Category Archives: Photos/ Video Clips

Hollywood’s take on the financial crisis

In the weeks and months that followed my husband’s job loss, we sold our house, downsized, rented, and constantly adjusted our lifestyles.  We made changes frequently, because the economy sputtered along lifelessly, forcing us to continually re-evaluate our housing, the state we lived in, healthcare, schooling, entertainment, even the stores we frequented.

Life was tumultuous, and because I knew few who were experiencing life as I was, I was constantly searching for information.  I needed some way to understand my experiences, to frame them.  I felt if I had that, I wouldn’t feel so alone and helpless, and I might have a better chance of digging my family out of the very deep economic hole we inhabited.

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were great sources of information, as were Sorkin’s Too Big to Fail and Lewis’s The Big Short.  But now I thought I’d look for different sources: I decided to see how Hollywood was interpreting these events.

So for fun, on Friday nights, I dragged my husband to the basement to watch a few movies.  The first one was Matt Damon’s documentary on the crisis, Inside Job:

Then, A big fan of the book, I could not miss HBO’s Too Big to Fail:

And finally, after waiting along with over 400 people for the opportunity to see Margin Call, we finally picked it up from the local library and watched it immediately.  This movie was a fictional account and was my least favorite of the three.

Do you know of any great sources of information regarding the financial crisis, either books or movies?  If so, I’d love to know what they are.  After all, a financial crisis junky is always looking for more to read and watch!

The Chesapeake house

My collection of photos from Chesapeake is sparse, because occupying a flimsy dwelling situated on the train tracks was not something I wished to commemorate.  The move to this townhouse was cloaked in shame and disappointment about what life had become.  (There was little celebration, and everyone knows that copious photos always accompany happy times).

However, not all of our days were dark, and I did find a few photos of interest.

Here I’m outside the front door of the townhouse.  I’m blowing up balloons to celebrate Bronwyn and Drew’s 3rd and 5th birthdays.  (They were born one day apart, so we celebrate their special days together.  It’s a great money saver!)

Below is another shot of the townhouses in the complex.  My brother David is enjoying a moment as a kid, launching balloons over the roofs of the houses.  The houses situated behind him were across the street from ours.

The owner of the house affectionately termed the front yard “tar beach;” it was a blacktop driveway.  For most of our physical activity we visited the reservations or the neighboring school grounds, but every now and then I’d take out the octopus sprinkler during the summer months.  The kids loved to play in that water!  
If you’ve moved recently, you’ll be able to appreciate the next photos.  I took them the night before our big move to Cleveland.  Finally, everything was packed.  Now we just had to get the hell out of the Garden State!  

The house in Westwood

All photos courtesy of Sue Adler

The house we owned in Westwood was a beautiful Tudor built in the 1930’s.  It wasn’t perfect, to be sure, but it was our dream house.  We bought the house in 2006 for $970,000.  According to Zillow, it is now worth $742,600.

This is a photo of the infamous kitchen.  It was definitely the ugliest room in the house.  Not only were the cabinets made of a cheap particle board that was buckling under the weight of the granite, but the design did not complement the house.  When you entered the kitchen you felt like you’d entered an HGTV show about kitchen remodels gone awry.

The Pilates studio was perfect.  I painted the walls a sand color and the ceiling a quiet blue.  It was a calm, peaceful space different from the bustle of typical gyms: it was a place for busy moms to escape their lives and focus on their own health.  

This was my son, Drew’s, room.  He had a nice size room.  As you can see it held a double bed, desk, bookcase, and bureau handily.  (And no, it never looked this neat in real life).

Above was our master bedroom.  There is a stark contrast between this bedroom and the one we currently occupy in Shaker Heights.  We went from muted colors and minimalism to a pink room with gauzy curtains and Laura Ashley wallpaper.  Now we enjoy a design aesthetic best described as Holly Hobby, not city chic.

The housing crash

My book is all about the recession and how it affected me and my family.  I’m sure you have a few nasty stories to tell as well.

We bought our house in the summer of 2006, at the height of the market.  We sold in 2009 (I make a mistake in the video on dates).  Why did we sell?  My husband, Greg, was laid off in January, 2009, and we felt trapped in a neighborhood where the schools were not so good.  We’d foolishly planned on private schools, not realizing how risky a plan that was.

In a panic, we put the house on the market and stressed week after week as we saw the value of our house deteriorate.  Fortunately, we sold within 3 months; it felt like 12.

After the sale, we moved into a rental located in an area with great schools.  The house was crappy, but you can’t have everything, right?

In this video I talk about the sale of our house, facilitated by our amazing realtor, Sue Adler.  I also touch on an issue we were having at the time: after we sold our home we signed a lease on a rental home with an option to extend the second year.  When we decided to exercise that option, the landlord informed us he was selling the house.  We thought we had rights, but we found out otherwise.

(Beware.  A right to extend a lease doesn’t preclude a landlord from selling the house you live in.  In fact, a landlord can legally sell whenever he wants to, regardless of the contract he’s signed with you.  But don’t worry.  The contract has to be honored by the new owner.  That really makes you feel warm and fuzzy as a tenant, doesn’t it?)