Today would have been Nadia’s 85th birthday. It seems incredible that 10 years ago today she came to my apt. in Vicente Lopez and we had a little get together to celebrate. She told me I was the only person who remembered her birthday. Nadia was not my relative; we were not related in any way, but to this day I feel a bond that goes beyond my normal feelings for an alone and totally unprotected elderly woman. It’s as if we were/had been related in another more important way. I have tried to explain it to myself many times, but I can’t. She was more than my friend and neighbor, a lot more than that and I don’t think that it had much to do with the fact that Nadia and I spent the last 4 months and one week of her life almost living together
Archive for March, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to tell you my subprime mortgage story. In July 2002 I moved to Atlanta, GA. There I bought a condo for $170,000. I was offered two loans: one for $136,000 at 9.75% and the other for $136,000 at 13%. I should have been suspicious at these high interest rates, but I trusted the realtor, and loan officer she worked with. At this time my credit score was around 754 and I had no credit card debt . A few days before closing, the realtor informed me that the loan officer had paid $300 to somebody to write the mortgage company & tell them that I had my own publishing company and that I made $120,000 a year. I was shocked at this lie, but I thought I had no choice but to go ahead with the closing. I honestly believed it was too late to turn back. After the July 26, 2002 closing, I contacted the seller’s real estate company. I wanted to sell the place. They told me that I could get $150,000 for it at most. $20,000 less than I had paid! The appraisal had been for $188,000. I tried refinancing, but because there was a penalty of $5,000 if I sold or refinance less than 2 years after the purchase of the condo, all the lenders turned me down. I decided I would rent it out. The realtor had told me that I could rent it for around $1,600 a month on the roommate plan, but all the realtors I worked with could get no more than $875-900 for it. That was way below my 2 mortgage payments plus the monthly common charges of $225 a month. My savings began to drain away. I wanted to save my condo at all costs and I didn’t want to have a foreclosure. I had been proud of my almost perfect credit score and now it was in danger of being ruined. I took a job as a domestic for 3 months, in spite of my bad back. In 2004 I was only able to rent out the condo for 6 months. To make the mortage I was forced to use credit cards. Eventually I racked up more debt and unable to make payments the condo foreclosed on November 1, 2005.. I would like to ask you to help change the laws so that real estate people can get punished for doing what my realtor did. I was very naïve to trust the realtor but I did everything in my power to make the payments and to save my place. There are countless numbers of persons (even HUD and various real estate investors) that I contacted. Nothing did any good (the investors would not buy the condo because it had what they called negative equity). Now it appears that my life will stay in shambles.What I went through happened before this subprime crisis exploded, but its effect on my life was beyond belief. It is the same as if someone had kicked me in the back and left me paralyzed for life.
I have lived with Lau, my cat, in the streets of Manhattan. People were very kind to both of us. I am especially grateful to the soup kitchen at St. Bart’s church on 50th between Lexington and Park, the Starbuck’s coffee shop on 51st. just off Park and the Midnight Run organization. Passers by were also nice to us, giving me food for Lau and playing with her.
Now I am in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. A friend allows me to stay in his loft. I have terrible back pain and no medical insurance. My back condition is chronic, and needs the care of a professional. When it is very painful, it hurts me to walk, go up and down the stairs and sit. I am in desperate need of medical help but can not pay for it due to my ruined finances. Sincerely, Eugenia Maria Renskoff
I watched a movie from 1955 called All That Heaven Allows with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. In that movie, Jane Wyman’s character, a widow living in a small town, nearly loses the man she loves because she allows gossipy neighbors and her grown up children to tell her what to do. Luckily, she finds out in the nick of time that her sacrifice had been pointless. In my case, I discovered that I had made a mistake in giving him up when it was too late.
This morning, like most every other morning, I stood behind the door of the studio loft. I wanted to use the bathroom, but it was occupied. The Italian woman was washing herself; I didn’t have to see her to know it. 9;30 to 10 A.M. is her time. Unfortunately it’s also the time I need to go in there. I stayed behind the door. And when I heard her open the bathroom and her feet made their usual noise back to her space, I hurriedly opened my door and rushed to the bathroom.
I watched a great movie on my new DVD player last night. It’s called The Last Laugh (1924, Germany). The story is about a doorman at an expensive hotel (Atlantic Hotel) who’s suddenly demoted to a washroom attendant. Emil Jannings, the actor playing the doorman, conveys so much without words. Walking down the street to his job and wearing the doorman uniform is everything to him. It makes his life in the tenement almost bearable. And when he has to give up the uniform and change it for a plain white jacket, his way of walking changes to that of a defeated man. The photography by Carl Freund (who later worked on the I Love Lucy show) is spectacular. It shows several other worlds—the world of 1920s Germany, the tenements of that era and the neighbors, who when they learn of the protagonist’s humiliation start mocking him. These neighbors are mostly women and the montage of them laughing at him behind his back is very true to life.
Thursday, March 19, 2009: Last week I was interviewed online. The interview can be read by going to www.theapostleswivesclub.com. The interviewer asked me about my novel Different Flags and my thoughts on priestly Celibacy. I am most interested in making a movie out of Different Flags and would gratefully appreciate donations. Thank you. Eugenia Renskoff
The Italian woman on the 5th floor topped herself this morning. I was in the bathroom washing my hair (and I had to be careful how I moved because of my back) when I heard her feet banging on the floor. Then the door to the other side (where the other bathroom is) slammed shut. A few minutes later, as I was leaving the bathroom, I saw her, wearing her white robe and carrying her wash bin. She started jumping up and down and around just like a kangaroo. I told her she was an idiot and that she was the rudest woman I have ever seen. I understand why the bathroom is so important and why communal is not for everyone, but she is absolutely obnoxious
Saturday, March 14, 2009: I have been thinking a lot about Helga, my waitress at the Stanhope Hotel lately. She and the other members of the Stanhope’s staff were practically like family to me when I first got to Manhattan. I can see the restaurant with its round tables covered with white tablecloths. The sun streamed through the windows and Helga always had a smile on her face.
Saturday, March 14, 2009: My tiredness is so strong that I can hardly eat at night. I force myself to open my mouth and take a little bit of food. It wasn’t like this before last year. I had so much energy then! I felt strong and healthy and raring to go.
The events in my life during 2008 have been way too much. I have done my best, but they are stronger than I am, stronger than I was.
Friday, March 13, 2009: I took a shower, a nice warm shower, and after I dried myself, I hang around the small apt. It was like in the old days, when I had a home. My white T-shirt felt comfortable. As I walked around the living room in my bare feet, I thought: Why have things changed so much for me? Where is the life I used to lead? It’s been like this for almost 7 years, way too long. Nobody likes reduced circumstances. They are no fun. Demeaning is the right word to describe them.
I forced myself to leave. No, it wasn’t my real home. I was only there for the shower.