Them’s Fightin’ Words: Part 2 Stuck in a Loop

I’m boring myself, just writing this down.

Last week I was enraged after the awesome gift package that was delivered by way of an $1100 add-on to our mortgage bill.  This week, I’ve spent the better part of my ‘free time’ obsessively staring at loan documents, emails, and statements to understand why our bill was so much more per month.

Turns out we’d received a few emails in the past month from a company with the website, and a request for correspondence to go through the “Research Department”.  There was no other information included in this email other than this nondescript information, so we ignored it and assumed it was a phishing scam.  After a bit of fine-tooth combing, I figured out that they were legitimate emails by matching the address in New Jersey with the address on our mortgage statement.  Our mortgage company is called Cenlar, so I have no idea why the website and ‘Research Department’ are named as they are.

In my last post, I thought that the added cost on our mortgage statement was somehow connected to the construction that we are doing and that we were being charged on our property taxes for the anticipated square footage that we will be adding to the house. This outraged me. I was dejected by the idea that we could be charged this much more per month when we actually haven’t even completed the construction or been properly permitted for this square footage.  When I sat down to analyze our mortgage statement, I realized that there was a cost for over 6,000 to the LA Hero program.   Simple, this loan has been completely paid off, and it should not appear on our tax bill anymore.  Simple, right?  Remove it, fix it, communicate it.  Oh boy, was I wrong, in expecting this to be simple.

After the first person transferred me, letting me know that surely I was owed a large refund, I started communicating with the LA Co. Assessor/Auditor.  I ended up in this awful looped-phone-call-from-hell.  This is an excerpt from 26 minutes on the phone with the tax office.

In regards to my loan with the HERO program being paid off, how this appeared on my property tax bill, and how to get this removed from my mortgage statement, my main question of the tax assessor was,”Who was supposed to communicate this to whom?”  Is it my responsibility, as the homeowner, to make sure that once we paid off the HERO loan, to make sure the Tax Assessor’s office communicates the pay-off to our mortgage loan company?  TA refers to the mortgage company as the ‘bank’.

Me: “Whose responsibility is it, to communicate that the HERO loan was paid off? Is it my responsibility, as the homeowner, to make sure that once we paid off the HERO loan, to make sure the Tax Assessor’s office communicates this to our loan company? Is that my responsibility, because that’s not clear, at all.”

TA: “Mind you.  I don’t know who’s responsible because the county’s responsibility, as far as the auditors, our department. Once HERO is told to add this amount to your tax bill, it’s done.  The HERO program has to send us information saying that it’s paid off. Depending on if there’s money still due on your tax bill, we’re going to make the adjustment.

Me: “Okay, so, you made the adjustment, I got the adjusted bill.”

TA: “Right, so then that’s it. That’s our responsibility.  That’s between you and the bank and you and HERO. Our thing is to add it on the bill based on HERO providing us information, whether to add it or remove it. That’s it, that’s all. Your bank’s responsibility is to pay the tax bill.”

Me: “Right, I think what’s really strange to me is all of this stuff gets communicated but it’s really not clear to me what my responsibility is in the whole process. I assumed that somebody would communicate it and say “Look, this loan has been paid off! But instead, I get a statement from my mortgage company saying I owe $1100 more in taxes because they’re getting a statement from you. And that’s what I’ve been very frustrated about and they didn’t tell me anything about the $1700 refund that was sent back to them on February 6. So I don’t understand who’s communicating with what, when.  It doesn’t make any sense to me and it’s very frustrating.”

TA: “Our job is… I understand.  But, you purchased a home <<let the patronizing continue!>> you set it up for the bank to take care of.  Your bank is either requesting the information to have your bills paid.  When you purchase something from HERO, the bank doesn’t know, neither does the county.  So whatever work you got done to your home, us, as the county we have no idea, your bank has no idea.  So how can the county or the bank be notified?  It has to come from HERO. So HERO has done their job with the county to notify us that you have paid it off so when next year’s bill is mailed to your bank, or however they’re requesting it, it’s not going to have a charge on there.  So basically, I don’t know how to answer that question (no duh!) because it’s not the county’s responsibility to tell the bank because we don’t know you have an impound account and we don’t know who you bank with and tell them that it’s paid off.  And HERO doesn’t know who you bank with to notify them.

Me: “I think what’s extremely frustrating though, I understand what you’re saying, but what’s extremely frustrating is there are tons of players and nobody knows anything. Nobody knows how to help me.  That’s what’s frustrating.”

TA: “How does the county know who you bank with?”

Me: “No, see, the problem is, I don’t understand your system in general, because I don’t do this everyday.  I don’t communicate in tax assessor language and vocabulary.  So it’s a completely new and foreign program to me.  And it’s a completely new and foreign vocabulary and all I know is, I don’t wanna pay an extra $1100 and I don’t think I should have to and I wanna figure out how to get it fixed.”  <<<GAH!>>>

TA: “It’s not until your bank gets your next bill for the next fiscal year, in October, that it would go back down.  (Basically what this means is that between now (March) and October of 2017 I will have to continue to pay the $1100.  Can you say bullshit?).  But I do understand your frustration (Do you, really?) because, you’re still going to have to pay what they’re asking for, now, unless you can provide something to your bank stating that, the dollar amount has changed. ”

Me: “Why can’t I make that statement now? The dollar amount has changed!” <<<HEATED thinking to self, why in the world should I pay extra money to an escrow account with my mortgage company on a loan that has already been paid? Asinine. >>>

TA: “We don’t provide the tax bill, for one.”

Me: “So it looks to me like you can’t really help me anymore. So we’re just gonna go round and round the merry-go-round, unless you have something else you can help me with.”

TA: “We’re not going round and round. I mean, I answered your questions.”

Me: “Okay, so I’m kinda done, cuz I gotta move on to the next phone call and figure out how to fix it!”

TA: “Okay, that’s fine.”

Me: “I mean, that’s it! Thank you. Appreciate it.”  <<<Not really,  I still don’t have a solution!!!>>>  

This example conversation is why I’d rather eat my weight in beets, than make these kinds of phone calls.

Afterward, I proceeded to call the mortgage company.  In what ended up being a 30-minute conversation total with the players at Cenlar, they put me through to the specialized tax representative who gave me her direct line and assured me that she would call me back today (she didn’t).  However, yesterday, I left that conversation feeling hopeful that they would reassess the escrow account as soon as they had the proper documentation that the HERO program had been paid off.  I told her I had forwarded the HERO pay-off information on Sunday, February 20 to their secured customer service email system.  She said the emails can take several days before they can access them and she would get her supervisor involved. She added, affectionately, that her supervisor was like Inspector Gadget and enjoyed solving complex unusual situations like this.  (Okay Inspector Gadget, get your game on and help me take $1100 off my next month’s bill.  PuH-LEEZE!!!)

Are you tired now?  I am.

In other news, today we received a call from our architect, that our plans have been approved by the county.  Yay!  Now we get to fork out a gazillion more dollars to reconstruct our bedroom 2 feet.  Good times.  The best.

I just keep on rollin’ with it.  But I do have a bit of attitude.  Nice doesn’t work when you are trying to get something to happen.  Maybe it would work, but I can’t be nice in these kinds of phone calls.  I feel a little guilty sometimes, because maybe I’m being bitchy, which I hate, but you have to fight fire with fire in these kinds of life events.  That said, “Put up your dukes!”— whoever-it-is-I’m-fighting-with. This fight ain’t over yet.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve had a lot of chocolate this week.  I’ve taken extra naps.  I bet you can’t guess why.

Them’s Fightin’ Words

The gift that we received in the mail this week was a mortgage loan statement with $1100 added onto our current payment.  For the next 12 months, we will now have to pay an extra $1100 in escrow fees (taxes and insurance).  I spent part of the morning on the phone today trying to figure out if this is a one-time or ongoing payment and to my dismay, it’s going to be for the next year.  I realized after my impatience with the loan representative ‘helpful’ barrage of figures and payment scenarios, that she is really not the person that will understand WHY I have to pay more in property taxes and insurance.  (Right about now, I think I’d rather have my wisdom teeth pulled.  Side story: At my last dentist appointment I asked the hygienist about my wisdom teeth and she said, “You don’t have wisdom teeth.” Me: “Well, I’ve never had them pulled.” Hygienist: “Well it looks like yours didn’t grow in.”   So for me, it’s easy to say, “I’d rather have my wisdom teeth pulled.”  I never had any.  Weird, right? I’m an anomaly.  But we already knew that.  Or maybe I’m not wise, because I didn’t grow wisdom teeth.)  

Now back to the horrid $1100 add-on to our mortgage via escrow fees.  I need someone to help me figure it out. I’m a creative-type.  I really don’t love calling and figuring out all this hullabaloo related to fees and whatnot.  It’s BORING.  (I’d rather clip my toenails, or vacuum chuff off the border of my carpet than call all these places to figure out why I have to pay $1100 more next month.  I’d rather clean up cat barf, or eat my weight in beets before I’d like to make the necessary phone calls to really understand this.)  What is it?  What is it that’s making me so incensed? It’s the fact that I don’t know the right questions to ask. See, I like to be prepared.  I like to know the vocabulary and understand the process and I don’t understand how property taxes and escrow really work. I don’t understand who controls this money and where it is.  It’s like the internet (How does it really work?) or the cloud (Where does is all our information really stored?). It’s an illusion to me, an illusion I’m completely dependent on for survival and record keeping.  So, my fallback, my go-to, my contingency plan, is what I like to call—speak-louder-than-the-person-on-the- other-end-of-the-line. Show them who’s boss, with your volume. Has this worked for me in the past?  Well, sometimes.

In any conflict, it’s helpful if you can figure out who the bad guy is, the villain, the antagonist.  So far, the solar company, Zero Energy, has definitely been the villain in this story. However, now there are so many other characters with competing storylines, that the plot is getting muddled.  Here’s what I don’t understand:  Why are our property taxes increasing on our home, when the part of our home in question has not been officially approved as living space? Technically, the county doesn’t view this as living space until they approve it.  See, we haven’t even started construction on the part of the house that houses the solar panels.  Yet, now our property taxes have increased?  I didn’t think all this would play out until we’d completed the construction and the county approved renovations as being ‘up to code’.  That’s when I thought all the fees would kick in.  How can we be charged fees for property taxes on living space that hasn’t been adequately permitted? (Is your head spinning yet?  Don’t you just LOVE thinking about this.  Oh my frickin’ gosh.  As my teenager says 12 times a day.)  But yes, all I can do right now is shake my head, suck it up, and make these mother-lovin’ phone calls.  Because if there’s one character trait I have, it’s grit.  Them’s fightin’ words, Zero Energy.  When you mess with the 40-something mini-van drivin’ mama you best be prepared for some naggin’. That’s what you’re gettin’.

I’m not going to give up, Zero Energy. I dedicate this song to you.  I think this should be your theme song, Zero Energy.  Just sayin’


I’m nothing but a low life
Thinking about my own life
I can’t help myself from falling
Can’t help myself from falling
I’m nothing but a low life
Thinking about my own life
I’m trying to fight the good own fight
But after it all, I’m still just a low life
Wanna be a better man, but it’s a hard life
Without that love inside you, it’s a cown bind
But, I started to reflect on all that’s been before
Started to wonder, but, but you can’t be sure
Now please tell me I’m broke
It’s much easier that way, ’cause I just let you down
It’s much easier that way
I’m nothing but a low life (low life)
Thinking ’bout my own life (own life)
I can’t help myself from falling
Can’t help myself from falling
I’m nothing but a low life (low life)
Thinking ’bout
I’ll leave you with this. We reference honey badger in our home, because we’re weirdos.   I’m trying to be like honey badger, honey badger’s got fearless grit.
Honey badger don’t care.
Disclaimer:  adult content.



Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

Hangin’ in with the same routine.  I’m trying to remember to take my vitamin regimen.  Taking the calcium 2-4 hours apart from the multivitamin is tricky.  I have to take a multivitamin 4 times a day to ensure that I get the proper distribution of nutrients daily.  I STILL haven’t gone in to get my blood work done, because I have to fast for 12-14 hours before the visit.  So. Many. Things.  I have it on my to-do list for 2 weeks from now.  I’m writing it here, so I actually do it.  I should probably make sure my blood work is in the healthy range.

Blast to the Not-too-Distant-Past: Part 2


Yesterday, I was so exhausted coming off of teaching, just two days in my 5th-grade class, that I fell asleep watching Goliath, Billy Bob Thorton returns as a down and out alcoholic divorced attorney and takes on his old firm. <<Commercial>>  Post- Goliath, I decided that I should probably just crawl into bed on a Friday evening at 9pm.  Yeah, it’s the life of a middle-aged mom, one that’s been sick with a pesky cold all week.  You know the kind of cold where your nose is itchy and you feel like you’ll sneeze any moment, and then you don’t.  The problem I have is, I have terribly dry skin already, and then when I have a cold I use hand sanitizer every 2 minutes, because I’m blowing my nose every two minutes, and well, my poor hands are competing for first place against the Rough-skinned Newt.

I went back to my posts in February of 2016, O*1sity- A Label.  I posted about my feelings about the word- O*!sity and included some of the research I was reading at that time.  This piece from the article I included is promising.  After 7 years, those who maintained their weight loss, who had the RYGB surgery, like mine, exercised regularly.

Regular physical activity is an important factor in weight loss maintenance (31). According to one survey in RYGB patients with a mean follow-up of 7 yr, successful patients (those who maintained at least 74% of their initial weight loss) exercised regularly (no details given) (32).

So, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, walking to get to 10,000 steps as often as I can.  It’s much easier being active when I weigh less, no question.

Check out my post from 2016, see link above.

My label has changed, but I’m still the same Joy.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m down 90 pounds.  For the first time, I fit into pants that I bought at the thrift store, size 10.  I don’t think I’ve worn a size 10 in over 20 years.  That was exciting and kind of unbelievable!  I’m not going to show you a picture of me with my “HUGE” pants and then smile next to them.  Because honestly, I hate those kinds of pictures, and I loved myself in the bigger pants too.  So there. 🙂





Dance Parties, Stool Samples & Curry

Today my heart and belly are full.  I’m trying not to worry about the current state of the world and narrow in on my little corner on 745.  It’s easy to get bogged down with feelings of uncertainty about the future.

I decided that ‘play’ needs to be a more essential part of my life and when my dear friends, Sarah & Adam, invited me to Daybreaker LA, I said yes to spontaneity. This was a great event to launch the application of LA to host the Olympics in 2024.  #la2024 is so far away.  The planning begins now.  So back to spontaneity, in the  Summary of Brene Brown’s chapter on play and rest.  she says, “To rest and play does not mean that you are lazy, weak or unproductive; it means that you value your health, want to take care of yourself and experience the present.”  Taking care of myself is something I have to do before I can take care of my family.  I have gradually learned this.  Very gradually.

I must say that I’ve heard Jason Bentley’s voice so often on Morning Becomes Eclectic that I was star-struck when I saw him for the first time today.  He mixed the tunes and we all danced as the sun rose at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (Well, first we engaged in a rigorous intense aerobics class with TONS of lunges, so many lunges, that my poor legs feel like jelly every time I squat to go pee.  They’re screamin’ at me, “Joy, what did you do to us! You HATE US!”  Uh, really, I’m not to blame quads, it’s been so long since I did lunges, I forgot how much this would hurt you.  I am really sorry quads.  Really. Really.)
Here’s my wonky video of the infamous, Jason Bentley.  (He’s not doing lunges.)


(Joy, why the stool sample in the title, it’s throwin’ me off? ) Well, it just so happens, that our Boy is required to give a sample for an upcoming exam related to stomach pains.  Yes, the stool sample jokes are endless and hilarious and ongoing in our house.  I reassured Boy that I would take the sample to Lab Corp for him.  (I mean, come on, that’s going to be embarrassing for me, and I’m not a vulnerable freshman.)  This stool sample event got me thinking, there’s a whole lotta shit out there and sometimes it has to be examined to come up with a solution, a remedy, a treatment.  Just sayin’.  Right now I’m avoiding, completely, the idea of examining the shit in the world because it feels like the whole world took a giant dump at the same time, but (*butt, hee hee, couldn’t help it), to come up with a solution, that’s what we must do, look at it closely.  No one wants to, but it must be done to find out what’s wrong and fix it.  (Joy, you got all that from a stool sample? Yes, yes I did.)

Finally, the curry.  My family LOVES yellow curry.  Steve & I, Boy, Middle, and Little, every last one of us.  We’ll go for curry any chance we get.  Thursdays are our one night to eat together as a family.  (I know we should do it more, but we don’t.)  I try to make really tasty new meals on Thursdays.  I made lamb curry a few weeks ago and this week I tried to replicate the yellow curry from Rosie Thai.  It was good but really spicy because I mixed a red curry paste with the yellow curry.  I need to make my own yellow curry paste next time, but it was way more time than I wanted to commit to today.   For now, the yellow/red curry filled our bellies, and we chatted while we talked about our highs and lows of the day.

Life. Love. Curry.  I’m thankful for these little people at the table and my partner in life.  Gosh. **Gush.**  Life is good.

YIMG_1168.jpgellow Curry Recipe adapted.

Yes, my belly and heart are full.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.



Gastric Bypass Update:

Down 90 pounds.  What?!?!  I know, it’s wild and unbelievable.