Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stop the Presses

So back in December, when Ed and I were in the middle of figuring out what to do since he was no longer employed, I started keeping this blog, half as a journal, half as a way to share my story. I am a storyteller, that’s what I do. I sometimes phrase it as an aspiring writer, but I am writing, so what am I aspiring to? To hopefully earn some type of living from the words I put on a page.
Once we moved up to Oregon, I was surfing around on CNN one day, and decided to publish an I-report. Why did I do this? Boredom? Shits and giggles? Nothing else to loose? All of the above. Reaching out I guess, maybe someone out there would find some solace in my story. We understand that we are by no means alone in our hardship, and we also fully appreciate how lucky we are to have family willing to take us in and help us out. It is more than some have.
Well, within about 12 hours of me posting my I-report I received a call from two CNN producers, saying “hey, we like your story and would like do a further report on you.”
My first thought was, what a validation of my writing that it hooked a CNN producer enough to want to follow up with us. My second thought was why not? We don’t have much to do, and if only for our own entertainment… So we drove up to Portland, did a sit down interview and spent the rest of the day with a good friend.
Maybe we should have never taken this step, maybe we did not fully consider what the results might entail. But it was done, and we watched with anticipation when it would air. Then it was over, and we were back to cleaning up after the little ones. But another call came, “we’re interested in your story and would like to conduct an interview.” Again, why not? The first one was gravy, and we were having fun. Am I some narcissist and do I feel I deserve national media attention? No. I like being one of the anonymous masses. And I felt, and still do feel, that with the fickle nature of the media, who would remember this in a month? But maybe Ed and I could somehow meet some good people and maybe land a job as a result of all this madness.
No job offers yet, but we are still hoping.
In light of some of the comments I have received, both on my blog, and on the I-report page, I feel I should clarify myself in some respects. But as a disclaimer, I would like to state that the overwhelming majority of the comments have been ones of support and encouragement, and I would like to thank all those who are sending good energy our way.
First, Ed has been self employed for the past seven years, in multiple partnerships. As anyone who is self-employed knows, it takes the first few years just to get into the black (if you EVER get into the black), and everything you make goes back into the company. He employed people, and paid heavy taxes and contributed to growth in the economy. The partners in his second start-up, royally and illegally screwed him, taking the portfolio (life insurance) that he helped build, and moved it into an entity that did not bare his name, thus their reason for denying him his share of the profits. We are attempting to retain counsel against them, for his rightful share.
I’m 28, having graduated from the University of Arizona when I was 25, so I am essentially at the beginning of my potential career earnings. And I put myself through school, working full time, up until my last year when I took a part time job. So anyone who says: “I don’t understand how you couldn’t have had much savings, you must have made some stupid decisions, and that’s what you get for living beyond your means”, why don't you go jump off a bridge and do us all a favor.
Second, maybe I should clarify my tone. I realize that most of the people reading this do not know me personally, and although I always want to write like I talk, there is no possibility for inflection on the page, no facial expressions or hand gestures. So let me say, I wrote my original post (the one that ended up on the I-report) as part sarcasm, part social commentary, and part hopeful for the future and excited for what we could accomplish in our new environment. We were not country clubbers; we worked and associated with them. We were not spending our full paychecks on clothes and dinners. We did manage to treat ourselves to the Opera from time to time. And while we went into a little debt for our wedding and honeymoon, it was nothing we would not have been able to work ourselves out of in a year’s time; if Ed had not been so unceremoniously ousted from his company. Then our further plans, which entailed saving money and joining the peace corps, and having enough so that we could in turn aid other artists, we hoped (and still hope) that we could help build a better world for all. It might not have been read this way, but I can’t control how people interpret my words, all I can do is put them out there.
If some of my words have been interpreted as complaining or condescending, again, I can only say they were not meant that way. We have endless appreciation for the natural beauty and the kind souls around us. And while that is a fact, the stress of the move, the culture shock, and the pressure of financial worries are also a reality. And I challenge anyone who lives in rural America to move to Los Angeles, and see how you can handle it. People come there everyday from all over America and crash and burn and then end up going back home. Every dreamer in the world seems to want to make it happen in Hollywood.
Lastly, I would like to say to those people who have commented that Oregon doesn’t need us, and we should move back to California, that last time I checked, Oregon is a state in this Union and we are American citizens. And if we want to move anywhere in this glorious nation, as citizens and as taxpayers, that is our right.
Thank you and have a nice day.


  1. Hang in there!

    Amd there is an art to surviving. Only a few people ever know it's worth. The dropouts and failures are buried in the ground. Survival is about LIVING. And living is good.


  2. I can't believe that people wrote all those comments, knowing the facts and your fight and your ability to survive in spite of these difficult times.
    I wish I could do more being in DC, the other side of this nation but if there is anything you want me to research out here, please do let me know.

  3. Hey everybody! I’m Leah’s little brother in real life! I’ve known Leah since I was born, in 1983. I saw her get on the plane when she went to Finland as a foreign exchange student, I saw her in plays in high school, and I was there when she walked down the aisle and married Ed. So if there are any doubts about the legitimacy of Leah’s blog or her story or her character, then I would like to do what I can to dispel those doubts. Thanks everybody!

  4. It has made me angry that people have been assuming that the two of you were some sort of socialite. You guys are everyday people and didn't live a lavish lifestyle. You lived a lifestyle that you could afford.

    No one knows that you worked at the time market for 7 bucks an hour or that you lived in a one bedroom house that got condemned 6 months after you moved out and that you have struggled since your teens. i hate those commenters.

  5. Wow! Leah, my next stop is to finally respond to your's been a crazy house around here! Anyhow, I am mortified by any negative comments that have been sent in your direction. As an Oregonian, I would hope that people would welcome you with open arms. Our family welcomes you! I have not seen any negativity in your blog posts. Your words seem so real & inspiring. I hope that a few simple minds do not distract you from your goals & dreams.

  6. fuck the negative people! you rule!!!

  7. Leah,
    One characteristic of negative thinkers is their need to have the world behave according to their wishes. They have never grown up and still live with childish demands. Whenever people and the world fail to act according to their selfish wishes, they are unhappy. Such a poisonous attitude prevents them from growing and learning how to cope with life's challenges. Keep your chin up high, you should be proud!

  8. Sounds to me like those who are passing judgment are sitting in their own little comfort zones. You and Ed are describing what happens once you're moved OUT of your comfort zone, and how you are adapting to the new space.

    Maybe one day the people who judged so harshly will also be forced out of their comfort zone and recognize that what they said was inappropriate. Having to reidentify yourself after such big changes is a pretty difficult and intense process, and you're doing a great job of coming to terms with it. May others have that clarity, strength of mind and heart if they are ever in that position too.

  9. Dont let the idiots get to you. You are making the best of a very tough situation. Anyone lesser (such as the idiots mouthing off to you)probably wouldnt even survive!
    You rock and thats all there is to it.
    Keep your chin up it will get better!

  10. My husband and I are (were) real estate developers, here in the Midwest. We built a beautiful subdivision and we stayed in a camper with our toddler and sold most of the lots ourselves. Those were the best years of our marriage.

    We had been managing a gross income of $400,000 for the last several years. Then, in Dec., 2007, everything stopped, as if a light switch had been turned off. We have spent 2008 unraveling this once great relationship with our once friendly banker who now wants our house, because we did have 50% equity, but foolishly signed a personal guarantee, never in a million years thinking that we would loose the equity in the house. We were left with two options, come up with $20,000 or declare bankruptcy.
    Now, our son is five, we have declared bankruptcy and my husband's idea of survival and my idea of survival are polar opposite. He wants to hang on to everything he can and work until he drops dead. I say lighten the load, and get rid of everything that we don't need and restructure our lives. I don't think he will let go and it appears that divorce is imminent.
    Thank God you guys are young and that you made some hard decisions. I just wish that you would have gotten a camper with some slide outs. Hopefully, you will consider that via craigslist. I will stay in touch and I wish I were in your shoes.......

  11. Leah,

    I just wanted to say that I found your blog when it was a featured link on the page. I'm really happy that I decided to check cnn at that time and found your story! I've read everything you put out there on this, and I have to say that I admire the two of you! Seriously, I think you guys are great, don't let anyone try to drag you down into their own misery!

    I really admire that you two are getting sort of "back to basics", living simpler. I've dreamed of it for a while now. After you get your trailer fixed up it should be really nice.. maybe look into getting a solar power set-up to keep you "off the grid", grow some of your own food like you plan... sure it's not easy, but it sure sounds very attractive compared to what is happening in the rest of the country!

    Anyways, I'm blabbering on.. I just wanted to say, don't let the negative people drag you down, I think you're doing an awesome thing, and if you keep writing, I'll keep reading. :)

  12. My husband and I moved from Chicago "down South" to a small home on 80 acres. We left our three story home on one acre behind and have never second guessed our decision.

    We have been real estate agents for the last several years. We try to keep it basic but the economy has still taken it's toll on us.

    I say stay where you are; don't listen to those that are negative. Go for the gold right there in Oregon!