So, the first and foremost reason for the update is to announce, formally, that Jessie and I won't be at Anthrocon this year. Ashe will be running the writing track in my absence, for those of you who actually go to it or are interested. He ran it for a year or two before I got involved, so everything's fine there. Thilya, I'll be calling and canceling my room reservation, so anybody looking to get into the Courtyard, I'm about to free up a week.
Now, as to why we won't be there....
This is a much longer story than it has any right to be, but everything of late has felt curiously cinematic. Things have been just a little too well-timed, a little too accidentally-meaningful. Whoever's writing my story has decided that I need to be some kind of morality play, I guess.
Anyway! Onto the good bits.
So, everyone remember the house? Everyone remember the bankruptcy? Remember how the bankruptcy was supposed to resolve the ongoing costs of the house? Remember the egregious water bill? Remember how the bank was going to take care of the water bill? Remember how the bank was supposed to have foreclosed on the house by now?
Yeah, that was a really nice dream.
A couple of weeks ago, now, I got a letter from a legal team in Pottstown that doubles as a debt-collection agency saying that I owed approximately nine-thousand dollars plus "potential legal fees" stemming from a civil complaint against the property for unpaid water bills. I called the legal team, and they said that they had a legitimate complaint against the property and that, as the deedholder, the responsibility was mine to resolve. I told them that I had declared bankruptcy over a year ago and that the house wasn't my responsibility any more, and they reiterated their ability to win a judgment against me since I was still the legal deedholder. I told them I'd have to talk with my bankruptcy lawyer and asked them for copies of the relevant paperwork and a name I could have my lawyer contact. That did dampen their ardor a bit, but they didn't say they would drop the case. I got my name and some details, and I told them I'd let them know my decision.
Then I called my bankruptcy lawyer and told him what was going on. He was shocked to hear from me, and then he was even more shocked to find out that the bank had yet to foreclose on the property which I had surrendered over a year ago as part of a bankruptcy that I had discharged over six months back. He did mention that it was a national crisis, this paralysis in the real estate industry, but he didn't have any solutions. I asked him about the water bill, and he reiterated his belief that not paying it and letting it follow the house as a lien was the right move at the time, but he also said that that information had been predicated on the idea that the bank would've foreclosed by now. Further, he did repeat that because the deed was still in my name, the bill was still technically mine as long as the house was. I asked him about the legal status of a property lien being converted to a personal liability via a debt-collection action, and he refused to state an opinion, saying that I was getting into consulting-fee territory and that he wouldn't take the case besides, as that sounded like actual litigation talk. I asked him what happened if the bank never foreclosed, and he said that it could very well be the case that I'd just owe the water bill in perpetuity. That filled me with unhappy, but I thanked him for his time.
I could've just... paid the bill, I suppose. I have the money in savings to cover what I presently owe without any legal fees, and if I step up to the plate and volunteer to pay it, I probably could even negotiate it down, but right now this bill represents all of my savings. I would be wiped clean if I had to pay it back, and that would be Bad. So, I did some research, I put my writing talents to work, and then I faxed over a small mound of paperwork to the legal firm:
- a six-page letter detailing the house's history of frozen pipes, the cost of the water bill during the three years that the house was occupied by six people, the lack of any homeowner's insurance in my name, the forced-lender policy that Countrywide—now Bank of America—has on the property, the bankruptcy, my lawyer's advice, and, ultimately the explanations as to why I feel I'm not legally obligated to pay the bill, which amount to "that bill's obviously the result of frozen pipes from Winter 2008, it should've been covered under an insurance claim against the forced-lender policy that Countrywide should've made and I can't, Countrywide has failed to discharge their obligation to foreclose in a timely fashion, and the house is up for sheriff's sale in two months anyway."
- exerpts from the sheriff's sale website from March showing that the sale was stayed
- exerpts from the sheriff's sale website in April showing that the sale was stayed
- the foreclosure case history from the county showing that Countrywide had asked the court to stay the sale without explanation
- a copy of the legal threat from the bank's lawyers to sell my house at sheriff's sale on July 29.
The proverbial ball is back in their metaphorical court at this point. I think I have a legitimate case, but more to the point, I think that by hitting them with a fairly-detailed set of documents explaining that I have a position that I'd be willing to defend in court, I'm hoping that I can convince them to drop the matter, call me to offer a settlement, or even just delay the matter until the sheriff's sale resolves the matter of deed ownership. None of these are guarantees, of course, but this is the current plan. I can't exactly dazzle them with dexterity, so I'm going with the bafflement route.
Unfortunately, the practical upshot of this is that the money into which last year I dipped to cover the gap between savings-dedicated-to-pay-for-Anthrocon and savings-for-general-use is completely tied up, in case something doesn't go my way. Because of other bills, both on-going and one-off, I've only managed to put about twelve-hundred dollars towards the con budget, and we worked out that the total cost would be between sixteen and two-thousand, depending on the ability of everyone else we had in the room to pay us back immediately.
Four-hundred dollars, especially in a good month with some conscientious budget management, is pretty easy. We could've made that, I think, and then just gone. However, this is where the other half of the story enters, and where some of you will just have to be patient at only getting part of the story.
In the last month, several people in the Embassy have had a lot of revelations and discoveries about life desires, ambitions, and status. I'm not at liberty to get into a lot of details, but at the very least, I can disclose that Jessie and I both have collars now, that we have tags marking our collars in the other's possessive, and that we have wrist cuffs which match the collars. The dynamic of our relationship continues to evolve, as we do, but some of the power relationships have taken a curious turn, in ways that have proven to be absolutely wonderful. In addition, and more importantly, though, we've both recently become much more honest and open about a lot of things that we're hoping to get out of life, and out of each other.
Unfortunately, most of these things cost money.
So, on our way home from a recent trip to visit some friends, the subject of past costs and future desires arose, and we both started detailing all the things we wanted, all the things we had put off purchasing because of one or another reason, and this time our list of desiderata far outstripped our ability to pay for it all. New clothes, new shoes, some particular pieces of kink gear we'd expressed desire in having, paying off the car early to have money to do other things, et cetera. Both of us were angry at how things came together and frustrated at how we had finally come to all these discoveries about ourselves and each other, only to find that the money just wasn't there to pay for any of the intermediate steps we'd need to get where we wanted to go.
That was when I put Anthrocon on the table.
Really, that's what happened. I knew we could finish saving for the con, I knew we could make it work, but I also knew that in so doing we'd be delaying a lot of other Nice Things that we both wanted. I still want to go. I'd love to go. I'd love to see my friends on the other coast again and spend time hanging out with everyone I care about so much from the area. It's just that... when you put the value of five days of entertainment on one side of the table, and you weigh it against everything else that we could do with that money, it's hard not to feel that we're both better served by letting the con go one year and picking it up next.
Of course, this means missing the one Anthrocon that the theme is actually something close to one I can appreciate. While "OMGAliens" is ludicrous on its face, what some of my friends have done with the idea have been nothing less than brilliant, and I really was looking forward to seeing what folks did with it at the convention. Still, I have to believe that the trade-off is going to be worth it, if only because of all the other things I know are coming soon in their place.
Plus, the chance to see Jessie's eyes light up when we went and picked out a bunch of new summer clothes for her was worth the exchange instantly.
leaving all these opportunities behind