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I'm trying to get ready for a show, people. I don't have time to be digging around on the web, or even digging around in my garden which is what I'd really like to be, what with Azaleas bursting out robustly on the edges of the Camellia trees - (around here they aren't bushes, nor are the Azaleas - the Formosas are antebellum ladies waiting for their day in the sun...

but I walked past my collection of objects with my 13 bean soup in hand in a bowl thrown by a classmate at USA and some wonderful whole grain crackers and noticed for the hundredth time the binder sitting on the counter.

That huge, red leather covered binder from an antiques estate in South Carolina, on which the words Chattel Mortgages is tooled in gold leaf. The marbled inside pages and the clip binding are all that's left in this remnant of days gone by, but it is a fascinating object that rounds out a collection of journals and ledgers dating from the 1700's collected mostly for the handwriting. When I collected vintage writing instruments and had a book contract with a leading publisher I was interested in those things. I had to give that idea up in 1996 when my website crashed and burned and I had to move home to Alabama.

Four years later I went back to school for the final time ( -- I catch myself looking at PhD programs all the time now and thinking that maybe a fellowship is the next step for me) and I became a prisoner of the train to graduation.

Along the way I learned a lot about libraries and research. I'm pretty good, but I also learned from one of the best historians I have ever known. Dr. Stephen Goldfarb, PhD. My friend and colleague on the website It's not up any longer because Stephen was not on any sort of ego trip when we created it. He was just frustrated that the information he had pieced together from his research was of no interest to the local papers. Of course, we both lived in Atlanta when he was doing that research. I was working on the pen collection and trying to contain my excitement that I might actually have found something I was good at. Antiques, art and the internet - wow. I was so enthralled with the concept that I totally blew all sixteen thousand dollars of my 401K that I had at the company where I worked. Blew it on computers, printers, ink, photographs, developing, auto expense, online fees, research, and phone calls.

And my kids were sick of it. My exhusband was sick of it. My friends were sick of it. My family had other things to worry about. I had sort of cashed in all my chips. And then I got sucked in to a MLM and that's when the whole thing upended and I found myself on the way to Alabama. Broke. I mean really, really broke.

I didn't look broke, however. Driving a 1987 Sterling, I was travelling in style. That car made me so happy. I didn't care that I had 15% interest - I KNEW what I was doing when I bought the first year model of a brand new car.

What I didn't know was that the good old boys in Detroit could put such a squeeze on the advertising agencies that handled the Sterling accounts that they got squeezed out of the market and the story of the Sterling is one that only a few have actually ever heard.

I have heard it though. The story I was told by someone who worked at British Leyland is that the agreement between the three auto companies in that joint venture was that any one of them could buy the rights to the first design. The first design was not approved. That eventually became the Accura Legend. Thus the twin cars got to compete. Guess who won?

Guess who else won. The banks that loaned money on cars that couldn't be sold under any circumstances - I was upside down in that car from the day I drove it off the lot, and I was a CAR SALESMAN when I bought it. I traded in a paid for Civic to boot. To my own dealership, where the finance guys were probably rolling on the floor laughing at me. I know all that now. I damn sure didn't know it then. But in 1987, something else happened.

I drove that car from Winston-Salem where I'd been living and earning really good money as a car salesman to Atlanta where I lasted three months. Because in October of 1987, the stock market crashed. In Atlanta, where everyone was leveraged to the hilt, I was a brand new salesman on the floor. The dealership where I worked had a "house mouse" that got all the good deals. The rest of us were trying to survive and I didn't last long. I had six jobs in three years trying to find my way around the community of Atlanta that had been so good to me two decades earlier.

I finally went back to school at Georgia State. GSU was a good place for adult students. While I was living over my sister's garage, with my children living with their uncle in North Alabama, I applied for financial aid and was thrilled to get accepted. Then I did something else I'd never been able to do before. I took a typing test. And I passed.

I could type, but I have ADHD. And I panic under pressure. Timed typing tests are pressure. Companies that make you fill out form after form neatly describing all the jobs you've had all your life are pressure. Forms that ask you why you moved from here to there - well, that's a different sort of pressure. And then you get to the end, they sigh, look up and say "Well, you won't be here long. You've owned your own business? You were a member of the Chamber of Commerce? The building committee of the Church??

I knew this drill. I'd seen it all before. Remember my daddy? My father's life was starting to seem like a precursor to my own. I started hearing the familiar "ne'er do well" refrain in my head.

So I took this typing test, got a temp job and went to work for a 500 person nuclear utility organization. I was the typist that entered in the reports that the plants submitted when there was an incident. Or as the airlines would have called it, "Irregular operations" - I was just a typist. I didn't want to be anything else.

But then I heard about something called Benefits. I didn't know what that was. I'd not even thought about benefits really. I'd always had some sort of coverage until I didn't have it. I didn't ask for benefits when I divorced. Not for myself. In fact, I didn't ask for anything. We went to a mediator. I was okay with anything that kept my kids and my ex happy. I had enough conflict in my life without having to stir it up even more.

We even had the same lawyer. I thought that was better. I did't know much about negotiation and conflict resolution till much later. And then it was too late. I didn't know anything about psychology, but I remember my therapist once telling me I could probably get a degree in it already from what I'd lived through and been able to understand. That's because, as he pointed out to me, I am a writer.

I still had to have credentials though. So I did what I was supposed to do, I thought. Boomers always do that. We're not the ones who push the envelope. We're the ones who spill out of the envelope when it's too full.

And then world just has to deal with us. I'm sorry that my diaries go around in circles all the time. But my life has gone full circle so many times I am having a hard time keeping it straight.  

Chattel Mortgages. That's what this diary was supposed to be about.

I'm getting to that. Here's what I found when I innocently looked up the term:

This article aims to determine when, where, and under what
circumstances the first chattel mortgage statutes arose.  This article
first examines the southern colonial statutes mentioned in those
early American appellate opinions and traces them to their earliest
version.  The article then explores analogous Anglo-American
recording statutes for personalty, some mentioned in the early
American appellate opinions as potential sources of the southern
colonial chattel mortgage acts.  These two investigations establish
that the first chattel mortgage acts arose in the Chesapeake
colonies during the mid-seventeenth century, shortly after the
development of the nonpossessory secured transaction.  The article
then analyzes the earliest reported southern American opinions,
from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for clues
to the circumstances giving rise to the first chattel mortgage acts.  
Lastly, the article reviews the scanty legislative history concerning
these first chattel mortgage acts.  These latter two investigations
suggest that southern colonial legislatures first passed these statutes
to eliminate the secret lien problem for judgment creditors.
Chattel Morgages are nonpossessory. Stuff that can be moved. Like my laptop, and two cars that were stolen I suppose, but I didn't have a mortgage on them. I just had liability on the cars and the laptop wasn't insured because I'm a renter. And broke. And the nine year old was too young to prosecute so his mother routinely uses him to hawk things that either he or she picks up and we can't do anything about it. The second car was my van, stolen out of my driveway when the City of New Orleans decided to evacuate an entire city - check the crime statistics for that day in Mobile if you don't buy my theory. I helped though because I'd come in from teaching exhausted and depressed, and told the tenant I had just gotten from Craigslist (who is another suspect in my view) that I was going upstairs to grade papers. The first car that was stolen was another one of my two Sterlings. That's another story for a different day. But it's a good one.

So when I get time, I'm going to chew on this history of Chattel Mortgage law - because of something I saw in the footnotes that interested me. It's this comment:

Not all legal systems have the filing requirement.  Roman law
recognized the transaction, but did not require a filing. The Napoleonic Code banned the transaction.  The  modern explanation of these three different legal rules involves the secret lien. *  When debtors retain possession of the personalty serving as
collateral under the nonpossessory secured transaction, subsequent lenders and purchasers have no way of discovering the prior ownership interest of the earlier secured creditors unless the debtor’s honesty forces disclosure.
*Cf. OLIVER  WENDELL  HOLMES, JR., THE  COMMON  LAW 5 (Little, Brown & Co. 1923) (1881) (discussing how rules survive the problem they were intended to
solve).s this:
Some of you may remember that I recently read the wonderful book called The Metaphysical Club but what you might not know is that part of it is about Holmes. I have a very different understanding of the way things were understood, discussed and argued in this country after having read that book. I HIGHLY recommend it. You won't regret it. And I plan to read Louis Menaud's next book soon as I get off this damn computer and hang that art show!

Oh, yea. What happened to the first Sterling? It got repossessed. I had paid all $32,000 of it except for $680. And they drove it to the auction and I heard from a friend in the business that they got about $200 for it. Hardly worth the trip to Alabama.

Been there, done that. Got the T-shirt. And the hat.

I have LOTS to say about Chattel. I'll bet you guys do too.

Originally posted to Barriers and Bridges on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    I can do everything but earn a living.

    by alabamaliberal on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:50:02 PM PST

  •  The Sterling cars had costly maintenance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, PeterHug

    issues, like many of the British made cars.  The only ones I've ever seen were red, but I'm near Detroit where Brit cars tend to remain under wraps in garages and are only brought out on warm, low-humidity days.  Your Sterling may have ended up in a specialty chop shop somewhere, as the parts of such cars are always being scouted and are worth more chopped than an intact Sterling.  Consider it chattel that was confiscated.

    •  I know that now. In fact, I actually had written (0+ / 0-)

      a business plan for a company called SAGA which stood for Sterling Association of Greater Atlanta - but a 17 year old stole the other one before I could get it off the ground. A very long story I'd rather forget.  

      Theft by conversion for which I've never been compensated, but considering my story, what else is new?.  

      I can do everything but earn a living.

      by alabamaliberal on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 04:03:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Surrealist masterpiece? Or cri du Coeur? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    I honestly don't know. And not willing to scoff. Because the author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence" was not kidding. Exactly. He knew he was clinically crazy but still thought he was on to something. And I have to agree, that book shaped my mind-set (along with some mid 70s psychedelics so there you go). But Persig was on to something And literally chose to tell it through the lens of motorcycle maintenence and a massive road trip.

    So I suggest keeping an open mind here. I don't quite get the Sterling part. Yet. And maybe never. But----.

    Worth grappling with.

      •  Wow, that made me grin, from ear to ear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nuclear winter solstice

        I used to judge the men I'd go out with by whether they had that book, AND had read it.  I have lots of books I've never read, and you know when someone has actually read that one.

        Okay, I'm gonna go get in the shower, humming Windmills of your

        I can do everything but earn a living.

        by alabamaliberal on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:43:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bruce (0+ / 0-)

      I have to tell you that when I first read your comment and the one below it from Nuclear Winter Solstice it felt like I often do when I'm in an artist tent with my paintings all hanging out for the world to critique as they push babies along and idly comment to each other that they could probably to as well or something. But what I was thinking instead of being criticized was
      "they are reading it?" Wow. I've been trying to get people to read my story since 2007, and it's so frustrating. I don't mean that they won't read it, but it's difficult to know how to start the saga. Pirsig was a milestone book for me as it was for so many, but I really had no idea how much it paralleled my experience until I decided to drag it out as an assignment for extra credit in my first writing class (that I was teaching) in 2008.  

      I appreciate your comments. Cognitive Dissonance is what Breitbart was dealing with, if the article in the New Yorker is any guide. And that shit is scary. This life we are living between the real and the ideal is often bizarre, as Dali surely knew.

      I can do everything but earn a living.

      by alabamaliberal on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 07:51:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Being taken seriously (0+ / 0-)

        Is a start.

        And this is doubly different when you are at the edge of what is considered rational.

        Is there a solid reason why Freudians are inside the medical establishment looking out and Jungians on the outside looking in? I don't have a dog in that hunt, but by that same token won't write off Persig. Or to take a more extreme example Castenada. By book three he was clearly off the rails and maybe he never actually met some Yaqui known as Don Juan. But that doesn't mean there were not take aways from the first book, or even two.

        In all fields of inquiry the lines of inquiry between madness and rationality aren't as well defined as we would assume. After all Galileo was a madman, which IIRC was the only thing that saved him from being condemned as a follower of heretic Copernicus. Yet "si eppur muove"

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