When a Rhinestone Becomes a Diamond

Let’s say you owned a faded rhinestone necklace, a piece of junk jewelry that you wore everywhere, to get groceries, do other errands, even clean the house or garden. Sometimes you left it out in the sun or rain, and it didn’t matter, because after all, it was just a cheap necklace. Then one day you took it to be cleaned, and when you got it back, it had miraculously become a diamond necklace. What would you do? How would you feel? Would you still wear it everywhere, even to go grocery shopping? Would you still feel comfortable leaving it out in the sun or rain? Would you feel differently about the jewelry? Would you feel differently about yourself?

This is what I am dealing with now that my car has been restored. I really just wanted a cheap paint job, but no one would paint it with the rust. And as it happened, the guy I took it to was a perfectionist, and so now my faded rhinestone car has turned into a diamond, and I don’t know how to react.

I never was one of those folks who loved her car. Never talked to it or gave it human characteristics. Never called it he or she. It was a tool. A sometimes frustrating tool, and sometimes a pleasing tool, but basically, just a thing. And now that thing has become something else.

I was awed when I saw the finished car, and am awed again every time I see it. It truly is a work of art, looking as if it just crept out of a time machine from the 1970s, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with me. More like an icon that I have been given permission to drive. But I don’t. Drive it, I mean. At least not yet. It’s sitting in the garage of the house where I am presently residing. I open the garage door periodically and look at it. Fiddle with a few things. (The guy who did the upholstery was not a perfectionist, and the seatbelt is all twisted. To untwist it, the window has to be taken out, which is not easy because the new stripping is so tight, the seller had to go to the auto body shop and install it. Then the new headliner has to be rolled back to get to the bolts. So I’m dealing with the twisted seatbelt as best as I can.)

After I look at the car, I shut the door, leaving the bug to its own devices, and I go walking. I don’t know what to think of the vehicle. Don’t know what to think of me. How will it change me? Will it change me? I don’t know.

I like how the vehicle gleams, and I know the first time I drive it in the fierce desert winds, leave it out in the intense sun, or let it get rained on, that gleam will dull a bit. (The paint isn’t baked like a car fresh from the factory, and though it should hold up for many years, it will lose its diamond-like luster, especially if it’s sandblasted by the winds or water-stained from the rain.) Also, as people keep telling me, it’s at risk for theft or being keyed by someone who is jealous of the perfection. The only way to keep that from happening is to keep it in the garage, and the use of the garage is only temporary. When my friends get back, I’ll move on, and the poor car, like me, will be at the mercy of whatever comes its way.

I’m planning on driving today, even leaving the bug in a parking lot for a couple of hours while I go to dance class, but I am keeping an eye on the increasing clouds. If it looks like rain (and rain is forecast) I might change my mind about driving.

Still, no matter how the bug gleams, it is just a car, a tool.

But somehow, I no longer believe that.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

The Great Reveal!!

I had nightmares last night. In my dreams, I drove helplessly around, got lost, couldn’t see where I was going, which makes sense since my six month hiatus from driving was about to end.

Yep. The VW restoration is complete!

Oddly, I didn’t think I’d feel anything for the finished car — I mean, it is just a car — but when I went to pick it up today, I felt awed and overwhelmed at my first glimpse of the restored bug sitting in front of the auto body shop. I knew Pedro did good work, but it’s one thing seeing other old cars looking new, and something else seeing your own. He truly went over and above what he said he would, partly because he is an artist, and partly he felt bad about how long it took.

The artist who restored my Volkswagen

The artist who restored my Volkswagen

The thing shines! He polished the windows, headlights, hubcaps. Replaced all rubber parts and weatherstipping. This in addition to hundreds of hours of bodywork. No bondo for him! Sheet metal and welds all the way. And he did all the things he said he would such as replace the brake and fuel lines that I’d paid someone else to fix. (He tells me God loves me because I could have been killed in that car. Not only did the cheat not replace the brake lines he was supposed to replace, he cut the rear brake line and plugged the hole for the rear brakes on the brake cylinder. Eek.)

And his upholstery guy did a good job on the interior — new padding and slipcovers on the seats, new headliner, new carpeting throughout.

It’s still an old car, of course, with old car crotchets, but not as many as you would think. The last time I drove the car, it was a rattletrap, a junker. It didn’t really matter what happened to it since it seemed to be on its last legs . . . er, wheels. And now, it’s a near classic, a vintage car of some value. That will take getting used to!

I was worried the car wouldn’t start after not being driven for so long, but it started right up. I was worried about forgetting how to drive, but that wasn’t a problem, either. I drove for a couple of hours today to work out any kinks, but the mechanic who did the repair work seven months ago did a wonderful job. There were no mechanical problems, and the car sounds like new. (Like a new old-style-beetle, that is. Not like a new modern day vehicle.)

I’ve often wondered at my folly for going along with such a protracted and rather costly restoration. (I didn’t envision a restoration — I just wanted to get rid of enough rust so it could be painted.) After all, as people keep reminding me, it’s still an old car, and as such doesn’t have the safety features of the new cars. On the other hand, it also doesn’t have a gazillion electronic parts except for the electronic ignition I had put in. It’s mechanical all the way.

Now I’m glad I went ahead with the restoration. It’s past time for a bit of folly, and besides, it’s nice seeing the old bug looking so good.

Restored 72 VW


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

Bear Baiting

While researching hiking regulations, I learned that often, when it comes to national parks, bear canisters are a requirement. All food and cosmetic items, anything that reeks of humans, have to be packed in the canister, and the canister itself has to be placed 100 feet from the campsite. It’s not just human safety these regulations are geared toward, but the bears themselves. The creatures love human food, especially sweets, and they learn to associate humans with the treats, which poses threats to humans. And the bears become inured to human presence, which changes their habits and habitations. Even worse, if a bear attacks a human, it is “euthanized,” a pretty term for capital punishment without due process. (In fact, one bear that was recently murdered turned out not to be the one that assaulted a camper.)

bearBear canisters make good sense to me. Keep humans and bears separate. Keep bears wild. And keep both humans and bears safe. So I understand why it’s illegal to go camping in certain areas without a bear canister.

But here is where it gets insane — bear baiting is legal in many states. In the weeks preceding bear hunting season, hunters not only forego bear canisters, they are allowed to “bait” bears. They can leave piles of treats, such as donuts, fish, and rotting meat out in the woods, and if a bear takes the bait, they keep putting food out. This way, when hunting season starts, the hunter just has to go to where the bear is waiting for food, and shoot it.

How is that moral? How is that sport? And if it’s illegal for hikers to unwittingly leave food around to attract bears, how can it possibly be legal for hunters to purposely do the same thing?

During this pre-hunting season, bears are ravenously hungry, needing to put on 20 to 40 pounds in preparation for winter hibernation, so they take the bait. But what if there isn’t enough to keep the bear sated? Since the poor thing now associates humans with food, pity the poor hiker who happens to wander by.

Cripes. It seems as if the whole world has gone crazy. Well, the whole world except you and me. And I sometimes wonder about us.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Outfitting the Out-Fit

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc) seems to be synonymous with hiking. No matter who I have talked to or whatever blog/discussion group I have visited, inevitably the name of that store has come up as the place to buy everything you need for a backpacking trip. People have extolled the store’s virtues ad infinitum, citing a generous return policy and helpful employees.

Researching backpacking gear and wilderness safety tips have confused the heck out of me. “If you see a bear, look it in the eyes.” “If you see a bear, don’t look it in the eyes.” “Ticks only climb up your legs. They don’t fall out of trees.” “Ticks fall out of trees, so be sure to wear a hat.” “A hammock is the best way to camp.” “Hammocks are illegal in some parks, and besides, they are bear tacos.” “Wear wool.” “Wear synthetics.” So, when a friend invited me to go with her to REI “down the hill” as they say around here, I jumped at the chance. I needed a pair of shoes for walking/hiking, I wanted to get a backpack, and I wished to check out the tents, clothes, and various types of gear available.

The woman in the shoe department brought one pair of shoes at my request. When the left foot fit and the right didn’t, and I asked for suggestions, she just shrugged. I could, of course, have bought the shoes and taken out the offending right insole, but it was glued in. Besides, there was no way I was going to buy a $150 pair of shoes and immediately start cannibalizing it. I might have to do so anyway, because there are various insoles one can purchase that are supposedly better than the insoles that come with the shoes, but I need that to be my choice, not a choice by default. So, not getting any further help from the shoe department, I wandered through the clothes department, found not one garment that would fit, then headed toward backpacks.

I found a backpack that was comfortable, had a fun assortment of pockets, and sported a suspension system that would allow air to get between my back and the pack. When I cornered a clerk and asked for advice, he merely said it was not good for overnight camping, but offered nothing in the way of an alternative, just kept saying I shouldn’t buy the pack. So I didn’t.

I flagged down another clerk and asked about tents. He waved me toward the tents, but very few were on display, so I could get no sense of weight, size, convenience, ease of set up. And there was no one to ask — the clerk had wandered away. My friend showed me various products that she used, which helped me get a sense of what I might need, otherwise I would have left immediately.

I didn’t really think anything else about the trip — the folks I encountered seemed typical bored retail clerks — until a couple of days ago when once again someone recommended REI. I explained the treatment I had received, and he said, “You know why, don’t you? You don’t fit the profile.”

Tahitian CostumeThat took me aback, not just the remark, but his saying it. What had he seen when he looked at me that made him think I didn’t fit the profile? My age? My extra pounds? I have no real body issues. I know what I look like, and I’m fine with it. I certainly don’t spend any time thinking about characteristics others might see as negative. Would I like to be gorgeous, young, fit? I was going to type “yes”, but the real answer appeared on the screen instead: “Not particularly.” My body has its own sort of peasant beauty, thick legs and all, and it’s a lot more fun to wiggle one’s hips in Tahitian dancing when one has hips to wiggle. Most of all, my body works. It does what I ask it with a minimum of discomfort,  It might not always do what my ballet teacher asks of it, but that’s not my problem. I am developing wonderful muscles, so whether or not I can stand in a reasonable facsimile of fifth position is not a personal issue.

It had never occurred to me that I might not fit a profile — any profile — but the more I got to thinking about the man’s comment, the more it bothered me. So I wrote REI, explained the situation, then finished with, “So what if I’m overweight and over age. Is that any reason to treat a customer so poorly?”

The customer service rep apologized and forwarded my email to the store in question. The manager responded, saying, among other things, “It is especially disappointing to know that you did not feel welcomed because of any personal reasons. At REI we have no “profiles”- only a mission to eagerly serve all our guests by inspiring, educating and finding the right products- towards whatever end goal our guests want to enjoy.”

“Because of any personal reasons,” he said. Putting the onus on me, as if I were unduly sensitive. He went on to say, “I’m personally grateful and excited that we have such a variety of people who shop with us to gear up for recreation -no one deserves to have assumptions placed on their passions or abilities because of outward appearances, and at REI we won’t tolerate such behavior -you as our guest deserve better!” Yeah, right. That’s why not a single piece of clothing in the store fit me. They might not have an overt policy of profiling, but they do have a de facto policy. Where are the clothes for the out-fit to wear? (Out-fit because such folk are not necessary unfit, just outside the range of what is usually considered fit.) People twice my size go backpacking. Where were the clothes for those women? Where are the sleeping bags for the short and wide folks. (You can get wide bags, but they are also very long.)

The manager ended his letter by saying he had dealt with the person who had been in the camping department that day, and that he was proud of the service that 95% of his staff gives, and he hoped I would return.

By that time I was sick of the whole mess and wished I hadn’t said anything. So I wrote back, “If I wanted you to deal with your employees on my behalf, I would I have told you in person when I was there. I only wrote when I heard from someone else who had a similar experience with what appeared to be storewide profiling. You assure me that’s not the case. So fine. Nice to know. But there is no guarantee that if I were ever to shop at your store, I wouldn’t once again encounter some of the 5% who weren’t helpful. And it’s too far to go to find out. But thank you for responding.”

So why am I telling you this? I have no idea. Maybe because of the realization that I have no body issues though apparently it looks as if I should have. Maybe because the experience is just another step in the adventure that has become my life. Or maybe because . . . ta-da! . . . it’s a blog topic, and blog topics are almost as hard to find as outfits for the out-fit.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Cloud

A couple of people I know were talking about the cloud the other day — not clouds in the sky, but “the cloud” as in “cloud storage.” One said that there was only one cloud where everything was stored, and  the other, an engineer, kept insisting the cloud must exist somewhere.

I agreed that it must exist somewhere. Nothing comes from nothing, and nothing goes nowhere, though the impression we are given of the cloud is that perhaps it’s a nebulous cloud of electrons that exists to serve us without taking up space.

A bit of research told the truth.

As romantic as the notion might be, the cloud is not cloud at all. “Cloud” is a metaphor for the internet. Apparently, a diagram of the internet, in all its complexity, resembles a cloud. In truth, the “cloud” is/are huge data power centers, with acres of computers, processors, applications, and computer servers. (Servers are computers that supply data to other computers.) Instead of individuals and companies needing to buy massive machines with enormous processing power, they can harness the power of the machines other people own, and instead of warehousing their accumulated data on their own machines, they can rent space in these virtual storehouses, access them remotely, and get the benefits of the massive power structure.

Email systems (such as gmail) which are internet based are not stored on your computer, but in the euphemistic “cloud.” They are stored in someone else’s physical computer center and can be accessed by any computer. Friends who own the various houses where I have been staying, have kindly offered me the use of their computers. If I took them up on their offers, I could, of course, access my emails, FB, and various other sites just by using my password, but many of my files would be inaccessible because they are stored in my personal computer, not somewhere in the internet.

It’s comforting to think of “the cloud” as being a natural resource like the sky clouds, but when you think of the vast acres of these data centers springing up in physical locations around the world, each one costing hundreds of millions of dollars and generating untold wealth for their owners, the comfort vanishes and all sorts of questions arise. Who actually owns the data stored in the “cloud”? What are the stewards doing with the data entrusted to them? And why the heck do we need all that data? Once upon a time, data existed as words on paper, not ones and zeroes stored in and accessed by infinitely complex and massive computing machines.

Once you know that the cloud is a simple word for describing a system that is anything but simple, it’s easy to understand. Or at least understand the concept. For who among us ever understands this electronic web that binds us all together?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Odd Days and Odd Ways

Well, so much for being alone in a stranger’s house. The fates shifted the pieces in the kaleidoscope of my life, and suddenly I am sharing the house with an exotic dancer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday evening, I went to a drum circle with a friend. I’d never been to one before, and I was curious to see what sort of healing I could expect or feel, so I invited myself along.

The first part of the ceremony was a spiritual cleansing. I’m not sure what we were being cleansed of — negativity, perhaps. She did us one at a time, having each person stand with arms outstretched. She worked on some people for what seemed a long time, maybe six minutes, pulling out the unclean bits, heaving some bits away, stomping other bits into oblivion, and then she finished the cleansing by going over the body with the healing smoke of sage. When she came to me, she had me stand with my right arm up and my left arm down. Slid whatever it was that she found down from my right hand to my left, then gently tossed it away. She spend a minute or so with the sage, and that was it. I’m not sure why she gave me a different stance, not sure why she spent so little time with me. Maybe she sensed my lack of engagement (whatever the others felt — peace, healing, spirits, love, the end of pain — apparently passed me by since I didn’t feel anything but interest). Maybe she didn’t sense much negativity in me, or perhaps she simply decided I couldn’t be healed.

It’s possible there’s not much to be healed. My mental chatter has died down, I have little to say, no conflicts to be conflicted about, no ailments. I like living in the moment, not thinking too far ahead. More importantly, for the first time in a long time, I’m at peace with myself and with the world.

drumAfter the cleansing, we beat drums to summon the spirits, then closed our eyes and went on an inward shamanistic journey. We were supposed to find a way into the earth for this journey, so I replayed a dream I had when I was in my early twenties. In that dream, I went deep into the earth. Although I was descending, it felt as if I were ascending — I took an elevator down, then got out and walked up three steps to another elevator, went down a ways, then got out and walked up three steps again. After the final descent/ascent, the doors opened into an amphitheater with a woman standing at an altar-like table. And from somewhere, a voice boomed, “You are now six hundred feet beneath Death Valley.”

Despite this great mental portal to otherwhere, I didn’t go anywhere. I just lay there listening to the drumbeat, noting the stray thoughts that drifted through my mind.

Afterward, everyone else recounted their journeys. One person went to a beautiful garden. One went to the Grand Canyon. Others had symbolic visions or could see the spirits we had summoned up. Me? I had very prosaically thought of food. (I guess I was hungrier than I imagined.)

Did these people really feel/see the things they said they did? I don’t know. It’s possible, maybe even probable, but the whole thing seemed like some sort of interactive stage play to me.

The part of the evening that was mine alone occurred during the final drumming phase. I watched the shadows of the drummers on the wall and ceiling, and they looked eerily shamanistic, almost animalistic. I enjoyed the play of light and dark, and then it was over.

When my friend pulled up in front of the house I am staying, I noticed that the lights were on inside, but I couldn’t remember leaving any lights burning. Then a woman came running up to the car, asked if I were Pat, and introduced herself as the house-owner’s daughter. Apparently she needed a place to stay for a couple of days. So much for my being alone. Still, we had a nice visit, all part of my going with the flow of what comes my way.

I’d intended to text the house owner this morning and ask her if she still wanted me to stay but changed my mind. I figured there was no point in putting such thoughts into her head. Alone or not, I’m in a lovely house, have my own bedroom and bath, a place set up for my computer, and food to eat. The woman knows her daughter is here, and if the woman had a change of heart where I was concerned, she would have let me know. (Or maybe not. She’s a nice woman and knows I needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks. Besides, she plans to have me attend her book club meeting next weekend, though I am not sure if I’m the guest of honor or a sacrificial goat.)

The strangest thing that came of my evening was this morning when I was waiting for the dance studio to open. With nothing else to occupy myself, I planned this blog and wondered how to explain the drum circle. A newspaper happened to be lying at my feet, and a title of an article was visible. The title? “Drumming Circles for Healing.” The article was about the shamanistic healer who had conducted the ceremony the previous evening.

The article quoted the healer, who said, “monotonous drum sound brings one into a state of higher consciousness, which in turn can open passageways for healing.”

I’ll have to take her word for it.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Hawaiian War Chant!

My Hawaiian dance class was invited to perform in a dance concert at the local college. We wowed them with our rendition of the very powerful Hawaiian War Chant! And rightly so. Aren’t we gorgeous?

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

At Dress Rehearsal!

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


“Wild” is Tame

I never had any intention of reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. — I didn’t want to be a me-too, living someone else’s adventure in case I ever decide to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and besides, I almost never read books that everyone is reading. To me, reading is a very personal thing, and the hoopla surrounding such books diminishes them for me.

Wild was a last-minute birthday gift from a friend who knew my feelings and so knew it was a sure bet I wouldn’t already have the book. During the last nights in my father’s empty house, I was desperate for something to do — there is just so much websurfing, blog writing, solitaire playing one can do, especially sitting on a very uncomfortable stool — and I happened to find the book I’d tucked away and neglected to pack.

Oddly, I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t particularly like it, either. I have heard so much about it, but much of what I have heard is wrong. (People have recounted episodes that simply are not in the book, which makes me wonder if they are in the movie.) Some people hail Strayed as a hero, though she is not. Some members of the hiking community vilify her, though she is no villain.

What she is, is a good character for a story, in the same vein (and vain) as Scarlett O’Hara. She wants something desperately, if only to be other than she is. She is willing to do anything and use anyone to get it, and her own imperfections create drama and tension. If she were what the hiking community wishes she were — responsible, a great hiker, someone who prepared and trained for her mission, someone who tested her equipment ahead of time, someone who followed the rules of “leave no trace,” someone who was sane and sensible — who would read her story? No one. Or only those members of the hiking community who read.

Although some people would pay to read a book written by me if I were to undertake such an adventure, it would reach only a fraction of the readership Cheryl’s book did because any book I write would not stir up controversy. I am not foolhardy. I am not desperate. I have nothing to redeem, no self-destructive tendencies to overcome. I am prudent and would not undertake such a mission unless I were prepared, training myself to carry a heavy pack (though the filled pack wouldn’t be anywhere near as heavy as hers). I am responsible, try to do the right thing, try to follow the rules if only because they make it easier for everyone, and so I would learn the rules of the trail, such as packing out toilet paper and digging holes for body waste. (That’s one of the things the hiking community was upset about — that she didn’t dig holes to defecate in, but the ground was frozen. I’d have done the same thing she did — cover it up with rocks — and so would everyone else.)

There is a saying among hikers — “hike your own hike” — and that’s what she did. Seasoned hikers are upset with all the amateurs who will follow in her footsteps, but I don’t think there is anything to worry about. Amateurs quickly learn or quit. I doubt many people who are inspired to try long distance hiking because of her story will have the implacable desperation to do what she did.

One of the problems with the book is that it was so obviously written long after the fact that it loses it’s immediacy and jerks me out of what urgency there is. For example, she talks about the snowpack being extraordinarily heavy that year, and that it wouldn’t be as heavy for another then or twelve years. There is no way she could know that as she was hiking. Yes, I know it’s a memoir, but still, it’s jarring.

Also, more than any other relationship, her relationship with her pack drives her and drives the book. Her hike was what it was because of the weight of the pack. In fact, the pack was so important, it was almost like a character, and yet she never really described what she carried, seldom mentioned using most of the things in the pack (and those she did mention would not have added up to the 50 or 60 pounds she carried).

And then there is the whole pain thing. Wild coupled with 50 Shades of Gray, which was out about the same time, seems to indicate a new trend in the world where pain is admirable, especially pain that is avoidable. Um . . . no. Not to me.

Mostly, though, the book seemed tame and not worth another thought.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Giving Credit where Credit Isn’t Due

It’s almost impossible to rent a car without a credit card, but it is doable . . . for some people. Just not me. I tried. It would have been easier to deal with this move out of the house where I am living if I had wheels, but no luck.

To rent a car with a debit card, you have to be able to pass a credit check. The catch here is that if you can pass a credit check, you probably already have a credit card. For me to pass a credit check with my history of paying cash, I would need to have a job. They don’t care that I’ve spent the past ten years taking care of sick, old, and dying relatives. It’s not a paying job.

walkingEven if I were to get a secured credit card, where I have enough money in a separate account to equal to the limit on the card, they could refuse me, and according to the person I talked to, they probably would. No house. No apartment. No job. Not exactly a stable customer from their standpoint.

One solution to the not-being-able-to-pass-a-credit-check situation is to get a secured loan, say for $500. I put $500 in a savings account to secure the loan at 1% interest. They lend me $500. I put that money in another savings account, also at 1% interest, and I use that account to pay off the loan, for which they charge me 18% interest. Since all of this is reported to the credit bureaus, it helps establish credit.

Still, I’d be paying them so I could use my own money. Huh? This makes sense? And if I do all this, maybe, someday, I’ll be able to rent a car. It seems as if there is ever such an emergency, it would be cheaper to buy a junker and then resell it for pennies on the dollar. At least I’d have gotten something for my troubles.

To be honest, I never believed in credit. Still don’t. I hate being in debt. And I always figured if I didn’t have the money now to get what I needed, there was no reason to believe I would have the money at a later date. And if I did believe I’d get the money at a later date, then it made more sense to wait.

The onset of debit cards has made credit cards mostly unnecessary, except when it comes to renting a car. Luckily, there are alternatives when one finds oneself temporarily without a car — namely feet and friends.

Luckily I have enough of both to handle the current situation.

There is another problem, though. Without credit, it’s almost impossible to rent an apartment. But I don’t want to think about that now, and anyway, I’m not ready to settle down.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.


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