Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The state of my credit, the rest of the month, the still uncertain future

Table of contents:
* * *

So, as I think I covered, I need like three thousand dollars.  "Like", there, is not used as a flavoring particle in spite of the vast majority of its possible usages being such.  ("Like" is to flavoring particles as "fuck" is to almost all other parts of speech.  Compare to "Lord" in certain Christian denominations.)  Instead it's being used in the dictionary-approved meaning of "similar to".

It could be replaced by "around-about" which is not to be confused with "roundabout" which refers to traffic patterns and rides at fairs, both in "Chiefly British" ways.

Technically I need [rather less] + [unknown quantity for washing machine repairs] + [oil when it runs out if I haven't built up savings by then], so more like $2,200 + ??? + ???.  I think.  I'd need to double check some things and I have some promotional no interest shit that expires at the end of the year giving me two months to pay it off.  So, yay on that.

I really need to get on the washing machine repairs thing but it's just so much easier to spiral into self doubt and hopelessness because the thing is, it won't take too many attempts at repairs before it turns out that I would have been better off to simply buy a new fucking washing machine.

So, what does this have to do with credit?  Well I was looking at my credit which, as you might imagine, is kind of shit.  Things that can't be deferred by leaning on leeway given by family members or accepting late fees because the fees add up to less than the interest on my other debt, end up being paid by credit.

My credit is somewhat ... complex.  Parts of it are stretched to the breaking point, but other parts are actually really good.  Trouble is, the good bits tend to be the smaller bits because the reason they got that way was allocating scarce resources to paying off what could be paid off because getting one less payment a month actually makes a huge difference in keeping afloat.  (I'm in a state where monthly payments matter more than interest rates because interest rates imply you have a middle to long term future.)

My credit score, however, is not complex.  It sucks.

In fact the free (as in actually free, not the front company for Equifax thing that says it's free because false advertising is ok if you add an asterisk) place I go to to check on my credit score has finally thrown up its hands and given up on me.

Normally it has recommendations for what you can do (consolidate your debt on this card for lower interest rate, get this card and make balance transfers to it, get this and you'll end up with rewards which will still leave you in a shitty state but it will be a shitty state with rewards) and as near as I can tell those recommendations are a big part of how it makes its money.

Sort of like how before Amazon.com dumped me I could make an affiliate link, and if you clicked the link and made a purchase I'd get a cut of the purchase price, I think that if you sign up for something from a link originating at their website they get a pay out for getting you to sign up.

So they want to recommend things to me.  Ideally they'd like to recommend things to me that involve me getting a new credit card because when they recommend, "Consolidate your debt under this thing you already have," that doesn't earn them shit.

But it's reached the point where things are such shit that they've given up.  Don't get me wrong, they're still trying to get money off me by showing offers that they don't actually recommend but would, presumably, make money off of if I took them, along with what they think are my odds of getting approved, but the general take away is that their response to, "How could I improve things?" is, "You're fucked."

So that's always fun.

They did, however, note that if I were to pay off $2,805 of my debt that would probably improve things.

If I had that much money, $2,200ish would go to debt that's not on my credit report.  My late tuition payment and what I owe on the house to the home owner who, being a relative, has yet to kick me out for being so far behind (but she is under increasing stress and it may well come to kicking me out, upside on that is that if she does kick me out I very much doubt she'd also hold the past due debt against me.)

Of the $605 that remained ... I actually had to stop, look things over, and reevaluate.

Here's the problem with washing machine repair.  For one thing I need it.  I need to be able to wash clothes.  How I've been getting by is not sustainable.  This most recent time I think it might have broken down and one thing might have developed mold.  Additional observation is needed to determine if that really happened.  Preferably undertaken at a distance in a place removed from the rest of my clothes, my house, and my life.

For the second thing, it has no clear end.

If I go maximum salvage minimum replacement. . . we'll I've already done that, it didn't work.  Next step up is something I haven't really considered before but while writing this post I decided to do a very extreme reworking of assumptions and try to figure out the minimum replacement that could conceivably make a difference and thus came to like 30 dollars, so I'm doing that today.

If that doesn't work then it's probably because I salvaged too much and replaced not enough.  Now I'm more like 300, if that doesn't work then it means I was focusing on the wrong area and the fix is actually pretty simple.  It just costs 450.

I could get a newer, better, working, warranty-having washing machine for that much ($780, recall.)  But by the time I knew that I'd already have spent $330 and wouldn't be able to magically get it back.  It's been very easy to go into doubt spirals over that especially because I've been treating $330 as the first step.

So, basically, I got a message regarding my credit score saying, "You're fucked to the point we can't even find something to recommend that might help you, but if you had nearly three thousand dollars to pay down debt..." and then responded with, "If I had three thousand dollars that money would already be spoken for."

That's the state of my credit.

* * *

November is National Novel Writing Month, which is called NaNoWriMo which is a name I can't take seriously.  Then again, I say "blog" now even though if one wants to knock two letters off of one of the ends of "weblog" in any decent world any non-assholic person would come up with "webl" (pronounced "weble") so maybe someday my standards will sink to the point that writing NaNoWriMo will not, in fact, make me feel like I'm contributing to the downfall of western civilization or, at least, won't make me care that I'm contributing to said downfall.

Will I be writing a novel this November?  Uh ... have you been reading hypothetical question maker in my head?

Of course I won't.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Also, November is already one third over.

But as I think about the possibility of imminent collapse of everything and the possibly of Stealing Commas dying, I don't want it to end with an extremely rushed incomplete fic written for a contest I was mostly without a computer for and sick for much of the rest.

November is a Friday the 13th month this year.

I'm thinking that maybe I will stick with Life After, for a bit.  I want to revise what there is without the rush and since it's a story with a beginning middle and end all planned out, and was indeed planned to be written in one month, maybe in this time of hopelessness it would be a good thing to work on and finish.

I can write it up to be what it was supposed to be.  Something without the rush, something with pseudo-witty back and forth, forces of death and decay but also rebirth and regrowth, mucking with timelines, and the drive toward hope while the world is ending.


It's an aspiration at least.

So we'll see what happens in the remaining two thirds of November, but I might be sticking with Life After after all.  Not in the single-minded way I was when I was trying to get it done by the end of October, though.  Just more than I normally would focus on a single story.

For example, I was reminded recently of how I wanted to do a series of three posts on how I would do the original trilogy of Star Wars, but only ever did the post covering the first movie.

Part of that was that I think The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the movies so I'm not altogether eager to watch it with an eye towards, "This was fucked up and stilly/stupid, let's change it" part of that was that Star Wars* was a simple story simply told and Empire is a good deal more complex and thus needs even more in the way of consideration and changes.  Also, some of those changes I'm not even sure how best to do**.  And the biggest part of it is that I put it off for a while and then forgot about it.

So maybe I'll do the installments for Empire and Jedi in November.

Returning to decons when I don't know if the ... webl has a future is probably not the most sound idea, but it's not lost on me that I left off the Kim Possible one halfway through an episode, so I might as well get the second half of that episode done.  Also, restarting that, or either of the others, could be a way of embracing hope.  These are things that will take years, so working on them is a way of saying, somehow I'll make it through and there will be years more of Stealing Commas to come.

* * *

There's a fair amount of future of Stealing Commas discussion in the previous section because it's talking about the rest of the month which is, in fact, in the future.  But for a more general future thing, I present this section.

It's hard to explain the stress I'm under now.  When my boiler broke, which I've apparently finally gotten into the habit of calling a boiler instead of a furnace, I was despondent.  (Exhibit A, Exhibit B.  For reference, the end of that despondency.)  I am not despondent now.

It's instead a lower level constant stress.  So many times I've thought something catastrophic would end the blog.  [skip trip down memory lane] Then, suddenly, my miracles, you the readers, came through.  There's recently been the whole thing with my primary computer, you know how I got that?

The old old primary computer wasn't under any kind of warranty and was held together by work I did on it with a drill press, 4-40 machine screws, matching nuts, and a hacksaw.  (The screws are never just the right length, so you need to cut them off to limit, though never prevent for that is impossible, getting caught on shit.)

With no money for computer I was kind of doomed, then I got enough to not just buy a new computer but to buy the computer I wanted.  Old computer.  When that broke warranty got me new computer, when that broke warranty got me new new computer, when that didn't work as advertised I got new new new computer that I'm using right now.

So Stealing Commas was saved by a donation to get a new computer.  Then (or maybe before, me getting things in order isn't always the best) there was heating.  Thought it was all over.  Got money for oil.  Things like that happened.  When the boiler broke I was flat out convinced that there was no hope, $6,000 was so far beyond any of my problems previously and I needed it pretty much immediately because it was the dead of winter and without heat I'd have to abandon the house fast.  The very next day the problem was solved.  In fact, I had to turn down money because three people offered me the $6,000 dollars I needed.  Three.  Ok, one was more like five point something thousand dollars, but you get the idea.

All of those things were "Oh my fucking god, the sky is falling right fucking now," and that offers a level of stress I am not under at the moment.

This is different.

With the exception of less than two days between when asshole behind the desk at tech support said that my warranty wouldn't help and so I'd be without a primary computer for the foreseeable future and when non-asshole on the phone told the truth there's been no high stress "The world is collapsing around me," despondency or anything like that.

Instead, well ... On my birthday, August third, my back was fucked over and I had to spend a lot of time horizontal in the following month or so as a result.  By the time that was over I was behind on a quarterly payment on the house (they run about $650) a dentist bill (I'd have to look it up; I'm not going to) and tuition (about $1,080 when you account for the very important health fee.)

The dentist bill is the only one of those that I've paid in full.  Tuition hasn't been paid at all.  Next quarterly house payment is coming up sometime in the next two days (I'll need to check exact date.)

August, September, October, and now the first third of November have been spent with me stressed, and it might be worse than that.  I can't remember my mental state in July and I'm not going to try to look it up.

Which is to say, again, this is different.  Lower stress level, but long fucking term.  It's definitely taking a toll on my ability to write, but it's also really grinding down hope.  And that's why the future is still uncertain.

If I couldn't get together the money to pay off the house expense last quarter, and indeed still owe a fair bit of it, what the fuck is the chance I can do it this quarter?  Especially when I'm starting off by being behind.  What becomes of all this when I run out of oil?  (Good news is that the current furnace seems to be less oil gobbling than the old one, that or the gauge on the tank is broken.)

Of course part of this is of my own doing.  A big part of this.

A post in late July mentioned that a big part of the reason I was so low on both actual money and credit was that I'd bought shit in hopes of being able to sell shit and hadn't had a chance to do the selling.  Now here we are three and two thirds months later and I still haven't; not because of time but because first I was screwed over by back problems and since then I've been under stress which I don't operate well under.

I need to do stuff.  I need to create jigs (not dances; devices for holding something in place in the right way for tools to do their things in the correct way), I need to list things online (remember how fast The Princess Who Saved Herself almost-sold-out, that worked out nicely once I'd set up a listing), I generally need to do work.

All of which means that the things that will help me pay down my debt, get back my credit, and have some cash on hand will take some fucking time.  It's not an immediate solution to the problem of ~$2,200 for house and school.

And that hopelessness makes me think, if I couldn't raise the money to do the last shit (I got some, but simple math says $1,550 was not gotten) given the last three months to try to do it in, what are the odds I'll do that plus the $650 (hence $2,200) this go round?

Of course it's not quite that bad because some money that was raised ended up going to other things.  The tuition may leave me under constant stress, but it gets one late fee and doesn't accrue interest.  I could have paid off the full quarterly expense on the house last quarter and didn't because some of the credit card debt was more scary to me at the time (if I run out of credit then I'll be truly screwed, be I housed or homeless.)  But even though I know that, right or wrong, I did decide to allocate money to other things and so it's not like money towards paying off the house and paying for the dentist is everything, I still feel the stress.

And that's where things stand.

My landlord is my mom.  She's retired and doesn't have enough money to keep on letting me be delinquent on the house's expenses and she does have a boyfriend who keeps on encouraging her to just sell the damn thing (right out from under me.)  As recently as yesterday I was making triage decisions on what to pay that today are making me worry about soon being kicked out of my house.

They made sense at the time and, if things were the same, I'd probably do them again.  Things aren't the same.  (As is obvious because I made those payments.)  House bills are up front now.  Any money goes toward making sure I still have a place to live.  My paltry income goes largely toward utilities and minimum payments on debts, so month to month expenses are not what bother me right now.  I need to make the quarterly payment (and the rest of last quarter's) and I don't think I can.

If I'm right about that then there's a good chance I do end up losing my house.  My mother knows that my sister and my father would both take me in, so she knows that if she finally declares that she can't afford to keep paying the expenses I'm supposed to be paying (I'm actually supposed to be giving her money in addition to expenses in a cost-plus kind of way; that's not happening) it won't be the same as ejecting me into the cold.

What she doesn't seem to know is how toxic living with either of those two would be for me.

And so that looms.  That's my future.  That's the future of Stealing Commas.

With all of this shit, my brain is not free.  If things go badly I'll be even worse off.  Do I think it will all come down in mid-November if I can't get up to date on the house expenses?  No.  But if I can't get this under control by the end of November, I think that means my future in my house may well be doomed in the longer term future.

That's what hangs over me.  Hardly the sword of Damocles, but enough to leave me in a constant state of, "This could all be coming to an end."

And that state makes it hard to write, makes it hard to think, makes it hard to accomplish.

Which is why the future is uncertain.


[added:] completely forgot, Stealing Commas theme song:



* The name "A New Hope" was added for the VHS release.  Do I still sometimes use VHS?  Yup.  (I've got a reel-to-reel player downstairs; old stuff can be cool.) Do I revere VHS enough to consider the name edited into the VHS release more important than what appeared on fucking theater screens before I was even born and set off a cultural phenomenon that has yet to end?  No way.  First movie was called "Star Wars".  So it was, so it will ever be.  Han shot first, Amen.

** E.g. it needs to be established that Leia likes to flirt the way she and Han interact because without that being established almost every interaction between the two is creepy and wrong, but with it being established (and it's totally legitimate for people to like to flirt that way) most of their interactions can be kept entirely the same and have them be just fine.

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