Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 10 Strange/Unexplained/Bizarre things that Happened to me in Daytona

As I wrap up things in Daytona, I’m thinking back of all the things that have occurred living here. So in Letterman style, here are my top 10 strange/unexplained or Bizarre things:

10. Getting a call from the Ocean Center wanting me to rush to the rail road tracks to ride an Elephant to the Main Street Bridge. (those animals have very scratchy backs but my Parade Wave was perfect!)
9. Having the Janitor throw out a project I had worked on for 3 months, tracking down what truck had picked up our dumpster and going to the landfill in a skirt and heels talking my way to the mountain of trash where the truck had dumped. As workers chuckled and I cried and those beastly seagulls squawked harassingly, I found nothing.
8. Being a waiter at a fundraiser; “Celebrity Waiters” where my table paid to have me sing “Like a Virgin” while sitting on the Mayors lap. Thank God Mayor Kelly knew the words...
7. Joni Hunt cold turkey-ing our 10 year friendship, an unexplained hurt.
6. Buying my first car, a very practical sales car (ha)…1980 Fiat Spider convertible. With only a new job and no one to co-sign. The used car dealer excitedly announced he found me financing. All too anxious to sign, it took me over a year to notice the terms were 24.75%! Quickly, I re-fied.
5. Taking a male friend to the LSO Pops Concert as my official “date” to join my table full of clients only to have him later announce in front of a group of people that going out with me was like taking his Mom to the prom. Ouch.
4. Finding out one of the workers doing a project at my home was making obscene phone calls from my bedroom. Topped only by him leaving a used, rolled out, condom inside my lingerie’ drawer. (yes, I fired the company and made a police report) Still grosses me out. AND he had the audacity to use MY supply. Cheap Weirdo freak.
3. Finding out later that a very excited, encouraging, eccentric, charismatic Mortgage Broker that I had once used, was doing Cocaine. (a zero tolerance point in my life)
2. Getting hit-on during sales meetings in Hotels by the Owner or GM. (Blond hair, whether real or enhanced, can come in handy when acting like you totally, like, don’t get it. When really thinking "Listen you old buzzard, buy my ad or I’m like out of here.") ...Be thankful I decided to not list names you married, unfaithful, pathetic freaks.
1. Christmas time 2005. A married neighbor I hardly knew and had only been neighbor-friendly with, shows up at my door holding a gift bag. Contents included homemade Polish sausage, body lotion and a red lace thong. (at least it was a medium, nothing good about saying "I’ve been checking out your ass and I think it’s an extra large!") Like a deer in head lights I stumbled my way thru “nice weather” while shutting the door...only later to wish I had the personality to react immediately and throw the anger fit he deserved. I gave my dog a little sausage and then was so freaked out I threw it away. The other items I re-gifted. Kidding.

Daytona, what a strange, strange trip it’s been.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As of today, I have lived in Daytona for 26 years. Ironic since my plans were to be here 3 months. After finishing college and an Internship, I packed my 1976 beat up Subaru with all I owned and drove to Daytona with only $500 and a college degree. I had no job and knew one person. My back window held a full page ad for the Virgin Islands ripped from a magazine that stated “It’s not just what you do, it’s where you do it.” My professors had begged me to consider jobs with the Kansas City Star and then in 5 years or so, try to get a transfer to a coastal town. At 23 my brain didn’t work that way. So January 17, 1984, in a snow storm that yielded 40 degrees below wind chill factor, I left Manhattan, Kansas and Kansas State University to the vast unknown. My old car laden with all my earthly possessions could only reach 45 miles per hour until Arkansas, where the weather was warmer.

Now, a lifetime later I am doing the same thing, leaving the familiar to an even bigger vast unknown.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Being Vulnerable

People going thru huge life changes can make bad decisions or be more needy then they would like to admit or even realize.

Test for Huge Life Changes:
Quitting a job after 26 years. Check.
Losing all my business investments. Check.
Possibly saying goodbye to my 86 year old father. Check
Saying goodbye to my 14 year old dog. Check
Taking on 3 roommates after living alone for 24 years. Check
Leaving a 1600 sq ft home for a 44 ft sailboat, of which only 4 would be mine. Check
NOTE: I qualify for Huge Life Change. (H.L.C)

And so this weekend, I'm blaming HLC: I ruined a 23 year friendship.

I didn’t plan it or understand it, but suddenly “needy-girl” came out to smother my friend from Atlanta...
We’ve been thru the crazy Coliseum Days---the real Coliseum when Miltose was Hospitality Mayor of Beach Street. We’ve been thru the death of our friend, his x-Moto racing partner.
We’ve been thru watching the Conch drop in Key West for multi-New Year’s Eves; especially the Millennial. We’ve been thru countless stand-up Jet Ski days in the Ocean; when we rode so hard that you didn’t have a great weekend unless someone got bloody.

But free falling into an unknown future, I let fear lurk in my subconscious. Between foreclosure phone calls, medical issues, heart break, and the enormity of what needed to be done, it was hard to be strong. If going on “an Adventure” sounds easy then you don’t get it. Uprooting is not easy. But I never meant to dig in so deep. I always thought I would move around a lot but is it possible to go through life carefree like drift wood, or is that really more like a jack rabbit darting away from any sudden sign of trouble?

It’s always been, me holding onto me, or when I remember, me holding onto God. But my knees are weakening. The burden seems so heavy. Holding on to my friend felt like a bandage. Nobody wants to be a bandage, how thoughtless of me.

Ending a friendship takes one person, not two. It wasn’t my choice or my fault. Remember, I qualified for H.L.C. and different than a distraction, a bandage is a trusted protector.

No one speaks the truth but it is always there, between the lines: the unsaid truth was I slammed the door because I was ignored. He yelled at me because he wanted out.

And saying nothing says it all.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Loan Modifications vs. Foreclosures vs. kiss your high credit score good-bye

I have always paid my bills. I am fortunate, and I don’t take it for granted. From College Loans to bad decisions on my credit card, I have paid. In 2005 I decided to diversify and invest in a couple rental houses, not to flip but to invest in a future. But between taxes and insurance increases at levels that didn’t match my original P&L, by 2008 they were a very bad investments. Yet I continued to pay and started asking for advice.

Realtors told me to hang on, that it would it would come back and that I didn’t want to turn away from my original investment and renovation costs. Then I started calling mortgage brokers to see if I could re-finance. One laughed at me, one spent a lot of time with a heart felt conversation saying he wanted to help but the loan amount and my 80% decrease in Salary, due to reduced sales in my business, just wouldn’t allow any other lender to take a chance. So I started calling my banks that held the loans.

Loan department personal must have gone through multiple training courses on how to be cold and uncaring. One by one they told me that they could not help me. One actually told me I should plan on losing my home. NO ONE understood I’m an S-Corp, that a personal tax return does not show the full story. My investment properties were all I had at risk.

I was given someone who worked as a middleman with homes that were at risk, but after many conversations, his angle was to represent buyer groups who would take on distressed properties. Even he couldn't see past the loans I had tied to the properties and advised foreclosure.

Then I heard about Loan Modifications and a client spoke of a women that was working miracles for her home. So I phoned this company in Atlanta. After a long conversation with the owner, I kept saying “it sounds too good to be true”…all the promises, the idea that someone else would take the weight of this and work with all the banks on my behalf.

Loan modifications only modify the terms, mainly the interest rate, to a place where the owner could afford making payments. However, the principle, the original bad investment will not change. And the chances of me making back my investment will take longer than I’ll be alive.
But the idea of keeping my life investment kept me pursuing a modification and getting loads of data to the company. Then, right before Christmas I was asked to make a payment. Both rental houses and my own home would cost well over $4000, and they wanted an installment.

With $1,400 in cash and the loan mod paperwork, I went to a local Bank of America to deposit it into the BOA account in Georgia. The deposit was made but I questioned the routing number. The teller got a bank officer who pulled me aside and told me that after reviewing the paperwork it was his professional opinion that I should NOT go thru with the deposit! A reversed deposit was done and I walked out with my cash in total disbelief and tears. Although later, people would tell me he did me a huge favor, at the time I was hyper-ventilating. For months I had poured all my attention into this option and now I was starting at square one. I thought.

Then, a friend told me about a local HUD service that worked to save homes and council people. All the material from the loan mod was transferred to them. After a long talk with another advisor and this service, it seemed like the only choice was to let them go, and face foreclosures.

Before all this, I pulled my credit rating on Experian. It was 917. Immediately the world seemed different. American Express lowered my $14,000 limit to $3000 even though they and all others had and continued to always be paid. Daily calls from Bank collectors, who took the same "mean" training as Loan Officers, and watching my credit's hard not to feel like I've failed, even though I realize how many people are going through this exact tragedy.

Countless nights of not sleeping and countless days of tears. But this can destroy someone or you can accept a bad investment, deal with it and go on. Dealing with it will continue. But going on is what I hope to do.

Monday, January 4, 2010

After 26 years, how do you quit a job?

Email to Captain:
I talk to the Company tomorrow and I am scared to death! …just a huge step. Edee

Email from Captain:
Don’t be scared. Trust me, you will not regret it. You’ll be doing something most people will only dream of. Buon ano, Shirish

In all the years at the Company, I have been so fortunate to have great Bosses, 3 of whom will be life-long friends. As an independent contractor, it's my contract that stands as my parameters, but I am assigned to a Manager to represent my office and out of respect I have always called them my "manager."

My current Manager I call Boss-man. We go way back to 1996 and he has been my manager twice. I decided to wait until AFTER the holidays to tell him because I know this will create a lot of work for him. Although his statue and looks are between James Earl Jones and Emmit Smith, he is one of the most positive, encouraging, big hearted people I have ever known.

I had my speech all prepared: how I had this opportunity, how I love my job but it's been over 25 years, how concerned I was about my assistant, my clients, and my own future.

In usual Boss-man style, he already knew. He picked it up from my voice requesting his visit. And with his signature laugh: three hardy har, har, har's. He accepted my decision, agreed with the opportunity and said he needed to let it hit him on the drive back to Orlando.

Directly after he left I took my assistant to lunch and told her. Tires were shed. We spend more time together in waking weekday hours than family and friends! That bond is something a part timer would not understand. I laid out my plan and told her as much as I knew. She is an amazing worker, the type of person that is so smart and talented but doesn't fully realize it. Common sense is NOT common! She has been the other half of my brain for many years but after 11 years with me, it's time for her to find a new path also.

So FINALLY, an enormous weight has started to lift, and the plan is truly in motion. I'm going to do this.