Archive for February, 2012

Parallax Student Magazine Now Online

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

(from L) Whitney, Editor-in-Chief, and Cali, celebrate the launch of Parallax online

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Jan. 16, Parallax launched its online literary magazine and the Idyllwild Arts students had a big party to celebrate.

Parallax, which means, “a displacement in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight,” is often used by astronomers to measure distance. It’s also a cool name for a student literary magazine featuring multiple viewpoints.

Parallax has been published in a printed form since 1997, but just two years online. It showcases the writing of Idyllwild Arts students, mostly from the Creative Writing Department, but also from other majors, including Interdisciplinary Arts (IM), theatre, dance, music and moving pictures.

The students have expanded Parallax online to include submissions from other high school students worldwide.

Isaac, one of the editors, said the criteria for submissions was basic.

“We’re looking for good writing,” he said. “On our web site, you can expect high-quality literature.”

He went on to say that Parallax is not just a web site for writers.

(from L) Isaac receives congrats from Kat Factor, Idyllwild Arts poet-in-residence and head of the IM Department

“It’s an online literary journal,” Isaac. “It’s a collaboration.”

Well, you can see for yourself at www.parallax-online.com. It showcases the poetry, short stories, screen plays, theatre plays and essays. And some of the best visual images, photography and comics by visual artists at Idyllwild Arts. The combination is colorful, edgy, earthy and pretty terrific.

“Who says that high school students can’t write seriously, or that our voices can’t spark conversation within the literary community?” asked Whitney, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief.

“We think it’s possible. In fact, we know it’s possible. It’s what we’re doing. Parallax is a springboard into the writing world for serious young writers, and we want to hear from you.”

Some of the poems and story excerpts now featured online were recited on the night of the online launch. One by one, students came up to the “stage” before the fireplace, and recited their works. There was no microphone, and probably a predetermined time limit, but the works were high caliber and could match up to any Chicago “Poetry Slam.” The audience of 100, made up of students, faculty and staff, was enthusiastic and respectful.

It also helped that there was good hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes.

“The next raffle prize is a bunch of Jesus post cards,” quipped Rebecca, as she called out the winning number amongst the holiday lights and decorations.

Some of the Creative Writers were theatrical in their recitals, like Isaac, who transferred from the Theatre Department last year.

“It’s easy for me to talk in front of others,” Isaac said. “But you don’t have to be a good speaker if it’s good writing.”

Isaac read a poem that he had written from a daydream. “Tearing open my abdomen like sand out of me/Doves of the dirt/It keeps coming/Mounds into mountains/Puckering the whites of my eyes.”

Branford dressed for the occasion and told a chilling tale of murder, mystery and lab rats.

Branford, a tall, lanky guy who was dressed up in a suit for the occasion, was the most theatrical with his loud, deep voice as he read his excerpt from “Door 29.” It was a graphic journey about lab rats, and an audience favorite, including Tima’s 12-year-old son, who wants to be a writer.

“He was the best,” the boy said.

Branford’s “Door 29” is a murder-mystery that occurs at a laboratory, with a bit of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” thrown in. Here is an excerpt:

“You want to go up to them and warn them. Tell them to run. Fear paralyzes you. You cannot move. Your tongue lies limp in your mouth. It reminds you of one of Doctor Octopus’s severed bionic arms. You wish you were a superhero in this moment. Wish you were more than a boy trapped inside a man’s body. You wish you could scream and tell them to run.”

Whitney recited “Cain’s Lament,” a modern poem about Cain and Abel, that was set to music by Arik, and sung by Samuel, fellow music students, at “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA” last year. (You can hear Arik and Samuel’s version sung before the printed piece at Parallax online).

“I just love this,” whispered Andrew Leeson, an instructor from the Creative Writing Department.

Here is an excerpt from Whitney’s “Cain’s Lament:”

Over dinner God told us he was an atheist. He spelled it out for us: A-T-H-E-I-S-T. Christ admitted to being agnostic. “What happens,” my brother asked, “when you don’t believe in yourself?” God put an arm around him, led him to the edge of the wine glass, directed his clean eyes upon the World.

"We're looking for good writing," exclaimed Isaac, a Creative Writer.

“A child was murdered quietly in a market. A soldier shot civilians in the street as they pressed their heads against the barrel of his gun. A king ordered his subjects to hang each other and one by one they twitched and were still. A nuclear bomb obliterated one-third of the world’s population, but no one happened to be looking that way just then.  God stepped away from the wine glass, brushing smears of human blood from his sleeve.

“Oh,” my brother said. “Oh.”

Becky, Scarlett, Ariel, Erin, Michelle, Freida, Dante, Callie, Ruth and Maria all read short stories, and poems, to end a remarkable evening, a literary celebration.

You can read them all online at www.parallax-online.com, or go to the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on Creative Writing and Parallax.

In other news, three creative writers–Scarlett, Becky and Maria–left for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference & Bookfair in Chicago today. They will be reading and attending the 3-day event that starts on tomorrow, March 1, at the Palmer House Hilton.

“Margaret Atwood is going to be there!” Becky exclaimed of the Canadian poet/essayist/environmental activist. “We won’t get to meet her or anything, but she’ll be there presenting. Maybe I’ll just follow her to the bathroom and meet her then!”

Other AWP presenters include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Egan, Forrest Gander, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Philip Levine, Ed Robertson, and Jane Smiley, among others. For more information, visit www.awpwriter.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Back to Idyllwild, Shepard Fairey

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Shepard Fairey is a 1988 Idyllwild Arts grad. Photo courtesy Sidney Morgan.

For the first time in 24 years, (Frank) Shepard Fairey, a now famous graphic designer / street artist, returned to his old high school, Idyllwild Arts Academy.

During an hour-long lecture on Feb. 10, Shepard showed slides and told how he raised hell, worked hard, believed in causes, got arrested, got lucky and gained some fame from his 2008 Barak Obama poster and 2010 documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

Students, faculty and Idyllwild town folks packed the IAF Theatre and mobbed him for photos at the art show afterwards. It was his “Welcome Back, Kotter” moment.

“This is the best thing that’s happened to visual artists,” said Kevin, a senior visual artist from Korea, as he stood in front of Shepard Fairey’s posters at the show. His friend took his picture with Shepard Fairey, which likely was later posted on Facebook.

“I’ve got one of his stickers,” beamed Bella, a senior fashion design major from China. “And it’s signed!”

Back in 1987, when Shepard Fairey attended his senior year at Idyllwild Arts Academy, he was “stagnating” (according to his parents) with interests only in punk rock and skateboarding. When he got kicked out of North Carolina School of the Arts during the summer, he came to Idyllwild Arts.

“When I met one of my art teachers, David Amico, he was wearing biker boots and a Ramones (punk rock) T-shirt,” Shepard said during his slide presentation/lecture. “For the first time, there was no adversarial relationship with my teachers. They treated me like one of their peers.”

Ellenie, his former 2D design teacher, said that Shepard was an average art student.

“But being average at Idyllwild Arts means that you’re among the top three percent of young artists in the country,” she clarified. “He also had to be reminded about the rules a couple of times.”

That year, he studied black-and-white photography, but then used color photography to make fake California Driver’s Licenses with his friends. Later, he used that same fake ID to get into LA clubs to post his “Obey” posters.

"He's the best thing that's happened for visual artists," exclaimed Kevin, with Cynthia, before Shepard Fairey's posters.

Shepard also told how he jammed the color printer at Kinko’s with a paperclip and printed off hundreds 11 x 17-inch posters in black and red, but only paid for six copies.

He’s not saying that it was right, but it’s what he had to do to as a struggling arts student to get his message (of questioning authority) out to the masses.

A the Rhode Island School of Design, he remained active in the skateboard /punk rock culture. One day, he was showing a friend how to make stencils, using a newspaper photo of Andre the Giant. His friend refused thinking it ridiculous, but Shepard’s interest in the wrestler took off. And so did the popularity of his art.

He stylized the image, and put it on buildings and walls around Providence. It made the local news.

“I realized that the only things occupying the public space were government signs and advertising,” he said.

It all started with a crude sticker of Andre the Giant, Shepard Fairey said.

He filled that public space with his “Obey” campaign.

“But then I realized that scale was important,” Shepard told the crowd. (After all, Andre was over 7 feet tall and weighed 525 pounds).

He saw an opportunity to paste over a large billboard featuring a local politician in full scale pointing his finger. The headline read: “He Never Stopped Caring About Providence.”

The next day, Andre the Giant’s face covered the politician’s, who also had mob connections. The billboard ‘makeover’ made the news again, but Shepard had to apologize.

“It took him about four minutes to figure out who did it,” Shepard said, shaking his head.

That incident didn’t stop Shepard from promoting his “Obey” campaign all over U.S. cities and towns, and getting arrested 16 times along the way.

This wasn’t your average street artist “tagging” for his own fame, but a serious conscious objector using his art to bring issues to light.

Shepard Fairey with iconic Obama poster and student.

Some of them he showed during his slide presentation, including anti-war images featuring then-president George Bush with a Hitler moustache, and a young girl carrying a grenade in her hand. Other issues included the oppression of the Tibetan monks, air pollution, and water pollution. Yet, his anti-war slogans were most prominent.

“We spend a lot of money on the military in the U.S., rather than education,” Shepard claimed.

He showed a poster of new parents proudly cradling a bomb. Another one featured a gas mask with bold text: “I don’t want my taxes to pay for the new world order.”

After showing the last slide of a giant tyrant boot ready to crush masses of people, he softened a bit.

“All I’m saying is that you can use your art to speak up,” Shepard told the Idyllwild Arts students. “Few people have the courage to do the heavy lifting. Be brave, OK?”

He spoke not just to the visual artists, but to young musicians and writers as well.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” he said. “You could build music on your laptop or write a blog.”

He’s doing what we’ve always told our students to do, said Ellenie. Take something that you believe in and show it through your art.

Although Shepard became most famous for his 2008 Barak Obama poster, Shepard didn’t spend much time on it. He said he was impressed with then-candidate Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and decided to create a poster. He was lucky that it was sanctioned by the Obama campaign by a former skateboard friend.

“That poster rose to the national spotlight like none other,” he said.

Early in Obama’s campaign, Shepard was identified as the artist who created the iconic poster. When asked if he was mad that others were taking his image and profiting from it, Shepard said, “no.”

On campus, Shepard Fairey was approachable and congenial. He allowed Sidney M. to take these pictures.

Since then, Shepard has become disappointed with some of President Obama’s politics, but said that he’s the best candidate around.

Shepard’s work has appeared in galleries and museums around the country. He illustrated Time magazine numerous times.

Even with all of his success, Shepard was “at home” among the artists at Idyllwild Arts.

“I saw him sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch,” exclaimed Peter. “This was my big moment! So I sat down next to him and told him what a big fan I was.”

He allowed Sidney, a photography major, five minutes before his lecture to take several portraits of him.

(from L) Eric, a film student, with Shepard Fairey. Eric offered to be an extra camera man sometime.

“He was so nice and casual,” Sidney said. “You can see how natural he is in the pictures.”

View the pictures that Sidney took on her blog, www.sidneymorganblog.com.

Eric, from Mexico, spoke to him about filming him in the future.

“I’ve been saving up for my own video camera, and told him that if he needed an extra guy to shoot, I could do it,” Eric said.

Shepard gave Eric his contact information, and since he was hanging around, he was interviewed by Gail Wesson for her Feb. 11 Press-Enterprise article.

When asked if he had seen Shepard Fairey’s lecture before coming to the alumni show, Hubert Halkin of Cafe Aroma replied, “Of course I did! I saw it in the comfort of my own home–on UStream!”

Shepard Fairey’s posters, including the 2008 Obama poster, remains on display at the Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251. To hear his one-hour lecture in its entirety, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on UStream, or visit the latest issue of the Idyllwild Herald at www.idyllwildherald.com.  For Shepard Fairey’s art, visit www.obeygiantart.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:39

 

 

Shepard Fairey to Speak at Idyllwild Arts Friday

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Poster shown on campus

By Marcia E. Gawecki

His iconic ‘Hope’ poster of Barak Obama united a fractured nation, and help send the first African American to the White House.

Before then, Shepard Fairey, a successful graphic designer, was better known for his Andre the Giant ‘Obey’ posters that would “appear” on buildings around Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

This past year, Fairey’s work was featured in a 2010 documentary about street artists called, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which was nominated for an Academy Award.

However, this Friday, Feb. 10, Shepard Fairey will be returning to Idyllwild Arts for the first time since his graduation in 1988.

His 3:30 p.m. lecture at the IAF Theatre is a much-anticipated event, especially by the Visual Arts students. Some of them have been seen wearing “Obey” T-shirts and sweaters to class. Peter, a visual artist originally from China, was grinning from ear to ear when discussing the upcoming event.

“I never thought I’d get a chance to meet Shepard Fairey in person. He’s kind of my idol,” Peter said. “And now he’s coming to our school.”

Peter was trying to think of a good question to ask Fairey during the Q&A portion of the lecture on Friday.

“I was going to ask him what it was like to be a student here,” Peter said. “But that was way back in 1988, so that was a long time ago.”

Even though Shepard Fairey’s Obama “Hope” poster was popular with supporters, the Associated Press (AP) whose photo Fairey used as inspiration, was not. AP sued over copyright infringement, but they came to a settlement. That’s what prompted Peter’s question:

“With the availability of images all over the internet these days, how does copyright fit into an artist’s work?” Peter will ask. “Otherwise, no artist can create an image of a famous person unless he takes the picture himself. That would mean we could only paint portraits of our family and friends.”

Obviously, controversy doesn’t scare Fairey. After all, his “Obey” images are spray painted and stenciled on office buildings all over Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities. Some start on the rooftops, so he can’t be afraid of heights or getting caught.

“I think he was arrested once,” Peter added with a gleam in his eye.

Shepard Fairey is a 1988 graduate of Idyllwild Arts

You can bet Fairey is revered even more now.

According to web sites, Fairey has been arrested numerous times. In 2009, he was arrested in Boston for “tagging” two properties with his “Obey” image, including a railroad trestle. The police grabbed him on his way to his “Supply and Demand” show at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

So the rebel artist is coming home to Idyllwild for the first time in 24 years. After graduation, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.

At the Friday show, Fairey be featuring 16 pieces, including serigraphs and one print that also includes works by Nate Lowman and other Visual Arts alumni.

Fairey’s pieces were picked up Tuesday from his Los Angeles studio on Sunset Boulevard., down the street from Disney Hall. The studio also houses a gallery of Fairey’s work that he’s created over the decades.

Mallory Cremin, an arts teacher who also runs the Parks Exhibition Center on campus, invited Fairey to speak at Idyllwild Arts more than a year ago with no definite plans. This past September, however, she and her printmaking students visited his gallery.

“Afterwards, the students were so excited, they couldn’t wait to get back and try making their own prints,” Mallory said.

She was persistent in emails with Fairey’s associate, Dan.

“Until one day, our schedules finally came together,” Mallory said.

While wrapping and loading up the artwork, Dan said that Fairey owns the original Obama “Hope” image, but a rose print is featured in the National Portrait Gallery (in Washington, D.C.) He said Fairey also got to meet the president.

The 16 pieces, which were created by Fairey from 2001 to 2010, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,000 each, are not for sale, Mallory said. Those who are interested in his prints can buy them online.

16 pieces were picked up from Shepard Fairey's studio in LA

“I don’t think we’ll be selling the smaller prints because we just have a limited amount,” Dan added. “But if someone is really interested in the bigger prints, maybe we’ll sell those.”

The Alumni Show should remain up in the Parks Exhibition Center for several weeks.

Fairey’s work can be found at the Irvine Contemporary Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“I just hope the students don’t mob him afterwards for autographs,” Mallory added as she assessed Fairey’s framed prints. “We’ll have to make an announcement.”

Shepard Fairey’s lecture at Idyllwild Arts begins at 3:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre. Like all Idyllwild Arts events, it is free and open to the public. However, arrive early to get a good seat. At 6 p.m., there will be an artist’s reception at the Parks Exhibition Gallery on campus.

For more information on the event, call (951) 659-2171, or visit www.idyllwildarts.org. Shepard Fairey’s artwork, clothing and collectibles can be purchased online at www.obeygiant.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me.

Published on: Feb 8, 2012 @ 6:49

 

 

NACA Help for Idyllwild Homeowners

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

NACA promised distressed homeowners face-to-face meetings with bankers, like Ollie.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

There’s help for Idyllwild homeowners who are upside down on their mortgages, behind on their payments or even in foreclosure.

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) is coming to the rescue! The grassroots group with “No Loan Sharks” on their T-shirts will be at the San Diego Convention Center Feb. 9-13, and the Los Angeles Convention Center Feb. 16-20.

Gather your paperwork and go!

NACA just helped hundreds of distressed homeowners at the Ontario Convention Center this past weekend.

For free, NACA will help you organize your finances so the final package is presentable to your banker. And they will get you a face-to-face meeting with one on the spot.

Throughout the day at the Ontario Convention Center, happy homeowners told others over the loud speaker how NACA and their banks lowered their interest rates and payments. Many spoke only in Spanish. Others thanked God, NACA and their bank (in that order), for the change that had taken place.

I didn’t go to the podium, but I was “saved” by NACA last Monday. I was behind in my $1300/month mortgage payments and facing a Feb. 14 foreclosure date. After completing the process, Bank of America shaved off $150 of my monthly payment and lowered my interest rate from 6.25 percent to 2 percent.

Bank of America bankers worked hard with homeowners and approved nearly 80 percent of modifications, NACA said.

I live on Marion View Drive in Idyllwild, and I was months behind on my payments. At the time that I went to the NACA event, Bank of America was considering me for my third modification, but the prospects didn’t look good.

Days before, a foreclosure sale date was posted on my door while I was doing the dishes.

Then my neighbor, Louise, told me about NACA at the Ontario Convention Center. People were getting approved for modifications on the spot. In fact, Bank of America was approving 80 percent! Louise had seen it on TV.

My mother encouraged me not to wait until Monday, but go on Friday afternoon. It was a smart move, because the whole process took me three days.

When I walked into the Ontario Convention Center that afternoon, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. I was with 2,000 other people who were in the same boat. Everyone was struggling to keep up with payments in this economy, and were at risk of losing their homes. We were hardworking, but were getting the “run around” from our banks.

Since I work as a freelancer, NACA put me in the self-employed group for orientation.

“Bankers don’t like to give modifications to self-employed people,” the NACA counselor stated. “Your income doesn’t match your bank statements, and your bank statements doesn’t match your taxes. They think you’re lying about your income.”

We all laughed because it was true. But she was going to show us how to make it work.

I told Mary, my NACA counselor, that I had donated a $800 Herb Jeffries banner to charity

She told us to bring six months of bank statements, our 2009 and 2010 tax returns, homeowner’s insurance and various other documents (for a complete listing, visit www.naca.com).

Before morning, we had to add up all the business expenses and deposits. But first I had to find everything. I sat in a sea of paperwork, hoping that I got everything. After all, Ontario was two hours away, and I couldn’t run back just to get something!

The NACA event was widely attended because it promised face-to-face meetings with a banker. For those of us who have gone through modifications before, it’s frustrating that you can never speak to a banker in person.

I returned on Sunday (because I had to work Saturday) with my paperwork. They had rows and rows of tables with calculators set up to assist. Once you had all of your paperwork ready, then you had to get in line to have it checked. That took about an hour.

Once you were checked, then you got a number, and waited for one of the six NACA counselors to look over your paperwork and signed off on it. Then you were ready to speak to a banker. The counselor finally approved my paperwork at 11 p.m. Sunday night.

I walked out to an empty parking lot at the Ontario Convention Center. It was a beautiful and eerie sight.

The next day should have gone smoothly, but I noticed that my bank statements were out of sequence. During Orientation and other times, NACA volunteers would tell stories about homeowners who were sent back to the drawing table because their paperwork wasn’t in order. We were all afraid of making the same mistake.

So I waited to talk to John, who was working with a young couple, so I passed him a note. An hour and a half later, I was still waiting. Then I began to panic that I wouldn’t make it through the process in time. He finally told me that he didn’t have time to correct any mistakes. Other NACA volunteers told me to go to the next step in the process.

At that point, I cried.

Why did he keep me waiting for so long? What if I lose my home because I waited too long to get through the process?

The NACA counselor told me to stop and take several deep breaths. I calmed myself. Everything was going to be OK, he said. I had mascara running down my face. I was sleep-deprived and hungry. And had just spent two days getting my paperwork together. Now I was going to talk to a banker?

The next stop was to sit at a table with phones. In the center, there were two NACA employees who faxed your paperwork to the NACA counselors whom you spoke to over the phone. This was the last step before you spoke with a banker about modifying your loan.

Ollie, my B of A banker, worked hard to "crunch my numbers" and make my modification work.

On one side of me, a middle-aged Mexican man was speaking to the counselor via a translator. He worked for UPS. Then he got depressed and didn’t work for three years. Now his benefits are running out, and he’s worried about losing his home.

The woman at my right went through bankruptsy when her husband left and she had huge house payments. When she got on the phone with her NACA counselor, she opened up a four-inch binder of all her materials, each color-coded. My shabby Stater Bros. shopping bag reflected how I looked and felt.

I waited 45 minutes to talk to Mary. Right then, I didn’t realize that our conversation was more important that actually speaking with a banker. Because Mary was the one who was creating my “case.”

I told Mary about being an artist in Idyllwild. How I loved my home, and planted a new tree each year. I wanted her to see the “human” side of the paperwork. I knew that I didn’t make enough money to afford my home. Freelance is unpredictable. It’s gravy one month, and zilch the next.

Yet, I told Mary that I was working hard to improve my income. I cut back on my expenses. I didn’t buy clothes or go out to eat anymore. Forget about vacations.

When Mary asked me if I donated to the church, or gave to charity, I knew that I had to say something besides, “no.” When your home is on the line, you must pay attention to who is helping you. NACA’s headquarters is located in the Bible Belt, where God and family still mean something. I didn’t donate regularly to my church, but I am charitable.

I told Mary about the time I donated an 8-foot Herb Jeffries banner to a Cafe Aroma fundraiser at Cafe Aroma. The Pop Art banner was worth $800, but Herb needed money for his medical bills. I donated the banner that sold for about $300. Cafe Aroma presented the banner to Herb along with the money.

“That’s a sweet story,” Mary said. “You seem like you’re working hard to keep your home. We sometimes get people who want a modification, but haven’t worked in three years.”

I told her how I cleaned houses and walked dogs to make ends meet.

“When I cleaned my first toilet, I cried,” I told Mary. “I was a college graduate and an award-winning writer. And here I was doing the worst kind of manual labor. But I knew it was only temporary. I just hadn’t turned the corner yet.”

Mary went over my financials, including my credit report. She wished me well and I was shuffled over to another line, and then waited in a new area.

In front of us, there were about 100 Bank of America bankers all dressed in red polos shirts. Each was helping people like us modify their loans. They’d call out names and bring them over to their assigned bankers. One by one, we saw people getting up and receiving help.

It was even entertaining. Whenever a modification was approved, the Bank of America banker would hit a gong, and many of the others would stop and shake their “clappers” or tambourines in a momentarily “celebration.” This was very encouraging for those of us waiting in the wings. It seemed like Bank of America approved new modification every 15 minutes.

This was good news for NACA. For every successful modification, they received $150, according to the NACA paperwork. This was a small price to pay to have NACA guide homeowners through the process.

“Have a little faith,” said one homeowner sitting next to me. “There’s money available for us. Try not to worry.”

She was from San Francisco and had just driven seven hours with her family to get here. This was her second NACA event. Months earlier, she had driven to Texas, but didn’t get the modification. NACA said she needed to be working, so she got another accountant job and updated her paperwork.

“There’s people here from other states,” she said. “They know that NACA can help them.”

When I finally got to set before Ollie, my pretty Bank of America banker. I was out of words. My contacts were tearing into my eyes and my stomach was in knots. What could I say to make her want to help me?

Ollie focused on my paperwork, and started “crunching” the numbers. She asked for copies of pay stubs and bank statements. I reminded her of my foreclosure sale date. She nodded politely, and kept looking at her screen. After awhile, she called a supervisor over to check her work

“You’ve had two other modifications,” he stated. “You were fine for a year and a half, and then fell behind again.”

“They caught me up, but never lowered my payments,” I told him.

He checked another screen and verified it. With a lower payment, I could weather whatever came along.

Ollie and he shaved off $150 off my payment and (gasp!) lowered my interest rate from 6.25 percent to two percent. Over the past seven years, I’ve only been paying on interest and not the principal.

“I haven’t seen a two percent interest rate since college more than 25 years ago,” I confessed.

A lump grew in my throat and tears welled in my eyes. This was a beautiful day!

My first new low payment was due in two days, but I was ready. When I got into the NACA line to check out, they told me to make sure to ask Bank of America for my final documents (after the three month provision payments were paid).

“If you don’t hear from Bank of America, then you call us,” the burly NACA volunteer said.

They seemed like a Union to me, but it made me feel good that NACA “had my back.” No one was going to take my house away from me.

There’s hope for other Idyllwild homeowners this month. NACA and the bankers (including Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Idy Mac and many more) will be at the San Diego Convention Center Feb. 9-13, and the Los Angeles Convention Center Feb. 16-20.

For more information, visit www.naca.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.