Friends, I haven’t posted on the blog for a while because it’s been a rough couple of weeks. First I learned that my monthly mortgage payment is increasing by 50%, and a week later I was informed that I’m on the layoff list for the City of Oakland. Me? Me. Wow. Big ol’ smack upside the head, a dramatic reminder that I’m not immune to all of the scary and fascinating things that are happening to the national economy.
And yet… there’s hope. The Obama housing rescue plan might actually help me renegotiate my monthly mortgage payment (YES!). And I may not actually be laid off if the City receives certain stimulus funding (Go Oakland!). And if I am laid off, my monthly COBRA payments will be subsidized (yay Congress!), and unemployment benefits keep getting extended (whew!). And so for the first time I can remember, the folks that I voted for at the national level are making decisions that are directly impacting my day-to-day. Huh. Who knew?
And so I’m starting to do things I should have done years ago: scaling back the size of my life by cutting my monthly expenses and getting rid of all the stuff that I don’t need. I’m rooting around, taking stock, selling it off, giving it away, and shaking it up. I’ve been reconnecting with my community – friends and acquaintances who might help me land safely, or who are walking their own paths of crisis and renewal.
And I’m reducing my imprint on the planet – literally. I’m converting my dining room into a bedroom, so that I can rent it out and defray some of my housing costs and energy use. I’ve fired my beloved dog walker, and so I’m bonding with my beagle and gettting more exercise. And I’m physically shrinking – cooking at home more, I’m eating much healthier and losing those last few pounds. I’m driving less, BARTing more. I’m finding creative (and free!) things to do with friends that are far more fulfilling than expensive dinners and fancy political fundraisers. This is kinda fun! My life is a big Rubik’s Cube of problems to solve, and the colored squares are starting to line up.
And while this Total Life Upheaval could have happened in a less traumatic way (Are you listening, Universe?), I’m actually beginning to feel thankful and more grounded, and looking forward to whatever’s next.
You are correct! I love it! Not the hard times, but that our politics are actually impactful, and I love your commitment to do it differently.
We too are eating home more, and have actually always lived modestly.
But I have some concerns that all we are doing to improve our financial situation is hard on the rest of the economy. I just painted my 1986 mercedes rather than buy a new car. I does great on the smog test, so why not.
MonkeyBoy got laid off 3 weeks ago and my job is precarious since I am a contractor. We do have the advantage of being in our 60s so the impact is different and we have a lot of saving, I am a retirement attorney after all….
Thanks for telling it like it is. You have inspired me to blog about it myself.
Alix… cheers to you for assessing your situation and doing positive things about it. The economic scenario is not our individual fault. It does not affect our character and should amplify our spirit which you obviously are doing. We are in this together whether we are employed or not, wealthy or not. I admire you for being Alix, not Alix the attorney. You go girl.
Thanks for this from me too. I’ve never met you in person, but know you as the District #8 candidate I voted for last time around, and as a San Francisco presence on Facebook, where I post a lot of political news all the time, but hesitate to share much of anything about my own life, challenged though it is, by hard times as well.
Re government helping you out, however:
1) I admire your personal practicality in navigating your way through to see what sort of assistance you might qualify for, such as a mortgage restructure, but,
2) I can’t help seeing what is happening now as a crisis of overcorruption, beyond anything I have ever seen, at every level of government, including San Francisco’s.
But, let’s start federally, where Barack Obama was the top recipient of AIG campaign contributions in 2008 and Nancy Pelosi, who received a mere $500 from AIG, owns between $250,00 and $500,000 of AIG stock. She is the third largest Congressional shareholder. Democrat John Kerry and a North Carolina Senator each hold upwards of $11 million in AIG.
Locally, in San Francisco, I have long known the South Florida-based Lennar Corporation to be a major player in the mortgage meltdown, using their “financial arms” to pressure and close deals to sell their own property. I posted some of this information to my Facebook page yesterday; I plan to write and publish about it, but I very mouch doubt it will have any impact on our City government, or the Democratic County Central Committee, which have been hand-in-glove with Lennar since Gavin Newsom’s election in 2003, after which the City sold Parcel A in the Hunters Point Shipyard to Lennar, for $1 to formalize what was really a handout to one of the Mayor’s closest corporate allies. (The other being, no doubt PG&E.)
Government seems to be coming up with some band-aids, to try and keep political pressure from reaching a boiling point, but its overwhelming trajectory continues to be more corruption and militarism, in service to a multinational moneyed and governmental elite. Obama has increased the military budget by 4% in deep recession, arguably depression, bombed a domestic insurgency in Pakistan, a big U.S. ally and one of the top recipients of U.S. weapons exports, escalated the War in Afghanistan, left 50,000 troops in Iraq, indefinitely, and invaded D.R. Congo on his Inauguration Day. Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, is there protecting British-based Heritage Oil right now.
I will say I’ve seen one promising thing happening on the local level, which is that City and County Tax Assessor Phil Ting is proposing to somehow turn San Francisco into a “foreclosure free zone.” His first move has been to propose a “foreclosure fee,” to discourage banks from foreclosing.
He told me that not only homeowners, but also renters, have already suffered, that renters have even come home to find that mortgage banks have hired private police to chain and padlock their buildings with all their belongings inside.
I asked him what he thought of the sheriffs around the country who have declared that they will not do any more foreclosures, and he told me he thought they were very courageous.
Most foreclosures, by far, have been in the States of California and Florida, where the Lennar Corporation, and its finance arms are major players. http://www.consolidatedcredit.org/press/Homebuilders-partook-in-risky-mortgages.aspx
Whether the new Board of Supervisors will move to end or curtail the City’s relationship with one of Mayor Gavin Newoom’s favorite corporations, Lennar, remains to be seen. It seems most unlikely, though I’ll add that City and County Tax Assessor Recorded Phil Ting did support Proposition G in the Hunters Point Shipyard; I hope to have a chance to ask him how he may feel about this now, given Lennar’s involvement in the mortgage meltdown.
And, to have the courage to make this a personal, not solely political statement, I should add that I have been struggling with a scurrilous mortgage sold to be by a combination of “financial arms” and allies, both bank and brokerage, of the Lennar Corporation, for years.