Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Daily Dose of Humble Pie

I still think Barbies are stupid. 
The process of closing an accidental business is a humbling one on many levels. Though our livelihood isn't tied to the accidental business (thank goodness--though I have to wonder if we would have made other choices had it been), our credit is. And therefore, as we are in this season of our journey, we have new challenges.

I understand there are those who have less and struggle more. I promise, I understand. I was the kid whose family the community adopted every Christmas. I really did get a macrame Barbie toilet paper cover for Christmas one year from some generous stranger. Marty Sunshine grew up even more impoverished, but for different reasons. Essentially, we have struggled. We aren't struggling the same way now. For that, I am grateful. Marty has employment. We have a personal residence. We have cars. Our kids are clothed and have never missed a meal. For the most part, they have outings, though Polly tends volunteer to fund them for her and her brother these days, and that is greatly appreciated.

What has changed is how we spend our money. In fact, as part of the closing process, we were required to drain our savings. Yes. Really. There is a freaky feeling of how will I pay for some small disaster that might happen. I found it caused a bit of PTSD (because I remember these issues all too well from childhood), when the air conditioner and the refrigerator died on the same day last month. That was fun. In the past we had savings to fall back at best, at worst a credit card to fall back on. Now, if something like that were to happen again I would be relying on the kindness of a trusting family member.

During this process, I am not to work. That isn't terribly practical. Unfortunately, we are finding that it really does take both Marty's and my income to pay the bills in this day and age. For the first time we are having to prioritize what gets paid. In addition to to the usual, one of our family members has had several doctor appointments that are not covered by our insurance (and it would have been nice to know this upfront, because we were told this doctor was covered. We are fine by the way.). But now those doctor bills are on payments. Additionally, I called my insurance agent the other day and negotiated a partial payment for something I would have normally paid off completely. That was new. It also doesn't change the fact that the rest of the car insurance money is still due in June and that payment is hanging over us like Damocles' Sword.

The big stuff, the electricity, water, phone, etc. is paid partially when necessary just to make sure we are still able to function. I haven't seen my tax bill yet (yea, still not done), but I am pretty sure I owe. I am not sure how that payment will be shuffled around because I don't see Uncle Sam being as sympathetic as my insurance agent.

Silly, inconsequential things, such as baseball are affected. A Diamondbacks rep has offered me free tickets to any game I want. In exchange he would like me to sit through a presentation on what ticket packages they have. I have explained there is no money in the budget for such luxuries right now and I can't, in good conscience, take the free ones. For that matter, the budget for the Diamondbacks on television is about to go as well. Marty is letting me hold on to that for now, but I know the end is near. Maybe I can find an empty sports bar that will let me occupy a seat once a week for the cost of a glass of water.

Please don't think I am whining. I am not. I have lived through much worse. This was a choice. It was a consequence of tying our credit to an accidental business. I accept my fate--though I wish it was over. We will be through this soon (I hope). There is no official closing date at this time, so "soon" is all I have. Once we are over this hurdle, I hear the rest is smooth sailing. But in the meantime, humility and I are becoming good friends.

Side Note: I remember this when she said it. I looked for a clip, but the story will have to suffice. In the interest of brevity, you only have to read the first two paragraphs to get to the punchline. At the time I thought her comment was funny. It still is, but it is truly all a matter of perspective. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Diamondbacks Are in First Place--And Other Random News

Buckaroo's Drawing

All is in order.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for first place (go away, Colorado and let us have our 15 minutes of fame). Polly's Arizona cactus drawings won first place in the Maricopa County Fair last week. Buckaroo's Falcon drawing won second place (I think his picture should have been first place as well--but I am his mother). The kids are home schooled again, which means they are getting more sleep and the house is messier than it has been in six months.
Polly's Drawings
(I did not take the picture,
otherwise you would be able
to see both drawings)

I haven't heard from anyone from Alabama, friend of foe, in a week or more. Life is quiet. We lost another house last month--eventually I will write about that too. We are loosing another one next month.

Mr. Waterford tells me he bought a house and will be out in June. That's awesome. I told him to sell the refrigerator in the house he is in now if he wanted, so they had a little moving money. The refrigerator is mine--or his now. That house isn't on the foreclosure block just yet.

Diamond Jim has not finished my taxes. I gave up two weeks ago trying to get that done. My taxes are complicated this year. The IRS allows for extensions. I probably owe, but it wouldn't change anything if I knew it now or later.

I am hoping we can close the accidental business in the next few months. I am ready for a new normal. I am ready to live with calm and peace. Chaos is overrated.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Happy Birthday Carolsue

I want to wish a great shout-out to Carolsue who just happens to have a birthday today. For those of you who aren't familiar with the characteristics of Aries, we are ornery critters--especially if you put more than one of us in a room together. That can be taxing, but it can also be good. We also gravitate towards each other, which is probably how I found Carolsue.

Carolsue was a former renter who became my hired boots on the ground and then my friend. She has been invaluable in her experience, wisdom and ass-kickery. It is very true we never would have gotten as far as we did in our accidental business without her. I forever will be grateful.

Most of my memories of Carolsue are wonderful. They are intangible and it would bore you to tears to recap them all, especially because they are so ambiguous--you had to be there. But do know, there has been a lot of laughter. The time she almost got us arrested is probably the memory I would like to forget. But in all fairness, it happened in Moody--which is like a suburb of Leeds. So think of it as "redneck light."

Happy Birthday my dear friend. You are the big sister I never had.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Jumping Cow

Flowers from Reader #3.
They are so beautiful,
I wanted to share. 
The five stages of grief aren't linear. As far as this accidental business goes, there have been many times I have been stuck on anger and bargaining. And, like the old-fashioned LP record players some of you might remember, my needle gets stuck. Much to the detriment of anyone who will listen I would repeat, and repeat, and well, repeat my frustrations.

Lately, I have been vacillating between indifference and peace. I would like to transition completely to peace. It might be after we are all said and done, but eventually I will be there.

Today I read a snippet from a priest I follow. He said his great grandfather was supposed to have been on the Titanic. He worked on it and was granted free passage on the maiden voyage. On April 10, 1912, he was riding his bike on the way to start his new life in America. Instead, he wound up hitting a cow and missed the ship. The man who tells this story said he wouldn't have even been around if that cow hadn't jumped in his great grandfather's way. Imagine, how Great-Grandpa's  world changed with that one event.

A few years ago, a rinky-dink bank in Birmingham--for no discernible reason--called a second mortgage due on one of our homes. After fighting with them for six months the downfall began. The bank probably regrets their decision. Sometimes I regret their decision too. But today, after reading about Father's Great Grandfather I took a different look. What if the bank was the cow that got in our way? Maybe this is the beginning of something new and wonderful? For the first time in a very long time I felt hope.

It may sound silly to you three, but it has taken me a long time to see something good on the horizon. "Oh course life will go on!" you may say. But you may not understand! I have defined myself by this failure. It has eaten at me. It probably will again sometime in the future (remember the 5 stages of grief). But today, all I see is a cow that jumped in my way.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Happy Ending

Today started out tough. Not from the old accidental business. I certainly don't long for the 6 a.m. phone calls with lame excuses as to why rent will be late. Today started out tough because of a myriad of reasons that have to do with the emotional trauma related to closing an accidental business and the subsequent aftermath to every aspect of my life.

In case nobody told you, the five stages of grief aren't linear. Anger and pity come and go. Sometimes they rent space in my head and stay for a few days weeks. They remind me of what a failure I am and other things that I know are simply not true (partially because you three readers tell me on a regular basis). Hindsight truly is 20/20. In the event I forget this a week from now, I did everything I could. My conscience is clear--though that is not how I feel right now.

My day did get significantly better when I followed up with Mr. Waterford. He is currently a guest in my home. I wanted to make sure the errant property management company sent him his security deposit back. This should have been done six weeks ago, but I guess the property management company wasn't ready to let go of me or a few hundred dollars.

Mr. Waterford told me he did get his money back. I told him to make himself comfortable. He replied, "Why are you doing this?" He didn't mean let the house go. He meant, why was I letting him stay.

I am letting him stay rent-free because I want some good to come out of this mess. If it can't be good for me, I would like it to be good for others. He isn't my only guest right now. Maybe, if this is the only good that can come from this, it will be enough for those who might need a hand up, but not a hand out.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Never A Dull Moment

Well, this isn't exactly accidental business related, but kind of fun to share anyway. Yesterday, I got a call from a client of mine. He is--and I swear I am not making this up--85 years old. He is also spry and a good conversationalist.

He has one teeny tiny Achilles heel. Mr. Client is married, yet estranged, to his current wife whom is about 30 years old. Actually, I met his current wife first, many years ago, helped her out on something and (I guess) did a reasonable enough job she sent me to Mr. Client. Anyway, in the time I have know this man, he has been smitten and angry and smitten with Mrs. Current Wife. The last time this was going on, which was a couple of years ago, I figured they would last a week longer and one of them would have the good sense to file for divorce. Apparently that didn't happen because either they like the drama of fighting every day or... never mind. They like the drama.

Anyway, he called me yesterday. I hadn't heard from him in more than a year. He is ready to buy a home again. But in order to do this, he needs his taxes done. So, he needed me to call the current estranged wife and tell her to be at the accountant's office on Saturday morning at 9 sharp.

There is absolutely no way I was going to do this. But he wasn't hearing anything I was saying anyway. So, I just made a few non-committal noises and told him we would talk later in the week. If he asks if I called her, I will just make joke and say, "Oh? You were serious when you asked to do that? I thought you were kidding."

But... that's not the only time real estate and true love haven't mixed.

One time when I was in the office of my old company a couple came in. They couldn't keep their hands off of each other and were ready to buy a home. They met on the internet and both had come to Phoenix that weekend to meet. She lived in Yuma, he lived in New York. He told me, in front of her, that she is "the one" and it is time to take the next step of moving to the area and living out their lives together. Anyway, we looked at a few properties, and then he went back to New York and she to Yuma, both promising to do this again in two weeks.

Precisely 10 days later, the man sends me an e-mail telling me to please call his girlfriend in Yuma and tell her there will be no house hunting. He's done. Yes, he wanted me to break up with her for him. And no, this isn't a bad tween show plot on the Disney Channel.

Ah... but there is more. The same man called me the next day. It turns out he will indeed be in town when he said he would. But this time when he went house hunting he would be bringing along his new friend, Cathy, whom he met on the internet and already lives in Phoenix.

I don't know what happened to the guy. He did put two offers in on homes, went back to New York, where he got lots of wonderful real estate advice from all of his friends. His New York friends convinced him he could do better than with me and Cathy and sent us both on our merry way.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Today's Gem

"Even with all that others were offering me, 

I realized along the way that ultimately no one could make me happy.

I felt comforted by my family and my faith, but peace is different from happiness.

At first I thought stubbornly that the only thing that would make me happy was for my life to look like it did before the accident.  

But no one could give that to me, and no one else could make me happy.  

Happiness is my choice, and though it is hard won, I am the only person that can stand in the way of it.

As I gradually accepted my responsibility in choosing happiness every day, 

I rediscovered the beautiful life I had always wanted.  

The amazing thing is the more I make the choice to see and feel joy, the more joy there is to see and feel."

(taken from Stephanie Nielsen's memoir, "Heaven is Here")

Stephanie Nielsen was in a small plane crash in Northern Arizona several years ago. She was burned over 80 percent of her body. She is a mother of five. If you google her you can find parts of her story. It truly is amazing.