Archive | November, 2010

Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification

17 Nov

In honor of the beginning of the holiday season, and recognizing what I believe is possibly a miracle – my achieving an actual permanent mortgage modification – I have structured this post in the vein of the letter to the editor of the New York Sun and the answer, which appeared in the publication on September 21, 1897 – otherwise known as, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” With a nod to Francis P. Church, no copyright infringement is intended.

Dear Editor: I am 45 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Mortgage Modification.

The Government said, “If we give the banks the money, it will be so.”

Please tell me the truth; is there a Mortgage Modification?

Virginia

Home Owner

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they can see in the paperwork FedExed to them. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by the bankers’ little minds. All minds, whether they be politicians’ or bankers’, are little. In this great universe of ours, it may seem as if a mortgage holder is a mere insect, an ant in his power and importance, as compared with the wealthy and powerful banks around him. But tenacity can make one capable of grasping the elusive modification.

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause

The original clipping

Yes Virginia, there is a Mortgage Modification. It exists as certainly as faith, persistence and chutzpah exist, and you know that they abound and give you power and strength. Alas! How dreary home ownership could be these days if there were no possibility of Mortgage Modification. It would be as dreary as if there were no homes. There would be no American dream of home ownership, no kitchen tables for families to gather around, no backyards for children to play in, no warm fireplaces to make tolerable the winter. The eternal light with which homeowners these days keep hope would be extinguished.

Not believe in Mortgage Modification! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might sit on hold on the phone all day, but even if you never got to speak with the same person twice, or they once again, lost your paperwork, what would that prove? Very few people actually receive a modification, but that is no sign that it does not exist. The most real things in the world are those which you believe in and work hard for. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unimaginable in the world.

Only faith, persistence, tenacity, belief, whining, threats, applications, letters to the Attorney General, media coverage and accepting help can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it real? Ah, Virginia, in this moment there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Mortgage Modification! Thank God! It’s achievable and it’s achievable for you. Thirty years from now, it will continue to make glad the heart of a homeowner.

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Waiter, There’s a Toy in my Food!

5 Nov

Today I’ve decided to go a little different with this post. It’s not about my mixed-up life, or job hopes dashed or even crazy jobs I’ve had in the past. You see, it was announced this week that the city of San Francisco is considering a ban on children’s toys in fast food. While I don’t have kids, I feel the need to comment, partially because I’m an opinionated redhead, but mostly because I think this legislation might be as mixed up as my crazy life.

We all get a kick out of California. The state entertains us in countless ways. From “The Terminator” being governor, to “The Hills,” to the latest star to beat up a paparazzi.  And where I tend to lean liberal, some of California’s laws seem to be a caricature of my beliefs. We’re on the same page, it’s just that California’s teeth are larger, its eyes are bigger and buggier, and it’s sitting on top of a mule.

For instance, with its “progressive” policy to ban incandescent light bulbs and go completely CFL by 2018 California seems to be shouting, “Look at us. See how environmentally correct we are?!” What they’ve failed to mention is that CFL’s contain small amounts of mercury. In fact, according to the EPA website, if one is broken in your house, you should turn off any central air or heat, open the windows and have all people and pets leave the room for at least 15 minutes (maybe you forget to tell that crazy uncle who has been driving you crazy for the past 20 years). It goes on to explain how to dispose of the bulb in a glass jar or sealed plastic bag and check with your local government for disposal procedures. Now, do we really think people will don their HazMat Suits? Or are they more likely to send 10 year old Johnnie out to toss them in the trash? Perhaps we should ask California (I hear Arnold’s voice in my head every time I type that) what they think their landfills will be full of in 20 years.

So now the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a preliminary ban on toys being included in meals loaded with calories, salt, sugar and fat. While we all understand that the toys included are a marketing ploy, and that childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed, what happened to parental supervision? To quote Nancy Reagan, “Just say no.” Yes mom and dad, we all have parts of our job we don’t enjoy, but it’s in our job description. We generally don’t expect the government to pass legislation on the stuff we don’t like to do.

I’ve begun to wonder if any of these legislators ever enjoyed the perennial favorite snack, “Cracker Jacks.” While the prizes are most certainly not what they used to be (Jack’s Funny Facts? Really?), they are still included. So what’s next California? Banning the prize from Cracker Jacks? How about those sugary pink hearts, yellow stars, green clovers and blue diamonds from Lucky Charms (truly the only reason anybody ever eats this cereal)?

San Francisco reminds me of the dentist who lived on my street when I was little. Halloween went a little like this.

Knock, knock. “Trick or Treat!”

“Oh, don’t you guys look cute. Here’s a fruit flavored toothbrush for you.”

“Huh?”

Oh yes, we dug right into that. We were happy when he moved out the next year.

Maybe San Francisco will consider including toothbrushes as prizes in Happy Meals. Or maybe we should consider less legislation and more parenting.

The Glamorous Life of a Travel Industry Geek

1 Nov

You may have noticed I’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. Writing for clients, working at the garden and in general, leading my schizophrenic life. I was out of town for the past 10 days doing my meeting management job at the happiest place on earth. No, not a college frat party the night after finals. But Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. “Your job is so glamorous.” Now, I will admit, I’ve had some interesting jobs in my life. After leaving my pantyhose and pumps banking career, I have not been a nine-to-fiver and have rarely been desk-bound. But glamorous? I beg to differ.

I’ve already told you about one job responsibility of painting numbers on the backs of crabs with white-out (not pushing paper but I wouldn’t exactly call that glamorous). I haven’t yet mentioned another glamorous job I did on a ship. You see, on Windjammer ships, the Purser is the ship’s medical officer. This means that from time to time a crew member from the islands will come to you and say, “Motown (my nickname) my bum tickles (lovely)”. After a couple of times hearing this, you look at them and say, “worms.” The glamour is overwhelming.

When I happened upon a job on big cruise ships I thought – time to experience the glamorous life I’ve been told I’m living. After all, we’ve all seen the Love Boat. So there I am, hosting (and playing in) a mean volleyball game. In my pantyhose. Wait, what? What happened to leaving my pantyhose and pumps at the bank door? And is it better or worse that I’m not wearing them while sitting behind a desk but while playing in a volleyball game? And why am I doing this? Well, the cruise line had a policy that if you were hosting an outdoor event you could wear white shorts, but if it’s an indoor event, you must wear a white skirt with pantyhose (unless of course you’re a man, then it’s optional). And, as I was hosting a craft event in the Lido Restaurant immediately following volleyball, well, this is how it went for months.

Moving on to the glamorous life of an adventure tour guide – aah, where to begin? The tornado hitting the campground? The British passenger getting her passport stolen in Mexico? The other passenger disappearing for a few hours in Mexico? All my responsibility to take care of. And all of this in the same night? How about we just use a fellow guide as an example. Yes, we got to do some fun stuff – skydiving, ultra-lighting, white water rafting, horseback riding with both Cowboys and Indians. That’s where fellow guide AJ ran into a problem. And that problem would be a tree. Well, I guess her horse ran into the tree, she just happened to be on top. When she finished her trip and returned to the office – scratched and bruised – a few days later, our benevolent bosses were kind enough to give her a couple of hours off to get her cracked ribs wrapped by a doctor. She was expected to be back at work after lunch.

The glamorous life of my international tour management career was similar. My group and I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa following an 18 hour flight from Atlanta (two words of advice if you are considering this – Tylenol PM). Finally we landed. We waited for our luggage, and waited, and waited. Eventually the announcement was made, “We apologize for the delay but some of the luggage bay doors are stuck in the closed position.” Really? We made it, our luggage made it, we just couldn’t get to it. While the other tour manager took the group to the hotel, I waited at the airport for the luggage. After two hours, the doors had been opened, South African Airways had loaded the luggage onto a truck and I had been invited to go for the ride to the hotel. I jumped into the truck and we were on our way. Once out of the airport and onto a road overlooking the city the driver popped a tape in his tape-deck and on came the low, velvety sounds of Mr. Barry White. As we’re listening to the sexy tune Cant Get Enough of Your Love, Babe, the driver puts his hand on my leg. Really, I’ve been traveling for 24 hours now. There is nothing attractive about me at this point. I turned to him and simply said, “Dude (I rarely use this word),it’s not going to happen.” Oh but it was glamorous.

Aah, the glamorous life

Fast forward to last week in Anaheim. After working from 6:00am to 10:00pm the previous day, we are sitting on the floor of a hallway in the hotel at 5:00am organizing materials (papers, chachki’s, etc.) which arrived late the previous night, that our 1700 meeting attendees will most likely look at and then leave in the meeting room for us to clean up.

Do I love my work in the travel industry? When it comes down to it – yes. And I hope to go back to tour guiding. But like every job, it has its down sides. And while it beats sitting at a desk, glamorous? Maybe not so much.

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