Hooray for student fees!

Yes, that's right. Hooray for student fees! Without them, I wouldn't have ready access to sound legal advice.

Like many people, when I was young and stupid, I got a credit card. I made charges, and then found I couldn't pay them. Yes, this whole income - expenditure concept escaped me. Math is hard when you're 18 and a complete idiot.

It was a relatively small debt, about $1000. Peanuts when you compare it to the credit card debt of the average American household. And yet, I still couldn't pay it. I've been in school full-time since I got to college 7 long years ago, and predictably, money has always been tight. I did know about the debt, and had full intentions of paying it as soon as I was out of school and employed at a "real" job.

Recently, out of the blue, I received a call from a collection agency, Encore. They started negotiations by telling me they were suing me for the amount of the debt - and claimed to have sent me paperwork to that effect.

Now, I'm not the most detail-oriented person, but I'm DAMN sure I never received paperwork about being sued. I pay attention to that kind of thing.

And thus began a week of harrassment, degredation, and as it turns out, completely illegal collection activity.

In Texas, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 16.004, an agency has 4 years to collect a debt. After that, the debt is no longer good, and collectors have to leave you alone, legally.

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous companies are capitalizing on the public's general ignorance of financial law. These companies buy expired debts for pennies on the dollar (sometimes less) and press people into payment, totally illegally. By their view, if they get you to pay them $1, they've recouped their cost AND earned money. It's big business, too - one such company made $325 million in 2002!

Also, paying off an old debt can be detrimental to your credit. Sometimes it's best to just walk away.

Here's the article my legal advisor sent me: Zombie Debt

I'm not glad that I walked out of a $1000 debt. I firmly believe in taking responsibility for one's actions, and that means paying debts. However, I am glad that I didn't give that collection agency any money, and to know that I don't have to put up with their treatment. After all the belittling and harrassment, it feels good to beat them at their own game.

What do you know? Knowledge really is power.

(By the way, if you click on the $$ shirt, it will take you to instructions on how to fold it!)


In the House of History

Of late, I've been reading The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy, and it's fascinating. Admittedly, it's a bit hard to follow in places, as it assumes a much broader knowledge of European history than I possess, but it's still an interesting and informative read. So far, I've gotten up to George II (who reigned from 1727 to 1760), but I think my favorite monarch so far is from quite a bit further back.

Eric Bloodaxe (yes, that's his real name) was the Viking king of York from 947-954. I like him because:
1) His name is Eric Bloodaxe.
2.) He seems to have had a pretty straightforward view of leadership. His coinage says it all. Rather than mucking about with portraits and the like, his coins simply have the words "Eric" and "Rex" (which means "king", for those who missed out on rudimentary latin), with a big sword right across the middle, in case anyone forgot why he was king...

Reading this book also sparked my curiousity, and I turned to the all-knowing internet for answers. This is where I found History House, a very entertaining website that seems to be run by people who have their facts straight (well, as straight as facts get where history is concerned). I cannot reccommend enough that you should browse their column archives. Want to know more about Rasputin? Fidel Castro? Eugenics? Go there first.

From the Comments....

I'm going to post about something else in a minute, but I just read this comment from Tandy regarding my last post, "Disaster", and had to put it up here:

I was one of the aforementioned guys, and I'm still single and interested in going out w/ more Japanese girls. If you are not a Japanese girl do not fret, I'm also interested in Scottish, Irish, Venezuelan, French, German, Dutch, Portugese, Brazilian, American, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Austrailian, Russian, Swiss, African (any country will do), Icelandic, Maltese, Norweigan, Swedish, Indian, Nepalese, Zanzibarian... Now that I think about it I'm up for anything



Augh! Valentine's day was a complete disaster! I had a crappy time, and ended up with three (rightfully) disgruntled guys!

The plan was simple enough. I had met two Japanese girls who were interested in meeting some American guys. I also happened to have two American guy friends who were single and highly interested in meeting Japanese girls. For Valentine's day, Max and I thought we could all go out as a group and have some fun getting to know each other. We made the arrangements, the plans were set, everyone (with the possible exception of Edward) was stoked. This was going to be fun.

Or so I thought.

We ate at Hannah's, a Denton-based restaurant that Max and I have enjoyed in the past for special occassions. Unfortuantely, the restaurant seems to be on a down-slide: I am less impressed with the food each time I go. The service is mixed - the hostesses were rude to me both in person and over the phone, but our waiter, Jess (who also waited on us last year for the same occassion) did an impressive job.

Our reservations were at 9.30 (later than I would have liked, but it's my own fault...I made them) and by that time there had been some changes made to the menu. While not a major problem, this still resulted in a slight inconvenience and necessitated a reorganization of priorities. Furthermore, (and this is my ONLY beef with our waiter) all three of the ladies ordered sparkling water. However, they had only one bottle left, so the waiter brought it to me, since I had ordered it first. He explains this dilemma AS he is opening the bottle and pouring me a nice, refreshing, lime-laced glass. The Japanese girls look on thirstily. At this point, I can't send the San Pelligrino back, so I request two more glasses for the Japanese girls and encourage them to split the rest of the bottle. This was a poor solution at best, and I felt guilty and inconsiderate.

Additionally, because it was Valentine's Day, the restaurant was serving a "special menu". While this is common practice, and price increase is to be expected, this menu brought with it a level of price-gouging that none of us could ever have anticipated. This was not a reasonable, modest fee increase to cover the cost of more lavish ingredients and capitalize on the holiday. This was shameless daylight robbery.

But so far, these are trifiling concerns. The real nightmare had nothing to do with the restaurant. It was the Japanese girls. They spent THE WHOLE TIME talking to each other in Japanese! I know for a fact that both of these women speak passable English. The occasional grammar slip-up aside, they are both capable of fluid, natural conversation in English, with very few faulterings or miscommunications. The guys did make some attempt to initiate conversation with them, although I would hardly call their efforts exhaustive. The Japanese girls responded to the questions, of course, in perfect English (which suprised the guys, who had at this point assumed they just didn't speak English), and then went right back to conversing in Japanese. I believe they asked one question of the boys between the two of them all night.

As for myself, rather than having an enjoyable evening with friends, or with Japanese people, or with my boyfriend, I spent all night trying to engage the girls in the guys' conversation, or the guys in the girls' conversation. I spoke partly in English and partly in Japanese, and it seemed all questions between the two parties were directed at me, as if I were some kind of international liason. I should stress to you that I was not doing a great deal of interpreting, here. It was like this:

Japanese girl:
(leans over to me and whispers) How old is he? (points)
Me: Who, Edward? 23 I think. (looks at Edward) I dunno, Ed, how old are you?
Edward: I'm 22, I'll be 23 in March.
Me: Oh, that's right. Sorry!...(searches desperately for a conversation bridge) Um, these two are both 19, right? (looks at nodding Japanese girls) Uh, so (Japanese girl's name), when's your birthday?...

It was TERRIBLE. And in the end, the guys got stuck with a monstrous bill, and didn't get so much as a decent conversation for their trouble. As the organizer of this mad circus, I can't help but feel responsible. To top it all off, I hardly got to speak to my boyfriend (who's a bit of a shrinking violet in akward social situations) all evening! Max went into stealth mode, and I had my hands so full with moderating that I didn't have the chance to interact with the man who is by far my favorite person in the world, and certainly at that table. We couldn't even really see each other because he was sitting right next to me. [sad, pouty face here]

I believe, however, that I did win the "Asian Challenge", as it were (the "Asian Challenge" is in reference to the unspoken competition between women that takes place whenever they go out in mixed company, in this case made more difficult because the other women involved were Asian, and thus at a distinct advantage...), but the victory seems hollow because the evening was so miserable.

*sigh* At least I have my "Asian Challenge Victory Shoes" to comfort me.



I meant to put this in with the last post, but I forgot! Steven (who doesn't blog very much!) was kind enough to console me in an earlier post with a gift of kittens. This website is awesome! Some of the "kittens" look a lot more like full-blown cats to me, but who cares? I strongly encourage browsing through the extensive collection of photos with the "random kitten" button at the top of the page. I like this site so much, I'm putting it in the sidebar. Yes, I'm that crazy.


Yesterday, a man called saying he'd found my purse! Apparently, his girlfriend saw it fall off the car while my sister and I were driving around Cleburne. Embarrassingly, this means that I did actually leave the purse on top of the car and allow Sarah to drive off. But then again, I was on a lot of medication...
My pride aside, my purse is completely intact, with all of its contents (including my GLASSES!) and in my sister's possession. I don't have to get a new driver's license photo (which is great because my old one is hot), I don't have to squint through the rest of Japanese this semester, and I get all my favorite lip gloss back! Needless to say, I'm stoked. I'm also totally impressed with the mysterious Cleburnites. They did not remove anything from my purse, and despite the one-month delay in contacting me, they have restored my faith in humanity. But not so much that I'm not going to put a seven-year flag on my credit...you can't be too careful!



Just so everyone knows, I spelled the title for this post right on the first try (even though I did feel the need to check it)!

Moving is such a daunting experience. Even though we didn't actually relocate, the sense of upheaval is the same. A majority of my stuff is still piled in boxes in my living room, making navigation quite tricky. I'm not sure where anything is, and it all feels strange and unfamiliar, which is odd because I've been living in the same apartment for almost 5 years. This has also been an excellent oppourtunity for what I call "The Great Purge" - getting rid of all the stuff (mostly clothes and shoes for me) that I haven't seen in several years. If I'd forgotten I had it, chances are I won't be needing it anytime soon.

I have mixed feelings about The Purge. On the one hand, I know it needs to be done, and I'm excited about getting things organized (if only temporarily) and having more space. And who doesn't like to rearrange their furniture?! (Okay, maybe most people don't, but I do!) On the other hand, it's hard to get rid of stuff. I mean, it's my stuff. I like it, or at least I did at some point. I find myself inventing bizarre scenarios when I would really need that torn-up pair of cutoff jeans, or telling myself I should keep something merely because I've already had it for so long. Of course, this is ridiculous. A ratty old pair of shoes that I no longer wear will not magically metamorphize into something wonderful, useful or valuable, no matter how long I keep them. They will continue to confront me with the same dilemma every time I clean until I finally rid myself of thier oppressive chokehold on my sanity. Okay, maybe it's not that bad. But you get the picture.

And then of course, there's the storage issue. I just don't have room for all of this stuff! If I acquire new things (and I like to think that I may be able to do that at some point), the old stuff will have to go. So it might as well go now. In all of this I've learned that for a woman who always feels like she has NOTHING to wear, I've sure got a lot of clothing!

In other news, I am completely petrified of my thesis. This project is so big, so intimidating, and so beyond anything I've done before that I don't know where to begin on it. And it doesn't help that almost no research has been done in this area. I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a huge hedge-maze on a moonless night, and my pocket flashlight just went out. Oh, and there's a psycho chasing me with an axe.

At any rate, I've been avoiding it, and that's very bad. All the avoidance in the world won't make it go away. I wish I could just fast forward my life until I get to the part where I'm done with it. What I really need right now is a montage!