in the roof had developed, a basement that had taken on water when the pipes burst over the cold winter months, a delapidated and tired looking porch, and broken bathroom fixtures. All that work. All those years. All that money…gone…but, I was alive. I was thankful for that. That was all that mattered.

I always wanted to bring the previous owner back…a little elderly woman whose husband had passed away and whom we fondly referred to as George, the ghost (we attributed all the weird stuff we heard or saw over the years to him). I knew I would have made the woman proud. I had brought back to life the home she raised her children in. I knew the importance of preserving the story and was looking forward to the day when I could tell her ours. That never happened, but one freak day, I did meet the owner who poured the patio in back. She was up visiting from the South and wanted to see her old place. This woman was two owners back and she showed me the place her and her husband wrote their initials in the cement. That cleared up that question I had had for years. Now, whoever moves in will find our handprints cast in cement in several places around the house–the furnace pad that was poured when we took out the big octopus, the central air pad when after sweltering through 4 hot summers with no air–we finally moved into the 20th century, and in the front under the apron skirt of the house. There will be reminders of us all over the place. Since we pretty much gutted each room, Jeff was good about leaving little time capsules around the house buried within the walls. I hope someday to go back–show the new owner who the handprints belonged to. Maybe, just maybe they’ll be happy to see me too. I really hoped the next owners would love it as we had and bring her back to life once more. She had great bones. She was and always will be my first love. If I could have picked that house up and moved it to where we are now–I would have.

Saying goodbye...

I’ve been enjoying these past few months despite the emotional ups and downs. I have worked hard at my number one goal for this year which was repairing, reaffirming, and reconnecting myself with friends and family old and new. I have been working on another blog site–not ready yet, but I’ll keep you all posted as I get close to launching. I have signed up for summer classes and have started the whole freak out thing all over only this time, I am cramming 16 weeks into 8. Gulp. One is a writing course and as much as I love it, I find myself needing to break down and buy a go-anywhere internet card to keep up with my classes and still be able to take the kids to the pool on the weekends. I could write by the side of the pool. I have SO many things I am looking forward to sharing. I also have many posts that I never got around to posting and I want to just get that story out of me so I can move on. You’ll have to check dates carefully to get a perspective on the time frame and I want to thank you all for continuing to stop by from time to time, or friend me on Facebook (a place I spend more time than I care to admit late at night–but that is part of the resolution), and sending me private messages of encouragement and hope. I’m looking forward to getting back to my blog. I’ve missed it terribly. I’ve posted some new videos, am working on uploading pics, totally need to re-do my own pictures since my look has changed dramatically over the past few months, and just want to catch everyone up to speed. For quite a while, I wondered–crap, where do I begin? Here’s as good a place as any, I suppose.

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Started Tracking on 12-1-09

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