Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Face of Foreclosure- Part 2

"The Inquisition"

Just a quick recap:
I experience darkest moment of whole foreclosure experience which leads to a day of recovery in the form of movie watching. We've just finished KUNG FU PANDA and I'm feeling a little better thanks to that delightful film. Now I'm ready for public. At least I think I am. I think it will be good for me to get up off the couch, shower, make a salad and eat smoked ribs with other human beings. This, I believe, I can handle.

And on with the story:
I'm now at the BBQ, picking the meat off said ribs and telling a couple of friends how we are planning a sale to sell everything. I know I shouldn't bring it up. My goal was to NOT talk about the house. I'm still feeling on the verge of tears. Feeling "leaky," as it were. But I bring it up because, well, I just... they're offering to help. So I say, "Thank you. That would be great!" and that's the end of that. Next topic. Something more cheerful, please?

But, someone had been listening. And decided to join the conversation. Not a terrible crime. It is a BBQ. We're all friends of friends. But I don't know this person and I really don't want to talk to strangers about our financial disaster. It's my own fault. I shouldn't have brought it up. "You're selling everything?" he asks. We'll call him Bud. Do I really have to answer him?

ME: Yes.
BUD: Why?
ME: Um, well...(would it be rude to say I really don't want to talk about it?)
BUD: Are you moving?
ME: Yes.
BUD: Why?
ME: Well, we're selling our house.
BUD: Why?
ME: (oh my freaking lord) Why?
BUD: It's a terrible time to sell. It's the worst time to sell.
ME: Yes, I know.
BUD: Then why?
ME: Because we have to.
BUD: Why?
ME: (seriously?!?!) Because we can't afford it anymore.
BUD: Why?
ME: (speechless)
BUD: Can't you rent it out?
ME: (is this really happening right now?!) No. That won't work.
BUD: Oh. What about refinancing? You should try that.
ME: We did.
BUD: You did?
ME: (getting pretty pissy now) We tried everything. (period. end of conversation.)
BUD: But you really shouldn't sell now if you can--
ME: (cutting him off... ripping off the band-aid) We're in foreclosure!

Suddenly all eyes at this big, long table are on me. Followed by a chorus of:

(Which translates to: how sad, you poor thing, glad that's not me, yikes, etc.)

ME: Yeah.

Just then Bob returns with beverages. A beer for himself (homemade by the host!) and a Mexican Coke for me. What makes it Mexican? It's imported. From Mexico. And it's awesome. It's way better than American Coke. Why? It has Sugar Cane instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup and it always comes in a glass bottle. It's a classy choice by our host to provide Mexican Coke. Classy.

BOB: How's it going?
ME: Oh, fine. Thanks for the Coke! (I turn to my friends) Look! Mexican Coke!

I am desperate for anything else to talk about.

FRIEND: What's Mexican Coke?

So I explain. With relish and great detail. I'm grateful for this new conversation. To have something so trivial to discuss. I am aware that Bud has turned his questions to Bob. I try not to listen. But I hear him fire away. And I hear Bob answer each one with great patience and generosity. Today I'm Doom and he's Hope.

Bob explains how he lost his job and... so this Mexican Coke is so good, right? It's pretty sweet, but better flavor and better for you. Right?

Okay, the thing is... this is exactly why we started this blog. Why? To answer people's questions. To pull back the curtain. There are a lot of people who are terrified that our experience will become their experience. They're afraid the same thing will happen to them and we have been willing to share our experience to hopefully make a difference for others. It was our choice to do this. To become the walking face of foreclosure.

Bob tells me later that Bud's questions were coming from his own fear. He and his wife had just bought a house and she had apparently just lost her job. Our reality is his biggest fear right now. Bob said that he seemed really negative about their situation so he was trying to leave them with some hope.

I get it. People want to know what they can do to NOT end up like us. And they want to know what it's like in case they do. Like a former co-worker of mine. At least once a week he would say to me, "I want you to tell me more about foreclosure because I'm afraid we'll end up there soon."

So, if there are any readers out there with the same fears.... I hope this blog helps. I hope you learn from our mistakes. I hope we leave you with some hope. I hope you don't spend too much time worrying. I hope you don't let your fears (like I did on Sunday) possess you. And it's okay if you do. We get it. Trust me. We get it.

At this point I invite you to ask us questions.
What do you want to know? Ask anything.

You can do that in the comments section below.

Or send us an e-mail at:

Please. Ask away. That's what we're here for!

-Where to buy Mexican Coke? Costco of course [Serious Eats]


Kim Hooper said...

You know, I think you got it just right -- people aren't trying to shame you or make you feel bad. They're afraid. They want to know it's all going to be ok. Yes, some people are better at expressing this than others. I would have crawled under the table with my Mexican Coke and had a little pity party for myself, but you didn't. It just sucks, and I'm sure lots of people are afraid of the reality of foreclosure. They look at you and Bob and think you two are such smart, wonderful people...they don't want to think that "this" could happen to you. I think that's it.

I have a question! What is your opinion on owning property, in general? Lawrence and I talked about looking at places, but it's just too risky in my opinion. I have no interest in it right now. All that would have to happen is for me to lose my job and we'd be up shit creek. We're "safe" (relatively) where we are now. I can't see myself ever feeling in control of my anxiety enough to buy...but maybe I don't understand the whole "You gotta take a leap of faith" idea. Would you buy again down the road? What I don't get is the criticism people have of those in foreclosure. They say, "Well, you should have been able to know your finances and planned better." But, how can you plan better? NOBODY (except for Mariah Carey and Oprah and some others) can afford a home without an income. What happens when the income is gone? It doesn't seem right or fair. You guys didn't plan poorly. You got dealt a shitty hand with the job loss. That's how I see it. And I guess I wonder if you think worrying about future hands will prevent you from buying again. I'm more asking for selfish reasons. I don't think I ever want to buy. I'm not sure I could sleep at night. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Great post. Interesting how "Bud" wouldn't let up, driving you towards saying the word you most want to say when that's exactly what he's affraid of.

Hal Horvath said...

After a few more million foreclosures (that are coming like water coming down a moutain), only a tiny few will think foreclosure is a bad sign.

Me, I'd be glad to have a new neighbor that had gotten out of a house through foreclosure, because that's real, and real life makes people a, more interesting. I'm trying to say I like people better that have somehow been put more in touch with what's real, instead of the fantasy-life of the commercial images. It's almost like when you meet someone who has lost a loved one within the last year. The survivor is touch. More a real person. More present to their own ground of being.

Everyone is different, but I'd be so happy to be out of there, out of that impossible debt obligation. Renting a tiny apartment could feel like heaven. You've got your real life. You've got yourself. It's so much better. That's how I feel.

It will be something to hear how it feels for you, after you live in a better place, a place that's really yours, in that sense of sustainable.

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