When Life Hands You Lemons, They’re Probably Rotting

I don’t really like to talk about my life on the internet. It feels weird, like I’m dumping my problems on an unsuspecting audience, inconveniencing them and making everyone uncomfortable. As a girl who was raised mostly Catholic, those two things are like basically cardinal sins. You carry your burdens on your own, like Christ did the cross, and you don’t complain. But that sort of thinking is stupid and I can’t tell you how many awful situations I’ve been in that could’ve been avoided if I’d just asked someone to help me.

So this is me, talking about my life and asking for help.

I only wrote about it sparingly a few months back, but in December of last year, my mom had a stroke that paralyzed her entire left side. In the aftermath of this, she lost her job and the primary source of income in our household.

For those who aren’t in the know, I had actually just quit my own job a week and a half before her stroke because of my health and inter-office politics, and my brother has been floating from job to job ever since American Career Institute closed its’ doors one day never to open again, while he works on his Master’s degree (he suffers from the fairly common problem of being under qualified for the career he’s pursuing and over qualified for everything else). And my grandfather believes that every dollar he pitches in to pay our mortgage or keep the electric turned on is another dollar we’re indebted to him for, which he likes to hold over our heads like an offensive Nazi caricature of a Jew.

For the past six months we’ve been keeping our heads above water through taking whatever odd jobs we can find, calling in favors, getting help from friends, and probably magic. We’re doing better than a lot of people we know in similar circumstances. But that doesn’t mean things are good.

Mom has temporary disability benefits that are kicking in next month and her therapy is progressing wonderfully, to the point where we believe she’ll be walking unassisted by the end of the summer. Her cognitive abilities weren’t adversely impacted and the little bit of aphasia she was suffering from has gone away. But her hand is still a work in process, and for a woman who’s income for the past 20 years has depended on her ability to play piano and organ, earning an income is still a long way off.

The most she can do right now is teach voice lessons, which she’s begun to do in our living room. But most of her old students can’t afford to commute to our house, and those that can’t don’t number enough yet to do more than help us pay for groceries and a few small bills. And for every bit of money she makes and that Matt and I are able to earn, there’s another bill or another unexpected disaster to suck us dry and put us back in the red.

One of the big problems is that at the end of April, it rained in Baltimore. It rained a lot. And our basement flooded. A lot. The previous owner had redone it as a separate apartment and there’s a bathroom, kitchen, and separate entrance all on one level; when Mom came home from the hospital, we moved her bed down there so that she wouldn’t have to contend with the steps until she was strong enough. Now, she’s breathing in mold spores.

We filed a claim, of course, and the insurance company gave us a fair chuck of change to fix everything. We thought we were okay. We could tear out the carpet, we could re-insulate the doors and cut down our ridiculous electric bills. Mom could still have a safe, convenient space until she was strong enough to deal with our stupidly steep staircase everyday. And if there was money left over after the repairs, they could go to paying the mortgage and some of Mom’s many medical bills. It was a little miracle. We breathed a sigh of relief.

And then the bullshit train made a stop for another shit-delivery. Yes, we got the money from the flood insurance company, and were told that if we got the money, we could use it immediately. So we popped that sucker in Mom’s bank account and waited for it to clear. It didn’t. See, at no point in any of our conversations with the third party adjuster or the mortgage holder OR THE INSURANCE COMPANY did anyone explain that the mortgage holder needed to endorse the check first. Not one single person. It wasn’t even on the letter they sent us with the check. So right now, that money is sitting in limbo while my Mom’s bank finds out if they can get the check back to us to give to the mortgage holder. And they have no idea how long it will take them to track it down because they’ve never encountered a problem like this at our local office.

I don’t even ladies and gentlemen. I don’t even.

What this is coming to is that I really need money. We’re negotiating with the mortgage holder to get Mom on a hardship payment plan, at least for a few months, but no agreement has been reached yet. And right now we’re at risk for not making the July payment in time, which could impact those negotiations and put us in danger of foreclosure (this bank is not known for being forgiving according to friends who’ve had to deal with them). I’ve been making some money through singing gigs and I just sold a story, but that’s not enough. And I can’t get a full-time job right now because while Mom is much better than she was, she still needs someone with her at home in case of emergencies and to help keep track of appointments, medicine, hold her hand when her depression gets really bad, and basically help her get back to life. But right now, I need help in order to help her.

I like to work and as happy as I was to leave my old job, I miss working regularly and bringing home a paycheck. I’m not in a position to go to an office every day anymore but I can perform magic on my schedule for performing gigs and online work is always possible. If anyone knows of work singing or playing violin at weddings/funerals/church services/etc in the Baltimore area, please pass it on to me. Online work in the form of editing, writing articles, taking paid surveys, hell ANYTHING, please please PLEASE think of me and pass it on.

Failing that, a more immediate solution is donating to Mom’s GoFundMe page. Our housemate and family friend, Josie, set it up for her right after the stroke and it has indeed helped us out over the past few months. Really, absolutely anything you donate will go so far in helping us get through until this insurance payment kerfuffle is sorted out.

Okay. Okay. I’m going to take a few deep breaths and set up an Etsy page to sell some jewelry and vintage art books on. And then look into selling a kidney.

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About Morgan Maria D'Isidoro

Morgan Maria D'Isidoro has lived in Baltimore, MD for most of her life, saving a handful of failed escape attempts. Given the murder rates, she'll probably die here too. Morgan is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry, a musician of dubious quality, cat aficionado, art history fangirl, kitchen sorceress, recovering pyromaniac, accomplished liar, and an all around person of questionable employability.
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