The porch before renovation

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“It’s all fun and games until some one gets married or pregnant,” a dear friend observed. Looking at this photo is a reminder that for all the whimsy, optimism and cans of groovy paint, if one doesn’t come to some kind of satisfactory arrangement with the loan service provider, its all for naught, ain’t it?  The following is a list of players in this story:

Countrywide Mortgage

Old Merchants Bank





Making Home Affordable

Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac



There are many websites and blogs and countless stories of heartbreak and loss, which I won’t go into, because if I did, this post would never be published!

So that brings me to The Urban League.

As mentioned in my previous installment, a gentleman named Charles at the Urban League of Union County counseled and advised me through numerous applications and reapplications for a Mortgage Modification which I mistakenly believed was unattainable. Last week, Ocwen- the service provider for Wells Fargo- who ironically has my checking account as well as my mortgage- offered me a Trial Modification according to the Hamp2 guidelines. Which should be all very well and dandy, shouldn’t it?

Isn’t it ironic that when you leap over an enormous hurdle with a loved one,  you’re presented with a new challenge? How do you leap over the next one, together as a team? Look at all those great duets: Fred and Ginger, Lucy and Desi, Dino and Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel- None of them last.

Folks who are so brave and so amazing when times are tough can be so petty and arrogant and rude and generally hateful as things start coming together.

My Dad would say, it’s a conundrum.


But we are different now. Our trials and tribulations have changed us. I hope. So, if we’ve  made this huge circle back, to the scene of the crime, as it were, how do we play this hand so as to come out happy and strong and living comfortably in our kick ass big ass house?

The building department closed us down last week when the barter to repair the porch began.


The IRS wants serious money if we’re going to seriously put that difficulty behind us.


We need a new roof.  It’s such a lot of dough to come up with in such a short amount of time.

When my husband paints the ceiling of our youngest son’s bedroom, it all flakes off and falls upon the floor.

The ominous warning, “More tears are shed from answered prayers than-” But we are changed, aren’t we? Please, God. Tell me I won’t just throw up my hands in tears. Let me find the moxie to take no prisoners and get current with this debt.  Let me steer my ship back to the novel I was writing not two months ago and finish it. And do it justice, Lord. And  please Lord, give me the grace to lighten up a little. Amen.

The only fitting Post Script is that in an effort to continue my march towards gracious living nirvana, I knocked over a can of blue paint on the white broadloom of our youngest son’s soon-to-be bedroom.

The pigment is very- well, durable is a fine word. After scrubbing followed by the Rug Doctor for several hours, the spouse removed the broadloom, and guess what?



The floor is also very blue on the original wood floor now, too.

But there’s no use crying over spilt paint. So, on a brighter note, behold oldest daughter applying silver leaf  to my bath tub. Very nice, very nice indeed. Subtle perfection she calls it. Such a class act.


In Jesus Class, we must leave our cell phones on the table

Thus spake the newest addition of my household, a beguiling Chinese girl, whom I shall call Ana. She is attending a local parochial school, and unsurprisingly, Religion, or as she calls it, Jesus Class, is a requirement. And as utterly miraculous as Jesus undoubtedly would have have found the iPhone, in Life as in Jesus Class, there comes a point where you have to leave it on the table.
Many months have passed since I sat in the parking lot of the acupuncturist and listened to the message inquiring whether our home was still available. Two women, thoughtful and kind, had seen it when it was on the market and I really didn’t know whether it had been foreclosed upon or not.  We were moving on and putting it behind us. My husband referred to it as “the worst mistake I have ever made” and all I knew was the humiliating blow to my exuberant egotism which believed that there was no reason that our lives at that house would not work.

You get what you deserve. You don’t deserve what happened to you. Life is unfair. Karma is a bitch. What goes around comes around. Bad things happen to good people. Did you think if everyone else was required to do such and such a thing, that somehow you would be exempt? You’re pretty entitled, aren’t you.

I called Ocwen, asked to whom I might direct the women interested in the house. I was fed the extraordinary rigmarole that defined my relationship with this particular service provider.

“These women would like to buy the house.”

“Oh no, Ocwen cannot sell it to them.”

“Well, are you going to foreclose, or aren’t you? It’s been seven years.”

“Oh no. This is an attempt to collect a debt and the call will be recorded for monitoring purposes-”

Random acts of kindness occur sometimes when meeting someone, and you share stories of your lives, and exchange ideas and information. As a hoity-toity white woman (’cause I know that’s how I come across) it never occurred to me that there was help for our predicament.

That help came in the form of the Urban League of Elizabeth.  And that lovely woman inquiring about the house, with clarity of purpose told me. “There’s a man there named Charles. I think you should meet him.”

Today we are entering the Trial Modification. There have been countless applications, and paperwork, thicker than what used to be the Manhattan Yellow Pages. And embarrassment, because people like us don’t have things like this happen. When life and your own ineptitude at managing and anticipating it endeavors to kick you in the ribs like so many others- but not the people you know. Because my dear, these things don’t happen to people like us. It’s just not done.

At least that’s what I’d been led to believe. The night we met Charles, he said to me. “I know you feel alone, but you’re not. There are 40,000 people just like you. In Union County alone.” Countless applications for modifications, endless submissions of every kind of bank statement, utility bill, and more submissions had been for naught.  In the fifth year following the Intent to Foreclose notices, and the third short sale of our home that had gone into contract and then simply fell though, we walked away. After meeting Charles, with his help, I began to put the paperwork together again. We were turned down another two or three times, but he talked us through it and we kept resubmitting and we moved back home. We have poured every last centime into patching the house back together and this morning, Charles led the conversation with Ocwen wherein I accepted the terms of the Trial Period of the Modification.

It may not be the end. But it is certainly the end of the beginning.

Beginning, ending and DeJaVu all over again

The move continues unabated. We are marginal enough as a family that big changes often take place using shopping bags and throwing junk in the back of our cars. We have also rented UHaul trucks, but never big enough to do the entire thing in one fell swoop. That’s just not our style. Decisions are made swiftly, but moving house drags on and on. Thank God, the end of the month is here, and finally, finally, FINALLY, all that’s left to be done is to wipe the dickens down at the old place.  So, what does one do after a five year absence when returning home? Begin big projects and adopt puppies of course.