The past 11 months have been the most uncomfortable in my life. Even more uncomfortable than being 8 months pregnant in the heat of August . I struggle with the word uncomfortable, because it does not quite hit the nail on the head, I know that it could have been so much worse. But uncomfortable it is.
We were forced into foreclosure, even with a signed purchase agreement and then when the home was purchased at auction, by the same purchasers, the mortgage company chose to sue us for the difference. Since we did not have a surplus of $60,000 laying about we ended up in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most people when they think of bankruptcy they think of a clean slate and a redo with the minor inconvenience of a couple of years with no credit. That is the case in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not the case with chapter 13. You get relegated to chapter 13 when you make too much money to liquidate debt, and they reorganize it for you. How this looks in the whole scheme of things is this: the trustee of our account decides what they feel is appropriate for us to live on based on our housing, utilities, secured debt (ie; car payments) insurance, gas and groceries for the number of family members. They basically take the rest, for 5 years.
At this point I had resigned myself to being placed under “bank arrest” and had come to terms with it and have learned to make concessions in the way we live.
Then the unexpected happened. Our landlord for the past 4 years has decided to sell the house. I cannot fault her for it, she had been renting it out for over 5 years, waiting for the market to turn the corner while she lives on the other side of the country. I am not taking it personally. It just gave us a whole set of circumstances we had not planned for. And no one could prepare me for right now.
We have been looking for new housing for a few months. Renting a property is not something you can do too far in advance, as most property owners are looking for a 30 day turn, if not sooner. And apparently, properties go quite quickly! After multiple inquiries and extensive searches we finally landed one we felt would do the job for our family. We applied, got all of the required paperwork together, only to be denied. Not too disgruntled, we kept the search on, only to be denied before I even looked at the property. They were not remotely interested in the fact that we have a near perfect rental history or that we make almost 5 times the rental rate. As soon as I told them we were in chapter 13 they denied us.
Our lease ends in one week. We are placing all of our belongings into storage and hoping for one last-ditch effort on Monday. If it does not pan out, we will be homeless. And that is a very uncomfortable feeling. You can make a 6 figure salary and be homeless. And that is my life in chapter 13.
Most of my close friends are well aware of what has been happening and have been a great support to us, but what has been really frustrating is that no one talks about this. There are no “reality stories” or blog posts by people going through this to be found. Every google search leads you right back to the same 3 law websites with lots of technical jargon and no practical advice or words of wisdom. No one is talking about it, but there are many going through it. So, my hope (beyond finding a place to live) is that may be someone else is going through this, finds this post and can feel a little less uncomfortable.
“Where to Next?” the phrase lends itself to so much possibility. Since this is my first blog post in over a year, I believe it is aptly titled. There is much that I have lined up for the blog, as I re-enter into the blogosphere. But for my first post back, it is nothing but pure fun.
Most people know that Detroit has a fabulous art museum. And I myself have blogged about that great institution. So when planning a day in Detroit with one of my best girls, the logical starting point would be the DIA, right? Logical, yes, funnest, no! I know that Detroit has way more to offer than one museum filled with masterpieces, so I decided that we would go do some discovering for ourselves. Unbeknownst to my counterpart, I made up a game and she was just going to have to play along whether she liked it or not. She gets to pick the first stop and from there everyone else decides where we should go. Are you ready? First stop: Shinola Flagship. Shinola is a high end, hand crafted watch and bicycle manufacturer located right n the heart of Detroit. The watches are beautiful and you watch them being crafted before your eyes at the flagship store. The bicycles are almost too pretty to ride and the sweet smell of leather encompasses your senses.
If you are interested in hearing more about Shinola, you can check them out right here: http://www.shinola.com/our-story
After we finished oogling all the goodies and picking out our favorites, we had to begin the game. The clerk at the store clearly had it going on so we asked her the pertinent question, “Where to Next”? As it was close to lunchtime, she sent us down the road to the Selden Standard. The Selden is a small plate, local farm to table restaurant whose core is made up of locals. (And yes, I consider Toledo local) Check them out here: http://www.seldenstandard.com/about-us/
We had a simple lunch of crushed lentil soup which was heavenly and then shared a broccoli and artichoke flatbread pizza. The pizza was not nearly as good as the soup, but I could completely appreciate that each ingredient came straight from the farm and was crafted in the peak of its season. And really the pizza looked delicious-does that count?
After lunch, we let our waitress decide where we were going to next. Disclaimer: You must be willing to let people make choices for you in this game. A level of grace must be given to strangers who have no idea what your interests are. JUST GO WITH IT!
So our waitress sent us to little gallery on Library Street. That happened to be closed. (see above disclaimer) You cannot let these sorts of things dissuade you. Next to the gallery was an entrance to a galleria of shops with a strategically placed security guard. He was very forthcoming and sent us to one of the coolest places I have been to and it was just around the corner.
The Punch Bowl Social. What is that you say? More like, what isn’t it? Its a restaurant, a lounge, an 80’s style arcade, private karaoke rooms, billiard hall, ping pong palace and a bowling alley! Yes, all of that.
So we decide to bowl a game and have a beer. Now I probably should mention that our adventure occurred on a Thursday. It is commonly known to those that go to the Social that one should not bother on a weekend as you can’t move. With that said, we had no problem on a rainy Thursday. The bowling alley is old school, with the pins tied on ropes to reset. Game prices included shoe rental and it was a bit more than your average bowling alley, but with so much to do, you wouldn’t bowl the whole time.
No comments n the size of feet. Bowling shoes make anyone’s feet look like toddler feet.
One thing stumped us though, why is it called the Punch Bowl Social? Where did the name come from? Fortunately a group of kids (all of legal drinking age) came over to bowl next to us and they explained it. You see if we had actually read the menu, we would have seen the drink choice of an actual punch bowl. Seriously. They bring you a punch bowl of some mixed drink concoction along with a ladle and matching cups. Kid you not. See more here: http://punchbowlsocial.com/detroit/
Its probably for the best that we did not see it on the menu, it was only 2 pm. The manager of the joint then sent us to “some pottery place by my house” and then “head to Belle Isle”. Some pottery place…..had to giggle as we both knew he was talking about Pewabic Pottery. And according to the rules we had to go where he said.
Pewabic has been in Detroit since 1877. It is a true treasure with a variable amount of treasures inside. Here are a couple of samples.
You know those ceramic tiles that have the state on them, or say “Made in Detroit”? Yep, this is where they make them and where you can buy them. Here is a link to their history: http://www.pewabic.org/about-pewabic/our-history/
We picked out a few more items to throw on our wish list next to the Shinola goods and headed to Belle Isle. I have been to the Isle multiple times but not since the aquarium has re-opened. And we will have to wait to see the aquarium because apparently its not open on a Thursday. In fact the only people we saw, were city workers setting up for the Grand Prix. Hmmmm…….race course….no one there……I met have gone over the seed limit a smidge……
Since we had no one to ask, “Where to Next?” we took matters into our own hands, which is scary. We decided to head to the Guardian building to have a look around. We knew we wouldn’t get a tour, because it was not the weekend, but we still wanted to have a look. So we found a parking spot and hopped out. Then were told we were parked illegaly, and I locked my keys in my car, downtown Detroit, at rush hour. Thank God for roadside service and Alan the dude that came to our rescue. We of course missed the Guardian building, but Alan said we should head to Corktown. So we did.
There are a few places you can go for food and libations in Corktown, Slow’s BBQ is probably the most well known, but we were not hungry. Just when we thought that Corktown was a bust we found Two James Spirits. Two James is a distillery right on Michigan Ave. It hosts tours as well as some great art and atmosphere.
I ordered a Moscow Mule which had a spicy kick to it, while my counter part opted for Rosemary’s Baby.
Both were great! They also happen to brew absinthe. Yes, the magical, mind altering, monk derived liquor. We had ourselves a small sample of the young version (clear) and the aged (green). Don’t bother with the young, it was like drinking Old Crow-and they warn you. However, the aged….well, I understand why people went a little crazy drinking that stuff. t was very smooth, and why I limited myself to just a sip!
You can check out more about Two James here: http://twojames.com/?age-verified=eb4a487e1f
The friendly bartender gave us a couple of options of where to go next for some dinner and we decided to head to an old VFW bar that apparently does not serve any food beyond Better Made Chips. The friendly bartender (bartenders in Detroit are friendly-no argument) offered up more options and we decided to head out to the popular Hopcat. This place has 140 different beers on tap. ON TAP!!! How does that happen? Well, we weren’t too interested in the beer, just the food and it was worth it. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich and tasty pepper fries. But seriously, 140 different beers?
That is just one side of the beer menu. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself: http://hopcat.com/about-hopcat
We wrapped our adventure up at the Hopcat and parted ways. Will we do this again? Absolutely! And we are not going to limit ourselves to just Detroit! Maybe you can tell us “Where to Next?”
Here are a few more shots from our day in Detroit!
I never win anything. I mean rarely am I the winner. I have yet to even win a dollar from a lottery ticket. But last month I did. I called into a radio station and won two concert tickets to see Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums. The concert was a month away and I foolishly thought that getting a babysitter on a Sunday night wouldn’t be that difficult. My husband and I could finally have a date night! yay!
Yeah, well, no babysitter meant no date night, but maybe I could find a friend to go last minute……crickets chirp…….so I was left with a very uncomfortable feeling. I never win anything. I can’t afford to pay for concert tickets, it’s a frivolity that our budget doesn’t always allow. So, do I dare go to a concert downtown Detroit alone? I hated that I was missing it yet I could feel the resignation of a life less lived settling in, an all too familiar feeling……I have always thought about the regrets in my life as mostly things I wish I had done. I hope to teach my children that as well….to ask yourself “Will I regret this if I do not do it?” So I had to ask myself the same thing. And the answer was yes.
So I go. I weasel my way up as close as I can without being squished and possibly groped by a desperate hipster who has mistaken me for a cougar. Meow. I could not have found a better spot as I sidled myself up next to a few ladies and proceeded to enjoy the music. I realized I was getting old as I wished for a place to sit in between sets and my back started to ache. I also noticed that I was really listening to the music and enjoying its capabilities to transport me. The hornist (is that a proper term?) for Capital Cities was phenomenal and sounds just as good live, if not better than on the track. Here is a little taste:
Don’t believe me? Here it is live from the concert I was at, and no that is not me singing.
The horns reminded me of the olden days of Duran Duran and the Rio album. Sublime.
But the headliner is who got me going and who got me to call in to the radio station to begin with. The female vocalist is amazing and soulful and lyrically they got it right on!
And one more….because the lead guy reminds me of the 80’s. Love.
What most impressed me was how incredible both bands sounded live. Maybe even better than on the radio. There are a few artists that I have heard live and found them just as good if not better then on the radio. It is a sure sign of true talent in my opinion. So no regrets. I danced by myself amongst a bunch of 20 somethings and it felt great. Thankful in my old age that what anyone thought of me was far behind me and yeah, I would totally do it again.
How exactly did I get this busy? I never finished blogging about summer and along comes fall. It’s November 4th already??? Well, I will tell you one thing. If I have not been very proficient in my blogging, I have been proficient in doing one thing. Each month, I am for mid-month, I bake/make something. Something I may have never done before, or something I have not done in a long time. I started the adventure in september with bread making. it was an overall success, if not boulangerie worthy. I didn’t take pictures of the process, but enjoyed it enough to try it again and will document it when I get time to do it.
This past month I attempted applesauce. we took our annual trip to an apple orchard and plundered the trees to bring home a 1/2 a bushel of apples. I won’t talk about how many we ate while out in the field….
Now the applesauce recipes I read all stated that one would peel the apples as part of the preparation. However, my dear friend whom grew up in Eastern Germany, (yes they used to be divided and a communist state!) stated that once they are cooked, the skin will easily come right off when you press the pulp through the sieve. Hmmm….. well I am perpetually lazy so no peeling! So this is how it all went down……
Overall, applesauce making is sticky. If you are not Amish, perhaps you should avoid this. If you enjoy peeling apples maybe you are Amish.
And so the adventure began. we travelled across the Mackinaw bridge under a wind advisory. We were only allowed to drive 20 mph over one of the longest suspension bridges. It is amazing how oblivious of potential death kids can be. I was acutely aware. So much so i was sure I was going to throw up. Obviously we survived and hit up a meet and greet with Paul Bunyan and his great ox Blue
Like I stated in my previous post, the weather had turned to a brisk 64 degrees fahrenheit. However, it did not deter us! Next stop? Tahquamenon Falls!
Since it wasn’t getting any warmer and we were already in the upper peninsula, we drove a little bit further north and headed to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. It was incredibly windy, choppy and cold. As we are true adventurers, it did not deter us! Rowen even met a little friend!
We wrapped up our day and headed back south. Along the way you could really feel the isolation and the “wilderness” of the UP. we dd not see much for wildlife besides some cranes along the side of the road, however, this left an impression:
One of my favorite images.
We headed back over the Mighty Mac and got back to camp in time for an enchanting sunset. Thankfully the wind advisory was done and I was able to take some pics of the bridge.
Not too bad if I say so myself…..
We took in some beach time…
And a bit of putt putt…
The next night was the night of the thunderstorms. The thunder woke me about 1:00 am and by 2:00 am I had to go to the bathroom really, really, really bad. So I got up and braved the elements to pee int he woods, only to find it lightly misting, so I bolted to the bathroom. Of course, when I got back the rain and thunder had stopped, but the wind kicked in. I was sure that we were going to be blown away. I was awake until 5:30 am. We got up the next morning and it was 52 degrees out and this is what LuLu thought would be good to wear!
In came July. We spent a day at the lake with my brother to celebrate the fourth and then later in the month, I, by myself, decided to take my youngest three kids camping. In a tent. Many people called me brave to do this by myself. I really did not think that that was all that courageous. What really tested my courage was the thunderstorm that rolled through and driving across the Mackinaw bridge with a wind advisory. Do you know that when there is a wind advisory the speed limit is 20 mph? Its like, let us make sure that if you get blown off this bridge that is the third longest suspension bridge, in the world, that you do so in slow motion so we can get really news worthy footage. In any case, we had a lot of fun, despite the night that I was awake the whole night because I was sure we were going to be struck by lightning or a tree was going to collapse on us while all the kids slept right through it. Here are some images of our grand July!
Our camping trip started with a stop in Oscoda to visit with our old neighbors and then off to Alpena for the first night in a motel.