I went in for drastic measures yesterday.
I woke up with an idea to go to the bank and get help or clarity or at least relieve my conscience.
To be completely transparent, I realized that whatever little bit of credit I had left on my lines of credit with US Bank, those little bits of money needed to be salvaged right now for food and gasoline, mostly food.
So the first thing I did was take out every last dollar the bank would allow from my credit and that was two hundred dollars.
I took my daughter Nina with me and we filled up my gas tank and then we went to Cub foods...a big sort of ugly grocery store that often has good deals, and the new one by Rob's house is actually quite lovely compared to the old stores.
We went there and Nina pitched in her last forty dollars and between us we spent two hundred.
We had read an article the day before in the brilliant and not failing and not fake news New York Times about what you need for a well stocked pantry.
We bought all the stuff they recommended.
We broke with our pact to buy only organic.
We broke with our pact to not eat meat that wasn't raised under humane and healthful circumstances.
I bought us two packages of the pre-cooked bacon so we can add bacon to every recipe the way the French use the beautiful cubes of Lardon.
This is survival now.
What it mostly adds up to is a lot of bean stews and quiches and pasta dishes.
That's okay, truth be told, if we weren't so damn worried about getting fat or hurting the planet we'd probably choose to eat this way every day anyway.
We went home and unloaded with Rob's help.
Rob said he's never seen his kitchen or his refrigerator so full.
Then I went to the bank, cowgirl hat in hand.
I spoke with a young female banker, an Hispanic woman who was very considerate and honest, which the bankers in the wealthier outlying areas are not.
Sorry, but true.
She gave me a glimpse of an option that might work for me to consolidate my debt with their bank into a lower interest one payment loan.
The option she described sounded perfect, too good to be true, absolutely ideal.
Then her more typically cynical and irritable manager got involved and shut down the whole idea saying I would never qualify.
Then they said they couldn't help me at their branch and I should call the 800 number for help.
I said I'd sit right there if they didn't mind, so I could keep getting their help if needed.
So I waited on the phone for twenty-five minutes, in their bank waiting room, and finally spoke to one person, then another, then a different department.
Each time I checked in with the manager again telling her what they were saying to me. The manager was a woman of maybe forty, irritable, a White woman, someone I might be friends with in another situation, but in this situation maybe she just didn't like my cowboy hat so I took it off again, hat in hand.
The day before Rob had told me he didn't think I should walk to Walgreens and buy a box of hair bleach and fix up my hair for Spring the way I wanted to because these were desperate times and I couldn't afford luxuries like that.
The box of bleach was $8.99.
I just want to add here that if I who has spent two hundred dollars in one sitting in salons in my life couldn't go buy a box of bleach and glam myself up a bit for $8.99 then I would prefer to just give up on life completely.
So, just to say that when I took my cowboy hat off yesterday my hair was looking AWESOME.
Okay, back to the bank story.
I stayed on the phone for a long time with all these bank employees telling me all sorts of reasons why they couldn't help me.
All of it circled around my extremely unconventional situation of having no verifiable employment or income..yes I made over $25,000 last year but it was eaten up by the expenses of manufacturing my goods and traveling for my shows, so that my after deductions income was $5000.
I have no rent or mortgage I pay...thank you Rob, but it doesn't inspire confidence in bankers when you tell them that.
I've never missed a payment with US Bank ever, even when I held a mortgage with them for fifteen years.
They said my credit rating isn't that bad because of that.
Finally, after being at the bank for three hours I asked the manager if I could sit down with her in her office and go over the whole situation one more time.
She agreed, not happily.
I started from scratch.
I told her everything about how I'm getting closer to being a big star like Joni Mitchell or Dolly Parton or whomever.
I told her that I won't be able to make my basic minimum payments this month, for the first time ever.
I told her that all the gigs are cancelled for the next two months and I don't see a way out any time soon.
I told her I used the last of the money in the bank to buy the groceries and the full tank of gas that morning.
She came up with an idea that no one had mentioned, but it was the sort of idea I thought they might have suggested from the start, to consolidate my three debts with their bank into one lower interest loan and let me pay that off at a reasonable rate with a reasonable payment each month.
She helped me apply for it.
She said it was a good sign when the computer didn't automatically deny the request.
She says we'll know today or tomorrow.
If this works I'll have an easier situation to manage for the coming months...years....until I succeed.
I told her that my only idea now is to succeed or die trying.
If I die before I succeed US Bank isn't going to get anything from me.
They would be better off doing this and helping me keep rolling my boulder up the great big hill of dreams.
If they refuse, and I get a "no" answer today, then she has agreed to waive the $40 late fee that I'll get for each month I can't pay.
She didn't agree to not add more interest charges.
So the situation will just compound.
I hope they do it for me.
I'll let you know.
In the meantime, I left the bank and drove out to my Mom's.
My Mom has a new idea that she can't take a bath unless one of us comes over and guards the door.
I kid you not.
Can you hear me saying, "Mom, who is coming? Who is going to come in while you're taking a bath?"
She says there are "people" who want to spy on her when she's undressed.
Oh for God's sake.
But you can't reason with that.
So I sat in her kitchen and read emails that had come in all the while that I had been at the bank and all the while that I'd driven out to my Mom's.
In the emails there was an offer from a good producer in town to do some backing vocals for an album he's producing.
I'll be paid $500 to sing back up in the studio for some other people's songs.
I hope the songs are good.
I also got an email from a fan offering to lend me money to cover this month's bills.
These emails were miracles, I hope you see that.
In our time, in this strange and difficult and tragic time, there are miracles blossoming like early Spring crocuses all around us.
Keep your eyes on your God.
Keep your eyes on the fragrant thawing soil of this good Earth.
We will see miracles.
If we live, and if we believe, we will see miracles.