After my trip Up North, things got busy. I babysat my granddaughter, Charlotte, for a weekend. I worked on a draft for my new book. And the class I teach at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design was beginning soon. Despite all the pressures, I had recently decided that I was sick of continually saying “poor me.”
Helping women prisoners cope
I thought maybe I could help women at the Shakopee Women’s Prison take their minds off their woes by teaching them how to write and illustrate a picture book for their own children. At the volunteer training session, I was happy to see my books in the prison’s family visiting area. Driving up Old Highway 169 on the way home from that training, I passed a parking lot with some hiking signs. I didn’t stop that day but intended to check it out the next time I had a free afternoon.
That free afternoon came the next Saturday. The apartment was clean, Barry was busy watching golf on TV, and I went off to investigate Eden Prairie’s Richard T. Anderson Park with hiking trails. Anderson had served on the City Council and as Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources. Because of his devotion and love of nature, the city named the park after him.
This is a real gem tucked in the suburbs. The hiking trails bring you through praire, big woods, marshes and even a deep, dark trail that feels and smells like a jungle. The woodchip trail makes it great for hiking as well as for trail running. I really love this park and hope to hike there again in the spring. On the well-marked trails, I didn’t get lost!
As I hiked that August day, I thought about August a year ago. Back then, I would not have had the time to even think about hiking. Most of my days were taken up with banking and trying to figure out the mess of unpaid bills!
Early last spring, I met with a lawyer friend because I was anxious for advice, frustrated and ready to divorce Barry. I was just discovering the real debt we had, and Barry was too hard to deal with on anything. I learned two interesting things from my friend that day. First, she said Barry’s symptoms sounded like those of her father who has dementia. She urged me to have Barry checked at a neurological clinic. That’s how I started my search to learn what was wrong with Barry.
Then I told her about all the calls we were getting about unpaid bills. She asked about our bank and whether I had deposited any money recently. I said, “Yes, I just put a royality check in today.” She said, “Go this minute and take all the money out of your account. NOW!”
Every penny gone
So I jumped in my car and drove to the bank. My heart was racing as I tried to take out my money. But I was too late! It was all gone — every penny. My account was closed and all funds were taken to pay back the bank. I sat in my car and cried.
Then I called Barry and yelled at him. He had no reaction at all. Which made me realize I was now alone to figure all this out. Still in the car, I wondered how I would pay the rent. How would I pay our bills? Survival mode kicked in. I went home and Goggled check-cashing places. That day I joined all the other people living on the edge from paycheck to paycheck.
People use check-cashing places because no bank in town that would cash their checks. Some people using these places don’t trust banks or the mail. Others use these places to take out payday loans, knowing they are just one car repair or illness away from losing everything. I was in the same boat. During this time, however, I learned there are a lot of good people in the world — and later learned that some of them are even bankers!
For more information on Richard T. Anderson Park go to http://www.edenprairie.org/index.aspx?page=1002