Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bad News Day

Well. Now that I'm in a place with a great internet connection, and have some quiet time to post - everything I need - as you can see, I've been a quiet poster instead. I've gotten some nice emails, people were concerned, so I want to explain a bit about what's happened.

Last Thursday, I got some seriously bad news on the financial front. And it's ALL my own fault. That means I get to add being totally humiliated on top of just plain scared.

I've been trying to absorb the shock, and to think through the things I can do to remedy the emergency.

Without going into the less interesting details, I've been working on a modification of our mortgage payments for some time. The workout person at the bank said she was swamped with work, and slow, so please give her lots of time; and meanwhile, don't make payments, it would mess up her paperwork. We were told not to call her much, maybe check in every couple of months; otherwise, when the time came, she'd call us.

We did what she instructed us to do.

Unfortunately, in midsummer she transferred to a different department. Which should have been a non-issue...except that they notified us by mail.

And me, in my desire to leave my personal life hassles to themselves for a while, and not even dreaming I'd be gone so very long - well, I didn't forward my mail to Livey's. So I had no idea what had happened until very recently. Remember those payments we were told not to make? In my absence, when I didn't reply to their letters, the bank started foreclosure proceedings.

The situation is still salvageable. But it went from being an easy workout to one that demands several thousand dollars from us by October 4.

And we don't have money like that lying around.

I feel like the most foolish person in blogdom. All I had to do was get my mail. I didn't. How dumb can I get?

So instead of lounging about at my childhood home for another couple weeks, doing some fun things I'd planned with the family, I need to cut out from here and get back to Florida in a few days instead.

Once home, I can do things like file the income tax return, which will pay for around 50% of what they want, and file some old insurance claims, stuff like that. Things that I'd also neglected to do before I left Florida - again, my bad. The tax return will probably be paid in short order; the IRS is pretty fast these days. Not fast enough, no. But once it's filed I can probably borrow against the refund. That will cost me more money, but that's the situation as it stands.

You see, I can raise the funds in 2 months or so pretty easily. We're extremely good at scrimping and saving by doing without. Two weeks, however, is something else entirely.

I know we could repay a loan quickly, but it's hard for us to borrow just now. Our credit score is not where it should be. After our business losses in 2003 we've recovered pretty well, we've worked so hard on that, but in the last year we've blown a lot of money on medical bills and funerals, things I've not posted much about because the vast majority were the private tribulations of relatives. Of our family and friends who might lend us part of the total bill, most everyone we know is also in a financial bind. They have mortgage issues like us, or layoffs, or their small businesses are losing orders and income in this economic downturn.

Walter - my wonderful Walter - has been an angel about it. This man reminded me that beating myself up over my glaringly idiotic errors will not help remedy the situation, that it'll even distract me enough to be detrimental to focusing on fixing the problem. And of course, he's right.

It's extraordinarily difficult to stop doing that. My fault my fault my fault how ridiculously foolish could I be to have done this...Here's a time I need to do that hardest thing for most of us to do: forgive myself.

As part of my return trip, I'd planned to go through 2 towns: one in Mississippi, with a population of less than 1000, and some interesting history - and also New Orleans. Slowly and gently, revisiting old haunts, going to my beloved St. Joe brickyard, photographing, talking to people.

I don't have the extra fuel to get to New Orleans now, and even if I did? My heart would not be in it. My heart just now is grieving over my errors and over my house. I don't want to lose that house. I so very much don't want to lose that house.

There's a wonderful Gumbo Festival near New Orleans in mid-October. If things do work out, I can visit then.

And for now? I shall set aside my other little plans, and take a lot of deep breaths, and take care of business as best I can. I know what I need to do, and I'll do it. Outside of that, I want, and even need, to continue posting about the fun parts of the journey I've been on.

So when you see me talking about my pretty rocks and agates and bears and Lake Superior again, please don't think I'm in denial, or procrastinating about the work I need to do. I'm not. I'm just paying attention to Walter's excellent advice, and making sure I can maintain the calm and the stoicism to think clearly and proceed as I must on resolving this. When I hit a spot where I can't do any work on it for a few hours or days, I'll be sure to return to my regular life.

Regular life is full of joys and of sorrows. The things I do for fun, the actions and attitude some people tell me is childlike, all that's there for a reason. I want to be happy. I think it's a legitimate goal and purpose in life for us all.

It's a state of being that requires a bit of work, of effort. Other people can't make us happy. Only we, ourselves, can do that. I decided, years ago, to make happiness and calm a goal in my life.

This doesn't mean I ignore the hard things that happen. I most certainly don't; I've got plenty to deal with, and if I ignored them I'd be dead by now. What I do is try to address them as needed, do the work required to manage it all, then set them aside while attending to that other life goal. Compartmentalize.

But this time I screwed up. My error in judgement has cost me dearly, and it may get much worse. I'll work as hard as humanly possible to prevent that from happening. In between, when I can, I'll continue to work on enjoying my life.

One point I want to make screamingly clear: This post is NOT a backhanded call for donations. See the tip jar up there on the upper right? I wrote that bit about earning one's tips for good reason. The scooter was a true emergency. That situation was not one of my own doing, and it needed to be corrected immediately, before another infection took my leg or worse.

This situation is very different. This problem is ALL of my own making. Not the sort of thing I consider appropriate for donations, even if donations were an everyday part of my blog life. I'm not trying to say donations aren't legitimate for bloggers in general; to my mind, of course they are. This particular emergency of mine, though, is not.

Okay. I'm done.

And thank you, in advance, for listening.


Omnibabe said...

Jeeze Louise! I'll be keeping you in my prayers, okay?

Jan said...

k..do you have her advice to you in writing? If so, I wonder if it would be helpful in pleading your case with the bank?

Stop beating yourself over the head! If we were all perfect, it would be really great, but we're not, and we all have done things, sometimes, that we wish we'd done differently.

You had no way of knowing what would happen...you only followed her advice about holding off on the payments, and you thought that it was being handled.

sue said...

I'm with Jan. Was there anything in writing? Can you get the woman to put something in writing you can show to the bank that this is what she said? Is this something you can discuss calmly with the bank and come to an agreement on?

I'm curious how you finally found out? You aren't home yet...

Take care, hun. We're all pulling for you. Please keep us informed. We worry.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Bummer. Keep us posted. Hope things work out soon....

Kenny said...

That is really bad. I am so sorry that you are in this mess, and you are in my prayers. The advice above is sound. I have to believe that if you go in and explain and show that you are working to fix the mess the bank should work with you. The bank wants payments more then they want a house in a very soft market.

Jean said...


I hope this works out quickly for you and Walter. Seems to me that the young bank employee should step up in your defense!

Pretty Lady said...

Listen to me.


Everything is exactly as it needs to be. You are perfect as you are. You are handling this perfectly. You are taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of, including yourself. Your timing is perfect. It cannot NOT be perfect. You are in the hands of God; God is working through you, and through those who love you, who will not let you down.

Everything is fine.

k said...

I love you guys.

Thank you.

Cindi said...

I haven't been by here lately and was upset to read this. I agree with what Kenny said...the bank would rather have your payments than the house.

I can't understand why that bank employee who was helping you, told you to not make any payments or to even call her much. I don't know much about these kind of financial matters but I hope she steps forward and tells the powers that be that this was the advice she gave you.

I also agree with prettylady...everything is going to turn out okay!