A blog is maybe more valuable than a credit score

You know how if you have to be somewhere early in the morning and it’s super important then you can’t sleep the night before? That was me. I finally went to sleep at 3am and then I was an hour late for my 9am appointment. The courtroom was full and on one side were white people and one side were Black people, so I was like, okay, here’s where I belong. And then someone asked me if I was a lawyer, and I said no, and just as I was getting ready to go to the other side I heard someone calling my name.

The landlord’s lawyer said, “Are you Ms. Greenheart?”

I said yes and we went to a back room to talk.

This is how housing court works in Boston. The judges really really do not want to try cases because the outcomes are so bad for tenants. So they want everyone to do mediation.

This is my fourth month in a row of mediation. It’s always with different lawyers from the landlord’s law firm. They’re all really pretty – by far the best looking lawyers in all of housing court. It’s little touches like this that make me want to stay in my apartment.

In the room, I was surprised that I completely burst out crying. Like, panic-attack level crying. I tried to tell her what is going on — how I got five months behind and have not been able to catch up. After I wiped my hands on my pants, the lawyer asked me if I want a Kleenex. I said no, and she got me one anyway. I said to her between cries and heaves, “I’m a capable person. I just got behind. I know I can catch up.”

She said, “I know. We know who you are.”

This is an unnerving thing that happens in my life.

I pretend that I’m a normal person and that’s how I can function in the world. But then someone will let slip that they’ve read every post on my blog or looked at my Wikipedia page, and then I don’t know how to act. I don’t know if this means they like me or hate me.

So I freeze.

Then I think, well I have to assume she likes me and just go on.

She asked me about my situation and she was so nice I wanted to hug her. And then she left and then she came back and then I couldn’t even really understand what we were doing. She introduced me to two people who helped me fill out forms and she introduced me to the judge’s clerk who introduced me to more people and I was basically at the Golden Globes of housing court — going from one table to another talking with people who could get me on the right path.

Finally, when it was clear that I still had no idea what to do next, the lawyer told me I need to start paying rent on time. Because they want to know if don’t have to worry about catching up, will I be able to pay on time.

I was so stunned I couldn’t believe it.

You know what it reminded me of? After the World Trade Center fell on me, the therapist told me that my childhood was so traumatic that I should just focus on that, not 9/11. And I was like, oh, god. That’s really bad.

I felt like that in court. The landlord’s lawyer was so incredibly compassionate to me because she really heard what I’ve been dealing with. And then the judge sent her clerk to meet with me to figure out how to keep me from being evicted. Everyone was so incredibly nice.

When I got home, I slept for a full day. I have spent the last month thinking today was the day I’d be evicted. I had no idea what I was going to do.

I am really grateful to so many people for making this happen. I feel like I need to give an acceptance speech in order to make sure I get all the people I should thank. But suffice to say that the city of Boston, and my landlord, and the friends who listened to me be overwhelmed along the way — they all held my hand to help me land on my feet. And now I feel like I can just go back to being me.

14 replies
  1. A
    A says:

    I’m so glad for you. Your blog has saved you again. Credit rating isn’t really a thing here even though it’s being mentioned now. You have said it’s better not to keep secrets .It does bring criticism but has helped you here.

    Reply
  2. peyton
    peyton says:

    im new to your blog! thank you for your writing, its kept me entertained and hopeful the past few days as i am stuck inside due to snow (my nightmare). This is the first “blog” i have ever read. I am truly fascinated by you

    Reply
  3. Terese W Hilliard
    Terese W Hilliard says:

    I have mixed feelings about your post. I know how hard it is to pay rent monthly. I also know that landlords provide a service that costs money. Four months is a long time to carry someone without payment. You have had several times when I questioned your financial choices. You are an adult and perfectly within your rights to live your life the way you choose. I will always support a person’s right to live how they want. We also have to live by the consequences of our actions. A consequence of not paying rent is the eviction process, so I am not surprised that you are having problems.

    I just don’t understand how people don’t prioritize housing FIRST – especially with children. The snowball of overdue rent gathers steam quickly.

    I wish you and your sons well. I just hope that you find a GOOD FINANCIAL COUNSELOR to teach you how to budget better.

    I have been in the situation of renting a room to someone who got one year of free rent from me before I could get her out. Landlords are counting on the income to survive.

    I have also been a single mom with 3 sons. I have lived hand to mouth during MANY years in our lives. It is a struggle. It is hard. It is traumatic. Through that experience I have learned to budget and plan for the future.

    Being able to get financial budgeting help with your challenges might make the difference.

    Peace and Love to you and your sons. I wish you well.

    Reply
    • Penelope
      Penelope says:

      If you were honest about your choices online, someone would write the same thing to you. Just about something else. They would say

      “I just don’t understand how people don’t prioritize [xxx] FIRST – especially with children.

      I wish you and your sons well. I just hope that you find a GOOD COUNSELOR to teach you how to budget [time/money] better.”

      But I bet what would be most helpful to you is if someone said: I’m a single mom too, and I totally understand how hard it is. I want to give my kids everything they need to develop skills now and have childhood memories that I didn’t have, so it’s been difficult for me to plan for the future. You must have a sweet confidence in childhood memories to be able to plan for the future. That a nice security to count on.

      Penelope

      Reply
    • Qi
      Qi says:

      +1

      I’ve rented out a house before, I’m not rich, if a tenant didn’t pay rent for months it would really hurt. I hope your landlord is a large company not a person, because taking this as some kind of win is a bs attitude. Even if you’re not evicted you should elect to leave, go live somewhere really cheap, and pay back your debts until you can get to a net worth of zero… And then keep living cheaply until you’ve saved 100k. Ultimately youre not young: you basically need to both live very cheaply and continue working for as many years as you are able just to afford the inevitable following 10yrs you aren’t able. Or hope one of your sons gets very successful? Still not a good burden to place on kids, but I guess that ship has sailed and one of them assumes they’ll need to support their mother. Maybe that will drive success 🤷‍♂️

      Reply
      • Penelope
        Penelope says:

        Okay. Reality check here. Boston is a very high anomalous rental market. For example, the only place more expensive for a one-bedroom is NYC. Why: there is no rent control and colleges drive up rents. College buy up buildings to house students and then get federal loans to pay for the students housing. To compensate for this, the city of Boston subsidizes housing when non-colleges students get behind in rent. This is to make up for the fact that Boston does not permit any type of controls on how high rents can go because the colleges control the rents. So I really really do not think you need to feel sorry for any landlord in Boston. The landlords are very very high end in Boston. They have to be because if Boston had a reputation for any run-down housing, parents would get upset and not want to send their kids to college here.

        Penelope

        Reply
        • Qi
          Qi says:

          reality check, macroeconomics don’t mean shit for the situation of your landlord so I still hope it’s a large company. But either way it’s wrong to just leach on someone else’s money because you unilaterally have decided they’re fine and don’t need it really. I just spent 5 minutes and found numerous $3000 2 bedrooms easily communtable to Harvard. They’re not even bad. Could definitely go even cheaper. You just can’t bring yourself not to splurge on what you want and don’t need, hence why you’re negative net worth.

          Reply
          • Penelope
            Penelope says:

            Yep. You’re right. I want to say that I really love my landlord. I love the management company. I love the building. And I love the people who rent in this build. They’re all really great. And you can keep commenting about how I’m a terrible person and I’m irresponsible. I’m not hiding. I’m not telling you I’m better than you are. I’m not telling you I’m perfect. I’m always trying to make better decisions. But I can’t be a model citizen/decision maker/parent every time. So you’re right. You see bad stuff about me.

            Penelope

          • Liz
            Liz says:

            We already know what her landlord thinks, Qi. They are trying to help her, which they wouldn’t if they couldn’t afford to. That’s the end of it.

            Penelope doesn’t need a lecture on fiscal responsibility. The next time you feel the need to chastise a grown adult with a history of trauma maybe go outside or donate some money to charity. Or think about what’s wrong with you and try to fix it.

  4. Sean Crawford
    Sean Crawford says:

    Liz has the right attitude, and good advice.

    I say that because a “no B.S.” hard hearted (about business) entrepreneur, without offering any theories or saying the word “karma,” notes that if you give to charity it somehow helps your business. Seriously.

    I suspect because it helps you as a person. Like how at the international Outward Bound schools, like Prince Phillip attended, they found that saving a life or training to save a life helps a person. Like how an alcoholic going through a period of desperate white knuckle craving is able to cope after following another drunk’s advice to do some simple service work.

    Reply
    • Penelope
      Penelope says:

      I know! So annoying to me, too. I have to figure out how to fix it. I have a list of things I hate about the site. I confess to have thought: at least if I die I won’t have to obsess about how to fix the stuff that I don’t know how to fix on the blog.

      Penelope

      Reply

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