Decisions, Gumby, Money, Options

I need to be strong now.  As strong as I have ever been.  Certainly a top 10.

I am broke.  Done.  Fini.  And it is not a good feeling.  I was hoping I could make it but I don’t think that will be true.  And I just hate the thought of losing my home.  It’s nothing fancy.  It’s a little condo with its own little backyard and I love it.  It is my favorite place I have ever lived.  I don’t know why that is exactly and I have thought about this a lot.  I think because it is mine.  I bought it myself.  I live here alone with my dog.  Someone else lived here with me for a while but that didn’t work out and I am here again by myself.  Like I should be.  I like it that way.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anti-social and I love having people around.  Even living with people.  But it is OK for me to be here by myself.  Because this is the place for me.

Sometimes in life, we are forced to look in a different direction, to make different plans.  And I know that is true because up until the time I was 35 and I gave up on it, the thing I was meant to be was a mother – to a person.   And here I am – 56 years old – and the mother to 65 pounds of aging, exuberant poodle.  Not what I had planned.  But my life has been fun!  And a great ride a lot of the great time.

So now.  I am broke.  All I have left is a grossly depleted 401K.  And something I found out the other day is that I should not use what I have left to save my home if I’m going to lose it anyway, because our 401K’s are protected and cannot be touched by creditors.

I will continue to fight this fight until the end but it is better for me to look it in the face right now and get prepared.  Try to make some decisions.  I could get a good job tomorrow and my problems would be over.  I could find a roommate to move in here and that would bring me up for a bit.

But this economy is a mess.  What is that “joke”?  When your neighbor loses his job, it’s a recession.  When you lose your job, it’s a depression.  I believe we are in a depression now.  I couldn’t sleep last night and I was flipping through the channels and found this documentary on women in porn.  Now it seems the digital age has wreaked havoc upon the porn industry for many of the same reasons it has done the same to the printing business.  So much is digital.  And available.  And the quality sometimes sucks, no pun intended, but no one cares.  It’s cheap!  It’s free!  Remember the mess Napster made out of the music industry a few years back?  Well it is printing’s turn.  And it happened.  Just.  Like.  That.  Over.  Kaput.  And I know so many good, smart, talented, unemployed people who will never have jobs again because of what has happened to printing.  Or they may have jobs but they will be “under-employed” – a nasty word if I’ve ever heard one.  I have 35 years of experience in the print industry.  I am smart.  I work hard.  I even like working.  There are no print jobs.  So can I get a job?  Probably.  In printing?  No.  Can I convince someone to hire me and to pay me what I have been making over the last 10 years so I can continue to live the way I have been?  And that has not been too fancy let me tell you.  I was already making substantially less than when I bought this condo in 2003.  Changing careers at my age, and convincing an employer to pay me what I have been making in my area of expertise is not likely to happen.  So why take a job that pays me less than unemployment?  If I have to do that later, I’ll do it but it just will hasten my downfall to do so now.  In the meantime, I’ll get in line with the hard-working, under-employed pornographers.

I don’t need much.  I need to pay my bills and go out for sushi now and then.  I would like to be able to buy my friends and family birthday and Christmas presents.  I haven’t been on a fancy vacation in 10 years.  I’ve been to Maine but that doesn’t cost me much – actually nothing this year.  I am so broke, my parents won’t even look at my money.  And don’t think that doesn’t make me feel crappy.  Not about them – about them I am grateful.  But about me.  I have never been one of those people who reverted to dependent childishness around my parents.  I believe in carrying my share of the load.  I have always showed up in Maine with a cooler full of steaks and chops and chicken and fresh fruit and vegetables and wine and all the good stuff.  And something for the camp.  New rafts and noodles for the lake, clothes soap and bleach, toilet articles and cleaning products.  A half dozen new decks of cards.  A new bedspread.  That is just not happening.

So here I sit at my dining room table.  The back and front doors are open and the breeze is coming through.  I see trees in both directions.  Leaves changing color out the back.  I love it here.  It is quiet and peaceful and I have always felt safe here.  It is my home.  Mine alone.  No man involved.  No other person.  Just me.  No one has ever handed me anything.  I have made my own way.  I have been married and divorced twice.  I never took a penny from either of those men when we ended.  It wasn’t mine to take.  I am responsible for me.

The mail just arrived.  I got the pink notice from the tax office saying my car taxes are DELINQUENT!  In big bold capital letters.  Ya think?  And what exactly should I do about that?  Today is October 1.  I have slightly over $1200 to my name.  The mortgage is due.  The condo fees are due.  That takes care of that.  Looking through my bills.  Car inspection.  Life Insurance.  Comcast.  CL&P.  Yankee Gas.  I have one lingering Visa bill.  The usual suspects.  I paid my Cobra yesterday – $519 a month.  I think I’m going to have to let that go.  Makes me nervous to be uninsured but I have to draw the line somewhere.  And my dog needs to go to the vet.  I feel awful about that.  His ears are screwed up and his shots are overdue.  I officially have much, much less money than life.  And let’s not even talk about groceries and gasoline.  Good thing I have some extra fat stored.

And last week one of my favorite coping mechanisms caught up with me.  Epic fail.  Now I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense to everyone but I don’t open my mail very often.  For weeks at a time.  Because it is all bills and I can’t pay them.  I scoot through the pile and if I see something handwritten, I open it.  Otherwise nope.  I leave those envelopes in a pile and every two or three weeks, I open them up and deal with it.  So I didn’t open for a while and then I did and there was a notice from unemployment that I had a meeting the next morning and oh shit I was supposed to be there and have all this stuff filled out and I had bronchitis so I called to change the appointment and they said I could change it but I could not collect any more money until I had the meeting so I went with my hacking cough and my paperwork not filled out completely or properly and I got clobbered.  So I had a hearing the next morning on the phone and luckily the woman I talked to was very nice.  I think it might have had something to do with the god-awful, pitiful, hacking cough but I fessed up.  About how my coping mechanism was stupid and I had been sick and I was very sorry and I promised I would read my mail and if they asked me to do anything else again ever I would do it and I would have time because I would have been opening my mail.  And she said OK and did not take my unemployment away from me as had been “mentioned“ by the woman I had met at the Department of Labor the day before.  Thank you very much.

There was a notice on the back of my mortgage statement under “24-Hour Automated Account Information. Press 5 if you are interested in conversion, refinance, or new loan purchase information.”  You all are gonna LOVE this one.  I called.  And guess what?  My mortgage can be reduced by $203 a month.  No closing costs!  As long as my credit rating is over 660.  That is all!  Fingers crossed.  Just costs $12 to run the credit reports – all three of them.  Guess what?  It is!  My credit is still good!  I cannot believe I am so lucky because I’ve been playing fast and loose lately but I guess you have to be really super-duper delinquent before they turn you in so I’m good.  Yay me!  They don’t need pay stubs, money, appraisal, nothing!  My life is good.
So asks the nice man, where do you work?
Well I’m unemployed.  I don’t work right now.
Well how do you pay your bills?
I receive unemployment.
Well I’m sorry but you don’t qualify.
What do you mean I don’t qualify.
You have to have a job to qualify.  Unemployment doesn’t count.
But if you don’t need paycheck stubs then what difference does it make?  This is so important to me.  $200 a month is a huge amount of money to me right now.
Well you have to have a job to get this refinance.
Well that doesn’t make any sense.  I need this.  I’ve been paying all along.  I’ve lost my job before during the last nine years that you have had my mortgage and it has been seamless to you.  This makes no sense.
It’s FHA rules.
Yes but people are losing their homes right and left and I’m trying to keep mine.  This makes no sense.  This could really help.  I’m looking everywhere now to find ways to keep afloat.
Sorry Ma’am. I don’t make the rules.

Truth.  Stranger than fiction.

Now I know a lot of people think that we should never talk about money on this kind of personal level.  Actually I know there are some people that think we, and by we I mean I, should never talk about any of the things that I talk about here in my blogs.  But I am not a believer in secrets.  If this stuff can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  I’m smart.  I work hard.  I am hopeful and optimistic.  I have an average life.  An examined life, but average all the same.  And I’m hoping this written brain douche will help me to think.  Perhaps to receive some kind of startling suggestion from one of you that will save my sorry ass.  Not hopeful that will happen but who knows?  I figure the more people who know how messed up my life is right now, the better chance I have of finding an answer.  And I also know some of you who read this are going through the same things.  So many of my friends from the printing gang…

These are the things that can help me now.
A job.
A roommate.
I am going to try to find those things.  I’m going to double my efforts to find a job.  I’m going to go through my stuff and see what I can put on Craig’s List or E-bay.  I’m going to look for a roommate.  I have an extra bedroom.  And if worse comes to worst, at least earlier this year, my sister showed me how to sell stuff.  And I’ll sell all my stuff.  Except my aging, snoring poodle.  No one wants him anyway.  He is epileptic.  Laughing.  What a day.  What a life.  Hey!  The sun is shining!  It’s beautiful out there!

This blog is not meant to be depressing.  I’m not depressed.  I would say my mood is reflective, thoughtful, strong, hopeful, determined.  I like to think I am invincible.  OK.  Maybe not invincible.  Maybe more like Gumby.  Solid and bendable.  Or those toys we had as kids that were soft and our little height and sand-filled in the bottom and you punched them and they went over and came back up.  Or those air-filled dancing thingies.  I put a picture of one here.  That is me.  My knees buckle, I almost hit the ground, and I pop up again.


12 thoughts on “Decisions, Gumby, Money, Options

  1. Susan, I am so sorry to read this news. Do you ever submit articles to magazines? You have a great writing style! I will keep my ears open for you. How much longer do you think the unemployment will last? What did you do in the printing industry exactly? What are the skills that you have besides writing?

  2. Peggy had the same idea I had. You write reviews of things, books, places etc — you get paid for every click to your review. You’re already doing it, give it a try. There’s another one. I’ll find the site.

    As for everything else? You do manage to bring difficult things into the clearing and stare straight at them. That’s what your blog does for anyone who reads it. Make us stare straight at the issue and deal.

  3. Susan, so sorry to read of your plight. Ron has been in and out of work for 15 years. I support us but he had started a business screwed up on taxes, and now we owe more than we have. It boggles my mind how many smart, hard working people are in this position. Ron ran a job coach thing at our church and helped dozens of people get jobs… You can reach him @ maybe he can help. Our neighbor is a printer.I will pray for you as I do for all of us who are struggling financially. We need strength and sleep…

    • Thanks Vicky. It is not easy and lots of people are in our position. But I’m hopeful and actually have received a couple of good suggestions since I posted earlier today. Making notes and doing homework now. Good Luck to you both too.

  4. Ditto on what all our friends have said in the comments above…and please let your family and friends have the privilege of letting you lean on them for awhile…without guilt or feeling like you need to pay them back…keep fighting! 🙂

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