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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chapter 6 - Money Isn't Everything - Or Is It?

Monday, November 16th, 1987

It's 5:23pm as I drive into the apartment complex. My 914 black Porsche sporting its nice red 'For-Sale' sign in the small back window. We bought a new car just a week ago. JP took it to work today, and I am left with the task of trying to sell my car. I love this car, the feeling of driving it, whipping in and out of parking lots and cruise through Pacheco Pass when I visit my family in Fresno. JP says he is tired of fixing it all the time. I'm mixed, it would be nice not to have to worry about my car getting me to and from work, but I like my Porsche, even if it is called a 'poor man's Porsche'. I park it in the first available stall and head to the mailboxes. My hands full, I struggle to pull out our mail, there again is a ton. I add it to my load and head upstairs. It's time to pay the bills. I know I am late, I need to start paying them on time. So today, before JP gets home, I will do my best effort at getting caught up!

We finally sold the celica for $1,700.00. They bought it even after we told them we didn't know what the noise it was making was. I was surprised and very happy! It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. However, today the buyer called and told me the transmission was shot and they wanted us to fix it. I think you could have heard my heart hit the floor. I called JP at work and told him about it. I mean they purchased the car that way. Full disclosure, but then I do work with the buyer. I just want to give them back the money and take the car back. I'm just going to leave it up to JP, he says he might be able to fix it. I know nothing about cars. Well, JP knows more that's for sure.

The money from the sale was nice however, It's going to help us get even further out of debt. Especially since we went and bought a new TV over the weekend. JP didn't like watching my old black and white 13 inch TV I bought from Gemco. Who could blame him, but really, it was paid for and all ours. In all honesty, I paid 15 dollars for it during their whole going out of business sale a few years back. The new one he picked out is so huge it barely fit in the entertainment center. It came with a remote, so no more getting up to change the channels. I wonder if that's really a good thing.

So now, I just have my car to sell and we can get out of major debt.

I throw the mail on the dining room table and kick off my shoes as I walk to put my lunch bag away in the kitchen. It's a mess as usual. But, it's bill time. I have to get that under control. I grab a soda from the fridge and sit myself down at the table. Wouldn't it be nice if Jon Paul was next to me, if we shared this monthly experience? Each taking turns writing out the checks and sticking the postage on the envelopes. Walking hand in hand to the mail box to mail away our monthly salary.

I know I am dreaming. It would be asking to much for him to sit down with me to help with this. I would be satisfied if he would stop using the ATM machine on a daily basis. It amazes me how little he claims to know about American finances but yet he has mastered the ATM machine better then any other American I know. Now, if he could only realize that the 'available balance' that is on the receipt is not how much that is truly in our account!

I pull out all the mail and add it to today's pile. Bill by bill I open up all the envelopes as I start to pile them up. Visa, Nordstrom's, Mastercard, American Express, Macy's... Macy's? When did that one come? Chevron, Chevron?? My eye's are trying to register and it hits me! My head hits the table cushioned by the stack of credit card bills on the table. It doesn't hurt at all. He is again applying for more credit! I sit for a moment, fighting back the tears, then holding back my anger and tell my self 'just breathe! Sammy, Just breathe. In and out. In and out.' The overwhelming feeling of debt is incredibly difficult to handle. My chest is tight and my breathing laboring, my stomach is turning over and I feel as if I am going to throw up. 'Breathe Sammy... Breath!!' is all my brain can relay. I am waving my right hand in front of me as if to fan away the tears that are flowing freely from my eyes. I am gasping for what little air I can get inside of my lungs and wonder if this is what my sister's asthma attacks feel like?

My body starts to rock itself back and forth, it is a motion I find myself doing often lately. It is the same motion my mother would do for me when I was hurt or upset. She would lovingly pull me up into her wooden rocking chair and we would rock back and forth all the while she would be caressing my long hair and whispering 'sshhhh, it's ok sweetie, your ok'. I would lay in her arms, press my ear onto her chest and listen to her voice vibrate through her chest. The thought is comforting and I feel myself calming down as my body rocking is slowing.

After several minutes, my head still down, eyes closed, my mind whirling, an overwhelming determination flows over me. I want to be debt free! I'm the one that pays the bills and every month I have to juggle which bills to pay and which to hold over. I'm tired of it. I hear my father telling me "Don't owe anyone money. Always pay your bills." I raise my head and count the credit card bills. 13 credit cards. I look in my wallet and count the ones I have, 5. I look over the balances of the bills and realize, just when he max's one out, he appears to be applying for another.

At this rate I will be in debt for the rest of my life! Does he not understand how this country works. We are free here to do what we want, but we must pay back all our debt. They don't hand you money for free! Then it hits me! I take a piece of paper and write all the credit cards and balances on them. I list them in order from the highest balance to the lowest. At the top of the paper I put the 1,700 figure from the sale of the celica. I add of all the minimum payments, subtract it from the 1700 and with the amount we have left, I pick a card with a balance I can pay off. I pick up the phone and call JP at work. "JP?"

"Ya, what's up?"

I play dumb, "Do you have a Capwell card?"

"Ya, why?" He asks as if he was just busted. I wonder 'who does he think it is that writes these monthly checks?'.

"Well they just called and told us we were above our limit and they are going to close the account. We have to stop using it." I continue. "They want us to send it back to them."


"So will you bring it home with you so I can send it in with the payment like they're asking us to do?" I lied further.

"Sure." He hung up before I could ask him when he was coming home.

I put a star near the Capwell card on my list. It's 1 of 13! As I pay the rest of the bills I realize I am able to pay another credit card off and make a note to call him in 1-2 weeks and let him know that card was also cancelled. I of course have no idea why. In a way, I feel a ting of guilt for lying. I look at the stack of bills to mail off and It fades me quickly. I have plans. I want to go to Belgium and I want a child. I want to be debt free!

I map out our average monthly salary with what we currently owe. If I can get him to stop taking money out of the ATM machine and stop charging on the cards. We may just be debt free by January. Here I am a mere 20 years old totally in debt and I can't help but smile, he believed me!

Thank you Mom and Dad for those acting lessons you sent me to. Little did you know what good use I would put them to.


Dinner is ready and I can hear JP walking in the door. I get his meal served up by the time he walks in the door. He walks in kisses me as he passes and sits to eat. "What did you do all day the house is a mess?"

"I was paying bills. I'll get to the house." I pause for effect. "Oh that reminds me honey, do you have the Capwell card?"

He grunts, fishes it out of his wallet and flops it down on the table. "I don't even use that thing"

"Well, there a little upset we're over our limit. They wanted it back." I fish through my purse, find the envelope with the bill in it and make a point of exaggerating my putting it in the envelope. Sealing it up and putting it back in my purse. "I'll mail it tomorrow." Tomorrow when I get to work, I will unseal the envelope and cut up the card.

JP doesn't talk anymore about the bills. He doesn't tell me there will be more credit card statements on the way. He sits in front of me as we eat our dinner. For once we aren't fighting. He is in a good mood. I vow in silence we will be debt free even if I have to lie to him about it.

Tuesday, November 17th, 1987

"Whats for dinner?" JP asks as he walks into the kitchen.

"Hmm, your favorite!" I exclaim.

He stops and looks at the pan. I am pulling the fries out of the oven and putting his steak on his plate. "There's only 1?" He asks as he sees I have only made one steak.

"Yep, just for you!" I tell him as I hand him the plate. I take the lid off the pot on the back burner and stir the noddles that are in the boiling water. "I'm making myself something different." I have taken to making him what he wants to eat as much as possible. Since steaks are expensive, I settle for Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, knowing he will be able to have another steak sooner.

JP grabs a fork and steak knife and sits down at the table. Without a second thought he starts cutting his steak and eating his fries. I look at him for a brief moment. Realizing I am starring at him and quickly turn and focus on my dinner that is near ready. 'He didn't even ask if I wanted him to wait for my dinner'. By the time I get the butter and milk mixed into the noodles and cheese he is done. He gets up and puts his plate in the sink and walks over to the TV, where I know he will be the remainder of the night. I missed my chance to have dinner with my husband.

I sit at the table with my bowl of mac-n-cheese. I can't help but think about how much I really hate mac-n-cheese and how rude it was to just eat your dinner and not even consider waiting for me. I guess I can't blame JP, he probably didn't realize it. I look at him in the living room, watching TV as I sit and eat my dinner. I love him. I truly love him. I would do anything for this mystery man, if he would just tell me what it is he wants.

I finish my dinner and head over to Anna's house, with the hopes she has made some awesome cookies, like she always does. I know I'm leaving JP at home, but from experience he will either sit on the couch or head over to Ron's house to get stoned. I'm going to bet he probably doesn't even notice I am gone. Besides, I am looking forward to the one on one female conversation.

Saturday, November 21st, 1987 Evening

This is my first full day of coat check. I am sitting in a closet, in charge of watching 18 furry coats at the La Rinconada Country Club. It really is a tough job, but someone has to do it! Not to mention, I get paid to do this! I'm sitting here all my myself and find it is peaceful, relaxing and very comforting. I count my tips as the night goes on, each dollar is one dollar closer to being debt free!

There is a light in here just above me, that flickers terribly. I'm guessing it wants to go out. I try to tell it that I need it to keep working. Willing it to stay on! It just flickers on a continuous basis, giving me a headache, but nothing I can't handle.

I was able to pay off 2 of JP's tickets. They only cost 152.00, much better then the 500.00 I thought it would be. I can't begin to tell you how much I love my life at this moment, everything is right in place. I keep waiting for something to happen. I guess that’s life though. I'm in love with Jon Paul. I don’t want to loose him. He says he’ll never leave me, but some day's I feel he will. That's me, a worry wart all the way, and a little nit picky. I'm working on the last.

We talked about having a baby. JP actually was open to it. I thought since he already had a child in Belgium that he wouldn't want another one. But he told me we could probably start trying next summer. It's exciting known that I have something to look forward to, a goal to get all our bills paid off by then for sure.

I am excited. Tomorrow my sister comes to town. JP likes her a lot so we are planning to meet up with her in Union City!

Monday, November 23rd, 1987


We got into a car accident on our way to our friends house. Our brand new Isuzu Impulse is totalled! Wrecked beyond belief and I haven't even gotten the payment coupon book yet.

I was sitting at a stop light and a car behind us slammed right into the back of me. JP was in the passenger seat, thank goodness he is OK. Our car was slammed into the car in front of it and that car slammed into the car in front of it. So we have front and rear damage. JP says we will be lucky if they don't total the car. Thank goodness I insisted on going and getting insurance the day we bought it.

JP was awesome, he took care of everything and made sure I was OK and helped everyone else with their vehicles. I have a headache and my neck hurts really bad, but I'm not complaining, it's not that bad. I am just so tired now I just want to go home and go to sleep.

Saturday, November 28th, 1987

JP called Zacharie today to wish him happy birthday. Apparently he was polite and everything. He was having his birthday party with 11 of his friends. JP doesn't talk much about his son, and I have stopped asking since it usually ends up in a fight. I just wish Zboy would come and visit us sometime. That would be awesome to actually get to meet his son and I just know JP would be so happy with that.

We could be a complete family then. No more fighting, just lots of loving! I can't wait to have a baby and start our family. I would never leave JP like his ex-wife left him. NEVER!

Sometimes I wish I could give this journal to JP and let him read this maybe then he would know how much I love him and that I'm always going to be here for him.

Saturday, December 5th, 1987

I had a busy week and it doesn't seem to be getting any better anytime soon. Yesterday, after work, I went and put a deposit down on a guitar I bought for JP for Christmas. I think he will really like it, or i hope he will. He better, it was $300.00. It was the first time I ever put something on law away. I got home with enough time to change and leave for coat checking. I found a joint in JP's jacket. We fought again about his pot smoking. You don't have to do drugs to have a good time. But he just doesn't seem to understand that. I left for work and when I came home he was already asleep.

Tonight I am working coat checking again at the country club. I am hoping to make a lot of money. Right now, I have 80 coats that I am in charge of watching. If each person just gives me 1 dollar that would be 80.00! I would then only owe 220! That's asking for a little much. Not everyone tips me when they pick up their coats. The money I made yesterday I used for grocery shopping today before I came in to work. Tomorrow I have to drive to Visalia and be back in enough time to get some sleep and work on Monday.

What I wouldn't give to just have one day to sit and do nothing. But that never happens, I just need to stop dreaming about it.

Monday, December 7th, 1987

Work is hard when you are tired. I was able to pull off answering all the phones and being nice without anyone knowing I was exhausted. I got back from Visalia around 11:30 pm, threw myself into bed only to wake up 6 hours later to start my day. It's nice though having my hair cut and visiting with my family and friends. While the drive is long both ways for one day, the sound of the stereo tuned to my music and space in the car to myself is priceless.

Today is bill paying day. I am determined to pay off at least one more bill. JP doesn't even know what's hitting him. I wonder what he thinks is really going on with our bills and credit? I don't care anymore. He left it to me to handle so I am handling it. I have them all piled up on the table and start off with listing them out. This month my goal is to cancel the Nordstrom card, it is again a card that only he has. With it being December I don't feel comfortable paying off to much. We do need money for presents.

I write all the checks, placing them in there envelopes, addressed and stamped and waiting. JP isn't home yet so I call his work. My eyes closed, listening to the phone ring, I shake my whole body as if preparing myself for my acting gig.

"Hello" His boss answer's. It's my cue.

I quiver my voice slightly as if I am upset "Hello, is John Paul there?"

"Ya, hang on." I hear him put down the phone and call for JP in the background to come to the phone."


{action} "JP I just got a call from Nordstrom's!"

"Ya? What they want?"

"They say we have to turn in our cards!" I sniff as if I had been crying. Gulping a little over the phone.

"Ya? I thought that would happen. They froze it few months ago when I tried to use it I thought if I didn't use it it would be good for awhile." He paused.

I help my breath. He tried using it a few months ago? Who does he think pays the bill even if your not using it? I look at the table with the envelope sitting on it that holds the payoff payment in it. "They want their cards back." Sniff.

"Fuck em, they can have em!"

I was smiling full force. Shook my head, returned to character to finish the call. "I just don't like this" I sniff and pretend as if I am crying.

"Fuck em. I bring the card back and we forget about em." He says. "I gotta go back to work." He hangs up.

I place the phone back on the cradle. Facing the phone and flalling my arms out in front of me take the largest bow in honor of my performance. The audience would have given me a standing ovation.


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