Thursday, March 31, 2011


Snow. We are getting more snow. It melted yesterday. I heard it dripping outside of my windows. Today, it has started to fall. Again. 5 to 10 inches will be back on the ground, before it is all said and done. This winter just keeps swinging. I hate it.


That is how I feel.

My hope has been replaced with anger.

The "mediation" did not go well. Citimortgage showed up, in the form of a thirty year old lawyer, who doodled while David argued his case, and a twenty five year old, fresh out of school girl, complete with tattoos, who was Citi's representative.

David had his t's crossed, and his i's dotted. He was prepared. They listened, and as far as coming to some sort of agreement, regarding our mortgage, and keeping us in our home, they never were going to budge. The offer was exactly what it was a year ago. No offer at all. There was no "mediation". What it was, was a dog and pony show, put on by our county, and attended by our mortgage company, so all involved can say that there is some sort of program in place. Who actually is getting help, remains a mystery. 

Like the HAMP program. It is helping NO ONE. Even the government recognizes this, and is phasing the program out. It is all a bunch of BS. David took a day off, in vain. There was no discussion. There was no understanding. Mortgage companies would rather foreclose, than assist. Plain and simple. It is a write off, and when it is all said and done, they get free real estate. They have tons of it. They can rent it, sell it. They get to write it off, and profit off of it, numerous times. They win!

A few years ago, I had to call our insurance company. We didn't have coverage for a test that Olivia had to have. I remember crying to the operator on the phone, because we could not afford the test, and it was going to rule something out regarding Olivia's health, that could have been potentially very bad. I remember she said to me, very matter of fact, that she understood, and if I didn't have any more questions for her, was I satisfied with our phone call. There was no emergency line she was going to connect me to. There was no manager who was going to over ride the decision, because they could see, that a little girl needed an important test. It was all business.

I banked on yesterday. I foolishly thought that my county was so alarmed by the obscene amount of empty houses, and the gigantic number of pending foreclosures, they were going to facilitate some sort of discussion between homeowner, and mortgage company, and come to solutions for all. My house, the one that is worth less than half of what I owe on it, the one surrounded by empty houses, in a county, with the highest foreclosure rate in the state of Pennsylvania, will soon be joining the lot of them.

Thank you for nothing Monroe County.

Thank you for nothing Cititmortgage.

There is no help for people that want to be helped. It simply does not exist.

Business as usual.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Big day today. Big.

Today, David is going to court. He is going to our long awaited "mediation". Today, he will sit down with someone representing Citimortgage. Someone, I am assuming, would be a lawyer. We do not have a lawyer. Someone I know recently went through this same procedure a few weeks back, and did not have a lawyer either. She said that a lot of people there, for the mediation, did. She observed three deals go down, before the judge even saw them. Her "mediation" was over and done within thirty seconds, without a positive outcome.

I don't have a good feeling about today.

Especially that I won't be there.

Olivia is home with bronchitis. And we were already instructed to not bring children. So here I will be. Waiting. And cringing, knowing that I could really argue our case. I know David can. But I know that at times, even though I tend to be overly verbose, I can really argue my point. David sticks to the facts. I go with my heart. I am sure David is relieved that I will be here, and not there.

Emptied our vacation fund yesterday. Thank God for Coinstar. Some weeks, the wiggle room between today and payday gets a little too tight. Olivia was excited that I was emptying the contents of our fund and taking it to the bank. She thought that we were going on vacation. She actually asked me if we had enough money to buy plane tickets somewhere.  *sigh*

Last night, the girls were in their school talent show. Charlotte sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". My Charlotte, the one who used to hide behind my knee, and only spoke in front of chosen adults. She amazes me every day.

Olivia had a 103 degree fever. But she slapped a smile on her face, and went on stage, and did her dance, with her BFF. She didn't want to let her friend down. She danced, and sang. I was swelling with pride. So was David. On the walk to the car, she broke down, and cried, and told us how awful she felt. She had to be carried into the house, and she didn't even want to take her coat or boots off. I undressed her, and gave her Advil and put her to bed. She was so out of it.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and checked her. Her skin was cool. She looked like my baby, just for a moment. If I just focused my eyes on her lips, and nose, and cheeks, and her closed eyes, the baby face is still there.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Over an hour, to move, maybe two miles. I was waiting for one of the girls to tell us they had to go to the bathroom. When we finally made it to our friends house for the weekend, all was right. I went out for a drink, with my friend, while the men stayed with the kids.

We went out for a drink, like real adults.

No. Kids.

We went to the place that David and I had one of our first dates at.

I spied our table. I smiled inside.

When we came home, the kids were playing. Molly was dancing. Candles were lit.

We cooked dinner.

We played music way too loud, way too late, and drank way too much wine, laughing the entire time.

Spent a few hours at the beach with the kids. Being by the water, and breathing in the cold air, made me feel alive. The girls ran everywhere they went. Molly was going so fast, her feet couldn't keep up with her top half, and down she went, giggling each time.

The girls helped cut greens for dinner. Charlotte loved every single minute of it.

A visit to the bay. Rock collecting. The kids painted them later. We all painted them, actually.

Then a drive down my favorite road, *in the world*, with three sleepy, quiet, girls.

It was nice to leave it all behind, even just for a little while.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Roasted tomatoes and onions and garlic yesterday. Made it into soup. It was delicious. Snow is still on the ground. It looks out of place, as the light has changed. It shouldn't be here. While the soup was good, I hope it is my last pot of the season.

We are going to visit our friends this weekend. They live in our old house. Our love shack. It is always a bit surreal going there. We can't afford to go, and they can't afford to have us, but between all of us, we have enough. And enough laughs to see us through the next few months. There is something so special to me, to be able to sit, and relax, and really talk with people who genuninely care about you, and you feel the same. You really get down to the nitty gritty.

The girls are excited. A weekend away, is like a vacation for them. It is a much needed change of scenery. They are both so much like me. They both woke up stressed about the change in their day. We are picking them up early. Olivia wanted to know if she should bring her coat and bag to lunch. Charlotte made sure to tell me that she eats lunch when the big hand is close to the 11. (?)

Molly won't stop crying lately. All day. I noticed a molar. I will blame that. It is maddening at times. I cleaned a house the other night. I was so happy to get away from her for a few hours. I cleaned three full bathrooms with a smile on my face.

Lot's of balls in the air. We are waiting for them to land. It is this suspended part that has me jumpy. I want to know, but I don't.

I started biting my nails again. Just when they looked nice, too.

Waiting for tomorrow is a waste of today.

I have to keep telling myself that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I realized last night that monkey has not been to Paris in a long time. No more tea parties and birthday celebrations for him either. He has not visited Mars, or the Milky Way. He no longer climbs the pyramids, or balances himself carefully along the Great Wall of China anymore. Sadly, those adventures are over. I thought they would never end.

Monkey is Charlotte's stuffed friend, who really helped her overcome shyness. A young boy was playing one of those crane toy games in a restaurant years ago, while we waited for a table. He won so many of the cheap, plush pets, that he sweetly handed one to each of the girls. They were thrilled. Charlotte was actually over the moon. The instant she was handed the small, pink monkey, it began.

It, would mean the stories. The wild, tales of monkey and her, going all over the world every night. At first, it was adorable. She would awaken in the morning, and without skipping a beat, she would yammer on and on, through making her bed, eating her breakfast, even brushing her teeth, about these exotic locations she and monkey had been to, the night before. David and I would crack up at the detail of every story. She went on and on. Literally.

After a few months, it ceased being so adorable, and I started growing tired of monkey tales. I wanted to talk to Charlotte. I didn't want to hear about this imaginary world. I wanted facts, not fiction. But she was relentless. She made me decorate the house, and she sent us all invitations, scrawled on little pieces of paper, for monkeys birthday party. Or shall I say, parties. It seemed like we were gathering around an imaginary cake a few times a week. Some days, depending if I had some white wine in me, I thought it was fun. Most days, it became annoying. If we didn't sing monkey happy birthday, Charlotte would freak.

Yet, Charlotte, through all of this, evolved. She was always the kid who hid behind my knee. She didn't play with the kids at the playground. She would sit with the mom's. She was a preschool dropout. She stressed so much about being away from me, and playing with other kids, she would wake me up in the middle of the night, in tears, begging me not to go. It broke my heart.

The final straw was when I went to pick her up from school one day. There she sat, on the lap of the teacher, with a folded hat made out of newspaper, sitting high on her head, and the saddest face I had ever seen. She was going through the motions. The teacher told me she kept asking after every project they did was it time for mommy to come yet. I didn't have the heart to force her to continue on.

I worried about our decision for the rest of the year. Especially when she seemed so shy, and dependant on me. Taking school out of the equation I feared would isolate her more. But the summer she turned four was when monkey came. And she changed. She started preschool, yet again, and after a few bumps in the beginning, and some tears, she loved it. Monkey and his tales were part of our daily life that whole year. But for whatever reason, it got her through. It got us all through.

David was tucking Charlotte into bed last night. I had already kissed her goodnight. I heard him say to her, as I left the room, "Monkey doesn't really go anywhere anymore, does he?" Charlotte simply said, "Nah."

"Nah". That's it? Really? I hadn't realized that monkeys adventures had become so few and far between, that they were no more. I hadn't realized that Charlotte didn't need him anymore. I guess the transition was so subtle, it went un-noticed.

Like hang-ger-ber. That's what the girls both called hamburgers. When did it change? I didn't hear it. Or nesklets. That was Olivia's word for necklace. Or the pile of crinoline in the corner of Charlotte's room. Snow White costumes, and Cinderella. There, they sit. Unworn.

It ends. It changes. The change is slow, but the part that makes me sad, is that when I finally do notice, I can't believe that I didn't notice sooner. Have I been asleep on the job? Worrying about worry? Stressed about stress?

All those mornings of me, clenching my teeth, with my back to Charlotte, pouring my coffee, just screaming inside my head, barely able to stand yet another monkey adventure.

And poof. It's over.

Monday, March 21, 2011


David's Dad left on Friday. The visit was nice. The girls loved it. They were sad when he left. I always sleep better when family are here. Like when my parents spend the weekend. I feel safer knowing we are all here together. I felt that way with my father-in-law here. We were just a little more secure.

The weather fooled us all into thinking that the cold and snow was over. I eyed up our snow shovel on the front deck on Friday, and thought about putting it away for the season. Doors were opened. The breeze blew through the house, removing all of our stale, winter air. My orchid is putting on quite a show. The girls love checking to see how many blooms are opened, each morning.

The baby has croup. She is better today. I took her to the doctor after a night of listening to her cough like a seal. She is on antibiotics, and a steroid. She needs a nebulizer treatment three times a day. She loves the attention of having to sit with a mask on, and makes sure everyone gathers around her. I kept thinking how thankful I was to have medicine, and diapers. I kept thinking about desperate people in Japan. Frightened parents, with babies. Unable to get help for their families.

Charlotte was sick yesterday. She was lying on the couch all day, with a pain in her neck. The pain got so bad that she cried. I, of course, began researching spinal meningitis, and my heart began to race. I kept checking her for signs of mental confusion, and lethargy. David thought I was nuts. She apparently slept funny on her pillow all night. I was ready to whisk her off to the emergency room. Than she told me she was feeling better, and I was relieved.

Today, snow. No school. The girls are eating blackberries. And toast. And fighting.


Talk of the Middle East again. Financially, it would save our life. I can't imagine what else it would do to it. The two days David was gone a few weeks ago was rough on the girls. And me. I am the serious parent. David is the fun one, with endless patience for the girls. I do not have that ability. The patience part. I worry about being unable to step up to the plate. I worry about it all.

What a difference a year, or a month, or a week, makes. What a difference a day can make.

Like night and day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


When my father-in-law arrived on Friday, he came with David, in a U-Haul truck. Some furniture from Grandpa Joe's house, was given to us. It had to be transported here from Long Island, so David's dad paid for it to be delivered here. We needed dressers. We had a chair in the corner of our bedroom that was piled high with clothes, and at least once a week would "avalanche" to the floor.

The dressers are almost 50 years old. Heavy, sturdy pieces of furniture. Mahogany. They are painted a strange color. I can't quite put my finger on it. I had plans of stripping them, and painting them white, but when we put them in our bedroom, they matched the walls, and our sheets and bedspread. They match perfectly.

I put all of our clothes away, and placed our things, on the dressers. I hung the old mirror above the dresser. It is a little gaudy, but I like it. The mirror is old, and not very clear. Your reflection appears a bit cloudy. I rearranged some pictures on the wall, and hung a mirror of my own, next to it. The whole effect is really nice. I keep going in our bedroom, because for the first time, in almost 8 years, it looks really nice. Not forgotten.

The dresser has a discolored mark on the top of it. It is apparently from David's grandmother's ash tray. She kept it in one spot. I was cleaning the inside of the drawers and found some ancient looking bobby pins. David kept them. There was an old 10 cent stamp too. Tiny remnants of people no longer here.

As I was hanging my paintings on the wall, I thought that maybe I shouldn't be doing it. Maybe we will be gone in a year or so. Maybe it was foolish of me to be "re-decorating" a bedroom that we might not be living in much longer.

Or maybe, we will be.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Olivia was stretched out on the floor, watching TV the other night. She startled me. I looked at her, and saw a girl. Gone is my baby. I kept staring at her. Her awkward, big teeth, that don't quite fit her face yet. Her legs are longer. Her baby feet, no more. High arches have replaced the pudgy little round foot. Her skin has even changed. It seemed to happen in a day. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. Minutes, turning into hours, turning into days. It moves faster than I can comprehend.

David's father is visiting us from Arizona for the week. He does not get to see his grandchildren often. I like watching him, sitting quietly, just looking at them. I can't fathom looking at my children's children. But like the memory of having my ears pierced on my tenth birthday...a memory from almost 30 years seems like yesterday, and I still twist my studs, like winding a watch, as directed so many years ago, because the memory is so fresh. Yet it isn't.

I was looking through an old photo album, made by my husband's grandmother. I never met her. She died many years ago. It is so strange to see her face. A stranger to me, but there is the face of my husband, and my own girls, staring back at me. Divinely linked with a person I never even had the chance to thank.

Looking through the photos, there are soldiers drinking beer together.  A moment in time, most of the men, gone, I am sure. Grandpa Joe is gone now. We lost him in the Fall. It seems lonely to me thinking that he is no longer here. Not a phone call away. His wool hat hangs on a wall, in my house, now. It still smells like him.

I watched a woman on the news last night, from Japan. She was frantic. She lost her little girl. The water rushing at them was so powerful, she lost grip of her hand, and they were separated. She is praying that her daughter is alive somewhere. She will never be able to stop looking, I thought all night. I couldn't stop thinking about her eyes. The sadness in her eyes, was too much to bare.

Sometimes, I get so scared being a parent. I feel like we are aboard a ship, and we have lost our navigation. We are heading into the unknown. But we have to smile, and tell the girls to enjoy the boat ride, and the warm sun on our faces, so they won't be afraid. I want to enjoy it. But the uncertainty of it all. It gets in the way.

At the end of the photo album, past the old postcards from London, sent home from the war to David's grandmother, from Grandpa Joe, are a few love notes. One of them says this.

"Whatever life may have in store,
Through skies be gray or blue...
My heart could ask for nothing more
Than sharing it with you."

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Rain again. The already saturated ground is trying so hard to soak up what has fallen all night. I keep thinking what a green spring we will have. And the small lumps of snow that lined the driveway from weekly shoveling are almost gone.

I spoke with my girlfriend on the phone yesterday. Her husband is out of work. He was laid off about a month ago. He is not getting unemployment, as he works as a contractor. Their emergency savings is down to nothing, and they are eating what is left in her freezer. They have three kids. She works a minimum wage job, and is trying to get more hours. I heard the absolute fright in her voice. I thought about her all day.

I saw another friend whose husband is out of work for two months now. They are panicked. He is collecting unemployment, but it isn't covering their expenses. The stress was on her face.

Both of these men have job interviews Friday. My fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed for them all. Time is ticking loudly. 

My at home work is getting more interesting. Another project by my employer was given to me, in addition to my original job. I am so excited at this chance. I was reading during dinner last night, which the girls objected to, but I had to squeeze it in when I could.

The orchid on my windowsill is opening. Nine buds, poised to blow open. One blossomed on Monday. Yesterday, the second one showed itself. I had given up on that orchid so many times. It has truly surprised us here, and is revealing something that I never knew it had in it.

I am glad I didn't give up on it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I met with the one of the nicest, kindest people yesterday. Sitting in a McDonald's, our agreed upon meeting place, as Molly was accompanying me, I sat, and talked, and listened to an amazing, smart man. He offered me a job. One that I can do, right here, in my home. The work is in the field of alternative fuel. He runs a symposium for the whole Northeast of the country, annually, dealing in solar, and wind, and electric alternatives as fuel. I am beyond excited, and have so much research to do. Did I mention, beyond excited!

Listening to NPR yesterday report on all of the problems in Libya, and gas prices by the barrel skyrocketing, and our pump prices increasing by the day, was nerve wracking. Everything else will follow accordingly now. Food prices will rise. Everything getting that much more expensive. Makes me want to lump my errands into one day, and leave the car parked and not moving, for the week.

As quickly as the snow fell, it melted away. My forsythia bushes are looking like they are about to explode. I think I will cut a few this morning, and force them inside. Spring is so welcome this year.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Words are not coming easy for me today. I have received some amazing comments, and e-mails. I have also received some really awful ones. I am human. I am also sensitive, and they have really hurt me. Especially when they are from nameless, faceless people. People judging my life, and my family, when they don't know the full story, or the circumstances, or have not read beyond the fluffy title, and intro to my blog, which has always been tongue- in- cheek.

A blog is an online journal. It can be about anything. There are gardening blogs, and photography blogs. Food blogs are great. Political blogs can cause quite a stir. My blog is about me, and my family. We are struggling right now, but not like a lot of other people are. I have never failed to recognize that. But these struggles are mine. And they are identical to so many in not only my region of the country, but millions effected by the worst downturn in our economy in 70 years. People are having a hard time. I am not at a poverty level. I am not at a point of being on the street. My husband and I work hard for all that we have. We worked our butts off to get where we are, and will do whatever it takes to provide a safe home, and life for our kids.

To give up, and "cut my losses" as some have suggested, would be irresponsible, as my foreclosure is fraudulent, and I just wont let a bank treat us as it has countless families and individuals. I will fight until there is nothing left to fight, because that is my nature. To walk away would be asking for others to pay my debt.

Someone will always have something negative to say. I have asked for nothing. I simply document my life. A very un-extraordinary life. I am nobody. Nobody to a stranger. But I am somebody to some very important people in my life. I am unlike you. But to some, our lives are the same. To fight for what you have worked so hard for is human nature. To condemn that is odd to me.

The girls have a two hour delay. Snow blanketed the ground overnight, just as it had all finally gone away. The wind is howling. Today, I am meeting someone who has offered me some work. Work that I can do from home. I am really excited to meet with him. His wife owns a very successful business that she started in the basement of their home decades ago. They lived in my neighborhood, and raised their children here. He said they purchased an IBM computer, and it all began there, and is now a hugely successful company. I think that is pretty incredible.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The girls are eating breakfast, and chatting away. 12 grain toast with Nutella and oranges for Olivia, and oatmeal and strawberries for Charlotte. Molly is grazing, as she always does. She had half a banana, and some oranges. She is trying to eat oatmeal, but really, she is just making a mess.

David was out of town last night for work. He is a rep for his union at work. I am really proud of him. Staying here with the girls alone last night makes me have far less patience. I don't know how single parents do it. Thank God they were all tired, and went to bed a little before 8:00. I sat up reading the following websites sent to me by someone who is an expert on mortgage fraud.  and Some pretty heavy reading. Some of it was beyond me. Some of it was all about us. Made me madder. Fired me up. I finally stopped reading, and went to bed. But every bump in the night made me wake up. I don't like being the sole parent, home alone.

Tonight is Charlotte's ceremony at Daisy's where she receives her pin. She is beyond excited. She went to bed last night talking about it, and woke up this morning, without skipping a beat, talking about it. She wants to wear a dress tonight. She wanted to know why the ceremony is taking place in the usual meeting spot of her troop, as opposed to someplace more fancy, like a place where weddings are. Oh Charlotte. So much like me. A picture painted in your head how it's all supposed to be.

More reading today. The mortgage fraud sites are frightening.

And the advertising below...sorry. My readership is up a bit. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Broadway. That was the name of the street in San Francisco. And the corner of either Laguna or Pacific? Not sure about that, come to think of it. It was over 15 years ago. Whatever the name, it was in Pacific Heights. A really pretty part of San Fran. Stunningly beautiful, actually. Old, grand homes from another time. Streets so steep you could only see the road beyond if you stood on their crests. They seemed like drop offs leading to the sea.

We walked, my girlfriends and I, as tourists, through the streets. Approaching us half a block away, were two young boys. Teenagers. One I would even say was less than a teenager. As they walked closer, I remember thinking, they should not be walking around with that toy gun. Someone might think it is real. They could get hurt.

Everything went into slow motion from that last thought. I heard him say "Give me your money, or I will shoot you". I looked at his awkward stance, and how oddly he held the gun, like he almost felt unsure of what he was doing. His hand was shaking. I looked, for just an instant, at his eyes. He was scared. I saw it. He squinted, and looked down. The smaller boy stood behind him, not really knowing his role in the whole thing.

My friend who was by the road ran. She took off, running directly into oncoming traffic, desperately trying to stop a car to help. This left me, and my childhood friend, Lisa. I tried for a second to move toward the street, but he came right at me, clicked something on the gun, and put it right into my stomach. He said it with more anger now. " I will shoot you". He took the nose of the gun, and opened up my bag with it, which I was wearing around my body. He spotted my wallet. I slipped my hand into my purse, removed my wallet, and handed it to him. He looked back into my bag, as if I had more to offer. I said "The wallet has $100.00 and a credit card in it. Take it. It's yours". I thought, you are not taking my purse. It has my keys to my apartment in New York in it. For a nano-second, I even thought about the expense of a locksmith, and how I just wouldn't be able to swing that.

For a while after that experience, I lost a little faith in people. I went from walking around the streets of NY with confidence, to now thinking anybody, at any time, could bring me harm. I would walk home from work, and see groups of teenage boys, and my heart would race. My mouth would suddenly taste metallic, and I would get an urge to vomit.

It took a long time to not doubt people. I still have my days where I drive around, and I feel it. I feel people's anger in the aggressive manner in which they drive. How someone almost crashes into me, and I get flipped off. Just last Spring, we were driving by Target, right here, in my town. David pulled out of a gas station, and apparently, someone thought he pulled out too close in front of him.

Do you know, that man, driving a green mini-van, with his wife and kids in it, turned his car around, and chased us down. He got out of his car, when we were stopped at a red light, and was moments away from attacking us, had David not pulled off the road, and blown through the light. It shook us for days. Literally days. I saw his eyes. I looked right into his, as I was screaming at him to leave us alone. I will never forget his face.

But the last few days have been an experience for me that I never known. I am amazed. I am in awe. I am feeling ashamed of myself for thinking that most people didn't care. It's  simply not true.

The emails, and comments I have received have been overwhelming. The good people... people right here in my own town, going through exactly the same thing my family is, and believe, most are going through far worse, is just mind boggling. The stunning stories people have confided in me, are jaw dropping. I was in a haze yesterday, reading, and thinking about these people all day. All night actually.

Connections. People. Strangers reaching out to one another. It is so beautiful to see. It makes me love the place that I call home, right now. It makes me want to do better. Not just for my family. But for everybody. It makes me feel bad that I was focusing on the bad apples.

Because there are only a few of those. And from the stories that so many of you have shared with me, and all of the awful struggle happening silently, I know I am in good company.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


From Prada to Payless: Pocono blogger captures riches-to-rags life

That's me. I was 4 1/2 according to my mother's familiar handwriting, on the back of the photo. I am sitting next to "Ellie". I named the porcelain elephant my mother had positioned next to her bamboo couch, complete with plastic covering. (gasp) The plastic covers on our furniture were awful. Ugly. Uncomfortable. You slid off them when it was winter, and you stuck to them in the summer. My mother used to Windex them. She had never had brand new furniture, and when my Mom and Dad made this purchase, she was determined to do what it took to stretch their life expectancy. The room was a sort of jungle theme, and the green shag carpeting was chosen to compliment the new sofa and love seat. Ellie was the finishing touch. 1975. Quite a year in home decor.

When I was in 6th grade, my parents were featured in a story, in a small magazine called The Gabriel, put out by our church every month or so. They wrote about the parishioners, and covered Catholic news. My Mom and Dad were, and still are, very active in the church. My Dad was a New York City firefighter, so this seemed like an interesting story, and a church "reporter" contacted my parents, and asked if they would like to share their story, and speak of their family, and career, and faith. They agreed. I remember the lady coming over to our house, and my Dad seeming a little uncomfortable. They sat at the kitchen table, and she asked them questions for what seemed like hours. I was listening in of course, but grew bored, and lost interest.

Months later, the story came out. There in black and white, were my parents! I couldn't believe my eyes. The photos and story were right there, for all to see. I thought my parents were famous. I was so excited. But my father was horrified. He looked so embarrassed, and I remember him having his head down, not wanting to look at anyone at Mass. My father had been misquoted. During the interview, a part I recall eavesdropping on, my father was discussing being a firefighter. The reporter was very impressed by this, and was really focusing her questions on him. My Dad is a very humble man, and did not want to have his feathers stroked for his career choice. In fact, he had gone on to say that there were so many more men that he worked with who were far more stronger, and dedicated, and lived and breathed being FDNY. He went on to say that he knew some guys that were so strong, they could almost tear down brick walls with their bare hands.

What the reporter heard was that in order to be FDNY, you had to pass a test that included the ability to tear down a brick wall with your bare hands.

At our church, many of the parishioners were FDNY. My Dad knew quite a few fellow fireman. You see where I am going with this. The ribbing, and jokes that ensued were merciless. I remember walking out of the church and hearing a man my Dad knew ask him what he scored on that test, and still another chuckling saying he must have missed that day, as he never took that test. The story crept it's way into the firehouse my Dad worked at, and beyond. My father cringed if you even referred to the story in the magazine, and bristled every time he saw that reporter. He demanded she write a correction, which she did, but the damage was done.

Yesterday, I was on the front page of my local paper. It was a cringe worthy moment for me. The editor of the paper had read my blog, and contacted me asking if I would like to share my story. I was very torn. My blog is so personal. It is essentially a diary. A place where I go, and write about things in my life that are causing the course of our life, my families life that is, to shift gears, and change course. I am frustrated by the events that have lead us to be where we are, most importantly, my mortgage company, Citimortgage, and the path they have lead us down, after advising us to stop paying our mortgage with the promise of help, and then abandoning that offer. I am frustrated at all that I am witnessing, right here in my own town, with home after home, sitting empty. I am saddened by the stories I hear, from both friends, and strangers. I am tired of seeing people do nothing and not fighting these big companies for what is rightfully theirs, because they are scared, and don't think they can. I express all of that here.

But I also speak of the amazing gift of my family, and our health, and our love, and how every day, we are thankful for all that we have, and never fail to realize how some days, we may feel sorry for ourselves, but we are well aware of how much better off we are than most.

The headline in yesterdays paper was my first cringe worthy moment. It said my blog captured a "riches to rags story". Ugh. I felt sick when I read that. The story itself was very accurate, and I felt like the reporter did a great job, but the reference to us possibly being rich at some point, I feel I must explain.

 We are not rich. Nor have we ever, ever, been. The title should have been a "just getting by to rags story", because that is what we were. Just getting by. Barely. The title of my blog has always been a joke between David and I. I spent my twenties working in the fashion industry. I was never wealthy. Not even close. I barely made my rent most months. I worked my tail off, and paid my dues, which included 60 hour work weeks, with no overtime pay. It was only the last year or two of my career, that I began to see a healthier paycheck.

I left that life, shortly after meeting David, and we got married, and started a family right away. We moved here, and hoped for a better life. We knew the sacrifices we would make, by me staying home, and taking care of our children. When job loss hit us, and my husbands salary was reduced by almost $15,000.00, things have gotten dramatically more difficult for us. That is where my blog comes in. It is a place that I record these struggles. I also record lots of good stuff too. All the stuff that I fear gets muddled up, and forgotten about, because of all of the stress. All of the stuff that I want to remember, but I fear I won't because my worry eclipses everything else.

Opening up my blog to the general public I knew would come with a price. And it did. I received two negative comments yesterdays. One person, who chose to remain anonymous, suggested I get a job. Good point. One that I have indeed thought of, but am currently having a hard time doing, as we have the small problem of being unable to afford childcare for three children. This has presented quite an obstacle.

But one woman really upset me. Her name is Heather Robinson. She wrote to me, and suggested that I sell my "beautiful furniture" (that's what she wrote). She admitted that she had not taken the time to read through my blog, but felt that I had not changed my "lifestyle" or my "standard of living". She thought that I just want the mortgage company to "fix" my financial situation. She went on to say that she has never owned brand new furniture. (me neither Heather) She also couldn't believe that I want someone else to pay off our debt. (??) She said that I was selfish, and that she imagined us having cars newer than 2005, and a television that was LCD HDTV (wrong, wrong, wrong) and how dare I want to continue on with our previous lifestyle. (again...??)

I have found that before I go, and give my opinion of other people's life, and circumstance, and criticize them in any manner, I form my opinion by doing a little bit of research, and check my sources before I say something ignorant. You should have read my blog Heather Robinson.

Aside from that, something remarkable happened to me yesterday. I was touched by strangers. Complete strangers wrote to me, and shared their unbelievable, jaw dropping stories. Women wrote to me and expressed their families were going through exactly what we were going through. Down to the job loss, and foreclosure process. One woman, named Karen, has six children, and her husband has been out of work for 19 months. 19 months!!! She said " It's sad to see that so many people are in the same exact position. What is sad though, is no one is talking about it. Two of my friends know where we are but no one else does. I honestly just told my mother last month". She also said, regarding her husbands job loss, that "It's been crazy hard and stressful and I feel like I am losing my mind every day but the kids are happy and healthy".

Another woman wrote that she and her husband moved here from NYC to give there family a better life. They have faced financial hardship, and are just barely getting by. She said "from Saks to Sam's Club, know that your not alone". The e-mails came all day yesterday. While they offer comfort, they also make me sad. They make me mad at the same time. Mad that so many people are just struggling for the bare minimum. Sad for the countless families who are being destroyed by this. Mad at the arrogance of the banks and their refusal to help out people, after they themselves were helped out, and sad for the people to scared to fight them.

So, am I selfish? If choosing to hold Citimortgage accountable for help they promised, and then took away, you betcha I am selfish. Selfish because I want others who feel powerless to do the same, and not lay down and die?  I am. Accountability. That is what this is about. Lot's of us are out here trying to do the right thing, and being prevented from doing so, by banks, and attorneys. Not fair. Not fair at all. Selfish for wanting to keep a roof over my kids heads?...I am guilty of selfsihness, yet again.

I laid in bed last night. In the middle of the night, David reached over, and touched my finger tips with his own. His love, and the gift of my family, is what I am certain of. Our future, is the uncertain part. Sometimes that eclipses this. I thought of Heather Robinson in the middle of the night too. Why was her ignorant, uninformed judgement, weighing on me more than the countless letters of the good company we are apparently keeping?

Then I thought of the jungle living room of my childhood. I thought of the awful green couch, covered in thick plastic, that gave it more years than a circa 1975 couch ever should have had. Thank you Mom for encasing it in plastic, and preserving it so well. 

And Heather Robinson...if you know anyone who would like to buy an almost 40 year old couch, held up by books, and a television hand me down, that takes VHS tapes, let me know!