A Conundrum of Contradictions

The musings of one born in the wrong decade

>Creditors and the Scheme of Things January 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 10:37 pm

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Welcome to 2009. I am in debt and out of work, optimistic and yet oppressed by over 30 phone calls a day from creditors screaming for money – they should be thankful, it’s people like me who keep them in a job – and yet, all things are right with the world. Ironic, isn’t it?

I don’t talk to my creditors a whole lot, gets kind of repetitive, but I wanted to share some of the humor I’ve found it in for those of you also suffering and needing a lift. There is a script and the script goes as follows:
After they dupe you by asking casually for you by first name only, and then asking for you the way your mother used to when you were in serious trouble, they make the brash assumption that by telling you you’ll be making a payment today that it’ll magically happen. After you stupefy them by saying ‘No’ in a flat tone of voice, they pause and then turn to the script, asking the following questions, usually in predicable order:
Are you receiving any unemployment? As if the pennies you get in Nevada for the maximum benefit will cover your rent, car, and food, plus 7 seven credit cards (according to one TV ad, we all have 8).
Can you borrow from your 401K or savings account? I personally have a problem with endangering my retirement to pay credit cards in times of crisis.
Can you borrow from family or friends? If you read my blog around Christmas you know there isn’t a snowballs’ chance in hell that my folks would loan me money. Aside from that, these companies don’t realize that you like your family and friends and care if they hate you were you to owe them money. With creditors you don’t.
Can you defer a car or home loan payment? This one really kills me. This insinuates that a credit card payment is more important that having a roof over your head or wheels to dash to that interview when the call comes. I was asked this when the payment was $7.
Can you give us your banking information for a payment scheduled to post [sometime weeks from now] and you can call back if you still don’t have any money? This one actually left me speechless for two seconds before I asked the lady if that was the same as writing a check knowing it wouldn’t clear and hence illegal. It’s a policy at our house that you NEVER give anyone you owe money any information from your bank.

So, now that you know what they’re going to ask you can head them off at the pass and drastically shorten the conversation by simply declining all their questions in a single breath before they even ask. It doesn’t work every time – I had a lady today challenge me with ‘who’s paying your bills if you’ve been unemployed for three months?’ The short answer is no one. Duh. That’s why you’re calling me. Repeatedly. Please note: this will not stop the phone calls. I don’t have any magic method for that unfortunately. I’m hoping eventually the auto dialer will get tired or they’ll just send it to collections and it can sit there until I’m working again.

The first key in all this is to remember, acknowledge, and enjoy things like the sky still being a fabulous blue, even if it’s accompanied by uncharacteristic weather for this time of year which is probably environmentally bad, that the sun still rises, the world still turns, and people still love you, no matter how much money you owe some asshole who can’t take no for an answer without losing his job. It’s all relative. And unimportant in the scheme of things. So you don’t buy things on credit for a while, you don’t answer calls from strange numbers, you ignore completely the nasty gram mail that, and you get on with your life, knowing that at some point when you’re ready you will take care of things. I know for a fact that if left with no other options (meaning no one to talk to and no one answering the mail) creditors will turn things over to collections and whatever you owe will sit there, not bothering anyone, until you want something you can’t afford on your own – in my case, 6 years without a peep.

The other key is don’t be bullied and don’t cave. I haven’t got it, no matter how small, because the $7 they’re asking for is what I have to survive on for the next 5-7 days and has to cover food, gas, any necessity I run out of, and all of the unexpectedness that happens in life on a regular basis. I’m down to paying the bear essentuals – and let me elaborate here because my version and yours may differ greatly. I’m talking food, gas, insurance so my license doesn’t get suspended, meds, phone so I can get potential job offer calls, internet so I can search for those jobs, post this amazing blog, and keep Honey’s website up (so cable), and the website itself to keep Honey’s photography on a roll. After that it’s whatever I can do, which right now doesn’t include the car, the boat, or rent – thank God I live with my mother in-law and there’s no chance of getting evicted. It’s all material, not coming with me when I die, and not stuff I planned on keeping until then anyway. Let it go with grace and be thankful you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

We’re currently planning the biggest trip of our lives, in the midst of economic crisis, no income, and an assumption that we’ll eventually lose the car. The insanity of it is what makes sense. Go with me on this – now is the best time to do something unexpected, unplanned, and absolutely nuts. At no other time would you (or at least anyone I know besides us) willingly give up comfort and security to go do something amazing, so now, when you don’t have a choice about the comfort and security, is the perfect time to do it. Accept that you may lose some things. Also accept they weren’t meant to be yours. And do something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

 

>In the New Year January 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 3:59 pm

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So there are a handful of things I feel like discussing today, starting with this blog in relation to a guy I chatted with last night at the LVPS meeting about “monetizing” this blog. I’m not sure that’s a word, but it’s what he used to describe making money from ones’ blog site. I’m sure I’m not the only one hurting for money these days, but if I could link to sites like Canon and REI based on the equipment Honey uses for photography and the stuff we use to go camping all the time, that would be awesome! There’s another blogger I’ve just heard about who did this, and got to quit his day job as a result, you may want to check out: The Strobist. Anyway, I’m not against having ads on either side of my riveting tales of misadventure; I just don’t have a lot experience doing them/getting them/maintaining them, etc. If anyone has any feedback on this issue, I’m open. It would be a great help [the making money part] to our future plans, which will be a secret for now – just know that it involves living the simple life and seeing the sites, and any support from readers like you would be much appreciated. Donation links are coming soon.

Secondly, or more accurately back to the LVPS meeting of last night, I just want to say that was the best one I’ve been to. Miss Sazzy ran the meeting with efficiency and humor (I voted for your Wonder bread shot) and there were the most people I’ve seen, as well as the most new members. And in the spirit of everyone who always says, “I just want to go shoot something” I have a grand idea. I propose a camping trip to Kolob Reservoir, maybe in April when it’s warmer but not hot, and invite all the LVPS members, their families, dogs, etc. There’s a reservoir where you can swim or fish, hiking, Zion National Park is right down the road and an easy day trip, there’s Bryce Canyon if you’re willing to drive a bit further, good times, lots of macro stuff, scenery stuff, and I’m also suggesting a pot luck for one night. It’s a 3-hour drive, give or take, but it’s worth it. More details on that later after I pitch it to Sazzy – so if you read this before I get to you, give me a call! The green chili burrito (chile for you Latin folks) at Oscar’s Café in Springdale is worth the drive by itself, and I can assure you I’ll be eating there before I head for home.

What else was on my mind…. oh yeah! I got a book from the library the other day, finished it in a day, and was left with a feeling of ‘Wow’. It’s a collection of 9 short stories by different authors called Seeds of Change, edited by John Joseph Adams. It explores what might happen in the future from different view points like racism, giving up the vote, or going bananas about recycling. Just as a teaser, the first story is called “N-words” and explores what might happen as other nations (who have fewer moral issues about it) experiment with stem cells and cloning, going so far as to clone dogs, endangered species, and then Neanderthals. They’re nothing like we imagined; they’re smarter, faster, stronger… and regular people fear and hate them. Another story proposes what it might be like to be “face blind”, where your brain doesn’t recognize skin color or facial expression, in theory preventing prejudgment of people and avoiding misunderstanding due to misinterpretation. It was an interesting read, some stories more interesting than others, but it challenged me to think outside the box (apologies for another use of a very tired cliché) and consider what could happen with global advances in technology. It’s stick with me long enough to write about it here and I read it days ago, so it’s worth picking up.

In other news, I’ve embarked on a life-changing task that will segue into a full-on life change. I’m doing what’s called a ‘periodic monodiet’, something I read about in Fit for Life: A New Beginning. The premise is for 3, 5, 7, or 10 days, depending on your needs, you eat nothing but fruit and it’s freshly squeezed juices (you can also do one where you have salad with your fruit, but the point is everything has to be raw). It gives your entire digestive system a much needed break, since fruit takes almost no energy to digest, and cleanses your insides. For the record, I ate four bananas throughout the day yesterday and didn’t get diarrhea. I’ve also dropped some weight, as I didn’t have to do the dance this morning to get into my previously rather snug jeans. Don’t ask about actual pounds because henceforth I’ll never know – I’ve sworn off use of the scale because it makes me neurotic. Originally, I committed to 3 days (today being the third day) figuring that no matter how hard, I could last at least that long. In actuality, I’m considering going for five because it’s been so easy. My hands don’t shake, the energy is incredible as is my sense of smell (I’ve nicknamed myself Bloodhound during this time), I don’t have any symptoms of my acid reflux, no cramping, none of the unpleasantness of “Oh my God I need to eat or I’ll fall down”. The only side effects I’ve noticed (besides losing some weight where it counts) is the heightened sense of smell (you wouldn’t believe how good barbeque sauce smells!), being thirsty, and belching. Apparently the bunny lifestyle works for me.
From here, I’m going straight into the eating methods of the original Fit for Life book, written by Harvey Diamond and his lovely wife Marilyn. It’s got 3 months of what to eat for every meal of every day to get me started and thinking in the right mindset. It also works out well that vegetables are usually the cheapest things in the store. Long term I’m planning to become a vegetarian for the majority of the time, and I say it like that because if Honey and I get to travel to some of the great local restaurants I’ve seen on Man vs. Food – I’ll be having the signature BBQ that day. Follow me? So I’m on a roll and plan to keep it that way. Eat healthy, be healthy, and get off my self-pitying arse and take responsibility for my life.