Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gay Marriage and Short Sales

Gay Marriage and Short Sales

            I’ve been noticing there is a lot of coverage of the gay marriage issue in the media.  This is very important, we are led to understand, because God is involved.  I’m not sure when he got involved exactly.  Maybe it was in the middle ages when marriage was understood as a mechanism for insuring the transference of property and chattel, (read, women, land, and goats,) or in the nineteenth century when part of the emphasis became a legal mechanism for forcing men to support some of the kids they’d sired, or at least help Mama off her back long enough to keep the little ones from getting run over by Conestoga wagons.  The point is, He did get interested at some point and we’re all supposed to care about protecting the sanctity of heterosexual couples participating in it and that’s the way it is.  Queers, so the argument goes, will just have to settle matters of chattel with pistols at forty paces and we know this because it says so in the Bible.

I may have confused some of the details.  It happens.  But this is my understanding of the argument.

But if my understanding on the sanctity of marriage, hetero or otherwise is lacking, who could blame me?  I just lost a shitload of dough in the short sale of a house and was reassured by the law firm I had to pay to take said house, thereby not ruining my credit more than it’s already ruined, by a foreclosure, that I wasn’t nearly as upside down on my mortgage as most of the people they worked with.  Why I was supposed to find this reassuring I’m not sure.  Nor am I sure exactly what the law firm did with the money I paid them to get Chase Bank to forgive the 38k difference in what the house wound up being worth and what I owed.  I suspect they hired several supplicants to lick the feet of the persons in positions of authority at the bank, clean.  If there are other body parts of the lofty persons requiring cleaning, I’m pretty sure the lawyers would have charged more.  Of course I don’t know much about high finance and have no idea what hired supplicants charge these days.  There are a lot of things I don’t understand.

But man, the whole process took a long time.  Nine months.  Some of it is kind of funny when you’re far enough on the other side of it or psychotically hysterical whichever comes first.  For instance, when you realize you can no longer pay your mortgage, you have to stop paying your mortgage.  You cannot put your house on the market until you have not paid the mortgage for two months.  Once the two months have elapsed and you’ve gotten a friendly reminder phone call or two, maybe a reminder note in the mail goosing you to pay up, you can hire a realtor who hangs out a sign.  Many people might be interested in your house, but when they find out it’s a short sale they back off.  Most buyers lack the patience to wait six months to get their house and they know that’s what it is going to take.  The other thing is, at least in my case, the bank will not “forgive,” more that 20% of what you owe.  I bought my house on Hood Canal for 229K, it plummeted to a real market value of about 145k and since I owed 178K I could not accept anything less than 142.  To not be forgiven by Chase Bank is a very big deal especially with the new laws aggressively being pushed through state legislatures—Jan Brewer of Arizona just signed a whopper.  Wow!  I’m glad I don’t live there anymore—I believe it allows collection agencies to take one joint of one digit from each finger for every month you’re in arrears on any debt.

Once you’ve accepted an offer is when the fun starts.  Loads of packets of papers come in the mail the purpose of which is to ferret out every liquid asset you have.  Liquid assets include any monies in bank accounts both savings and checking over 2000 dollars, recreational vehicles, toys, you name it, up to the value of what you owe.  If you have any more that 2k, say, to cover bills, you have to take it out of whatever bank and give it to a friend to hold or hide it in the mattress.  You can’t give it to a relative since anybody with the same last name, either maiden or current, that you have will be found.  Big banks servicing mortgages are like the old East German Stasi.  They can find anything.  Oh, and I forgot.  That’s all big banks do: service the mortgage.  The actual mortgage holders are Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.  I asked lots of people who these Fanny and Freddie actually are and could never get a satisfactory answer.  I suspect they live somewhere within the bowels of the earth and have virgins thrown to the every month or so, but your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, once Chase or whatever bank has got all your financial information, including employment or unemployment history, examined it under a microscope to find out whether it’s true or false, ramped up the harassing phone calls coming in day and night whether they’re supposed to or not, sent overnight urgent letters reminding you of your responsibility and loads of shit like that you set on fire, you have to write them a “hardship letter.” Again, I don’t know a lot about high finance so I had some trouble understanding the purpose of this.  They already had the numbers; they’d already been through the numbers for all they were worth.  There was nothing more to say really.  So I fell back on my childhood Catholicism.  It always comes in handy in a pinch.  “oh my Chase Bank, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, who art all good and deserving of all my love, I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”  Then I stuck the labels from my prescription tranquilizer and anti-depressant bottles on the paper and sent it all along by US mail.  I figured that oughta do it.

Ever since Alanis Morrisette, I can’t actually remember what “ironic” means.  But this morning as I read the news and the details of the latest JP Morgan Chase “investment officers,” who’ve run off with another 2 billion dollars of other peoples’ money, scandal, I couldn’t help being if not amused, made to feel like upchucking.  Since I don’t understand high finance I have no idea what effects another cadre of greedy amoral bastards fleecing whatever remnants of the economy we have left, will have.  Just like I had no idea how a lot of other people being way more upside down on their mortgages than I was, should have made me feel one whit better during my own odyssey.

This morning I asked my realtor if I could go ahead and take a little money out of the mattress and put it into my checking account so I can stop worrying about bouncing checks.  She said I’d better wait a couple of months.  She said it might take the bank awhile to realize the deal is done and I don’t owe them money anymore, so they might take it anyway.


Meanwhile, on the Senate Floor, I believe the House Republicans are debating whether or not the rights of peckerwoods to marry the stumps they love so well, as ordained in the Bible, are being infringed in the great State of Arkansas.   God Damn I’m glad those guys are on the job!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Guy with the Plastic Cup at the Bottom of the Ramp

The Guy with the Plastic Cup at the Bottom of the Off Ramp
            You know how it goes.  Traffic, long light.  This town has gone to hell, like most these days.  I see the homeless guy in camo fatigues jumpin’ around like a lot of them do, high speed friendly patter and big smiles trying to get whoever’s pulled up along side them to open the window and give them some dough.
            Me?  I ain’t along side him yet and although I usually think of giving people whatever change rattling around in the bottom of my purse I can or a buck or something, generally by the time the light changes it’s too late.
            But this is the Van Nuys Boulevard exit off the 101.  A dinosaur has chewed it up—must have been something like that-- so it takes 800 years to exit the freeway.  I’m staring at the particle board siding slapped onto the concrete butting.  A Tyrannosaur bit it.  That's the only reasonable explanation.
            The car in front of me moves a few inches.  Light changes.  I’m here for another cycle.  Plenty of time to get a buck for the camo with the plastic cup.
            Some people say these guys begging for money aren’t really poor, they’re just scam artists.  This means they live at big houses with swimming pools and saunas “south of the boulevard,” as they say around these parts.  I find this interesting.  I’ve stood on street corners before.  If you’re a woman, within five minutes someone comes up and asks if you want a date.  Probably if you’re a guy the same thing happens although maybe it takes longer.  Stand there long enough looking weak or vulnerable and you generally get spat on, old McDonald burgers thrown at you, that kind of thing.
            So as a career choice, it doesn’t seem a particularly wise one.
            Light changes, I pull up a couple of dozen yards.
            Anywho, I figure the nutzoid patter they all do is to keep the flung fast food and expectorating to a minimum.  If someone is batshit, flingers and spitters possessed of even a modicum of imagination must entertain the notion that said individual, particularly one in military fatigues, might be capable of violence and even possessed of a firearm or two.
            I pull up along side him, put down the window but only part way.  His face is all scarred up, particularly around the eye, leading me via my lightening fast Touring machine circa 1957 mind, to calculate the probability that some kind of head injury may have occurred, wot with the eye being so close to the gray matter and all.  I give him a buck, he says thank you lovely lady and all that other crap.  We chat a little.  Let’s face it, the light at the bottom of the ramp is not going to change for, like, another 30 years.  He tells me of all the celebrities he’s seen.  Jay Leno, someone I’ve never heard of, Mark Wahlberg gave him 20 bucks.  Patter, patter, patter.  The light changes and it’s time to move on.
            He puts his hand on the top of my car, looks me straight in the eye.  One of his, the one with all the scarring is a little milky.  I wonder if he can see out of it.  For that moment he does not look crazy at all.
            “This is Uncle Sam part 2,” he says.
            Under the freeway waiting for the next light to change.  Some woman’s come off her ramp, sits in the middle of the intersection but even though all the other drivers, at that particular moment, hate her.  She’d rather endure that than sit through another interminable cycle of the goddamn light.  This is Los Angeles, after all, and inside your car is the safe zone.  Like a hermit crab tucked inside its shell.  It’s why it will never change.  It’s not about movement.  It’s about invulnerability.
            The woman moves out of the intersection.  Traffic moves.  It is clear for a little while in front of me.