Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Epiphany - The Obama Diet

I was watching O do his thing at Congress tonight and I couldn't help but acknowledge that he really is good for the country... though perhaps not for the same reasons that you are thinking of. See, even though we all know that Obesity has reached pandemic proportions here and that heart disease is almost as sure as taxes, still, most of us are reluctant to take up an exercise regimen to battle the gut-factor...

And yet, as shy as we are about exercising, I saw a whole house, congress that is, do an aerobics routine that must have been the envy of many a T.V. exercise guru.... sit up, stand, clap... sit, wait a couple of minutes... what did he say, oh! stand up, clap, sit... wait another couple of min.... and on and on for nearly an hour, he managed to get those creaky knees and elbows working in a manner such that would remove any doubt in anyone's mind that the American people aren't, as he claimed, the hardest working people in the world.

I mean, if O would make these speeches four days a week, congress would soon become a lean mean machine fit to lead the American people to a healthier if not necessarily wealthier future. That is, of course, if they take his example and go out and repeat his speech verbatim, with the necessary pauses and hand articulations, to their constituents.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Valentino, bankruptsy, and how not to fix your credit

Hi peeps! Hope all's well with y'all and that like me, you survived Valentines in one piece and with something to show for it.... This being, in my case, disappointment and an empty wallet.... Oh yeah and a rueful grin that I've been explaining away these past two days, even as I try to figure out where to get money to pay off my creditors who are totally unsympathetic....

What do they know about love anyway and the stupid things it makes u do... Like spend all ur money includin the rent and the car payment and the credit card's minimum payment due; to impress a girl who though she says she loves you for who you are and not the expensive dinners you buy her, or the limo u rented, or the diamond necklace from Zale's, she doesn't bat an eye as she takes it.....

"Awwwww! Baby, you shouldn't have" as she goes on to plant a sloppy wet one on your.... 'Oh come on baby, what do I have to do to get one on the lips?' You wonder as she fleetingly touches those delicate lips of hers; those lips whose image had you drooling halfway through yesterday's status meeting as u dreamt of them tracing their way from your forehead to your earlobe, down the length of your neck to that man-boob u've sworn to get rid off this year, something u'd forgotten about till u heard her lol-ing about with her bff over the phone the other day....

Ok back to those lips, as they hovered over what may in this case pass for a nipple then moved on down and made a bee line for that surging, passion filled.... Well, they didn't quite get there as your daydream was interrupted by the guy on your left wanting to know when the status meeting was supposed to end....

Now, she touches those lips to your right cheek and before u can tell her that u were hoping for more, she's off to the mirror to admire your money working for her, and u r wondering how the hell u r going to put off those pesky creditors and their collectors.

Speaking of which, my company... not the one I own, but the one that purports to put bread - in reality it only manages to put crumbs, on my table, recently announced that it was planning to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. No, they are not going out of business so don't go rushing those sentiments of good luck my way yet... unless of course they are accompanied by some lucrative offer of a six figure job doing little more if not less than what I am doing now. No, they are trying to restructure their massive debt....

I suppose, I should take out my notebook and take notes on how to do that since my ways of dealing with it, debt that is, over the years has been largely unsuccessful. I first tried the time tested method of paying the minimum due every month religiously, and worked beautifully until I hit my first financial crisis and missed a couple of payments... then all hell broke loose as the creditors hit me with numerous fees... late fees, neglect fees, over the limit fees and not to mention the tripled correspondence and thinly disguised threats... u better pay up or we will be reporting you to a credit report company..... Oooh!

What to do... well, I couldn't really manage to pay all these fees and the new increased minimum payments due, so I resorted to the next best method I knew, well I didn't know it but necessity being the mother of invention and all, I figured I should try and will the debts away.... and when that didn't work, I tried to ignore them.... I did not bother to open their love letters anymore... I was pretty sure they'd figure out I wasn't paying them and they'd go away.

And amazingly, it worked... for a while anyway, until some enterprising person in their collections department found out my phone number.... and some way or the other, the times when I was usually at home... and their assault would begin the very moment I stepped it in till I went to bed or left the phone off the hook.

"Hello... Yes, can I speak to Mr. Kh... ei... " Their hesitation as they tried to roll the unfamiliar syllables around their tongues would normally alert me and I was quick to tell them that Mr Kh... ei didn't live there any more... as a matter of fact there were rumors that he may have died.
That worked for a while... a year maybe, before somehow they caught on to me.... and when they did, they changed their tactics.

I had just gotten home one day when the phone started ringing... on checking the recently acquired caller ID screen, it stated that the number was 'unavailable' so I answered hesitantly.


"Wassup Khay!" The unfamiliar voice asked cheerfully....

"Chillin man... what's going on?" I answered as I quickly flipped through the mugshots in my brain trying to mate the voice to one.

"Dude... You still owe us $360.00 for that V.C.R. that your wife's been bragging to her friends about.." The owner of the voice having dropped any pretense of friendliness.

"What are you talking about?" I ask bewildered and taken aback by the menacing tone his voice had taken on.

"Dude, you got our money and we ain't letting you off so easily.... You better pay up or I'll personally come down to your place and repossess it.

"Huh!" Lost for words as I frantically search around the room for a place to search the phone and this intimidating bastard.

"You still live on Hancock st, don't you?"

"Yes... yes," I answer hoarsely; my throat having dried up as my wits escaped.

I finally manage to hang up after being harangued for five long minutes by the pompous ass on the other side who was probably getting being paid slightly more than minimum wage to harass me. I did not have the heart then to tell him that I had pawned off the damn VCR when things had gotten real tight.

Eventually, after so many calls like that, when I could not take the harassment any longer, I went in search of help. And no I did not find it in the numerous debt consolidation companies that seemed overly eager to help me and claimed not to have a catch... yeah right. Instead, I found it in the story of one Larry Winters who I copied almost to the word the next time this guy called.

"Hello!" On picking up the phone one evening after a particularly gruelling day at work.

"Khay, we still didn't get our money from you yet."

"Is that a fact?" I asked testily.

"Yes it is." The guy answered and went on to read a lengthy statement saying how I borrowed the funds five or six years ago... a neat sum of $160.00 to pay for a brand new VCR from their store with a promise to repay the said amount plus interest charged at 7.8% per month over a period of 12 months. I let him go on to tell me how that money coupled with the late charges and accrued interest now amounted to well over $600.00 and when he had come to the end I asked him when was the last time he had been to their store?

"Just the other day..." He quickly answered, "why do you ask?"

I asked him if he recalled how much a brand new VCR was going for the other day when he went to their store.

"I don't know... anywhere from $70.00 to $250.00 ."

"How much for this model that I bought?"

"We stopped stocking that model about five years back... "

"O.K... so you want me to pay almost three times what it would cost me for a good high end VCR for an old outmoded one? What kind of fool do you take me for?" I asked him as calmly as I could.

"One who would take out a loan to pay for a VCR...." He answered just as calmly though I thought I could detect that he was struggling to suppress his laughter.

"Well... listen up and listen carefully coz I'm only going to say this once," Mustering the most authoritative tone I could come up with. Then continued before he could come up with a smart ass retort...

"Here is the deal son, you are not my only creditor. As a matter of fact if you all decided to come repossess your crap like you have been threatening to do this past few years, you would have to car pool coz there is not enough parking space in my neighborhood to fit all y'all... and even then you would be really disappointed coz I don't have none of that shit anyway. I sold it all last summer during a communal yard sale.... y'all should have come to it. There was plenty of posters all over my hood. I even saw one downtown."

"Dude!" His voice now full of incredulity, " Are you shitting me?"

"Watch your language young one, you don't want me to tell on you to your supervisor." I am thoroughly enjoying this by now... "As a matter of fact, where is your supervisor?"

"Just a minute sir...." And I could almost picture the poor bastard shaking his head.

"Hello sir!" A long minute later the Sup picks up the phone and starts questioning me about the whereabouts of the VCR. When did I sell it, why and who gave me permission before finally telling me that I still owed them the money.

"Well, you and a hundred others." I answered him before deciding to end this stoopidity once and for all. "Here is the thing, like I was telling my friend before you, I owe so many people so much money, I simply cannot afford to make payment to all of you. Usually I pay one or two each month and this is how I figure out who..... I put your names in a jar and on the first Sunday of the month I do a random picking.

Now, if I hear from you or any of your minions ever again, your name will not go into the jar."

"Clung!" As I hung up the phone and let out a sigh of relief... n satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Happy New Year! Again.... Not; or... Changaa by any other name is still as lethal

Hi Peeps... for those who've been worrying, wondering what the hell happened to me... Well, here I am, very much alive and brimming with energy; ready to take on this new year with... ahem!... gusto!

For those of you who had not been worrying.... Well, fret not, for there was nothing to worry about.... other than, that is, worry itself.... Oh! Oh! and that usurper that has taken to impersonating me of late and peddling his puny self as my alter ego or something. Please be very careful when dealing with him. Actually if I were you, I would not deal with him at all... but am not you now... am I? Hic!

Last year, today, I was still reeling from the improbable loss to the Giants by my beloved (then) Patriots as I finally sat down to hastily put down on paper (virtual) my goal(s) for the new year. This year is no different.... I happened to have bet heavily on the underdog Cardinals, and I'm yet to get rid of the terrible aftertaste of defeat... Which is why, even as I type, I am washing down a tasteless Brazilian fare with copious amounts of Captain Morgan and ice even as I try to bring this already long narrative to the point(s).

Last year I went the theme route.... whereby I took a phrase I knew very little about, not having bothered to look it up on wiki, and decided that I was going to live my life that year with that phrase as my motto. Now, keep in mind as you read this that I have never been one to bother with making, let alone keeping resolutions.... so even as I wrote this here post, I was not in all seriousness expecting that I would follow through with it... I was just trying to reach my self-imposed post quota... I think.

So..... following a series of unexpected events that began this past Christmas, that may or may not have been alluded to on the previous post by that person who is definitely not me, I seriously thought about making resolutions for the New Year this time around. So, on 31st of December, at about 11:39 P.M., drunk as a poet on pay day sic! I sat on the bottom step of a staircase at my Uncle's house, pen and paper in hand, poised, ready to seriously start on the resolution writing process.....Hic!

I'll cut this part of my story short, since that is as much of that night as I remember, but suffice it to say that numerous searches of my person; pockets, crevices, etc, since then have not elicited any written list of resolutions.... Quite to the contrary, numerous photos arriving in my mailbox since then show evidence of said paper, or one very similar to it, being torn into shreds and thrown up in the air in some celebratory gesture.

It has taken me slightly longer than a month, and another disappointing Superbowl, for me to consolidate those shreds and come up with my New Years resolution(s)... hence the title of this post being Happy New Year.

I will not bore you with the details of the process.... nor will I bother to paste a picture of what they(my resolutions) finally looked like... But, I will let you know this, I did decide to keep with the theme I used last year... only this time the reckless abandon will be tempered with good judgement(where available) and a general sense of direction(true north and the likes).

I will also let you know that I had decided (and Crys u would have loved this one) to stop drinking, what with the gas prices rising and the credit crunch..... crunching, coupled with our new President asking us to be more responsible n shit, but then I happened to pick up his autobiography of sorts and chanced upon him drinking cham or chang'aa, or 'moonshine' as he so eloquently calls it back in Kendu Bay.

Now, who am I to reduce my chances of becoming the forty-something-eth President of the US of A....... those chances are already slim as it is. So, in a bid to emulate his story and to, perhaps, capture the dreams of my own father, and further my political aspirations, I will keep tipping the bottle and pouring libation to our common ancestors even as we enter this hope-filled era of bipartisan partisanship.

Hic! Happy New Year.... Again...Hic!
And screw Santa.... no more Christmas Lists.