Category Archives: money

>They wouldn’t sell me my home… now

>They wouldn’t sell me my home now. I know this for a fact because I just got off the phone with the mortgage specialist who was recommended by my broker.
“Oh we don’t have mortgages like that any more,” she demurred.

I am a consultant who works in the arts, my husband is also a consult, but he works in sports. Meaning we both make money some times and have long dry spells. We also have no health insurance. We cobble together a very nice life that has been augmented by the fact that I tumbled into a neighborhood called TriBeCa back in the 70’s and bought, what my old, ornery Irish father called, “a dump.” Before he died, the neighbors downstairs, sold for nearly 3 million dollars prompting him to call the place,
“The 3 million dollar dump.”

I currently hold a mortgage on the dump at about ten percent of its value, but it is at nearly seven percent. My friend and broker said, “Oh let me have someone call you so you can refinance.”
OK, why not?

I had done that before to my advantage including garnering a hefty line-of-credit that allowed me to send my kids to college. So this loft, my dump, has taken care of me in a way that my wild, Irish father never could, and never imagined.

In fact before the mortgage specialist signed off with me, ending the conversation rather swiftly after I fessed up to being a consultant who had a pretty small earned income bottom line, she ventured, “Well you were lucky to buy your home, that won’t happen any more, as all mortgages now, require extreme income verification.”

I hung up with a whoosh of feeling.

My mortgage will change, for the worst in 2012 and it looks as if, unless I find a real job, one that can convince the new bankers of my value, I may not be able to own my own home in my dotage.

I know I was blessed to go to the party of home ownership when they were handling out tickets with abandon. But in fact my husband and I have never missed a payment or sent it in late, even with the vagaries of our employment and the wonder and stress of sending two very bright New York City public school educated kids to excellent private colleges. We still have a year and a half left for our son at Skidmore, but then in 2010 we are freed from tuition and I suppose we will need to focus on putting our home through its version of college.

We will continue to struggle to save the home I have lived in for over thirty years, the dump where my children were born and grew up. The same loft that got all dressed up to give us a major dancing fete for our wedding. It was the site of benefits, birthday parties, and endless orphan Thanksgivings.

Yesterday was a great day for hope, but today I feel deflated that I would not be able to purchase my home if I tried to do it now. It is a strange feeling, one akin to knowing that your mate wouldn’t date you, let alone marry you if he had to do it again. OK banish that thought.

The times they are a changing, again and again and again. I am going to try and stay ahead of the tsunami of financial woe and hold on to my nice, little dump of a loft.

>Mending

>Does anyone mend anymore?

I have a note on my refrigerator that says only: MEND

I know that it means I have to stitch up the tear in the old cashmere blanket before it bisects and I have to use the sewing machine. I guess that’s where the Ben Franklin aphorism, “A stitch in time, saves nine” emanates. I may now need more than 30 to staunch this rip.

And I have a nightie that is unseemly due to missing buttons, but I don’t have kids home now, so sometimes I just wear it gaping. But I know it needs buttons. There is a quilt cover with a safety pin that upbraids me with my laziness because I have not replaced the buttons. My husband has a sweater he wears on weekends dotted with moth holes. I know how to darn, and sew, mend and close up seams, but does anyone know these things now who is not over 50?

My daughter is about to be 24 and is living downtown with us in the loft she grew up in while her apartment is sublet so she can do an unpaid internship working on a film about Hunger in America. (How can you not help support a kid doing that kind of work?) She said the other day, “I really need to sew buttons on this skirt.” I know she means, I really need you, mama, to sew these buttons on. But instead I said, “We need to plan a mending night where we take out all the ratty stuff and renovate it so it closes, and looks better.” But it seemed so old fashioned.

Maybe that is where we need to go as a country and as a family.

We need to return to mending our fences, our sweaters, our nighties and our relationship with the world.

Maybe our finances need some old fashioned savings and a moratorium on purchases in favor of rummaging through closets and cleaning out drawers to see what treasures lurk in those dark untapped places.

I started saving every five-dollar bill that came into my hands at the beginning of the summer and I now have nearly 500 dollars, that’s a hundred crumpled fives stuffed into a big jar. I was going to start a savings account, wait until I got a thousand dollars and then buy a CD, but I think I may use what I saved to give us a little bit of a Christmas. Still it was a fun exercise to see that little bits do add up.

I like the idea of mending. Mending a fragile friendship, mending a crumbling stonewall that just needs the tumbling pile to be reorganized. I love mending the sweaters, closing holes and crocheting a new edge to the fraying cuffs. It makes me feel as if I saved something and I might have a little bit of value left in me.

Perhaps we can introduce mending nights as the new thing across America. Everyone brings a small project to the table: fixing broken table legs or that gaping nightie. I don’t want to be the only one doing this, but I bet with the economy in continued free fall, the virtue in mending may begin to seem mighty again.