Guerrero, Mexico

The girls taking the public transportation to the swimming pool with their cousins. (February 2015)

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Erika picking out pan dulce at our favorite panaderia. (January 2015)

Bend, Oregon, United States

Our family photo taken in Drake Park with all three of my daughters (October 2014)

San Francisco, California, United States

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top of Twin Peaks (July 2015)

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Exploring the ruins of Palenque during our Great Mexican Road Trip. (May 2014)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saying Goodbye and Letting Go

After having our going away party yesterday, I was able to get about 5 hours sleep last night before we arose at 6 a.m. to make the drive across the state to visit my maternal grandfather. My grandmother passed away 5 years ago while I was driving to Mexico and I felt that I hadn't gotten to say my proper goodbyes and I still miss her every single day. My grandfather will be turning 95 years old in October and we won't be able to fly back to the United States if anything were to happen to him. I didn't have a father growing up so my Grandpa was that male figure and he wasn't always the easiest person to get along with, especially when your mother is a free spirited hippie. I always wanted to make him proud though in everything I did. He calls me frequently as I'm his personal IT and technical support adviser.

My Grandpa served in World War II in the Army Air Force as a pilot. My uncles John and Jerry also served in the military and Uncle Jerry served in Vietnam as a communications specialist. My Uncle John's two sons John and Jerry also served in the military. I served in the Army National Guard and served in Iraq as an engineer officer. All of us served our country and some of us served in combat and all of us wore LOVERIN on our uniforms. I thought I was an equal to the men in my family. I had earned my place of honor and respect in my grandfather's eyes. At least I thought so.

We sat today and he told stories of his youth and flight school and serving overseas and fighting the Japanese. I quietly propped up my cell phone and recorded him as he talked. I pulled down the yearbooks and old photos and his military portrait from when he was a cadet. I have never asked for anything from my grandparents estate. I am not a hoarder of material possessions, they can't bring back the person that is lost. I do love pictures though, they tell a story and show us who we came from. I don't even keep the pictures anymore. I scan and scrap them and pass them along to someone who has the need to hold onto the physical reminders.

Grandpa let us know that we will not be receiving any of those heirloom photos, books, and articles because I'm a female. I am not a son who can pass the items on to my son to give to his son. He plans to pass everything along to my Uncle John to give to my cousin John to give to his son Nathan. The age old patriarchy alive and well because they bond over hunting and fishing and Republican values. It does not matter that my mom, myself, and my daughters all bear the Loverin last name. It isn't enough for him. So I said goodbye as we left and it probably will be the last time that I ever see him alive. He has shrunk so much and even the day to day life is a daily battle. I cried on the way home but I'm letting go now. I'm letting go of my childlike desire to be loved and accepted by him. I'm letting go of my expectations of being seen as an equal to my male cousin. I'm letting go. I can carry around the hurt in my heart or I can free myself and know that it doesn't change who I am. I love my grandparents to the best of my ability and they are only human with their own faults as well.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bankruptcy and Us

I got the call from the legal assistant yesterday. The judge signed off on our Chapter 7 bankruptcy and we are officially debt-free, well almost. We were allowed to keep our home and our 2008 Ford Escape so technically we still have our $70,000 in debt but it's what we wanted to come out of this with. I posted this question to my Facebook friends about the very subject of bankruptcy almost two years ago. Jose had just been denied the provisional waiver that we had spent $670 to submit and we didn't know what our future held or what to do.

The responses that I got back from the majority were definitely for packing up and traveling the world with two people voting to pay off all of the debt first and then go. 
  • B. P. - "Travel if you can - you only live once. One piece of advice: do not do it on credit - no credit cards."
  • B. C. - "Get out... Get out now !! Before its too late."
  • M. H. - "I would so travel as long as my kids are safe with me and had enough food and water."
  • A. Y. R. - "Leave."
  • L. C. - "Second choice for sure! All the other stuff like house,furniture and household items are just that...stuff. That is not what is important. It is family and peace of mind and having those experiences that you know you would have. Also, it's time to quit having that fear all the time of being separated from Jose not by your choice."
  • G. H. R. - "I would pay off my bills and then travel. If I made the debt, I would need to pay the debt. Darned conscious wouldn't let me enjoy myself if I declared bankruptcy. I keep looking at these people who have web based businesses that live in other countries and think it looks pretty wonderful."
So with a little encouraging advice from our friends, we made the decision to stop waiting for immigration reform, save up as much money as we could, and leave the country. Looking back, I'm so thankful we did. I was scared as hell about making the wrong choice but I knew that I couldn't continue doing what we were doing. The fear wears you down and steals your dreams. What kind of quality of life is that? 

I stopped paying our credit cards and other small debt in November 2013 so we could have a little extra to put towards our move. Moving to another country costs a little bit more than your average move. The distance for one thing and all the little costs added up. We continued to make our car payments on the Escape that remained parked in the garage for six months. I also chose to continue paying our two USAA credit cards since we do everything with them and I've had them as our primary bank and insurance company since 2001. I called during the bankruptcy and asking about reaffirming the cards as I didn't want to be on bad terms with them. As soon as the paperwork was filed though, they were quick to shut everything down. I was able to keep my checking account, my vehicle, and our car and homeowner's insurance with me. I am no longer able to log onto their full website, I am reserved the mobile version only and no more depositing checks from my phone unfortunately. The good news is that Jose's access wasn't affected since all the credit was in my name so I just log on with his info when I need to. 

So here we are two years later and I have no regrets. We did what was right for my family and I have no shame in my actions. If cities and countries can declare bankruptcy, why can't I? The credit industry isn't set up to allow people to pay back debts when they get back on their feet. The only way to wipe out a poor payment history is to declare bankruptcy and wipe the slate clean. Pretty sad if you ask me. Once you miss that first payment, your interest rate goes up and they start to tack on charges. Six months without making a payment and there is no going back. That smear is going to stay on there for years, regardless of the fact that you might have started making every monthly payment on time. I don't remember us ever missing a payment in the 6 years leading up to this decision. 

It's done and now it's time to move forward with the next phase of our life. Only 28 days to departure!


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