A Personal History of Foreclosure

On Sundays, I like to dabble in one of my favorite hobbies, the pursuit of my family history or geneology.  This is a very new interest and has proven to be an adventure full of surprises.  My maternal grandmother did tell us stories as children, mostly of her pioneer background.  She was a modest, quiet person, who sported an unusually regal bearing for her perceived background.  In fact, when she worked as a waitress in a small cafe for a time in the 1980’s, a young, up and coming artist sketched her as she sipped her afternoon coffee.  A few years ago, my sister attended an art show in a nearby city and found a watercolor painting of Grandma in a stack of canvases for sale.  She recognized her immediately and asked the artist about it.  The artist told her the story of this woman who waitressed in the small coffee shop and how she was stricken by her unusual stately physical attitude.  When my sister told her it was our grandmother, the artist was thrilled to give her the painting as she had always wondered over the years just who the woman was.

It turns out that this unlikely pioneer’s daughter and farmer’s wife harbored the genes of royalty.  My sister and I find it difficult to believe that we are the product of such greats as King Henry I and Henry II of England as portrayed in movies and books like Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Lion in Winter, and Beckett.  That we were in direct line of Richard the Lionheart from the Tales of Robin Hood.  Related to El Cid, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and many more kings, queens and lesser royalty who ruled in many countries spanning the ages from before 400 AD through late 1100 AD.  There are other greats also, including John Drake, brother of Sir Francis Drake who did not produce issue or heir.  After showing my sister this lineage, she declared, “What happened to us?!”  I laughed and replied, “The great European women met and fell in love with the handsome Danish farmers who brought them to America to become Mormons in Zion and that was the end of that.”

However, if you read about the history of these people who ruled the world, you will see that it is not all romance and opulance.  It seems to me that royal lives were always precariously in danger, that they were often cold hungry, and ill, and their homes constantly being taken from them.  Given these circumstances, I suppose I am genetically predisposed to hardship, but like my ancestors, am willing to don the armor of war and fight for my right to keep what I deem to be mine.  Who will join me in this battle against the greedy land grabbers?

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A Temporary Life

In spite of my attorney assuring me that I can go ahead and plant my gardens this summer, I am still reluctant to go through a lot of work and trouble in case I am asked to leave.  Also, I am unable to do as much as I used to and last year was too ill to work in the garden at all which resulted in a three foot high overgrowth in the beds and pathways this year.  Very discouraging.  But, I did go ahead and weed the mailbox garden and have had the front lawn mowed weekly in order to keep the neighbors from mobbing my house with pitchforks and torches.

So my brother-in-law gave me a few vegetable starts on our last visit and I couldn’t bear to see them just sit in their little pots and die unattended so my practical sister suggested I do container gardening this year.  That way, if I have to move, they can go with me.  It also turned out to be much easier on my poor body.  I got to sit in a chair and plant on a little table top and my son helped me move the containers (one half-barrel, two Earth Boxes, two tree size nursery pots and two large planter pots) over to the side of the house right next to the water faucet so I won’t have to walk far to take care of them!  With any luck, I’ll be able to harvest a small amount of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, six assorted sweet and hot pepper plants, a couple of broccoli and two cabbages, a mini-hubbard squash and a pumpkin.  I can add another container with some lettuce, radishes and green onions (I always have seed).  At least I won’t feel left out even though it is nowhere near what I usually plant each year.

There are temporary relationships, temporary jobs, temporary “situations”.  Practically everything in life is temporary, including life itself!  But, the satisfaction I will get from being at least a little self-sufficient will stick with me for a very long time.

The Waiting Game, *sigh*

While I wait for a random Category 5 solar storm to create a Carrington Event (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/tom-bogdan-the-sky-at-night-stops-me-from-sleeping-2296759.htm) that will wipe out the computer registration of my title/deed and any evidence of my mortgage loan (and possibly throw us back into a third world country status), maybe I could hire H.A.A.R.P. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program ) to direct a mega tornado or bank destroying earthquake just to the specific area of my records.  Oh, wait.  The people who run the banks are probably the same people who own H.A.A.R.P.  Drat, back to the research board.

After learning about MERS http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/business/06mers.html which is the type of loan I have, I started calling around for an attorney.  Found one in my area and started proceedings for my foreclosure defense.  He sent two letters requesting the mortgage company to “produce the note” http://www.proofofnote.com/ .  They didn’t.  The day before my foreclosure sale, the attorney filed a restraining order against the sale and stopped it until a hearing can be scheduled between the attorneys and the district judge that signed the order.  This will take awhile.  So far, I have been living in my home “rent” free for one year.  At first I felt guilty, but when my attorney explained that the mortgage company will get paid through the insurance I was required to purchase at the time of my sale, and reminded me that I had offered to work out an alternative payment arrangement which they refused, I no longer felt as if I was “robbing the bank”.

What will happen now?  There is still a chance that I will lose my home.  Other cases that he has completed have mixed outcomes.  Some clients have opted to work out new payment arrangements with the mortgage company, one client has won the title to their home free and clear, nobody has been evicted to date, and some of them have been living in their homes for over two years while the process continues.

While I wait, I try new things to keep my mind and “devil’s playthings” busy.  I learn to blog, to quilt and to try and find my way back from the Inner Sanctum, a veritable labyrinth of padded brain cells.  Anyone willing to lend a helping hand or guiding light?  Comments welcome.

Falling down – not recommended!

There is no age limit for adversity.  We all experience it in life, some more than others. One out of 600 homes nationwide is currently in foreclosure.  Two years ago, I never imagined I would become a part of this statistic.  I never missed a mortgage payment, was never late, bills were paid on time, credit was in great shape.  Then illness struck.  Everyone in foreclosure has a story, whether it was a bad adjustable rate mortgage, sudden unemployment, MERS, illness, bankruptcy or other unexpected fall from financial grace.

I think my situation is a lot like falling down.  When I was young I fell down on purpose thinking it was funny to entertain my friends with clownish antics.  It didnt hurt… much… not more than a bandaid.  Have you fallen lately?  I don’t recommend it.  Now, it hurts.  The older you get, the harder the fall, there is much more at stake.

Being the stubborn type, I took the proactive approach which may soften the blow.  When I realized I was not going to be able to return to work after a 12 week leave, I began weaving a safety net.  After some extensive research on disability, I started the paperwork with SSDI.  One of the best resources I found was The Disability Digest at http://www.thedisabilitydigest.com.  It turned out to be my ace in the hole, so to speak.  An invaluable support system.  I also hired a disability attorney which speeded up the process.  In my opinion, it was well worth the money.  I was careful to bypass legal counsel on several other occasions including pro se divorce and bankruptcy to have my massive medical bills dismissed.  That worked out fine, but in this instance, time was not on my side.  It often can take years to be approved for disability.  I filed in January 2010 and was approved in October 2010.  Employment checks ended in March and my State Employee’s Disibility began in July, but that only provided about 1/3 of what I was getting from my regular monthly paycheck.

As soon as the disability procedure was in play, I took all the steps I could to avoid foreclosure, including applying to refinance my mortgage.  Because the value of my home had declined and there was only five years of equity, the reduction would not have been enough to make a big enough change in my monthly payments.  I called several other mortgage assistance agencies, but did not qualify for assistance.  Of course, I kept in touch with the mortgage company and asked them to temporarily reduce my payments.  They not only wouldn’t cooperate (like absolutely EVERYone of my other creditors, but when I sent a partial payment (my last payment to them) in July, they not only did not return it, but also did not apply it to the principal or interest.  They just kept it and sent a statement with the full monthly payment owing and past due.  I was livid!  This meant war. 

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat yet?  BTW, if this blog is the book I’m supposed to write, and each chapter is a year of my life, then this segment of my life is Chapter 61.  No fair peeking at the end of the story!

Who am I to give advice?

People who give advice always mean well.  I am not qualified to give advice to anyone considering the state of my current affairs.  So I will pass on the advice I’ve been given by others which you may choose to heed or disregard (what I usually do).  Many people over the past few decades have told me I should write a book about my life.  They thought it was interesting.  I suppose adversity and adventure is interesting to those who lead normal lives with normal limitations.  Although I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I find the thought of writing a book about my life daunting.  Who am I?  Who would care?  Who would buy it, except my friends and relatives who already know way too much about me.  So now I will try this new thing – blogging.

People who give advice say that trying and learning new things will help you to stay young.  I don’t remember feeling so TIRED when I was young.  I don’t remember it taking so long to learn something new.  As soon as I post this blog, I am going to find evidence of this staying young approach, and then I’m going to have a nap.  I didn’t like naps as a young child, I couldn’t sleep.  I didn’t take naps as a young adult, because I didn’t get up until after noon; there was no time.  I couldn’t take naps when I became a mother, that was when I got the chores done while my children were not sleeping during their naptime.  I HAVE to take naps now.  If I try to skip my nap at the appointed time, my eyes slam shut whereever I may be.  That is embarrassing when you are in a meeting with your attorney, reviewing the affadavits for your foreclosure defense.

People who give advice told me that you are not living the American Dream until you own your own home.  Most of my life, I was somewhat of a vagabond.  Always on the move, rarely in one place for more than a couple of years.  I was content to rent, or even at times, live in a van or on the beach, or in the woods, with or without a tent.  Stuff and things were not important to me.  Adventure and new experiences were all I needed to keep me going.  Sure, hurdles were thrown in my path.  Sure, I tripped and stumbled and tangled myself in them instead of choosing the easy path around.  That’s part of the experience of living.  Where else would I get all the stories to tell.  I even managed to live this lifestyle while raising my first two children.  However, something changed when I had my third child at the age of 39.  His father and I were determined to make up for all the mistakes we made with our others.  Not that they turned out badly – not at all.  It was we who felt we had failed at parenting.  So when our youngest was in high school, we finally had a “normal” lifestyle with real jobs, credit cards, the whole shootin’ match.  Not quite hippies to not quite yuppies.  We bought a house.  Five years later, I am divorced, lost my job due to illness, gained 150 lbs, became retired/disabled, and am losing my beloved first (finally) home.

People who give advice should take all their advice and write a book about it.  Would I buy it?  Probably not.