Finding “Baseline”

It’s done.

Over.

The monkey is gone. No more scratching, clawing and making our lives a constant uncertainty day after day after day after… You get the idea.

We closed. The old house is gone. In the capable hands of new owners who will love and care for and fit in the house, hopefully for many years to come.

Closing was $550 more than we were expecting.

So we’re that much farther behind. The scratch marks the monkey left behind are deep and raw and still quite tender. Christmas giving is going to be minimal this year. I’m estimating we will be recovered from the shortfall by January.

Just in time for taxes. We may bite the bullet and get an actual accountant this year, Between taxes on My Mom’s alimony, property tax on our house, rental income and expenses on the old house and the sale at a loss, this is going to be even more confusing than last year. BUT, an accountant will cost about $500 so I’m still going to try to do it myself. I don’t know if we can justify the expense when we’re already going to end up paying (probably a sizeable chunk) of taxes based on My Mom’s alimony. Yet again I voice my opinion that it is completely unfair that he gets a tax break on alimony and she has to pay taxes. The judges told her the settlement was inequitable in his favor in the first place, this just makes it that much worse. It’d be nice if he would pay some of the rest of the settlement off, her half of the house and all since she doesn’t have to pay taxes on that.

So anyway. Finances are still a giant clusterfuck and will continue to be for a while. We’ve passed the mess with the old house and survived and eventually, we will be better off.

There are lots of things that need to be done in our house that are just going to have to wait for now. We have to replace the front and side doors. The draft that comes in from the door on the side is enough to blow papers off of The Peach’s little drawing desk. And the front door isn’t much better. The pellet stove that we invested in last year is losing the battle to the drafts and so we are dumping money into both pellets and oil trying to combat the cold. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be even colder and snowier than the last. Joy. It’s October 23. It snowed all last weekend. Just flurries and honestly not earlier than usual for our neck of the woods, but still a rude awakening that summer and autumn have flown by too fast and the only thing we have left to show for it are a few tail feathers consisting of an overgrown lawn and a pool full of fallen leaves.

Finances aside, I’m still reeling. I have this nagging anxiety that won’t go away. Like I’m waiting for something else to happen and the proverbial shit is going to hit the proverbial fan and we’ll be proverbially fucked. All the months of living in this constant state of stress and uncertainty have left me feeling shaky and unstable like I can’t get my feet on solid ground. I can’t concentrate. I can’t motivate myself. I am not functioning at my best right now. Which is totally annoying. I’m used to being sharp. On it. Capable. I’m none of those things right now. And it’s not a depression thing. I don’t think. Just this general film of unease that is clouding up my vision and clogging up my inner workings so my gears have to grind in order to move.

I don’t really remember normal. At least, normal for me. But I’d like to get there again. I’d like to find that sense of stability where things go wrong occasionally, but they’re not spirit-crushing catastrophes that leave me hopeless and slightly crazy. I’d like to get back to baseline. Back to a place where I can post in my blog and do my job and take care of my kids and do all those things that I’m normally capable of. Because the monkey is gone. And I want to be me again.

“Where the Eff Have I Been” Part II… The Money Pit

So… we’re selling attempting to sell our house. Not the one we’re living in. The one we were living in before. We’ve been unable to sell it for about 2 years.

We had a tenant for about a year and a half. Honestly, they were great. They always paid their rent on time and kept the place up pretty well. We were still in the red about $200 a month between our mortgage and escrow payment and the rental income. But manageable. The last 6 months they were there, we agreed they would go to a month-to-month lease so we could put the house back on the market. And lo and behold, we got an offer on the house… An offer of about $30,000 less than what we were asking.

We went back and forth for weeks and finally came to an agreement, $115,000 with $5000 from us back at signing. So basically $110,000. On a house I paid $143,000 for. On a house that I still owe $104,000 to the bank on. With the realtor’s fees, lawyer and various incidentals, we’d be out of pocket about $1,500. We decided it was worth it to, as my realtor put it, “get the monkey off our backs.” So we took the offer, signed a contract and hoped for a closing date towards the end of August. Which would work out really well because the tenants gave their 30-day notice 2 days before we got the offer we eventually accepted.

Then the fun really started.

The buyers are getting an FHA loan through Wells Fargo. FHA loans apparently require you to jump through about 500 hoops before they will give you money. As the sellers, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops ourselves.

The first hoop… not too bad. Just had to make sure the siding and skirting was all in place and the front porch didn’t have any peeling paint. No biggie.

The second hoop… Here’s where the trouble started. The septic. The bank required the septic be pumped and inspected. So the guy pumps the tank ($280) and informs us that the tank is “crumbling” and needs to be replaced. $2500. No. Wait. $3000, the tank is oddly shaped and requires extra labor for installation.

About 2 hours after I got the call informing me just how much the septic would be to replace, I get a text from the tenant (who was just getting the last of his things out of the house and cleaning, because he’s nice)…

The hot water heater is leaking and flooding the room

Great. The Zen Master rushes over there with his wetvac and cleans up the mess and waits for the (after-hours) plumber. Hot water heater is done. Needs to be replaced. $1700. Closing is now set for 9/8.

Septic needs to be pumped again before the tank is replaced. Only $260 this time. Closing is now set for 9/15.

Inspection. Not bad.

Appraisal.

Tie downs under the house are insufficient. Additional tie downs needed. $400.

Structural Engineer required to inspect the house and determine that the ramps and porch that are added on are not “compromising the structural integrity of the home.”

At this point I have received several collection calls from the mortgage company wondering why I haven’t paid September’s mortgage payment. Since the closing has now been pushed to 10/8, I bit the bullet and paid September. $1100, that we were planning on putting towards closing.

House itself is fine. Ramps and porch need retrofits to meet specifications. This time the buyer handles it.

Septic. Again. Requiring a scoping to make sure the pipes are ok. Everything is good, Septic company send the invoice with their report to the bank. Nope. Need a letter on company letterhead stating the septic is permitted for a 3 bedroom house and it is in good condition and will be sound given good maintenance. Closing is now 10/16.

Guess what? Septic is not permitted. Permit was never obtained because it was “Grandfathered in.”

So now I’m waiting on our realtor to argue with the bank and plead with the zoning office to try and sort this out. Closing is… I don’t even know if there will be a closing now.

We have no way to pay the mortgage on both houses without a tenant. At this point, if we cannot straighten this thing with the septic out, I will seriously consider letting the house go into foreclosure.

And the worst part? The buyers. They’re a 50+ couple who’ve never owned a home before with a handicapped son. The house is handicapped accessible so it’s truly the perfect home for them. They’ve painted inside and out, pressure washed and stained the deck, and did all the retrofits under the ramps and front porch. They’ve put as much into this as we have and they deserve this home. It infuriates me that the bank is making it so hard for them to buy their first home, all because it was the banks themselves who fucked up the whole housing situation in the first place.

So that’s caused a little bit of stress this summer. Another reason I haven’t posted I guess.

Anybody happen to have about $100,000 laying around and feel like getting this house off our hands?

Didn’t think so.

You know I’m getting desperate when…

I start posting personal stuff on my blog… Okay, I ALWAYS post personal stuff. I mean personal information stuff.

So here’s the thing. One of the numerous reasons I’ve been lax on posting lately is (yet again) struggles with finances.

I love my house. I really do. It’s in a perfect location and it’s the right house for my girls. But it is costing us SO MUCH GODDAMN MONEY. Did you ever see that movie “The Money Pit?” That’s kind of what I’m feeling like at the moment. One thing after another, after another, after another.

Seriosly.

Seriously.

We got an energy improvement loan and got a pellet stove. Unfortunately, we apparently should have replaced some doors and added some more insulation to the house first. And maybe put the stove in a different location. Because last week, we ran out of oil, a few days before we were due for a fill. Which means we’re actually using MORE oil to heat rather than less.

Granted, it has been painfully cold this winter, like, I-almost-miss-Florida-cold. But not quite. But regardless, the drafts and poor insulation in the house are drowning out the moderate amount of heat the little stove is cranking out. And of course, since the house was built in 1949 with addition after addition after addition put on, the footprint on the main floor has lots of angles and the hot air that is actually beating out the drafts is really only able to heat one room.

So the oil bill is still pretty high and our electric/water/sewer (all in one) is through the roof since we’re having to use space heaters in all the minus-fuck-you temperatures we’ve had the past few months.

My Mom finally got the bill for the divorce lawyer. $1000 for not much of any help at all. Mom did most of the legwork. They didn’t even go to court with her.

We’re desperately trying to sell our old house since our tenants are on a month-to-month lease right now (the only way they would agree to let us have the house on the market), and even if we sell it at the asking price, we’ll only walk away with enough to pay some of our debt down. Like, less than half. I’m basically losing my entire down payment, which was my inheritance from my grandmother. Joy.

Taxes. Oh taxes. oh, oh, OH MY GOD TAXES. My Mom has been getting a good amount of alimony from That Man since the divorce. According to the judges (3 of them in complete agreement) even the settlement she got, which was more than she asked for, was not anywhere near an equitable one, to his advantage. And here’s the really unfair part. He gets to deduct it from his taxes. All of it. He’s most definitely going to get a refund this year. My Mom? She has to pay income tax on what she’s received. Which we’ve put nothing aside for.   Our tax bill could be as much as $5000 (Maybe more? Hope not). But we honestly have no idea. And the accountant is going to cost us $550 just for basics. And unfortunately, H&R Block is, IMHO, not equipped to handle the huge clusterfuck of alimony, rent, property tax, medical bills, medical premiums and various other craptastic stuff. Plus, they’ll likely charge us as 2 households anyway which will be almost as much as a CPA.

Finally… And the reason for my begging and pleading post today….

Princess Punk is going to Barcelona. Hopefully. This is a beyond incredible opportunity for her. And we’ve done a lot of fundraising and belt tightening and no-more-morning-Dunkins-Mrs. Newlife. But here’s the thing… My Mom has to go too. Because of the horrible D-Monster, we need to send a chaperone on the trip who is closely acquainted with Princess Punk’s personal issues with blood sugar regulation, low and high numbers, the effect of sports on her sugar, hormones, stress, travel… Etc. I can’t go and The Zen Master can’t go because of our respective jobs. So it falls on My Mom. It’s $2500 for each of them. Which includes a lot. Airfare, most meals, hotel and entry fees to various tournaments and games. But not incidentals, like say, Princess Punk’s passport. Oh. I didn’t mention the reason did I? Okay. ADD much? Anyway. This trip is for her high school soccer team through the local soccer club. She will have the opportunity to play against European soccer… Excuse me… Football teams. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. This is a chance to get her skills up, a chance to make the varsity team for real next year, a high mark to put on her college applications, a chance opportunity that could help her land a scholarship in 3 years. This. Is. Important.

And yeah, I know there are tons of people out there reading this saying, “WTF is wrong with you, save your money for something else… Like bills!” But this is important. I’d even say vital to the future of my Princess. We don’t have money for a college fund. The Princess has decent grades (finally) but not good enough to get a scholarship. She doesn’t test well so a 1600 on the SAT is just unrealistic. This trip is a HUGE step towards her being able to get into a good (even just decent) college. So it’s more important than taxes, or bills, or credit cards, or house repairs. Because this is a step toward a future for my Princess. And she deserves it.

http://www.gofundme.com/Jules_Eurotrip

So here I am. Begging for donations. And I hate that. I hate asking for money. I truly do. Because there are so many more out there worse off than I am. So maybe, IF you decide to take pity on me and make a donation, you can make a donation to JDRF or the American Diabetes Association too. Because that’s the main reason we’re getting killed on this.

JDRFada-75th-anniversary-logo_247-horiz

 

 

 

Thank you!

I ache sometimes

My chest hurts. I’m not having a heart attack or anything. I just ache.

As I relayed yesterday, things have been stressful. Clearly, there’s a lot going on. And everything is changing. Changing so fast my head is spinning and half the time I don’t know where I’m going or how I’m going to get there.

I ache when I look at my kids, and My Mom and My Zen Master. Because I love them so much I feel like my heart is trying to beat it’s way through my sternum and out of my chest.

I ache when I look around my house because I know nothing will ever be the same.

I ache when I wake up crying or screaming in the night because I’ve had yet another sad or scary dream about my father.

I ache when The Zen Master looks at me with sadness in his eyes because when I hurt, he hurts and he just wants to make it better.

I ache when My Mom cries because her life is gone and she has to start all over again.

I ache when she tries with all her might to be calm and polite when he yells at her on the phone and then hangs up on her.

I ache because we’ve lost other people in our lives. We can’t go to his church anymore. Things are strained and awkward with family friends. Terry, who’s become a brother to me, and was going to come live with us when he got out, even Terry is difficult to talk to now.

I ache because… well, because I ache. Because I wake up in the morning and I feel like an old woman because my hip and my shoulder and my jaw still hurt.

I ache because it isn’t fair. To any of us, even him. Because he’s lost us too. And one day he will understand the gravity of that and it will hurt. And I honestly don’t want that.

And I ache for him. For My Daddy. Because I miss him. And he’s gone. He killed My Daddy that day and it will never be the same. Even if he ever forgives me (yes, because he just knows that what happened was all my fault), if we ever come to some sort of reconciliation (which is looking less and less likely right now), if that happens? I will still never be able to be alone in a room with him and feel safe. I will never be able to see his hand lift, even if it were for a handshake, without flinching. He is still my father and he will always be, and no matter how he treats me, or ignores me, or is mean to My Mom, I will still always love him. Unless he hurt my babies, cuz then all bets are off. But I don’t think he’d ever do that. But then again, it never occurred to me that he was even capable of what he did to me. But I still worry about him, bouncing around alone in that huge house, stewing in his anger at the injustice of it all.

I ache because I’m angry and sad and I’m still scared. And I don’t want any of that.

I don’t want to ache anymore.

Breaking point

After a flurry of text maessages from both my husband and my teenage daughter, I sent the following email to both of their cell phones, since my texting was no longer working, probably overloaded by the aforementioned flurry of text messages:

Subj: Now my fucking cell phone is not working

 
You know what? Fuck this. I’m not being Mrs. Newlife* anymore. Being Mrs. Newlife sucks. I will be Georgiana from now on.I will be home around 4pm. Iwill happily accept a hug and a kiss but the next person who asks me something that another person in the household can answer, I am going to completely fucking lose the tiny piece of sanity I have left. And Princess Punk**, before you start getting pissy about me yelling at you, know that I am sending this to more than one person.
 
*Obviously, I used my real name in the actual message
**Ditto for The Princess

Uncertainty

Things are… sketchy right now.

Nothing bad really, just nothing particularly good either.

My Mom is waiting for her divorce settlement to be finalized.

And she is waiting to see how much actual cash she will have at that point.

Because we need to know if we can come up with a minimum down payment for the house we’d like to buy.

Which is a moot point unless we sell the house we are all uncomfortably crammed into at the moment.

Which has produced a single brief phone call since it was listed 7 weeks ago.

And I will be extremely lucky to walk away with anything more than a few thousand. For a house I put over 30,000 dollars down on. Thank you Grandma for leaving me enough money to buy a house after you passed. I’m sorry I seem to have pissed it away in this economic clusterfuck that is particularly discriminatory against mobile homes.

My Mom is in The Peach’s room. The Peach’s crib is squeezed in next to my bed. I have to scoot to the end of the bed to get out in the morning. Which is not particularly easy when you have to pee. My Mom and Princess Punk are sharing a bathroom. Which tends to end up in some sort of drama at some point almost every day. I have no place to get away. None of us do. Except The Princess, the only one who has her own room. But nobody wants to go in there anyway, it’s a stage 6 biohazard zone. I can’t even have privacy in my bathroom. The door doesn’t lock, and my brilliant, not-quite-2-year-old is quite adept at opening doors. So I frequently spend time on the toilet or in the shower yelling, “NO! OHMIGOD, Do NOT touch that!” or, “Mommy is going peepee in the potty. Could you please go see Daddy instead?” To which I’m met with raucous giggles and much squealing and “nooooooooooo” and cockroach-style scrabbling all over the room.

Everything is crowded. And claustrophobic. And loud and crazy and it’s making me want to run away and hide.

Oh, did I mention that HE is living in a 2800 sq foot 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house? By himself.

Just sayin’.

I just want to know what to expect. Even a dim idea about what to expect. I just want one less thing to worry about. Something I can think about. Look forward to. Even make some tentative plans around.

Please?

Some Days are Worse Than Others.

The Peach has discovered that if she bats her long, golden eyelashes at her sister and says, “I seep wif sishy?” Princess Punk will melt and bring her to bed with her. This is usually simply a ploy to stay up later and bounce around from person to person. Last night, the girls retreated to Princess Punk’s bedroom, The Princess grinning like a fool and The Peach with her arms wrapped tightly around her sister’s neck. 20 minutes later, my phone rings. Yes, my daughter called me from down the hall.

“Mom! Wait…. Hang on….” (rustling, then Princess Punk’s muffled voice)

“Who do you want to sleep with Peach?”

(raspy breathing then a slightly less muffled)

“I seep wif Mommy? Mommy! I seep wif MOMMY!”

“Come get her, I’m not getting up.”

So I turn of The Walking Dead and The Peach comes into my room. The Zen Master is playing on his computer, so it’s just me and the midget. We tickle and giggle and snuggle for a little while and then I put her in “The Big Girl Bed.” Which is not a big girl bed at all, but is in fact, her crib. She usually doesn’t have too much of a problem sleeping in her crib now, since she’s still about 6″ away from my head. Not last night.

“NOOOO! Don WAN it! I seep wif SISHY!!!”

Then she puts on the pout. I got her calmed down before hysteria set in and since most of our books are in storage, and it’s damn near impossible to get her to sit through storytime when she’s in “A Mood,” I put some bedtime stories on YouTube and let her watch them until she fell asleep. Which took about 20 minutes.

Not too bad… for a little while. Pretty much right after I fell asleep, she woke up and threw her binky (with phenomenal accuracy) directly at my eye. The she started crying.

“GODDAMMIT! OUCH! Zen Master… ZEN MASTER! Wake up and get your daughter, I’m done.”

So The Peach ended up spread eagle in the bed in-between us, waking periodically to whimper and cry, just loud enough to wake me up, but not her father.

And then I had a nightmare. I’ve been having them on and off, mostly vague, making me wake up abruptly feeling vaguely scared and disoriented.

Last night, was vivid.

It basically boiled down to my father trying to choke me in the hallway at work. I woke up hyperventilating with my hands protectively around my neck. It took me a full minute to become lucid enough to take my hands away, even with The Zen Mater’s firm, reassuring grip on my arm.

I slept through my alarm. Twice.

I cried through physical therapy this morning. I woke up with a headache from my jaw and just hurt diffusely through my head, neck, shoulders and upper back. The pain was all too familiar and I was so frustrated and angry because it was gone. For 4 months, I had huge relief from that debilitating pain and I was free. And then, in a matter of a few minutes of life-changing insanity, it all fell apart. And it isn’t fair. Because in two years, when his record is expunged from the misdemeanor he plead to, I will still be struggling with the physical and emotional damage he unleashed upon my life and the life of my family.

I got to work angry and sad and hurting and unable to focus on very much at all. I made it about 2 and a half hours before I walked down the hallway to my boss’s office, shut the door and started crying as I handed him a slip so I could use even more of my precious sick leave to go home and hide.

Princess Punk was in a snit and The Peach was alternately grouchy and psychotic. I ended up shutting myself in the bathroom and sitting in the shower, sitting in water as hot as I could stand it until the hot water ran out.

And then I climbed into bed and stared at The Peach’s crib, which is not supposed to be in my bedroom, and thought about how much I’d like to be somewhere else right now. And then I zoned out on facebook games until I was able to pass out.

Tomorrow is another day.

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