Dan’s been picking up the pieces of our maple tree following what we’ll call the Urbana Tornado of 2019.

The claims adjuster’s report said the damages we sustained from last month’s tornado didn’t amount to enough for us to receive a payout. (That’s because our deductible is so high. And that’s because we literally can’t afford the premiums on better policies.) I kind of figured that would be the case, but dammit I just couldn’t stop myself from hoping we’d get some financial help from them. But no.

All the bad news is really wearing me down lately.

Every time I hear the word “insurance” these days I practically break out in hives and hyperventilate. I have to force myself not to obsess too much over the math, because the amount of money I’ve paid to insurance companies in my lifetime exceeds the benefit I’ve received from their “services” by about a bajillion to one.

I can hear you all out there. Nodding your heads in agreement.

Anyway, we had to use the money earmarked for the July installment of our property taxes to pay out-of-pocket for the damaged weather head and electrical piping where the power line enters our house. And naturally the tornado hit on a holiday weekend, so we had to pay a premium for the house call and labor.

With no money to hire professional help cleaning up the tree (which is larger in real life than it appears in pictures, I promise) Dan had to do the cleanup mostly by himself. He did get a little help from the neighbors when they had time, but he did the lion’s share. I love him to death for it, but I hate that he had to do it. Honestly, he’s got his own health to protect, and it’s the last thing he should have been doing.

But he chipped away at it day by day over the past week, and you can see that we once again have a beautiful backyard. Even if that maple tree’s stumps are heartbreaking. We’re pretty sure the best course of action is to remove the remainder of the tree, but so far no one we’ve contacted accepts payment in profuse gratitude.


The past couple of days in Urbana have been gorgeous, so we sat outside to enjoy it the other day. I was so verklempt at how lovely it was. I adore this house and I adore our yard and I am so thankful and proud to have it, but I can’t shake this sinking feeling that we’re not going to be able to keep it.

It’s not my nature to be so pessimistic–at least it hasn’t been historically–but I feel cursed these days. Cancer. Poverty. Disability. Tornado. Death. (Not my own, whenever that may be. I don’t want you guys to worry. But recently I lost my grandmother. And just days before that I lost another cousin to cancer.) All of these clouds have just been hovering over me lately, and every time I move out of the shadows and into the light, the universe brings us another cloud.

Poverty is so rarely the fault of the impoverished, yet society generally won’t acknowledge that simple truth. Instead, the poor are blamed for creating their own circumstances. And I’ve been internalizing those lies for close to forty years now. So there’s been this raging fight inside my head.

“You should have made better financial choices! This wouldn’t be happening to you!”

“Bitch! I had to work for employers who pay women less–there isn’t another kind! Cashing out my last 401(k) to pay the mortgage on a condo I couldn’t unload didn’t cause my million-dollar brain tumor! And my Netflix subscription didn’t summon the tornado, even if I did pay extra to stream on multiple devices!”

Whether things get better or they don’t, I’ll be here enduring it. But I don’t promise to be happy, positive, or hopeful about anything, goddammit.

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