It would be for dramatic effect, and also a lie, if I said my hands shook as I opened last week’s missive from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Couldn’t be a bill, I thought, I’ve already paid for the month. Wasn’t some come-on offering me even more money, I thought, knowing the nation’s credit markets are tanking and my third floor rafters groan under my home equity line.

Omigod, I thought, it’s the annual mortgage escrow statement. They’ve “analyzed” my payments from the past 12 months, “factored” in the taxes to be paid and “concluded” that I’m screwed. “Send everything you earn. Every month.” That’s what I expected, at least. I read the newspapers. I know taxes keep going up. The high school. The county. Etc. etc. But somehow, before the cyclone of tax hikes actually hits, I have, and hopefully you have, reached a safe harbor. My mortgage payment is dropping by $85 a month during 2008!

The orthodontist won’t rip the braces from Mariah’s mouth this year. My PT Cruiser won’t be repossessed this year. I know, I know, I should take that $85 each month ($1,020 for the full year) and save it. Tuck it away in some interest bearing account as a hedge against next year when I’m quite positive my monthly payment will rise by $642 or possibly more if Todd Stroger is not contained. But I won’t. I’m going to spend that $85 with abandon. We’re going back to 2 percent from skim in 2008. The hell with generic drugs. I want my Lipitor. And with what few coins are left over each month, I’ll toss them gaily into the wishing fountain on the new Marion Street and pray for cascading sales tax revenues to offset future property tax increases.

Don’t get me wrong, we live in a lovely old home on a gracious block in Oak Park. I know it is going to cost. I understand that until three months ago the value of my home rose with a certainty that made the morning sunrise seem shaky. And I get that chirping about high taxes in Oak Park is monotonous, if unavoidable. That’s why I don’t write, or personally dwell, about my $175 monthly rent on a really charming vintage apartment on Harrison Street because that was way back in the bicentennial year of 1976. I probably thought it was outrageous at the time. I don’t, at least anymore, bore you with details about our first house together, the little brown house on Lombard, literally the cheapest house on the market in 1979. Oh, how I hated that house. Crumby little crumbling box that it was. Any rent or tax I paid on that mini-monstrosity was money wasted, except for our neighbors who were quite well-toned nudists. It beat “Miami Vice” on Friday nights.

Now, after a year of paying my ultra-high mortgage payment, my $85-less mortgage payment will feel like a guilty pleasure for each of the next 12 months.

After that, Armageddon. But, hey, that’s 13 months away.

Join the discussion on social media!

Avatar photo

Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...