Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blight


Blight. That's the name of the story I'm writing right now. It's well over 10k and it will be getting into novella territory very soon, if it's not already there. I don't have a publisher for it. The above "cover" is me just fiddling around with photoshop and stock photography. However, the subject matter is something I know rather well. I really wish I didn't, but I do. It's a seldomly executed type of story I would call: Economic Horror.

Of course, there is no such sub-genre of horror. However, consider this real life story. Back at the end of the housing bubble, my wife and I moved out of a one bedroom apartment in Asbury Park, New Jersey. We bought a nice, two-level condo in Brick Township -- not a gleaming metropolis, by any stretch. At the time, I was still piecing together part time college teaching. I was even teaching two classes at Rutgers, at the time. The idea was that I was slowly paying my academic dues and angling for a full time college teaching job somewhere.

It never happened.

I was always fed a line of bullshit. The years kept grinding on, and I was going nowhere. At the time, I also had undiagnosed ADHD and sleep apnea. It killed my professional life. Also, I was becoming resoundly bitter too. People tend to become very shocked when you tell them college teaching is a job that will systematically keep you destitute, no matter how many classes you piece together. Over Christmas and the summer, i was not making any money. Hell, I even took a job at Walmart out of financial desperation.

Around this time, my wife and I started to get behind on our mortgage payments. We were made promises over the phone from our lender, but these were promises they never followed through on. At one point, the even tried to deny making those promises, and I was dumb enough not to demand that those promises be set down in writing.

We tried everything. We went through HUD's mortgage counseling, and we tried to get a Refy over "making home affordable." However, that program is a toothless waste of time. Because, if Obama and the Democratic party do not stand up to the GOP and organized banking concerns, the mortgage crisis will never end. Did I say "making home affordable is toothless?" Yes, I did. As far as I can see, nobody is holding the mortgage lenders accountable. Consumer protection efforts are always under attack from the right, and if the GOP were to get ahold of more power, they have already promised more banking deregulation. And that is a really shitty proposition.

Trust me, I know.

It's not as if the banks are all that regulated now. So, consider this. My first mortgage lender promised to refinance our loans, so that the month payment could drop. Only, they dragged their feet. Then, while promising to refy -- and constantly fucking up the paperwork -- the first lender sold our mortgage to somebody else.

This new lender -- lets call them something fake, like IBSL -- drags their feet on the refinancing. The countinue to fuck over the paperwork just like the first lender. Finally, the refy goes through. My wife and I breathe a sigh of relief. A few months go by, and then -- wait for it! -- we get a suspicious letter in the mail. The new lender has decided to jack our payments back to the original amount.

So, we got pissed! How could they do that, after all, we had a refinancing contract! Well, in the eyes of the lender, they are holding up their end of the bargain. After all, they are technically not changing the monthly payment amount. They're just escalating the escrow payments, claiming that the price of "mortgage insurance" has gone up.

So, thanks for nothing. My wife and I are back where we started. The bank has no real interest in helping us. In fact, after we did some digging, we found out that our mortgage was bought by a predatory lender -- an outfit that has no interest in actually servicing mortgages, but rather finding ways to put people into arrears, so they can foreclose and claim the property. Essentially, they have found a loophole around a "fixed rate mortgage."

My wife and I never asked for this. We tried to do the right thing. We tried to play by the rules. This second mortgage lender wasn't even the financial company we originally got our mortgage with. They came to us, uninvited and unwanted. And they want my house. Fuck them. We're fighting back.

However, the financial instability that has marked my life for the past year and half to two years is back, with a vengeance. Add to this the situation with my mother's health, and things seem bleak. Only, all this means, for the near term, is more paperwork, more complaints through governmental agencies, and finding a way to survive.

In the mean time, I'm channeling this long-running frustration into genre horror fiction (featuring severed arms, legs, and Pigs-In-Tuxedos). Even if Blight is never published, at least writing it has been -- so far -- somewhat cathartic, even with an ending that's going to be less than happy and hopeful.

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