I am honored and thrilled to guest post on Rock and Drool today. I often think that Melissa and I share a brain. There have been several occasions when I’ve had to stop reading and look at the title of the blog again to remind myself that I did not write what I’m reading. From our eating and dieting issues to the way we really LIVE in our homes (and our yards…), it is seriously frightening. If you didn’t keep up with her posts on the housing debacle, you should now. Go on…I’ll wait.
Okay–Melissa was nice enough to give me the opportunity to share my story with her readers–I’m not sure that I can fill her shoes, but I am honored to at least borrow them for today!
Yesterday I was “applying” to write for different places and realized that I didn’t know which samples of my writing I should send. I know that my blog writing style is in NO WAY appropriate for…well…REAL writing gigs, so it’s kind of a trying task, one I usually leave to my husband, but that is only so helpful (until it is not helpful anymore)!
What I discovered is, I LOVE my new blog friends. Really. I read their blogs and think, “Wow–I am so lucky to KNOW these writers!” and “THAT is EXACTLY what I wanted to say! I wish I could write like THAT person!” Sometimes I even regret reading their posts because I am afraid that I WOULD HAVE written something similar and now can’t for fear of plagiarizing. It’s complicated being in my brain–I suggest you avoid it at all costs!
Anyway, my blog friends Perspective Parenting and I could have been mother of the year if… left such nice comments and REALLY made me feel good about myself (THANK YOU,LADIES!) and my husband…well, my husband left a comment because he thinks he is funny, but I REALLY want to know which ones are better than others. I am NOT fishing for compliments (though I DO love the ones I got!)–I just never know which posts I should choose to give people the impression that I am sometimes funny. Or informative. Or entertaining. Or NOT the crazy person I appear to be. You understand.
Some may find this vain–like I must be vain to even THINK that people would want to read what I have to say. Maybe it is, but I cannot believe that ANYONE would think that I am vain (is THAT vain?!). Of course, my mother indicated that SHE thought I was being vain when we had our first discussion about Words With Friends.
I had just started playing and had won my first fifteen games. I am NOT saying this to brag…I am saying it because it HAPPENED. I was telling my mother about an ongoing “chat” with my friend, Bill who accused me of cheating (and other things), but was HILARIOUS in his responses to me. I would think of a word and laugh before I played it because I knew he would hate me for it and would have some smartalecky (yeah–that’s what I said) comment about it. The whole thing made me laugh and I was telling my mother (I KNOW you are probably reading this (ten years after I write it), but I am telling the story as I remember it, MOM!) about Bill and about the fact that I was afraid that people wouldn’t want to play with me anymore. My mother could barely contain her eye roll as she told me that I just wasn’t playing with the “RIGHT PEOPLE.”
WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE?! Now, I KNOW she meant it because she thought I was all full of myself and not because she thinks I’m a dumbass (I’m actually NOT so sure about THAT), but what does that say about the people I play against? If I’M a dumbass and I’M beating THEM, what does that make THEM? I am SO insulted–for them AND for me!
I of course called her on it and thought she would retract her statement (I’m not sure WHAT in our history made me think THAT), but she only reiterated what she had initially said (still so mean!) and mentioned the people she played with all over the world who have like six hundred point games. (Who is bragging NOW?!) I was DEFINITELY getting defensive at this point because she said this in a voice that indicated that I would NEVER be in such a high scoring game. The problem with this situation (and situations LIKE this one) is that no matter what I said I would sound whiny and juvenile and, yes, like a braggart, even IF I just wanted to state the facts (like I had SEVERAL games where we scored OVER EIGHT HUNDRED points) and let her know that I didn’t always annihilate my friends…many of them really kept me on my toes with two of us playing over thirty points each play. At this point it only sounded like I was trying to give credit to “the little people” so that I wouldn’t LOOK LIKE a braggart. FRUSTRATING!
This brings me back to nine years ago when we built our second home. We didn’t build our SECOND home. Our FIRST home was an adorable little “bungalow” in Warrenton, Virginia (NOW I guess I am bragging by calling it “adorable,” but why is it that liking things in your life and stating what you believe to be fact is construed as “bragging”? I don’t like it.) and we went all Trading Spaces on it (only no one traded anything and Paige and Ty and Hildy never made it to Sycamore Street in Warrenton, though we constantly planned out who we would trade with IF we got on the show. We even got the application at one point, but anyone who knows us knows that getting the application is about as far as we get on ANYTHING. Luckily we didn’t need to go through an application process to have the three maniacs. THEN you would get back the twenty minutes you just lost reading this. Hmmm…), it looked FANTASTIC (yes, I know–BRAGGART)! We only lived there a year and were able to sell it for significantly more than what we paid for it–because of the market at the time and because of what we did to it.
Which brings me to the ONLY house we built, but the SECOND house we owned. Though I don’t really like to use the word “owned” considering we paid money to the bank every month that we lived there. OWNING would indicate that we DIDN’T need to pay anyone to live there. Let’s say that it was the second house we didn’t rent. THAT isn’t a mouthful or anything. Rolls RIGHT off the tongue…
So, my husband got this amazing promotion (and worked for these AMAZING people) which brought us to Fredericksburg, Virginia so that he could run an office there. Because of the promotion and the money we made off of our first house, we were able to build our “dream” home and (bragging alert) it was beautiful. Almost TOO beautiful. People treated us differently–assumed we were snobs. Even some of our friends who knew us BEFORE the fancy house treated us differently. Friends from college stayed with us and called it “The MANS” because they joked that it was like a mansion. We filled it with nice things and nice furniture–most of which we got at Marshalls or The Maxx (T.J. Maxx) and Kirklands–stores with discounted decor. We have NEVER gotten along as well as we did when we built and decorated that house, which is weird because you hear all the time about how husbands and wives fight about those things. We had the same idea of everything we wanted and it turned out great. (NOT bragging. I’ll post pictures. Yeah right…’cause I am SO GREAT at posting pictures…)
Stay with me–there IS a point to this line of questioning–or answering. Where was I? Oh yeah–so neighbors would come over and introduce themselves, telling us that they had walked through our home as it was being built (which is kind of funny since WE weren’t allowed to walk through it as it was being built!) and wondering what the owners would be like. Imagine their disappointment when they met us!
It’s funny because so many people tried to make us into the people who they THOUGHT we would be by looking at our home, but we were still…us. Sure, the house was ENORMOUS and OH-SO-MUCH cleaner then, but we moved in when I was pregnant with Brayden. Although the house was huge, it wasn’t too hard to keep up with it since it was only the two (and a half–then three) of us. As I had more babies, it became more difficult. Actually, after my first, my husband’s “Thank you for giving birth to my baby” gift was to have someone come in to clean. SO. GREAT. Even better than “SO.GREAT,” but I am tired and cannot come up with stronger words. Just know that I think longingly of that time every time I step on an old piece of oatmeal or a defrosted blueberry. *sigh*
SO…there is oh-so-much for me to talk about here, but I need to bring it back to my mother (I am QUITE certain she is THRILLED about THAT information!). She was one of the first people to stay with us in the new home and (naturally) I wanted to impress her. It’s funny–in college, my friend Jen shared something her mother used to say, “There are THREE sides to every story: YOUR side, MY side, and THE TRUTH.” I never forgot this and lived by it. When I look back on my mother’s visit, I am giving you MY side and I realize now that HER side is probably very different. As I was trying to impress her, SHE was thinking I was bragging, which I find so weird because anyone who knew (or knows) anything about me knows that I am one of the most insecure people you could ever meet (which usually is the reason for bragging, I know, but I am completely ANTIbragging–I swear!). I’ve DEFINITELY been working on this and think I give the opposite impression now, but that is mostly because I am too tired for the garbage. I try to just say what I think and feel and am unable to sugar coat or think of the consequences anymore. I’m tired.
Okay…so my mother and I are driving around Fredericksburg and there is a cute little rambler for sale. I say, “Oh–that’s a cute house!” to which my mother responds, “Oh, Nika–don’t be a snob!” WHAT?! Don’t be a snob?! I sincerely meant that it was a cute house and wasn’t even THINKING about MY home at this point, but my mother, after staying in “The MANS” assumed I had become a snob and a braggart and couldn’t possible LIKE the house I pointed out to her. So. Sad. For ME because that is most certainly NOT the impression I wanted to give and for HER because how horrifying would it be to actually think that you raised a SNOB?! Slob, okay, but SNOB…? NEVER!
Which brings me to now. I think that most people read my self-deprecating words and know that I simply say what is on my mind and I’m not really too sure about myself and I would THINK that my mother would know that she didn’t raise ANY of us to be full of ourselves, but she obviously forgot. Or maybe my attempts at impressing her (my side) made her believe that I was full of myself (her side) when really I was the same person living in a fancier house (the truth).
The thing is, after the first few months living there, we tried to downplay the house and everything in it. People would come in and say things like, “Pshaw (yes–that’s a thing!) Must be NICE to have a house like this!” “Must be NICE to have fancy furniture!” and “I wonder why YOU guys get to live in a house like this…” REALLY?! I remember when people would say things like this and I wouldn’t say anything–I felt guilty and uncomfortable and kind of agreed with them. Why DO we deserve to have this house? It ISN’T fair to others. Looking back, I feel angry. I would NEVER go into a person’s home and question ANYTHING. It wouldn’t even OCCUR to me to think that they didn’t deserve to be there. I would maybe compliment their stuff and think, “Maybe some day WE could have this” or “Wow–good for THEM!” and never even CONSIDER that it would one day be me. Because it wasn’t ABOUT me. Why did others make OUR house about THEM?!
The end of this terribly long post (or Terrible AND long post…) will be posted later. NO ONE should be forced to read much more than what I’ve written (Your side), even IF it is hilarious (MY SIDE), which I think we all know it’s NOT. (the truth.)
Part 2 of the housing debacle
The other shoe fell. The housing market started to crash and my husband’s company closed his office. He took a job out of Wilmington, NC and we tried to sell our house–no bites. His new company allowed him to work out of the house (on commission only) and we were primarily living off of savings. Luckily, we had a lot of that from when times were good. Only, it’s funny (or in fact, not-so-funny) how quickly you burn through savings when there is hardly any money coming in…too quickly. I went back to teaching (you know–that lucrative profession that is so revered…) and we attempted to make it on what we were both bringing in, but we worked through our savings and the teaching salary didn’t cut it. My husband looked for work and finally found it–across the country in Kalispell, Montana (or MonFREAKINtana) and we tried a short sale on our house. Only AFTER we decided on the short sale (and had buyers) did people start coming out of the woodwork wanting to buy the house. Almost everyone I knew called to tell me about SOMEONE who wanted to buy our home. Only WE were in Montana and our HOME was in Virginia. We relied on our “realtor” to do right by us and THAT was like the ZILLIONTH mistake we made in what we can refer to as “The Downfall of the Corwin Empire.” Okay–THAT may be braggartly (?!), but it makes me laugh–I’m not sure why. I’m not sure why ANYTHING makes me laugh, so give me a break, okay?
So I agree that if you are selling your home it is okay to use a For Sale by Owner, HelpUSell or something along those lines, but after trying to sell our home and failing, we put it on the market a year later, and as I mentioned above, decided to do a short sale (after depleting our savings) and went through HepUSell. The problem with this plan was the fact that realtors for those companies only make a set amount–UNLESS they do a short sale. The guy we worked with told us all about it–and that he primarily does short sales because it’s the only way for him to make good money. Red flag? You’d think, but no. He was clearly not inspired to do any WORK for us, he just wanted to collect his fat check. After dragging his feet for eight or nine months (and preventing the fine family who waited patiently to move into “The MANS” from looking to purchase elsewhere), the deal finally fell through. He never passed the paperwork on to the right people…though we cannot solely blame him. WE probably should have tried to sell sooner–instead of trying to make it work when times were tough and even if he HAD done his part…Wells Fargo OWNED our loan and had HSBC servicing it so it was almost impossible to get ANYONE to help us or to answer our questions. After nearly eight months, our loan ended up with Countrywide who rejected the short sale immediately. I don’t even remember the whole thing, it was maddening–especially when we already felt like the dregs of society for doing the short sale–NOW we were moving into FORECLOSURE…for shame!
What I DO remember about this time is getting a phone call from HelpUSell guy on a particularly trying day after I had just had surgery. We hadn’t heard from him in a while and had begun to lose hope, as we could not afford to keep up payments on a home we were not living in AND pay for a place…well…to ACTUALLY live in with our family.
Just a side note, there was definitely a time when I was afraid that we would not have a place to live–AT ALL. I know that family would have eventually learned of what was going on and insisted that we stay with them rather than be homeless, but this was a definite possibility for our family. I have NEVER been so afraid–what kind of parent WAS I anyway? How could I let it get to the point where my babies could very well not have a place to sleep? I am so glad that I have NEVER been one to judge people who are homeless or needy or…well, I try not to judge ever, but nobody’s perfect. I’m not BRAGGING here, I am simply stating a fact. Whenever friends would complain about other “dregs” of society, I would always think of my friend Jen and the three sides to every story. You NEVER know what is going on in a person’s life because you have NEVER walked in that person’s shoes. Now it seemed I WAS walking in another person;s shoes. I didn’t love it…
My husband was at work and I was attempting to get food for the maniacs. Realtor-guy called and was manic on the phone, asking me to quickly send $5,000 so we could finalize the deal.
Here’s me: ” WHAT?! Five THOUSAND dollars? If I had FIVE THOUSAND dollars, do you REALLY think I would be living in a 600 square foot TOWNHOME across the street from a drug dealer in MonFREAKINtana?! I don’t THINK so!” Just a note about this–the townhome was NOT so bad–it was just SO SMALL and there were naked babies running around outside all the time…we were able to move to a larger, nicer home after about six months (where MY babies were the naked babies running around outside). It turns out that the landlord of the townhome was great and the landlord in the NICER home was a creep, but I digress…
The short sale fell through, mostly because our “realtor” was an idiot, though I’m sure the fact that we had to stop paying the mortgage didn’t help. The best part was the fact that we would get notices from the HOA demanding that we cut our lawn and fix our mailbox and do things that we did not have the money or time to either fly back to Virginia (about $2000) to fix it ourselves or to hire someone to do it for us–especially on a home we were regrettably losing. Irresponsible, maybe–but we were definitely going through some things. I only felt bad about all of this because of the dear friends we left in Fredericksburg who had to LOOK at our trashed home–the home that was once the subject of MUCH bragging…and think that it was bringing down THEIR property values (which would continue to drop–with or without our help, but who KNEW this would happen?!).
Well, THIS sounds like a big pity party or something and if there is ONE thing I CANNOT STAND (more than a braggart) it’s a victim. I played the “victim” once in real life in the late eighties and early nineties (some of you, if I didn’t lose you eighteen paragraphs ago, knew her and it was NOT fun for you, I’m CERTAIN!) and decided that I could not STAND to be that annoying for my ENTIRE life! So please do not think that in ANY part of this I wanted to be A. A BRAGGART or 2. A VICTIM. It is just one of my nonsensical rants to inform or entertain.
…and to perhaps challenge you to a WWF game…